Friday, 30 July 2010

Britain is a country where you can buy the false teeth of famous old men like Winston Churchill

The 'Daily Mail' newspaper reported that :
Churchill's false teeth snapped up for £15,000 at auction.

Apparently, without gold-plated false teeth our Second World War Prime Minister, Winston Churchill would never have been able to make such rousing Wartime speeches. They heightened the quality of his delivery by emphasising his lisping speech impediment which made his voice so recognisable in radio braodcasts. Now, I always thought that the speeches were great depite his speech impediment, when in fact they were so great because of his impediment. Judge for yourself :

Indeed, they were so crucial to him that he carried a spare set at all times. A collector clearly held them in equally high regard, bidding more than three times the guide price at the auction to snap them up for £15,200. He already owns the microphone Churchill used to announce the end of World War Two.

They were sold by Nigel Cudlipp, whose dental technician father Derek made them at around the start of the War when Churchill would have been about 65. He had suffered from terrible teeth and gums and needed complicated dentistry from childhood.

The delicacy and special design of the teeth were widely credited with helping Churchill speak clearly and effectively. Churchill valued so highly the skill of his dentist Wilfred Fish, who worked with Derk Cudlipp, that he nominated him for a knighthood. Derek's work was so important to Churchill that when his call up papers arrived Churchill tore them up, insisting he stay in London in case his dentures needed to be repaired.

He served as Prime Minister from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955.

Churchill died in 1965 aged 90 and it is thought one his four sets of dentures are buried with him.


I am remided of the speech made by Colonel Tim Collins' speech to his troops of the eve of war in Iraq in 2003 :

Britain is still a country for unstoppable old singers like Tom Jones

John Humphrys the veteran broadcaster was born in Wales and at 67, shows no sign of stopping. 'Sir' Tom Jones the veteran singer was also born in Wakes and at 70, also shows no sign of stopping. What is it about Welsh genes ? "Physically I'm fine" he has said, "I don't have plastic hips or knees."
He does admit, however, that his performances have become less "frantic" as he has matured. "When I was young I was just exploding all the time, I used to hammer every song".

Apparently, he is course to top 'album charts' with his 40th called 'Praise & Blame' and will become the oldest male musician to have a number 1 album , if he knocks 'Eminem' off the top spot.

Things you probably didn't know about him , he :

* was born Thomas John Woodward near Cardiff in Wales where his father was a coal miner.

* since the mid 1960s, Jones has sung nearly every form of popular music and sold over 150 million records.

* was struck down by tuberculosis when he was 12 years old and spent 2 years in bed recovering, where he could do little else but listen to music and draw.

* married his high school girlfriend, when he was 17 and the couple had a son who was born the month following their wedding and is still married to her although his womanizing once led her to beat him black and blue by punching and kicking him. He didn't fight back and said "I took it."

* took a job working in a glove factory in order to support the family and was later employed in construction.

* became the front man for 'Tommy Scott and the Senators', a Welsh beat group, in 1963 when he was 23.

* was spotted by Gordon Mills, who became his manager, took him to London and contrived the stage name, 'Tom Jones,' which linked him to the image of the title character in Tony Richardson's hit film and also emphasized his Welsh nationality.

* had a stage presence, act, and vocal delivery which was too raucous and raunchy for many record companies.

* eventually got a contract with Decca and released his first single in 1964. It didn't reach 'the charts', but the follow-up in 1965, "It's Not Unusual", reached 'Number 1' in the UK and the top ten in the USA.

* in the same year secured the theme for the film 'What's New Pussycat?' and the James Bond film 'Thunderball'.

* was awarded the Grammy Award for 'Best New Artist for 1965'.

* performed for the first time in Las Vegas in 1967, where his open half-unbuttoned shirts and tight pants became part of his stage act and where women first began to swoon and scream and would throw their knickers on stage.

* was performing at 'Caesars Palace', when woman first started throwing their hotel room keys on stage.

* met Elvis Presley in 1965 and remained good friends until Presley's death in 1977.

* began appearing on the BBC's review of the sixties music scene, 'Pop Go The Sixties' in 1970 and performed "Delilah" on a pre-recorded tape.

* faced declining popularity in the 1970's, although he did have a big hit in 1976 with "Say You'll Stay Until Tomorrow".

* in 2000 was invited by President Bill Clinton to perform on New Year's Eve at the Millennium celebrations in Washington.

* in 2005, in celebration of his 65th birthday, returned to his homeland to perform a concert in Pontypridd before a crowd of about 20,000 in his first performance there since 1964.

* was reported as Wales' 'wealthiest entertainer', with a fortune of £175 million.

* was knighted by the Queen in 2006 for his 'services to music' and said : "When you first come into show business and get a hit record, it is the start of something. As time goes by, it just gets better. This is the best thing I have had. It's a wonderful feeling, a heady feeling."

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Britain is still a country for formidible old broadcasters like John Humphrys

John Humphrys is 67 years old and still going strong as a t.v. and radio broadcaster and as a journalist.

I read an article this weekend in 'The Mail', entitled : 'Why we British aren't best at bettering ourselves' and, I think, began to understand him.

We learnt that his father :
* was a proud man who went blind when he was barely and although his sight returned , could never see well enough to drive a car and his sight got worse as he grew older.

