Thursday 30 June 2011

Britain is a country where yesterday's young men have, like Neil Young, become his 'Old Man'

Neil Young wote and sang 'Old Man' in 1971 when he and I were both young men, he at 26 and I at 24. Now we are the old men in his song. He at 66 and me at 64.

Neil said of the song :

" About that time when I wrote 'Heart of Gold' and I was touring, I had, being a rich hippie for the first time, purchased a ranch. There was a couple living on it that were the caretakers, an old gentleman named Louis Avala and his wife Clara. And there was this old blue Jeep there, and Louis took me for a ride in this blue Jeep. He gets me up there on the top side of the place, and there's this lake up there that fed all the pastures, and he says, "Well, tell me, how does a young man like yourself have enough money to buy a place like this?" And I said, "Well, just lucky, Louie, just real lucky." And he said, "Well, that's the darndest thing I ever heard." And I wrote this song for him."

Louis Avala

Old Man :

Old man look at my life,
I'm a lot like you were.
Old man look at my life,
I'm a lot like you were.

Old man look at my life,
Twenty four
and there's so much more,
Live alone in a paradise,
That makes me think of two.

Love lost, such a cost,
Give me things
that don't get lost.
Like a coin that won't get tossed,
Rolling home to you.

Old man take a look at my life,
I'm a lot like you.
I need someone to love me,
the whole day through.
Ah, one look in my eyes,
and you can tell that's true.

Lullabies, look in your eyes,
Run around the same old town.
Doesn't mean that much to me,
To mean that much to you.

I've been first and last,
Look at how the time goes past.
But I'm all alone at last,
Rolling home to you.

Old man take a look at my life,
I'm a lot like you.
I need someone to love me,
the whole day through.
Ah, one look in my eyes
and you can tell that's true.

Old man look at my life,
I'm a lot like you were.
Old man look at my life,
I'm a lot like you were.

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Britain is a country where for many old men " loneliness is their only constant companion"

An article in 'The Gaurdian' 3 years ago was entitled :

No country for old men
The number of men over 60 living alone in Britain has topped one million for the first time - and this Father's Day, many will have no contact at all with their families.

It predates my blog by one year and I wonder if I had subliminally absorbed the title ?

It asked these questions :

How did older men come to be so neglected and why do women fare much better in retirement?

It made the following points, that :

* a survey by ICM Research for 'Help the Aged' and the 'Zurich Community Trust' found that the number of older men living alone has just reached one million for the first time in Britain.

* half a million men over 60 lead lonely lives with no friend and no contact from their families and older men, especially widowers, often don't even have people to do something with.

* women generally are more adept at forging social links later in life while men struggle.

Amy Swan, Policy Officer at 'Help the Aged' said that :

* "For at least 400,000 men, loneliness is their only constant companion. That's a 21% increase since 2004, while the number of older women living alone has only gone up by 1% in that time."

* "This is partly because the number of men living longer is increasing, but also because many elderly men were typically the parents who did not win custody of children when there was divorce, or may have been more distant with children than their wives. So they enter later life with strained family ties."

Psychotherapist Derek Draper, in answer to the question : Why should fathers be contacted by their children less than mothers? said that :

* "In the case of that generation, fathers were not as involved in children's lives -both as little children and as teenagers they took backseat roles. Even if your mother and father didn't get divorced, you're more likely to be closer to your mum. The classic vignette is when you call home, your dad picks up and says, 'Hang on, I'll get your mother.'"

* "Older men from that generation struggle,they find social interaction difficult" and older men defined themselves through their workingrelationships and
"Their friendships all came from work or their wives, in many cases. So when they retire, they often shrink socially, and if they lose their wives, they have no network."

* he knew "one gentleman who still gets the bus to work, even though he's retired, to give a structure to his life. Men find it hard to deal with being retired. They find it offputting that social groups in the community can be dominated by older women. Women do get involved more in evening classes or planning social clubs."

Psychologist Linda Blair argues that :

* older men, who were likely to be the major or only breadwinners for their family, are often diminished by retirement. The phone stops ringing for them. The skills that made them valuable in the workplace are redundant at home and they have few skills to sustain them in the event of bereavement or divorce.

