Monday 31 October 2011

Is Britain really no country for old men ?

My audit of evidence over the last 6 months begins to suggest that my proposition is true and that Britain in 2012 is indeed no country for old men :

Evidence that they suffer 'from' or 'in' or 'as' :

* Age discrimination
* Diabetes
* Care homes
* Fat
* Owners of large houses
* Lack of care and respect
* Thirst and hunger in hospital
* Taxpayers
* Alzheimer's Disease
* Falling over
* Rising inflation
* Undiagnosed dementia
* Cheap coach travellers
* Old peoples' homes
* At night
* Losing a shop,a son or their life
* Tomorrow
* Southern Cross Care homes
* Less carers
* In a hospital in Cardiff
* Broken hips
* Care at home 'and' respect for their human rights
* Cancer
* Inflation

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Britain is a country in Europe whose old men suffer more from age discrimination than most of the others


Britain is a country with more and more fat old men with diabetes


Britain is no country for old men in care homes which provide neither 'care' nor a 'home'


Britain is no country for thousands of old men who will die of the cold this winter


Britain is no country for old men who live in large houses with spare bedrooms


Britain is a country where many old men in hospital, as in society in general, receive neither care nor respect


Britain is no country for thirsty and hungry old men in some hospitals


Britain is no country for old men as tax payers in general and poor ones in particular


Britain, already no country for old men, is even less of one for old men with Alzheimer's Disease


Britain is no country for old men who fall over


Britain is no country for old men in a time of rising inflation


Britain is no country for old men with 'undiagnosed' dementia


Britain, soon to be no country for old men given cheap coach travel


Will Britain become a country like Germany, where old men wait for non existent buses in the gardens of their old peoples' home ?


Britain is no country for old men and especially at night


Britain has been no country and a sad country this week for three men who, in turn, lost their shop, their son and a their life


Britain, already no country for old men today, is set to become even less of one for the old men of tomorrow


Britain is no country for old men in Southern Cross care homes who are the casualties of private equity loan sharks


Britain is a country where old men have less 'carers' than any other country in the developed world


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


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

MONDAY, 20 JUNE 2011

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


Britain's 'England' is no Country for old men with cancer


Britain is no country for old men who are the victims of inflation

Sunday 30 October 2011

Britain is a country in Europe whose old men suffer more from age discrimination than most of the others

An article in 'The Oserver' newspaper today was entitled :
UK among Europe's worst countries for ageism
Europe-wide survey reveals intergenerational gaps and the belief that old age starts at 59

The portrait of a divided Britain comes from the 'European Social Survey', a major piece of research which, every 2 years, takes into account the attitudes of 55,000 people across 28 countries.
It reveals that :

* Britain has one of the worst records in Europe on age discrimination, with nearly two out of five people claiming to have been shown a lack of respect because of how old they are.

* Only Russia, Ukraine, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have more people who feel they have been 'ignored' or 'patronised' because of ageism.

* In Britain, 64% of people believe ageism is a serious problem, compared with 44% for Europe as a whole and only in France, where 68% of people believe age discrimination is a 'very serious' or 'quite serious problem', are the figures more worrying.

* an intergenerational divide mean that 50% of the British do not have a single friend over the age 70 as opposed to only 33% of Portuguese, Swiss and Germans.

So where is it better to be an old man ?


Friday 28 October 2011

Britain is a country with more and more fat old men with diabetes

The Daily Mail newspaper announced yesterday that :
England is in the grip of an epidemic of pensioner obesity.

Figures, published by the National Health Service Information Centre show that :

* the number of old people admitted to hospital because they are 'dangerously fat' has soared almost ten-fold in five years.

* 1,102 people aged between 60 and 74 ended up in a hospital bed in 2009/10 as a direct result of their weight, up from 118 in 2004/05 – a rise of 834%.

* the figures are likely to be the 'tip of the iceberg' because they only include those admitted with a primary diagnosis of 'obesity' and thousands more 'grossly overweight' people will have entered hospital with heart disease, strokes, diabetes and some cancers brought on by their size.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Britain says "Happy Birthday" to an old actor called Bob Hoskins

Robert William 'Bob' Hoskins, is 69 years old today.

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

* born in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, where his mother was a cook and nursery-school teacher and father book keeper, lorry driver and communist who brought him up as an atheist.

* in the 1960's his acting career started in London when, was sitting in a pub enjoying a beer, someone came up to him and told him to go upstairs to audition for a play, which he did and landed the role.

