When the news was announced that Johnny Depp had won his defamation case against Amber Heard, I was out with a girlfriend
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When the news was announced that Johnny Depp had won his defamation case against Amber Heard, I was out with a girlfriend. We both instinctively let out a little whoop. Another friend texted me: ‘Am so pleased for Johnny.’ Even my mother couldn’t resist: ‘Johnny has achieved Heard immunity!’ she messaged.

Fascinating. First of all because none of us has ever met Johnny Depp, nor are we ever likely to. So why would we care about a middle-aged actor and his squabbles with his ex-wife? Secondly, because we are all women and so – theoretically at least – we ought to be on Heard’s side.

And yet I don’t know a single woman who is. All my female friends, without exception, even the younger, woker ones, took against Heard during the course of this trial.

Even if they didn’t all exactly sympathise with Depp, they were united in acknowledging there was much more to the case than ‘man bad, woman victim’.

Depp is no saint, there’s no doubt about that. But it’s one thing to be a troubled individual with multiple substance and behavioural issues and quite another to be an abuser. You can be a fundamentally decent human and still make a complete and utter Horlicks of your life, as Depp has proved. But you can also have the face of an angel and be very far from perfect underneath. That is what this trial reminds us. That is why it has caught the attention of millions.

When the news was announced that Johnny Depp had won his defamation case against Amber Heard, I was out with a girlfriend

When the news was announced that Johnny Depp had won his defamation case against Amber Heard, I was out with a girlfriend

It exposed not only Heard’s somewhat tenuous relationship with the facts, but also the other side of the story – a side that in the age of #MeToo is not often acknowledged. A universal truth, experienced by many: that sometimes a relationship can be so toxic it turns both of you into monsters. But also a far more uncomfortable truth (deep breath): women don’t have a monopoly on victimhood.

When Heard wrote that now infamous piece for The Washington Post about how she had been the victim of domestic abuse, the #MeToo movement was at its height. The (admittedly shocking) experiences and (admittedly revolting) behaviour of a small but significant group of people had lit a fuse that snaked all around the globe, reconfiguring attitudes to male/female relationships and characterising men as predators, women as victims.

At the time many women, myself included, felt this was a dangerous generalisation. Relationships are complex, people are complex, not everything is black and white, we argued. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty, we said. Nope. We were accused of victim blaming and shaming. There was only one acceptable narrative: a woman can do no wrong, all men are animals. End of.

We both instinctively let out a little whoop. Another friend texted me: ‘Am so pleased for Johnny’

We both instinctively let out a little whoop. Another friend texted me: ‘Am so pleased for Johnny’

That was the climate in which Heard wrote her piece, and so perhaps it’s understandable that she felt empowered to make such damaging assertions (and that The Washington Post saw fit to publish them). The last thing she would have expected would have been for Depp to challenge her.

Having been cancelled, lost all his film roles and marked down as a ‘wife beater’, presumably she thought he would just curl up in a corner and die quietly, allowing her to bask in the sympathy and solidarity of the sisterhood.

And for a while, that was the case. But then he fought back, and the rest is history. Of course, it helps that he is a wealthy star – many in his position are not, so don’t have his options.

But the fact is that Depp now stands for every man who has ever been wrongly accused of abusing a woman, while Amber is not only the girl who cried wolf, she’s someone who weaponised the #MeToo movement for her own gain.

Fascinating. First of all because none of us has ever met Johnny Depp, nor are we ever likely to. So why would we care about a middle-aged actor and his squabbles with his ex-wife? Secondly, because we are all women and so – theoretically at least – we ought to be on Heard’s side

Fascinating. First of all because none of us has ever met Johnny Depp, nor are we ever likely to. So why would we care about a middle-aged actor and his squabbles with his ex-wife? Secondly, because we are all women and so – theoretically at least – we ought to be on Heard’s side

That goes to the heart of why so few women feel empathy for her. Real domestic abuse victims struggle, sometimes for years, to have their voices heard. They suffer at the hands of their aggressors, often trapped in toxic situations through lack of money, opportunities or the constraints of their culture.

For Heard to jump on the #MeToo bandwagon under false pretences feels like the ultimate betrayal, as did the fact that she lied about donating the proceeds of her divorce settlement to charity.

