Thursday 30 August 2012

Britain is still a country for and says " Happy Birthday" to one very old and once politician called Denis Healey

Denis Winston Healey, erstwhile Labour politician, who once served in the highest offices of state as Defence Secretay 1964 to 1970 and Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1974 to 1979, is 95 years old today.

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

* he was born Mottingham, London one year before the end of the First World War in 1917 and moved with his family to Keighly in the West Riding of Yorkshire when he was five, where his father was an engineer who worked his way up from humble origins studying at night school.

* at Bradford Grammar School in 1936, after first class exam results, won an 'exhibition place' or financial award to attend Balliol College at Oxford University to read 'Greats'  with its strong emphasis on first hand study of primary sources in the original Greek or Latin.

* as a student joined the Communist Party in 1937 but left in 1940 the year in which he gained a 'double first' for his degree.

* served in the Second World War with the Royal Engineers in the North African Campaign, the Allied invasion of Sicily and the Italian Campaign and was the military landing officer for the British assault brigade at Anzio and left the Army at the age of 28 with the rank of 'major' having declined an offer to remain as a 'lieutenant - colonel'.

* joined the Labour Party and still in uniform, gave a strongly left-wing speech to the Party conference in 1945 and was elected to the House of Commons as Member of Parliament for Leeds East February 1952.

* when Labour won the 1964 Election Healey, served as Defence Secretary and cut defence expenditure, cancelled the TSR2 aircraft and withdrew troops from East of Suez commitments.

* became Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1974 ( right ) after Labour's narrow election victory and produced a first budget which was strongly progressive, with increases in food subsidies, pensions and other benefits.

* had his bushy eyebrows , highlighted in the tv satire programme 'Spitting Image' and found that his soft-spoken wit earned him a favourable reputation with the public in one example in 1978, he likened being attacked by the mild-mannered Sir Geoffrey Howe in the House of Commons to being "savaged by a dead sheep".

* In an interview this year, said that he was swimming twenty lengths a day in his outdoor pool and was missing his late wife "very much indeed" and discussed this with 87 year old Tony Benn earlier this year.

* was interviewed when he was 89 years old :



Britain, already No Country for Old Men today will have districts awash with old men in twenty years

More than one in ten people in some parts of the country will be aged over 85 in 20 years' time, an insurer specialising in annuities for people with health problems warned  this week.

The 'warning' was given because many local authorities will have to bear an unprecedented burden of caring for increasing numbers of the very old, with some facing greater strain on their resources than others.

The analysis from the 'Partnership' Company said the district of West Somerset, shown on map, will have 10.1% of its population over 85 by 2032. Not far behind will be Berwick-on-Tweed, West Dorset, North Norfolk and Rother in East Sussex.

By the same date, well over a third of those in all these areas will be over the current pension age of 65, and some districts will have around 40% of their population aged over 65.

Andrew Megson, Retirement Director of 'Partnership' said :

"By 2032 the picture in our oldest areas is more extreme, as populations in these councils age further, while the proportion of the younger generation reduces.
Inter-generational fairness will inevitably become an issue. Many in the baby boomer generation have benefited from final salary pension schemes and enjoyed record house price inflation. Yet the youngest, who are arguably the most indebted generation ever and are unlikely to enjoy similar benefits, may be required to meet many care and retirement costs through direct taxation."
'The Daily Mail' ran the story with the headline :
 The places where one in 10 will be aged over 85 in 20 years' time
It elicited the following comment from 'Peterlor' :

So sick and tired of DM mounting vendettas of young versus old and constantly bashing the 60+ age group. Cull everyone when they reach 60 - after having spent all their lives paying taxes - that'll help the young and solve all their problems. Trust DM to also show photos of elderly putting their feet up, God forbid.

Wednesday 29 August 2012

Britain is a country where an old SAS veteran sells his Army medals

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

SAS veteran who took part in Iranian Embassy siege and Falklands War auctions his haul of medals
It reported that the ex-SAS soldier, 69 year old, John Thompson,  who took part in the Iranian Embassy Siege in 1980 and daring raids during the Falklands War in 1982, is selling his medals.