* had his first major tv role was in 'On the Move' in 1978, and then 'Pennies from Heaven' as sheet music salesman :
and later, Iago in Jonathan Miller's tv production of Shakespeare's 'Othello'.

* starred in British film, 'The Long Good Friday' in 1980 :
At the start of the film with Helen Mirren as his girlfriend :

At the end of the film with Pierce Brosnan as an IRA gunman taking him to his death and a Galaxy of emotion runs across his face :

* in 1986 starred in 'Mona Lisa' and won a Cannes Award, Best Actor Golden Globe and BAFTA Awards and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

* delivered comic turns in Terry Gilliam's 'Brazil' in 1985 and 'Super Mario Bros' in 1993 and later referred to it as "worst thing I ever did".

* was on hold to play Al Capone in 'The Untouchables' if Robert De Niro had not decided to play the part and received a cheque for £20,000 and 'Thank you' note from director Brian De Palma, which prompted him ask "if there were any more movies he didn't want him to be in ?"

* made his first appearance to mainstream American audiences in 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit ?' for which he received a second Golden Globe nomination

and played opposite Cher in 'Mermaids in 1990 and as boatswain Smee in 'Hook' in 1991and on tv Mr Micawber in 'David Copperfield' in 1999 :

and Nikita Khrushchev in the film 'Enemy at the Gates' in 2001 :

* made a return to British tv in Jimmy McGovern's 2009 drama serial 'The Street', where he played a publican who stands up to a local gangster.

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Britain is no country for old men in care homes which provide neither 'care' nor a 'home'

The Care Quality Commission inspected 599 'care homes' for old people between October 2010 and July 2011 and found 84 failed to meet legal nutritional requirements. It found :

* one of the worst cases at Bywater Hall in Leeds, where an underweight patient, who was assessed as being at a high risk of malnutrition and prescribed a high-calorie diet, eating just two pieces of toast in a day.

* in another home run by the same company, a malnourished patient who had lost 10lb in a month and was supposed to be given snacks between meals was denied a biscuit, even when he asked for one.

The disturbing figures come from an analysis by the watchdog the 'Care Quality Commission', whose 'Director of Operations', Amanda Sherlock said :

'The majority of care homes we’ve inspected do comply with the essential standards.
However, our inspectors have also seen providers where meals are simply placed in front of frail, vulnerable people who are least able to complain, with no attempt to help them eat, until their food is cleared away uneaten.'

The facts are that there are 4,600 care homes in Britain with nursing which care for 208,000 old people, many of whom have dementia.

Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the 'Patients Association', said:
'We are not talking about complex health needs but about basic human rights to eating, drinking and pain relief, and this most basic care is not being provided in nursing homes. If we were talking about children there would be an outcry but because it is the elderly they are being neglected. Care homes with major concerns should be shut down.'

Monday 24 October 2011

Britain is a country which says "Happy Birthday" to an old, late 'Rolling Stones' rock musician called Bill Whyman

Bill Wyman, founder member of 'The Rolling Stones' is 75 years old today.

What you possibly didn't know about Bill, that he :

* was born William George Perks, like me and Jude Law, in Lewisham, South London and he was the son of a bricklayer, one of five children who spent most of his early life living in a terraced house in a tough area and described his childhood as 'scarred by poverty'.

* went to grammar school from 1947 to 1953, took piano lessons from age 10 to 13, then left school before taking his exams, after his father insisted that he took a job working for a bookmaker.

* got married in 1959, a year later bought a Burns electric guitar but after hearing a bass guitar at The Barron Knights' concert, fell in love with its sound and decided this was his instrument and created what may have been the first fretless electric bass and played this in a South London band, 'The Cliftons'.

* auditioned when a 'rhythm and blues' band called 'The Rolling Stones' needed a bass player and was hired because they were impressed by his instrument and amplifiers.

On joining the band :

'Satisfaction' and Bill's bass guitar work :

* because he was married and older, remained an outsider in the band and left in 1992to branch out on his own.

Bill Whyman's Rythm Kings Green River


* has kept a journal since he was a child after the Second World War which has been useful to him the author of 7 books which have sold 2 million copies and his photographs have been hung in galleries around the world.

* is an amateur archaeologist, has designed and markets a patented 'Bill Wyman signature metal detector', owns the famous Sticky Fingers Café, a rock & roll-themed bistro serving American cuisine first opened in 1989 in Kensington, London.

Sunday 23 October 2011

Britain is no country for thousands of old men who will die of the cold this winter

Photos I took of our garden and road last winter, during which the temperature fell to a record -15 degrees centigrade.

