Wednesday 30 May 2012

Britain is still a country for and says "Happy Birthday" to an old book seller called Tim Waterstone

Tim Waterstone, whose bookshops bearing his name grace the high streets of Britain and whose retail chain employs 4,500 staff, is the largest specialist bookseller in Europe, with stores in Britain, Holland, Belgium and Ireland and the third largest bookseller in the world, is 73 years old today.

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

* was born at the start of the Second World War in 1939 in Glasgow, Scotland and

was educated at Tonbridge School in England and St. Catherine's College Cambridge where he read 'English',

* went to India and worked for a broking firm in Calcutta, returned to England to work as a marketing manager forAllied Breweries 1964–73 and then W.H.Smith 1973–81 before founding the bookselling chain 'Waterstone's' in 1982 and became the founder chairman of HMV Media Group in 1998, which merged with  Waterstone's and left the group in 2001.

* in the 1990's sat on the boards of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the London International Festival of Theatre, the Elgar Foundation, the British Library.

* is the co-founder of 'Bookaid', has sat on the 'Booker Prize' and is  the co-founder of the Management Committee, and acted as the Chairman Of Judges for the 'Prince’s Youth Business Trust Awards'.

 * is the Chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University, the 'Bishop's Nominee' to the Southwark Cathedral Council and was a Labour Party donor in the 1997 and 2001 General Election campaigns, and was one of the signatories of the letter from 67 business leaders to the Financial Times in 1997 calling for a Labour Party election victory.

* has published four novels, a semi-autobiographical business book, Swimming Against The Stream and is is married to the TV and film producer and novelist Rosie Alison with whom he has eight children.

 Tim Talking about setting up his business and explaining what makes a great entrpreneur :

Tuesday 29 May 2012

Britain is a country with an indefatigable old fund raiser, wing walker called Nigel Hague

William Hague's 83-year-old father performs wing-walk stunt The Foreign Secretary in the Government is William Hague and his 83 year old father, Nigel, performed this breath- taking 'wing walk' to raise the profile and hopefully £50,000 of the charity NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Crueltyto Children). Ross Parry's photo gives excellent idea of the magnitude of his feat.

Some facts about Nigel which you possibly didn't know, that he :

*  has so far raised more than £100,000 for the children's charity with his white knuckle activities, such as completing a tandem skydive last year and an arduous climb in 2009.

* spent last Saturday afternoon strapped tightly to the top wing of a biplane as it swooped, banked and looped in the sky above Selby, North Yorkshire and with one hand waved and occasionally made rude gestures, while his companion Beryl watched from below, willing him down and praying for it all to be over.

* started his fund-raising dare-devilry when he was 79 in 2008 saying "I’d just climbed Helvellyn and Striding Edge in the Lake District, which is highly dangerous, and my (late) wife said, ' if you’re still fool enough to be climbing mountains at your age, then you ought to do the next one for charity'. So I did."

*  in 2009 he scaled 3,209ft Scafell Pike in the Lake District in seven-and-a-half hours, raising nearly £52,000 and said "It took me three-and-a-half hours to get to the top and another four to get down — I’ve always been all right with my knees.’

* in 2011 at the age of 82 carried out his chaity sky dive.
* after the wing walk said that it was : "So exhilarating — everyone should do one some time in their life, however old they are. It’s better than sitting here on your fat arse watching that damn thing, (tv)  I hate it. I can’t stand it. I watch the news but they should call it the bad news because that’s all they tell you. I’d like to take a shotgun and blow it to kingdom come. Though I do like nature programmes."

* said in relation  to his next feat  : "I was planning on doing an abseil down that big building in London. But they’ve grounded me because of the insurance — something to do with my age. It’s pretty tall, but you’re just as dead if you fall off the garage roof, aren’t you? And then there was all the health and safety rubbish. They’re a crazy lot, aren’t they? I’d take them out and shoot ’em down like dogs.’

Nigel drinks three pints of John Smith beer and a glass of red wine every night and walks three miles to pick up The Yorkshire Post every morning.



Monday 28 May 2012

Britain is still a country for and said "Happy Birthday" to an old Prince of Dakness called Christopher Lee

Christopher Lee, film actor, well known for his deep, strong voice and imposing height. was 90 years old yesterday. I remember watching him in those Hammer House of Horror movies when I was a student living in Brighton 40 years ago.



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

* was born in Belgavia, Westminster, the son of a contessa and Edwardian beauty and an Army Lieutenant-Colonel who separated when he was very young and taken by his mother to Switzerland, was educated in 'Miss Fisher's Academy' in Wengen  where he played his first villainous role as Rumpelstiltskin.

* returned to London and his mother married a cousin of Ian Fleming and attended Wellington College, where he won scholarships in classics.

* in 1939, volunteered to fight for the Finnish forces during the Winter War against the Soviet Union, went on to serve in the Royal Air Force, intelligence services and the Special Operations Executive and retired at the end of the War with the rank of flight lieutenant.

