I’m not sure anyone really did: Nigella was wary, even back then, of revealing too much of herself.Suffering – she went on to lose first her mother and then her sister to cancer – insulated her.
The sceptics had not noticed that Charles Saatchi, who had transformed a grocer’s daughter into a Prime Minister, lurked behind the scenes.
Later, when her husband John Diamond also died from the disease, I remember being struck by how similar Nigella was to Jackie Onassis: a glamorous but tragic young widow with two small children who must forge a path amid public scrutiny.
Like Jackie O, Nigella soon found someone to lean on: Charles Saatchi did not quite match Ari Onassis’s outrageous wealth, but he had made a fortune with his PR company. The man who once manipulated the media to create Nigella the domestic goddess has used it now to humiliate her.
He had used the media to create Nigella, now he would use it to destroy her. Her resilience will see her through this crisis as it has seen her through all the previous ones.
She will bide her time, make a new home, maybe move with her children to America, where she may well find herself a new man – a sunny, supportive figure whose star burns so much brighter than Saatchi’s.