An article in 'The Observer' newspaper today was entitled :

Cold homes will kill up to 200 older people a day, warns Age UK
Rising energy bills will put millions at risk from 'fuel poverty gap'

Research Manager at 'Age UK', Philip Rossall, said :
"The fact that these 'excess' deaths occur in winter makes it clear that they are due directly to cold and the fact that other, colder countries have lower excess winter deaths means that there is no reason that they are not preventable."

The Special Adviser for Policy, Mervyn Kohler, asked:
"Why is this not a national scandal?" There were 26,156 excess winter deaths during 2009-10, with figures for 2010-11 to be published next month. "There is no reason to suppose that the worsening trend will not continue."

The Charity's predicted figure of 200 deaths a day, follows sharp price hikes by energy companies, credited with driving inflation to its highest level in 20 years.

At the same time, a report by Britain's leading academic expert on poverty and inequality, Professor John Hills of the London School of Economics, found :
a deepening 'fuel poverty gap' and 2,700 people among the 4.8 million in England and Wales living in 'fuel poverty', defined as spending more than 10% of income on heat and light, died in the winter of 2008-09 as a direct result – a steady increase for the third year running.

Poor old men of Britain, however, you need have no fear, your Prime Minister, David Cameron, is on your case and has hosted the 'Big Six' energy companies at Downing Street to discuss the impact of soaring heating bills and his advice to you is to :

* insulate your homes properly and
* 'shop around' for deals.

Britain, the fifth richest country in the world and one where many old men face the prospect of a cold, bleak and for some of them, fatal, winter ahead.

Long range weather forecast from 'Exacta Weather' :
'This winter certainly won't be remembered or be authenticated as being mild, neither will it be dominated by periods of mild weather. Some moderation at times, but the overall theme for this winter will be very cold and snowy across many parts of the UK.'

Saturday 22 October 2011

Britain is no country for old men who live in large houses with spare bedrooms

This is house in which my wife and I have lived for over 20 years and we are, apparently, along with many other old people, 'home hoarders'.

The think tank 'Intergenerational Foundation', which purports to be a 'non-party political charity campaigning for the rights of younger and future generations in British policy making', has published a report which documents how a process of death and renewal is not happening after a dramatic rise in life expectancy and a refusal by many older people to downsize when their children have grown up and gone.

This epidemic of 'house squatting' by the over-55's is the main reason there are so many family homes with only one or two people rattling around in them.

According to the Report, 'Hoarding of Housing', my wife and I are :

* among 16 million people who live in 'underoccupied' homes, equivalent to 37% of the total housing stock in England and we have some of the 25 million empty bedrooms.

* party to the 'lifecycle of housing' breaking down, as we hoard the family home and while we may think we are keeping an 'asset' for future generations, in reality 'the negative impact is felt primarily among the young who face higher lifetime levels of debt and smaller living space as a result.'

* in the group which should be considered for 'nudge policies', such as the withdrawal of some universal benefits if our house is worth over £500,000 and the abolition of council tax concessions if we lived in single occupation.

* should be discouraged from hoarding and made to realise that someone further down the generational chain is suffering as a consequence.

Is it reasonable that the report's co-author, Matthew Griffiths, should say that :

'It is perfectly understandable that retired people' like us 'cling to' our 'home long after it has outlived its usefulness as a place to bring up a family in, but there are profound social consequences of' our 'actions which are now causing real problems in a country where new house-building is almost non-existent.'

So now Britain is a country filled with selfish old men, like me, occupying housing space they don't need and with little or no social conscience.

Friday 21 October 2011

Britain says " Happy Birthday" to an old musician called Manfred Mann

Musician Manfred Mann is 71 years old today.

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

* was born Manfred Sepse Lubowitz in 1940 in Johannesburg in South Africa, studied classical music at the University of the Witwatersrand, worked as a club jazz pianist and 1959, with a school friend, recorded music as 'The Vikings' - South Africa's first 'rock 'n' roll' band.

* strongly opposed to the apartheid system, emigrated to Britain at the age of 21 in 1961 and wrote for 'Jazz News' as 'Manfred Manne', after jazz drummer Shelly Manne.