* "Men of that generation weren't taught self-care skills, they don't know how to use the microwave or do the vacuuming. But if they're taught in old age because their wife has died or because of divorce, then it's hard to make those skills stick."

Britain in 2011 - a bleak and lonely country for too many old men
Many don't get this from their kids :

The Fox Hunt singing 'Lonely Old Man' :

Monday 27 June 2011

Britain's is a country with a city called Glasgow where old men live shorter lives than those in Albania and southeners outlive northerners

Old men in Britain are living longer to an average age of 77.9 years but those living in the North live shorter lives than those in the South and this north-south divide has worsened over the last decade.

An 'Office for National Statistics Report' has shown that variations in income, socio-economic status and health behaviour continue to take their toll and life expectancy for both sexes in Glasgow is lower than in Albania and nearer to that of the Palestinian Territories than to the wealthier London boroughs.

These are the figures for average life expectancy for old men :

73.1 years : Greater Glasgow & Clyde :
73.4 years : Albania
70.6 years : Palestinian Territories
84.4 years : London Borough of Kensington & Chelsea

The charity 'Age Concern UK' expressed regret at the continuing variations and Director Michelle Mitchell said:
"As the state pension rises to 66 by 2020, it is people living in poorer areas with lower life expectancies who will see their retirements cut short."
She warned that the Government should be "extremely cautious" about any further increases to the state pension age, urging ministers to ensure those with the poorest health and low life expectancy were not disadvantaged.

Talking of the north-south divide in Britain Dr Simon Szreter, Professor of History and Public Policy at Cambridge University, said:

"Life expectancy has a longstanding correlation with social class and income. This north-south divide is explainable in terms of the lack of members of middle-class households in the north and the disproportionate concentration of them in the south. During the last two decades, class has become more closely tied to income. Income inequality has gone up significantly."

North-South divide mapped :

Sunday 26 June 2011

Britain says " Happy Birthday" to an old musician called Georgie Fame

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

* took piano lessons from the age of 7 and after leaving school at 15, worked in a cotton weaving mill and played piano for a band called 'The Dominoes' in the evenings.

* at 16, went to London, changed his name from, Clive Powell, played for Billy Fury in his backing band 'The Blue Flames', started 'Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames' in 1961 and went on to enjoy success with a repertoire of rhythm and blues numbers.

* was influenced from early on by jazz and such blues musicians as Willie Mabon and Mose Allison, and was one of the first white artists to be influenced by the ska music he heard in Jamaican cafes in and around Ladbroke Grove.

* worked at the Flamingo Club, which he later said : " was a great place to play, a midnight to 6am thing on Fridays and Saturdays, and it was full of American GIs who came in from their bases for the weekend. They brought records with them and one of them gave me 'Green Onions' by Booker T & the MG's. I had been playing piano up to that point but I bought a Hammond organ the next day."

* had success with "Yeh Yeh", in 1965 and "Get Away", in 1966, at which point he disbanded his band and went solo.

* had success with his version of the Bobby Hebb song "Sunny" in 1966 and 'The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde' in 1967, which was a number one hit in the United Kingdom, and No.7 in the United States.

* had a hit with 'Rosetta', with his close friend Alan Price, ex-keyboard player of 'The Animals', in 1971, and they worked together extensively for a time.

* has been a core member of Van Morrison's band, was a founding member of friend Bill Wyman's early band 'Rhythm Kings' and has worked with Count Basie, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, Joan Armatrading and 'The Verve'.

* is a supporter of the 'Countryside Alliance' and has played concerts to raise funds for the The Otakar Kraus Music Trust.

Saturday 25 June 2011

Britain is no longer a country for an old photo journalist called Don McPhee

Don McPhee the photojournalist has died at the age of 61. His 'Guardian' newspaper images have entered our collective memory, like the one in 1984, of a striking miner in a party version of a policeman's helmet, eyeballing one of a line of real policeman protecting the Orgreave coking plant near Sheffield.

Roger Tooth, Picture Editor of Gaurdian, chose this gallery of Don's photos :,,2043336,00.html

For more than 30 years, Don worked in Manchester, covering everything from politics and weather stories to special reports from around the world. His photos still convey his wit and style.

