Apparently if you’re a billionaire and want to stay in one of the expensive suites at Claridges, they change the furniture for a set for smokers and back again afterwards.
Thst has a certain style, but as the story came in an article about an autocratic Chinese businessman in the Business section of The Sunday Times, I doubt I’ll be using, the stores talked about in the article. Smokers should not be indulged.
David Aaronovitch in The Times today has a piece about the Labour Party and its leadership election.
He says this.
On the very day that Theresa May was, in effect, transfigured into prime minister, Corbyn was at a meeting of the Cuba Solidarity Committee, recommitting to the dynastic dictatorship of the Castros, just as he has been doing these 40 years.
Was Corbyn getting advice?
I am virtually Corbyn’s age and I can remember the ardent, often heavy smoking, left-wingers we had when I was at Liverpool University, in the 1960s. Prominent amongst them was that pillar of the left; Robert Kilroy Silk, who incidentally was C’s tutor and persisted in smoking Capstan |Full Strength all through tutorials, despite C being pregnant at the time.
I have checked the Internet for all the left-wingers, that I remember from that time and all seem to have vanished without trace. I wonder how many are living in semis in Pinner, Mossley Hill and Edgbaston, with a Mondeo outside and 2.4 children?
I got my monthly State Pension today and at £677.16, that will do me for my day-to-day expenses for the next month. It doesn’t cover trips out of London, but it does allow me the odd light lunch in a restaurant.
But I also get other benefits just because of my circumstances, as a 67-year-old man, who lives alone.
I get a Council Tax discount because I live alone. But is that right as I live in a family house with a garage in a desirable part of London? If I didn’t get it, I’d still live here as that would be my choice, but I am blocking someone more worthy than me of buying this house.
I have a highly-insulated house with an efficient boiler, but should I get a winter fuel allowance? It would be better if the money was not paid at all, but used to improve our housing stock’s energy efficiency, so that those on a pension actually saved the money all through the year.
I have a Freedom Pass, which gives me free transport on buses, Underground, Overground and trains within the Central London area. This is one of the reasons I moved to Dalston. But is it too generous on the one hand and not universal enough on the other? Surely, a better system, would be one where you nominated your bank card as your transport pass and in the free areas, the system didn’t charge you. The advantage of this would be that London could enter into reciprocal arrangements with areas like Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle, so that we could use each other’s concessionary area at a discount. Would this encourage more of us to travel to explore the country and perhaps spend money in attractions, cafes and shops, we wouldn’t dream of visiting now?
This morning according to this report on the BBC, the Liberal Democrats are saying that those who have a second house they use in a beautiful area, should pay double Council Tax on their second home. Here! Here!
I live in Central London and I am starting to resent the traffic. Not because I drive, but because of the pollution and noise often put out by cars used as glorified shopping trolleys and baby buggies. We let all drivers get off too lightly with the problems they cause in cities and if they got the message, we may see more cycling and walking, and better air quality. We might even see better delivery systems for goods, where transmissions were hybrid or electric, like London’s newer buses.
It will happen eventually, that all cars pay road charges based on mileage, fuel used and congestion. But I doubt we’ll see it soon, as there are no votes in it. It’ll probably be introduced in London first, as cycling gets more common and Crossrail shows everybody what real railways can be like.
But would a city like Birmingham, where the car is king, and pedestrians are targets to hit when crossing the road, accept charging to pay for the updating of the numerous railways and more trams in the city?
And then there’s lifestyle, fitness and health!
Many people drink, eat and smoke too much and governments don’t really discourage it forcefully. It would be an interesting exercise for a town or city to declare a city centre non-smoking and see what happens. I can remember, when ahead of the smoking ban the landlord of my local pub in Suffolk declared it a smoke-free zone. He got some moans, but not from his bank manager.
The NHS is in crisis, but this is mainly a problem of the irresponsible patients making. So if we can get people back to the straight and narrow, we might help the dear old NHS out.
For a start, I would like to see a law, that no-one could stand for elected office or sit on the board of an NHS body, if they were a smoker!
I could go on a lot more. But we must all change our lifestyle, if we want this country to be a place, that is really worth living in.
