“DORIS” was my first word.
Such was my affection for the family’s beloved cocker spaniel — who’d patiently let me manhandle her big, floppy ears — her name was my first utterance.
So when Doris was 13 and struggling with her quality of life, the vet drove over to put her down.
Doris slipped away peacefully and contentedly, surrounded by the people who loved her.
Yet when my grandma became cripplingly ill with Alzheimer’s, lost much of her sight, her ability to communicate and, humiliatingly and cruelly, the use of her bowels, she was offered no such choice.
By the end she desperately wanted to die. She wasn’t allowed to.
Why is it that we treat our animals with more compassion than ourselves?
The Assisted Dying Bill had its second reading in the House of Lords last month.
After eight hours of debate, and some heart-wrenching testimonies, including from Frank Field, former Labour MP for Birkenhead, who revealed that he was terminally ill, the Bill passed unopposed to the committee stage for the first time in seven years.
Yet, in all probability, precisely nothing will happen.
Boris Johnson has reportedly made it clear he would not back an act that would allow terminally sick patients in England and Wales to legally seek support to die.
Even though the British Medical Association voted to adapt a neutral stance on the subject, with 49 per cent of members in favour.
And a recent poll showed 84 per cent of the UK would back the change, with support especially high among disabled people.
Assisted dying is legal in countries including Switzerland, which has the Dignitas clinic, the Netherlands, Canada and Colombia, and the choice is now available to 200million people globally.
At present, between 300 and 650 dying people take their own lives in the UK every year, some in horrific ways, while about 50 desperate Brits a year travel to Dignitas.
Arguably, they’re the lucky ones.
The UK Bill proposes a system similar to that in some US states, whereby mentally sound patients with less than six months to live can be prescribed a lethal cocktail of drugs they can take themselves.
They are monitored by doctors throughout
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Critics claim these deaths can still be painful, and take hours.
Others say the concept of assisted dying goes against God.
Or that greedy sons, rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of mummy dearest’s will, could bump her off with a couple of extra paracetamol.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has also warned of the risk of the elderly and seriously ill being made to feel a “burden” to families.
He said: “What we want is assisted living, not assisted dying. It is our concern about the effectiveness of the safeguards and the care for the vulnerable.”
Which is all very well, but the UK has an ageing population and, crucially, a hugely overburdened NHS.
Care homes, as Covid has shown us, aren’t the answer either.
Even with the best palliative care, 6,400 dying people a year would still experience unrelievable pain in their final months.
It’s not a choice of greater palliative care or improved choice at the end of life.
We need both. Otherwise the sick, the elderly, those with debilitating conditions, will be made to suffer until their final, rasping breath.
This is an issue that will, at some stage, affect everyone.
Instead of focusing all his efforts on boilers, Boris should be looking at what his ageing voters want. And acting. Now.
Katy’s all Covid up – unsexy but more fun
THERE are two types of girl. Those who dress as “sexy cats” at Halloween and those who don’t. I’m in the second camp.
Aged three, for a friend’s birthday, my mother dressed me as . . . an overflowing dustbin.
I had toilet roll coming out my ears. Every other little girl was a princess, fairy or ballerina. Little wonder I have issues.
Anyway, big-up to US singer Katy Perry* for this ingenious Halloween get-up: A giant syringe.
(Her fiance Orlando Bloom went in matching Covid-themed PPE).
Women in full make-up, trying to look hot in their “ironic” witch/red devil/vampire/nurse/cowgirl outfits are so annoying.
Go as a giant pumpkin and be done.
*Special mention also to American singer Lizzo for her Baby Yoda number.
That’s rich, Eliza
WELL, this grates. Yves Saint Laurent-wearing aristocrat Lady Eliza Manners was caught speeding at 47mph in a 40ph zone – and has been let off with a cut-price fine.
The socialite, the youngest daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Rutland, apparently, cited “cashflow issues”.
Lady Manners is hardly kipping in a sleeping bag beneath Vauxhall Bridge.
She’s enjoyed two holidays (Greece and Italy) since July, lives in a £700,000 flat in Notting Hill, London, and her lavish 18th-birthday party was featured in posh Tatler magazine.
Oh, and her “family seat” (home to you and I) is Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire, where The Crown is filmed.
Which doesn’t exactly scream “breadline”.
TURNS out I live in an “Ultra Low Emission Zone” — a fact that would have bypassed me were it not for the giant road signs with the unfortunate acronym: U LEZ.
I’m surprised Stonewall hasn’t yet kicked off and had the homophobic little b******s smashed down.
Keen to be green
SO the Queen’s had a lucky escape swerving COP26.
I don’t have a problem, as such, with the world’s leaders (minus Chinese supremo Xi Jinping, who’s too busy washing his hair in diesel to attend) racking up air miles to hold court on saving the planet.
What I do have a problem with is the Tory Government out-Labouring Labour and being greener than the Greens in the build-up to the thing.
I dutifully put out my 57 different coloured bins each week, don’t eat steak morning, noon and night and I have never travelled on a rocket.
Until China, which accounts for 27 per cent of global emissions, steps up, we should all be shown how to make small, lasting changes and, well, do our bit.
“Bit” being the operative word.
Big Jez thin-ks like us
JEREMY CLARKSON isn’t the most obvious mouthpiece for women across Britain.
But he speaks for us all when he admits to having “fat and thin” wardrobes.
I still have clothes worn as a sporty size 8 student which, when held up against my current winter-hibernation bulk, look like doll’s outfits.
Yet still the hope lingers.
Looks like Xmas
IT’S Christmas next month.
So as I type, street decorations are going up, shop fronts are being festooned with lights, Influencers are Instagramming their 10ft trees and Mariah Carey is defrosting.
TROLLS could face two years in prison under proposed legislation targeting online hate.
The law change would shift the focus on to the “harmful effect” of a message, rather than one simply containing “grossly offensive” material.
It comes after a specimen called Benjamin Iliffe, who had sent deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner a deeply unpleasant, threatening email, was sentenced to 15 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months
For too long these nasty, malicious little trolls have remained anonymous, hiding behind their spittle-littered keyboards. It’s time they were named and shamed – and faced up to the fact that the written word can wound.
It’s also the job of the media to continue reporting these crimes – and ensuring these cretins can’t stay hidden.