Valentine's Day

Flowers and gifts for Valentine's Day are displayed for sale at a local store in Commerce, Texas.

13-02-2020LARRY W. SMITH

So, in a carefully crafted PR move (forgive my cynicism) ITV’s Good Morning show presenter, Philip Schofield, revealed on air in front of his co-presenter, Holly Willoughby, that he was gay. There were tears and hugs and dramatic replays of that magical moment when he ‘bravely’ revealed his secret after living a lie for 27 years with his wife.

Of course, what some might not have realised is that Schofield had allegedly been locked in a bitter battle with fellow presenters at the station for some time and an increasing number of colleagues were giving off record accounts of his bullying attitude and unpleasant character. The rumours were growing and ITV’s PR team was no doubt in meltdown. One gossipy national, like a dog with a bone, would not let the story rest.

Most people in the business knew that Schofield was gay and it wasn’t a big deal. His wife and family were aware and everyone just got on with life. However, suddenly a golden opportunity arose to quash all those pesky negative stories about Schofield. It offered an ingenious way to wipe the slate clean and throw him up as a courageous warrior, outing himself for the good of humankind. I have many gay friends, a lot in the media, and those in London rolled their eyes unsympathetically at the theatricality of the announcement. One said that it was obvious what was really going on which was why actress Joan Collins waspishly questioned why he had chosen now to break the news. In the business, it was self-evident that it was all about deflecting a brewing crisis and the revelatory TV scene had been carefully honed and rehearsed to death, no doubt with the required tears and gushing lovey-ness too.

Schofield’s long-suffering wife is one of those most affected but presumably if the couple do ever decide to split she’ll be left in a position of financial comfort and who knows, she may already have a prince charming in waiting. At the end of the day it’s all showbiz and everyone’s a winner for now. A twitter user summed it all up, posting a film of a Lifeboat crew battling enormous waves to save a life and simply wrote, ‘That’s what I call ‘bravery’.

Valentine Fatigue

A day that is supposed to celebrate love has become in reality a tacky affair with restaurants and hotels touting eye-wateringly expensive menus for couples, and shops selling gifts and trinkets aplenty with which to decorate the home. On social media, Hollywood stars and warblers vied with one another to post the most ostentatious and costly examples of Valentine’s Day fervor and frankly it was revolting. Whatever happened to old fashioned understatement and privacy? The other thing that gets me about the uniformity of the hospitality industry’s offering is the leaving out of singletons. Why do none of these establishments hold Valentine’s Day celebrations for single people or throw parties for the elderly or orphans? Wouldn’t that be novel and more ‘woke’? Why should those living alone be made to feel worthless and unwanted in this heartless way? Time for a major shake-up of this most exploitative of calendar events.

Wild dogs on the loose

One of the most spectacular creatures I’ve been privileged to see is the wild dog. This extraordinary endangered animal operates in a tight pack and runs at a speed of about 44mph. There are only 1,800 left of the species globally and most are found in reserves in South Africa, which is where I observed them. When the wild dogs have made their kill, they run in jubilant style together, streaked with fresh blood on their spotted fawn coats and with tongues lolling gleefully. I travelled alongside the dogs in wild terrain after they’d killed two deer and it was both exhilarating and terrifying in equal measure. Later I watched them feeding their young back at their den. Luckily, they didn’t spy me so I spent magical moments recording their happy, playful moments with the babies.

So why am I telling you all this? Well, I was fascinated to read that during Storm Ciara, 16 wild dogs escaped from their compound at the West Midlands safari park (who knew such a thing existed?) and slaughtered 10 prized sheep and six deer. The bad boys enjoyed their devastating killing spree in a very short space of time before being caught and contained. There was never any danger to the public but if it proves anything, it is a creature not to be messed with in the wild or at home.

The long goodbye

So Harry and Meghan have axed their 15 British staff proving that they really have no intention of returning to the UK on any meaningful basis. Megxit news is becoming very dull and most of us are sick of reading about it. Now that they’re making squillions talking about mental health to filthy rich bankers who probably don’t care diddly squat, I hope they’ll be happy. All the same, being rootless and making pots of money for money’s sake probably won’t bring them much contentment in the future. Let’s hope Harry knows what he’s doing.

Anna Nicholas’s first Majorca based crime novel, The Devil’s Horn, is out now. It’s available at all good bookshops & via amazon.

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