Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Tears for Jade this Mother's Day

EVERY time I think about Mother’s Day this Sunday I picture one scene. It’s not my two little ones handing me a hand-made card or smiling over burnt toast in bed. 

It’s Jade Goody’s sons trying to get through the day without their mum, exactly a year after she died from cervical cancer.

Of course, their fantastic dad Jeff Brazier will make it as painless as he possibly can for Bobby, six, and Freddy, five. But Jade’s boys idolised her, and the hole in their lives will still be as huge as it was when she was ripped away from them 12 months ago.

It’s easy to understand why.  

From the moment Jade Goody gate crashed onto our TV screens – telling us East Angular was a foreign country and that everyone inside the Big Brother house was a Minger – she captured a part of my heart.

I didn’t care that she sounded like Ethel out of EastEnders with her muddled pronunciations and knew ‘nuffink’ about geography. 

She was something rare on television, an enigma inside the BB house. Jade was real, a raw young girl from Saarf London, who wasn’t ashamed to let the public see her microscopically close up. She didn’t know how to be fake. She wore her flaws with pride. 

Who could forget Veruca-gate? Eyes bulging with tears, she raged at her housemates for ‘thinking she was minging.’ 

Spittle flew as fast as swearwords, but I loved her for it. That rant was genuine, something I might have done if I’d been cooped up with a bunch of wannabe strangers on camera for the summer. 

I didn’t blame her when she flashed her ‘lala’ during a drunken game of dare. I hated Kate Lawler – the only other girl in the game - for not saving her from herself. Same went for PJ after the BJ incident. He’d taken advantage of our naïve favourite and bruised her heart, as well as her pride, when he brushed her off the morning-after-the-night-before. 

Luckily, our Jade was a survivor. The only daughter of a former drug-addicted disabled lesbian, she’d dragged herself and her hopes all the way from a dingy council flat onto the small screen. And she wasn’t about to fall apart for long, especially not for a podgy housemate whose name rhymed with a sex act.

So she fixed that gorgeous grin onto her face and came out fighting. She emerged from the house in 4th place but she’d won over the nation and I was a fan for life.

That’s why I forgave her when she was accused of bullying in the BB race row. I knew Jade wasn’t a racist. She just had a bad temper and a tongue that began flapping before her brain could trip it. Shilpa Shetty knew she didn’t mean it. So did I.

‘I’m going to offer her a column,’ I decided as furious protestors burned effigies and pictures of her in India. My bosses and some colleagues at Love it!, the magazine I was editing, thought I was mad. 

‘It’s a huge risk,’ they said. ‘No one wants to read what she has to say.’ But they were wrong. We’d only ever met her through our remote controls but Jade was our mate, someone we really believed we knew and trusted in. Friends and family muck up occasionally. ‘We’ll all forgive her,’ I thought. We could all see how genuinely sorry she was. 

So I invited Jade out for lunch. Her agent and a colleague arranged it, and I laughed when I saw where we were going. Le Caprice – a swanky London restaurant that’s posh enough for Posh. ‘Jade would rather have a greasy spoon,’ I thought. 

But I’d underestimated the former dental nurse. She ordered a dish I’d never heard of and seemed totally at home, waving to the likes of Cilla Black and craning to see if the Beckhams were in. 

Sure, she was loud – I could hear her every word when I went to the toilet two floors down. But she was funny, charming and exactly like she was on TV. 

A likeable, smart, young mum of two who was as happy talking about potty training Freddy as her next perfume launch, Jade didn’t know how to be anything but herself. And I loved her even more. So did the readers. 

She was my best-selling cover star, shifting more copies than Cheryl Cole, Coleen Rooney or Myleene Klass combined. The British public couldn’t get enough of her.

Each week she entertained us by laying her life bare. No subject was out of bounds. We laughed as she and boyfriend Jack Tweed sent themselves up, posing as Posh and Becks. 

We shared her joy at expecting a girl and her despair and grief when she lost the baby. None of us knew then what had caused the miscarriage. We do now. 

Cervical cancer didn’t just rob the 27-year-old of her longed-for baby but it stole her future too. Everyone thought Jade would beat it. She underwent a radical hysterectomy and gruelling chemotherapy. 

Tragically, not even she, with her juggernaut personality and giant spirit, could stop it spreading to her liver, bowel and groin. 

She hastily arranged to marry Jack and just a couple of days beforehand invited a mutual friend. ‘You can come to my funeral too,’ she said casually. Doctors had given her three months to live, she told him. ‘But I know I won’t last longer than a month.’ 

She’d wanted to keep on fighting for her boys, but in the end it was kinder to let her go. I burst into tears when I saw pictures of her leaving hospital shortly before the wedding. 

Frail, and sucking on a pain-relieving lollipop, her eyes were brimming with the agony of fighting a cruel and unstoppable beast. ‘I just want to go now,’ she told Jack. ‘Its hurting too much.’ 

But she did fight on – for the sake of Jack and her beautiful boys. My son Deme went to a party with Freddy and Bobby a couple of years ago. They played together and I watched them giggling together, all blonde curls and giant Jade-style grins. 

They were just like her – extrovert, witty with buckets of charisma. ‘They’re my best friends,’ my son announced at the end of the party, after he’d stolen a toy car off Bobby. ‘They’re funny boys.’

How hard it was for her to let them go. My heart pinches now as I realise what she’ll miss - their first football trophy, girlfriends, them squirming away when she tries to kiss them. Watching her sons turn into men. 

But she did the best any mum could do, showering them with love and the home, education and luxuries she could only dream of growing up.

She’s led her extraordinary life on TV and threatened to die on it as well. She didn’t luckily, and I, for one, wouldn’t have watched. 

Her death has saved hundreds of others. GPs and hospitals can still hardly cope with the women rushing to have smear tests because of the ‘Jade Goody effect.’ That’s her legacy. She’s the reality TV star who made us all get real with our health. 

But on Sunday she’s the mum Bobby and Freddy will only be able to treasure as a memory. So let’s hope on Sunday they do what Jade told them. ‘Whenever you want to see me, look up to the sky,’ she said,’ and I’ll be the biggest star up there.’ 

I’ll be cuddling my children extra tightly this Mother’s Day – and thinking of Jade and her brave little boys. 


  1. Mark Setchfield10 March 2010 at 09:34

    Ahh that was lovely!

  2. Like you I always thought Jade was a great person with no pretentions of who she was and I loved her for it her boys have lost a lovely mum but I know Jeff is the next best thing for them I too will be thinking of them on mothers day god bless them

  3. That was simply an amazing post! She was a wonderful person and will be much missed by her children, I as well will be hugging my little man extra tight!

  4. What an amazing tribute. Jade Goody's life may have ended tragically and prematurely but she certainly made the most of her 27 years and her boys will, I'm sure, always regard her as their shining light...

  5. I'm moved to tears by this, what a lovely post about a young woman who did everything she could during her life and loved her boys fiercely.

  6. I'm glad I got to meet her, and I still find it so hard to believe she's gone. It just makes you want to hold on to your children extra tight this Mother's Day.

  7. I really didn't like Jade in BB but she captured my heart when she became a Mother. Anyone who can Parent like that when they didn't have that themselves deserves a pat on the back!