* met drummer and keyboard player Mike Hugg at Clacton Butlins Holiday Camp and formed a blues-jazz band called the 'Mann-Hugg Blues Brothers', signed with EMI, changed their name to Manfred Mann and from 1964 to 1969 they had a succession of hit records:

1964 : Do Wah Diddy Diddy

1964 : 5-4-3-2-1

1966 : Semi-detached suburban Mr James

1966 : Pretty Flamingo

1966 : Just like a Woman

1967 : Ha! Ha! Said the clown

1968 : The Mighty Quinn

1968 : My name is Jack

* saw the group split in 1969 and in 1971 formed 'Manfred Mann's Earth Band', which still records and performs to this day.

From 1975 : 'Blinded by the Light' :

P.S. Manfred Mann was probably the only group in the 1960's which could get a 'hit' with lyrics like this for 'My Name is Jack' :

My name is Jack and I live in the back of the Greta Garbo home
With friends I will remember, wherever I may roam.

And my name is Jack and I live in the back,
Of the Greta Garbo home for wayward boys and girls.
We all love Jack, we live in the back,
Of the Greta Garbo home for wayward boys and girls.

There goes Fred with his hands on his head cause he thinks he's heard the bomb.
And here comes Superman who really puts it on.
There's lots of fun and I love to run up and down the stairs,
I make as much noise as I want and no one ever cares.

And my name is Jack and I live in the back
Of the Greta Garbo home for wayward boys and girls.
We all love Jack ,we live in the back,
Of the Greta Garbo home for wayward boys and girls.

There's Carl over there with his funny old hair and he's never sad at all.
And when he I grow up I want to run as fast as my friend Paul.
There's the prettiest girl in the whole wide world and her name is Melody Mend.
And here comes Ma with Brother Tom, who's probably my best friend.
Well, Tom is my best friend, my best friend, well, Tom is my best friend.

Thursday 20 October 2011

Britain said "Happy Birthday" to an old spy writer called John Le Carré

David Cornwell, better known John Le Carré, author of spy novels was 80 years old yesterday.

What you may not have known about John, that he was :

* born in Dorset and did not know his mother who abandoned him when he was 5 and had a difficult relationship with his father who was jailed for insurance fraud, an associate of the notorious criminal Kray twins, continually in debt and possibly gave him his fascination with secrets.

* educated at Sherborne School where he was unhappy with the typically harsh English public school régime and left the country at the age of 17 to study foreign languages at the University of Bern in Switzerland.

* in 1950, at the age of 19, joined the 'Intelligence Corps' of the British Army garrisoned in Austria, working as a German language interrogator of people who crossed the Iron Curtain to the West and in 1952 returned to England and studied at Oxford University, where he worked for MI5, spying upon far-left groups looking for student agents for Soviet Russia.

* graduated, taught French and German at Eton College for two years and then became an MI5 officer in 1958 : ran agents, conducted interrogations, tapped telephone lines and effected break-ins.

* in 1960, transferred to MI6, the foreign-intelligence service and working in Hamburg as a political consul, wrote 'The Spy Who Came In from the Cold' under the peudonym, 'John le Carré' because Foreign Office officers were forbidden to publish in their own names.
The magnificent Richard Burton talks about real spies :

* left the secret service in 1964 to work full-time as a novelist when his career was cut short by the betrayal of his cover to the Russian KGB by the British double agent, Kim Philby and depicted him as 'Bill Haydon', the upper-class traitor, code-named Gerald by the KGB and the mole George Smiley hunts in his 1974, 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy'

* wrote his autobiographical, 'A Perfect Spy' in 1986, chronicling the boyhood moral education of Magnus Pym, which led him becoming a spy and especially his very close relationship with his con man father who biographer Lynndianne Beene described as 'an epic con man of little education, immense charm, extravagant tastes, but no social values'.

* with the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, shifted to portrayal of the new multilateral world with 'The Night Manager' dealing with drug and arms smuggling in the murky world of Latin America drug lords, shady Caribbean banking entities and look-the-other-way western officials.

* in 2003 wrote an essay in 'The Times entitled 'The United States Has Gone Mad', codemning the approaching Iraq War and observing that, how 'Bush and his junta succeeded in deflecting America's anger, from Bin Laden to Saddam Hussein, is one of the great public relations conjuring tricks of history.'

* made a cameo appearance in Swedish director Tomas Alfredson's 2011 film version of 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy'.

John's last interview ? :

The end credits to 'Tinker,Tailor,Soldier,Spy' : to the 1979 tv version with its haunting 'nunc dimittis' written by Geoffrey Burgon :

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people.
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles,
And to be the glory of thy people Israel.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

My posting marking the death of Geoffrey Burgon in September 2010 :

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Britain is a country which says "well done ! " to a 100 year old marathon runner called Fauja Singh

One hundred year old Fauja Singh from East London has finished the Toronto Marathon in 8 hours, 25 minutes and 18 seconds and in 3,850th place ahead of five other competitors and in so doing, became the World's oldest marathon runner.

