Monday, 26 October 2009

Fish is good for you but........

The sea covers over 70% of the world. The high seas are areas beyond national jurisdiction and are, therefore vulnerable to exploitation and mismanagement. For the last 50 years we have been abusing this resource and the impact of humans on the sea can be devastating.
Fish is rich in protein and low in saturated fat and rich in polyunsaturated fats, particuly the omega-3 fatty acids plus vitamins and iron, zinc, selenium and iodine. A new study suggests that fish protein can help lower high blood pressure. We now eat 5 times as much as we ate in the 1950s. Traditional fishing , of course, cannot possibly supply this demand. So the fish we eat is often farmed or caught by industrial trawler with hi-tech detection devices and nets which are a mile long. Overfishing has led to the fact that many species are at the lowest levels since records began.
Cod, for instance is now vulnerable and near to extinction. Fish stocks of cod, hake, haddock and tuna are only 10% of the levels of fifty years ago. Climate change also affects the plankton and makes the problem worse. Of total fish catches by huge fish factories about 75% is thrown away as bycatch. Sometimes this is simply because it is too small or the wrong species.
So what fish should we eat? Wild prawns from Iceland are caught in well-managed fisheries. Most warm water or tiger prawns are farmed. It takes 4-6 months for a prawn to grow to marketable size and this allows farms to produce two harvests a year.
It is okay to eat Pacific cod, Coley from the Artic or North Sea, Mackerel from Cornwall, Pollack (line caught), farmed salmon, tiger prawns, tilapia (farmed), Tuna from the Pacific. If in doubt look for the Marine Stewardship Council certificate.
Bearing all this in mind here are a few recipes you might like to try. You can if you wish use a fish kettle which is really useful if you are cooking lots of portions or a whole salmon, for instance. You can buy special fish knives and forks to eat the fish , or use a soup spoon to eat the chowder. I have made all these dishes on a regular basis and can recommend them.
Fresh herb crusted coley.
4 fillets of coley
1 garlic clove crushed
100g wholemeal breadcrumbs
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 handfuls flat leaf parsley chopped roughly
1. Preheat the oven to 200C or Gas 6. Mix the garlic, breadcrumbs, lemon zest, juice, olive oil and parsleu. Season well
2. Top each fillet with the mixture and press down gently. Place on a non-stick oven tray and cook for 25 minutes approx.
Prawns, rice and avocado
125g brown rice
1 tablesp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 finely chopped (not crushed) garlic clove
200g raw tiger prawns
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 medium courgette sliced and then halved
1 medium avocado
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons half-fat creme fraiche
dash of chilli sauce (Tabasco sauce)
1 teaspoon sea salt
black pepper
Cook the rice until tender and drain and reserve.
Meanwhile heat the oil in a frying pan and saute the onion till soft. Add garlic, prawns, pepper and courgette and stir-fry for 2-3 more minutes.
Peel the avocado, take out the stone and chop the flesh and place in a bowl. Add the lemon juice, creme fraiche, chilli sauce and seasoning and mix roughly together. Pour this into the frying pan and still into the prawns etc. Toss the cooked rice through and serve, still warm.
Parcels of Tilapia, tomato and olives
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tilapia fish cleaned
1 medium tomato sliced
1 fresh lime sliced
6 stoned black olives roughly chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
for the tomato sauce
half a tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion finely chopped
7 oz or 200g can of choppped tomatoes with their liquid
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 level teaspoon soft brown sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
black pepper
First make the tomato sauce. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan, saute the onion till soft. Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add the remaining ingredients, simmer and cook uncovered for 30 minutes approx until you have a rich sauce. If too much liquid evaporates add a little water or tomato juice.
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas4. Brush 2 large sheets of foil with oil and lace the fish in the centre of each. Spoon the sauce over each fish and arrange the tomato and lime slices on top. Sprinkle over the olives and basil and seal up the foil tightly, though leaving plenty of air in the parcels. Cook on a baking tray in the oven for about 30 minutes.
Prawn Chowder
125g/4oz streaky bacon. Rind off and chopped.
4 chopped potaoes
1 large onion finely chopped
1 tablespoon plain flour
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
250g peeled uncooked tiger prawns
1 pint milk
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Fry bacon till the fat runs and then increase the heat till it begins to brown. Add the potatoes and onion and fry for 5 minutes and then stir in the flour and the curry powder. Add the water gradually, stirring all the time. Season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil stirring. Add the prawns and simmer for 30 minutes until the potato is tender. Pour in the mikl and heat through gently. Check the seasoning and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Salmon Parcels
4 salmon fillets
juice of 1 lemon,
good handful of chopped corriander
ground black pepper
small knob of butter for each fillet
Heat oven to 180C/ gas 4
You will be making 4 parcels so you need 4 pieces of kitchen foil. Place a piece of salmon on each and put the other ingredients on top. Seal the parcels and place on a baking tray in the oven for 15 minutes. Stand for 5 minutes.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

