Saturday, 27 February 2010

Britain is a country where the Labour Party celebrates ' Our Ageing Society'

The 'Guardian Newspaper' journalist, Alexander Chancellor told us readers on Friday that :

* The Prime Minister, had invited him to a reception in Downing Street next week, the purpose of which was, to ' celebrate our ageing society'.

* Having just turned 70, he wrote : 'I am clearly ageing, I cannot imagine either, why I have been asked, or can imagine why, an ageing society is something to celebrate'.
* He went on, along the lines that, as 'everybody knows', our ageing society is 'a worry'.

* He had read two reports in newspapers which said that more than 100,000 British workers were forced to retire last year at 65, although they 'couldn't afford to' and 'didn't want to'.

* The second report said : 'By the middle of this century, people will have to wait until 70, for their state pensions, if the country is going to be able to afford to pay them'.

* Alexander said : 'One might conclude that now is a grim time to be getting old'.

* He went on to say : 'this is not a widely voiced opinion'. It is more fashionable to maintain that the old have never had it so good, or been healthier, happier and more vigorous.

* He said that this seemed to be borne out by a survey showing that the average person is happiest at the age of 74.

* Having asked 21,000 men and women : 'how happy they were at different moments in their lives?', analysts found that they reached their peak of happiness at the age of 74.

* He wrote : 'That is what we all hope will happen to us in old age, but alas, we can't count on it. Not everyone is granted serenity with the years. 'I know almost as many anxious, dissatisfied and insecure old people as I do contented ones'.

* He went on :
' Poverty and ill health are the enemies of happiness, so I wonder, if we should totally trust, the surveys findings.'

* He perceived that : ' Old people know :'the young long for them to be happy so they won't have to feel guilty about them' and know that 'if they aren't happy now, there won't be many future opportunities, since the grim reaper cannot be indefinitely delayed'.

* He noted that ' everything written nowadays about old age doesn't really mean anything any more, like :

'You're only as young as you feel', just adds pressure on old people to respond positively to questions about their state of mind.

* he noted that he didn't ' that most old people aren't happy, or that the outlook for them isn't now as good as it ever has been'.

* He was at pains to point out that he would : ' like it to be recognised that old people have no more a duty to be happy than teenagers have and that it is no more abnormal for them to feel depressed than it is for anybody else, whatever their age'.

* In politics the Labour Party is ahead of the Tories by 8 points on policies for 'taking care of older people' which could explain why Gordon Brown thinks Britain's "ageing society" is worth celebrating. Or, is that being too cynical ?

Friday, 26 February 2010

Old Britons say " Happy Birthday" to Sandie Shaw.

Sandie Shaw is 63 today and the 'Guardian' Newspaper says she is a ' singer and businesswoman'.

I am intrigued and shall research. Remember, that I have an open mind, but the ' businesswoman', is in the forefront of of my my mind.

What did I find out about Sandie ? :

* Was born, Sandra Ann Goodrich and brought up in Dagenham, Essex.

* Leaving school, worked at the nearby 'Ford Factory' and did some part-time modelling, before coming 'second' as a singer in a local talent contest.

* Potential spotted by singer, Adam Faith, who introduced her to his manager and she got a contract in 1964 and the stage name : 'Sandie Shaw'.

* Second 'single' had the Bacharach and David song : "There's Always Something There to Remind Me", which rose to 'Number 1', in the 'charts'.

* "Girl Don't Come", followed and became her biggest U.S. hit.

* Other songs : "I'll Stop at Nothing", "Long Live Love", and "Message Understood".

* Recorded most of her hit singles in Italian, French, German and Spanish, boosting her popularity in Europe.

* Was popular across South America and performed behind the Iron Curtain and sang at concerts in pre-revolutionary Iran.

* In 1968, began the 'Sandie Shaw' fashion label, selling her own brand of clothing and shoes and hosted her own TV show.

* In 1969, her single "Heaven Knows I'm Missing Him Now" was released, which became an inspiration for a hit by 'The Smiths', 15 years later.

* In 1972, retired from life as a singer and began working on a rock musical, songwriting and acting in stage productions, playing 'Ophelia' in Hamlet and 'Joan of Arc' in Saint Joan. She also wrote and painted childrens' books.

* In 1982, married Nik Powell, 'Co-founder of the Virgin Group' and Chairman of the European Film Academy.

* In 1986 started her first 'university tour' in almost 20 years.

