Tuesday 31 May 2011

Britain is a country where old men say "goodbye" to Flick Colby who, with 'Pan's People', brightened their lives as young men in the 1970's

Flick Colby, seated on the ground, was the driving force behind the dance group 'Pan’s People', has died at the age of 65. An American dancer and choreographer, she was a founder member of the all-girl troupe which appeared weekly on the British chart show, 'Top of The Pops' in the days before music videos.

Pan's People Tribute :

Things you probably didn't know about Flick, that she :

* performed for 15 million viewers who tuned into the show each week during its 1970's heyday.

* was the daughter of a Professor of German at Hamilton College in Clinton, Oneida County, in the centre of New York state.

* trained as a ballet dancer and performed in musicals before moving to London in 1966 with her first husband.

* decided to form her own troupe, considered calling it 'Dionysus's Darlings' but then came up with the snappier 'Pan's People'.

* with the group, picked up work on tv in the Netherlands, Switzerland and Belgium and then had her debut on 'Top of the Pops' in 1968 and became, with the group, a permanent weekly fixture on the show in 1969.

* went on to work with Pan's People's replacement 'Ruby Flipper' amd then 'Legs and Co.

* married a Professor of English at Hamilton College, where her father had taught.

* on returning to Clinton, ran a gift shop called Paddywacks and said :
"I was always interested in retail. It's a bit like showbiz in that you put on a performance to sell something."

Sunday 29 May 2011

Britain is country and facebook a social network for people who do not love old men

A little research reveals that facebook provides a forum for for people with various hatreds of old men :

I hate old people that slowly count their change at the express checkout :


i hate old people when they're driving... otherwise, they alright :

I hate old people who bash my car in!!! :



And here a young Ameican male explains, quite cogently, why he hates old people putting themselves on facebook and I have no reson to doubt that his views would be shared by many young people in Britain :

Get off facebook old people

Thursday 26 May 2011

Britain is no country for old men and in paticular, thirsty ones in hospital in Worcester, Ipswich and Hampstead

A report for 'The Care Quality Commission' into hospital care for old people has revealed :

* three hospital trusts in England where standards of dignity and nutrition for older patients were 'not meeting the basic standards which they are legally obliged to deliver' as The Worcestershire Acute, Ipswich and Royal Free Hampstead in North London.

* examples of old people :

- not being helped to eat and drink, with their care needs 'not assessed and their dignity not respected'.

- not having regular checks of their weight and not identifying those who were malnourished.

- having too little to drink because fluids were either left out of their reach or they received no fluids for a long time and one clinician who had to prescribe water to a patient to ensure they got enough to drink.

- being talked to in a condescending or dismissive way.

- not being involved in their own care, for instance, by not explaining treatment to them in advance or not seeking their consent.

The Commission's findings come after the 'Patients Association' exposed appalling care received by some older patients and the charity Age UK's 'Hungry to be Heard Campaign', which revealed major weaknesses in National Health Service feeding practices, such as elderly patients becoming or remaining malnourished while in hospital.

Dr Peter Carter, General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, has said:

"Some of the concerns raised in this Report are truly shocking and we are clear that there is simply no excuse for failing to treat patients with the respect and dignity they deserve."

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Britain said "happy Birthday" to an old comedian called Stanley Baxter

Stanley Baxter was 83 yesterday. I'd forgotten about him and then remembered his galaxy of TV comedy characters in the

What you possible didn't know about Stanley was that he :

* wad born in Glasgow the son of an insurance manager, schooled for the stage by his mother and began his career as a child actor in the Scottish edition of BBC Radio's 'Children's Hour'.

* developed his performing skills during his 'National Service' with the 'Combined Services Entertainment Unit', working alongside the likes of comedy actor Kenneth Williams, film director John Schlesinger and dramatist Peter Nichols, who used the experience as the basis for his play 'Privates on Parade'.

* worked at Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre before moving to London to work in tv in 1959

* starred in 'The Stanley Baxter Show' 1963 and 1971 on BBC One and his 'Stanley Baxter Picture Show' from 1972 to 1975 on ITV.

