Kozy Girls https://kozygirls.com Sat, 19 Oct 2019 07:27:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.4 Two-year-old with cerebral palsy dresses as Carl from Disney’s Up for Halloween https://kozygirls.com/two-year-old-with-cerebral-palsy-dresses-as-carl-from-disneys-up-for-halloween/ Sat, 19 Oct 2019 07:27:37 +0000 https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-7589699/Two-year-old-cerebral-palsy-dresses-Carl-Disneys-Halloween.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Heartwarming images showing a two-year-old with cerebral palsy dressing up for the first time for Halloween have gone viral with people loving the child’s Up-inspired costume.  Branley Morse’s Halloween costume was shared on Akron Children’s Hospital’s Facebook page to celebrate the child who was born in the Ohio-based hospital two […]

The post Two-year-old with cerebral palsy dresses as Carl from Disney’s Up for Halloween appeared first on Kozy Girls.

]]>
Heartwarming images showing a two-year-old with cerebral palsy dressing up for the first time for Halloween have gone viral with people loving the child’s Up-inspired costume. 

Branley Morse’s Halloween costume was shared on Akron Children’s Hospital’s Facebook page to celebrate the child who was born in the Ohio-based hospital two years prior. 

‘It is Brantley Morse’s first time dressing up for Halloween, and he definitely got in the spirit,’ the post read while sharing multiple pictures of the child. 

Adorable: Brantley Morse's Halloween costume was shared by Akron Children's Hospital on Facebook after he dressed up as Carl from Disney's Up

Adorable: Brantley Morse's Halloween costume was shared by Akron Children's Hospital on Facebook after he dressed up as Carl from Disney's Up

Adorable: Brantley Morse’s Halloween costume was shared by Akron Children’s Hospital on Facebook after he dressed up as Carl from Disney’s Up

Handsome little man: His mom, Brittany Morse, dressed him up for the first time in the costume so it worked with his chronic disabilities

Handsome little man: His mom, Brittany Morse, dressed him up for the first time in the costume so it worked with his chronic disabilities

Handsome little man: His mom, Brittany Morse, dressed him up for the first time in the costume so it worked with his chronic disabilities

Happy kid: Brittany also revealed how she purchased a blue jack-o'lantern candy bucket to inform people the child is non-verbal

Happy kid: Brittany also revealed how she purchased a blue jack-o'lantern candy bucket to inform people the child is non-verbal

Happy kid: Brittany also revealed how she purchased a blue jack-o’lantern candy bucket to inform people the child is non-verbal 

The child was dressed up just like Carl from Disney’s Up by wearing pants, a white button-up shirt, and brown button-up sweater with a black bow tie.

On the move: The Carl Up costume allowed the child to easily incorporate his walker

On the move: The Carl Up costume allowed the child to easily incorporate his walker

On the move: The Carl Up costume allowed the child to easily incorporate his walker 

Brantley made for the perfect Carl for the Halloween costume because he was already rocking his black glasses and had a walker that helps the child move around easier. 

The Facebook page shared how Brantley’s mom, Brittany, specifically enjoyed placing the child in the costume because it incorporated his medical equipment without focusing solely on his disabilities. 

‘Brantley’s mother Brittany wanted to incorporate his medical equipment in the costume to show the world that Brantley is making the absolute best out of his disabilities,’ the page explained.

Akron Children’s Hospital went on to explain how Brantley was born at just 24 weeks of gestation with cerebral palsy, stage three kidney disease, chronic lung disease, and gastroparesis. 

These different disorders and disabilities proved to be difficult for the child, but the hospital praised him for ‘beating the odds’. 

Pictures of Brantley ‘testing out’ his Carl costume come from when he and his parents visited a fall festival earlier in October. 

The hospital also shared images of Brantley from when he was just 1lbs. 11oz. after his birth and from moments when the child attended physical therapy, all of which showed his tremendous progress in the last two years. 

Picture perfect: The child was dressed up just like Carl from Disney's Up by wearing pants, a white button-up shirt, and brown button-up sweater with a black bow tie

Picture perfect: The child was dressed up just like Carl from Disney's Up by wearing pants, a white button-up shirt, and brown button-up sweater with a black bow tie

Picture perfect: The child was dressed up just like Carl from Disney’s Up by wearing pants, a white button-up shirt, and brown button-up sweater with a black bow tie

Making it work: 'Brantley is just over here making the absolute BEST out of having a disability,' Brittany wrote on Facebook when sharing the adorable images

Making it work: 'Brantley is just over here making the absolute BEST out of having a disability,' Brittany wrote on Facebook when sharing the adorable images

Making it work: ‘Brantley is just over here making the absolute BEST out of having a disability,’ Brittany wrote on Facebook when sharing the adorable images

Fighter: When Brantley's hospital shared his Halloween costume, it also showed images of Brantley when he was born prematurely at 24 weeks

Fighter: When Brantley's hospital shared his Halloween costume, it also showed images of Brantley when he was born prematurely at 24 weeks

Fighter: When Brantley’s hospital shared his Halloween costume, it also showed images of Brantley when he was born prematurely at 24 weeks 

His growth: Another image showed Brantley now, showing how the child has overcome his disabilities to live his life

His growth: Another image showed Brantley now, showing how the child has overcome his disabilities to live his life

His growth: Another image showed Brantley now, showing how the child has overcome his disabilities to live his life 

This heartwarming post comes after Brittany first shared her pictures of Brantley on her own Facebook page after attending the fall festival. 

‘Brantley is just over here making the absolute BEST out of having a disability, and rocking his medical equipment with his awesome halloween costume,’ she wrote. 

‘You would never know this sweet boy has a list of chronic medical conditions, with that contagious smile that’s always on his face! Hoping to spread some positivity to everyone, especially those struggling — if this little dude can smile, so can you!’   

People online loved the choice of costume, calling Brantley ‘handsome’, ‘cool’, and ‘very adorable’ in the outfit.  

‘He is precious, keep fighting Brantley, Happy Halloween little man, have fun,’ one commenter wrote. 

Another person commented: ‘Love your costume buddy keep up the great work and positive thinking. Way to go parents.’ 

Brittany also shared on her Facebook page that Brantley would be carrying a blue jack-o’lantern candy bucket to inform people when trick-or-treating that he is non-verbal. 

‘This will let everyone know that he is non-verbal, so not to expect him to say “trick or treat,”‘ she wrote.   

The post Two-year-old with cerebral palsy dresses as Carl from Disney’s Up for Halloween appeared first on Kozy Girls.

]]>
Bride wants to ask her friend to cover up her swastika prison tattoo for her wedding https://kozygirls.com/bride-wants-to-ask-her-friend-to-cover-up-her-swastika-prison-tattoo-for-her-wedding/ Sat, 19 Oct 2019 07:27:36 +0000 https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-7589911/Bride-wants-ask-friend-cover-swastika-prison-tattoo-wedding.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 A bride-to-be has revealed her friend has put her in a difficult situation by refusing to cover the swastika tattoo she was ‘forced’ into getting in prison because it will be ‘too hot to hide’ at her summer wedding.  Reddit user panorama_bride shared her conundrum on the ‘AmITheA**hole‘ subreddit, saying that […]

The post Bride wants to ask her friend to cover up her swastika prison tattoo for her wedding appeared first on Kozy Girls.

]]>
A bride-to-be has revealed her friend has put her in a difficult situation by refusing to cover the swastika tattoo she was ‘forced’ into getting in prison because it will be ‘too hot to hide’ at her summer wedding. 

Reddit user panorama_bride shared her conundrum on the ‘AmITheA**hole‘ subreddit, saying that while she knows her story ‘sounds fake,’ it’s a real problem, and she doesn’t know what to do.  

The 23-year-old explained her father runs a program that offers support and resources to people who have just come out of prison, through which she met Anna three years ago. 

Conundrum: A Reddit user wants to know if she's wrong to ask her friend to cover up her swastika prison tattoo for her summer wedding (Stock Image)

Conundrum: A Reddit user wants to know if she's wrong to ask her friend to cover up her swastika prison tattoo for her summer wedding (Stock Image)

Conundrum: A Reddit user wants to know if she’s wrong to ask her friend to cover up her swastika prison tattoo for her summer wedding (Stock Image)

The woman said the now-25-year-old was just 18 when she was put in prison for drug charges and was ‘pushed around a lot’ because she was so young.  

‘She was basically forced into a prison tattoo of a swastika, because a group of women were threatening her life if she didn’t,’ the Reddit user wrote. ‘I believe her story is true and have no reason to doubt her.’

‘Anna has struggled since getting out of prison and simply does not have the money to cover the tattoo, nor does she know what she would cover it with,’ she added. ‘It is right on her chest, so is hard to hide. 

‘I know she is embarrassed about the tattoo and she hides it with sweaters and high neck shirts. I’ve seen her try to cover it with makeup, but you can still see it.’

The bride said when she announced her wedding, Anna came up to her and told ‘it would probably be the only time she would have the tattoo visible’ because ‘it will be too hot to hide’ at the wedding, which is taking place in the summer of 2020.   

‘I didn’t really know what to say at the time,’ she admitted. ‘It’s going to be a large wedding. I can safely assume there will be some people offended by it. (I mean, it makes me feel a bit sick but I try to look past it.)’

To the rescue: Commmenters suggested that the woman get her friend special makeup or a halter dress to cover up the hateful tattoo on her big day

To the rescue: Commmenters suggested that the woman get her friend special makeup or a halter dress to cover up the hateful tattoo on her big day

To the rescue: Commmenters suggested that the woman get her friend special makeup or a halter dress to cover up the hateful tattoo on her big day 

‘I really don’t know what to do. I don’t want to hurt her feelings or make her feel more ashamed than she is,’ she explained, ‘but I also (selfishly) don’t want this to be the focus of the wedding, or for any guests to be offended.’

The bride said she has been considering making Anna a member of her bridal party just so she can pick out a dress that will cover it up. She stressed that her friend is a ‘good person now,’ and she doesn’t want to hurt her.     

‘My brother, when I told him, said that if she had a giant distracting birth mark, I wouldn’t expect her to cover it, so why would I expect her to with this,’ she recounted. 

‘I feel awful and am genuinely conflicted. I don’t want to body shame her but also can’t have that at my wedding.’ 

A majority of commenters insisted that the woman could not let Anna show up at her wedding with such a hateful symbol visible on her chest, and one even went as far as calling her brother a ‘moron’ for comparing the tattoo to a birthmark.    

‘Your brother’s comparison isn’t valid. A birthmark can be distracting but a swastika will offend others and has a lot of meaning attached to it,’ someone else wrote. ‘Can you offer to help with the cost of a cover up tattoo?’

Many other people pointed out there is plenty of makeup on the market that is thick enough to cover a tattoo or halter style dresses that will keep it hidden. 

For real? Many people were shocked that the woman's friend would be willing to attend a wedding with such an offensive tattoo on display

For real? Many people were shocked that the woman's friend would be willing to attend a wedding with such an offensive tattoo on display

For real? Many people were shocked that the woman’s friend would be willing to attend a wedding with such an offensive tattoo on display

‘There are foundations that are made specifically to cover tattoos,’ one person commented. ‘The most inoffensive way to handle this may be to purchase some and gift it to her while saying that you want her to be comfortable at your wedding and you’d hate for someone to get the wrong idea for someone you care so much about.’

Others were stunned that Anna was even considering showing up at a wedding with her swastika tattoo on display. 

‘If she had any compassion for the people she’s offending she would work harder to cover it,’ one Reddit user noted. ‘A short sleeveless dress is really not that much hotter than a short sleeveless dress with a plunging neckline. I would rather wear a frickin snow suit than go out in public with a swastika.’

One person wondered if Anna told the woman this far in advance as a way to manipulate her into paying for makeup or tattoo removal.   

‘I see many replies telling OP to help her find services or buy makeup for her but I feel that isn’t OP’s responsibility,’ she person wrote. ‘Anna needs to learn to do this for herself and that sometimes doing something or, as in this case, not doing something has consequences.’ 

The Reddit user further explained her situation in the comments section, saying her brother said what he did because he struggled with self-harm and eating disorders in the past and is now a ‘huge believer in body confidence.’

He has been spending a lot of time with Anna, and the bride thinks his opinions are rubbing off on her. She also noted that Anna tends to get heatstroke and is likely sick of covering herself up in the summer.   

‘My fiance thinks that Anna should cover the tattoo for the wedding,’ she added. ‘He is less concerned with what people will be saying if she didn’t, but he wants it covered for the sake of us having a good, drama-free day.’

The post Bride wants to ask her friend to cover up her swastika prison tattoo for her wedding appeared first on Kozy Girls.

]]>
Tech trickery used on Mail stars after Robert De Niro is ‘de-aged’ in his new film The Irishman https://kozygirls.com/tech-trickery-used-on-mail-stars-after-robert-de-niro-is-de-aged-in-his-new-film-the-irishman/ Sat, 19 Oct 2019 07:27:34 +0000 https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-7590129/Tech-trickery-used-Mail-stars-Robert-Niro-aged-new-film-Irishman.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 After De Niro is ‘de-aged’ in his new film, we used tech trickery on Mail stars and challenged them to… face your future (and past). Amanda Platell: That’s a frowner’s face. I’m sunny These pictures are the stuff of dreams . . . and nightmares. I could only fantasise about […]

The post Tech trickery used on Mail stars after Robert De Niro is ‘de-aged’ in his new film The Irishman appeared first on Kozy Girls.

]]>

After De Niro is ‘de-aged’ in his new film, we used tech trickery on Mail stars and challenged them to… face your future (and past).

Amanda Platell: That’s a frowner’s face. I’m sunny

These pictures are the stuff of dreams . . . and nightmares. I could only fantasise about being that pretty when I was a teenager. It makes me look angelic, which as a tomboy I was not. Even then I had high cheekbones, which have been softened to give me a heart-shaped face and the hint of dimples. The de-ageing has also made my nose look smaller. Sadly I can attest that the Platell hooter made its unwanted appearance long before my 15th birthday.

And now for the nightmare of the ‘Benjamin Button’ treatment which ‘aged’ us all. First, I’d never go grey. My mum had her hair dyed honey blonde until the day she died at 90 and I intend to follow in her footsteps. In this image my eyes have disappeared into hard, disappointed, little currants. As for the creases across my nose, that’s a frowner’s face, and that’s not me.

I’m fairly content with the way I look now. With help from fillers and twice annual cosmetic procedures my face is not bad for my age. I don’t think I’d have a facelift. A tendency to see the sunny side of life means I’ll never look like that crumpled old bag in the picture.

Sarah Vine: Stern? I look like Cruella De Vil! 

Well, that’s a relief. This de-ageing lark is clearly rubbish, because the digital young me looks nothing like the real young me who, as you can see, was not nearly as ‘Instagrammable’ as the AI version. The 16- year-old me was not remotely polished. This person looks like something off the Disney Channel. Still, it gives me hope since it implies the aged version of me might also not be accurate. Which would be nice because she looks like a cross between Quentin Crisp and Cruella de Vil. The main worry is how stern I look. And the fact that I seem to have gone a bit orange. And the wrinkles. And the jowls. Oddly the grey hair doesn’t bother me so much: I think you get to a point when dyeing your hair dark actually makes you look older. At 52, I don’t feel too bad about my appearance but that has not always been the case. Stress, thyroid problems, illness and hair loss sapped my confidence in my 30s and 40s and it’s taken over two years to get myself back in any kind of shape. Maybe I’ll put a picture of the old bag on the fridge, a terrifying reminder of what awaits me if I don’t stick to the programme.  

Andrew Pierce: Book me in for plastic surgery! 

I was curious about the de-ageing technique in De Niro movie The Irishman. I’m adopted, so have no way of knowing if my blood family aged well or not. But I can’t stand the image of me as a teenager. I look like a girl — and much older than the 15 years I’m supposed to be. There is also one glaring omission from my youthful visage. I was stricken by acne from 14 to 25. The doctor recommended cabbage water. The result? The acne stayed but my carbon emissions went through the roof. But in this image my skin is baby smooth.

Gazing into the future is even more depressing. I’m more lined than an Ordnance Survey map. However, I draw comfort from the fact I still have hair. Six years ago mine was falling out. I invested in a treatment which involves a cocktail of vitamins and minerals being injected into the scalp, and with top-ups my barnet is still intact. Now and again I treat myself to a chemical peel, which smooths the surface of the face. But having peered into the future, perhaps I should consider more cosmetic treatments to prevent that age-old insult ‘he’s got a great face for radio’.