Apparently John :

*  only found his medals were valuable after going on the ITV antiques programme 'Real Deal' and now hopes to get £12,000 for them at auction next month.

* has a collection which includes one from the UN for his work in Cyprus in the 1960s, General Service and Northern Ireland medals, a South Atlantic Medal and the Republic of Korea Service Medal.

* during the 1980 siege of the Iranian embassy, when six gunmen took 26 hostages, killed one and threw his body out of the building, was one of a SAS team flown into London by helicopter and outside the Embassy (left) fired gas cannisters and was part of the successful rescue bid which killed five of the terrorists.

* in 1982, was also one of several troops used successfully to attack Argentine forces on the Falklands ahead of the main British assault, having been secretly dropped in three weeks before and passed important information back to Britain without being detected.
* has had a dealer offer him £10,000 pounds for the medals and say that, if they went to auction, the pair would split anything raised above that sum and has them go under the hammer in London in September.

* said : "I’ve decided to sell because my two children don’t want the medals and I’ll soon be 70 and as they say, if you don’t let your medals leave, you’ll leave your medals and the money will be useful of course."


Tuesday 28 August 2012

Britain is no country for poor old men for fewer years compared to rich old men

An article in 'The Gaurdian' last week was entitled :

Class divide in health widens, says thinktank

King's Fund Think tank finds those with no qualifications are five times more likely to smoke, drink, and neglect diet and exercise and  England's richest citizens live seven years longer on average than the less well-off.

Apparently, the stark social class divide in health is widening as the better-off old men and women increasingly shun damaging habits such as smoking and eating badly but the poorer ones do not.
The number of people in England who risk their health by engaging in 'multiple lifestyle behaviours' such as smoking, drinking too much and physical inactivity is falling, according to a study by the influential King's Fund Health Think tank.

However, it is middle-class people who are driving the trend, while the most disadvantaged remain stuck in a cycle of risky behaviour which increases their chances of developing a range of serious illnesses and will put 'unavoidable pressure' on an already hard-pressed National Health Service.

The authors found that the better off someone was, the more likely they were to have begun living a healthier life during 2003-08, a period when the Government funded a host of often dramatic awareness campaigns aimed at changing attitudes to smoking, reducing harmful drinking and tackling obesity.

The problem is : that when you are poor and life is bleak, a fag and some junk food washed down with strong beer provides a short lived pick-me-up.

Monday 27 August 2012

Britain is a country with a park on the banks of the River Medway where old men walk their dogs


I've been walking the dog each morning along the bank of the River Medway at 'The Riverside Country Park' at Gillingham in North Kent and it is gratifying to find a number of other old men doing exactly the same thing and because Britain is no country for old men, I think I can say that the majority would agree with the sentiments expressed on dog walker Kevin's t-shirt.

I'm sure you can fill in the blanks.

Saturday 25 August 2012

Britain already no country for old men today has the 'ticking timebomb' of more and more old men living with cancer tomorrow

An article in 'The Guardian' this week was entitled :

Number of older people living with cancer 'to treble' by 2040

It made the following points, that :
nearly a quarter of all older people will be living with cancer within 30 years meaning that  the number of old men and women living with it will more than treble by 2040 and experts, warn of a 'ticking timebomb' for society if the National Health Service and social care systems are not geared up to help them in time.
* 'Macmillan Cancer Support' said that the number of over-65s who receive a cancer diagnosis will go up from 1.3 million in 2010 to 4.1 million in 2040 and 23% will be living with cancer within 30 years as opposed to 13% at present.
* CiarĂ¡n Devane, Chief Executive of 'Macmillan Cancer Support', said:

 "The care of older cancer patients is the ticking time bomb for society.These stark predictions should act as a warning to the NHS and social care providers of the problems ahead if older cancer patients are not offered the best treatment and support. We have a moral duty to give people the best chance of beating cancer, regardless of their age. For cancer survival to improve, older people must be given the right treatment at the correct level of intensity, together with the practical support to enable them to take it up.The barriers to older people getting treatment must be tackled. If we don't get this right now, many older people will be dying unnecessarily from cancer in the future,"

