Wednesday, 30 September 2015
Britain is a country where old man have a new champion in Anna Dixon and the Centre for Ageing Better
“We think there’s lots of opportunity to change not only how we experience old age but some of the perceptions of what it is to grow old. We have a great opportunity to make a big difference on one of the biggest public policy issues internationally. We want the work we do to mean more of us look forward to a good old age.”
At her disposal she has a 10-year endowment, chaired by the 71 year old Lord Filkin, worth £50m from the Big Lottery Fund. The good Lord also chaired a House of Lords Select Committee which concluded in 2013 that the country was "woefully underprepared" for the demographic change that will see a doubling in the number of very old people aged over 85 by 2030.
Anna agreed with the Committee : “There’s a profound change occurring because of increased life expectancy. On the one hand that’s something fantastic and something we should be celebrating. But the demographic shift with a larger proportion of the population in older age is something we’re not preparing for either individually, in terms of saving enough or thinking about what sort of houses we might need to be living in, or as a society.”
So how does Anna feel that the Centre might help improve the quality of life for old men and women and kelp them age better ? In answer to the question she cites her grandmother as a role model who, disabled and virtually housebound for many years, still managed to live a very full life.
“It’s not necessarily being free of disability or disease, it is about feeling you’ve got value in life, that you are loved, that you can give as well as receive and be connected to other people.”
So elderly men of Britain, Anna is looking to :
* strengthen your links to your COMMUNITY :
“People can be facing quite a challenging health situation, they might not be that well off by objective measures of income but if they have strong social relationships and a positive mindset that can make a big difference and that’s an area we would like to look at.”
* keep you in WORK :
"A lot of things are being tried out now, like mid-career reviews, apprenticeships for older people and employment practices to support older people to stay longer in work, but there’s no evidence yet about which of those actually work. That’s the sort of practical thing where we can help to evaluate some of the new approaches and spread that learning among employers."
* improve your HOUSING :
by promoting more tailored housing and better use of technology. “There’s a huge focus on residential care, but actually if you look at the population of over-65s it’s only about 3% who are in residential care, so what are we saying about the 97% living in their own homes? If we could do something to help them stay in their homes then we’re actually going to reduce the need to expand residential and institutional care.”
* bust some of the MYTHS and NEGATIVE PERCEPTIONS about you :
such as the view that you are a burden on the National Health Service when, in fact, more people under the age of 65 than older people like you are living with more than one chronic condition.
And for the future elderly man and women of Britain :
“We have to help younger people in their planning and preparing for later life. Some of us might occasionally see financial adviser about pensions but mostly we don’t want to think about it and we certainly don’t want to imagine ourselves having dementia and needing personal care. We need to help people to do what they need to do and maybe make some different choices earlier so they get a better chance of experiencing a good later life.”
Cynical old men in Britain might feel that this doesn't amount to much and after the £50m has been spent, there won't be a perceptible difference in the lives of millions of elderly men and women. Others, more charitably, might agree but still say :
"It may not be much, but it is a step in the right direction and all power to your elbow Anna."
Wednesday, 16 September 2015
Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to an old Christian Socialist and champion of the weak and dispossessed called Ken Leech
What you possibly didn't know about Ken, that he :
* was born in Ashton-Under-Lyne, Lancashire, in the summer of 1939, shortly before the outbreak of Second World War into a secular, working-class family and having passed the 11+ exam, attended Hyde Grammar School, near Manchester.
* recalled "as a teenager, I attended a high Anglo-Catholic parish in Hyde", Holy Innocents' Fallowfield, where he "already identified with Anglo-Catholic tradition" and at 17 was profoundly affected by a BBC Radio Third Programme broadcast by then 'Christian' philosopher, Alisdair MacIntyre, entitled 'A society without metaphysics' based on the proposition that 'the creed of the English is that there is no God and that it is wise to pray to him from time to time' and concluding that 'the curious flavour that a combination of liberal morality and metaphysical meaningless gives to life its characteristic flavour of our time.'
* in 1957, as a History undergraduate and 'Sambrook Scholar' at King’s College, London, had his first experience of living in a multiracial community in his student digs in the East End of London : "It was the first place I lived in when I was 18, in Cable Street, where my next door neighbour was an Ethiopian woman married to a Somali and she lived around the back of the Nigerian café, on the other side of us was a Maltese family, who ran the Liberal Party of Malta and it was surrounded by Somalis and Gambians and people from what later became Bangladesh and people from Caribbean."
