The Cole, Hard Truth

We were rather hoping that motherhood would give us a year or two off from the interminable circus of Cheryl Cole’s love life, but no. Here we are again. Like clockwork. Another will-they-won’t-they split story on the cards. So what’s her deal this time? It depends who you ask…

If you want to pass an utterly unproductive five minutes, think about this: what will historians of the future make of Cheryl Cole?

Criminal records last, so they’ll probably remember that she had a conviction for assault. Marriage certificates (and decrees nisi) will be a matter of public record too, so they’ll be able to collate certain facts about her love life. Presumably we’ll maintain some sort of archive of the UK Top 40, so her number ones, platinum plaques and million-sales certificates will be catalogued somehow.

But what of her personal life? What of her personality? Beyond the basic paperwork, what will last of Cheryl?

The reason the question has been on our minds this week is because – even with the benefit of watching it all play out in real time – we’re struggling to figure out exactly what to make of this latest round of headlines about her “scheduled split” with Liam Payne.

What purpose does any of it serve?

Normally, there are four main ways to interpret any Cheryl story that appears in the press. The first is at face value – and that way is utterly worthless. You’re more likely to hit upon the truth of the matter by dropkicking a Scrabble set into a wall and reading the resulting mess than trusting anything printed in the tabloids.

That leaves three other ways, but their worth all depends on whether you consider yourself to be a Cynic, a Cole-Brand Conspiracist or a Chim Shipper.

The Cynics are those who think that these sorts of Cheryl stories are driven by a desperate need to generate publicity for her professional projects.

The Cole-Brand Conspiracists are those who think that Cheryl deliberately sabotages her love life in order to deflect other negative press that might do damage to her public image.

The Chim Shippers are those who believe that everything Cheryl does is part of an extremely carefully-managed fiction, tailored specifically to cover the fact that she has actually been in a secret lesbian relationship with Kimberley Walsh from Girls Aloud for the last 15 years or so.

The notion of this last one may strike you as being particularly implausible, but can you honestly say – hand-on-heart – that it’s any less plausible than the ‘official’ stories that her people are constantly trying to pass off as real?

Us neither.

So, if only for the sake of our future scholars, let’s treat all these opinions with respect. The very least we owe the citizens of the 22nd Century is the opportunity to hear all sides of this increasingly stupid story.

The Cynics

When two celebrities decide to become a couple, they don’t just make the private commitments that regular people make one another. They have a lot of extra, public-facing commitments to make too.

They have to promise to turn up for red carpet events around the world, and answer questions even though they’re not involved in the film. They have to promise to show up to the first night of their tour to post a supportive Snapchat. They have to promise to sit in the audience of Strictly, and tell Tess Daly how proud they are and how tightly everyone at home has their fingers crossed.

It’s no small undertaking, dating a celeb, but the reward for doing all that extra work is that you have someone to return the favour for you when you have a project you need to plug.

Completely coincidentally, Cheryl and Liam have a few big projects on the go at the minute.

Liam is currently doing the rounds, promoting his current single – a duet with Rita Ora that appears on the latest Fifty Shades movie. His debut solo album is also due out sometime this year.

Cheryl has also been teasing some new music for release at some point in 2018, and has been ‘spotted’ in the studio with JHus of recent. She has also launched a new charity initiative with the Prince’s Trust this week. But, most notably, she has just filmed a non-broadcast pilot of a dance talent show called The Greatest Dancer – produced by Simon Cowell’s Syco Productions.

It was uncanny enough that Pop Idol’s Cheryl Tweedy and X Factor’s Liam Payne should have found love with one another in the first place – but now a fabricated semi-bust up at the point when the two of them need a little publicity?

Why, it’s just too good to be true…

The Cole-Brand Conspiracists

You don’t need to be particularly eagle-eyed to notice that stories of the potential split have started to emerge exactly two years since details of the Cheryl-Liam brand merger were first confirmed.

And did you note the strange wording of the Mail’s take on the matter last week?

“Could split in weeks”. What? Why the delay? Why not now? What could possibly be holding matters up?

If you’re of the persuasion that Cheryl deliberately manipulates her love life specifically to generate headlines, then you may have already considered the possibility of a contract that’s about to expire.

