Thursday, 31 March 2011

Britain is a country whose old men can still learn from the wit and equanimity of that old American comedian called George Burns

George Burns, the great old American comedian died at the age of 100 in 1996, made a living, in the 1980's and 1990's, out of 'being', and 'reflecting on being, old' and said, at different times :

* At my age flowers scare me.

* You know you're getting old when you stoop to tie your shoelaces and wonder what else you could do while you're down there.

* I look to the future because that's where I'm going to spend the rest of my life.

* I'd rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate.

* If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension and if you didn't ask me, I'd still have to say it.

* If you live to be one hundred, you've got it made. Very few people die past that age.

* It's good to be here. At 98, it's good to be anywhere.

* You can't help getting older, but you don't have to get old.

* First you forget names, then you forget faces. Next you forget to pull your zipper up and finally, you forget to pull it down.

* How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.

His song, 'I wish I was eighteen again', is full of nostalgia for youth :

At a bar down in Dallas an old man chimed in,
And I thought he was out of his his head.
Just being a young man, I just laughed it off,
When I heard what that old man had said.

He said, I'll never again turn the young ladies heads,
Or go running off into the wind.
I'm three quarters home from the start to the end,
And I wish I was eighteen again.

I wish I was eighteen again,
And going where I've never been.
But old folks and old oaks
Standing tall just pretend,
I wish I was eighteen again.

Now time turns the pages and oh, life goes so fast,
The years turn the black hair all grey.
I talked to some young folks, hey they don't understand,
The words this old man's got to say.

I wish I was eighteen again,
And going where I've never been.
But old folks and old oaks
Standing tall just pretend,
I wish I was eighteen again.

Lord, I wish I was eighteen again!

I first saw George on black and white t.v. in the 1950's in the 'Burns and Allen Show' in which he played with his wife, but it is only now, all these year later, that I begin to appreciate this man of wit, charm and equanimity who said :

" Age means nothing. I can't get old ; I'm working. I was old when I was 21 and out of work. As long as you're working you stay young. When I'm in front of an audience, all that love and vitality sweeps over me and I forget my age."

Things I didn't know about George's life before he reached the age of 18, that he :

* was born Nathan Birnbaum, the ninth of 12 children in New York City where his father was a 'substitute cantor' at the local synagogue who died from influenza in the epidemic of 1903.

* worked after his father's death, shining shoes, running errands, selling newspapers making syrup in a local candy shop.

* practiced singing harmony with the other kids in the basement and then, calling themselves the 'Pee-Wee Quartet', started singing on ferryboats, in saloons and brothels and on street corners.

* said : "We'd put our hats down for donations. Sometimes the customers threw something in the hats. Sometimes they took something out of the hats. Sometimes they took the hats."

* left school in the fourth grade and joined small-time vaudeville working with a trained seal, doing trick roller skating, teaching dance and singing.

* began smoking cigars and adopted the stage name by which he would be known for the rest of his life.

Britain is country where, although old men 'are standing up in the battlefield', they 'are not being struck down by arrows' so saith Professor Tallis

A 2009 article in the 'Observer' newspaper, cheered me up. It was entitled :
Happy and healthy: how growing old became fun. 'Britain's ageing population is staying younger for longer', say medical experts. Though there are far more people in their 80's and 90s than ever before, many remain cheerfully independent.

It highlighted a report, 'Rejuvenating Ageing Research', by the Academy of Medical Science, made the following points, that :

* far from living lonely, decrepit existences, assailed by memory loss and physical infirmity, vast numbers of old men in Britain are living long, healthy, productive lives.

* the stereotypical image of a country with rising numbers of pensioners being kept alive by modern medicine, crippled by arthritis, heart disease and Alzheimer's and living huddled and defenceless in old people's homes, is simply not true.

* 'healthy life expectancy' is increasing at least as quickly as 'life expectancy'.

* Professor Linda Partridge, said :
"No one wants to live an extra 10 years if they have to spend them in a nursing home, but that is not what is happening at present. People are living longer. At the same time, they also are living healthier, more productive lives."

"Today's 60-year-olds have the lifestyles that 40-year-olds had a century ago. More importantly, we are now shaping up to a future in which 80-year-olds will live as 60-year-olds do today."

* although there are more 80-year-olds today, the percentage affected by disability, requiring them to live in homes, is far lower than it was last century.