Old Men of Britain have no fear and sleep easy in you beds, a Government spokesperson at the 'Department of Health' has said:

 "It's good news that improvements in cancer treatment mean more people are surviving after cancer. We know more can be done to improve cancer care for older people, which is why we are working with 'Macmillan Cancer Support' and 'Age UK' on a £1m programme to ensure that older people's needs are properly assessed and met. From 1 October 2012, it will be unlawful to discriminate in health and social care on the basis of age. Adults of all ages will benefit from better access to services, and for the first time people will have a legal right to redress from the courts if they are unjustifiably discriminated against because of their age."

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Britain was once a country for and says "Goodbye" to and old Hollywood film director called Tony Scott

Tony, Hollywood film director, who has taken his life by leaping from a bridge into Los Angeles Harbour was 66 years old.

What you possibly didn't know about the young Tony living in the Britain which made him, that he :

*  was born, like the old Hollywood comedy actor Stan Laurel, in North Shields, Tyne and Wear (right), the youngest of the three sons of Colonel Francis Percy Scott, who served in the Royal Engineers, and his wife, Elizabeth who loved 'going to the pictures' and instilled a love of cinema in her sons.

* had two elder brothers in Ridley and Frank who was a sailor and is with Ridley in the photo.
* went to Grangefield  School, Stockton on Tees and studied for a fine arts degree at Sunderland Art School on the left.

* at 16, in 1965,  starred as a boy playing truant in the short black-and-white film, 'Boy and Bicyle', directed by Ridley.

* in 1969, directed his own short film, 'One of the Missing' in which brother Ridley played a Union officer in the American Civil War.

* graduated from the Royal College of Art with the intention of becoming a fine artist but, with the success of his elder brother's fledging tv commercial production outfit, 'Ridley Scott Associates' with Ridley's famous Hovis bread advert of 1973 :

* in the course of the next two decades, directed thousands of tv commercials for RSA, while also overseeing the company's operation during periods in which his brother was developing his feature film career.

* in 1975, directed an adaptation of the Henry James  story, 'The Author of Beltraffio'  for French tv, a job he landed by virtue of winning a coin-flip against his brother.

* after the considerable feature film successes of fellow British commercial directors like Alan Parker and his elder brother in the late 1970s and early 1980s, began to receive overtures from Hollywood in 1980 and left his career in Britain behind and embraced the USA.

Sunday 19 August 2012

Britain is a country where young medical students could learn from those in Berlin what it is like to be old men

An article in 'The Gaurdian' last month was entitled :

Suit lets medical students experience symptoms of old age

The Age Man Suit, developed by German scientists, is designed to make future doctors aware of older people's needs
Rahel Eckardt, a Senior Physician at Berlin's Evangelical Geriatrics Centre has been behind an industrial-style futuristic boiler suit which gives the wearer the sense of what it's like to be old. "My aim is to turn young energetic people into slow, creaking beings, temporarily at least. That way they will I hope, develop a feeling for what it's like to be old."

The 'Age Man' suit, custom-made to simulate the physical consequences of old age ;

* has ear-protectors which stifle hearing.

* a yellow visor which blurs eyesight and makes it hard to distinguish colours.

*  knee and elbow pads which stiffen the joints.

* a Kevlar-jacket-style vest which presses uncomfortably against the chest and padded gloves.

Rahel :

* has the aim to :

*  to sensitise a whole new generation of doctors to the medical and social needs of Germny's fastest-growing population group.

* argues that there is a huge disconnect between large sections of the medical profession and their elderly patients, as well as a desperate lack of doctors willing to go into geriatric medicine.

* said : "Rather than a PowerPoint presentation, this is the best way of giving them a real idea of what it's like to be old – that is, 75 and upwards – and only once we have their empathy can we really begin to win students round to becoming interested in old people as patients. Maybe then they will consider a career in geriatrics, which until now has fought for recognition alongside other fields of medicine that are considered to be more exciting."