* arriving at the time of the Notting Hill Riots, http://ow.ly/ShgBZ later acknowledged his arrival in Brick Lane was a 'real turning point' in his life and 'The East End seemed full of left-wing Christians and co-operation between Christians and Marxists was common. I got to know some of the old Communist councillors, all of them atheists, but all of them having a long history of cooperation with socialist Christians with whom they had a lot in common. The East End has shaped me more than any place' and spent much of his extra-curricular time there, after 1958 'involved with fighting fascism, working for decent housing, trying to create communities of resistance and solidarity.'
* found himself in an area with a cosmopolitan mix and a constantly changing, floating population with seaman of many nationalities, long-distance lorry drivers, wayfarers and a 'very large number of people who are physically or mentally unsettled: homeless drifting people, social outcasts, children of unhappy marriages' and with widespread prostitution, found that : 'vice racketeering' went 'hand in hand with violence and street and café fights are common. Certain parts of the area have thus become centres for criminal elements.'
* taught evening English classes for male Somalis and "became involved with that Franciscan community and also with a ministry that Father Joe Williamson was running for prostitutes in the area”, then after graduating in 1960, left the East End and went to Trinity College, Oxford to study theology.
* after starting theological studies at St Stephen's House, Oxford at the age of 24 in 1963, drew on his experience of living four years in Brick Lane and presented his paper, 'A Christian Mission for West Stepney' to the Bishops of London and Stepney, in the hope of being returned to the area as curate after his ordination the following year and outlined alternatives in the : 'need of special pastoral work in helping integrate coloured people into the life of the area' or work in the cafés in Cable Street which 'formed an underworld of drifting people and this underworld will remain in the Whitechapel area and must be penetrated for Christ' or ecumenical co-operation where 'Christians might work together with Jewish groups to tackle the homeless problem' or a 'special mission' to reintegrate criminals which 'some might claim calls more for social workers than for priests, but this would be a dangerous half-truth. What is needed is a combination of spiritual and social work in a ministry'.
* found that, despite 'asking the Bishops to consider if they might allow me, after ordination in 1964, to be allocated special pastoral work on the lines indicated above', was instead sent to Hoxton in the Borough of Hackney, North London where he 'really got a shock' because 'you never saw a black priest and you never saw any Jews. It was entirely white working class and when Oswald Mosley stood as Parliamentary candidate for Shoreditch in 1965, he got a lot of votes, and lot of the people voted even from my congregation.'
* in Hoxton 'first became aware of the fact that there is a lot of racism within the white working class', but also found that the parish 'relied on a model of the church as the centre of the community, which was becoming unrealistic by the later 1960s. Nowadays, those sort of priests who wear birettas and cassocks in the streets seem like leftovers from the past, joke figures almost, though many are good and holy men. But in the 1960s that was still a vibrant tradition.'
* having found, at his time in Brick Lane, drug-abuse to be a serious new problem, particularly amphetamines, founded the 'Soho Drugs Group' in 1964, and forged close links with doctors working in the San Francisco counter-culture scene and later recalled : "Doctors at the Haight-Ashbury Medical Centre warned that following the US example of prohibition would lead to disaster in England. And things began to go wrong under the influence of the late Dr Philip Connell, of the Maudsley Hospital, who in the late 1960s advised the Ministry of Health to cut down on heroin prescribing after a number of high-profile cases involving 'junkie doctors.'"
* in 1967, at the age of 28 started work as an assistant priest at St Anne’s Church in Soho in London's West End and two years later, during a 4am police raid on the 'Limbo Club' in Soho where, in cassock and dog collar, he was outside the back entrance as part of his 'loitering ministry' : "loitering - being around, staying around, becoming a trusted person" which included helping kids who'd taken drug overdoses and caring for the hungry and homeless and was accompanied by Police Inspector, Elizabeth Reid, on a "juvenile roundup" trawl for amphetamine-fuelled youngsters.
