Belfast Telegraph

My hero: David Bowie was a music legend to many

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.'

Court ruling: Madonna is facing a fight over teen son Rocco

Mama don't preach... how Madonna's son has taught her a very tough lesson 

Poor old Madonna. Hard to believe, but it seems her macrobiotic diet/no TV/scheduling of "fun" between "gym" and "yoga" lifestyle has ceased to appeal to her 15-year-old son, Rocco. Even a court ruling (she does have a soft spot for non-negotiable discipline) that he must return to New York pronto appears to have failed; the rebellious tyke remains ensconced with his dad, Guy Ritchie, in London, where he is said to be free to play the guitar until late into the night, watch movies with swearing in them and put salt on his chips.

Christmas cheer: how Santa still sprinkles some fairy dust

Why Santa's real present is keeping alive the magic in our lives 

There is no clearer evidence of the increasing cynicism of our nation than the filthy rumour spreading round town that Santa is not real. Research out this week says that the average age children stop believing in the great red gift-giver has gone down from almost nine years old in their parents' time to six years 11 months old today. So, most kids don't even get to seven before the lazy, magic-denying adults around them allow bad influences and a greedy, self-serving marketplace to convince them Christmas is about spending money, rather than waiting to find out what hard-working elves have come up with after 12 months of hard graft. How thoroughly depressing.

New life: guitarist Wilko Johnson beat cancer

How Wilko's touching love story simply took my breath away 

It was a joy to be reminded of the extraordinary story of Wilko Johnson in this week's BBC documentary The Ecstasy of Wilko Johnson. For anyone still unaware of the Wilko story, Johnson, the brilliant, strutting pin-up guitarist of Seventies rock band Dr Feelgood, became the focus of media attention in 2013 when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and responded with an ambitious UK/Japan tour and a series of interviews in which he said he felt "vividly alive".

Family life: Kate Winslet turns down movie roles to be a mum

Why Kate Winslet is just right to put her children before film business 

I read an interesting broadsheet newspaper interview with Kate Winslet this week, in which she was very honest about her family life with three children after two divorces (she's now married for a third time). Despite being scarred by a tabloid Press which, every time it got a photo of one of her kids without her, screamed "Where is the mother?" (to which the answer, she says, was often "crying in a heap in the kitchen because my baby was with her dad, and I was missing her"), in this interview she spoke at length about both of her ex-husbands and her three children; their ambitions and interests, her worries about the narcissistic culture they're growing up in and why she's turned down attractive job offers because they'd take her away from them for too long.

Helen Mirren

Why there's no arm in a little bit of intimacy with your man, Helen 

Helen Mirren is angry again. She does have a bit of temper. A couple of years ago, she famously stormed offstage in the middle of a London play to tell the samba band joyfully carousing outside to "shut it". Dressed as the Queen, giving it the full Ray Winstone, she made an awesome spectacle and the quivering drummer boys did exactly what they were told. I wonder if her latest chastisement of men she disapproves of will be as successful at changing behaviour?

Inspiring newcomer: the SNP’s 20-year-old MP Mhairi Black

Why Stormont could do with an independent voice like Mhairi Black 

It passed without fanfare, just a seven-minute speech, delivered to a three-quarters empty House of Commons. But for those of us paying attention, it was the brightest beacon of hope UK politics has offered in years. When 20-year-old student Mhairi Black stole the seat of Paisley and Renfrewshire from Labour stalwart Douglas Alexander, she was written off by many as the undeserving beneficiary of a zealous wave of feeling in Scotland that would have seen a hatstand elected.

Rowdy behaviour: the girls at St Trinian’s

Stand-up comedy lessons to give girls confidence? You're having a laugh 

Girls should be more disruptive in class, said the headlines this week. I was immediately intrigued. This is an instinct I felt strongly when I was at school. My secondary school was a tough place to be stand-out disruptive in - the boys who ripped up books, threw bricks through classroom windows and ended their academic life abruptly due to guilty verdicts in their armed robbery trials made it hard for the rest of us to shine in the audacity department.

Serious journalist: Susanna Reid has hit back at being labelled a flirt

Does Susanna have to wear double-crease slacks to be taken seriously? 

Sometimes it's hard to be a woman. Whether you give all your love to just one man, or choose to be more generous. And God help you if you prefer to withhold it completely. Nowhere is this difficult social issue better illustrated than in the mainstream media's attitude to female TV presenters. According to the Press, there are only two possibilities when it comes to female interviewers. Are they flirting, or are they stony-faced humourless harridans who fantasise about chopping off men's John Wayne Bobbitts?

Getting personal: Peter Kay and Sian Gibson in new sitcom Car Share

Why charming portrayal of battle of the sexes puts Kay in the driving seat 

Every now and again a TV show comes along and quietly, slowly, charms the pants off you. With its absence of bells and whistles, Peter Kay's Car Share hasn't so much knocked my socks off as gradually rolled them from my lazy feet while I was pouring a glass of wine. It was only after three episodes I realised how much I'd laughed, how close I'd come to crying, and how I'd probably seen the best portrayal of the differences between men and women on television since Ricky Gervais' Extras.

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