Monday 9 December 2013, 15:32
Today we hear that that rather alarming tv advert telling us to beware the persistent cough, lest it be the first sign of lung cancer has been incredibly successful, resulting in a doubling of early diagnosis in recent months. It doesn’t surprise me. If you have a simple, clear health message, then a tv advert does the trick. I knew it back in 1991, when I was campaigning against cot death. We had a simple message to give – sleep your baby on his back – and I knew we should do it through a TV ad. No, said the then health minister Virginia Bottomley, young mothers do not watch television. She wanted to disseminate the information through health channels, and health officials. But I knew the best way to do it was through the TV – so I kept up the pressure and in the end, she relented. The Back To Sleep ad was the most powerful thirty seconds I have even been involved with. And later, when the official report came out, we found that 87% of the mothers who got the life-saving message, got it from the TV ad. And it is still the single most successful health campaign in the UK – EVER!
So now we have yet another massive health crisis – the near epidemic of dementia and Alzheimers...
Wednesday 4 December 2013, 14:43
That’s what we should all be doing, says Baroness Rawlings. She reckons families should be encouraged to cosy up in bed with electric blankets, bed socks and hot water bottles, rather than switch on the central heating. Don’t scoff – I think she’s dead right – that’s what I do. The house is like a fridge, and there I am sitting up in bed typing away at my laptop. Not glamorous, maybe, but very warm!
Tuesday 3 December 2013, 15:24
We’ve always loved sprouts in our family – they absolutely make a winter roast and Christmas dinner just wouldn’t be the same without them. So usually at this time of year, when people are constantly debating whether or not they like sprouts and how we can make them more appealing for youngsters, I get very frustrated. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the great British sprout – you just have to learn to love them from an early age. And you have to cook them to “a point” and not the way school did them. But even I am quite excited at the turning point we may be witnessing this year in the development of the humble sprout. One particular upmarket supermarket chain has bought up a new breed of British bred sprout which they’re going to market up until Christmas as “child friendly” – grown in Lincolnshire and available only in one food chain! They’re apparently going to taste sweeter than the regular sprout, without the usual slightly bitter aftertaste. This is a great step forward. Must do a tasting as soon as possible.
Monday 2 December 2013, 15:33
We heard today that Sir George Young plans to retire at the next general election. He’s only 72, but has decided that, after 41 years in Parliament, it’s time for a quieter life. I wish him the very best – he’s such a gentleman but also a politician who has overseen a marvellous time in government from the Thatcher years, being Leader of the House right through to now, when he’s the government’s Chief Whip. I wonder who they’ll select for his successor? It’s a very tasty constituency, North West Hampshire… there will be many after that one! So happy retirement, Sir George. But...
Wednesday 27 November 2013, 15:18
Hollywood stars, that’s who – apparently. For the seriously rich, it seems to be the latest must-have trend. It’s simply not enough anymore to hang Picassos and Monets on the walls of your mansion home. The really trendy wealthy are into showing off private collections of fossils. Today is the first auction sale of a large dinosaur skeleton in the UK – expected to go for at least half a million quid. It’s a diplodocus, unearthed in the US, assembled in the Netherlands and on display in England - one of only six relatively complete diplodocus skeletons in the world. Harrison Ford is interested apparantly, as is Brad Pitt.
Every home should have one.
Tuesday 26 November 2013, 13:04
Spent yesterday in glittering company – recording a Celebrity episode of Pointless! It featured a load of people from the Eighties, so it was great to meet up with people I haven’t seen in years. Including Emma Samms, the actress who was in just about every big soap opera in the Eighties. I’m not allowed to tell you yet how we all did in the show, but let it be said there was a lot of laughter and not just cos Rustie Lee was one of the contestants!
Emma Samms reminded everyone of the role she played in Dynasty. She was Fallon, who died in a plane crash. Then she came back onto the soap, as her own twin sister. Then she died, too. Undaunted, several months later, she came back again as the original character who hadn’t actually died in the plane crash, because she hadn’t been on the plane but instead had been languishing somewhere suffering from amnesia! They just don’t make them like that anymore!
Monday 25 November 2013, 14:11
An interesting report out today that says that charity shops are actually a positive force for our failing high streets – because they increase footfall and provide a shopping service that isn’t offered by the big retail parks or the internet. As long, says Queen of Shops Mary Portas, they aren’t dingy and smelly. More work needed I think, on some of our charity shops! And is it a loss leader, do you think, to be trying so hard to revive the high street at all?
Thursday 21 November 2013, 14:46
Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) says he doesn’t tweet or facebook. He reckons celebrities who stop and twitter every twenty minutes about what they’re doing can’t really be expected to be taken seriously by the press and the media when they complain about having their privacy invaded. Its not an easy one for many up and coming actors, presenters and celebrities because nowadays constant tweeting and use of other social media is part and parcel of their lives – it’s the way they build up their media identity. Daniel Radcliffe, because he was lucky enough to land a plum film role when young, doesn’t need to do that. He’s so famous already, he has to work at NOT getting media attention. So it’s a bit of a dilemma for young wannabees. But I do think he has an interesting point. If you’re going to twitter the minutiae of your celebrity life, can you really expect the media not to be interested in some of the details you’d rather keep secret?
Wednesday 20 November 2013, 10:57
Today is World Toilet Day. Perhaps it’s celebrating something most of us take absolutely for granted – until you’re somewhere far flung on holiday, traipsing around the Pyramids or visiting the bazaar in Mumbai and get caught short and cannot find a loo, or find one of which you’d rather not partake even though you’re desperate. There are millions of people (it’s reckoned one in four of the global population) who literally do not have access to what is nowadays seen as a basic human right – and two million children die every year from diarrhoea, a condition that’s totally preventable and would be immediately improved dramatically by the building of more toilets. So snigger ye not when you hear more about World Toilet Day – it’s an issue not to be sniffed at.
Wednesday 13 November 2013, 12:47
I learned something new today – from two members of SANDS, the charity for supporting parents who’ve gone through the agony of having a stillborn child. They’re raising money for their local hospital to buy what’s called ‘cold cots’. I’d never heard of such a thing. But apparently many families want to spend time with their dead child – not just an hour or two but sometimes several days. And some even want to take their dead child home for a while. Astonishing at first, to those of us who’ve never been through such a tragedy – but entirely understandable to those who have. And for them, a cold cot, like the opposite of an electric blanket within a Moses basket, can help keep the baby in an appropriate way. 17 babies are stillborn every day here in the UK.