Saturday 30 December 2017

Britain in 2017 was no longer a country for and said "Goodbye" to 30 remarkable old men who enriched it by their presence and lived within its shores for a total of 2,500 years

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Tuesday, 19 December 2017
Britain says "Farewell" to an old Professor of Bioengineering called Heinz Wolff who put his brilliant mind at the service of its old men and women
Friday, 1 December 
Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to an old expert on 'Political Communications and Mass Media' called Professor Colin Seymour-Ure

Tuesday, 14 November 
Britain is no longer a country for and says "Goodbye" to its favourite voice of TV sports broadcasting, Tim Gudgin

Sunday, 29 October 
Britain is a country which says "Farewell" to Cinematographer, Walter Lassally, who held a mirror to its face and briefly captured it on film in the 1950s and 60s

Tuesday, 17 October 
Britain is a country which has lost and says "Farewell" to its scarce 'old' campaigner for the 'Rights of the Disabled', Bert Massie

Wednesday, 4 October 
Britain is a country which once made and has now lost and says "Goodbye" to an old giant of the Trade Union Movement called Rodney Bickerstaff

Monday, 25 September 
Britain is a country which once made and has now lost its old wildlife artist and outspoken conservationist, David Shepherd

Sunday, 17 September 
Britain was once a country which made and has now lost its old and greatest Impresario and Theatre Director, Peter Hall

Thursday, 10 August 
Britain is a country which fails to bid "Farewell" and pay tribute to the life's work of its old virologist, Geoffrey Schild

Friday, 4 August 
Britain is no longer a country for and says "Thank you and Farewell" to a fearless, old spitfire pilot called Ken Wilkinson

Tuesday, 1 August 
Britain is a country which, at first rejected, then revered and now says "Farewell" to a scarce 'old' furniture designer called Mark Wilkinson

Friday, 28 July 
Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to its Grandfather of Toymakers, Ron Fuller

Saturday, 22 July 
Britain is no longer a country for and says "Goodbye" to an old Street Photographer called David Newell-Smith

Friday, 23 June 
Britain is a country which says "Goodbye" to Brian Cant where many remember him as a friend who entertained them on tv when they were young

Wednesday, 7 June 
Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to an old conductor called Jeffrey Tate, whose life bore testimony to the power of the human spirit

Saturday, 27 May 
Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" and "Thank You" to the unsung hero and Father of 'Infection Prevention Control', Professor Graham Ayliffe

Friday, 5 May 
Britain is no longer a country for and says "Thank you and Farewell" to an old, quintessentially English actor and 'lovely human being' called Moray Watson

Monday, 1 May 
Britain is no longer a country for, says "Farewell" and listens one last time to the Godfather of Kid's Comics, Leo Baxendale

Wednesday, 26 April 
Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to the Father of Recycled WasteJon Vogler

Tuesday, 18 April 
Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to the scarce old Father of 'Landscape Theatre' and creator of 'WildWorks', Bill Mitchell

Sunday, 9 April 
Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to actor, Tim Piggot-Smith and film director, Christopher Morahan who gave it 'Jewel in the Crown' and more, much more

Friday, 24 March 
Britain is no longer a country for an old, quintessentially English, crime fiction writer called Colin Dexter who gave it Inspector Morse

Tuesday, 7 March 
Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to an old author called Nicholas Mosley, who finally completed the long voyage around his Father, Oswald

Wednesday, 1 March 
Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to an old flier, doctor and member of McIndoe's Guinea Pig Club called Sandy Saunders

Monday, 20 February 
Britain is no longer a country for and says "Goodbye" to its courageous Prince of Media, Steve Hewlet

Monday, 20 February 
Britain is a country where Scotland's Shetland Islands say "Farewell" to their erstwhile lighthouse keeper of Muckle Flugga and storyteller from Yell called Lawrence Tulloch

Friday, 3 February 
Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to it greatest neuroscientist, Professor Geoffrey Raisman

Saturday, 21 January 
Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to an old tv film director called David Richards

Tuesday, 10 January 
Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to the Patron Saint of children with asthma and cystic fibrosis, Doctor Archie Norman

Thursday, 5 January 2017
Britain is a country and Wales a nation which say "Goodbye" to an old athlete called Bernard Baldwin, who gave a town called Mountain Ash its 'Nos Galan Road Race

Britain as a country says : 
"Thanks for the doing and the giving"

Sunday 24 December 2017

Britain is no country for hundreds of thousands chronically lonely old men for whom Christmas is "just another day"

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The charity 'Age UK' has commissioned a film,‘Just Another Day’, to portray the reality of old men and women in Britain spending Christmas alone. There are close on a million of them.

