By JENNY GRAINER
Jenny Grainer arrived in the Algarve to live, work and raise a family in 1968. She is a freelance writer and her book ‘Portugal and the Algarve Now and Then’ has sold more than 2,000 copies.
I don’t often buy English newspapers, but the headline in the Daily Mail’s‘Into Battle for D-Day Heroes’ caught my eye the other day.
Being the daughter of a naval officer who fought and survived the Second World War, I know how significant this day is to the very few men still alive, and so when I read that the British Government had refused to cough up the insignificant sum of money involved with sending these men and their carers to partake in the 65th commemoration parades in France, I was filled with such a sense of outrage I cannot begin to describe.
It just so happens that I was born on the 30th November 1944, the same day if not the same year as Prime Minister Winston Churchill and only a few months after those very important Normandy landings, so 2009 is for me a very significant 65th anniversary as well. If it hadn’t been for those men, my life and all our lives in Britain and Europe would have been very different.
After all the money that the government in the UK has been throwing at the banks of late, a few coaches and a boat across the channel should have been within their reach without being told. Did it really need a newspaper to make them hang their sorry heads in shame? Generous readers donated seventy five thousand pounds to cover the costs involved and that was on the first day of the campaign. Had the paper continued, no doubt many more thousands would have come pouring in.
Somewhat belatedly Mr Brown relented and has now decided to pull out all the stops to take them there. Both he as Prime Minister and a member of the royal family will be attending. Apparently the royals wanted to go all along but according to protocol had to be invited by the government! How many more embarrassing mistakes can Brown make?
I felt desperately sorry to see the lone figure of Jade Goody’s mother announcing the death of her daughter on Mothering Sunday. Her plea to be ‘left alone – at last’ was to me more heartbreaking than any of the posed images we have been exposed to of late, engineered by Jade’s publicist Max Clifford. That any woman should die so young and in such a painful way is a tragedy for any family, but for Jade’s mother to have had to suffer this in the full glare of the public eye, surely has to be even sadder.
Yes I know that by all this publicity Jade has raised awareness of cervical cancer and the importance of smear tests, but did we need to see quite so much?
Having just struggled through breast cancer, my own experience is bubbling very near the surface. The memory of all the treatments is vivid enough in the mind of any cancer patient, without a daily reminder, especially when the cancer is known to be terminal. Many, like myself, are living on the daily prayer that all the chemotherapy, radiotherapy, pills and side effects will have all been worth it and there is a tomorrow.
What effect has all this had on her two boys? Mum may have seen to it that they are financially secure but in their young minds what memories of their mother will remain? While the cameras were rolling for the wedding, the Christenings, the choosing of her last resting place, were they also filming private messages for just her boys to see on special occasions like birthdays, or Christmas’s when she won’t be there, or when they complete the education she has exposed both her and her family’s life to pay for? I hope for their sakes that those precious messages are on record and that they won’t only have the public persona to remember. Her glorious moments on Big Brother are not the ones I would like to bequeath my children.
A useless and great loss of life was that of actress Natasha Richardson.
Living up to the very high standards set by the family dynasty could not have been easy for her, but she was already deeply respected not just for the roles she had played on stage and screen but also as a wife and mother. How profoundly this family is grieving we can only imagine, but oh how dignified in their grief they have been so far.
One person we would all like to expunge from our memories is the evil face of Austrian Josef Fritzl.
His face somehow embodies all that spells evil in our minds, having broken all the taboos any of us know about in any book of moral ethics. I can’t be begin to imagine what it must have been like to be alive, give birth and raise children in a sunless room buried underground, but I’m glad his daughter Elisabeth had her day in court and was able to face her jailer. It may not be our place to judge the many sins this man has wrought upon her and the sad progeny that their union brought into the world, but a life sentence will give him enough time to contemplate the future he will have when he leaves this life and embarks on the next.
Now doesn’t that make the hairs on your neck stand up?
Jenny Grainer can be contacted by emailing [email protected]