WHEN a friend lost her young son to brain cancer many years ago she said her one, admittedly minuscule, consolation was that his death, “didn’t have the ‘if only’ factor”.
She meant that the inoperable tumour had been there since birth and there was nothing she or his equally distraught father could have done to avoid its deadly growth.
Losing a child is unconscionable anyway, but knowing they might have been saved simply adds to the torture.
Earlier this week, the inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing heard that, despite her parents initially thinking she had died at the scene, eight-year-old Saffie-Rose Roussos, asked a paramedic: “Am I going to die?” as she was taken to hospital by ambulance.
Even more heartbreakingly, a new expert report has found that failure to stem her bleeding was a missed chance to potentially save her life.
“She could have been saved. How do we carry on living with this information?” Saffie’s anguished father Andrew told the BBC.
Similarly, at the ongoing trial into the murder of 21-year-old student Libby Squire, the court heard that there were several chances for her to be saved after being refused entry to a nightclub.
Her friends had put her in a taxi home but, instead of getting inside, she walked off in another direction and was invited into another house when the occupants heard her crying.
After leaving there, she was approached by another woman on the street, but refused help, then later two men tried to assist her for ten minutes but left when she swore at them.
Then another woman tried to help her at the bus stop, while a supermarket manager saw her shouting in to the ether and assumed she was with a partner.
In all, there were nine “if only” factors before she eventually encountered her killer and one can only imagine how this information has piled on the agony for the poor parents, Lisa and Russ.
Missed chances like these can also affect the others involved too.
When I reported on the murder of two-year-old James Bulger in 1993, I remember that his killers were spotted by 38 passers-by as they dragged him on the two-and-a-half mile walk from the shopping centre to the railway line where he was murdered.
Some of them challenged John Venables and Robert Thompson but, after being told the distressed toddler was their younger brother, left them to it.
When they later discovered the truth, a few felt tormented by guilt that they hadn’t taken the opportunity to save James but, quite frankly, who among us can say we would have done anything different faced with the same perfectly feasible explanation?
Earlier this month, Florida-based waitress Flaviane Carvalho was hailed a hero for saving an 11-year-old boy from his allegedly abusive parents by showing him a note asking “do you need help?” behind their heads.
He signalled “yes”, she called the police and the mother and stepfather have now been arrested and charged.
Flaviane showed immense courage and got it right, but unless the danger is very clear, the majority will convince themselves that they are just being alarmist, that there is nothing to worry about, and go on their way.
Be it a missed chance medically, or a good Samaritan’s potential rescue being thwarted, the pain of that “if only” must be torturous, and my heart goes out to every parent who suffers it.
THIS is Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, addressing the World Economic Forum from his laptop in the Rub al-Khali desert.
Meanwhile, here in South London, my connection crashes if I do anything more than press send on a one-sentence email. Sigh.
WOMEN have been voting for which favourite “fantasy” dressing-up outfit they would want their partner to wear in the bedroom.
Naval whites like Richard Gere in the movie An Officer And A Gentleman perhaps? Or the fireman’s outfit as modelled by Magic Mike actor Joe Manganiello, right?
Nope. In first place was . . . er, road sweeper.
In second place was accountant, followed by barman (in a stained shirt) and binmen.
The latter is appropriate, because there’s certainly something slightly whiffy about these findings.
And voila, turns out the poll was carried out by a cleaning company.
For a glimpse of what women really fantasise about in the bedroom, look no further than your nearest male stripper revue, where pretend soldiers, firemen, cowboys and police officers dance their little thongs off.
Most women love a smart uniform . . . though we draw the line at traffic wardens.
Pass me another butty
WINE sales have shot up by £717.4million since the first lockdown, and around £700million of that is just me.
Equally, I have contributed substantially to the 17.1 per cent increase in sausage sales, with my once “weekend butty” creeping up to become a daily occurrence.
The pandemic has had a polarising effect on the nation’s health.
You’ve either used it to get super-fit (or in Joe Wicks’ case, super-fit and super-rich) or everything has gone to pot, particularly your belly.
I’m definitely in the latter camp, and anything without an elasticated waist is now a no-no.
But according to a new survey by Public Health England, the bad habits of eating and drinking too much have left 43 per cent of us determined to make a New Year resolution to lose some pounds and get fitter.
Unfortunately, I am once again in the latter camp – the 47 per cent who, presumably, think that until the seemingly persistent state of lockdown ends, there’s little else to cheer you up except your favourite treats.
Aside from wine and salami, I also take comfort from the words of zoologist Desmond Morris, who, like his great friend David Attenborough, is in his nineties.
He says: “Why are we both still here in our nineties? Because we’ve never eaten health foods, gone on a diet, been to a gymnasium, jogged or exercised.”
I’ll drink to that.
I've just climbed Everest
SALES of virtual reality goggles have risen by 350 per cent during successive lockdowns.
We bought an Oculus wireless headset for the youngest as a Christmas/birthday present combo, and she’s barely touched it since opening the box.
Mainly because she can’t actually get her mitts on it thanks to her parents hogging it 24/7.
On Monday I climbed Everest before lunch then went swimming with sharks in the afternoon.
Then it was prised from my head by The Bloke, who went to The Maldives before boarding the Yukon Striker rollercoaster in Canada.
It’s the perfect antidote to lockdown and I’m sure my youngest will agree when she finally gets to experience it.
Where Alice Went is a work in progress
ITV’s latest drama is called Finding Alice, while Apple TV’s is called Losing Alice.
Presumably, Where Alice Went is a work in progress.
The didn't break Covid rules
DAME Joan Collins called the police when she spotted builders without masks putting up scaffolding outside her block of flats.
According to the report, “Metropolitan police officers wasted no time in heading over to the couple’s home.”
Meanwhile, the masked knife gang who mugged Harry Styles for cash in London last year still haven’t been caught.
Presumably because they didn’t break Covid rules.
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