AUSTIN, Texas. (AP) – The most populous county in Texas can move forward with plans to send all registered voters a mail-in ballot application for the November general election, a state judge ruled Friday.
The ruling comes a week after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, sued Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins to stop his office from sending mail-in ballot applications to all 2.4 million Houston area voters.
The county announced earlier this month that they planned to send registered voters an application, regardless of whether they qualify to vote by mail.
In a press conference Thursday, Hollins said he felt “confident” the judge would rule in his office’s favor and that the office always operated under the law.
He said Harris County sent all registered voters age 65 and older a mail-in ballot application in June and 80,000 voters submitted their vote by mail during the delayed July 14 runoff election.
Earlier, a federal appeals court dealt a blow to vote-by-mail advocates in Texas.
A push by the state´s Democrats and some voters to allow mail balloting to increase safety during the COVID-19 pandemic had been upheld by a federal district judge.
But a divided three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated that ruling late Thursday. Earlier this year, another 5th Circuit panel had blocked the ruling from taking effect.
The panel rejected an argument that the vote-by-mail statute in Texas discriminates on the basis of age.
The argument was based on the law allowing people ages 65 and over to vote by mail, but not younger voters who don´t have a disability or other specified reason for absentee voting.
In response to the ruling, Paxton said in a statement that he was “pleased Fifth Circuit correctly upheld Texas´s vote-by-mail laws.”
“Allowing universal mail-in ballots, which are particularly vulnerable to fraud, would only lead to greater election fraud and disenfranchise lawful voters,” Paxton said.
Judge Leslie Southwick, writing for the majority, said failing to allow for absentee balloting does not amount to an abridgment of the right to vote under the 26th Amendment.
“Abridgment of the right to vote applies to laws that place a barrier or prerequisite to voting, or otherwise make it more difficult to vote, relative to the baseline,” wrote Southwick, who was nominated to the court by President George W.
Bush. “On the other hand, a law that makes it easier for others to vote does not abridge any person´s right to vote for the purposes of the Twenty-Sixth Amendment.”
Judge Carolyn Dineen King, a nominee of President Jimmy Carter, sided with Southwick. Dissenting was Judge Carl Stewart, nominated by President Bill Clinton.
“The statute in question facially discriminates based on age, which in the context of the pandemic leads to dramatically different outcomes for different age groups,” Stewart wrote.
McGill reported from New Orleans.
Acacia Coronado is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative.
Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.”
Before you start mashing the update button to install iOS 14 and iPad 14 when they’re officially released, there’s some housekeeping you should do on your iPhone and iPad to make the update process go as smoothly as possible.
Below is everything you need to know about the upcoming iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 updates, including a checklist of what you need to do to get your phone or tablet ready.
iOS 14 hands-on preview
When will iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 be available?
Both updates will be available tomorrow, Sept. 16. Apple normally releases updates around 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. BST), if you’re looking for a more specific time.
Devices that will support iOS 14, iPadOS 14
iPad Pro 12.9-inch (4th generation)
iPhone 11 Pro
iPad Pro 11-inch (2nd generation)
iPhone 11 Pro Max
iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation)
iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation)
iPhone XS Max
iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2nd generation)
iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st generation)
iPad Pro 10.5-inch
iPad Pro 9.7-inch
iPhone 8 Plus
iPad (7th generation)
iPad (6th generation)
iPhone 7 Plus
iPad (5th generation)
iPad Mini (5th generation)
iPhone 6s Plus
iPad Mini 4
iPhone SE (1st generation)
iPad Air (3rd generation)
iPhone SE (2nd generation)
iPad Air 2
iPod Touch (7th generation)
Clear out the clutter
When it comes time to update software or upgrade your phone, take a few minutes to go through and delete what photos and apps you don’t want or need from your camera roll and installed apps.
Our phones are a digital junk drawer of sorts, collecting random screenshots, photos, videos and single-use apps. Taking a few minutes to clear it out helps free up storage, shortens the amount of time you’ll spending waiting for it to backup, and even save you some cash if you’re paying for extra iCloud storage just to keep it backed up.
Create a fresh backup
If you can help it, you should never update your iPhone or iPad without a current backup. Updates aren’t a perfected process, and sometimes things go wrong. The last thing you want to happen is an update to fail, then you’re left setting up your phone as brand new. Nobody wants that.
It’s best to do this step right before you start the update process, that way the information stored in your backup is as current as possible.
You can backup your devices using iCloud, using Finder on Mac, or iTunes on a PC. iCloud is by far the easiest method, simply because it’s built into your device and only requires a Wi-Fi connection. That said, if you’re out of iCloud storage space or prefer to have more control over your device backup, then you can use your computer.
If you have iCloud backup turned on, your device should be backing up each night while it’s charging and connected to Wi-Fi. However, you can force a backup at any time by going to Settings > tap on your name > iCloud > iCloud Backup > Back up now.
Speed up the process by plugging your phone or tablet in to a charger and connecting it to a Wi-Fi network to prevent mobile data use and killing your battery in the process.
Backup on a Mac
If it’s been awhile since you’ve backed up your device using a Mac, the process has changed. With the death of iTunes last year, you’ll now have to use Finder to create a backup.
It distills down to connecting your device to your Mac, opening it in Finder and then clicking a couple of boxes to start a backup.
Backup on a PC
Use Windows? You can still use iTunes, just like you always have, to back up your mobile Apple devices.
Before you start, make sure you have the latest version of iTunes installed. The easiest way to do that is just to open it, and if you see a prompt to update it, then do follow the steps.
With that done, connect your device to iTunes using a Lightning or USB-C cable. The rest of the process consists of selecting your device in the iTunes interface and starting a backup. We have outlined all of the steps in this post, but let me make one more recommendation: Click the box that says you want how to write earned leave applicationEncrypt your local backup. Doing so will backup all of your email accounts and app passwords, saving you from having to enter those whenever you have to restore your phone.
In the first round of stimulus checks, an estimated 13 million young people aged 17 to 24 who were also claimed as dependents weren’t eligible for any stimulus money at all. That’s left many to question who in this group was eligible the first time, and how old you would have to be to count as an adult and qualify for your own payment.
It’s tricky, but we’ll break down what happens if you’re a student, if you live on your own and have a job, if you’re in the military or if you’re married or a parent. We also address how some young adults can retroactively get the original stimulus payment of up to $1,200. (We’ve got a tool to help you calculate how much stimulus money you could get, too.)