The Nation Speaks in 1973 :

As the Queen :

As various characters :

Teach yourself to speak Scottish :

* performed in the original production of Joe Orton's then controversial farce 'What The Butler Saw' at the Queen's Theatre in 1969 and in the West End with Sir Ralph Richardson, Coral Browne and Hayward Morse.

* After a lengthy spell in self-imposed retirement, featured in 2004 in a series of three half-hour radio sitcoms for BBC Radio 4, entitled 'Stanley Baxter and Friends'.

P.S. He still makes me laugh very much.

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Britain is no country for Moses Peter the Gentle Shepherd of Torbay

An article in the 'Gaudian' today was entitled :
Torbay's waving 'white wizard' is Moses Peter, who waves at passing traffic, merely spreading a little happiness – or a distraction to drivers?

It made the following points, that Moses :

* has become an internet sensation after waving to passing traffic with a variety of these waves in his repertoire :

- his stock wave, a slow and noble involving the whole right arm, palm forward, fingers close together.

- waggling his hand vigorously for youngstes, like Prince William's surprisingly childlike wave at the royal wedding.

- pointing to the sky as if he has just spotted something very significant there.

* has been waving for 7 years on the seafront road between Torquay and Paignton in Devon where, carrying a black staff, he either walks up and down or sits on either a bench or the sea wall.

* has become something of a cult figure and the subject of a Facebook page called : 'Strange Old Man Who Sits On A Bench On The Road'.

* is variously described either as a 'white wizard', 'Merlin', 'Neptune' or Torbay's 'gentle shepherd'.

* has had calls for him to stand for Mayor and to turn the Christmas lights as Santa Claus.

* has had complaints that his waving is distracting drivers and the hooting of car horns that his waving prompts breaching the peace, not to mention disturbing the afternoon naps of the many elderly people who stay in the hotels that line Moses' mile-long route.

* has been 'spoken to' by the police and has said in relation to motorists :
"I can't stop them doing that. I'm just an old man doing what I do, trying to spread a little bit of happiness."

* says he began to wave after bumping into a man who asked him where the first seed for the first tree came from ? and has said : "That set me thinking . . . what's it all about?"

* thinks of his waves as "little presents" and has said : "I throw them out at the people as they pass. They catch them and throw a present back. That's all."

The only and amateur video I could find of Moses :

Sunday 22 May 2011

Britain is a country whose old men say "Goodbye" to Jackie Cooper with memories of `Our Gang` and saturday morning pictures for kids in the 1950`s

Jackie Cooper, American Hollywood child star of the 1930's who returned to the spotlight in the `Superman` movies, has died at the age of 88.

I must have seen him in episodes of `Our Gang` at saturday morning cimema, for kids in the 1950's, before the advent of television.

The shows would feature :

* a compare who would read out the names of children whose birthday it was who got onto the stage and get a birthday card and some sweets.

* a serialised western, either `The Lone Ranger`,`The Cisco Kid` or 'Roy Rogers` followed by a Science Fiction like 'Flash Gordon' and a Period Adventure such as
`Robin Hood`, `William Tell` or `Zorro` and all would end on a 'cliff-hanger`to whet our appetites fo the following week.

What you possibly didn't know about Jackie was that he :

* had a father who left the family when Jackie he was 2 years old, a mother who was a stage pianist.

* at age of 3, appeared in short cinema comedies and graduated to bit parts in feature films such 'Sunny Side Up' and then got an audition for the Hal Roach 'Our Gang' comedy series and by early 1930, had done so well with the transition to sound films that he became one of the Gang's main characters.

* in 1931, was 'loaned' to Paramount to star in 'Skippy' and at the age of 9, was nominated for the Academy Award for 'Best Actor', the youngest ever and although Paramount paid Roach $25,000 for Jackie's services, he received only his standard Roach salary of $50 per week.

* was catapulted into stardom and Roach sold his contract to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in -1931, where he began a long on-screen relationship with actor Wallace Beery in such films as 'The Champ' in 1931 :
'The Bowery' in 1933, The Choices of Andy Purcell in 1933, Treasure Island in 1934, and 'O'Shaughnessy's Boy' in 1935.

