We all know about helicopter parents and how terrible they can be. In New York, where I live, a mother sued her child’s $19,000-a-year nursery because her four-year-old was spending too much time playing with two-year-olds, thus ruining her chances of one day getting into an Ivy League university.
Huge story, but I suppose I can’t talk, since I’m the gal who let her nine-year-old take the subway alone and got dubbed ‘America’s Worst Mom’.
Now that the Scots have banned people from smacking kids — both their own and, presumably, those that belong to other people — I suppose we will dutifully follow suit and another one of life’s harmless little pleasures will have bitten the dust. Fair enough, we can still say horrible, frightening things to them in order to exert a bit of discipline. But the immense satisfaction of hearing them howl in pain from a sharp slap to the leg, or a nasty pinch to the upper arm, will be gone for good.
My sainted mum was of untarnished working-class blood — she worked, variously, as a cleaner, factory hand and shop assistant — and like most women of her kind who grew up before the 1960s, she never swore. Not a ‘bitch’, ‘slut’ or ‘slag’ ever passed her lips, though she certainly loathed a lot of women and always had at least two feuds on the go. In her eyes, using words like that would have made her just as bad as the targets of her disapproval.
How to sum up David Frost? The lazy writer’s friend, aka Wikipedia, calls him ‘an English journalist, comedian, writer, media personality and television host’. To which I would add only: ‘Britain’s first TV superstar.’ (To some he was also ‘The Bubonic Plagiarist’, but we won’t dwell on that.)
That Was The Week That Was, The Frost Report and The Nixon Interviews made him a key cultural figure of the 1960s and 1970s.
I became aware that there was real destitution in modern Britain five years ago. Destitution, as I see it, arises when a family or individual is hungry, unable to afford gas and electricity, and on the brink of homelessness. It was apparent to me then that too many people at the bottom of the pile who fall on hard times are slipping through holes in the nation’s safety net — some are even forced through those holes by the modern welfare state.
This season, as London fashion week was starting, Vogue posted a video following the new model of the moment Kaia Gerber (who is Cindy Crawford’s daughter). It was so far from the reality of being a model that I almost couldn’t watch it: Kaia walking for all the top designers in her very first season; Kaia entering her ‘home for the week’ (a hotel room bigger than my apartment); Kaia being driven everywhere in a Mercedes SUV; Kaia and her friends jumping around on her massive bed, clad head to toe in Chanel and ordering room service…
When I first started modelling I expected it to be just like that.
It only dawned on me in late summer just how terrible our new benefits system, universal credit, might be both for the poor souls who depend on it and for the bedraggled Conservative party.
An old friend, Terry, alerted me to the depth of the problem. Terry is 70-odd and has learning difficulties, though he’s astute in many ways and quite startlingly kind. He has a room in a shared house, but like many in precarious or temporary housing, he’s a regular on the homeless scene: part of a growing drift of men and women who move around London morning till night, from the St Martin-in-the-Fields day centre to the Hare Krishna food vans in Lincoln’s Inn Fields.
Recall the media coverage at the height of the Jimmy Savile scandal, times it by about a thousand, and you get an idea of the hysteria currently surrounding gay men in Egypt. That’s not an arbitrary analogy. The social ramifications of coming out as a ‘gay man’ in most parts of the Middle East are the same as for some chap on a council estate in Barnsley declaring in a packed pub at closing time that he has a 12-year-old girlfriend.
I have come to Greece in search of sanity over Brexit. Ostensibly it is a symposium to discuss relations between Britain and Greece. But it is also an excuse to step away from the minutiae of the negotiations to think about the future of Europe. It was from Greece, of course, that our continent derived its name — from the mythological Europa who was ravished by Zeus and bore a future king of Crete.
Autumn is upon us, and the streets are full of families in fancy dress. People of all ages are dressing up, everything from smugglers to suffragettes. In Lewes it can only mean one thing — it’s bonfire time again.
Elsewhere in Britain, Bonfire Night has been overwhelmed by Halloween, but here in the historic county town of Sussex (forget about this newfangled East Sussex nonsense), Guy Fawkes is still going strong.