Tuesday 30 November 2010

Britain is a country whose old men would live longer if it had more doctors who were paid less

A report, by the 'Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development', which represents 30 of the World's most industrialised nations, has estimated that National Health Service spending on high salaries for its staff is contributing to knocking three and a half years off the average Briton's life.

It makes the following points, that Britain is a country with :

* fewer doctors per head of population than most countries in the Western World and has far less hi-tech equipment, like cancer scanners, because it cannot afford them.

* family doctors who receive an average of £106,000, almost double the amount paid to French doctors and if the money was spent instead on, for example, the scanners, fewer people would die prematurely.

* one of the highest rates of avoidable deaths, with 74 out of 100,000 being preventable every year, leaving only Portugal and Denmark having a worse record.

* avoidable deaths cutting three years off the average life, about two and a half years for women and three and a half years for men.

* people whose chance of seeing a doctor is smaller than almost anywhere else with them seeing one on average only five times a year compared to, for example, 14 in Japan.

* 25 doctors per 10,000 inhabitants which is lower than most of its competitors.

The conclusion :

Britain has a health system characterised by the 'high relative income level of health professionals and that efficiency could be improved if contracts were rewritten to give doctors less money'.

In other words : it would have far better healthcare if it paid its doctors less but employed more of them.

Britain is a country where 'The Guardian' newspaper pays tribute to Leslie Neilsen

The Guardian Newspaper's tribute to Leslie Neilsen is far better than anything I could achieve.

Leslie Nielsen, who spent 30 years forging a career as a serious actor, and then another 30 playing the same parts for laughs, has died aged 84. We look back over his life in clips :


Monday 29 November 2010

Britain says "Goodbye" to an old Canadian actor called Leslie Neilson

Things you probably didn't know about Leslie, that :

* his mother, born in Wales, was an immigrant from Fulham, London, and his father was a Danish-born Constable in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police whose beatings of his wife and children, made Leslie want to escape.

* his older brother, Erik, was Deputy Prime Minister of Canada during the 1980s.

* at the age of 17, enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and was trained as an aerial gunner at the end of The Second World War.

* briefly worked as a disc jockey at a radio station in Alberta, before enrolling at the 'Lorne Greene Academy of Radio Arts' in Toronto.

* studied theater and music at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York and later attended the Actors Studio before making his first tv appearance, in 1948, on an episode of 'Studio One', alongside Charlton Heston.

* made his film debut in 1956 in 'The Vagabond King'and followed this with a part in the science fiction film 'Forbidden Planet' and said of the film it was :
"Supposedly a science fiction version of Shakespeare's The Tempest, it was all about the id, or something like that. Who knows? The Trekkies today regard it as the forerunner of Star Trek. I just had to wear a tight uniform and make eyes at Anne Francis. I was pretty thin back then."

* in 1957, got the lead role opposite Debbie Reynolds in the romantic comedy 'Tammy and the Bachelor.'

* auditioned for the role of Messala, given to Stephen Boyd, in the 1959 'Ben-Hur'.

* appeared on tv in 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents', 'The Virginian', and 'The Wild Wild West' and in 1969, had the leading role as a police officer in 'The Bold Ones: The Protectors'.

* appeared as the ship's captain in the 1972 film 'The Poseidon Adventure'.

* made his comedic breakthrough came with a supporting role in 1980's 'Airplane!' in which his deadpan delivery contrasted with the continual absurdity surrounding him.

* was cast in the lead role in the TV series, 'Police Squad!'.

* in 'The Naked Gun' played his character, Drebin, like the doctor in 'Airplane!' : seemingly unaware of the absurdity even when unintentionally contributing toward it.

* appeared in over 100 films and 1,500 television programs over the span of his career, portraying over 220 characters and was always at his best when he made us laugh.

P.S. My favourite :
I'm a locksmith from 'Police Squad' :


Britain is a country which needs more and men like Christopher Irven who has that, now, rare quality of ' the Dunkirk Spirit' : a post script

I published this post about Chris Irven back in July :

I came across a newspaper article :

Isn't 75 a little too old for cliff-jumping? Thrill-seeking grandfather ends up in hospital after 'tombstoning' stunt

It made the following points about Chris he :

* climbed part of the way up a 100ft rock, leapt off and belly-flopped into the sea and ended up in hospital with groin and stomach injuries.