All the political parties seem to be promising more and more to the NHS in this election, be it money, drugs, doctors, nurses or midwives.
Money could be the least of the problems, as it will probably come from improvements to the economy or some tax-the-rich measure, depending on your political point of view.
As drugs are not really a drug problem, but usually a money one, we are left with where to we get the tens of thousands of staff we need to provide health-care.
The trouble is that being a health professional, is a skill you can use anywhere in the world, as all human beings are the same under the skin, even if they come in various colours, speak different languages and have certain different diseases governed by genetics or environment. So just as we can recruit paramedics from the Antipodes, nurses from the Philippines and doctors from virtually everywhere, other countries can entice our health professionals away.
We live in an increasingly global society, and working abroad for a few years is often in many peoples desired career profile, be it in health care or not. Healthcare like certain other professions is one of those that gives you a passport to a lot of interesting places.
All manpower planning in the NHS seems to believe that those trained here, will stay here. But all good training does is hand everybody that passport to travel.
To make matters worse, good training for some professions, is an excellent grounding to starting a business or working in the private sector.
So the first issue we must face, is this one of where do we get the staff. The NHS has shown itself to be not very innovative in this area.
Some have suggested in the past, that anybody trained in the NHS must contract to work for the service for so many years. This is just cloud-cuckoo thinking.
The one positive thing that can be done to help staff is to provide better working conditions and rewards for those working in the NHS. Most of the NHS buildings, I’ve seen in the last ten years have been pretty sound, with perhaps the odd exception, so we must look at the problems of staff with respect to organisation, management, pay and pensions.
What I do find interesting is that all of the Practice Nurses I’ve met in GPs surgeries seem to be so much happier in their work than those in hospitals. It’s only a small survey, but it does say something about the difference between GP’s surgeries and hospitals.
When I’ve spent time in hospital in the past few years, it has been been twice in good NHS hospitals and once in an expensive private one in Hong Kong. There was little difference in the equipment or methods used, but as an IT professional of some years experience, I don’t believe that hospital systems are what an engineer or manager would accept if they worked in say a modern car factory in the UK.
So we must get hospital and GP health systems to the levels that patients and staff expect in their personal life.
Where is an on-line copy of my health record, that I can read to get to the bottom of my problems, that seem to occur seasonally in the Spring?
But things are changing and we must create a health communication and information system, that is an order of magnitude better than what we have today.
No political party is saying they’ll fix this important gap in the NHS.
Everything in our lives is going on to our computers or phones, but healthcare in the NHS hasn’t changed that much since I was born in 1947.
Some people rightly worry about such a computer system. But at its best it would only be like an on-line shopping system, where if you don’t see what you need on-line at your favourite store, you go and look at a physical one.
In all the politicians posturing on health, they very much ignore the users of the NHS and what they can do to improve the service and its efficiency.
I would be interested to see an analysis of how much the average patient costs the NHS. I suspect that because of the lack of a fully joined-up computer system, if I had complete access and wanted to find out how much I cost the NHS last year, no accurate value could be calculated.
Many people calculate their motoring costs to the last penny, but even if they wanted to, it’s probably impossible with healthcare, even though all the data is there.
Eventually, everybody will have this figure, as it could be a powerful tool for a GP to classify and better treat their patients and as a motivator to patients to improve their lifestyle. You’ll never change some patients, but many could be nudged in the right direction.
We must also do more to ease our load on the NHS. On a personal level, I look after my INR, by doing my own tests. A Committee of MPs has stated that all NHS patients who can, should do their own testing to save the NHS a lot of money.
How many other measurements can be taken by patients to ease the load? And are we doing enough to encourage more and better devices?
In no political party’s pontifications on the NHS, can I find anything about bringing the patient more into his or her own healthcare. But many doctors and nurses have said to me that we should take more responsibility for our own health.
After all, many of us now carry a tablet or phone, that has more computing and information accessing capability than existed anywhere ten years ago. Is this being used to give us better healthcare? Not really!
Political parties are not tackling the problems caused by our poor diet, lifestyle and environment.
Where I live, there are more unhealthy takeaways than you need to try a new one every week of the year. Not one sells any gluten-free food, so their chances of seducing me with their crap is non-existent.
