PEOPLE who have loads of children often do so, I suspect, for much the same reason that couples renew wedding vows. They like a celebration, and they want to be at the centre of it.

Surely three, at the most four, children is enough for one family. Any more, in an alarmingly over-populated world, is irresponsible and self indulgent. So I'm disappointed that Jamie Oliver claims he doesn’t have any say when it comes to his wife’s desire to breed. The father-of-five said in a TV magazine he’s “tried to put the brakes on” but it’s out of his control.

Now I like Jamie, I once interviewed him and he was delightful. He often talks sense, and I was totally Team Jamie when he worked so hard to revolutionise school meals and those awful mothers responded by pushing burgers through the playground fence. But, for a celebrity chef who gets a bit preachy on everything from childhood obesity and the sugar tax to breastfeeding, he doesn’t do himself any moral high ground favours having so many children. It ain’t good for the carbon footprint, Jamie.

The same could be said for self-righteous rock stars banging on about the perilous state of the planet and urging us to donate to telethons while they’re churning out more kids to add to the eight or so they already have.

Then there are women whose reason for existing is to give birth. “I just like having babies,” beamed a pregnant mum-of-six I once interviewed. She appeared to have left much of the childcare to her older children. The youngest, about a year old, was in a corner and she barely gave him a second glance. I remember thinking you couldn’t possibly give each child the attention they needed, and craved, with so many under one roof.

If families must add to their brood, there’s adoption. I'm full of admiration for people who go down that route. There are so many children who, for whatever reason, haven’t had a good start - I’m regularly contacted by a press officer seeking publicity for appeals for adoptive and foster parents - and giving these children a loving home would be the most selfless thing a parent could do.

* I ENCOUNTER many people, in this job, and some I don’t forget. This week I met remarkable war veteran Basil Fish who, as a navigator with the legendary 617 ‘Dambusters’ Squadron, sank the “unsinkable” German battleship, Tirpitz, in November, 1944.

Now 96, Basil went on 24 operations with 617; some of the most dangerous missions of the war. Once his Lancaster crash landed, leaving Basil the only crew member able to move. Emerging from the burning aircraft with a head injury, he stumbled across ploughed fields and found a pay phone to raise the alarm. The pilot, now aged 95, still credits Basil as the man who saved his life.

Was he fearful, heading for targets like the Tirpitz and Hitler’s hideout?“I adopted the attitude that I probably wasn’t going to come back with 10 fingers and 10 toes,” said Basil. “But you’re trained for a job and you get on with it.

“We were a very closeknit squadron. I was relieved at the end because I never expected to survive the war, but I missed that crew.”

Basil rarely spoke about his war service, not even to his family. “He just got on with it, then the war ended and he moved on,” his son, Peter, told me. “He never glorified it, and always acknowledged the pain on both sides.”

Not for the first time, I was struck by the stoicism, and modesty, of Basil’s generation, and the one before.

* I FIND it disturbing that anyone can go online and buy a bird of prey. "It's perfectly legal, sadly," a man from Raptor Care and Rehabilitation told me, when I came across his information stand recently. Among the beautiful owls he has rescued, one was kept in a wardrobe for even years, another in a rabbit hutch and another in a budgie cage. "Owls shouldn't be in captivity," he said.

It's about time legislation concerning the sale of birds and reptiles was tightened in this country. We are not, as we like to think, a nation of animal lovers. Visit

* IN these gender fluid times, when little girls are practically discouraged from playing with dolls, I was pleased to see that Barbie has made the Toy Retailers Association's top 12 Christmas toys this year.

Almost six decades after the doll was introduced, Barbie's Ultimate Kitchen is one of the most currently sought after toys - along with a unicorn that poos slime and an artificially intelligent robot called Boxer.

I loved dolls as a child, and spent many happy hours playing with my Barbie and Sindy dolls in a 'house' sprawled across my bedroom floor. Some of my dolls were hand-me-downs from my older cousins, and looked a bit shabby by the time they reached me, but I loved them. Such hands-on play is healthy - more so than gazing into a computer screen for hours.