Archive for the ‘UK News’ Category
Daily Mail Comment
Last updated at 12:14 AM on 20th February 2012
Support: Small businesses like this bakers in London will suffer without help from the Government (file picture)
If the unemployment rate is frightening now, imagine what it would be like with another 1.6million pushed on to the dole.
Yet this could happen as soon as 2014 if the Government doesn’t start giving real support rather than hollow promises to Britain’s suffering small businesses.
Unable to get affordable bank loans and having to wait months for tax refunds, owing to the incompetence of HMRC, many small firms are relying on personal savings, credit cards, and help from relatives to stay afloat, according to a survey by the Warwick Business School.
The situation is so precarious that more than a quarter of firms employing fewer than 10 people expect to go under within the next two years – not fear they might go under, but expect to.
Individually these endangered companies may be tiny, but collectively they employ no fewer than 1.6million workers. To put that figure into perspective, the UK’s biggest private employer, Tesco, employs 260,000 in this country, RBS 95,000, and BP just 10,000.
If this catastrophe is to be averted, the Government must act now to honour all its past pledges – to slash the red tape that is strangling many small firms, to reward enterprise and endeavour through the tax system, and, most importantly of all, to force the banks to lend.
Working for nothing
With more than a million 16-24-year-olds unemployed, the Government is duty bound to do all in its power to help them discover the work ethic.
So the principle of sending jobseekers’ benefit claimants – especially those who have never worked, and perhaps whose parents have never worked – for unpaid placements with companies like Tesco, Boots or Poundland, is perfectly sensible.
Protest: Tesco has attracted vehement criticism for participating in the Government’s grandly-named ‘sector-based work academy programme’
Why then have companies participating in the Government’s grandly-named ‘sector-based work academy programme’ attracted such vehement criticism?
Tesco has come in for a particular battering, with accusations that it is using desperate unemployed people as a source of ‘slave labour’ to take the place of paid employees.
Of course, Tesco says these charges are baseless, but damage has been done and the supermarket giant, terrified of more bad publicity, is threatening to pull out.
If the programme is to survive at all, it must have clearly defined objectives. Unpaid work experience should be for a limited term, involve an element of training and, for those who work hard and show initiative, possibly a paid job.
Without these crucial safeguards, this initiative, well-intentioned though it may be, will always smack of exploitation.
Revolt over tsar
It is hard to think of anyone less suited to heading up the Office for Fair Access – the body designed to help more poor students into higher education – than Business Secretary Vince Cable’s chosen candidate Professor Les Ebdon.
Currently vice-chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire – joint 102nd out of 119 in the Good University Guide – the ‘access tsar’ says applicants from poorer homes should be admitted even if they do not have the qualifications.
He believes undergraduates should be allowed to continue studying even if they fail first-year courses and he is on record defending ‘Mickey Mouse’ degrees.
Poor students don’t need positive discrimination. They need good schooling.
Shouldn’t David Cameron simply veto the appointment of this patronising social engineer without delay?
Mr Cable and the Lib Dems would squeal with indignation at the interference but so what? Which is more important, protecting academic standards for future generations, or petty Coalition politics?
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Last updated at 12:17 AM on 20th February 2012
As leading purveyors of party paraphernalia, you could hardly expect the Middletons to ignore the commercial potential of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
But now they’re part of The Firm, some might question whether their efforts could have been a teensy bit less tacky.
While Her Majesty isn’t one to stand on ceremony all the time – remember that breakfast Tupperware? – one can only wonder what she will make of some of the gaudy street party items concocted in her honour.
What’s on offer on the Party Pieces website
Among them are state carriage-shaped cardboard teapot vases, coat of arms cups with the words ‘Long Live G T’ and canape flags featuring crown-wearing corgies.
The Jubilee Celebrations range is well plugged on the Duchess of Cambridge’s parents’ Party Pieces website. Curiously, however, it makes no direct mention of the Queen – with whom Michael and Carole Middleton have dined privately at Windsor and accompanied to Royal Ascot.
The website reads: ‘It’s a year for celebrations, and right at the top of the list is the Diamond Jubilee which will centre around a long weekend on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th of June!
There’s so much planned to celebrate this landmark occasion and we’ve put together a range of British street party supplies and decorations to help you plan a spectacular party.’
Boss: Carole Middleton, mother of Kate Middleton, arriving at a charity function
Since their daughter, Kate, married
Prince William last April, the Middletons have had a tightrope to walk.
This involves balancing the needs of their business with the desire not
to embarrass Kate by being accused of cashing in on her royal standing.
However news that the couple had brought out a ‘Britannia’ range ahead of the royal wedding – featuring, among other things, royal trivia scratch cards – triggered accusations they were blatantly milking Kate’s profile.
The latest selection of goods is likely to add fuel to the fire.
The most expensive item in the Jubilee range is a ‘British Street Party Ultimate Party Kit’ for £43.03, featuring plates, cups, bunting and balloons.
The plates bear the picture of a silver unicorn, which is on the royal coat of arms, and the date 1952, the year the Queen acceded to the throne.
The cups feature a version of the same coat of arms but this time incorporating dogs, knights and a squirrel with some acorns – perhaps a veiled reference to the Middleton family’s own coat of arms which also features the nut – with the words ‘Long Live G T’.
Other plates feature a Queen-style figure wearing a crown and the words ‘Hope and Glory Tea and Scones’.
Party Pieces was set up Mrs Middleton around her kitchen table when Kate was just five. This year it is celebrating its own jubilee – silver – marking 25 years in business.
A spokesman for the firm was unavailable for comment yesterday while the duchess’s spokesmen have always made clear that they do not speak for the Middletons.
But the Mail understands that Mrs Middleton has dismissed criticism over their business dealings, saying: ‘At the end of the day we are running a business, not a charity.
‘Of course we don’t want to do anything that will embarrass Catherine but I really feel as if we are caught between a rock and a hard place.’
Another royal source adds: ‘The Middletons are very pragmatic people but Carole has made the point to the prince’s staff that they also have an obligation to their employees.
‘So while they want to ensure their business interests do not embarrass their daughter any more than possible, their staff – which number around 30 – must come first.’
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Last updated at 12:20 AM on 20th February 2012
A powerful denunciation of David Cameron’s plans to legalise gay marriage is made today by former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey.
In an article for the Daily Mail, Lord Carey says the proposal to change the status of marriage ‘constitutes one of the greatest political power grabs in history’.
He is backing a new grassroots organisation, the Coalition For Marriage (C4M), which opposes the redefinition of marriage to include same sex couples.