* In 1946, signed a seven-year contract with the Rank Otganisation and made his film debut in a gothic romance, 'Corridor of Mirrors' in 1947 and his first film for Hammer, 'The Curse of Fankenstein' ten years later in which he played Frankenstein's monster which in turn led to his first appearance as the Tansylvanian vampire in the 1958 film 'Dracula'.

*  returned to the role of Dracula in Hammer's 'Dracula : Prince of Dasrkness' in 1965 and with no lines, merely hissed his way through the film and saw his subsequent films as the Count give him little to do, but a good income.

* starred in Hammer's 'The Mummy' in 1958 and played Rasputin in 'Rasputin, the Mad Monk'. and had apparently met Rasputin's assassin, Yussupov, when he was a child and played Holmes in 1962's 'Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace'.

*  was responsible for bringing acclaimed occult author Dennis Wheatley to Hammer and starred in 'The Devil Rides Out' in 1967
and played Lord Summerisle in the cult classic, 'The Wicker Man' in 1973, which he  believes to be his best film and to which he gave his services for free, as the budget was so small.

* since the mid 1970s has eschewed horror roles almost entirely and in 1974 played the James Bond villain, Scaramanga in 'The Man with the Golden Gun' in 1974.
and in 1998, starred in the title role of 'Jinnah', the founder of modern Pakistan, which he declared to be, by far, his best performance.
* played Saruman in the 'The Lord of The Rings' trilogy
and has performed roles in 275 films since 1946 making him the Guinness World Record holder for 'most film acting roles ever'.

The estwhile 'Prince of Darkness' was knighted at the age of 87 by an old Prince for 'services to drama and charity'.




knighted in 2009He was knighted for services to drama and charity in 2009, and received the BAFTA Fellowship in 2011.[7][8]

Sunday 27 May 2012

Britain confirmed as more of a country for poor and lonely old men than Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands

I returned from my stay in Germany to read in the 'Daily Mail' newspaper :

Britain is shamed by Europe over lonely and neglected elderly as many go weeks with little contact, says damning report

The report in question was commissioned by WRVS, the older people’s charity and carried out by the think tank 'Demos' and David McCullough said its conclusions should act as a wake-up call :

"The treatment of older people in this country needs to be addressed and we must learn from our European Union partners. They have proved that it is possible to tackle some of these issues by taking advantage of volunteers to provide older people with more social contact and better links to their communities.

The article made the following points, that :

* Britain had far higher proportions of old people living in poverty than in the other three Northern European nations in the survey and many were routinely having to draw on their savings or cut back on vital expenses such as food and heating.

* Britain's old people are far lonelier, with many going weeks without seeing family and friends .

* the survey involved 6,000 people and included a wide range of questions on their experiences of growing old and Britain was found to be bottom in terms of age discrimination with its old people far more likely to feel victims of prejudice either in dealings with the National Health Service, or as they went about their daily lives.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Britain is no country for old men today while Germany is a country which prepares itself for its more and more old men of today and tomorrow

My stay in Germany is almost over.
So what have I learnt about the differences and similarities between the lives of old men in Britain today and those in Germany ?

My impressions are that :

* because Germany has a very large proportion of old men and women, I didn't know that after Japan and Italy, it has the largest in the world, it as a country, is doing more thinking about how to cope with having a lot of old people living longer than Britain.

* Germany's new multi-generational homes, which give a role for old people in their communities, are an interesting new move to address the problem of more old men and women :

* Germany's new prison in Lower Saxony, designed specifically for old criminals, is an interesting move to address the problem of more and more old felons :

* On the other hand German attitudes to the danger of old drivers on roads is way behind those in Britain :

On balance, at this point in time, I think that Germany is 'marginally' more of a country for old men, both today and tomorrow, than Britain.

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Britain is less and less and Germany more and more a country for old men driving on fast roads

Driving on a German motorway has reminded me how fast the drivers travel over here. With no speed limit it's not uncommon to be passed by a car travelling at 200 km per hour and that car might be legally driven by a very old man.

Germany still shies away shies away from stricter rules about old drivers and the only thing government officials, doctors and relatives can do is encourage old drivers to give up. Apparently, 1.7 million old people between the ages of 75 and 84 own a car and the number will increase as the country's population gets older and older.

As a result, an increasing number of drivers on fast and busy autobahns and bustling city roads are old men with heart problems, poor circulation, vision and hearing and with the first symptoms of dementia.

The powerful motoring organisation, the ADAC, which has many members over 60, consistently voices concerns about mandatory driving tests, criticising them as a form of age discrimination. The only step the country's Transport Ministry is willing to take is promoting 'voluntary' health check ups.

Meanwhile in Britain, a driving licence is valid until 70, when it has to be renewed then and every 3 years with the old driver, by law, filling out a questionnaire confirming that it is still 'safe for them to drive'.

