Belfast Telegraph

How Christine’s Frank is proving to be a good guy

By Jane Graham

They might have swooned together in a young lovers’ Italian dream break this month but Christine Bleakley must know that she is still a good few paces from claiming a significant place in Frank Lampard’s future if stories that she still hasn’t met his kids are true.

No matter how much fun she is having rubbing after-sun into Frank’s back in Lake Como, the truth is that children are at the very centre of most parents’ hearts, and if you’re locked out from them, you’re still on the periphery of your partner’s real life.

It does seem odd that the footballer, who by all accounts is transfixed by the twinkling Miss B, has still not taken the step of introducing his children to her, but it might have something to do with the messiness of his break with their mother, Elen Rives.

Since separating from Lampard last year, Rives has regularly declared her continued love for the Chelsea striker and said she wishes she could “turn back time and have Frank as my man”.

Not quite the guilt-alleviating go-ahead Christine might have hoped for.

It’s tough on Christine, but I have sympathy for Rives, who is too often painted as a desperate ‘bunny-boiler’ (hideous phrase) who won’t release her grasping talons from her ex’s life.

It’s true that her comments differ dramatically in tone from those we’re used to hearing from celebrity exes, but the old chestnut we usually get fed — ‘This split has left me stronger and happier than ever’ — is about as honest as that other classic — ‘Running around after my new baby ensured I dropped three stone and grew perkier breasts’.

Rives is simply, with typically continental frankness, being truthful about how devastating splitting with the father of your children is, and how long it takes to rebuild your emotional confidence.

By hesitating before bringing his new girlfriend into the mix, Lampard is merely demonstrating a respect for Rives’ fragile feelings that we’re not used to well-known names, especially Premiership footballers, exhibiting for those who have been left behind.

As pictures of him on holiday with a handful of ex and current partners this week show, Simon Cowell does things a little differently. His multiple ‘grown-up’ friendships often draw admiring glances from the popular press but what they suggest to me is that Cowell has never been properly emotionally committed to any of his girlfriends.

I can’t think of anything more uncomfortable, embarrassing and painful than going on holiday with a load of people with whom you used to share your secrets and your bed. It is verging on pathologically ‘disconnected’ in my view — perhaps those rumours about Cowell being a chart-seeking machine are literally true.

As for the women who go with him, I’m at a loss as to what they’re getting out of their sustained friendship with the multi-millionaire yacht-owner.

If an emotional and sexual bond, once genuine, is broken and then replaced with a new model, I can’t quite empathise with any instinct other than the one to leave it in the past. Its previous power is what makes it so resistant to the transformation into a breezy, innocent friendship.

When children are involved, making a continued relationship necessary, it’s understandable that things will feel even harder, perhaps almost unbearable for a while. Any man or woman who sails through that has the emotional profundity of Jordan’s wedding vows.

Maybe Christine’s got herself a decent man after all.

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