Margaret Cook

Margaret Cook

License to thrill women just as much as men

DANIEL Craig, the new face of James Bond in Casino Royale, released next week, stares stonily out of the cover of the Radio Times and says, "People hate me..." How pathetic, what a nerd, was my first reaction. It is clearly shared by many 007 aficionados, who must get destabilised every time there has to be a reincarnation of the cult figure Bond. Indeed there has been an anti-Craig internet campaign and threatened boycott of the film. All good grist to the publicity mill, of course.

It's my party and I'll play if I want to

WE HAD a garden party yesterday. By the time you read this, our social standing among the party-givers in our corner of Edinburgh will have changed subtly - for better or worse. One friend rang me to enquire if she should come in a diaphanous dress and broad-brimmed hat, but I explained it was a sporty party, in which she would be required to field cricket balls and wield a croquet mallet. And perhaps be sent next door to ask if we could have our ball back.

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The spirit of Robin lives on

IT IS, unbelievably, a year on from that terrible event on the slopes of Ben Stack which ended the life of Robin Cook, my former husband and one of the most gifted politicians of his generation.

Winston wrong to claim moral high ground

LORD Robert Winston is a reincarnated shaman. He cuts a powerful figure, both a master of the healing arts and a dabbler in the arcane; an expert on our mystical human origins and esoteric spirituality. I therefore feel a sense of triumph that I can say to him in reference to his recent pontifications: Lord Winston, you are wrong.

Brutal response strips veneer of democracy

THE nasty little vignette on which the Labour Conference ended should not be simply swept away with the detritus at the end of the party season. The spectacle of a frail elderly man being bullied and manhandled by bouncer-thugs, and the same treatment meted out to another man who merely leapt to his defence, was shocking enough. You may be sure the spin-machine, with copious foul-mouthed splutterings, went into overdrive behind the scenes in attempts at damage limitation.

How women are aping dominant female monkeys

THE confidence and emancipation of young women nowadays really does seem to be undermining the self-esteem of their male peers.

Who profits most by guidelines on depression drugs?

THE TREATMENTof depression is, sadly, not one of the triumphs of modern medicine. Arguably it portrays interventionism at its worst, and the medical practitioner at his least discerning.

Heavy price to pay for the spin on vaccinations

THE furore over the MMR vaccine and its putative association with autism, which "trampled a ... destructive path through the fields of childhood vaccination policy" (British Medical Journal, 27th March, 2004) is likely to be swamped into insignificance by a burgeoning new vaccine row.

There is no vaccine for our lack of trust

A NEW Japanese study on the subject of the disputed link between the MMR vaccine and autism has provided findings that are "resoundingly negative." The research does not support the suggested link between MMR and autism, echoes the Scottish Executive. Measured language indeed. Quite rightly they do not claim - because it can never be said honestly - that there is emphatically no link. That is almost impossible to prove, much as it may be desired.

We must override cheats to survive

CERTAIN high-flyers, intoxicated by their own achievements, have argued that humans are now emancipated from the rules that govern evolution. Actually, it only needs a little detached contemplation to appreciate that the multitude of ills threatening global survival have come about as a result of the human race slavishly pursuing the evolutionary rule-book.

Sex is back on the brain

SOME things ought to be sacrosanct, and most people would feel libido is one of them, but it seems that no area of the human psyche is beyond reducing to the tedium of scientific measurement. An attempt has recently been made to quantify this elusive phenomenon. The topic has generated more interest than it deserves. This was perhaps at the back of the researcher’s mind, for it was the lead story in New Scientist - maybe they want to sex up the fuddy-duddy image of science?

The colour of music

I’VE JUST discovered I have a mild form of synaesthesia. Is it romantic or fatal? More the former, I would say. It is where the brain does not have a clear division between the reception of different sensations. For instance, the Finnish composer Sibelius saw notes as colours and smelled them too. Most commonly linked sensations are visual and auditory, taste and touch, olfactory and auditory. Most synaesthetes are women; assessments vary, but it may be eight times more common in females.

Should people in power lose the right to privacy?

IT’S time to debate yet again the privacy of politicians, as we learn more than we would like about the Home Secretary’s behind-the-scenes goings-on. Our Tony has stood up and lauded his colleague to the skies, while affirming his right to a private life like anyone else.

Our NHS is being quietly taken apart by Labour

THE National Health Service in Scotland has historically held a strong place in the public’s affections, but this fealty pales into insignificance compared with the loyalty shown to the NHS by its own staff. The service has attracted people of social conscience (people of the sort Mrs Thatcher believed did not exist), which made it a rewarding environment in which to work.

Ban on treating asylum seekers is mean, spiteful and immoral

THE Hippocratic Oath which young doctors solemnly take at graduation is all about a contract to help each individual patient to the utmost of their ability. It is not a contract with the public, or with other doctors, or with relatives of the patient, and above all, not with governments.

Men of this world create all the strife and destruction

NOT a week passes without someone agonising over the changing roles of the sexes. Just now it is the turn of women. A few weeks ago it was Bernie Ecclestone consigning us to the bedroom and the kitchen, but so old hat is he that the collective feminine response was a contemptuous silence. Now the Pope has had his thoughts on women ghost-written by Cardinal Ratzinger.

Sexual disease - the issue they refuse to tackle

THE high point of my student career was winning the class medal for venereal diseases in 1967, to my family’s mortification.

This is hysterical medieval misogynism all over again

IN A STILL male-dominated society, scientists are getting their knickers in a twist about the feminising of British wildlife and so-called "gender-bending" chemical pollutants as the cause.

My kind of beach

ON SMALL Hebridean islands it is almost impossible to get lost, but I did it. The road petered out inches from the cliff edge. And there below was the most beautiful golden sandy beach I have ever seen. Blue-green breakers exploding into foam on the amber sands, sculpted crags enclosing the bay, inviting dunes behind. Not a deck chair, kiosk, promenade, surfer or sunbather in sight. Indeed, not a soul in sight when I arrived, though I met one or two beach-combers later.

If you're going to break all the rules, you may as well do it with panache

I MADE a terrible faux pas on my first Munro. I packed a family picnic instead of the obligatory and sternly unsociable "hill food". As I sat in the heather gleefully unpacking crab, drumsticks, salad and mini wine bottles, Robin stood apart, hoping none of his friends would chance by. I have been indoctrinated since then, and know better. The Mountain Rescue Team would have been horrified at my provisions if they had been called out, I’m sure. I’d have been lectured and labelled a liability.

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