Warning: Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has issued a powerful denunciation of Prime Minister David Cameron’s plans to legalise gay marriage
The group is being launched today in response to next month’s publication of a consultation document by the equalities minister, Lib Dem Lynne Featherstone, on how to introduce same-sex marriage before 2015.
If the law is changed, Britain will become the sixth European country, after the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Spain and Norway, to recognise same-sex marriage.
Yet Downing Street, in a bid to avert a damaging rebellion by the bishops who sit in the House of Lords, has insisted that the gay marriage ceremonies will not be allowed to take place in church.
Mr Cameron is still facing a major revolt by up to 100 Conservative MPs who have threatened to vote against or abstain when the measure, which is backed by Labour and the Lib Dems, comes to the Commons.
Dr Carey is backing a new organisation, the Coalition For Marriage, which
opposes the redefinition of marriage to include same sex couples
The coalition led by Lord Carey, which is backed by Tory MPs, peers and family groups, will warn the Government to leave traditional marriage alone, and says the changes are not wanted by the majority of the population and will require the rewriting of 800 years of legislation.
The word ‘marriage’ appears 3,258 times in UK legislation, which underlines the central role the institution plays in national law.
If the change goes ahead the Government could face legal challenges from the heterosexual community. Ministers have ruled out extending civil partnerships, which became law in December 2005, beyond the gay community.
Even though none of the three main political parties included the proposal in their manifestos at the 2010 election, the legislation could be in the next Queen’s Speech in May.
The Lib Dems backed the idea at their party conference in 2010 and Mr Cameron told last year’s Tory conference: ‘Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us; that society is stronger when we make vows to each other and support each other.
So I don’t support gay marriage in spite of being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.’
In his article, Lord Carey says: ‘Like many others, I was baffled by this statement.
Not because I begrudge rights and benefits to homosexual couples. I was baffled because this Government’s proposal constitutes one of the greatest political power grabs in history.
‘The state does not own marriage… The honourable estate of matrimony precedes both the state and the church, and neither of these institutions have the right to redefine it in such a fundamental way.’
When civil partnerships were debated in Parliament in 2004 the then Labour government insisted they would have no impact on marriage, which would remain distinct as a relationship between a man and a woman.
Colin Hart, campaign director of C4M, said the proposed upheaval was being driven by the forces of political correctness and a handful of single-issue pressure groups.
He said: ‘The word marriage is woven into the fabric of our national laws. That can’t be just unpicked in a single stroke.’
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- Managers of one million
‘micro-firms’ believe their
company is destined to fail between now and 2014
Ruth Sunderland, Associate City Editor
Last updated at 12:39 AM on 20th February 2012
More than a quarter of Britain’s smallest firms fear they could fold within the next two years, a study revealed last night.
Managers of one million so-called ‘micro-firms’ – those which employ fewer than ten staff – believe their company is destined to fail between now and the end of 2014.
One in six fears the business will fold by the end of the year because of the tough economic climate and problems raising funds, the YouGov survey of 1,000 UK firms found.
Worrying discovery: Managers of one million so-called ¿micro-firms¿ ¿ those which employ fewer than ten staff ¿ believe their company is destined to fail between now and the end of 2014
More than a third of micro-firms found it harder to fund their business over the past 12 months.
And one in five has an empty bank account, leaving them highly vulnerable to going under, according to Professor Francis Greene of Warwick Business School in a report for finance company Capital One.
Professor Greene said: ‘These micro-firms … are the bedrock of British business – the hairdressing salons on the High Street, the building firms and the like.
Professor Francis Greene of Warwick Business School said: ‘These micro-firms … are the bedrock of British business – the hairdressing salons on the High Street, the building firms and the like’
‘They are very worried about the economy and they have no safety net when things go wrong.’
Micro-firms account for more than nine in ten UK companies and if the fears prove well-founded, some 1.6million people are at risk of losing their livelihood.
Pressure: The bleak findings come as
Chancellor George Osborne¿s latest plan to boost lending to small firms suffered a major setback
Despite suffering from a cash drought, firms are shunning bank loans, with only 2 per cent planning to apply for one this year. Instead they are relying on personal savings, credit cards and support from family and friends.
Last night Phil McCabe, of the Forum of Private Business, said: ‘These findings, with so many small firms at risk of going under, are very worrying but they do not strike me as being at all surprising.
‘Firms need access to affordable finance but there is a crisis of confidence in the banks.
‘The banks say they want to lend but they have to do better.’
The Daily Mail has repeatedly highlighted the failure to offer small firms credit in its Make the Banks Lend campaign. The bleak findings come as
Chancellor George Osborne’s latest plan to boost lending to small firms suffered a major setback.
Under the flagship £20billion National Loan Guarantee Scheme – which replaces the discredited Project Merlin initiative – the Government will lend money to the banks, so they in turn can make lower cost loans to small firms.
But two of the UK’s leading banks, Barclays and HSBC, believe it would only work for state-backed RBS and Lloyds.
They argue they would make losses if they signed up because they can raise funding more cheaply on the money markets than if they borrowed it from the Government.
This is because of charges the Treasury plans to levy in order to comply with EU rules on state aid.
One banker said: ‘Everyone supports the aim of lending more to small firms but the government needs to come up with a scheme that works for all the banks.’
The Treasury, which hopes to unveil the scheme on March 15, just ahead of the Budget, remains locked in talks over it.
Professor Greene said his research also ‘raises questions’ over the scheme.
He found a quarter of firms either believe it would not be offered to them or that they would not qualify for a loan.
The findings will be a further blow to the Government, which is relying on entrepreneurs and small companies to revive growth.
Economists are expecting the latest growth figures, due on Friday, to show that the UK economy is bumping along the bottom.
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- Knifeman shot up to four times by armed police offices
- Man aged in his 20s left fighting for his life
- First police shooting since the death that sparked the London riots
Last updated at 12:44 AM on 20th February 2012
A crazed knifeman was shot up to four times by armed police officers after Taser stun guns failed to incapacitate him.
The man, aged in his 20s, was fighting for his life in hospital last night after receiving multiple gunshot wounds.
He was injured as he brandished a large knife or sword at a group of officers.
The scene in Forest Hill, south London, where a man was shot by police
Witnesses said they heard police screaming orders at the knifeman during the stand-off in Forest Hill, South East London.
One 45-year-old man said: ‘There was
some shouting then two shots, then some more shouting, another shot,
then more shouting and a fourth shot.
had just got up to make a cup of tea when I first heard the shouting.
It was the police shouting – like they do on the telly when they raid a
‘The police were shouting “Get on the floor! Put it down! Put it down! Get on the floor!”
