Saturday, 26 December 2015


Cheryl’s role is that of sacrificial lamb and the part will always place certain requirements on her, purity being chief among them. Ever since her days winning beauty contests beneath the glare of dazzling stage spotlights, it’s the wide-eyed gaze of innocence that beguiles the judges. The sound of her voice is all very well but it's the dimples on her cheeks that are what nudges the scorecards up to the heavens. What’s needed from Cheryl is the look of a blank canvas. Her hair is naturally dark which is fine for her as she’s the only member of Girls Aloud to carry off the look without any helping hand from bleached highlights. In group photos it tends to be her in the middle, with her pale skin and piercing stare stopping the camera dead in its tracks, so when the copybook is blotted with her ugly assault conviction then it creates a double exposure on all these images. The babe in the woods is overlaid with the image of a drug fueled binge drinker. Those few seconds between her vacating the toilet cubicle at Drink nightclub and landing the punch on Sophie Amogbokpa are so loaded with potential. That blink of an eye sees her gaze over the cliff edge, to see the girl most likely to succeed lying dead on the floor below.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015


Whenever she wins all those child superstar singing competitions, it’s never because she can actually sing. Her voice is an unremarkable high-pitched whine with nothing to set it apart from all the other girls’ renditions of show tunes standards. What’s always seen Cheryl prevail is her innate conviction. A belief such as hers becomes a kind of magical thinking, a drive to shape reality through sheer force of will. Here’s the thing: if no other consensual version of events exists beyond this audience’s perception, then surely that shared experience can be manipulated into whatever shape Cheryl sees fit. That communal feeling becomes a mere stage set where, at least for the duration of the song, Cheryl has the power to arrange the mise en scène accordingly. Her gift has developed over time and its power is closely tied up with whatever took control of her flailing fists in those Drink club toilets. That long-suppressed rage is her genius.

Saturday, 19 December 2015


Cheryl’s trial takes place at Kingston Crown Court. The ingénue's entire showbiz career is in the balance. Everything hinges on whether her leathering of Sophie Amogbokpa can be classed as simple assault or racially-aggravated assault, or the difference between "a fucking bitch" or "a fucking black bitch”, as the wronged party would have it. Nicola’s quite happy to lie on her friend’s behalf to ensure that the racially-aggravated charge won’t stick, and Cheryl’s demeanour in the stand is a presentation of wounded-animal-blinking-before-the-headlights-of-the-institutional-juggernaut, her get-up invariably the virginal white trouser suit with its happy connotations of virtue in peril. There’s a surfeit of eye contact with the jury and the tone of repentance is stuck to throughout, with Cheryl’s lengthy resumé of stagecraft standing her in good stead for the performance required. That experience duly pays off when the jury decides there’s insufficient evidence to send her down on the racism charge. Judge Richard Haworth tells them he'd accept a majority verdict and the jurors decide by 11 to one that she’s guilty of assault, with a unanimous not guilty verdict on the racial assault charge. The Judge said: "This was an unpleasant piece of drunken violence which caused Sophie Amogbokpa pain and suffering. Her eye was painful for three or four weeks, there was bruising for three months and for a while she had blurred vision. You showed no remorse whatsoever." Cheryl’s sentenced to 120 hours of unpaid community service and must also pay her victim £500 compensation, along with £3,000 of prosecution costs. The message to fans on her website captures her euphoria perfectly: ”thank U so much 4 everything. I really appreciate it: loadsa love hugs and kisses”.

Thursday, 17 December 2015


Cheryl is escorted from the Drink club and she spends the next ten hours in police custody. During all that time alone in the cell, our would-be superstar can reflect on the sorry circumstances that have brought her here. Coldness and silence bring clarity. Girls Aloud are presented as that most archly self-aware of manufactured groups, from their punning band name to the very title of their number one debut hit ‘The Sound of the Underground’, so it’s catastrophic for one of their number to be mixed up in the chaos of a sordid set-to like this. Calls are made and lawyers are hired, but all the while Cheryl knows nothing of the machinations behind the scenes. In here, as the effects of alcohol and narcotics begin to wear off, she’s thrown back into a familiar game of self-analysis and second-guesses at what the reaction of others might be. Her mascara has run all down her cheeks and she contemplates what a state she must look. Earlier tonight so much time and effort were spent achieving an immaculate front that to end the evening in this way just seems absurd. Cheryl cries, and the sounds of her despair echo around the walls of her prison.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015


Our two coke-addled cunts Nicola and Cheryl emerge from their shared cubicle in the Drink ladies’ toilets. Nicola can still string enough words together to ask the attendant Sophie Amogbokpa if she can use the cosmetics on the venue’s perfunctory display. With bitter irony, the unfortunate Sophie is working as a toilet attendant to pay her way through law college, being paid all of £25 for a full night’s shift waiting on drunks such as these. Cheryl then falls into view and starts petulantly grabbing lollipops off the stand. ’My father owns this place you fucking black bitch. I can do whatever I want to do. I will deal with you’. A security guard is called and as he seeks to restrain Cheryl, she lunges forward with a heavy punch. “She came right through and punched me in the left eye. My vision blurred and the eye closed immediately.”

Tuesday, 15 December 2015


It’s Saturday night on January 11th 2003, and Cheryl’s out with a group of friends on the razzle dazzle at the Drink nightclub in Guildford, Surrey. They’re all in the highest of high spirits, what with their newly anointed pop band Girls Aloud being the toast of prime time TV show Pop Stars: The Rivals. Cheryl’s whole life always seemed to be leading up to this moment: her working-class council estate childhood roots in Newcastle, her gamine beauty landing her modelling contracts and advertising roles, playground popularity and prettiest-girl prizes, all of it leading her up to the ultimate prize of Celebrity. Now she stands to be immortalised in entertainment by pop stardom. But first she’s gonna get royally fucked up and no mistake. Vodka and Red Bull, wine and free champagne are all flowing, and the eyes of everyone in the club are on her. She’s drunk and she’s paranoid. Cheryl and Nicola share a cubicle in the Drink toilets.