SO how are we all doing? I have to admit, I have good and bad days, and this week I hit the wall.
I think it was the shocking realisation that we had reached the truly appalling milestone of 100,000 Covid-related deaths in this country.
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It is hard to get your head around it, until you imagine a massive venue, such as Wembley stadium, filled with cheering men, women and children who are at a stroke, all wiped out.
So I’ve had a tight ball of anxiety in my stomach and a feeling of being overwhelmed. But I am very well aware that I’m one of the lucky ones.
I’m still working and so far this vile virus has not claimed the life of anyone I know well, although it’s come all too horribly close.
I cannot even begin to imagine what it must be like to lose someone you love to Covid.
It keeps me awake at night thinking of those closest to me who are most at risk.
Like so many of you, I have friends who work in hospitals and care homes and who do risky jobs in their roles as police officers and teachers, and in the Armed Forces.
I’m worried about our regular-as-clockwork postman, our cheery binmen, the checkout staff in my local supermarket and all those people who quietly help us all to still function with a determination and sense of duty that is truly admirable.
I still feel a deep sense of anger that the Government didn’t shut our borders early last year, which would have saved so many lives.
It was a decision I continue to find baffling, distressing and profoundly irresponsible and stupid.
I have yet to hear a valid reason for allowing travellers, including from China and the US, to merrily whistle through passport control and out into the streets with no checks and no quarantine.
Meanwhile, tearful brides-to-be were ordered to shelve their wedding plans, hospital patients had no one to hold their hands and grieving mourners were unable to attend funerals.
Then there was the unbelievable idiocy of ousting fragile Covid-infected elderly people from their hospital beds and foisting them on care homes, ensuring the virus ran riot and many more lives were lost.
What really did it for me was the whole Christmas fiasco, with families given half-arsed hokey cokey-style advice that left us all confused and desperately in need of clarity and reassurance.
We are reaping the whirlwind of those festive celebrations with more deaths, crowded hospitals and NHS workers at breaking point.
So thank God for the scientists and the volunteers who have given us a chance to have our lives back with their brilliance and dedication in discovering the vaccines.
And a rousing three cheers to our Armed Forces for helping to roll them out.
And, of course, a huge thanks to The Sun’s Jabs Army giving invaluable support and dispensing much-needed kindness and cheer.
My one bright spot this week was that my dad, who is almost 80 and very high risk, received his jab on Wednesday.
I’m so grateful to the kind NHS workers who took care of him. And my mum has her appointment next week.
My parents’ generation and those even older are setting a brilliant example by gratefully rolling up their sleeves and having the vaccine, knowing it will keep them safe.
If only everyone would stop reading online conspiracy theories, misinformation and dangerous bilge spouted by clowns who will end up killing people, then we will all be in a far safer place.
It’s very easy to feel despair, but just imagine what life would be like if we didn’t have the vaccine.
I’ve learned that I need to remain optimistic, count my blessings and take things one day at a time.
It’s OK to feel anxious and to just want to pull the duvet over your head, but better times are coming and we will get through this.
If you are feeling low then please talk to someone.
I call Joyce, my best pal from school, when it gets a bit much and it makes all the difference in the world.
So, promise me you will take care of yourself and each other. Keep to the rules and grab that vaccine when your turn comes.
Critics carping at multi-talented Carey is unwelcome throwback to sexist eighties
CAREY MULLIGAN is a luminous British actress who may not be Hollywood’s idea of a conventional screen beauty but that only makes her all the more alluring and interesting.
This week she revealed she had previously stood up to a US critic who implied she wasn’t attractive enough to play a femme fatale in her new movie Promising Young Woman.
Carey took umbrage at remarks made by Dennis Harvey for Tinseltown magazine Variety.
He accused her of looking as though she was “in bad drag” and said she was an “odd choice” for the role.
Carey, star of movies including The Great Gatsby and Far From The Madding Crowd, was clearly upset to be told she wasn’t hot enough for the character and said it was important to call out this sort of focus on what women look like.
The magazine apologised and Carey graciously accepted.
But the episode reminded me of a similar case many years ago involving a British actress who died this week.
Those of you who grew up in the Seventies will remember Charlotte Cornwell as one of the stars of Rock Follies, an ITV drama about the coming-together of an all-women rock band.
Charlotte appeared alongside Corrie’s Rula Lenska and Julie Covington.
They became huge stars because of the groundbreaking series, despite it rather patronisingly naming the group the Little Ladies.
In 1985, Charlotte, who was a successful stage actress, played another rock star, this time middle-aged and washed-up, in No Excuses.
Her performance was reviewed by TV newspaper critic Nina Myskow – who was labelled “the Bitch on the Box” back in the days when that sort of tagline was not only acceptable but viewed as a badge of honour – who said of Charlotte: “She can’t sing, her bum is too big and she has the sort of stage presence that jams lavatories.”
Back then, actors usually nursed their hurt feelings and bruised egos in private or simply ignored bad reviews.
But Charlotte was deeply offended and decided to sue, claiming the article “went beyond fair comment” and represented “a vulgar and vindictive personal attack”.
It was a case that hit the headlines and seemed to focus almost entirely on the size of Charlotte’s bottom.
Charlotte won the case and was awarded £10,000 in damages.
But ultimately she ended up as the loser because she had to pay legal costs running to hundreds of thousands of pounds.
She had to sell her house and didn’t work for well over a year.
Nina was a forthright and unapologetic critic.
But these days remarks like those she made would not make it into print.
I will never forget, back in the Eighties, when I started out in TV, some of the waspish criticism aimed at me verged on being racist.
I was variously called too fat, too thin and not pretty enough, while my hair, clothes and even my smile were criticised, as much as my accent.
When Anne Diamond decided to leave TV-am, one newspaper (not this one, I hasten to add) chose “leggy” photos of all the female presenters who they thought were being considered for the job – depicted as “runners and riders” as though we were show ponies.
On the one hand, things have changed. Carey Mulligan got her apology.
And Nina is a now a respected commentator on popular culture.
But sadly, most TV entertainers and presenters experience far worse every day online, via Twitter and elsewhere, where there are no rules and no one ever says sorry.
Liz has it all
IS it really bad that when I look at the controversial photo of Liz Hurley showing off her enormously impressive boobs during the recent snow flurries, I just wonder where I can get my hands on that lovely, cosy cardi?
A mum's bid for justice
FOR the past 18 months Charlotte Charles has been going through the kind of pain and heartbreak no mother should have to endure.
Her 19-year-old son Harry Dunn died after being hit by a car driven by the wife of a US CIA spy.
Anne Sacoolas was flown home with indecent haste to avoid questioning after she was charged with causing death by dangerous driving.
Since then, Charlotte and Harry’s dad, Tim, have campaigned for justice and their day in court.
They’ve been fobbed off, ignored and dismissed but refuse to be silenced.
Charlotte was pinning her hopes on newly elected President Joe Biden to have Sacoolas extradited to the UK to face justice and to give this shattered mum some sort of peace.
The new President’s first wife and baby daughter were killed in a car crash and Charlotte had hoped he would completely understand her suffering and offer his help.
Sadly it isn’t looking likely, with officials expressing sympathy but declaring the case closed.
It is another blow for Charlotte, but it won’t stop her fighting for Harry.
She has already been able to close the loophole that allowed Sacoolas to flee the scene legally, so no family will have to go through a similar ordeal, which is a remarkable achievement, and she won’t stop now.
That’s the power of a mother’s love.
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