The film depicts the daily routine of an old man who walks unnoticed beside those going about their business on the street and at the supermarket, until his routine is brought to a dramatic halt when he realises the shops are closed for Christmas. In fact, directed by Philippe Andre, through the production company 'Independent,' it follows his unchanging daily routine without human contact across the seasons, where Christmas is just another day. It has been shown in key locations across the country during Christmas ‘together moments’. This has included one of London’s busiest Stations, Euston, which displayed moving messages to consumers as they passed through the station.

Today, on Christmas Eve, the finale of the Christmas campaign will feature on London’s iconic 'Storm Cromination', reaching people as they travel home to loved ones.

Kathi Hall, Head of Content Strategy and Brand at Age UK, said : “Launching our Christmas campaign is a very special time of year for us because it gives us the chance to show the day in day out reality of chronic loneliness and raise much needed funds for the charity to help vulnerable older people. Working with Philippe we believe we have been able to capture the poignancy of loneliness in powerful content that will stay in people’s minds well after the Christmas season is over.”

Philippe himself has said : “It was very important for me to make this film for such a great cause. I truly hope people will be moved by the film and become more conscious about this massive problem older people are suffering from in silence and isolation. My goal was to recreate what is loneliness for older people.  I truly think it will touch the audience.”

Age UK has said that research has shown that some 873,000 people aged 65 and over don’t see or hear from anyone for days on end over the festive period. Some two-fifths of those in need of company are widowed.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, has said: “Loneliness doesn’t only affect older people over the Christmas period, but because most of us expect to spend this time of the year enjoying ourselves with family and friends it can make those who are unwillingly on their own feel all the more left out and miserable. For many lonely older people the festive season also brings back memories of happier times in years gone by, reminding them of partners and other close relatives and friends who are no longer around and who they sorely miss. Chronic loneliness is not only horrible to experience day in, day out, it can also have a devastating impact on an older person’s mental and physical health.”

Friday 22 December 2017

Britain is still a country for and says "Get well soon" to a brave old rocker called Chris Rea who, sadly, won't be 'Driving Home for Christmas'

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Chris, who is scarce old at 66 years, was on tour in Oxford when he fell backwards half way through a song in his performance on the stage of the New Theatre a week ago. He was taken to hospital and, as far as I know, that is where he remains for Christmas.

His health problems began when he was 43 years old in 1994, when he had peritonitis and stomach complications and got worse six years later when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, underwent a 'Whipple procedure' and lost the head of his pancreas and part of his duodenum, bile duct and gall bladder. As a consequence of this, he developed diabetes and a generally weaker immune system and had to take thirty-four pills and seven injections a day.

He has said : "It's not until you become seriously ill and you nearly die and you're at home for six months, that you suddenly stop, to realise that this isn't the way I intended it to be in the beginning. Everything that you've done falls away and start wondering why you went through all that rock business stuff."

Last year he suffered a stroke, which left him with slurred speech and reduced movement in his arms and fingers and soon afterwards he quit smoking to deter further strokes and recovered well enough to record his 24th album in September, 'Road Songs for Lovers.' On tour again, he was at his 35th concert of his 37-venue tour when he collapsed in Oxford.

The genesis of his classic 'Driving Home for Christmas' is laced with romance. It was 1978, he was 27 years old and working at Abbey Road Studios in London and trying to emulate success of 'Fool If You Think It's Over.' His wife Joan drove down from where they lived in Middlesborough in her Austin Mini to pick him up for the Christmas break. It was cheaper to do this than travel by train, since he couldn't afford the ticket. As he said :

"My career at that point was really on the floor. I'd ceased to become the popstar the record companies wanted me to be and I was about to be dropped. So it was pretty ropey when we left Abbey Road that night. We had been discussing opening an Italian restaurant and leaving the music business and we started to drive home. It was snowing when we left Abbey Road and we were young. we were in love. I just felt happy. I felt, stuff what's happening with me career, it's Christmas. There was a little tune in me head that just felt Christmassy"

He recalled that he was stuck in heavy traffic with snow falling and started looking at the other drivers who "all looked so miserable. Jokingly I started singing : "We're driving home for Christmas." Whenever the street lights shone inside the car he "just scribbled the lyrics down, back of a fag packet, that kind of thing. I always do that." 

"I'm driving home for Christmas
Oh, I can't wait to see those faces
I'm driving home for Christmas, yeah
Well I'm moving down that line."

"Top to toe in tailbacks
Oh, I got red lights on the run
But soon there'll be a freeway, yeah
Get my feet on holy ground."

