Regardless of whether you were a fan of TV show Love Island, it would prove impossible not to have been aware of its long-time presenter, Caroline Flack, who tragically took her own life last week.
In the outpouring of grief – and hypocritical tears from certain areas of the press and social media – there were calls for more media controls. Largely the view was that Caroline had been driven to desperate measures by certain newspapers. Of course, this wasn’t actually true. Certainly, some savage and sensational tabloids had reveled in her downfall and been quick to offer lurid details of her alleged attack on her boyfriend that fateful night. Even though her partner refuted the allegations, the media didn’t really care because, let’s face it, it made a great story and the Crown Prosecution was excited about a show trial. It makes you realise that we haven’t really moved on much as a society since medieval times when witches were burnt at the stake.
All the same, much as the media and the likes of trolls on Twitter contributed to Caroline’s anguish, the role of the Crown Prosecution appears to be most at fault and of course society itself. We live in precarious times and the mental health of the masses is suffering. Much as the likes of Flack and her kind are largely protected by agents and PR consultants, the day to day pressures, expectations and public scrutiny is intense. At forty years of age, life pivots and many of us have looked back on our lives and careers and wondered where we were heading. Despite her TV successes and numerous fans, I imagine that Caroline was at a terrible crossroads. After several failed relationships and seemingly insecure in her new one with a younger man, life maybe wasn’t quite as rosy as some might have thought. Added to that, there is always the fear for broadcasters and celebrities that their careers are in nosedive in their middle years.
Who knows what turbulent feelings vulnerable Caroline Flack was experiencing but the terror of being put on display in court and humiliated by the Crown Prosecution was evidently paramount. Many people in our society now simply cannot cope with life’s demands. A vast number take antidepressants. When I return to London, friends and journalist colleagues talk about mental health problems and different associated meds as the new normal. Those not on meds are actually becoming the odd ones out. So, what’s happening? How have we ended up in such a mess and what’s the answer? Why are so many torn apart by everyday life? Definitely social media, the fast and furious pace of life, lack of spirituality and compassion for others are key but it’s much deeper than that.
Stopping the media from publishing nasty comments or articles that might precipitate a suicide, is not the answer. It’s ephemeral and pointless. How do you prove its worth when there are countless other factors? Yes, media might prove the tipping point but who honestly can tell? Life is complex, tricky, cruel and merciless and yet, it is also full of wonder and kindness. In the madness, the magic is being able to create equilibrium through nature and the simplest of joys. A walk in the woods, stroking a cat, playing with a baby or eating ice- cream with friends on a beach for example – no artifice, just plain and simple little pleasures. Maybe Caroline was deprived of those very things – a tortured princess within a gilded cage. All we can do is learn from such sad events and offer humanity where we can.
Light my fire
So, one of life’s great rural pleasures is now under threat. For those of us romantics who like to sit in front of a raging fire in the hearth, times are a-changing. The UK has declared that in 2021 coal and wood fires will be banned to stop pollution. Thankfully we hadn’t invested in a wood burner as many friends urged us to do. If we had, we’d be sitting on a worthless asset now that they too will be phased out. So, it’s central heating and electric radiators in the future unless solar energy can offer up bright and cost-effective opportunities. For now, I’ll make the most of my old hearth while I can!
It beggars belief
At Palma bus station early morning I’m always aware of the line-up of poor souls that sit cheerlessly on a row of seats upstairs. Some are beggars, others sad care-in-the community cases and others are evidently down and out. Many are dozing, some crying, others talking to themselves but what they all have in common is the need for a warm dry place to stay. As of this week, the seats have all been removed meaning that these luckless, homeless people are no doubt roaming the cold streets instead. My heart went out to them today in the bitter early chill. It seems heartless to have turfed them out. What price humanity?
Every man and his dog
It’s a fact that urban millennials are quite au fait with the sharing economy that goes way beyond the likes of AirBnB. House and furniture, bikes and cars are all up for hire in our new transient, ownerless society. Still, whereas the sharing trend was mostly adopted by younger people, the older generation are now catching on fast. Aside from renting outifts (Carrie Symonds is a fan), jewelry, handbags, shoes and kitchen equipment are proving popular. And if that wasn’t enough you can even hire a man for the evening – just to accompany you to a gig or reception – and dogs can be rented for a walk in the park. Let’s hope it won’t be souls next.
Anna Nicholas’s first Majorca based crime novel, The Devil’s Horn, is out now. It’s available at all good bookshops & via amazon.