‘I don’t know who it was who was involved. I didn’t look out of the window because I didn’t want to get shot too.’
Police at the scene in Elsinore Road, Forest Hill, where the shooting took place
Forensics officers scour the scene for clues while the road is cordoned off
The shooting took place shortly before 6am yesterday morning after residents dialled 999 to report a suspected car thief.
Local officers were the first to
arrive at the scene but they were forced to retreat and call in armed
colleagues when the man threatened them with a weapon.
Police followed the man and another
confrontation took place in a neighbouring street, during which a
50,000-volt stun gun was discharged and shots fired.
The injured man, who is originally from Ghana, was taken by ambulance to King’s College Hospital in South London.
The man is in a critical condition in hospital after he was shot by a stun gun then real bullets
The shooting is being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
It was the first police shooting in
London since the death of suspected gangster Mark Duggan last August,
which triggered rioting across the country.
Another resident said her young son was woken up by the disturbance and she thought gang members were fighting in the street.
The Asian woman said: ‘My son came running out of his bedroom saying “I can’t sleep – I heard bombs.”
Police were called to reports of a man trying to break into a car in Elsinore Road. When they approached him he threatened them
‘I told him it was builders and to go back to bed, but I knew it was gunshots. I heard them as clear as day.
‘A couple of minutes later I heard screaming and I went to the window and the place was just swarming with police.
‘They were everywhere. There were loads of riot vans and just police as far as you could see in the dark.’
Police set up a large cordon around the scene of shooting. A car with a smashed windscreen could be seen inside. Several knives were found.
Mike Franklin, of the IPCC, said: ‘Our investigation will be carried out by our own investigators and will look at the circumstances leading up to this shooting.’
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: ‘Every year the Met deploys armed officers to over 3,000 incidents and plans over 700 armed operations in order to protect the public from dangerous offenders.
‘In that context, shots are fired very rarely by officers when they see no alternative and only in one or two of those operations each year.’
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Last updated at 12:50 AM on 20th February 2012
Explanation: Plans are being made to force Vince Cable to answer questions about his appointment of a controversial college access tsar
Conservative MPs are to make an 11th hour attempt to stop Vince Cable appointing Professor Les Ebdon as the university access tsar.
They will ask Speaker John Bercow to call the Business Secretary to the Commons to explain himself after Mr Cable vowed to ignore a select committee ruling that Professor Ebdon is unsuitable for the post.
MPs then plan to lobby David Cameron to abolish the Office for Fair Access – doing away with the organisation Professor Ebdon is set to run.
Senior Tories, including the Prime Minister and Education Secretary Michael Gove, believe Professor Ebdon will dumb down university entrance by insisting institutions take more pupils from less well-off backgrounds at the expense of students who are better qualified.
Pressure was growing to ditch Professor Ebdon last night as it emerged that he once approved plans for students to keep studying ‘without fear of failure’ even when they flunked their first-year exams.
Professor Ebdon is also on record defending ‘Mickey Mouse’ courses and has threatened ‘nuclear’ retribution against universities that don’t increase their intake of less well-off students.
MPs on the Conservative Fair Access
to University Group are today publishing a report which undermines
Professor Ebdon’s view that social class, rather than poor schools, are
to blame for holding back less-wealthy pupils.
are hopeful Mr Bercow will grant an ‘urgent question’ in the Commons.
This would force Mr Cable to explain why he has ignored the Business
Select Committee, which ruled that Professor Ebdon should not get the
Controversial: Opponents do not want Professor Les Ebdon to head up the Office of Fair Access amid accusations he will dumb down the country’s top universities
James Clappison, a member of the fair access group, said: ‘Professor Ebdon is entitled to his views but he does not accept that university entries should be decided on merit.
His appointment would be a major setback to university standards.
‘He will have very significant powers. He has already said there are too many middle-class doctors. If the select committee do not have confidence in him, what faith can other MPs or students have in him?’
If Mr Cable presses ahead with the appointment, dozens of MPs are expected to lobby Mr Cameron to include a pledge to scrap the agency, which is seen as a crude device for social engineering, in the Tory election manifesto in 2015.
Professor Ebdon’s credentials were further undermined when it emerged that the University of Bedfordshire, where he is vice-chancellor, does not offer traditional degree courses such as maths, physics, chemistry, history or modern languages.
Instead, students can study for degrees in advertising and beauty therapy. In 2003, when he was running what was then Luton University, he approved rules to allow students to fail a greater number of first-year courses and be able to continue studying without taking resits.
The university agreed plans to re-classify the first year of all degree courses as ‘foundational in character’, allowing examiners to give students a free pass when they failed parts of the course.
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- Police release Dereck Chisora but confirm he could still be charged with grievous bodily harm
- Officers also want to speak to David Haye but believe he may have left Germany early this morning
- Investigation follows ugly scenes last night after British boxers and their entourages brawled following world heavyweight title fight
- Haye’s manager suffers a gash on his forehead and claims to have been ‘glassed’
Last updated at 12:56 AM on 20th February 2012
Millionaire boxer David Haye was being hunted by German police last night after a brawl with fellow British fighter Dereck Chisora.
The pair clashed at a press conference following Chisora’s defeat in a world title fight in Munich.
Haye, 31, hit the other man while holding a bottle and Chisora responded by threatening to ‘track him down and shoot him’.
SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEO
Raging bull: His face a mask of hatred, Haye squares up to his rival
Take that: David Haye launches a right hook which catches Dereck Chisora on the jaw during the press conference brawl in Munich
Clash: Dereck Chisora exchanges blows with David Haye during the post fight press conference
Raging bull: His face a mask of hatred, Haye squares up to his rival
Enemies: Chisora and David Haye get up close and personal during the brawl
The scenes were described as ‘ugly,
horrible and disgraceful’ and ‘an embarrassment for British boxing’ by
Frank Warren, who represents 28-year-old Chisora.
But there were inevitable suspicions
that the whole incident was a publicity stunt to whip up interest in a
lucrative fight between the two Britons. It happened on Saturday night,
after Chisora lost on points to Ukrainian Vitali Klitschko.
Injury: Adam Booth, trainer of David Haye, bleeds from a nasty gash on his forehead. He claimed to have been ‘glassed’ during the brawl
Haye, who had been commentating on the
bout for a boxing cable channel, became involved in a slanging match
with Zimbabwean-born Chisora as they poured scorn on each other’s
After Haye apparently hit Chisora
while holding the bottle, catching him on the chin, Chisora shouted: ‘He
The two men then grappled and their entourages became
involved in the melee.
