When she did allow the affair to proceed in 1991 she kept photocopies of air tickets and room keys from their clandestine trips abroad. She makes a very different mistress from her famous predecessors: unlike Sara Keays or Julia Stent, she cannot easily be cast as a victim; unlike Bienvenida Buck or Antonia de Sancha she cannot be labelled a gold-digger.The manner in which Ms Synon conducted her entire affair suggests that she was the controller rather than the controlled. It is, after all, only a fortnight since the junior minister Robert Hughes resigned after confessing an affair with a constituent; a month from now there will doubtless be a new and vivid tale of adultery to absorb us.In Ms Synon’s case, the difference lies in the detail. Within days of her revelations, her ex-lover felt obliged to resign.In one sense this is simply the latest in a long and fast-moving line of stories about public figures enjoying affairs, each of which provokes as much prurient interest as it does indignation. Ms Synon has spent many months planning her revenge, and this week she got it. Ms Synon may have been piling on the pressure too hard; her lover may have been cooling; or he may have become suspicious (as well he might) about her chronicling of his indiscretions. Be that as it may, he told her the affair was over – or as unfaithful husbands always phrase it, he had decided that loyalty to his wife and family came first.She was furious, and told him so.
She said she would expose him and for a year he has been waiting for the bombshell to drop Last weekend it did. If there is one thing worse than a woman scorned, it is – as Ms Synon herself pointed out – a clever, high-flying, single, Irish-American woman scorned. Editor of the Economist? Why not? Special financial adviser to the government? Who knows? All things were possible, given the marriage she aspired to and the patronage and high-level connections it would naturally bestow.A year ago, those hopes were shattered. Married – as she planned – to the deputy governor, perhaps in due course the governor of the Bank of England, there need be no limit to her ambitions. But on top of that she had a brain; a career, a future redolent with possibility. Sure, she had a pretty face and – according to Mr Pennant-Rea’s indiscreet but burning love letters – a good body to go with it.
When their affair began, Rupert Pennant- Rea was in his forties – an age at which a thrice-married man is beginning to settle down to the deep peace of the double bed and is disinclined to risk yet another marital upheaval, another change of home, another set of alimony payments.Mary Ellen Synon might have reasoned like this She was no bimbo. Men are easily led astray.
Ms Synon, for her part, was undeterred by the fact that all the obvious cards were stacked against her. Very little does, to those who are that way inclined, particularly when they are beckoned by a clever woman with “beautiful” eyes and a penchant for wearing suspenders but no knickers. By the time they encountered one another at the Economist he had two ex-wives and two children, in addition to his current household This did not prevent him from embarking on a torrid affair.