So, on 29 December 2011, Russell Brand filed for divorce from Katy Perry after 14 months of divorce. They weren’t the only celebs to announce their break-up after Christmas: Katherine Jenkins and Gethin Jones were another famous couple to go their separate ways. And Mark Feehily (from boyband Westlife) has called time on his engagement to lover Kevin McDaid. In 2005, a few days after the New Year where they were pictured strolling along a beach arm-in-arm, Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt announced their separation.
I don’t know anything about statistics regarding divorce / separations over Christmas but just looking at the headlines says a lot, especially when you consider celebrity relationships. One reason for the heightened number of break-ups could be the fact that Christmas is a time you feel you “should” be with your loved ones. Celeb couples can comfort themselves all year-round, blaming hectic schedules for not seeing their other half, Katy Perry has been on a worldwide tour in 2o11 while Russell has been filming more movies and promoting new releases.
Spending any prolonged time together, often over the holidays, shows the cracks. That’s if you get as far as spending the time together – some people can’t even agree on where to spend the holiday; rumours abound that Perry wouldn’t agree to spending Christmas in London with Brand and their parents. Perry ended up spending Christmas Day in Hawaii while Brand was in Cornwall.
Gethin and Katherine, as well as Katy and Russell, have hectic work schedules. Most people who have been together for four years will spent a high proportion of time together but celebrities can date for years without seeing that much of each other. Like Lewis Hamilton and Nicole Scherzinger previously conceded (before splitting), a lot of the relationship is conducted through phone calls and texts. How much can you truly know a person that way?
I felt that Katy and Russell were actually well suited although I wondered how he felt about Katy’s hard partying ways considering he is a recovering drug and alcohol addict. I am genuinely saddened by their split.
For people who aren’t rich and/or famous, Christmas can be a harrowing time – spending a large amount of time with family or children can lead some people to distraction: only today I walked past a woman in the supermarket who was shouting and swearing at her children. I don’t personally think people who treat their kids like this should be allowed to procreate but sadly it is more widespread than many like to acknowledged. Other children are left home alone while errant parents disappear to parties or down the pub. Many women and/or men are abused over Christmas / New Year, partly due to the rise in alcohol consumption. Lots of elderly people do not see anyone because the people who usually pop around – like neighbours or family friends – are busy or away.
I don’t mean to end 2011 on a bum note but, when we’re all merry at midnight, please spare a thought for those who may not be having the best of times.
Greg Mortenson has made a name for himself as a selfless humanitarian and children’s crusader. He’s a favourite of book clubs and philanthropists around the world. He’s even been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. According to this book, Mortensen is also not what he appears to be. As acclaimed author Jon Krakauer discovered, Mortenson has not only fabricated substantial parts of his bestselling books ‘Three Cups of Tea’ and ‘Stones into Schools’, but has also misused millions of dollars donated by unsuspecting donors like Krakauer himself.
This book is jam-packed with testimonies for people who have worked with the seemingly self-obsessed Mortenson. I would like to know how Krakauer discovered the deceit but this book is well worth a read, particularly if you’re tempted to donate to Mortenson – basically he is benefitting from the donations made: not the people who should be.
In July 2011, a thirty-one year old woman died in an intensive care unit after a sixteen year battle with Anorexia Nervosa.
Kate Chilver weighed 4.7 stone and parts of her bowel and stomach ‘died’ due to lack of blood supply. After developing the condition aged 12 and first being hospitalised at 15, Kate spent the rest of her life in and out of medical units before dying. Her BMI (body mass index) was less than 12 and, at one point, dropped to 9. A healthy BMI is said to be between 20 and 25. Severe anorexia is classed as anything below 15.
Kate was fed through a tube but attempts to help her failed. She did not respond to medication and psychotherapy found her ‘unable to engage’. Kate also over-exercised. During her post-mortem, her heart was found to be less than half the weight it should be and Kate herself weighed less than 55lbs (30kg).
Her final days saw her suffering excruciating stomach pains – her bowel and stomach died through poor circulation. Her arteries had closed down due to pressure inside her body. Because there was no inter-abdominal fat to cushion the blood vessels.
This is the tragic truth of anorexia. Celebrities should read stories like this to understand what they’re doing to their bodies. Girls like LeAnn Rimes and Peaches Geldof should understand that they are at risk of muscle wastage and cardiac arrest.
Please girls, go and get help.
Five years ago, writer Andrea Gillies moved, with her husband and three children up to a large Victorian mansion on a remote peninsula in the north of Scotland. Along with her family, she took her husband’s infirm parents. Leaving behind friends, family and familiarity, Gillies arrived in the windswept area in search of inspiration and the sublime. Andrea’s mother-in-law Nancy comes with middle-stage Alzheimer’s Disease and Andrea becomes Nancy’s carer while also trying to write and run a b’n’b.
‘Keeper’ is a wonderful piece of writing on what remains a taboo subject. Although the anecdotes are often embarrassing in their honesty, Gillies manages to frequently raise a wry smile from the reader. Her brutal honesty regarding Nancy’s outbursts as the disease further takes hold of her paints a realistic picture of care-giving.
Gillies’ bravery in tackling this topic has to be admired. Some families would not be accepting of her laying bare the uncomfortable truth. This book is combined with some wonderful poetry which is particularly pertinent to the subject matter and, coupled with some research into Alzheimer’s and Dementia, is a must-read for anyone who is considering undertaking the task of care-giving.
Diary extracts of Nancy’s slow unravelling, and the impact it has on her family, are painful to read. To read about the demise of this woman is heartbreaking – and you realise that if you’re finding it difficult, you get an idea of how near-impossible it must have been for Andrea and her family to live with it.
This isn’t just a book about Alzheimer’s, though. It’s a depiction of family life, old age and the sad state of our National Health Service. It is also an interesting study of femininity. Although it is not Andrea Gillies’ parents living in the home, it is she who has the most interaction with them, her career that is taking a dive due to care-giving.
This is an intelligent, brave and honest account. I commend Andrea Gillies on every level.