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What the IRS considers an eligible age to collect a stimulus checks
To qualify for your own stimulus check, you needed to have filed your 2019 taxes independently, which means no one else claims you on their taxes as a dependent. You also had to have an adjusted gross income of under $75,000 to receive the full amount of $1,200 (the sum decreases as your AGI goes up, and if you made over $99,000, you weren’t eligible for a check).
There are two different sets of rules for who counts as an adult or a dependent under current tax law, according to Janet Holtzblatt, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.
One is the support test. If you’re unmarried, don’t claim children as your own dependents, your parents provide you with financial support equal to or greater than half of your annual income, and you made less than $4,200 in 2019, then your parents can still claim you as their dependent. Another is the residency test: If you’re a full-time student under the age of 24, who resides with the adult taxpayer more than half of the year (unless you’re living on a college campus), you can be claimed as a dependent, no matter how much money you make.
Next stimulus checks: What to expect
Why did the IRS skip over 17- to 24-year-olds for the first stimulus check?
People aged 17 through 24 were excluded from the CARES Act because the bill was based on a tax-code definition of “child” that states a “qualifying child … has not attained age 17.” That means even 17 or 18-year-old high school students who clearly lived with a parent or guardian were excluded as dependents and weren’t counted for $500 toward the family check.
The reason for this age cutoff has to do with the child tax credit, established in 1997, which allows parents to receive up to a $2,000 tax refund leave letter for school each child under the age of 17 each year they file. We can only speculate as to why this definition hasn’t been expanded to include young adults, but the reason is probably the additional cost to the federal government of extending the credit to more people, Holtzer said.
Will young adults get a second stimulus check?
It depends. If you became financially independent in 2020, and you file your 2020 tax return in spring 2021 independently, you’ll receive the first stimulus check of up to $1,200 sometime in 2021, Holtzer said. This could be the case if a second check passes, too. All you have to do is file your tax return for 2020, and meet the regular eligibility criteria for a stimulus payment.
But if a parent or guardian claims you as a dependent on their taxes, you won’t get a check of your own. Because another stimulus check hasn’t been approved, we don’t know exactly how much money would be allotted for dependents. However, both the Republican-backed HEALS and the Democratic-backed Heroes acts provide stimulus money for dependents, including college students and adult dependents. So if you’re in that 17-to-24 age range, you would likely count toward your parent or guardian’s stimulus payment, however, you wouldn’t see a check paid out individually to you.
The exact details differ: Under the HEALS Act, families would get $500 per dependent, with no cap on the number of dependents who could receive that money. Under the Heroes Act, families would get $1,200 per dependent, for up to three people. Neither proposal is likely to become law.
What if you’re claimed as a dependent on taxes, but you work or go to college?
Even if you work or go to college full time (or both), you still count as a dependent if you meet either the support test or the residency test mentioned above. Basically, if you rely on your parents or guardians for more than half of your financial support, if you made less than $4,200 in 2019, and/or if you are a full-time student under age 24 who resides with a parent or guardian while not in school, you likely still meet the requirements for being a dependent.
However, dependents still have to file tax returns, too. Income for dependents falls into two categories: earned income (money earned from working) and unearned income (money earned from investments like the stock market). Those requirements for filing are based on income, so if a dependent is receiving either earned or unearned income, they or their parents will need to file a tax return for them.
Emancipated minors are an exception to the rule
If you’ve been emancipated from your parents by a court or through marriage (state laws apply in both cases), you likely wouldn’t count as anyone’s dependent (assuming you provide more than half of your own financial support and don’t live with your parent or guardian anymore), and would file taxes independently. So you’d be eligible for your own stimulus check if you meet the requirements.
If you serve in the US Armed Forces
If you’re age 17 or older and have enlisted in the US Armed Forces, you’re considered emancipated from your parents or guardians and would file taxes independently. Therefore, you would be eligible for your own stimulus check if you meet the requirements.
If you’re married or have a child
If you’re under age 24 but are married or have a child of your own who you claim as a dependent, you’re considered independent by the IRS. Therefore, you’d be eligible for your own stimulus check if you meet the requirements.
Apple’s popular smartwatch is getting an update, called the Apple Watch Series 6, with a key new health sensor, as well as features focused on making the gadget easier to use with kids. The new sensor for the Apple Watch can measure your blood oxygen level in 15 seconds, Apple said, and will also track your blood oxygen in the background. The feature adds to 2019’s Apple Watch Series 5, which Apple used to introduce technology that enabled an always-on display, turning its Watch into more of a watch, as opposed to the wrist computer some people consider it to be.
“The future of health is on your wrist,” Apple said in one of its promo videos.
Apple also announced new services for the device that are focused on health and family. The company showed off a new service called Fitness Plus, which offers a variety of weekly workout routines for $9.99 (£9.99) a month. Ross Rubin, an analyst at Reticle Research, likened it to “bringing the value part of the Peloton equation anywhere.”
In addition, the Apple Watch will have a feature called Family Setup, allowing parents to set up their children’s watch to help track their kids’ location and control who they talk to using iMessage. The feature requires a cellular version of the Apple Watch, but it doesn’t require a child to have an iPhone.
Preorders for the new Apple Watch begin Tuesday, and it’ll be available starting Friday, starting at $399 (£379, AU$599).
Apple Watch Series 6 introduces new watch faces
Apple unveiled the new Apple Watch during the company’s annual fall product announcement event, which was held online because of the coronavirus pandemic. Apple also used the event to reveal its latest iPad and Apple One bundles of services, among other things.
The iPhone 12’s launch typically coincides with the release of the company’s latest iPhone software update, which is made available for free to nearly all active iPhone users. This year’s updates focus on making the device easier to use, with new small apps, called widgets, that can be placed on the home screen to always display updated data. Apple is also trying to make it easier to sort through apps, and it’s updating its text messaging service to help people “pin” the most important chats to the top of their list so they’re easier to find.
The Apple Watch, similarly, will be accompanied by the release of WatchOS 7, on Sept. 16. Apple’s latest software for the device was announced in the summer and slated for release this fall. The biggest changes to that software include new capabilities for watch faces and easier ways to share the watch faces you make — features that people including CNET’s Scott Stein have been clamoring for. The device will also offer new programming to help track your sleep.
