Sunday 30 September 2012

Britain is a country where old men are left to starve to death in their own homes

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

Uncaring Britain: One despairing care worker's account of this country's shameful neglect of the elderly

    It told the story of care worker who was employed by an agency employed by a local authority to provide 'care' for old men and women in their own homes who said that she :
* was disgusted at how we, as a society, are letting down our old people.

* had to get in and out of the homes she visited in 15 minutes, knowing 'there’d be hell to pay with my employers at the agency, who’d made back-to-back appointments for me throughout the afternoon' if she spent longer with her charges.

* ostensibly visited to provide help with dressing, washing, meals, cleaning, shopping and medical care, enabling old people to retain their last bit of independence by keeping them out of care homes for as long as possible.

But said that :

-  ministering to the needs of the 1.34 million old men and women cared for in their own homes has become big business and there is little time for compassion.

- the care system was riddled with rules and red tape.

- local authorities dangerously short of money struggle to deal with a burgeoning older population with the result is that old people are being left to starve and to fend for themselves in appalling squalor.

- along with the neglect of absent relatives, old people are also the victims of the appalling lack of communication and inefficient bureaucracy which plague the medical and care professions and vital missives are simply not passed on by hospitals and doctors.

Frank was once a proud police officer but now is forced to live on scraps of rotten meat. His family? They couldn't give a damn...

She told the story of Frank who was 83 and living alone who :

* who was 'starving in front of our very eyes'.

* had a family which had promised to deliver him food, but never came regularly enough.

* had skin stretched painfully over each rib, while his shoulders jutted up at angles underneath his shirt.

* didn't have 'Meals on Wheels' delivered to his area, didn’t have a computer and was confused at the idea of ordering supermarket food online.

 * had a small police pension, but as he grew older, became too terrified to spend it, convinced it would run out.

* despite repeated telephone calls from the care agency, had a family who would not bring him regular food and had his care workers use their own money to shop for his food because they couldn’t bear to watch him die in front of their eyes.

What a sad country Britain has become.

The 'Daily Mail' account.

Thursday 27 September 2012

Britain is a country where old men became failures when they didn't pass the 11+ exam when they were boys

 A recent article in the 'Daily Telegraph was entitled :

Adults 'put off education for life' after failing 11-plus

Almost a third of adults have been left permanently scarred by the experience of failing grammar school entrance exams at the age of 11, according to new research.

It was based on research by 'Love to Learn', a website offering online courses for adults aged 50-plus and carried out with more than 1000 people aged over 50 which revealed that the impact of failing to pass the 11+ selection test for a place at grammar school, which they took at the age of 10 or 11, continued to haunt them and that :

* 36% of those who failed the test said they still 'lacked the confidence' to undertake further education and training courses.

* 13% insisted the experience 'put them off learning for life'.

* 45% said they still carried 'negative feelings with them into their fifties, sixties and beyond'.

* some adults claimed that their shame of being a 'failure' had acted as an 'albatross around their neck' for more than 40 years.

I remember when I was 10 years old and the headmaster came into the classroom I shared with 42 other boys in Sherrington Road School, South London and said :
" Only one boy has passed the 11+ in this class. Stand up Holland."
Needless to say, my name was not Holland.

Notable old men who were '11+ failures'  and possibly 'spurred' rather than 'scarred' by the experience :

67 year old rocker, Eric Clapton

74 year old ex - Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott.

P.S. Having failed the 11+, I went to a brand new comprehensive school which picked me up and seven years later sent me to the University of Sussex.

An earlier posting about my secondary school :

Tuesday, 1 September 2009
Britain in 1965 - a London School called 'Eltham Green Comprehensive' and the confidence of youth


Wednesday 26 September 2012

Britain is still a country for and says "Happy Birthday" to an old Liverpudlian actor called Ricky Tomlinson

Eric Tomlinson, better known as Ricky Tomlinson, actor, comedian and political activist, is 73 years old today.

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

* was was born Eric Tomlinson in Blackpool in 1939 because his mother had been evacuated there from Liverpool which became a target after Britain declared War on Germany at the start of the Second World War 23 days before.

*  has lived in Liverpool for much of his life his life where, as a qualified plasterer by trade, worked on building sites for many years.