Henry Deedes: Boyband star to ripped Tony Blair 

Yowzers! That was my first reaction to the picture of my future self. No one likes the thought of getting old, do they? Particularly when you end up looking like a gym bunny Tony Blair as I seem destined to.

But I’ve actually quite grown to like this image of my aged self. Offered the chance to look like that I’d probably take it. Mainly because the hairline’s held pretty steady, even if it is a bit Sven-Goran Eriksson.

It’s odd looking at the real picture of me as teenager and seeing how unhealthy I Iook. Weird because I barely touched alcohol then so I would have thought my skin would have been much clearer but it looks bloody awful. I assume that’s probably diet — I ate garbage then. So the de-aged pictured, with its baby-smooth skin, is too generous. That said, I don’t like it. It makes me look like something out of a boyband.

Looking to the future, my teeth are going slightly wonky with my advancing years, so I’d consider getting them straightened again.

Otherwise, I’m happy to see what nature has in store — and if I look like my aged picture at 80, so be it.

The post Tech trickery used on Mail stars after Robert De Niro is ‘de-aged’ in his new film The Irishman appeared first on Kozy Girls.

]]>
David Attenborough writes about singing rhinos, cute monkeys and more ahead of his new BBC series https://kozygirls.com/david-attenborough-writes-about-singing-rhinos-cute-monkeys-and-more-ahead-of-his-new-bbc-series/ Sat, 19 Oct 2019 07:27:32 +0000 https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-7575259/David-Attenborough-writes-singing-rhinos-cute-monkeys-ahead-new-BBC-series.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 The Ultimate Variety Show  Planet Earth is home to an extraordinary range of life, differing wildly between continents. Scientists have wondered for centuries how our natural world came to be so diverse, yet interconnected. And now we know that the mystery can be explained by a dinosaur called mesosaurus. With […]

The post David Attenborough writes about singing rhinos, cute monkeys and more ahead of his new BBC series appeared first on Kozy Girls.

]]>
The Ultimate Variety Show 

Planet Earth is home to an extraordinary range of life, differing wildly between continents. Scientists have wondered for centuries how our natural world came to be so diverse, yet interconnected. And now we know that the mystery can be explained by a dinosaur called mesosaurus.

With its long, thick tail, powerful jaws and stumpy, frog-like legs, mesosaurus was a strange creature – like a newt the size of a small crocodile, living in freshwater lakes 280 million years ago. But the strangest thing about mesosaurus is that its fossils have been found on both sides of the Atlantic. Clear evidence of this early underwater reptile has been found in southern Africa as well as in South America.

How can this be? There was no way it could swim across the south Atlantic. So why are its fossils found on two continents, 4,000 miles apart? The answer is that Africa and the Americas were once one, along with all the land mass on the planet – one supercontinent called Pangaea. But about 200 million years ago, it was ripped in two and then began to break up into the seven ‘worlds’ we know today – North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australasia, Africa and Antarctica.

That’s why, if you look at a map, the western bulge of Africa looks as though it would fit neatly into the Caribbean, between the Americas. Once upon a time it did. This was discovered by German geophysicist Alfred Wegener in 1912, but his theory of ‘continental drift’ proved controversial for 50 years…until mesosaurus turned up.

Sir David Attenborough (pictured attending the world premiere of 'Seven World, One Planet') co-stars with singing rhinos, the cutest monkeys and more in a new BBC series celebrating the seven continents¿ most astonishing wildlife

Sir David Attenborough (pictured attending the world premiere of 'Seven World, One Planet') co-stars with singing rhinos, the cutest monkeys and more in a new BBC series celebrating the seven continents¿ most astonishing wildlife

Sir David Attenborough (pictured attending the world premiere of ‘Seven World, One Planet’) co-stars with singing rhinos, the cutest monkeys and more in a new BBC series celebrating the seven continents’ most astonishing wildlife

Continents drift because of the molten magma bubbling up from the centre of the Earth at the boundaries between plates. Our planet’s skin is a moving jigsaw puzzle, continually in motion – Australasia, for example, is moving north at 7cm a year and will eventually smash into south-east Asia.

As the continents broke apart, the plants and animals on them began to evolve separately, each adapting to its own environment. The continents developed their own terrains and climates, and with these their own unique flora and fauna. If Pangaea had remained whole, we wouldn’t have the stunning variety of life on Earth we have today.

Seven Worlds, One Planet, a breathtaking seven-part series from the BBC’s Natural History Unit narrated by Sir David Attenborough, celebrates that variety. Earth is more diverse than we could imagine… and this astonishing show helps us understand how wild it really is.

  • Adapted by Christopher Stevens from the accompanying book Seven Worlds, One Planet by Jonny Keeling & Scott Alexander

Here, Sir David Attenborough reveals how each of our seven continents has its unique animal treasures, which together make up the rich diversity of life on Earth. But they’ve all faced their own challenges too…. 

Why don’t polar bears eat penguins? The riddle is probably as old as any other that you will find in a Christmas cracker. And the answer is not difficult to work out: penguins and polar bears live at opposite ends of the world and never meet.

But why is that so? To answer that question, you have to consider the Earth’s geological history. Three hundred million years ago, the only land on this planet’s otherwise ocean-covered surface was a single super-continent. It was there that terrestrial life began. Eventually, however, this immense landmass began to break up. One fragment started to drift south. As it approached the pole, it became so cold that none of its animal passengers were able to survive. This was the continent we now call Antarctica and no land animals – except human beings – have ever managed to reach it since.

Sir David in Kenya with one of only two northern white rhinos, both female, which survive in the wild. His new show, Seven Worlds, One Planet, starts on BBC One later this month

Sir David in Kenya with one of only two northern white rhinos, both female, which survive in the wild. His new show, Seven Worlds, One Planet, starts on BBC One later this month

Sir David in Kenya with one of only two northern white rhinos, both female, which survive in the wild. His new show, Seven Worlds, One Planet, starts on BBC One later this month

Why don't polar bears eat penguins? The riddle is probably as old as any other that you will find in a Christmas cracker. And the answer is not difficult to work out: penguins and polar bears live at opposite ends of the world and never meet. Pictured, in mortal danger, a penguin tries desperately to escape the clutches of a leopard seal in Antarctica

Why don't polar bears eat penguins? The riddle is probably as old as any other that you will find in a Christmas cracker. And the answer is not difficult to work out: penguins and polar bears live at opposite ends of the world and never meet. Pictured, in mortal danger, a penguin tries desperately to escape the clutches of a leopard seal in Antarctica

Why don’t polar bears eat penguins? The riddle is probably as old as any other that you will find in a Christmas cracker. And the answer is not difficult to work out: penguins and polar bears live at opposite ends of the world and never meet. Pictured, in mortal danger, a penguin tries desperately to escape the clutches of a leopard seal in Antarctica

A red-billed oxpecker (pictured)  hitches a ride on a hippo in Zambia ¿ one of many mammals it¿s happy to be ferried around by

A red-billed oxpecker (pictured)  hitches a ride on a hippo in Zambia ¿ one of many mammals it¿s happy to be ferried around by

A red-billed oxpecker (pictured)  hitches a ride on a hippo in Zambia – one of many mammals it’s happy to be ferried around by

Questions about why different animals live where they do are likely to occur to anyone who watches a natural history series surveying the entire globe, as Seven Worlds, One Planet does (pictured: Golden snub-nosed monkeys)

Questions about why different animals live where they do are likely to occur to anyone who watches a natural history series surveying the entire globe, as Seven Worlds, One Planet does (pictured: Golden snub-nosed monkeys)

Questions about why different animals live where they do are likely to occur to anyone who watches a natural history series surveying the entire globe, as Seven Worlds, One Planet does (pictured: Golden snub-nosed monkeys)

Sir David Attenborough on location filming Seven Worlds, One Planet on a windy black sand beach in Iceland

Sir David Attenborough on location filming Seven Worlds, One Planet on a windy black sand beach in Iceland

Sir David Attenborough on location filming Seven Worlds, One Planet on a windy black sand beach in Iceland

Questions about why different animals live where they do are likely to occur to anyone who watches a natural history series surveying the entire globe, as Seven Worlds, One Planet does. But not all are so easily answered. Why, for example, is it deer that nibble grass in North America, whereas the medium-sized mammals that live in Africa in a similar fashion and with a similar diet are antelope? Or why are there apes in the tropical forests of Africa and Asia but none at all in the jungles of South America?

DID YOU KNOW? 

Hippopotamuses once roamed across Britain, during the warmer periods between Ice Ages. 

They travelled into Europe from Asia when the two land masses were joined by changing sea levels.

Seven Worlds, One Planet helps to answer such questions. It also explains why communities of animals and plants on the seven continents of our planet are still so different from one another that they can justifiably be described as separate worlds.

Each has its own particular animal treasures. Some are rare and little known. Take, for example, the olm that lives only in the caves of eastern Europe. 

It is a kind of salamander, as long and as slim as a small snake, and has two pairs of diminutive legs and a moist, scale-less skin. Because it lives in permanent darkness, it has lost its eyes and the pigment in its skin and so has become a ghostly white. Now its life is so uneventful and requiring so little energy that it only needs to eat once in a decade.

Or consider the blue-faced golden-coated monkey that lives in northern China in places that are snow-covered for at least five months of the year. It is so cold there that the monkeys have developed thick furry coats and reduced the danger of their noses being frostbitten by evolving ones that are so severely snubbed that they can hardly be described as noses at all. Both these strange creatures are rare and scarcely known because they live in restricted and little-visited habitats.

There are, however, other rarities whose numbers are also small but for very different and more alarming reasons. They were once abundant but we have displaced them from the territories that were once theirs. Sometimes we have done so for the most trivial of reasons. 

During the 19th century, European settlers both in Australia and North America introduced blackbirds and thrushes from Europe because they considered that their songs were more melodious than those of the local birds. They imported foxes because the hunters among them had nothing they thought suitable for the chase. And some brought their pet cats because they enjoyed having them sitting purring by the fireside. 

Some of these introductions failed and died out after a few generations. But others flourished and became plagues that had catastrophic effects on the indigenous animal populations.

A gentoo penguin coming face to face with its main predator, the leopard seal during 'Seven Worlds, One Planet'

A gentoo penguin coming face to face with its main predator, the leopard seal during 'Seven Worlds, One Planet'

A gentoo penguin coming face to face with its main predator, the leopard seal during ‘Seven Worlds, One Planet’

Pictured: Sir David Attenborough on location filming Seven Worlds, One Planet on Stokksnes beach in Iceland

Pictured: Sir David Attenborough on location filming Seven Worlds, One Planet on Stokksnes beach in Iceland

 Pictured: Sir David Attenborough on location filming Seven Worlds, One Planet on Stokksnes beach in Iceland

Cameraman Mark MacEwen filming elephant seals in Antarctica during production of Seven Worlds, One Planet

Cameraman Mark MacEwen filming elephant seals in Antarctica during production of Seven Worlds, One Planet

Cameraman Mark MacEwen filming elephant seals in Antarctica during production of Seven Worlds, One Planet

Seven Worlds, One Planet explains why communities of animals and plants on the seven continents of our planet are still so different from one another that they can justifiably be described as separate worlds. Pictured, black bear cubs search for crabs on the west coast of Canada

Seven Worlds, One Planet explains why communities of animals and plants on the seven continents of our planet are still so different from one another that they can justifiably be described as separate worlds. Pictured, black bear cubs search for crabs on the west coast of Canada

Seven Worlds, One Planet explains why communities of animals and plants on the seven continents of our planet are still so different from one another that they can justifiably be described as separate worlds. Pictured, black bear cubs search for crabs on the west coast of Canada

Golden snub-nosed monkeys (pictured) huddle for warmth in China¿s freezing Shennongjia National Park

Golden snub-nosed monkeys (pictured) huddle for warmth in China¿s freezing Shennongjia National Park

Golden snub-nosed monkeys (pictured) huddle for warmth in China’s freezing Shennongjia National Park

Others of our introductions have been accidental rather than deliberate, as on the many occasions when we have allowed rats, hitchhiking on our ships, to escape ashore in territory where they never existed before. Again and again these hardy, omnivorous and prolific intruders have then caused havoc among the local animals which had no defence against them.

But the greatest changes we have caused are those we have made deliberately in order to provide for our ever-increasing numbers. We have felled forests, drained swamps and covered fertile meadows with concrete in order to build our homes and factories, airports and motorways. So, over the past 200 years, wild animals that were once relatively abundant on every continent except Antarctica have been decimated and now survive in dangerously small numbers. Such are the Iberian lynx, European wolf, Arctic musk ox and many others.

Seven Worlds, One Planet describes and illustrates rarities of both kinds, together with some of the most dramatic natural wonders that still remain on Earth. Let us hope that our increasing understanding of the way nature functions will at last persuade people everywhere to care for the animals that evolved on this planet’s continents and allow them the space they need to live in the particular world that once was theirs. 

Pictured: An adult Weddell seal under the sea ice during 'Seven Worlds, One Planet'. The seven-part series, fronted by Sir David Attenborough, will also turn its lens on North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia

Pictured: An adult Weddell seal under the sea ice during 'Seven Worlds, One Planet'. The seven-part series, fronted by Sir David Attenborough, will also turn its lens on North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia

Pictured: An adult Weddell seal under the sea ice during ‘Seven Worlds, One Planet’. The seven-part series, fronted by Sir David Attenborough, will also turn its lens on North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia

Cameraman Rolf Steinmann filming king penguin chicks in St Andrews Bay, South Georgia, during the production of 'Seven Worlds, One Planet'

Cameraman Rolf Steinmann filming king penguin chicks in St Andrews Bay, South Georgia, during the production of 'Seven Worlds, One Planet'

Cameraman Rolf Steinmann filming king penguin chicks in St Andrews Bay, South Georgia, during the production of ‘Seven Worlds, One Planet’

ANTARCTICA: FREEZE, YOU’RE ON CAMERA! 

They might look like Muppet babies, but these gorgeous grey-headed albatross chicks on the island of South Georgia in the South Atlantic are gravely endangered – and their fate is an unexpected result of climate change. To keep their eggs off the freezing ground, the adults build these chimney-pot nests, but the worsening storms in the South Atlantic, with winds now frequently gusting at hurricane force, are blowing the chicks off them. When this happens, the adults are unable to recognise their own babies – it seems evolution has programmed them to know their chicks only when the bundles of feathery fluff are in their right place.

‘This must be a new problem,’ says Fredi Devas, who produced the Antarctic episode of Seven Worlds. ‘The birds haven’t had time to evolve an effective response, so a lot of the chicks freeze to death in the icy mud. It’s tragic – and it’s reduced albatross numbers on South Georgia by more than half in 15 years.’

They might look like Muppet babies, but these gorgeous grey-headed albatross chicks (pictured) on the island of South Georgia in the South Atlantic are gravely endangered ¿ and their fate is an unexpected result of climate change. To keep their eggs off the freezing ground, the adults build these chimney-pot nests, but the worsening storms in the South Atlantic, with winds now frequently gusting at hurricane force, are blowing the chicks off them

They might look like Muppet babies, but these gorgeous grey-headed albatross chicks (pictured) on the island of South Georgia in the South Atlantic are gravely endangered ¿ and their fate is an unexpected result of climate change. To keep their eggs off the freezing ground, the adults build these chimney-pot nests, but the worsening storms in the South Atlantic, with winds now frequently gusting at hurricane force, are blowing the chicks off them

They might look like Muppet babies, but these gorgeous grey-headed albatross chicks (pictured) on the island of South Georgia in the South Atlantic are gravely endangered – and their fate is an unexpected result of climate change. To keep their eggs off the freezing ground, the adults build these chimney-pot nests, but the worsening storms in the South Atlantic, with winds now frequently gusting at hurricane force, are blowing the chicks off them 

Some populations of the southern right whale (pictured) ¿ so called because its inquisitive nature made it easy to harpoon and when it died it floated, making it the ¿right¿ whale to catch ¿ have doubled in the past decade

Some populations of the southern right whale (pictured) ¿ so called because its inquisitive nature made it easy to harpoon and when it died it floated, making it the ¿right¿ whale to catch ¿ have doubled in the past decade

Some populations of the southern right whale (pictured) – so called because its inquisitive nature made it easy to harpoon and when it died it floated, making it the ‘right’ whale to catch – have doubled in the past decade

Robot drones capture amazing pictures of the whales feasting for the show, but technology was little use to the brave divers who had to drop down 9ft wide holes in the ice shelf to film the seabed below the frozen surface. Their GPS trackers didn't work under such thick ice, so they had to find their way back to the holes by memory before their air supply ¿ with enough oxygen for just 20 minutes ¿ ran out Pictured, bull elephant seals fighting

Robot drones capture amazing pictures of the whales feasting for the show, but technology was little use to the brave divers who had to drop down 9ft wide holes in the ice shelf to film the seabed below the frozen surface. Their GPS trackers didn't work under such thick ice, so they had to find their way back to the holes by memory before their air supply ¿ with enough oxygen for just 20 minutes ¿ ran out Pictured, bull elephant seals fighting

Robot drones capture amazing pictures of the whales feasting for the show, but technology was little use to the brave divers who had to drop down 9ft wide holes in the ice shelf to film the seabed below the frozen surface. Their GPS trackers didn’t work under such thick ice, so they had to find their way back to the holes by memory before their air supply – with enough oxygen for just 20 minutes – ran out Pictured, bull elephant seals fighting

Also on South Georgia the team filmed bull elephant seals, the largest seal in the world which can be almost 7m long and weigh up to five tonnes – five times the weight of a small car – fighting to settle mating rights. They rear up and slam their bodies together, but these epic battles don’t interest the 500,000 king penguins, whose colony stretches from the beach to the mountain peak around St Andrews Bay. The penguins are more concerned with feeding their chicks, so they must trot back and forth to the sea to get fish dinners.

