In a recent survey of two thousand people, one in six (21%), admitted that they struggle to tell the time unless it’s on a digital clock.  Those comprising that 21% largely fell into the 18-24 age bracket.  Superb!  Picture my face now – or, perhaps not – but, put it this way, think along the lines of Hugh Grant’s eye-rolling as he walked away from the model, Ashley Graham, following her vacuous ‘interview’ on the beige carpet at the Oscars recently.  In truth, the fact that she had forgotten to put on her dress did little to help!  Of course, Hugh Grant has been slated, once more, for his characteristic ‘rudeness’ but, my God, I was totally on his side, here.  Both she – and her questions – were desperate …ly embarrassing!  I thought he showed incredible restraint under extremely trying circumstances.  ‘What are you wearing tonight, then?’  To Hugh Grant?  Dry wit and intelligence.  Perhaps she could look them both up in the dictionary – provided the ‘sensitivity readers’ haven’t got there first.  Oh, help!   Little green men in search of intelligent life are dismantling the sat nav which sent them anywhere near this place, as I write … though I do wonder why Hugh Grant hasn’t been snaffled!

Hugh Grant.  Love him or loathe him.  Good-looking, intelligent, educated, well-spoken, well-dressed, wonderfully sarcastic sense of humour and, what’s the betting he can tell the time unaided?  Oh, rather well-off, too.  Positively nothing going for him, then!  I should say that I have met him many times – should that be ‘stalked’? – during the Alfred Dunhill (golf, obviously) at St Andrews and he has always been so polite and so, so obliging.  Poor guy.  No extrovert, he may be chronically shy but he has never been rude.  I, actually, have a photograph from the first time we met him – when we still looked young – standing at the R&A; he and Kyle MacLachlan (‘Trey’ in ‘Sex and the City’) behind Becca and I (yes, I know it should be ‘me’ but it sounds awful).  A permanent fixture  on my fridge, it never fails to make me smile whenever I stop to look at it because Hugh is leaning over towards me, as though trying to get my attention, while I seem oblivious to his charm.  Superb acting!

Before I move on from Hugh, he is also front and centre in – for me – one of the coolest scenes on film: that in ‘About a Boy’ when ‘Marcus’ is, voluntarily, dying on stage in front of the whole school, singing – a cappella – ‘Killing Me Softly’ for his Mum.  In a bid to save him, ‘Will’ grabs another boy’s electric guitar and steps forward through the curtain to accompany ‘Marcus’.  Heart.  Melt.   Seems he can sing and play guitar, too – and enjoys it a little too much!  I have a recording of that film, set exactly to that spot, which I keep for moments of need.  No apology.

This week has been such a mixture of good and bad.  Tuesday was a day of glorious sunshine.  God was in his heaven and I spent the last two hours before sunset on the beach.  Everything felt positive on Tuesday.  Even my hair was obliging!  You know those days when you look forward to washing your hair and it just goes haywire?  Well, Tuesday wasn’t one of them.  Today – Friday – it is and, to top it all, it is pouring outside!  Pathetic fallacy.  I am wandering around with a pair of tasseled cowboy boots attached to my feet, believing it time I broke them in.  An impromptu purchase in the famous Sukie’s in the King’s Road, London, last year, they have been sitting in my bedroom awaiting the perfect outing.  From nappies, I have always loved everything cowboy!  The checked shirts and jeans, the fringed jackets, the hats, the horses, the lifestyle, the wide, open spaces, the cowboys …  I love country music.  I want to go riding in Montana, eat baked beans out of a tin and sleep under the stars; drink in a proper Western bar and join in the line-dancing.  What the hell am I still doing here?  More to the point, why was I telling you this?  Ah, cowboy boots …  Not a staple around here, it takes a certain attitude to wear them – which I must- and this particular pair are, actually, very comfortable.  My other pair – à la Kate Middleton – are another story.  Love them but I have been known to have to sleep in them.  Anyone tried removing cowboy boots after a wee sherry?

Notes.  Aka the budget this week, pensions and … childcare.  Amongst the incessant figures, I learnt that the average childcare cost for a young toddler, per year, is £15,000.  That’s £15 followed by three zeros!  Utterly ridiculous.  Let’s see.  What is the reasoning behind deciding to have a child and then farming him/her (steady!) out to a complete stranger to be looked after/brought up at the first available opportunity?  A step up from a dog walker – and I wouldn’t decide to get a dog if I wasn’t around to walk him myself – children are not accessories!  Of course, the argument is that the cost of living is such that both parents have to work … but at what price?

There is to be another £4billion poured into childcare for one and two-year-olds, funding the provision of thirty hours of free care per week.  Phew!  That means that any new mother need only look after her baby for the first nine months before she can get back to her more important ‘career’.  Thank God for that.  Offload at the crack of dawn and pick up in the evening in time for bed.  Perfect.  Meanwhile, rest of time?  As before – children.

Almost half of non-working mothers said they would prefer to work if they could arrange suitable childcare.’

Jeremy Hunt

Talk about lighting a match in a petrol station!  Of course, there are those for whom thirty hours of free childcare will be a lifeline: single parents who have no choice but to work or those who can only survive on two incomes.  Sadly, there are millions.  However, my criticism lies with those who can afford to look after their own children but choose not to for whatever reasons of justification: career, bored at home, better parent if working.  Yes, yes.  A staunch advocate of freedom of choice, each to his own – of course.  However, I feel sorry for the children – and the parents who value their careers above them.  What they, all, miss …

We live in a world, today, driven by money; greed.  A world in which one’s job has become one’s identity.  A world in which equality has become little more than women fighting to be the same as men in everything … but, newsflash, we’re not!  Put on this earth to procreate, it is the woman who carries her child for nine months; who becomes a mother.  There can be no greater bond.  No more important job than that of nurturing another human being; providing the love and security which, in turn, enables the confidence vital to face a ruthless world.  What is wrong with people?  Look at the far-reaching downward spiral borne out of women trying to be men: insecure, troubled children who go on to be insecure, troubled – often not very nice – adults; the demise of the family; the demise of community; affairs, broken marriages … and so much more.  There is nothing wrong in women putting their careers first – just not before their children.  Don’t have them or, at least – if the choice is there and finances allow – stay at home and sacrifice your own needs for the first five years, until they go to school.  Listen to Kate.  It is the first five years which mould the rest of a child’s life!  A small price to pay in the decision to bring another human being into the world.  No more worthy sacrifice.  As for losing one’s identity at home, becoming ‘just a mother’?  Intelligent, educated, I loved every minute!  I may have been snookered, in the end, but the mother of two of the nicest beings on earth, there can be no greater accolade and I wouldn’t have swapped my time for any career/money.  Here’s a parting thought – how about ploughing the £4billion and more into ‘paying’ mothers to be mothers: staying at home looking after their own children – those they chose to have – for the first five years of their lives?  How much kinder this world would be.

Of all the rights of women, the greatest is to be a mother.’

Lin Yutang

Talk about timing!

This is Trish, signing off.