* In 1988 released the album, 'Hello Angel' and made appearances at 'Gay Pride' and 'Peace' festivals.

* Had her 'biography' : 'The World at My Feet', published in 1991.

* In 1992 began studying at Oxford and the University of London and qualified as a 'psychotherapist' in 1994.

* Opened 'The Arts Clinic' in 1997 with her husband, to provide 'psychological health care and creative development' to those, in the entertainment and media industries.

* 1998 was invited to join the 'Royal Society of Musicians' as an 'Honorary Professor of Music'.

Well, I didn't find much evidence of 'the businesswoman', but here is her last 'hit' :

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Britain said " Happy Birthday" yesterday to Denis Waterman and Paul Jones

Paul Jones is 68 today and
Denis Waterman is 62.

Things you didn't know about Denis :

* Born in Clapham, London and of 13 played the part of 'Winthrop Paroo' in the Adelphi Theatre production of 'The Music Man'.

* A year later starred as William Brown in the BBC TV series 'William' based on the 'Just William' books of Richmal Crompton.

* Had a major role in the 1968 film 'Up The Junction'.

* Played the boyfriend of Susan George in "Fright" in 1971.

* Started to build a name for himself with appearances on the BBC's 'Play for Today' series, most notably in the Dennis Potter dramas : 'Follow the Yellow Brick Road' in 1972 and 'Joe's Ark' in '74.

* Became well known and something of a pin-up as D.S. George Carter in the TV series 'The Sweeney', as well as starring in 'Minder',

* Sang the theme tune, "I Could Be So Good For You", which was a top three UK hit in 1980 and a top 10 hit in Australia and had a brief singing career.

* In 1981,starred in the TV film, 'A Captain's Tale , true story of West Auckland Football Club, a part-time side who won the 'first' World Cup, known as the 'Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy'.

* In 1982, starred in the musical, Windy City which also featured Amanda Redmond who he later went on to star with in the TV series, 'New Tricks'.

* In 1986, took the lead male role in the BAFTA Award winning BBC adaptation of Fay Weldon's 'The Life and Loves of a She-Devil'.

* He appeared on stage as Alfred P. Doolittle in 'My Fair Lady'in 2001 and narrated the reality-format television programme, 'Bad Lads Army'.

* His most recent appearance was in the 2009 BBC2 mini series 'Moses Jones'.

* He has been caricatured by David Walliams in the radio and TV comedy series 'Little Britain', in sketches where he visits his agent, played by Matt Lucas looking for parts. Most of the jokes in the sketches are about Waterman being so small such that common objects are massive in comparison to him, but he is in fact five foot nine inches in height. In 2006, Waterman made a guest appearance in a Little Britain stage show, alongside the comedy character version of himself.

And lastly, the song we remember Pail Jones for :

'Do Wah Diddy Diddy Dum Diddy Do' which he sang with the Manfred Mann band in 1964

and 'I've Been a Bad, Bad Boy' when he had branched out on his own in 1967 :

Britain is a country for old men of 74 but not before or beyond

I am going to have to wait another 12 years because, according to scientists, we are most content only when we hit 74.
Apparently, a combination of fewer responsibilities and financial worries and having more time to yourself, produces a contentment unknown earlier in life.

Researchers have found that 'happiness' starts to dip in the teenage years and continues on a downward spiral until the age of 40. It then levels off until about 46, before rising to a peak more than 30 years later.

German and American scientists analysed the results of a 'long-term British survey' in which more than 21,000 men and women were regularly asked : 'how happy they were with their lives ?'

Slump: People in their twenties and thirties are handling the stresses of buying a house and bringing up a family and happiness hovered around this mark for the next few years, before taking an upturn around the age of 46.

Through their fifties and sixties they became more upbeat, with satisfaction peaking at a rating of 5.9 around 74. After that it drops off as more people become affected by health problems.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Britain this winter has been no place for old men but one with plenty of advice from the Government

It's snowing again. The wet stuff, so it won't settle. This is the worst winter in Britain for 30 years and it's good to know that our Government has provided sage observation like this from, Public Health Minister, Gillian Merron, who has said : "Cold weather is especially dangerous for older people or those with serious illnesses".

And it's also good to know that leaflets have been published for the Government's 'Keep Warm Keep Well' campaign. These give important advice to older people on how to stay fit and healthy through the winter. This advice is available online at 'NHS Choices' and in local GP's surgeries, pharmacies or council offices.

