Friday, 30 November 2012

Britain is a country where the prospect of a cold winter mean many old men will die before they see the Spring

With the first cold weather of winter is upon Britain, with some forecaster predicting an exceptionally cold one to come, the prospects for many old men and women who will not see the Spring are bleak because :

* spiralling energy bills contributed to 24,000 deaths last winter from December to March, as many old people cut back on their heating and spiralling energy bills indicate this winter's toll will be even higher.

* figures for ‘excess winter deaths’, published yesterday by the 'Office for National Statistics', reveal that most of victims were old men and women over the age of 75.

* high energy costs and poor insulation, are known to exacerbate a number of underlying medical conditions in old men and women, leading to more deaths during the winter.

* A recent report by 'Age UK' estimated that cold homes are costing the National Health Service in England £1.36billion a year in treatments, mostly for cardiovascular diseases such as strokes and heart attacks.

* Britain experiences much higher death rates than countries in Scandinavia which have much colder winters but where there has been huge investment in insulating homes.

* Maria Wardrobe, of fuel poverty charity 'National Energy Action' said: ‘The figures demonstrate that if you are a vulnerable person living in England or Wales then even a comparatively mild winter can still be deadly.'

* Michelle Mitchell, Charity  Director General of Age UK, said : ‘Those living in the coldest homes are three times more likely to die a preventable death than those living in warmer ones.The only way to make a sustained and long-term impact on excess winter deaths is by investing in making Britain’s homes more energy-efficient.The Government must also invest in a major energy-efficiency programme to help insulate older people against the cold weather and the high cost of energy.’

* Dave Timms, of Friends of the Earth’s 'Warm Homes Campaign', said : ‘The Government must take action to tackle this homemade humanitarian disaster by ensuring we all have warm and energy-efficient homes.

* Saga’s Director General, Dr Ros Altmann, said: ‘Much more needs to be done. In a survey of 8,500 over-50s, 58% were already worrying about the costs of heating their homes this winter and more than a third were already struggling with heating bills. Energy prices are already much higher than last winter and they are predicted to rise further which could leave many more older people at risk.’
I'm revisiting a subject an old subject :

Wednesday, 1 February 2012
Britain, a country where many cold, old men die in winter has the antidote in the Met Office 'Cold Weather Plan'

Sunday, 5 February 2012
Britain is no country for the cold, old men who will die this week

Thursday, 17 November 2011
Britain, no country for poor old men who can't afford to heat their homes in what might be their last winter... fear not !

Sunday, 23 October 2011
Britain is no country for thousands of old men who will die of the cold this winter

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Britain is no country for old lords who are forced to fight verbal duels with young Members of Parliament

BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten appears before the Commons culture, media and sport committee
Chris Patten is the old man who is Chairman of the BBC. The 68 year unelected, old Lord, 'Baron Patten of Barnes', was the last Governor of Hong Kong and has been a Member of Parliament, Cabinet Minister and Chairman of the Conservative Party. He takes himself very seriously and has 'gravitas'.

Philip Davies is the 40 year old, elected Member of Parliament for Shipley in Yorkshire who has a bit of a reputation as a 'pit bull' and on Tuesday the two men clashed in the House of Commons Culture Committee where Old Chris was answering questions from Young Phil about the role of the BBC in the sexual abuse of young girls by the late DJ Jimmy Savile, over the long period of time while he was employed by the BBC.

Simon Hoggart in 'The Gauardian' described it thus : 'It was one of the great battles. Old-style, leftwing Conservative versus new, rightwing Tory. Pro-marketeer against anti-market. Elderly and distinguished versus young and yappy...There were other MPs present. But it was the duel between these two which made it a terrific event.'

Quentin Letts in 'The Daily Mail said : 'Rudyard Kipling wrote a Raj story about a mongoose fighting a cobra. I thought of that pulsating tale while watching BBC chairman Lord Patten thrash in the dust with Tory MP Philip Davies...This was as thrilling a contest – actually quite nastily savage – as I have seen.'