But the biggest fish dinner around here is gobbled up by hundreds of immense fin whales, the most ever filmed at one time. Once on the verge of extinction, their numbers – along with those of other whales – have surged back thanks to global conservation efforts. Fin whales are twice the size of humpbacks, yet they feed on some of the ocean’s smallest creatures: krill, a tiny shrimp.

Robot drones capture amazing pictures of the whales feasting for the show, but technology was little use to the brave divers who had to drop down 9ft wide holes in the ice shelf to film the seabed below the frozen surface. Their GPS trackers didn’t work under such thick ice, so they had to find their way back to the holes by memory before their air supply – with enough oxygen for just 20 minutes – ran out.

ASIA: THE WORLD’S MOST DEVOTED MUM! FROM CARING ORANGUTANS TO A CUNNING SNAKE AND A CRITICALLY ENDANGERED RHINO, THE PLANET’S LARGEST CONTINENT IS HOME TO SOME OF ITS RAREST CREATURES 

Deep in the Sumatran forest, a haunting song floats through the dense undergrowth… the sound of the singing rhinos. Emma Napper, producer of the Asia episode, could scarcely believe local stories that, to communicate in the impenetrable rainforest, Sumatran rhinos sing to each other. But their music was the first thing she heard when she opened her car door on the first day of the jungle shoot.

Golden snub-nosed monkeys pictured in Qinling Mountains, Shaanxi, China. It doesn't pay to be a loner if you're a golden snub-nosed monkey in the mountains of China's Shennongjia National Park, though. Living two miles above sea level where snow covers the ground for almost half the year, it makes more sense to huddle together in groups of up to 200. These sociable animals are great chatterboxes too. They gossip constantly, making a variety of noises without ever seeming to move their lips ¿ like ventriloquists

Golden snub-nosed monkeys pictured in Qinling Mountains, Shaanxi, China. It doesn't pay to be a loner if you're a golden snub-nosed monkey in the mountains of China's Shennongjia National Park, though. Living two miles above sea level where snow covers the ground for almost half the year, it makes more sense to huddle together in groups of up to 200. These sociable animals are great chatterboxes too. They gossip constantly, making a variety of noises without ever seeming to move their lips ¿ like ventriloquists

Golden snub-nosed monkeys pictured in Qinling Mountains, Shaanxi, China. It doesn’t pay to be a loner if you’re a golden snub-nosed monkey in the mountains of China’s Shennongjia National Park, though. Living two miles above sea level where snow covers the ground for almost half the year, it makes more sense to huddle together in groups of up to 200. These sociable animals are great chatterboxes too. They gossip constantly, making a variety of noises without ever seeming to move their lips – like ventriloquists

‘It’s almost like the song of the humpback whales,’ she says, ‘mournful and melodic. It’s a lovely, lyrical sound, and these rhinos are so sweet – they’re hairy, and much smaller than their African cousins. They’re heavily protected – there may be as few as 50 left in the wild, and their habitat is fenced off to protect them from poachers and loggers. Getting permission to film was hard, but I’m so happy we did: it’s my very favourite segment.’

DID YOU KNOW? 

There are around 10,000 orangutans remaining in Borneo, but because half have been lost in the past 16 years and mothers only rear one infant every seven years, they are listed as critically endangered.

In the lush rainforests of Kalimantan, where the trees tower more than 300ft high, the crew followed another lovable jungle character – Bibi the 40-year-old orangutan and her mischievous two-year-old baby Bayas. To help her adventurous toddler get around without falling, which could be dangerous from such a height, Bibi bends branches and knots them together to create aerial bridges between the trees.

Bayas is a lucky lad. Research shows that orangutan mothers are the best in the world, with about 91 per cent of babies surviving till they are fully weaned at around eight years old. One reason for this is that these adorable orange apes are solitary animals. Bibi and Bayas will just have each other for company, which means they’re less likely to pick up infectious diseases.

It doesn’t pay to be a loner if you’re a golden snub-nosed monkey in the mountains of China’s Shennongjia National Park, though. Living two miles above sea level where snow covers the ground for almost half the year, it makes more sense to huddle together in groups of up to 200. These sociable animals are great chatterboxes too. They gossip constantly, making a variety of noises without ever seeming to move their lips – like ventriloquists.

There are around 10,000 orangutans remaining in Borneo, but because half have been lost in the past 16 years and mothers only rear one infant every seven years, they are listed as critically endangered

There are around 10,000 orangutans remaining in Borneo, but because half have been lost in the past 16 years and mothers only rear one infant every seven years, they are listed as critically endangered

There are around 10,000 orangutans remaining in Borneo, but because half have been lost in the past 16 years and mothers only rear one infant every seven years, they are listed as critically endangered

The Sumatran rhino (pictured) is thought to be a close relative of the extinct woolly rhinoceros. There are fewer than 80 in the wild

The Sumatran rhino (pictured) is thought to be a close relative of the extinct woolly rhinoceros. There are fewer than 80 in the wild

The Sumatran rhino (pictured) is thought to be a close relative of the extinct woolly rhinoceros. There are fewer than 80 in the wild

The males fight frequently to earn the right to the best of the limited food sources, and can even bite off each other’s tails in the heat of battle. But these miniature warriors dislike getting their hands cold. They walk upright in the snow, cartwheeling their arms, and when they’re on two feet they look like drawings of the fabled Abominable Snowman. Is this the real origin of the legend of the Yeti?

RUSSIA’S DELINQUENT BEARS 

Wherever you go in the world you’ll find delinquents. And the bears of the Kamchatka Peninsula in the far east of Russia are no exception. They’ve taken to sniffing aviation fuel from discarded barrels at airfields where the mining company helicopters land to refuel. High on the fumes, the brown bears roll about in the snow, in what Russian nature photographer Igor Shpilenok calls ‘the nirvana position’. They’re so addicted they’ll even stalk the helicopters to sniff any fuel that drips down when the aircraft refuels.

Meanwhile, mothers and cubs enjoy lying beside steaming-hot geysers that blast up from deep below ground and shower them with hot rain. These bears are sheer hedonists.

Meanwhile, in the deserts of Iran the spider-tailed horned viper attracts its prey with a lure at the end of its body. To a hungry bird, that creamy bulb with spines looks just like a juicy spider. When the bird tries to grab it, however, the snake strikes, swallowing smaller victims whole. But only migrant birds, flying over on their way to a distant destination, run the risk of being fooled. The local birds are wise to the snake’s tricks and ignore it.

EUROPE: LOOK WHAT’S ON OUR DOORSTEP

Against the dramatic backdrop of the Rock of Gibraltar, on the roof of a perilously swinging cable car, a kidnap drama is playing out. A baby’s life is in danger… and its desperate mother will do anything to save her child.

The scenario sounds like the climax of a Hollywood thriller, but it’s a real-life crisis captured by a team filming the complex social lives of Barbary macaques. These yellow monkeys live in one of the world’s most spectacular tourist spots, on the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean.

Macaque troops have strict hierarchies, and director Kiri Cashell and her crew trained their lenses on the lowest-ranking female in a troop of 60, who had just given birth. But infant macaques face a bizarre risk – other adults try to snatch them and present them to higher-ranked macaques as a gift. Sometimes they take a baby just because they want to.

As the cameras rolled, another female grabbed the week-old infant and bolted. ‘She seemed to want to play at being a mother,’ says Kiri. ‘The baby started to cry, but the low-ranking mother could only look on and watch what was happening – we think the captor was of a higher social status.’ The mother had a clever trick up her sleeve, though. As the thief hauled her hostage up a pylon, the mum approached an alpha male on the roof of a cable car and began to groom him. Jealous, the kidnapper bounded over to join in… and the mother rescued her baby.

The rise in the number of Iberian lynx kittens (pictured) is a sign of the species¿ resurgence after facing extinction 20 years ago

The rise in the number of Iberian lynx kittens (pictured) is a sign of the species¿ resurgence after facing extinction 20 years ago

The rise in the number of Iberian lynx kittens (pictured) is a sign of the species’ resurgence after facing extinction 20 years ago

Barbary macaque male holding a baby, bridging behaviour to reduce aggression and form social bonds in the Upper Rock area of the Gibraltar Nature Reserve, Rock of Gibraltar (pictured). Macaque troops have strict hierarchies, and director Kiri Cashell and her crew trained their lenses on the lowest-ranking female in a troop of 60, who had just given birth. But infant macaques face a bizarre risk ¿ other adults try to snatch them and present them to higher-ranked macaques as a gift. Sometimes they take a baby just because they want to

Barbary macaque male holding a baby, bridging behaviour to reduce aggression and form social bonds in the Upper Rock area of the Gibraltar Nature Reserve, Rock of Gibraltar (pictured). Macaque troops have strict hierarchies, and director Kiri Cashell and her crew trained their lenses on the lowest-ranking female in a troop of 60, who had just given birth. But infant macaques face a bizarre risk ¿ other adults try to snatch them and present them to higher-ranked macaques as a gift. Sometimes they take a baby just because they want to

Barbary macaque male holding a baby, bridging behaviour to reduce aggression and form social bonds in the Upper Rock area of the Gibraltar Nature Reserve, Rock of Gibraltar (pictured). Macaque troops have strict hierarchies, and director Kiri Cashell and her crew trained their lenses on the lowest-ranking female in a troop of 60, who had just given birth. But infant macaques face a bizarre risk – other adults try to snatch them and present them to higher-ranked macaques as a gift. Sometimes they take a baby just because they want to

Brown bear cubs (pictured) love climbing trees ¿ but can then discover they have a fear of heights!

Brown bear cubs (pictured) love climbing trees ¿ but can then discover they have a fear of heights!

Brown bear cubs (pictured) love climbing trees – but can then discover they have a fear of heights!

A Danube delta pelican (pictured) displays its cavernous bill. The team was particularly astonished by the behaviour of pelicans in the Danube delta. They wait for cormorants to dive down and seize a fish, then grab them by the neck. Choked and frightened, the cormorants cough up their catch¿ straight into the gullet of the pelican

A Danube delta pelican (pictured) displays its cavernous bill. The team was particularly astonished by the behaviour of pelicans in the Danube delta. They wait for cormorants to dive down and seize a fish, then grab them by the neck. Choked and frightened, the cormorants cough up their catch¿ straight into the gullet of the pelican

A Danube delta pelican (pictured) displays its cavernous bill. The team was particularly astonished by the behaviour of pelicans in the Danube delta. They wait for cormorants to dive down and seize a fish, then grab them by the neck. Choked and frightened, the cormorants cough up their catch… straight into the gullet of the pelican

Life can be dangerous for all animal babies, however grown-up they might think they are. On the border of Finland and Russia, the team filmed brown bear cubs showing off their climbing skills. ‘One day,’ says director Charlotte Bostock, ‘a cub climbed too high and seemed to get vertigo. He froze at the top of a tree that must have been 30m high. He was quivering with fright, while his mother was below. She must have been there for a good hour, and eventually coaxed him down.’

In the mountains of the Sierra de Andujar in Andalucia, Spain, Charlotte set up camera traps to film Iberian lynx. These spotted cats with their magnificent whiskers, like Victorian gentlemen, were virtually extinct 20 years ago. But a dedicated conservation programme has rescued them, and some 200 kittens were born last year. Still, they remain some of the most elusive animals in Europe. ‘Filming the lynx was like finding a needle in a haystack,’ says Charlotte.

The team was particularly astonished by the behaviour of pelicans in the Danube delta. They wait for cormorants to dive down and seize a fish, then grab them by the neck. Choked and frightened, the cormorants cough up their catch… straight into the gullet of the pelican.

BACK TO THE ICE AGE: Musk oxen are true relics of the last Ice Age (pictured). They roamed northern Europe at the same time as sabre-toothed tigers and mammoths. Though they were wiped out on the continent by the middle of the 19th century, they survived in Arctic Canada and were reintroduced at a nature reserve in Norway after the Second World War. Though they look like cattle, they are more closely related to sheep and goats. Musk ox fur is fantastically warm, and said to be the rarest natural fibre in the world. The Inuit word for the creature is omingmak, meaning 'the animal with skin like a beard'.

BACK TO THE ICE AGE: Musk oxen are true relics of the last Ice Age (pictured). They roamed northern Europe at the same time as sabre-toothed tigers and mammoths. Though they were wiped out on the continent by the middle of the 19th century, they survived in Arctic Canada and were reintroduced at a nature reserve in Norway after the Second World War. Though they look like cattle, they are more closely related to sheep and goats. Musk ox fur is fantastically warm, and said to be the rarest natural fibre in the world. The Inuit word for the creature is omingmak, meaning 'the animal with skin like a beard'.

BACK TO THE ICE AGE: Musk oxen are true relics of the last Ice Age (pictured). They roamed northern Europe at the same time as sabre-toothed tigers and mammoths. Though they were wiped out on the continent by the middle of the 19th century, they survived in Arctic Canada and were reintroduced at a nature reserve in Norway after the Second World War. Though they look like cattle, they are more closely related to sheep and goats. Musk ox fur is fantastically warm, and said to be the rarest natural fibre in the world. The Inuit word for the creature is omingmak, meaning ‘the animal with skin like a beard’.

NORTH AMERICA: IT’S MANATEE TIME

Filming the sea cow, or manatee, around the warm Florida springs proved a problem – because the inquisitive, docile creatures were just so darn friendly. ‘Manatees sense the world through their long whiskers, so they wanted to come right up and nuzzle,’ says assistant producer Sarah Whalley. ‘They chewed on our hair and even on the airpipes of our breathing apparatus. But they’re a protected species and we weren’t allowed to touch them, not even to push them away. Usually you wish you could get closer to wildlife when filming, but this time we were trying to get further away!’

At the other extreme, the team watched polar bears hunting beluga whales in Canada’s Hudson Bay. In the summer, when the whales are calving, they’ll swim into the shallows to rub their bellies on the shingle. The bears wait for them on the rocks above, but they have to time their pounce to perfection – the belugas can turn tail in an instant.

Some animals rely on other species to chase away their predators. The prairie dog, or gopher, is vulnerable to attack from the American badger, which snatches infants from its burrows. But burrowing owls hate the badgers too. To protect their chicks on the ground, the owls divebomb the badgers, making the owls and gophers unlikely but effective allies.

One creature that knows how to maximise its feeding opportunities is the North American black bear. At low spring tides it will venture from the forests on the West Coast to the vast boulder fields revealed by the retreating water where a feast of eels and shellfish awaits – all the bear has to do is flip over the boulders.

In winter manatees are drawn to the waters around Florida¿s hot springs (pictured). Filming the sea cow, or manatee, around the warm Florida springs proved a problem ¿ because the inquisitive, docile creatures were just so darn friendly. 'Manatees sense the world through their long whiskers, so they wanted to come right up and nuzzle,' says assistant producer Sarah Whalley. 'They chewed on our hair and even on the airpipes of our breathing apparatus. But they're a protected species and we weren't allowed to touch them, not even to push them away. Usually you wish you could get closer to wildlife when filming, but this time we were trying to get further away!'

In winter manatees are drawn to the waters around Florida¿s hot springs (pictured). Filming the sea cow, or manatee, around the warm Florida springs proved a problem ¿ because the inquisitive, docile creatures were just so darn friendly. 'Manatees sense the world through their long whiskers, so they wanted to come right up and nuzzle,' says assistant producer Sarah Whalley. 'They chewed on our hair and even on the airpipes of our breathing apparatus. But they're a protected species and we weren't allowed to touch them, not even to push them away. Usually you wish you could get closer to wildlife when filming, but this time we were trying to get further away!'