The Institute for Advanced Motorists, however, has called for a new class of licence which would allow old drivers to drive but not on motorways with their 70 miles per hour limit. I think it is only a question of time before this finds its way onto the statute books.

So Germany is still a country for old men driving on fast roads because there are no restrictions on their driving and they continue to pose a threat to themselves and others. Whereas Britain has restrictions with more in the offing.

German humour :

Monday 21 May 2012

Britain and Germany are no countries for old men who break the law

An article in the Daily Mail in 2010 was entitled :
The old-age 'offenders': Generation of elderly turned into criminals
An article in a German media mag, DW, earlier this year was entitled : 
Germany's Graying Gangsters
So what does a comparison between old criminals in Britain and here, where I'm staying, Germany, reveal ?
First, some exaples of old criminals in Britain :

71 year old Geoff Dornan who was arrested and fined £ 300, after being caught roller blading in Southport and said he did it "to keep fit", was deemed to be a 'danger to pedestrians'.
And Germany :
In November, police busted a fairly successful gang of bank robbers who had taken in €400,000 ($541,000) in the last five years. The three old men, who demonstrated their seriousness to bank employees with pistols, sledge hammers and hand grenades, were aged 63, 72 and 74.
In Britain :
record numbers of old men  are being criminalised for trivial offences by target-driven police, with 40 arrested every day for crimes and 44,321 arrested over the past three years, many  being punished for the first time after decades of abiding by the law for offences ranging from :

- failing to pay a fine for overfilling a wheelie bin
- not wearing a seatbelt
- chopping a neighbour's hedge without permission.
In Germany :
criminality among old people has risen some 28% since the mid 1990s and the number   doing time behind bars is also on the increase and while gray crime includes everything from fraud and extortion to sexual abuse and murder, most are petty offenses with shoplifting making up 80% of cases.
Nevertheless, Jutta Rosendahl of the Justice Ministry in the state of Lower Saxony has said : "There is an increase in the number of elderly people committing crimes and we have to face this problem.” 
* instead of body building or basketball, they would have physical therapy and the prison  outfitted with ramps to make life easier for wrongdoers in wheelchairs.
Here officials there are planning the country’s first prison designed exclusively for the over 60 set by turning a jail in need of renovation near the town of B├╝ckeburg into a low-security prison exclusively for old criminals, whose needs and interests are different than those of younger offenders, meaning that : 
Jutta said that : “It won’t be a wellness farm for elderly people, but it will address their special problems and give them a better chance at having a normal life after being released from prison.”
* out would go the physically demanding jobs in the prison laundry or metal shop and in would come assembly work felons can perform sitting down.
* out would go education for high school diplomas or traineeships and in would come  resocialization programs based on  practical needs, like basic living and cooking skills.
Criminologists and justice officials insist the jump in numbers of old criminals does not mean German is experiencing a 'gray crime wave', but they do say that there are several developments in Germany leading more grandmas and grandpas outside the law which are :
*  German society in general is getting older, meaning the pool of possible criminals among old men and women is getting larger every year.
* poverty rates among older people have been inching up as prices rise and pension rates remain stagnant or the incremental increases fail to keep up with inflation.
“Older people have to get by with less and less money and some are almost forced to resort to shoplifting just to maintain a reasonable standard of living during their retirement,” said Frank Geppert, a social worker at Freie Hilfe Berlin, an organization that helps prisoners reintegrate into society after they’ve been released.
as state-supported programs for old people fall victim to budget cuts, they are becoming increasingly isolated and some resort to petty crimes like shoplifting just for the thrill of it, seeing it almost as an adventure to spice up an otherwise colorless existence.
* some  hope to get caught, happy that someone, security personnel in these cases, is paying attention to them since generally, no one else does.
Not everyone thinks the old-age prisons are a good idea, fearing they could lead to even more isolation. According to Frank, one of the goals of German prisons is to have a mix of people and ages that represents, as closely as possible,  society on the outside and a prison for old men and women would take prisoners one more step away from the normal world.
“It would be like an old folks home and the ones who were still mentally alert would feel shut away with a lot who might already be senile. They’d have no communication with young people, and that’s not good for them.”
Peter Rausch, 72, is of two minds on the prison matter, a topic he knows all too well. He went to jail for the first time at the age of 17 and has been in and out of incarceration all his life. He was over 60 when he finished his last sentence and still has occasional brushes with the law.
He’s still active and in good health and worries that if he were put in an institution with elderly people, some of whom were infirm, he’d end up looking after them or, worse, acting like them. On the other hand, if he had to do time again, a place with an older clientele might not be all that bad.
“Not that I’m ready to check in or anything,” he said. “But I wouldn’t mind having it a little quieter in the klink next time, getting to shuffle around in my slippers.”
old age offenders.jpg

P.S. a posting from 2009 :

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Germany-no country to cross the 'Geritol Gang'.