* 'gerontologist' Professor Kay-Tee Khaw said :
"If you compare national surveys carried out between 1970 and 1990, you see the number of 85-year-olds who are disabled halved between 1971 and 1990."

* Professor Ray Tallis, said : that "while older people do carry a significant burden of illness, it is far less than is generally assumed" and that doctors and scientists were trying to achieve "compression of morbidity".

" We want people to live long, healthy lives and then, when they go, to slip away quickly. After all, that is how most people want to live and die and, of course, it is also attractive economically. The less time we spend in hospital the happier we are and the less we cost the state."

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Britain is a country whose old men say "Happy Birthday" to an old rock guitarist called Eric Clapton and remember his early career

Eric Clapton, ranked 4th in 'Rolling Stone' magazine's list of the '100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time', also vocalist and songwriter, is 66 today.

Things you possible didn't know about Eric, that he :

* was born in Surrey, the son of 16 year old Patricia Clapton and a 24-year-Canadian soldier who was shipped off to War prior to Eric's birth and then returned to Canada.

* grew up with his Grandmother and her second husband, believing they were his parents and that his mother was his older sister.

* received an acoustic 'Hoyer' guitar, for his 13th birthday and influenced by 'The Blues' practiced long hours to learn chords, preserving his practice sessions on a reel-to-reel tape recorder and then listening to them over and over until he felt he'd got it right.

* left school in 1961, studied at the Kingston College of Art but was dismissed because his focus was on 'music' rather than 'art'.

* in 1962, started performing with fellow blues enthusiast, David Brock, in the pubs around Surrey and at 17, joined his first band, an early British R&B group, 'The Roosters'.

* in 1963 joined 'The Yardbirds', who had their first hit ,'For Your Love' when Eric left the band in 1965.

* joined 'John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers', and established his name as the best blues guitarist on the club circuit and inspired a well-publicised graffito by an admirer on a wall the Islington Underground Station : 'Clapton is God'.

* left the Bluesbreakers in 1966 and formed 'Cream', with Jack Bruce on bass and Ginger Baker on drums, began to develop as a singer, songwriter but only spent a short time in the group because of tensions between the members led to its demise.
Sunshine of Your Love :

* set up 'Blind Faith' in i969 with Ginger Baker and Steve Winwood from 'Traffic' and Ric Grech from 'Family', created one LP and and dissolved dissolved after less than seven months.

* with the intention of counteracting the 'star cult faction' which had started to form around him, called 'Eric Clapton and Friends' and then 'Derek and the Dominos'.

* had a close friendship with George Harrison and his infatuation with his wife, Pattie Boyd, inspired 'Layla' from the story from Persian literature, Nezami Ganjavi's 'The Story of Layla and Majnun', the tale of a young man who fell hopelessly in love with a beautiful, unavailable woman and who went crazy because he could not marry her.
Layla :

Wonderful Tonight :

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Britain's old men take heart, at 70 your happiest days are yet to come

An article in the 'Daily Mail' announced that :
We are happiest after we retire and DON'T become grumpy with old age, say scientists

'If your carefree youth is a distant memory and you’re entering middle age with a sense of gloom . . . cheer up. The happiest time of your life is probably yet to come'.

It made the following points, that :

* the demands of work and family may steadily erode our youthful sense of well-being as we reach middle age, but research suggests, it returns in our later years.

* it is after 70 that we are likely to be at our happiest – as long as we enjoy good health, have sufficient income and are not lonely.

The conclusions are highlighted in a new book by Lewis Wolpert, the 81-year-old 'Emeritus Professor of Biology' at University College London, entitled 'You’re Looking Very Well.'

Lewis has said : ‘What emerges is that people in their teens and twenties tend to be averagely happy but this declines steadily until early middle age. But from the mid-forties, people tend to become ever more cheerful, perhaps reaching a maximum in their late seventies or eighties.’

A study of 341,000 people by the 'National Academy of Sciences' in America showed that overall enjoyment of life tended to decline slowly throughout early adulthood, rising again from around the late forties or early fifties to reach a maximum around the age of 85.

Similarly, the 'English Longitudinal Study of Ageing', which has tracked more than 10,000 people over 50 since 2002, found at least half experienced an increase in well-being.