The EGZB developed the suit together with the Saarbrucken-based Meyer-Hentschel Institute, which supports research into 'senior friendly' products for the over-60s. It hopes to sensitise a society which has done very little to prepare itself for a demographic time bomb more acute in Germany than almost anywhere else in the world, apart from Japan and Monaco. By 2030 more than 26% of the German population is expected be over 65.

Elisabeth Steinhagen, 22, a second-year medical student at the EGZB, said her experience of the suit had contributed to her interest in the health of old people :
"Geriatrics is a relatively new field, which doesn't have the status of other areas of medicine like surgery but it involves a great variety of illnesses, not just arthritis and dementia and so is a fascinating field. If we're going to take it seriously, doctors need to develop social skills, like learning to speak louder and clearer, or to appreciate that things that are easy for us, like getting out of bed, are more difficult for older people. They might sound like basic things but it's amazing how many doctors don't think about them."

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Britain says "Happy Birthday" to an old actor, amateur achaeologist and lover of history called Tony Robinson

Page views : 3437

ony, English actor, comedian, amateur historian, tv presenter, writer of children's books and political activist, best known known for playing Baldrick in the tv series 'Blackadder' and for hosting 'Time Team' and 'The Worst Jobs in History' is 66 years old today.
What you possibly didn't know about Tony, that he :

* was born in the London borough of Hackney and performed in his first professional acting role at the age of 12, as a member of 'Fagin's Gang' (right) in the original production of the musical 'Oliver' in 1960.
* in the 1980's rose to prominence for his role in the historical sitcom 'Blackadder' as Edmund Blackadder's dogsbody, 'Baldrick' and changed from being astute in the first series to being a buffoon with the catchphrase "I have a cunning plan" in the last three series.
'Black Adder the Third' set in the 18th century :
'Black Adder goes Forth' set in The First World War :
* in 1989 he created the children's comedy tv series'Maid Marion and her Merry Men' a loose retelling of the legend of Robin Hood in which he appeared as the Sheriff of Nottingham.
* in 1994, began presenting the 'Time Team' tv series devoted to archaeological investigations limited to three days and in 2005, was given an honorary doctorate by Exeter University (below)
* enthused about the wonders of The British Museum in London.
* in 2012 featured in the tv series 'When I get Older' and movingly encouraged an old man to sing in public to help him overcome his grief for the loss of the wife he'd known for 68 years:

* on the tv programme 'Question Time' earlier this year vented his spleen on British bankers :


Monday 13 August 2012

Britain is still a country where one angry and fearless old man can thwart young daylight robbers

A recent article in 'The Daily Mail' was entitled :

Hero grandfather who tackled gang of armed jewellery store raiders praised by judge for 'fortitude and bravery' as they are jailed for 36 years

It made the following points, about 71 year old Michael Graver who was in Abbeygate Street in Bury St Edmonds on February 28 2011, that he :
* became very angry when a gang of armed smash-and-grab robbers on mopeds nearly knocked over his wife on their way to raid a jeweller's.

tried to shove one moped and its occupants over, chased one of the robbers into the shop and grabbed a bag with £22,000 worth of watches from him as he tried to escape and the man, who was wielding a sledgehammer, was so shocked that he stopped and did a double-take at his empty hands before leaping back on his getaway vehicle.

* was awarded £500 for his 'commendable fortitude and bravery'.

 Feisty old Michael caught on closed circuit tv :

Sunday 5 August 2012

Britain is a country where old men in wheelchairs banned from public buses have their 'Rosa Parks' in the shape of Ray Bellisario

    Ray Bellisario

An article in 'The Guardian' last month was entitled :

Refused access: fighting for the right to travel on the buses

It told the story of 76 year old Ray Bellisario,  disabled and a wheelchair use who has started a campaign after being told 28 times he could not board buses in London and made the following points, that he :

*  had been a regular traveller on London buses, visiting family and friends, going shopping and making many trips to hospital and knew that getting on a bus with a wheelchair involved the driver lowering a ramp at the rear door.

* had his first experience of being refused access  when the driver refused to lower the ramp, said :"You have a motor on your wheelchair", took a photograph of Ray in the wheelchair, then drove away.