Haye was seen trading punches with
Chisora’s trainer Don Charles before swinging a camera tripod over his
Adam Booth, Haye’s trainer-manager, suffered a cut forehead and
also claimed to have been ‘glassed’. Chisora reappeared clutching a
bottle but was wrestled under control.
Chisora and Charles were yesterday
arrested at Munich Airport on suspicion of grievous bodily harm as they
attempted to fly back to London, but were freed without charge.
Haye had left his hotel in Munich by
4.30am, minutes before police arrived to question him. He returned
briefly to his London home before leaving for a secret location.
spokesman for Munich police said: ‘Given the events of Saturday evening,
a criminal investigation is required.’
Officers will present a file to prosecutors today recommending Haye be charged with affray, assault and threatening behaviour.
If prosecuted he could face a jail
sentence or a hefty fine, as financial penalties in Germany are levied
according to income.
When former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher was
involved in a punch-up at a Munich hotel in 2002, he was fined a total
Chisora has already been ordered to
pay £31,500 to a charity for slapping Klitschko at the weigh-in, and
spitting water at his brother Wladimir moments before the fight.
Tension: David Haye shouts at the direction of Dereck Chisora shortly before the brawl started
Weary: Chisora can be seen after the press conference brawl with blood on his T-shirt
Claims of the post-bout brawl being a
publicity stunt were fuelled by a comment from Frank Warren when Haye
began to goad Chisora at the press conference.
Warren was heard to say: ‘I’ve got a
great idea. If Dereck fights David, the winner fights Vitali.’
Klitschko’s manager Bernd Boente responded: ‘Sounds like the perfect
Asked yesterday if the clash was a
set-up, Warren said: ‘If you think somebody wants to wind up getting hit
with a bottle and wind up in a police station while the other guy can’t
be found… you’ve just got to be a complete moron to come up with a
suggestion like that.’
Where it should have stayed: Vitali Klitschko had earlier beaten Dereck Chisora on points
Spit storm: Chisora was caught on camera blasting Wladimir with water before the fight
Temperatures rising: Chisora continued to goad his opponent, even after the defeat
WARNING: VIDEO CONTAINS EXPLICIT LANGUAGE
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Here’s what other readers have said. Why not add your thoughts,
or debate this issue live on our message boards.
The comments below have been moderated in advance.
Chisora and Haye are an utter disgrace to Britian and British Boxing.
In comparison, the Klitschko brothers behaved like complete gentlemen and are worthy ambassadors to both their country and to the sport of boxing.
Chisora and Haye should now feel the full weight of German Law and the World Boxing Authorities, over the shameful scenes that took place before and after the fight.
Haye would smash 10 bells out of chisora, thing is chisora is trying to make a name for himself but the fact is that he is a terrible fighter. he got smashed up by a 40 yr old on his last legs and has lost his last 3 out 4 fights.
if tyson fury can handle chisora with ease, then haye will take him out in 2 rounds just like he did with harrison.
They should be struck out and banned for ever. Russian boxers far better inherit the good trandition of boxing, sadly.
Chisora is an absolute disgrace to boxing. What a role model for aspiring young boxers. He simply doesn’t understand the concept of sportsmanship at all. No doubt the promoter will be pleased, as it puts “bums on seats”. He’s also obviously an idiot. You would have thought after his performance at the weigh-in that he would have tried to make amends. Chisora should be thrown out of boxing.
people don’t seem to have held these sort of antics against ali. a haye-chisora fight will be a complete sellout now. these people are fighters not ballet dancers. oh and once more, chisora didn’t spit- he had a mouthful of water in his mouth- big difference. political correctness is turning us into a nation of weak softies
My apologies to the German taxpayer for having to foot the bill to deal with these neanderthals.
David Haye was the one who was shouting and goading before the toe references were shouted back and David Haye was the one with the glass bottle. Don’t let facts get in the way of your reporting though.
A completely staged fight, simply to try and promote a boxing match between the two. Firstly, why did Chisora take the microphone with him to the back of the room, and secondly if Hayes had hit Chisora with a bottle in his hand, Hayes would almost certainly have broken his hand, agains showing he didn’t use full force for the punch, which if you’d lost your temper, you wouldn’t do.
Both are a disgrace to boxing, and to humanity. There’s only one reason they have to lower themselves to such antics outside the ring…..because they’re so bad inside it.
The security was appalling. They should have known there was going to be trouble between these has-beens. If I was in charge I’d have decked both of them quickly to stop things getting out of hand.
The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.
Last updated at 1:03 AM on 20th February 2012
In Saturday’s Mail, Jeremy Howe, Radio 3’s former head of drama, described the awful day his 34-year-old lecturer wife was murdered in a senseless attack. Here, in the second part of the most emotionally intense series you’ll read this year, he recalls how he coped with the aftermath of her death, telling his daughters that Mummy was dead and burying the love of his life . . .
There is no easy way to tell two little girls, aged four and six, that their mother has been murdered. But I couldn’t carry on living in a weird, make-believe world — so when I returned from identifying my wife’s body, I was ready to tell Jessica and Lucy what had happened.
But before I could start to tell them, Jessica, the eldest, started gabbling away 19 to the dozen about all the wonderful things she’d done since arriving at my sister’s house in Norfolk. ‘We had the best day ever!’ she said.
I cuddled the girls, but I just couldn’t break the terrible news. ‘I’ll tell them tomorrow,’ I said to myself. But, alas, tomorrow came all too soon.
Caring: Jeremy Howe with Jessica (left) and Lucy. He was faced with agonising task of telling them that their mother was dead
Over breakfast, Jessica asked: ‘Did you talk to Mummy last night, Daddy?’ There was an agonising pause. It felt as if I’d been kicked in the stomach. Finally, I rallied sufficiently to say: ‘She sends lots and lots and lots of love.’
My mother, sister and I decided on a plan. Immediately after breakfast, I’d take the girls into the garden and tell them. My mother would come out afterwards to help pick up the pieces.
Telling the girls was so painful that I’m struggling to recall what happened next.I can remember them eating their breakfast. I can remember saying that there was something I wanted to tell them and asking them to come into the garden. ‘Is it about the holiday?’ Jessica asked. ‘Are we going to the seaside today?’
I remember exactly where we stood: alongside a high cypress hedge. I also remember crouching down and putting my arms round their shoulders, but I have no memory of telling Jessica and Lucy that their mummy was dead.
My mother said she could hear the low rumble of my voice, then silence, then an awful cry from Jessica. My sister later said that wail was like the end of Jessica’s childhood.
