Hi there, here are some of the things I’ve been thinking about:
Wagatha Christie reaches its last pages
I wish I could happily presume that we all know of ‘Wagatha Christie’, and that we know it with a fullness— the context behind and the implications of. That, however, would be a muscle-tearing reach for the stars, so allow me to share what I know. Wagatha Christie is really Coleen Rooney, who is really the wife of former England footballer Wayne Rooney, but then, she is also the one who made us all laugh in 2019 by outing another footballer wife for repeatedly selling stories to one very infamous UK newspaper. The other footballer wife is Rebekah Vardy. We all laughed not because of who it was discovered to be, but how it was discovered to be— with Instagram’s private story function. But then Vardy sued Rooney for libel.
I did not care about this case until I discovered I did. The reason I care about it is because it presents such an absurd lack of peace in two lives, and then the wider impenetrable darkness of celebrity. Rebekah Vardy did sell a mixture of true and false stories about her alleged friend to the media. Her attempts to save face by taking Coleen to the courts however went so badly wrong, and I am shocked at the justice that ensued. Genuine, soul-feeding justice always evades a cause so long as the justice is dealt out by humans, but what happened in the courts was nothing short of edifying.
It wasn’t looking good for Coleen. It felt like Rebekah was going to walk with the money in hand, because a phone holding case saving evidence had been dropped overboard on a boat trip. Without the messages between Vardy and her assistant on particular dates, Coleen wouldn’t be able to prove that she had not defamed, but instead told the truth. It turned out though that we cared more for the contents of Rebekah’s heart over technicalities. These are the Whatsapp messages we did see. And of the collection of character evidence stories, the recount of Vardy attempting to take pictures of the inside of the late Sarah Harding’s bag works with the rest of it to be the worst self-inflicted whooping I’ve likely ever witnessed. And then, Rebekah Vardy lost the case.
“Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass by in safety.”— Psalm 141:10
But the sweetness of the victory and the length of such safety for Coleen obviously remains to be seen. First thing I thought in learning all that I learned was,
“Does any of this really shock Coleen?”
I think I could answer that for her. No, of course not. But, do you ever get used to the distress, the vulture-hood, the absolute treason? Probably. But I imagine it’s like smoking, you get used to the stifled lungs.
Sheila Seleoane at No.16
Sometime in July, my mum came to me with the story of Sheila Seleoane. With a facial expression and a tone that relayed mounting disbelief, she said,
“How can somebody lay dead like that for two years? How could anybody not of known? What about her neighbours and colleagues?”
Someone should be able to explain that, surely. Those are the questions that have made a woman famous in death— the one simply known as ‘the woman in flat no.16’ when she was still alive and alone.
It turns out though that the neighbours did care. When Sheila died inexplicably on the sofa of a third floor Peckham flat, it was her smell, the presence of flies and maggots on the windowsills of the flats below, and a build up of uncollected post that made her fellow neighbours ask the police and housing association to break down Sheila’s door. They started asking in vain in 2019, some months after her death, some months before the pandemic. But it was when her balcony door was blown open by 2022’s Storm Eunice that a neighbour insisted that the police check on her. The neighbours did care, but they were ignored and painted as pests. And as for the colleague argument, well, nobody truly knows why they didn’t grow weary of her absenteeism
The write up I read couldn’t colour in the white spaces because the anonymised neighbours didn’t really know what to say, or know what needed to be known. So the feature sunk its teeth into something else— the implications of negligent social housing associations, which offered answers to the questions. But the author of the article did take everything they could.
Sheila used to walk very slowly. Sheila looked incredibly young for her age. When it was time to decorate the block, someone painted over her locked door. Somebody else laid a Santander bike across her doorway. Two people attended her funeral— her brother, unearthing himself from estrangement, and a member of the housing association who was significantly late to proceedings. She was 61 when she died. She had South African blood. She had a Facebook account with one 2012 post that read,
“I am looking for Jackie Douglas, who I went to school with. I can’t remember your address and made the mistake of not writing it down.”
But obviously, nothing on her feelings. Nothing on the thoughts and attitudes that crafted a day in the life of a woman who, by 61, would’ve learnt to be her own best friend, her own confidant. But even such assumptions grind down the truth of what was really going on, as does empathy and resonance, which would dismiss how loneliness was received by one individual unique woman.
A younger me would ponder the inevitability of being forgotten after a welcomed death. But a self awareness formed in latter years revealed such claims as spiteful and false. I have since learned that it would not be the case now, back then, or at 61 that I could possibly die unnoticed and unmissed. And we would like to think that those who succumb to that tragedy were in the dark about the eventuality. I don’t believe you plan or imagine or fantasise about such events, I believe they just happen.