The celebrity relationship contract is the sort of thing that sounds like fantasy to a civilian – a deeply unromantic and unsentimental concept that couldn’t possibly exist in the real world, beyond the peculiar mind of the pop culture obsessive.

However, the truth is that they’re pretty mundane and they’ve existed in some form since the days of the Golden Age of Hollywood.

The Cynics’ interpretation of Cheryl’s first marriage (to Ashley Cole) was that it was an attempt at creating a Posh’n’Becks-style power couple. A way to create a team who could shift a wide range of goods, from shampoo, to trainers, to lottery tickets. However, the Cole-Brand Conspiracy suggests something more subtle: that the two were married to solve the couple’s complementary publicity problems.

Cheryl, having punched a black toilet attendant in a nightclub (and reportedly used a racial slur while doing so), was having trouble convincing people she wasn’t a huge racist. Ashley, having recently sued the News Of The World for alleging that he was in a gay relationship, was finding his sexuality openly questioned in the national press.

In bringing the two together – only to later break them up on account of Ashley’s ‘rampant infidelity’ – you solve both problems. Cheryl is absolved of the accusations of racism (she’ll punch anyone – honest!) and Ashley is left looking like a Herculean shagger.

The Cole-Brand theory was further refined with her second marriage, to the immaculately bearded Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini.

On July 13th 2014, a story broke about how Cheryl had shut down a company of which she was the sole owner, Tara Entertainments Limited – a live entertainment firm based out of Ireland. Ireland has a famously low corporate tax rate and is therefore a favoured location of the savvy ‘tax efficiency’ expert.

As big names like Gary Barlow, Jimmy Carr and Chris Moyles had all been hauled over the coals for their part in various tax avoidance schemes, all eyes were on celebrity tax dodgers at that time. Cheryl Cole – the nation’s sweetheart – was all primed to get caught up in it, but the story was quickly overshadowed though by a shock announcement on July 14th.

Cheryl Cole was now Cheryl Fernandez-Versini.

Apparently, she’d got married the week previously and decided – seemingly apropos of nothing – to tell everyone about it the day after hints of financial shadiness emerged.

Which could have been complete coincidence, of course – but it was mighty helpful all the same.

So what is it this time? Cheryl and Liam aren’t married, of course (so quite why he’s needing to see ‘divorce lawyers’ is a bit of a mystery) but what could Cheryl be wrapped up in that requires such drastic measures? Has something happened that she’ll need to blame on the stresses of a failing relationship and single-motherhood?

This is what Cole-Brand Conspiracists are wondering…

The Chim Shippers

Since we last set foot aboard the Chim Ship a few years ago, another extremely solid piece of evidence has emerged in the internet’s ongoing investigation to reveal the true nature of Cheryl and Kimberly (a.k.a. Chim)’s relationship.

Kimberley Walsh gave birth to another son in late 2016, which she publicly introduced to the world in January 2017. The name of this child – a child that a very dedicated corner of the internet is convinced will be raised by Cheryl and Kimberley in a loving lesbian home? Cole.

Kimberley called her baby Cole.

This is not the only bit of evidence – nor is it the most brow-raising bit of it either (Chim Shippers are nothing if not exhaustive in gathering receipts) – but we needn’t retread old ground here. What we want to know is the Chim Shipper angle on the latest news. What’s the view on the Liam split.

They too believe that Liam Payne’s contract is up. Not to deflect from some negative press, but because he has outlived his use in the ‘babygate’.

Babygates are a strange part of super-fandom. It’s the name given to a series of theories that celebrities have faked stories about their babies – or, in some cases, even faked the babies themselves. There’s a surprising amount of them around. Louis from One Direction has a good one. So does Benedict Cumberbatch.

Cheryl and Liam are also the focus of a babygate: Babygate 2.0 (Babygate 1.0 was Louis Tomlinson’s). There seems to be little doubt about the fact that Cheryl was pregnant, but fans refuse to believe that the baby is his and feel that he’s been roped in as a semi-plausible spooge-stooge.

Quite who the baby’s biological father is is uncertain, but the masterplan all along was to have Liam provide some cover, so that Cheryl could get pregnant by someone else, so that Bear can join his “half-brothers” Bobby and Cole in the loving Chim home.