The message is simple :

The older old men get, they make the most of their time left by eliminating things they don't enjoy, in favour of those they do.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Britain is a Country where a debate is taking place about whether or not to test old men for dementia

First some lighthearted stuff with Tom Rush singing 'The Remember Song' :

Now the serious stuff with the 'Alzheimer's Society' asking the question :

Should Britain's old men and women, at the age of 75, get a test for dementia, a condition which will affect their brain and its abilities, including memory, thinking, language skills, understanding and judgement ?
A tug-of-war is going on between :

* Suzanne Sorensen, 'Head of Research' at the Society, who has said :

"We know that there are 720,000 people living with dementia in Britain at the moment and we know that less than half of them get a diagnosis at an appropriate time" and admits the psychological tests for dementia are : "not ideal, but it's the best we've got."

And :

* Dr Anne Mackie, 'Programme Director of the National Screening Committee', which advises Government Ministers and the Health Service who has said that :

* the initial check is not yet reliable enough and is "not ready for a screening programme. We haven't got a good enough test which has been used in big asymptomatic populations, that is people with no symptoms. We don't know how it would perform, how accurate it would be. That's important because we need to know how many people would be told they are risk of developing dementia - and how many people would be told that when it's not true - and how many people would be told they don't have a risk, when they do."

Suzanne counters by saying that :

* she believes the tests are around 85% accurate, which is in the same range as breast cancer testing and "Nobody would argue that people shouldn't be screened for these conditions, so we think it is a good time to start a debate for a process that might increase the likelihood of people with dementia getting a diagnosis at an appropriate time."

Professor Clive Ballard, the Charity's 'Director of Research', has proposed that :

* that people be offered a cognitive test at the GP surgery, with questions on time, date, place, memory and understanding which would be backed up by an interview with a relative or carer.

* where dementia is suspected, patients would be referred to a specialist for a full clinical assessment and if they were then diagnosed , there may be drug treatment and changes in lifestyle which could help delay deterioration and would allow an opportunity to plan ahead.

So, Old Men of Britain : To test or not to test you, that is the question.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Britain is a country where old men can get a 'Woteva' app from Saga so they can beher unnerstan wot da kidz a sain

An article in 'The Daily Mail' yesterday was entitled :

'Good news peeps, there's an app to translate da kidz' slang'

For those older peeps in the fam who want to know what da kidz in their endz are thinking, a sick new app may just hold the key, innit.

Apparently, in an effort to narrow the generation gap, the over-50's Group, 'Saga', is to launch a mobile phone application to translate teenagers’ slang. The ‘Woteva’ 'app' will :

* be available by the end of Summer and translate 100 words or phrases.

* help parents and grandparents to 'stay in touch with youngsters' and will be free to download to a smart phone, or similar hand-held device.

* make the following translations :

Dr Ros Altmann, Director-General of Saga, said:

* "To some parents and grandparents, it can feel that the next generation has a language of its own. A translator seems like the obvious solution to prevent the generational gap from widening".

* "This app will provide people with the opportunity to stay connected with youngsters, and nurture relationships across generations".

* "In our estimation around 5% of all words currently in use in the English language are completely alien and indecipherable to people born before the 1960s."

The article elicited the following e-mails from :

Becki in Wigan :

'LOL. I'm 20 and didn't have a clue what most of them words meant. Also, how many of the older generation use a smart phone in the first place?!'

Craig in East Calder :
'omg, i wsh ppl wd stp usn txt spk, fgs'.

Charles in London :
'I have an even simpler method.....I reply..."sorry....I only speak English". That usually does the job pretty well'.

P.S. I begin to wonder if 'April Fool' jokes have come early this yar.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Britain is no longer a country for an old 'reconstruction artist' called Terry Ball who brought its past to life

Terry Ball, the historical reconstruction artist, whose drawings grace many historic sites and guidebooks, has died at the age of 79.

Things most people didn't know about Terry , that he :

* was born in Greenwich, London, in a family which had deep Irish roots of which he was proud.

* during, the Second World War, was evacuated to North Wales and after the War, started his studies at the Royal College of Art and spent hours drawing buildings and architectural features.

* in 1957, went to Jericho, joined the archaeologist, Kathleen Kenyon, drew finds recovered from her excavations and fell in love with Palestine and its people, spending long stretches of time there over the next 10 years.

* during the restoration of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, grasped the value of 'reconstruction drawings' with one of his earliest works showing the church as it was in the 1040s, drawn during the 'Six-Day War' in 1967,

* returned to London, took a job with the 'Ministry of Public Buildings and Works', in the Ancient Monuments drawing office, eventually ran the office as part of the body which was transformed into English Heritage in 1983.

* honed his skills with drawings of the Guildhall in London, the Tower of London and Windsor Castle.