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

* was born in the Punjab in 1911 and a farmer when he first developed a love for running, moved to Britain in 1992 but only took up running again 11 years ago, following the deaths of his wife and son and trains by running 10 miles a day.

* ran his first marathon aged 89 and has since run seven more and claimed eight 'centenarian distance records' from 100 metres through to 5,000 metres during the Sunday marathon, some of which had never been attempted by someone that old.

* found he 'hit the wall' at 22 miles but soldiered on for another two hours and at the final corner, said to his coach and translator that "achieving this will be like getting married again".

* attributes his success to a simple vegetarian diet and has said : " My diet is simple phulka (chappati), dal (lentils), green vegetables, yoghurt and milk. I do not touch parathas, pakoras, rice or any other fried food. I take lots of water and tea with ginger" and "being happy"

* was signed up, last year, alongside David Beckham and Jonny Wilkinson as part of the Adidas 'Impossible is nothing' advertising campaign campaign and also had his biography, 'Turbaned Tornado' published.

* was a torchbearer at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and now hopes to participate in the 2012 London Games torch relay.

Doesn't he find it difficult to cover 26 miles at this age? :

"The first 20 miles are not difficult. As for last six miles, I run while talking to God."

Monday 17 October 2011

Britain is a country for less and less old men who fought in The Second World War and tell their story for the last time

Three of my uncles fought in the Second World War and here are two of them. Uncle Albert on the left was my Father's younger brother and I'm not sure whether or not he was in the Normandy invasion in 1944. The second one on the right was my Mother's younger brother, Lloyd George and I do know that he drove a lorry in the drive against the German General Rommel in North Africa in 1942 and later in Italy.

Both these men, who I once knew, are now long dead, but the last of the combatants from that War are still alive and Channel 4 TV has used some of them to make a series called 'The Last Heroes'. I saw the first episode and was moved by the fact that these old men were moved to tears when they gave their powerful and emotional testimonies and remembered and related what they had done on seen on the Normandy beaches 65 years ago, when they were very young men.

It was the first time most of them had been in combat and the programme examined how they managed to take the beaches against the odds but at a price. On of them, Jim Kelly said : "Utter chaos. Things were blown to bits... there was shell fire... all that sort of stuff. And men all over the place, lying all over the place."
They revealed what it was like to be under fire, how it felt to lose your best mates, the fear of fighting for your life, seeing things that no teenager or young man should ever witness.

A clip :

British casualties in the whole 'The Battle of Normandy' :

11,000 Dead
54,000 Wounded

I wonder what these men who had once fought for Britain think of their country today ?

Sunday 16 October 2011

Britain is a country where many old men in hospital, as in society in general, receive neither care nor respect

The Care Quality Commission Report on Hospital Care for old people has found that :

* one in five hospitals is breaking the law in its level of neglect of the elderly.

* at least 20 hospitals where care was so poor that patients were denied ‘the basics in life’ – eating, drinking and going to the toilet.

* on some wards, frail patients 'rattle their bed rails or bang on water jugs' to try to attract the attention of staff and on others, nurses ignore doctors’ instructions to put dehydrated patients on drips and abandon them without fluids.

* in 20 National Health Service Trusts, the standard of nursing care was so poor it was 'in breach of the Health and Social Care Act 2008.'

* in many hospitals the elderly were routinely forced to undergo the indignity of using commodes next to their beds because staff were too busy to take them to the toilet.

* at meal times, nursing staff were so preoccupied giving patients medicines they forgot to feed them and trays were cleared away untouched.

Dame Jo Williams, Chairman of the watchdog, urged NHS trusts not to put ‘paperwork over people.' She said :

"Time and time again, we found cases where patients were treated by staff in a way that stripped them of their dignity and respect. People were spoken over, and not spoken to; people were left without call bells, ignored for hours on end, or not given assistance to do the basics of life – to eat, drink, or go to the toilet.’

Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, said the Charity felt "overwhelmed with these dreadful and deeply depressing inquiries’ into hospital care" and in the last few months the Charity’s helpline had seen " a sudden surge of calls from relatives regarding appalling standards."

Would it be wrong to suggest that attitudes displayed towards old people by staff in hospitals is simply a reflection of attitudes of members of the public towards old people in society in general ?

What a sad country Britain has become.