From joke to tragedy

08/12/2012

It would have seemed like a good idea at the time, a harmless joke.

A couple of radio hosts seeking to entertain their listeners and boost their ratings phoned the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was staying pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles.

They probably didn’t think they’d get past reception, let alone to a ward where they struck a nurse who took them seriously.

They recorded the call, broadcast it and then, as such things do these days, it went round the world.

Some were amused by it, a few outraged, most would have given it scant attention.

Some might have wondered how Kate, in the throes of severe morning sickness would have felt about this invasion of her privacy, and some might have wondered how the nurse felt.

Few if any would have thought about the one who initially answered the phone, but now we know she was a nurse and she’s dead:

BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt said he understood Mrs Saldanha – who was staying in hospital accommodation close to King Edward VII hospital – was the person who answered the call from the Australian DJs and was not the nurse who discussed the duchess’s medical condition.

Mrs Saldanha, a duty nurse who was married with two children, answered the telephone because it was 05:30 GMT and there was no receptionist on duty.

The BBC understands Mrs Saldanha had not been suspended or disciplined by the hospital.

The BBC’s Nicholas Witchell said it had been suggested to him that she had felt “very lonely and confused” as a result of what had happened. . .

Royal College of Nursing chief executive Dr Peter Carter, meanwhile, said it was “deeply saddening that a simple human error due to a cruel hoax could lead to the death of a dedicated and caring member of the nursing profession”. . .

It is easy for someone on the other side of the world to think that suicide is an extreme reaction to what was a human error at 5am, towards the end of a night shift when few would be at their sharpest.

But who knows what else was happening in her life that left her vulnerable?

This is a tragic consequence for what started as a joke, albeit an insensitive one.

The radio hosts’ call was almost certainly a contributing factor in the death but they couldn’t possibly have anticipated their idea of fun would end in tragedy.

They have now been suspended which is, I think, an over-reaction.
Second thoughts: the suspension should have happened immediately for breaching the privacy of a patient. The station and the DJs couldn’t have anticipated the nurse’s death but they ought to have thought about how they were using a staff member.

If any good is to come out of this, it would be that media have yet another look at the boundaries between entertainment and intrusion, public interest and prurience.

I won’t hold my breath.


The Royal Wedding – live blogging

29/04/2011

12:34: I do love a lovely wedding, and this was a really lovely one. They look happy, I hope they are.

12:32: Everyone back into the palace.

12:30: Fly past.

12:29: A second kiss. Very decorous, a peck rather than a snog.

12: 27: The Queen leads other members of the royal family onto the balcony. The crowd is excited. They kiss (Kate and WIllaim that is, not the crowd).

12:26: The Duke and Duchess are on the balcony waving.

12:25 Net curtains on the palace window behind the balcony – tell me no!

12:22: The Brits do secuirty and crowd control well too – all those people and no sign of anything untoward.

12:05: Photos here and here.

12:03:Offical royal wedding pages here.

11:59:  Three hours of bell ringing might be a wee bit much for most people, not least those doing the ringing. Wonder if they wear ear protection? Do they do it in shifts?

11:44:  The Brits do do pomp and ceremony well, don’t they?

11:34: They’re calling it the wedding of the century – it’s been glorious but with 89 years (90 if you’re a pedant) to go that’s a big call.

11:26:  It’s not easy getting out of a carriage gracefully in a long dress and a longer trains, but she does it.

11:25: Back at the palace. Those are very well behaved horses.

11:20:  There’s a reason for that royal wave – the royal arms would get very tired if they did too much ordinary waving.

11:11: The sun is shining, they’re smiling and waving to the crowd.

11:09: WIlliam puts on his cap and gloves. Into the carriage.

11:08:  They walk out of the Abbey to cheers from the crowd and the peal of bells.

11:05: They bow and curtsy to the Queen.

 11:04  Prince WiIliam and Princess Kate (or is it now Princess Catherine?), the DUke and Duchess of Cambridge, return to a fanfare.

11:03 The clergy go to the door.

11:02:  The families return. The choir is still singing.

10:53: Pippa gives Kate her bouquet, they walk forward into a chapel, followed by their parents and siblings, to sign the register. The choir sings.

10:52: God Save the Queen. She doesn’t sing but Prince Phillip does.

10:50: Another prayer.The choir sings Amen.

10:47: Hymn – Jerusalem. Elton John doesn’t seem to be over familiar with this either. Many in the crowd outside are singing more enthusiastically.

1044: PrayersI know Roman Catholics don’t say the last bit of the Lord’s Prayer (for thine is the kingdon . . . ) but didn’t realise Anglicans don’t either.