And a big 'thank you' to Yvonne Doyle, Regional Director of Public Health for the South East Coast who has said :
"Remembering the needs of friends, relatives and neighbours who could be at risk is essential. In particular, they need to keep their home at the right temperature, between 18 and 21 degrees centigrade by day and heat the bedroom just before they go to sleep. The elderly, and those who are ill, are particularly vulnerable during cold weather."

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Britain shall soon say " goodbye" to a brave man who was, once the infamous 'Inspector of Schools' called, Chris Woodhead

When I was a teacher in mainstream secondary education, the name of 'Chris Woodhead' was anathema. He was 'Chief Inspector of Schools' from 1994-2000 and, to a man and woman, we hated him.

Now, I read and found moving, as he writes in the 'Sunday Times':

* Ten years ago walking down a mountain in Wales, my legs turned to jelly. "I am getting old ?", I thought. "I spend too much time behind a desk. A pint or two in the pub', and I had forgotten all about it."

* Over the years I started to wonder about the difficulties I was having : "Why were the stairs beginning to be a problem? Why couldn’t I do rock climbs that, not so long ago, I had found a doddle?"

* I stopped pretending and the doctor was smart.
“Probably nothing,” he said, “but I’m going to refer you to a neurologist for a check-up".

* He noticed my jaw drop and added: “Don’t worry, there is probably nothing wrong. Anyway, you might walk out and get knocked down by a bus.”

* There was something wrong. Motor neurone disease . It sometimes feels as if the bus would have been the better option.

* At any one time 5,000 people in the UK have MND and 5 die every day. Fifty per cent die within 14 months of diagnosis.

* For some mysterious reason, messages from the brain, fail to reach the muscles that activate and muscles arms and legs, which then atrophy AND DIE.NDN

* Because the number of patients is small and the survival period short, there is not much incentive for drug companies to research a cure.

* 'Riluzole', the only drug available, prolongs life by two months. Whether an extra two months is worth having when you can't ' move, breathe or swallow unassisted', is a moot point.

* " Four years ago I was still walking in the Highlands. Today, I need help with washing and dressing. I struggle to get out of bed. Last June, lying on the floor waiting for the ambulance to turn up after I had fallen backwards off some stairs and hit my head on the slate floor, I was not sure that the struggle was worth making much longer.

* At some point I know that I am going to decide that I have had enough.

* In death, as in life, what matters is the timing.

* The timing of my decision will depend in part upon my physical decline: whether, that is, I can swallow the pills unaided, thus avoiding the threat of prosecution of anybody implicated in my death. That threat is real.

* As I write, Ray Gosling is being questioned by police for the murder of a lover dying of Aids he said he suffocated decades ago. No sane society would waste police time on such an investigation. Does anybody think that Gosling acted out of anything but compassion or that he is likely to rampage through hospital wards suffocating everyone he can find?

The fundamental question for me in deciding when to end my life concerns my own state of mind. One of my A-level texts was TS Eliot’s play, Murder in the Cathedral. Becket seeks martyrdom. Why, Eliot asks? Is this quest an act of egotism, or is he driven by a selfless desire to do what he believes to be right? Is he doing the right deed for the wrong reasons? For me, this has become a critical question.

* When the cards are stacked against us, the temptation is to complain that life is not fair, to stamp our feet. I know. I have been there. I have sat in my wheelchair glaring at the able-bodied young, and seethed with ridiculous jealousy. I also know that our lives are not toys to be thrown away when they break. I do not want to slide into oblivion knowing my death is a result of my pathetic inability to accept the cards I have been dealt.

* I am writing about my situation for only one reason. My life, still, just, a little, can have some use. So when the MND Association asked me if I would help its campaign to lobby politicians about the needs of patients, I didn’t hesitate. At present, support is patchy. Patients wait months to see a consultant. Many, after the diagnosis, are left to struggle on their own. Go to to learn more; sign the petition and lobby your MP. Somebody, somewhere, is going to be told tomorrow that they have MND. Thirty seconds of your time could make a difference to what will remain of their lives."

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Is Britain is no longer a country for 'Angry Young Men' like Osborne, Sillitoe, Mercer and Storey ?

Left to right : Harris, Courtenay, Burton and Warner.

When I was a student at Sussex University over 40 years ago, I chose a course about the literature of the Post-Second World War ' Angry Young Men'. It was a course designed for us students by the left wing dons at Sussex.

