MY daughter Rosie lived in Singapore for three years and would regularly walk home late at night after going out with friends, in the sure knowledge she was perfectly safe.
Crimes against women are reassuringly rare in that part of the world and always severely punished.
I never worried about her over there.
But if she had chosen to do the same thing in London, Glasgow, Birmingham or Dundee, or indeed any of our major towns and cities, I would have been out of my mind with stress and anxiety.
The appalling killing of Sarah Everard — who vanished while walking home from a friend’s house in London on March 3 — has made us all think about the safety of our mothers, daughters, sisters, nieces and friends, especially during the hours of darkness.
It has resulted in so many women sharing their sickening stories of being groped, pawed on public transport, having men expose themselves in public parks and being seriously sexually assaulted.
For many of these women, it was something they felt simply had to be endured and coped with in the best way they could.
It makes me livid. No woman should feel cowed into changing her behaviour or the clothes she chooses to wear because an attacker might be lurking in the shadows.
MAKES ME LIVID
When I lived in central London I used to walk home all the time, but I was always alert to any possibility of danger.
I kept to the busy main roads, had my keys in my pockets and my eyes and ears alert at all times.
I always carried a big handbag so I could change from my high heels into my trainers to walk quickly and be able to run away from danger.
I certainly didn’t live my life in a state of fear and terror, and taking these measures was a force of habit to protect myself.
But what an indictment on our world that for me and so many other women, this is the norm.
Back in the Seventies I vividly remember the Reclaim The Night marches at a time when women were being told to stay indoors and not to wear “provocative” clothing, as though being raped and attacked was somehow their fault not the perpetrator’s.
A similar thing happened during the botched investigation into the Yorkshire Ripper, with exhausted women taking to the streets to demand the right to live their lives without fear.
To my mind, the crime has always been looked at through the wrong end of the lens, and it’s a scandal this is still the case.
This weekend in London there will be a socially distanced Reclaim These Streets vigil to remember Sarah and to demand the streets be made safe for women.
I cannot begin to imagine what Sarah’s parents and family are going through and I cannot believe we are back here again.
INTERESTING week at work which saw Good Morning Britain and my show beat the BBC and achieve our highest ratings for ten years, and also the demise of Hurricane Morgan.
Piers roared into breakfast TV like a hyperactive Mary Poppins.
There was never a spoonful of sugar to help his medicine go down, but he got people talking and received as much applause as brickbats.
Although he could be exasperating and annoying, Piers was also a very loyal and steadfast person behind the scenes.
I will miss his rants, his shameless name-dropping and his terrier-like pursuit of Government ministers.
Think of lost lives
TODAY marks exactly a quarter of a century since the world was shocked by the murder of 16 little schoolchildren and their teacher in Dunblane Primary School.
We should all take a moment to remember those who were killed, as well as the children who were badly wounded and left physically and mentally scarred.
The parents whose children were gunned down will never forget what happened, but have somehow learned to live with unimaginable loss.
Today, in their own way, they will be reflecting on those terrible events of 25 years ago.
Due to the Covid restrictions, even a small gathering of the bereaved is not possible, but they will all be thinking of each other as they have a common bond of intense suffering.
I hope that they can feel a sense of comfort at the extraordinary achievement of changing the law to ban handguns.
That legal change came at a terrible cost, but the brave campaigners were determined no other parent would go through such torment.
I often think of the deep symbolism at the memorial service held in Dunblane Cathedral six months afterwards.
I read out a poem chosen by the parents and each of them lit a candle bearing the name of their child.
It was extremely moving. These tiny flames were beacons of hope and a small, bright light amid the darkness.
That sense of hope still resonates with all of us.
The community has come together. The parents and families have somehow rebuilt their lives.
There’s the wonderful Dunblane Centre, built with donations that poured in.
It is a place buzzing with activities, and where you can hear children laughing.
I’d like to thank all of you for your comments about the documentary I fronted on Thursday, and all those who trusted me with their stories.
At some point today, take a moment to think of Dunblane and the efforts that were made so all our children can be kept safe.
Science fiction becomes science fact
WHAT we used to think of as science fiction is becoming science fact.
Mobile phones, video calls, vaccines for vile viruses – and now a pill you swallow with a tiny camera inside that can take images of your innards.
It should detect cancer far quicker than an endoscopy and patients might even get a diagnosis within hours.
Instead of a potentially uncomfortable procedure, you can now just take the capsule and get on with your life while it processes all of the information.
It reminded me of 1966 sci-fi movie Fantastic Voyage, where a brilliant scientist fighting a brain tumour invents a way to miniaturise a submarine manned by doctors and shrink them to be small enough to be injected into his body.
A teeny weeny Raquel Welch is one of the medics and I remember scoffing at the silliness of it all – but here we are.
Obviously we are not shrinking glamour pusses and swallowing them whole yet. But this really is exciting stuff.
And to answer your questions . . .
Yes, you poo it out.
And no, it is not reusable.
Ant & Dec… & Cat
TONIGHT sees a very special reunion, when Cat Deeley is back with Ant & Dec on Saturday Night Takeaway.
The trio were the stars of Saturday morning TV back in the Nineties, co-hosting kids’ ITV show SM:TV and had an endearing brothers-and-sister vibe that both adults and children loved.
Tonight on ITV sees a special edition of Saturday Night Takeaway – and hopefully the SM:TV Chums sketch and Wonky Donkey game feature.
I remember SM:TV with huge affection and count my guest appearance on Chums as a career highlight.
Martin is well Kemp-t
MARTIN KEMP looks exactly the same today as he did when he was 40 years old, even though he is fast approaching 60.
Men with a thick head of hair that goes silver-fox grey, have piercing blue eyes and keep in good shape like Martin will always manage to look younger.
He has been on TV this week investigating ways to keep looking young and beautiful without resorting to plastic surgery, which has a disquieting habit of making everyone look like Daffy Duck caught in a wind tunnel.
His findings were packed with common sense.
You need to eat well, do a bit of exercise, drink sensibly and don’t go on the lash every weekend. Above all, do not smoke.
Of all the things you can do to help your health and happiness, stubbing out the ciggies has to be No1.
Smoking ages the skin, discolours your hair, makes your breath stink and gives you a mouth like a cat’s bum.
It’s a no-brainer. Listen to Martin.
Royals in a fix
IT’S business as usual for the royals after Meghan’s bombshell interview.
Charles has been out encouraging us all to have a Covid vaccine as William and Kate visited a school in East London to launch a mental health programme.
Questioned at the event, William was at pains to say his family is not racist, after Harry and Meghan accused a senior royal of questioning the skin colour of their then unborn son Archie.
After a Palace statement saying the Royal Family were concerned about the issue of race – with the caveat their recollections varied from those of Harry and Meghan – it seems they will tough this out and hope the story fizzles away.
They will not be able to brush aside claims of racism easily, and do need to take a long, hard look at themselves – but also the courtiers who speak on their behalf.
You can’t ignore family suffering mental health problems, or ignore any kind of racism.
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