* through the 1980s, painted castles, palaces, abbeys and prehistoric monuments.

* Collaborated with colleagues in the Inspectorate of Ancient Monuments and was able to show, for example, how Richmond Castle might have looked in 1400 and Rievaulx Abbey in 1530.
* lives on because, for the many thousands of people visiting ruined medieval castles and monasteries each year, his drawings reveal the former glories of the architecture and throw light on the vanished ways of life within their ancient walls.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Britain is a country where old men have a champion against the injustices they suffer called 'The Daily Mail' newspaper

The Daily Mail newspaper has, for some years, been running a 'Dignity For The Elderly' campaign and has found no end material to feed it.

In 2006:

Articles on :

* Nurses 'too busy to feed elderly patients due to cutbacks'.

* Two in three Town Halls cutting back on home help for the elderly, say inspectors.

* Social workers set 15 minute deadline on caring for elderly.


* Guilty: The matrons who ran a care home of horrors.

* Care-home residents suffering in silence.

* Half of doctors see the over-65s as a low priority.

* Hospitals 'risk lives of elderly by sending them home too soon'.

* 'Elderly routinely tied down and locked up', reveals damning report on care homes.

* Thousands of our elderly are living in filthy care homes.

* An elderly person dies every five hours from a fall.

* Six in 10 nurses 'would turn blind eye to abuse of elderly'.


* 5,000 complaints a month over care home abuse fears.

* Hospital staff tied elderly patients to chairs with bedsheets and braces.

* The devoted husband, 86, driven to kill his sick wife after social services 'abandoned him to care for her alone'.

* Starved by the NHS: 242 patients die from malnutrition in a single year.

* Thousands of elderly people are being forced to sell their homes to pay for residential care while those in neighbouring districts are allowed to keep theirs.

* Elderly man with dementia died after being left alone by carers for FIVE DAYS without food or drink.

* 3,000 victims of home snatchers: Record numbers of the elderly are forced to sell their homes to pay for care.

* Elderly could be tagged just like convicts to save paying for night cover.

* Coroner's fury as great-grandfather, 86, dies after being dumped on A&E trolley for 19 hours TWICE.

* Queen's Hospital in Romford, Essex, was criticised for 'gross failings in care' and 'neglect' after Walter Gibson, 86, died in agony from infected bedsores.

* Cash to find cure for dementia is slashed: Ministers go back on research-funding pledge.

* 'Blighted by poverty, loneliness and neglect': More elderly Britons say their lives are getting worse.

* Care system can't cope with ageing population, admits Health Secretary.

* Leaking roofs, incontinence pads on the floor... thousands in care homes forced to 'live in filth'.

* The middle aged who only care for parents because THEY stand to gain.

* Betrayal of a Spitfire hero: NHS withdraws care home funding for war veteran struck down by dementia.

* 20,000 a year sell homes to fund care: New figures reveal growing toll of the families struggling to pay soaring fees.


* Locked up and sedated: Dementia patients are denied basic rights, says damning report.

* Bed-blocking on the rise as care cuts bite: Number of elderly patients stuck on wards soars.

* Our dementia shame: Alzheimer's failings force 50,000 into care homes.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Britain says "Goodbye" to an old thespian called Michael Gough, aka Batman's butler, 'Alfred Pennyworth' and so much more

Michael, a classically trained actor, with poise and presence, who appeared on stage and in 150 films over 65 years and is best known as 'Alfred' the Butler in 'Batman' films, has died at the age of 94.

Things you probably didn't know about Michael, that he :

* was born in Malaya, where his father was a rubber planter and in England went to school in Kent and then dropped out of Agricultural College in order to study acting at the Old Vic in London.

* was a conscientious objector during The Second World War and served in the Non-Combatant Corps.

* got his career on stage off to a flying start in the West End, in 'But for the Grace of God' in which he did the 'fist fight-to-the-death scene' with such verisimilitude that nearly all the stage furniture was demolished nightly and broke 3 ribs and injured his spine.

* went on to play in Sartre's 'Crime Passionel' and Daphne du Maurier's 'September Tide' in 1948 and Laertes to Alec Guinness's 'Hamlet' in 1951.

