I know nowt about Andrew Pelling, Tory MP for Croydon, save what I've been reading in the press. "All publicity is good publicity" may apply in showbiz, but not in politics.
The Tory council seat that fell to Labour last week on a 17% swing, prompting talk of an early election and the influence of Worcester Woman is a case in point. It turned out that the Tory defeat was less due to Sure Start and the Brown Bounce than to some good old fashioned electioneering. Somehow, and much to the surprise and shock of Labour, it became known to electors that the Tory candidate, the improbably named Lisa Ventura, was the proprietess of this erotica and sex-toy website (not terribly work-friendly). She probably sounded like the ideal Nu Tory candidate, but the electors of Worcester turned out to be not quite as cool and metrosexual as they thought, delivering an electoral rogering to Ms Ventura worthy of any Anna Span video.
Where was I ? Mr Pelling. He sure can pick 'em, or is it the effect he has ? The late Alan Clark philandered his way round Westminster with nary a public peep from the lovely Jane. Jeffrey Archer's dirty linen got a good scrubbing in various papers - and the fragrant Mary stood by him, albeit with a rolling pin hidden behind her back.
Mr Pelling's current and previous wives aren't so forgiving.
Wife 2 : "I didn't realise what I was taking on but from that point I became the driving force behind him. I even took him shopping for clothes because he looked such a mess. He would always wear this scruffy green anorak. He was a wreck and his house was a dump. The first time we went round to his house there was cat mess and cat sick all over the carpet. No one had done the washing up for weeks. There must have been 50 dirty pans stacked up in the kitchen.
"When I moved in I looked after the house and his children." she said. But she soon found he had "some very strange habits". "He was very close to his mother. She died in her 40s and he has never really got over it. But he loved his mum so much he kept her ashes in the lounge near the ashes of his dead cat, Fluffy," says Lucy. "I found that very peculiar." Lucy claims she "basically held his life together" while Pelling fought depression. "He was on and off anti-depressants for two years," she said. "I did everything for him. There were days that he would take his sleeping pills and wouldn't be able to drag himself out of bed."
It's these little touches that make all the difference.
What does wife 1 say ?
"In public, we pretended to be a normal, happy family because it was necessary for his political image. But we had not been intimate for a couple of years. Andrew was only focused on becoming an MP. He acted like a lodger and treated me like his servant. I was little more than a housekeeper, chauffeur and personal assistant. He was the silent partner in the marriage. I stayed with him until I could take no more. He was hardly ever at home and even then it was just to eat and sleep. He barely talked to me or the children. We were just there for show. But this is essentially about me and him. He has not behaved like an honourable man. That's why I'm so angry with him."
Mr Pelling might not be the nicest chap in the Tory Party. But if we all got what we deserved twould be a bleak world. Strangely, after reading those two stories I feel more sympathetic to him than I did before. Admittedly that wasn't much.
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