SATs tests should be banned

I do agree that SATs tests for primary school children should be banned. What on earth is the point of them?
Schools will automatically teach to the test and so the curriculum becomes narrower and narrower. Children are under pressure. Teachers who work with the same primary aged children day in and day out know what individuals in their care can do and what they are finding difficult. Teachers can devise their own light touch methods of finding out what a child can do. Teachers know what children have achieved with having some test imposed from outside to try and catch children out.
Why on earth do we expose such young children to such pressure? Surely there is time enough in later life for all that. Can't they just have time to be children and enjoy life a little bit more? Why do our children have to be subjected to more tests than any other children in Europe? So that schools can be judged according to test results? These results are so very predictable. Do we really need league tables to tell us where the well-to-do professional people live or where the areas of social deprivation are?
What happened to trying to make books fun? We should all be bending over backwards to ensure that our children absoultely love books and reading, that they enjoy having stories read to them and discovering the imaginative world of fairy tales and treasure islands, magical tales, myths, legends, adventure stores, stories about children like themselves who do wonderful things, poems, books full of interesting information about the world around them, the stars, ancient history, dinasaurs....... so that they soon wish to read these for themselves. If we could achieve this, the rest would be a walk-over.From reading would come a love of writing. Of making up stories, writing notes, reports, accounts, writing poems and plays to perform,opinions......But what do we do instead? We grind away at phonics, dull exercises, comprehension tests which simply ask children to tell us what we told them.
Have you ever had a primary school child bring a worksheet home where they have to read part of a Greek myth and answer questions on it and then find out that that is all they will be doing about Greek myths and legends? It is utterly soul destroying to compare this with the wonderful Greek legends they could be enjoying and the wonderful writing they could be experiencing.

We kill the love of books stone dead by making reading a chore, by testing, re-testing and testing again. These produce an incredible amount of stress and anxiety for both teachers and children. There are even booster classes, SATs clubs, mock tests! SATs tests are not the best instrument for levering up standards.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Royal Mail Industrial Action

Twenty four hour strikes by Royal Mail Staff will begin on 22nd October when mail centre drivers and staff will strike. On 23rd October, delivery and collection staff will strike.
A document leaked to BBC Newsnight said that Royal Mail will deliver the changes it considers necessary "with or without union engagement".
What are these strikes about? The CWU represents 121,000 postal workers and says the dispute is over pay and work schedules at Royal Mail. The CWU wants to see the Royal Mail business plan for the whole planned transformation programme. They want Royal Mail to agree that "change will be introduced by agreement". They want new job security arrangements, a rewards package for delivering success. They want Royal Mail to agree with the union on what constitutes a fair day's work. They are claiming bullying and harassment of postal workers and a resolution to pension issues.
The damage to on line businesses will be immeasurable. This is the run up to Christmas. It should be the businest time of the year for thousands of businesses selling on line. Many businesses are struggling, anyway , because of the recession and this will be the last straw. Larger businesses such as Amazon or Argos have been able to put together contingency plans but small businesses do not have that option.
Charities fear they will lose millions of pounds as a result of the strike as it will hit fundraising and Christmas Card sales.
A postman writing on an on-line forum gave his point of view. He said that older people do not have the option of email and still write letters. Peter Mandelson went on TV in May to press for part privatisation saying that, because of email and technology fewer people were sending letters.
The postman on the forum says he objects to having to work longer hours without extra pay because "figures are down" and that this phrase has become a joke. Workers are only supposed to carry 16 kilos maximum in each of their bags but he overloads the bags rather than carrying up to 10 bags of mail a day.
He says he is paid 1.67 pence for each item of unaddressed mail over and above his wages and he objects to the fact that he can't claim overtime if, because of such items, he works longer than his usual hours. He objects to the fact he cannot refuse to deliver them and he objects to what he sees as his "personal contributuion to global warming" even though he admits this advertisng material is very profitable for Royal Mail.
He maintains that people have never really sent many letters apart from greetings cards and that bills and bank staements and such like are sill sent by post. In addition there are packages from the likes of Ebay and Amazon and the small firms which in his words "clutter up the internet".
Royal Mail's figures show that mail volume went down by 5.5% last year and is predicted to fall by 10% this year because of the growth of electronic communication and the recession. He believes these figures to be false because his round now takes over 4 hours and sometimes he works for 5 hours with no tea break. He wonders why he has a bad back (something to do with overloading his bags, maybe?)
He points out that private mail companies may bid for Royal Mail contracts and that companies such as UK Mail, TNT or City Post undercut Royal Mail in city to city trade. They pick up the mail, sort it, transport it to mail centres and sort it again and then Royal Mail delivers it. In his view Royal Mail does the work but these companies take the profit. They are not obliged, like Royal Mail, to deliver to every house in the land.
In his view volume of mail has risen, even if figures have not. Staff levels, he says, are down by 30%. There are now workers who work six hour shifts and those who work for four hours. The former prepare their own frame of streets and numbers after the mail has already been sorted. They also prepare the post for the 4 hour shift workers. He says only the full-time staff have old fashioned contracts with pension rights whilst the part-timers do not. There is a pension deficit.
The strike in 2007 led to a national agreement of pay and modernisation but he maintains that more and more pressure has been put on full-timers including the sharing of rounds during quiet periods or when volumes fall. He believes this to be provocation and resents the fact that Royal Mail is trying to become a profit making business rather than a public service.
I would be very interested to see what you think of his arguments.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Eccentrics in the world of food

Why is it that the world of food and dining is littered with eccentrics? There are some truly wonderful and yet truly strange personalities associated with dining and eating. There are some very determined people out there.

