News - and Views!

I was just one of many thousands of on-line bloggers, tweeters etc who shared the news about the disappearance of little April Jones last Autumn. We hoped against hope that the power of social media might help, that she would be found, safe and well.

 

It wasn't to be, and yesterday Mark Bridger, a man well-known to the Jones family and someone young April would have trusted, was sentenced to life imprisonment. In this case, life will mean life. For April's family, the agony will never end as they do not know exactly what happened to their darling girl.

 

The court case has brought calls for greater controls on internet pornography, particularly child pornography which Mark Bridger was known to have downloaded. Few rational people would disagree with that - but it drives me to distraction that we seem to be concentrating on efforts to stop people accessing this material but hear little about action to bring to justice the vile people who are abusing children to produce those unspeakable images. Should there not be a concerted, world-wide campaign to track down and prosecute these evil people who steal and destroy the innocence of little ones?  Isn't it better to tackle the cause, as well as the effect?

 

RIP poor little April. Our world has not served you well.

Sir Robert Edwards, who died yesterday aged 87, was the inspirational scientist who, with his colleague Patrick Steptoe, pioneered IVF treatment. Together they brought hope and happiness to millions of women who cried themselves to sleep at night, despairing of ever holding their own baby in their arms. 

 

It was back in July 1978 when the first "test-tube baby" (thank goodness we have dropped that terminology!) was born - Louise Brown who now has the joy of a child of her own. It had not been a quick or easy route to success: Robert Edwards started his work on human conception back in the mid-1950s. He was passionately committed to his search: "Nothing is more special than a child," he is quoted as saying.

 

Today, around 180,000 precious babies are born in Britain every year, thanks to IVF. In the nearly 35 years since Lesley Brown gave birth to her "lovely Louise", more than 5 million IVF babies have been born world-wide. 

 

That's Five Million Thank Yous to Sir Robert Edwards, the man who made it possible for dreams to come true.

I've been pondering on exactly what I should write about the death of Margaret Thatcher yesterday at the age of 87.

 

I know, on a smaller, far less grandiose, stage, just how hard it is for a woman to make it to the top in a determinedly male world. But Maggie Thatcher did it - the first woman to become Prime Minister of Great Britain. For which I can only applaud her determination, grit and spirit. I just wish she had used her experience to encourage more women to achieve their potential in politics but there was very little, if any, evidence of this. I think she may actually have set the cause of women in politics back quite a lot.

 

Some say that she changed our country for the better by standing up to the Unions. Others say that all that is selfish and self-seeking about our country today started with her.  I just think that when people talk of her battle with the Unions they are talking of the Big Players in that war, forgetting about the little people who suffered - not just the miners but others, like the print workers, my husband among them. 

 

I can't agree with those who talk of celebrating her death, of dancing on her grave. She wasn't a Hitler or a Stalin. No millions of people died of famine or torture or the gas-chamber because of her. Please let us have a sense of proportion.  Her government's policies catapulted our family (and many, many others) into one of our most difficult and testing periods but she is dead, at a grand age, and I respect the right of her family and friends to mourn her passing.

 

The i (20p and my newspaper of choice these days) was the only paper which really got it right today with its headline: "Thatcher - as divisive in death as she was in life." You only have to scan through the comments on Facebook and Twitter to see the truth of that.

 

I always think history will be the final arbiter. But history may have a hard job on its hands when it comes to reporting fairly, honestly and accurately on the life and times of the Iron Lady.

I've been reading, with sadness, the Fisher report on the Stafford Hospital and reflecting on what it says about the state of "our" NHS. I remember my mother telling me how amazing it was when the NHS was introduced and she could call the doctor when we were ill without worrying about the bill.

 

I've also been reflecting on my experiences in hospital almost exactly two years ago. I'll concentrate on three people.

 

Firstly the cleaner (I wish I could remember her name!) who told me that every single member of staff at this particular hospital was told that their main aim (call it a "target" if you will) was to make sure that every patient's stay was as pleasant as possible. Which, in her case, meant ensuring my room was as clean and neat as a new pin.  

 

Then there was night nurse, Hazel, who was worried that I wouldn't call her in the night when I was in pain and couldn't sleep. "It's what I'm here for," she said, bringing me mugs of hot, sweet milk in the early hours and telling me all about her little son at home.

 

And, finally, there was Margaret, who washed me when I was too weak to wash myself, who went with me to the operating theatre ("I wouldn't let you go on your own") and who took enormous pride in her care of those she called "my patients".

 

As a lifelong supporter of the NHS, I wish I could say this was an NHS hospital but it wasn't. My previous experiences in NHS hospitals had been so awful that my family had insisted I "went private" this time around.

 

But every hospital could be like this.

 

All it takes is an injection of pride, a little bit of love - and a lot of caring.

I have never felt too much sympathy, either for Chris Huhne or his ex-wife Vicky Pryce, as their tale of marital strife, dodgy dealings on speeding, betrayal, lies and revenge has been played out on the front pages of the newspapers. I kind of felt they were each as bad as the other and deserved whatever came their way.

 

That was until I read the series of texts between Chris Huhne and his son, fizzing with hate on one side and desperate attempts to keep a father - son dialogue going on the other. I cannot imagine how I would feel if I ever received a text from one of my children like those Huhne's son sent his father. It would break my heart. I suspect the bitter breakdown of this most special of relationships has dealt a bigger blow to Huhne than disgrace in court and the loss of reputation and career.

 

I never thought I'd say it but, yes, I feel sorry for the father, if not for the man...

Latest comments

12.08 | 09:53

Very nice, really i appreciate....well done.

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thanks

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21.05 | 10:09

I'm needing to find information about the usher family tree for my aunty, her great grandparent where Thomas and Phoebe Usher would I've been researching

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21.05 | 10:03

Hi Karen,
I'm helping my aunt with her family tree her maiden name was usher. do you have any other information or found anything about the usher family

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18.04 | 17:19

Oh that's such a good read Jaqui! It's great to see it through your eyes, and you capture it beautifully... and you will indeed look like real athletes too!

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