* made his cinematic mark as 'Nicholai' to Vivien Leigh's 'Anna Karenina' in 1948 and opposite Alec Guinness in 'The Man in the White Suit' in 1951 :

* in Ibsen's 'The Wild Duck' in 1955, played the sardonic idealist Gregers Werle, according to the critic, Kenneth Tynan, with 'oozing sincerity while letting the man's neuroses seep through the facade' and was noted by Caryl Brahms for his 'extraordinary capacity for keeping speech straining at the leash, pent-up emotion and the cut and parry and flash of word-play'.

* played the father of a headstrong Julie Christie in the 1970 film, 'The Go-Between' and developed a strong line in science-fiction and horror roles.
The Horrors of the Black Museum :

* at the National Theatre, excelled as a comedian playing in Ayckbourn's 'Bedroom Farce' in 1977, nibbling pilchards on toast in bed with his wife, Joan Hickson, in celebration of a wedding anniversary.

* as Baron von Epp in Osborne's 'A Patriot for Me'in 1983, presided over a military 'drag' ball in the heyday of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, wore a long gown and tiara, carried a fan and handbag and as 'Queen Alexandra' moved among his guests with the gravity and grace to bring the house down.

* excelled in character roles in film playing for Ken Russell, in 'Women in Love' in 1969, Derek Jarman in 'Caravaggio' in 1986 and Tim Burton, in 'Batman' in 1989.
As Alfred Pennyworth in Batman :

Here he used his beautiful voice to read T.S.Eliot's. 'The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock' :

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Britain's old men say "Happy Birthday" to the 1940's 'Forces' Sweetheart', Vera Lynn, who was singing for Britain before they were born

The Second World War British singer, Vera Lynn is 94 today.

What you possibly didn't know about Vera, that she :

* was born Vera Welch in 1917 during The First World War in East Ham in the County of Essex.

* began performing publicly at the age of 7 and had her grandmother's maiden name, Lynn, as her stage name.

* had her first radio broadcast, with the Joe Loss Orchestra, at the age of 18 in 1935 and was being featured on records released by dance bands led by Joe Loss and of Charlie Kunz and then moved in 1937 to the aristocrat of British dance bands, Bert Ambrose.

* was named 'The Forces Sweetheart' in 1939 when Daily Express Newspaper asked British servicemen to name their favorite musical performers.

* in 1941, during the darkest days of the War she began her own radio programme, 'Sincerely Yours', sent messages to British troops serving abroad and performed songs most requested by the soldiers.

* is best known for her 1942 recording of the popular song "We'll Meet Again", with those unforgettable words :
"We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when, but I know we'll meet again some sunny day".

* had another big Wartime hit with 'The White Cliffs of Dover' :

* during the War, toured Egypt, India and Burma, giving outdoor concerts for the troops as in the clip above.

* sang 'After The Rain' in 1942 :

* is one of the last surviving major entertainers of the War years who related her Wartime experience to the BBC 2 years ago :

* was the oldest living artist to make it into the 'Top 20' record charts at the age of 92 :

Britain says "Goodbye" to an old rock guitarist called Jet Harris

Jet Harris, who achieved fame in the 1960's with 'The Shadows' died yesterday at the age of 71. I remember buying my first vinyl record, 'The Shadows To The Fore' when I was 14 in 1961.

What I didn't know about Jet, that he :

* grew up in North London, where at school, his speed at running earned him the nickname 'Jet'.

* learned to play clarinet and made his own 4 string double bass guitar to play in a jazz group.

* in 1958, while playing with drummer Tony Crombie and his group 'The Rockets', got a 'Framus bass guitar' which made him one of its first British exponents.

* played in 'The Vipers Skiffle Group' and 'The Most Brothers' before joining, in 1959, Cliff Richard's backing group, 'The Drifters', who later changed their name to 'The Shadows' at his suggestion.

* after his 'Framus' was damaged in a dressing room accident, was presented by the importers with a 'Fender Precision Bass', one of the first to come to Britain from the USA.

FBI in 1961 :

Apache in 1961 :

Come On Pretty Baby with Cliff Richard :

Wonderful Land in 1962 :

* left 'The Shadows' in 1962, following disagreements and released solo instrumental and vocal work as part of a duo with former 'Shadows' drummer Tony Meehan.

* produced with Tony in 1963 the hit 'Diamonds' and followed this with two more : 'Scarlett O'Hara' and 'Applejack'.
Diamonds :

* ended his partnership with Tony in 1963, attempted a solo comeback in 1966, was briefly in the line-up of the 'Jeff Beck Group' in 1967 and then worked as a labourer, bricklayer, porter in a hospital, bus conductor and as a seller of cockles on the beach in Jersey.

