Wednesday 29 February 2012

Britain is no country for old men in hospital expecting to be treated with dignity and compassion

An article in the 'Daily Mail' today was entitled :

You must not call an elderly patient 'dear': Doctors and nurses are urged to treat patients with more respect

When Sir Keith Pearson, the co-chair of the 'Commission on Improving Dignity in Care', says in its  new report that :
'compassion' should be at the centre of hospital treatment',  we can assume that this is not the case at the moment.

It observes what old men in Britain already knew that : an 'unthinking disregard' for the needs and aspirations of older people permeates British life, from the transport system and housing to the National Health Service.

By pointing out what hospital staff should refrain from when dealing with old men and women in their care, the Commission holds up a mirror to what is going on at present and that old men in hospital can expect to  be :

* asked "how are we today dear?" and be referred to as a "bedblocker" if they are better but have no arrangements in place made for care their after hospital.

*  referred by staff as, for example  : ‘that stroke over there’ or ‘the fractured femur in that bay’.

* treated by doctors ‘acting like vets’ if they are suffering from dementia with one consultant admitting that 'you perhaps may not be treating them in the same way as someone else that you can talk to.’

* treated by a lack of kindness, compassion, dignity and respect since Care Service Minister, Paul Burstow has said: "Kindness and compassion, dignity and respect must be central to care, whoever provides it and wherever it is provided. "

* hand-fed when they are perfectly capable of feeding themselves and be denied a choice in what clothes they wear.

So,  Old Men of Britain who have to stay in hospital after the Report's recommendations are put into practise you can expect to :

* be treated by hospital staff whose  'values'  have been considered alongside their academic qualifications and have been given compulsory personality tests before being given their jobs to ensure they will treat you with care with respect.

* have your life stories at the ends of your beds alongside your medical notes to encourage staff to think of you as 'people', not 'bodies' on the ward.

* have your families come in at meal times to help feed you and assist with washing and taking you to the toilet.

The Golden Age of hospital care for old men in Britain is at hand !


Tuesday 28 February 2012

Britain is no country for old airline passengers like David Jones who make quips to security staff at Gatwick Airport

Angry: Mr Jones, 67, was escorted through security under a police guard

As ex-fireman and former member of the Household Cavalry, 67 year old David Jones,
Dave Jonespassed through Gatwick Airport last sunday, en route to Portugal with his two daughters, he said he experienced an "Orwellian nightmare" when he :

* approached security after a Muslim passenger ahead of him, who had her face almost completely covered by a hijab, had passed through without showing her face.

* was asked to remove the scarf he was wearing round his neck and after placing it and other belongings into a tray to pass through the X-ray scanner, said to an official :
"If I was wearing this scarf over my face, I wonder what would happen ?"

* was, to his astonishment,  stopped by a member of the security staff on the other side of the checkpoint who was joined by another who was a Muslim who was "deeply distressed" by his comment and was asked how he would feel if labelled a 'drunken old duffer' ?
* denied his remark had been racist and was then joined by a British Airways duty manager who sided with the security staff.

* asked for a police officer and when he arrived, demanded that he should be arrested if there was a case against him and was told : "that we now live in a different time and some things are not to be said".

Dave Jones as a fireman* had the matter eventually resolved when he agreed his remarks ‘could’ have been regarded as offensive.

* later said :
 "What I said had nothing to do with the woman’s religion. It was the fact that her face was covered and she seemed to have passed through that part of the security process without showing it".

" I was adamant I was not going to apologise because I had done nothing wrong."

 "Something like George Orwell’s 1984 now seems to have arrived in Gatwick airport. I feel my rights as an individual have been violated. What I underwent amounts to intimidation and detention. I am not opposed to having this level of security but it must be equal for all."

P.S. Department for Transport rules do not prevent people covering their faces at airports for religious reasons, although all passengers must show their faces to UK Border officials at passport control.

David created the character for children, 'Fireman Sam' with a fellow fireman when they worked at Clerkenwell Fire Station in London.

Britain's old men say to David, who lives in and runs a restaurant in Portugal :
 " Stay in the Algarve Dave. Britain is no country for old men like you and your old fashioned gibes, once construed as having an 'ironic sense of humour'."

Monday 27 February 2012

Britain is a country where old men learn from an old Canadian Oscar Winner called Christopher Plummer that 'everything comes to those who wait'.