* attempted a swallow dive where the diver jumps off backwards and enters the water head first.

* went ahead even when his family had urged him not to and they watched from a packed beach.

* came to the surface and cried out in pain and his two sons ran into the water and dragged him out.

* was given oxygen on the beach before he was airlifted to hospital.

* was released after treatment.

* said : "I might be 75 years old but I am very fit for my age and fairly adventurous. I tend to do things that might be daunting to other people".

* and : "The dive was a bit of a cock-up and I hit the water at a bad angle, it was too shallow. My face, chest, tummy and legs took a battering. I started to swim back to shore but couldn't and my two sons came and got me out. I lay down and a bit of shock set in. I have got some bruising today but I am OK. If I do it again I will make sure I get it right next time."

P.S. Two months ago he completed a gruelling 2,000-mile cycle ride around Britain and raised more than £15,000 for the 'Help for Heroes' charity for wounded servicemen.

I have since heard from Chris and in the name a clarity and the truth this is what he said :

A few points, if I may: the press didn't get it all correct. I wasn't badly hurt: shocked, yes. My family did not urge me not to do it; they were diving with me as we had done dozens of times from that point. My sons were trying to make my dive more stylish - vain hope - but a swallow dive is not backwards. I should have kept my own council. On my 2038-mile cycle for Help for Heroes I have now raised £23,000 - see wordpress for full story. I'm now considering my next charity - wife permitting. Isn't there one for families of soldiers who didn't come back? Advice welcome, preferably constructive. Chris Irven

Britain is still a country with some remarkable old men.

Britain is a country where its increasing number of old men who are the victims of crime have a protectress in The Crown Prosecution Service

Three years ago crimes against old people in the U.K. were highlighted when :

* the Crown Prosecution Service said that under new guidelines, criminals who attack elderly people should get harsher sentences and those attacks would be treated the same as race hate and anti-gay crimes.

* it was feared that up to 500,000 elderly people could be the victims of crime and that only a few of these come to court because many victims do not report them through fear or embarrassment.

* the Director of Public Prosecutions, said : “If there is any evidence that there is an aggravating element to an offence based on a victim’s age, we will draw it to the attention of the court. Safety and security and the right to live free from the fear of crime, arising from mistreatment or abuse, are fundamental rights and go to the core of older people’s sense of well-being. Feeling and being unsafe, or 'at risk’, has a significant negative impact on older people’s health and sense of well-being and can leave them isolated and unable to participate socially and economically in their community.”

* the CPS said that it wanted to focus on several key crimes including abuse or neglect by family members in the home or by care workers and other crimes targeted include those where elderly people are picked on because they are vulnerable, such as muggings, doorstep theft or rogue traders, and crimes motivated by hostility or even hatred towards people because of their age and infirmity.

Some case studies

A support worker who stole more than £16,000 from a deaf pensioner in Sheffield was jailed for two and a half years in 2008 and also ordered to pay her victim £10,000 after admitting eight counts of theft. The victim sat in the well of the court in a wheelchair and heard, with the help of a listening device, the Judge describe the defendant as someone who was "truly base" and whose actions were "a dreadful betrayal of the trust deposed in you".

A carer who stole more than £4,000 from an 88 year old man was jailed for six months in 2008. During the sentencing hearing the Judge said she wanted to stress how seriously the courts would deal with people who took advantage of elderly people in their care.

A paramedic pleaded guilty to theft when he heard his elderly victim was prepared to give evidence via a live television link-up from his home allowing the 76-year-old victim to give evidence against the paramedic who stole cash at his house following a 999 call.

Have these new measures announced in 2007 led to a decrease in the number of crimes against old people ? I don't know, but suspect not. In fact, it would not surprise me if the number had actually increased since then.