It was a time when we reflected on 'Post- War Anger' and still felt angry about politics in particular and the world in general, in a way that I think no longer stirs students on university campuses today. Sad. I think all countries need 'Angry Young Men' to ask questions and criticise 'The System' before, they too, become part of their Establishment.

I might be wrong.

Out in front was 'Look Back In Anger'written by the late John Osborne in 1956. The film starred the late Richard Burton :

' The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner' in 1959 was written by the now, 82 year old Alan Sillitoe and starred the now 73 year old Tom Courtenay.

Then, 'Morgan, a Suitable Case For Treatment' in 1962. Written by the late David Mercer, the film starred the now, 69 year old David Warner.

'This Sporting Life' in 1963. Written by the now, 77 year old David Storey the film starred the late Richard Harris

And then things became less angry with 'The Knack' starring the now 68 year old, Rita Tushingham and in 1965 and 'Alfie' in 1966 starring the now, 77year old, Michael Caine.

The Knack :
Alfie :

Friday, 19 February 2010

Britain's B.B.C. is a no company for old men who want news, but one where they can get a full update on the love life of golpher Tiger Woods

I just checked into the 'BBC 1 News on T.V'. to be updated on World Affairs and Domestic Affairs like 'the big ministerial discussion today about the funding of health care for the old in years to come' and possibly the latest on Haiti in the aftermath of the death of the 250,000 people.

None of that. The B.B.C. main news for first 6 minutes was the love life of the golfer Tiger Woods.

Was this the BBC, the premier broadcasting channel, which once led the world ?

I think not.

Just a wan prostitute of a channel, by the side of the road touting her salutary wears.


Britain today, a country where no longer resides, the once 'Mighty' BBC.

Britain's Old Men say " Hats off" to Leonard Cohen who wrote 'Hallelujah' in 1984 and K.D.Lang who sang it at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010

I'm not moved much these days, but K.D.Lang's rendition on Leonard Cohen's song, 'Hallelujah', moved me to tears :

In the Stadium :

In the Studio :

I heard there was a secret chord,
That David played, and it pleased the Lord,
You don't really care for music, do Ya?

It goes like this :
The fourth, the fifth,
The minor fall, the major lift,
The baffled King composing :


Your faith was strong, but you needed proof,
You saw her bathing on the roof,
Her beauty and the moonlight, overthrew Ya.

She tied you to a kitchen chair,
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair,
And from your lips she drew "Hallelujah".

"Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah"

Baby, I've been here before,
I've seen this room and I've walked the floor,
I used to live alone, before, I knew Ya.
But I've seen your flag on the marble arch,
Our love is not a victory march,
It's a cold and its a broken "hallelujah".

"Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah"

Maybe there's a God above,
But all I've ever learnt from love,
Is how to shoot somebody, who outdrew Ya.

It's not a cry that you hear at night,
It's not someone whos seen the light,
It's a cold and broken, "hallelujah".

"Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I sought out the words :

And the creator of this beautiful and hauntining song is the 76 year old Canadian, Leonard Cohen. He released it in 1984 when he was 50.

What does it all mean ?

Wikipedia says : "Hallelujah", contains several biblical references, most notably evoking the stories of Samson and traitorous Delilah from the Book of Judges as well as the adulterous King David and Bathsheba: "she cut your hair" and "you saw her bathing on the roof, her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you".

What the Master sang :

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Britain says "Goodbye" to Cy Grant

Cy Grant, singer, actor and writer died on the 13th February at the age of 90.

What you didn't know was that he was :

* Born in a village in British Guiana and grew up surrounded by music, playing guitar and singing folk songs.

* Excelled at school and was keen to study law, but his parents lacked the funds.

* Worked as a civil servant and left for Britain and joined the RAF in 1941.
* Trained as a navigator and in 1943 was shot down in the Battle of the Ruhr, landing in Holland.

* Was identified by the Gestapo as : 'a member of the Royal Air Force of indeterminate race' and held as a prisoner of war for two years.

* In 1957, began to make daily appearances on the BBC's 'Tonight' programme, bringing by giving a 'calypso' rendition of the News.

He's about half way through this :
And right up front in this :

* Was the first black face on TV on a regular basis.

* Gave up 'Newsnight' in 1960, fearing that he would be considered capable of nothing else.

