Irish Daily Mail - YOU - - MOTHERS & DAUGHTERS -

Emma’s spe­cial­ity has al­ways been her abil­ity to stand up to peo­ple. If her fa­ther ever bul­lied her sib­lings she would stand be­tween them and say, ‘Don’t talk to them like that!’

Emma was def­i­nitely a lit­tle ner­vous when she first ran the idea of Killing Kit­tens past me. It was fine with me, but I said, ‘You’re go­ing to lose friends – and what­ever you do, do not cross the line and join in.’ It wasn’t an easy time, but once your chil­dren reach a cer­tain age you have to al­low them to make their own de­ci­sions.

We had such laughs liv­ing to­gether. Her apart­ment was full of won­der­ful peo­ple that I would never have been able to talk to if I was still mar­ried. Once my sis­ter and I found our­selves mak­ing a cake in the shape of a pe­nis for one of her events.

I never at­tended any of Emma’s par­ties but

I did go on plenty of nights out with her.

There was one shame­ful night when I got very drunk at a din­ner. I was sit­ting next to one of her hand­some friends and told him how gor­geous he was. He of­fered to walk me home but Emma said, ‘You will not!’ She took me home, gave me a glass of wa­ter, put a bucket by the bed and said, ‘You’re grounded now!’

Ev­ery time I opened my eyes the room spun and I saw my­self sur­rounded by bot­tles of cham­pagne, masks and con­doms. I thought, ‘What­ever’s hap­pened to the good lit­tle army wife?’

Emma even let me be­come an honorary mem­ber of the Sis­ter­hood, the all-fe­male group she’d set up, which briefly in­cluded her old school­friend Kate Mid­dle­ton. It raised money for char­ity through events such as marathons. They called me ‘the moth­er­ship’. I ac­com­pa­nied them to Venice for a dragon boat race and just couldn’t stop sob­bing – I couldn’t get over my free­dom.

Emma looked after me, but I looked after her, too. For a while she was en­gaged to [crick­eter Ian Botham’s son] Liam Botham, whom I loathed. She was in­vited to a party and was go­ing to take some friends. Just like my ex would have done, Liam told her she couldn’t go.

She was shak­ing when she was talk­ing to him and about to cave in, so I called him and said, ‘You’re a bully. You seem to have leant on your fa­ther’s name the whole of your life and you need a re­al­ity check.’ Emma went to the party. They broke up shortly after­wards.

In con­trast, Emma’s hus­band – Olympic hockey player James Tin­dall – is the loveli­est man. He’s quite happy to stand in the back­ground but if Emma says, ‘I need some­one to dress up as Bat­man tonight for a party,’ he’ll dress up as Bat­man.

I couldn’t have been more thrilled when Emma be­came preg­nant with Raffy, now five, fol­lowed by Lily, three, and Maly Jean, one. With so much on her plate Emma was strug­gling so I moved near to her home to help out. Her work’s never stopped – even dur­ing lock­down she was fran­ti­cally mov­ing Killing Kit­tens par­ties on to Zoom.

I thought Killing Kit­tens would be a flash in the pan, but 15 years later it’s still thriv­ing. Now Emma’s be­com­ing a cham­pion for abused women, launch­ing her cam­paign Hiit Against Hit where peo­ple were en­cour­aged to post videos of them­selves work­ing out on­line to raise funds for Women’s Aid.

Peo­ple still make snide com­ments but James and I agree we see the Emma no one else does – an Emma who has a very soft side and who, un­der­neath her cool façade, is ac­tu­ally quite shy.

Don’t Bother to Dress Up by Maly Sayle will be pub­lished by Mata­dor at €12.99 on 28 Au­gust


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