Posts Tagged ‘David Beckham’
After completing my daily encounter with the hens yesterday, I headed off to the Marriot Hotel, near Preston. I had been invited to the Cancer Network Support Group Christmas Conference. On the way I passed several groups of strikers bearing posters listing various actions that David Cameron should take, many of them sounded physically impossible. It was an uplifting experience because, following the lead of others, I tooted my horn and received an enthusiastic ovation. Ovations rarely come to old codgers, so bully for them!
The temporary excitement of feeling like David Beckham stimulated my interest in what Brendan Barber, the TUC’s general secretary called “an unprecedented day of huge turnouts” and David Cameron described as a “damp squib”. Who to believe? Neither of course, this is the age of spin. And one can safely ignore such odious creatures as Francis Maude and their talk of “gold-plated public pensions”, even I know that 50% of all public pensions provide £5,600 or less.
But enough of the warring idiots. When one is first given a diagnosis of cancer such people and their rantings are put into perspective, in the great scheme of things they are but bubbles that quickly burst and are forgotten. The same cannot be said for cancer, one of the greatest scourges of mankind and one that used to be mentioned only in whispers, one that once was a death sentence.
But no more. Yesterday’s event brought together hundreds of cancer patients and their spouses. Right across the region there are support groups covering every area and every type of cancer. The idea, based on the concept that a trouble shared is a trouble halved, was launched around two years ago thanks to sponsorship by the Rosemere Cancer Foundation, a charity dedicated to the fight against the Big C as some choose to name it. Now the network is growing and each group meets regularly to share experiences, exchange tips for dealing with this or that outcome from treatment, and to form a mutual bond.
Five cancer victims made short presentations and I was forcibly struck by their positivity, their pleasure in a sense of belonging to a group of people with a shared experience and conviction that better days lie ahead. All showed a remarkable sense of humour and, as I drove home, I reflected on the evidence that nothing seems as overwhelming when it is the butt of jokes.
Everyone that I listened to spoke in glowing terms of the clinicians who treat and sustain them. They were equally effusive in their praise of the Rosemere Cancer Foundation which is based within the various hospitals and raises money to purchase state-of-the-arts medical kit that cannot be funded by a cash-strapped NHS. It also finances such things as overnight accomodation for relatives, information centres and coffee shops, all aimed at making the patient’s experience as relaxing as possible.
Be in no doubt that huge strides are being made in treatment techniques and recovery rates are soaring. The charity is leading the region’s fightback and Anne, Laura and Daniel, its funding co-ordinators who lead an army of volunteers, outlined its plans for the next few months. Valentine Day is to be at the heart of this, everyone of any age has a Valentine in their heart and an extenive campaign covering everything from coffee-mornings to raffles will culminate in a celebration at Blackburn Cathdral in February. In his TV shows Gareth Malone has demonstrated the healing power of music and love, there will be both in abundance as the Valentine campaign picks up speed.
Ours is now a very divided society, one split on class and the haves and have-nots. But cancer recognises no barriers and can strike anyone, indeed one in three of us will at some point encounter its chilling grip. It was that fact that made this such an uplifting experience. Here we had people from all walks of life, all political persuasions and none, united in common cause.
Those of us so far untouched by cancer should take heart from the sense of togetherness and determination of those that are. Their courage and inspiration should spur us into action. Someone remarked that this is war and coins are the bullets. Given financial backing all things are possible, and if everyone in this large region donated just one pound the outcome would be stunning.
We hear a good deal of nonsense from politicians about the ‘big society’. Had they been at the Marriot yesterday they would have seen how it can really work!
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S MIDWEEK QUIZ; 1. Role playing 2. Boules 3. May 4. British Museum 5. 22 6. Sumo wrestling 7. Lawn tennis 8. Their hands 9. Yin and Yang 10. York
By the time you read this I will be on my way to Lords to watch the England v India Test. If it is your habit to pray, put in a word about the weather and, if space permits, another one about what passes for a rail service these days. It follows that I have left the care of the crotchety hens in the hands of the even more crotchety Albert, an easy bargain to strike providing my pal gets to keep the hens. When it comes to being miserly Albert makes Nassar Hussain look like Father Christmas.
But when we met up last evening he did mention concern that, with all the attention switched to the doings of the Brize Norton set, it is just possible that the bankers – he likes to use a rhyming alternative – have been making hay rather than atoning for the fact that they ruined us all. Sad to say, he is spot on.
On the very day that the pie thrower was being beaten up by Rupert Murdoch’s wife, it was quietly announced that our less than esteemed money-men had pocketed £14 billion in bonuses. Understandably the press was gazing in other directions. The Telegraph stuck it in a corner of their business section, the Guardian stuck it on page 29 and The Sun focussed on David Beckham’s baby. But £14 billion it was, around double the amount to be saved by cutting every service in the land, not to mention the Army which will soon have fewer troops that its Sally Ann equivalent.
Although finance houses account for less than 4 per cent of the British workforce, they now account for over 40 per cent of bonuses. The average bonus paid to all private sector employees was £1,670, the equivalent for bank employees was £12,500. And of course the people at the top, the very people whose incompetence brought us to our knees, did extremely well!
The easiest one to check up on, since it is owned by us, is RBS. There 323 staff shared a pay and bonus pot of £375 million. That’s £1.16 million each. And despite effectively being their bosses we can do nothing. George Osborne is, it seems, content with their hand-outs. Mind you, by his personal standards a cool million probably sounds like peanuts!
Hardly a day passes but we read, or hear, of someone confined to their home by disability whose life is about to be ruined by cuts to their dependency allowance. Even by the standards of multi-millionaire ministers this does seem grossly unjust.
