Event - 2020-04-05


‘Your self isolation is easy,’ said Geldof. ‘No one wants to be near you anyway!’


MONDAY, March 23 I got into a feisty debate with Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Good Morning Britain today, prompting a flood of complaints to ITV and the TV regulator Ofcom about me being ‘too hard’ on him and demanding that I apologise. Well sorry, but I won’t be making any apology for holding Government Ministers’ feet to the fire over this crisis, particularly given Britain’s wildly changing outlier strategy to combat Covid-19 and our abject failure to prepare properly for the pandemic with anywhere near enough tests or protective kit for health workers. One of the things Mr Hancock failed to explain adequately when I challenged him is why we’re still charging NHS staff to park in hospitals during the crisis? It’s never made sense to me that we financially punish poorly paid health heroes for going to work to save our lives, but it’s especially appalling at a time like this. TUESDAY, March 24 At a party in December, Sir Bob Geldof told me he would never be interviewed by me because, as he put it in his typical fruity language: ‘You’re too f ****** good a journalist and will get me to say stuff I don’t want to say!’ Today he appeared on GMB, and the irony wasn’t lost on us. ‘I’m not talking to you, Morgan!’ he joked. ‘I said at Christmas I was never going to be interviewed by you!’ Of course, Bob then did talk to me, via Skype from his London home, and we discussed the lockdown. ‘The thing is,’ he chortled, ‘self-isolation is easy for you, Morgan. Nobody wants to be anywhere near you anyway!’ WEDNESDAY, March 25 I woke up today to several hospital nurses sending me photos of parking tickets they received for working longer shifts than normal. This incensed me so much that I ripped into Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick for the Government not immediately ordering free parking for all NHS staff as they fight the virus. ‘We’re already indebted to them,’ he blustered. ‘Anything further we could be doing. Piers, we should be considering.’ ‘We asked Matt Hancock about this on Monday and nothing has been done 48 hours later,’ I raged back. ‘It’s shameful!’ I then vowed to pay personally for any and all parking fines sustained by NHS staff. Talking to them straight down the camera, I said: ‘I will pay them and then go to the Government and have the battle with them – you don’t get involved.’ At 9pm tonight the Government announced free parking for all NHS staff and care workers for the duration of the crisis. I’m pleased they finally listened, but the least we can do for NHS staff after all this is over is never charge them again for parking at hospitals. THURSDAY, March 26 My tolerance of self-absorbed celebrity whining, which was already extremely low, has reached Ground Zero during this crisis. Kirstie Allsopp, whom I know well – and like – ranted hysterically on Twitter after people criticised her for decamping her family to their luxury holiday house in Devon when her husband tested positive for the virus, angering locals who want second-home townies to stay away to avoid bringing the disease with them. ‘The last 24 hours has been utterly horrible, full of vile, unpleasant and frankly frightening comments,’ she wailed, seemingly oblivious to the fact that NHS staff are currently going through something a lot more horrible, vile, unpleasant and frankly frightening. Friend or no friend, this tone-deaf public wallowing was beyond the pale. ‘Kirstie,’ I replied, ‘you’re rich, privileged, and isolating in a lavish country home with your family. Maybe stop making this crisis about your struggle with trolls & direct your energy into rallying support for NHS workers risking their lives for us all in very dangerous circumstances?’ She exploded with foul-mouthed fury. ‘You total B ****** , there was NO need to Retweet that to your millions of followers, it was totally unnecessary and unkind.’ She added that I was ‘scum’ and using the crisis to ‘further your career’. Ironically, this was precisely the type of horrible, vile and unpleasant trolling that Kirstie was moaning about in the first place. ‘Oh, get over yourself,’ I retorted. ‘Seriously. People are dying and others are risking their lives to save them. Get a grip and help them.’ Kirstie responded by blocking me, and then deleting her original whining tweets, which suggests she agreed with me but still wanted to throw her me-me-me toys out of the pram. Fortunately, not everyone is being so self-absorbed. Tonight I was thrilled to see the whole country join in clapping for our carers. It was truly the most spine-tingling act of national unity I’ve ever seen, and it will have given our healthcare heroes such a boost when they most need it. Bravo, Britain! MONDAY, March 30 My 55th birthday. Usually I’d be celebrating with a wild party in Hollywood. Today was a little… quieter! But I did have the great pleasure of interviewing Bob Weighton, the world’s oldest man, who was 112 yesterday and has survived two world wars and the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918. He said he didn’t like offering advice because if people take it, and things go wrong, then ‘you get the blame!’ But he did proffer this pearl of wisdom: ‘What I’ve learnt in my life is that it’s far better to make a friend out of a possible enemy than an enemy out of a possible friend.’



The Mail on Sunday

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