By Jason O’Toole, who has worked as a senior feature writer for the Irish Daily Mail, a columnist with the Irish Sunday Mirror and senior editor of Hot Press magazine. He’s also the author of several best-selling books.
Author Neil Gaiman says he’s uncomfortable with the media spotlight on his marriage woes, so why is he airing his dirty linen online himself? And what’s his real reason for walking out on singer Amanda Palmer and their child?
Neil Gaiman is one of the most successful fantasy authors alive today, but he also seems to be much more irresponsible than many of his juvenile readers – judging by the way he’s thrown his very own “doll” out of the pram during a very public quarrel with his wife, who first found fame with The Dresden Dolls.
The millionaire author sounds very much like a classic self-centered version of Peter Pan, the ‘Story of the Boy Who Didn’t Want to Grow Up.’ How else would you explain his bizarre decision to not only flee the family nest during this frightening Covid-19 pandemic, but to also fly all around the world –literally– from New Zealand to the UK, which is a clear breach of UK lockdown rules?
It’s one thing to leave your wife holding the baby when your marriage is on the rocks. But it’s quite another thing to thoughtlessly f*** off “home” and leave her completely on her own with a four-year-old child in a foreign country. It would be more understandable if it had all happened in Amanda’s native USA, but they had chosen to go to the other side of the world – and technically to a ‘foreign’ country – in order to self-isolate together, because it’s supposedly much safer and calmer there.
With no shoulder to lean on, Amanda – whom I just happened to have interviewed only a few short months back – is clearly struggling emotionally out there all alone now without her support network of family and friends, as she pointed out here in this emotional outpouring on social media.
It was sheer arrogance on Neil’s part to make an unnecessary 11,000-mile trip to the Scottish island of Skye because he wanted to be “on rural lockdown on my own” in his holiday retreat there. It was a “gobsmacking” decision, according to Ian Blackwood, the Westminster leader of the Scottish National Party. If Neil really wanted to get“some space” from his wife, why didn’t he book himself into a nearby hotel or go couch-surfing like normal people do when facing marital problems?
Besides, you’d imagine any father would want to stay put in order to be near his child, especially in these uncertain times when anything could (and does) seem to be happening, wouldn’t you agree? Did it not even cross his mind that it might not be so simple a task to make the long trek back to New Zealand if, God forbid, there was an emergency crisis involving his loved ones?
MP Blackwood was dead right –no tasteless pun intended– when he said“What is it about people, when they know we are in the middle of lockdown that they think they can come here from the other side of the planet, in turn endangering local people from exposure to this infection that they could have picked up at any step of the way?”
As I understood from the recent interview I conducted with Amanda Palmer, the “happy couple” actually spent the majority of their time living in the USA. So his excuse for going to Scotland – which was “I’m currently a UK taxpayer, and on Scottish voting rolls. I went home” – doesn’t really wash. I’d have understood it better if he had gone “home home” to where he’s originally from – which happens to be Hampshire in England. Or is Neil Gaiman claiming he’s Scottish now?
It seems Neil is nothing better than an insolent rich fool who thinks his wealth and fame puts him above the law. So, it was proper order that Scottish police questioned the American Gods writer on Monday, which will hopefully publicly humiliate him now, because he won’t feel any real financial pain from a token fine. Even a couple of grand would be a drop in the ocean for him.
But –judging by the reaction on social media– he will instead probably now feel the pain of being shunned by locals in the Scottish Highlands. He should be made to feel like Captain Boycott. And I certainly won’t feel sorry for this numskull if he ends up becoming a permanent social pariah out there and is forced to sell that holiday home.
He’s only got himself to blame for any adverse publicity on this side of the planet because nobody would’ve been aware of his travels if he hadn’t stupidly boasted online about making the long dangerous trip in the first place. I ask you, what type of idiot blathers on about breaking lockdown rules or about their marriage woes online?
It’s proper car crash stuff. As Neil put it himself, “Amanda and my problems got rather more public than either of us is comfortable with.” But I didn’t get the impression that Amanda – who was the first out of the trap to publicly post about their marriage problems – was in any way a coy person when I recently interviewed her. After all, we are talking about a woman here who is also known as Amanda F****** Palmer (AFP) and posed naked on the cover of her last album – leaving absolutely nothing to the imagination.
“I am happy to talk to you about sex, marriage and abortion all day but don’t forget that mostly I’m a songwriter – make sure you write something about the music, ok?” she said to me, laughing.
Incidentally, this isn’t the first time their marriage has been on the rocks. Amanda, who has had to endure the difficult experiences of going through three abortions in her life, plus a miscarriage, told me that the first of two terminations they had gone through together put a strain on their marriage. “…We really crumbled. It exploded a bomb in our marriage that was really difficult to recover from because we were both having to grieve the loss of possibility – the fact that the choice wasn’t even ours,” she said.
There might have been other occasions when their marriage was in trouble too, but – perhaps surprisingly enough – they don’t appear to ever fight over any infidelities, because they also have a “pretty progressive open marriage.” Amanda spoke to me at length about how she has no objection to Neil sleeping with other women – unless she was with child.
“When I was pregnant, I respectfully asked Neil to close the marriage down for a while because it didn’t feel emotionally safe to go fooling around with anyone else. So, we closed the marriage down for a while,” she told me.
It’s certainly not beyond the realms of possibility that Amanda – still a relatively young woman who only turned 44 last month – could be pregnant again, is it? What if Amanda, who is clearly blaming her husband for their current marital problems, is now really “heartbroken” because Neil maybe got up to some hanky-panky without permission?
We may never know the real truth about their bust up, but the only thing clear here is Neil put others at risk by breaking the lockdown. Shame on him.