* after 30 years of heavy drinking, finally admitted to being an alcoholic, sought help and made a point in his stage shows of saying how long it had been since he quit drinking, winning applause from audiences who knew how it had wrecked his career in the 60's.

* in 1998, was awarded a 'Fender Lifetime Achievement Award' for his role in popularising the bass guitar in Britain.

In an interview with Hank Marvin :

Friday, 18 March 2011

Britain maybe no country for old men who they live long lives but is Russia no country for old men who live short ones ?

Epidemiologist and Population Health expert Professor David Leon, of the 'London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine' has published a report, based on trends over the last 40 years, showing that old men in Britain are living longer than those in the USA and a lot longer than those in Russia. There are, however, concerns that, rising life expectancy may falter in the face of the increasing number of fat old men.

The Professor made the following points, that :

* a baby boy born in Britain in 1970 could expect to live to an average of 68.75 years, while one born in the USA the same year could expect to live to 67.02.

* now a British baby boy could expect to live to an average of 77.70 years, an American to 75.64 years and a Russian to 61.8.

* despite Americans spending almost twice as much per capita on health care as the British, life expectancy in Britain is pulling ahead.

* deaths from cardiovascular disease in Britain had seen 'some of the largest and most rapid falls of any Western European country, partly due to improvements in treatment as well as reductions in smoking and other risk factors'.

* obesity, however, will affect life expectancy figures in the future and 'we are definitely seeing type-2 diabetes occurring more in teenagers due to obesity, but this is not immediately being translated into mortality rates.'

Old men in Russia, you have a friend in Professor Leon who has :

* been trying to understand the massive swings in life-expectancy which have occurred in your country and other parts of the former-Soviet Union, where, between 1990 and 1994 your life-expectancy fell by 6 years.

* with you in mind, been working on the 'fetal-origins hypothesis', looking at the links between impaired growth in utero and risk of disease at later stages of life from adolescence to old age.

In other words, you old men in Russia live short lives because you had poor and deprived childhoods, but you might still live in a country for old men.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Britain is no country for old men with dementia in care homes and hospitals

The Daily Mail newspaper as part of its 'Dignity for the Elderly Campaign' reported :
Locked up and sedated: Dementia patients are denied basic rights, says damning report.

Under a law introduced in 2009, hospital or care home staff who think a patient needs to be restrained to themselves from coming to harm must apply for a 'Deprivation of Liberty Safeguard Order' from councils or health trusts.

The report, made by the 'Care and Quality Commission' which is the independent 'Regulator of Health and Social Care in England', found :

* staff, routinely flouting official guidelines and depriving confused residents of their basic human rights in the belief that it is in their best interests.

* hospitals and care homes breaking the law by ‘restraining’ the elderly without authority, 'locking them in rooms' overnight, 'sedating' them or even 'binding them to beds and chairs'.

* nurses and care home staff often resorting to such measures to prevent patients coming to harm through falls and other injuries, when, by law, they must apply for permission.

* 'too many examples of people using services who were being cared for in ways that potentially amounted to an unlawful deprivation of their liberty, and therefore a potential breach of their human rights.’

* that last year 7,160 applications for restraint were made, but only half were approved with the majority for patients suffering from dementia. Those rejected were often on the basis that officials believed the restraint was unnecessary and patients could be looked after in less draconian ways.

* many staff didn't know they needed to apply for restraining orders and were probably going ahead and illegally depriving patients of their rights.

David Congdon of the Charity 'Mencap' said:

"This report highlights a lack of awareness of liberty safeguards amongst care staff and a patchy implementation of this law across England. This suggests that vulnerable people are still at risk of having their human rights undermined.’

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Britain said "Happy Birthday" to an old actor called Michael Caine with strong views about Britain

Michael Caine, who has appeared in over 100 films, was 78 yesterday.

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

* was born Maurice Micklewhite in Southwark, London, where his mother was a cook and charlady and his father, a fish market porter who was part Romani with Irish blood.

* was evacuated from London to Norfolk during the bombing in the Second World War in 1944 and then, back in London, educated at at a Grammar School in Camberwell which he left school at the age of 16.

* worked as a filing clerk and messenger for a film company in London until he was 'called up' to do his 'National Service' in the Army and served in Germany and then on 'active service' in the Korean War in 1954.

* started his acting career with walk-on roles at the Carfax Theatre and then, after dozens of minor TV roles, entered the public eye as the upper class British Army officer, 'Gonville Bromhead VC', in the 1964 film 'Zulu'.