* Voiced a character for Gerry Anderson's 'Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons' and appeared in an episode of The Persuaders, opposite Roger Moore.

* Anderson,had lost his own brother over the Netherlands in the War and drew on Cy's personal qualities to develop one of the first positive black fictional characters in children's television. These were the qualities deemed necessary by Anderson to defeat the Mysterons in 2068.

* His 'melliflous tones' gave Lieutenant Green, the black defender of Planet Earth alongside Captain Scarlet, a serene and heroic quality.

* He looked back on that series, an allegory of the battle between good and evil, with great fondness.

* Successfully auditioned for Laurence Olivier, had stage appearances for Olivier's company in London and New York.

* In 1965 was acclaimed as 'Othello' at the 'Phoenix Theatre', Leicester.

* In 1966 starred in 'Cindy Ella' with Cleo Laine at the Garrick Theatre.

* Appeared in the films, 'Shaft in Africa' (1973) and 'At the Earth's Core' (1976).

And the deeper side of Cy Grant :

* In order to launch black artistic talent, in 1973 founded 'Drum Arts Centre', in London, with Zimbabwean actor, John Mapondera. Staged a number of productions, including 'Bread' by Matura and 'The Gods Are Not to Blame', by Rotimi.

* The two major influences in his life, were the poet, politician, and philosopher , Aime Cesaire and the Chinese text called 'Tao Te Ching'.

* Produced and performed Cesaire's epic poem 'Notebook of a Return to the Native Land' as a one-man show,and toured Britain for more than two years. He was later to say of Cesaire:
"His revolt against Europe is what worked on me in a subliminal yet positive way. It wasn't just a revolt against racism, colonialism and the excesses of European culture, but a call for a return to our native human values, to recognise that nature is alive and bounteous and that we should not abuse her."

* In his book, 'Blackness and the Dreaming Soul', (2007), argued that white society must first discover new ways of seeing itself, in order that it might comprehend and value the "otherness" of its indigenous black citizens.

* In his essay, 'The Way of the West' (2008), argued that the black man, having reclaimed his authentic history and recovered his lost soul, must not fall into the trap of aspiring to assimilate into the so-called 'civilised values' of his former oppressors.

* Kurt Barling wrote ' In 2008, I persuaded Cy Grant to return to the village in the Netherlands where he had landed during the War to make a documentary. He recalled the desperate efforts to evacuate his plane when it crashed on Dutch soil, and the absurdity of thinking he could escape to Spain. "A black man in occupied Europe had no means of disguise".

P.S. Birthdays :

Len Deighton, novelist, is 81 today.

Graeme Garden, comic actor and script writer, 67 today.

Michael Buerk, broadcaster, 64 today.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Mans' technology of present & future were foreseen by 2 Britons : H.G.Wells and Sir James Jeans , but Canada's K.D.Lang reminds us of our humanity

I watched the opening ceremony of the Vancouver Olympics and I was awestruck by the technology. It reminded me of the words H.G.Wells wrote, probably 70 years ago :

'It is possible to believe that all the past is but the beginning of a beginning, and that all that is and has been is but the twilight of the dawn.

It is possible to believe that all that the human mind has accomplished is but the dream before the awakening; out of our lineage, minds will spring that will reach back to us in our littleness to know us better than we know ourselves.

A day will come, one day in the unending succession of days, when beings, beings who are now latent in our thoughts and hidden in our loins, shall stand upon this earth as one stands upon a footstool, and shall laugh and reach out their hands amidst the stars.'

Also the words of Sir James Jeans in 1928 : 'Humanity is at the very beginning of its existence—a new-born babe, with all the unexplored potentialities of babyhood; and until the last few moments its interest has been centred, absolutely and exclusively, on its cradle and feeding bottle.'

Returning to the 'Opening of the Vancouver Olympics', it wasn't the awesome technolgy which brought a tear to my eye, but K.D.Lang's soulful rendition of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah'.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Britain says "Happy Birthday" to Claire Bloom who is 79 today

So, Claire Bloom is 79 today. This is how I first saw and remember her in John Osborne's 'Look Back in Anger' in 1958 :

Burton was magnificent and she was beautiful and the script resonated with Post-War anger, as men like Osborne broke free from their pre- and post-War time chains. They precursored the 1960's, in fact, without them the 60's would not have happened.

The things I didn't know :

* Daughter of Elizabeth Grew and Edward Blume.

* Paternal grandparents, Blumenthal, and maternal grandparents, Griewski, were Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe.