Phil : asked Chris about the the tv interviews he had given and why he hadn't been interviewed by Andrew Neil?
Chris : "I have too much regard for the boredom threshold of the British public."
Phil : Would he have agreed if asked?
Chris : "Probably not, because one interview on a Sunday morning is enough."
Phil : "And because you thought you might get a tougher ride!"
Chris : "No." he would wait for the Pollard inquiry.
Phil : "So you will just agree with what Pollard says."
Chis : "No, but I shall be better informed."
Phil : "Are you not just a patsy?"
Chris : "I think that is extremely unfair – I would almost say 'unworthy of you'. But I don't think I will make that remark."
At this point there was a snorting noise, which turned out to be other MPs laughing at the insult to Chris.
Phil : said he would return.
Chris : "I shall look forward to that."

on the return :
Phil : demanded a full 'itinerary' of Chris' life.
Chris : "I think that is an impertinent suggestion. I'm not going to do a diary for you to satisfy some populist pursuit of someone you didn't want appointed to head an organisation you don't believe should exist. Do you want to know my toilet habits?"
Phil : called Chris "smug, complacent and patronising" and Chris had treated the job as Chairman of the BBC as a sinecure, "and nothing you have said has changed my perspective".
Chris : "You do not surprise me."

Short excerpt of the Meeting :

Full coverage of the Committee Meeting :

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Britain is still a country for and salutes a brave old actor turned gamekeeper called Albert Finney in a film called Skyfall

I've been to see Daniel Craig's latest James Bond film, 'Skyfall'. It was a 12.30 pm viewing and the cinema was empty, apart from another 6 middle/old age couples. The old man with the limp and lady with the walking stick both had trouble with the cinema steps, however, this was nothing compared to an old chap called Paul, who needed my assisstance and that of another elderly man. At the end of the film we volunteered to place his arms around our shoulders to help get him down the steps which he had ascended 3 hours before.

In addition to old men in the cinema, there was one old man of note in the fiilm, the 76 year old Albert Finney, who played 'Kincade', the gamekeeper of the Bond family's Skyfall  Estate. Appaently, the producers briefly considered approaching Sean Connery to play the role in a nod to the 50th anniversary of the film series, but elected not to, as they felt Connery's presence would be seen as 'stunt casting' and disengage audiences from the film, In the event, Albert acquitted himself well and said this of his role and that of Daniel :

and ...
A young 24 year old interviewed in 1960 about his stage play. 'Billy Liar'. and in a wonderful scene at 27, as Tom Jones in 'Tom Jones', with the late Diane Cilento :

Nominated for an Oscar five times, Albert's absence from the screen for the past few years, bemused his fans until his agent and lawyer, announced last year that : "Mr Finney was treated for cancer. He is better now and is considering several new projects.”

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Britain is still a country for and says "Happy Birthday" to an old laughter maker called Alan Simpson

Alan, seen here on the right, is 83 years old today. He is next to his longtime co-writer, 82 year old Ray Galton and old men of Britain remember, with affection, the laughter they were given by their tv comedy scripts when they were boys and young men in the 1950s and 60s. In particular, I remembers their work for comedian Tony Hancock on radio and tv between my 7th and 14th years from 1954 to 1961 and their long-running tv situation comedy,  'Steptoe and Son' between my 15th and 27th year from 1962 to 1974.

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

* was born in 1929, in Brixton, London and after the Second World War at the age of 19, was working as a shipping clerk, when he contracted tuberculosis and was admitted to an isolation hospital, the Milford Sanatorium in Surrey, where another patient was the also young, Ray Galton.

* had Ray later say of him that : “when Alan went past, the room went dark, because he was a big man - about 6ft 4in and 18 or 19 stone. I saw this shuffling figure with a big brown dressing gown on, with the collar turned up, going by swinging his toilet bag on his way to have a wash. I thought, "Who the hell's that?", because you expect everyone in a sanatorium to be thin and weedy and he was the biggest guy I'd ever seen.”

* hit it off immediately with Ray and had the same tastes in comedy namely : Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Don Ameche. who were being broadcast on the radio on the 'American Forces Network.US' along with comedy shows such as 'The Phil Harris Show' and 'The Jack Benny Show' (left).

