“She is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen,” said Pascal of wife Samantha Brick
The Frenchman seated on a patterned sofa in a London hotel suite is a study in still intensity.
Pascal Rubenat is wearing khaki combat trousers, a cream shirt and boots that look like they have tramped through muddy fields.
He has a lot on his mind right now.
His wife, Samantha Brick, has been ridiculed, pilloried and insulted by thousands of people around the world.
She has been accused of being deluded. It has even been said she is in urgent need of psychiatric help.
The storm at the centre of which Pascal finds himself erupted on Tuesday after his wife decided to write in the Daily Mail about the burden she feels she has carried all her life — the burden of being beautiful.
Eversince her late teens, she opined, she has had to fend off advances fromamorous strangers who would accost her in the street bearing flowers and champagne and proferring bundles of cash to pay her taxi fare.
Notonly that, she has had to contend with streams of jealous women who hated her just because of her head-turning looks.
Within hours of her article being published Samantha became the most talked about — or should we say bitched about — woman on Earth.
So what does the brooding, mustachioed Pascal make of it all
Well,first, he would like to make one thing clear. He agrees with Samantha. Wholeheartedly. Not only is she beautiful, he announces, to him she is the most beautiful woman in the world.
Gazing into the statuesque blonde’s eyes, he puts his arms around her and playfully pinches her bottom.
‘Samanthais beautiful in every sense of the word,’ he gushes.
‘She is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. She is beautiful physically and beautiful in her mind. She is also strong. I am very lucky indeed to have her.’
Samantha giggles indulgently and affectionately squeezes his knee. Pascal can barely take his eyes off her.
Beautiful or not, this is one man over whom Samantha Brick has absolute control. I’m supposed to be conducting an interview here. Instead I feel something of a spare part.
Pascal is clearly protective of his lovely wife, so I ask if the unprecedented onslaught of abuse she has received in recent days has made him angry.
“If I have to intervene violently, I will intervene. I am here to protect my wife,” said Pascal
The Gallic carpenter strokes his chin deep in thought and takes a sip from a glass of Guinness.
‘I can’t be angry otherwise I can’t help Sam,’ he begins, in his native French.
‘I am OK because Sam is well.
But then Pascal, who himself became the subject of much internet ridicule after the picture above of him posing alongside his wife with a rifle in 2010 was published on the internet, issues a chilling, but tongue-in-cheek, warning.
‘If I have to intervene violently, I will intervene. I am here to protect my wife.
“It is my role as a husband to comfort, console and support her.’
He runs his fingers over his moustache. Here is a man who clearly means business.
So, in case any readers are unaware of what has become one of the Twitter era’s biggest media storms, what did Samantha say in her Daily Mail article to provoke such venom
Explaining the effect she has on men (swooning) and women (sniping), she wrote she’d had Champagne, flowers and a train ticket bought for her by strangers, adding: ‘Even bartenders frequently shoo my credit card away when I try to settle my bill.’
Within hours, Samantha was being referred to online and radio and TV stations worldwide as ‘I’m so beautiful Samantha’.
And she rapidly became an internet sensation, trending globally on Twitter.
Her article attracted 1.6 million hits on MailOnline — more than 2.7 million if you include her follow-up article defending her stance. And between the two, thousands waded into the debate with nearly 11,000 comments online.
The remarks were many and varied but there was a recurring theme.
Jay, from Leeds, wrote: ‘No love, they don’t hate you because you’re beautiful (which you aren’t really), they hate you because you’re a smug, self-satisfied, deluded, vacuous idiot.’
On Thursday, Pascal and Samantha, a TV producer-turned-journalist, drove to London from their farmhouse in Lot in the South of France to defend her honour. Samantha put up a fabulously defiant performance on ITV’s This Morning. Pascal, meanwhile, has decided to give his only interview to the Daily Mail.
I meet the pair at a hotel in Kensington, West London. To begin with I simply cannot take my eyes off Samantha. An assessment of her looks is necessary.
She is very tall, 5ft 11in to be exact (the same height as Pascal, who forbids her to wear heels in his presence). She is very blonde, with hazel-green eyes.
“I love the way she dresses, as long as it is not provocative. I see a lot of women on television with short skirts, and that does not suit Sam,” said Pascal
She is very striking and very pretty — far more attractive than the picture that accompanied the original article suggests.
But the stories of all these men falling at her feet suggests Samantha must possess more than this; something rare, something elusive. She must be some sort of enchantress surely
But would an enchantress speak with a trace of a Birmingham accent (Her mother is from the Midlands, her father is an Irish Catholic).
