John Walsh: Tales of the City

'Fantastic, isn't it? The revelation that the boudoir secret of the swarthy Euro-ladykiller involves biscuits'
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The Independent Online

I suspect that if anyone had their private erotic behaviour minutely reported by the tabloids, they'd risk appearing comical. So we should not be too quick to point the finger of scoff at the great Jose Mourinho, whose bedroom modus operandi was revealed to the world in the Sunday Mirror. But, I mean, really.

The former Chelsea coach, a man worshipped by hordes of women for his cruel good looks, his piercing eyes and his flapping Armani overcoat, was outed as a less-then-devoted husband by a blonde Portuguese boutique owner called Elsa Sousa, with whom he had an affair in 2001-2. Ms Sousa, who fortuitously shares a surname with the king of brass music, offers charming insights into the Jose seduction technique.

You cannot accuse him of beating about the bush. His initial approach was to stride into her shop and announce, "I am Jose Mourinho. You are an extremely beautiful woman. I want to get to know you. Can I look at you?" Not the least pretence of his being interested in the Pucci tops, the Gucci bags or the Fiorucci jeans. Just: "Can I look at you?" (How did he do so? Standing with arms folded, inspecting her like a stud breeder examining a racehorse, giving her fetlocks and withers the once-over? And what did she do? Fold scarves?)

Jose's getting-to-know-you strategy is also pretty cool. It's all mirroring. When he picked up Elsa in his pantherish Volvo convertible, he admired her outfit with the words, "Your jacket – I must have one." When she ordered a Baileys at the bar, he said, "That's what I feel like having." What a mercy she wasn't wearing an organza frock and drinking Babycham.

But it was the biscuits that made you realise you're in the presence of a great seducer. Jose, it seems, is crazy about chocolate-chip cookies. He devours them. He practically makes love to them. No, hang on, he makes love with them. He had an iron routine after a big match. He and Elsa would go to his flat, Jose would slither into a Reebok tracksuit and flip-flops, switch on the TV, watch the football highlights, swear, curse and eat choc-chip cookies. He'd never drink wine or champagne – just eat cookies, one after another. In moments of fury, when he hurled abuse at the screen, crumbs flew all over the carpet. "The love-making would be fun," she reports. "He was always gentle and attentive... If he had won, we would often pause and have a cookie. A box would always be in the bedroom. Sometimes he fed me cookies while we made love."

Fantastic, isn't it? The revelation that the chief boudoir secret of the swarthy Euro-ladykiller involves biscuits, something that, hitherto, the British have associated with mild-mannered folk such as Alan Bennett.

Will the annals of romance, when re-examined, throw up exciting new evidence – that Casanova seldom went out on the pull in Venice without his cloak, his hat and a packet of custard creams? That Romeo's impetuous wooing of Juliet, beneath her Veronese balcony, was punctuated by frequent silences, as he tucked into jaffa cakes? That Don Juan sought to win the heart of Empress Catherine in St Petersburg by plying her with chocolate fingers? Crumbs.


At the Cheltenham Literature Festival on Sunday, there was a walking-on-eggshells feel as the Martin Amis gig approached. Would high-profile Muslims (such as our own Yasmin Alibhai-Brown) come along to barrack him, and his late father, for holding supposedly right-wing views about Islam? Would there be finger-pointing from bien-pensants, as there was at the ICA? Would Terry Eagleton renew his assault on his University of Manchester colleague and his dad, despite all the advocacy in Kingsley's favour?

In the event, the audience listened without throwing things, and Amis Jr dismissed Eagleton's rant at Kingsley as being a second-hand response from "an old leftie", conducted "on the level of the corniest tabloid". He said: "Let's be more sophisticated than Terry Eagleton and ask: 'Does it matter?'" That is, does it matter if we suffer from racist twinges every now and again, after hearing about some abomination?

His answer was: not if you're honest about it, and wish to expunge it. In his autobiography, Experience, Martin recalled asking his father how it felt to be mildly anti-Semitic. Kingsley said it meant he would look at the credits of a TV show, spot the Jewish names, and say, "There's one... there's one... and there's one." And that was the size of it. Kingsley talked to his son about "inheriting" mild anti-Semitism, and Martin today saw it as something to be evolved from. "No one can say we [ie the human race] have grown out of being racist," he said. "We've been that way for centuries. I think I'm free of it, though I get little urges and impulses. But my children are less racist than I am."

It's from such nuanced honesty that Eagleton can claim Amis to be a BNP supporter, and Ms Alibhai-Brown can consign him to being "among the beasts". I'd rather listen to Amis ruminate on the truth and weight of his impulses than subscribe to the polite fiction that, in our liberal-humanist, media-cautious collective, nobody is capable, even momentarily, of an unworthy prejudice or an inconvenient dislike.