The Apple Watch Series 6 wasn’t the only wearable device the company announced Tuesday. Apple also unveiled a lower cost Apple Watch SE, for $279 (£269, AU$429), and cut the price of 2017’s Apple Watch Series 3 to $199 (£199, AU$299).
It shouldn’t take a bad principal to prove how important leadership is at schools
June 21st: this was an important day for students and teachers. The Class of 2012 marched down the football field at Lenore High School*to receive their ceremonial diplomas. The teachers turned in their final grades, cleaned their classrooms, packed up their supplies, and headed out the door to start their vacation.
However, this joyous day was made even sweeter for the faculty and staff. Dr. Robert Stone*, the school’s contentious principal for the last three years had resigned his post. He had decided to take an administrative position in an Orange County school district. Many Lenore High teachers couldn’t hide their elation.
For three hard years, teachers, counselors, and administrators at this school had to contend with boorish behavior, favoritism, disparaging e-mail comments, bullying, and shady practices from their leader. His tenure at the school was marked by involuntary transfers of teachers, the near dismantling of special education, resignations, and the loss of nearly half of its students to other schools.
The situation was so dire that nearly 90% of the teachers and counselors at the school gave him a vote of no-confidence in a specially held union referendum last year. Also, he earned the ire of officials at the district office who grew tired of the numerous complaints and grievances filed against him.
Now, this bad principal was leaving on his own accord. And he did so at the right time. Lenore High – a perennially low-ranked school in a economically depressed area of Los Angeles County – was posting some of the highest test scores and graduation rates in years.**
Still, the animosity could not be ignored. He had worn out his welcome a long time ago and many teachers were happy to see him leave letter for school.
He dressed and acted the part of a leader when placed in a public setting. He gave great speeches to faculty, staff and the students
Lenore High School’s dilemma illustrated something that is rarely mentioned in talks about school reform: leadership at the top. And, these leaders have to have certain qualifications:
the ability to communicate clear goals and objectives to faculty;
form professional relationships with them;
lead by example or model appropriate behavior and action;
utilize and accept opinions;the ability to resolve conflicts;
address everyone in a professional matter;
use fair and appropriate discipline when needed;
be consistent; and
Simply put, ineffective leaders lack most if not all these qualities. Additionally, they can be too passive or too aggressive. In other cases, their intentions mired in obscurity.
There were some distinctions Dr. Stone had. He dressed and acted the part of a leader when placed in a public setting. He gave great speeches to faculty, staff and the students. In addition, he always appeared lively and friendly. Most of all, he was decisive — even if the decisions he made were simply wrong for the situation.
So What Did He Do Wrong?
However, in private, he was a different person. There were several examples of his real self:
Told a teacher to “shut-up” in front of staff members (a rarity considering being upfront and personal was not his style).
Abused the school’s e-mail platform to retaliate against teachers (since he had a hard time confronting teachers in person)
Disparaged teacher by belittling their professionalism, intelligence, and dedication. In many cases, these e-mail comments went out to everyone in the school, thus embarrassing the teacher before his or her peers. A teacher once stated: “He talks about the evils of bullying, yet he is biggest one of them all.”
Turned down, ignored, or blocked requests from teachers, especially pertaining to supplies without any explanation given. In addition, he blocked transfer request (a record number of teachers wanted to leave the campus).
Did a vanishing act. The amount of time spent on campus decreased during his tenure. He spent much of his time at the district office complaining about the teacher’s union or was in his office on campus with the door closed. He mostly communicated to the staff and students through a PA system or his favorite – emails. As one teacher put it: “He administers from behind the desk.”
Childish behavior. According to a union representative, he held grudges against those who criticized him, and he never put it aside. The union president saw this behavior first-hand when Dr. Stone slammed his office door in his face after delivering a batch of teacher complaints to him. The relationship between the two never thawed after that event (not even a handshake was given).
He was arrogant. I learned that some of his classmates (who happened to be administrators in my district) in his educational doctoral program had no love from him (that included the USC instructor) for literally stating he’s “the smartest person in the program.”Simply put, he took credit for rising test scores, attendance and enrollment in honor’s program**. In addition, he made sure the local newspapers knew it, even if he was not responsible for the school’s success (much of this was due to real work and leadership from the administration and staff that were there before he arrived).
Dr. Stone’s departure will not be missed. By the time June of 2012 arrived, most teachers at Lenore High School and other campuses in the district (his reputation was that bad) wanted to disassociate from him.
This list can go on and on. Aside from the personality issues, Dr. Stone had done other things that brought his ethics into question as well. He ignored the provision stated in IEPs (Individual Education Plan) for students with learning disabilities. He went against district and state protocols to place these students (some with reading ability at a 3rd grade level) in honor courses. And then, he sent an e-mail instructing teachers to not give any students a failing grade. On top of all that, he purposely short-changed supplies to teachers he didn’t like, and forced many others to teach curriculum they were not trained or credentialed to do so (this was particularly true for the special education teachers).
Dr. Stone’s departure will not be missed. By the time June of 2012 arrived, most teachers at Lenore High School and other campuses in the district (his reputation was that bad) wanted to disassociate from him.
Possibly, one district office administrator summed it best when talking about Dr. Stone: “He was difficult to work with and he lacked people skills.”
Update: New School, Same Behavior
As of 2015, The principal in question has moved on to a new school district. This time, he’s at a larger district and at a larger high school. However, this hasn’t changed his old ways. Recently, somebody posted a critique on a teacher-rating site, in which he was harshly judged. There are two comments to accompany the ratings.
One stated that he was pushing students into AP courses without taking the initial exams to qualify in order to get federal funding.He did this at my school. Mysteriously, special needs students were enrolled in AP courses. And, unsurprisingly, they failed miserably. The critique also claimed that he was “bullying students.”
He has also been accused of mismanaging and bullying teachers, too. Newspapers such as Long Beach Press Telegram and other small local papers in Downey, La Mirada, and Norwalk reported of an incident in which he inexplicably moved a teacher from her classroom and students to a new one.
Again, this he made similar moves at my school. In one case, he moved a teacher who openly defied him to an inferior classroom (one with no technology and no windows).
The also stated that the teacher at the new school tried to communicate with Dr. Stone. He never returned her messages and remained silent on the matter. Surprisingly, he didn’t say anything to local newspapers as well. That’s a change, while at my school he utilized local media all the time.
Update 2019: New Position, Unfortunately
The person who inspire the Dr. Stone in this article, left his position as principal in one district. This can be considered good news for the teachers and administrators who worked at his now former school and district. But, it’s disturbing news for his new district and for area school districts.