* followed 'Zulu' with 'The Ipcress File' in 1965, in which he played the spy, Harry Palmer and 'Alfie' in 1966 where he played the womanising title character.

* made his first film in the USA in 1966, after an invitation from Shirley MacLaine to play opposite her in 'Gambit'.

* in 1970 worked on The 'Italian Job':

and played the lead in the British gangster film 'Get Carter' in 1971 :

* made 'Sleuth' opposite Laurence Olivier in 1972 :
and 'The Man Who Would Be King' with Sean Connery, which is the film he wishes 'to be remembered for after his death.' :

* played the the commander of a Second World War Luftwaffe brigade, disguised as Polish paratroopers, whose mission was to kidnap or kill the British Prime Minister in 'The Eagle Has Landed' in 1976 :

* by 1980, had moved to the USA and made a number of 'forgettable' films and also better ones like 'Educating Rita' in 1983, 'Hannah and Her Sisters' in 1986 and 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels' in 1988.

* had a lean time in the 1990's as he found good parts harder to come by but had a high point when he played Ebenezer Scrooge in the critically-acclaimed Muppet Christmas Carol in 1992 :

* rehabilitated his reputation in 'Miss Congeniality' in 2000, 'Last Orders' in 2001:
and 'The Quiet American' in 2002.

* released 'Harry Brown', in 2009 :
and in 2010 appeared alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in 'Inception'.

Michael's views about Britain are reflected in the fact that, he :

* left Britain in the 1970's, citing the 82% tax levied on top earners by the Labour Government and returned several years later when taxes were lowered.

* said "I was never going to come back. Maggie Thatcher came in and put the taxes back down and in the end, you know, you don't mind paying tax. What am I going to do? Not pay tax and drive around in a Rolls Royce, with cripples begging on the street like you see in some countries?"

* voted for Maggie Thatcher " because I thought we needed a change from that long period of socialism; I voted for Tony Blair because we had a great long period of Conservatism."

* in 2009, openly criticised the Labour Government's proposed new 50% tax on top earners saying : "The Government has taken tax up to 50% and if it goes to 51I will be back in America...... We've got 3.5 million layabouts laying about on benefits, and I'm 76, getting up at 6am to go to work to keep them. Let's get everybody back to work so we can save a couple of billion and cut tax, not keep sticking it on."

* following the launch of his film 'Harry Brown', called for the reintroduction of 'National Service' in the Armed Forces to give young people "a sense of belonging rather than a sense of violence".

Monday, 14 March 2011

Britain is a country where old men live in debt

My last posting was optimistically entitled :
Perhaps Britain is, after all, a country for 'happy and healthy' old men.

It referred to a 'Report' published by the 'Academy of Medical Sciences' which reported that vast numbers of the elderly in Britain are living long, healthy, productive lives.

That optimism was countered by a more pessimistic article in in the 'Gaurdian' newspaper entitled :
Pensioners will die in debt
Rising living costs and reduced earnings are depleting savings of elderly, report reveals.

It made the following points from on an 'Aviva Real Retirement Report' based on online interviews with 5,700 British consumers aged over 55 which found that :

* 1 in 7 baby boomers now hitting retirement never expect to be debt-free and 1 in 3 over-75 year olds have crippling credit card debts averaging £3,370 a head.

* as the first generation with access to easy credit from 1966, when Barclaycard introduced the first credit card, this will also be the first generation to take large debt to their graves.

* the mean mortgage debt for over 55's rose by £10,000 to £65,107 over the year, while the proportion of older households with less than £500 in savings jumped from 21% to 30%.

* over 55 households are now cutting down on entertainment and holidays to help pay for rising food and petrol bills.

The article elicited the following responses from readers :

* A friend, who was always sensible with is money used to say : " my ambition is to die a million pounds in debt". It amused him to think of the local bank manager sitting at his death bed saying "Please don't die George".
Maybe that's the only way to get revenge on our banking friends. Run up a shed load of debt and leave them holding the baby, like they've done to us and leaving instructions in our wills to send them a final note saying : 'Revenge is sweet'.

* Yep, I intend to die as much in debt as possible.

