In a recent magazine spread in which Nigella Lawson was meant to be made over to look like Cleopatra, a different resemblance struck her: that between her and her late mother Vanessa Salmon. Nigella revealed in the interview that, for reasons like being a girl and being her father’s favorite, she shared a contentious relationship with her mother, who was often depressed, despite her socialite status:
“I never thought I could please her…She was funny, but depressed and so sensitive to noise. The sound of a plastic bag being crinkled would send her deranged. She’d shout at all of us and say ‘I’m going to hit you till you cry,’ and so I never would cry. I still don’t. It wasn’t a calculated thing; it was a hot-blooded hitting, a thrashing out of things. Once she had to stop hitting [my brother] Dominic as she hurt her hand. She just didn’t like me; maybe because I came after Dominic the princeling, and I was my father’s girl, she was jealous.”
The pair made up around the time Vanessa was diagnosed with liver cancer, and remained close until she died a few years later. In the most British of sensibilities, Nigella’s account of her relationship with her mother oscillates between resentment, humor, dismissal, and fondness.
You can read more about Vanessa and her fabulous, troubled life here.
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