* later recalled : "Elizabeth wondered what to do about these homeless kids. She said: 'Somebody ought to open a centre for people in trouble late at night '" and inspired by her suggestion, met Anton Wallich-Clifford (later founder of the Simon Community) "in a Soho pub and asked him how much money he had, and he replied that he was £8,000 in the red. I had £30 in the bank, so I said : "we better do something" " and so opened an emergency night shelter in a basement in Dean Street, Soho and recalled : "The first night nobody turned up and we thought we had made a mistake, but within a month we had 600 through the doors; 1,003 in the first four months and 5,000 in a year."
* attracted volunteers from a cast of probation officers, Roman Catholic sisters and novices and chose the name 'Centrepoint' as a direct challenge to the "affront to the homeless" in the shape of Richard Seifert's infamous tower block, 'Centre Point', the 385-ft tower at the south end of Tottenham Court Road which stood empty for years, making millions for a property developer because a quirk in the law meant it was better to leave it empty than to tie it down to a particular rental review period.
* in 1973 published 'Youthquake', an attempt to acquaint his Church with the new challenges of ministry which the 1960s had brought, in which he dealt with the drug culture, gurus and meditation, psychedelia and the underground in its many forms and attempts to relate the
different movements in the contemporary youth scene to the Christian spiritual tradition.
* moved to St Matthew’s, Bethnal Green in 1974 and co-founded the 'Jubilee Group' with other priests interested in Anglo-Catholic social thought and with "a sense that the politically radical side of the tradition was in danger of being forgotten" in a group which "never defined its socialism. Some were Marxists; many belonged to the Labour Party. So there was no party line" which, when it drew up a manifesto, sought the help of a young graduate student, Rowan Williams, but didn't use his contribution because "it was too triumphalist. But we met soon after that, and he became involved over the next ten years or so. I saw him as part of a new generation of Anglo-Catholic theology."
* published 'Soul Friend' in 1977 and saw it which quickly became a classic, contemporary exploration of the Christian practice of spiritual direction which explored its history, both Protestant and Catholic, from the earliest Church through the twentieth century and examined the influence of the drug culture of the 1960's, Eastern influences on prayer and spiritual practice and the Pentecostal Movement.
* moved back into the Brick Lane area, now the centre largest Bengali community outside Bangladesh and saw the revival of Neo- Nazism, emergence of skinhead gangs and 'Paki-bashing' and in 1978, the murder of Bengali clothing worker, Altab Ali, trigger a massive wave of protest and in June a mob of 150 youths rampage though the Brick Lane district, smashing windows, throwing bottles and concrete damaging shops and cars and shouting "Kill the black bastards."
* in 1980 published 'The Introduction to Brick Lane 1978' which set the violence and unrest 'within the context of the anti-racist struggle in Britain' and stated : 'The battle against racism and fascism cannot be won by outsiders who march into and area, chant slogans and then march out again : it can only be won by the most dedicated, rooted and persistent commitment to undermine and destroy the injustice and neglect on which such movements thrive' and was critical of 1979 Commission for Racial Equality Report, 'Brick Lane and Beyond : An Inquiry into racial strife and violence on Tower Hamlets', stating that it was 'neither careful nor an academic analysis, but a careless, superficial and shoddy production, representing a wasted opportunity and contributing nothing to understanding.'
* concluded that 'the emergence of a new Bengali radicalism is the most encouraging and most hopeful aspect of the whole period. The radicalisation of Asian youth in Brick Lane is part of a nation wide process' with saw 'close parallels between this and radicalisation of the Jews at the turn of the century. The ghetto has produced not despair and resignation but anger and organised revolt. It is this new spirit that the hope for the future lies.'
* in 1981 in 'The Social God' stressed the essential unity of doctrine and action, of prayer and politics, : 'Contemplation has a context: it does not occur in a vacuum. Today’s context is that of the multinational corporations, the arms race, the strong state, the economic crisis, urban decay, the growing racism, and human loneliness ...The contemplative shares in the passion of Christ which is both an identification with the pain of the world and also the despoiling of the principalities and powers of the fallen world-order.'
* in his 1982 article entitled 'The Church in a Plural Society', stated that : 'As alienation increasingly separates society in the UK, as unemployment gets worse, as poverty claims more and more people here, as violence of the rich and powerful against the poor erupts more viciously as it will in the UK, the theology of liberation will no longer be a panacea for Latina American ills. It will, I believe, become a divine imperative which challenges Christians to take up the cause of the oppressed here in our very midst'.