* represented his county as a sprinter, even though he occasionally ran off the track.

* worked and brought up a large family without ever, "taking a penny from the State".

* had 'pride' and a 'deep resentment' whose 'heart told him he was every bit as good as the next man, but his head told him he was uneducated and working-class, and in those days people like him were meant to defer to their social superiors'.

* often 'recalled what happened one Sunday morning in the early Thirties when he and John's Mother had gone to visit his 'aged Aunt' in her little cottage in Somerset where they were about to sit down for lunch when the cottage door burst open and in marched an irate vicar.

* recalled "There was no 'Good morning... sorry to disturb you." The old lady leapt to her feet, dropped a little courtesy and the vicar barked, "You were not in church this morning, Mary-Ellen. Why not?"

* heard her stammer an apology and said that she was very sorry and it wouldn't happen again to which the vicar snapped back, "Make sure it doesn't ".

The rest is vintage Humphrys :

* for a few decades more we continued to treat figures of authority, from vicars to police constables to teachers to members of Parliament, with a respect they often didn't deserve.

* now the wheel has turned full circle. Unthinking deference is, to all intents and purposes, dead. Yet the class system has survived. Not that we talk about 'class' any longer, at least, not unless politicians are vying with each other to show off their 'men of the people' credentials. In modern jargon the 'Holy Grail' is social mobility.

Having read this I thought that I understood, a little better the man who has a reputation for being the most formidable interviewer in the media.

His life :
* born in a poor working class district Cardiff where his mother was a hairdresser, and his father a self employed French polisher.

* was one of five children who became a pupil at Cardiff Grammar School where he did not fit in to the 'middle class'environment and left school at 15 years to become on a local newspaper. Here he talks about his apprenticeship on local newspapers and how they are essential for local communities :

The rest :

* joined the BBC in 1966 and as a Foreign Correspondent' reported the resignation of Richard Nixon and the execution of Gary Gilmore in 1977.

* in 1981 he became the main presenter of the BBC's flagship Nine O'Clock News and became part of the process of preparing the broadcast, rather than just reading a prepared script as with previous presenters.

* in 1986 joined the radio programme 'Today'.

* made the headlines in 2004 for giving the yearly MacTaggart lecture in which he made scathing criticism of the 'dumbing down' of British television.

* attracted further controversy in 2005 when he 'allegedly' branded all politicians as 'liars'.

* has won many awards and written several books, including 'Lost for Words', in which he criticizes what he sees as the widespread misuse of the English language.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Britain is a country which says "Happy Birthday to an old man called 'Sir' Mick Jagger

Sir Michael Philip 'Mick' Jagger is 67 today.

Things you didn't know about my fellow 'South Londoner', he :

* and Keith Richards were classmates at Wentworth Primary School in Dartford, Kent. 60 years ago.

* resumed their friendship in 1960 after a 'chance encounter' and discovered that they had both developed a love for 'rhythm and blues' music.

* left school in 1961 and moved into a flat in Chelsea with Richards and a guitarist called Brian Jones.

* continued his business courses at the 'London School of Economics' while Richards and Jones were making plans to start their own 'rhythm and blues' group,

* appeared in the group’s first appearance under the name 'The Rollin' Stones', at the 'Marquee Club Jazz Club' in 1962.

* with encouragement of Andrew Loog Oldham, began to write songs with Richards :

'As Tears Go By', for Marianne Faithfull.

'The Last Time'.

'(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction'.

* was knighted for 'services to music' and this prompted 'United Press International' to note that 'the honour is odd, for unlike other knighted rock musicians, he has no 'known record of charitable work or public services'.

* prompted Charlie Watts to say : "Anybody else would be lynched: 18 wives and 20 children and he's knighted, fantastic!"

* caused friction with Richards, who was irritated when he accepeted the "fucking paltry honour" and said that he did not want to take the stage with someone wearing a "coronet and sporting the old ermine. It's not what the Stones is about, is it?"

* was prompted him to say in return : "I think he would probably like to get the same honour himself. It's like being given an ice cream — one gets one and they all want one. It's nothing new. Keith likes to make a fuss."

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Britain is less and less a country for more and more 'poor' old men

According to a Report in the British Medical Journal, the gap in mortality between rich and poor is wider now than in the Economic Depression of the 1930s.
Where you live in Britain will determine how long you live and where you live is determined by your wealth and income. In Britain today, as was always the case, your wealth determines your health and how long you live.

Sheffield University's Professor of Human Biology, Danny Dorling explained the report on the 'Today Programme' :

The Report made the following points :

* the poorest old men in Britain are twice as likely to die before the age of 65 than the richest old men.

* the level of inequality in premature death between different areas of Britain has almost overtaken those seen shortly before the Economic Crash of 1929 and the Depression of the 'Hungry 30's'.

* although life expectancy for all people is increasing, the gap between the best and worst districts is continuing to increase.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Britain says "Happy Birthday" to David Essex

David Essex is, like me a London 'baby boomer' and having been born in 1947, has reached the age of 63.

Things you probably didn't know about David, he :

* was born David Albert Cook in 'Plaistow' part of the County Borough of West Ham in London.

* had a father who was an East End dock worker and a mother who was a self-taught pianist.