The people we hear about today, for instance, are non the less strange than those of former generations.Take Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for example, he of the famous "chicken out" campaign. He began his career with conservation work in Africa and then became Sous Chef at River Cafe before he became a journalist. Do you remember his "Cook on the Wild Side" programmes where he picked up road kill and cooked it? I remember a recipe for squirrel and he ate from hedgerows.

Another of my favourites is Marguerite Patten who worked for the Ministry of Food and broadcast advice and ideas on BBC radio during World War 11 in a programme called "Kitchen Front". She had been cooking for her family since she was 13 years old when her father died. Bearing in mind that during the War in 1942 a typical week's ration for a man was 2-4oz cheese (50-100g), 4 oz marg (100g), 1 egg, 2-3 pints milk, 4 oz (100g) bacon then compiling her recipes was no mean feat. Yet they say we were far healthier during the War than we are now.

I also find Delia Smith quite an interesting character. She is the U.K.s best selling cookery author and, indeed, her books helped teach people in this coountry how to cook. She left school at 16 but didn't pass a single "O" level and started her restaurant career washing up. She is joint majority shareholder of Norwich City.

Perhaps the most celebrated celebrity chef of all time , though, should be Alexis Soyer who was the chef of the Reform Club in London. In 1848 when the Irish potato crop failure had caused widespread famine, thousands of people were dying of hunger, Soyer set up a public appeal to fund his soup kitchen.

He went to Dublin and set up a huge tent which contained a coal-fired boiler which held 1360 litres of soup. When ready the first batch of soup was ladled into eight large saucepans. The queue was allowed in 100 people at a time. Each person was given 6 minutes to eat 2 pints of soup, clean their bowl and spoon and leave. In this way he managed to feed 1000 people an hour for 8 hours a day. Those who were too ill or frail had their food delivered to them in carts. Soyer published recipes for cheap and nourishing food and even suggested that vegetable peelings should never be thrown away.

I guess that in his own way George lV was another eccentric who , in his own way, has added to our dining experience. It was he who transformed the banquets from messy medieval-style to the style we know today. Without him the Queen's dinners would look positively dull. It was he who put together the 4,000 piece Grand Service which makes every banquet at the Palace so special. It is made of silver gilt and includes 140 dishes, 288 dinner plates and a huge inventory of knives, forks, spoons, marrow scoopes, ice spades and table sculputures.

Leading from this , our great cutlery manufacturers lead the way in the manufacture of fine cutlery. Arthur Price used to work so hard in his tiny workshop that his wife used to walk round their little garden with him late at night to help keep him awake and eventually his beautiful cultery was being used even as far away as Russia. His family still run the country's best know cultery company to this day.
There are also our great potter such as Wedgewood....I could go on and on.

Finally, I just want to mention a pair of newcomers to the culinary scene. I am mentioning them because I admire their detirmination (and determination is what all the people above have in common. ) They are Kim McCosker & Rachael Bermingham who wrote a cookery book called "4 ingredients". Every recipe in the book consists of only 4 ingredients. It is simple to read, easy to follow and you find you often have the 4 ingredients in stock anyway. They sent their manuscript to every publisher in Australia and not one of them was interested. Undaunted they re-mortgaged and printed the book themselves. They had delivered the books and self-funded book signings all over Australia. Today they have become the number one selling book in Australia and have their own T.V. show. it all just goes to show what a little determination can do!


Thursday, 1 October 2009

Plagio, Brachy - More Awareness and NHS Help Needed

Plagiocephaly, Brachycephaly are medical terms for mis-shapen heads on babies, now known to many parents as flat head syndrome. This can easily be treated by wearing what I call a special helmet for the growth to be redirected into the correct parts. The helmet is very light weight and shaved out inside where the head needs to grow to get a better symmetrical shape. NHS class it as cosmetic, but you can get all sorts of cosmetic surgery on the NHS, however no one will accept this is a problem in children, yes some children with flat head syndrome will grow out of it over time and given the exercise early and follow it, it can be corrected. There are many older children around you see with the flatness on their heads but I feel there is more needed to be done with the health service on this.
Speaking from personal experience, our little girl was born, natural birth but we noticed at six weeks her head shape was just not right, flat on one side, wide and her forehead slightly bulging and her ear alignment slightly out together with one flat ear, concerns were brought to many of our GP’S and health visitors but no one would accept there was a problem and advised it will grow out, checked out many searches but in the region of £3000 plus for treatment.
Anyway whilst shopping noticed two sets of parents each with a child in a special helmet that I had read about, very nervous I asked each of them if it what I thought it was and showed them my concerns, i was told me to get it checked out and you will get no help from GP’s etc. Found a clinic local to us, they scanned my daughter and she was classed a suffering from severe plagio and brachy, they gave me all the figures of her head measurements and told me if we wanted to achieve good results we need to put our plan into action as soon as possible, she was now at 9 months old. Treatment started two weeks later and at a cost of £1850.00 to us, she completed her treatment at the age of 2 with fantastic results. As she was slow growing, very petite little girl, there is very little flattening left but nothing anyone will notice. During treatment our local newspaper carried a story, also we were on the local news all to bring awareness for other parents not to suffer and banging their head against a brick wall, this should not have to happen, the NHS needs to bring awareness to everyone.
Parents of children with plagio and brachy are not aware that there is help out there, the NHS class this treatment as cosmetic. There are a few hospitals now that will treat your child after a referral from your doctor, but the lists are long and by the time you get seen your child may have missed their chance for treatment. My argument is mother intuition is always right you know there is a problem and wish for someone to help you. It turned out my daughter probably had tightening of the neck muscles (torticollis) at birth and may be a factor in her plagio. There are many forums available for anyone to obtain advice, from other mums including, The one I was joined too is no longer running PlagioUK - MSN whenever you need advice pop onto the forums, there will always be someone there to help you. If caught early some children can be treated and a helmet may never be needed. You are given every sort of leaflet when you have your baby on all different things I feel there should be one on Plagio to bring awareness, the only advice I can give if you feel your child has flat head syndrome -please seek advice, many of the clinics will see you and give you advice and the first consultation is free so you have nothing to lose. Many parents have had to have fund raising events to raise the money for their child. I feel you shouldn’t have to do this, you pay your taxes and national insurance and I personally feel should be taken out of the NHS funds.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Dying With Dignity. The Right To Die.

