Tuesday 26 November 2019

Brexit-obsessed Britain is no country for old men in need of social care

There are nearly 12 million men and women between the the age of 65 and 75 today. Over the next ten years, death will inevitably reduce their number by about 5 million and most of them will be in England and not Scotland, Wales and Northern Island, by virtue of its larger population, but also by virtue of the fact that, if present Government inertia continues, they would have died through lack of social care. Research by Age UK, confirms that at least 74,000 old people in England have died waiting for care between the 2017 and 2019 Brexit-driven general elections. A total of 81 old men and women are needlessly dying every day, equating to three an hour, through want of social care.

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Age UK’s Director, Caroline Abrahams said : “No-one knows how many of these older people, if any, might have lived longer had they received care in time. But at the very least their final days would probably have been more comfortable and their families and friends would have felt better supported. The truth is that our political system has completely failed when it comes to the reform and funding of social care and older and disabled people are being badly let down. This general election is the latest in a long list of opportunities to put things right and we fervently hope that this time it’s different.”

In addition : In the 18 months between the last election and the forthcoming one in December, 1,725,000 unanswered calls for help for care and support will have been made by old people. This, said Age UK , was the equivalent of 2,000 futile appeals a day, or 78 an hour.

Caroline said that "this huge number of requests for help did not lead to any support actually being given for three main reasons " :
Either because the old people died or will die before services were provided.
Or because their local authority had decided that they were not eligible for social care.
Or because their local authority had signposted them to some other kind of help than a care service.

A Government Green Paper is the device to trigger action, but in Bexit-obsessed Britain, none has been produced. Caroline said : “Unfortunately, we have effectively wasted the last 18 months, waiting for the social care green paper that never was. No one knows how many of these older people, if any, might have lived longer had they received care in time, but at the very least their final days would probably have been more comfortable and their families and friends would have felt better supported. Social care is not some kind of nice-to-have optional extra – it’s a fundamental service on which millions of older and disabled people depend every day. It is appalling that one and a half million older people in our country now have some unmet need for care – one in seven of the entire older population.”

Julie Ogley, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), welcomed the Age UK Report, saying : “Social care enables so many of us to get the care and support we need to live good lives and die good deaths. But too many of us continue to struggle to get the care and support we need. These figures show why the next Government must prioritise adult social care. Successive governments have promised, but ultimately failed to deliver, the change we all need. The millions of us who rely on adult social care cannot afford another missed opportunity. That is why we are calling on each of the parties to set out their positive plans for the future of social care.”

'Why call it Social Care when nobody cares ?'https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBck4ZjwefE

Monday 25 November 2019

Britain is still a country for and says "Happy Birthday" to an old MP called Dennis Skinner, who still, after all these years, speaks his truth to power

Dennis Skinner, Labour Party Member of Parliament, has represented Bolsover since 1970 is 87 years old and has been for those 42 years a living example of what British democracy is all about. He has always been a 'back bencher', has never held a government post and never been frightened to ask pose any question to anyone on the Government front benches and this has included ten Prime Ministers, some in his party, as well as the Conservative Party. Dennis spoke his truth to power which was :

Ted Heath (Conservative) between 1970 and 74 when Dennis was in his late thirties and early forties.

Harold Wilson (Labour) between 1974 and 76 when he was 42, 43. 44.

Jim Callaghan (Labour) between 1976 and 79 when he was in his middle to late forties.

Margaret Thathcher (Conservative) between 1979 and 1990 when he was in his late forties to late fifties.

John Major (Conservative) between 1990 and 1997 in his late fifties to mid sixties.

Tony Blair (Labour) between 1997 and 2007 when he was between 65 and 75.

Gordon Brown (Labour) between 2007 and 2010 when he was in his mid to late seventies.

David Cameron (Conservative) between 2010 and 2016 when he was in his late seventies and early eighties.





Theresa May (Conservative) between 2016 and 2019 when he was between eighty-four and eighty-six.

