Did Mary Whitehouse have a valid point?
PUBLISHED: 10:48 30 May 2008 | UPDATED: 20:30 05 July 2010
THE F-word is peppered through TV today far more liberally than the G-word - God ever was.
Thanks to Gordon Ramsey, The Apprentice and every "progressive" filmmaker since the 70s, the word that still makes me cringe to hear, has become common parlance.
THE F-word is peppered through TV today far more liberally than the G-word - God ever was.
Thanks to Gordon Ramsey, The Apprentice and every “progressive” filmmaker since the 70s, the word that still makes me cringe to hear, has become common parlance.
A new series of the exhibitionists' Mecca, Big Brother, starts next week, bringing the worst excesses to TV.
Family viewing -Ask the Family and Ken Dodd in my day - now has plots so packed with dysfunction, vulgarity, violence and depravity no one seems shocked at anything. We've become immunised to the excesses of violence, sex and gross human behaviour.
Children are so exposed to sex on TV they're confused what it's for.
Only last night if they were watching Eastenders - which they really shouldn't be - they'd have had to get their little heads around the most complicated of sexual goings on.
A woman pregnant by one man alleging it was another - neither of whom she was in a relationship with - her sister searching for a baby she had adopted, two 16-year-olds trying to have their “first time” on a family sofa and a couple talking of annulment after getting married for a competition.
Keep up. See, even adults get lost but we expect children to understand and accept.
Few people even blink at violence on TV - they even pay good money to go to the cinema and watch it.
On Wednesday, the woman who tried to stop these excesses before they started was remembered on film.
The figure of fun for the liberals - I was amongst them - Mary Whitehouse, in her smart hat and starched gloves, railing against the “filth” on TV, violence, sexual freedom and anything that attacked the moral fabric of her country, was portrayed by Julie Walters.
Oh how she was ridiculed in the 60s and 70s by the anti-censorship brigade who believed everyone had a right to choose what they watched and self-censored. How dare this old-fashioned schoolteacher preach about morals? What a spoilsport. Moral degradation, my a***, the liberals fired. It was progress.
Adults could decide what they watched and knew what was fantasy and fiction and what was real.
Well, we're reaping what we sowed now. History has come and bitten us on the bum - “bum”, a word Whitehouse wanted to ban. Just shows how far we've descended since she started her campaign in the face of death threats, vilification and mockery.
To those who ridiculed Whitehouse - most people, to be fair - our screens should reflect what was happening in society, not perfumed and made into fairy-tales acting as a moral guardian. Life was gritty, violence happened, sex wasn't just sex, it was art. Pornography was art.
How we scoffed at her belief that sex and violence on television might produce harmful effects in society. Our intelligence could separate reality and fiction, we argued.
Here we are in 2008, with young people being wiped out with blades and broken glass, boys and girls beaten to death for being different or looking at people “wrong”, little respect, decency, courtesy and 15-year-old mothers with multiple sexual partners and rising sexually transmitted diseases and our TV full of the same.
To say Mary Whitehouse was right will stick in the craw of most people but the evidence is plain to see.
Bonkers, boring and a spoilsport or a canny prophet? Only we can decide but the evidence is irrefutable.
KYLIE is 40. As gorgeous as ever, she can pass for at least a decade younger.
An acquaintance of mine was bemoaning her looming 40th birthday. She felt dreadful, she said. Forty seemed so old - “cheers,” I said, having passed it long ago. To her life was over, gloom, gloom, gloom. She's a beautiful blonde size 8 with a degree, two gifted children, a doting high-achieving husband, a gorgeous home and looks about 30.
Turning 40 was the only thing she could find to moan about in her seemingly perfect life.
Even two decades ago, at 40 women looked old, same old hairstyles, frumpy dumpy clothes. Today 40 and 50 are fabulous, ages when women can change their lives gain qualifications, start new careers.
After all, a grandmother is just graduating from the University of East Anglia this year at 83.
