News, Culture & Society

PLATELL’S PEOPLE: Brave Deborah James is showing that we can have a ‘good death’ 

As Deborah James faces death with awe-inspiring bravery, she says she wants ‘one last cuddle’ with her husband and their two young children.

The former deputy head teacher who is suffering terminal bowel cancer says she hopes to ‘slip away listening to my family, to hear their banter and the normal buzz of life’.

The 40-year-old’s magnificent attitude expresses what most of us must feel — that the best way to end life is to be surrounded by those who love us most.

Deborah’s philosophy is an inspiration in this age when the frail or dying are too often sent to soulless end-of-life institutions.

Her story from diagnosis to currently receiving hospice-at-home care reminds me of what happened to my brother Michael.

Deborah James, the former deputy head teacher suffering terminal bowel cancer, is facing death with awe-inspiring bravery

He died aged 40, with his loving wife insisting that she should care for him at their home surrounded by their two young children.

I’ll forever thank her profoundly for showing such courage and strength. Due to her kindness, I got to see my older brother the night before he died.

He was lying in his own bed in his own home. That big Aussie bruiser took my hand as we said our goodbyes.

He told me that despite being a persistently difficult sister, he’d always loved me. His final words to me were: ‘See ya, Mandy.’

Because of my faith, I believe we will see each other again.

As I believe Deborah will be reunited with her family one day. In the meantime, she’ll always be watching over them — as Michael still visits me when times are tough.

In addition to her peerless campaigning for awareness of bowel cancer, the most important message Deborah gives the world is that there is such a thing as a good death.

It is not to be found in a hospital, or even a hospice, surrounded by strangers.

When the time comes for us to depart this mortal coil, what we need most is a loving hand, the sounds and smells of our own families.

And hope for the future, as was delivered in my case last year when my brother’s son had his first child — a beautiful bouncing boy, called Michael after his dear departed grandfather.

Amanda Platell: 'The 40-year-old’s magnificent attitude expresses what most of us must feel — that the best way to end life is to be surrounded by those who love us most'

Amanda Platell: ‘The 40-year-old’s magnificent attitude expresses what most of us must feel — that the best way to end life is to be surrounded by those who love us most’

Oh joy! An exuberant and smiling Queen attended yesterday’s Royal Windsor Horse Show — an event she’s not missed in over 70 years. Of course, she was pained not to be at the State Opening of Parliament, but clearly she prefers the company of horses to Parliament’s prancing ponies. 

WAGATHA CHRISTIE WATCH

Rebekah Vardy’s normal look is bosomy with a penchant for leopard-skin designs. But her courtroom couture has been high-collar, demure Chanel.

Both women have been playing the sympathy card — with Coleen Rooney’s medical boot (to protect an ankle injury) the winner. Regardless, if there’s a fashion stylist specialising in High Court Victim Couture, they will make a fortune. 

Wayne Rooney has loyally accompanied Mrs R to court every day. For once she can be sure he’s not in a Liverpool brothel or being held in an Adult Detention Centre in the U.S. But what kind of husband carries his wife’s handbag rather than supportively holding her hand?

So where was Mrs Vardy’s husband Jamie during her tearful ordeal when she told the High Court how she feared losing her baby and contemplated suicide? It’s only 63 minutes by train from Leicester (home of his Premier League team) into central London.

Camilla’s no Queen

Camilla looked magnificent in a navy coat dress with silver detailed embroidery at the State Opening of Parliament. For many years now, she hasn’t put a foot wrong. However, those who will never forget how she stabbed Princess Diana in the back will always rankle at the idea of Queen Camilla.

I met Carrie Johnson for the first time on Thursday. Despite having written less than obliging things about her, the PM’s wife was grace personified.

I had a similar experience meeting Cherie Blair for the first time. Memo to myself: target the politician, not their spouse; play the ball, not the woman/man beside them.

I’d be Happy to Have What Meg’s Having

Meg Ryan will go down in history for her fake orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally. Now the 60-year-old is filming a new rom-com that tackles the issue of how women age. It ought to be titled When Sally Met The Menopause. All together now: ‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’

How can the BBC justify a 5.2 per cent salary rise for most of its staff at the same time as abolishing free TV licences for most over-75s and offering us poor viewers such lousy programme schedules? I counted 11 repeats on BBC2 before 7pm on one day last week and six repeats on BBC1 another day. Ready, Steady, Repeat. 

Bling drags Emma down

Ever since her enthralling U.S. Open win, British tennis darling Emma Raducanu has been weighed down by expectation, and, as I warned, by all the luxury Tiffany jewellery that’s part of her myriad sponsorship deals.

Sometimes, Emma, diamonds are not a girl’s best friend.

WESTMINSTER WARS 

Union boss Dave Penman has attacked as ‘Orwellian’ attempts to rid the country of the pandemic disease of civil servants working from home. He’s even absurdly suggested they should be allowed to work from abroad if they wish. It’s no wonder everyone who has no choice about where they work, such as bus drivers and supermarket shelf-stackers, applaud plans to axe 91,000 civil servant jobs.

How bizarre of Michael Gove to mimic Harry Enfield’s ‘calm down, calm down’ Scouser catchphrase when interviewed about the cost of living crisis. It’s not a good look to poke fun at the poor when you live in a grace-and-favour, taxpayer-funded £25 million property.

Boris Johnson tells the Mail that working from home makes people fat. From personal experience he tells of the dangers of frequent raids on the fridge for another piece of cheese. I wonder what’s his favourite. Shropshire Blue? Stinking Bishop?

Don’t trifle with Mum’s recipe

The winner of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Bake Off was Jemma Melvin’s Lemon Swiss roll and amaretti trifle. It looks delicious and wowed judges Mary Berry and Monica Galetti. But I bet it’s not a patch on my Mum’s recipe: supermarket Swiss rolls, tinned peaches, packet custard and a gallon of sherry.

Just a year into their relationship (which had a rocky start), Adele has bought a £47 million home in Beverly Hills for herself and her boyfriend. I hope the financially savvy singer hasn’t put the bling-loving sports agent on the title deeds, for, to quote her own hit song, I fear she may end up rolling in the deep.

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