* was two years old when his parents moved to Canning Town where he grew up.

* attended 'Star Lane Primary School' where he loved playing football and did not answer any of the questions in the '11+' exam so that could attend 'Shipman County Secondary School', where he knew they played the game.

* was a member of 'West Ham United Juniors' and dreamed of one day being a professional player.

* became interested in music and played drums with a local band before becoming a singer.

* made his first record entitled 'And The Tears Came Tumblin' Down' in 1963 and then toured for 2 years in a band called 'David Essex and the Mood Indigo'.

* had his first major stage role as the lead in the stage musical, 'Godspell' in 1971 at the age of 23.

* appeared 2 years later as the star in the film 'That'll Be The Day' and recorded his only international hit single 'Rock On'.
Here he is with Ringo Starr in the film :

and 'Rock On' :
* recorded 'Gonna Make You a Star' in 1974 and 'Hold Me Close' in 1975.

'Hold Me Close' :

* appeared in 'Stardust', the 1974 sequel to 'That'll Be The Day'.
The last scene with Adam Faith :

* spent six years as an ambassador for 'Voluntary Service Overseas' and earned an O.B.E. in 1999. He said : "That was a big day. I took my two eldest kids, and me mum even went out and bought a hat".

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Britain is a country which says "Happy Birthday" to the actor Terence Stamp

Terrence Stamp is 72 today.

He has appeared in 63 films, most memorably as :

* young Billy Budd in 'Billy Budd' in 1962.
* butterfly collector, Freddie Clegg, in 'The Collector' in 1965.
* second arch-villain General Zod in 'Superman' in 1978.
* drag queen Bernadette in 'The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert'in 1994.
* Wilson in 'The Limey' in 1999.
* the Supreme Chancellor Valorum in 'Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace' in 1999

Yet I shall, along with many old Brits, remember him best in the film. 'Far From the Madding Crowd' in 1967, where the incredibly handsome Terence played opposite the incredibly beautiful Julie Christie. Here is the most famous scene from the film :

What you probably didn't know about him is that he :

* was the eldest of five children, was born in Stepney, London and his father was a tugboat captain.

* was a genuine 'cockney', whose early years were spent in Canal Road, Bow, in the East End of London.

* grew up idolizing the film actor Gary Cooper after his mother had taken him to see 'Beau Geste' at the age of three and was also inspired by James Dean.

* left school, worked in a advertising agencies in London yet deep down wanted to be an actor.

* made his film debut at the age of 23 in Peter Ustinov's adaptation of Herman Melville's 'Billy Budd' in 1962 and won an 'Academy Award Nomination' and international attention.

* then appeared opposite Laurence Olivier in 'Term of Trial' in 1962.

* shared a flat with Michael Caine.In his autobiography, 'What's it All About', Caine states that he 'still wakes up sweating in the night as he sees Terence agreeing to accept my advice to take the role in Alfie'.

* has published three volumes of his memoirs, a novel entitled 'The Night' and a cookbook co-written with Elizabeth Buxton to provide for those who are wheat and dairy-intolerant.

* in 2007, gave a speech on 'Climate Change' at the UK leg of 'Live Earth' in Wembley Stadium, before introducing Madonna.

In his personal life :

* received extensive media coverage of his romances in the 1960s with film stars Julie Christie and Brigitte Bardot and supermodel Jean Shrimpton.

* his affair with Julie was high lighted in 'The Kinks' song 'Waterloo Sunset' in 1967.

* after Shrimpton ended her relationship him, he moved to India, meditating and studying the teachings of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and dropped out from society for several years.

* in 2002, at the age of 63, married for the first time a 29-year-old called Elizabeth O'Rourke, who he had first met in a pharmacy in New South Wales.

* was divorced in 2008.


A photo tribute :

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Britain is a country where old men say "Happy Birthday" to Dame Diana Rigg and remember her as 'Mrs Peel'

Diana Rigg is 72 today.

Britain's old men remember her from the the 1960's t.v. series called 'The Avengers'.

Things you probably didn't know about Diana, she :

* was born in Doncaster in the West Riding of Yorkshire where her father was a railway engineer.

* lived in India between the age of two months and eight years, where her father was a railway executive and still she speaks fluent Hindi.

* back in England, was sent to a boarding school which she disliked, because she felt 'like a fish out of water', however, believes that Yorkshire played a greater part in shaping her character than India.

* made her professional debut in 'The Caucasian Chalk Circle' in 1955, aged 17.

* played roles in the 'Royal Shakespeare Company' between 1959 and 1964.

* is particularly known for her role in the British 1960s t.v. series 'The Avengers', in which she played the secret agent 'Mrs Emma Peel' for 51 episodes between 1965 and 1968.

* tried out for the role a whim ; did not like the lack of privacy that television brought and the way that she was treated by 'ABC Weekend TV' when she discovered that she was being paid less than a cameraman.

* was noted by Patrick Macnee, her co-star in the series, as saying that she "considered him and her driver to be her only friends on the set".

* after leaving 'The Avengers'. appeared as the title character in the telemovie 'The Marquise', based on a play by Noel Coward.

* returned to the stage where a nude scene with Keith Michell in 'Abelard and Heloise' led to a description of her by a critic as 'built like a brick mausoleum with insufficient flying buttresses'.