Thursday 25 November 2010

Britain is a country where old men remember 'Countess Dracula' and say "Goodbye" to a remarkable woman called Ingrid Pitt

Ingrid Pitt died on Tuesday at the age of 73 and Britain's old men remember when they were young and saw her playing lusty vampires in 'Hammer' horror films in the late 1960's and early 70's.

Things those once young men probably didn't know about Ingrid, that she :

* was born Ingoushka Petrov in Poland in 1937 to a Jewish mother and a German father who was a scientist who refused to work on the Nazis' programme to develop rockets.

* was five when she and her mother were sent to the 'Stutthof Concentration Camp', where they remained for three years. "I think I first knew I wanted to act in the camp," she said. "I used to lie on the straw and try and believe I was somewhere else."

* was taken into a forest with her Mother to be shot, when they managed to escape, were rescued by partisans, spent the last year of the War living rough with them, before making their way to Berlin.

* said , "I was born into the biggest horror show of the century, the brutalities of the Nazi regime. I think it's very amazing that I do horror films when I had this awful childhood. But maybe that's why I'm good at it."

* after a brief spell as a medical student, became a member of Bertolt Brecht's 'Berliner Ensemble Theatre Company', got into trouble for criticising the communist authorities in East Berlin and made her escape to the West by diving into the River Spree.

* was helped in her escape by a US marine officer, Roland Pitt, who she married and then, after living for a period on a Colorado military base, got a divorce and returned to Europe with her daughter.

* worked in Spain, appearing 'uncredited' in several films and then in 1965, got work as an extra on David Lean's 'Doctor Zhivago' and Orson Welles's 'Chimes at Midnight.'

* played the part of a German double agent posing as a cafe waitress in the Second World War film, 'Where Eagles Dare' which had its interiors were shot in an English studio and it was at this point she began her love affair with England.

* later married the British former racing driver Tony Rudlin, settled in London and once said : It was "the longest Pitt-stop of his career."

* got her 'breakthrough' in the Hammer film 'The Vampire Lovers', where, wearing low-cut, transparent gowns, she played a 200-year-old lesbian vampire who seduced her female victims before sucking their blood.

* played the title role of 'Countess Dracula', who remained youthful by bathing in the blood of virgins.

* before her death provided the narration on an animated short film about her War time experiences called 'Beyond the Forest'.

The film's producer, Jud Newborn of New York's Museum of Jewish Heritage said :

"She remained tortured by the horrors of her childhood Holocaust experiences until her sudden death. She never exploited or emphasised them in any of her work or public persona, only mentioning them in her memoir long after her film career had waned. Retelling her childhood pain for the film and its narration was an ordeal for her but as she aged, Ingrid Pitt felt it important that the public know about the millions of children who suffered during the Holocaust. She wanted to be part of a project that would remind the world of the 1.5 million children who died, as well as to protect children of all cultures today from the kind of oppression and abuse that she had endured."

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Britain is no longer a country for Brian Marsden who proved that the solar system was no longer a place for a 'planet' called Pluto

British astronomer, Brian, who died in August at the age of 73 is mostly remembered for winning his long campaign to demote Pluto from full planethood to minor planet status, this, however, was not the first time that his pursuit of truth among the stars had earned him, unusully for an astronomer, public notice.

In his life, he, :

* at the age of 5 in 1942, found his Mother sitting outside watching an eclipse and was most impressed by the fact that it had been 'predicted' in advance.

* at the age of 11, was developing basic methods for calculating the positions of the planets.

* at 16, joined the British Astronomical Association and, using the primitive method of seven-place logarithms, started calculating the gravitational effects of the planets on the dates and sky positions of the returns of some periodic comets.

* by the time he gained his degree in Mathematics in Oxford, had an international reputation for the computation of comet orbits.

* responded to an inquiry from the author Dorothy L Sayers, who, incensed by what she saw as grossly unfair literary criticism of the Roman writer Lucan, got Brian's help to support her view that Lucan's understanding of astronomy and geography was reasonably valid.

* earned his doctorate studying the motions of the Galilean satellites of Jupiter.

* in 1978, became 'Director of the Smithsonian's Minor Planet Centre' concerned with those minor planets which can come close to the earth.