* at the age of 48 in 1987, became and remained for four years, Director of the 'Runnymede Trust' think-tank promoting ethnicity and cultural diversity and using his designation published 'The Birth of a Monster : Growth of Racist Legislation since the 1950's' and also served as the 'Race Relations Officer' for the 'General Synod Board of Social Responsibility'.
* in 2009, at the age of 70 and on the 40th Anniversary of 'Centrepoint', reflected that it had helped 3,000 homeless 16 to 25-year-olds and provided far more than a bed for the 825 young people it worked with across London and the North East of England each day and told the BBC "It's so different to how it was. We were so primitive. We were just scraping the surface, but this place is rather like a hotel. I think it's very good and it's on such a big scale" http://ow.ly/Seb0b
but at the same time also said that he was "proud, but also depressed it's still needed."
* in 2014 attended a special service in Manchester to mark the 50th anniversary of his ordination in which the Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, said, “Father Kenneth Leech has offered to the Church, through 50 years of ordained ministry, an unparalleled combination of skills. He is both one of the deepest spiritual writers of his era and arguably its most effective exponent of Christian social intervention and political critique. In honouring his contribution my hope is that we pledge ourselves to continue to take it forward. His example and thinking can inspire us in the opportunities before us today, all the way from setting up credit unions to supporting the emergence of new monastic communities in our cities.”
* was 35 years old, when he had written, forty years before :
'If spirituality and prophecy are not held together, both must decay. There must be contemplation and resistance, holiness and justice, prayer and politics. For our vision is of a God whose holiness fills heaven and earth, and who has called all people into freedom, justice and peace within his new order.'
Monday, 7 September 2015
What you possibly didn't know about Patrick, that he :
* was born Patrick Joseph in Worthing, Sussex in 1931, the son of mother, Agnes O' Keefe and father, Ted, initially an Edinburgh medical student who switched to free-lance journalism and sketches and lyrics for the stage, whose family hailed from County Carlow, who he recalled : 'was born in New Zealand and brought me up to be more Irish than the Irish' and in addition was 'Catholic. And the sense that gives you of being in a minority remains with you all your life' reinforced, at the age of six, by attending a girls' convent school in Barnes, where he remained until he was 8 and learnt to “take for granted the love and forgiveness of women more than life itself; they were life itself.'
* as a very young child, recalled his father would drag him 'round the music-halls and down the end of piers' to see comedians' and eight years old when the Second World War broke out in 1939, the family living in London was 'bombed from flat to flat' and life was 'a show on the road, a series of one-night stands' during which time his father created and worked on the radio and film scripts of Tommy Handley in 'ITMA', 'It’s That Man Again' (photographed seated to the left of Tommy).
* as a boy grew up knowing that the ITMA characters and the phrases they used, he heard repeated by the general public : Mrs Mopp's "Can I do you now sir ?" http://ow.ly/RRWmC and Mona Lott, the depressed laundry woman's "It's being so cheerful as keeps me going", were his father's inventions.
* when the BBC moved facilities to North Wales, was relocated with his family in a house which looked out across the Menai Straits to Anglesey and recalled, following the bombing of Bristol, "the house next door being on fire and hoses being played against the outside wall to stop them cracking, while my father sat writing."
* in 1943, at the age of twelve, was sent away as a boarder to a Benedictine public school, Douai Abbey, in Woolhampton, Berkshire which was 'Jansenist-Irish and English Puritan all at once and seemed to isolate all the coldest elements of these until only the rules and the fear were left' and where, cut off from the company of women recalled : 'I wanted to die. I willed myself to.'
* was fourteen when, back in the family house in 1945, his father featured in the Pathé News short, 'How ITMA is written' : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXWp47c6vsY , while he at school, with its atmosphere of repression and incompetent teaching, discovered the poetry of W.B.Yeats and T.S. Eliot and 'the really tremendous excitement of Prufrock', began to write his own verses and covertly read his 'beloved Francis Thompson wrapped in the lurid covers of a Bulldog Drummond novel' and exercised 'defiances' which 'had become those of a slave', while at the same time recalled : 'I was good at rugby in school because I was Irish; I was funny because my father was funny and I was Irish.”