His exhibition of photos at Manchester Art Gallery in 2005 :

Friday 24 June 2011

Britain says "Happy Birthday" to three old musicians called Jeff Beck, Colin Blunstone and Mick Fleetwood who were once 21

Jeff Beck is 67 today.
The key point in Jeff's his career was in 1965, when he was recruited to replace Eric Clapton in 'The Yardbirds' on the recommendation of fellow session man Jimmy Page, their initial choice.

For Your Love - when he was 21

Heart Full of Soul - also 21

Shapes of Things - when he was 22


Colin Blunstone is is 66 today
The key point in his career was when he helped form 'The Zombies' while still at school in 1961.

She's Not There - when he was 21

On leaving The Zombies, Colin went on to record :

Caroline Goodbye - when he was 26

Say You Don't Mind - with its wonderful lrics by Denny Laine - when he was 27


Mick Fleetwood is 64 today
The key point in his career was in 1968 when he joined Peter Green and John McVie in 'Fleetwood Mac'.

Man of The World - when he was 21

Albatross - when he was 21

Thursday 23 June 2011

Britain is a country where old men in hospital in Cardiff who needed to summon help, once shook a tambourine and now ring a handbell

An article in the 'Daily Mail' was entitled :

Hospital gives elderly patients a TAMBOURINE to call nurses and maracas in case it breaks.

It made the following points, that at Cardiff Royal Infirmary old men and women patients :

* were terrified that they could not summon help from nurses and hoped that an electronic alarm would be installed in their day room.

* found that instead, they were given a tambourine to shake and, in case it broke, a pair of maracas as back-up.

In addition :

* on Tuesday the hospital was forced to apologise after an National Health Service watchdog described the policy as ‘unacceptable’ and criticised it for failing to install a proper alarm system.

* the patients' day room is some way from the 'nurses’ base' at the Victorian hospital, which is notorious for its long corridors.

* one man visiting his mother put the system to the test by shaking the tambourine for 16 minutes – but failed to attract the staff's attention.

One relative said:
"It is ridiculous. These people are pensioners – not members of the Monkees or Mick Jagger. Where is the dignity in asking old and frail people to bash on a tambourine if they are in trouble? It makes the NHS look like a laughing stock."

Steve Allen, Chief Officer of Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan Community Health Council, said:
"This is totally unacceptable and the health board must address this as a matter of concern."

Ruth Walker, Executive Director of Nursing for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, apologised and said:

"A hand-bell had previously been provided but was deemed too heavy and cumbersome for frailer patients and staff looked for an alternative. Sadly the solution, while well-intentioned, was not appropriate.
A lightweight hand-bell will now be sourced as a matter of urgency and patients will be accompanied while using the day room in the meantime.
The care and dignity of all our patients is vitally important to everyone at the Health Board and we sincerely apologise for any distress this has caused."

The BBC Report :

P.S. This is a case where you find yourself saying :

" Is this true or is someone pulling my leg ?"

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Britain is no country for old men with broken hips and in need of swift hospital operations

Up to 75,000 people, mostly old people who have lost bone density, suffer hip fractures every year in Britain and the figure is expected to reach 100,000 by the end of the decade as the population ages.

The problem is estimated to cost £2billion a year in medical treatment and social care for victims who are left house-bound or struggling on crutches for weeks even after having their hips replaced.

A Government watchdog has said, in further evidence of age discrimination in the National Health Service, that it treats old men and women with broken hips as a 'low priority' by failing to give them prompt and high-quality treatment which could extend their lives.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has :

* found that, at the moment, half of those with hip fractures currently have to wait 36 hours in hospital, in pain and in fear, before undergoing surgery and in many cases junior doctors carry out their operations rather than more experienced staff.

* recommended that all hip surgery should take place at most a day after hospital admission and that surgeons, physicians, anaesthetists, nurses and physiotherapists should work together in co-ordinated 'Hip Fracture Programmes' to care for patients.

* said that this approach would lead to fewer costly days in hospital and allow patients to regain their mobility and independence more quickly, as well as reducing the chance of them suffering complications in surgery or dying soon afterwards.