* in 1986, she took a leading role in the West End production of Stephen Sondheim's 'Musical Follies'.

* in 1969 in the cinema, played 'Tracy Bond', Bond's only wife in 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' with George Lazenby.

The rest you can read for yourself :

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Britain is a country which needs more and men like Christopher Irven who has that, now, rare quality of ' the Dunkirk Spirit'

'Dunkirk Spirit' is defined as : 'Triumph in the face of adversity. backs-to-the-wall belligerence, Courage, especially a determination to endure hardship, when facing poor odds and possible disaster'.
It originates from the scenes on the 1940 Dunkirk beaches in France at the start of The Second World War. Here, over 300,000 British soldiers were encircled by a German Army.
The majority were brought back to Britain in naval ships and a flotilla of small boats in an exercise in what became known as, 'The Miracle of Dunkirk'. Britain fought on alone against Hitler's Germany until joined by the Russians and Americans, achieving victory after 6 long years in the greatest conflict the world has ever known.

75 year old Chistopher Irven was 5 years old when 'Dunkirk' took place, nevertheless he has 'The Dunkirk Spirit'.

Last week he made national news when climbing 10 metres from the sea up the rocky arch at Durdle Door in Dorset and after a bad jump into the water was given emergency oxygen on the beach, strapped to a stretcher and flown to hospital.

He later said : "I saw the chopper and I thought, this is damned stupid. Why can't they just let me lie here until I recover?"

A national debate followed about whether he:
either : 'represents the active, optimistic face of old age ?'
or is : 'the archetype of the old fool, happy to be bailed out of his selfish adventures by the emergency services and everybody else's taxes ?'

Closer inspection reveals an interesting old Briton who :

* as a boy after the Second World, was taken with his family to Kenya where his army father he had just begun a tour with 'The King's African Rifles'.

* returned to England and went to boarding school and although recommended to do a physics degree at Cambridge University, was unable to do so because his family did not have the money to support him.

* left school, joined Army and went Sandhurst for officer training.

* studied for a 'Master’s degree course' in weapons technology.

* served in Germany and saw active service in Borneo and the 'First Gulf War'.

* as a young captain, got married and had seven children.

* on leaving the Army moved to Dorset and got involved in the local Catholic parish, charity work and in teaching theology, higher mathematics and physics and domestic electrical wiring.

* while on holiday in Greece was hit by a truck while crossing the road, spent 2 in hospital and 2 months’ rehabilitation, during which he was found to have leukaemia contracted from chemical poisoning in the 'Gulf War'.

* once recovered, decided to take full control of his own health by cycling alone 2000 miles from Lands End to John O'Groats and back, sleeping rough.

* did 2 more rides : 1000 miles in Spain with a friend and over 2000 miles alone through France and the Pyrenees.

* suffered a minor stroke 2 years ago, recovered and learnt to 'paraglide' in the French Alps.

* at the age of 72 he became the oldest man by 10 years to climb Mount Kenya.

* has written 3 books examining Christian theology in an approach ‘outside the box’ of traditional religious devotions.

* is a watercolour artist, loves classical music and is devoted to his wife and family which now numbers 20 grandchildren.

* cycled 2,000 miles to Land's End to John O'Groats and back 3 months ago and raised £16,000 for the 'Help for Heroes Charity', a charity for wounded soldiers.

* has said : "When you stop striving, you cease to be human" and "I'm not afraid of catastrophe and I'm not afraid of risk. I think it's part of life. I did a bungee jump at the age of 64. I had to lie about my age to say I was younger because I wanted to do one. People say: "You shouldn't be doing that at your age." I say: "Why not? If I want to write a book or paint a picture or climb a mountain or cycle 2,000 miles or sleep in the snow, I don't see why I shouldn't. I don't believe in avoiding risk at all costs."

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Britain is a country where young men, with alacrity, steal things from old men

I discovered my spade and fork had disappeared from my garden. A conversation with my neighbour elicited the fact that the boys with their mountain bikes had been constructing an obstacle course of earth humps in the woods which back on to our gardens.
Put '2 and 2 together' and the conclusion is that boys went on a foraging expedition to get the required tools for digging and in so doing, had scaled the 2 metre fence at the back of my garden.

In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with the digging. In fact, the photo bears testimony to the industry and organisation of these young men. However, in nicking my tools they had committed a criminal offence whereas these youngsters thought 'they had done nothing wrong'.

I decided to claim for the theft on my insurance policy and to authenticate this I needed to phone the local police station.
I recited over the phone what had happened while the lady at the other end typed up her report. It took 20 minutes. She asked me if I had been subject to other crimes. I said "no" thinking that if I had mentioned :

* the rogue trader who had lifted tiles form my roof.
* the thieves who had tried to steal an iron fireplace from my side path.
* the thieves who stole some copper pipe from my garden.
* the opportunist who opened my side door looking for car keys.

I would have been on the phone for hours.

P.S. I got a phone call back from the 'victim support' branch of the police asking me : "if I wanted someone to visit me to talk about the crime". I declined, but it heartened me to the extent of saying : Britain's old men maybe the victims of crime, but after the crimes are committed, the state is there to help them.


