Jade Goody, professional celebrity and 25th most influential person in the world (Heat Magazine), is in the news again. According her publicist and professional paragon of virtue Max Clifford, Jade was awoken in her hospital bed on Sunday afternoon by a middle-aged woman standing over her carrying a hammer. It remains to be seen exactly what the intentions of this amateur DIY enthusiast were, but there are only a couple of possibilities once you really think about it. Perhaps she was a fan of Jade's, and took it upon herself to liven up the dreary periwinkle blue surroundings of the hospital room by hanging a picture or two. Unlikely, though. Or maybe this person was a fan who just happens to be really, really bad at giving presents ("I understand you've been sick lately. Here, have a hammer"). Our hammer-wielding antagonist was arrested on site and subsequently released without charge.

For now, though, let's work under the assumption that this lady is indeed a wee bit crazy and was carrying the hammer in a "blunt instrument" fashion, opposed to the "practical DIY tool" sense. What is she thinking? Doesn't she know that we all love Jade Goody again? Or, at least, we're supposed to.

Jade's relationship with the public has always been a bit of a strange thing. We sort of felt sorry for her in her first stint in Big Brother, choosing not to dwell on her ignorance but to collectively sigh at the public school system which failed her so badly ("Aw, bless. She thinks East Anglia is a foreign country, the poor thing") She then flirted with the tabloids and various gossip magazines until she launched her autobiography and a fragrance, delightfully named Shh...Jade Goody, under the naive assumption that there are some people in the world who would like to smell like Jade Goody.

So at this point the majority of us had somewhat of a bizarre fondness for our Jade, staring at her in wonderment from the glossy pages of a magazine which costs less than a packet of crisps and wondering if one of these days she'd shuffle loose her mortal coil by simply forgetting to breathe. But then Jade surprised us all by actually managing to be in the centre of an international relations incident as a result of uttering the word "poppadom" on national television. Not that we condone any act of violence whatsoever here, but this would have been the most opportune time for any sort of hammer-related incident, amidst the public cries of "racist!" by those of Asian ancestry and/or those with something of a penchant for Indian food.

So now Jade has a terminal illness and public sympathy is once again overwhelming. She has lived a life in the spotlight, from media darling to evil racist overlord and back. This time next year expect to be celebrating The Jade Goody International Anglo-Indian Relations Day, or to see Jade Goody Chewable Vitamins in your local pharmacy. She's going to be in the public eye for a long time. For better, or worse...

-John Balfe

(Sheena McGinley is away)