* said later that Beery was 'a big disappointment' and accused him of upstaging and other attempts to undermine his performances out of what he presumed was jealousy.

* next starred in two popular tv sitcoms, 'The People’s Choice' and 'Hennesey'.

* acted less and his work as director on episodes of M*A*S*H and 'The White Shadow' earned him Emmy awards.

* found renewed fame in the 1970's and 80's as 'Daily Planet' editor Perry White in the Superman film series starring Christopher Reeve.

Lastly, Jackie, from a stange and distant 'Our Gang` world, with a crush on his teacher, Miss Crabtree :

Saturday 21 May 2011

Britain is a country where doorstep salesmen prey on the fears and take advantage of the goodness of old men

I answered the door yesterday and found a young man, similar to the one in the photo. He had a large black bag slung on his shoulder and he started to tell me that he was "on a rehabilitation programme".
I asked him :
"OK. What are you selling ?"
He returned to his theme that I could help him 'stay on the straight and narrow'.

I told him : "You are a charming young man but no thanks."
At this point he revealed his true colours when he informed me that he "wasn't here to be charming."

He reminded me of a similar young male doorstep seller who ended by begging me to buy something from him with his plea of "please ! please!"

What both these young men had in common in trying to get me and other old men to buy something we don't need, was to appeal to our conscience and convince us that by not buying we were doing something which would not help them to be good citizens and so we were not being good citizens ourselves. It's a clever ruse and I wonder how many old people had been caught with this ?

A 'Google' search of 'doorstep sale men and old people' revealed :

* Sandra Adams is warning vulnerable people to beware after her elderly parents aged 87 and 84 were visited by a door-to-door salesman who persuaded them to buy a £1,800 reclining chair, designed especially to help people who are old or disabled.
Their daughter fears they may never get their chair or the money back.

* The 'Office of Fair Trading' has joined forces with 'Age UK' to promote awareness of rogue traders that often approach the vulnerable on their doorstep and convince them to have home improvement work done.

Services director at Age UK Helena Herkloats said:
"Although crime against older people is less likely than other age groups, rogue doorstep traders often target those who are older or more vulnerable, so it's important to be aware of the risks."

* BBC NEWS ... Warning over doorstep salesmen. salesman at door selling to a ... Unfortunately older people tend to be polite and give people the time of ...

* Clampdown on doorstep sales ... We have examples where salesmen have preyed upon old peoples' fears to sell ... doorstep selling and give older people greater protection. ...* Energy Doorstep Selling Must be Banned, says TSI ...Worryingly salesmen from utility companies even appear to ignore signs in ... said: 'Unsolicited doorstep selling can be a real worry for older people. ...

* Unfair Trading Practices - Angus Council. A doorstep salesman scares elderly people into buying a burglar alarm system. ... that his old aerial was perfectly suitable to receive digital signals. ...

What a sad country Britain has become.

I made a posting on Rogue Traders preying on old people in June last year :

Friday 20 May 2011

Britain says "Happy Birthday" to an old singer called Joe Cocker

Joe Cocker, the singer best known in the 1960's for his gritty voice, idiosyncratic arm movements and cover versions of popular songs, is 67 today.

Things you possible didn't know about Joe, that he :

* was born in 1944 in Sheffield, England, the youngest son of Madge and Harold, a civil servant and was given his nickname,'Joe' either after a childhood game called 'Cowboy Joe' or a neighbourhood window cleaner.

* had his first experience singing in public was at age 12, when his elder brother invited him on stage to sing during a gig of his skiffle group and in 1960, formed his first group, 'The Cavaliers'.

* in 1961, continued his career with 'Vance Arnold and the Avengers' and played in pubs performing covers of Chuck Berry and Ray Charles songs and in 1963 supported 'The Rolling Stones' at Sheffield City Hall.

* in 1964, released his first single, a cover of the Beatles' 'I'll Cry Instead' with Jimmy Page playing backup guitar, which was a flop.