For some reason the whole thing prompted me to think of, the now 82 year old Bernard Cribbins and his quintessentially British song : 'Hole in Ground' from 1962 :

There I was, a-digging this hole,
Hole in the ground, so big and sort of round it was,
And there was I, digging it deep,
It was flat at at the bottom and the sides were steep.
When along comes this bloke in a bowler which he lifted and scratched his head,
Well he looked down the hole, poor demented soul and he said :

Do you mind if I make a suggestion?

Don’t dig there, dig it elsewhere,
Your digging it round and it ought to be square,
The shape of it’s wrong, it’s much much too long,
And you can’t put hole where a hole don’t belong.

I ask, what a liberty eh?
Nearly bashed him right in the bowler.

Well there was I, stood in me hole,
Shovelling earth for all that I was worth I was,
And there was him, standing up there,
So grand and official with his nose in the air.
So I gave him a look sort of sideways and I leaned on me shovel and sighed,
Well I lit me a fag and having took a drag I replied :

I just couldn’t bear, to dig it elsewhere
I’m digging it round cos I don’t want it square
And if you disagree it doesn’t bother me,
That’s the place where the holes gonna be.

Well there we were, discussing this hole,,
Hole in the ground so big and sort of round it was,
It’s not there now, the ground’s all flat,
And beneath it is the bloke in the bowler hat,
And that’s that.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Britain is a country where old men remember Eden Kane

In a nostalgic frame of mind I went back to the 1960's and remembered Eden Kane.
Things you didn't know about Eden, he :

* was born Richard Graham Sarstedt in 1941 in Delhi, India.

* first created some interest with an advertising jingle for Cadbury's, called 'Hot Chocolate Crazy', which was issued as a single by Pye Records.

* had his only 'number one' hit in the UK Singles Chart with 'Well I Ask You'.

* has a brother, Peter Sarstedt, who got to number one himself in 1969, with 'Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)'

* has another brother, Clive, who the British Top 3 in 1976 with his cover rendition of the old Hoagy Carmichael song, 'My Resistance Is Low'

* he and all the Sarstedt brothers are still active in the music industry and have toured the UK several times with the 'Solid Gold Rock and Roll' tours.

Britain is still a country for old men like Chris Irven who do cliff jumping

I had to make some decisions today. Should I celebrate the 63rd birthday of Julia Somerville or the exploits of 75 year old, retired Army Major, Chris Irven ?

First Julia :

Like me, she was an undergraduate at Sussex University between 1965 and '68. Unlike me, she was a member of that upper middle class smart set at the University which featured 'The Jay Twins', who were the daughters of the then President of The Board of Trade.

When Julia and I parted company as Sussex graduates she joined the BBC as a sub-editor in the radio newsroom became a reporter and in 1983 joined 'BBC Television News'. In 1987 she moved to to ITN and this year has returned to television as a presenter on BBC News.

Now Chris :

His claim to fame : a headline in the Daily Mail :

Isn't 75 a little too old for cliff-jumping? Thrill-seeking grandfather ends up in hospital after 'tombstoning' stunt

Sorry Julia, I'm going with Chris.

The article made the following points, he :

* climbed part of the way up a 100ft rock, leapt off and belly-flopped into the sea and ended up in hospital with groin and stomach injuries.

* attempted a swallow dive where the diver jumps off backwards and enters the water head first.

* went ahead even when his family had urged him not to and they watched from a packed beach.

* came to the surface and cried out in pain and his two sons ran into the water and dragged him out.

* was given oxygen on the beach before he was airlifted to hospital.

* was released after treatment.

* said : "I might be 75 years old but I am very fit for my age and fairly adventurous. I tend to do things that might be daunting to other people".

* and : "The dive was a bit of a cock-up and I hit the water at a bad angle, it was too shallow. My face, chest, tummy and legs took a battering. I started to swim back to shore but couldn't and my two sons came and got me out. I lay down and a bit of shock set in. I have got some bruising today but I am OK. If I do it again I will make sure I get it right next time."

P.S. Two months ago he completed a gruelling 2,000-mile cycle ride around Britain and raised more than £15,000 for the 'Help for Heroes' charity for wounded servicemen.

Despite his fitness, he has been urged not to try tombstoning again.

More about Chris :

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Britain is a country whose old men say "Happy Birthday" to an old American actor called Dale Robertson

In those dreary Post-Second World War days in the 1950's, American t.v. series were a breath of life to the Brits. Glued to our a small t.v. screen 'Tales of Well's Fargo' and Dale Robertson playing Jim Hardie was something not to be missed.

He was born on the 14th of July in 1923, which makes him 87.

Things you didn't know about Dale, that he :

* worked as a professional boxer before enrolling in 'Claremore Military Academy'.

* served in the Army in a tank crew in the 'Combat engineers' in North Africa during The Second World War.

* was wounded twice .

* began his acting career, 'by chance', during the War.

* when stationed in California, decided to have a photograph taken for his mother and a large copy was displayed in the photographer's shop window.

* serving in the South Pacific, found himself receiving letters from film agents who wanted to represent him.

* after the War, stayed in California where Hollywood actor Will Rogers, Jr., gave him this advice:

"Don't ever take a dramatic lesson. They will try to put your voice in a dinner jacket, and people like their hominy and grits in everyday clothes."

