Belfast Telegraph

Why Michaella's decision to appear on TV was a moment of madness

By Lindy McDowell

What now for poor Michaella McCollum Connolly, newly released from her "foreign prison hellhole" (which is how any overseas incarceration facility tends to be described these days)?

The poor girl is but a shadow of her former self. In her first public appearance since her release on parole, we can see all too clearly the awful toll this hellhole foreign prison has taken on Michaella.

Her lustrous brunette locks have faded to straw. Even her teeth appear to have whitened a notch or two. Her once-natural lips are now garish blood red. Her jeans are torn at the knees.

Let this be a lesson to you, young people. This is what happens when you are caught smuggling drugs from some foreign hellhole back to Europe.

A cosy interview on prime-time telly, where you can regurgitate all those deep and meaningful cliches which you could have hoovered straight from the pages of the likes of Closer magazine had you been allowed access to such publications in your grim prison cell. Which we must assume the Peru Two didn't.

As the backlash against the Peru Parole One has vividly illustrated, however, the TV interview turns out not to have been the brightest move on the part of Team Michaella if it was aimed at securing public sympathy for her plight.

Whoever thought this would be a good idea?

To use that hackneyed oul line the girl resorted to herself, it was another moment of madness.

I am not a Michaella-hater. From the word go, I described her with much the same words she now uses to excuse herself. Naive. Foolish. Above all, she was young.

But she did do wrong. She did wrong in her attempt to smuggle drugs to Europe with all the malign consequences (which she now acknowledges) had they reached their destination.

But she also did wrong - and this doesn't get quite the same amount of attention - in attempting to break the law in a country valiantly fighting against an illicit drugs industry that has wreaked misery and havoc within its own borders.

On this side of the world, there's a tendency to glibly shrug off the environmental damage and the destruction of local culture and communities which are inevitable fallout from the drug-production process.

Over here, it's all about us.

And, to some extent, all about them, too - the Peru Two. The photogenic faces of a particularly ugly crime.

Michaella has had her 15 minutes of infamy. But already it's being suggested that this could be stretched by, ludicrously, an appearance on, say, Celebrity Big Brother. They are making that up, aren't they?

Yet the very fact that it's even been floated as an outside possibility is damning. Never mind what it says about Michaella the mule. What sort of asinine society would even countenance such a prospect?

On the one hand - or the one TV screen - we're running public service ads featuring a woman dressed like Shirley from EastEnders with a warning about how drugs destroy lives.

And there, on another screen, is simpering Michaella, the convicted drugs courier, looking like a girl-band escapee with a new album to flog.

Bit of a mixed message there for the kids.

McCollum Connolly has been treated exceptionally leniently by the Peruvian justice system. She could, perhaps, now show some gratitude - and remorse - by keeping her bleach blonde head down and her gob shut.

This witless airhead girl makes herself look ludicrous with her televisual whingeing.

But much more ludicrous - and dangerous - is society's ambivalence about crime and notoriety, which is regarded all too often these days as potentially bankable celebrity.

It's not just Michaella who needs to take a long hard look at herself. We all do.

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Having offended American womanhood with various obnoxious pronouncements - not least his most recent musing on abortion - Donald Trump now seeks to reverse some of the damage by playing that oldest of political trump cards: bring on the fawning, supportive wifey.

Missus Trump is now joining the campaign trail. Whatever you think of Trump himself, it has to be accepted that he did shake up US political campaigning.

That he is now resorting to a standard old trick might suggest the circus that is The Donald may finally be running out of steam.

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Shocking, newly unearthed footage of spy Kim Philby, who passed secrets to Russia back during the Cold War era, reveals that he believed he got away with it because he was a toff.

"Because I had been born into the British governing class, because I knew a lot of people of an influential standing, I knew that they would never get too tough with me," he said in an interview.

How the world has changed. Or has it? The class system that Philby depended upon still dominates.

It's the posh boys who still call the shots.

Belfast Telegraph


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