It must take a special kind of person to sit in lofty judgment on Good Morning Britain presenter Kate Garraway for making the documentary Finding Derek, about her husband Derek Draper’s year-long battle with the effects and after-effects of Covid-19. It would require an extraordinary mindset to witness all that suffering and effectively opine: “It’s morally repugnant how she’s invading her husband’s privacy. I’m better than her because I wouldn’t do that. I say to you now, as I sit in my pants and stained dressing gown, ranting online, that in the same circumstances I would be noble, wise and true, setting an ethical example for all to follow.”
Draper, a former Labour party adviser and lobbyist turned psychotherapist, was admitted to hospital last March and, for a time, placed in an induced coma. Since becoming Covid-free, he’s struggled with long-term effects, including heart and kidney failure, pancreatic and liver damage, holes in his lungs and potential cognitive damage.
Draper is also thought to be the longest surviving Covid-19 hospital inpatient. This last point alone would appear to validate the making of at least one documentary. If you wanted to be cold and clinical about it, then we should be begging Garraway to tell us what’s happening, not berating her for using her valuable public platform to do so.
Yet berate her is what a strident minority continue to do. They see a mother with two brave children, somehow managing to maintain a happy, stable home, and their reaction (their actual reaction!) is to carp about some messy Lego and suggest she tidy it up. They say that Garraway is being a journalist rather than a wife, as if it’s somehow impossible to be both simultaneously. They see footage of Draper dazed, despairing, mouthing the word “pain” and label it “exploitative”, as if nobody else, Garraway included, had considered this possibility.
Of course there are ethical questions: would Draper, before he was sick, have wanted to be portrayed in this way? Would any of us? Isn’t that the point: that Covid in such an extreme and lasting form is unavoidably distressing and confrontational. If this documentary hadn’t shown Draper as he is – his suffering, his reality – what could it hope to achieve?
The blackly amusing thing about all this is the sanctimonious posturing of the trolls. Some people seem to think they’re sticking up for Draper against his self-promoting television presenter wife. That, if Draper could, he would rise up from his hospital bed, solemnly shake their hands and say:“Thank you for publicly attacking my wife, the mother of my children, in her darkest hour.”
It’s far more likely that Draper would be proud of Garraway. As the country starts to grapple with the multifaceted aftermath of the pandemic, we need people to shine light into the darkest, most personal and painful areas. By making this documentary, Garraway has probably done more to get people to keep taking Covid seriously than any number of government campaigns.
Amazon workers need time off in loo
Be in no doubt, Amazon’s lavatory habits matter. Once again, it’s in the news that Amazon warehouse workers and drivers have to urinate into bottles and defecate into bags in order to maintain productivity levels. The issue was reactivated in a tweet from the Amazon News account that read: “You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us” and so on. In case there were still a few people who didn’t believe it, a memo was then leaked, in which employees were warned to stop urinating and defecating in this manner.
Ironically, the Amazon News tweet was probably sent in an attempt to undermine the efforts of workers at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, to unionise, which are drawing widespread support, including from Bernie Sanders. If the unionisation is successful, it could trigger other efforts, which Jeff Bezos probably doesn’t want. That’s Jeff Bezos, who is reported to have 25 bathrooms for his personal use in his Washington DC mansion alone. No peeing into an empty bottle for Jeff.
While this topic may seem slightly squalid, it’s important because it’s about the dehumanisation of the modern worker. It’s astonishing that any employee in the 21st century isn’t afforded the time and dignity for basic bodily functions. Yet from the days of the “McJob” through to zero-hours to the gig economy, some employers seem to want the impossible from workers who may have few other employment options. Whatever Amazon’s official attitude, it says something about the extent of denial about the humanity of its workers that even the simple act of going to the bog is turned into a corporate psychodrama.
Pete Doherty rocks a new look. And it suits him
Photos have emerged of Libertines/Babyshambles/Puta Madres frontman and erstwhile Kate Moss paramour, Pete Doherty, in France, looking – how to put this? – as though he’s really enjoying his dinners. As have many of us in lockdown. Doherty’s larger appearance is only notable because we’re used to him epitomising the skinny, wasted rock’n’roll casualty cliche.
First, you hope that Doherty’s health is OK; then it occurs that he’s probably healthier than before, if he’s ditched the drugs for eating. Doherty, 42, also looks extremely happy as he strolls along with his partner. Far happier than he ever looked at the height of his fame, staring, stupefied, at the camera with those big, lost eyes, like a punk junkie Tweety Pie. Allegedly.
This could be Doherty’s greatest act of defiance yet. Usually, reformed rock stars are a hyper-controlled melange of fitness, yoga, juicing, “my wild days are behind me” interviews and sharp, red carpet-worthy suits. Fair enough. Hard-living rock stars have to clean up their act or they will surely die. Still, it’s refreshing to see Doherty clearly not giving a damn and making up his own elder statesman rock star survivor rules.