Why I'm glad the internet has pearls of wisdom for every situation
January is a dark month and the death of David Bowie this week made it feel even darker. So thank goodness for the heart-warming news that Rupert Murdoch, the old rogue (and billionaire) has found romance in his autumn years. It's tough to find exactly the right words to sum up this extraordinary moment of joy and hope, but a quick trawl of the internet helps. Thus my toast to Rupert and his new fiance Jerry Hall: 'Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. In the end we only regret the chances we didn't take.'
I think you'll agree that says it all.
While basking vicariously in the glow of Rupert and Jerry's happy announcement, however, I was brought down a few pegs by the subsequent sad news of the divorce of Gary Lineker and Danielle Bux. I'm sure the couple will be feeling rather despondent right now, but another swift search online turned up the perfect piece of healing philosophy: "You can't start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one". If Gary and Danielle need regular reminding of this direct hit of pure wisdom, they might consider purchasing the tea towel its printed on. Perhaps they could plump for a set of four, and just put the "Never give up" one at the back of the cupboard for now.
How blessed we are to live in times when every potentially precarious situation we encounter is catered for by an inspirational quote on a duvet cover. There seems to be no human catastrophe too complex or unpredictable to be resolved by a line from the Dalai Lama or Taylor Swift. Which is fortunate, as cognitive therapy is so damned expensive these days. I can't imagine there are many divorcees or jilted lovers who aren't buoyed by the thought that life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, but dancing in the rain.
I'm not sure what triggered this proliferation of pearls into the bosom of global culture and consumer items, but I'm grateful that I no longer need to scour my own brain to present my position, or respond to events. If people want to get to grips with who I am and how I feel, they can just read my t-shirt and they'll know I'm a "life begins at the end of your comfort zone" kind of gal.
Paolo Coelho, author of novel/self-help bible The Alchemist, is the king of inspirational quotes. He throws them around like Swarovski diamonds at a gypsy wedding. You can live your entire life by him. Just last week, when my nine-year-old son asked if I could attend the school play he's been writing and rehearsing for two months, I was about to say yes when I remembered Paolo's profound warning; "When you yes to others, make sure you're not saying no to yourself".
The truth was, I'd prefer to stay at home in my pyjamas eating lemon cake. I didn't want to say no to myself. So I said it to my son instead.
Ah, how lucky we are to be surrounded by love, goodwill and optimism these days. And to be able to banish the words of grumpy old-school poets like Bob Dylan, who proved himself to be frankly rude when tackling issues of empathy. "I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes," he sang in 1964. "You'd know what a drag it is to see you." There's no place for those kind of bad vibes here Bob. Look around you; isn't it obvious what a great job we're making of creating a peaceful, tolerant, compassionate world?
Legend Rickman will be a sad loss
I first came across Alan Rickman when I saw the 1991 film Truly Madly Deeply. Early scenes are famous for Juliet Stevenson's powerful depiction of the madness of grief; attempting to talk about the death of her boyfriend, she is overwhelmed by convulsive weeping, her face a snotty, agonised blotch.
I felt she was overdoing it... until we met the ghost of her boyfriend. He was one of the most devastating British actors I'd ever seen; sexy, debonair, witty, his eyes full of intelligence and a tender kindness - not common bedfellows. I've slavishly followed his career since, and still can't quite believe we won't see any more of this wonderful man. A painful loss.
Edwin Poots foot in it over Arlene
I'd imagine there are a few red faces in the Commons this week now that Edwin Poots has reminded us all that becoming leader of your party is always second fiddle to being a spouse and a parent.
Embarrassingly, MPs forgot to point this out to David Cameron or Jeremy Corbyn when congratulating them on their posts. According to Edwin, his speech reminding Arlene Foster that her new job as DUP leader was - "and will remain" - secondary to her role as "wife and mother" had nothing to do with her gender, and everything to do with, um, being Arlene's friend and knowing how she rolls.
Thank goodness he's cleared that up.