He is now an assistant superintendent for a large district. As a result he has more power to abuse those under him. It also sets a poor precedent for public education in the area. He enters this position with red flags and a poor reputation; however, he managed to snag one of the highest, non-elected position one can obtain in a school district. It also means he can have more sway in school board meetings.
The citizens and parents living in this district can demand changes in the next board election. They can, at least, vote out those responsible for making such a bad hire. However, with an average of 10% voter participation when it comes to local elections pertaining to public school board members, it’s a possibility he will be in this position for a long time…or possibly be moved up to superintendent (depending if the district votes directly for one or has board members appoint them, as they do with assistant superintendents).
* The name of the school and the principal has been changed.
** The school Lenore High School was based on had gone through several years of leadership changes. In the year before Dr. Stone’s arrival, the school went through two principals. Also, in 2010, the district feared that the state was going to take over the school. As a result, the district initiated a controversial move in which teachers from Lenore and the other schools would be involuntarily transferred. Part of the idea was to remove some of the teachers and bring in more “qualified” teachers. It was possible that the tactic was supposed to give Dr. Stone some teachers he can work with. It didn’t matter, he still alienated those who were involuntarily transferred.
**Much of the changes that had positive effects on Lenore High School actually started well before Dr. Stone arrived. Due to school choice measures passed in the district, parents chose to go the other high schools in the district. Also, they actively blocked certain students entering the district from neighboring Los Angeles Unified. As a result, the known gang members vanished just as enrollment dropped to manageable levels. Finally, state-of-the-art facilities opened on the school. Test scores, on the other hand had dipped prior to the year Dr. Stone arrived. This was due in large part to Lenore being treated as a dumping ground for troubled students, and in part to the revolving door at the principal’s position. Before the issues happening at the leadership level, test scores were making small but noticeable increases.
Leadership: Theory, Application, & Skill Development
July 20 (Reuters) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday accepted Acadia Pharmaceuticals Inc’s one day leave application for school for an antipsychotic drug to treat dementia patients with hallucinations and delusions.
The regulator said it had set April 3, 2021, as the action date to decide on the drug’s approval.
The drug, Nuplazid, was approved in the United States in 2016 for the treatment of hallucinations and delusions associated with Parkinson’s disease psychosis.
In June, Acadia submitted a supplemental new drug application (sNDA) for Nuplazid for the treatment of hallucinations and delusions associated with dementia-related psychosis, which affects about 30% of all patients with dementia in the United States, the company said.
The application was based on positive results from a late-stage study that showed the drug to be safe and well-tolerated, with few adverse reactions in patients treated with it, the company said.
Separately, Acadia said top-line results from a late-stage study of the same drug as an adjunctive treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD) did not achieve statistical significance on its main goal, adding that it would not pursue additional studies.
(Reporting by Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)
As a naive and impressionable 16-year-old, Pauline Prescott fell for a handsome American airman who told her he wanted to marry her.
By the time that Pauline discovered she was pregnant, her lover had disappeared.
This is her heartbreaking and shocking account of how she fought for three years to keep her beloved son, before being forced to give him up for adoption, never expecting to see him again…
I lay on my narrow, metal-framed bed, hands across my tummy and felt the life inside me stir.
Relishing the silence of the dawn, I knew that Sister Joan Augustine would burst into the dormitory any minute to get us up for prayers.
It was December 25, 1955.
Aged 16, I was about to give birth to a child I prayed would bring its airman father back from wherever he’d returned to in America. I’d written and told him about our child but he hadn’t replied yet.
Maybe once the baby was born, he’d divorce his wife and send for me to marry him as he’d promised he would.
I thought back to Christmas two years earlier, the first that Mum, my older brother Peter and I had faced after Dad had died.
That Christmas, I was invited to a party at the local American airbase for children who’d been orphaned or bereaved.
I’d stepped nervously into the mess hall and thought I’d been transported to Hollywood.
The hall was filled with clowns, balloons and entertainers.
A trestle table groaned under over-sized platters of exotic food, the like of which I’d never known because of rationing. Smiling shyly at the handsome men in uniform who reminded me of Rock Hudson or Clark Gable, I was star-struck.
The bell ringing in Sister Joan Augustine’s hand snapped me from my reverie. She stood in the doorway as she had every morning for the three months that I’d been a resident at St Bridget’s House of Mercy, a home for unwed mothers.
‘Come along girls!’ she cried. ‘Stop dawdling.’ We 12 teenagers in various stages of pregnancy heaved ourselves upright, and formed an orderly queue for the bathroom.
All of us were waiting for babies we were expected to take home or hand over uncomplainingly for adoption.
I dreaded the birth but fervently hoped my baby would arrive before those of two other girls in my dorm whose babies were due.
‘Gaping hole’: A young Pauline with baby Paul, aged ten months, at his nursery
Sister Joan Augustine had promised the first child a beautiful Silver Cross pram, donated by a well-wisher.
It was gorgeous, with cream enamel paintwork, silver flash and grey cloth hood.
What I longed for even more, though, was to gaze into the eyes of the infant whose steady heartbeat matched mine.
I ached to hold its tiny fingers. I wanted to kiss its cherub face. I was convinced that one look at those innocent features would change my mother’s mind.
Setting eyes on her first grandchild, she would surely announce that we couldn’t possibly give it up and that somehow – even though we both worked full time and couldn’t afford help – we’d manage.
Kneeling in the chapel that cold morning, my swollen tummy pressed against the pew, I bowed my head. ‘Please God, let me keep my baby,’ I whispered, my knuckles white through the skin of my hands. ‘Don’t let them take it away.’
I had left school at the age of 15 and signed up for an apprenticeship as a hairdresser and manicurist at Quaintways, a new development in Chester, where we lived.
Mum – a cleaner who also worked at a laundry – was struggling without my father’s weekly pay packet, and mine, though small, would make a difference. I loved my job.
The women in the salon seemed so grown up.
They drank, smoked and dated. I used to listen to some of their whispered conversations and wonder what on earth they were giggling about.
My mother had never spoken to me about being intimate with a boy and there had never been any sex education at school.
I’d never even had a boyfriend. One hairdresser told me about the airmen she dated from the USAF bases nearby at Sealand, Queensferry and Warrington.
‘The Americans are great company,’ she said.
