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Role model for wronged women

PUBLISHED: 10:00 12 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:18 06 July 2010

THE only thing gruff grumpy roly-poly former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott had going for him was his wife, Pauline.

Stalwart and glamorous yet warm and maternal, her radiant perfectly made up smile countering his customary grimace, she was his saving grace.

THE only thing gruff grumpy roly-poly former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott had going for him was his wife, Pauline.

Stalwart and glamorous yet warm and maternal, her radiant perfectly made up smile countering his customary grimace, she was his saving grace.

If such a woman had stuck by the old blusterer all these years, he couldn't be so bad, could he?

He repaid her 45 years of steadfast loyalty by cheating on her with a woman called Tracey from his office.

Pauline, whose betrayal won her the nation's heart, tells how she can't forgive his affair in her book Smile Though Your Heart is Breaking because to forgive would be to condone.

In the dark days after Prescott was forced to confess his two-years of sex with Tracey after the press got hold of it, Pauline tells how she hunkered down at home with her sons. Broken and humiliated she couldn't face the world.

When she did venture out, it was to the local shops where she was overwhelmed by support and warmth.

Compare the elegant and restrained Mrs Prescott's reaction to her husband's solitary infidelity to that of John Terry's wife, Toni, whose latest betrayal in a long line of betrayals was not only with a teammate's fiancée but with one of her close friends. Nice. But that's football for you. Not that the bedroom shenanigans of Westminster are much more tasteful.

When most women would batten down the hatches, keep their family close and take stock, Toni Terry flew to Dubai with their twins and her parents.

Most women in her situation would be challenged to pack clean knickers and remember a passport, but Toni managed to select an impeccable array of minute bikinis for maximum on the camera lens.

Terry carried on his day job, got sacked by Fabio Capello - and my favourite bit of the whole saga, get torn off a strip for not meeting his manager wearing a tie. Go Fabio - and defiantly ran a lap of honour at Stamford Bridge for his dimwit supporters while Toni very publicly contemplated her future with blonde hair dyed a suspiciously similar shade of brunette to that of her love rival.

As a wronged wife ''escaping' from the spotlight, she's lapped it up, strolling beaches looking immaculate in a range of two-pieces with her toned body tanned in all the right places.

Instead of crying in her £350-a-night luxury room, she's dragged the children around a shopping mall - home from home to a WAG- and has chosen her meltdown moment to be in a car park in the arms of her dad in all what looked like carefully orchestrated events.

While Mrs Prescott privately composed herself to face the world, Toni has been out there having a holiday, if not a ball.

But this isn't the first time Toni Terry has been betrayed. Her husband has made something of a career out of it.

Pauline took her philanderer back. His sons had rounded on him and he felt a fool for putting the lovely Pauline through such hell.

The fact that she cannot forgive him is making him work harder as a husband. “He listens to me more now.” Atta girl!

Toni will probably take Terry back - and forgive him, again. For the sake of the kids or for the lifestyle marriage to him brings. Perhaps the sacrifice of self-pride is worth the snakeskin handbags and closets of frocks. Perhaps this all just comes with the territory of being married to John Terry.

But while the nation's sympathy and support went out to Pauline, to Tiger Woods wife Elin and even to Hilary Clinton, Toni attracts just one feeling from other women. Stupid woman.

Most women can cope with being a wronged woman but few can tolerate being a viewed as a stupid one. Toni, I fear, is one of these.

As if the whole sordid affair, which let's not forget involves three small children, hasn't sunk deep enough, 'Team Terry' and 'Team Bridge' t-shirts are now on to vow allegiance to the alleged adulterer or the cuckolded Wayne Bridges. Classy.

Dr Helen Wright is the type of woman I always seem to end up being talked at at functions.

The type of woman who makes every other woman feel inadequate, wimpy and a general failure at everything we've ever attempted.

In short the type of woman I'd walk across hot coals bear foot to avoid.