Boris Johnson (Conservative) this year at the age of eighty-six

What many people don't know about Dennis, that he :

* was born in Derbyshire, the third of nine children, his father was a coalminer and he himself worked for over 20 years as a miner, trade union leader and local Labour Party councillor before studying at Ruskin College Oxford.

* was elected MP for the Labour 'safe-seat' of Bolsover in 1970 and started with the defining belief that power and acquiring it, corrupts and is acknowledged, even by his worst enemies to be absolutely incorruptible with no compromises, no bribes, no favours.

* has taken a liberal stance on social issues : voted in favour of equalisation of the age of consent, civil partnerships, adoption rights for same-sex couples and outlawing discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

* in 2003, voted against the Iraq War and voted against Government policy to allow terror suspects to be detained without trial for 90 days and in 2007, voted against his own Government policy to renew the Trident Nuclear Missile System.

* has been suspended from Parliament on at least ten occasions, usually for "unparliamentary language" when attacking opponents :

Twice in 1984, once for calling David Owen a "pompous sod" and only agreeing to withdraw "pompous." and the second time for stating Margaret Thatcher would "bribe judges."
In 1992, referring to the Minister of Agriculture John Gummer as "a little squirt of a Minister" and "a slimy wart on Margaret Thatcher's nose".
In 1995, accusing the Major government of a "crooked deal" to sell off Britain's coal mines.
In 2005, when referring to the economic record of the Conservatives in the 1980s, making the remark, "The only thing that was growing then were the lines of coke in front of Boy George and the rest of the Tories", a reference to allegations originally published in the Sunday Mirror of cocaine use by the Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne though, in the Commons, Dennis referred to the News of the World newspaper.
In 2016, for referring to Prime Minister David Cameron as "Dodgy Dave" in relation to Cameron's tax affairs : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvIUa47x_Oc

* refuses to miss any sitting in the House of Commons, saying that "if you missed a shift at the pit, you would get the sack".

* refuses to adopt the 'pairing system' in which he can agree a mutual abstention with a Conservative MP, saying he won't cover for them whilst they "go swanning off to Ascot or to their boardrooms".

* in the 2004–2005 sitting of the House, claimed the least expenses for an MP who served the full year.

* does not : eat alongside parliamentary colleagues in the Commons dining room, take trips or holidays 'paid for' by others, drink in the Commons Bar.

* does sit on the first seat of the front bench below the gangway in the Commons, known as the 'Awkward Squad Bench' because it is where rebel Labour Party MPs have traditionally sat.

* wears in a distinctive tweed jacket and red tie whilst most other MPs wear suits.

* gained the sobriquet 'the Beast of Bolsover' for falling foul of the procedures of Parliament, many of which are in his view archaic and contemptible.

To David Cameron's front bench :
"Half the Tory members opposite are crooks."
and when he was then told to withdraw the remark.
"OK, half the Tory members aren’t crooks."

Every year at the state opening of Parliament Black Rod is sent on behalf of the Queen to request that MPs come through to the House of Lords by banging on the door of the House of Commons with his black rod. Dennis' remarks to the Queen have become part of this tradition too.

1987 “Tell her to sell up” – a reference to how the Queen could help the recession.
1988 “Hey up, Here comes Puss In Boots!”
1990 “I bet he drinks Carling Black Label.”
1992 “Tell her to pay her taxes!”
2000 “Tell her to read the Guardian!” – at the time The Guardian was running a republican campaign.
2005 “Has she brought Camilla with her?”
2006 “Have you got Helen Mirren on standby?”
2008 “Any Tory moles at the Palace?”
2009 “Royal Expenses are on the way.” – after the MPs’ expenses scandal
2013 “Royal Mail for sale. Queen’s head privatised.”
2019 "I'll not be going" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBZMoK7HjzM

And despite enduring bowel cancer, a heart bypass and a hip replacement, retirement is not on his mind and he will fight the next election in Bolsover on December 12th.

