It's been a big news week for breasts. The Duchess of Cambridge stupidly took her top off on the terrace of a house in Provence and the record of that moment of naivety assumed a life of its own. Within 24 hours of Closer in France publishing the pictures, 12 million logged on to catch a free glimpse online. Closer handed over their photographs to the royal lawyers, but around the world other magazines were keen to print them regardless of any threats of repercussions.
In the 21st century, no matter how much money you spend, how expensive your lawyers, pictures can never be suppressed, banned, wiped or eliminated. They exist in cyberspace until the next even hotter story comes along. The Duchess made two big mistakes. The first was dropping her top in the first place. The second was to decide to seek some kind of retribution through the courts, a move doomed to fail in its purposes of preventing the dissemination of the images and deterring photographers from behaving like that again.
Unexpectedly, her band of sympathisers included former porn publisher and owner of Channel 5 television, Richard Desmond, who claimed to be "outraged" that a newspaper he part-owned in Ireland printed them, even though his papers ad magazines contain images of women which many find extremely offensive.
Even more bizarrely, a breast cancer awareness campaign which shows bare breasts to illustrate the symptoms has been banned before 9pm, for fear of offending viewers.
But what about other women who are happy to be paid to bare their breasts? Last week, a petition was building to ask Dominic Mohan, editor of The Sun, to stop showing topless women. Page 3 girls started in the 1970s as part of a tabloid circulation war. They seem so old-fashioned today: porn, and any kind of nudity, is free online, and it's hard to see how a pair of nipples can sell a paper in 2012. Petrol discount vouchers or coupons for Tesco would probably do more.Lucy Holmes, who started the campaign to end Page 3, will have 30,000 signatories by this week, including Jennifer Saunders and Rebecca Front. When we ran a poll on Loose Women, 85 per cent of ITV1 viewers who responded agreed, suggesting this isn't just a middle-class cause.
The people who published Kate's breasts used all sorts of justifications, including "pride". But the truth is, her nipples, like those in The Sun, were just a marketing tool, a way of increasing profits. Which means that The Sun might as well abandon Page 3, as mammaries don't seem to deliver any more.
Given the need for a bit of positive PR, wouldn't it be a good idea for Rupert Murdoch to pick up the phone and tell Dominic Mohan to bin Page 3 and win some female fans?
As for Kate, she's learnt an important lesson the hard way. But then she was never exactly a poster girl for feminism in the first place.
How's about that?
Government plans to relax planning regulations so homeowners can build bigger extensions has caused outrage- with some councils like Richmond in south-west London, preparing to refuse to implement the changes. I agree: nothing will cause more local disputes than this ill-judged policy "initiative". The picture of Jimmy Saville's hideous gravestone, unveiled last week, so enraged me I now want the planning legislation extended to cover cemeteries. This memorial, overloooking the sea at Scarborough, fails on every level. It's ostentatious, vulgar, over-sized, and contains a dreadful poem, written by the deceased:
Stop, share this view I've chosen
And spend some time with me
Look down towards the castle
Which we can also see.
Another long-winded tribute reads:
He wrestled men, he cycled, he ran marathons we know
He worked in many dance halls and he worked in radio.
Call me a snob, but this is banal cack, and if any of my relatives were buried nearby I would be extremely upset. Modesty doesn't seem to have been high on Sir Jim's agenda: most saints, prime ministers, military leaders and philanthropists have low-key memorials compared with this.
I'm getting a bit tired of the "ugly chic" look Miuccia Prada continues to pursue so singlemindedly. First, knee socks, then mega-clompy shoes, and now in her latest collection huge mirrored Japanese geta sandals embellished with flowers and worn with leather socks. Is she having a laugh? Clothes that fold like complicated origami festooned with big white daisies will only sell to dedicated fashionistas and then in very small amounts. Miuccia is a very clever woman, a towering intellect in the world of fashion, but her company makes most money from perfumes and accessories. So the need to capture headlines is paramount: hence the horror show on the catwalk. Why modern women would want to wear clothes inspired by geishas, many of whom exist to service men, is quite beyond me.
Easy to refuse
Here's some good news for anyone who loves the countryside. Following a protest campaign, Kent councillors have finally seen sense and told the Government they are not interested in hosting a storage facility for nuclear waste under wonderful Romney Marsh, already desecrated by wind turbines on land owned by the Crown Estates. Last week, Shepway council voted to reject the offer, unimpressed by a presentation extolling the benefits of the "geological disposal facility" which the Government claimed would bring community benefits of up to £1bn – and was "a bigger deal than the Olympics".
The only remaining possible site, Copeland, in Cumbria, is expected to turn down the proposals early in October, leaving the Department of Energy and Climate Change the task of persuading another part of beautiful Britain to become a nuclear dump by offering big wads of cash. Any takers?
Today is the last day of the London Design Festival and there are exhibitions and events all over the city. To celebrate 25 years in business, the Conran store in Chelsea put together Red, a stunning exhibition of objects created by over 50 of the world's leading designers, ranging from coathangers and lights to tables, sun loungers, china and luggage. There's even a special pair of Manolos.
My favourite object is a giant Mickey Mouse, which sadly costs £3,995. I wonder if the new inhabitants of Chelsea – fabulously wealthy Russians – will buy these modern icons in their national colour?
Terence Conran has announced that, at 80, he's finally handing over the running of the business to his son Jasper. He still remains an impressive designer. His latest range for Marks & Spencer contains a fabulous desk with a bright blue tubular steel frame that will become a modern classic.