* in 1948, at the age of 17, spent summer working at a Butlin's Holiday Camp, where, he later speculated, his father had sent him in order to counteract what he felt was his son's 'cultural snobbery', refused to go back for his last year at boarding-school and to his relief, was sent to the 'Lycée Jaccard' in Lausanne, Switzerland, 'a sort of boy's "finishing school."'
* now followed his own work schedule, read Cecil Day Lewis and Jean-Paul Sartre in his room, learned French from the cleaning maids and having decided that he might want to go to University, took and passed the Higher Certificate.
* at the age of 18, moved to Paris where he took a job reading the news for the English Section of 'Radiodiffusion Française', met the jazz musician Charlie Parker, enrolled in a drama school run by René Simon, a retired Comédie Française actor, but in 1950, was called back to Britain to do his National Service, then on the outbreak of the Korean War, as a Second Lieutenant, volunteered to go to the East, transferring to the Royal Ulster Rifles who were on standby duty and left Liverpool with a copy of Joyce's 'Ulysses' to pass the eight-week voyage.
* on arrival in Japan, was posted to Korea as a 'War Office Observer', saw at first hand, some of the horrors of war and on the second day of the Battle of the Imjin River where comrades in the Gloucestershire Regiment made a defiant stand against the Chinese Army with many of his friends killed or captured, he himself was taken to hospital with what turned out be a merely a flesh wound to his shoulder in what a doctor called "a million-to-one shot." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anIromm30AM&t=3m39s
* returned to Britain and demobbed, started life as an undergraduate reading English at Merton College, Oxford, but after Korea 'found it impossible to take the place seriously', declined to join any societies, spent his evenings writing verse, and 'concentrated on the only unfiltered experience Oxford had to offer -- the marvellous girls', one of whom was, in his final year, Sally Phillips, the daughter of the novelist Rosamond Lehmann and artist, Wogan Phillips, son of 1st Baron Milford (left), who was 7 when her Mother moved in with the poet Cecil Day-Lewis and 16 when she moved out after divorcing her father when she was 10.
* after staying on at Oxford for an M.A, in 1954, accepted a job at the British Institute in Barcelona, where he combined teaching and writing and was struck by the practice by young prostitutes in the lodgings in which he was staying, of saying the prayers of the Rosary to find husbands to take them away from the life.
* in 1955, returned to London to work as an 'Assistant Floor Manager' at the BBC, married Sally and feeling he needed a "bolt-hole" where he could earn a salary and still write, accepted a teaching assignment with the British Council and left for Djakarta, Indonesia with Sally in 1957, where he established a writing schedule which was shattered by her sudden death from polio at the age of 24.
* after his return to Britain, saw the devastation of Sally, followed in 1958, by the death of his much-loved father and made death and loss and the pain both of memory and forgetting, the dominant themes of his work in the years that followed and evoked her loss in his 'Dedication Poem' in first volume of poetry published in 1959, 'One and One' :
'Curled in your night-dress on the beach,
Corn-yellow ghost, pale with sleep'
* moved to Gloucestershire in 1963 with the translator Catherine Ward,
'I would if I could write new words for women
Because of you'
who he married two years later, living :
'By a lake,
Not even the Green Dragon locals know is here'
* lived near Elkstone, a village halfway between Cheltenham and Cirencester where, in a whitewashed room of a tiny ruined cottage, a short walk from the house, he sat at a table without a telephone, wrote from ten to six, then spent an hour in the village pub, 'The Green Dragon' at Cockleford.
* had published as 'P.J. Kavanagh' in deference to the celebrated Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh who he had sought out on a visit to Ireland only to be told : "Why don't you change your feckin name ?" and it under this name that in the winter of 1964/65 exploited his talents as a performer and co-presented 'Not So Much a Programme, More a Way of Life', a short-lived satirical television show, alongside David Frost and Willie Rushton.