Dennis talking about his Mum : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=di72nymSHYo

Sunday 24 November 2019

Britain was once a country which made and has now lost its old Prince of Architects, Ted Cullinan


Ted, who has died at the age of 88, was born Edward Horder Cullinan, into an upper middle class family in Islington, London in the summer of 1931 and brought up in a house in Nash Terrace in Regents Park.
It is surprising that architecture rather than medicine was to be his chosen profession, since his mother, Joy, was the daughter of Lord Horder, who was the personal physician to King George VI and his father, Edward, worked as Horder's house physician in the departments of venereology and dermatology at St Bart's Hospital in London. In addition his father's father, who had been born in County Clare in Ireland also had a medical practice in Kensington.

With both parents catholic in religion, Ted and his two brothers and sister were brought up within that religious framework, but in his early years, his mother was clearly the formative secular influence in his life. Before marriage, she had studied and won a Gold Medal at the Slade School of Fine Art and he remembered her as a "great modernist who was quite convinced of the value of modern architecture, modern design and the future."

Later, it was she who encouraged him to paint and write poetry and it was her choice to have Alvar Alto furniture in the nursery and take him to the Penguin Pool at London Zoo designed by Berthold Lubetkin. Ted recalled that he : "adored it. Its one of the easiest things to love that there is."

He saw less of his father, but recalled that "a lovely thing about my father was that he was a member of the Inner Magic Circle" and was a "great conjurer. That was a great passion of his and he used to conjure in children's shows and for his patients. He was also passionate about making things and photography." He was also passionate about family holidays canal boating and owned a boat on the River Thames which Ted painted in traditional manner with "roses and castles and other decorations."

The other influence on him was his Mother's youngest brother, Mervyn Horder and he remembered a journey, when he was 5 or 6, with Mervyn driving his Grandfather's Rolls Royce down the Kingston Byepass to his country residence in Ashford Chase in Hampshire and "as we passed all the new houses he would point to them and say pseudo-tudor,  neo-Georgian, ultra modern." Mervyn would then insist that he repeated them back to him.

Uncle Mervyn, who was just twenty years older than Ted, was determined that he should follow in the footsteps of Mervyn's cousin, the Arts and Crafts architect, Percy Morley Horder and not become a doctor. Morley was the architect who designed Nottingham University, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and even a house for the then PM Lloyd George.

Ted recalled in 2010 that Mervyn "did a great deal of indoctrination on me when I was young in the thirties and although, until I was about five, I wanted to be a deep sea diver, after that I wanted to be an architect. Never wanted to be anything else. So I looked at everything and I still do. Whenever I go to whatever despised suburb or slum, I look and I look and I look and I look and I'm incredibly interested in the way people do things well and the way they do them badly too."

He was eight years old when the Second World War broke out in 1939 and with the start of hostilities the following year he was evacuated with his mother and brothers and sisters to Canada. He would not see his father again until the War was over in 1946 and he was fifteen. His father stayed in Britain, joined the R.A.M.C, served in a General Hospital in the Canal Zone, Egypt, and later in another near Alexandria and at Sidon, before going to East Africa Command as a brigadier. It was here he became friends with politicians who would govern after independence and was a great friend of Julius Nyerere.

In the summer of 1942, when he was 11 years old and on holiday on Lake Magog in Canada, he built a waterside hut for his 10 year old girlfriend in the shape of an igloo which he could stand up in : "I built a house for my girlfriend there. I built a house out of stone for my girlfriend Shirley Parker and when she moved in I asked her to marry me and she said "no". I guess it was my first building."

In 1943, at the age of 12, he left Montreal with his younger brother and was taken across the Atlantic on a month's voyage on the SS Duchess of Richmond by the Royal Navy on a zig-zag course, via the Azores and in the company of the ship's plumbers.
Then, after a stay at his Grandfather's house in Hampshire, made his way with his brother at night, though the pitch black of the wartime blackout, to North Yorkshire to their new home as boarders at the catholic independent school for boys, Ampleforth College run by Benedictine monks.

He was not happy at Ampleforth, but found that being a hooker in the rugby team brought him a little kudos and justified "doing wet thing like being in the art room drawing."  On his own admission he was "hopeless" at his school work, so much so, that he had to repeat the fourth year.
However, he was made the school's 'lake monitor' and placed in charge of its boats and supervised the boys to build a boat house complete with concrete base and Nissan hut body and "put hours and hours and hours into it. I went on at it until it was done" and "it was such fun." In addition, at the age of 15, during school holidays began to build a brick house by a stream in the garden of his grandfather's house at Ashford Chase.