*  followed the suggestion by the hospital's radio station , that they do a comedy show, later said that they " sat down and came up with an idea called "Have you ever wondered..." – situations such as what would happen if doctors became patients and patients became doctors, but we dried up after four sketches. We found the hand-written scripts the other day. They look pretty amateurish now but it was quite ingenious – we were only 18." 
Alan Simpson and Ray Galton flank the slightly smaller Tony Hancock.* after he and Ray were out of the Sanatorium sent the BBC a 10 minute radio comedy script where their target was the Bogart-Hepburn movie, 'The African Queen' and received a reply which said: “Don't read more than appears on the surface of this letter but we read your script and were highly amused. Make an appointment with my secretary and maybe I can point you in the right direction."
* saw his first successful radio series with Ray, 'Hancock’s Half Hour', end in 1955 after each script was conceived, written and then delivered within a week and then made the transmission to tv, where the series would become become the yardstick by which all other British sitcoms would be measured for decades to come.

next, in 1961-62, co-wrote a series of  'Comedy Playhouse' with 10 half-hour plays for the BBC of which one, 'The Offer', was well received and from which emerged the series 'Steptoe and Son',  two 'rag and bone men', father and son, who lived together in a squalid house in West London and later inspired the series 'Sandford and Son' in the USA and
'Abert & Herbert' in Sweden.

* underpinned his humour with Alan with black comedy and made the character played by Tony Hancock and Harold Steptoe pretentious, would-be intellectuals who find themselves trapped by the squalor of their lives and expanded this theme in their script for Tony Hancock's film, 'The Rebel' in 1961, about a civil servant who moves to Paris to become an artist.
An excerpt with the wonderful Irene Handl : and another with the equally wonderful George Sanders :

* rewrote the script of the film The 'Wrong Arm of the Law' starring Peter Sellers in which he couldn't make up his mind whether he wanted to play the policeman or gangster boss, first decided to play the first and then changed his mind, electing to play the villain, Pearly Gates. and a week into shooting, went up to Lionel Jeffries playing the policeman and said  "I've cocked it up. I'm playing the wrong part."

* in 1972, with Ray adapted Gabriel Chevalier's 1934 novel 'Chlochemerle' 
as a 9 part BBC/West German co-prodction in 1972. and in which the town's Mayor, plans for the erection of a gentlemens 'pissoir' in the village square do not go down well with the rest of the inhabitabts. who aren't so impressed with his intentions.

  *  retired from scriptwriting in 1978, concentrating on his business interests and has said : " Ray and I were almost Siamese twins until I retired. I'd only intended to stop writing for a year but never got back to it. But we're still in touch. I live around the corner from him and on Monday mornings my cleaning lady kicks me out of the house, so I go around to Ray's for coffee."
* " Sometimes we'll reminisce. Some of my fondest memories are from the Hancock days. He was a dream to work with – one of those rare performers who could read something perfectly first time. He had his problems and was never a great party man, but he was funny. When we had readings with Hancock, Sid James, Kenneth Williams and Bill Kerr – some of the biggest laughers in the business – they would be on their knees roaring, eyes watering. It was incredible, and Ray and I would stand there like kids thinking, 'We did that.' "
A radio interview with Alex Belfield :

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Britain is a country where an illustrator called Raymond Briggs is not grumpy that his old Snowman has been brought back to life without him

The 78 year writer and illustrator,
Raymond Briggs is the creator of the book 'The Snowman', which led the animation studio TVC to extend it into the well-loved 28-minute cartoon
which tells the story of a boy who makes a snowman who comes to life.

Raymond once said that : "Anything that's not in the book is nothing to do with me whatsoever. When TVC phoned me up one day and said 'We are thinking of having him go off to visit Father Christmas at the North Pole', I just thought 'Oh my God, no, must we?'?" So the visit to Santa and a hair-raising motorcycle ride are both additions to the original storyline as are the final moments, when the boy finds in his pocket a scarf given to him by Father Christmas: consoling proof that the whole thing was more than a dream.

In the book, however, the Snowman melts with Raymond saying : "I don't believe in happy endings. Children have got to face death sooner or later. Granny and Grandpa die, dogs die, cats die, gerbils and those frightful things - what are they called? - hamsters: all die like flies. So there's no point avoiding it."

The film has been a tv favourite since its first screening 30 years ago and now Raymond has endorsed a sequel,  'The Snowman and the Snowdog'  to be aired at Christmas.  Set 30 years on from the original, it opens with a boy mourning the death of his dog while snow falls outside. He lifts up a floorboard and finds an old scarf with snowmen printed on it, a memento stowed away long ago by another child. Inspired, he goes outside and builds a snowman and snow dog, with a satsuma for a nose and mismatched socks for ears.

Raymond has said :
"I'm not grumpy about it, or the introduction of a new character. It is absolutely super, not sentimental at all. The Snowman's success is about a simple thought. We all have favourite people we become fond of and then they pass away, it touches a chord, of loss – even for young people, someone dies."
The Snowman and the Snowdog
In the new story :

* the boy, clutching the dog, flies over the London Eye rather than Brighton Pier and Pavilion, as the boy does in the original.

