The British public woke up this morning to two mind-blowing pieces of celebrity news: pop stars Cheryl (known only as Cheryl after cycling through Tweedy, Cole and Fernandez-Versini in quick succession, then realising she’s too famous to need a surname anyway) and Liam Payne have officially parted ways; and character comedian Jacob Rees-Mogg (at least that’s how I choose to see him, for the sake of my own sanity) has threatened to bring down the government.
Both probably have something to do with Brexit, because everything does nowadays, but no one seemed to even be able to muster a shrug about Cheryl and Liam, recent parents to one-year-old Bear. Usually celebrity splits provoke some superfan sadness, but this time the entirety of low-brow Twitter (of which I am a proud and paid-up member) has been united in one collective shrug. “Is anyone surprised?” was the general sentiment.
Of course no one’s surprised. No one is surprised because literally no person ever actually wanted to see Cheryl and Liam have a long and prosperous relationship. From the word go, everyone has been waiting for the end. Don’t pretend you haven’t. You didn’t want two of the most attractive people to ever go on X Factor to end up in a long and happy marriage with many adorable children. You didn’t want that any more than you wanted Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to stick it out. In fact, you wanted it less.
And because this is a big moment in the nation’s psychology, I’ve broken down the reasons why.
No coverage of Cheryl and Liam’s relationship would have been complete without a reference to the couple’s 10-year age gap (he’s 24 while she is an unbelievable 34. Do they even let people have relationships at that age?!).
Payne first appeared on The X Factor as a teenager and started dating Cheryl two years ago when he was 22, but most tabloid coverage would have you believe that she’d picked him up from the primary school gates after a night at the bingo with her surviving friends from the care home down the road.
Being a female celebrity is a bit like being a World Cup player: the commentary that follows you around once you hit 30 is mainly of the sucking-teeth variety. “He’s getting on, isn’t he? 32 years old and struggling through. Surely up for retirement soon? Probably on his last legs in this weather.” Best to put the punditry on mute this year if you’ve graduated sixth form, FYI.
Similar to their counterparts in the football sphere, celebrity commentators shook their heads and tutted every time Cheryl and Liam’s relationship came up. George and Amal Clooney have 17 years between them, Jay Z and Beyoncé have 12, Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall have 25. But my God, it was inappropriate of Cheryl – has she claimed her NHS Zimmer frame yet? – to take out a man in his prime, right? He was probably just trying to help her cross the street with her shopping bags when she ensnared him in her grip and then he had to have a baby with her out of embarrassment.
He’s just a Lad!
And Lads shouldn’t be tied down! Especially not to ancient women who are suffering from Baby Fever (a mysterious disease common to all women in their thirties) and who could self-impregnate at any moment once they have a man in their sights.
All Lads (men and boys under the age of 65) should live carefree lives free from female influence (but at the same time enlivened by the presence of willing female bodies to engage in no-strings-attached sexy times with, of course.) They shouldn’t have relationships that last beyond three months and they definitely shouldn’t be expected to look after any babies they might incidentally father along the Path of Laddishness.
We may as well begin preparing for the fact that every time Liam is seen out with baby Bear from now on, he will be heralded as a “dedicated dad”, whereas every time Cheryl dares to step out in public without an infant strapped to her chest it will be publicly assumed that she left the child in a bed of broken glass with a barbed wire blanket after setting it on fire.
She’s been married 100 times before!
Twice, thrice, eight times, 812 times – what does it really matter remembering the actual number? Cheryl committed herself in marriage to more than one man and now she’s had a baby – out of wedlock – with a third. What is she, desperate? Too damaged or not good enough in bed or too flirty with other men to keep her partner interested and/or satisfied?
A man, of course, can easily have a number of back-to-back serious relationships and merely be seen as “complicated”/”cursed” or a “man about town”, depending on if he’s sold himself as a soulful, “sorry I screwed your best mate but I just got carried away by some poetry and my relationship with my dad is difficult” type or a straight-up, chiselled, devil-may-care Love Island type.
John Mayer has never been described as “Tragic John” on the cover of a gossip mag, but Cheryl’s had her psyche delved into by “behavioural analysts” and “body language experts” over the last two years on innumerable occasions, all of whom came to the same conclusion: this old lady wants to settle down and pump out a litter, ASAP. She could take some advice from Jennifer Aniston, perhaps, who has also had to deal gracefully with this sort of patronising BS for what feels like centuries.
People with money shouldn’t be allowed love as well
Let’s face it: Liam and Cheryl are both successful celebrities who have cultivated internationally recognised brands for themselves. They were both on a TV show watched by millions. They both have jawlines that you wish you had been blessed with. They both get followed around by entire hair and make-up departments (presumably), and they both own multimillion-pound properties. If either were to step out of the limelight now, they’d still be financially set for life, and their son would want for nothing. And doesn’t that just make you angry?
If fairytales and Hollywood films have taught us anything, it’s that you have to choose between love and money when it comes to the crunch. If you have the gall to be beautiful, rich and well-known, then you better be a sad-but-glam Jay Gatsby type or don’t be surprised when everyone breathes a sigh of relief at your conscious uncoupling announcement.
I’m sorry, but that’s just the way it is.
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