Welcome, once again, to my heart-warming, voluntary weekly column.  As ever, a selfless offering of wisdom and opinion, delivered with honesty and humour, designed to inspire and provoke – or ignore!  Whilst it is all too easy to function in one’s own little bubble, however, oblivious to the outside world, such disinterest and lack of curiosity must not be encouraged.  The individual has a responsibility to engage, and to learn.  Agree.  Disagree.  Challenge.  Any of the aforementioned.  Just have an opinion!  Life is too short to be boring.

Now, here’s a question: do good guys ever win?  I suppose it is a case of not only defining the word ‘good’ but, also, what exactly it means to ‘win’.  One could say that a good person is someone who lives by a moral compass; who is kind and considers others.  Someone who is honest and trustworthy, not one who lies and cheats.  Loyalty, too, is a must!  A good person is altruistic, not selfish and, moreover, someone of courage who has the strength of his/her convictions.  Is a weak person a good person, then?  Difficult.  Weakness enables bullying; can cause immense hurt; by doing nothing, allows it.  We are, each of us, capable of inner courage but to stand up and be counted, one must care enough to do so!  I have little respect, then, for those who seek anonymity in the crowd, regardless.

What does it mean to ‘win’?  Well, to my mind, that is entirely subjective.  There are those who see winning as beating another; coming first in the race or securing that job.  There are those who live to compete, for whom being top of the tree is everything no matter the branches broken in the climb.  Ruthless, driven, the adrenalin lies in conquering another.  Good people?  Depends whether the selfishness is contained; whether they are too blind to see!   On the other hand, to ‘win’ can mean to do one’s best; to achieve a personal goal.  Growing up, I was never competitive.  Of course, it was a thrill to come first or to come top of the class but my parents always taught us that it was the taking part that was more important; doing one’s best.  Ingrained in my memory are those who used to whip their ponies in anger, furious at being eliminated or accruing faults for knocking a pole down rather than clearing the jump.  Always the pony, never the rider …  No better classroom.  Did it stand me in good stead?  As a person, most definitely.  In terms of survival in a cruel world?  Increasingly difficult and, most definitely, for those who follow in my wake.

So, do good guys ever win?  Rarely.  Human nature is such that the qualities pertaining to good are most easily exploited by those who lack them.  Honesty may not be rewarded where lies go unnoticed.  The courage of loyalty may render one a target while the weak seek refuge in the bullying crowd and, too often, it is thought easier to appease the conniving and sacrifice the just.  He, who speaks loudest …  In a dog-eat-dog world, how do the good guys win?  Tangibly, they don’t but in the game of life, as a whole?  One need only look to Shakespeare to witness the torment of guilt; insidious guilt.  To understand the value of self-worth and a clear conscience.  Karma?  Divine retribution?  Put it this way, it never ends well.  What a shame!

Take the demise of the SNP …  To be honest, let them rot.  That said, I do admit to feeling a little sorry for Humza ‘Useless’ on Monday.  He never had a chance, following on from The Murrell Collection.  Nothing more than a fall guy, he was Sturgeon’s puppet.  However, he did manage to wheedle into his resignation speech several references to colour and culture – ‘people who look like me’ – the most laughable being the suggestion that multiculturalism, in the UK, has worked! Correction, perhaps the most laughable was his statement that ‘independence feels frustratingly close’ …  Oh, dear.  A blessing that he had the suitably ‘gorgeous’ signer to distract!

Human nature.  I watched two programmes of note this week, one of which was a Louis Theroux interview with Bear Grylls.  Actually, it was a repeat and one I had seen before but I found it so insightful, again!  He – Bear – talked of the lasting effect being sent away to boarding school had had on him; the feelings of raw fear and vulnerability which would haunt him, only to be replicated, once more – years later – during the Resistance to Interrogation section of the SAS Selection.  Surprisingly, the psychiatrist tasked with assessing the participants on completion commented that Bear wouldn’t believe how many times he had heard the very same from others.  The trauma of early childhood and its lasting damage.  Bear admitted that, as a child, he internalised the fear of abandonment, retreating into himself and becoming quite shy.  Even now, he struggles to go on stage – in front of an adoring crowd – believing that he is not good enough; not worthy.  A humble guy, his story is much like that of Ben Fogle who, too, has conquered great heights yet still carries the scar of those early years.

From good guys to bad …  Lord Cecil Parkinson, a British Conservative Party politician who served in Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet in the 1980s.  His fall from grace is depicted in a new Channel 5 documentary – A Very British Sex Scandal: The Love Child & The Secretary – which I watched on Wednesday.  Superb, but what an absolute bastard he was!  From humble beginnings, he rose to become a slick minister/manipulator of great public appeal before his twelve-year affair with his secretary, Sara Keays, resulted in her pregnancy and his exposure.  When she refused to have an abortion, he turned his back on her, vowing never to see his child.  He, then, embarked on a smear campaign purposed to discredit her and save his career.

Cecil Parkinson was pivotal in the Tories’ election success of 1983 and expected to be made Foreign Secretary in Maggie’s new cabinet. Not to be.  Married with three daughters, the scandal of his 12-year affair and the imminent arrival of his illegitimate child led to his resignation that October.  He did return to politics but never to the glory days, finally stepping down in 1992 when Maggie was ousted.  Following the election of the same year, he was created Baron Parkinson of Camforth.

Of course.  Baron Parkinson!  He, who cheated on his wife for twelve years and then dumped his pregnant mistress, never to see his child.  Flora Keays was born with Asperger’s Syndrome and would have a brain tumour removed, aged four.  Suffering with learning difficulties, she has been dogged by medical issues all her life.  Her father paid minimum maintenance, considering his great wealth, and took out an injunction preventing any mention of his daughter in the media until she was eighteen.  Utterly reprehensible!  Truly the antithesis of ‘good’.  As for Sara Keays?  I have little, if any, sympathy for a woman who, knowingly, has an affair with a married man.

The key points of interest in this documentary?  Firstly, his wife stood by him.  How embarrassing!  Secondly, Edwina Currie was giving her tuppence worth; she, who positively delights in the fact that she had a four-year affair with John Major, reportedly between 1984-88.  Strangely, she remarks that she thought to herself, at the time, ‘Am I watertight?’.  Heinous woman!  Thirdly, the men’s club attitude of fellow ministers with regard to the, obviously, numerous affairs – almost a badge of honour!  Kenneth Baker – Baron Baker of Dorking – is positively mocking in his ‘treatment’ of Sara Keays: ‘I think, when a woman has been slighted, history shows that they like to get their view on record, don’t they?’   Only the  ‘There, there’ is silent.

Hats off to Ian Hislop, journalist, who, at the time, worked for Private Eye, the magazine which broke the story.  Although articles about Cabinet Ministers’ extra-marital affairs with their secretaries were considered not only to be dangerous but, moreover, prurient nonsense, Private Eye took the view that ‘these were matters of public interest because it reflected on character.’  In a nutshell!

I wonder if Flora Keays, the innocent victim, here, believes that good guys win?  Perhaps one could ask the same of Lord Parkinson’s eldest daughter, Mary?  She sought solace in drugs after the revelation of her father’s affair and, tragically, took her own life in December 2017, a year after his death.  Shakespeare might have penned the tale himself …  Cecil Parkinson.  From humble beginnings, he rose to great heights, but the damage he left in his wake ensured he could never win.

Every action of your life touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.’

Edwin Hubbell Chapin (1814-1880), Address to the Young.

This is Trish, signing off.