* made, what was his proudest prediction of the return of the comet Swift-Tuttle, which remains the one with the longest orbital period of any whose return has been successfully predicted.

* caused a stir in 1998 by announcing that an object estimated to be 2km across, could smash into the earth sometime after 2028 and whose prediction, coming in advance of the Hollywood films 'Deep Impact' and 'Armageddon', was heavily covered by the media, with the New York Times calling him a 'cheery herald of fear'.

* went on to prove the asteroid would miss after previously unexamined photos from 1990 were unearthed and presented to him.

* was the first to suggest that three objects discovered in 1993, just beyond Neptune, were in orbits similar to that of Pluto which set him on the quest to 'demote' Pluto from planethood.

* needed to find similar 'transneptunian' objects comparable to Pluto in size and finally did so in 2005 with the discovery of the object which came to be known as 'Eris'.

* was at the International Astronomical Association meeting in 2006 which designated Pluto as a member of a new class of 'dwarf planet' and when he stood down as the Director of the Minor Planet Centre at the Smithsonian at the same meeting, was entertained by the thought that : both he and Pluto had been retired on the same day.

An interview with Brian :

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Britain is a country facing social and economic difficulties where ' a royal wedding' will be just the thing to provide a tonic for the nation

Britain is the only 'major' country in the world where the Government can decree that there shall be a national holiday on the 29th of April 2011, to allow its citizens to 'celebrate' when two people, who have no extraordinary gifts or talents are to get married in one of the most famous churches in the country called Westminster Abbey.

The wedding itself, which will cost a fortune, will be paid for by the families of the bride and groom. The cost of security and police to keep members of the public away from the wedding will be paid for by the taxes of the very same taxpaying citizens who are being kept at bay.

The two people in question are William Windsor, a 'prince', and Kate Middleton a 'middle class' young lady. Here we have one of the greatest of ironies : Britain, a country which sees itself as the bastion of democracy, is also one where the undemocratic, monarchic principle is still alive and well as is reflected in the wedding.

Our democratically elected Prime Minister has said :
“We want to mark the day as one of national celebration, a public holiday will ensure the most people possible will have a chance to celebrate on the day,”


The Prince's Private Secretary, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, has revealed a number of interesting details by :

* saying that the couple chose the Abbey for its "staggering beauty, 1,000-year royal history and its feeling of intimacy despite its size".

* revealing that the couple were "calling the shots" on the wedding plans, but had a "rather large supporting cast" to help them.

* observing that : "We know that the world will be watching on April 29, and the couple are very, very keen indeed that the spectacle should be a classic example of what Britain does best."

* revealing that "Prince William and Catherine have made it very clear that they wish everybody to be able to enjoy the day with them. Consequently, the day will be a proper celebration for the nation and the realms."

Once again, old men can sleep in their beds, safe in the knowledge that they live in a country where nothing really changes and its citizens still 'know their places'.

Monday 22 November 2010

Britain is a country where BBC Television is no longer a place for 'The Goodies'

'The Goodies' were a comedy trio consisting of the now, 69 year old Bill Oddie and Tim Brooke-Taylor and 67 year old Graeme ­Garden, whose show ran on BBC TV from 1970 to 1982 and reached 15 million viewers at its peak.

Now, 28 years after the last episode, 'The Daily Mail' newspaper reported that the trio are 'baffled' by the BBC's refusal to re-run the series on the show's 40th Anniversary.
"We are cross," said Tim. "The ­programmes are still regularly aired in Australia and the show is still ­massive, over all ages, so we do know that it still appeals. That’s what’s frustrating. If they showed a few and people said “that’s rubbish”, we’d accept that. It’s the fact that it’s not given the chance."

Readers of the article in the paper emailed the following suggestions :

* The reason 'The Goodies' is rarely talked about is that it was very much of the era and, lets be honest here, not very good. It's dated badly.

* Although all three of them went on to make some really good stuff, 'The Goodies' itself was pretty weak with just the odd witty catchphrase and sketch.

