Belfast Telegraph

Why Angelina's honesty about her health will help save more lives

By Jane Graham

The damned if they do, damned if they don't, damned if they sleep, damned if they rise climate we currently reside in must be rather off-putting for anyone aspiring to do anything well enough to attract attention. Perhaps it's the cumulative effect of years of pointless, self-serving adversarial politics which has made tired cynics of so many of us.

Or the disheartening sequence of revelations regarding the incompetence and malevolence at the heart of so many once-revered institutions. Or the weekly catch-up on which hitherto national treasures have turned out to be gruesome bogeymen. But Britain feels a much rockier place than it did a decade ago.

The once-dominant instinct the majority of natives had - that someone decent, sensible and clever was in charge behind the scenes, making sure chaos, cruelty, or injustice didn't permeate our society - has been destroyed. Everyone feels a little more twitchy, a bit less secure.

The creeping fear that we could be making a pig's ear of our kids' futures - it kind of plays on your mind. Makes you a bit grumpy. And it makes the have-nots more resentful of the haves. There is a twisted, but understandable logic to the jaundiced tone which characterises our increasingly unforgiving, mob-ruled little country.

So, I wasn't surprised by gnarled barbs which met Angelina Jolie's public announcement about her decision to have her cancer-vulnerable ovaries removed this week. It was all predictable stuff.

"Wouldn't it be nice if we all had the money to carry out these tests to prevent ourselves from getting cancer?" harrumphed one online commentator. "And in case of bone cancer would Angelina have also all her bones removed?" demanded another, frankly silly, observer. "Keep your case private. She can't miss the publicity." This is a textbook example of someone in a position of power and influence (the truth, whether you like it or not) using a harrowing personal experience to do some good and being pilloried for it.

It's become impossible for famous people to try to help others without an online clamour, usually supported by a few vicious, highly-paid newspaper columnists, declaring his/her motivation to be greed and/or a need to maintain a high profile.

I always imagine most of these critics looking like Dorian Grey's portrait in its latter stages - after the frown-lines etched by years of bitterness and casual cruelty had turned it into a gargoyle.

I've long liked Angelina Jolie. I'm convinced that, in spite of the many mis-steps, she's a genuinely well-intentioned woman guided by a formidable social conscience (it is possible for such a creature to enjoy dressing up and wearing lipstick, by the way.) And she has demonstrably made a positive difference - medical researchers credit her 2013 New York Times piece about her voluntary double mastectomy with doubling the amount of genetic breast cancer tests in the UK. She has saved lives, and with her latest explanation, she will save more.

She is also aiming to do something almost unimaginable - convince the world that a woman who is going through the menopause, or has become infertile, can still be a feminine, sensual, magnetic presence.

This icon of bold sexuality, this almost unnervingly alluring global pin-up, didn't have to tell us she was menopausal and taking HRT at 39. And it will certainly limit her appeal to certain film studios and magazine-makers.

But, as she continues to look powerful, confident and very beautiful, there are thousands of flushed, anxious women who will know what she's going through behind closed doors and who will thank her for saying what she did with all their fluttering hearts.

It's no joke for Directionless fans

The departure of troubled soul and devilishly handsome One Direction member Zayn Malik this week saw the nation divided. For multitudes of teenage girls, it felt like the end of the world. The day was spent having tearful breakdowns, punctuated with phonecalls to friends having tearful breakdowns.

For many adults, especially men, it was a time to have a laugh at teenage girls and their ridiculous tearful breakdowns. My sympathies are with the girls.

I remember how real a teenage crush feels; like the greatest, biggest, most tortuous love of your life. And I also remember seeing grown men cry when Eric Cantona left Man United.

Beeb scores with new property host

It's a huge risk and means a big change to the TV landscape, but I think the BBC have done the right thing.

The announcement that ex-Manchester United/Coventry/Celtic player Dion Dublin is to be the new host of the daytime show beloved of housing developers and aspiring interior designers, Homes Under the Hammer, shows a courage and vision at the Beeb which has been lacking of late.

Dublin is a charismatic, effervescent music-lover, who is keen to update the programme's mundane soundtrack.

And he's only headbutted someone once and anyway, that was Robbie Savage, and he apologised. Bravo BBC!

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