In winter manatees are drawn to the waters around Florida’s hot springs (pictured). Filming the sea cow, or manatee, around the warm Florida springs proved a problem – because the inquisitive, docile creatures were just so darn friendly. ‘Manatees sense the world through their long whiskers, so they wanted to come right up and nuzzle,’ says assistant producer Sarah Whalley. ‘They chewed on our hair and even on the airpipes of our breathing apparatus. But they’re a protected species and we weren’t allowed to touch them, not even to push them away. Usually you wish you could get closer to wildlife when filming, but this time we were trying to get further away!’

One creature that knows how to maximise its feeding opportunities is the North American black bear (pictured). At low spring tides it will venture from the forests on the West Coast to the vast boulder fields revealed by the retreating water where a feast of eels and shellfish awaits ¿ all the bear has to do is flip over the boulders

One creature that knows how to maximise its feeding opportunities is the North American black bear (pictured). At low spring tides it will venture from the forests on the West Coast to the vast boulder fields revealed by the retreating water where a feast of eels and shellfish awaits ¿ all the bear has to do is flip over the boulders

One creature that knows how to maximise its feeding opportunities is the North American black bear (pictured). At low spring tides it will venture from the forests on the West Coast to the vast boulder fields revealed by the retreating water where a feast of eels and shellfish awaits – all the bear has to do is flip over the boulders

In many of North America¿s rivers in spring, the river chub can be seen building impressive pebble mounds to attract a mate. There can be 7,000 pebbles in a mound ¿ and the little fish positions them all with his mouth!

In many of North America¿s rivers in spring, the river chub can be seen building impressive pebble mounds to attract a mate. There can be 7,000 pebbles in a mound ¿ and the little fish positions them all with his mouth!

In many of North America’s rivers in spring, the river chub can be seen building impressive pebble mounds to attract a mate. There can be 7,000 pebbles in a mound – and the little fish positions them all with his mouth!

On America¿s Great Plains, a burrowing owl (pictured) chases away a badger ¿ much to the relief of the local gopher population, which badgers prey on

On America¿s Great Plains, a burrowing owl (pictured) chases away a badger ¿ much to the relief of the local gopher population, which badgers prey on

On America’s Great Plains, a burrowing owl (pictured) chases away a badger – much to the relief of the local gopher population, which badgers prey on

Pictured, a polar bear prepares to pounce on a beluga whale. The team watched polar bears hunting beluga whales in Canada's Hudson Bay. In the summer, when the whales are calving, they'll swim into the shallows to rub their bellies on the shingle. The bears wait for them on the rocks above, but they have to time their pounce to perfection ¿ the belugas can turn tail in an instant.

Pictured, a polar bear prepares to pounce on a beluga whale. The team watched polar bears hunting beluga whales in Canada's Hudson Bay. In the summer, when the whales are calving, they'll swim into the shallows to rub their bellies on the shingle. The bears wait for them on the rocks above, but they have to time their pounce to perfection ¿ the belugas can turn tail in an instant.

Pictured, a polar bear prepares to pounce on a beluga whale. The team watched polar bears hunting beluga whales in Canada’s Hudson Bay. In the summer, when the whales are calving, they’ll swim into the shallows to rub their bellies on the shingle. The bears wait for them on the rocks above, but they have to time their pounce to perfection – the belugas can turn tail in an instant.

AUSTRALASIA: FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM 

Australia’s long-term isolation has resulted in an unusually large number of endemic species such as the kangaroo. But seeing a mob of these marsupials in a snowstorm is somewhat surreal. Normally you’d expect to find them in the arid outback, yet in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales where temperatures can fall to -23˚C they are frequently seen – their thick fur protecting them from the worst of the cold.

In the mountains they’re safer from dingo attacks than on the warmer plains. These wild dogs are probably descended from animals brought over from New Guinea by humans making the voyage by canoe between 3,000 and 5,000 years ago – though some naturalists think the dingo’s ancestors might have trekked to Australia across a land bridge up to 18,000 years ago, when sea levels were lower.

For the dingos, kangaroo hunts demand agility and stamina. The dogs can run at a steady 30mph, while their prey bounds along at a slightly slower speed, with sudden bursts of up to 40mph. If the kangaroo slips or allows itself to be outflanked by other dogs, the hunt is soon over.

A curious kangaroo peers at the camera in the Snowy Mountains. Australia's long-term isolation has resulted in an unusually large number of endemic species such as the kangaroo. But seeing a mob of these marsupials in a snowstorm is somewhat surreal. Normally you'd expect to find them in the arid outback, yet in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales where temperatures can fall to -23¿C they are frequently seen ¿ their thick fur protecting them from the worst of the cold

A curious kangaroo peers at the camera in the Snowy Mountains. Australia's long-term isolation has resulted in an unusually large number of endemic species such as the kangaroo. But seeing a mob of these marsupials in a snowstorm is somewhat surreal. Normally you'd expect to find them in the arid outback, yet in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales where temperatures can fall to -23¿C they are frequently seen ¿ their thick fur protecting them from the worst of the cold

A curious kangaroo peers at the camera in the Snowy Mountains. Australia’s long-term isolation has resulted in an unusually large number of endemic species such as the kangaroo. But seeing a mob of these marsupials in a snowstorm is somewhat surreal. Normally you’d expect to find them in the arid outback, yet in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales where temperatures can fall to -23˚C they are frequently seen – their thick fur protecting them from the worst of the cold

Cassowary males take care of the chicks (pictured). On the beach of the Wet Tropics Rainforest in Queensland, you might be surprised to see fresh tracks that appear to have been made in the sand by a dinosaur. In fact, the footprints have been made by a cassowary, a colourful flightless bird that looks like a psychedelic turkey and stands up to 6ft tall. They are so shy that they run at the first sign of humans, and proved one of the camera crew's most testing challenges

Cassowary males take care of the chicks (pictured). On the beach of the Wet Tropics Rainforest in Queensland, you might be surprised to see fresh tracks that appear to have been made in the sand by a dinosaur. In fact, the footprints have been made by a cassowary, a colourful flightless bird that looks like a psychedelic turkey and stands up to 6ft tall. They are so shy that they run at the first sign of humans, and proved one of the camera crew's most testing challenges

Cassowary males take care of the chicks (pictured). On the beach of the Wet Tropics Rainforest in Queensland, you might be surprised to see fresh tracks that appear to have been made in the sand by a dinosaur. In fact, the footprints have been made by a cassowary, a colourful flightless bird that looks like a psychedelic turkey and stands up to 6ft tall. They are so shy that they run at the first sign of humans, and proved one of the camera crew’s most testing challenges

Other animals in Australasia have a less taxing technique for catching dinner. In the Roper River in northern Australia, crocodiles lie in the water, half-submerged in the 45˚C heat. Unlike their bigger saltwater cousins, these freshwater crocs are not man-eaters – but they are deadly to little red flying foxes. As the foxes, which are really a type of bat, swoop down in flocks of up to 20,000 to soak the fur on their breasts with water, which they will drink later, the crocodiles snap them up. The prey literally flies into those wide-open jaws, but the bats have no choice: in the dry season they have to take the risk or they will die of thirst.

Sometimes though, when bubbles appear on the surface of the water in Australia it isn’t a sign of crocodiles. The mysterious underwater bubble-blower might be a duck-billed platypus, a creature so bizarre that when Victorian scientists first saw a stuffed exhibit they assumed it was a taxidermist’s prank constructed from an otter’s feet with a beaver’s tail and, of course, a duck’s bill.

That bill has electrical receptors running along its edge, making it able to detect fish in the murkiest water. And it has poisonous glands linked to spurs on its back feet, making it one of the few venomous mammals. On top of that, it’s a mammal that lays eggs. No wonder the Victorians thought someone was playing an April Fool’s joke.

Sometimes though, when bubbles appear on the surface of the water in Australia it isn't a sign of crocodiles. The mysterious underwater bubble-blower might be a duck-billed platypus, a creature so bizarre that when Victorian scientists first saw a stuffed exhibit they assumed it was a taxidermist's prank constructed from an otter's feet with a beaver's tail and, of course, a duck's bill

Sometimes though, when bubbles appear on the surface of the water in Australia it isn't a sign of crocodiles. The mysterious underwater bubble-blower might be a duck-billed platypus, a creature so bizarre that when Victorian scientists first saw a stuffed exhibit they assumed it was a taxidermist's prank constructed from an otter's feet with a beaver's tail and, of course, a duck's bill

Sometimes though, when bubbles appear on the surface of the water in Australia it isn’t a sign of crocodiles. The mysterious underwater bubble-blower might be a duck-billed platypus, a creature so bizarre that when Victorian scientists first saw a stuffed exhibit they assumed it was a taxidermist’s prank constructed from an otter’s feet with a beaver’s tail and, of course, a duck’s bill

On the beach of the Wet Tropics Rainforest in Queensland, you might be surprised to see fresh tracks that appear to have been made in the sand by a dinosaur. In fact, the footprints have been made by a cassowary, a colourful flightless bird that looks like a psychedelic turkey and stands up to 6ft tall. They are so shy that they run at the first sign of humans, and proved one of the camera crew’s most testing challenges.

SOUTH AMERICA: PURR-FECT FOR PUMAS AND PADDINGTON!

You can always rely upon one animal to get into mischief, and that’s a bear called Paddington. And the spectacled bears of Peru, on which the beloved children’s character is based, proved true to type.

When the film crew for the South America episode set camera traps to film these elusive creatures remotely, their expensive equipment did not last long. ‘These bears are very naughty, curious and destructive,’ says assistant producer Sarah Whalley. ‘Once they caught sight of their reflection in the lenses, they wreaked havoc. We had to come up with ways to stop them chewing the cameras to bits.’

Fortunately, the camera traps weren’t needed because, though spectacled bears (also known as Andean bears, and the only bear to be found in South America) are notoriously difficult to film in the wild, the team picked the perfect time and place to watch them. Their favourite food is the small, olive-shaped fruit of the pacche tree, and when the fruits appear the bears trek down from the cloud forest high in the Andes where they live to feast on this delicacy. They climb the trees, performing acrobatic leaps to get into the best position, and then chew off the branches so they can reel in the fruit at the tips. When they’ve stuffed themselves for a couple of hours, they make a nest from the branches and settle down to sleep off their blowout.

While their mother Sarmiento is out hunting guanaco, these puma cubs (pictured) wait by a lake in southern Chile

While their mother Sarmiento is out hunting guanaco, these puma cubs (pictured) wait by a lake in southern Chile

While their mother Sarmiento is out hunting guanaco, these puma cubs (pictured) wait by a lake in southern Chile

Wary of ocelots, macaws mine sodium-rich clay for their young on a riverbank in the Peruvian Amazon

Wary of ocelots, macaws mine sodium-rich clay for their young on a riverbank in the Peruvian Amazon

Wary of ocelots, macaws mine sodium-rich clay for their young on a riverbank in the Peruvian Amazon

The crew couldn’t believe their eyes. ‘Andean bears are very rarely seen, but Sarah really hit the jackpot,’ says cameraman Bertie Gregory. ‘On our first day we saw five, on another day ten. The expert who was advising us didn’t believe us at first, but then we saw three large adults together in a single tree.’

Did you know?

The puma can be found in 28 countries throughout the Americas from Canada to Chile, and it has up to 80 names – including the mountain lion, cougar, catamount, panther, red tiger and deer tiger.

Sarah’s favourite animal though was Sarmiento, a puma living in the Parque Nacional Torres del Paine on the southern coast of Chile. She was hoping for a feast of her own as she taught her three growing cubs to hunt guanaco – an ancestor of the domestic llama that is basically a camel without a hump. The big cat had to be brave, because the bad-tempered guanaco are twice her size… and born fighters. When the males battle for mating rights, they try to bite off each other’s testicles. You don’t mess with a guanaco. Sarmiento wasn’t afraid though, and the crew tracked her efforts for days. ‘She’s such a fierce and attentive mother, there’s a special place in my heart for her,’ says Sarah.

Vying with the vibrantly coloured macaws of the Amazon for most flamboyant creature on the continent must be the cotton-top tamarin, a tiny monkey with a wild white moptop. Their variety of whistles and chirps is so varied that scientists regard it as a language. But they are critically endangered – their habitat in the coastal rainforests of Colombia is being poisoned by mercury pollution washed down from the goldmines upstream.

A spectacled, or Andean bear perching in a tree

A spectacled, or Andean bear perching in a tree

A cotton-top tamarin monkey (pictured)

A cotton-top tamarin monkey (pictured)

Left: A spectacled, or Andean bear perching in a tree. Right: A cotton-top tamarin monkey

AFRICA: SURVIVAL OF THE SMARTEST 

There is a lot to learn when you’re a young chimpanzee. But Pegatta, five, has a great teacher in mum Perla. At 43, she is the champion nut-cracker of her troop in the tropical rainforests of the Ivory Coast in West Africa. With a rock, she can burst open a nut against a stone anvil in no time.

When French soldiers first heard these strange banging noises in the 19th century, they thought there was a rebel army forging weapons in the forest – animals using tools was unheard of. It’ll take Pegatta five more years to perfect the skill, and she may not get a chance to practise with Perla’s tools – stone hammers are highly prized in chimpanzee communities and a queue of chimps will form to use the best rock.

Elsewhere, the oxpeckers of South Luangwa National Park in Zambia are choosy about their hosts. The red-billed birds prefer to divest hippos of ticks and parasites because they can also suck their blood through their thin skin. The yellow-billed birds are happier on a giraffe, however, and will roost between its legs at night to make sure it hasn’t wandered off in the morning. 

Pegatta watches her mother Perla cracking nuts in West Africa¿s Ivory Coast

Pegatta watches her mother Perla cracking nuts in West Africa¿s Ivory Coast

Pegatta watches her mother Perla cracking nuts in West Africa’s Ivory Coast

At Mana Pools in Zimbabwe, some African elephants have learnt to rise up on their back legs to reach the highest fruit on the ana tree ¿ inadvertently scattering food on the ground for smaller animals

At Mana Pools in Zimbabwe, some African elephants have learnt to rise up on their back legs to reach the highest fruit on the ana tree ¿ inadvertently scattering food on the ground for smaller animals

At Mana Pools in Zimbabwe, some African elephants have learnt to rise up on their back legs to reach the highest fruit on the ana tree – inadvertently scattering food on the ground for smaller animals

A baby gorilla in the Congo Basin. In its first two years it will put on weight twice as fast as a human baby, and it is likely to depend on its mother for up to five years

A baby gorilla in the Congo Basin. In its first two years it will put on weight twice as fast as a human baby, and it is likely to depend on its mother for up to five years

A baby gorilla in the Congo Basin. In its first two years it will put on weight twice as fast as a human baby, and it is likely to depend on its mother for up to five years

An aardvark uses its sensitive snout to sniff out ants and termites in South Africa¿s Northern Cape

An aardvark uses its sensitive snout to sniff out ants and termites in South Africa¿s Northern Cape

An aardvark uses its sensitive snout to sniff out ants and termites in South Africa’s Northern Cape

A flamingo at Lake Bogoria, Kenya. They get their colouring from pigments in the organisms they eat

A flamingo at Lake Bogoria, Kenya. They get their colouring from pigments in the organisms they eat

A flamingo at Lake Bogoria, Kenya. They get their colouring from pigments in the organisms they eat

Yellow-billed oxpeckers roost between a giraffe¿s legs during the night. Giraffes are their favourite source of ticks and parasites to eat

Yellow-billed oxpeckers roost between a giraffe¿s legs during the night. Giraffes are their favourite source of ticks and parasites to eat

Yellow-billed oxpeckers roost between a giraffe’s legs during the night. Giraffes are their favourite source of ticks and parasites to eat

  •  Seven Worlds, One Planet starts on 27 October on BBC1.
  •  Seven Worlds One Planet by Jonny Keeling & Scott Alexander is published by BBC Books, £25. To order a copy for £20 (20% discount), call 01603 648155 or go to mailshop.co.uk. Free delivery on all orders. Offer valid until 02/11/2019

The post David Attenborough writes about singing rhinos, cute monkeys and more ahead of his new BBC series appeared first on Kozy Girls.

]]>
Former Army private who longed to be a woman was fast-tracked to surgery before regretting operation https://kozygirls.com/former-army-private-who-longed-to-be-a-woman-was-fast-tracked-to-surgery-before-regretting-operation/ Sat, 19 Oct 2019 07:27:30 +0000 https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-7589655/Former-Army-private-longed-woman-fast-tracked-surgery-regretting-operation.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 On first meeting Peter Benjamin, he appears every inch the former Army man with his tailored suit, pressed shirt and shaved head. ‘I’ve always liked to be smart,’ says widower Peter, 60, who — tanned from regular outdoor runs — looks much younger. ‘My late wife used to dress me […]

The post Former Army private who longed to be a woman was fast-tracked to surgery before regretting operation appeared first on Kozy Girls.

