Tuesday, 9 December 2008


Karen Matthews isn't exactly the tabloid's most favourite character at the moment, and this story does highlight some interesting questions about areas like Dewsbury. I've got nothing against northerners - it's not their fault they were born above Watford [as noted by the Policy Exchange think tank during the summer] - but some of these slum estates are rightly said to "form a picture of a broken-down Britian propped up on benefits" (The Guardian, 8/12/2008). The viscious circle of crime and poverty that engulfs some parts of Yorkshire isn't helped by pictures of local residents standing outside their houses drinking cans of Carling - not very impressive when seen by the average Briton. This town has been called "a small pocket of working-class life that politicians and the chattering classes know exists but prefer to ignore" (Daily Mirror, 19/3/2008), and that's spot on. But should politicians care? Aren't these sort of areas always going to be like that? I knew the tale of Shannon was a chav story right from the start - and look what's happened. The poor girl would never get a chance in life, simply because of where she is brought up - and her mother's inability to be a parent. People like Karen Matthews need to sharpen up and get a job, as it's not fair on everyone who earns an honest living. She's received a lot of criticism from the media recently - and I think they're right.

Before I get slated by my northern friends [who, for the record, are all very nice people, and not in any way like Karen Matthews], I'll move onto a more happy note. There was a hilarious financial article in today's Daily Telegraph which I must share with you: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/3683059/Care-worker-offered-84-million-overdraft-by-bank.html. A woman who wanted to extend her overdraft from £200 to £250 ended up getting an overdraft of £84,480,090. That's certainly one way to beat the credit crunch! I liked the way an Alliance and Leicester spokesperson said: "We apologise for any inconvenience or upset caused" - as if you would be distressed by getting £84 million more than you asked for...

Best wishes to Bobby Robson, who received the Freeman of Durham yesterday, on his road to recovery from cancer. He is a footballing legend, and a great man off the pitch too. In his own words: "I'm eating, sleeping and going to football — I'm trying to get as much enjoyment out of life as I can." And he's managed to find the time to raise over £1 million for charity too!