* was "utterly amazed" when the next bus driver, claiming he was following 'red book' instructions, didn't allow him on board saying: "I daren't take the risk; another driver might and according to him, new instructions had been given a couple of months earlier."

*  complained to by letter to and was ignored by : the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, as 'Head of Transport for London', Maria Miller, the 'Minister for Disabled People' and the bus operator.

* a week later, repeating his journey to hospital, found that another driver said : "Your wheelchair is not allowed on the bus"  and this time, put his foot in the doorway and told the bus driver in 'Rosa Parks-style' that, if he was refused, "the bus wasn't going anywhere."

* despite his apologies, some of the now-delayed passengers rounded on him, forced the driver to call his controller who told the driver he must allow him on to the bus but on lowering the ramp the driver found it was jammed and had to take the bus out of service and the passengers had to get off with some becoming angry with him saying : "It's all your f....... fault, you've made everyone f...... late."

* found his next hospital appointment brought worse 'driver trouble' when, before even reaching the stop, the driver  waved at him in dismissive fashion and opened the doors to shout,  that he "was not getting on".

* when he put his foot in the door to stop it closing, the driver got out of his seat and repeatedly stamped on his foot and kicked him in the shin, while operating the doors to trap his ankle while horrified passengers shouted at him to stop and finally, pulled the doors open with his hands,  kicked Ray's foot off the step and drove away.

* was, on 28 separate occasions over the last 18 months, and has set up the 'Ray on Rights Campaign' and is taking the bus companies involved and the 'Minister for Disabled People' to court for breaching the Equality Act of 2010 law which obliges those who provides a service to the public to take reasonable steps to adjust their services for disabled people and prohibits discrimination against disabled people.

Ray is an old man who deserves to be taken seriously and is not intimidated easily and he certainly isn't scared of authority. In his youth he was the first modern day paparazzo who shadowed and photographed the Queen and her family from 1955 onwards and whose activities prompted Prince Philip to suggest he should be imprisoned in the Tower of London. His book, 'To Tread on Royal Toes' , illustrated just how much he relishes a fight with the Establishment and he doesn't give up

In Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks was jailed for refusing to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man, a violation of the city's racial segregation laws.

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Good night sweet prince" to an old actor called Simon Ward

Rada-trained, star of  the films 'Zulu Dawn,' 'Young Winston' and 'Supergirl' and one of the most admired actors of his generation has died at the age of 70.


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

* was  born in Beckenham, Kent where his father was a car dealer.
*  wanted to be an actor from an early age and joined at Alleyn's School in London, the home of the National Youth Theatre at the age of 13 and then trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, then worked in reportary theatre in the provinces and occasionally in London's West End.

* got his big break in theatre came in 1967 when playing in Joe Orton's 'Loot' led to a number of small film and television roles before in 1971,  played the title role of Winstone Churchill (right) in Young Winston which brought him to national prominence.

* in the following year, played the of Buckingham in Richard Lester's 'The Three Musketees' and 'The Four Musketeers' the following year and then author/vet. James Heriot in 'All Creatures Great and Small'.

played one of the lead roles in the 1976 aerial adventure 'Aces High' then starred as Lt. William Vereker in the 1979 film 'Zulu Dawn' (right) and later film roles included 'Zor-El'  in 'Supergirl' in 1984.

made few films after the 1970's, although did have a major role in the Ralph Fiennes version of 'Wuthering Heights' in 1992, alongside his daughter Sophie.

* from  2001–07, he appeared as Sir Monty Everard (left) in the tv series, 'Judge John Deed' and in 2007–10 as Bishop Stephen Gardiner (right) in 'The Tudors' and in 2010  appeared in the title role in the British tour of 'The Madness of George III and said that he was drawn into the life of the King who enjoyed simple pleasures, his family and his religion and feels pained by what he had to suffer.

Horatio on the death of Shakespeare's Hamlet :
"Now a noble heart is breaking. Good night, sweet prince. May hosts of angels sing you to sleep.—Why are those drums approaching?"