When I retired as a humanist celebrant I thought I'd stop writing this blog, but my fascination with all things death-related prompted more posts. They're just written from a slightly different perspective, that's all. Oh, and I still do the odd one, by special request.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


An interweb friend has been ranting on Facebook about Jade Goody's public death bed scene, or scenes:
X is wondering if he is alone in really not giving a monkey's chuff about Jade Goody and is sick of every bit of exposure it's getting?
I'm not sick of it because I haven't seen any of it. I don't watch Big Brother; life's short enough as it is without wasting any on freak shows. I don't usually read newspapers and never read the tabloids, apart from when I'm reviewing them on local radio. I never watch Sky TV. I get my news from the BBC, CNN, and the Guardian and Independent websites. I did get sick of the coverage of Diana's death, when the BBC went on and on about it, and the Queen Mum's death attracted far too much publicity - boring, boring boring! But if you watch rolling news, you'll soon reach saturation point when there's a big story at the top of the list. Switch off. It's easy.

So I can't really comment about the Jade Goody and her cancer stories, as I haven't seen any of them, but as she's hired Max Clifford, the media pimp, to manage her deathbed publicity, it's not surprising that she's in the news. The idea, apparently, is to raise as much money as possible from fees to benefit her children, who'll soon be motherless. What they'll make of it, heaven knows, but since Jade's from a dysfunctional family, and these things tend to repeat themselves, I hope they have some sensible people around as they grow up.

My ranty friend opined,
Take Kylie. Quiet dignity, utter poise, grace and complete humility. Compare that to the Jade Goody Media Express. Kylie inspired more women than Jade EVER could.
Maybe, but Kylie's been in show business since childhood. She's used to publicity. She's a wealthy woman without kids who isn't desperate to leave money to her family. Jade may not have inspired anyone, but the fact that she's got terminal cancer in her twenties has already prompted more young women to get checked for cervical cancer, probably saving lives. Many more young women are at risk nowadays, due to their sexual activitity from an early age. Dignity, poise and grace? Drunkeness, lust and risk-taking; the sort of thing that poor silly Jade's well-known for.

If she'd lived into old age, what would have happened to Jade Goody? She'd probably have been driven out of the limelight by the next gaggle of notorious female celebrities and retired into obscurity. As it is, she'll be remembered as a train wreck of a woman with a reputation for saying the first thing that came into her head and upsetting Shilpa Shetty. There are thousands like her, but she just happened to go on Big Brother and gain a publicist. It's all very sad. She needed a minder, but not Max Clifford. She needed someone to look after her from an early age. Now all she's got is the mawkish attention of the worst sort of media and the people who bother to read or watch what they produce. You get the feeling that they've already been totting up the profits from the sale of her toenail clippings. Whoever's at her bedside when she dies, I hope they're people who genuinely care about her.


Digressica said...

This whole thing is heartbreaking. Mostly because, unlike a lot of people in the public eye who get serious illnesses and are generally quite stoic and "Oh I'm just taking one day at a time" about it, Jade is throwing media-savvy caution to the wind (not that, it seems, she ever really had any to begin with) and is having an honest reaction to it. Jade is obviously a 27-year-old girl who feels understandably ripped off that her life is about to end and she has no say in it. I would be devastated and pissed off about it too. Knowing that your time is limited and you won't be able to see your kids grow up, knowing that someone else will be raising YOUR children... gosh, it's no wonder she's being dragged kicking and screaming to the grave. It's not fair.

And I completely commend her for wringing every last cent out of this ordeal that she possibly can. Perhaps it will help her to die in peace if she knows that she's done everything she possibly can to ensure a decent future for her kids.

Ru Callender said...

I agree with Digressica. The most interesting thing about Jade Goody and always has been is how other people react to her. Lets not forget that when she came to national prominence the charming Sun newspaper ran a campaign entitled Get The Pig Out!
She is on the same spectrum as Diana, living her life as a hypnotic ritual sacrifice. I begrudge her nothing, certainly not money for her poor kids. When John Diamond lived his very public, heartbreakingly honest and brave death, everyone wept. But Jade is not middle class, so she is not meant to burden Guardianistas with her experience, simply crawl off and die quietly. And as for Kylie, give us all a break!! Is your ranty facebook friend gay by any chance? The reason she has said nothing is she has nothing to say; she is the logo for a product. And there is nothing like several million in the bank to allow you the space for dignity and privacy. Jade Goody speaks volumes about all of us, and she is certainly earning the fame she craves.

Charles Cowling said...

There's a tendency in the UK to regard dying as a social faux pas and death as a private misfortune. In both cases, we are counselled to shut up about it, and if we do that we are commended on our splendid bravery and all-round sensibleness.

I make no objection to Jade going howling into that good night. Her spontaneity has always disarmed me and it's not difficult to imagine something of what she feels.

Public interest may be prurient and sentimentalising but, at this time of her life, Jade is all young people who die, all mothers who die. Hers is a universalising influence. People are talking about it. She's bringing it home. Her bell tolls for us.

Having taught her father in prison I've always had a soft spot for the girl.

Max? Oh, he's not so bad! An honourable rogue at worst, I think.

Aphra said...

Faith Central in The Times Online reported yesterday that "Jade Goody finds God", yet the tone of the post was less than sympathetic, considering that Faith Central is generally pro-religion. Maybe Bess Twiston Davies doesn't consider Jade worthy of God's attention. Not that I think she'll get any, but if it makes her feel any better, that's fine with me.

Aphra said...

Thanks for your comments folks.

So, Jade's dad wasn't a nice man then Charles? Like I said, she had a raw deal.

Antler said...

In the end - we all 'do' our own dying...Jade, is just being 'Jade' to the very end - and by that, she is trying to be true to herself - and at the same time getting support for her family.

How dare all the middle class 'chatterers' tell her what is or is not appropriate or dignified. I hope that when we all meet our ends we will be able to go in exactly the way we choose...saying or doing what we want to...stoical or hysterical...
"Bugger Bognor" and all that jazz!