Attacked...for being normal

We're a rum lot, us public.We all enjoy a politician being turned over - I mean, exposed - by the nation's media for wrongdoing, be it fiddling expenses, cheating on his wife or indulging in the odd illegal substance in his or her student days.

We're a rum lot, us public.

We all enjoy a politician being turned over - I mean, exposed - by the nation's media for wrongdoing, be it fiddling expenses, cheating on his wife or indulging in the odd illegal substance in his or her student days.

Tee hee, we snigger. Secrets and the past always catch up with people. Best to be open from the outset rather than always looking over their shoulders.

But when a wannabe politician lays her cards on the table and is open and honest about her life 20 years ago as a former young binge-drinker, picking up one-night stands and living the typical life young women - and men - in their 20s live in London in the early days of their careers we all throw our hands up in shock.

The strumpet. The slapper. Hardly the conduct one expects from the Speaker of the House of Commons' wife. Only she wasn't the Speaker's wife then, she was a single gadabout in London doing what single gadabouts in London did and do.

Actually, like most women who have been there and done that in the dim and distant past before marriage and motherhood beckoned, I found Sally Bercow's revelations refreshing.

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Bring it on. She's normal and we want our politicians to be normal.

Sally Bercow did just what thousands of other twentysomethings working in the capital were doing in the 90s. Then she turned 30, realised enough was enough and settled down and had three children. Story told. Nothing to hide. Move on.

By exposing her own youthful exploits before she even enters politics proper she was telling the media. 'Hey, I'll save you the time and bother sniffing it out. This is the full shame of my past. Put that in your paper and smoke it.'

And they did. Ok, so her own soul-baring was probably sparked by press revelations that she didn't actually achieve the Oxford degree she unwisely claimed to when she applied for a PR job, having left university after two years.

But ho hum, she's not the first to be economical with the truth on a CV. But how sanctimonious some commentators have been.

'What was she thinking?' some asked. How could anyone take her seriously at the ballot box now?

What? For being honest and telling the truth. Drinking to excess and falling asleep on the tube is hardly an illegal act, as dangerous as it might have been.

Then, shock, horror, the willowy blonde with a mind and mouth of her own is criticised for daring to have different opinions from her husband. Have we slipped back to the Middle Ages all of a sudden?

She has made no secret of the fact that they argue vociferously about their conflicting views.

It's probably what makes their marriage.

He agrees with grammar schools like many of his constituents. She, who has decided to run for Westminster City Council as a Labour candidate next May, does not and is not afraid to say so.

He does his thing, she does hers.

Rejoice. A political wife who says what she thinks and not what her husband's party want her to say and an example of a truly modern marriage of two independent halves who come together when and where it matters - for family.

I admire Mrs Bercow - although I'm somewhat bemused why she became a 'Mrs' anything- and want to know more about her.

She's feisty, bright, fun, ambitious and takes no prisoners - what our dull turgid political landscape needs just now. Moreover, she's relevant. A working mother with a mind of her own.

Millions will sit down tomorrow night for the X-Factor final.

The magic died for me when Jamie 'Affro' Archer got his marching orders leaving behind the same old predictable troupe of bland ballad singers.

Tomorrow night, viewers will pay ITV to vote for the three blandest left in the competition. All perfectly nice and presentable but none with the 'wow' - or X- Factor the show is about.

Where's the excitement, the originality, the difference?

Joe McElderry looks about 12 and grins a lot. The boy can sing but in that saccharin and syrupy way that appeals to 13-year-old girls. Then there's Essex boy Olly Murrs who can't sing or dance.

And Stacey who, if put up as a Catherine Tate character, would be accused of being exaggerated. Groan. Another girl with long legs and long hair in the final.

But the public gets what the public wants and, perhaps, all we want is nice, safe and so so dull.

Once the trend was for brides to make double-barrelled names combining their maiden names with their new married name.