Loving mother: Lizzie Howe with Jessica as a baby
Jessica says that she remembers thinking: ‘I wonder how long it will take the trees in the hedge to grow tall enough to reach Mummy in heaven.’
The only thing I do recall saying is that I’d look after them, just like Mummy had looked after them. ‘But, Daddy, you can’t cook,’ wailed Lucy.
‘Yes, he can. He cooked us pizza on Saturday,’ Jessica blubbed.
‘But that was from a packet.’
‘And he cooked us fish fingers last week,’ said Jessica through her tears.
She then proceeded to list the other things that Daddy could cook. It wasn’t an impressive list. As Lucy had already rumbled, I was clueless and under-skilled in the mother department.
Our ‘holiday’ in Norfolk with my sister was the strangest of weeks. Every so often, Jessica or Lucy would come to me for a hug and then scurry off to play. We grown-ups sat around, mostly silent, as if we were waiting for something to happen.
The papers were the first thing to absorb. You never really expect to become a news story, but my wife Lizzie was headline news.
On the very day she’d arrived to deliver a lecture at the Open University summer school in York, she’d had her throat slit by a student while innocently sitting at her desk.
In the papers, people whom I’d never heard of from our street in Oxford said nice things about us, while the Open University — for which she’d worked for four years — clearly had no idea who Lizzie was.
My boss was quoted as saying that I’d had a glittering career in front of me. ‘Had’, note, not ‘has’.
On Friday, I’d been one of those upwardly-mobile, thirtysomething execs in the BBC with a promising future; by Monday, I’d had to phone my boss to explain that I wasn’t sure if I was ever coming back.
Time stood still. Family came and family went — all of us paralysed into inactivity by not knowing how to react. It was like a scenario for a holiday as written by Jean- Paul Sartre.
We’d all sit around the table in my sister’s garden, drinking endless cups of tea and talking about everything but Lizzie’s death — because no one knew what to say. When the mere mention of her name reduced Lizzie’s father to tears, there was collective and stiff upper-lipped English embarrassment.
Meanwhile, I discovered that if you keep moving, you don’t get depressed. So the girls and I kept on the move — a picnic lunch on the beach, a walk along the promenade, a fun fair and ice creams with chocolate flakes (‘Really, Daddy, with a flake? Wow!’).
Early that evening, the phone rang. It was a detective superintendent, giving me the all-clear for Lizzie’s funeral — with the rider that he wanted her buried rather than cremated, in case her body had to be exhumed.
I was too dazed to do very much, and more than happy for Lizzie’s parents to arrange everything. Then another problem arose: Lizzie’s mother, Maka, felt the funeral would be too upsetting for two little girls.
Holiday memories: Jeremy and Lizzie with Lucy (left) and Jessica
My own instinct, however, was that Lucy and Jessica were inseparable from me and that, of course, they should accompany me. The thought of being apart from them, even for a minute, overwhelmed me.
Yes, it would be upsetting for them, but weren’t they upset anyway? Surely they should come.
I sought advice. Or rather, my sister somehow managed to get me an appointment with the head of the children’s psychiatry department in Norwich (waiting time approximately six months) that morning.
As I sat in the waiting room, I felt like a fraud. I’d never met a psychiatrist before.
Surely, all I had to do was ask the doctor: ‘Do I take the children to their mother’s funeral?’ She’d then answer ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, and I’d go home. I could have done it by phone.
My sister and I were with her for over an hour. Though she knew my story (she’d read the papers), she wanted me to tell it in my own words. She spoke quietly and monotonously as we sat in her cool, darkened room. Time stopped.
We hardly touched on the subject of the funeral — she certainly never asked me a direct question — but when I left, I wanted to hug her and I was beginning to know my own mind.
I had, it seems, discovered the first
law of coping: trust your instincts. Don’t let the heart rule your
head; go lower down. Trust your gut.
before Lizzie’s funeral in Bath, where her parents lived, I had to
return to Oxford to pick up our kitten, which I’d left in a cattery. It
was one of the few times since Lizzie’s murder that I’d been alone.
Unthinkable: For Jeremy it was as if time stood still after his wife was murdered
Each corner, each turning, each signpost on the familiar road seemed to trigger a memory.
I started to weep and shout out her name. I felt miserable beyond words: helpless, hopeless, sobbing. And I was driving so fast that I realised I was in danger of losing control.
Did I care? Of course I bloody cared! I got a grip, pulled into a lay-by and sat there hunched, banging my head on the steering wheel. ‘Oh, Lizzie, Lizzie, Lizzie, Lizzie. I cannot, CANNOT bear it.’ Then I took off my glasses, because they were so fogged up I couldn’t see, and walked 100 yards down the road, taking deep breaths until I was calm enough to drive on.
The cat was not the least bit pleased to see me and howled all the way back, as if I were her kidnapper. Too embarrassed to behave badly in front of her, I drove back carefully and quietly.
Before the funeral, I arranged to go to the church with the children to see the coffin because I didn’t want it to be a shock when they arrived at the service.
This way, too, we’d all have a completely private moment to say goodbye to Mummy.
Jessica and Lucy had each decorated a plate with sea shells, which we were going to place on the coffin along with a posy of garden flowers. So, bearing our plates and posies, we crept into the empty church.
Seeing the coffin, laid out on a trestle at the head of the nave, was heart-stopping. But the girls were excited and curious, and wanted to be lifted up to inspect it.
‘I didn’t know Mummy’s middle name was Mary, like mine,’ piped up Jessica, peering at the brass name plaque that read: ‘Elizabeth Mary Howe 1958–1992.’
I felt physically sick. Lizzie had never had a middle name. Why had I let someone else organise things and screw them up? For the girls, meanwhile, this changed the mood.
‘Maybe it’s not Mummy in there. Maybe she’s not really dead,’ said Lucy. And Jessica wanted me to open the coffin to make sure. When I said I didn’t have a screwdriver, she told me I could get one. But I knew that I couldn’t risk letting them see their mother’s injuries, so I told them gently that Maka had just got confused about her name.
This was, indeed, the case. Brusque and no-nonsense on the exterior, Maka was traumatised with grief and had somehow convinced herself that Lizzie had a middle name.
Nor do I think she ever quite recovered: until the day Maka died, she called Jessica ‘Lizzie’.
Holiday memories: Jeremy and Lizzie with Lucy (left) and Jessica
It rained on the day of my wife’s funeral. I don’t know what I was expecting, but as we entered, Jessica and Lucy each tightly clutching one of my hands, several hundred faces in an absolutely packed church turned round to look at us. I was buoyed up on a sea of love.