* said that this would only cost hospitals in England a total of £1.4million a year extra and warns of a hip fracture 'epidemic' in the coming decades as the population grows older.

Tim Chesser, 'Consultant Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgeon' with North Bristol NHS Trust, when asked why hip fracture patients were such a low priority? replied:

"These patients are old, they don't have a voice in a hospital setting where you have young trauma patients who do complain. Everyone should have an equal voice."

Looking to the future, Cameron Swift, 'Emeritus Professor of Healthcare of the Elderly' at King's College London told a press conference:

"We have got, with hip fracture, a healthcare challenge over the coming decades of potentially epidemic proportions.

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Britain is no country for 'Driftwood Dave' and his wooden shack in Embelle Wood

63 year old David Burgess has :

* had as home, for a quarter of a century, a driftwood shack in Embelle Wood in Exmoor National Park above one of Britain's remotest beach hideaway.

* led a perfectly peaceful existence, watching the world go by, listening to the waves and marvelling at the sunsets.

* boiled a kettle on a stone-built stove and had his favourite books arranged on a reclaimed wooden shelf and a picture of a mysterious maiden strolling on a summer shoreline.

* might pick up litter to recycle from the beach, scavenge pieces of wood worn smooth by the surf, maybe rustle up a meal or two.

David now finds that the bosses at Exmoor National Park have discovered they have him as an 'uninvited' guest on their land and have ordered him to leave and he initially submitted a claim for ownership of the shack he became entangled in a legal battle and has now withdrawn the claim.

The National Park maintains it has owned the woodland and buildings since 1974 and a spokesman said: 'As long as Mr Burgess has dropped the ownership claim we are happy to talk to him about how he can enjoy the area. We really don't want to see legal action."

Dave :

* has his shack in an area where few venture and is only accessible to intrepid ramblers which is probably the reason only a handful of people knew of the existence of the man they call 'Driftwood Dave' and why fewer still seemed to care.

* when asked about the ownership of the land has said : "We belong to the land. The land doesn't belong to us. I don't think I'm squatting. I love being next to nature. I've never been lonely and I enjoy my own company."

* has salvaged a collection of nets, brushes, pots, pans, plastic containers to store food and has made a hammock from fishing nets and used washed-up tarpaulin as a roof.

* has said : "In the summer I sometimes get up before it's light, watch the sun come up, make a cup of tea, read a book, listen to birds… it's wonderful, really tranquil."

* does use a car to drive 4 miles to his nearest village shop, earns cash doing garden work and posing as an anatomy model for art students and has a mobile phone and when the weather gets too bad he stays with friends in Exeter.


When Dave began to build his home in the spring and summer of 1985, the miners had just gone back to work after a crippling strike, Mikhail Gorbachev was elected Soviet leader and 17-year-old Boris Becker won Wimbledon.

Britain is still a country for and says "Happy Birthday" to, an old rock musician called Ray Davies

Ray Davies who has pursued a solo career from 'The Kinks' since 1996 is 67 today and still performing.

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

* was born in Muswell Hill, North London, the seventh of eight children, including six older sisters and younger brother Dave Davies.

* was an art student at Hornsey College of Art in London in 1962–1963, when the 'Kinks' developed into a professional performing band in which he emerged as the chief songwriter and de facto leader of the band.

* his early hits were based on powerchord-based rock and roll and these first brought the band to prominence as in "You Really Got Me" in 1964 :

and "All Day and All of the Night",

* by the mid-to-late 1960's, he was producing more sensitive, introspective and complex songs, such as :
'Tired of Waiting for You'
'See My Friends'
'Where Have All the Good Times Gone'
'Too Much on My Mind'
'Waterloo Sunset'
and 'Days'.

No matter what he has done in his solo career, it is his work with the 'Kinks' for which he shall be remembered :

Glastonbury 2010 :

Waterloo Sunset :

Sunny Afternoon :

Lola :

You Really Got Me :

Monday 20 June 2011

Britain is no longer a country for a remarkable old man called Sir Patrick Leigh Fermour

Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor highly regarded travel writer and heroic Wartime 'Special Operations Executive' Officer has died at the age of 96.

