The best and the worst of 1992

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Kiranjit Ahluwalia

Sentenced to life for killing her violent husband, she was released in September.

IT HAS been an unforgettable year. I won my freedom. I am with my family and children. But I am still in shock. You see, I never thought I would get out.

I will never forget coming out of court and seeing all my supporters. They were so happy for me - it brought tears to my eyes. Tears of happiness.

Then going home to my family - seeing my children's eyes popping out, their mouths wide open at the surprise. Every day when I wake up I remember these two occasions of pure happiness.

The support of my friends and family has also been wonderful. Even my husband's family sent me food parcels, cards and flowers. Family in India and Canada saw me on television and sent telegrams and called me. It was reassuring to know that everyone was on my side.

I have learnt so much in the last year; my sentence was not an entirely negative experience. Before I went to prison I was terribly nave. But I improved my English and I took several courses. The experience improved my self-confidence.

When I came out it wasn't easy. For the first few days I could not sleep, eat or go out. All I could think about was my friends in prison. I was eating sweetmeats and they were eating prison food.

My children also found it hard. For the first few weeks they followed me everywhere, even to the toilet. They kept thinking I would leave them again. 'Tell us about our childhood,' they kept begging.

My greatest pleasure is to wake them, iron their uniforms, dress them, give them breakfast, take them to school. I plan to go on holiday with them so we can catch up, have time by ourselves. We are waiting for our new house and I am looking forward to settling down with them again. I still sleep with them at night.

But my thoughts and feelings are preoccupied with my friends in prison. I think about them morning, day and night. Christmas is an especially hard time. I spent three Christmases in prison and I cried all the way through.

When I was inside I thought that the campaign to release me was a waste of time. Now I realise that publicising a case and getting support really helps.

I want to spend the next year helping women in prison who shouldn't really be there. I know of 12 who have committed similar 'crimes' as myself.

The press was helpful, too. When my case was going through court the first time it was very difficult being in the public eye. The press said some very hurtful things. But because of the campaign on my behalf the reporters have been wonderful. So many people have tried to understand me and to see how I have suffered over the past 10 years.

Months after my release I still get people stopping me on the streets. Everybody has been sympathetic. I have not experienced any more hurt.

Steve Brown

The Gloucestershire delivery man who was trapped in a telephone booth in Littledean by a pig. The amorous sow was a family pet and had escaped her pig-sitters while her owner was away.

THE highlight of my year was the morning I met Doris. I was on the last leg of my paper round one Saturday morning when I heard this grunt behind me. I carried on but then I heard it again - louder. I turned around and I saw this almighty pig coming towards me. Immediately I started thinking of the headlines: 'Pig eats man's leg.' I dropped everything and ran to my van.

I sat there shivering, waiting for it to go. But then it started chewing my newspapers. 'Get off]' I yelled. Those things cost 45p a time and I had to think of my tips. I waited and waited and it got later and later. At 5.30am I looked at my watch and thought to myself: this place is going to be full of people soon. I'd better call the police.

At first the police thought I was drunk. Then they heard her grunting and moaning outside the phone box and they started screaming with laughter. I can tell you it wasn't very funny. I thought she was going to rip the telephone box out of the ground. I thought I was going to be suffocated by a passionate pig, like.

I was in that phone box for an hour before I managed to get out. By the time I did I was the laughingstock of the town. The jokes still go on today. I've started to get Christmas cards signed 'Love and kisses, Doris'.

I must say that pigs have never been my favourite animals. But I do keep in touch with Doris, although I don't make it a family affair.

I'm not a vegetarian but if it comes to the crunch I'll do my best to stop her being turned into a piece of bacon. I wouldn't like her to end up on someone's dinner plate.

And I haven't been inside a phone box since.

Bessie Parker

A Mirror Group pensioner.

I HAVE had a horrible year. All this business with Maxwell . . . the worry made me ill. I've lost 2st.

I lost my mother this time last year. Then I was told that the money on top of my state pension was going to be reduced from pounds 45 to pounds 9.27 a month. Then they said I had diabetes. I wanted to do away with myself. I didn't know which way to turn.