* The Goodies are now only 'peeved' because they need income and some more time in the spotlight. This series was on when I was a kid. It was terrible then and appears outdated now. Please let it stay on the dusty filing shelf BBC, there are far better comedy series from the 1970's you could bring back.

* I'm 25 & I recently saw The Goodies for the first time...and really loved it! I can see why it polarises people, it's definitely a certain brand of humour, but it's imaginative, innovative, cartoonish and very, very silly. I'd be thrilled if the BBC showed a 'Best Of' compilation of all the seasons.

Judge for youself :

An introduction to the show :

Bunfight at the O.K.Tea Room :

The song they produced called 'Funky Gibbon' :

The three met as students at the University of Cambridge, where Tim was studying law, Graeme medicine and Bill English.

Sunday 21 November 2010

Britain is a country with a London borough called Lewisham where Jude Law and I both saw the first light of day

Page views : 2,938

Jude Law, the Hollywood actor and I have something in common : We were both born in Lewisham in South London, he in December 1972 and I, some 25 years before. Was he, like me, born in Lewisham Hospital ? I don't know. Like me, however, he grew up in Blackheath, although he went to a school in the Village and I to one in Charlton. Unlike me, his background was middle class. His father was a deputy head of a primary school and his mother taught English to refugee children. My father was a 'saw doctor' in a timber mill and my mother worked in a shop in Blackheath Village. Like me, at the age of 11 he went to a comprehensive secondary school. His was called 'Kidbrooke' and mine was 'Eltham Green', a couple of miles away. Unlike my school, his took many of its pupils from the notorious 'Ferrier Estate', one of the largest and most depressed council developments in London. Was it this experience which led him to say this : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ne3eFn2XBVg&feature=related Unlike me, he transferred to a private school,'The Alleyn’s' in Dulwich at the age of 15. What Jude and I also have in common is that Lewisham was the birthplace of many talented Brits like us. In the year : 1888 : Gladys Cooper : Actress, My Fair Lady. 1902 : Elsa Lanchester : Actress, Mary Poppins. 1907 : James Robertson Justice : Actor, The Guns of Navarone. 1939 : Ginger Baker : Drummer, Cream. 1936 : Bill Wyman : Guitarist ,Rolling Stones. Self, Gimme Shelter. Born 1936 1957 : Catherine Shipton : Actress, Spice World 1972 : Jessica Hynes : Actress, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. 1983 :Christopher Parker : Actor, EastEnders. I feel more comfortable rubbing shoulders with 'old boys' like Ginger and Bill.

Saturday 20 November 2010

Britain is a country awash with books for and about old men

The publishing world has found a new source of revenue :

Producing books for old codgers like me :

* Things to do Now You're 60
* So You're 60
* A Little Bit of Old Git Wit
* Grumpy Old Men
* 1000 Senior Moments
* Old Age and How to Survive It
* The Seniors Survival Guide
* So You're 70
* A Manual for British Malcontent : Grumpy Old Men
* How to be a Happy Old man
* Can't Be Arsed
* You Know If You're Past It
* The Book of Senior Moments
* Are You a Miserable Old Git ?

And for good measure what about this T-shirt ?

P.S. 'Codger' : A somewhat eccentric man, especially an old one, perhaps an alteration of obsolete 'cadger' meaning 'peddler'.

'Git' : a contemptible person, often a fool or a bastard
from 'get', in the sense: 'to beget', hence a bastard, fool.

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Britain a country where old men can be proud that they are part their Government's 'Big Society Project.'... if they want to be or not.

Britain's Government is cutting costs to handle the 'World Economic Downturn'.

Good news for old men and women :

* Your 'Care Services Minister' has announced that a 1,000,000 of you, men and women, are to be given the 'opportunity' to manage your 'own personal care budgets' against the current 250,000.

At this point I recall : ' All those who do not believe in democracy will be shot.'

* Your 'personal budgets' can range from a few hundred pounds to £50,000 a year and allow you to 'buy services such as home help from charities or private companies'.

Apparently :

* this is part of the Government's 'Big Society Project' with you old people taking on responsibility for your own lives.