Things which are interesting about Leigh, that he :

* as a boy was expelled from King's school, Canterbury, where he had formed an illicit liaison with the local greengrocer's daughter, eight years older than him, in whom perhaps he glimpsed a loving mother and where his housemaster described him as : 'a dangerous mixture of sophistication and recklessness.'

* at the age of 18 in 1933, rather than go to university, set out to walk from the Hook of Holland to what he called 'Constantinople' (Istanbul).

* wrote 65 years later that his journey took him :
'south-east through the snow into Germany, then up the Rhine and eastwards down the Danube ... in Hungary I borrowed a horse, then plunged into Transylvania; from Romania, on into Bulgaria'

* at New Year, 1935, crossed the Turkish border at Adrianople and reached his destination.

* undertook his trek with the idea of writing a book, which was to become 'A Time of Gifts' and has detailed descriptions of sights, conversations, drinks imbibed, the cadence of birdsong and is almost entirely a work of mature recollection.

* wrote that when he set out for the Netherlands after a final celebration with friends 'a thousand glistening umbrellas were tilted over a thousand bowler hats in Piccadilly; the Jermyn Street shops, distorted by streaming water, had become a submarine arcade"'

* in Athens, after his main journey to Istanbul was completed, met the first great love of his life, Balasha Cantacuzene, a Romanian princess 12 years his senior, with whom he lived on the family's 'Tolstoyan' estate in Moldavia until the outbreak of the Second World War.

* was serving with the Irish Guards during the War and joined the 'Special Operations Executive' in 1941 and helped to co-ordinate the resistance in German-occupied Crete.

* commanded, as he put it, 'some minor guerrilla operations', the most audacious of which was the ambush and kidnap of the German commander of the island, General Heinrich Kreipe, who was spirited off to Alexandria.

* throughout his adult life, was a great performer of party turns: songs in Cretan dialect; 'The Walrus and the Carpenter' recited backwards; 'Falling in Love Again' in German and 'It's a Long Way to Tipperary' in Hindustani.

* in the 1950s, lived the life of a nomadin Italy, France, Cameroon, as well as various corners of England and his beloved Greece and described in his book, 'In Tearing Haste'.

* took no part in the making of the 1957 film, 'Ill Met by Moonlight' about the kidnap of General Kreipe in which Dirk Bogarde played him.

Ill Met by Moonlight :

Britain is a rich country and no country for old men who want care at home 'and' respect for their human rights

An article in 'The Daily Mail' today was entitled :
Bad home care for elderly 'breaches human rights'.

It centred on an 'interim' report for the 'Equality and Human Rights Commission' which has revealed that home care services are so under-resourced that the amount of time a care provider spends with a client has been reduced so much that they often provide nothing more than a cursory service. The Commission said that effectively the service users' basis human rights are being ignored.

Old men and women in Britain receiving home care in their own homes are :

* being left in bed for 17 hours at a time, undressed in front of windows in open view of neighbours and abandoned in soiled beds and clothes.

* with 15 minute slots of care, being forced to choose between either 'being washed' or 'being fed'.

* sometimes malnourished because of the failure of carers to feed them.

* because of staff shortages, sometimes seen by dozens of different carers and so they have to repeat personal information with each of them.

Baroness Sally Greengross, an EHRC Commissioner, said there had never been enough resources allocated to this type of care and :

" Many older people have little or no control over what time the home care visit happens. As a result, we have heard of people being put to bed at 5pm and not helped to get up until 10am, a period of 17 hours.
We have had reports of neglect, in which people have been left in filthy nightwear and bedding after a home care visit or without a wash or hair wash for several weeks."

"We have been told about an older person being regularly undressed by care staff in front of his bungalow window, and another in front of family members, instead of in privacy."

"A thorough training process would make sure staff took the simple steps to avoid these basic mistakes. This would have a huge impact on the day-to-day lives of those they care for."

The interim report concluded:
‘The full extent of the potential human rights breaches is likely to be masked by the fear of complaining'.

The BBC Radio report :

Britain is Number 6 in the World's top ten economies with an Annual Gross Domestic Product of $2,149,000,000,000,000,000