* thereafter avoided formal acting lessons.

* is best remembered for the t.v. series 'Tales of Wells Fargo',

* was in the original cast of 'Dynasty', playing a character who disappeared after the first season.

* In 1993 and 1994, appeared in two episodes of the comedy western called 'Harts of the West' as brother of series co-star Lloyd Bridges.

Here he is in a wonderfully 'non politically correct' advert extolling the virtues of a cigarette called 'Pal Mall' :

Monday, 12 July 2010

Britain was once a country which lampooned deference to its Monarchy and the 'great and good'

The Guardian Newspaper mistakenly announced that Sir Alistair Burnet, broadcaster, was 82 today, when in fact he was born on the 17th March 1928. My research,however, reminded me that he had been the ITN's interviewer of the Royal Family in the 1980's. He covered the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 and presented several documentaries about the couple :
'In Person: The Prince and Princess of Wales' in 1986 and
'In Private - In Public: The Prince and Princess of Wales' in 1988.

I thought back to the satirical TV puppet show, 'Spitting Image', which had portrayed him as a cringing, fawning Royalist ( "lick, lick, smarm, smarm" ), forever trying to suck up to the nearest available member of the Royal Family and the satirical magazine 'Private Eye' which had referred to him as 'Araslicker Burnet'.

Alastair Burnet was knighted in 1984.

These clips from 'Spitting Image' remind us that Britain in the 1980's was a less deferential and reverential towards 'the great and good'.

The irony is, that in the 2010's it is a country which is less deferential and reverential to anyone in authority - doctors, teachers, politicians and most of all those with no authority at all - the old.

P.S. Alistair as the serious newscaster :

Britain is no longer a country for Alf Carretta of 'The Zimmers'

Alf Carretta who has died at the age of 93 was the lead singer in 'The Zimmers', a group which consists of 40 pensioners with a combined age of more than 3,000 years.

Some facts about 'The Zimmers':.

* were the brainchild of BBC producer, Tim Samuels, who was making a television documentary about the way Britain neglected its old people.

* youngest member is 67 and the oldest member, Buster, is 103.

* take their name from the 'Zimmer' frame.

* their image of walking across Abbey Road is a parody of 'The Beatles'.

* in 2008, their full-length album 'Lust for Life', featured cover versions of songs by Eric Clapton, 'The Beatles' and Frank Sinatra.

* in 2007 their cover version of the 'The Who's' song 'My Generation' shuffled into the charts at Number 26.

And the original :

More you might like to know about this quintessentially true, 'Old Brit' :

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Britain is a country where, in the city of Leicester, old men wage war against young criminals

An article in 'The Daily Mail' newspaper was headlined :
On patrol with the the OAP vigilantes: The pensioners who are waging a high-tech war on yobs. *

It made the following points about a remarkable man who calls himself 'Albert Beher', who :

* is a pensioner living in a block of high-rise flats.

* has a telescope so powerful which, on cloudless summer nights such as these, offers a remarkably clear view of the moon's cratered surface.

* prefers to use it for a more practical purpose by rigging it up to a camcorder and computer screen and train it on the streets in his neighbourhood.

* is the leader of a small army of 11 pensioners, one in their 90s, who live nearby and also document the streets below with powerful cameras and jokingly refer to themselves as 'Neighbourhood Watch on steroids'.

* received £15,000 from a business contact to buy four powerful telescopes at £2,500 each, plus £1,000 camcorders and £300 tripods and four computer screens.

* every so often, sees something that sets his heart racing and compels him to press the speed- dial button on his phone that calls 999.

* last Friday, saw a local teenage boy, who he knew had learning disabilities, being brutally attacked by a gang.

* said : "One of these lads hit him over the head with a wooden baton and the other was clawing at him with an afro comb, but people were just walking past ignoring it because they didn't want to get involved".

* about a gang of drug dealers, said : "I called the police immediately and I gave them a precise description of the attackers: information they could never have got from anyone else."

* along with other members of the, naturally secretive, 'St Peter's Neighbourhood Monitoring Group', has captured dozens of crimes and anti-social acts on camera such as :
- a youth running up behind an elderly man walking with a cane and aiming a flying kick at his spine
- litter louts
- graffiti artists
- muggers
- car thieves
- cocaine dealers
- a masked Somali gang sweeping through the streets brandishing sticks to frighten their Afro-Caribbean rivals in a drugs turf war

* publishes the group's camcorder footage on the group's YouTube website.

* hands the footage is to Leicestershire Constabulary, where a spokesman while conceding the images the group supplies sometimes provide useful intelligence, said there are 'concerns about the legality of outing alleged miscreants on the internet'.

* now lives in the area has fallen by more than a third since last year.

Some facts :

LEICESTER COUNCIL (English average)
Population 293,000 -
Households 119,000 -
Violence against the person 32.9 (15.0)
Sexual offences 2.2 (0.9)
Robbery offences 3.1 (1.0)
Burglary dwelling offences 9.5 (4.3)
Theft of a motor vehicle offences 3.3 (2.3)
Theft from a vehicle offences 11.6 (6.3)

Crime statistics are per 1,000 of the population.

The litter lout :


I've now read an article in 'The Sunday Times' newspaper which contradicts some points in the 'Daily Mail', now :

* Alfed 'Berer' is 27 and not a pensioner using a false name.