* became actively involved in politics joining the right wing National Front in 1968 in support of less immigration and then moved to the 'left' and joined the  pickets' in a building workers' dispute and in 1973 was sentenced to two years in prison after being found guilty of 'conspiracy to intimidate' as one of the so-called 'Shrewsbury Two'.

* after his release in 1975, disrupted the TUC Conference by shouting from the wings after he had been prevented from speaking from the stage and was monitored by the Security Agency, MI5, during the 1970s.

* in 1982 played  a doctor in 'The Boys From The Blackstuff' quoting Dylan Thomas ' Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night' in a poignant scene with a dieing patient :

*  found success, appearing as Bobby Grant in the soap opera, 'Brookside' from show's inception in 1982 until being written out in 1988.

* played Jim Royle in the sitcom, 'The Royle Family' with a Christmas episode with Jim and his daughter alone, upstairs where her waters have broken as she goes into labour and he talks to her movingly about the joys of parenthood and what she's meant to him over the years, before checking: "Are you sure it's not just a bloody great p*ss?' (can't viewed in UK)

* In 2002 starred in the BBC Series, 'Nice Guy Eddie', playing a Liverpool private investigator based on the real life cases from Liverpool private investigator, Tony Smith.

*  featured heavily in series two of the series, 'Clocking Off'  in a BAFTA - nominated episode written by Danny Brockelurst.

* starred in 'Hillsborough' a made-for-TV film about the families of the victims of the Hillsborough Stadium Disaster, in which he portrayed John Glover - the father of victim Ian.

*  is a keen banjo and harpsichord player and played in many episodes of  'The Royle Family'.

* In 2008, donated £200,000 as patron of the charity, 'Human Milk Bank' which provides babies on Special Care Baby Units with milk from donor mothers, significantly improving their chances of survival and long term development and in 2010 was reported as having donated £1million to the Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool.

Bryan Ferry, singer is 67 years old today. My my posting from his birthday 2 years ago :

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Britain is no country for old men in hospital and shunted between wards like parcels




A Royal College of Physicians Report entitled :

Hospitals on the edge? The time for action

has claimed that although the number of hospital beds has fallen by 33% in the last 25 years, the number of seriously ill patients being admitted through accident and emergency departments has risen by more than 37%.

How has the Health Service 'managed' this discrepancy ? The Royal College has the answer :

by reducing the quality of care of old men and women who are :

Professor Tim Evans, one of the report’s authors who is a Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine at the Royal Brompton Hospital, in London, said:

" This evidence is very distressing. All hospital inpatients deserve to receive safe, high-quality, sustainable care centred around their needs and delivered in an appropriate setting by respectful, compassionate, expert health professionals. Yet it is increasingly clear that our hospitals are struggling to cope with the challenge of an ageing population who increasingly present to our hospitals with multiple, complex diseases. We must act now to make the drastic changes required to provide the care they deserve."
A spokesman for the 'Alzheimer’s Society' said:
"People with dementia occupy a quarter of hospital beds, yet constantly we hear that they face poor quality care from staff not trained in dementia care. Bearing this in mind, these latest findings are alarming but, unfortunately, not surprising."

The Royal College of Physicians is an independent body representing over 27,500 fellows and members worldwide which provides advice and works with Government, the public, patients and other professions to improve health and healthcare and together to examine better processes and standards for treating medical inpatients.  

Monday 24 September 2012

Britain says "Happy Birthday" to an old Liverpudlian singer-songwriter called Gerry Marsden and old men with pacemakers remember when he and they were young

Gerrard Marsden best known to all baby boomers as 'Gerry' of the 1960's Liverpudlian group, 'Gerry and the Pacemakers' is 70 years old today.

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

* was born in the Second World War in Toxteth in Liverpool and remembers standing on top of an air raid shelter singing 'Ragtime Cowboy Joe, getting a great reception from onlookers and saying to himself :"This is what I want to do."

* formed the group, 'The Pacemakers' in 1959 with his brother, Fred and and as part of the second group signed by Brian Epstein had his first single, 'How Do You Do It ?', recommended by George Martin after it was initially given to 'The Beatles', become his first 'number one' hit.

* had his second number one with 'I Like It' when I was 16 in 1963 :
followed by 'You'll Never Walk Alone'.