When he was 16, Uncle Mervyn took him on two week long, summer car trips in his citroen bif six, with the painter John Piper to East Anglia with a visit to Stowe House. He watched Piper paint : "I just gawped and gawped" at his ability to draw and paint on the same spot and recalled that "it influenced me terrifically" and it "completely changed the way I painted." When he returned to Ampleforth the monk who taught him art said : "I suppose you'd better paint like John Piper and get it out of your system. So I did."

When he was 18, he won a scholarship to Queens' College, Cambridge, based on his entrance exam drawing of a Georgian fireplace and his essay on Victorian theatre which he "made up completely out of my head because I had no real knowledge of Victorian theatre, but I I knew to write how flamboyant and disgracefully unfunctional they were because Victorian architecture wasn't loved in the 40s and 50s. It was a kind of Betjeman discovery. So I wrote a really insulting essay on Victorian architecture."

Before his undergraduate studies he had to undertake his two years national service in the Army in the Royal Engineers where he considered himself to be "pretty hopeless" but was eventually made a second lieutenant because "if you'd been to public school and you had a posh accent it would have been completely disgraceful not to have been made an officer." When he came out of the Army his father, a traditional conservative, regarded him "as hopelessly socialist" and asked him " "Can't you join the Liberal Party ?" He thought I was a silly, privileged boy."

At the age of 20 in 1951 he started his degree at Cambridge in the school of architecture, where his tutor made him read 'Vers une Architecture' by Le Corbusier on day one. Cambridge also gave him the opportunity to visit and "salivate over Le Corbusier’s Unité at Marseilles and the lovely hairy Maisons Jaoul."

When recalling these years, in 2010, he said it was his visit to Durham Cathedral which made a major impact on him : "I think it's the most thrilling building in Europe. Totally astonishing building. This great rock of vast Romanesque column that have zig-zag decorations in them, but look as if they were done with someone with a black and dekker power tool."
Westminster Cathedral, which he revisited to admire the work of Bentley's brick arches and vaults, having been there as a boy, gave him a similar emotional response and left him feeling "silenced."

In his second year at Cambridge he started work on the Belle Toute Lighthouse his parents had bought on the cliff at Beachy Head, which had been badly damaged by the Army using it for target practice during the War and working with friends from Cambridge and later the Architect Association he recalled : "That was the first substantial building that I ever started work on physically and designing it." He had a free hand and said there were "no listings, no English Heritage in those days so I could do what I liked." Unfortunately the asbestos revealed in demolition left him with life long asthma.

He explained, with perfect self-effacement, that gaining his first class degree at Cambridge, which involved a six hour exam designing a whole building : "I've always been able to imagine the dimensions of a building and I have some skill in drawing" and : "That was not hard for me because all my life I've loved looking at things. That's all you have to do for the history of architecture. You look at things and consider them and read a bit and consider the the three dimensions and the way they occupy space and sit in the world."

Having graduated from Cambridge in 1954 he enrolled for two years study at the Architecture Association and before he started his second year he bicycled across Northern France to visit Corbusier's 'Notre Dame du Haut' at Ronchamp.
He recalled : "I've never been so moved by any piece of architecture in my life ever. The fact of its sculptural exterior and the sheer feeling of ecstatic light in its interior. It was beyond belief to me. I didn't know that architecture could achieve this level of sophistication and profundity and feeling." 

It was in his fourth year at the Association that he finished work on the Belle Tout Lighthouse and had been deeply affected by the experience : "The way materials go together. The way things are put on top of each other. It's a wonderful process. It's statics and dynamics. It's something that absolutely delights me." He linked this with his experience at Ronchamp : "The quality of outside and inside, I feel that physically. It's a very powerful feeling that I have. I can feel my body in places, like how its occupying ? How near to the edge it is ? I think any good architect could do that."

