Why Did Nobody Help Nigella?


Yesterday, I was shocked to see the pictures of TV chef Nigella Lawson in the news. The ones where Charles Saatchi, her husband of ten years, put his hands around her throat and pinched her nose – and which showed the utter terror on Nigella’s face.

The way she looked at him was like an abused child would look at its violent parents, never giving up on their quest for unconditional love. I found it frankly haunting.

The audacity of that man is stupefying. The fact he’s done this in public, in such nonchalant fashion, seems to strike me that this is nothing out of the ordinary for him.

I was also shocked to find out what else happened in there. Or to be more precise, what did not happen.

As reading up on the incident at Scott’s, a high-end restaurant in Mayfair, I found that no one, including the staff, tried to help that poor woman.

Neither did the paparazzi who took and then sold the pictures on to a tabloid – but that was to be expected from a celebrity stalker sans scruples.

The spokesperson of the restaurant stated: ‘we do not comment on the private affairs of clients.’

And the diners, they just gawped or continued with their meal, as if nothing happened. Then of course, there were the ones who felt the need to capture the scene on camera.

That, I found revolting and inhumane. Sure, sitting there was a famous person having lunch with her husband but at the same time there was also a scared woman being physically abused by that same man. Still whether the diners were amazed at seeing a celebrity eat or whether they were transfixed by the torment she had to endure, they should not have taken this up as a valid reason to point and shoot at her.

What happened yesterday proves yet again how the masses have turned into voyeurs, prepared to banish any empathy if it allows them to raise their Twitter profile or enables them to trend.

These days, gaining followers or getting that scoop, could be as big an ambition for some as it is for others to get that house on the lake.

It’s hard for me to grasp how these people can observe cruelty yet don’t believe it’s necessary to help the person in distress.

Instead they’ll whip out the phone, ready for camera-light-action.

It’s something I see more and more and I have written about it a few times already. One thing is, I will never get used to the imagery of seeing someone in clear need for help, to then see some idiots film or photograph the whole thing.

I realise that most of us have this burning desire to report big news to others, hoping to be the first one to do so. I am like that too and when I catch something important and tell others who in turn tell me they already know about it, I can’t but feel disappointed.

And, sometimes, being able to capture a drama developing in front of our eyes, can be a good thing too. Like last year, when that racist woman went berserk on the train and spat her xenophobic bile onto a fellow traveller. Luckily she got arrested in the end and that was thanks to someone filming the incident.

I also think that in some ways, the paparazzi, may have helped Nigella by exposing the potential domestic abuse she has been suffering behind closed doors.

Though, it makes you wonder, why did the filming person on the train not put his/her phone away to assist the victim who was being verbally abused? And what about the paparazzi, he could have helped too, no? I guess for him, his working day was finished once he filled up his digital card with more than he had bargained for.

Isn’t it though that if you see someone in clear need for help, you help? And if you can’t manage yourself, you get help? I thought this was always the rule.

Recently however, the abundance of technology has allowed abscesses to grow on today’s society, their poison twisting perceptions and re-defining some of the rules we got accustomed to. It may have changed our character too.

Our altruistic nature, slowly replaced by an attention-seeking, soulless and scoop-snagging freak. Not everyone will turn into such media monster of course, but the ones who do, will ruin it for the rest.

So how much more apathy towards our surroundings will we develop in years to come and what will be the result? Will we at some point, choose an image over a life?

It is possible. I just have to think about the accident on the New York subway last year, to realise we’re practically there.

The harrowing image of a man trying to drag himself back onto the platform after he had been pushed on the tracks, was beamed around the world.

The picture was taken by a reporter from the New York Post who happened to be on the subway platform.  Moments later, the train rolled in.

His excuse for photographing someone seconds away from death was: ‘I wanted to warn the approaching train by using my flash’.

For me, his excuse was pathetic. I’d like to believe that every normal thinking person would run to the edge of the platform to try and pull the man up to safety. He didn’t and chose to become the news instead.

It cost a man’s life but what is this compared to crawling out of obscurity and being known by millions of people? Even if that claim to fame is the result of showing death in the face.

Obviously most who heard about the subway tragedy, reacted with disgust but I am sure that should the opportunity presents itself again one day, several amongst us wouldn’t hesitate to do what the reporter did.

There is however no denying that there are people who genuinely freeze up when confronted with a perplexing situation. It’s something beyond their control.

It seems that these days, whoever claims they don’t know why there were watching, they just froze in place, still managed to point their camera in the right direction.

Today, Mr Saatchi has announced that the photos showed a couple having a playful tiff.

As such, we can all assume this is why Nigella ran out of the restaurant crying then. Their fun and games ultimately resulting in a playful finale – with racking sobs for effect. Oh how wonderful it is to joke around.

The thing is, if it had been a ‘playful tiff’, no one around them would have been aware of their penchant for sinister role playing and as such, they should have intervened no matter what. Not just sit there, watching, snapping away, uploading the pictures on a social site with caption: ‘Nigella Lawson is getting strangled here at Scott’s! :- ( ‘

I hope they’re ashamed now, the diners, the restaurant staff, though I have no hope for the paparazzi. Some I am sure, will feel remorseful for not reaching out when they should have.

Though, there will be others who will browse through their cherished pictures and feel privileged they were in the right place at the right moment, full battery and all.

They’ll be dining out on this for years to come. And –  they’ve got the pictures, the retweets and the obvious absence of a philanthropic gene to show for.

When it comes to Nigella, I hope she is okay and that she hasn’t become disillusioned, not only with her husband and her relationship but also with the ones who believe that life is nothing but a zoo.