Not long ago my dog got poorly, her back legs went, this happened overnight without warning, she was a powerful German Shepherd so i am sure you can imagine the sight of her unable to stand caused a great deal of upset. Without hesitation we went off to the vets to be told she had a disease in her nerve endings. The vet said a trolley could be made and she could drag herself along on this but the picture filled me with horror, the vet agreed that this would take away her dignity. So ten minutes later full of tears and after lots of hugs a held her as the vet put her to sleep.
Do i have regrets? Not one bit, she had been my friend, companion and protector for 8 years, yes i miss her being around, i miss her company and i miss her funny ways but the thought of keeping her alive for my own sake would have been wrong. Her quality of life had gone and she deserved far better.She was in no pain but without quality of life we have nothing. So why does the same not apply to humans?
If dogs, cats, hamsters, mice and even goldfish have the right to die with dignity, why not humans? Death is one thing we are all sure of, it comes to us all, why, why ,why if we are suffering, quality of life has gone can we just not just go with dignity. In our own homes or a place of our choice with our loved ones around us.
Yes i know everyone is different, some people want to grasp every single moment, no matter how ill they are, whether this is because they still value what has become of them, religion or fear of death, they fight to stay alive. But others just come to a point where enough is enough and are ready to go. They should be able to, without fear and with guidance.
Also it should not just apply to terminal illness, if quality of life has gone in whatever form then we should be able to decide for ourselves to end it in a safe controlled way.

Trident - Do we want it or not?

After Gordon Brown’s announcement that he intends to reduce our Trident submarine fleet from four to three vessels, I would like to know what everyone else thinks.The way I see it, we either need Trident or we don’t. If we don’t need it, get rid of all four of them. If we do need it, we keep all four of them. There are no in-betweens. The Trident programme was designed so that the UK would have a credible nuclear deterrent that would be operational 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The extensive research concluded that we would need a minimum of four submarines in order to guarantee an uninterrupted service. The Trident program went ahead and the outdated Polaris fleet was retired.Gordon Brown’s official line is that scrapping a Trident submarine will be the UK’s contribution to nuclear disarmament but we all know the main reason is to save money. But how much money will he save? Will scrapping a quarter of the fleet save a quarter of the annual Trident budget? Only a fool would think so. We’ll still need a Trident maintenance headquarters with experienced staff whether we have one submarine or four submarines. We’ll still need weapons specialists and nuclear warhead technology. Yes, we’ll save a few pounds here and a few pennies there but it won’t be a significant amount unless we retire the entire Trident force.If Gordon seriously wanted to reduce our nuclear arsenal whilst maintaining a credible defence, surely it would be more sensible to reduce the number of nuclear warheads rather than reduce the number of submarines. Each Trident submarine carries 40 nuclear warheads. Wouldn’t it have been better to reduce each submarine’s payload to 30 missiles and keep operating all four submarines? The end tally will be the same... 120 nuclear warheads in operation across four submarines instead of 120 warheads in operation across just three submarines.If a submarine develops a fault or is disabled in conflict we need the remaining three to continue our 24 hour service. As soon as our fleet is reduced to three vessels we will be preparing a new emergency response:"Please hold fire, your war is valuable to us and one of our submarines will answer your call shortly."

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

My Favourite Meal

This is my favourite meal ( if someone else is cooking, it is a different story )

Shepherds Pie
450g (1lb) Minced Lamb or Beef
450-675g (1-1½lb) Mashed Potatoes
285ml (½ pint) Stock, Oxo does me.
1 Onion
1 Large Carrot (Optional)
Salt and Black Pepper
Pre-heat oven to 180°C: 350°F: Gas 4.
Finely chop the onion and dice the carrot, if used. Or son will not eat it.
Fry minced meat until lightly coloured and remove from the pan and drain well. Add the onion and carrot, cooking gently until the onion is transparent and season to taste. Return the meat, add the stock. Add a little cornflour mixed with a few drops of water, stirring well. Bring to the boil and stir until thickened. Transfer the mixture into a casserole dish. Cover the mixture with an even layer of mashed potato. Cover and bake for 30 - 40 minutes. Then remove lid and cook until top golden or you can grill.