 10:40 The choir sings while WIlliam and Kate move to the, is it the nave? Pardon my ignorance of church architecture is showing. No it’s not the nave, it’s the alter.

10:39:  He finishes with a prayer which William and Kate wrote.

10:32:  Address by the Bishop of London. He starts quoting Saint Catherine of Sienna – Be who you are mant to be and you will set the world on fire.

10:27 Anthem This is the Day The Lord Hath Made, commissioned specially for the service as a gift to th couple.

10:24: Bible reading by James Middleton- Romans chapter 12. Let love be genuine, hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good . . . Either he’s using a teleprompter or he’s got a very good memory.

10-:20 The second hymn – Love Divinewe sang it at our wedding,

10:17: A ring for her but not for him.

10:12 Dearly beloved –the Dean begins the service with the  traditional words.

10:11 Sophie’s veil is off her face, she looks happy.

10:10: The first hymn – Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer. Elton John doesn’t appear to know it.

10:09: Harry looks nervous, William looks happy.

10:08: What restraint – William hasn’t glanced back yet.

10:05: Kate, her father and the Dean walk slowly down the aisle. Her veil is over her face.

10:04: William and Harry are led to the alter steps as the choir sings I Was Glad.

10:03: Is that a tear in her mother’s eye?

10:00: It’s 11am in England. Kate and her father have arrived at the Abbey, PIppa is coming out to greet her. Kate’s dress is simple and elegant with a train which is several metres long. It was made by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen.

9:59: All that waiting by all those people who cheer as the bride and her father glide past in seconds.

9:56: Pippa Middleton (stunning in a sleek, champagne coloured gown), the flower girls and page boys are going into the Abbey.

9:55: She looks happy.

9:51: Kate Middleton, wearing lace and carrying a posey, has got into the car with her father, Michael. My, what a long train.

9:49: The Queen and Duke have arrived at the Abbey. Her outfit looks more subdued inside. She gets a  fanfare fromt he band and a kiss from her son.

9:48: Two page boys in mini-military uniforms.

9:44 Charles and Camilla  are going into the Abbey.

9:43:  The bridesmaids (in champagne coloured dresses) are getting in to the cars.

9:41: The Queen and Prince Phillip have left the palace – she’s in yellow, he’s in red – would it be impolite to say they’re colours I wouldn’t put together?

 9:40:  Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie are wearing what Lyn of Taw would describe as visual symphonies on their heads.

9:38: Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, are on their way to the Abbey.

9:35 Prince Andrew, his daughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie; Prince Edward and Princess Sophie are leaving the palace.

9:33: Carole MIddleton and her son James have arrived at the Abbey.

9:30:  The junior royals are travelling from Buckingham Palace to the Abbey. Mini vans don’t have quite the same impact as Rolls Royces or carriages.

9:26 – Carole Middleton, Kate’s mother, in sky blue is on her way to th Abbey.

9:24:  In other news the Blues have beaten the Highlanders 15 -10 at Carisbrook. The Breakers have won the basketball final against the Taipans.

9:22:  The fascinators many women are wearing are fascinating – and surely better for the people sitting behind you than a large hat.

9:20: The princes took off their caps as they entered the Abbey and are chatting to the Dean.

9:12: Princes William and Harry have left Clarence House on their way to the Abbey – William in red, the dress uniform of the Irish Guards.

9:05: British Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha hold hands as they walk into Westminster Abbey.

9:pm: Commonwealth leaders arriving including the Keys and Julia Gillard – the latter in pink.

8.35: Promgramme:

From 8:50pm               Governors-General and Prime Ministers of Realm Countries (including John Key), the Diplomatic Corps, and other distinguished guests arrive at the Abbey 

 9:10pm                        The Bridegroom and Prince Henry of Wales (Prince Harry) leave Clarence House for Westminster Abbey (arrive at 9:15pm)

 9:20pm                        Members of Foreign Royal Families arrive at Westminster Abbey from Buckingham Palace 

 9:20pm                        Carole Middleton (Mother of the Bride) leaves the Goring Hotel for Westminster Abbey (arrive 9:27pm)

 9:25pm                        Members of the Royal Family (except those listed below) leave Buckingham Palace for Westminster Abbey (arrive at 9:30pm)

 9:35pm                        The Duke of York, Princess Beatrice of York, Princess Eugenie of York, The Earl and Countess of Wessex ,The Princess Royal and Vice Admiral

   Timothy Laurence leave Buckingham Palace (arrive at 9:40pm)

 9:38pm                        The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall leave Clarence House for Westminster Abbey (arrive at 9.42pm)

 9:40pm                        The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh leave Buckingham Palace for Westminster Abbey (arrive at 9.45pm) 

 9:48pm                        The Bridesmaids and Pages leave the Goring Hotel for Westminster Abbey (arrive at 9.55pm) 

