THE face of Olivia Pratt-Korbel, nine years old when she was shot dead in her Liverpool home, will haunt this country for ever.
And so it should.
Because in Olivia’s innocent, smiling face, and in all the sickening details of her tragic, mindless death, we discover just how low this country has sunk.
Have you had a daughter that age?
eu tenho, and it makes me weep to see the photographs of Olivia’s princess parties — all the rage when you and your friends are nine — and her “Always Be Kind” Minnie Mouse T-shirt.
Olivia could have been your daughter. She could have been mine.
And getting ready for bed on the night she died, she should have been safe and secure.
She should have been looking forward to the rest of summer, and to the rest of her life.
All stolen in a few mad moments. All gone when some drug-dealing low-life burst into Olivia’s home on the run from gangland rivals.
All destroyed for ever — Olivia’s future, and any happiness for her family — when the man was pursued and shots were fired in Olivia’s home.
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His mates came to rescue him. And left a nine-year-old girl to die in her mother’s arms.
And what chills the blood is that these men are clearly not scared.
They are not scared of the polícia. They are not scared of the courts.
And they are not scared of prisão — “Butlin’s with bars”, is what they call HMP Kirkham, em Lancashire, where Joseph Nee, left — the man who burst into Olivia’s home — did some time. “Costa del Kirkham.”
How they mock anything resembling decency, and goodness, and justice.
And so an innocent child adored by everyone who knew her — family, professores, classmates — has her life stolen by scumbags who not only break the law, they laugh at it.
Why are we not allowed to discuss the death penalty? Why do the men responsible for Olivia’s death deserve to live? How does putting them inside “Butlin’s with bars” make us a more civilised society?
It feels like the death of Olivia is symptomatic of a country that feels close to being broken.
Edge of collapse
It is the feeling that this country is leaderless and heading for a catastrophe that we cannot yet name or imagine. Who is running the country?
Certainly not Boris, already looking forward to riches beyond imagination when he gives up the day job.
We don’t even have a vote in the outcome. The contest has been laughably drawn out, while the country teeters on the edge of collapse.
And nothing works. Civil servants refuse to go back to the office.
Every major corporation still uses Covid as an excuse for crap customer service. British Airways, our national carrier, has cancelled thousands of flights because it can’t cope with the demand.
Industrial action is all the rage.
And a beloved little girl who wore an “Always Be Kind” T-shirt is shot dead by scum when she is getting ready for bed.
God help us.
It’s not just the police that need a reset. It is our entire, broken country.
A STATUE of Manchester City’s frowning, pale-faced giant Erling Haaland has been stolen.
The 10ft effigy sculpted from a tree and weighing nearly a ton – only slightly less than Haaland – was allegedly nicked after complaints that it looked nothing like the striker.
Surely the scary thing about the intimidating, flamboyantly ugly statue is that it looks EXACTLY like the real thing?
Na verdade, I find it impossible to tell them apart.
Honest Gary’s A Tonic
“Do you have the freedom to tweet about this sort of thing because you have a different contract to mine?” asks Hendo of Gary’s well-known aversion to all things Tory.
“Because I’d be sacked if I did.”
Gary’s defence is that he doesn’t work in current affairs, so the BBC’s impartiality rules are of no great consequence to a BBC employee who, on screen, talks only of futebol americano.
And Gary Lineker is right.
But Maitlis is a political reporter.
Of course she should be impartial on screen.
But when he is doing his day job, Lineker only talks football.
And there will never be a more perfect host of MOTD than Lineker – an ex-England striker who is funny, charming and played at the highest level.
Isn’t it also refreshing to hear what a public figure thinks about the great issues of the day?
Punch in the guts
BOXING continues to embarrass itself.
No matter how disappointed and frustrated he was, it was embarrassing to see Anthony Joshua asking this cash-strapped country to feel desperately sorry for him after he had just made £32.5million for 36 minutes of boxing.
It was equally embarrassing to hear Tyson Fury’s witless trash talk about “Ukrainian dossers” Oleksandr Usyk and Wladimir Klitschko when Ukrainian men, women and children are being raped, murdered and bombed.
I admire AJ and Fury. They have transformed and invigorated the sport I love.
Tyson spoke incredibly movingly about knife crime when his cousin was murdered.
But please show a little imagination, will you?
Don’t ask us to feel sorry for you when you have more money than you will ever know what to do with, AJ.
Not when 22million people in your own country will not be able to pay their energy bills this winter.
And please dial down the trash talk about “Ukrainian dossers”, Tyson, at least for the duration of a war that is destroying the lives of millions of Ukrainians.
There is a real world beyond the boxing ring and people are suffering.
How many millions do the greedy b*****ds who run the fight game need?
Flying start… but Dragon’s a tribute act
WILD sex orgies? Check.
Gratuitous violence towards carrot-crunching peasants? Check.
Fire-breathing dragons, sociopathic blondes and sibling rivalry for the Iron Throne? Check, check and check.
House Of The Dragon has all the elements that made Game Of Thrones such a joy.
Even the names of the characters – Ser Otto Hightower, Prince Daemon Targaryen and Ironrod – feel like old friends you have known for years.
Yet HBO’s prequel, definir 200 years before the blood, guts and semen-splattered events in Game Of Thrones, is definitely missing something.
Some say it is a sense of humour. Nós vamos, pode ser.
For all the romping, bonking and jousting, there is no character here as likely to make you smile as Tyrion Lannister – played so brilliantly by Peter Dinklage – did in the original.
But we didn’t watch Game Of Thrones for the laughs.
The problem is that House Of The Dragon is just that little too much in awe of Game Of Thrones.
It is ultimately a very good tribute act. De muitas maneiras, House Of The Dragon is totally brilliant.
ROD STEWART mocks Elton John on stage.
Eu obviamente pensei sobre isso, mas eu tinha um trabalho a fazer.”
Elton will hate Rod’s silly glasses, the gormless expression, the dopey faux-piano playing.
But Elton would kill for that hair.