Manchester Tart

600ml (1 pint) Milk 110g
(4oz) Shortcrust Pastry
3 tbsp Raspberry Jam
3 tbsp Custard Powder
2-3 tbsp Desiccated Coconut
2 tbsp Sugar
Pre-heat oven to 200°C; 400°F: Gas 6.
Roll out the dough and line a baking dish. Blind bake (prick with fork and place a piece of greaseproof paper with some baking beans on pastry). Bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool. Spread the jam over the pastry base, sprinkle with coconut. Boil the milk and whisk into the sugar and custard powder (follow manufacturers instructions). Or if you are bothered make your own. Pour into the pastry case. Sprinkle with coconut. Hide so you dont have to share.
Eat cold.

Monday, 14 September 2009

My Favourite Gadget

This is my favourite gadget ( i can tell you about on here ) it is a pineapple slicer/corer. If you love fresh pineapple and dont own one of these you are missing out on something very special.
It is so simple to use, slice the top off your pineapple, press the slicer into the fruit and turn like a corkscrew, out comes the fruit, no waste just juicy mouthwatering pineapple. This is quicker than opening a can. It comes with 3 adaptors for different sized fruit.

Afghanistan - Stick In or Pull Out?

The loony lefties and do-gooders are at it again. They want British forces out of Afghanistan and I’d like to know why.
I think most of them have forgotten the event that propelled our troops into action. No matter what you think of the USA or how they act, the events that occurred on September 11th of 2001 were shocking, cruel and deliberate. The animals that were behind this outrage openly admitted their involvement and were seen across the world celebrating the deaths of 3000 innocent civilians in video clips, in newspapers, on TV and across the internet. Mr. Bin Laden and his Taliban cronies were jumping for joy.
The USA could not possibly sit and do nothing. Anyone that had the slightest understanding of the way the modern political world functioned knew that. If the British sat on the sidelines and let our US allies go it alone we could forget about asking for US military assistance in the future should we need it. But that wasn’t the only reason the UK sent in its troops. This terrorist scandal was so outrageous that the vast majority of UK citizens were more than happy to commit our armed forces to fighting the Taliban whether they valued our special relationship with the USA or not. Unlike the 2003 Iraq debacle, this was a cause worth fighting for. Now all of a sudden, in 2009, the cause is becoming forgotten. Loony lefties hear the UK death toll figures rising and send up the white flags. I shudder to think how we could have coped in 1939 if we were so feeble minded.
The attacks in London that left 56 people dead and 700 injured were planned in Afghanistan. Some may argue that the attack was a direct result of Britain’s involvement in the military operation in Afghanistan. That may or may not be true. But what do these limp wristed voters actually want us to do? If it was good enough to send in our troops in 2001 then why is it any different now? The enemy is still the same, the planned terrorist atrocities continue and Bin Laden is still out there. Could you even contemplate what would happen if all allied forces went home from Afghanistan? The Taliban would be back in the driving seat within months (if not weeks), the west would be a laughing stock and countless trained fighters would be heading for Iraq to cause more death and destruction. Afghanistan’s terrorist training camps would have to start charging tuition fees to keep applicant numbers down.
Nobody understands the war in Afghanistan more than our own armed forces. How often do you hear our boys in the Afghan trenches saying they are fighting for an unworthy cause? Almost every one of them knows and understands the reason they are there and what they are fighting for. I’ll bet they would love a bus full of the UK loony left to accompany them on their next outing across Helmand Province. I’ll help pack their bags.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Organ Donation, Should We Opt in or Out?

Should we have to opt out of being an organ donor? Almost 10 million people are now registered as donors, but what about the millions of others? why do people not register? Some will be for religious reasons, others because they mean to get round to it but never do, or maybe because of fear, fear of the unknown, or superstition that if you register than something bad will happen to you, this is the same reason many people dont make a will. Its tempting fate isnt it?
Over 4000 people a year fail to get transplants because of the shortage of organs.
It is a terrible thought to lose a loved one, awful to even think about but what would you do if asked the question by the Doctor "can we have the organs" would you feel better knowing your loved one had a card? Or what if it was yourself? Would you want to leave the decision up to your nearest and dearest.
One donor can donate heart, lungs, two kidneys, pancreas, liver and small bowel, also you could help save two peoples eye sight.
You can also turn the tables and ask how it must feel knowing your loved one needs a transplant and will die without.
So if not enough people opt in then why not have an opt out system? you carry a card to say no i dont want to be a donor. Simple.
People tragically do die young, a perfect way to die would be after a long life, a good night out, the best sex ever and fast asleep in the arms of your lover, but lifes not like that.
Decide what you would do today, dont leave it too late, it is so easy to register, you can do it online right now.
Now shall i ask? Are you a blood donor?