The old Canadian screen and stage actor, Christopher Plummer is 82 and has just become the oldest actor to win an Oscar, his first, for his supporting role in the movie, 'Beginners.'

Gracious in his acceptance speech he said :
"You're only two years older than me darling, where have you been all my life?  I have a confession to make. When I first emerged from my mother's womb, I was already rehearsing my Academy thank-you speech, but it was so long ago, mercifully for you I've forgotten it, but I haven't forgotten who to thank."

Things you probably didn't know about Christopher that he :

* was born Arthur Christopher Orme Plummer in Toronto, Canada, where his father was secretary to the Dean of Sciences at McGill University.

* had a maternal great-grandfather who was the Canadian Prime Minister Sir John Abbott.

* studied to be a concert pianist, developed a love for the theatre at an early age, began acting in high school  'moved' after seeing Laurence Olivier's film 'Henry V' in 1944 and doubtless : "We few. We happy few. We band of brothers."

* started his screen career in 1958 when Sidney Lumet cast him as a young writer in 'Stage Struck'.

* remains best known for his 1965 portrayal of Captain Von Trapp, in 'The Sound of Music', a role he reportedly disliked but appeared for the 45th anniversary, with the full cast on The Oprah Winfrey Show in  2010.

*  in 'Triple Cross', put his Canadian background to good use with his spoken French.

*   in 2010  received his first 'Academy Award Nomination' for his portrayal of author Leo Tolstoy in 'The Last Station' and when interviewed said : "Well, I said it's about time! I mean, I'm 80 years old, for God's sake. Have mercy."


Sunday 26 February 2012

Britain is a country where old men wallow in a nostalgic vision of a past which didn't exist

Saturday 25 February 2012

Britain is still a country for and says "Happy Birthday" to an old actor called Tom Courtenay who, when young, once won and then lost a long distance race

Tom Courtenay is 75 today. I remember seeing him on black and white tv in 1963 in a play called 'The Lads'. I was 16 and Tom was 26 when he sang Trevor Peacock's title song : 'Mrs Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter' ( lyrics at the bottom of the page ).
Here he sings the song against a backdrop of clips from the film 'Billy Liar' which he made with the beautiful Julie Christie in the same year :

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

* was born in Hull where his father was a boat painter, left school and at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, made his stage début in Edinburgh in 1960 and took over from Albert Finney in the title role of 'Billy Liar' at the Cambridge Theatre in 1961 saying  : "We both have the same problem, overcoming the flat harsh speech of the North."

* had his film debut in 1962 with 'Private Potter', directed by Finnish-born Caspar Wrede and starred in 'The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner', directed by Tony Richardson and played 'Billy' in 1963 and encapsulated the freedom of running in the countryside while at reform school
and the triumph of deliberately losing the race the Governor had pinned his heart on winning for the school, seen here by fast forwarding to the end of the movie :

* starred in  John Schlesinger's film version of 'Billy Liar' in 1963

* was, for his role as the revolutionary leader Pasha Antipov in 'Doctor Zhivago' in 1965, nominated for an Academy Award for 'Best Supporting Actor'.

* played opposite Dirk Bogard in 'King & Country' directed by Joseph Losey
and had parts in the War films : 'Operation Crossbow' and 'The Night of the Generals'.

* from the mid-1960s concentrated more on stage work and at the 'Royal Exchange' and played a variety of roles, including in 1999 the lead in 'King Lear' and in 2001, 'Uncle Vanya'.

* had his memoir 'Dear Tom: Letters From Home', comprising those exchanged between him and his mother, interspersed with his own recollections of life as a young student actor in London in the early 1960s, published to critical accalaim in 2000.

My post on Julie Christie's 71st birthday :;postID=512748658410238330

Mrs. Brown you've got a lovely daughter.
Girls as sharp as her are somethin' rare',
But it's sad, she doesn't love me now,
She's made it clear enough it ain't no good to pine .

She wants to return those things I bought her.
Tell her she can keep them just the same.
Things have changed, she doesn't love me now,
She's made it clear enough it ain't no good to pine.

Walkin' about, even in a crowd, well,
You'll pick her out, makes a bloke feel so proud.

If she finds that I've been round to see you,
Tell her that I'm well and feelin' fine.
Don't let on, don't say she's broke my heart,
I'd go down on my knees but it's no good to pine.

