Written by Gráinne Maguire


In Their Own Words: Cheryl

No matter how many TED talks she listens to or how many Ronan Keating lyrics she’s embroidered on cushions, sometimes life still refuses to make sense to Grainne Maguire. That’s when she reaches for her favourite celeb autobiography and shares the life lessons learned from former girl band members, reality stars and that guy from MasterChef. In this episode, the nation’s sweetheart with that X Factor Cheryl offers some text education.

In Their Own Words: Cheryl

Illustration by Jemima Williams.

In a confusing world, thank goodness you can trust a celebrity autobiography to put things in perspective. Who better to turn to than the nation’s returned sweetheart Cheryl Cole, sorry, Cheryl Fernandez-Visini, and her best selling memoir Cheryl: My Story?

Written in a simpler time before rose bum-tatts and whirlwind weddings to French playboys, Cheryl’s first memoir is packed with life lessons. I’m not saying it should be on the national syllabus; I am saying we should build an entire academy around it – at last a faith school to get behind.

The lesson from Cheryl’s story? Sheer willpower, adorable dimples and Destiny’s Child-inspired tracksuit bottoms will help you survive anything, even if that includes a teenage battle with depression, growing up surrounded by drug addiction and a brother in prison. That’s just the pre-fame section; we haven’t even got to working with Louis Walsh yet.

Luckily Cheryl is blessed with a mother more like a best friend than a parent and she gushes throughout the book about how supportive of her life choices her mum has always been. We get a real sense of her parenting skills when Cheryl recounts her ma’s reaction to the news, shared over a spliff, that 15-year-old Cheryl is dating a 24-year-old who takes her for driving lessons while still in her school uniform.

“As long as you’re happy and safe Cheryl; that’s all that matters.”

Sadly, Cheryl has not been lucky in love. Her marriage to Ashley Cole is not to last, despite the romantic early days: “The first text I received from him a few days later said, ‘Wot u up 2?’ to which I replied, ‘Not much, wot u up 2?’”

Those giddy heights don’t last long. Chillingly she notes, he never once made her a cup of tea. When she climbs Kilimanjaro, he doesn’t even text her to say well done, which is extra bittersweet considering how special his texts can be. Then the stories of his cheating break and despite Cheryl’s tears, sobs, and collapsing on stairs, he never once admits or explains his actions. She didn’t survive Ghost Hunting With Girls Aloud to put up with that.

Cheryl is tough. Yes, she may have had that unpleasantness with a nightclub toilet attendant but give her a break: she survived 10 years in a band with Sarah Harding; that’s going to make a girl twitchy.

At least, we think, as we fumble through the final chapters, she has presenting The US X Factor to keep her spirits up. Then Nicole Scherzinger arrives and using just the ability to think up catchy new words beguiles Simon Cowell’s fickle black heart and snatches our modern day Catherine Cookson heroine’s big break right from her already malaria-weakened fingers. Not shamazing at all guys. At all.

The book ends with her resilient, yet yearning for a simpler life. After all she’s been through – divorce, betrayal, working with Nadine Coyle – you can’t help hoping she gets her wish. In Cheryl’s own words “Follow your dreams”, “Be true to yourself” and “Always take your malaria tablets” are the key life lessons gleaned from this page turner – along with making sure all contracts with Simon Cowell are bulletproof and the sad truth that big hair doesn’t suit everyone.

Cheryl: My Story (2012) is published by Harper Collins.


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Written by Gráinne Maguire

Gráinne Maguire is a comedian, comedy writer, lover and a fighter. Loves the Labour Party and Cheryl Cole in equal measures.