Written by Sinead Desmond
Featured in Chat Magazine
Chris went through the same heartache as Eastenders’ Kat
WATCHING EastEnders’ love rat Alfie cheating on Kat with her sister Little Mo brought back nightmares for mum Chris Bolter. For the gripping TV love triangle mirrors the betrayal she felt when her husband ran off with her own younger sibling. As a mother-of-two, Chris had turned to Paula, assuming she could rely on her sister’s support in a moment of crisis.
Chris’s three-year-old daughter Tina was ill in hospital and Paula had agreed to care for the family back home. But as Chris continued her bedside vigil, the unthinkable was happening Paula was slowly seducing her husband. Reliving her anguish, Chris says: “Tina was seriously ill. She had ulcers on her cornea, the pain was excruciating and I couldn’t leave her in agony.
“But I had my nine-month-old son Mark at home and my husband Tony worked the late shift at a local brewery, so I was stuck. “Paula was only 16 but I knew that Tony would be popping in and out to keep an eye on her. And she was so keen to support me I took her up on her offer to look after Mark.” Paula and Chris had always been close despite a five-year age gap.
Chris says: “I knew Tony would be happy with the arrangement, too. He was fond of Paula and she thought of him as an older brother. But as the days went by, Chris noticed a change in Tony’s behaviour. She says: “I’d walk into the lounge where they’d be chatting and laughing and suddenly everything would go quiet. “At first I ignored it but the more it happened, the more I just felt in my gut that something was wrong. I tried telling myself not to be ridiculous.” But soon Chris and Tony’s relation- ship started to suffer and they began arguing.
Chris says “It was so upsetting. Tony had always been an easy-going person. I’d met him when I was just 17 and he was 24. “When I fell pregnant, Tony said he’d stand by me and we got married. He’d always been my Mr Perfect -but suddenly now he was like a stranger. “I even confided in Paula and told her my fears that Tony was seeing someone else. She just told me I was being silly. “But four months after Tina left hospital, one of my friends phoned me to say she had called at my house when I was out.
“She said Paula had answered the door wearing only a towel and that she’d seen Tony on the stairs in a bathrobe, looking red-faced.” Chris tortured herself for days, trying to pluck up the courage to confront Paula. She says: “Eventually I just blurted out, ‘Is anything going on between you and Tony?’ Paula looked horrified. “Her face went bright red. She said she couldn’t believe I could think she would stoop so low. She was screaming and shouting, asking what sort of person I thought she was. “Tony heard the commotion and came rushing in. Paula was really upset and said I was paranoid. She started to cry and then Tony put his arm around her. “He said that Paula was only a kid -that he couldn’t believe I thought he was interested in a 16-year-old.” Paula had been living with the family but soon moved out to a nearby rented flat.
Then, a few weeks later, Tony suddenly announced he was leaving. Chris says: “He finally confessed that he’d been seeing Paula all along. I just felt sick -my whole life fell apart. “He could see I was angry and he ran off. Tony was a marathon runner and very fit but I was so angry I managed to catch up with him and whacked him across the face. But I wasn’t going to let Paula off lightly either. “I waited outside her flat for hours. Finally the pair of them came back hand in hand and I saw red. “I stormed up and grabbed a handful of her hair. She screamed and Tony managed to wrestle her free. “She told me that she loved Tony and that they’d been sleeping together all the time I’d been at the hospital.
“Tony was between us, trying to keep me from killing her. “A neighbour must have heard the commotion because a police car turned up. “By this time I was a complete mess. My make-up had run, my clothes were torn from where Tony had pulled me off Paula. I couldn’t believe I’d been reduced to this.” Battling But Chris’s rage wasn’t over. She says: “I took everything Tony owned -his clothes, records, books…even his beloved guitar -and made a huge pile in the garden and set it on fire. “As I watched the things he loved turning to ash, I thought, ‘That’s what you’ve done to me, you b*****d.’
Chris struggled on with her life as best she could, battling to cope with the knowledge that her sister and husband were now living together. Tony and Paula were together for 12 years before they finally split. Chris, now 39, says: “They did ruin my life and now, watching East- Enders, I can’t help but feel sorry for Kat. How any sister can do that to another is beyond me. “It is the ultimate betrayal and I know that more than anyone. My marriage was wrecked for nothing. “Now, even though I can sometimes forget how much Paula hurt me, I don’t think I’ll ever forgive her.”