Since my money was cut back, I don't go out much any more. I used to go out for a drink with my friend but I can't afford that. And I used to go out for a bit of bingo but I've stopped that, too. I never spent much on bingo and a drink but now I really miss it.

I've cut back on food. Meat used to be a main dish for me but now I can only afford it once a week. Even fish is getting too dear. Holidays? I haven't been to Blackpool since Easter last year.

But we are still fighting. I went to a meeting this week in Leeds. There were gentlemen there telling us what they are doing for us. They say that our money is somewhere abroad, that the people over there are refusing to give it back. I am just keeping my fingers crossed that it will be all right.

I don't know how I'll cope next year. Even if I get my money back the Government will put my poll tax up again. There won't be much money left after that. I suppose I'll just have to take it day by day.

Alan Sugar

The co-chairman of Tottenham Hotspur football team failed in his bid to buy his troubled Amstrad group back from shareholders.

BEING in on the Spurs buyout made me realise I was out of touch with reality. Here were people working hard to save pounds 50,000, when I was solving pounds 200m problems with a pounds 30m write off. I realised that even with my friends I had been saying things like, 'What the hell, get the builder in, it's only going to cost you pounds 50,000 for an extension.'

Now I have to admit I can't replicate what I did in the past. I expanded too much abroad when I shouldn't have. We produced some bad products with technical faults. I haven't been able to find any new blockbusters. I thought I had with a simple camcorder selling at pounds 499, but they didn't go and I had to dump them at pounds 299.

Brian Clough

Nottingham Forest go into the New Year still bottom of the Premier League. There is talk of Brian Clough leaving the club after 17 years as manager.

I SUPPOSE the whispering has started. I suppose they're saying that I'm past it at last - that the old so-and-so has either lost his touch or finally gone off his rocker.

But I'll tell you one thing (talking to the press), I'll out-see all of you guys. See you in 20 years.

George Soros

After making dollars 1bn out of Black Wednesday by selling sterling, he says he has given dollars 50m ( pounds 31.7m) of it to voluntary organisations bringing aid to Bosnia.

IF I didn't do it, someone else would have done. I have absolutely no sense of having done anything immoral.

Catherine Milford

A leading campaigner for the ordination of women.

WHEN I look back over the past year I get a sense of having achieved a task, although the full implications have not yet sunk in. The two dates that stick in my mind are 11 November, when we won the vote for the ordination of women, and 7 December, when I became a grandmother.

On the morning of the 11th the tension was tremendous. I was with the press when the result came through and there was total panic and confusion. But outside, on the steps of Church House, there was a tremendous air of elation among the crowds. It was such a relief that the church had decided to take a step forward.

Messages poured in from friends and family all round the world. In Washington they were particularly delighted that the 'mother' church had finally caught up with the 'daughter' church. There were people who were deeply opposed but I was expecting that. I can understand; they must feel rather shattered.

My husband and children were very supportive. I have been extremely busy since the announcement, travelling around England and representing the movement abroad, and they have been exceptionally tolerant. But the real changes will come once the legislation has passed through Parliament in 18 months' time. It will take time to sort it all out. But that will give us some breathing space, which is no bad thing.

Rifat Ozbek

Winner of the Designer of the Year for the second time at the British Fashion Awards.

I IDENTIFY with the Queen. It's been an annus horribilis for me, too. I lost my best friend, and my mum died. In 12 months, I feel like I've aged by 10 or 20 years.

I'm also homeless, living in rented accommodation with everything in storage. I can't find the right place to live in London: I want a big space - something like a loft in Notting Hill Gate. Winning the award in October was great, although I had won it once before. It's encouraging, but I can't say whether it will make a big difference from a business point of view.

David Mellor

Former Secretary of State for National Heritage.

Idon't sit here, all on my own, in my humble terrace house'. I'm enjoying myself. It's not a bad time not to be in the Cabinet.

