Hilary Fannin: All relationships could do with a confidentiality clause

Cheryl Fernandez-Versini’s stance on the gagging clause with her young lover is to be lauded

Apparently Cheryl’s insistence that Liam Payne sign a gagging clause is too witheringly cynical for the young chap to swallow. Photograph: Gisela Schober/Getty Images for Chopard

Apparently Cheryl’s insistence that Liam Payne sign a gagging clause is too witheringly cynical for the young chap to swallow. Photograph: Gisela Schober/Getty Images for Chopard

 

Sometimes, while listening to the pitter-patter of a downpour and pretending to work, I find myself perusing the gossip digests and scrolling through paparazzi pictures of people I’ve never heard of, quite often called Cheyenne or Cortina, their polypropylene implants spilling out of their bejewelled bikini tops on beaches I’ll never visit. That’s where I read the devastating news (brace yourself, this isn’t going to be easy) that sources close to Cheryl Veranda-Mankini (sorry, I mean Fernandez-Versini) and One Direction star Liam Payne say there’s trouble brewing in the couple’s fledgling relationship.

What, I hear you cry, what drivel are you talking about now?

I’m talking about the dull pleasure of celebrity tittle-tattle; it’s like granulated pornography, only the participants generally attempt to keep some of their clothes on. It’s eazy-cheeze voyeurism that can get you through a long afternoon when you really should be doing your tax return or dreaming up ideas for commercial fiction that will pay the gas bill.

Cheryl (for those of you who have just awoken from a cryogenic nap that lasted longer than the current millennium) is the dewy-eyed Geordie and famous singer (apparently), better known as a former X Factor judge and wife of the footballer Ashley Cole. Mainly, though, Cheryl is a pretty weeper, a committed bather on the shores of Lake Lachrymose, who regularly bursts into tears on the television and says “ah luv ewe” to people who aren’t famous.

She’s like the good fairy at the christening, sprinkling hope before the wicked stepmother bursts through the door and annihilates the baby crooner, sending its sucked bones back to a dull suburb in Croydon, never to be heard of again. Anyway, fairy Cheryl has left the show now to concentrate on her music career, so that shouldn’t be too taxing for her.

Love rats
The point is that Cheryl (33), having been involved with various “love rats” throughout her career and having occasionally been known to weep on very big couches in expensive leisurewear and yesterday’s mascara while pretending to eat carbohydrates, has found love with a younger man.

(“I don’t care,” you cry. “If I wanted to read this kind of claptrap I’d hang out in the GP’s waiting room contracting interesting diseases from the well-thumbed glossies.”)

Payne, at 22, is more than a decade younger than weepy Chezza. But sources (that would be someone who picked one of Payne’s used facial wipes off a dressingroom floor) now say there are problems. Apparently Cheryl’s insistence that Payne sign a legally binding confidentiality clause, a gagging clause, that would kick in if and when the couple split up, is too witheringly cynical and hard-bitten for the optimistic young chap to swallow.

Personally, I’m of the opinion that there should be confidentiality clauses attached to all our marriages and relationships, whether we break up for not, purely to spare our friends the mind-numbing boredom of having to listen to each other bleat on about our shagging spouses. (“I said to him you don’t need a degree in aeronautics to use the damn washing machine. The next time I find his Y-fronts on the kitchen floor I’m going to strangle him with them.” And so on.)

Increasingly – or so they say – economically independent women are choosing to date younger men.

They also say there are pros and cons to this. Your younger lover may be active, adventurous and impressed by your intellectual prowess, your retro denims (who knew?) and your staggering ability to simultaneously type and nuke a Cup-a-Soup, but the primary benefit, according to the lifestyle gurus, is sex. A man hits his sexual peak at around 20. Women, on the other hand, many slain by lousy body image, biting toddlers and the vicious exhaustion of work and family, don’t get into their sexual stride until they’re nearer 40, when they can park the kids at home in front of the microwave and finally realise that they don’t give a damn what they look like in the scratcher.

The downside is that he can become reliant on you emotionally, financially and domestically. This emasculation may end up with you turning into a “sugar mama” rather than an equal partner. Oh poo.

If one gave a toss, Cheryl’s stance on the confidentiality clause is to be lauded. Older and wiser, and having pedalled around the relationship park before, she might suspect that sooner or later she’ll peel the cucumber patches off her puffy eyes, find her lover underneath his beanie, umbilically attached to his PlayStation controller, and decide that she’s moving on.

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