"I take look at the driver next to me
He's just the same
Just the same."

"Driving home for Christmas
With a thousand memories."

The background to his feelings about Christmas were all tied up with his memories as a kid :
"I was very happy person in Middlesborough. We were Irish-Italians. Total family, there was nine of us. Christmas was huge. Christmas was more special then. I always loved coming down about four o'clock in the morning and it would be icy wastes or snow outside and the fire was still on. Magic."

He recalled : "We eventually got home about half past five in the morning. What I always remember was when we opened the door of the house, that we were just about to loose the mortgage on, the snow fell in the hall and didn't melt. It was that cold and there was one letter on the floor and I opened it and it was a PRS statement for 'Fool If You think It's Over' in America and I passed this to Joan and she was having to check the noughts and it was just a Christmas story. I just said to her : "well we're gonna have the big tree then."

Another ten years were to pass before, in 1988, Chris recorded and released the song for which he will always be remembered at this time of the year. This was six years before he was beset by a sea of troubles relating to his poor health, which at first made him reappraise the song because he associated it with his illness-free youth :

As he said, five years ago : 

He has made peace with his song :

"I quite like it now. It's one of those silly moments and I think we all get silly at Christmas."

Thursday 21 December 2017

Britain is no country for the more and more old men who are homeless this Christmas

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Britain in 2017 and a sobering statistic : the number of old people becoming homeless in England has doubled in the last seven years. It means that people, over the age of 60, are now twice as likely to register with local councils as 'homeless' than they were seven years ago, with the figure having risen from 1,210 in 2009 to 2,420 last year. Given the fact that older men are more likely to figure in this statistic than older women, the figure of 1,500 seems about right for old men.

The data shows that among the homeless elderly population in 2016, more than half - 61%,. were over the age of 65 and 21% were over the age of 75. Once again, while overall homelessness has increased to 59,260, Government data shows the figure for old people has surged by more than double as much.

The future is grim : The Local Government Association, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, has warned that, based on existing trends, the number of homeless old people is set to double by 2025.

In light of the figures, Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said : “The fact that the number of older people who are homeless has risen by so much is very worrying. To avoid these figures going even further in the wrong direction, we need a proper safety net for when people are unfortunate enough to fall on hard times."

Polly Neate, Chief Executive of 'Shelter,' said the Charity had seen a rise in the number of homeless old people using their services and urged that in order for the “nightmare” to end, Government ministers must freeze housing benefit and commit to building more affordable homes. She said : “It’s astonishing that our housing crisis has got so bad that a record number of elderly people are turning up at their councils needing help finding somewhere to live. Sadly, we’re seeing this in our own services too, with older people regularly needing our advice and support when they become homeless.” 

Britain in 2017 : a country where there is too high a number of homeless old men and women. 

Britain in 1917 : a country where there was too high a number of homeless old men and women.

The endless cycle of repetition

Tuesday 19 December 2017

Britain says "Farewell" to an old Professor of Bioengineering called Heinz Wolff who put his brilliant mind at the service of its old men and women

                                 At One Million page views :

Heinz, who has died at the age of 89, probably got his ability to understand the problems encountered by those less advantaged than himself from the trials he faced when he was a boy. This consisted of the discrimination his family began to face in Berlin after Hitler and the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933. He had been born in 1928 in the dieing days of the Weimar Republic in a Wolff family, the members of which considered themselves to be 'German'. In fact, young Heinz had been forced to ask his father, Oswald, a volunteer in the Kaiser's Army in the First World War : “What is a Jew?”

As the persecution of Jews in Germany increased, his father used his understanding of business law to help fellow Jews to get around the currency laws and escape. Young Heinz obviously suffered when, at the age of ten, his mother, Margot, died in 1938. His father laid plans for the family to escape from Germany and the the following year, in August, a month before the outbreak of the Second World War in Europe, they fled to the Netherlands and arrived in Britain on the day war was declared. Heinz told Sue Lawley on BBC Radio 4’s 'Desert Island Discs' in 1998, when he was 70, with enormous understatement :  “We really cut it rather fine.”

Much later in life, when he had obtained his celebrity status, he became involved with the rehabilitation of people with disabilities and was a Vice-President of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists. In fact, it was when he was 55, in 1983, that he founded the 'Brunel Institute for Bioengineering' at Brunel University in Middlesex. Under his leadership, the Institute became financially self-supporting and won contracts for work in space research, medical instrumentation and technology for the improvement of the quality of life for older people.

