Rowan Pelling: Oh, Faria, remember sad Antonia

Share
Related Topics

Usually, I think no act of immorality crawls as low on its serpent's belly as the kiss-and-tell exposé, but I have to say that in the case of Faria Alam, Sven Goran Eriksson's lover, I make a rare exception. First and most importantly, she is not wreaking havoc on a wounded wife and family. Yes, there is Nancy, but she's the kind of broad who knew the cut of her man's straying jib and can stand up for herself. Second, this is less Alam's choice than a blind alley down which the FA and the press have hounded her, while all the while Max Clifford stood waving a cheque book at the end.

Hell hath no fury like a woman whose private emails were offered to the News of the World by her chauvinist pig bosses. And you have to despise the sort of men who clearly hired the beauteous Alam in the manifest, drooling hope that she would stroke their, ahem, egos, and then express horror when she is duly generous with her favours. Feverish flirtation and the odd dinner à deux are clearly as much a secretarial perk at the FA as copious supplies of Tippex. Why she then went on to bed a couple of these silver suits is a complex mystery known only to Alam, but I suspect it had something to do with the heady brew of power, pizza, ennui and the fact that an ageing man's abject gratitude can prove a subtle aphrodisiac.

But I wonder if Alam will survive the media trap that's been fashioned for her? Cash and instant celebrity have their own transient compensations, but a year or a decade down the line, who will hire free-kicks Faria?

I cannot look at Alam without thinking of Antonia de Sancha: a name that now summons nightmarish thoughts of David Mellor in flagrante delicto in a Chelsea strip. Who remembers a promising Rada graduate with an abrasive wit and epic talent for mayhem? I do, because I first met Antonia some months before the Mellor scandal broke, as she was a mate of my friend, journalist Paul Halloran. And I was there when Paul introduced Antonia to his other mate, Mellor, over dinner in a King's Road brasserie. I watched in fascination as the fish-mouthed and fleshy Mellor strove to impress Antonia while she batted back actressy protestations of admiration at the "importance" of his political work. By the end of the evening, they were serenading each other with songs from South Pacific.

I got the impression that for Antonia it was a game, an exercise in seduction (she once told me that she liked sleeping with ugly men because there could be a powerful beauty and beast chemistry), while for Mellor it was a career-busting passion. Neither party set out to bring the other one down, but that was the net result. Antonia told a few friends in strictest confidence, as you do; the friends were less than discreet, as they are. The tabloid hacks closed in and said her name would be mud with or without her assistance - and so it was - therefore she might as well take the well-paid route. And there was Uncle Max with his broken umbrella to shelter under.

Shortly after the tabloid splurge, I attended a media event where Clifford arrived with Antonia on his arm. Whereas at one time scores of men would've queued to flirt with the leggy de Sancha (a woman far more attractive in the flesh than in photographs), that evening no one would talk to her but me. Did she regret her Faustian pact? Almost certainly and very quickly. Is she still in contact with Clifford? No. Has the money run out? Yes.

I still see Antonia from time to time and recently she wrote some very funny agony aunt columns for The Erotic Review, but the legacy of Mellorgate meant that her acting career was effectively sunk. Meanwhile Mellor steamrolls on from media gig to gig, even deigning with magisterial hypocrisy to give his view on the FA balls-up. Palios, Gibson & Co will likewise move swiftly from pay-off to golden handshake to monumental pension. But will that nice Trevor McDonald and his TV chums be talking to Faria Alam one year from now? I rather doubt it.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

1st Line Service Desk Analyst

£27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Computer Futures

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures are currently...

Recruitment Consultant - Bristol - Computer Futures - £18-25k

£18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures are currently...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Women-only train carriages would be an insult to both sexes  

Women-only carriages would be an insult to both sexes

Katie Grant
Women-only carriages would be an insult to both sexes  

Women-only carriages would be an insult to both sexes

Katie Grant
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style