Not one to harp on about the weather … No, I give up! Let’s just say to any amongst us unable to ‘swim like a porpoise’ (as Pop used to say), I wish you luck.

Spirits more than a little dampened, it is hard to muster the enthusiasm to fill a blank page in a bid to entertain. Wrong word? Well, in a bid to hold one’s reader’s interest, then. Note the positioning of the apostrophe! Truth be told, I am all but talking to myself, here, as – updated – is not yet ‘live’. Web design, it would seem, is yet another minefield offering anonymity to those lacking integrity and, thus, it has been one step forward and ten back. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel and more readers to be had so I shall plough on.

Seeking inspiration – particularly as I have had little time nor interest in the news since moving – I picked up last week’s edition of The Sunday Telegraph (4 August 2019). Quickly skipping past Boris, Features & Arts offered an abundance of titles of interest not least that of ‘How many jet-set celebs does it take to fix global warming?’ courtesy of Guy Kelly. Come to mama! Am I the only one who, until now, has been oblivious to the annual star-studded Google eco-summit? Yes, I was aware that Prince Harry had been overseas recently delivering some meaningful speech on the environment and global warming, barefoot, but it had passed me by that he was at the 7th ‘annual, three-day, top-secret summer symposium of ideas’ held by Google! Where? The exclusive Verdura Resort on the south-west coast of Sicily, no less. Those reported to be in attendance included Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg, billionaire philanthropist, Bill Gates, a host of Google executives and George – Clooney, of course! Among friends with at least 200 other celebs in attendance feigning a humanitarian conscience, Leonardo DiCaprio was there as, supposedly, were Katy Perry, Orlando Bloom and … Harry Styles. Heavyweight issues deserving of those with the most to offer – money and ego! Unfortunately, Bradley Cooper was, allegedly, there too and I like him. Oh, well.

Luxury dining overseen by a top Indian chef and entertainment courtesy of Coldplay, it was far from all work and no play but the tone of Guy Kelly’s piece, for me, is encapsulated in one sentence: ‘Mornings involve serious meetings, where the likes of Johnny Depp and Thierry Henry can solve global human rights issues with Stella McCartney and Nick Jonas.’ Perfect. Not a thing to worry about, then … other than the 114 private jets and assortment of superyachts, the principal transport of choice for most attendees! Have we lost our minds, all grey matter or both? How can we entertain such a ludicrous image? Please tell me these so-called celebrities are merely pawns in a game of ridicule driven, unwittingly, by their pitiful belief in their own press? Yes, perhaps the concept of unimaginably rich people gathering to discuss ways in which to direct their wealth for the greater good of the environment is a plus but one must question their integrity if it is deemed necessary to lure them with the likes of Johnny Depp and the two Harries! The bare-faced mockery of all those who saw fit to turn up in their private planes or luxury yachts to discuss global warming? Ignorance or just unashamed arrogance. Regardless. The worrying thing is that they are given any credence whatsoever. As for Prince Harry in his bare feet? I believe his heart is in the right place but his wife has ensured he is in bed with the Clooneys who have so adeptly tailored the concept of humanitarianism to fit their needs. All aboard the bandwagon or should that be private jet?!

Lariam. Following the tragic death of Alana Cutland, the 19 year-old Cambridge gap-year student who fell from a plane in Madagascar on the 25th July, there is speculation as to whether side-effects from the anti-malaria medication may have been at the root of her behaviour. Lariam has been linked with insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks and even psychosis. In Peter Stanford’s article in The Sunday Telegraph (4 August 2019), he writes that, following a trip to Kenya in 1990 for which he took Lariam, the comedian Paul Merton developed paranoia and ended up being admitted to a psychiatric hospital for six weeks as a result! Alana’s uncle has reportedly confirmed that she had been suffering from hallucinations, perhaps linked to said medication found among her possessions. Help!

It will be 19 years in October since I travelled to Kenya with my dear friend, Virginia McKenna, and the Born Free Foundation. A privilege for which I shall be eternally grateful, it had been my dream since the age of six to visit Elsa’s grave and this safari was in memory of the Adamsons and the famous lioness whom they returned to the wild in Meru in the late 50s. An experience of a lifetime with one drawback – Lariam was the advised anti-malaria medication for the parts of Kenya we would be visiting and, worse, its adverse side-effects seemed to be news-worthy at the time.

For one who avoids painkillers and pills of any sort, hating the idea of pouring chemicals into one’s body – yes, Manny, I know you always cite wine! – I found it hard to reconcile the taking of this potentially dangerous drug. Yes, of course, the side-effects were supposedly rare but they were recognised. There seemed to be regular reports of nightmares, hallucinations and clinical depression and it terrified the living daylights out of me! I shall never forget – even all these years on – sitting at the little table in the kitchen, glass of water and pill in hand (think it was blue) for what seemed, and may even have been, hours as I contemplated the effect it may have on me. Of course, I bit the bullet and swallowed it convincing myself that all reports were exaggerated and I would be absolutely fine … and 19 years later, some may say it explains everything!

Thankfully, despite my trepidation, I felt nauseous for a few days but suffered no other ill effects. Taken weekly, I must have swallowed about four in all. One of the lucky ones. Of course, ironically, I was to discover that, despite recommendation, only one of the other nine on the trip adhered to advice, the remainder choosing an alternative anti-malaria medication. (Linda did report suffering nightmares but that was it.) There is irony, too, I realise, in the fact that I was the one who did as she was told while all but one of my fellow travellers chose to veer from the recommendation. Interesting. Older, wiser, more cynical, nobody could encourage me to take Lariam today. Sadly, Alana was only 19. Larium is, apparently, a cheaper alternative to other anti-malaria drugs such as Malarone and doxycycline which, in addition, must be taken every day. Cost, however, should not be a factor in the light of psychological risk. It seems there is a rising groundswell of opinion in favour of an outright ban on this drug – with immediate effect, one would hope. It does make one question, though, how any drug with the potential to cause neuro-psychiatric side-effects could, despite the obligatory clinical trials, be deemed fit for the open market and be readily available online? The power of the mighty pharmaceutical company rears its ugly head once again and, sadly, integrity is of no value in the quest for gold.

Disregarding the potential to offend, it is time for a full stop. Yes, not only are reading and writing all but consigned to history but in this age of instant messaging and emojis the construction of a proper sentence, let alone a paragraph, is, seemingly, more than a step too far. Apparently, in a world devoid of respect for and, in fact, largely devoid of punctuation, the appearance of a small dot at the end of a line is considered ‘rudely abrupt’! Tongue in cheek, Zoe Strimpel’s piece on punctuation (The Sunday Telegraph, 4 August 2019) is, at once, the gift of material for the comedy writer and yet the reality is so, so depressing. Has it really come to this? A country which lays claim to Shakespeare, for God’s sake, can no longer uphold the full stop? It is the acceptance of such ignorance which is utterly shameful. Jacob Rees-Mogg, I salute you! As newly appointed Leader of the House of Commons, he is reported to be insistent that a double space follows a full stop in all departmental communications. Meanwhile, the fact that he even has to put that in writing is ludicrous. Once upon a time, the ability to read and write was fundamental to education … My wonderful old English teacher, Betsy, must be turning in her grave!

‘I still put punctuation in my texts. If it’s an ‘I’, I make sure it’s a capital.’

Simon Cowell

As I said, absolutely nothing to worry about!

This is Trish, signing off.