THIS week the nation united to celebrate the life of a truly remarkable individual.
Captain Sir Tom Moore, who died with Covid aged 100, did more to spread joy and optimism over the past very challenging year than almost anyone else I can think of.
He showed such incredible fortitude and resilience as he doggedly walked laps of his garden aiming to raise £1,000 for the NHS. Instead, he raised almost £33million and won the hearts of the whole nation.
No wonder the tributes poured in when he died, led by the Queen, “recognising the inspiration he provided for the whole nation and others across the world”.
Sir Tom had such a positive effect on the country.
As many of us were steeped in gloom and pessimism about coronavirus, he reminded us that we can all do something for others — no matter our age.
In fact, one of the many silver linings of this past year has been the rebirth of community spirit.
People all over the country started going shopping for neighbours, collecting prescriptions, cooking for those in need as well as many other acts of community service and volunteering.
Sir Tom made us all want to be better people. And I think his spirit will live on.
How many people can we say are able to unite a whole country? Especially one so fractured by this pandemic?
Other than the Queen, I can’t think of anyone else.
I love the fact that Sir Tom’s motto was “Tomorrow will be a good day”.
We all need to try to have that attitude of a glass half full, rather than half empty — now, more than ever, given the many challenges we are facing a year into the crisis. And it was so cheering to hear Sir Tom’s daughters said they “shared laughter and tears” with their father in their final few hours together.
I was so happy to hear that his family were by his side when he died.
Unfortunately, though, there was some outrage on social media because of this due to the thousands of people who have died alone without their loved ones.
The terrible truth is that whether or not someone dies alone is down to the hospital districts they happen to live in and the rules of the care home they inhabit, about who is allowed in and who is not.
I know visitors to hospitals mean an elevated risk of transmission. And, of course, safety must be paramount.
But the idea of a beloved family member being alone at the end of their life hardly bears thinking about.
It is so sad — and so unfair — that some people die alone and some don’t. And now that the R rate is dropping, I hope that this is something that changes soon.
This is something that was written about recently in medical journal The Lancet, in a piece which suggested that final-hours visitation rights should be improved.
It cited a compelling list of reasons to expand access by family members to their loved ones as they near the end of life, despite the risk of infection.
To be clear, this is no criticism of Sir Tom and his family.
He wasn’t given special treatment — he was just on the receiving end of what boils down to a postcode lottery.
But nobody should ever die alone. And I think we need to change the rules for everyone.
Obviously, no doctors, nurses or hospital administrators want people to die alone.
The fact that so many have is just another example of one of the many undesirable realities forced on us by the pandemic.
After all, there are huge risks that go with letting people come and go into hospitals full of vulnerable patients. And of course, it can’t be a free-for-all — it is vital that hospitals do all they can to prevent Covid spreading.
But, especially now that we have passed the peak of the second wave, I hope it will be seen as a matter of urgency for this to change.
I hope that, before long, hospitals and care homes will be able to create separate units or wings where families can spend the last few moments with their dying loved ones.
Because the notion of dying alone is totally heartbreaking. Being able to say goodbye properly is such a hugely important part of grief.
Wedding such a Ky -light
IS she? Isn’t she? Who knows! The mystery around whether Kylie Minogue is engaged to her boyfriend, Paul Solomons, left me in a spin this week.
Initially Billie Piper, of all people, referred to Paul as Kylie’s “fiancé” in an interview and then his mother said it was true.
But now – after posing with a ring in a new Instagram video – Kylie has come out and said it is not the case, tweeting that no ring has been put on her finger.
Well, if it turns out that wedding bells are imminent, could any of us be more delighted for her?
Kylie truly deserves to be happy and has somehow managed to be one of the few people in the public eye who almost everyone really loves to love.
As Cameron Diaz said: “I waited because I didn’t want to settle.” Good for Kylie – I wish her nothing but happiness.
Gem’s a lil bit pricey
Seeing pictures of rapper Lil Uzi Vert, who has had a £17.5million pink diamond pierced on to his forehead, the phrase more money than sense springs to mind.
Except he doesn’t seem to even have the money to pay for this diamond.
He said last week that he had been paying for the diamond in instalments since 2017.
First, he is a fool for piercing a stone on to his forehead. Second, he’s a dope if he paid millions for something that looks like it came out of a cracker.
Third, he’s completely hare-brained if he thinks that thing will still be on his head by the end of the week now he’s publicised the value.
Heidi’s a rear admirable
As usual, it is nothing but a delight to see new examples of women living their best life over the age of 40.
The latest photos of Heidi Klum, who hosts Germany’s Next Top Model, are just amazing.
Not only does she look a million dollars but, at the age of 47, she easily appears as good as the women half her age who surround her.
What a great reminder that 40 can be just the beginning.
Matt’s peas & queues
I am not surprised that people in areas hit by outbreaks of the South African Covid strain have slammed Matt Hancock as being “out of touch” after he said they should eat out of their freezer and store cupboards before considering going to the supermarket.
It is true that the new strain of the virus is highly transmissible. But the Health Secretary’s claim that people must take a more strict approach to staying at home is simply not do-able for everyone.
Shoppers in supermarkets last week in Bristol, Southport and Walsall – three of eight areas in the UK being tested for the new strain – said they had made so many sacrifices during lockdown, but depriving themselves of fresh fruit and vegetables was a restriction too many.
And the reality is it can be impossible to get a supermarket delivery. I just looked and they are booked up for weeks.
Not everyone can afford to stock their cupboards with enough food to live off for two weeks. So, what are they meant to do? Eat frozen peas and baked beans for ten days?
Why can’t the Government organise codes to allow people who have to self-isolate to get priority on supermarket deliveries?
But the latest advice from Hancock begs the question that if people wash their hands, wear a mask and socially distance before they go to the shops, is that not safe then?
A must – for mugs
Sorry, but I just cannot get behind the idea of having a designer travel mug.
Especially when said mug is made by Versace and costs £765!
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The Italian fashion house’s “keep cup”, which is covered with crystal bling, has become a sensation among fashionistas at Vogue, who have branded it the new “it bag” since it appeared last year.
But the huge price tag for a reusable cup has failed to win us over.
Surely only a mug would buy this?
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