* he helped 10 women and not men, aged between 67 and 92, set up the ' St.Peter's Neighbourhood Monitoring Group'.

At this point I ask myself : what is the truth ?

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Britain is no country for either old men, young men or anyone not immune to the noise of loud car exhausts

It's hot here at the moment. Last night we had the bedroom windows open to let some air in.

Unfortunately, the open windows also let the sound in when, at 2.00 am, a car driver with an incredibly loud exhaust decided to wake us up and no doubt thousands of other adults, children and babies in our neighbourhood.

He roared down the road and I could near him in the distance a mile or so away and then he decided to treat us to a reprise and returned down the same roads all over again.

A little bit of research revealed that this is now a problem all over the U.K. A BBC article made the following points :

* Vehicle noise levels should be between a maximum of 82-89 decibels.
Sound measuring kits are being used to target anti-social drivers with booming hi-fi systems and modified exhausts.

* During the first trial in Newton Abbot, Devon, a driver was fined £30 when his car exhaust was making more than three times the acceptable level of noise. In other words, he was 'three times over the limit'.

* Police said drivers must be made aware of the impact their actions have on residents and the local community.

* Sgt Caboche, from Launceston's 'Roads Policing Centre' in Cornwall, said: "Continued offending will land anti-social drivers in court and these sound kits will assist officers by acting as additional, accurate support to an officer's opinion when giving evidence...Anti-social driving is consistently a cause of frustration within our communities."

What kind of country has Britain become, where police have to carry 'sound measuring kits' and more importantly, some drivers feel that they have a 'right' to inflict their outrageous noise on all and sundry ?

At 4.00 am I was awoken again, this time by the cheerful song of a blackbird taking part in the 'dawn chorus'. I didn't mind that. After all, he was only doing what he had to do and his ancestors had done for hundreds of thousands of years. He sang on and lulled me back to sleep.

Britain was once a country for Ancient Men who led hard and short lives

An article in the Guardian newspaper today was headlined :

Meet the family : humans were in the UK 950,000 years ago.
It made the following points about a haul of 78 razor sharp flint tools recovered from a beach in Norfolk. They :

* Push back the date of the first known human occupation of Britain by up to 250,000 years.

* Were unearthed from sediments that thought to have been laid down either 840,000 or 950,000 years ago, making them the oldest human artefacts ever found in Britain.

* Can be dated because the sediments show the Earth's polarity was opposite to today's and compasses would have pointed south.

* Were probably left by hunter-gatherers living on the flood plains and marshes which bordered an ancient course of the river Thames.

* Were made by people who would have lived alongside sabre-toothed cats and hyenas, primitive horses, red deer and southern mammoths.

* Belonged to a population of Britain at the time which most likely numbered in the hundreds or a few thousand at most.

* Overturn the long-held belief that early humans steered clear of chilly Britain and the rest of northern Europe, in favour of the more hospitable climate of the Mediterranean.

The early settlers would have walked into Britain across an ancient land bridge which once divided the North Sea from the Atlantic and connected the country to what is now mainland Europe.

The article elicited the following comments from readers :

* Bleedin' Spaniards comin' over here taking our Food & Land!
I'm emmigrating to the Neander Valley, first chance I get!

* I thought the planet was made by god only 6000 years ago. Oops!

* They will be glad they got in then... under the Current Government they would have had no chance! unless of course they were from Europe!

* I like that modern day picture of Norfolk, so life like.

* So the BNP policy is anyone that arrived after 952,010 BC is going to have to leave Britain?

* Excellent. I'll go back to Spain. At least they have a decent football team.

* Typical bloody foreigners... leaving all their trash behind. Honestly, some people.

* The tools are still sharp? Better get 'elth and safety on that before someone gets hurt!

* There you go, poor blighters, all their compasses were pointing the wrong way. No wonder they ended up in Lowestoft instead of Mallorca.

* They were all probably cousins.
And their descendants are almost certainly still living in Norfolk.

* I'll file this with 'Piltdown Man'.

* Maybe the flint tools were made by the giant beavers - if they haven't found any human bones.

* Stone tools?
Wow -- those were the days when Britain still actually made things.

* Well then, there you have it. Ain't science wonderful to keep discovering new things about where Man came from? I'll stay tuned for the next shocking revelation; maybe the scientists will identify the pond from which that amphibian which became Man crawled out of.

Here is the link to the video clip about the tools :

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Britain will become no country for more and more very old men

From the 1950’s onwards the number of 'centenarians', that is people aged 100 years or more in England and Wales, has increased at a faster rate than any other age group.

The chart shows the 'estimated' number of centenarians for England and Wales for the period 1911 to 2008. Over this period the number of centenarians increased 95-fold from only 100 in 1911 to 9,600 in 2008.

Explanation :

* The major contributor to the rising number of centenarians is increased survival between the age of 80 and 100 due to improved medical treatment, housing and living standards, and nutrition.

* Current population projections suggest the number of centenarians in England and Wales will reach almost 64,200 by mid-2033. This is nearly a seven fold increase from the 2008 figure, and an annual average increase of 8 per cent a year.