So in the unlikley event that you were worrying about the welfare of the bean-counters, relax. They are doing very well indeed thankyou! Uncle Vince Cable let it be known at the election that he was hell-bent on bringing the money-grabbers down to earth. Perhaps that responsibility was taken from him on the day that he lost the brief for dealing with the Murdochs?
Probably. Like the Murdoch clan, the bankers have powerful friends in high places!
THOUGHT FOR TODAY; After years of study, researchers have announced that evidence suggests that tall people are at greater risk from cancer. What are we actually supposed to do with this ground-breaking news? And what constitutes taller?
JOIN ME TOMORROW FOR THE WEEKEND QUIZ WITH A DIFFERENCE ????????????????????????????????????????????
As you might imagine we codgers of the allotment shed are well past the age when our pockets are emptied in the wasteful indulgence in fashion. In today’s world, manufacturers make fortunes by promoting a new style via a ‘mega-star’- David Beckham or Posh Spice are ideal according to the gender being pursued – and then filling the stores in readiness for the rush. It is a mad mad world we mutter as fight our way through discarded mini-skirts on our offspring’s landing and trudge off to cricket. But we are absolutely wrong to assume this to be a recent trend.
One of the more curious fads of fashion history was triggered back in 1660 when Samuel Pepys was in the vanguard by buying an expensive wig. He feared, as presumably do all trend-setters, that he would be the subject of mockery, but far from it. The fashion took off and before one could say wooly-head, men of standing were all bedecked. However the early wigs were not made of wool, in fact they were sometimes made of hair and hair gleaned from questionable quarters. It seems that Pepys was worried that his barnet might have emanated from plague victims!
But such was his devotion to the new fashion that he persevered, the power of fashion such that he would rather risk departure from the earth than miss out on his role as trend-setter, a sort of early Beckham. The habit of wearing wigs flourished from that point on and continued for a whopping 150 years.
As the years rolled by wigs came in all shapes and sizes and were made of various things. Human hair, horsehair, cotton thread, goat hair, silk were all available and one maker even offered a model made of fine wire! They came in many styles – bag, bob, campaign, grizzle, Ramilles, cauliflower, brown tie, riding bob were just some of the types on offer. The names denoted differences in length of braid or bounciness of curl. And they were expensive, a full wig could cost up to £50, a lot of money in those long-gone days. In fact many were left as bequests in wills and many were snatched by robbers!
The more substantial the wig the higher up the social scale the wearer. in fact the top people wore gigantic versions, they were literally bigwigs, a name we still employ today for Old Etonians and the like. The really large wigs did attract some ribaldry, Vanbrugh in ‘The Relapse’ had one of his characters, a wigmaker, boast of a wig so long and full of hair ‘ it may serve you for a hat and cloak in all weathers’.
Now here’s an irony in terms of today’s fashions for men. Because wigs tended to be scratchy, uncomfortable and hot in summer many men shaved their heads completely. Very often a bigwig would have his covering made from his own hair. People who couldn’t afford wigs went to great lengths to make their real head of hair look like a wig!
Sadly the wigs involved a good deal of maintenance. Each week they had to be sent to have their buckles reshaped on heated rollers, some were baked in an oven, a process known as flaxing. Then from about 1700 it became fashionable to cover ones head with white powder. The agent was good old flour. When wheat harvests failed there were riots as starving people realised that the falling stocks of flour were not being used to bake bread but to cover the heads and wigs of the gentry and their imitators. By the late 18th century hair powders were commonly coloured – blue and pink were the most popular – and some were scented. The biggest of all ‘bigwigs’ employed servants whose speciality was wig-powdering! Lord Scarborough employed six!
And then suddenly wigs went out of fashion for men. Wigmakers, in desperation petitioned George 111 to make wig-wearing compulsory but he declined. By the early 1800s nobody wanted wigs and the vast stocks enjoyed, if that is the right word, a second life as floor mops. Today they only survive in certain courtrrooms in Britain and the Commonwealth and cost about £600. As of old they serve only to signal supposed importance and superiority to those of us who wear flat caps. I am told that many a wig is soaked in tea to give the impression of experience.
The story of ladies wigs is for another time. Suffice to say now that many were so ornate and difficult to put on that they were pasted to the head and worn untouched for months. Those adopting this practice slept with their heads on wooden blocks and all carried with them a veritable collection of insects!
No, fashion trends are nothing new and, having done our research, we ferreters are convinced that today’s fashions are relatively sane by comparison with those of the long-gone predecessors of David Cameron!
LIB DEMS THE EXPERTS IN U-TURNS
Most Lib Dem MPs publicly opposed and erosion of tenant’;s rights when Labour talked of doing what David Camerion has now done in introducing fixed-term tenancies for social housing. In November 2007 no fewer than 37 of them signed an early day motion opposing ‘ both the stigmatisation of councilk housimg as housing of last resort and proposals to means test or time limit secure tenancies. Two of the signatories are now cabinet ministers and another six are junior ministers.
And in November of last year 35 Lib Dem MPs signed a motion calling on the Labour government to abandon its plan to scrap a scheme allowing private sector tenants to keep up to £15 a week excess payments of their housing benefits if they moved to cheaper properties. It would, said the signatories ‘ see some of the poorest families worse off’. Less than one year later Danny Alexander and Steve Webb have clearly had a change of heart. As Treasury Chief Secretary and Welfare Minister they are busy defending not just the end of excess payments but a package of even bigger cuts!
Clearly self understanding is not at the top of Lib Dem attributes!
YESTERDAYS QUIZ ANSWERS; 1 The North Pacific Experiment, a study of ocean currents and climate 2. Their designers Mikoyan and Gurevich
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1 In which country did FRELIMO operate? 2 Which British crime writer died in 1976?