Dr Wright is the head teacher - or headmistress as she undoubtedly enjoys to be called -of an exclusive girls school. At 39, she has just had her third child.

Nothing outstanding about that - apart from the fact that Dr Wright gave birth at 5.45 am and was back at her desk by lunchtime and hasn't left it since.

This wonder of womanhood did the same with her two older children, breastfeeds between meetings and gets a day's work done with her baby snoozing beside her.

Her no nonsense approach gives the impression of a jolly hockey sticks type who thinks we need to grit our teeth at the mild smarting of childbirth and jolly well get back to work toute suite.

At least she has the grace to admit she was lucky to have had straightforward births.

“Most women have a choice of taking maternity leave or going back to work and having their babies looked after. Why can't there be a third way - taking your baby to work with you?”

Just what employers want to hear - their workplaces alive with the sounds of crying babies.

The health and safety rep would have a field day with floor hazards of carrycots and cat seats, let alone sterilisers, bottle warmers and nipple pads everywhere.

She thinks it's great her 'gals' can see that she can 'have it all.” Their parents expect her to be “pretty special and an excellent role model” after all.

“Most mothers want their daughters to have the exhilarating excitement of a career they love and the joy of a family. I have that and I want to show the girls at St Mary's that that is not an impossible dream.

Perhaps it isn't in the rarified world of a girls' public school but in the real world life is very different in factories and offices where this special “role model” would be every other woman's nightmare.

Schoolchildren have named Girls Aloud singer, X Factor judge and wife of footballer Ashley Cheryl Cole as their ideal teacher - ahead of Stephen Fry.

It speaks volumes about our education system.

They prefer a preened and glossed pop star with no qualifications to teach them rather than a Cambridge educated witty brain.

But it figures. Most poor lambs end up being taught by a cross between Frank Spencer and Peggy from Hi-di-Hi and cynical moaning jobsworths if they're lucky and a string of hopeless supply teachers if they're not.

So Cole must look like Einstein.

High up the list of things my boys need to know before they grow up is the importance of a good firm handshake.

Many a happy moment has been spent practicing the art to stand them in good stead for later life.

“You might be able to get away with wearing odd socks or not wearing a tie but never a weedy handshake,” I tell them while they insist that by the time they're doing business high fives as greetings will suffice. Not on my watch.

Nor Barack Obama's fist bumps -on the sports field maybe but never for formal greetings.

First impressions do count and there is nothing so telling about a person's character as their handshake.

I despair when someone offers me a limp wet fish of a hand. It screams: “This person is ineffective, weak and hopeless.”

A bone cruncher is invariably a control freak letting you know he's in charge.

A firm confident shake, using the full hand, not a weedy couple of fingers or a two-hand grip, has the desired effect. It's easy so why is it so rare?

Instead of all these millions being spent on sex education, perhaps some can be channelled into making our children fit for purpose in the workplace.

By the time they're 14 they know how to put on a condom but have no idea how to shake someone's hand, greet them and look them in the eye while holding a conversation.

Cherie Blair was once an ambitious young lawyer with her eye on a political career when she fell in love with someone with the same dream.

But something had to give. She agreed to support her husband pursue a political career while she remained in law.

For years she had to bite her tongue - often unsuccessfully - watching Tony Blair have the career she had dreamed of.

Despite her sacrifice of politics, her life in law career has been anything but humdrum. A QC and a respected judge is a tall order for a woman without the benefits of a wealthy privileged upbringing.

She has worked hard, has a brilliant mind and has won respect independently for charity work as well as at the bar and in her judge's seat, whatever anyone thinks of her personally.

And few of us know her personally.

If she hadn't been the former PM's wife, she would probably have already been elevated to the House of Lords on her own merits. Now word is that she will be going there, there are grumblings about her past gaffes and indiscretions.

Give the woman a break. She forged an independent career when she sacrificed her dream for her husband's. The least she deserves is her day in the Lords and a bite at politics. What are people afraid of?

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