I look around me in search of swooning males. The waiter who brings us lunch seems perfectly in command of himself.
Later, we take a walk out on the street. Samantha attracts the odd admiring glance (as, I might add, do I) but, on this occasion, no flowers or Champagne come her way.
But then she has her husband, the well-built Frenchman at her side, keeping an ever-watchful eye. It would take a brave man to put himself in the path of powerful Pascal.
So is Samantha the arrogant egomaniac of popular perception Honestly No. There is really no sign of it at all. She is warm and friendly, and quite ‘normal’. It might be stretching it a bit to go along with her assertion that she is a ‘girls’ girl’, but she is, in the flesh, rather likeable.
How can this be Don’t all women hate her Why aren’t I one of them, I ask her.
‘That’s the first impression. Once women get past that (her looks) they like me,’ she says.
Samantha is very tall, 5ft 11in. She is very blonde, with hazel-green eyes
But most women can’t get past the tall, blonde gorgeousness. And men don’t try to.
There can be no doubt that Pascal has fallen under Sam’s spell. As his wife is being photographed, he frequently glances over to admire her, his concern for her palpable.
Despite clearly being polar opposites, the chemistry between the pair is quite evident.
When he poses next to her, Pascal places his hand on her bottom and affectionately pats her nose. He constantly calls her ‘mon amour’. Here is a man who cannot quite believe his luck.
This is clear when he announces: ‘I wish I had met Samantha a long time ago. I am a very lucky man.’
Pascal’s English is limited and our interview is conducted through an interpreter. Sam might be the more metropolitan of the two, but when she and Pascal got together, it was she who had to learn his language.
The Frenchman plays the traditional male role in this relationship. He tells me he can’t wait for them to return to France so she can cook dinner and keep house while he goes out hunting.
Pascal is 51, the father of three children — a grown-up son and daughter, and a boy aged 16 from his marriage to his first wife, a Frenchwoman.
He is a big physical presence, a man who hunts wild boar. He shoots them with his rifle and ‘finishes the action’ with a spear. He hunts hare and pigeon with a bow and arrow. He could have come straight from central casting.
The photograph of him dressed in camouflage gear and holding the rifle taken a couple of years ago has meant that, he too, has been the focus of some dreadful comments.
‘Is Samantha Brick’s husband the motorbike cop in YMCA wrote one reader.
Another wrote: ‘I’m not gonna say Samantha Brick is ugly. But let’s just say her husband, the handlebar mustachioed Pascal, is punching at his weight.’
So what does Pascal have to say
He performs a Gallic shrug.
‘I have not read them. It goes over my head. It is not even worthy of discussion. They mean zero to me. Before you start to criticise, you need to sweep your own front door,’ he says.
Pardon I think Pascal means: people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. We move on to a happier subject, the day the Frenchman first laid eyes on Samantha.
It was 2007, and Pascal was living in his remote farmhouse in Lot after divorcing his first wife two years previously.
Samantha was also newly divorced from her husband, a comedy promoter who had been her childhood sweetheart but of whom she tired after two years of marriage.
She was staying with a girlfriend who lived in Pascal’s French village. Samantha and her friend were introduced to him at a local restaurant. Like so many men before him, Pascal was hooked.
His first impression He makes a Gallic gesture that doesn’t quite translate but I take to mean: ‘Ooh la la!’ He adds: ‘It was love at first sight — a coup de foudre.’
But Samantha’s friend was not happy. She was — you guessed it — jealous.
‘As soon as I met Sam her friend became jealous,’ says Pascal.
But petty jealousy was not going to get in the way of the love affair between Pascal and his English rose. They married a year later.
Pascal, who was born in Paris and lived in Normandy until he was 30, smiles as he recalls Sam in her wedding dress.
‘She was beautiful, stunning.’
After the wedding, they settled at Pascal’s farmhouse and Samantha, who had uprooted from her house in London, became stepmother to his 16-year-old son.
Few first wives feel affection for the second wife. Are relations cordial between the two women Or is his ex wife — erm — jealous of Sam
Pascal sighs heavily.
‘They have not met but my ex-wife has seen Sam. It is worse than jealousy — it is ’atred.’
Is his ex-wife beautiful
‘She is not like Sam.’
But then, who is What sort of relationship do Sam and Pascal have
‘We are completely different from one another but we complete each other,’ he says.
‘First, there is the work, Sam is a journalist and I am a manual worker.
‘I am a hunter and used to smoke. Sam eats salad and does not eat meat. We are two strong characters and two strong characters make an explosion — sparks and boom!’