* recorded the single 'Marjorine'
and moved to London and got a residency and formed a new band and entered the big time with a groundbreaking rearrangement of 'With a Little Help from My Friends'.

* toured the UK with 'The Who' in 1968 and in the U.S.A. where he played at Woodstock, the Newport Rock and the Denver Pop Festival.
A Little help from my friends :

* released his second album, 'Joe Cocker' and impressed by his cover of 'With A Little Help From my Friends', Paul McCartney and George Harrison allowed Cocker to use their songs 'She Came in Through the Bathroom Window' and 'Something' for the album.

* Recorded during a break in touring in the spring and summer, the album reached number 11 on the US charts and garnered a second UK hit with the Leon Russell song, "Delta Lady".
Delta Lady in 1996 :

* since the 1970's has continued to tour,battled with addictions and depression
and had success with a cover of Billy Preston's 'You Are So Beautiful'.
recorded the duet "Up Where We Belong" with Jennifer Warnes for the soundtrack of the 1982 film, 'An Officer and a Gentleman'.

* performed for President George H. W. Bush at an inauguration concert and was awarded an OBE in the Queen's 2007 Birthday Honours list for services to music.

My favourite song, written by John B. Sebastian : 'Darling Be Home Soon' :

And talk of all the things we did today.
And laugh about our funny little ways.
While we have a few minutes to breathe.
Then I know that it's time you must leave.

But darling be home soon,
I couldn't bear to wait an extra minute if you dawdled.
My darling be home soon,
It's not just these few hours, but I've been waiting since I toddled,
For the great relief of having you to talk to.

And now,
A quarter of my life is almost past,
I think I've come to see myself at last,
And I see that the time spent confused,
Was the time that I spent without you.
And I feel myself in bloom.

So darling be home soon,
I couldn't bear to wait an extra minute if you dawdled.
My darling be home soon,
It's not just these few hours but I've been waiting since I toddled.
For the great relief of having you to talk to.

Go, and beat your crazy head against the sky.
Try And see beyond the houses and your eyes.
It's ok to shoot the moon.

So darling,
My darling be home soon.
I couldn't bear to wait an extra minute if you dawdled.
My darling be home soon,
It's not just these few hours but I've been waiting since I toddled,
For the great relief of having you to talk to.

What kind of song uses the words "dawdle" and "toddle" and a line like 'for the great relief of having you to talk to' with 'dawdle' being a 1650–60 variant of 'daddle' to 'toddle'.
I wonder if Joe knew that ?
Isn't the English language wonderful ?

Thursday 19 May 2011

Britain is a country where old men feel old before their time and should beware young politicians sneaking up on them

Research commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions and carried out at the University of Kent called 'Predictors Of Attitudes To Age Across Europe' has shown that :

* British people, on average, believe that old age starts at 59, up to nine years earlier than the age suggested in elsewhere in Europe and their idea of 'youth' is also among the shortest in Europe ending at 35.

* only in Turkey, where average life expectancy is 72, do people have a lower estimate of old age, saying it begins at 55.

* Germans are considered young until they reach 43 and Cypriots until 51 and
the Greeks hold on to their youth the longest, believing old age starts at 68 and in Denmark the figure is 64 and 63 in France.

* within the 28 European countries in Europe, Norway, Sweden, Holland, France, Russia, Slovenia, Poland, Belgium and Denmark view old age as starting between 60 and 65.

* differences may point to a different 'work-life balance' in Europe and the fact that attitudes towards old age tend to be related to when we 'believe' we’re going to retire and increasingly, old men in Britain are uncertain as to 'when', or even 'if', they can retire.

* the Britons also view the elderly as less ‘competent’ than in many other countries, and as a bigger 'burden' on health services.

Steve Webb, a keen and, no doubt, ambitious 45 year old, is the Government Minister who is the driving force behind the planned increase of the State pension age to 66 for men and 60 to 65 women, has, not unnaturally, rejected the findings saying :

"The idea that 59 is old belongs in the past. We need to challenge our perceptions of what 'old age' actually means. It is no longer the time where people are sitting back and enjoying the 'twilight' of their lives. Instead it is often a time for new choices and new opportunities.’

