I know I have been away for a while but sometimes life can be rather overwhelming.
Since the end of 2021, most people in the UK have experienced a fall in disposable income. This has been caused by high inflation exceeding wage and benefit increases, and has been further aggravated by astronomical energy prices . The government has announced some measures to respond to this but so far these have failed to address the issue. In layman’s terms, this means that prices for just about everything in the UK are surging and sadly it is the most vulnerable members of society who will be under the greatest strain of the Cost of Living Crisis.
Not a day goes by without the media highlighting the adversities of those on low incomes. Such examples have included 77 year-old Elsie, a pensioner who can only afford to eat one meal a day and spends most of her time travelling on public transport with her free bus pass in order to remain warm and not have to turn the heating on or use electricity in her home. Her gas bill has soured from £17 a month to five times the price at £85. In a recent article in The Guardian, Age UK’s charity director, Caroline Abrahams, stated that Elsie’s case was sadly indicative of the problems faced by millions of pensioners who have fixed incomes.
In addition, there are stories of full-time carers relying on electricity for medical machines and equipment, washing machines for cleaning bedding and clothing, specialised items such as continence pads and creams. They can not simply turn off machines, stop using essential items or try scrimping and saving. Many will end up going without themselves which will put even more pressure on those who are already struggling to care for family members. Even the expert in money saving, Martin Lewis, said that he has run out of ideas for how to help the vulnerable.
Food banks used to be the last resort for those on a low income who were waiting for benefits or wages to arrive. They are now being used on a regular basis by many and make the difference between someone being able to eat or not. In Harrogate, the manager of a foodbank recently stated that not only is the current crisis leading to a growth in poverty, but it is also leading to rising levels of debt and severe mental health issues. Many families are unable to cook and they simply can not afford to put the oven on because they are counting every single penny.
Yet vying for headlines in the media this week with the Cost of Living Crisis has been the High Court case of Rooney versus Vardy; a case which epitomises, particularly at the moment, the meaning of the word obscene and a case where both sides have such hyperbolic sums of money that they really could not be any further removed from understanding what it is to struggle financially. The media cannot seem to get enough of this public battle, which in all honesty is more akin to a children’s playground spat than a serious and justifiable legal case. In one corner is Coleen Rooney, professional WAG/designer shopper and wife of former England footballer Wayne Rooney, who believes and publicly revealed that her adversary in this circus sold stories about her family life to The Sun newspaper. On the other side is Rebecca Vardy another footballer’s wife but not quite as much of a ‘celebrity’ as Ms Rooney, who has in the past been so desperate for self-promotion and publicity that she ate a lamb’s anus live on television in 2017 and who now believes she has been libelled by Ms Rooney on social media.
It is hard to have any sympathy for either side, especially when one considers the thousands spent daily by each party in legal fees not to mention their designer outfits, cosmetic enhancements, burly minders, chauffeurs and legal teams. David Sherborne represents Ms Rooney, and he has been employed by many high profile celebrities including the Duchess of Sussex. Another equally respected specialist in media law, Hugh Tomlinson, is representing Ms Vardy. I have no idea how much their fees must be. However, if I had to pay a solicitor fifteen hundred pounds for one day in the family courts ten years ago, imagine how much these barristers must be charging for their professional advice. More importantly imagine how much good that money could do if even a fraction of it was channelled into more philanthropic organisations?
Ms Vardy may claim that her motive in bringing this action is that Ms Rooney’s public declaration has led to her facing serious trolling including death threats to her family. Of course, no one should ever have to go through that. However, surely the answer to this lies primarily in not participating in a highly visible trial, but rather in seeking out a quiet and uneventful life away from the spotlight? Furthermore, what is Ms Vardy hoping to prove by this action? Is it validation that she is a good person? Because if that is the case then would the money not be better spent donating to worthwhile causes? Is it really worth going through all the stress of the legal process particularly on her children and family? Who ultimately wins though, because it is most definitely not either of the two parties in this case? The only winners are the lawyers.
A further vital point that a friend of mine raised the other day concerns what message such behaviour is sending out about women and their behaviour and relationships with other women? It may be something of a cliché but we should be building each other up rather than tearing each other apart.
Yet fortunately not all those making headlines this week have provoked such anger and negative criticism. There is a further story that, although heavily tinged with sadness, shows the result of how someone has used the media spotlight to do good for others. That is the story of Deborah James, otherwise known as Bowel Babe. Deborah is an inspirational cancer sufferer and has done much in her short life to raise awareness of this condition. In doing so she has taught us all how we should deal with adversity even when faced with a death-sentence. Deborah has highlighted the condition optimistically and with great humour and in the process has raised several million for cancer charities. She is currently receiving end of life care. Her story has touched many throughout the UK including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge who have said of her, “Every now and then, someone captures the heart of the nation with their zest for life & tenacious desire to give back to society. @bowelbabe is one of those special people. Her tireless efforts to raise awareness of bowel cancer & end the stigma of treatment are inspiring.”
Ms Rooney and Vardy could learn a great deal from Deborah’s example, especially in how to conduct oneself with dignity. Sadly, I doubt they will.
Talking of raising each other up as women. You may recall that a while ago I wrote about the very talented writer Christina Rauh Fishburne. I am amazed that Christina has not yet been snapped up by a literary agent, but I am sure she will be very soon. Christina is currently working on a fascinating project under the name of brown eyed recluse which she posts on her social media. I think this is one of her best projects yet and everyday I cannot wait for the next instalment. With monochrome images, a sublimely glamorous coat, soothing narration and of course hauntingly-beautiful music, it feels as if one is existing in a real life film noir. I keep waiting for Veronica Lake to appear. Do give her a follow (and her amazing coat!) The music on her videos is provided by her equally gifted brother, New York based guitarist Charlie Rauh.
Christina has provided illustrations for the special https://www.thecrowemporium.com/ version of Jane Eyre https://www.thecrowemporium.com/the-crow-emporium-press/jane-eyre-by-charlotte-bronte-illustrated-crow-emporium-edition
Just look at that coat!
Elisabeth Basford has written the first modern biography of the Queen’s aunt, https://www.amazon.co.uk/Princess-Mary-First-Modern-ebook/dp/B08R9BG6B7