Here is the BIG idea of the 'Project':

* 'to look to people, not the state, to shape services, and improve outcomes, making a reality of the 'Big Society'.

* there were concerns that the money 'earmarked' for social care would be swallowed up by the 25% cut to council budgets announced by the Chancellor in last month's spending review.

* The Charity, 'Age UK', warned that it had 'concerns' over the plans and said : 'Many older people don't necessarily want to have to become employers of carers or shop around for provision.'

So here is the wheeze :

* make old people 'responsible' for their own 'social care budgets' as part of the 'Big Society'

and, because many will be confused and will not know what to do,
will not claim their entitlement and so save the Government money.

Am I too cynical ?

Britain is a country where theives rob its old soldiers called Chelsea Pensioners

An article in the Guardian newspaper today was entitled :

Enemy within. Burglars target Chelsea Pensioners.

The Royal Hospital is a retirement and nursing home for former members of the British army. Founded in 1682 by King Charles II, it was set up to provide 'succour and relief of veterans broken by age and war'.

Apparently :

* the thieves who stole more than £6,000 from Chelsea Pensioners may have deliberately targeted their 'Veterans'Club' after Armistice Day on Sunday, after the former soldiers had attended remembrance services to honour their fallen comrades.

* dozens of Pensioners had been joined by relatives and friends at the Club and Major General Peter Currie, the Lieutenant Governor of the Royal Hospital, said that he suspected the intruders knew there would be a large amount of money : "It is terribly sad, coming at the end of Remembrance Weekend and it is not the first time".

A Metropolitan police spokesman said forensic experts had visited the Club in an attempt to identify those responsible.

The old soldiers who have been robbed are :

* former non-commissioned officers and soldiers of the British Army.

* in receipt of an 'Army Service' or 'War Disability Pension'.

* 65 years of age or over.

* free from the obligation to support a wife, partner or family.

What a sad country Britain has become.

Here, some of them talk about what it is like to be a Chelsea Pensioner on the occasion of their soon to be released songs on DVD :

The DVD :

Their home :

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Britain is a country which has said "Goodbye" to a great old man called Professor John Waterlow

Professor John Waterlow died at the age of 94 last month.

The 'Telegraph' newspaper said :

Professor John Waterlow, who has died aged 94, was internationally acclaimed for his pioneering research into the pathophysiology and treatment of severe malnutrition, in the process helping to save many thousands of young lives worldwide.

A resume of his life and work reveals that he :

* was born into a well-known London printing family and his father was a member of the 'Bloomsbury Group' and grew up in an intellectual and literary environment, with occasional visits by authors such as E.M. Forster and Virginia Woolf.

* during his last year at Eton college, was inspired by a lecture about leprosy in West Africa and chose to study natural sciences at Trinity College, Cambridge, as a prelude for medicine and qualified at the London Hospital in 1942.

* worked in the Army and researched heat stroke in Basra during the Second World War.

* joined the new Medical Research Council Nutrition Unit headed by BS Platt who told him: "Nutrition will be the problem of the future." and sent him to the Caribbean to find out why so many young children were dying there.

* spent the next 10 years travelling with his family throughout the Caribbean and Africa developing his interest in malnourished children before setting up the 'Tropical Metabolism Research Unit' at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica.

* reasearched the disease 'kwashiorkor' and showed it was present in children who lacked the protective antioxidant vitamins and minerals in their diet and produced a new treatment programme.

* saw his successor in Jamaica, David Picou, ensure the treatment was adopted throughout the Caribbean and eventually by the World Health Organisation in 1981, saving an estimated one million children's lives in Africa alone.

* went on to contribute to reports for the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Health Organisation on nutritional requirements for protein.

Monday 15 November 2010

Britain's old men fear not, you too shall be asked "How happy are you ?"

The Guardian Newspaper had a front page article today entitled :

UK happiness index to gauge national mood.Despite cuts gloom, Cameron wants well being measure to steer policy.

'The UK government is poised to start measuring people's psychological and environmental well being, bidding to be among the first countries to officially monitor happiness'.