Even the Sainsburys Local that I use is not a store,where you can always get the staples you need to create a healthy meal. Yesterday, I needed a couple of haddock fillets for supper, but except for some very bedraggled and unappetising cod, there was no uncoated fish. So I had to take a bus to the Angel to get some from Waitrose. Does a lack of healthy food locally mean that many don’t eat as healthily as I do? I am out and about in London most days using my Freedom Pass, so it is not difficult for me to pick up what I need on the go. But a young mother with an infant in a buggy doesn’t have that luxury. It’s not the shops’ fault, as they only stock what the shop sells!
The only positive thing government can do in this area, is to give local authorities more power to decide what shops they allow in their area.
I haven’t seen anything like this in any manifesto.
We should also do things to curb air pollution, which can get bad at times. All city centre transport, should either be electric or very low emission vehicles.
But again, no-one wants to annoy people, except the Greens, who won’t win anyway.
I suppose smoking comes into this area. Any candidate for London Mayor, who decides to ban it in public parks, squares and in the vicinity of bus stops gets my vote next time.
Perhaps candidates for the election, should have to declare if they smoke or not and what car they drive on the ballot paper!
Do we also give our children an education that will help them get through the minefield that is health? We give sex education in schools, but surely health education is just as, if not more important!
We need to think radically, about how we deliver healthcare and before we throw money at it, we should sort out the details on how it is delivered, how it interacts with patients and the fasctors that affect it.
Conservative 1940s thinking has failed and we must bring the NHS into the twenty-first century.
I took this photo outside a pub on Rochester High Street!
Although the High Street was generally tidy, there were places with a bit of an air of being run-down.
In some ways you can understand, why they voted for the kippers.
I saw this poster at Upminster station.
Quite right too!
On my bus this morning a young lady was reading a book called How To Stop Smoking.
As I got out I wished her the best of luck. She smiled back and said it was difficult.
So did my encouragement help?
I don’t and never will know! But just as women, who are pregnant often wear a badge saying Baby On Board, would it help to give up smoking, if you wore a badge saying I’m Trying To Give Up.
Perhaps others would offer words of encouragement that helped.
I found this article on the BBC web site, about black market cigarettes. Here’s the first two paragraphs.
Attempts to cut the amount people smoke are being hit by a black market trade in millions of illegal cigarettes, council bosses have warned.
The Local Government Association (LGA) said such products posed a fire risk, hurt legitimate businesses and cost the UK about £3bn a year in unpaid duty.
I am a passionate anti-smoker as I believe that smoking was a major cause in the death of my youngest son.
As to black market cigarettes, I once had a meeting about fifteen years ago, with a task group in a UK Police Force, that was wondering if some of my software could help them find a pattern in illegal drug and black market cigarette sales. I was told by the officer in charge of the investigation, that cigarettes were then more profitable for smugglers, as there was no real penalty for being caught. But what worried me, was that I was told, the dealers targeted children in run-down areas, so that they would have the customers in the future.
Smoking, despite the fact, that I’ve never been stupid enough to indulge, has caused me a lot of pain.
The weather in Poland was so good that I ate outside in a couple of places.
But unlike the UK, where people tend not to smoke where food is served, you sometimes get smokers in the areas outside restaurants.
I have never understood why pensioners had to buy an annuity to give themselves an income in the last years of their lives.
In fact after hearing Adrian Chiles talking about his ideas for pensions, I vowed that unless it was a capital offence, I wouldn’t buy one!
So George Osborne did the honest thing and has made it that no-one will have to buy one any more. It’s all reported here in Citywire. Here’s the summary.
The government has unveiled a landmark overhaul of pensions drawdown and has abolished the 55% tax on pre-retirement pension withdrawals, meaning no one will have to buy an annuity.
From April 2015 people will be able to access pension savings as they wish at the point of retirement, subject to their marginal rate of income tax, rather than the current 55% charge for full withdrawal.
This had two immediate consequences.
Insurance company shares dropped as reported here in the Guardian.
George Osborne was put on a stop list of those, who aren’t entitled to buy insurance.
But well done George, as he also put the tax up on fags, although he was gentle with beer and cider.