Walkin' about, even in a crowd, well,
You'll pick her out, makes a bloke feel so proud.

If she finds that I've been round to see you,
Tell her that I'm well and feelin' fine.
Don't let on, don't say she's broke my heart,
I'd go down on my knees but it's no good to pine.

Mrs. Brown you've got a lovely daughter.

Friday 24 February 2012

Britain is a country where more and more old men have to live under the same roof as their children and grandchildren

An article in the 'Daily Mail' today was entitled :

Austere times force return to Victorian trend of three generations living under one roof

It was based on a study called 'Changing Times'  by and made the following points, that :

*  the crippling cost of living  means that 517,000 households have grandparents, parents and children living under the same roof, a rise of 7% in the past 5 years reaching levels last seen in Victorian times.

* By 2030 this figure is likely to have surpassed the peak of 608,000 in the mid 1850's.

* the increase has been largely driven by a shortage of affordable housing, leading to multiple generations being forced to move back in with each other.

* Miriam Silverman, of, said:
‘The report tells us  how the boom that came with the Industrial Revolution led to some quite severe overcrowding – just as we are experiencing today.
It’s interesting to see how a property boom driven by economic growth can price millions out of the market, whether in industrial Manchester in the 1800s, or the suburbs of London today.’

Thursday 23 February 2012

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Goodbye" an old hero from the Second World War, 'Mr Resistance' MRD Foot

MRD Foot

Historian of the Second World War 'Special Operations Executive' and the French Resistance, MRD Foot has died at the age of 92.
His obituary in the 'Guardian' described him as :
 'a strikingly handsome man with intense intellectual energy and a remarkable fund of anecdotes and arcane information – imparted in a clipped, precise and almost lapidary style. He abhorred dullness and prolixity and following his father's advice he vowed never to retire and remained active, in research, writing and attending academic meetings until the final weeks of his life'.

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

*  was the son of a career soldier,  educated at Winchester College and  was at Oxford University and joined the British Army on the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 breaking off  his studies at 19 to enlist in the Army.

*  wanted to see action, joined the Special Air Service as an intelligence officer and was parachuted into France in 1944 after D-Day with the special mission to track down a notorious German interrogator called Bonner who had tortured some of the French SAS after capture.

* was ambushed with his men by German paratroopers, resisted interrogation without breaking and escaping from a holding camp for the third time sought refuge in an unsympathetic Breton farmhouse where the farmer's sons gave him a savage beating and after recapture by the Germans was returned to Britain in a prisoner exchange 'unfit for active service'.

*  when he was given the task of 'estimating the number of military casualties' in the event of a full-scale invasion of Japan, suggested a figure of 1·5 million and  so influenced the American decision to drop the atom bombs on Japanese cities which brought the War in the Pacific to an end.
*   for his service with the French Resistance was awarded the 'Croix de Guerre' and ended the war with the rank of  'major'.

*  after the War, returned to Oxford University , where, like so many others, he recalled being enchanted by the young writer, Iris Murdoch, who he found "absolutely captivating: she had personality and that wonderful Irish voice. Practically everyone who was up with Iris fell for her”.

* after graduating, taught History at Oxford, before becoming Professor of Modern History at Manchester University and as 'Official Historian of  Special Operations Executive'  wrote an accounts of its Wartime work which led to his becoming known as 'Mr Resistance'.

* in preparation for his book on the S.O.E,  had his research 'authorised by Prime Minister Harold Macmillan,  was interviewed and grilled in the Foreign Office and given the go ahead to write on condition that :
- he told no one what he was doing,  not even his wife
- wrote on the assumption that the secret 'MI6 did not exist'
- proceeded 'without the knowledge or co-operation of the men and women involved'.

* saw his book :
-  provoke controversy and two libel suits for its portrayals of some SOE operatives.
- receive  praise for the skill with which he linked the experience of agents on the ground with the organisational and geographical  handicaps of controllers back in London.
- help to restore French self-respect by its support of the Wartime Resistance Movement.

*  enjoyed the rare distinction of being the only person to be referred to by his real name in a John le Carré spy novel when George Smiley was asked :

 “Are you MRD Foot?,”  while he was posing as the Secret Service’s official historian as a cover while hunting for Karla’s 'mole'.

