As anyone who is up to date with current affairs, or, indeed anyone at all, it seems, as you can not escape from this article – will know, Charles Saatchi announced in the press that he was divorcing Nigella Lawson, following the release of photographs taken where he was pictured strangling her outside a restaurant. This was passed off to be a ‘playful tiff’ although he did accept a police caution for his actions. My post today is not, as you may be relieved to know, about the divorce and antics of Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson – we have all read quite enough about this already, perhaps. With the Saatchi name being thrown about in such a disdainful way across the newspapers of late, my thoughts turn not to Charles, but to his brother, Maurice.
Maurice Saatchi is Charles’ younger brother and together, they formed the advertising agency ‘Saatchi&Saatchi’ in 1970. Together, they are both known for numerous successful advertising campaigns, most notably the ‘Labour isn’t working’ campaign that worked so well for Margaret Thatcher. Yet, separately, their lives are quite different. Charles Saatchi, as has been realised, first by Nigella, secondly by the public, is not all he once seemed. A quiet, withdrawn man, with a vile temper that has now affected the way he is perceived by the general public.
I came to learn of the Saatchi brothers through their advertising company, fleetingly, but I learned more of Maurice through my favourite author, otherwise known as Josephine Hart, his deceased spouse. She is the author of the well known book Damage, but her work extends far past this. Oblivion, Sin, The Stillest Day, The Reconstructionist and The Truth About Love are the other five of her novels, and she compiled two poetry books of her favourite works – Words That Burn and Catching Life By The Throat. I shall assume that her cause of death is known by anyone that is aware of her or Maurice – cancer of the ovaries, if you weren’t – but I have to wonder how many people know of the affect that her death had on Maurice Saatchi, and how he has acted since her death.
Having read numerous articles on this subject, and feeling fully equipped to discuss it, I came away from one particular article written in the Belfast Telegraph after her death with the realisation that her and Maurice were soulmates. Maurice encouraged Josephine to write books, he gave her the confidence to do it, he even helped Damage get into the hands of a successful French director so that it could become a film. He knew what talent she had, and he helped her nurture it. He knew, all too well, her fear of Oblivion and her love of poetry: she described it as ‘the highest form of language, higher than novels, higher than drama’ and with these thoughts combined, he wisely decided to put the poetry app she had designed into place. (If you do not have the app I would advise getting it, it’s free and it works on all apple devices. The poets range from Larkin to Auden to T.S Eliot, there are readings by actors and a video by Josephine herself).
In life and in death, Maurice supported Josephine in all that she did, and he mourns her with great pain now, as only those who love can. When I came across the images of Charles Saatchi with his hands around Nigella’s throat, I knew the name of Saatchi would be a tainted one. I feel that I should finish this by quoting Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet
‘What’s in a name?’