* I plan to spend everything I have by my mid 70's, house the lot!, around the world cruises, whores, coke and the rest I'll just waste. Then I'll repeatedly commit crime and spend my remaining years in a nice open prison.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Britain is a country with a t.v. series about two 'Old Guys' and Jane Asher

'The Old Guys' is a British comedy tv series which started in 2009 and revolves around two ageing house-mates, Tom and Roy, who live across the street from Sally played by Jane Asher, who they both find attractive.

Tom moved in with Roy after Roy's wife and Tom has little in life but his daughter Amber. Roy is a suburban pensioner who believes that he is one of the country's leading intellectuals and the show examines the relationship between two ageing men.

The series received mixed reviews. 'On The Box', for example, stated : 'Aside from sporting the worst theme tune to accompany a sitcom in living memory, 'The Old Guys' is a horrid confection of cheap BBC comedy and an ill-conceived, poorly handled premise.'

The pub quiz with Jane Asher :

Things I did and didn't know about Jane Asher, that :

* is 65 years old in April and was born in North West London, where her father was a doctor consultant in blood and mental diseases and a broadcaster and author.

* her mother was a 'Professor of Oboe' at the 'Guildhall School of Music and Drama' who taught George Martin to play and Paul McCartney to play the recorder.

* her elder brother,Peter is record producer and was one half of the duo 'Peter & Gordon.'
Here he is in 1964 :

* made her first appearance as a child actress in the 1952 film 'Mandy' and later, at the age of 16, played in 'The Greengage Summer'.

* in 1963, interviewed 'The Beatles' and subsequently started a 5 year relationship with Paul McCartney, becoming engaged in 1967.

* stayed with Paul in her family home from 1964–66 where he wrote several Beatles songs and apparently enjoyed the intellectual stimulation of upper-middle class conversation and company which the house afforded.

* ended her relationship with Paul in 1968 and has refused publicly to discuss it to this day and remains the only major Beatles associate not to have published her recollections.

* appeared in Roger Corman's 'The Masque of the Red Death' in 1964 and 'Alfie', opposite Michael Caine in 1966.

* has since appeared in tv most memorably in 'Brideshead Revisited, as Faith Ashley and 'A Voyage Round My Father', opposite Laurence Olivier and other parts until the role of Sally in 'The Old Guys'.

* has written 3 best-selling novels and more than a dozen lifestyle, costuming, and cake decorating books and runs a company making party cakes and sugar crafts for special occasions.

* is President of 'Arthritis Care', a 'Distinguished Supporter' of the 'British Humanist Association', President of the 'National Autistic Society' and the President of 'Parkinson's UK'.

* married the illustrator Gerald Scarfe in 1981 with whom she has 3 children.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Perhaps Britain is, after all, a country for 'happy and healthy' old men

An article appeared in the 'Observer' newspaper 2 years ago entitled :
Happy and healthy: how growing old became fun.
Britain's ageing population is staying younger for longer, say medical experts. Though there are far more people in their 80s and 90s than ever before, many remain cheerfully independent.

It made the following points, that :

* a 'Report' published by the 'Academy of Medical Sciences' and a group of leading experts on 'ageing' said, that :

* far from having lonely, decrepit existences, assailed by memory loss and physical infirmity, vast numbers of the elderly in Britain are living long, healthy, productive lives.

* the stereotyped image of a Britain with rising numbers of pensioners, kept alive by modern medicine, but crippled by arthritis, heart disease and Alzheimer's and living huddled and defenceless in old people's homes, was not true.

* 'healthy' life expectancy is increasing at least as quickly as life expectancy.

* according to Professor Linda Partridge : "No one wants to live an extra 10 years if they have to spend them in a nursing home, but that is not what is happening at present. People are living longer. At the same time, they also are living healthier, more productive lives.'

* Professor Kay-Tee Khaw said : "If you compare national surveys carried out between 1970 and 1990, you see the number of 85-year-olds who are disabled halved between 1971 and 1990."

* Professor Ray Tallis said : "While older people do carry a significant burden of illness, it is far less than is generally assumed. They are standing up in the battlefield but they are not being struck down by arrows."

* medical interventions and lifestyle changes have played crucial roles in bringing healthy old age to so many and drugs that counter high blood pressure and cardiac complaints have produced startling reductions in deaths from heart disease.

* lifestyle changes are also making an impact and those who stop drinking excessively or smoking or who take exercise and eat lots of fruit and vegetables not only live longer but have less chance of suffering physical or mental disability in later life.

* today's 60-year-olds have the lifestyles that 40-year-olds had a century ago and we are now shaping up to a future in which 80-year-olds will live as 60-year-olds do today.