PLATELL'S PEOPLE: Bletchley heroine is shining example of selflessness

PLATELL’S PEOPLE: Selfless heroine, 97, who helped crack the Nazis’ Enigma code is a shining example of selflessness – and puts stars to shame

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What a shining example of selflessness we have been given this week from a woman who is among the most vulnerable to the coronavirus plague.

Elizabeth Diacon was one of the many unsung soldiers — she would hate the word heroes — who worked as signals intelligence officers at Bletchley Park, where they cracked the Nazis’ Enigma code and changed the course of the war.

Today, at 97, she is in a care home and has signed a letter saying she does not want to be taken to hospital should she fall ill. 

Elizabeth Diacon was one of the many unsung soldiers — she would hate the word heroes — who worked as signals intelligence officers at Bletchley Park, where they cracked the Nazis’ Enigma code and changed the course of the war. She is seen far left with other Bletchley veterans and the Duchess of Cambridge

‘I feel that with our hospitals overstretched by the epidemic, someone younger than me should have the benefit of a hospital bed,’ she explained in the Mail, ‘or, if I needed it, a ventilator.’

We are constantly told by the likes of Health Secretary Matt Hancock that we are fighting a war against the virus. It is a description that I find glib, despite the rising death toll.

But whether this is a war or not, what we desperately need more of is the spirit of that wartime generation, embodied by Elizabeth Diacon, someone whose cut-glass Queen’s English and sense of decency are qualities too often dismissed today as old-fashioned and outdated.

We are constantly told by the likes of Health Secretary Matt Hancock that we are fighting a war against the virus. It is a description that I find glib, despite the rising death toll. A team is pictured above at Bletchley Park’s Hut 3

Of course, the selflessness shown by countless NHS workers and carers is heroic. 

But there are others, it seems, whose focus is all about themselves. We had singer Sam Smith, for instance, posting pictures of himself weeping because of the pain of lockdown at his £12 million mansion.

Of course, the selflessness shown by countless NHS workers and carers is heroic. But there are others, it seems, whose focus is all about themselves. We had singer Sam Smith, for instance, posting pictures of himself weeping because of the pain of lockdown at his £12 million mansion

And yesterday there was model Lily Cole, who has decided that this, of all times, is the moment to agonise about the persecution she suffered as a child being a redhead — before earning millions on the back of her looks.

‘It’s as cruel and crippling as racism,’ she said. Try telling that to Anne Frank’s family.

From her care home, Elizabeth Diacon said: ‘I am not afraid of dying — though I am slightly afraid of how I might die. I’d rather it were quiet and peaceful, with palliative care if I need it.’

Given the scandal of thousands dying and at peril in our care homes from Covid-19, her dignity is awe-inspiring. 

She has more courage and fortitude in her little toe than these pitiful celebrities.

Careless Kate

The gorgeous Kate Beckinsale, 46, is sporting her fourth toyboy in three years. Grunge musician Goody Grace is 22, just a year older than her daughter Lily

The gorgeous Kate Beckinsale, 46, is sporting her fourth toyboy in three years. Grunge musician Goody Grace is 22, just a year older than her daughter Lily. 

One of her young exes said his advice to anyone dating Kate was: ‘Run.’ 

While defending any woman’s right to seek solace in the arms of a much younger man, I’ll defer to Oscar Wilde: ‘To lose one toyboy may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose three looks like carelessness.’ 

Anthea Turner’s ex Grant Bovey, the one who dumped his first wife and his three children to be with the TV presenter — and who then cheated on Anthea — is now lamenting the fact he is between girlfriends. 

As well as bankrupt and locked down alone. I think it’s called karma.

Sue’s heartache is half-baked

Former Bake Off presenter Sue Perkins tells of her heartache when Paul Hollywood left to take the show to ITV and she and sidekick Mel Giedroyc chose not to join him.

‘He was always like family for years and years and it’s painful when those things end . . . I’m devastated but I feel talking about it is just uncool and you start pointing the finger.’

Save it for your autobiography, Sue. After your series of TV flops post Bake Off, that’s the only pay cheque you can look forward to cooking up.

The lockdown is hard even for Hollywood stars like Sharon Stone. Undaunted, she says she is currently on a dating website chatting to an ‘aeronautical engineer’. 

