​There are so many pressing issues to discuss this week; so many reasons to shake one’s head in disbelief, not least the newly acquired knowledge – no, debase that to information – as to the existence of professional cuddle therapists!  Has it come to this?  No words.  Give me a great big slobbering Clumber Spaniel any day … love (unconditional), loyalty, intelligence and humour on four legs.  No charge.
This past week saw a British company lose the bid to manufacture the soon-to-be blue, once more, British passport to a French company.  Am I missing something?  Has the country not been ground to a standstill for the best part of two years in a bid to escape the grasp of the EU, one of the dangled carrots being the prospect of more home-grown manufacturing contracts?  Intelligent life?  There is no semblance of that here.  In its stead, a wealth of material for the Edinburgh Fringe 2018.
I happened to be listening to Jeremy Vine on Thursday when one of the topics evolved into a deliberation on women taking their husbands’ name on marriage.  Boris Johnson had been reprimanded by the Speaker in the House of Commons for referring to Emily Thornberry, shadow foreign secretary, by her husband’s name and her title by association.  John Bercow accused Johnson of being sexist.  In fact, having watched the actual footage, Boris Johnson is not only being sexist but downright arrogant and rude, to boot!  Obviously struggling to remember the name of his fellow MP, his actual words are ‘Baroness …whatever it is?  Can’t remember.’ Then, with prompting, he establishes her name as ‘Nugee’.  Her husband is the High Court Judge, Sir Christopher Nugee.  His wife, meanwhile, chooses to be known by her maiden name.  Boris couldn’t care one way or another; truth is, in Boris’ world, all women are below him!  Forgetting Emily Thornberry’s name is bad enough but contained in his subsequent use of the word ‘whatever’ is a lifetime of arrogance and a damning disregard for others.  How many affairs at the last count?
That was not my slant, however.  I digress.  I was interested in the subject of women taking their husbands’ name, fuelled by this incident.  Another foothold for feminism in the face of tradition or just more unnecessary trivia in a struggling world?  It has long made sense that married couples share the same name; that their children share that name.  The fact that tradition dictates that said name is the man’s …  Aren’t there far greater problems in life?!  I remember no such debates growing up.  Self worth didn’t seem to be such an issue.  I took my husband’s name when we got married, but, in giving both our children my maiden name as their middle name, I ensured that my family name would not be forgotten – and that, with the mere addition of a hyphen, both would be welcomed by the pony club!
I admit, though, that there have been occasions when I have been taken aback at seeing my name written as that of my husband but for the pre-fix of Mrs.  For my part, I feel that is a step too far.  Whilst I may have taken his surname, my forename is my own and very much me!  Anyway, suffice to say, Jeremy Vine’s last caller was an intelligent, well-spoken lady who was married to a Squadron Leader.  Happy, nay proud to take her husband’s name, she was clearly content in her own shoes and oozed self worth.  Therein lies the rub … as ever.
Life, as we all know, can be cruel and oh so unjust.  Imagine, then, being in the shoes of Kerry Needham this week?  As the mother of Ben Needham, the toddler who went missing on the Greek island of Kos in July 1991, her life has been hell for 27 years and there has been no closure; neither have there been millions of pounds poured into the search for her son – after initial efforts failed to locate him, he was believed to have been kidnapped.  Instead, she appears on our screens from time to time, a lone figure making another bid to keep Ben’s name alive and remind the nation that he is still missing.  Hard to be heard above the sound of more money being poured into Operation Grange, otherwise known as the search for Madeleine McCann.
Madeleine went missing in May 2007.  Just shy of her fourth birthday, today she would be almost fifteen.  Everyone knows the story.  Everyone has an opinion.  Most, I think, are frightened to voice it … in the media.
To date,  £11million has been spent in an endeavour to solve the mystery of Maddie’s disappearance that night.  Funding is reviewed every six months with £154,000 granted only last October for the pursuit of ‘a person of interest’.  And?  More money.  So, Tuesday found the media ablaze with controversy at the news of a further £85,000 being granted to Operation Grange in a bid to follow ‘an important final line of enquiry’.  There is no argument necessary.  The figures speak for themselves.  The facts are damning.
One hundred and forty thousand (140,000!) children are reported missing in the UK every  year;  300 are never found.  The average police spend on those 300 is £2.5 thousand …
Kate and Gerry McCann were on holiday with a group of friends and their children – young children.  The Ocean Club offered both babysitting and baby listening services. Regardless, the McCanns and their friends – all professional people – chose, rather, to leave their children on their own, night after night, while they ate and drank in the resort.  Yes, they claim that the restaurant was a mere 120 metres away – apparently having moved from the intial 50 feet – but anywhere outwith the apartment was too far!  They chose to leave a three year-old and her two year-old twin siblings alone saving precious pennies on a babysitter.  Well, it all adds up!  It most certainly does.
It is well reported that neighbours had heard children crying in the apartment on previous nights; Kate, herself, said that Madeleine had asked her where they were when the twins were crying the night before.  Her reply is anyone’s guess; her actions unchanged.
Eleven years on, £11million and counting.  The McCann mystery remains just that.  Whatever happened to Madeleine McCann, there is no question of the fear and suffering of that little girl.  Her parents enabled her fate.  They may have secured unspeakable funding but that can never assuage the vitriol of parents for whom the thought of leaving three little children alone is abhorrent; and it will never assuage their guilt.  At least that is one burden of which Kerry Needham has been spared.
‘In history as in human life, regret does not bring back a lost moment and a thousand years will not recover something lost in a single hour.’
Stefan Zweig, Stellar Moments in Human History.
This is Trish, signing off.