“We will do our part to meet the challenge of an ageing population head on by making sure that people are given the opportunity to save, and ensuring we have a state pension that is fit and fair for this new world."

“We are now in an exciting world where 11 million of us will live to be 100, where employers can no longer sack people for reaching the age of 65, and where people once considered to be ‘past their prime’ are not only still working, but in fact are running big business."

Oh dear, old men and women of Britain, with men like this governing your future, be afraid.
I'm reminded in the scene in 'The Outlaw Josie Wales' where Chief Dan George described how the white men had been "sneaking up on him" all his life. For 'white man' substitute the word 'politician'. :

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Britain is a country where most old men prefer not to talk about the Grim Reaper's scythe

A Survey by 'Dying Matters', a coalition backed by several major charities which promotes discussion of end-of-life issues, stimulated an editorial in 'The Guardian' led with :

For Larkin, unresting death twitched at blackened curtains, and in Britain dying has often been the stuff of private nocturnal anxieties, as opposed to conversation lit by day.

It made the following points,that :

* despite signs of some mortal taboos losing their grip, when it comes to chewing over the practicalities of breathing our own last, most of us are as inhibited as ever.

* even business-like issues are often passed over in silence with more than a third of us saying we have never asked any relative about whether they have written a will, funeral arrangements, the final form of care they want or where they would prefer to die.

* across the whole population, fully 70% tell strangers with clipboards they would rather die at home and yet the official figures record that more than one death in every two ends up being in a hospital bed.

* almost as many fear a 'hospital death' as 'dying alone or 'falling prey to violent crime'.

The Editorial made the point that :

No, the chief obstacle to dying better is nothing as worldly as cash. The real trick is finding the courage to face up to the inevitable, and then opening up as well. If we could only do that, then we could plan – before it is too late.

Thomas Hughes-Hallett, of the charity Marie Curie, said:
"The historic reluctance of people to discuss their own death, reflected in this poll, has contributed to the fact that while the overwhelming majority of us would like to die at home and few of us would like to die in hospital, the reality is well over half of us will continue to die in hospital, precisely the place that when asked we would not want to be. Earlier discussions between patients, families and doctors would allow better planning and allow more people to achieve their choice."

His views are borne out by the survey's detailed exploration of serious fears, which revealed that people were frightened in the following proportions :

* 59% : dying in hospital,
* 62% : dying alone
* 61% : falling victim to a violent crime
* 38% : becoming redundant at work
* 41% : becoming bankrupt
* 39% becoming divorced

Thomas talking about 'end of life care' :

The question : 'How can I allay my fear of death ?' in the 'Guardian produced the following replies :

* By coming to terms with that fact that you were actually dead for the 13 billion years before you were born and it didn't cause you the slightest bit of inconvenience.
Tom from Abingdon

* What you are really concerned about is the act of dying. Be guided by Montaigne who, following a near-death experience in his youth, reflected in later years: "If you don't know how to die, don't worry; Nature will tell you what to do on the spot, fully and adequately. She will do this job perfectly for you; don't bother your head about it."
Dave from London

* Develop a belief in some form of reincarnation or spiritual afterlife. Failing that, repeat the following: "You die if you worry. You die if you don't. So why worry at all?"
Fred from London

* You probably can't. We were built to survive, so fear of death is inevitable. The obvious answer is, to get a life.
Ruby from London

Britain says "Goodbye" to an old news and portrait photographer called Michael Ward

Michael Ward, who has died aged 82, was a news photographer for almost 40 years and once calculated that his archive of prints and negatives covered 5,500 assignments, mainly, though not exclusively for the 'Sunday Times'. Michael was self effacing and towards the end of his life, wrote that he knew 'as much or as little about the processes of photography as a decent amateur'.

The 'Guardian' reported that : 'He had an eye for the unexpected and authentic, and as a portrait photographer he brought out the best in people; whatever their terror of the camera, few of Ward's subjects could resist his good looks and reckless, self-mocking charm'.