‘They really know how to treat a girl. Why don’t I fix you up on a blind date?’ Eventually, I plucked up the courage to ask Mum if she thought it would be all right. ‘OK,’ she said, ‘but make sure you’re back by ten.’
I went out with someone I’ll call ‘Jim’.
He’d just turned 21 and I was not quite 16.
He knew how old I was but probably didn’t realise that I’d never even been kissed. He took me to the Odeon to see a Tony Curtis film.
At 6ft 2in tall, with smouldering good looks, Jim was quiet, courteous and kind.
Better still, he was a singer of country and western songs and he played in the clubs on the American bases. He sang to me on the way home and had a lovely voice, a bit like Jim Reeves.
For the next six months I was in a whirl.
Jim was just like a film star, and he was mine. I thought about him night and day and the feeling appeared to be mutual. When we weren’t together he’d call me up and sing to me, which made my knees buckle.
He’d meet me after work and walk me home.
More often than not, my mother would be out working or courting Harry, a bus inspector she had started dating, so we’d have the place to ourselves.
Memories: Although her two sons with John Prescott have brought her immense joy, hardly a day goes by when Pauline does not think of her first-born
I’d play house – cooking him a meal and imagining what life would be like if this was how it always was.
I even presented him with my most precious possession – my bronze medal for tap dancing.
He said he was thrilled. When he held me in his arms and told me he wanted to marry me, I believed him completely and gave him all that he asked.
In my heart, I was still a little girl and he was my first love. I barely knew what I was doing, although I did know it was naughty and that if my mother ever found out she’d be furious.
Nobody had ever told me about taking precautions and Jim never said anything, so I carried on obliviously.
My mother’s reaction to Jim’s proposal wasn’t at all what I expected. ‘You’re far too young to think about marriage yet!’ she told me, horrified.
One day she sat me down after work.
‘I think you should know: Jim’s married already,’ she said. ‘Harry’s sister-in-law works at the base. She found out.’
I was shattered. My mother summoned Jim to the house to confront him. All 5ft of her stood up to his lanky frame and she dominated the room.
I just sat there, crying. His response relieved me enormously.
‘Yes, I have a wife, ma’am,’ he told her, looking genuinely contrite, ‘but I’m getting a divorce.’ He pulled out a photograph of a baby daughter he’d also never mentioned.
I didn’t know what to think, but then he told my mother: ‘I love Paula, Mrs Tilston, and I want to marry her.’ Paula was the name Jim always u s e d for me.
‘I’m going home to arrange the divorce and then I’ll send for her.’
Mum wasn’t at all happy but she knew how strongly I felt so she reluctantly agreed that I could carry on seeing him until he left for America.
I planned our romantic farewell over and over in my mind.
I imagined myself saying goodbye at the gates to the airbase, but the fairytale ending I’d dreamed of crumbled to dust when he called me late one night to tell me he’d be flying home early the following morning.
‘My leave’s been cancelled,’ he said.
‘There’ll be no time to say goodbye.’ He gave me the forwarding-address of his new base and promised to write soon.
I placed the telephone back in its cradle and burst into shuddering tears. I could hardly believe that in a few hours’ time the love of my life would be flying away from me.
When my period was late that month, I didn’t think anything about it. I told myself the distress I’d been suffering was bound to have an effect on my body. But the days passed and nothing happened.
Four months after my 16th birthday in February, 1955, I finally summoned up the courage to blurt out the news to my mother.
The look on her face will remain with me for ever.
‘But, Pauline,’ she cried,’what are you telling me? My God, you’re just a child yourself. Your body isn’t even fully developed yet!’
I sat at the kitchen table, my arms wrapped around me as she scolded me.
The following morning, she took me to the doctor’s surgery. When he confirmed her worst fears, I’m sure she secretly hoped he’d tell me how to get rid of the baby I was carrying, but doctors didn’t do that sort of thing then. The thought of an abortion never crossed my mind.
This was my baby. I loved its father with all my teenage heart. He was going to marry me and we’d live happily ever after in America.
I was shocked when, on the way home from the surgery, Mum turned to me and said: ‘You won’t be able to bring the baby home, you know.
I’m working. You’re working. Your brother’s in hospital [with TB]. There’s no one to look after it. How can we possibly give this baby the home it deserves?’
Cherished memory: A snap by John Prescott taken on Pauline’s final visit to see her son, aged two
She was upset and I decided that she just needed time to get used to the idea.
The minute Jim found out I was pregnant, he’d hurry through his divorce, send for me, and we’d be wed before the baby was born.
I wrote to Jim straight away at the address he’d given me. I’m going to have our baby, I wrote, choosing my words carefully.
I hope you’re as happy as I am.
Every morning in the weeks that followed, I waited for the postman to bring me an airmail envelope, a postcard, anything … but nothing came.
After a while, my mother made an appointment with one of the senior officers at the airbase where Jim had taken me to a dance and demanded to know his whereabouts.
‘We have no airman here by that name,’ the officer told her. ‘We never have had.’
I continued to believe that Jim would write any day or turn up on my mother’s doorstep. There must have been a problem with his wife, I convinced myself.
I’d lie on my bed in my room, playing the No1 hit Unchained Melody by Jimmy Young over and over on the gramophone, hoping that somewhere across the Atlantic Jim might be listening to it too.
‘Time goes by so slowly and time can do so much.
Are you still mine?’
The words seemed to have been written specially for us. Meanwhile, my mother contacted social services and the Church of England Children’s Society.
They arranged that when I was seven months’ pregnant I would go to St Bridget’s House of Mercy in Lache Park, Chester.
I pleaded with my mother.
‘Can’t I have it here?’ I begged. ‘Then we can just look after it ourselves.’
‘How?’ she’d cry, shaking her head. ‘Who’ll look after it when we’re both out at work all day?
Neither of us can afford to give up our jobs.
You have to be sensible, Pauline. It would be cruel to the baby to do anything but this and they’ll take better care of your baby than we could.’
There were no creches in those days and, even if there had been, we couldn’t have afforded one.
I earned just over three pounds a week with tips and, although my mother earned a little more, every penny was spoken for. I was assigned a social worker called Mrs Cotter.
‘You’ll stay in the home for three months after the birth and then the baby will be put up for adoption,’ she told me.
‘If suitable parents can’t be found, it will be placed in a state nursery until they can.’
When the time came, Mum held my hand tightly on the bus all the way to St Bridget’s.
The place was more like a church than an institution. It had cloisters and was deathly quiet.