 * resigned his University the post in 1973, explaining that he found the process of supervising students too like being a “parking meter attendant” and  turned to full time  writing and in his book 'Resistance' in 1976, described the active opposition to Nazism across the spectrum, from de Gaulle to the inmates of Auschwitz who contrived to infect their captors with lice carrying typhus and in 'Six Faces of Courage' in 1978, explored the qualities of character which made ordinary men and women choose the perils of resistance work.

* in 2001, published 'SOE in the Low Countries' when most of the participants were dead and revealed how, through incompetence and amateurism, more than 40 Dutch agents trained by SOE were parachuted, one by one, into the arms of the Germans, who then created an imaginary resistance network, calling for more money, agents and supplies to be dropped.

So " Goodbye MRD ". Britain shall not see your like again.

Fascinating video explaining SOE operations at about 6 minutes in and the Dutch agents at 16 minutes :

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Britain is no country for old men who still write letters to family and friends

An article in 'The Telegraph' today was entitled :

Stamp price hike will have 'disastrous' effect on elderly and vulnerable

A postman delivering mail

It centred on the fact that  the Royal Mail wants to increase the cap on the cost of second class stamps from 36p to 55p from April.

So that means it will cost another 19p to send a letter by the cheapest post.
Members of Parliament on the 'Business, Innovation and Skills Committee' have announced an inquiry into the move and are today taking evidence from postal regulator Ofcom as well as Consumer Focus, the watchdog.

Adrian Bailey, Chairman of the committee, said :
 "I think that certainly we will be questioning whether a potential 53% increase in the second class stamp and an uncapped increase in the first class stamp will have anything other than a disastrous impact on traffic.The people who will be hit will be the elderly, the vulnerable, and those on low incomes, but also small businesses as well."

It is true that the number of 'silver surfers' has increased rapidly in recent years and millions of old men now communicate through e-mails, but it is equally true that millions do not and still depend on letters to communicate with family, friends and business and left out and marginalised, Britain in increasingly no country for them.

Monday 20 February 2012

Britain says "Happy Birthday" to an old film director called Mike Leigh who once camped with Keith and partied with Beverly

Mike Leigh,  writer and director of film and theatre is 69 today and old men remember, when he and they were young men and he made them laugh and wince in the 1970's.

Ray, patronised by Keith and Candice Marie and is forced to participate in a song at Keith's behest :

A 'Brummie' couple, Finger and Honky arrive on their motorbike, equipped with an army tent,  football and a fondness for late-night drinking and when  Finger's plans to light a fire to cook sausages, Keith  objects as it contravenes the 'rules of the site' and resorts to violence in order to stop it :

The following year Mike made 'Abigail's Party in which Beverly Moss invites  her new neighbours, Angela and Tony over for drink and also neighbour Susan, divorced for three years, whose fifteen-year-old daughter Abigail is holding a party. She serves more drinks, the alcohol  takes effect,  flirts more and more overtly with Tony :

Husband Laurence sits impotently by and after a tirade about art,  suffers a fatal heart attack. 

P.S. Beverly was played by Alison Steadman who was Mike's wife at the time.

Sunday 19 February 2012

Britain will be no country for sick old men in London during the Olympic Games

An article on the front page of the 'Observer' today was entitled :

Olympic VIPs take fast lane leaving patients at risk

Games organisers accused of risking health of Londoners by banning ambulances without blue lights on from 'Games lanes'

It made the following points, that during the Olympic Games in London this summer :

* the Olympic stadium will be accessed by VIPs in 30 miles of 'Games lanes' to ensure that 'Olympic Family'- athletes, officials and sponsors, including Coca-Cola and McDonald's can travel quickly to events.

* ambulances will be allowed to use the lanes in emergencies when they have their blue lights on, but critics say there are many urgent journeys that cannot justify the use of blue lights.

* the lanes will worsen traffic congestion and leave sick and vulnerable patients stranded in ambulances in traffic jams and  the decision to reject a request for access from National Health Service London, the capital's strategic health authority, has led to a storm of anger.

* Leah Bevington, Head of Communication at 'Medical Services', which transports patients for the NHS said :

"This means that sick people, often elderly and frail, urgent blood supplies, oxygen, will all be made to wait in traffic with the rest of us. Congestion can be bad enough around London on a regular day so you can imagine that we are concerned that patients will be on a vehicle for much longer periods of time."

Confirmed once more that : Britain is no country for sick old men.

