Thursday, 2 September 2010

You don't know unless you've been there

This morning, I feel huge sympathy for the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, who was forced to make a statement yesterday in which he revealed the fertility struggles that he and his wife have had.

Apparently, rumours have been circulating in Westminster for years about his sexuality. Well, he married quite late and doesn't have children, so it's obvious, isn't it? And obviously many people believe that it's impossible for two people to share a hotel room - even one with twin beds - without having mad, rampant sex together. Obviously, he should have realised the extent to which many journalists' minds are in the gutter and had a bit more sense, but when he was paying for these rooms out of his own pocket, I can quite understand a pragmatic Yorkshireman deciding to save money by booking a twin room rather than fork out for two separate rooms.

What distresses me the most about this story, though, is that he and his wife obviously thought that revealing their private pain would draw a line under the story. And yet the newspapers this morning are still full of innuendo and speculation, and the political blogger who started the rumours about Hague and his aide is apparently set to make further "revelations". In fact, when searching for an article to link to just now, I found that only a couple of tabloids published remotely sympathetic accounts. The broadsheets were all too ready to display their continued scepticism.

Leaving aside the question of whether it's right to out someone as gay in order to sell newspapers, as if it were some terrible crime that brings into question that person's suitability as a politician, I find it incredible that in the face of such a difficult personal revelation, the people who started these scurrilous rumours obviously feel no shame. Far from it - they scent blood, and circle ever closer, waiting for the chance to go in for the kill.

But then, I know and understand a lot of what William and Ffion must have gone through. I think of my own distress after not much more than two years of trying to conceive, and never having gone through the pain of miscarrying a much-wanted pregnancy, and I can't even imagine going through thirteen years of repeatedly getting my hopes up and then having them dashed yet again.

I don't think anybody who has suffered any form of infertility can have anything but sympathy for the Hagues this morning - for the private suffering they've gone through, for the vicious rumours he has had to put up with while this was going on, for the agonising decision to expose their pain to the world, and for the heartless reaction of journalists and bloggers who see nothing but a scoop, something to sell their papers and maybe make themselves famous for a few days, or get themselves a promotion or a pay rise.

Clearly none of these attack dogs have experienced this sort of suffering first hand, and clearly they have no understanding of it. But I hope that some of them at least will come to regret the pain they have caused, and continue to cause, to a couple who have already suffered enough.


  1. I completely agree with everything you've said. I hadn't caught the news yesterday but when my husband told me, I felt very sad for them both. This awful journey of infertility is bad enough without having to put up with idiotic, selfish, nasty splineless vultures praying on an innocent and possibly quite vunerable victim.


    p.s how on earth on you managing to get the wheatgrass down you? I'm struggling to force it down me every day - it's vile!!!

  2. Ugh - it is vile what William Hague and his wife have had to endure.
    Reporters need to have some respect for people in general. Some may say that being a public figure that the Hague's have to take the good with the bad publicity but I still think it comes down to respect for others.
    This pain that I feel (and you feel) is so very real and unbearable at times and it makes my blood boil to think that the reporters can't just back down now and leave the Hague's in privacy.
    You are right, they obviously have no concept of how life changing this all is to a couple. Makes me feel so grateful that I am able to escape to my own privacy at my darkest times, I can't imagine having to deal with this whilst being scrutinised by the rest of the population.

    PS - to answer your question on my blog. My rainbow was completely black and white. No grey. It was like a zebra crossing but in the shape of a rainbow in the sky. So vivid. So strange. I don't like to buy into the whole "what does your dream mean stuff" but it has got me wondering....