Nuns padded silently by, heads down, in long black robes. I was terrified.
However Mother Superior was warm and friendly as she showed us around.
She led us into the kitchens first, where I was relieved to find several pregnant girls, some much bigger than others, all smiling at me and waving shyly.
In the nursery, crib after crib of newborns lay sleeping. In the laundry we found more pregnant girls ironing and folding sheets.
My mother was impressed with how clean and neat everything was. She promised to visit every weekend.
I dried my eyes as a nun led me to an upstairs dormitory.
Over the next few days, the other girls became curious about my story, and I was about theirs.
Some, it seemed, had been too promiscuous and were paying the price.
Others were the victims of sexual abuse.
Two girls had been raped by their fathers. Most of the girls were relieved to be giving up their babies for adoption but a handful were taking their infants home to be cared for by their relatives, something I was still convinced would happen to me.
Christmas came and went.
During the early hours of January 2, I was lying in bed when my waters suddenly broke. Then the pain began. Sister Joan Augustine called an ambulance and came with me to Chester City Hospital.
Young love: Pauline and John Prescott
The contractions were getting stronger and stronger.
I lay on a bed in the labour ward feeling so frightened I thought I might die.
I longed for my mother. Someone clamped a rubber mask over my face for gas and air but it reminded me of the Mickey Mouse gas mask I’d had during the war and I began to panic.
As I retched and writhed, I tried not to engage in eye contact with the doctor and at least six nurses around me.
My ankles were tied with bandages to metal poles at the end of the bed. I’d always been such a shy and private person. I had only ever shown myself to one man. Now everyone was seeing everything.
‘It’s a big baby but you’re doing really well,’ the doctor told me encouragingly.
There was no anaesthetic, no epidural.
The pain was excruciating and became worse and worse. Where was my mum? Where was Jim?
He should have been waiting in the corridor outside for our child to be born. I wept with pain and bitterness.
At seven in the morning, my 8lb baby boy finally pushed his way into this world.
He was a little jaundiced and covered in blood but they laid him on my chest straight away.
More exhausted than I had ever felt in my life, I cradled his warm body in my arms.
‘Congratulations, Pauline,’ one of the nurses said.
‘What are you going to call him?’
‘Timothy Paul…’ I gasped, barely able to speak. Unfurling Timothy’s perfect little fingers until they curled around one of mine, I looked down at my baby boy and splashed his face with tears of joy and sorrow.
The first time my mother set eyes on Timothy Paul, her reaction was exactly what I’d hoped it would be.
‘Oh, he’s beautiful!’ she cried, producing a lovely little set of clothes from her handbag.
‘I’ve been saving in a club. I got them from that shop at the end of the road.’
I could have cried with relief. I knew it: she was going to let me bring him home after all.
Now that I’d held him and nursed my beautiful boy, I couldn’t possibly give him up.
Every night at visiting time, I used to pretend to be asleep until Mum got there. I was the youngest in a ward of 20 women and the only one who wasn’t married.
Through half-closed eyes, I’d spy husbands fussing over their wives and couldn’t help but feel sad.
I wished that Jim would stroll into the ward just like the other men, laden with flowers and beaming with pride.
I wrote to him again to tell him that he had a son. My mother contacted his base with the same news, but still there was no word.
After a week, I was returned to St Bridget’s.
Thrilled at having beaten the two who’d had their babies after mine, I couldn’t wait to be presented with the beautiful new Silver Cross pram. Whatever the future held for me and my baby – and I knew it would be a struggle – I wanted him to have that pram at least.
Sister Joan Augustine told me that she’d given it to someone else: a girl who’d given birth a day after me but who’d come back to St Bridget’s earlier.
She presented me with a shabby little second-hand pram with wobbly wheels and dodgy brakes. I wept buckets.
Wedding belle: Pauline Prescott proudly poses for a picture on the day she married John in 1961
My happiest times in those first few months were those spent with my son. As was the routine, all new mothers would wash our babies together and then sit in a row to feed them.
Timothy Paul loved that moment best.
He’d be so contented at my breast that he’d fall asleep and take longer to finish than the rest.
‘Tilly [the nickname everyone used for me, derived from my surname], you’re always the last,’ Sister Joan Augustine would complain. I didn’t care.
I was determined to squeeze in every extra minute with him that I could.
Every week I’d be summoned to Mother Superior’s office to discuss his future. ‘Now, Pauline, have you decided for adoption or will you be taking your baby home?’ she’d ask.
‘Your mother says neither of you can look after the baby,’ my social worker would remind me.
‘There are plenty of childless couples who’d give him a better life.’
Sister Joan Augustine would add: ‘You must make the decision now before he gets too old.’ I’d shake my head. ‘I just need more time,’ I’d tell them.
‘You said I’d have three months.
After that, we can look at other options. He can go into a nursery somewhere close by, maybe? I could visit him every day until I’ve worked out what to do.’
My mother tired of me asking if there had been a letter or a call from Jim.
‘You have to forget about him, Pauline,’ she told me testily. ‘He’ll never send for you now.’
As the date approached for Timothy Paul to be sent to a nursery, I became increasingly anxious.
Mrs Cotter told me what arrangements had been made.
‘The State will help you pay the nursery fees but the rest will have to come out of your wages, I’m afraid. We’ve found him a place. We’ll have to leave early tomorrow to make the journey.’
‘Journey? Where are you sending him?’ I said.
‘The Ernest Bailey Residential Nursery for Boys.
It’s in Matlock.’
‘Where’s that?’ I asked, my panic rising. ‘Derbyshire, about 80 miles away. It was the only place that could take him.’
John and Pauline Prescott together in September 2006 – after revelations about his affair
It’ll take me a day to get there and how much will it cost each time?’
Shattered, I realised that I had no say in the matter. To this day, I don’t know if that nursery really was the only one that would take Timothy Paul or whether the authorities chose to make it as difficult as possible for me to keep him.
Sitting in a train carriage the following morning, cradling my son in my arms, I stared at a dozing Mrs Cotter and contemplated jumping off at the next station and running away.
But I was 17 years old. I had no money; no home of my own. Instead, I did the only thing I could think of to let my son know how much I wanted him close to me. I told Mrs Cotter that from now on, I would like Timothy Paul to be known simply as ‘Paul’.
‘It will make him more personal to me – to my name,’ I said, pushing my forefinger into my son’s open palm so that he clamped his own tiny fingers around it.