Things you possibly didn't know about Michael, that he :

* Was born in South London, to a mother, who danced and sang in the chorus line of revues which starred Noël Coward and a father prominent on the West End stage, who had equal billing with John Gielgud and Rex Harrison.

* was sent at the age of 3 to a boarding school which, like those that followed, did little for his education and didn't live in a settled family environment until early middle age.

* won a piano scholarship and studied for three years at the Trinity College of Music in London, but decided he would never play well enough to make it his career.

* joined the repertory theatre in Bromley and his looks began to win him small parts in films and he acquired friendships and connections which later helped establish him as a photographer

* had his first published picture appear in 'Women's Own' magazine in 1958 which showed the racing driver, Stirling Moss's wife, watching the race in which her husband won the British Grand Prix and began to work regularly for the 'Evening Standard' show-business pages.

* based his book 'A Day in the Life' on photos he took during 24 hours on the day in February, 1963 when 'The Beatles' discovered they had achieved their first UK No.1 single.

* joined the 'Sunday Times' in 1965 and stayed with the paper until he retired 30 years later.

* broadened his range to include news stories such as 'The Troubles' in Northern Ireland, the Aberfan disaster in South Wales and the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, as well as continuing with his portraits of musicians, visual artists, writers and actors.

* had enthusiasms for elegant cars and powerful motorbikes and owned several Rolls-Royces and taught his editor, Harold Evans, the best way to balance and ride a BMW.

* married five times, the first as a 19-year-old to a Professor of Music.

* In 2006, published a courageous memoir, 'Mostly Women', in which he disclosed that as a teenager he had had an affair with his mother.

Michael's website :

Tuesday 17 May 2011

Britain is a country where old men can gravitate to an old lightship called LV 21, anchored on old Gillingham Pier in the old County of Kent

This is my good friend D.B. posing with 2 boys from Belfast, the Brothers Pearce and Alexander, who were fishing for sea bass and mullet off Gillingham Pier.

Here they are looking across the river Medway at redundant lightships anchored on the other side of the River Madway. When I aked how many there were, Pearce replied that there were " about 12!".

The topics in our conversation over the next 10 minutes ranged from how :

* Alexander had married a Scottish girl and they both loved open air music concerts in the fields for "the social crack".

* Van Morrison, at concerts was always miserable and never gave encores and how the Brothers had a cousin in Canada who followed Van around the world.

* when it came to fish, the mullet was not popular in England because it was a "bottom feeder" and tasted "earthy" and the onle people who liked it were the French.

* sea bass lived in protected breeding gounds and a virus was affecting the eels.

* the pub trade was in a sad state and had changed a lot since the Boys had themselves both been publicans.

* about 20 years ago, in winter, they had helped a 23 stone man dig his speed boat out of the mud at 2 o'clock in the morning and how they heard on the radio that the local lifeboat claimed the praise for his rescue.

The main prupose of our visit to the Pier had been to have a look at 'Light Vessel 21'. Her history was that she was in :

* 1962 ordered by Trinity House, London
* 1963 launched
* 1976 stationed at East Goodwin station English Channel, near Deal, Kent
* 1981 damaged in collision with an ore carrier.

* 1988 converted to automatic lightvessel
* 2008 decommissioned by Trinity House
* 2009 acquired by Gary Weston and Päivi Seppälä and brought to the River Medway

Gary's video :

Monday 16 May 2011

Britain is a country in a world in a universe with 'no heaven or afterlife' for an old cosmologist called Stephen Hawking

An article in 'the Guardian' newspaper featuring 69 year old Stephen Hawking, cosmologist and Britain's most eminent scientist, was entitled :

'There is no heaven or afterlife...that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.'

Things you possibly didn't know about Stephen, that he :

* was born the son of Isobel and Dr. Frank Hawking, a research biologist who headed the division of parasitology at the National Institute for Medical Research.

* attended St Albans School, where he was a 'good', but not 'exceptional' then went on to University College, Oxford to specialise in physics and where his tutor said in 'The New York Times Magazine' :

'It was only necessary for him to know that something could be done, and he could do it without looking to see how other people did it. He didn't have very many books, and he didn't take notes. Of course, his mind was completely different from all of his contemporaries.'

