Express & Star

Cathy Dobbs: Attitude to apologising borders on criminal

I know two people who boast that one thing they have never done is say sorry.

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An end to crime?

Rather than seeing this as a strength, I’ve always viewed it as a big weakness – and now research from the University of Birmingham backs me up.

It seems all humans are biologically predetermined to commit crimes if provoked. The research shows that even if it means breaking the law we would feel justified in dishing out retribution – and the only way to avoid a confrontation is by apologising for bad behaviour and trying to make amends.

Dr Evelyn Svingen, assistant professor in criminology at the university said that “it is theoretically possible to create an environment where we eliminate crime”.

I’ll have to introduce her to my two acquaintances who would rather have their teeth extracted than apologise; it could add a whole different slant to her research.


Crumbling schools are stopping some children from returning to their desks this week.

It’s an awful situation, but for some of us the words ‘school’ and ‘crumble’ in the same sentence just trigger images of the apple or rhubarb dessert. Dinner ladies would serve it with custard that was so thick you could stand up your spoon up in it – and let’s not even get into the two-inch thick skin.

Who’d have thought that headlines around cash-strapped schools and government failings would make me reminisce about school dinners from the 1980s?


My mother-in-law has bought a smart speaker in a bid to help combat loneliness. She came to stay with us for a weekend and loved that she could ask our Alexa anything and that the speaker would play her favourite music.

Figures show that she isn’t alone in her purchase. Ofcom data shows that smart speaker ownership almost doubled during the pandemic, and is now in 39 per cent of households.

Statistics show that almost half of adults in the UK reported feeling lonely last year, with 3.83 million experiencing chronic loneliness.

With companies such as Replika (“the AI companion who cares”), Woebot (“your mental health ally”) and Kuki (“a social chatbot”) could we see loneliness disappear with the use of artificially intelligent friends?

One clear benefit is that, unlike their human counterparts, if your AI friend starts to annoy you, there is always the off button.


A paranormal investigator has said the sighting of a monster at Loch Ness was most likely a sturgeon. I’ve been told that Nicola is going to refrain from open-water swimming from now on to avoid future confusion.