Good luck with that, love, he’s probably the guy who changes the plane’s tyres. Like the ‘fashion entrepreneur’ I once met online, who turned out to run a T-shirt stall on London’s Camden Market. 

Following the gripping TV drama Quiz, lawyers for coughing Major Charles Ingram believe they have new evidence to prove he did not cheat to win the jackpot on ITV show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? in 2001.

Do they have fresh facts or are they just relying on the portrayal of Ingram in the show by the utterly believable, adorable, puppy-dog-eyed actor Matthew Macfadyen?

From the moment Macfadyen walked across the misty moors in the early morning as Mr Darcy in the 2005 movie Pride & Prejudice to kiss the hand of Miss Elizabeth Bennet (Keira Knightley), in that brown coat and white shirt, half the population have always believed he is utterly innocent.

Do they have fresh facts or are they just relying on the portrayal of Ingram in the show by the utterly believable, adorable, puppy-dog-eyed actor Matthew Macfadyen?

Covid-19 Shout-outs

  • First, to my postman Pedro, who delivered a hand-written letter from a dear friend of 40 years in my home town of Perth, Australia. Lindy’s son is working in the infectious diseases children’s hospital, where some kids have the virus. ‘I could do it digitally,’ she wrote, ‘but it’s a bit of a treat to get a hand-written letter these days.’ And indeed it was.
  • Second, to Alan the fruit and veg man, who has kept his stall open, his team working night and day. And to fellow shoppers for the moment when two NHS workers joined the back of the socially distanced queue and we all stood aside for them, to say thank you.
  • Finally, I can’t resist shaming the runner who sprinted past the people in our street clapping for the NHS on Thursday without pausing. Young, fit and smug, he may not be in the vulnerable category — but I bet his grandparents are.

 Just before lockdown, Corinne and Dave Pruden chose to flee Britain with their twin sons, aged two, to a bamboo hut in Bali, buying one-way tickets. 

Good luck to them in Indonesia, where the pitiful healthcare system is beyond Third World. And please don’t ask us to foot the bill to repatriate them if they do fall ill.

The UK’s foreign aid budget, enshrined in law by former PM David Cameron, has now reached £15.2 billion a year. Part of that has been spent killing large mice which are eating seabird chicks in nests on Gough Island in the Atlantic.

Jolly good, protecting birds — and no decent person begrudges a generous contribution to healing the world’s ills.

But at this time, when our country perhaps faces the worst slump for 300 years, surely none of us thinks our billions should be spent preserving seabirds. Especially when we all hate seagulls.

Last week she was putting out the bins in an evening gown, this week Amanda Holden was lifting the nation’s spirits by mowing the lawn in a bridal dress. 

Whatever next for the goddess of self-isolation? Planting petunias in her garden wearing naught but her wedding night basque? 

Shame on Harry

Dressed down in jeans and T-shirts, Harry and Megs spent two days delivering 20 food parcels to the needy in Los Angeles — presumably accompanied by their security guards, paid for by us at a cost of perhaps up to £20 million a year.

Well done them, but perhaps those police officers should be here, helping out Brits, not trailing around after La La Land’s ex-royal do gooders.

No number of food parcels can hide the sad truth, Harry, that when your country needed you, you were found wanting.

Westminster Wars

  • Care Minister Helen Whately appeared to laugh when GMB’s Piers Morgan showed her the Mail’s front page headline: ‘4,000 feared dead in our care homes’. Home Secretary Priti Patel led an evening Covid-19 briefing, saying haughtily that she was ‘sorry if people feel there have been failings on PPE’ for NHS staff. And there was me wondering weeks ago why Boris had not let the ladies in his Government anywhere near the frontline of this epidemic battle.
  • Labour leader Keir Starmer has been out and about giving interviews criticising the Government’s handling of the virus. Odd that, as the Government directive strictly states that all except key workers should stay at home.
  • As the EU collapses under unimaginable debt and squabbling between the remaining 27 nations, a thank you to Boris for getting us out in the nick of time. Now the billions we used to give that folly can be spent here.

Care Minister Helen Whately appeared to laugh when GMB’s Piers Morgan showed her the Mail’s front page headline: ‘4,000 feared dead in our care homes’

 

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