* they meet up with a Snowmen Convention at the North Pole and frolic at a ski resort.

* the Snowman melts away as the sun comes out, although the boy gets a lasting memento from Father Christmas, this time a dog collar instead of a scarf.

The original film is wordless, like the sequel, save for the song 'Walking in the Air', which became a hit when covered by Aled Jones in 1985.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Goodbye" to an old lawyer and father of a Prime Minister called Leo Blair

Leo Blair wanted to become an MP but his dream of entering Parliament was scotched by a stroke at the age of 40, when his son Tony was 11Leo Blair, a lawyer whose capacity for overcoming difficulties and flair for performance proved an inspiration to his son Tony, has died at the age of 89, with Tony, who was with him when he died, saying that he was : "privileged to have him as a Dad" and "He was a remarkable man. Raised in a poor part of Glasgow, he worked his way up from nothing, with great ambitions dashed by serious illness on the very brink of their fulfilment."

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

* was born Charles Leonard Augustus Parsons in Filey, Yorkshire, the son of a 'pierrot' called 'Jimmy Linton' and  Celia Bridson, a dancer, who gave him up for fostering as a baby to a childless couple, William Blair, a shipyard rigger and his staunchly socialist wife Mary, who lived in a tenement where five or six families shared a the Gorbals (right) in Glasgow, Scotland.

* grew up a product of 'Red Clydeside' and a Protestant by religion, left school at 14, joined the Govan branch of the Young Communist League, becoming secretary at the age of 15 and was a copy boy at the Daily Worker' and then worked as a clerk in Glasgow Corporation’s 'Public Assistance Department'.

* in 1942, aged 18, joined the Royal Signals as a private in the Army, was promoted to lieutenant and demobbed in 1947 an 'acting major' and, his politics  transformed by his experience of life in the officers' mess, became a political 'Conservative'.

* changed his surname from 'Parsons' to 'Blair' and in 1948, married Hazel Corscadden, an Irish Protestant from County Donegal and settled in Edinburgh, where his two sons were born and working as a tax inspector, studied at night for a law degree at Edinburgh University.

* lectured for three years at Adelaide University in Australia living with his wife and sons Tony and William and then returning to Britain, combined a lectureship at Durham University with practice at the Bar, for which he had also found time to qualify.

* became chair Durham Conservative Association and had he had hopes of becoming the city’s parliamentary candidate when he suffered his first stroke at 40 when his son,Tony, was 11 and who later recalled: “One morning I woke to be told he had had a stroke in the middle of the night and might not live through the day, and my whole world fell apart. It taught me the value of the family, because my mother worked for three years to help him talk and walk again.”

* fought back to resume his legal career and told Tony, who was proving to be a handful at Fettes Boarding School, which he hated, 'to knuckle under'.

* experienced tragedy when his wife, Hazel died of throat cancer in 1975 and later remarried and moved to Shrewsbury, Shropshire, with his second wife, Olwyn.

'A remarkable man': Then Prime Minister Tony Blair with his father Leo in Blackpool in 1998* gave visiting lectures at Sierra Leone University before being appointed to chair industrial tribunals in Shrewsbury where one of his most notable decisions – over the rights of bus drivers in Wrexham sacked in 1991 after a strike – was challenged but upheld by the House of Lords.

* underwent a political conversion at the age of 71, when he joined the Labour Party, citing objections to rail privatisation and pride at his son's achievement in becoming Prime Minister.

* had Tony say of him in his 2010 autobiography, 'A Journey', that he shared many of the same traits as his father who was ‘motivated, determined, with a hard-focused ambition’

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Britain is no Country for an old painter called David Hockney and his totem tree stump in the Yorkshire Wolds

 This is David Hockney's wonderful painting, 'Winter Timber', with its distinctive 4 metre tree stump, which he called his 'totem' and was preserved after he asked a local landowner to leave it standing. It stood on the edge of Woldgate, a quiet, mud-splattered country lane a few miles outside Bridlington.  I saw the painting in London in the Spring, along with 650,000 other visitors and featured it in a posting :