She appeared :

* In her stage debut in 1946, at 15, with the Oxford Repertory Theatre.

* On the London stage in 1947 in 'The Lady's Not For Burning' with Richard Burton and John Gielgud.

* In her first film role in 1948 in the 'The Blind Goddess'.

* In 'Limelight' after chosen by Chaplin in 1952.

* In Laurence Olivier's film of 'Richard III', Ibsen's 'A Doll's House', 'The Outrage' with Paul Newman and Laurence Harvey, as well as, the films, 'The Spy Who Came in from the Cold' and 'Look Back in Anger'.

* In the 1960s played, as an unhinged housewife, in 'The Chapman Report', a psychologist in 'Charly', and Theodora in 'The Haunting'.

* The 1989 Woody Allen film, 'Crimes and Misdemeanors'.

* 'Brideshead Revisited', on television, in 1981.

* On the London stage in 'Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks' and co-starred with Billy Zane

* 'Doctor Who' in 2009.

Personal life :

* Married three times. First in 1959, to actor Rod Steiger.

* Third to Philip Roth and divorced in 1995.

* Written 2 memoirs. The second went into her marriages but her romantic relationships with Richard Burton and Laurence Olivier.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Britain is no country for old men who have become ' politically explosive'
I listened to a programme on Radio 4 this morning called 'Broadcasting House' which deals with the political issues which have arisen in the week. This week it was the care of old people in Britain with Andy Burnham, the Health Secretary calling and emergency conference to discuss how to fund free care at home for the elderly.

The commentator said that this week : " The whole issue of health care in old age, became so much more politically explosive ".

The Chief Political Correspondent came on and made the points that :

* Reform of the long term of the elderly had been a 'backwater'.

* Last Autumn the Prime Minister said there would be free care for the most needy.

* Cash-strapped Local Councils were outraged.

* David Cameron piled in this week to say : " It is Labour Councils telling the P.M. his policy doesn't add up".

Dame Joan Bakewell said in the House Of Lords : " I think it highly regrettable that political interests have stepped in where this serious issue was being discussed by serious men with old people at heart".
The correspondent said : " At least long term care is no longer political back water".

And the Richard Reeves, the Director of the 'Think Tank' called 'Demos' came on and made these points, from which you can draw your own conclusions :

* More people will need more care and the big question is how to pay for it.

* The only fair answers is to make pensioners sell their own homes to pay for their own care.

* Labour promise to pay elderly people to have care in their own homes will cost £1,000,000,000 and this is money they don't have.

* Baby boomers who will need the care have "done pretty well for themselves out of the property market and their assets should be sold to pay for their care, even if it means that their children miss out on juicy tax free inheritances".

* The alternative of paying for care from general taxation would be unfair with a cleaner earning £9,000 a year paying for someones care, so that "they can pass on their house worth half a million quid to their children".

* "Inherited money is the least morally deserving unrelated to any effort or talent on the part of the recipient".

* Protecting the rights of affluent people to "slosh their money down to the next generation" should not be a high priority for a Labour Government.

* The younger generation " worried about their inheritance" should step in and provide care for their parents themselves, rather than expect the State to step in.

* " Britons are obsessed with bricks and mortar, but this madness has to stop".

* " I'm sorry Mum and Dad, But you'll have to sell the house".


Saturday, 13 February 2010

Canada is a country for old men like Donald Sutherland

I watched the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics at Vancouver which was spectacular. A feast of modern technology. I learnt that, like Donald, Joni Mitchell, the singer, is Canadian ; as is k.d.lang who sang a beautiful rendition of the Canadian, Leonard Cohen's 'Alleluia' or is it 'Halleluyah' ?

For me, the sight of 1.93m, Donald Sutherland, striding out with the Olympic flag, with 5 other bearers, to lay in front of the red coated police officers, was quite something, with his white beard, 75 years and mane of hair.

My first memory of him was from the film 'M.A.S.H' in 1970, where he co-starred with Elliot Gould. It was set in the Korean War, in the 1950's, but was really about the Vietnam War in the 1960's.

Donald's life ;

Born : 1935, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada

Jobs : Radio DJ in his youth
: Almost set on becoming an engineer after graduating from the University of Toronto with degrees in engineering and drama. He chose drama.

: His first roles were bit parts in films like : 'Dr. Terror's House of Horrors' in 1965 with Christopher Lee.