‘Daddy, are we sitting at the front because we’re special?’ whispered Jessica. She made it sound like a treat, like going with me to the theatre.
As I ushered the girls into the front pew, I noticed that ‘Mary’ had been crudely excised from the brass plaque on the coffin and the girls’ pretty little plates had been fixed to the lid, making it look faintly like a table laid for dinner.
‘Why is everybody looking at us, Daddy?’ said Lucy loudly. It broke the ice. Some people laughed, while some began to sob.
Afterwards, Jessica, Lucy and I filed out first behind the coffin; then, as at a wedding, we shook hands with the entire congregation.
It was a very strange meet and greet, but it felt right. I don’t think I’d ever been hugged by so many people in my life, but each hug restored just a little piece of the love I’d had ripped away from me.
As the coffin was lowered into the grave, Jessica threw in her flowers. Then Lucy tried to jump in herself.
Perfect match: Jeremy and Lizzie married three years after meeting at Oxford University
‘I want my Mummy,’ she wailed. ‘I want to be with my Mummy.’ And, sobbing, she was scooped up by my mother.
The day after the funeral, I took the girls to see the Walt Disney film, Peter Pan. I held Jessica’s hand most of the way through, as she and Lucy stuffed their faces with popcorn. Once the popcorn was finished, Lucy clambered on to my lap. My abiding image of Lucy as a toddler was of her sitting on her mother’s lap. That’s what she did; so now she did it to me.
When Peter Pan sat on Wendy’s lap and asked her to be his mother, I had tears streaming down my face.
I’d forgotten how much the film worshipped at the shrine of motherhood — and just how unsuitable it was for two girls who’d just buried their own mother.
‘What are you thinking, Lucy?’ I asked, wondering if she was in a state of trauma and needed to leave the cinema.
‘I was thinking what a beautiful dress Wendy is wearing.’
Soon, it was time to go home to Oxford to start our new life, where all the rules of the game had changed for ever.
But the awful prospect of returning was softened by my certainty that Lizzie’s presence would be lingering. So, while the girls got changed for a friend’s birthday party, I went looking for her.
I searched everywhere, but there was nothing. She had vanished utterly. There was just silence and emptiness.
There was no lingering smell of her in her bathrobe hanging by the shower, no imprint of her in our bed, no notes or reminders left on her desk.
Just a lot of her everyday objects devoid of their purpose because she wasn’t there to use them — her nightie under the pillow, her toothbrush in its mug by the sink, her cleansing lotion by the bed, her diaphragm (the bane of our sex life) neatly stowed in the bedside table, her lists of things to do on her return from York.
With increasing anxiety, I pulled out drawers, opened jewellery boxes, smelled her clothes, sorted through her papers.
Just then, Lucy interrupted my thoughts: ‘Daddy, Jessica wants to know where you put Katie’s present.’ Then Jessica called up the stairs: ‘Daddy! I can’t find my hairbrush. And we need to go to the party or we’ll be late!’
In the girls’ eyes, I realised suddenly, I was now their mummy as well as their daddy. Presents and hairbrushes and going to parties were what mummies did.
As a dad, I’d seen myself as the Minister of Fun — ‘Let’s go to the fair!’ — while Lizzie was the Minister of Work — ‘Eat that last carrot stick!’, ‘Time for bed, girls!’, ‘Jessica, go and wash those filthy hands!’
In gaining a new mother, I wondered if they’d lost their father, because I wasn’t much good at being fun any more.
And, as a mother, I knew — from the infrequent times Lizzie had been away — that I was pretty inept.
Having found the present and the hairbrush, I was about to slam shut the front door when Jessica asked if I’d remembered the door key. I hadn’t.
(For the next two years, practically everyone on our street had a door key to Number 10, just in case I forgot.)
Missing their mother: Jeremy Howe with daughters Lucy, 8, and Jessica, 10, four years after Lizzie’s murder
Off we trooped, with me feeling as if I were walking naked down the street, watched by a hundred pairs of eyes.
We reached the door of the church hall, where the party was being held, and it took all my courage to go inside.
What happened next was surreal. All the mums and children went quiet, as if ghosts had entered the room. Jessica, Lucy and I stood there, stranded.
Katie, the birthday girl, finally broke the silence by coming up to Jessica and giving her a hug. And then she hugged Lucy and smiled at me.
‘I’m so glad you could come,’ her mother whispered. After a few words of condolence, she fell silent again.
Then she asked: ‘You don’t know any party games do you? It’s just that Dave was going to do that bit, but he’s had to go to work.’
Ah, I thought, one smart dad.
And so, for the next hour, I organised party games — rather manically — which mostly involved girls running around and screaming, with a bit of musical chairs thrown in.
My new life, it seemed, had well and truly begun.
n Extracted from Mummydaddy by Jeremy Howe, to be published by Pan Macmillan on March 1, at £7.99. © 2012 Jeremy Howe. To order a copy for £6.99 (including PP), call 0843 382 0000.
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- Prototype burger will cost £220,000 to produce
Fiona Macrae Science Correspondent
Last updated at 1:09 AM on 20th February 2012
The world’s first test-tube burger will be ready to eat within months.
It will look, feel and, it is hoped, taste, like a regular quarter-pounder, its creator Mark Post told the world’s premier science conference.
He plans to unveil the hamburger in October – and hopes celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal will cook it, although he has yet to approach him.
Tasty: A small sample of the lab-grown ‘meat’ which Dutch stem cell scientist Dr Mark Post believes everyone will want to eat
The ‘ethical meat’ will would be kinder to the environment than the real thing, reduce animal suffering and help feed the world’s burgeoning population.
But it will be far from cheap with the prototype burger costing £220,000 to produce.
Professor Post says that ‘everyone’ will want to eat the burgers, which, despite their vast initial cost could eventually be priced to match that of real meat.
However, it remains to be seen whether a public that likes to think of its chops, steaks and sausages as having their roots in nature will take to meat made in test-tubes.
The Maastricht Univeristy professor has
spent the last six years trying to turn stem cells – ‘master cells’ with
the power to turn into all other cell types – into meat.
Real thing: But the new meat could be an ethical alternative to beef
He first attempts involved mouse burgers. He then tried to grow pork in a dish, producing strips with the rubbery texture of squid or scallops, before settling on beef.
A four-step technique is used to turn stem cells from animal flesh into a burger.
First, the stem cells are stripped from the cow’s muscle.
Next, they are incubated in a nutrient broth until they multiply many times over, creating a sticky tissue with the consistency of an undercooked egg.
This ‘wasted muscle’ is then bulked up through the laboratory equivalent of exercise – it is anchored to Velcro and stretched.