* had a result in his final exam, 'on the borderline between first and second class honours' which meant he had to have an 'oral examination' of which his tutor said :
' And of course the examiners then were intelligent enough to realize they were talking to someone far more clever than most of themselves.'

* left Oxford University for Cambridge, where he studied theoretical astronomy and cosmology and started to develop symptoms of motor neurone disease which would cost him almost all neuromuscular control.

* was elected as one of the youngest Fellows of the Royal Society in 1974 and
accepted a visiting professorship at the California Institute of Technology to work with his friend, Kip Thorne.

* by 1974, was unable either to feed himself or get out of bed and his speech became slurred so that he could be understood only by people who knew him well and in 1985, caught pneumonia and had to have a tracheotomy, which made him unable to speak at all.

* was helped by a Cambridge scientist who built a device which enabled him to write onto a computer with small movements of his body and then have a voice synthesizer speak what he typed.

* was presented with the 'Presidential Medal of Freedom', nation's highest civilian honour, by President Obama in 2009.

Was reported in today's newspaper article as saying :

"I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I'm not afraid of death, but I'm in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first. I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark."

The article made the following points, that :

* his book 'A Brief History of Time' sold a reported 9 million copies, propelled him to instant stardom which led him to guest roles in 'The Simpsons', 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' and 'Red Dwarf'.

In 'The Simpsons' :

In Star Trek :

* One of his greatest achievements in physics is a theory that describes how black holes emit radiation.

* in a talk at the Google Zeitgeist meeting in London, he will argue that tiny quantum fluctuations in the very early universe became the seeds from which galaxies, stars, and ultimately human life emerged and said :
"Science predicts that many different kinds of universe will be spontaneously created out of nothing. It is a matter of chance, which, we are in."

Sunday 15 May 2011

Britain says "Happy Birthday" to an old playwright called Peter Shaffer

Peter Shaffer is 85 years old today.
Things you possible didn't know about Peter, that he :

* was born to a Jewish family in Liverpool, the son of Reka and Jack Shaffer, who was an estate agent and the twin brother of another playwright, Anthony Shaffer.

* was educated at St Paul's School in London and went on to study History at Trinity College, Cambridge.

* was a 'Bevin Boy coal miner' during The Second World War and then took a number of jobs, including bookstore clerk and assistant at the New York Public Library, before discovering his dramatic talents.

* had his first play, 'The Salt Land' was presented on the BBC in 1954.

* saw his 'Five Finger Exercise' open in London in 1958 under the direction of John Gielgud win the 'Evening Standard Drama Award' and when it opened in New York in 1959 win the 'New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Play'.

* had his double bill, 'The Private Ear/The Public Eye', two plays each containing three characters and starring Maggie Smith presented at the Globe Theatre in 1962.

* saw The National Theatre set up in 1963 and did virtually all of his subsequent work in its service including 'The Royal Hunt of the Sun' in 1964 dealing with the tragic conquest of Peru by the Spanish.

* produced 'Equus' in 1973, the journey into the mind of a 17-year-old stable boy who had plunged a spike into the eyes of six horses and ran for over 1000 performances on Broadway.

* followed up with 'Amadeus' in 1979, the story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and court composer Antonio Salieri who, overcome with jealousy at hearing the "voice of God" coming from an "obscene child," set out to destroy his rival and on Broadway ran for more than 1000 performances.

* has said : "Everything we feel is made of Time. All the beauties of life are shaped by it."
: "I think people nowadays do tend to blame their parents for everything."
: "If London is a watercolor, New York is an oil painting."
: "Rehearsing a play is making the word flesh. Publishing a play is
reversing the process."

Saturday 14 May 2011

Britain is a country with a charity busy on behalf of old men called 'Action on Elder Abuse' with much to be busy about

Britain's Charity 'Action on Elder Abuse' is busy. In just one week in March last year it concerned itself with the following stories :

* 9th : Residents left unwashed in 'Kings Heath Nursing Home'.
The 'Birmingham Post' reported :
'Residents in a nursing home where a war veteran died just ten days after moving in were unshaven with unwashed hair and long finger nails.'