'Despite 'nervousness' in Downing Street at the prospect of testing the national mood amid deep cuts and last week's riot in Westminster, the Office of National Statistics will shortly be asked to produce measures to implement David Cameron's long-stated ambition of gauging 'general well being''.

Jolly exciting stuff !

So Britain's old men, ask yourselves what's in it for you ?

Well :

* The Prime Minister wants to place the results at 'the heart of future government policy-making'.

* You will be asked about your 'subjective well being', which includes a gauge of your 'happiness' and also a more objective sense of how well you are achieving your 'life goals'.

Hold on, with most of your lives over are you still trying to achieve these goals ? Did you have any in the first place ? If you didn't, is there anything wrong with you ?

* The questions you might be asked are likely to focus on 'evaluation', 'experience' and 'purpose' and could include:

- How satisfied are you with your life these days, on a scale of '0' to '10', where '0' is 'not at all' and '10' is 'completely satisfied'?

- Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?

- How much purpose does your life have?

I suspect that many of Britain's old men might be giving that last one a low score.

What response to the proposal did Guardian readers email to the newspaper :

* How much is this nonsense going to cost?

* Hilarious! Make everybody thoroughly miserable and angry by cutting essential services and social support, and then waste money measuring the happiness of a totally demoralised and dejected population.... for what purpose exactly?

* Oh you really couldn't make this up.

* Surely only a matter of time before the headline: Government to cut happiness by 30%

* I would say that the mood is one of teetering on extreme violence.......

* Bankers and tax avoiders = Happy
Everyone else = P..... off

There. That should save them a lot of time and money.

Sunday 14 November 2010

Britain, if you are the 'angry' and 'cruel' country observed by Dame Helen Mirren, then you are certainly no place for old men

Dame Helen Mirren the British actress is 65 year years old, lives in Hollywood and is quite clear that Britain is an 'angry' and 'cruel' place and so by implication is no place for old men, old women, in fact, no place for anyone.

According to 'The Sunday Mail' Newspaper, our Dame has, 'in an outspoken interview' published in the French celebrity magazine, 'Paris Match', described Britain as country with :

* 'an angry and cruel society' which 'no longer cherishes old-fashioned virtues'.

* conflicts being 'made worse on cinema and on television'.

* people being 'nasty and cruel on the Internet'.

* a social situation now 'so depressing' that 'she feared violence'.

* an increasingly ‘savage’ Americanisation of its society unlike France which defended its own culture.

Helen, is the only person to have played 2 quientiscentially 'English' monarchs, Elizabeth I and Elizabeth II.
Here, her interview about her role in the tv series,'Elizabeth I', which she made in 2005 :


And here in the 'The Queen', the award winning 2006 British-French drama film directed by Stephen Frears, written by Peter Morgan :


Saturday 13 November 2010

Britain is a country where old men with fond memories say "Goodbye" to Pontin Holiday Camps

The Guardian newspaper carried an article today entitled :

Pontin's falls into administration as fond memories fail to save firm.
• Receivers try to find buyer for rival to Butlin's holiday camps
• £40m owed after string of owners and bad publicity

The photo was captioned :

When life was black and white: a Pontin’s holiday camp in the 1950s.

The article made the following points,that the :

* 64-year-old company which gave working class families the chance to get away to the seaside during the 1950's and 1960's had collapsed into administration.

* directors had put the five remaining camps in Somerset, Sussex, Suffolk, Wales, and Merseyside into the hands of accountants after hemorrhaging cash in the economic downturn.


* firm was founded in 1946 by Fred Pontin, an East End boy who left school at 15 and went to work on the Stock Exchange.

* first camp was opened at Brean Sands on a former USA Army base which Fred bought for £23,000, gave the empty wooden huts a lick of paint, advertised in the 'Sunday Express' and had his camp full of holidaymakers.

* six camps Fred opened charged £10 a week with full board in 1965.

* camps still had 'bargain breaks' up till last weekend, with one camp offrering 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun' at £25 a head for two nights, complete with 'chick flicks, beauty and pampering and live entertainment from the fantastic 'Fantasy Boys''.