There is a feeling one goes into outer darkness when one resigns, but it's not true. It is true one has fewer resources and no people to help and, of course, no ministerial car to help one out. I never liked to talk like a man in a suit. Like all the better people in politics, I always tried to do something, not be someone. Anyone can hang on to a job if they make compromises.

Antonia de Sancha

The actress who had an affair with David Mellor.

WE had a genuine relationship based on deep affection. I want to keep my dignity, desperately. I have been deceived by people I believed to be friends, and it hurts.

Chris Evans

A presenter of Channel 4's 'The Big Breakfast', which was launched in September.

THE highlight of the year was getting the job on The Big Breakfast and receiving shining, excellent reviews for being able to smile, talk and appear cheerful - which isn't very difficult when you are getting more money than you ever dreamt of for working two hours a day. What have I learnt from this experience? That if I talk, smile and appear even more cheerful I will (hopefully) earn even more money.

Another lesson I have learnt this year is never to get drunk

before going to an auction. I ended up with a poster of Sue Lyon as Lolita. I didn't even want it. Get drunk after an auction is my advice.

My lifestyle hasn't changed much. I still go to the local pub every night and play tennis during the day. I go shopping at Tesco's even - nobody ever recognises me. But I did go on a cruise in the Bahamas for two days with my wife. That cost pounds 3,000 but I can tell you it was worth it. I don't regret a penny of it.

The best thing that has happened in the last two weeks has been moving into this house. It is absolutely gorgeous - open fires, everything. The only disadvantage is that I can't have a cat. The house is rented. It says in the contract: No Cats Allowed.

Glenys Kinnock

Interviews and additional research by Esther Oxford. The Duchess of York was interviewed by the American ABC network.

Danny Danziger returns next week.

Standing on the steps of the Labour Party's headquarters at Walworth Road, south London, at 5.30am on 10 April as Neil conceded defeat.

I WANTED to cry. I came very close to it, but somehow I managed to hold on. But I cried afterwards, for days and days. I was just so gravely disappointed. Neil coped with it far, far better than I did. He was able to be much less emotional.

But for me it was a sense of . . . almost of bereavement. Such a loss. It wasn't that I could see us inside No 10. I never could make that leap of acceptance, really. But the opinion polls were showing we had a good chance . . Chris Eubank

In February the WBO super middleweight boxing champion's car ran off the road, killing a man. Michael Watson, his opponent who was left comatose after their fight more than a year ago, is recovering slowly.

IT HAS been a terrible year. In accordance with what has happened, it has been the worst year in my life. Mashing that guy up in the accident and doing Michael Watson in last year - no, I don't want to give you details.

It is very hard to live with it. It is something I continually regret. I feel awful guilt. But I don't blame myself. It was an accident. I have come to terms with the fact that both incidents were accidents. There are millions of accidents every day. I feel sorry for his mother, but you have to get on with life.

As for Michael Watson - yeah, I feel bad. It hurts when his friends and family are rude to me, hold it against me. I say to them: 'Look, it is as hard for me as it is for you.' But they don't understand. They are not ignorant. They just haven't experienced what I have experienced.

From a business point of view, 1992 has been 100 per cent successful. But my achievements have been nullified by these two incidents. How can you pat yourself on the back when two unfortunate things have happened?

I've learnt from this that although you can forgive yourself, others are not so quick to forgive you. I've learnt that everyone is mortal, everyone can be pierced.

Duchess of York

Separated from the Duke in March, pictures of her topless with her friend John Bryan appeared in the world's press in August.

I WAS determined to make my marriage work, so I went in with both feet, and went to fly my helicopters and aeroplanes. The Duke spent about 42 days with me every year. Now whenever Andrew is not away we make sure we are all with the children. They love their papa, because he is a lovely man and he deserves to be loved.

I've probably changed now. Let's face it, I had a lot of lessons to learn and I still do. I will continue to make mistakes. I've found out that life is very tough and that you have to be very careful.

I brought a lot of troubles on myself. I think I've aged, and I've grown up.

I can't go through a year like this ever again. It's just too much stress.

