Fascination with people’s lives is natural, and journalism has changed. We need a more nuanced debate on press intrusion.
Does William and Kate’s baby actually exist? You could be forgiven for wondering, given how few times George has actually been seen: he wasn’t there again for the Sandringham Christmas walkabout. With only two public appearances, and one family snap, he may be the least-seen royal baby of the photographic era. Presumably he is occasionally pushed outside the gates of the Middleton family home, but there are no paparazzi to snap him. These are post-Leveson days and there has been no greater beneficiary than the royal family, around whose privacy the press now gently treads.
George’s invisibility is in startling contrast to the coverage of William and Harry’s early years. By the mid-80s, tabloids were eagerly snapping away and speculating on everything they saw: whether or not Diana was breastfeeding, and who the nannies and playdates were. Diana played along, often co-operating with the press to allow casual and intimate photos.
Committed republicans probably welcome this invisibility: the less we hear about this boring family the better. But invisibility and mystique in fact serve monarchist causes far more effectively than public scrutiny.
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Sniggers over the recent biopic are part of a greater perception of Princess Diana herself – as an embarrassment to be forgotten.
The Princess Diana biopic has bombed in the US, making only the equivalent of £40,000 from initial screenings in 38 cinemas in its first weekend. It is tempting to conclude that America has finally fallen out of love with Diana. But much more likely is that potential audiences were deterred by the panning the film has received on both sides of the Atlantic.
I kept away from the film when it was released in British cinemas for precisely the same reason: it sounded cringe-making. Yet even as I kept away, I was puzzled by the wall-to-wall contempt it had provoked. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, writing in the Independent on Sunday, found the critical sniggering excessive too; was it, she asked, because some elements of the story, especially Diana’s intimacy with a Pakistani doctor, were still unsettling?
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Moving my mother into a home wasn’t easy, but Jeremy Hunt’s Chinese peasant model is not the answer.
My mother went into a nursing home earlier this year. Contrary to Jeremy Hunt’s suggestion that people casually consign elderly relations to care homes rather than caring for them themselves, it was one of the most painful decisions I’ve ever taken. Judging from others I met in the same situation, my feelings were typical. No one takes these decisions lightly. As it turned out, my mother’s move was far less painful for her than for her family. At the care home she was embraced by a loving and stable staff who worked hard to settle her in. By contrast we had to discover fast just how little support, financial or otherwise, there is for our elderly people.
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What’s at stake in wolf conservation? It isn’t just the survival of the species but the survival of wilderness
“Beware the wolves of Chiantishire,” warned a recent Daily Mail headline. Tuscany’s “idyllic landscape of rolling fields and poplar-lined hills”, the article continued, which in the past “proved irresistible to the great, the good and the very rich”, have in recent months become “home to a savage predator – packs of marauding wolves which are growing increasingly brazen”. Politicians in Chianti-country, we are told, “have called on the government to take action. There are growing fears that the wolves could attack humans.”
Even by the Daily Mail’s usual standards of scaremongering, this scenario is pushing it. In spite of their mythically savage status, proven attacks on humans by wolves are very small in number: globally since 2000 there have only been around 20 confirmed attacks. By comparison, in an average year there are 26 deaths caused by domestic dogs in the United States alone. The risk to humans of an unprovoked attack by a wolf is minuscule in comparison, even taking into account the vastly greater number of dogs.
You might expect Ward B47 to be a depressing place.
The majority of patients are aged over 80 and the expectation is that 30 per cent will have passed away after three months.
All have mental health issues such as dementia, Alzheimer’s or confusion.
Full article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2277169/Inside-hospital-thats-leading-kindness-revolution-Concluding-series-crisis-compassion-nursing.html
On Saturday, in the first part of an uncompromising investigation into nursing in NHS hospitals, Ros Coward asked why so many nurses seem to have stopped caring for their patients. Today, in the wake of the damning report into Stafford Hospital, she suggests the troubling answer…
Sarah Allen is in her 20s.
After a recent asthma attack, she found herself in an unusual situation when she was admitted to a ward in a large London hospital where the other patients were mainly elderly, and several were suffering from dementia.
There, she was able to see for herself whether the terrible stories of patient neglect in the NHS — which have become so common in recent years — were true.
What she saw shocked her.
Full article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2276796/Aged-94-frail-china-doll-Sophia-struggled-bed-Come-said-nurse-Youre-just-lazy.html
- Robert Francis QC’s report was merely the latest damning indictment
- Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned that cruelty and neglect had become normal in some hospitals and care homes
My 89-year-old mother has suffered with dementia for the past seven years. Over that time she has been in and out of hospital. Some of her care has been excellent, but some has been shocking.
Once, when she collapsed, she was taken to Kingston Hospital, in South-West London. After a long and stressful evening in A&E, a bed was eventually found for her at midnight.
What a relief, I thought — she was safe and I could go home. As I stooped to whisper goodbye, a nurse shoved something in my face. ‘Sign this,’ she said bluntly. It was a form to absolve the hospital for any loss of my mother’s valuables.
Full article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2275943/NHS-Why-nurses-stopped-CARING.html
The sterile fashion for hard surfaces instead of greenery is contributing to flooding and the disappearance of fauna
For the last six months the house opposite mine has been in the process of “renovation”. This means that, apart from its Victorian facade, every aspect has been “modernised” into a state of gleaming sterility. The finishing touches are being done now. The back garden is being concreted and the front garden covered with what looks like black bathroom tiles. Not an inch of ground has been left visible, let alone a hedge – indeed that was the first thing to go when the builders moved in. The developer is strolling about looking satisfied and the estate agent is in tow composing the brochure. But what he will doubtless describe as “finished to exacting standards”, I prefer to describe as another nail in the coffin of London’s environment.
Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/feb/04/london-gardens-replaced-hard-surfaces-disaster
Lifting the cap on fees has marketised higher education, with falling student numbers and reduced entry requirements
Some call what’s happening in the university sector a “radical overhaul”. This sounds planned and orderly. But as student numbers fall and talk turns to the politically embarrassing possibility of university bankruptcies, this starts to look more like a demonstration of the law of unintended consequences.
Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jan/24/market-forces-chaos-universities-fees
The reading group in Wandsworth jail offers offenders a welcome escape from their restricted lives
Wandsworth prison is an ominous place with its dark brickwork, iconic gates and perimeter walls topped by billowing rolls of barbed wire. The prison library, however, looks a bit like a comfy community library.
I’m here at the invitation of academics Jenny Hartley and Sarah Turvey who have been running volunteer reading groups in Wandsworth and other prisons for the last 13 years. Recent policy has prioritised vocational qualifications for prisoners. But Turvey sees the groups as equally vital. “The majority of prisoners have had negative experiences of school and are wary of formal education in prison,” she says. “We’re helping prisoners develop skills they need before they can even think about qualifications.”
Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/jan/15/wandsworth-prison-reading-group