Finally, 3,000 strips of the lab-grown meat are minced, and, along with 200 pieces of lab-grown animal fat, formed into a burger.
The process is still lengthy, as well as expensive, but optimised, it could take just six weeks from stem cell to supermarket shelf.
Yesterday, Professor Post told the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual conference in Vancouver that he has so far made a strip of beef measuring 3cm by 1.5cm by 0.5cm.
This beef is ‘pinkish to yellow’ in colour – but he is confident of having a full-sized and properly coloured burger by the autumn.
The professor, who is funded by an anonymous but highly-successful benefactor, said: ‘It’s not quite ready, it’s going to be presented in October.
‘We are going to provide a proof of concept, showing that out of stem cells you can produce a product that looks like and feels like and hopefully tastes like meat.
‘Seeing and tasting is believing.’ Sausages and other processed meat products could swiftly follow, although pork chops and sirloin steaks will be much more problematic.
Other possibilities include synthetic versions of the meat from are animals such as pandas and tigers.
Choice: Professor Post hopes experimental chef Heston Blumenthal will have a go at cooking his new invention
Meats could also be made extra-healthy by boosting their content of ‘good’ fats.
Far fewer animals would have to be kept to satisfy the appetite for meat.
stem cell’s extraordinary ability to grow and multiply means that a
cells taken from a single cow could produce a million times more burgers
than if the animal was slaughtered for meat.
Researchers say they realise that many will find the idea of eating lab-grown meat unnatural – but point out that the livestock eaten at the moment is often kept in cramped conditions and dosed with chemicals or antibiotics.
However, the fact that the source material comes from animals who will likely have slaughtered means that not all vegetarians will be happy with the product.
The fledgling technology was highlighted in discussion paper about current and future demands on livestock production published recently by the Royal Society, Britain’s most prestigious scientific body.
The paper’s author, Professor Philip Thornton, of the International Livestock Research Institute in Edinburgh, wrote: ‘This is one example of something that could happen in the future that could have a very big impact on agriculture and livestock production.
‘There are some advantages to the idea. For example, you could reduce the number of live animals substantially and that would reduce greenhouse gas production.
‘There might be human health benefits because the health and safety issues associated with meat could be much better controlled.
‘But are people going to eat it? People’s tastes have changed a lot over the years and eventually this may be something that is widely taken up.’
Cautioning about the economic impact on farmers, the professor said: ‘If you are talking about large-scale reductions in numbers of livestock, there are large-scale implications and we’d have to look very carefully to see if the benefits would outweigh some of the problems that might arise.’
It will be at least ten years before the artificial meat is produced on an industrial scale and has satisfied the safety testing necessary for it be placed on supermarket shelves.
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One other thing people seem to be forgetting is the nutritional value of real meat. These animals eat, Therefore are given nutrients while growing. How is this achieved here? It grows. That’s it. Where can it possibly get any goodness from? This comment goes out to all the red arrow crew. lol
they tamper in Gods domain…
- zevers, Milwaukee, 20/2/2012 01:45 – - – - — – - I suppose when someone in your family is very ill you say the same about medical science that saves lives.
Once past the initial yuk factor I think this is a fantastic idea. The amount of animal suffering this could stop could be enormous. More importantly though we might be able to finally produce enough cheap protein to feed everyone on the planet and the amount of land freed up could then go into possibly producing bio fuels and thus cut down our reliance on middle eastern fossil fuels while still driving our traditional combustion engine cars until a truly green and viable energy source is discovered.
I can see people’s points of view here but the fact is, Slaughterhouse meat is natural, It was put here for a purpose, And that is to feed the planet. On the other hand we have this, Un-natural, Synthesised “meat” which is not organic, Is basically the equivalent of a test tube experiment, Yet you are willing to be the guinea pig that tests it? Who knows what this stuff will do once it gets into the human reproductive system and starts entering our newborns. Ever thought of that? Twits. You don’t **** about with nature, It is this way for a purpose.
they tamper in Gods domain…
if it tastes good and has the right texture – why not?
The advantages are obvious – no more slaughter-houses – no more antibiotic and hormone laden meat – no limits to production – cheaper since all the cost of farming is removed –
People, some of the stuff you eat as “ready meals” is a lot more disgusting than this. Just think of what goes into hot-dogs or those cheap sausages you buy at the supermarket.
What passes for beef in the burgers these days tastes more like “Soylent Red”. Now they are telling us to rejoice because they’ve discovered “Soylent Green”. Hip, hip, hooray!
Some people have claimed they would not eat synthetic meat because of the “Yuk” factor. Compared to the “Yuk” factor of screaming animals in a slaughterhouse whose floor is running with blood, this is a miracle.
It does make one wonder, with Euthanasia being seriously considered, whether ‘Soylent Green’ is the next step ?
No thanks, would rather starve.
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Last updated at 1:17 AM on 20th February 2012
Hostile to Israel: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Writing in the London Review Of Books about nuclear non-proliferation politics, two British academics, Campbell Craig and Jan Ruzicka, ask: ‘Why should Iran or North Korea respect the principle of non-proliferation when the most powerful states lecturing them possess such enormous arsenals?’ Why indeed.
Warships from Iran enter the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal. A U.S. navy flotilla, including the giant carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, cruises through the Straits of Hormuz, within sight of the Iranian coast.
The Israelis and Americans threaten to bomb Iran, creating a new Middle East war. They say this might be necessary to delay or destroy the regime’s ability to build nuclear weapons.
Though the U.S. and Israel possess nuclear weapons, both say Iran must not be allowed to have any because its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has vowed to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.
Anti-war groups deny he ever said such a thing, claiming that the speech in question — Ahmadinejad’s first as Iran’s newly elected president — has been mistranslated.
According to the website Antiwar.com, he spoke in Farsi and quoted what the late Ayatollah Khomeini, father of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, had said about Israel. This is Antiwar.com’s translation of the key sentence:
‘Mam (Khomeini) ghoft (said) een (this) rezhim-e (regime) ishghalgar-e (occupying) qods (Jerusalem) bayad (must) az safheh-ye ruzgar (from page of time) mahv shavad (vanish from).’
Whom do we believe?
Ahmadinejad is clearly hostile to Israel. So are the Arab nations with which Iran is allied. But he knows he couldn’t fire nuclear missiles at Israel without the certainty Iran would be obliterated by the U.S.
Washington hawks who want Iran bombed say Ahmadinejad is mad enough to risk nuclear Armageddon in order to destroy Israel.
But does that also go for the clerics who enjoy supreme power or the country’s educated, middle-class minority yearning not for a mushroom cloud but the freedoms enjoyed by citizens in the West?
