SO maybe the stiff upper lip is the best therapy after all. New research by a medical advice organisation in Oxford claims that a lot of counselling is a waste of time and some of it does more harm than good.

And Professor George Bonnano - who studied the effects of counselling after 9/11 in New York said - what some of us have suspected for some time - "talking about how unhappy you are just makes it worse."

Clearly, a lot of people are helped by counselling and psychotherapy. But a lot of people aren't. And our instinct now is to turn to therapy before we've really tried to sort things out for ourselves.

And while we are still dwelling on past misfortunes and traumas, it must sometimes make it harder to move on. If we are not careful, it is not circumstances that turn us into victims, but our own willingness to wallow in our unhappiness.

Most of us have parents and grandparents who went through wars or other experiences that should have scarred them for life, maybe did, but they found a way of dealing with it and getting on with their lives.

A classic case is agony aunt and novelist Claire Rayner who has just published her autobiography It tells of abusive irresponsible parents, a nurse's training that would have many people today suing the hospitals who gave it. And while still a teenager she suffered from a thyroid illness, spent a year in a mental hospital and was finally deported from Canada back to Britain as insane.

Once back home, she resumed her nursing and got on with life.

Yes, of course it was hard and she admits that despite that jolly persona, three children and a happy marriage, she has suffered frequent depression. But she has also said that there comes a time when you have to stop blaming other people and start taking responsibility for your own life.

For many of us, it seems that might be the best therapy of all.

Athina Onassis Rousel, the world's richest teenager, has apparently undergone a liposuction operation because her 30-year-old showjumper boyfriend won't tolerate any extra fat on her. In all the photos, Athina seems to be a perfectly healthy normal weight. And if her boyfriend wants to control her to the extent of making her have unnecessary operations, let's hope that despite all that money, she's rich enough to have a friend to tell her that the only excess weight she needs to dump is that boyfriend - and fast.

LET us all be grateful for the kindness of strangers. And, better late than never, thank you Jacquie Crillie

Four years ago, Senior Son and three of his friends were in a car accident near Northallerton. The car overturned and bounced across the road on its roof. The others got out but my son was trapped upside down in the passenger seat, when luckily Jacqui Crillie and her partner came along and stopped.

Jacqui's partner called the emergency services and Jacqui - all 5'1" of her - took charge, which included stopping one of the boys lighting a cigarette next to the wreck.

While they waited for the firemen to come and cut him free, Jacqui held Senior Son's hand, calmed him down and kept him awake. There was blood pouring from his head and every time he looked as though he was lapsing into unconsciousness, she shook and joked him back to wakefulness. It was a bitterly cold, wet night and there was a long wait for the ambulance but Jacqui stayed kneeling beside the car.

When the firemen and their cutting gear arrived, the lad refused to let go of Jacqui's hand, so she, bless her, stayed where she was and the firemen (thank you) had to work round her too.

Luckily, amazingly, he and his friends had no life-threatening injuries, just a very battered body and a head full of broken glass. He was immensely grateful to Jacqui. He thought he could remember her name and that she played in a band. For sometime afterwards we tried to find her but got nowhere, though we never quite gave up.

Then last month, there was a notice in the Darlington and Stockton Times saying that Jacquie Crillie is the new Musical Director of Northallerton Silver Band. It had to be - it was - the same Good Samaritan. So finally, after four years, we were able to track her down and say our thank yous properly.

Senior Son hasn't forgotten - probably never will forget - her kindness that night. Neither will we.


There again...

Yes, this is the latest chain letter going the rounds, where you send £10 to someone, spend a fortune on photocopying and send the letter on to 200 strangers.

According to the original sender "I GUARANTEE that within 60 days your life will be transformed for ever."

But as he seems unsure whether his name is David Neville of Norfolk, or David Rhodes of Norfolk or David Wilson of Norfolk, I'm not sure how much faith we can have in him.

Save yourself £87 and bin those letters.

But, of course, if you've made your fortune, we'd love to hear from you...

PS: Now the America's Cup, ocean yachting's greatest prize, has been won by a Swiss crew.

Which means we can probably look out for the Dutch mountaineering team, and the Caribbean ski-champions.

And none of them as unlikely as England winning a cricket trophy. news/griffith