* had further success with writing and recording 'I'm the One' :, 'Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying' : and 'Ferry Cross the Mersey' when I was 17 in 1964 :

* decided in 1966, with his popularity in decline on both sides of the Atlantic, to disband the group.

* saw 'You'll Never Walk Alone' adopted the anthem of Liverpool Football Club and sang the song at Wembley Stadium when Everton faced Liverpool in the the 1989 F.A. Cup Final.

In the last lines of his autobiography. 'I'll Never Walk Alone' he said :
"Sixties...songs were happy, the music simple and the lyrics nice to listen to, We didn't try to change the world."

Sunday 23 September 2012

Britain is no country for an old tv presenter called Michael Aspel

The 'Mail on Sunday' today had an article entitled :

'I'd still be working if I was as beautiful as Fiona': Aspel, 79, claims BBC didn't want an 'elderly English bloke plodding around'
* Presenter claims he lost his slot on the Antique's Roadshow because the BBC wanted a glamorous figure to front the show

He said :

*  "Fiona does a great job and looks very beautiful. That’s what they wanted, so it was entirely successful. I just wish I’d been a little more beautiful then I could still be doing it."

*  "They simply felt that they wanted to get away from the middle-aged to elderly English bloke plodding around and get some glamour in."

* "That’s the worst thing about stopping work; you begin to feel invisible whereas you were highly visible before."

*  He had turned down a request to appear in an early series of 'Strictly Come Dancing' because "the prospect of being chucked out on the first show was an ignominy I couldn’t bear."

I'm sorry to say this Michael, but if it comes to a choice between Fiona and you, I think I can say on behalf of the majority of old men in Britain, that Fiona would win hands down.

The comedian, Harry Hill, commemorating Michael's retirement fom 'Antiques Roadshow' :

P.S. Fiona, who is 48, has her own problems with ageism and has said that said she dyed her grey hairs because she was worried about the impact ageing would have on her career.


Saturday 22 September 2012

Britain is No Country for Old Men who are not old after all

I have assumed that 'middle age' started around 40 ended and ended when 'old age' began around the age of 60. Apparently, I was wrong, for an article in the 'Daily Mail' was entitled :


Middle age 'doesn't start till 55' - but you're old by the time you hit 69, say Britons

Based on the results of a survey of 1000 men and women over the age of 50 by 'Love to Learn Online Learning' it reported that : 

* 70% defined themselves as 'middle-aged' and the average age at which it was perceived to start was 54 years and 347 days, however,  nearly 20% thought middle age did not begin until after 60.

* the 'average' answer to the question : 'when did middle age end and old age begin ?' was 69 years and 277 days.

TV presenter John Craven, 72, who is supporting the website’s launch, said the concept of ageing had changed :

 "Only a generation ago, many people were pretty old at 60. These days most of us in our middle and later years are much younger in our attitudes and it’s all about having an active state of mind and the confidence to experience new things. It’s a time to take on challenges and enjoy fresh interests - or maybe rekindle those that fell by the wayside as work and family commitments took over. I’m lucky to still be working but I do have more spare time now, so I’m building up a list of things I’m going to do, such as improve my French, study astronomy and be a better photographer."

That sounds like a lot of fun John !

Gill Jackson, Director of the Love to Learn online learning website, which carried out the survey, said:
"These new middle-agers are active, want to enjoy life and certainly don’t see themselves as old age pensioners.
In fact, our research found that adults in their 50s are overwhelmingly upbeat about the benefits of their age group. They have greater freedom and financial security.
More than half said they have more confidence and experience than younger people and are less afraid of making mistakes and a vast majority, 87%, have a huge appetite to learn new things and take up new hobbies."


Thursday 20 September 2012

Britain is a country where old men with dementia in a care home in Bristol can revive their memories by taking a stroll down memory lane

An article in 'The Daily Mail' this week was entitled :

Alzheimer's patients get a trip down memory lane: Care home recreates 1950s street... including a pub

It told the story of a company called 'Grove Care', which has built an old style street called 'Memory Lane' on land between two care homes it runs for 80 old men and women in Winterbourne, Bristol.

apparently the street :

* with its traditional local pub, quaint cafe and greengrocers with Oxo adverts on the walls and Second World War ration books on the tables was carefully constructed to help residents suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s to feel more comfortable and possibly improve their ability to recall their own past.