]]>
On first meeting Peter Benjamin, he appears every inch the former Army man with his tailored suit, pressed shirt and shaved head.

‘I’ve always liked to be smart,’ says widower Peter, 60, who — tanned from regular outdoor runs — looks much younger. ‘My late wife used to dress me as Marks & Spencer man.’

Married three times, with two children from his first marriage, aged 31 and 28, Mr Benjamin certainly gives the impression of someone who has never been troubled by confusion over his gender identity. ‘I was born male, I’m a man and always have been,’ he says firmly, adding: ‘A heterosexual man.’

The birth certificate he shows me, though, clearly states the opposite. Legally, he is a female called Victoria. In December 2015, Peter had irreversible gender reassignment surgery — at a cost of £10,000 to the NHS — convinced he wanted to be a woman.

In December 2015, Peter (pictured age 17) had irreversible gender reassignment surgery — at a cost of £10,000 to the NHS — convinced he wanted to be a woman

In December 2015, Peter (pictured age 17) had irreversible gender reassignment surgery — at a cost of £10,000 to the NHS — convinced he wanted to be a woman

In December 2015, Peter (pictured age 17) had irreversible gender reassignment surgery — at a cost of £10,000 to the NHS — convinced he wanted to be a woman

Earlier this year, he realised he’d made a terrible mistake and went back to living as a man. ‘I was never a woman,’ says Peter now, as he speaks of his bitter regret.

‘The euphoria I felt after surgery lasted only a matter of hours. I still felt like Peter, looked like Peter, thought like Peter and did all the things Peter did: doing jobs around the house, running, swimming and going to the gym.

‘I had a wardrobe full of feminine clothes, shoes, handbags, jewellery and wigs in every colour and style, but the bright, fluffy world I had imagined as a lady who lunched with her girlfriends never happened.’

Peter has changed his name back by deed poll, but must now live as a male for two years before he can apply to have his birth certificate changed back to the one he got at birth.

He will have to apply testosterone gel for the rest of his life to reverse the feminisation caused by surgical castration and hormone therapy. He will never have a full sexual relationship with a woman again. 

Unwilling to undergo further painful and complicated surgery, he is resigned to celibacy.

Pictured: Victoria Benjamin. 'I was never a woman,' says Peter now, as he speaks of his bitter regret

Pictured: Victoria Benjamin. 'I was never a woman,' says Peter now, as he speaks of his bitter regret

Pictured: Victoria Benjamin. ‘I was never a woman,’ says Peter now, as he speaks of his bitter regret

This week, Peter made the brave decision to share his disturbing story publicly, calling for medical and mental health services to show more caution before they recommend people like himself for gender reassignment surgery.

With NHS figures revealing a 2,500 per cent increase in referrals to gender identity clinics over the past decade — many of them children — he wants his predicament to act as a warning to parents, the Government and medical and educational services.

Peter says that, far from being a woman born into the wrong body, he was instead a lonely, depressed man in the grip of a mental breakdown and alcohol addiction following the death of his wife from cancer in 2011.

‘I was just looking for an escape from reality,’ he says. ‘It was all nonsense. All that pain was for nothing.’

Backed by the Christian Legal Centre, Peter is now considering his legal options, claiming that he was ‘let down’ by the NHS and that his ‘underlying mental health issues’ were never properly addressed.

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: ‘It is tragic that such a vulnerable man was given a life-changing, irreversible and damaging operation without his profound mental health issues being addressed properly.

Peter’s story needs to be told far and wide so that children and adults who are struggling with gender confusion, as he once was, can know there is another way.’

Peter finds it incomprehensible that he was given the green light for life-changing surgery after a handful of sessions with three psychiatrists — both private and on the NHS — without, he claims, more thorough evaluation.

Sitting in his small home near Southampton, Peter’s hands shake with uncontrollable tremors as he recounts the traumatic journey he took to womanhood and back again, which he says left him suicidal. Even he finds it hard to fathom how he ended up like this.

The eldest of three sons, born to a military man, Peter talks of a childhood in Portsmouth spent dressing up in his dad’s old uniforms to play soldiers with his brothers and going for 30km cycle rides. 

‘I never felt like a girl trapped in a boy’s body, or wanted to play with dolls,’ he says. ‘I’ve never looked at my male body and felt disgust.

‘I didn’t have body dysphoria. I liked being a man and have always been attracted to women.’

Aged 16, Peter joined the Royal Army Ordnance Corps as a private and served for five years. He then had a variety of jobs, including diesel mechanic, bus driver, support worker, civil servant, NHS driver, care assistant and — most recently — telephone interviewer.

Peter believes the confusion which led to his transition stemmed from a secret ‘addiction’ to cross-dressing, a fetish which started in adolescence with a fascination with TV drag artist Danny La Rue.

As a Christian man, it is something that causes him shame. It led to the end of his first seven-year marriage, breaking up his family. He’s spent his life trying to repress those urges, and thought he’d succeeded during his third marriage to a nursing sister, whom he met at the hospital where he worked in 2002.

But after her death, Peter sought solace from his loneliness on the internet. Mixing alcohol with anxiety and depression medication, he became obsessed with transsexual internet sites.

‘I started to believe I’d be happier as a woman and was caught up in the whole transgender bandwagon,’ says Peter. ‘I spent hundreds of pounds on women’s clothes.’

Within the LGBT community he found the support, acceptance, female comfort, counselling and social contact he craved at a very vulnerable time in his life.

Peter (pictured) believes the confusion which led to his transition stemmed from a secret 'addiction' to cross-dressing, a fetish which started in adolescence with a fascination with TV drag artist Danny La Rue

Peter (pictured) believes the confusion which led to his transition stemmed from a secret 'addiction' to cross-dressing, a fetish which started in adolescence with a fascination with TV drag artist Danny La Rue

Peter (pictured) believes the confusion which led to his transition stemmed from a secret ‘addiction’ to cross-dressing, a fetish which started in adolescence with a fascination with TV drag artist Danny La Rue

Attending a local transgender support group run by a charity, it felt good to be reassured by a counsellor he wasn’t the ‘freak’ he thought he was, but a woman.

‘I thought, ‘I can’t live a lie any more, I need to change gender’,’ says Peter, who was so eager to start that he ordered hormones online. 

In 2012, less than a year after his wife’s death, he told his GP: ‘I want to be a woman’. He was advised to try living as a female full-time and come back after a month if he still felt the same way.

He did, and was later referred to a consultant psychiatrist at Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, who placed him on a waiting list for an appointment at a gender identity clinic in London.

Peter says in 2013 he paid £300 for a one-hour private appointment with a doctor once voted one of the most influential LGBT people in the UK, and was diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

Referred privately to an endocrinologist at the same clinic, he was prescribed oestrogen and Decapeptyl injections to begin the process of lowering his testosterone levels and shrinking his testicles.

‘I was being seen by people who were supposed to be the experts, and everyone was telling me: ‘Yes, you are transgender’,’ he says. ‘And that’s what I believed.’

After a consultation with a different psychiatrist at the clinic, Peter was referred to have full gender reassignment surgery on the NHS. 

With the waiting list so long, however, the NHS paid £10,000 to fast-track Peter’s operation at a private hospital in London, rather than be fined for his waiting time going over the 18-week threshold.

‘When I told my children, they were unhappy about it, but tried to be supportive. My daughter drove me to the hospital and said: ‘Good luck’,’ says Peter, who was beyond all persuasion. ‘I met the surgeon before the operation, who explained what it would involve and warned me that it was irreversible, but I didn’t have a single doubt.

‘On the day I was nervous, and in two minds about whether to go ahead. He told me I could change my mind at any time, even on the operating table, but I told him: ‘Just do it’. When I came round I asked the nurse: ‘Is that it? Has it gone?’ She said: ‘Yes’. I felt euphoric to begin with, but it didn’t last.’

Peter spent a week on a ward with around seven other transgender women who’d had the same surgery to remove their male genitalia and fashion female sex organs.

‘None of us spoke to each other; some of them I didn’t even see because they were too ill and stayed in their rooms,’ says Peter. ‘I felt like I’d been put on some kind of conveyor belt, and when I finally looked at my new female body I didn’t feel joy, I felt nothing.’

Peter’s son collected him from hospital and drove him back to Hampshire. ‘The first thing he said to me was: ‘But you still look like a man’. He didn’t understand, he thought I’d come out of the operation transformed into a woman,’ says Peter.

The comment upset Peter at the time, but he says now: ‘My son was the only person who spoke the truth during this whole process.’

To improve his female appearance, the NHS paid for Peter to have £1,000 of laser treatment on his face to stop his facial hair from growing, but it was so painful Peter stopped after four sessions.

He was refused an NHS breast augmentation, and couldn’t afford to have this, or any other cosmetic enhancements, done privately.

Worried that he did not ‘pass’ sufficiently as a woman, Peter often feared ridicule, verbal abuse or worse when he went out as Victoria, although he can only recall one occasion when a man threatened him in a pub. Indeed, he was grateful for the laws which protected Victoria from discrimination.

Peter admits he was quick to correct those who ‘misgendered’ Victoria by calling her ‘him’. He once complained to a pool manager when a woman objected to his presence in the ladies’ changing room. He was alert to any sign of what he saw as ‘transphobia’.

But ultimately this was the crushing realisation that life as a woman would never live up to the fantasy and was, in fact, infinitely worse than being a man. At Easter, he decided to detransition.

He emptied the contents of his wardrobe into bin bags and dumped them at a charity shop, before replacing them with the men’s clothes he wears today.

He gave all his jewellery away and chucked his make-up in the bin. ‘Absolutely everything about my life as a man was better than being a woman and I am happy being Peter again,’ he says, adding that he is no longer taking medication for anxiety and depression, or drinking heavily.

‘Now I can just put on a jacket and go out. As a woman, it could take me an hour to get out of the door. My anxiety levels would be sky-high. I was a wreck. It was like having agoraphobia. Being a woman was making me ill.’

Peter believes his story is just the beginning of a backlash. He predicts that more people will seek help to detransition, and may start to question their diagnoses and the treatment they received.

This month it was reported that Charlie Evans, 28, who was born female but identified as male for almost ten years before deciding to identify as a woman again, was launching a support group: The Detransition Advocacy Network.

She said she had been contacted by ‘hundreds’ of people who want to undo their surgery. Many were young, ‘same-sex attracted’ people, who were often autistic.

This week, it was reported that a mother is taking legal action against a London child gender clinic, run by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, to stop it treating her autistic daughter, 15, without a court’s approval.

But can Peter Benjamin really blame medical professionals for giving him what he desperately wanted at the time, based on beliefs he genuinely held then?

‘I don’t think the NHS should be spending its resources on gender reassignment surgery at all,’ he says. ‘The money it spent on me was a complete waste.

‘A psychiatrist will see you for an hour, and make a diagnosis, but they don’t know us, they don’t know where or how we live, they don’t know the whole story. When you’re confused and desperate, it’s so easy to say all the right things, to lie and say, ‘I don’t drink’, or, ‘I don’t have anxiety and I am not depressed.’ Surgery does not fix those underlying problems.

‘But afterwards you are signed off to the care of your GP and left to get on with it. You never see those psychiatrists again and they don’t ever get to see the consequences.’

The post Former Army private who longed to be a woman was fast-tracked to surgery before regretting operation appeared first on Kozy Girls.

]]>
The man who turned down Marilyn Monroe: How photographer Doug Kirkland said no to the actress https://kozygirls.com/the-man-who-turned-down-marilyn-monroe-how-photographer-doug-kirkland-said-no-to-the-actress/ Sat, 19 Oct 2019 07:27:29 +0000 https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7589569/The-man-turned-Marilyn-Monroe-photographer-Doug-Kirkland-said-no-actress.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Alone with the world’s most desired woman writhing voluptuously around naked in bed, Doug Kirkland was understandably lost for words when Marilyn Monroe invited him to join her.  After all, he was meant to be there just to photograph her. She had cleared everyone else out of the room, telling […]

The post The man who turned down Marilyn Monroe: How photographer Doug Kirkland said no to the actress appeared first on Kozy Girls.

]]>
Alone with the world’s most desired woman writhing voluptuously around naked in bed, Doug Kirkland was understandably lost for words when Marilyn Monroe invited him to join her. 

After all, he was meant to be there just to photograph her. She had cleared everyone else out of the room, telling them: ‘I need to be alone with this boy.’

Reminding himself that he was a married man with three young children waiting for him at home, the young Canadian photographer played for time. He pretended not to hear her, fiddling nervously with his cameras.

Monroe went back into her dressing room and emerged wearing just a white dressing gown which she immediately took off, slipping into bed and under its single silk sheet. ‘I stole little glances of her backside and breasts as she moved,’ said Kirkland

Monroe went back into her dressing room and emerged wearing just a white dressing gown which she immediately took off, slipping into bed and under its single silk sheet. ‘I stole little glances of her backside and breasts as she moved,’ said Kirkland

Monroe went back into her dressing room and emerged wearing just a white dressing gown which she immediately took off, slipping into bed and under its single silk sheet. ‘I stole little glances of her backside and breasts as she moved,’ said Kirkland

The heady sexual tension that night in a photographer’s studio in Los Angeles produced some of the most famous pictures ever taken of Monroe. The actress never looked so seductive, a fact that gave her no small pleasure.

‘I like this girl because she’s the kind of woman every man would like to be in there with,’ she told Kirkland, as they looked through the photos later. 

‘The kind of girl a truck driver would like to be in that bed with.’

Monroe, whose lovers reportedly included President John F. Kennedy and his brother Bobby, set her sights rather higher than truck drivers. 

At the time of the photoshoot, despite being at the peak of her fame, she was hiding from the public gaze.

Kirkland, who went on to photograph many of the world’s most beautiful women, was only 27 when he was sent to snap Monroe for the now defunct Look magazine’s 25th anniversary issue. He is pictured hanging off the balcony

Kirkland, who went on to photograph many of the world’s most beautiful women, was only 27 when he was sent to snap Monroe for the now defunct Look magazine’s 25th anniversary issue. He is pictured hanging off the balcony

Kirkland, who went on to photograph many of the world’s most beautiful women, was only 27 when he was sent to snap Monroe for the now defunct Look magazine’s 25th anniversary issue. He is pictured hanging off the balcony

Her marriage to playwright Arthur Miller was disintegrating and she was rumoured to be seeing her thuggish baseball star ex-husband Joe DiMaggio.

Tragically, her unhappy private life wouldn’t burden her much longer. Just nine months after the photoshoot in November 1961, the actress died from a barbiturates overdose.

In New York later this month, Christie’s is auctioning the camera, a 1959 Hasselblad, and lenses that captured the photos, along with two prints from the shoot.

The lot is expected to fetch £160,000 to £240,000 — a sum that reflects the lingering fame of the pictures.

Fifty-eight years on, Kirkland, now 85, told me this week there was nothing unusual about the chemistry between him and Marilyn.

‘A successful photo session is a seductive dance between the photographer and his subject. This is how interesting photographs happen,’ he said.

‘There has to be some sort of attraction and tension, whether you are photographing a man or a woman.’

However, he wasn’t nearly so blase about it at the time.

Kirkland, who went on to photograph many of the world’s most beautiful women, was only 27 when he was sent to snap Monroe for the now defunct Look magazine’s 25th anniversary issue.

It was his first major assignment and he was terrified.

His worst fear was that the star of Some Like It Hot and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes would sense his inexperience and demand another photographer.

A few days before the shoot, he and two magazine colleagues met Monroe and her press agent at her modest basement flat in Beverly Hills. 

Kirkland knew what he wanted — a photo of her naked in bed — but felt embarrassed to ask her, especially as she had insisted he sat next to her on her bed.

Fortunately, Monroe, with her ‘sweet intuitiveness’, quickly articulated what he wanted, adding only: ‘But the sheets must be silk.’ 

Alone with the world’s most desired woman writhing voluptuously around naked in bed, Doug Kirkland was understandably lost for words when Marilyn Monroe invited him to join her

Alone with the world’s most desired woman writhing voluptuously around naked in bed, Doug Kirkland was understandably lost for words when Marilyn Monroe invited him to join her

Alone with the world’s most desired woman writhing voluptuously around naked in bed, Doug Kirkland was understandably lost for words when Marilyn Monroe invited him to join her

She also wanted the photoshoot to be well-supplied with Dom Perignon champagne, her favourite tipple, and Frank Sinatra records.