What's 40? Life's for living, whatever the age.
WHEN was the last time you had eight hours' sleep?
A snap survey among my friends, all working mothers with partners who work long hours or single working mums, reflected a national survey. We're all exhausted and sleep-deprived.
My friends all laughed hysterically at the mere suggestion of eight hours' shut-eye or any quality sleep at all.
Sleep deprivation is another cause for obesity, is causing the economy millions of pounds in lost productivity and is a big social problem. It's called junk sleep.
Of 4000 adults questioned, only 21pc get a decent eight hours with one in five getting less than five hours a night.
My poll was the same. Most women I know get less than five, going to bed late after catching up with the domestics, waking up in the night worrying about what they haven't done, must do and things they might have forgotten and are up with the lark starting it all again.
We're all day dreaming about sleep and when we do try to get to bed early we lie awake worrying - about money, the children, work, family problems, anything because we can't relax and switch off. There's always something to do.
Then we get into the car in the morning and start our daily marathons again, bleary-eyed behind the wheel, downing gulps of caffeine to be sharp enough at work.
Scary, dangerous and a real problem of our times.
A brilliant solution to marital strife is going on sale at Argos. A bit pricey mind but far cheaper than the average divorce.
For £13,000 you can buy a DIY luxury log cabin, with five rooms, under floor heating and laminate flooring and even loft space for storage and a decked terrace. All to fit snugly at the end of a garden.
Just the ticket for a husband who likes solitude, time to himself and, as I suspect most men do, solo living with their man things around them. Aren't some of the most successful marriages those couples that keep their own homes and choose when to meet up?
And building it will keep them busy and out of the way for a while too. Perfect.
Just what John Terry needed after he missed that penalty - a commiserating message from Gordon Brown. “I know how you feel.”
Brown, bruised from the Crewe and Nantwich by-election battering, told Terry he was an “inspiration” and a “natural leader.”
Perhaps he was hoping for a message back with reciprocal admiration to make him feel better in his dark times?
Imagine Terry's reply. “U 2, Gordon mte. Ur n inspiration. A natural ldr.” Then Terry's nose would shoot out 2ft Pinocchio-style.
Last week I wrote about neighbours and how they had become the people to ignore and cold-shoulder.
Seven-year-old Khyra Ishaq apparently starved to death in her Birmingham home where she was found with her siblings on a filthy mattress.
Neighbours said they hadn't seen the children for months and thought they had moved away. Another told how Khyra's mother had been angry with her for giving her child bread.
A little girl died because people didn't want to “get involved”. One phone call of concern could have saved her life - and salved the consciences of those people who went about their daily lives as children lay dying next door.
Loveliest photo of the week must be the gleeful shot of Anita and Frank Milford celebrating their 80th wedding anniversary.
Frank, 100, and Anita, 99, looked 20 years younger and had the brightest smiles as they posed outside their nursing home where they've taken up a range of new hobbies since they moved in.
They've lived through tough times. A bomb dropped on their house, low wages and hard work.
Perhaps their tips and radiant smiles could be used to advise all the couples preparing to tie the knot in the new wedding season. When Frank and Anita married in 1928 divorce was a word barely heard.
Growing families need big cars. Two-salary childless couples don't buy Renault Espaces, Ford Galaxys or Vauxhall Zafiras.
They're designed for families - families usually with three or more children. That's what they're for. The same families struggling with prices rises all round on their weekly budget.
Drivers of these family cars are to be clobbered by road tax increases next year by an extra £245. That's £455 by 2010 to keep their old cars on the roads. By old I mean cars bought between 2001 and 2006 - classed as the most polluting - when no one had any idea about punishing emissions with tax rises.
These families don't have an extra £200 to spare. They didn't expect to have to find an extra £200. The last Government they expect to clobber them even more is the Labour Government.
Drivers who have the money to splash out on greener cars will pay nothing.
When did a Government that promised fairness lose its way?