: He appeared in episodes of TV shows such as 'The Saint' and 'Court Martial'.

: First film break in which he played Vernon Pinkley in the Second World War film 'The Dirty Dozen' in 1967

: His second break was playing in the film 'MASH' in 1970 with Elliott Gould and Tom Skerritt.

: His next best film would have to be 'Klute' in 1971, which made Jane Fonda a star and was about a prostitute whose friend was mysteriously murdered.

: His career went on :

Long live old Canadians like Donald Sutherland !

His commercial for the Olympics with his 'lilting' Canadian voice :


Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Britain's old men, you are moaning busy bodies who can't laugh at yourselves

An article appeared in the Telegraph newspaper in January entitled :

Are you fed up with Britain's old people?

Are you living in fear of Britain's teenagers?

We hear a lot about Britain's youth and how bad they are for society but perhaps the problem doesn't lie with them at all. Perhaps old people aren't what they used to be.

Where once old people were kindly and sat quietly on park benches minding their own business, now we have a generation of busy-bodies, constantly moaning about the state of Britain and bragging about how lucky they will be to drop dead before it gets any worse.

Thanks to the property boom, the house they bought for next to nothing back in the Sixties is now worth a fortune and still they moan about how hard it is to make ends meet.

They spent much of their working lives in Britain pre-Thatcher, leaving at 5pm on the dot and always enjoying a lunch break thanks to trade unions that have long since been neutered. Yet still they complain about poor quality services.

They received their education when degrees and A-levels meant something but all they use their superior knowledge for is complaining, rather than putting things right. Worst of all, they can't laugh at themselves.

Have you had enough of old people?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Perhaps the author of the article would approve if we were all more like this cheerful old German :

P.S. I was at my local Tescos supermarket the other day and I had a moan to the duty manager about the filth and litter outside around the cash machines. He indicated that he would do something about it. Needless to say, when I left half an hour later the rubbish was still there.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Britain, in winter, is no place for old men but still a place for Sandie Shaw

It's snowing again and the forecast for this week and next week is bleak.

Look at that high pressure system to the right of Scandinavia. That's the one which will drag in cold air from Siberia which will feed into Western Europe and bring the snow and icicles back into Britain by the end of this week and into next week.

'TheWeatherOutlook' website says :


The next couple of weeks look set to be cold and increasingly wintry across the UK, with an increasing chance of sleet or snow. The first half of the coming week should be mostly dry, although in the east there will be some wintry showers at times.

During the second half of the week we expect it to turn even colder, with sleet and snow showers becoming heavy in central and eastern regions.

By the weekend there may well be some significant accumulations of snow, particularly in the east, with a white Valentines day possible.

Overnight frost will also become sharp and widespread, although the longer daylight period at this time of year means that in most places temperatures should continue to rise just above 0c.

The following week looks likely to remain cold, although we may switch from an easterly air stream to a northerly one. This is likely to increase the snow risk for northern areas.

February often brings the UK its most wintry weather, with the coldest conditions frequently coinciding with Valentine's Day, and it looks as though this pattern may well occur this year.

On February 18th 1947, I was a 5 month old foetus snug in the womb, while outside my mother endured the worst winter weather of the century.

Sandie Shaw was born on the 26th February in 1947.
She sang for us old men in the 1960's and back then, we would all willingly, have spent out 'dinner money' on her :

Always Something There To Remind Me : 1964

Don't You Know : 1965

Long long Live Love : 1965

Puppet on a String : 1967

Her biography :

Google :'Old People in Britain Today'

If you put 'Old People in Britain Today' on a 'Google' search, it produces a rich harvest of sad and depressing websites :

Survey finds 4% of older people in Britain are victims of abuse ...At least 340000 older people are being abused in their own homes by family, ... The first thorough survey of elder abuse in Britain found 4% of people over 66 are...

Old people 'being robbed of will to live' by loneliness - This ...The NOP survey found that 72 per....

Elderly people's lives 'worsen'... More than one fifth of elderly people feel they are living in poverty and 28% say their lives have got worse.

Britain's elderly people 'bankrupted' by care bills.

Marginalised and depressed : One million older people in the UK..

The Decline of Employment Among Older People in Britain by N Campbell.

Who would want be a pensioner? The grim reality for millions of older people is a far cry from the ...