Before they left, Monroe’s press agent quietly told him the actress had recently lost weight, which had pleased her. However, she was ‘fixated’ on her breasts, which she thought were now too small.

On the evening of the shoot, Monroe was two hours late at the rented studio on Santa Monica Boulevard, her agent failing to calm Kirkland’s fraying nerves by reassuring him she always turned up eventually.

Finally, she arrived at 9.30pm, a ‘burst of ethereal beauty’, he said, that bowled him over with her ‘dazzling, misty whiteness’. He was smitten within seconds.

Kirkland quickly poured the champagne and put on Sinatra as she sashayed into a dressing room with her hair and make-up assistants.

Also present were a magazine writer, Kirkland’s assistant and a studio man who was to lock up when they were finished.

The shoot didn’t start auspiciously. It was clear Monroe was not taken with Kirkland’s elaborate idea to photograph her wearing an ankle-length, spangly dress and wrapped herself in a long piece of white cloth.

Marilyn Monroe is pictured above with Marlon Brando. Monroe, whose lovers reportedly included President John F. Kennedy and his brother Bobby, set her sights rather higher than truck drivers

Marilyn Monroe is pictured above with Marlon Brando. Monroe, whose lovers reportedly included President John F. Kennedy and his brother Bobby, set her sights rather higher than truck drivers

Marilyn Monroe is pictured above with Marlon Brando. Monroe, whose lovers reportedly included President John F. Kennedy and his brother Bobby, set her sights rather higher than truck drivers

Suddenly, she stopped, complaining the fabric was ‘cheap cheesecloth’ when it should be silk. ‘I’m not a cheesecloth kind of girl!,’ she said peevishly.

‘I was learning another important lesson of my profession,’ said Kirkland. ‘You must treat a star like the princess you want her to be in front of your lens if you are to elicit her most outstanding performance.’

He was convinced the actress was going to walk out, demanding he be replaced, but she didn’t.

With hindsight, he said, ‘she was a very sweet and kind girl’ who — as the product of a broken home and childhood poverty — knew what it was like to have to deal with adversity.

Adversity like the nightmare Kirkland was facing now.

Monroe went back into her dressing room and emerged wearing just a white dressing gown which she immediately took off, slipping into bed and under its single silk sheet.

‘I stole little glances of her backside and breasts as she moved,’ said Kirkland. ‘She may have intended for me to catch those little glimpses.’

He admits it was all ‘very exciting for me in my young man way’.

Monroe ‘was within arm’s reach, twisting and turning under the sheet, which was semi-transparent’.

What he called their ‘flirtatious dance’ continued as he started taking close-up shots and ‘felt deep desire rising from within myself’.

He found himself ‘whispering promises laden with innuendo’ without understanding where his feelings were coming from.

They were by now both sipping their glasses of champagne although Kirkland assures me Marilyn — who had serious drink and drugs addictions — barely drank anything.

It was at this point the evening became even more intimate as she suddenly sat up in bed, covered her breasts and announced: ‘I know what we need — I need to be alone with this boy. I find it usually works better that way.’

The others filed out.

Confused as to what she expected him to do, he ‘retreated’ behind his camera and started shooting again.

‘It got very sexually charged,’ he said. ‘That’s where the pictures came from.’ 

With the room lit by floodlight to avoid the mood being spoilt by a flash, Kirkland went up to a small balcony so he could shoot directly over the bed.

He was by now ‘very stimulated’ and ‘made no secret of it’ while Monroe ‘showed me how she felt, slithering erotically between the sheets’.

Then, she looked up and, said Kirkland, ‘pleaded’ for him to ‘come down here with me’.

In a book he wrote in 2004, he spelt it out: ‘I was being invited to get into bed with her.’

This week, as he reiterated that nothing ever came of it, Kirkland — possibly in more cynical mood now he’s in his 80s — claimed ‘the night was just an exciting tease’.

Monroe, he added, ‘was just being Marilyn and playing to the camera as she knew how to do very well’. Friends have expressed disbelief when he told them of her carnal offer and he admits ‘part of me was certainly ready’. 

Instead, he reminded himself of his young family. A few years earlier, both virgins, he had married his high-school sweetheart in the Canadian town near Niagara Falls where he’d grown up.

‘I was an innocent (very innocent), sexually supercharged guy in my mid-20,’ he recalled.

‘I didn’t respond because I was busy loading my film and continuing to take pictures.’

Kirkland believes the pictures he got wouldn’t have been so good if he’d got into bed with his subject. ‘We were both on such a fine, teetering edge,’ he said.

‘Ultimately all of that fused energy was channelled directly into the lens.’

As the shoot started to wind down, he felt a ‘warm satisfying sense of relief, almost as if we’d had sex’.

He ended up lying on the floor next to her bed and they chatted about their lives and beliefs. 

Monroe, he added, ‘was just being Marilyn and playing to the camera as she knew how to do very well’. Friends have expressed disbelief when he told them of her carnal offer and he admits ‘part of me was certainly ready’

Monroe, he added, ‘was just being Marilyn and playing to the camera as she knew how to do very well’. Friends have expressed disbelief when he told them of her carnal offer and he admits ‘part of me was certainly ready’

Monroe, he added, ‘was just being Marilyn and playing to the camera as she knew how to do very well’. Friends have expressed disbelief when he told them of her carnal offer and he admits ‘part of me was certainly ready’

‘She told me about her difficult beginnings and I told her about coming from a small town in Canada and never dreaming I would some day be photographing the goddess she had become.’

Twenty minutes later, he got up and let the others back in. They didn’t finally leave until well past midnight. Kirkland said he had trouble sleeping that night at the Chateau Marmont hotel as he thought about what might have been.

‘We had nearly been lovers an hour earlier and now she was gone,’ he said. ‘The Marilyn Monroe I had been with on that night of the shoot unquestionably took a firm hold on me.

‘She arrived in a misty vision, and when she left it was as if she had evaporated. I admitted to myself with some embarrassment that I missed her already.’

However, the spell was well and truly broken the following evening as he pitched up at Monroe’s home with a spring in his step to show her the pictures he’d taken.

She answered the door wearing sunglasses and a scarf over her head. She sounded ‘drawn, tired and disturbed’ and didn’t look like she’d slept at all.

Kirkland said he reviewed the photos with a ‘darker, sadder’ woman than the ‘breathy, sexy beauty’ he had photographed.

He’d been pleased with them but she bluntly told him they ‘aren’t great’ and cut up half of them with scissors.

However, her mood improved and she finally found one she liked — of her clutching a pillow the way she’d clutch a lover.

This was the girl who men would want to sleep with, she told him, using the third person to describe herself.

They left on a positive note, with Marilyn telling him: ‘I want to do this with you again, real soon!’

Nine months later, he was in Paris when he saw the headlines that she was dead.

‘I was in disbelief and heartbroken like the rest of the world,’ he said. The pictures are some of the last professional photos that were taken of Monroe.

Kirkland’s success with her proved the making of his career, especially with beautiful actresses. He photographed Julie Christie, Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren and Audrey Hepburn.

But, he says, he still ‘gets a buzz’ of remembering his moment with Marilyn, a woman who could wield her sex appeal with ruthless efficiency.

The post The man who turned down Marilyn Monroe: How photographer Doug Kirkland said no to the actress appeared first on Kozy Girls.

]]>
Dame Joan Collins says she is ‘very happy’ after her son Alexander Newley proposes to Sheela Raman  https://kozygirls.com/dame-joan-collins-says-she-is-very-happy-after-her-son-alexander-newley-proposes-to-sheela-raman/ Sat, 19 Oct 2019 07:27:28 +0000 https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-7590183/Dame-Joan-Collins-says-happy-son-Alexander-Newley-proposes-Sheela-Raman.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Dame Joan Collins has never given up believing in marriage, even though it took until husband No 5, Percy Gibson, to find lasting happiness. And now the Dynasty star’s son, Alexander Newley, has decided to take the plunge again. The distinguished painter – whose father is Joanie’s second husband, the […]

The post Dame Joan Collins says she is ‘very happy’ after her son Alexander Newley proposes to Sheela Raman  appeared first on Kozy Girls.

]]>
Dame Joan Collins has never given up believing in marriage, even though it took until husband No 5, Percy Gibson, to find lasting happiness.

And now the Dynasty star’s son, Alexander Newley, has decided to take the plunge again.

The distinguished painter – whose father is Joanie’s second husband, the late actor and singer Anthony Newley – has proposed to American-born writer and musician Sheela Raman.

The distinguished painter – whose father is Joanie's second husband, the late actor and singer Anthony Newley (left) – has proposed to American-born writer and musician Sheela Raman (right)

The distinguished painter – whose father is Joanie's second husband, the late actor and singer Anthony Newley (left) – has proposed to American-born writer and musician Sheela Raman (right)

The distinguished painter – whose father is Joanie’s second husband, the late actor and singer Anthony Newley (left) – has proposed to American-born writer and musician Sheela Raman (right)

Alexander Newley and Dame Joan Collins pictured together. Known as Sacha to his pals, Alexander has a daughter, Ava, with his first wife

Alexander Newley and Dame Joan Collins pictured together. Known as Sacha to his pals, Alexander has a daughter, Ava, with his first wife

Alexander Newley and Dame Joan Collins pictured together. Known as Sacha to his pals, Alexander has a daughter, Ava, with his first wife

‘Sheela and I are engaged and getting married next autumn,’ he confirms.

Known as Sacha to his pals, Alexander has a daughter, Ava, with his first wife, the U.S. jewellery designer Angela Tassoni, whom he divorced in 2012.

Dame Joan tells me: ‘I am very happy for both of them.’

Alexander has previously said of Sheela: ‘She’s an extraordinary woman.’

Dame Joan (pictured in 2019) tells me: 'I am very happy for both of them'

Dame Joan (pictured in 2019) tells me: 'I am very happy for both of them'

Dame Joan (pictured in 2019) tells me: ‘I am very happy for both of them’

When I revealed last year that Tamara Beckwith was to become a granny at just 48, the former It girl insisted she was ‘thrilled’. 

But raising her own four-year-old son, Vero, at the same time as her daughter, Anouska, looks after her first, Luna, does have its challenges when ‘Glam-ma’ Tamara seeks to offer the wisdom of her years. 

‘There’s nothing worse than being told how to parent your child so I try not to, unless she asks,’ Tamara tells me at Vicky Cowie’s book launch at the Simon Lee Gallery, Mayfair. 

‘So I tell her, ‘You’re not going to like what I have to say.’ And if she goes, ‘Well don’t say it then’ — I don’t.’ Now that is wise . . . 

Daisy promises a playmate for Archie 

For I hear that Daisy Jenks, (pictured) who is married to Prince Harry’s close friend Charlie van Straubenzee, is expecting her first child

For I hear that Daisy Jenks, (pictured) who is married to Prince Harry’s close friend Charlie van Straubenzee, is expecting her first child

For I hear that Daisy Jenks, (pictured) who is married to Prince Harry’s close friend Charlie van Straubenzee, is expecting her first child

The Duchess of Sussex, who has spoken about feeling ‘vulnerable’ as a new mother, will soon have a playmate for baby Archie.

For I hear that Daisy Jenks, who is married to Prince Harry’s close friend Charlie van Straubenzee, is expecting her first child.

‘It’s so exciting,’ Daisy tells me.

Daisy, 28, who works as an events videographer, shared this picture with pals of herself on holiday in Ibiza wearing a peach swimming costume that shows off the blossoming bump.

Harry was best man at the couple’s wedding in Surrey last year and must be a shoo-in for godfather.

The Queen broke royal tradition yesterday to attend a memorial service for one of her closest aides, I hear. 

Her Majesty usually sends a representative to such events, but she was among the mourners at the Royal Chapel of All Saints in Windsor Great Park for Annette Wilkin, 72, who served her for more than four decades. 

The Queen held Miss Wilkin in such high esteem that she once gave her one of her beloved corgis, Larch, as a gift. 

The post Dame Joan Collins says she is ‘very happy’ after her son Alexander Newley proposes to Sheela Raman  appeared first on Kozy Girls.

]]>
BEL MOONEY:  Now Mum is gone, my brother is asking me for money https://kozygirls.com/bel-mooney-now-mum-is-gone-my-brother-is-asking-me-for-money/ Sat, 19 Oct 2019 07:27:26 +0000 https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-7589007/BEL-MOONEY-Mum-gone-brother-asking-money.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Dear Bel, I have fallen out with my brother over my late mother’s financial estate. Her funeral was in March — we’ve not been in touch since May. He insisted he should have more money he was ‘owed’. I gave him £8,000 from my NHS pension because of his inheritance […]

The post BEL MOONEY:  Now Mum is gone, my brother is asking me for money appeared first on Kozy Girls.

]]>
Dear Bel,

I have fallen out with my brother over my late mother’s financial estate.

Her funeral was in March — we’ve not been in touch since May. He insisted he should have more money he was ‘owed’.

I gave him £8,000 from my NHS pension because of his inheritance expectations. He didn’t understand there was no money to inherit — since the costs of the funeral were more than expected. He accused me of spending too much — but I told him Mum’s money was stipulated for care and funeral costs.

On our last phone call in May he was really awful — demanding more money. A bully. Threatening behaviour.

Thought of the day 

Lives of great men all remind us

We can make our lives sublime,

And, departing, leave behind us

Footsteps on the sands of time…

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (U.S. poet 1807-1882)

I advised him to get a solicitor (he’d have to pay!) and not to contact or visit me.

Over the past five to ten years, he had a lot of money from Mum — never paying back.

His money problems are endless. He’s married with two children, living in a council house with never enough.

His children showed no interest in Mum, who was never allowed to be a grandmother. He was very hurtful to her; my impression was that he was interested only in her money.

These issues mean I’d now prefer not to be involved with him and his family. Certainly not the wife — who is heavily influencing him to act and l think has been encouraging him to demand money. I think it’s very stressful for him and suspect he can’t cope mentally.

I was Mum’s full-time carer and I’m not working now. I decided to have some time out and bereavement counselling. Before being a carer I was a qualified nurse and have financial security from my pension.

I’m feeling very angry about all this — betrayed, in fact. I would love some advice.

MARGARET

This week Bel advises a woman who has fallen out with her brother over her mother's inheritance

This week Bel advises a woman who has fallen out with her brother over her mother's inheritance

This week Bel advises a woman who has fallen out with her brother over her mother’s inheritance

THIS is a difficult hand to play — and is a problem I know well: a sibling more like a creature from another planet than a product of the same parents.

Although you two finally fell out in May this year, you were probably having difficulties for years. Your mother’s death and funeral may have triggered a hostility not far below the surface. Am I right?

Sibling issues are hardly new to this column. Inevitably, I say: don’t look backwards; accept a family relationship may be over but leave the door open at the same time; and vow to step outside the family and control your own life.

Money is so often the poisonous serpent in the family garden — yet if siblings already have a good relationship I doubt filthy lucre would corrupt it. But if they’ve not really got on, the stage is set for a terminal disruption.

From what you’ve said, I suspect this situation is unmendable. You despise your brother for sponging off your mother when she was alive and believe he has done little with his life. You dislike his wife and feel angry she did not encourage her children to have a good (or any) relationship with their grandmother.

The final straw was this man whingeing about money when your mother was barely in her grave, so that he sponged off you (£8,000 is a lot of money) as he did your mother. No wonder you don’t want to speak to him again.

Yet when you mention his ‘stress’ and mental health, I detect a note of pity. Who knows whether, in the future, you and he might become reconciled?

   

More from Bel Mooney for the Daily Mail…

Sometimes, in families, an immediate break is necessary. Toxicity is draining and, anyway, isn’t this the point when, having been a good daughter and carer, you need to make a new start?

You need to recognise that you’re probably feeling a double whammy of grief: for your mother (obviously), but also for the brother you’d have liked to have had. Feeling ‘very angry’ will do you no good; rage and resentment just serve to turn the key in the lock on the unhappy present.

What you need is to open that door and cut loose.

What will you do now? You are a retired nurse with an NHS pension — and this country is crying out for skills like yours. Have you thought of returning to your profession in some capacity?

Would it not take your mind off your mother and your brother — as well as money — to investigate ways and means?

You could not help your mother’s decline and death, nor your brother’s unpleasant greed. But you can now be in control of your own life. For all I know, you may already be making these plans. Have a look at this website: healthcareers.nhs.uk/explore-roles/nursing/returning-nursing and see if it triggers some ideas.

And another website might help you by sharing the experiences of others: allnurses.com/ retired-nurses-c160

I wish you positivity and peace.

