Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cancel the Priory - Susan Needs the Folks Back Home

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cancel the Priory - Susan Needs the Folks Back Home

Article excerpt

Byline: Harry Mount

FOR all the Priory shrinks that Simon Cowell is now throwing at Susan Boyle, none of it is going to help.

This shy, fragile woman is on the verge of a breakdown precisely because Cowell has plucked her from comfortable obscurity and transported her to a world she can't deal with.

The more they primp the fluffy towels, the more Cucumber and Jojoba Morning Sunrise Moisturiser they rub into her eyelids, the more destabilised she'll become.

Cowell's brilliant selection machine picked the wrong patsy. They wanted a gleeful simpleton, grateful for every diamond-edged crumb that fell from the celebrity table. Instead, they got someone used to the decent standards of Pebbles, her cat; when she entered the amoral world of commercial telly, she lashed out, threatened to quit and threw water over a studio manager. And who can blame her? The best thing would be to return to her beige, pebble-dashed, semidetached house in Blackburn, West Lothian, close the gate to her garden with its trim privet hedge and freshly creosoted picket fence, and never appear on television again.

Blackburn, I discovered on a recent trip, provides the support structure -- familiar surroundings, familiar people, an extended family -- that we all need to maintain mental security.

How much more you need that structure if you're vulnerable. You can't rely on the kindness of strangers -- particularly when those strangers sniff money in your vulnerability.

Blackburn is one of the small towns threaded like onions on a string along the M8 from Edinburgh to Glasgow. The motorway thunders through the north of the town; to the south it is hemmed in by the busy A705. A big coal and cotton town from the late 18th century onwards, it expanded further in 1960, when the British Motor Company built a truck and tractor factory in nearby Bathgate. …

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