Then they just stuck with the name they were born with in a strike for feminism. Now the trend is for couples to 'mesh' their names together in a modish move to bring yet more nonsense into life.

So when Lisa Smith marrying Glen Harrison would once have become Lisa Smith-Harrison, now she would be Lisa Smitharrison or Lisa Harrith - or even Harrismith.

We've had a generation of made up first names to be 'different' so why not meddle with the surnames and chuck away generations of history on a silly whim.

We all learned in primary school that surnames derived from different occupations and regions - the Coopers, Carpenters and Butchers.

Poor kids of the future will be trying to work out where the dickens the Coopenterchers, Carpenbutchcoopers and Butchooperenters came from.

As if our children aren't mixed up enough.

Which mother in her right mind would spend �150 on a cashmere pashmina and luxury gown for her daughter to wear holding baby Jesus in a nativity play?

Those stressed out by Manger Chic, apparently. Yes, you've read it right. Manger Chic.

Competitive parents are so obsessed with outdoing each other and getting their child noticed on the nativity stage, they're going over the top with their stable costumes dressing Kitty and Clarissa in velvet dresses and sparkly head gear and Jacob and Hector in velour dressing gowns.

According to Debenhams' Ed Watson: 'The amount of money that some parents want to spend on their child's nativity play appearance would enable Baby Jesus to leave the stable and check in to a five-star hotel.'

Sorry but a mother has no right to call herself a mother until she has dyed old cot sheets donkey brown for a gown, fashioned head dresses out of tea towels and old baby blankets, dug out ancient curtain tie-backs to hold them in place, cut up old brocade curtains for wise men cloaks and hand-sewn at least two stable animal costumes out of the cheapest nylon fake fur, complete with pert ears.

The most depressing festive TV advert - urging us to buy Christmas scratchcards as presents for our loved ones.

Has Christmas really come to this?


The tragedy of 32-year-old philosophy graduate Christelle Pardo jumping to her death holding her five-month old son because her benefits had been stopped is unfathomable.

The new mother was caught in a catch 22 situation that should never have happened.

Her JobSeekers Allowance was stopped after she left university because she was within 11 weeks of giving birth and she lost her automatic entitlement to housing benefit. Her income support application was rejected because she could not prove a sufficient period of continuous employment, her attempts to take the Department for Work and Pensions to a tribunal were unsuccessful and Hackney Council was demanding �200 in overpaid housing benefit.

She killed herself in despair.

How can an educated woman with a new baby be left with no income in this day and age?

Every day layabout scroungers who have never done a day's work in their lives and never intend to parade themselves on the Jeremy Kyle show unable to string two words together but have managed to father - and mother - tribes of feral children, all funded handsomely by the state never having to go without in their lives thanks to the welfare state.

This loophole or however it will be described to get the Government off the hook needs serious enquiry so it can never happen again.

The Queen wants the Monarchy to return to a fairytale.

She is prepared to take legal action against photographers intruding on the royals' Christmas holiday at Sandringham. In other words, she doesn't want photographic evidence of any of her family shooting.

This smacks of wanting only official choreographed pictures of 'the firm' to be in the public domain.

Such a ban will never wash in the 21st century. She may be the Queen but she cannot turn back the clock.

We want to see how our Royal Family live, as real people, not how they play their public roles. The reason they have survived so long is because, in recent years, they have proved themselves to be fallible and human like the rest of us.

The days of the monarchy would be numbered if these threats were carried out. The public wouldn't stand for sugarcoated image and the public will is stronger than the Monarchy.


What's more cruel? To keep a rat as a pet and then make it pretend to be wild to scare a mock camp of desperate has-beens or allow it to be put out of its misery and be turned into risotto for hungry past-it celebs?

Whichever, it was a cheap stunt and surely one for which the producers who allowed - encouraged? - rat murder by setting them free in the first place around starving 'celebs' should be charged and not the enterprising 'celebs' who were, after all, in a show about survival.

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