Saturday 18 February 2012

Britain is a country with more and more fat, sick old men

Figures revealed by the 'National Health Service Information Centre'  show that :
*  the number of old men and women admitted to hospital because they are 'dangerously fat' has soared almost ten-fold in five years and 1,102  between the age of 60 and 74  ended up in a hospital bed in 2009/10 as a direct result of their excessive weight, an increase of 834% from  2004/05.

* this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg because they only include those admitted with a primary diagnosis of obesity while tthousands more 'grossly overweight' old men and women will have entered hospital with heart disease, strokes, diabetes and some cancers brought on by their size.

* these fat old people are not alone and health experts say the increase on junk food diets and a lack of exercise  helps to explain why nearly a 25% of adults and 20% of ten-year-olds in Britain are classified as 'clinically obese'.

* the number of diabetes sufferers in Britain has risen by 50% in  five years, fuelled by these soaring levels of obesity and  three million adults and children now have the condition and the charity, 'Diabetes UK'  warns that the National Health Service is now spending £9billion every year treating patients, which is almost 10% of its budget.


Friday 17 February 2012

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Goodbye" to a great old scientist called Philip Lawley

Philip Lawley the scientist who, with the help of his fellow researcher Peter Brookes,  provided the first convincing evidence that DNA is the key target for chemicals which cause cancer, an insight which laid the foundation for the now universally accepted idea that cancer is a genetic disease, died at the end of last year at the age of 84.

What you possible didn't know about Philip, that he :

*   was born in Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire, to parents who were teachers and after grammar school, obtained a degree in chemistry at University College, Oxford in 1949 and a doctorate at Nottingham University in 1953.

* was described in his obituary in 'The Gaurdian' as having beneath his shy exterior : 'a piercing intellect, prodigious memory, wry humour, deep scholarship, liberal views and iron-clad integrity'.

* was happiest working at the bench, he wrote concisely and elegantly, in longhand, standing at tables piled with papers, moving from table to table until his manuscript was completed.

*  took great pleasure in conversation,  jazz, dogs and old trams.
*  in 1964  made the crucial discovery that carcinogenic potency, in tobacco smoke for example, was positively correlated with DNA binding, but not protein or RNA. and overturned the prevailing view that proteins were the 'critical cellular targets' for carcinogens and arguably changed the course of cancer research.

*  in 1983,  became Professor of Chemical Carcinogenesis at the University of London, retired in 1992 and continued to work for many years in the Institute of Cancer Research's laboratories in Surrey.

*  had his achievements honoured along with Brooks in  2003 when the Institute of Cancer Research  named a £21million laboratory after them and saw it devoted to research on the genetic nature of cancer and seen here with Princess Anne.
"Goodbye" Philip, the world is a better place for you having been here and having done the things you did at your bench and over the years.

Thursday 16 February 2012

Britain is no country for very old men who wish to return to the rivers where they poached for salmon when they were young men

This is a 78 year old Grandfather, Stanley Murray and the River Don in Scotland with Grandhome House in the background where, when he was a young man, he had been a salmon poacher and banned by law from going near the river.

The strange facts of Stanley's case are that he :

* after finding the 44 year old ban was still in place, decided to challenge it, could not afford legal costs to fight his case and turned up at Grandhome House waving a placard, intending to plead his cause before David Paton, son of John Paton, the landowner whose fish he had stolen in 1968.

* after the authorities had been called, was summoned to appear at Aberdeen Sheriff Court, where, after refusing to give up his campaign, was given a three month prison sentence.

* said before the ruling : "My poaching days are long past and I’m determined to get this ban lifted. I just want to be able to enjoy the river with my grandkids and I won’t back down till I get justice."

* served 8 days of his sentence and was told by the Court of Session in Edinburgh that he would be treated ‘without sympathy’ and could even be jailed for two years if he breached the 1968 court order again.

Lord Clarke said of Stanley :
"Whatever grievance he may have, which may go back a long time, that can never form the basis for refusing to obtemper a valid order of the court."

Needless to say David Paton, 76, stood by the court ban, saying that Stanley was a "serious annoyance".

So Stanley, Britain's Rich Old Men say : " behave yourself, know your place and no more non obtempering for you!"

Dictionary definition of obtemper :
* To obey a judgment or decree.
* A seldom used base verb from the following inflections: obtempering, obtempered, obtempers, obtemperer, obtemperers, obtemperingly and obtemperedly.