* bluecoat entertainers at the camps have featured Shane Richie, Bobby Davro, Bradley Walsh and Lee Mack.

Sadly, debt-laden Britons have saved rather than spent on holidays and one of the accountants called in to run the business said :
"Pontin's forms the backdrop to thousands of treasured family holiday memories. It has unfortunately struggled in the current economic environment but... we are optimistic that it will be part of thousands of family memories in the years to come."

Somehow, I don't think that this will be the case, particularly when I read that : 'leisure industry experts said that Pontin's had failed to throw off a 'down-at-heel image' to keep up with its rival, Butlin's, which has transformed many of its camps to more upmarket holiday centres'.


'Hi-de-Hi!' was a tv sitcom which ran on the BBC in the 1980s and was set in a '50's holiday camp written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft and was inspired was the experience of Perry who was a 'Redcoat' at a Butlins holiday camp.


Friday 12 November 2010

Britain is No Country for Old Men is confirmed and although Sweden is better, China and India are worse

I listened to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme today.
It discussed the question :

Is Our Society Failing the Elderly ?

This was prompted by a survey which has found that 66% of elderly people who died after operations had been given sub standard care and many were not given pain relief :
Guardian Newspaper :

BBC interviewer, 67 year old John Humphreys, asked Mima Cattan, the Professor of Public Health at Northumbria University and Dr Ian Philp, former 'National Clinical Director for Older People' these questions :

'Is there something in our culture which says we don't really care about our old people and how do we compare with other countries, other cultures ?'

Ian made the following points :

* throughout the world older people don't have as much voice or power as young people and they often think about systems of care from their perspective.

* we need to reach 'into the minds and feelings of older people' if we are to get our systems right .

Mima said :

* in other countries older people are treated differently and have different positions in society.

* in Sweden older people are 'seen as equal' and this 'didn't happen in the UK'.

* we have a very strong youth culture and that penetrates right across society if you look at jobs and look at the way older people are treated in the street.

* in her interviews with older people, she found that they have 'the real fear of losing a role in society, a position in society as soon as they retire and it shouldn't be like that'.

In answer to the points that :

- younger people produce the wealth, deliver the younger children and will be the next generation

She made the points that :

* older people are productive both economically and are there to support young people with their 'wisdom and wealth of experience' and 'grey power is purchase power' and they vote.

Ian made the point that :

* in rural China nearly 50% of older people are 'depressed' , 3 times as many as in this country.

* In India many older people with strong family cultures are 'pushed into the street'.

* " We need to wake up to the fact that we are in a world of old people. There are almost as many old people alive today as have lived and died in the history of mankind".

BBC Programme :

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Britain, once a country enthusiastic for war, thought it had said "goodbye" to it at 11 o'clock in the morning on the 11th of November 1918

At 11 o'clock in the morning of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the guns fell silent on the 'Western Front'.

The greatest conflict in world history had ended in 'a stalemate'.

No 'Coalition' could win.

It had taken the politicians and the generals on all sides and an 'ocean of blood' to reach this conclusion.

These recruitment posters were produced after the initial 'enthusiasm' for young men to 'join up' an fight for their country had subsided :

These photos of the reality of the War were not shown at home :

Film Makers struggled with the War but, in 1930, just 12 years after the War ended, Lewis Milestone, made :


Here, the last scene with butterfly :

And here is the same scene in the 1979 'remake' :

Judge for yourself, which is the most poignant : 1930 or 1979 ?

We can't understand what it was like to be in the trenches and go over the top into
'No Mans Land', but for me this scene from 'Path's of Glory' gives a good idea :

P.S. Kirk Douglas, the French officer, is still alive at the age of 95.

From the same film and most poignant :

The film director, Richard Attenborough made 'Oh What a Lovely War' in and around Brighton when I was a student there in 1969.

Here we have his trench scene :

In this scene, my student friend, W.P., got a job as an extra and is frozen in aspic at the age of 19 in 1968. He stands, with his then ginger hair, second to the left of the Churchman :

The 'Christmas truce' is based on a true incident along several miles of the front in 1914 :

P.S. One man in ten over the age of 45 died in The First World War.