Thursday, 8 March 2012
Britain is country where old painter from North called David Hockney can exhibit big pictures in old art gallery called the Royal Academy in London :  
Then this month,  one friday evening a person or persons unknown, under cover of darkness, cut the tree with a chainsaw and spayed it with red paint. The 75 year old painter was told about the vandalism after he returned home from Cologne, now hosting his exhibition, 'A Bigger Picture', which I'd seen in London. He said : "It was just an unbelievably mean-spirited gesture. It is something that has made me depressed. It was just a spite. There are loads of very mean things here now in Britain."
He said of the old tree : "It was something that I rather enjoyed. It had been cut down a while back because it was dead but I liked the way it was and I said to the landowners: "Leave it that way" and they did, and then somebody else comes along with a big saw. It must have taken two hours to do." 
He didn't mind the old tree being sprayed with paint because the stump was always battered by the wind and the rain but says its destruction really upset him and in answer to the question : 'Does it change the nature of his original painting?' replied : "It does in a way, a little bit." He is convinced the stump was targeted because it had become possibly the most famous piece of dead wood in Britain after he portrayed it in several of his acclaimed landscapes of the countryside around his home in Bridlington
The tree was part of the official 'Hockney Trail' and the vandalism has been condemned by 'Welcome to Yorkshire', the tourist body, which credited the popularity of Hockney's paintings with boosting the number of visitors to the Wold, a beautiful and overlooked part of Britain. David himself  moved into landscape paintings since making Bridlington his permanent home in 2005.

David Hockney sketch"He seems to have been targeted," said Simon Gregson, who runs an unofficial blog about the 'Hockney Trail' in Yorkshire. "If the stump had been felled for firewood the timber would have been taken away."

David has now created several sketches of the stump but does not yet know what he will do with them. "I'm  just drawing it. That's how I react to it."
 David interviewed about his Exhibition earlier in the year :

What a sad country Britain has become, where some take a warped pleasure in destroying what gave an old artist inspiration and  the pleasure of those who tread in his footsteps to view that inspiration.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Britain is a country with a city called Glasgow which is no city for young men and by default, old men, and nobody knows why


Glasgow in Scotland is no city for old men because there are relatively less of them than in comparative cities. A study by 'Glasgow Centre for Population Health' has shown that Glaswegians between 15 and 44 are especially likely to die before Liverpudlians and Mancunians of the same age group whhich in turn translates itself into less old men.

Glasgow, for all its charms, is sick—and not metaphorically. Glaswegians die younger than other Britons and nobody knows why. The facts about Glasgow are that :

* even in wealthy neighbourhoods, mortality rates are 15% higher than in similar districts of other big cities and in rougher parts the difference is starker.

* between 2003 and 2007 there were 4,500 more deaths  than might have been expected given the age and poverty of the population.

* up until 1950 it did not stand out as particularly sickly, but between 1950 and 1980 a gap opened up between it and other big cities in Britain and the difference was mainly explained by a greater number of deaths from cancer and heart disease then in about 1980, the gap with other cities widened again.

* one theory is that it is captured by its history, locked into multi-generational patterns of bad behaviour that get passed from parent to child and in the 19th century, when rapid urbanisation cramped workers into unsanitary housing, there was often nowhere at home to sit down, so men did so in the pub and have been drinking hard ever since, Glaswegians, however, smoke and binge-drink less than the others.

* another theory is that Glasgow is suffering from the effects of deindustrialisation with the closure of the shipyards on the River Clyde, which often include a decline in health as well as employment, however, when the 'Glasgow Centre' examined 20 regions in Europe which went through rapid deindustrialisation, it came out sicker, even when its residents were richer and better educated than their continental peers.

* a third theory is that Glaswegians are just gloomier than other Britons and put a lower price on the future manifesting itself itself in, among other things, an excessive love of deep-fried Mars bars and other health-sapping delicacies, poor Mancunians and Liverpudlians, however, eat just as few green vegetables as poor Glaswegians

* data on self-reported happiness are inconclusive  and Phil Hanlon of Glasgow University has said :“When you ask people in a room to write down how happy they are on a scale between one and ten, they tend to write something between six-and-a-half and eight, so the differences between Glasgow and other cities are not that big."

The 'Glasgow Effect' may well be a problem without a solution with it unintentionally remaining, no city for old men.
Glasgow is also no city for an old Duke of Wellington outside the Gallery of Modern Art.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Britain is still a country for and says "Happy Birthday" to an old film director called Roland Joffé

Roland, a film director interested in the the fate of individuals subject to forces beyond their control, is 67 years old today.  Parallels can be drawn between the careers of Roland and the American director, Orson Welles who was mostly remembered for two great film which he directed at the age of 26 and 27, 'Citizen Kane' and 'The Magnificent Ambersons' . Roland was a little older, 39 when he directed 'The Killing Fields' and 'The Mission' when he was 41.
In the years before that, Roland :

* was educated at two independent schools: the The Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle in London and Carmel College Oxfordshire and after school studied at the University of  Manchester.

