I Am Poor and Insignificant – Please Don’t Sue Me

An Open Apology to Cary Elwes.

For many years, writer Nija Dalal has accused that guy from The Princess Bride of some awful crimes. Now it seems she made a terrible mistake

Cory Elwes

Dear Mr Elwes,

Last month, I pulled my laptop towards me and searched "cary elwes domestic violence." As the internet coughed up just a few dusty references to the rare sparks in your lacklustre career, a very slow, very ugly wave of regret washed over me.

There was nothing particularly scandalous in there, and certainly nothing about you abusing your wife.

Until then I had honestly believed you were a wife-beater. I have told people you are a wife-beater. Many, many people.

I think I might owe you an apology.

Until you turned out to be innocent I never had the slightest doubt about your guilt. For years, every time a friend sighed at Westley's disarming beauty and charm, I have taken that opportunity to give a brief, brutal gift of disappointment - I have told them what they didn't want to hear. For years, I scrutinised your pencil-thin moustache for a glimmer of the brutality I knew it harboured. When you threatened to hit Buttercup – aha! – that's how it would look (if performed by an actor of limited talent, of course). No one wanted to imagine your dapper wry smile curled in a cruel grimace.

Luckily, I had facts. And it was my business – no, it was my mission, to show everyone the blackness of your soul. I never once looked it up – I was certain. "It's on the public record! He spent three years in jail for it!" I convinced everyone, my story was so irrefutable. You may have looked like a sissy, but you were a monster – a monster in tights. As I watched Cradle Will Rock, I welcomed your pudgy new girth with the grinning schadenfreude of the righteous. Your corruption was now visible in your corpulence: you were the portrait of Dorian Elwes.

Then, last month, a really stubborn flatmate of mine refused to let her perfect image of you die - so I decided to find a picture on the internet to help me twist the knife in her wound, preferably of your wife, looking suitably battered. But this time it was my turn to feel the disappointment.

I actually have no idea why I believed all this about you in the first place. Maybe it was just a dream I had. Maybe it went deeper. That I was more than a little jealous of your casual friendship with Mandy Patinkin is true. But really, at the tail-end of more than a decade* of systematic defamation, the reason doesn't exactly seem to matter anymore.

Now that I know the truth, I feel sort of bad about this whole thing. I hope you don't think you should sue me over this. Not that you would get much out of that endeavour – I'm not exactly making a SAW-level income. And anyway, you could have been a wife-beater. Statistics show that anyone can be, really. You've probably at least thought about it – in fact, I'm sure you have.

Anyway, thanks for your time, I really don't have any money, and have a great day!

Sincerely,

Nija Dalal

*Cary Elwes was apparently married in 2000. This means that Nija has been telling people that he beats his wife since before he actually had a wife.