So here they are, today's young men and potentially, tommorow's very old men :

Monday, 5 July 2010

Britain is no country for 'old gits' in its Parliamentary 'House of Commons'

I've come across something called 'Old Git Lit'(Literature). I found it in an article in 'The Sunday Times' newspaper, last weekend, by Lois Rogers entitled :
'LIVE FAST BUT DIE OLD. A new study suggests the secret of a long life could be written in your DNA'.
She mentioned the Catholic writer Piers Paul Read, 69, as a 'pioneer of what has been termed 'old git lit''.

I checked out the dictionary definition of 'git'. Wikepedia told me :

'Git is a relatively mild slang term used in British English to denote a silly, incompetent, stupid, annoying, senile elderly or childish person. It is usually an insult, more severe than twit but less severe than a true obscenity like wanker or arsehole'.
Apparently, it cannot be used in the House of Commons where Mr Speaker has ruled it as :
'Unparliamentary language' or 'words or phrases that are deemed to be inappropriate for use in the House whilst it is in session. This includes, but is not limited to the suggestion of dishonesty or profanity. The most prohibited case is any suggestion that another member is dishonourable. So, for example, suggesting that another member is lying is forbidden'.

A bit of research revealed three books on the market.

By: Rosemarie Jarski

By: Tom Hay

By: Andrew John, Stephen Blake

So Britain is a country where old gits exist, but not in the 'House of Commons' where there have been some odd rulings about 'insulting language'. The late Labour MP, Tony Banks, escaped scot-free after likening Margaret Thatcher to "a sex-starved boa constrictor".
However, John Major, when Prime Minister, was ordered to withdraw his description of Tony Blair, then opposition leader, as "a dimwit" and a Labour MP, Martin O'Neill, was once called to order for describing a Tory frontbencher, Angela Browning, as "a second-rate Miss Marple" - about as tame an insult as you could imagine.

The word 'twerp' has a mixed heritage. One Speaker allowed it because he thought it was a 'technical term in the aviation industry'. However, the late Willie Hamilton was ordered to withdraw his remark that Prince Charles was "a young twerp".

MPs have been reprimanded, or even ejected from the chamber, over the years, for describing their colleagues as liars, cads, bounders and hypocrites.

Oddest of all was the objection by Speaker Bernard Weatherill to the seemingly innocent word 'poppycock'. MPs were mystified until they consulted their dictionaries to discover that in its original Dutch, the word has a particularly steamy and unpleasant connotation.
Wikepedia says :
'Poppycock – anglicized form of the Dutch 'pappekak', which literally means soft dung or diarrhoea (from Dutch pap pap + kak dung) and is an interjection meaning "nonsense" or "balderdash".
Now isn't that interesting.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Britain is a Country where old men have very clear memories of when they were young men in the 1960's

Its true that old men retain their long term memories. For some reason it set me thinking about when I was an 18 year old student studying History at Sussex University and staying in the 'Glenside Hotel' on the Brighton Seafront along with 27 other adolescent male students.
It was run by a fierce, elderly Scots landlady called Mrs Stuart, her daughter Janet and a shadowy old boy whose name I have forgotten.
My room mate, B.B., was studying Sociology and was the proud owner of a 'Robert' transistor radio which he carried on a leather strap around his neck.

On one particularly boring Sunday afternoon in the summer of 1966, B.B. and I were cooped up in our small, dark, stuffy bedroom and were ready to let off some steam when 'The Small Faces' singing 'All or Nothing' came on the radio. We decided to 'sing along' giving the lyrics some extra zest by adding a liberal helping of expletives as indicated : * * * * * * *

I thought you'd listen to my reason,
But now I see, you don't hear a thing,
Try to make you see, how it's got to be.

Yes it's all, all or nothing.
Yeah yeah, all or * * * * * * *nothing,
All or nothing, for me.

Things could work out just like I want them to, yeah.
If I could have the other half of you, yeah.
You know I would, If I only could.

Yes it's yeah, all or nothing.
Oh yeah, all or nothing.
You'll hear my children say, all or nothing, for me.

I didn't tell you no lies.
So don't you sit there and cry girl.
Yeah, all or nothing.
Oh yeah, all or nothing.
Oh yeah, all or nothing.
D'you know what I mean.
You got to, got to, go to keep on trying, yeah.
All or nothing, mm yeah.
All or nothing, to keep on working on to me.
All or nothing for me, for me, for me.
Come on children, yeah.
All or nothing, yeah,yeah, yeah, yeah.
All or nothing, I kept on singing to myself.
All or nothing, yeah for me, yeah.

About 15 minutes after our rendition, there was a knock on the door and there stood a very angry Mrs Stuart who had had a complaint from the landlord next door. Our singing must have squirreled out of our bedroom window and into his hotel next door. Mrs Stuart told us that he said that he " had been in the Army for 30 years and had never heard such bad language".
B.B. and I didn't want to get into trouble with the University Authorities, so we wrote he a grovelling apology. I remember that it began : 'Dear Mr Smith, we do not ask to be forgiven'. I forget the rest, but this was 45 years ago. We took it to his hotel and delivered it to the old 'Sergeant Major' himself.

I think you'll agree that there is nothing wrong with this Old Boy's long term memory.

For those who want a bit of 'Small Faces' nostalgia :