All the way to Matlock, I tried to convince myself that my son would be safe there, well cared for until I could figure out what to do next. In the imposing stone building of the nursery, I laid him in a high-sided cot in a room full of similar cots.
Even though the staff seemed very nice, Paul took one look at my face and screwed his own into a tight ball.
Somehow he knew that I was leaving him. I listened to his first howl and watched as he geared himself up for his second.
Unable to bear the wrench of our impending separation a moment longer, I fled.
I could hear his cries all the way down the street, my little-girl heart jolting with each step that took me further and further away from my son. Paul was to remain in that nursery for the next two-and-a-half years.
I visited him whenever I could but the realities of my situation meant that was only every few months at best.
His nursery fees were debited directly from my wages, leaving me with little spare. The train fare was expensive and near impossible on a Sunday. I had to take a day off work each time. The journey left me emotionally drained.
Each time I saw my son I couldn’t get over how much he’d grown. He, meanwhile, seemed to be less and less aware of who I was.
I always thought my mother, who came with me when she could, would come up with a plan on those visits; that she’d tell me she’d thought of something and we could take him home with us after all, but she never did.
‘You have to let him go, Pauline,’ she’d say as I sobbed in her arms all the way home.
‘This isn’t fair on either of you.’
As time went on, my visits to see my son became more and more infrequent owing to my long working hours and my shortage of money.
However, I was still refusing to sign him over to the state.
He was always on my mind. I’d see a mother and son wandering along holding hands and wonder why that couldn’t be Paul and me.
I’d flick through racks of children’s clothes in a store and wish I could afford to buy some of them for him.
I marked each anniversary privately in my heart: the day I first met Jim; the day I found out I was pregnant; Paul’s birthday on January 2.
There were times when I wanted to scream Paul’s name from the bottom of my lungs and tell everyone who’d listen how much I loved and missed him.
‘He’s my son and I want to keep him!’ I longed to shriek but instead I confined the screaming to inside my head.
Not long after I’d met John, I’d saved up enough money to go to Matlock again but my mother said she couldn’t go with me.
I don’t think she had the heart any more. I didn’t want to go alone. Then I thought of John.
The eldest of five children, John had a little brother called Adrian who was born with a harelip and a cleft palate. I’d seen how kind and thoughtful he was with Adrian. Nervously, I told John that I was going to see Paul and asked if he’d come along.
‘We could make an outing of it,’ he replied.
Support: Pauline, aged 21, and a youthful John Prescott
‘There’s some pretty countryside round Matlock.’ He’d never once asked me about Paul’s father or what had happened between us.
He just said he knew all that he needed to know.
Going to see Paul with John was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do: holding myself together when I walked into the nursery and realising that Paul didn’t know who I was any more.
At two years old, he was wearing clothes I hadn’t chosen for him and playing with friends I’d never met. He was clearly very attached to one particular nursery nurse, and was calling her ‘Mummy’. That broke my heart anew.
John was marvellous.
He picked Paul up and cuddled him and suggested that we take him out for a walk. He bought Paul a lollipop and didn’t flinch when my gorgeous little boy tried to force it into his mouth.
He brought his camera and took lots of photographs, which are among my most cherished possessions: images of me and Paul, of John kissing Paul, and a few of Paul on his own, gurgling happily at these two kind strangers who had come to make a fuss of him.
Some time later a Derbyshire hospital got in touch with me.
Paul was seriously ill – meningitis, they believed. I should go to him straight away.
John came with me. At the hospital a doctor told us: ‘It’s not meningitis. He has a slight fever and we’ll keep him in a couple of days for observation, but don’t worry, he’ll be fine.’
The hardest thing was leaving Paul alone in hospital that night.
John and I both needed to be back in Chester for work the following morning. I sat alongside my sleepy toddler and stroked his hair. I kissed his face with my tears as he looked silently up at me with those big blue eyes.
‘Come on now,’ John said, taking me by the elbow.
Getting to my feet, I took one last lingering look at my poorly little boy and blew him a kiss.
‘Night, night, darling,’ I said. ‘Mummy will be back soon. I promise.’
Little did I know that it was a promise I would never keep.
I planned to visit him once he was back at the nursery as soon as I could arrange time off work but Mrs Cotter came to call.
‘Paul can’t go back to the Ernest Bailey Nursery I’m afraid, Pauline,’ she said. ‘They don’t keep children for more than two years and he’s already been there longer than anyone else. It would be in Paul’s best interests if he was placed in foster care now.’
‘But I never agreed to that!’ I cried.
‘This is what everybody thinks would be best for Paul.
We’ve found a lovely couple in Wolverhampton who couldn’t have children of their own. They’re in their mid-forties.
‘He’s a deputy headmaster and she’s a school nurse. What Paul needs now is the sort of one-to-one care only they can offer.’
‘How long?’ I asked.
‘Until his next review,’ she said. ‘In a year.’
My stomach lurched. Would he even know me after all that time?
‘Will I be able to see him?’ I asked. ‘That wouldn’t be advisable.
He’d find it too unsettling, especially after his recent illness.’
Both Mrs Cotter and my mother were immovable. They had made the decision for me, it seemed. There was no viable alternative. In a year’s time, maybe there would be.
John knew how I felt about keeping Paul and if things developed between us as I hoped they would, then it went unspoken that the boy would end up living with us one day. OK, I reasoned, trying desperately to put a brave face on the situation, this buys me a little more time.
But the time flew by and before I knew it, the year was drawing to an end.
I was still living at home, often working six days a week at Quaintways.
John, to whom I was by now engaged, was abroad a lot and there was no way we could afford a place of our own yet or contemplate giving up our jobs.
All the reports I’d had of Paul throughout his first year in foster care in Wolverhampton were that he was thriving and happy.
When Mrs Cotter came to see me at the end of 1959 there seemed a dreadful inevitability to it all.
‘He is as devoted to his foster parents,’ she told me, ‘as they are to him.
‘They are very keen to adopt him and will offer him just the sort of happy home life any little boy would dream of.
They’re his mummy and daddy now.’
‘I’m his mummy!’ I snapped, but I knew the decision was all but made. I had run out of options. Mrs Cotter returned a few months later with the necessary paperwork. My entire body went cold.
‘You just need to sign there and there,’ she said. ‘This will start the ball rolling and then the adoption application will be processed through the courts formally.’
I stared down at the documents that would change Paul’s life – and mine – and could barely focus on the words.
