DON’T travel without insurance… don’t travel without insurance… don’t travel without insurance.

Is the message getting across?

There’s daft and then there’s dafter – and actor Paul Nicholls is both.

The former EastEnders star is lucky to be alive after falling down a waterfall in Thailand while taking a selfie. Did no one tell him waterfalls are wet and slippy places?

He certainly paid for his mistake. He smashed his kneecap and then lay in agony for three days until the shopkeeper from whom he’d hired a bike raised the alarm and the emergency services carried out a tricky rescue, by which time he was semi conscious and had contracted a tropical infection.

He was taken to a private hospital – £300 a night, £2,000 for the operation and that’s before any extras. And he didn’t have travel insurance.

Luckily, his stepfather was willing to pay up but he then transferred to a state-run hospital where he’s apparently getting fantastic treatment and is very grateful to everyone who helped him.

But wouldn’t it have been cheaper and easier for everyone if he’d forked out for travel insurance? For someone young, fit and healthy it’s a piddling expense, especially against the cost of the holiday.

Yet we’re all regularly asked to contribute thousands to bring home sad victims of foreign illness or accidents who haven’t bothered with insurance.

And don’t think you European E111 card will save you either.

A young neighbour – who should have know better – was taken with a tummy bug in Spain. He hadn’t bothered with insurance because Spain is part of the EU and we have a reciprocal arrangement so treatment is free, right?

Up to a point. Treatment is free in state hospitals but in many tourist areas the only hospitals are privately owned and run, where the arrangement doesn’t work.

So that severe dose of the runs ended up costing him nearly £3,000, which made him even sicker.

Buying travel insurance is boring. But it’s not half as boring as trying to raise thousands of pounds for hospital treatment on the other side of the world.

Just ask Paul Nicholls.

WHERE do all these idiots come from? The latest lot are those who sent hate messages to doctors and nurses at Great Ormond Street Hospital because they’d decided the staff were holding little Charlie Gard prisoner and denying him treatment. God help us.

There they were outside the court and hospital with their banners, their placards, their chanting and their specially printed T-shirts, their minds firmly closed to any degree of common sense. Hate is so much more fun.

It’s a strange phenomenon of our times – the people who go on Facebook or Twitter or newspaper message boards to heap vilification on people they don’t know in circumstances about which they haven’t a clue.

Once upon a time they had to content themselves with banging on the side of prison vans outside courts but now they have much more scope for their stupidity.

A few years ago an angry mob stormed the house of a doctor in Cardiff because they thought he was a child molester. The self-important, self-righteous, pig-ignorant rioters didn’t actually know the difference between a paedophile and a paediatrician… Meanwhile, experts keep telling is that the standard of education in this country is going up.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe.

ART classes on the NHS – why not?

Poetry, painting, the arts in general are good for you,. Not just fun but reading poetry or joining an art class can actually make you feel better. So much so, that that a parliamentary group last week recommended that classes should be available on prescription.

Sounds good to me. If people can be prescribed gym sessions, then art makes just as much sense.

In an experimental scheme people suffering from depression, chronic pain or recovering from a stroke where given an eight week course in things like poetry or ceramics or drawing.

The results were astonishing.

Hospital admissions went down by a quarter, and GP visits by even more. Patients felt happier and healthier. It saved the beleaguered NHS money too.

Don’t knock poetry and painting – they work.

So why wait so long that you need a doctor to give you a prescription for it? Even in these days of cutbacks and cancelled classes, there are still plenty of opportunities to see performances, shows, exhibitions and to have a go ourselves. And above all, to encourage our children.

Retail therapy always seemed a bit of a hollow – not to mention expensive – solution. Maybe music and poetry will have longer-lasting results.

SOON we shall be able to choose the gender we want to be. No, I don’t understand it either.

I know there are some tortured souls who really were born in the wrong sex, the wrong body. The road to the right one is long and difficult. Maybe it should be – so that huge, irreversible decisions aren’t made on a whim.

But just deciding for yourself?

All my childhood I wanted to be a boy. My younger son always wanted to be a dog.

How would that work?

DIESEL and petrol cars should be off the roads by 2040 if the government has its way. We’ll all be driving electric cars instead.

Fine. But where’s all the electricity to come from? We’re struggling to keep the nation supplied as it is. If we all go electric, we’ll need about ten times as many power stations as we do now. At this rate, we’ll be digging for coal again.

And what about us poor peasants out in the sticks who get power cuts every week in summer and most days in winter? We won’t even be able to nip in the car and escape.

So this glorious environmentally-friendly revolution will just leave a lot more of us in the dark, playing Scrabble by candlelight.

This is progress.

YOU’D have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by William and Harry’s memories of their mother, Princess Diana. Certainly she did a great job in introducing them to “normal” life beyond the palace walls.

But it still seems strange that when she died she hadn’t seen her beloved boys for over a month.