Poor Kate: Spare a thought for Duchess at centre of media feeding frenzy
I don't know if you've heard, but guess what? Catherine Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, went into labour on Monday. And guess what happened next? She had a baby boy!
I'm only teasing; of course you will have heard. Indeed, by the time she was taking her first sharp intake of gas and air in the labour ward (and being reminded to "breathe!!" by an anxious husband), half the world already knew things were under way thanks to instant news streaming and the busybody social networks.
By lunchtime, with the possible exception of a few indigenous tribes of the Amazon rainforest, the entire world was talking about it.
On Facebook, for example, the debates began in earnest at around 9am as disgruntled office workers across Northern Ireland reluctantly returned to their computer screens from their two weeks of annual leave. What a perfect distraction from the old grind, and perfectly timed, too!
Will it be a boy or a girl? (general consensus on my Facebook page = girl, WRONG!) What's the best name you can think of? ("Diana" or "Elizabeth" from the serious commentators, "Barbara Windsor" from a few jokers). Should Kate breastfeed or bottle feed? (Breast is best) Will Prince William take paternity leave? (Of course, as long as he wants, after all he's not going to get sacked is he?) Who will be the Godparents? (Pippa and Harry of course!! It's a no-brainer!) etc etc
Now it's all over bar the shouting and screaming of hysterical well-wishers and the assorted networks will have gone into meltdown.
But whilst we are all discussing this happy event like it's one of our own family, it's important that we don't forget what Kate herself will be going through.
To say that she and her wee bundle of joy will be the focus of a lot of attention is an extreme understatement. The pressure on her will be immense, if not unbearable
Not only is this her first child – in itself a huge wrench and strain on any woman – but it also happens to be the most eagerly anticipated birth since Diana was rushed to the same hospital wing 31 years ago. Very little that they do from now on will be allowed to stay private. Everything will be scrutinised and judged to the nth degree by a frenzied (albeit well-wishing) crowd of onlookers and a global TV audience.
Paparazzi, news anchors, entire media crews will be flying in from all corners of the globe to jostle outside the hospital for some crumb of information, hoping for that ultimate money shot – mother and baby doing well.
Outside St Mary's, and indeed anywhere they go for the foreseeable future, it will be complete and utter pandemonium. Meanwhile, inside I wouldn't be surprised if Kate wants to simply shut the curtains, hold her tiny wee man tightly and hide away from the world for a few days. And really, who would blame her?