She gives all women a bad name, and in many ways undoes years of work building up credibility for victims of domestic violence. She claimed in her statement that the verdict was a ‘setback’ for women, but that’s not true: she is the one who has set back the cause for women. That, I’m afraid, is the hard truth she must now accept.

She gives all women a bad name, and in many ways undoes years of work building up credibility for victims of domestic violence

She gives all women a bad name, and in many ways undoes years of work building up credibility for victims of domestic violence

Women who use gas and air during labour are harming the planet, according to new research. Apparently inhaling Entonox, the most commonly used form of nitrous oxide, for four hours has the same environmental impact as driving 850 miles. Great. As if new mothers didn’t have enough to worry about. 

My favourite moment from the Jubilee so far is an interview with former Royal Protection Officer Richard Griffin, who tells how he was picnicking with the Queen near Balmoral when a pair of American hikers approached. ‘Have you ever met the Queen?’ one asked the Queen, clearly not having recognised her. ‘I haven’t,’ she replied, ‘but Dick here meets her regularly.’ Whereupon the tourist handed his camera to Her Majesty and asked her to take a photo of him and Griffin. She gracefully obliged. Nothing sums up the humility, humour and humanity of the woman more than that simple yet telling anecdote. 

Jubilee or no Jubilee, I’m afraid I must draw the line at the use of the Union Jack as a form of sartorial expression. The only person who ever vaguely managed to get away with it was Ginger Spice, aka Geri Halliwell, and even that was questionable. 

Jubilee or no Jubilee, I’m afraid I must draw the line at the use of the Union Jack as a form of sartorial expression. The only person who ever vaguely managed to get away with it was Ginger Spice, aka Geri Halliwell, and even that was questionable

Jubilee or no Jubilee, I’m afraid I must draw the line at the use of the Union Jack as a form of sartorial expression. The only person who ever vaguely managed to get away with it was Ginger Spice, aka Geri Halliwell, and even that was questionable

In her first interview since announcing she’s stepping down, Facebook boss Sheryl Sandberg uses a term I’ve never heard before to describe midlife women: ‘queenager’. In a week when we’ve been celebrating the ultimate Queen, Elizabeth II, it seems the perfect way to describe all those women juggling work and family, all the while struggling to remain relevant in a world that still favours youth and beauty over age and experience. 

I don’t know why but I find Dan Walker’s bleating about his income a real turn-off. ‘I am embarrassed by the amount I earn,’ the TV presenter says. If that’s the case, why accept a job at Channel 5 for a reported £1.5millon over three years? Look, Dan, you are good at what you do. There’s nothing wrong with being rewarded for that. But moaning about it is just self-indulgent.

I don't know why but I find Dan Walker’s bleating about his income a real turn-off

I don’t know why but I find Dan Walker’s bleating about his income a real turn-off

My run-in with Pimm’s police 

I took my son and a couple of his friends away for a few days during half-term. We went to a supermarket to stock up on the sort of thing 17-year-old boys like to eat. At one point, I asked my son to put a case of beer and a bottle of Pimm’s in the trolley (I was expecting some friends, and have a bad back). At the checkout I was approached by a member of the security staff. Had I ever heard of ‘a proxy sale’, he asked me. No I had not, I replied, scanning my sausages. Well, he informed me, he had reason to suspect I was attempting one. Apparently, security cameras had spotted my son putting the alcohol into the trolley, and staff suspected me of attempting to purchase it on his behalf. I tried to explain that, as the child’s mother, I had no intention of letting him drink any alcohol, but my assurances fell on deaf ears. In the end I gave up on the drinks, mindful that the poor man was just doing his job. But talk about a police state. I’ve rarely been made to feel like such a criminal.

Here’s my view on the Tory rebels. The Prime Minister should call their bluff. He would almost certainly win a vote of no confidence, and if he did it would give him a fresh mandate as leader, and allow him to reshuffle. It’s his best chance of drawing a line under Partygate, which he absolutely needs to do. And if he loses – well, so be it. Better that than this constant carping, death by 1,000 cuts, a Tory Party divided – and certain defeat at the next Election. 

Il Portico, London’s oldest family-run restaurant, has been vandalised just days after it hosted a fundraiser for Ukraine attended by, among others, J.K. Rowling. The vandals’ motives have not been made clear, but it is perhaps no coincidence that following the event the owner, James Chiavarini, was trolled on Twitter and accused of transphobia. Once again, proof that no good deed goes unpunished in this crazy world of ours. 

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