There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about,’ wrote Oscar Wilde.
But I’m not sure that’s true, at least for those of us who aren’t fame-hungry narcissists.
Because surely what would be worse is being talked about as someone who has done something heinous – something to be vilified for publicly – when you’ve done no such thing?
There are two people who made me turn to the wonderful Wilde for a quote.
The first is Nigella Lawson, mistress of the kitchen and more recently Isleworth Crown Court, where she was appearing as a witness in a court case.
The world heard allegations about her use of cocaine after it was discussed, analysed and dissected in court.
Nigella was accused by defendants Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo of taking the class A drug as well as cannabis and prescription medication.
Addiction is something Nigella denies, and late last week she said she found the experience of the court appearance ‘mortifying’.
Sticks and stones and all that and, in the scheme of things, unimportant to anyone but Nigella and her family – including her children.
But what if the people talking are the people you should trust the most?
It’s been almost 30 years since the miners’ strikes of 1984 and 1985, during which more than 8,000 people were arrested and charged, mostly with breaching the peace.
One man, miner Ray Riley, was picketing at Frickerley Colliery in West Yorkshire when he hid to flee a police charge.
He says he was arrested, assaulted by police and later charged with a breach of the peace.
But he was so determined to clear his name he found two witnesses who stood up in court and helped him get acquitted of the charge. He later got compensation from the police.
Crucially, he says no-one would have believed his account against that of the police, no matter where the truth lay.
If there’s one thing worse than not being talked about, it’s about no-one believing you when you’re telling the truth.