Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

Double column action

Sunday, 18 April 2010

I’m doing two Observer columns a week at the moment, my normal one and a special “election diary”. It feels very grown-up to be writing a political column. Unfortunately, it’s not very grown-up the way I write it. In fact, this week my normal column is unusually serious; it’s about about Mandy Smith and child abuse - while the election one is very silly, mainly about cactuses and washing machines.

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Chris Jefferson at 12:33 pm on April 18th, 2010

On a totally unrelated note, your wikipedia page doesn’t have a nice picture of you, mainly because there is not one under an approriate license. Would you consider donating one?

If you have any questions about what this involves, please feel free to e-mail me!

Brian Morgan at 1:30 pm on April 18th, 2010

Why was Bill Wyman never charged? Can’t you file a complaint against him? Does marriage wipe the slate clean, as in the OT when a man rapes a woman he must marry her or pay her father money? Hence shot-gun marriages? Why having read your article doesn’t a policeman somewhere arrest the slob?

Chris Grove at 4:32 pm on April 18th, 2010

Vicky, has anyone told you before that your writing style in part resembles P G Wodehouse occasionally?  Great articles as usual.

Chris (Slowthinker)

Phil at 4:50 pm on April 18th, 2010

It is a disturbing tale, showing just how much sway tabloid media can have over public opinion. I agree with your point that society is getting better.
We are starting to recognise these social problems that have been repressed for a long time, but many are mistaking an increase of reportings as an increase in instances. These reports can never exist without being hijacked for some agenda. The world being seen as going to pot has a lot of value for some
I’m glad Mandy has an intact value system; many haven’t, but she makes the old mistake of blaming the young, who are only guilty of trying to keep an identity in a society where individuality is not seen as a wortthy commodity. To do this using Catholicism is at best naive, and at worst hypocritical
Why did you give up spidey t-shirts?

Al Poole at 4:57 pm on April 18th, 2010

Very thought provoking article about Wyman/Smith. It probably wouldn’t happen now without a subsequent criminal trial, would it?

I’m really enjoying your articles. Additionally I thought your comments on QT were very funny and bitingly accurate.

Stephen Felton at 5:24 pm on April 18th, 2010

Your comment article on the sexual abuse of Mandy Smith is excellent. I hope she has read it. It would also be good if one day she reached a point where with real support,  she is instrumental in Wyman facing some serious questions about his abuse all those years ago.

adam at 6:48 pm on April 18th, 2010

on the election thingy, i suspect the tories have decided to throw it, having realised the state of the economy. that big society thing is surely designed to alienate their voters. those that say they agree with it will just be too busy on the day to actually vote.
i don’t suppose you have had time to read “cowboys full” what with your hectic work schedule. would like to hear your opinion should you get around to it.

john Francis at 9:35 pm on April 18th, 2010

Victoria your articles are very good.

Your column regarding Smith/Wyman, I think you have it spot on.I believe it shows that 20 years ago certain sections of the tabloid media were feeding the flames in a knowingly irresponsible manner, to see the obvious inevitable trainwreck and destruction this so called relationship would result.

One other thought: Roman Polanski is fighting extradition for similar, Wyman has openly admitted to the affair. As with the priests, time should not prohibit the law tackling these problems. Society is getting better, authority should catch up.

Keep up the great work, loved the Only Connect finale last Monday.


Mitchell at 11:08 pm on April 18th, 2010

Always open with a joke. Preferably one as self reflexive as this sentence was supposed to be.

King John II at 12:05 am on April 19th, 2010

Is this a good idea? Victoria.
You are getting some odd characters visiting your site these days. Put the past behind you, move on.
Live for tomorrow.

Susie at 1:48 pm on April 19th, 2010

If politicians insist on acting in a silly manner, there is surely no other way to write about them!
Great job, V.

Only thing I really learned from the whole debate is that Nick Clegg has giant clown hands and that David Cameron looks just like a wax model of himself whenever he stands still and isn’t shaking his head disapprovingly.

joeking at 7:07 pm on April 19th, 2010

‘I don’t know why she has always looked so thin and why her adult weight was, at one stage, six stone.’
‘FOR years I suffered terrible allergies and sensitivity to food, but then again, my diet was bizarre.’

Perry at 9:13 pm on April 19th, 2010

It’s strange about the Wyman story,  as Jerry Lee Lewis did the same in 1935 when, at 22, he married Myra Brown, a 13 year old girl. Even back then, that caused an uproar in the States.

Could it be that the freedoms that people received from the 60’s onwards meant we lost our moral grounds, a national rebellion against what is right, which we are acquiring back, bit by bit?

It sounds like the whole country went through some teenage phase before growing up and realizing some things are wrong, especially when I am frequently told by my grandmother “Pedophiles weren’t around those days” and “You just didn’t hear about them”

RomanticRecluse at 1:51 am on April 21st, 2010

Perry, I don’t know how old your grandmother is but the first research about child sexual abuse (by the scientist Auguste Ambroise Tardieu) was published in 1857.  In Victorian times the age of consent was raised from 12 to 13 and then 16 and the NSPCC was formed.  It wasn’t until the 1970’s that child sexual abuse and domestic violence became public issues thanks to the feminist movement and led to the laws and policies many people now take for granted.  There are cases going through the courts now about abuse carried out as long ago as the 1940s and some abusers never faced justice or never will.

If you look closely enough into history and the dark side of humanity you can see how some things are getting better and nostalgia can be a myth.  For some there were no good old days.

Phil Clarke at 11:51 pm on April 22nd, 2010

Vicky - I just finished FRFP and I wanted to thank you personally for a cracking good read. Only a slight exaggeration to characterise it as the poker equivalent of ‘On The Road’ [if only Kerouac had had a better grasp of narrative structure].

Laughed out loud many times; my Dad is a fan of your Dad’s stuff, as am I, and there‚Äôs more than just an echo of his gift for the well-crafted comic anecdote. I can easily imagine him inserting the story about the flyophobia guru killed in a plane crash into the pages of one of his anthologies - or TNQ, combining as it does the quotidian, the absurd and the comic. Nicely done.

I am a fellow addict in a minor way - got Ladbrokes open as I type this - and may well encourage my wife to read the book in an attempt to explain the reasons why - as far as mere words can explain an addiction. There again, as she recently looked over my shoulder and asked why I hadn’t raised with ‘three pairs’, maybe that particular gulf is just too wide ....


All the best, PC

julian at 8:24 pm on April 23rd, 2010

you should have free cake for any women who turn up here.

peter at 2:07 pm on April 24th, 2010

Indeed, Julian, and maybe they could join together to form a team on Only Connect…..oh no, sorry, that would require three!

KlooRhee at 1:50 am on April 25th, 2010

There have been old days when some things were not meant to be mentioned aloud. Is it better that they are mentioned, accentuated, pushed? When society doesn’t care any more about well-being of other societies there has to be some rotten apple, cloned and exaggerated. And it can be so rotten that it becomes wide believed fear of hypothetical truth.

There are not even movies to form an opinion and there’s not even space to accommodate new Lolita. 


Victoria Coren

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