Are Golliwogs Really Racist

After several recent stories in the press i wanted to have my say about this subject and Gollies in general. The original spelling was Golliwogg, the second G was later dropped, they are in the main known as Gollies, due it is thought because of the w o g connotations,
The first we know of Golly was when a lady called Bertha Upton and Daughter Florence illustrated 12 childrens books telling stories of Golly and his adventures, this is how the Golliwog doll came about, hand made by grandmothers from rags found around the home. The most desirable mass produced dolls were made in Germany by Steiff. As well as the books by the Uptons, Golly is also featured in several books by Enid Blyton, this helped Golly become a very popular character.
In the early 1900s John Robertson on a trip to North America first saw young children playing with rag dolls, this gave him the idea to use the Golliwog as the company trademark and mascot. The Golly was first shown on jam jar labels in 1910. The mascot became so popular that the enamel Golly broach was produced in 1928, the first being the Golly Golfer.
The scheme was halted during the war because all metal was needed but it resumed again in 1946.
How did the scheme work? Well on each jar of Robertsons Marmalade or Jam there was a token, you collected the tokens and when you had enough you sent them off the the jam factory in Droylsden, Manchester and in return you got a Golly pin badge. Since the start over 20 million badges were sent out. In 2002 Golly was retired from the jam jars and replaced with Roald Dahl badges which were no where near as popular.
So why was Golly "retired" it is said that Golly was no longer politically correct, London Council had told Robertsons they would no longer use their jams in schools unless Golly was removed, this was just the start, Robertsons themselves say children no longer had the same interest and so they felt change was needed.
In the years of the badges from Robertsons lots of different sets were released, Golfers, Doctors, Policemen, Astronauts, Farmers, Sportsmen, Fruits, in fact you name it and a badge was made. Some were produced for charity, such as Cystic Fibrosis and Leukaemia. Others were made to celebrate special occasions such as the Olympics or the Moon Landings.
Lots of the badge sets were mass produced but quite a few were limited editions of 50 which makes them very rare and have been known to bring prices up to £5000 in auction. If you would like to know more about the badges please take a look at Liz Priggs Golly Corner Website.
As well as badges, toys and books we also have Silver Crane who made lots of tableware items such as Golly Toastracks, Teapots, Mugs, Plates, Dishes, Salt and Pepper Pots, Egg Cups and Butter and Cheese Dishes, these are no longer made and have also become very collectable.
Finally we have Carltonware Gollies, their first set was the Golly Bandstand which featured a collection of Gollies playing instruments, these stand approx 4 inches tall, they then produced other sets of the same size depicting similar figures to the badges, all are limited editions and very collectable. The latest from Carltonware are the 9 inch figures, the rarest of these being the Golly Guitarist.
Yes i am a Golly nut, i have over 400 badges, my favourites being my pre-war fruits because they were my nans, so bring back fond memories, i also have some Silver Crane pieces and the whole collection of Carltonware.
So get your granny to search her drawers, she could be worth a fortune.
Is the Golliwog racist or just a friendly little chap?

Thursday, 10 September 2009

The Best Decade Was The 1970s

Why do i think the 1970s was the best decade, well simple really, they were the best years of my life, yes parts of it were tough, it was the decade of the strikes after all, but when we think back we mostly remember the good times, the bad fade away. These were the days before credit, if you wanted, well usually needed something new, you worked until the money was saved to pay in cash. The world really was a better place back there in my memory.
They were innocent times, growing up was fun, we had real summers that lasted all through the school holidays, spending hours looking for tadpoles so i could grow my very own frog, searching trees for caterpillers, swimming at the outdoor baths, shooting everything with my spud gun, making our own go-carts, we were street kids and loved every moment of the adventure we lived. The rag and bone man, the coal man and searching everywhere for Corona bottles so we could claim the deposits. Scrumping and playing nick knock.
Simple things would mean so much.
Flared trousers, kipper ties, hot pants ( mine were pink ) and made out of crimplene, american tan tights, bellbottom trousers, cheesecloth shirts, halter neck tops, patches, these were pieces of material we would sew all over our clothes and thought we looked wonderful, punk clothing also came in around this time and was lots of leather, tartan, shains and safety pins. tank tops, and thanks to the Bay City Rollers we all had to wear some tartan, trousers, jackets, socks and scaves. Wide collared shirts, like Harry Hill still wears. How did i almost forget the footwear, has to be the ankle breaking platform shoes.
Without doubt only one comes to mind. The Ford Capri, sexy and sleek. You had really made it if your family had one.
Top of the Pops was huge in those days, it was the nearest most of us got to our idols, the music has never been so good, The Osmonds, David Essex, Queen, Blondie, Wizzard, T Rex, i cried when he died. Bay City Rollers, David Cassidy, The Jackson Five, Slade especially at Christmas, the list is endless. Rushing home on Sunday nights to tape the Top Twenty off the radio. Once a week going to the local disco dressed in our tartan and doing The Bump.
Food Drink Sweets
70s sweets were fantastic, not as much choice as today but better, Milk Tray Bar, Toffee Buttons, Spangles, Salt and Shake Crisps, Burtons Puffs, Nuttals Mintoes, Mighty Imps, Tiger Tots, Teddy Tots, Pacers, Strawberry Aero, Super Mousse, Toffee Cup.
Party drinks for the ladies would be Babycham or Blue Nun and Party Seven for the men, party food had to be prawn cocktail, pineapple on sticks, sausages on sticks, sherry trifle, tinned fruit cocktail with carnation milk, sausage rolls.
TV Programs
Not so many channels and no video or many other gadgets, but TV was great, Magpie or Blue Peter ( never both) The Waltons, The Beverley Hillbillies, Little House on the Prairie, Starsky and Hutch, Kojak, he started a lollipop craze, Columbo, On the Buses, Alf Garnett, Love Thy Neighbour. Play School, Magic Roundabout, Swapshop, Tizwas, Its a Knockout, im sure you can think of many more.
Toys and Games
Clackers, these were banned because they were breaking childrens wrists, but still great fun. Tiny Tears Dolls, Action Man, Shaker Maker, Painting by Numbers, Chopper Bikes ( mine was blue ) Airfix Kits, Meccano, Etch a Sketch, Evil Knievel, Gollywogs, Compendium of Games, Enid Blyton Books.
So we had The Queens Jubilee, Marc Bolan died, a sugar ration, power cuts, school dinners cost 10p, i had my first........ kiss and i made some of the best friends in my whole life.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Obesity in the UK