* 9th : Three care workers in court over abuse at residential home Coventry. The 'Telegraph' reported :
They will face town magistrates over allegations of ill-treatment against three residents at the small, privately-run Wembrook Care Home in Attleborough.

* 8th : Little money available to recover from care home thief.
The 'Northern Echo' reported :
Little money may be redeemed from a former nursing home administrator who stole thousands of pounds of residents' money.

* 5th : Woman robs residents of Londonderry care home.
The BBC News reported :
A woman has pleaded guilty to stealing £64000 from the residents of a Londonderry care home.

* 4th : Police probe Cumbrian nursing home after mistreatment complaints.
The 'News & Star' reported :
Details of the concerns about Branthwaite Care Home have not been revealed.

* 4th : Yarmouth care home manager struck off.
The 'Great Yarmouth Mercury' reported :
A care home manager who shut elderly residents in a tiny room to get them “out of her face” has been kicked out of the profession.

* 4th March 2010 : Inspectors did not have clear training in fire safety.
The 'Herald' reported :
Health board inspectors failed to ensure legal requirements were met when examining fire safety standards at a care home where 14 pensioners later died in a fire.

* 3rd : Care worker stuffed trousers into dementia sufferer's mouth.
The 'South Wales Argus' reported :
A care assistant pushed a pair of rolled up trousers into the mouth of an 89-year-old dementia sufferer at a Chepstow care home.

* 3rd : Inspector saw resident at Maypole Nursing Home badly treated, inquest told.
The 'Birmingham Post' reported :
A care home inspector has told an inquest how he saw a resident of a Birmingham nursing home being treated in an undignified way.

* 2nd : Inquest told of fears over level of care at Maypole Nursing Home.
The 'Birmingham Post' reported :
The daughter of a man who dies after just ten days at a Birmingham Nursing Home.

* 2nd : Teesside care home facing new allegations of neglect.
The 'Gazette Live' reported :
A Teeside care home is facing allegations of neglect for the second time in less than two years, after an elderly lady resident was admitted to hospital.

* 2nd : Pensioners are punished by the care lottery.
The 'Daily Mail' reported :
One of the poorest areas - Halton in Cheshire - funds fewer care-home places than well-heeled areas such as Windsor and Oxfordshire, even though the need is greater.

What a sad country Britain has become.

Is Britain a country where old men and women facing a 'dog's breakfast' of social care can look forward to a brighter future ?

Frances Patterson QC, a Public Law Commissioner has led a 3 year project to review existing law governing social care for old men and women has said:
"Our recommendations will bring much-needed clarity and accessibility to this important area of the law and have a major, beneficial impact on the lives of many of our most vulnerable citizens."

The Report highlight's the fact that social care provision at the moment is no place for old men with :

* more than 40 existing laws and thousands of pages of guidance dating back to 1948 and appearing incomprehensible to most non-lawyers.

* 'carers' having no 'entitlement' to an assessment of their support needs irrespective of how intensively they provide care.

* local councils having no 'duty' to investigate abuse and neglect.

Michelle Mitchell, 'Age UK's' Charity Director, said:
"The Law Commission's recommendations provide a one-off opportunity to replace this dog's breakfast with a clear, logical and consistent framework. It is important, as we move forward to actual legislation, that political wrangling does not result in this clarity being lost."

Paul Burstow, the Government 'Care Services' Minister, said :
the Report provided "a strong foundation" for reform and legislation could follow next year.

Gary FitzGerald, Chief Executive of 'Action on Elder Abuse', applauded the proposed duty on councils to investigate abuse and neglect and said:

"Too many older and other vulnerable adults are relying on a postcode lottery for their protection and these recommendations will finally bring this situation to an end."

Lord Justice Munby, Chairman of the Commission, said:

"What we are trying to do is create a legal framework into which governments can, from time to time, slot different policies."

So old men of Britain, take heart, with a Q.C., a Lord Justice, a Government Minister and two Charity Directors on your side, perhaps your future is a little rosier.