This was it. The day I’d been dreading for three-and-a-half years. ‘What are the names of the foster parents?’ I asked.
‘I’m afraid I can’t tell you, but they’re a very nice couple,’ I was told.
I imagined that they had a lovely big house and a large garden for Paul to play in. They probably had a car.
I bet they could drive him to the seaside for holidays or maybe even take him abroad. They’d not been able to have children of their own and now, to make their lives complete, I was about to give them my boy.
Picking up the pen, I felt the weight of it in my fingers.
Lowering its nib on to the page, I scribbled a few innocent lines of ink that somehow joined together to spell my name: Pauline Tilston.
The words may as well have been written in my own blood, so dripping were they with guilt.
John and I married in 1961 and I gave birth to our first son Johnathan in 1963.
I bought him a beautiful Silver Cross pram with cream enamel paintwork and a grey cloth hood. I couldn’t begin to tell John why I needed our son to have that particular pram.
In all the years that followed, throughout John’s incredible career, hardly a day went by when I didn’t think about Paul.
From the moment I’d had to give him up, I’d peered into the faces of passers-by – little boys at first, then teenagers, then grown men – thinking: ‘Are you my Paul?’ The pain never left me.
I had a precious bundle of black-and-white photographs of Paul which I sneaked a look at every now and again. Every January 2, I’d retreat into my own private thoughts and wonder how to write earned leave application he was celebrating it.
Each important step in the lives of Johnathan and our second son, David made me think of what I was missing with Paul.
I hadn’t told Johnathan and David about their half-brother. I couldn’t face it. Even if they knew the full circumstances in which I’d had to give their brother up, what on earth would they think of me?
My two wonderful boys had given me such immense joy, but that sense of something missing never quite left me.
I wondered how much his adoptive parents had told Paul. I began to worry that he might die before he had the chance to find me.
Or was he dead already?
Had being given up by his mother damaged him in some way?
Why hadn’t he contacted me? Since 1975 the law had changed, allowing him to. Did he think I might be dead? The endless possibilities were always lurking in the back of my mind.
In 1996, Clare Short, one of John’s fellow Cabinet ministers, was successfully reunited with Toby, the son she gave up for adoption more than 30 years before.
Having lunch with John in the House of Commons one day, I spotted Clare sitting with her new-found son at a table.
Before John could stop me, I’d gone over to introduce myself, shake Toby’s hand and wish them all the best.
On the long walk back to my table, I kept thinking: lucky Clare. If only that could be me.
On my 60th birthday I suddenly found myself a pensioner. Paul would be 43 years old. What if he never tried to find me?
With a growing sense of panic, I felt as if I was running out of time.
Then, in 2000, soon after John had celebrated 30 years as an MP, he heard from friends in Chester City Council that reporters had been to the town hall making enquiries about a Prescott ‘love child’.
Initially, I felt scared but then, gradually, I began to feel excited and, dare I say, happy.
Maybe this was our time.
John and I discussed whether or not we should tell the boys and decided not
to. ‘Let’s wait and see,’ John advised. ‘Nothing may come of this.’ A year passed.
‘I began to lose hope.
By summer 2001, I had almost succeeded in putting the idea of being reunited with my lost boy from my mind.
We were staying with our dear friends Brenda Dean, the former trade unionist, and her husband Keith McDowell, at their holiday home in Cornwall.
We’d been there less than a day and were standing in the window admiring the view as Keith pointed out his boat, which he was planning to take us out in.
As ever, I had my camera in hand, and was snapp ing happily away when John’s mobile rang.
I heard him say quietly: ‘Right… right… OK.’
When he hung up, he gave me an expression that instantly told me something had happened.
‘What’s the matter?’ I asked. He paused and stared at my face before saying: ‘They’ve found Paul.’
Nothing’s too good for the workers: A cartoon of Pauline and John on display in their Hull home
A friend who ran a country club gave me a lifelong taste for champagne.
I’d always loved Babycham and used to think I was so sophisticated, sipping it from those special little glasses they served it in.
Then I discovered the real thing and, boy, I have never looked back, much to John’s embarrassment.
He hardly ever drinks – it doesn’t really agree with him.
Whenever we fly somewhere together and the stewardess comes round, he says: ‘Don’t you dare ask for champagne!’ but I do anyway. Once, on a plane home after an official visit to India, a stewardess referred to John as ‘your excellency’.
John looked quite pleased with himself until I ordered two glasses of champagne – both for me. That soon wiped the smile off his face.
Bob Edwards, a Labour MP and journalist friend, once told me: ‘Always remember, Pauline, nothing is too good for the workers.’ I agreed with him 100 per cent.
My Berlin Wall built from hats
Lighter moment: Pauline Prescott and Cherie Blair share a joke during the State Opening of Parliament
John hates me in hats, so if I’m wearing one to something like the State Opening of Parliament, he’ll always make me walk in alone first rather than have any attention drawn to him.
The ones he dislikes most from what he calls my ‘Berlin Wall’ of hats are the large brimmed ones. He says they are only any good if it’s raining, because he can walk under them.
He’d rather not go to an event with me wearing something like that than risk being photographed alongside me.
On a day out at Brighton races with members of the Cabinet, I wore a black Frederick Fox hat which I’d trimmed myself with a strip of faux ocelot fabric.
Watching a race, John suddenly claimed my hat was obscuring his view and squashed it down with his hands, almost ruining it.
‘John! Don’t!’ I cried, and whacked him on the side of his head with my race card.
On another occasion, after we had been to a wedding in Portsmouth, John had to be back in London and there was a mix-up with the official car.
‘We’ll take the train to Victoria and then jump on the Tube,’ he told me. In high heels, a tight skirt and a fancy hat, I wasn’t best pleased.
‘Take that bloody hat off,’ he told me as we stepped into the carriage of the busy Underground train. ‘No!’ I declared, even though I felt like an idiot so dressed up on the crowded train. I sat defiantly in full wedding regalia, determined that John wouldn’t dictate to me.
He knew he couldn’t win so he did the only thing he could think of – he moved to another carriage.
Cherie Blair would sit alongside me at the opening of Parliament and, to begin with, she never wore a hat.
I always did. Later, she began to. There is a photograph of us giggling together.
What we’d spotted that so amused us was an elderly lord of the realm sitting upright but fast asleep on the back benches, mouth open and snoring gently as one of the world’s most historic pageants unfolded before him.