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LIZ JONES: Why I’ve publicly shamed my former partners for over 25 years



Accepting her 13th award at the Grammys earlier this month, Taylor Swift unveiled the title of her new album, due to be released in April.

It’s called The Tortured Poets Department. Her millions of fans and followers instantly grasped its meaning, and hands all over the world shot to mouths.

Because the title is a clear and very sharp stiletto puncturing the shrivelled heart of her British ex-boyfriend Joe Alwyn, who is part of a WhatsApp group, alongside actors Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal, titled The Tortured Man Club.

Whatever the origins of that name — Alwyn claims it’s a reflection on characters he and Mescal have played in adaptations of Sally Rooney novels — you can’t help but love Taylor’s appropriation of the word ‘tortured’, which she strips of irony and ‘poor me’ factor, and instead pokes fun at.

The newly revealed track titles also suggest this is a break-up album and Alwyn should brace himself. Track five is called So Long, London, where the couple lived; and track 11, I Can Fix Him (No Really, I Can).

Once again, Swift has mined her love life and turned it into art, neatly flipping the usual model of woman as passive muse, man as creative genius.

Alwyn, who broke up with Taylor last year, joins a long list of similarly immortalised exes, and is apparently not happy. A friend told the Daily Mail last week that he ‘has said not one word about the break-up…’ and has ‘removed himself from her narrative and is very glad he did’. He is angry she has written a ‘diss’ album.

I am here to tell you I know exactly what it is like to be Taylor Swift — minus the spangled leotard and billions in the bank, obviously.

Like her, I have always aired my dirty linen in public. In my YOU magazine column, which I’ve written for almost a quarter of a century, I have discussed the flaws and shortcomings of at least five real-life lovers, former and current.

My ex-husband and I have assassinated each other in print on many occasions for the past 15 years. I’ve become famous for my ruthless honesty — to the extent that other women gleefully pick over my life and the identity of my exes in online forums and on social media.

Also like Taylor, I’m often asked why on earth I over-expose so relentlessly. Is it cathartic to belittle and shame, to come out as the winner, to make money from misery? But isn’t it also isolating, self-destructive, humiliating and hurtful?

Wouldn’t I — and Taylor, too — have much more lovely personal lives if we stopped, and wittered on about car parks and flowers instead?

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