UNUSUALLY in these short attention span times, the Harvey Weinstein story is sticking around. 
Women from different industries have spoken about being sexually harassed, showing that the problem is not just to be found in film. The revelation that it had happened to Sir Tom Jones was a reminder that men can be victims too, and that abuse is always about power, with sex the sleazy cover story.
Sir Tom, interviewed by the BBC, said he had been left feeling “terrible” after the incident early in his career. The #MeToo movement on social media shows there are a lot of people who can second that emotion. Started by actor Alyssa Milano in the wake of the Weinstein allegations, the campaign invites people who have been sexually harassed or assaulted, and those who wish to show their support of victims, to use the hashtag. More than one million have done so, including 300,000 men.
Far from abating, the need to bear witness is growing. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why the Oscar-winning Tom Hanks, heir to Jimmy Stewart and the closest thing Hollywood has to a patron saint, is calling this “a watershed moment”.
There is no doubt that a lot of anger and hurt has been unleashed. But what happens from here? Where does all that energy go?
There is no quick, simple fix to the problem the Weinstein scandal has exposed. Social media campaigns can do their bit in generating a sense of solidarity and the press can spread the word, but practical action is needed to ensure the same behaviour is tackled once the news caravan has moved on. 
Such action includes directing victims towards someone who can help, be it police, a personnel department, a trade union, or a lawyer. Forget the jokes about the latter (“What do you call 100 lawyers at the bottom of the sea? A start.”). Diamonds never were a girl’s best friend – you’d be better off with Apple shares – but sometimes m’learned friends are worth their weight in gold. 
Still on that same long “to do” list, and this is one for parents in particular, we could stop encouraging girls and young women to be so ****** nice all the time. 
Apologies for the asterisks, but if women had a pound for all the times they were told while growing up to be nice, play nice, act nice, oh don’t you look nice, we could all afford to have lawyers on speed dial. Niceness is, well, nice. Society would be poorer without it. But too much of it can have undesirable consequences. Chief among them is turning girls into people pleasers, always putting someone else’s needs before their own.
Heaven forbid that the person who says or does something dreadful should be called out on it and made to take the blame. Instead, it is the nice person who is consumed with embarrassment. It is up to the nice person, or so they have been led to believe, to fix things. And if that doesn’t work, there are only too many folk willing to dump the blame on the nice person’s shoulders.  Maybe the nice person  misunderstood. Was it something they said, did, wore? No, no, a million times no. But wouldn’t it be awful to cause a scene, to stamp and shout and risk making others feel bad?
Nice girls, nice women, nice people, don’t do that sort of thing. They put others at ease, they don’t cause uneasiness. They could be direct, but that risks coming across as rude, and nice girls don’t do that either. There are words for women who know what they want and what they don’t, and make no apologies for it. One of them, not so funnily enough, rhymes with witch.
The antidote to niceness is not aggression (although there are times when that can help), but assertiveness. There’s a galaxy of difference between the two. Assertiveness is treating others as you wish to be treated. Giving and getting some of that R.E.S.P.E.C.T that Ms Franklin sang about. 
It is not an easy thing to do, and being on the receiving end can be disconcerting at first. Years ago, I went to an evening class in assertiveness where the lecturer was inexperienced and, you’ve guessed it, lacking in assertiveness. By week three we were well and truly in Lord of the Flies territory, and it was touch and go whether we would make it back to civilisation by course end. We did. Teacher too.
Perhaps this is a generational thing. One would like to think that we are getting better at lifting the duty – make that the curse – of niceness from our daughters, nieces, younger friends and colleagues. That we have poured such confidence into them, put such bravery in their hearts, that they are able to handle this rough old world better than we sometimes did.
I ****** hope so.


RUB-a-dub-dub, what a fuss over an MP in a tub.
Tory MP Tim Loughton’s revelation that he starts his day with an hour-long soak in the bath has sent others into a lather. 
“One of the greatest causes of stress in the world was the invention of the shower,” the  MP for East Worthing and Shoreham told an international get-together of politicians discussing meditation and other ways to reduce stress and improve decision-making.
There immediately followed a lot of stressful questions about how much Mr Loughton’s bath habit costs: £622 over two years, said the Daily Mirror.
Fortunately, Scottish politicians are above that sort of thing, preferring to scrap about whether Tory leader Ruth Davidson was right to go on a celebrity version of Bake Off. “Getting on with her day job,” tweeted SNP Minister Jeane Freeman sarkily. Stop dishing abuse from your sun-lounger at someone doing their bit for charity, one Tory shot back.
Chill, people. Better still, get together in a hot tub and talk it out.


DONALD Trump is a singular character in many ways. As the first anniversary of his election approaches, he looks set to achieve what no other president has, or would want to. To wit: he has not had one good week in office.
The past seven days are no exception, with the argument over what he allegedly said to an Army widow causing more upset. 
In that fight, he is taking on a Democrat Congresswoman. Two more critics surfaced yesterday, ones who will not be as easily countered. Though they did not name him, it was obvious who Barack Obama and George W Bush had in mind when they spoke about increasing divisiveness.
At Mr Trump’s inauguration it was plain that the Obamas and Bushes have become friends, with Michelle Obama and Mr Bush particularly hitting it off. “She kind of likes my sense of humour,” he once said. 
Somehow, I cannot see the Trumps and Obamas ever creasing each other up. Come to think of it, it is hard to recall Mr Trump laughing with, rather than at, anyone.