 I’ve thrown out my straying husband

Dear Bel,

I read your column every Saturday to find support for my problem — one which I blew wide open recently.

I’ve been married for 27 years and after many years of wondering if my husband had someone else, he had become careless and I found clues. So I dug deeper and started monitoring his activities when he went away on business weekends.

The breaking point came when I drove more than 100 miles to a hotel where I knew he was staying on business. There he was with this other woman walking into the bar for a pre-dinner drink.

Now I have locked him out of our home and he has sat outside wanting to talk, sometimes pleading, sometimes threatening. He claims the woman is his best friend and there is no romance, only mutual interest in her hobby.

She is a collector and he is a dealer in an antique specialty, and he has been taking her (instead of me) to weekend fairs and auctions for the past (possibly) ten years.

I used to go with him before this friendship started. I forgot to say he is nearly 75 years old, and sadly I still love him. But do I want to take him back and spend the remainder of my life wondering?

NORA

Your email subject line was ‘pensioners in crisis’, leaving no doubt about the seriousness of this moment of acute pain in your life. Which way will you go?

I doubt any reader (at least the female ones) will blame you for suspicions which seem to be well-founded. Your husband can deny he was having an affair with the woman all he likes — yet such attention paid, so many meetings, such shared interests (and presumably confidences) and worst of all so many lies. What can one think?

A person can be unfaithful even if sex has never happened. The ‘romance’ lies in the stories told and the trysts.

So what can you do? As a regular reader of this column, you will know that I often counsel forgiveness and new starts. Why? Because a marriage is a huge thing to throw away because one of the partners has been a deceitful fool.

Sometimes a marriage just has to end because it has run its course. Yet — especially when you are older and contemplate the whole pack of cards falling about your ears and then a future in unaccustomed solitude — it is wise to consider whether the end is inevitable. You love your husband and clearly want him back. If he wishes to come back home, then the terms are yours to set.

First, though, you have to ask yourself why you stopped going to the fairs with him. There was a process there, of which you were a part. I find it hard to believe he just suddenly refused; you need to ask yourself whether in fact you lost interest in his dealing and preferred to stay put. It won’t alter the present, but people who suspect their partners have sometimes played their own part in the sequence of events.

If I were you, I would insist the pair of you seek counselling (relate.org.uk) as an urgent condition of his return. Even if he continues to insist there was no ‘romance’, the Relate counsellor will surely ask him to consider the effect of his behaviour on you, his wife.

I’ve changed your name but I think you should show him this letter on the page to indicate the seriousness of his behaviour.

Then ask him how he sees the future. I just hope that soon you will be travelling off to auctions together and rebuilding your marriage. And that the woman who has been the cause of your pain will disappear in search of something unusual and appealing to add to her collection — which isn’t somebody else’s husband.

A HEARTFELT PLEA from a reader . . . 

Dear Bel, 

Betty and I met in Glasgow in 1954 when I was 11 and she was 24 and a mum of three. We were very close even after she moved to Tamworth in Staffordshire in the Sixties. Eventually, she told me in one phone call she had memory problems. I continued to phone; she always chatted happily, even with Alzheimer’s. In 2017, her phone was no longer answered. I tried repeatedly. No reply. I sent my usual Christmas card saying I really wanted contact. No reply. I’m now 76 and she’d be 89. It really hurts not to know what happened to Betty. She may no longer remember me, but my heart remembers her.

Could you please ask families of older relatives with this sad illness to let distant friends know if their relative moves away or dies? We still care and want to know.

Thank you.

SHEENA, Galston, Scotland

 And finally…Why we all need some good news

I don’t often have a mini meltdown and this one was sorrow. Last Sunday, I was horrified and moved by the harrowing storylines in BBC1’s gripping new serial about World War II, World On Fire.

It’s my custom to watch the 10pm news every night, but I switched off after eight minutes because it was unbearable: the killing, the bombs, the grief, the anger, the hatred, the evil. All over again; this time Kurds, Turks and Syrians. And on and on; lives destroyed by conflict.

Sometimes it feels hard to continue ordinary life, fretting about this and that, while all the time implacable forces are waged against each other all over the world — and we’re shown images of women and children fleeing, stumbling with belongings in bundles, as they have for hundreds of years.

Contact Bel 

Bel answers readers’ questions on emotional and relationship problems each week.

Write to Bel Mooney, Daily Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT, or email bel.mooney@dailymail.co.uk.

A pseudonym will be used if you wish.

Bel reads all letters but regrets she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

That evening I walked out into the darkness to seek consolation in the harvest moon hanging in the sky; utterly beautiful, pure, distant — and pitiless.

Usually the natural world can offer consolation — but not that night. Oh, I admit other things were going on in my life. My daughter Kitty was unwell and I felt so worried. My charity SANDS’s support of Baby Loss Awareness Week had brought back sad memories (sands.org.uk/baby-loss-awareness-week).

Last of all, I was feeling depressed by British politics and the never-ending saga of Brexit. Sometimes it all rolls together into a great boulder and flattens you, doesn’t it?

But then I read a lovely warm email from Jennie E. who said: ‘Thank you, Bel, you keep me inspired to continue trying to be the best I can be, to keep a smile on my face…’ And she sent a picture of her ‘angels’: three beautiful grandchildren, ‘to put a smile on your face’. It did!

Then on Facebook Julia W. posted on my timeline: ‘The world seems very scary right now. Have you ever looked at the website humanprogress.org? It’s immensely cheering xx’.

So I visited the site full of good news and, yes, felt much better. Try it.

 

The post BEL MOONEY:  Now Mum is gone, my brother is asking me for money appeared first on Kozy Girls.

]]>
Why Elton can’t let go of the ‘son’ he had to leave behind https://kozygirls.com/why-elton-cant-let-go-of-the-son-he-had-to-leave-behind/ Sat, 19 Oct 2019 07:27:25 +0000 https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-7590111/Why-Elton-son-leave-behind.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Elton John kisses baby Lev at a hospital for HIV-positive children in the town of Makeyevka outside Donetsk, 2009 The garage of the modest two-bedroom flat little Lev Ageyev shares with his grandmother Yulia holds two shiny new bikes. They are the pride and joy of their owners, 11-year-old Lev and […]

The post Why Elton can’t let go of the ‘son’ he had to leave behind appeared first on Kozy Girls.

]]>
Elton John kisses baby Lev at a hospital for HIV-positive children in the town of Makeyevka outside Donetsk, 2009

Elton John kisses baby Lev at a hospital for HIV-positive children in the town of Makeyevka outside Donetsk, 2009

Elton John kisses baby Lev at a hospital for HIV-positive children in the town of Makeyevka outside Donetsk, 2009

The garage of the modest two-bedroom flat little Lev Ageyev shares with his grandmother Yulia holds two shiny new bikes.

They are the pride and joy of their owners, 11-year-old Lev and his elder brother Artyom, 13, and the envy of the other boys in the run-down neighbourhood of Mariupol, the industrial Ukrainian city they both call home.

But the bikes are not their most prized possessions. That honour goes to the signed portrait photographs of the boys on display in their bedroom. Both bear the inscription: ‘I Love You’, and their signatory is none other than Sir Elton John — also the provider of their bicycles, and gifted following an emotional two-hour get-together last year.

In Lev’s case the word ‘reunion’ is more appropriate: he first met the singer a decade ago as a 14-month-old in a Ukrainian orphanage, where he and Artyom had been taken after their drug-and-alcohol-addicted, HIV-positive mother Marina was deemed unable to look after them.

Lev Ageev, 11, (left) with his older brother Atryom, 13, (right) pictured with their grandmother Yulia

Lev Ageev, 11, (left) with his older brother Atryom, 13, (right) pictured with their grandmother Yulia

Lev Ageev, 11, (left) with his older brother Atryom, 13, (right) pictured with their grandmother Yulia

Elton was smitten by the blue-eyed baby with the beaming smile. Their bond was so instant that he spoke at a press conference of his determination that he and husband David Furnish should adopt him. ‘To see children like little Lev . . . smiling . . . is one of the most moving things for me,’ he said. ‘He stole my heart.’

But it was not to be. Sir Elton’s age — then 62 — and now-ousted president Viktor Yanukovych’s ban on gay adoption meant his dream was thwarted.

Yet the superstar never forgot Lev, as he made plain last week with the release of his autobiography, Me, in which he writes movingly of the profound impact meeting Lev had on his life, cementing his determination to become a father and resulting in the birth, via surrogacy, of eldest son Zachary in December 2010. ‘We called him Zachary Jackson Levon’, he writes. ‘Everybody assumes the last name came from a song Bernie [Taupin] and I wrote, but they’re wrong: he’s named after Lev. He had to be.

‘Lev was like an angel, a messenger, who taught me something about myself. Lev was the reason we were there, on a maternity ward, holding our son, knowing our lives had changed for ever.’

Two years later, the arrival of Zachary’s brother Elijah, now six, completed Elton’s happiness. As the sons of multi-millionaire parents, Zachary and Elijah will never lack for material privileges; there are private schools and holidays in their parents’ villa in the South of France, not to mention mingling with celebs and royalty.

Meanwhile, Lev and Artyom’s circumstances could not provide more contrast. Left behind in Makeyevka children’s home, their prospects were bleak in a country where there was little culture of adoption and where babies born in the shadow of HIV remain stigmatised.

Elton John with David Furnish and their sons Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John and Elijah Joseph Daniel Furnish-John on holiday at Le Club 55 at Pampelonne Beach in St Tropez

Elton John with David Furnish and their sons Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John and Elijah Joseph Daniel Furnish-John on holiday at Le Club 55 at Pampelonne Beach in St Tropez

Elton John with David Furnish and their sons Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John and Elijah Joseph Daniel Furnish-John on holiday at Le Club 55 at Pampelonne Beach in St Tropez

While Lev is not HIV positive, Artyom is, his condition managed by medication.

Yet speaking for the first time, this week their paternal grandmother and legal guardian Yulia reveals how the brothers are thriving in her care.

What’s more, they retain links with Sir Elton, who has kept a watchful eye on all of them, assisting in temporarily rehoming them in the aftermath of the 2014 Ukrainian uprising, and meeting up with them at that emotional reunion.

While Yulia and Lev are too discreet to say whether they ever wonder how materially different the boys’ lives might be if Elton and David had been able to adopt, it’s clear the family feel rich in other ways.

‘Lev may not have a lavish life, but he has a very happy one surrounded by family and love,’ Yulia tells me. ‘It is perhaps not the happy ending the world was waiting for but it is still a happy ending, just a different one after a lot of sadness.

‘When we met Elton last year there were tears. We didn’t meet Elton the celebrity, but Elton the man. The boys were very happy to see him, but they still understood how much they love their own family.

‘The boys are my saviours — they help me a lot. My health is not good, but whenever I feel bad they are by my side trying to help me feel better. There is a lot of love in my home.’

As Yulia would be the first to admit, that home is modest: a two-bedroom flat in a graffiti-strewn block in Mariupol, a city by the Azov sea and close to the Russian border in south-eastern Ukraine.

The boys share bunk beds in one bedroom, while the other is shared by Yulia, 66, and her 69-year-old husband Nikolai, himself bedridden as a legacy of his role in the clean-up after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Money is tight. Yulia, a former factory worker, and Nikolai have modest pensions, and even though they receive state childcare of around £250 a month for the boys, their total monthly income is a paltry £400.

Yet what they lack in money they make up for in love. During our hour-long video call, Lev perches on his gran’s knee, his arm around her neck, while Artyom hovers beside him.

There are smiles, laughter and tears in turn as the family recall the meeting which thrust all of them into the spotlight.

Of the two, Lev — still recognisable as the adorable toddler that melted Elton’s heart — is the more ebullient, disappearing at one point and re-emerging to show me proudly the medals he won in a wrestling competition.

‘Artyom is very shy and modest but Lev is very active and energetic — the teacher cannot keep him calm in lessons as he is very talkative and active,’ laughs Yulia. ‘Both are doing well at school. Artyom is good at English and Lev is naturally very good at sports. They are just normal boys.’

But they are boys whose family history is blighted by the twin traumas of HIV and drug use in a country which, when they were born, was facing escalating rates of the former.

Their mother Marina and father Sergey — Yulia’s son — both had HIV. Marina’s alcohol and drug addiction combined with Sergey’s conviction for murder — he was jailed for 11 years for killing a teenage girl — led to both boys being put in the care of the state and taken to Makeyevka, a specialist home near Donetsk for children born to mothers with HIV.

It was there that Elton met Lev. He had been invited by the Elena Pinchuk Foundation, an Aids charity with close links to the singer — and his bond with the toddler made global news.

Yulia still has a copy of her local paper, its headline featuring Elton’s declaration that Lev had stolen his heart.

Sadly, when it became clear that his dream of adoption would not be realised, the boys’ future remained uncertain, not least because Marina remained insistent that she wanted to bring her boys home.

Again that was not to be. Less than a year later, she died of TB in a Ukrainian hospital, aged just 26. Around the same time Sergey was sent to prison again, for theft, leaving a question mark over Yulia’s attempts to seek custody.

Yet the state did not reckon with her fierce determination and, in 2011, when Lev was two and Artyom four, she became their guardian following months of campaigning, finally able to take them both home from the orphanage. ‘It was a very happy day,’ she says, her eyes filling with tears at the memory.

‘Even though I am an elderly person I knew I was able to look after them — and I have proved I can. The kids are the centre of my life and my husband’s.’

That much is evident. While Nikolai is blighted by ill health, he retains an affectionate relationship with his grandsons, appearing briefly during our interview to tease them about our chat.

‘He has a heart condition and has to lean against the wall to walk,’ Yulia tells me. ‘He went to Chernobyl in 1986 and afterwards he had very high radioactivity levels and he’s had problems ever since.’

Nor are her grandsons without their own medical issues. Apart from Artyom’s HIV, both have been diagnosed with a heart arrhythmia, which, poignantly, has led to them having to give up the sports they love for the time being.

‘It is not very serious and it is curable,’ Yulia tells me. ‘Lev has it slightly worse than Artyom, but they are both registered at the hospital and at the end of this month they are both getting a full examination and more tests. While they are waiting, it is just harder for them to run around.’

They are not the only problems the family has had to face. In 2014, skirmishes broke out between Ukrainian government forces, local police and separatist militants.

With Mariupol besieged by pro-Russian forces, the Pinchuk Foundation mounted a rescue mission, transporting them and other families to Kiev until the fighting had abated. ‘When the Russians invaded Ukraine, we worked with the charity to evacuate them to Kiev,’ Elton wrote in his memoir.

The family stayed in Kiev for three months until it was deemed safe for them to return home.

‘They rented us a flat in Kiev and we were very happy to be safe,’ says Yulia. ‘We got really scared in Mariupol as people said Russian tanks would attack the city soon.’

It is not the only help that Yulia has received from the foundation — with little money of her own, she has relied on them to provide extras for her family.

‘There is a fund which helps us —they bought new furniture for our flat and gave us air conditioning,’ she says. ‘We have never been told it comes directly from Elton, but it is possible.’

It was through the foundation that, last year, the Ageyevs had that emotional meeting with Sir Elton and David in Kiev. Yet even then tragedy hovered. As Yulia prepared to board a plane to the meeting with her grandsons, she received a message telling her that the boys’ father Sergey had died of a brain haemorrhage.

‘Sergey had a haemorrhage a few years earlier and he had lived with it but then it took his life,’ says Yulia, her voice breaking at the memory. ‘It was very hard for the boys as they had become very close in the last few years — he used to take them fishing and you could not separate them. For months it was hard for them to sleep.

‘They lost their mother while they were still in the orphanage, so Lev doesn’t remember his mum at all. Now they had lost both the people who gave them life.’

It provided a sombre backdrop to what might otherwise have been a joyous meeting with Sir Elton. ‘I told him the news and he cried and we hugged. He also hugged the boys — and he hugged them like a father,’ remembers Yulia. ‘I didn’t think he would have these feelings because he’s a star, but I admired him for how he was and his warmth.

‘It was very natural — there were no journalists there and no one was watching. It was just Elton, David and the interpreter.

‘He told the boys to study English and he asked do we need anything, are we lacking in anything, which is when the children said they were sharing one bicycle. He said he would sort it and later he sent them two new sports bicycles. We could never afford to get them so we are very grateful.’

The boys, in turn, had their own gifts for Elton; photos for him to take back to the UK, along with a keepsake of their meeting — a heart-shaped box covered with shells which they originally bought as a gift for their gran while on holiday in Gdansk.

