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Viewpoint: MY SHOUT.


AWHILE back, I said it's quite hard to decide what to write about each week, which is probably why some writers turn their column into semi-autobiographical diaries - think Sex and the City (long-running TV series, made author mega-rich) and Bridget Jones Diary (book, two films, another mega-rich author).

Lots of others, no doubt with pound signs flashing cartoon-like in their eyes, chase the same bandwagon even though, fashion being what it is, it must now be close to hitting the literary buffers.

I suppose I could make a fair crack at Bridget Jones style angst - plenty of wrinkles, everything else going south courtesy of old age - but the idea of a Bangor pensioner narrating a Sex and the City type journal defeats even my imagination.

I watched one episode of the series before deciding that, like so much modern television, it was shallow, tedious and bordering on the pornographic. Moreover, promoting the idea that women in general are promiscuous and desperate does no one any favours - we already have more than enough image problems.

Anyway, back to my diary. At present, I'm sort of watching paint dry - not much is happening (I'm sure to be tempting Providence by saying that) although the roof leaked badly in October, the front bedroom window is about to collapse and I'm waiting with bated breath for the rusted-through header tank to flood the house.

In the past, I often chafed at the feeling that life was rushing by me in the opposite direction; then, periodically, it stopped in its tracks, turned round and not so much rolled at my feet but grabbed me by the throat. I'd be bobbing along quite nicely, if rather boringly, in relatively calm seas quite oblivious to the storm brewing up ahead - the last in 2000, shortly after the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal published its report. Early on publication day, I was about to leave for Cardiff to do a programme for HTV when I was, for the first and hopefully, only time, door-stepped by some paparazzi and tabloid reporters.

One of them, trying to barge into the house, said I was having my ``15 minutes of fame'' and asked if was I pleased that the report entirely supported the concerns I had raised years before about the treatment of children in care in north Wales. Silly question, or what? Within weeks, the New Statesman whipped up a tempest, claiming the tribunal was a travesty of justice and accusing me of making up stories about child abuse and of coercing others to do the same.

By then, the child abuse issue had blighted my existence for 16 years and I feared it would hound me to the grave so, once more, I raised libel proceedings as a litigant in person.

The legal shenanigans that followed overshadowed almost everything, including my son's wedding, but I won. Since then, touch wood, life has thought twice about taking me on.
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Title Annotation:Comment
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 2, 2004
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