So the relationship is a passionate one, then ‘That is not your business. We love each other passionately — take that as you want.’
As Pascal readily admits, he is a ‘traditional’ man with a ‘traditional’ outlook on marriage. He is protective of his wife, possessive. He likes her to be at home, cooking for him.
He insists upon her dressing demurely. During the photo-shoot he casts a suspicious eye on a red dress the stylist has brought. He finds the colour too garish, with its ‘scarlet woman’ connotations.
‘Yes, I choose what she wears but that is not necessarily my role,’ explains Pascal.
‘I love the way she dresses, as long as it is not provocative. I see a lot of women on television with short skirts, and that does not suit Sam.’
Pascal confirms that Samantha attracts jealousy from other women
So how does such a man cope with being married to a woman like Samantha, a woman for whom every day is like being leading lady on a first night, with kisses being blown in her direction and flowers thrown at her feet
‘Yes, I can be jealous I have got friends who say: “Your wife is beautiful” and I have no problem with that. But if someone in the street will whistle or make a gesture then?.?.?.’
A pause. Yes
‘I will break his legs. C’est ma femme.’
He continues: ‘But men know not to do it, to flirt with my wife. It has only happened once and the man understood straight away.
“People see my look and they stop, they understand. You look at her — I have a face that tells them they need to stop.’
Pascal confirms that Sam attracts jealousy from other women.
‘Yes, I have seen a woman behave in a jealous manner towards Sam. We were at a party and a man put his arm around Sam in greeting and this other woman pushed Sam away and said, you have no place here.’
Pascal is undoubtedly a little bewildered at this week’s events. But he was determined to accompany Samantha to London to face the storm.
Does he think she was right to pen her article It has been pointed out by numerous commentators that some things are best left unsaid.
‘Sam is a professional, I am not a professional in her field of work. She doesn’t advise me on carpentry, I do not advise her on her work.
“Sam is not going back on what she said. If there is such an impact, it proves that somewhere along the line she is right.
‘Would this have happened in France I don’t think so. We don’t have the same way of judging people.’
Samantha adds: ‘It’s weird being caught up in the storm but yes I stand by what I wrote, absolutely. I have had some really nasty, vicious comments but also a lot of supportive emails.
“Some women have written to me saying I have written the story of their life.’
Samantha Brick has become a household name overnight and has been inundated by pleas to give interviews and appear on television. She is considering the offers.
Pascal, however, is eager to return to rural France with his wife and leave all the madness behind.
‘I am here to help Sam and she is here to help me. That is what marriage is about because I love her.’
With that, the pair kiss me goodbye, take each other’s hands and walk off into the London evening.
WHAT YOU”VE BEEN SAYING
TLC, Hampshire: Beauty is only skin deep but ugly goes all the way through. The arrogance and self-absorbtion of this woman is staggering.
Michael, Richmond, U.S.: Narcissism, thy name is Samantha.
Joanna, Scotland: I have no interest in commenting on Samantha’s appearance. However, I would like to know where she purchases her mirrors as I am thinking of replacing mine.
Stephen, Bangkok: Ms Brick. You say ‘I am at a loss as to understand what goes through someone’s mind before they press the “send” button on a message like that’. I have to ask what went through your mind when you decided to write such delusional drivel in the first place.
Cordelia, Kent: And for her next article: ‘How my husband has to fight off adoring women wherever he goes.’
Becks, London: I feel your pain — but imagine how hard life is for me, not only am I stunning, I’m also super-intelligent, an outstanding sportswoman and thin. If it wasn’t for my charitable works I don’t know how I would get out of bed in the mornings?.?.?.!!
Jen, Doncaster: I think that Samantha was brave to make this observation public. I agree that I prefer to be the best-looking person in the room, at the party, in the office and am downhearted when I’m not.
Kristy, Texas: She lost all credibility when she said she doesn’t succumb to chocolate!
Liz, Dublin: Did she really compare herself to Angelina Jolie
Chris, UK: Honestly, I would actually not notice you if I passed you in the street. You are beige — forgettable.
Marie, Florida: Samantha, if you think you are beautiful because you are tall and blonde, well, so is Big Bird.
Tom, Coventry: ‘Beautiful’?.?.?. Mirrors, Mirrors?.?.?.?You must get New Mirrors!
Major Grumblebum: Ooh that is a big gun her husband is holding?.?.?.?well I for one think she looks stunning ?.?.?.erm?.?.?.is that OK
Nick, Sydney: Still really not getting it, are you Samantha Brick by name?.?.?.?thick as one by nature!