Mark Purdey

An organic farmer from Elworthy, Somerset, who lost his favourite cow to BSE this year.

LOSING Damson, our pedigree Jersey cow, was the most traumatic point of the year. She was such a tame animal, she used to let the children ride on her back. She was the family pet.

That all changed when she started showing symptoms of mad cow disease. It was grotesque: she would splay like a frog on ice and go into convulsions at the sight of a blade of grass. The vet put her down. When she was dead they beheaded her. The head was sent to a laboratory, the body was sent to the incinerator. My children were terribly upset.

At the time it was all happening I had a lot of television crews round here and journalists knocking at my door. They were interested in my thoughts about BSE. I got used to being in the spotlight. Then all of a sudden they just stopped coming. That was hard to adjust to. Press attention can be addictive.

The high point in the year was BBC 2's decision to let me do an Open Space programme on the link between pesticides and neurological disease.

Phil Turner

A miner for 23 years, he is waiting to hear if his pit is to be shut down.

MY WORST moment was when I heard that Labour had lost the election. I'd got up at 4.30am to start my shift and I turned on the television for a glimpse of the result and there was Kinnock and his wife saying they had lost. I felt like roaring. I thought Christ] Another five years of them. It was a very sad day.

The announcement of 31 pit closures, too - that was a very, very sad day. The pit I work at, Kiverton, was to be thrown on the scrapheap, they said. We knew it was coming. But we didn't think the closures would be on such a great scale in such a short time. I was in a daze after that announcement.

Now they are saying it might not close after all. But we won't know for sure until 29 January when Tarzan gets up in Parliament to make his statement.

We talk about the future with people who have been made redundant. 'It's one of those things,' they say. 'There are 30,000 miners in the same boat.'

But not knowing is rough on my wife and kids. It's hard not being able to plan. My wife gets grumpy and keeps jumping at me. I get ratty and moody and end up having a good shouting match with her. It does affect you. People aren't telling the truth when they say it doesn't.

Redundancy pay is not much comfort. What is pounds 20,000 for me? A year's wages. And then they are talking about social security cuts - we'll be eating grass by the time they have finished.

What do I want for next year? Employment - anything. For my wife and kids to be happy. To have good health. We are planning to go to Corfu in the summer - my wife has never been abroad. And we are having her dream kitchen put in in January. By the time I've finished there, we won't have any money. Then they can't take it off us, can they? Once we've spent it, I mean.

Audrey Cornes

The mother of Roy Cornes, the Birmingham haemophiliac who is said to have infected four women with HIV.

THE first I knew of those stories about Roy was when I read it in the local paper. It was awful. Nobody wanted to hear our side.

Most of that stuff in the press was filthy lies. I don't believe what they said about my son infecting four women with HIV. Yes, Roy had girlfriends - you know what lads are like. In fact, he had quite a few, but they didn't get serious. And he told me that he always used a condom.

It was the press, not the neighbours, who troubled us when the story broke. They were awful about chasing our Roy. We had them banging on the door in the middle of the night. One tabloid reporter waited for my daughter to ring the doorbell and then walked right in to our house. She asked him what he was doing and he called her a slut.

The neighbours just ignored us. They have been doing that for the past 18 years. They are like that around here. Keep themselves to themselves, like.

Things got worse for me in November. Not only did I have this thing with Roy, but my second- youngest son, Garry, died of Aids.

I used to visit him every day. 'Can I do anything for you, son?' I would say to him on visits. 'Get me a new body, Mum,' he would mumble. It broke my heart. It was awful for Roy and Gordon, my other son, to watch him die. He was a skeleton by the time he died. It was awful for them knowing that they would probably die the same way.

I wish I had known more about Aids before all this happened. I would have said to Roy: 'If you are going to go with anybody, use what a man uses - you know, a condom.'

But perhaps he did know about the risk. Maybe he was just too embarrassed to use a condom.

I hope 1993 is better than 1992. My greatest wish is that they will find a drug to kill this disease before Roy and Gordon go, too. And I wish my Garry was alive again.

(Photograph omitted)

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