Britain Today : A country which neither reveres nor cares for large numbers of its old people.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Friday, 5 February 2010

Yesterday, Britain said "Happy Birthday" to a remarkable old man called Sir Norman Wisdom

Norman Wisdom was born 95 years ago in the Marylebone district of London. Baby boomers like me will remember him for his films in the 1950's where he wore a tweed flat cap askew, with peak turned up, a suit at least two sizes too tight and a crumpled collar and a mangled tie.

The 'Rank Organisation' turned out the films :

Trouble in Store (1953)
One Good Turn (1954)
As Long as They're Happy (1955)
Man of the Moment (1955)
Up in the World (1956)
Just My Luck (1957)
The Square Peg (1958)
Follow a Star (1959)

Few people will know that :

* He went to a children's home in Deal, Kent.

* He ran away when he was 11, then returned and when he left school at 13, became an errand boy with a grocery store.

* He walked to Cardiff, where he became a cabin boy in the Merchant Navy.

* He also worked as a coal-miner, waiter and pageboy.

* He enlisted as a drummer boy in the '10th Royal Hussars' of the British Army and in 1930 was posted to Lucknow in India as a bandsman.

* He gained an education certificate, rode horses and was the 'Flyweight Boxing Champion' of the British Army in India.

* He learned to play the trumpet and clarinet.* While performing a comedy boxing routine in an army gym, discovered he had a talent for entertainment and began to develop his skills as a musician and stage entertainer.

* After leaving the army he worked as a private hire car driver and having improved his diction in the army, also took a job as a night telephone operator.

* At the outbreak of World War II, was sent to work in a communications centre in a command bunker in London, where he connected telephone calls from war leaders to Prime Minister Churchill.

* When he left the Army in 1946, made his debut as a professional entertainer at the age of 31 and was a West End star within two years.

* His film career started in 1949.

This takes us back into that smaller, gentler world of the 1950's where I have my 'heimat' :

'Trouble in Store' from 1953 :

'The Square Peg' from 1958 :

'A Stitch in Time' from 1963 :

His biography :

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Britain's old grandpas, you have a champion in Baroness Deech

I met an old friend for lunch in a Kentish pub yesterday. He is 67 years old and a grandfather. What's more, at the moment, he and his wife have their 8 and 11 year old grandsons living with them. The fact that the television is loud in their bedroom and the living room floor strewn with toys are minor factors in their lives.

By coincidence, at the very moment I was talking to my friend, Baroness Deech, who is a Senior Law Lord in the House of Lords, was making a speech at Gresham College in London.

She made the point that wealthier grandparents give money to grandchildren for houses and higher education and many provide unpaid childcare. She said : 'There is a dearth of affordable childcare and an attempt to meet it by conscripting grandmothers.' By babysitting - an average of 16 hours a week - they save families some £50billion a year.

Her point was that, despite all this, the number of elderly people ending up in care homes is on the rise.

'In return for all that grandparents do, should there not be an obligation to keep them, and to keep parents, and reciprocate the care that was given by them to children and grandchildren in their youth?'

She called for a return to the values of the Elizabethan Poor Law, which, until it was repealed by Labour in 1948, forced families to look after those who had brought them up.

She said in some U.S. states and Singapore, family members still have a responsibility to look after aged relatives.

She conceded, however, that the welfare state was so embedded in British society, that it would probably be impossible to force grandchildren to meet financial obligations.

Later in the afternoon when she was interviewed on the PM radio programme, she said that the idea also wouldn't work because families were too fragmented and, in addition, the care of elderly relatives would fall unfairly on the shoulders of women.

The Baroness, however, has raised the debate and her arguments about the contribution the older generation have made and are still making stand in contrast to those of Shadow Cabinet Minister, David Willets who argues that the elderly are both wealthy and avaricious and an increasing burden on the young. (See my postings for January 18th and 20th).

After lunch yesterday, my friend, the 67 year old grandpa, drove to pick up his 8 and 11 year old grandsons from school.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Britain is a country where 'cold callers' on the telephone prey on old men

I had a call last week from a young man who wanted to sell me the 'energy'- gas and electricity- from his company.

He asked me : " Who do you get your energy from ?"
I said : " That's private".
He said : " That can't be private".

I put the phone down.

I had a call today, purportedly from my Bank.
Someone from 'India' ? spoke very quickly to me.
I asked her to slow down and said : " Are you trying to sell me something ?"
Her reply was garbled.

I put the phone down.

Britain today : a country employing telephone predators.