It was his concern for the growing proportion of Europe’s old people which expressed itself through the work of his Institute whose income he supplemented with the fees from his after-dinner speeches. Heinz used his inventive genius well when he worked on an electric prototype car for old people. It had a front-opening door to be parked facing the kerb and with seats that slid forward to ease driver and passenger safely on to the pavement.

In 2000 he led a team of scientists working on a new 'Millennium House' which was developed using a £1·2 million Government grant and was tested as a possible alternative to sheltered housing for elderly people. Heinz explained its bespoke nature : “It will say things such as ‘I wonder if it is not time to get out of bed?’ or ‘Have I taken my medicine yet?’ in their own voices to remind them of what they have to do.”

Heinz began to argue that the real solution to the stresses and humiliations of elderly people demanded not a re-engineering of hardware but of society.

Working with the 'Young Foundation' and 'Age UK,' in 2010 he set up the organisation, in which young people volunteered to help old people and then 'banked' credits against the day they might have need help. It was a beautiful idea but, sadly, a trial on the Isle of Wight, saw the project judged not sustainable. He didn't give up and in 2016, Heinz and his colleague, Brunel’s Dr Gabriella Spinelli, launched , a £1 million government-funded venture which, based on reciprocity and intergenerational care, enabled volunteers to support someone in their community so as to, once again, receive the same later in life. Gabriella commented that : “Give and Take Care was Heinz’s last and ultimate passion."

Despite, by his own admission, not being an expert in health or social care, he worked as hard on it has on any of his previous work. His aim was to bring about a new way of dealing with the social care crisis facing old people in Britain.

Gabriella said :
"Working with Heinz was like being at the centre of an ideas factory; he was fiercely curious and always had new avenues to explore.”

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Britain, even more no country for old women than old men

                                   At One Million page views :

The latest International Longevity Centre Report, published last week and entitled : 'Inequalities in later life', has pointed out that, in Britain in 2017 : Old women are more likely to be poor, socially isolated, badly housed, unhealthy and die sooner because of a lifetime of lower pay and unequal working conditions than old men.

Based on a study by the 'Centre for Ageing Better', it found 'shameful' and stark contrasts in people’s experiences of later life, with severe inequalities among old people largely a product of poverty and disadvantage throughout life and women aged 65-69 suffering the worst discrimination of all,with only 36% of this age group receiving the full state pension.

Claire Turner, 'Director of Evidence' at the Centre for Ageing Better said : “A good later life is something we should expect for everyone. It should not be conditional on where we live or how much money we have, nor on our gender, race, disability or sexuality, but cumulative poverty and disadvantage throughout life mean that many people will suffer poor health, financial insecurity, weak social connections and ultimately a shorter life. These inequalities – with richer older people living around eight years longer than those with less advantage – are shocking and have sustained over time, despite policy and practice designed to reduce them. Helping current older people and protecting future generations from this shameful level of inequality in health and wealth should be at the heart of policy making across health, housing, work and pensions.”

The group of old people who are worst off in Britain are those who have been female part-time workers or women with low-grade jobs. They are the ones who are at greatest risk of financial insecurity in later life. The Report found that those women who spent most of their lives working part-time are no better off in retirement than women who have never worked. In addition, there is also evidence which suggests that people from ethnic minority backgrounds are less likely to have adequate pension savings, with women from such backgrounds at particular risk.

The review also found that poor old men and women are more likely to have one or more health problems, including : angina, diabetes, depression, osteoarthritis and cataracts and poor people in later life are up to 4.2 times more likely to have diabetes and up to 15.1 times more likely to have osteoarthritis. In other words, old people who live in poorer areas are significantly more likely to be frail than those who live in richer areas and have more wealth.

This was a weighty piece of research, with the teams spending a year studying 25,000 research papers, published over the past decade and finding that poor education and work opportunities, along with lack of social connection, have long-term consequences. These consequences are often made worse by reduced income in retirement and the impact of having many long-term health conditions.

Thomas Scharf from the Institute of Health and Society and Institute for Ageing at Newcastle University, said: “Our research confirms the persisting nature of inequalities affecting people in later life. This means that, as people age, not everyone has the same access to good health and well being, decent incomes and housing, or supportive social relationships. The fact that evidence of inequalities is consistent over time points to the need for a stronger focus on addressing the causes of disadvantage in later life. This is a challenge not only for government, but for society as a whole."

Britain in 2017 : 
A country where richer old men and women live eight years longer than those who are poor. 

Britain in 1917 :
A country where richer old men and women lived considerably longer than those who were poor. 

Britain, a country where, over the passage of time, for poor old men and women : nothing changes