* in 1966, at the age of 35, published his autobiographical : 'The Perfect Stranger' : 'The house I'm outside as I write this was built by men who are dead. All my life I've been feeding on the ideas of dead men. So it is impossible to imagine my present without the sustaining, confusing past, without Sally. To turn her into a memory would be impossible, there are some persons, some events, it isn't possible to shrink in this way; they're outside our range . .Once you've experienced the infinite significance of another person's life you feel something of the same for all lives, and for your own . .This is my memorial to what happened between us . .The rest of my life, any sense I can make of it, is a memorial to that.'
* in 1967 published 'On the Way to the Depot', his collection of poems focussed on 'a common journey to an unknown destination' and his attempt to confront and transcend his grief over Sally's death, referred to 'Westwell Churchyard, Oxfordshire' where she was buried and concluded it was time to move on:
'A scatter of frozen
Bokhara roses . . .
And then the blur of snow. Time to be gone.'
and also included 'Lines For My Father' addressed to Ted :
'Were you happy ever? Do you still snort at such questions?
When you stared at the wall when you died, what did you see?'
* in 1968, his 'A Song and Dance', the first of four novels for adults, won the 'Guardian Fiction Prize' and in 1970 published 'About Time', a sequence of ten poems dedicated to his father with 'One' recalling :
Was that his genuine smile went first'
'He was right, he was wrong,
He was weak,
He was strong'
* in 1973 narrated a six part tv documentary, taking a country walk through six parts of Britain, 'Journey Through Summer' and in 1974 after 23 years, followed in his father's footsteps as Roy Plomley's 'Castaway' on 'Desert Island Discs', chose Bach's 'Partita for solo violin No 2 in D Minor' as his favourite track and the 'Collected Poems of Edward Thomas' as his book and a 'pair of shoes as his luxury'.
* and in the same year published his collection, 'Edward Thomas in Heaven' with the title poem taking comfort from the positing of the location within Heaven of an unbelieving, Thomas :
'There must be doubt in heaven, to accommodate him
And others we listen for daily, who were human,
Snuffing and puzzling, which is why we listen.'
* subsidised his poetry, including 'Life Before Death' in 1979, by his journalism writing for the 'Daily Telegraph Magazine', whose editor, John Anstey commissioned him to write from around the world and recalled : "Nobody could stand him. I loved him. He once rang up and said, 'I enjoyed your piece so much – may I raise your fee?'"
* in 1981 had one of his two children’s books, his 1978 'Scarf Jack', adapted and serialised by Southern Television on a low budget, based on American Western theme with pistol fights and scenes set in bars, wagons and the outdoors and saw it enjoy early popularity only to be cancelled after one season.
“A surprising number of requests come from people who have read little or no poetry since they left school” and in 1982 edited the 'Collected Poems of Ivor Gurney' whose work he admired and publicized and in 1985, edited The Bodley Head 'G K Chesterton' and in the same year with his friend, the poet James Michie, with whom he enjoyed walking holidays along the Severn, edited the much-admired 'Oxford Book of Short Poems' while at the same time writing column in 'Life and Letters' for 'The Spectator' which he continued until 1996.
* in 1986 at the age of 55, featured as General Sir George Newhouse in the film 'Half Moon Street' based on Paul Theoux novel 'Doctor Slaughter' starring Sigourney Weaver and Michael Caine :
* in 1993 at the age of 62 was awarded the Society of Authors’ 'Cholmondeley Award for Poetry' following the publication of his 'Collected Poems' and the following year published 'Voices in Ireland: A Traveller’s Literary Companion', having already used his Irish ancestry in his 1990 travel book, 'Finding Connections' and declared in 'The Perfect Stranger' in 1966 that 'my blood on both sides of my family is Irish as far back as anybody can be bothered to trace.'
* played a cameo role in the tv series 'Father Ted' in 1998 as Father Seamus Fitzpatrick, a collector of Nazi war memorabilia, whose relics included a surviving member of the Wehrmacht after which he, with his distinctive face and voice, was plagued with offers of more work playing Irish priests :
* in 2004 recorded 'Something About', 'A poem set in Dublin, St Stephen's Green' in the Audio Workshop in London :
* in 1992 the year in which his 'Collected Poems' was published also selected and edited 'A Book of Consolations' and compiled the anthology under nine headings :
Love, Christianity, Human Solidarity, Personal Faith, Defiance, Comedy, Pleasures, Age, and Lament
and addressed the question which he spent his life trying to answer :
'How can we cope with being in this world?'