* was designed by architects who studied photographs of 1950s streets to capture the era in the design of the shops and pub and then staff combed through scrap yards, charity shops and auction websites to unearth  objects to fill the buildings.

* was furnished with original adverts for Oxo, Bisto and Wall’s, as well as an authentic phone box and post box and had newspapers and magazines from the period, detailing the Queen’s Coronation.

* had freshly made cakes in the greengrocers, which has weighing scales inside and an old delivery bike propped up nearby and beer in the White Hart pub, with its tobacco tins, vintage beer mats and beer stools.
Manager, Christopher Taylor said :
"It is really important for those with dementia who are mobile to have a destination. They can visit the pub or the post office – this makes it a walk with a purpose, which is so important. When they are there they can look at the memorabilia. Our staff can then start a conversation about it with them."
Research in 2009 by Exeter University found that :
Chatting with peers about the War years caused those with dementia to experience an average of 12% boost in their ability to remember.

Professor of Social Psychology, Alex Haslam, said: ‘If you had a drug that could do that, you could make a lot of money. The point is that the drug is the group. I think our sense of worth comes from the approbation of our peers – the group gives us a reason to live and a reason to engage.’
The project shares similarities with BBC show, 'The Young Ones', in which six celebrities in their seventies and eighties, including Derek Jameson, who I featured in my last posting, were taken to a house decked out in 1970s decor to explore whether reliving their heyday could allow them to feel younger.

The newspaper article elicited the following responses :

From a reader in Switzerland : Nice 'marketing' idea of the care home. One question to reveal all: Are the prices 1950's or 2020's?

and another in Manchester : In my twilight years then I would expect to see Poundland, Charity shops, boarded up shops, Aldi, vandalised phone boxes.


Wednesday 19 September 2012

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Goodbye" to an old newspaper editor called Derek Jameson who was born in poverty and blessed by angels

Derek Jameson, Fleet Street editor, who was jokey, outspoken and irreverent and introduced bingo and scantily clad women into newspapers and then became a popular TV and radio presenter, has died at the age of 82.

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

* was born in the East End of London and didn't know for certain who his father and until he was eight years old, that Elsie, his 'older sister', who was with him in a private children's home for waifs and strays, was in fact his mother.

* in the home, which was kept by a formidable woman called Ma Wren, slept in a bed full of bugs with four others and walked on floorboards full of rotting holes.

* had his curiosity about his father stimulated by the visits he was asked to make, by his 'big sister', to a kosher butcher's shop where the tall, blond butcher would invariably give him  a few shillings and assumed this man must have been his father.

* at school in Hackney, wrote a prize winning essay on the 'Red Cross' copied from a pamphlet more or less verbatim, except that he had taken the last paragraph and made it the first, a manoeuvre which he said 'prepared him for the ways of tabloid Fleet Street'.

* ended his formal education, including an approved school where he was sent for being 'beyond care and control', at the age of 14 and became a 'messenger' for Reuters News Agency in London during the Second World War in 1944 and progressed to become a reporter before moving on.

 * had his first editorship, in 1960-61, with the 'London American', a paper for and about Americans in Britain before becoming managing editor of the 'Daily Mirror'.

* was editor of 'The Daily Express' 1977- 80 and when newly installed and the paper's patrician Managing Director, Jocelyn Stevens, bawled him out on the phone within earshot of the staff,  put the phone down on him in mid-sentence and when Stevens phoned back and told him "never to put the phone down on him again", said, knowing  his staff were wondering what he would do, "Wanna bet?" and put the phone down again.

* set about increasing Express circulation, which had dropped to 2 million, down from the 4 million of the great days of Beaverbrook and bought the memoirs of Group Captain Peter Townsend, the man Princess Margaret did not marry and gave £10,000 to Naomi James, who sailed solo around the world and increased sales by 25%.

* was editor of the 'Daily Star' 1978-80, introduced bingo and increased sales by 35%.

* was editor of  the 'News of the World' 1981–1984.

* was presenter of BBC Radio 2 'Breakfast Show' 1986-1991 and greeted listeners with a cheery "Mornin! Mornin!"
Interviewed Barry Manilow :

* in 1988, began presenting the BBC1 tv show, 'People' and then presented his own series entitled 'Do they mean us?'   based on his catchphrase; "Do they mean us? They surely do!"