Proud Yulia adds: ‘When they heard they were going to Kiev they worried about what to give Elton as a gift, then Lev thought of the box as the seashells were a reminder of where he came from, which is close to the sea. He liked it very much.’

I ask Lev what it was like to meet Elton again all these years later and his eyes light up.

‘Before I was kind of nervous but then when we got to meet I understood it was fine,’ he says. ‘He was very nice.’

They have not been able to see their famous friend since, but both boys harbour hopes that when their English is good enough, they will get to meet Elton’s family.

‘I tell them they have two half-brothers in England and it is Lev’s dream to go there to meet them,’ says Yulia.

‘For now both boys need to concentrate on their studies, but we have invited Elton to our home and we hope one time he can come and that he can invite us as well. Let’s see what the future brings.’

It is a future that, happily, looks brighter than could have been imagined all those years ago.

The post Why Elton can’t let go of the ‘son’ he had to leave behind appeared first on Kozy Girls.

]]>
Strictly’s Shirley Ballas had breast implants but is now taking them out to save her health  https://kozygirls.com/strictlys-shirley-ballas-had-breast-implants-but-is-now-taking-them-out-to-save-her-health/ Sat, 19 Oct 2019 07:27:24 +0000 https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-7589765/Strictlys-Shirley-Ballas-breast-implants-taking-save-health.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Shirley, 59, ‘hates the word cancer. The moment you hear that ‘C’ word…’ She shakes her head. One of her mother’s sisters died from cancer a few years ago, while another aunt, who was recently diagnosed with the cruel disease, underwent surgery last week A few weeks ago Shirley Ballas sat […]

The post Strictly’s Shirley Ballas had breast implants but is now taking them out to save her health  appeared first on Kozy Girls.

]]>
Shirley, 59, 'hates the word cancer. The moment you hear that 'C' word…' She shakes her head. One of her mother's sisters died from cancer a few years ago, while another aunt, who was recently diagnosed with the cruel disease, underwent surgery last week

Shirley, 59, 'hates the word cancer. The moment you hear that 'C' word…' She shakes her head. One of her mother's sisters died from cancer a few years ago, while another aunt, who was recently diagnosed with the cruel disease, underwent surgery last week

Shirley, 59, ‘hates the word cancer. The moment you hear that ‘C’ word…’ She shakes her head. One of her mother’s sisters died from cancer a few years ago, while another aunt, who was recently diagnosed with the cruel disease, underwent surgery last week

A few weeks ago Shirley Ballas sat in her mother’s front room with a stiff drink and a notepad. 

Her 82‑year-old mum Audrey, who was diagnosed with colon cancer last year, wanted to dictate her wishes for her funeral.

Mother and daughter are, Shirley says, ‘beyond close — we’re a sock and a shoe’. 

So much so, she can’t imagine life without the woman who worked all hours in a factory to fund Shirley’s dream of becoming a dancer.

‘In her own way, she tried to prepare me,’ says the Strictly Come Dancing head judge. 

‘We’d had a couple of drinks and that’s when she brought it up. She wanted to talk about her funeral. That was hard.

‘She said: ‘I don’t want one of these morbid ones. I want everybody coming and having a party — a knees-up. I want my Johnny Cash music playing.’

‘Through tears and everything, I tried to write these wishes down.’

Shirley was in her hotel room at the British Dance Championships in Blackpool in May last year when her mother phoned with the devastating news that doctors had discovered a lump in her colon. 

The relentlessly upbeat Audrey ‘was trying to make out it wasn’t a big deal’.

When she had her operation in July, her hair was coiffed and her face perfectly made up. 

Shirley has a photograph of her dear old mum looking full of the joys of spring in her hospital gown.

‘Look at her face,’ she says. ‘The last thing she said to me was: ‘OK girl, I’m ready. Bring it on.’ ‘

Shirley adds: ‘They got the tumour out, but one of her lymph nodes has cancer in it.

‘She won’t have chemotherapy; it was her choice. I took her back twice, and twice she made the same decision. She said: ‘Stop nagging me. Stop bossing me about.’ I know my mum so well. There’s no use pushing that envelope.’

Shirley was with her second husband, professional dancer Corky Ballas, the father of her now 33-year-old son Mark, when she decided to increase her bust size from a 32B to a whopping 34DD 18 years ago

Shirley was with her second husband, professional dancer Corky Ballas, the father of her now 33-year-old son Mark, when she decided to increase her bust size from a 32B to a whopping 34DD 18 years ago

Shirley was with her second husband, professional dancer Corky Ballas, the father of her now 33-year-old son Mark, when she decided to increase her bust size from a 32B to a whopping 34DD 18 years ago

Shirley, 59, ‘hates the word cancer. The moment you hear that ‘C’ word…’ She shakes her head.

One of her mother’s sisters died from cancer a few years ago, while another aunt, who was recently diagnosed with the cruel disease, underwent surgery last week.

‘I’ve had cancer cells removed from my womb several times,’ says Shirley. ‘I had a smear test at the beginning of the year but was beginning to feel a little bit uncomfortable in June, so I went back for a second test.’

The results revealed abnormal cells.

Shirley looks so very happy, which is wondrous to see. For it has been a particularly tough week for her. Following radio DJ Dev Griffin's controversial exit from Strictly last week, she has been receiving death threats

Shirley looks so very happy, which is wondrous to see. For it has been a particularly tough week for her. Following radio DJ Dev Griffin's controversial exit from Strictly last week, she has been receiving death threats

Shirley looks so very happy, which is wondrous to see. For it has been a particularly tough week for her. Following radio DJ Dev Griffin’s controversial exit from Strictly last week, she has been receiving death threats

‘The doctor sent me, the very next day, to the Lister Hospital. The consultant said they didn’t need to do anything right away but I needed to come back before Christmas. It’s on my mind 100 per cent constantly. I go about my business, keep busy, but it’s always there.’

We’re in Shirley’s immaculate, South‑East London home discussing the word she hates because in a week and a half she will go into hospital to have her breast implants removed following a recent mammogram.

Shirley confesses she’s been feeling off-colour for quite a while, so much so that this week she needed intravenous vitamin therapy — used to administer vitamins and minerals directly into the bloodstream via a drip — to boost her for tonight’s live Strictly show. She’s still in her pyjamas when we meet.

‘I’ve been constantly sick,’ she explains. ‘I had flu a lot and was catching cold after cold. But you still go to work, don’t you? 

Then, recently, I had a mammogram, and a youngish assistant said: ‘You do realise we can’t always see behind the back of the breast implant.’ So I’ve decided to have them out.

‘I’m having the capsule of scar tissue that forms around the implants taken out, too, so the operation will be about four hours. That’s the part that holds any . . .’ She doesn’t finish the sentence.

‘The capsule will go to the lab where they’ll do whatever they do to check.

‘I just want to take the safest precautions for myself, for my peace of mind.’ She falls silent for a moment. Taps manicured nails on the kitchen island worktop.

‘If I could go back to my younger self, I would never have had them done. As my niece Mary [who works in the NHS] says: ‘Why would you voluntarily put something foreign into your body when you’re healthy?’

‘I did it because I felt somebody else was not completely comfortable with the way I looked.’

Shirley was with her second husband, professional dancer Corky Ballas, the father of her now 33-year-old son Mark, when she decided to increase her bust size from a 32B to a whopping 34DD 18 years ago. 

She was 41, and had just discovered Corky, to whom she was married for a turbulent 23 years, was having an affair.

Shirley is pictured above in 1988. This is the first time she has given such an open, revealing interview

Shirley is pictured above in 1988. This is the first time she has given such an open, revealing interview

Shirley is pictured above in 1988. This is the first time she has given such an open, revealing interview

‘We were at the tail-end of our relationship. Things were starting to unravel,’ she says. 

‘I’d found out about one of them [his affairs] with the nanny. She used to take care of Mark when he was little.

‘I’d been blind to it. You’re young. You are working so hard and travelling all over the world. I think a lot of other people knew a lot more than me and didn’t tell me.

‘It was only when he’d been seeing another girl in the States for three-and-a-half years and they got found out that he had to tell me. I thought: ‘To save this, I need to make myself more attractive.’

‘For years Corky was what I call a jokester. He’d tease me with things like, ‘You’ve got breasts like two currants on a breadboard’ or ‘You’ve got a sunken chest like a pirate’s something or other.’ He didn’t like my teeth until I got braces at 25.

‘It’s like a little pickaxe that goes, chip, chip, chip, until, in the end, you think you are ugly.

‘He said the affairs were just about sex. ‘It’s nothing to do with you. I love you,’ he told me. But I never got a grip around that. That’s when I got these.’ 

She cups her huge, surgically-enhanced breasts. ‘I thought I’d have this fantastic bust and everyone would look at me and think I was amazing.’

‘After the operation I did feel fantastic: I’d put a bra on and I had a cleavage.

But her delight was short-lived. ‘Because if you’re not happy with yourself — if you’re heart is not happy — you won’t be happy with anything you do to your body.

‘It isn’t until you’re at peace with yourself that everything about you is beautiful. So what if you’ve got a smaller bust? I think it’s only since I’ve been with Danny that I’ve realised that.’

‘Danny’ is the rather dashing actor Danny Taylor who, at 46, is 13 years her junior. They met last Christmas when they both appeared in the pantomime Jack And The Beanstalk in Liverpool and Shirley was instantly smitten.

Danny, who has a son, Sonny, from a 15-year relationship that ended last year, comes from a caravan park in Merseyside and Shirley from a neighbouring down-at-heel housing estate.

She says they share a history, which seems to mean a lot to Shirley, whose heady success took her from a childhood where money ran out on a Friday and there was no fridge or telephone, to a sparkly world of personal assistants and first-class travel.

When Danny first fell in love with her, he asked her: ‘Who’s the real Shirley?’ She didn’t really know, but now she does. 

‘With one husband [Shirley married her dance partner Sammy Stopford at 18, before falling in love with Corky five years later], I’d go to bed without so much as a chipped nail and with my make-up on,’ she says.

‘I remember Danny getting a wet-wipe, taking my make-up off and going: ‘There she is — that’s the girl from the housing estate I’ve fallen in love with.’

‘I really feel I’ve met somebody who cares about me. I go to bed with a smile on my face. I wake up with a smile on my face. Every day is precious.’

Shirley lights up like the Strictly glitterball when she talks about her boyfriend, whom, she says, she’d marry in a flash.

‘When I told him I wanted to remove my breast implants, we sat down and spoke about it. I’m 150 per cent self-conscious that I’m older than him. 

He said: ‘Most 30-year-olds would die for a figure like yours but . . .’ ‘ She puts her elbows on the kitchen island top and leans forwards to confide.

‘Dah-ling, it wasn’t so much sucking your tummy in as going to bed in your pyjamas, your hat, your coat, your wellies and your socks. All the lights off. Snuggle up in there and take it off, one bit at a time. But he’s 100 per cent with me on this.’ Again, she gestures to those massive breasts.

Shirley looks so very happy, which is wondrous to see. For it has been a particularly tough week for her.

Following radio DJ Dev Griffin’s controversial exit from Strictly last week, she has been receiving death threats. 

The despicable trolling has been so very cruel that professional dancer Dianne Buswell, who partnered Griffin, took to Twitter to plead with them to stop.

‘Look, this is a dance competition,’ Shirley says. ‘I knew people at home get invested, but they have to appreciate I have 50-odd years of experience and have to send somebody home. Why was he in the bottom two? Because people didn’t vote for him.’

Much as Shirley tries to shrug it off, you know she is hugely sensitive to criticism. This is the first time she has given such an open, revealing interview.

When she first joined Strictly as head judge two years ago following the departure of Len Goodman, she was a defensive, nervy thing who, as she says, ‘had four walls around me hard as a hobnail boot because of everything. I think it’s living on that estate, having no male role model [her father left when she was two]. My brother David, who took his life at 44, was the strongest person in my life, then he died. He’s on my mind 24/7.’

Today his ashes are in a black urn in her home. Shirley dug up his ashes and took them with her when she upped sticks for the United States 13 years ago. 

He travelled home with her when she returned to England earlier this year. Today, she confides she feels ‘100 per cent responsible’ for his death.

‘My son Mark was singing at St Paul’s, so I called Mum and asked her to come down. She’d been staying with Dave for eight weeks or so. He was in this black hole he couldn’t get out of, but we didn’t understand mental health then as we do today.

‘He didn’t want to come, and Mum didn’t think she should leave him. I said: ‘It’s one day, Mum. It’s one day. You’ve been up there with him for two months. Come for one day and see your grandson.’ That was the day he did it. So you tell me if you’d feel guilty?’

Anguish is writ large across her face. She pauses to collect herself as tears threaten.

‘There was a lot of bullying that happened on the estate,’ she says. ‘I had crooked teeth, which people would remind me of, and my hair was thin.

‘One girl would rib me constantly. She’d say: ‘Why are you doing that [dancing]? You can’t dance. You’ll never amount to anything.’

Following radio DJ Dev Griffin's controversial exit from Strictly last week, she has been receiving death threats. The despicable trolling has been so very cruel that professional dancer Dianne Buswell, who partnered Griffin, took to Twitter to plead with them to stop. 'Look, this is a dance competition,' Shirley says

Following radio DJ Dev Griffin's controversial exit from Strictly last week, she has been receiving death threats. The despicable trolling has been so very cruel that professional dancer Dianne Buswell, who partnered Griffin, took to Twitter to plead with them to stop. 'Look, this is a dance competition,' Shirley says

Following radio DJ Dev Griffin’s controversial exit from Strictly last week, she has been receiving death threats. The despicable trolling has been so very cruel that professional dancer Dianne Buswell, who partnered Griffin, took to Twitter to plead with them to stop. ‘Look, this is a dance competition,’ Shirley says

‘One day she waited for me on the field to knock the living daylights out of me. I would stay in class as long as I could. Then, well, I tried my hardest to defend myself, but . . .’

‘I stored it [the bullying] in a rucksack on my back. My whole life I’ve never felt, as a female, I was up to scratch.

‘When I first went on Strictly I had a little phase at the beginning, you know, when I was sat next to this really beautiful lady, [former judge] Darcey Bussell — this ballerina, this Snow White beauty — that I stopped eating until I looked at myself and realised I looked so gaunt.

‘Over the years there have been things said you wouldn’t say to a dog, let alone a person. But I just keep moving on, keep trundling on, keep swimming upstream.’

Last year, when fellow Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood allegedly made comments about her ‘fake boobs’ during a promotion tour for his autobiography, she called a meeting.

‘I told him I didn’t need anybody making me feel bad about myself because I could do that myself. He apologised profusely and sent me beautiful flowers.

‘With Craig, he has this very great sense of humour, a bit like my ex-husband Sammy, but they don’t realise your past or what you store. When they say something, it can be a trigger.

With this in mind, Shirley is hugely supportive of new judge Motsi Mabuse, 38, whom she’s known for more than 20 years.

‘We’re on the same page. I judged her a lot and can still remember seeing her at Blackpool,’ says Shirley. ‘She’d wear these bright coloured dresses and come out with all this rhythm in her hips. She was magnificent.’

Not everyone in her profession is so supportive, however. ‘One of the things you have to try to deal with in this industry is the backstabbing,’ says Shirley. ‘Have people backstabbed me? One hundred per cent.

‘Have I been over-critical in the past when I’ve been in a miserable place in marriages or this or that, or said things that could be a little bit hurtful? Perhaps. But have I stabbed somebody in the back? Never.

‘One story that sticks out for me is a certain dancer [she won’t say whom] who said to my best friend [the dancer] Karen Hilton: ‘That Shirley is so full of herself she thinks she’s got the paparazzi following her all the time. All she needs is a Mercedes Benz and a tunnel.’ She was referring to Princess Diana’s death.

‘When I confronted her, I was told I didn’t have a sense of humour. Where’s the humour in that?’ Shirley looks genuinely bewildered.

Of such attacks, she says: ‘You just stick on a Band-aid to stop the pain and carry on until you’re full of Band-aids — stick it on, stick it on.

‘Then, all of a sudden, you meet somebody . . .’ and the tears dissolve into a wide smile.

‘I hadn’t had a cuddle, hadn’t had a kiss, hadn’t had anything for such a long time — five or six years — when I fell in love with Danny. I was very alone, even in my marriages. My life never seemed to be that of laughter.

‘Now I’m able to share private, intimate time with someone I love. We laugh all the time. I’d marry him tomorrow, but he says to stop worrying about what’s later on or tomorrow, just enjoy the moment. Yesterday’s gone, tomorrow’s promised to nobody and we only have now.’

The post Strictly’s Shirley Ballas had breast implants but is now taking them out to save her health  appeared first on Kozy Girls.

]]>