*  leapt into the theatre scene with the 'Young Vic Troupe' after graduating from University and in the early 1970s, attended meetings of 'The Workers Revolutionay Party' and later said : "I was very interested in politics at that time, but I was interested in what all the political parties were doing, not just the WRP, and I was never actively involved."

  in 1977, at the age of 32, was commissioned by the BBC to direct a play, 'The Spongers', when the producer, Tony Garnett was informed that MI5 files listed him as a 'security risk' because of his 'left wing' views and only when Tony threatened to 'go public' had objections to his directing dropped and saw the play go on to win a 'Prix Italia Award'.

* saw his first feature film 'The Killing Fields' dealing with the friendship of an American journalist for The New York Times and his translator, a prisoner of the Khmer Rouge in Communist Cambodia, win three Academy Awards.

* centred his second film ,'The Mission', on a story of conflict between Jesuit  missionaries in South America, trying to convert the Guarani Indians and Portuguese colonials wanting  to enslave them and witnessed it win the 'Palme d'Or' and 'Technical Grand Jury Prize' at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival and six 'Academy Award' nominations.

 * returned to his pet themes of culture clashes, the sometimes-disillusioning effects of altruism and the splendour of nature with 'City of Joy' at the age of 47 in 1992, which although it had a lead performance of an against-type, Patrick Swayze, saw the Calcutta-set film go largely ignored by moviegoers.

* said that Warners was terrified of doing a film about lepers and : 'They said : "Who cares about lepers?" I said it's not a film about lepers, it's a film about life and about any outsider - it could be AIDS, because the way people respond to lepers isn't that different from the way people with AIDS are treated. People say to me, "You're crazy! Why do you go to these difficult locations and lay yourself open to these things?" I reply, "Because it's there and the doing of it will test me."'

*  saw his 1995 adaption of 'The Scarlet Letter' become a critical and financial disaster and his 2007 horror film 'Captivity' wth its advertising billboards, seen as exploitative and misogynistic and receive 'Razzie Nominations' for 'Worst Director'.

* has said : " I understand that there should be a British film industry, and I think it's great, and I think Britain has an awful lot to say. But Britain has never really loved its film-makers much. It likes them when they win things. But it's never really supported them particularly. There is no film industry in Britain. There are just individuals who've managed to do well".

* also said : "The first two movies I made, 'The Killing Fields' and 'The Mission' , I loved making, but in some ways they've been an albatross round one's neck. Everybody thinks that's what you're supposed to be doing."

Roland discussing his most recent film, 'There be Dragons', set during the Spanish Civil War about the life of St. Josemaria Escriva.
trailer :

Friday, 16 November 2012

Britain is no country for old men without a mobile phone

'No frills': The £55 mobile phone launched by Age UK is designed especially for elderly people who may find the modern technology of smartphones difficult
A new credit card-sized, no frills,  ‘My Phone’, costing £55 and designed specifically for old men and women has been launched by 'Age UK' in time for Christmas.

So old men of Britain, this is the phone for you because it :

* has a button clearly labelled 'Answer' and 'On-Off'.

* rather than press numbers to make a call, you simply to press a button featuring the names of your friends.

* can take up to 8 numbers, chosen by you and programmed into the phone by the manufacturer when it is ordered.

* means that you can keep up with modern technology, without having to learn how to use a 'complex' touchscreen smartphone.

* comes in 11 different colours with a battery life of around five days – much longer than the average smartphone.

* it has extra big buttons to help you if you suffer from poor eyesight.

According to research by 'Age UK', seven in ten of those aged over 65 use a mobile phone but only five out of ten of those aged over 75.

Helena King, Head of 'Affinity at Age UK', said :
"It is not surprising that some older people have limited experience of using mobile phones as most people over the age of 65 use a fixed landline as their main method of making and receiving phone calls" and MyPhone is "easy to use and means that people can contact their nearest and dearest at literally the touch of a button."

Helena demonstrating the phone :

An Age UK spokesman said it hopes to sell 50,000 phones in the next year.