It is staggering to know that 1 in 4 adults in the UK are obese, if this carries on by 2050 9 out of 10 adults will be obese, at the moment this costs the NHS 4.2 billion per year. This not only means early deaths but ongoing healthcare for health issues associated with weight problems, health issues such as diabetes, coronary artery disease, strokes and an increased risk of some cancers.
People are overweight because they eat too much and fail to then burn it off, 500 extra calories per day = 1 pound weight gain per week, thats almost 4 stone in one year.
But even more worrying is what is happening to our children, babies are not born obese, but it very quickly happens, they are being fed this food by parents, parents who have no time, parents who think convenience food is cheaper or easier, but is it really, we are killing our own children because we are too selfish and or lazy to do anything about it.
Years ago when times were different, we had at least one good meal a day, money in most homes was tight so treats were few and far between, if you didnt eat your meal you went hungry, this didnt happen often because meals were tasty and nutricious, convenience food was rare. Going for a chippy was a treat, but the biggest difference apart from the kind of food we eat is our lifestyles.
In the past we all got more exercise, adults and children, a lot more people worked manual jobs, even around the home, washing and cleaning was far more physical without all the mod cons we now have, children felt safe to walk to school and back, they also played out for hours on end, using up so much energy, now they are overweight console playing cabbages. They hate healthy food because they are a shock to their tastebuds.
Parents pamper them in this because it gives them an easy life.
We are feeding our children to death.

England Has Too Many People

When will we ever close the doors? The population of the UK is now 61.4 million people (as of mid-2008) and is currently increasing at the rate of 500,000 per year. Perhaps you knew this already but did you know that out of those 61.4 million bodies, 51.5 million of them live in England? The remaining 9.9 million humans reside in Scotland (5.2m), Wales (3m) and Northern Ireland (1.7m). Couple this data with the fact that most people are concentrated in the lower half of England and you can see what I’m getting at…England is going to explode!

Population increase can be caused by a number of things: increased longevity, higher birth rates and immigration. But that’s not my point. It doesn’t matter what the cause is, we’ve got to stop it sooner or later. This small plot of land can only handle so many people. Our roads are choked solid every day and trying to walk the streets in a busy city is harder than an SAS assault course.

When is the last time you were alone? I mean REALLY alone, with nobody else in sight. No cars, no people walking dogs, no voices, no sounds of civilisation. Under your duvet at night doesn’t count. I’m talking about open spaces. Exactly, they don’t exist anymore. The last time I experienced that situation was in the western isles of Scotland in the middle of a 16 mile walk through forest. That’s a few hours out of my entire life that I have truly been alone. Of course you might not like the thought of being alone. But it’s nice to have the option.

I recently visited Iceland. The country has roughly the same land area as the UK but its population is 300,000. That’s right, 300,000 people. And most of those are living around the capital city of Reykjavik. They’ve got everything they need… beautiful scenery, clean air, empty roads, unpolluted water and virtually no crime. Last year I was in Norway. They have a population of 4 million in a large land area and it’s the same story as Iceland (clean air, empty roads, low crime etc).

All this government can see are the supposed economic benefits of a large population. Yes, we need more workers to pay taxes to contribute towards our pension shortfall but those workers will also get old one day and we’ll have to invite yet more people into this place to cater for them and so on.

You’ve got to call a halt sometime so I say do it now. Shut the doors, encourage responsible family sizes and improve quality of life.

And before you tell me to stop complaining and b*gger off to Iceland, I may do just that when my circumstances allow.

Monday, 7 September 2009

More Cutbacks for the Elderly

More Cutbacks for the Elderly

Sheltered and warden controlled elderly flats are now losing their live in wardens/overnight support and instead will have offsite answering services. The councils say this is due to the 11 hour working directive more info can be found on the 11 hour directive here.

Many councils state that it would be too expensive to have wake night cover in sheltered housing, So really it’s not just about the 11 hour directive it all boils down to money and budgets, Are our elderly worth so little?

Is it safe to leave vulnerable people at the mercy of an out of hours answer center, with wardens/staff onsite help can arrive in minutes and it is not just that, when you are frightened or worried you need someone familiar, not an automated reply from a stranger, what if there are lots of calls? How does the call center decide on urgency? They don`t know these people or their ailments.

Panarama ran a programme on this called Gimme Shelter you can watch it below

The councils have this wonderful idea on supported housing 'a home for life', with social services cutbacks there are very few residential care places for the most vulnerable/unable. Many people also don`t want to live in residential care, they want their own home, their own front door, privacy and dignity which is their right!.

So what do we do? These are people that have worked all of their lives, whether it be in a paid job or bringing up their children, looking after grandchildren and parents. A lot of these people have fought for our country and helped with the war effort, lived through the blitz and extremely hard times.

Are our elderly just fit for the scrap heap and second rate services? Or are they worth far more, the councils don`t seem to think so.