On completing his studies and having won a George VI Memorial scholarship to study in the USA, he now took himself off to the University of California, Berkley, where he had a "completely wonderful time : Modern Jazz Quartet, Dave Brubeck, hash, reading Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac and it was as if the world was being reinvented as far as I was concerned. It was an amazing period. 1956-57. Northern California." 

He wasn't impressed by the School of Architecture at the University, but he used his time to design the Marvin House for private clients.

For transport he bought himself car and he "had to have a 1949 Ford V8, because it was the first car that didn't have imitation wings pressed into its sides, but was just a three box car and I loved that for its simple detailing... but far more because it was the car James Dean drove in 'Rebel without a Cause.' " Meanwhile, back home in Britain, during the Suez Crisis, he had been called up for National Service for the country's imperial venture in Egypt, but like many other young men, he simply ignored it.

On his return to Britain in 1960 and finished the Horder House in Hampshire, https://vimeo.com/6698682#t=00m22s
praised as 'an idiosyncratically English version of the glass-box-in-the-wood, which he had designed for Uncle Mervyn having virtually self-built it with the help of a retired gardener in the same way that he was to design and build his own house in Camden Mews in N.W. London, a few years later.

He now he secured a job working four days a week in the office of Denys Lasdun who he'd met at the AA. The other day was reserved for his own work since, as he recalled, he had "always imagined myself as an architect in my own right." One of the first projects Denys got him to work on was the design and build of the student rooms of the new University of East Anglia with their ziggurat formation.
Apparently he was assigned this part of the project because Denys said : "Because I was wet behind the ears and only just not a student myself, so I might know what they needed.""

Dennis could be difficult to work for, but Ted said the he "loved and admired Denis more than any other architect. All the difficulties could be overlooked." In 1965 at the age of 34 his next project was to be the first he did on his own in independent practice. Dennis passed the Minster Lovell Conference Centre and the Law House which involved the conversion of existing manor house for use by developmental sciences to him. He confessed that it was "very hard work" using concrete masonry on the inside and dressed stone on the outside and he "concocted a series of building bolted together timber, in fact English larch, because I love using pieces of wood without housing them and turning into rot inviting." He also extended the existing building of the manor house across the landscape to make study bedrooms and the project won European World Heritage Prize.

In the succeedings year Ted's co-operative, 'Edward Cullinan Architects' gave Britain a series of inspirational buildings like :

Olivetti branch offices in Belfast, Derby, Dundee and Carlisle in 1972

Charles Cryer Theatre, Carshalton in 1991
                                                   Fountains Abbey Visitor Centre in 1992

The Weald and Downland Gridshell in 2002

Centre for Mathematical Sciences in Cambridge 2003
Fitzwilliam College Library in Cambridge in 2010

In addition to his work as an architect, Ted was an inspirational teacher who first taught at Cambridge University in 1965/66 and subsequently at The Bartlett, Sheffield University, MIT and the University of Edinburgh.
In 2008, when he was awarded the Royal Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects in recognition of his 'Inspirational practice and teaching' the RIBA President Sunand Prasad said : "He is also known for being one of the great teachers of our times, and hundreds of students continue to be inspired by his enthusiasm, energy and deep insights into architecture."

Ted himself said of teaching : "My view with students is if you're going to suggest they do things in a certain way you had better have done things in a certain way that's bloody good, otherwise, if I was to speak they wouldn't listen to me. You can't propose to other people that they listen to you unless they listen to what they see."

On his death the present RIBA President, Alan Jones said : "Archtecture has lost a pioneer. Ted will be sorely missed and fondly remembered for the incredible contribution he made to archtecture and society. Not only did Ted shape our landscape - leaving behind dozens of ground-breaking buildings, but he inspired the next generation as one of the great teachers of our time, inspiring thousands of students and colleauges with his enthusiasm, energy and boundless knowledge."

Ted, in his work successfully achieved his aspiration to imitate :
"Two buildings that are very profound and incredibly complex and at the same time incredibly easy to love : the Penguin Pool and Le Corbusier's Chapel at Ronchamps which is unbelievable lovable by informed people and uninformed people."