Danger: Ahmadinejad and other government ministers visit Tehran’s nuclear reactor, a likely source for any weapon development
Explosive: Iran’s home-built surface-to-surface Fateh 110 missile blasts into the sky in a test firing in the desert
When not citing Ahmadinejad’s alleged threat to wipe out Israel, the Americans mention the 1968 Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT), which most of the world’s sovereign states signed.
Those nations without nuclear weapons were promised help in developing peaceful atomic energy while the nuclear club pursued disarmament.
Soon afterwards, India and Pakistan acquired nuclear weapons. So did North Korea. Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was suspected of having them. So Iraq endured sanctions, a war, an occupation and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians before it was conceded that Saddam didn’t have nuclear weapons.
During the Cold War, there was no hope of persuading the U.S., the Soviets or China of giving up their missiles. Neither was there much appetite for doing so when the Cold War ended. Non-nuclear nations worked it out in the end: the NPT regime was rigged to maintain the status quo.
In 2010, the so-called New Start (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) agreement between America and Russia was ratified. New Start was vital, said the Americans, ‘because everything we need to do in the future, starting with halting the Iranian programme, requires working with Russia and showing we are serious about bringing down our own nuclear stockpiles’.
How serious are they? Not very. The Obama administration has committed $85 billion to modernising — i.e., making even more lethal — the U.S. nuclear arsenal between now and 2020.
Obama wouldn’t have got New Start through the Senate without committing his administration to improving America’s bomb power.
A catchy new name was devised for non-proliferation — Global Zero. Some 300 political, military, business, faith and civil leaders and 400,000 citizens worldwide were recruited to work for the ‘verified elimination of all nuclear weapons’. Which won’t happen until something even more deadly is invented in their place.
William Hague’s aides say he’s like the Duracell Bunny: ‘He never stops.’ He has clocked up visits to 50 countries since becoming Foreign Secretary in 2010. (What does his wife, Ffion, feel about this?) Does Hague have to travel so much? No, but it helps build a portfolio of contacts when his job comes to an end.
Olympics news is bad news
The London Olympics is generating a slew of stories calculated to enrage anyone who isn’t competing.
Sky-high ticket prices. Special road lanes for bigwigs, closed even to ambulances, we learn. Thousands of tickets available only on foreign websites which, for example, are charging more than £12,000 for a ‘premium, four-night package’ to watch the gymnastics final.
Cycling fans charged to watch a road race around London and Surrey. And so on.
Cash cow: Olympics news is always bad news, especially when people feeling they are being cheated out of money
Now we are told Conservative Central Office hopes to produce ‘one good Olympics story a week’. But this will be impossible, for good stories rarely make headlines.
How often does someone in the pub say they’ve heard ‘good news’ about something? By its nature, news is bad for someone.
Currently, most of the bad news on the Games is about how we’re being cheated.
But if you agree to host a world event requiring a high level of preparation and expensive infrastructure, don’t be surprised if those who’ve elbowed their way into providing services seek to extract the largest possible sum of money out of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, knowing you can’t cancel.
The TV series Call The Midwife, which ended last night, was more popular than Downton Abbey. Why so? It’s sentimental, a fitting successor to Lark Rise To Candleford.
The cast included Jenny (Railway Children) Agutter as nun Sister Julienne and droll comedienne Miranda Hart as midwife Chummy.
Sentimental: Jessica Raine as midwife Jenny Lee in Call The Midwife, a fitting successor to Lark Rise To Candleford
There was also Jessica Raine as midwife Jenny Lee. Last summer, she featured in a news story headlined ‘Unknown actress Jessica Raine to star in BBC1’s new drama series’.
We were told ‘bosses at the BBC have taken a huge risk in casting a newcomer as the star of their new Sunday night drama Call The Midwife’. Some risk!
Williams shouldn’t be in the Falklands
Helicopter pilot: Prince William should not be in the Falklands
Falklands Task Force commander Admiral Sir John ‘Sandy’ Woodward, 79, says we don’t need politicians or royals to visit the islands as the 30th anniversary of our war with Argentina approaches.
Of Universities Minister David Willetts’s trip to Port Stanley last week, Woodward says: ‘I should think the last thing they need is Willetts.’
As for Prince William’s six weeks there as an RAF air-sea rescue helicopter pilot, he adds: ‘To have a royal anywhere near the front line is a bloody nuisance . . . You have to take extra precautions that he doesn’t get shot down, that his plane doesn’t fail. You maintain it three times as carefully.’
I expect the usual royal creeps will crawl out of the woodwork saying Woodward is wrong about William (left), but he’s dead right.
What he says also applies to Prince Harry, thirsting to apply his new skills in a death-to-every-living-thing Apache helicopter gunship targeting rifle-carrying tribesmen.
There is no reason why William or Harry should be in the Falklands or Helmand Province, other than garlanding the royal princes with medals and ribbons, and allowing chiefs of staff to arrange their transmogrification into heroes — i.e., the usual pull-the-wool-over-our-eyes royal PR trickery.
Fugitive Lord Lucan, who disappeared in 1974 after his family’s nanny, Sandra Rivett, was battered to death at his Belgravia home, apparently lived secretly in Africa and his two eldest children were flown there to see him.
This is the story told on some BBC TV regions tonight by an unnamed personal assistant to Lucan’s friend, the late gambling boss John Aspinall. She says Lucan was discussed at meetings between his friends Aspinall and Sir James Goldsmith.
If this woman truly exists, shouldn’t the police question her? She has withheld information for many years about a man wanted for murder.
Private Eye magazine was deluged with writs (including one for criminal libel) by Goldsmith for suggesting he and Aspinall connived to protect Lucan.
Whitney Houston’s funeral had all the operatic overtones that we would expect of showbiz obsequies.
The emotional crowds, the over-wrought atmosphere, the bullying former husband, Bobby Brown, reaching out to touch her coffin before leaving in a huff when his entourage couldn’t be seated to his satisfaction.
Brown said: ‘I gave a kiss to the casket of my ex-wife and departed, as I refused to create a scene.’
Meanwhile, gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, writing in the Mail on Sunday, recalled meeting Whitney and her female partner, Robyn Crawford, in 1991, saying: ‘It was obvious they were madly in love. Their intimacy and affection was so sweet and romantic.’
He then spoiled it by going on to say homophobia contributed to Whitney’s fall, and that he wanted to see a more tolerant society ‘where people don’t feel the need to marry to deflect rumours of homosexuality . . .’
Surely proselytising for gays after a funeral is in poor taste.