* in 2010, took part in BBC's 'The Young Ones', in which six celebrities in their 70s and 80s attempt to overcome some of the problems of ageing by harking back to the 1970s.

Derek plugging his book :


Monday 17 September 2012

Britain, in austerity, is a country where more and more people want the state to give no more help to old men

THE 29th 'British Social Attitudes' Report has been published under the title :

Social attitudes in an age of austerity         


What do citizens want from the state?


In this section it made the following points, that :

* when it comes to receiving state funded benefits from taxes some recipients are looked upon more kindly than others and retired old people are, for instance, often seen to be part of a 'deserving poor' which excludes other groups like 'single parents' or 'the unemployed'.

*  table 0.1 in the Report ( shown below ), shows a trend common to each and every group, namely that support for more spending on benefits has fallen since 1998.

* support for more Government spending on retired old people having stayed steady around 73% has fallen by 16% compared to :
-10% : the disabled
-11% : parents on low income
-9 % : single parents
-10%: carers for the sick or disabled.
T_Key Findings _0.1


Friday 14 September 2012

Britain is no country for old men with poor eyesight in need of surgery

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

Thousands of elderly left suffering by 'cruel and random' eye surgery rationing

Lead researcher Sophie Coronini-Cronberg, of Imperial College London, said some restrictions were necessary as not all patients would benefit from cataract surgery and some would not want it. However, some patients whose sight could be improved were being refused the procedure.
Steve Winyard, of the 'Royal National Institute of Blind People', said: "It’s indefensible and is leaving a lot of older people struggling to lead independent lives. People should not have to live with a reduced quality of life because PCTs are using arbitrary criteria to determine whether they get to keep their sight."

The research :

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Britain says "Happy Birthday" to old actor who has played android and author, hobbit, physician and king called Ian Holm

Ian Holm, English actor known for his stage work and many film roles is 81 years old today. Ian seems to have been around for ever turn his hand to any role. I remember seeing him in two films in the 1960's playing 'Puck' the impish fairy in Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' and the Russian Commissar Yakovlev in 'Nicholas and Alexandra'.

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


* was born in Goodmayes, then in Essex and now in London, to Scottish parents, Jean and James Cuthbert who were both in the medical profession, his mother, a nurse and father was a psychiatrist who worked as the superintendent of a mental hospital and a pioneer of electric shock therapy.

* was educated at the independent Chigwell School in Essex then living in Worthing he joined an amateur dramatic society and a visit to the dentist led to an introduction to Henry, a well-known provincial Shakespearean actor, who helped him train for admission to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1949.

* had his studies were interrupted a year later when he was called up for National Service in the British Army where he attained the rank of lance corporal and graduated in 1953; and worked at Stratford for 13 yeas in the Royal Shakespeare Company under Peter Hall.

* moved to tv in 1965 playing Richard III (right) in 'Wars of the Roses'
and gradually made a name for himself with minor roles in films, 'Oh What a Lovely War' in 1969, 'Nicholas and Alexandra' and 'Mary Queen of Scots' in 1971 and 'Young Winston' in 1972.

* in 1967, won a Tony Award for 'Best Featured Actor in a Play' as Lenny (left) in 'The Homecoming' by Harold Pinter.

* went on to play Sadducee, Zerah (right)in the tv mini-series, 'Jesus of Nazareth', a villainous Moroccan in ' March or Die', author J.M.Barrie (below right) in the award-winning BBC tv series, 'The Lost Boys',
 the treacherous android (left) 'Ash', in Ridley Scott's 'Alien',
 the coach, Sam Mussabini in 'Chariots of Fire'.

* in the 1980s, he had memorable roles in 'Time Bandits', 'Greystoke - The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes' and Terry Gilliam's 'Brazil' and played Lewis Carroll in 'Dreamchild' and was nominated for a BAFTA award in series, 'Game, Set and Match'.

* in the 1990's and after, played the gentle priest Vito Cornelius (left) in 'The Fifth Element', the tormented plaintiff's lawyer in 'The Sweet Hereafter', starred in 'From Hell' as the physician Sir William Gull and hobbit, Bilbo Baggins (right) in 'Lord of the Rings' and will reprise his role as the elder Bilbo in the 'to be released' movie 'The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey'

* was Harold Pinter's favourite actor, the playwright and once stated : "He puts on my shoe and it fits!"