Boy, Pamela Connolly was tough on Heather Mills in Shrink Rap. She must have been reeling by the time she left the studio. In an early body-blow, she'd been accused of "compulsive caretaking", a kind of neurotic desire to help others that had its roots in her own troubled childhood. Heather, pensive for a moment, conceded that there might be some truth to this: "I know people resent me when I start to give too much," she said, more in sorrow than in anger, "and think it's too good to be true." Not long after, she was brutally confronted with the fact that she is "highly intelligent, highly articulate" and not long after that Connolly was ruthlessly hammering away again at her culpable saintliness: "You know you inspire envy in people just by being who you are... over-giving." Other people's resentment against her, Connolly reassuringly explained, arises because Mills highlights their inadequacies, by her beauty and her ability to fix problems that they can't solve themselves: "Wow! Wow!" said Heather softly. It had never really occurred to her to see it that way before, what with being too busy with charity work and giving away the money she doesn't give a fig about, but now she came to think of it that was so true.
A therapist isn't an interrogator, of course, and is probably professionally obliged to at least pretend that everything the client says is true (or at least a kind of "truth"). If this is therapy, though, what's it doing on television in breach of every known code of ethics? And if it isn't – if it's supposed to add psychological acuity to the standard business of the celebrity one-to-one – then what the hell happened to the searching questions? More to the point, what therapist worth the money wouldn't seek to probe just a little into the long and famously troubled relationship between Heather Mills and hard facts? There was a moment when you thought Connolly might raise the issue: "So you learned that truth was not important," she said, paraphrasing one of Heather's recollections about her upbringing. "Normal rules like don't steal, don't lie, none of that made any sense?" But this, it turned out, was a moment to register the father's inadequacies, not to get Mills to acknowledge that she might be helplessly replicating some of them.
The only other attempt to get Mills to confront less palatable accounts of her life fizzled out into a logical non sequitur. "I know there was talk about sex-working," said Connolly, "and to me that would be a means of survival, true or not." Well, no actually. If it's not true it's not relevant at all. If it is true, you might want to know a little more about it. And if you genuinely can't tell which is the case, you might want to ask how a young woman had got herself into situations where such a suspicion might arise. You might also have done enough research to know that several of the stories Mills told here have already been exposed as heavily embroidered, to say the least. Or, failing that, to have enough presence of mind to recognise that her language betrays an engrained habit of self-aggrandising exaggeration. "I get requests every day from thousands of charities," said Heather, explaining how hard she found it to say no to the needs of others. "Thousands"? "Every day"? Connolly 's eyebrows didn't even flinch. It was so inept as an interview, in fact, that it made Piers Morgan's hour-long flirtation with the Prime Minister the other night look a model of forensic cross-examination. And that's going some.
I don't think there's any immediate hope of Yarmouk School in Damascus getting its own glee club soon. The girls, almost all of whom are Palestinian refugees, would probably adore it. But the available repertoire of MoR ballads about giving your blood for the homeland is a bit slim, and, besides, the teaching staff seem distinctly wary about Western imports. Shaza and Rahaf, two charming contrarians with a passion for Eminem and 50 Cent, felt that they could best serve the Palestinian cause by becoming Damascus's first female rap crew. They went to see a local band, the Refugees of Rap, to get some advice, giddily thrilled by their proximity to their heroes. But unfortunately they miscalculated their pitch to be allowed to debut their act at the school prize-giving. "We will set things on fire if we perform this song," Shaza pleaded. "The school will go crazy." The headmistress decided that she didn't like the sound of this much and stuck with traditional Arab folk music. Syrian School is great, incidentally, shot through with little flashes of illumination about how political attitudes are formed and hardened (Syrian television coverage of the fighting in Gaza was grimly explicit about the carnage), but also reminding you that, beneath the real differences between British and Syrian society, there lies a great submerged iceberg of human sameness – strict parents and easy-going ones and teenage hopes and teenage frustration.Reuse content