 9:51pm                        The Bride, accompanied by Michael Middleton, leaves the Goring Hotel for Westminster Abbey 

10:00pm                       The Marriage Service begins 

                                       Service will be conducted by Very Reverend John Hall, Dean of Westminster Abbey

                                       Vows will be presided over by Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

   Sermon delivered by Right Reverend Richard Chartres   

11:15pm                       The Carriage Procession of the Bride and Bridegroom with a Captain’s Escort of the Household Cavalry, followed by The Queen’s Procession with a

   Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry, leaves Westminster Abbey for Buckingham Palace

11:30pm                       The Bride’s Carriage Procession arrives at Buckingham Palace

11:40pm                       Members of the Royal Family and Members of Foreign Royal Families arrive at Buckingham Palace

From 11:40pm             Guests arrive at Buckingham Palace for the Reception  

SATURDAY NZT

12:25am                       The Queen and the Bride and Bridegroom, together with their Families, appear on the Balcony to wave to the crowd

12:30am                       Fly Past by the Royal Air Force and Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (includes the traditional kiss)

8:25 My farmer is watching the rugby but I’m enjoying watching people arrive at Westminster Abbey.

Earlier this evening Prime Minsiter John Key and his wife Bronagh showed off their wedding finery – she in a Trelise Cooper pink lace dress with a royal blue coat and hat, he in a greenstone-washed merino suit. Tv3 here; TV 1 here and here.


Happily ever after

29/04/2011

Dear Kate and William

In fairytales, couples marry and live happily ever after. In real life it’s not quite that easy.

When making the vows most think only of the better, not realising that often it comes only after, and sometimes because of, the worse.

You won’t have some of the pressure many others face in ordinary day to day life. But you’ll have others, not least that of being in the public eye.

Today your marriage ceremony is expected to be watched by 2 billion people, your every move will be recorded and dissected.

I will be among those watching and wishing you well. Some people are cynical about weddings in general and yours in particular. But I’m with Robert Saxton who said: In a time when nothing is more certain than change, the commitment of two people to one another has become difficult and rare. Yet, by its scarcity, the beauty and value of this exchange have only been enhanced.

While a marriage ceremony is public, and yours more than any other, you are making a private commitment. It will be in front of others but between the two of you. 

In spite of all the people watching, the vows you exchange will be made  to and for each other. It is only you two, alone together, who can honour and uphold the promises and make your partnership work.

You are having what many regard as a fairytale wedding but it won’t be a fairytale marriage. In real life there is no such thing but there are long and happy unions.

I wish you that and, in the words of Pinky Agnew:

May God grant you:

Enough love to give each other trust, Enough trust to give each other faith,

Enough faith to give each other strength, Enough strength to give each other courage,

Enough courage to give each other freedom, And enough freedom to give each other love.


Merino and pounamu suits PM

23/04/2011

An innovative mixture of pounamu and merino has produced fabric for the suit Prime Minister John Key will wear at the wedding of next week’s royal wedding.

Two years ago Marlborough farmer Richard Bell imagined blending micro particles of jade, or pounamu, into his Haldon Range wool fibre used globally for upmarket fashion apparel.

He discussed the idea with jade sculptor Ian Boustridge of Greymouth and samples of the stone were sent to European clothmaker Dormeuil for testing on Haldon Range superfine wool.

“Trials showed that minute jade particles washed into the woven fibre created a finished cloth smoother and softer than any high fashion wool garment made previously,” Richard said.

“Its tactile qualities encouraged Dormeuil to manufacturer a new line of wool-jade cloth and make it available to leading tailors around the world.”

One of these, RJB Design of Auckland, has made the first suit from the cloth for the Prime Minister to wear to the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.

Richard said the unique qualities of wool-jade cloth presented worldwide sales potential at the premium end of the apparel market.

Greenstone and fine wool is no ordinary combination and it has produced a very special fabric.

It would be difficult to find a better marketing opportunity for it than the suit the PM will wear to what promises to be the most-watched wedding of the year.


A royal woman’s place is where?

22/03/2011

When Diana Spencer was engaged to Prince Charles one theory on the differences on their ages was he had to marry someone really young so she’d still be a virgin.

When I read this, I wondered if there’d been any progress for women in the intervening 30 years:

Powerful husband? No problem. Money? Got that too. Clothes, good looks? Ditto. What does the woman who has it all do after her honeymoon? That’s a tough one. . .

. . .  So Middleton’s top tasks are simple come April 30: Rejuvenate the monarchy, end poverty in Britain, have kids, and make sure her marriage is a success.

 Is this an indictment on royalty, perceptions of a woman’s role in it or both?




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