Will it take a tragedy before they have a rethink? I do hope not.

Why I don't like Supermarkets.

I really dislike supermarkets. I recognise they are a fact of modern economic life. They now account for 85p of every £ that we spend on food. the figure goes up every year.

Supermarkets have huge power over the food we eat at every step between the farm and the factory to our tables. Tesco is now dominating food retail in Eastern Europe and is making its way into India, China and the U.S.

I know you will say that there is a lot to like about supermarkets such as convenience - you can whizz round with your trolley, you can compare prices, you can shop at all hours including Sundays. You can buy products out of season from all over the world.

The giant leap in supermarket popularity came in the 1980s. They drained the little shops of business. Gone are most of the butcher's shops and the small bakeries. My father-in-law used to have a butcher's shop. His customers came several times a week and if they had to wait he would include them in the conversation he was having with his current customer so that everyone got to know everyone else and this help build a community in its own small way. He knew just what sort of meat they would like and how much they could afford to pay.

An uncle had a small bakery. He, too, knew his customers individually and delivered bread and cakes out to them. All that is gone now, even the milkman is struggling to make a living because of supermarket competition.

For suppliers, 2/3 have been asked to enter into an exclusive supply arrangement where they are not allowed to supply any one else. So that all their eggs are in one basket. Most suppliers feel they have little or no control over the price they are paid. Most suppliers have seen their profits go down because of competition from overseas suppliers. They are also often asked to contribute to the supermarkets marketing costs and feel they have to agree. Sometimes they have to pay to keep the product on the shelf or offer rebates for unsold stock. Sometimes they are told the price the supermarket would pay was to be reduced but were not told this until the goods were about to be delivered.

What about food waste? The Soil Association estimate that supermarkets reject 40% of fruit and vegetables just on cosmetic grounds. What a waste! Apples, for instance, are scanned by a computer and checked for natural blemishes before they can go on sale. produced is bagged and barcoded before being put on sale because it is easier to track them then. For all this, though, you will often see tired-looking vegetables and fruit in supermarkets. Incidently, don't believe the offers you see about discounts on fruit and vegetables in supermarkets. Because they are perishable, they are exempt from the 28 day legislation that other products have to abide by and it often means that the price was inflated the previous day so that it could be lowered and shown as an "offer".

Much of the fish in supermarkets is a bit tired. Supermarkets introduced fresh fish counters as (in the words of Sir Ken Morrison" a) a little bit of theatre. This led to fishmongers shops closing all over the country. Let's look at meat. Supermarkets think that the public want bright red meat. Any real butcher will tell you that hanging and ageing meat will enhance the flavour and is crucial to the taste but in supermarkets this is kept to a minimum. Many supermarkets import meat from South America!

So-called supermarket in-store bakeries are simply reheating dough. The bread is stuffed with preservatives.

The supermarkets' use of road transport is huge and you just have to look at any motorway to see how many supermarket trucks and lorries are on the roads.

I haven't even mentioned the "best before" date con or the "use by" sell by " fiasco and the devastating effect on the farming industry.

Staying in the Lake District we came upon Booths which is a supermarket chain based in Preston. It doesn't attempt to copy the big supermarkets and doesn't compete on price but it uses local suppliers for everything from local beers to dairy products, vegetables and bread.

If only all supermarkets were like this we wouldn't really need to worry quite as much.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Steroids - Miracle or Menace

When steroids are mentioned many people with think of the bodybuilding Anabolic type, these are different to the Corticosteroids ( Prednisalone ) i am talking about here.
Prednisalone is mainly prescribed to treat severe Asthma, but it is used to treat many diseases, it was anounced on the news many years ago that a miracle cure had been found for Asthma, IT IS NO CURE, but is it a miracle? or a menace?
What is Asthma? and how do Steroids help? Asthma is a reaction by the body to irritants, infections or stress, parts of the Asthmatics airways and lungs become inflamed causing them to swell making it hard to breathe. Scientists found out that "normal people" produce something called Cortisol, this protects humans from inflamation, people with Asthma dont have enough so have no protection. Place a cushion over your face and breathe through it, this is how Asthma feels. Steroids help because they artificially replace the missing Cortisol and so help the patient recover.
So you may ask "whats the problem?" the problem are the side effects, the main one you may know about is the weight gain, in the past it has given people an excuse, "im on Steroids and that is why i have a weight problem", Steroids give the patient an increased appitite, not weight gain, it takes 3500 calories to put on 1 pound of weight, we eat these calories, so lots of patients had very serious weight problems because they were not monitored closely enough, these days doctors are far more aware and will help with dietry advice for healthy eating while on long term Steroids. Other side effects are, diabetes, increased hair growth, a feeling of euphria in some people and mood swings in others, thinning of the skin, easier to bruise, upset tummy, cataracts, fluid retention, facial mooning, thinning of the bones and many more, one which can be life threatening is that patients have an increased chance of infections.
These are 3 cases i personally know about and the effect of steroid treatment,
Case 1, A child was given a 7 day course of steriods, the child died because she caught chicken pox, but because she was on Steroids the effects didnt show ( no spots) her immune system had been dampened down by the Steriods and she was unable to fight the chicken pox.
Case 2, An elderly lady with breathing problems and chest infection was given a 7 day course of steroids, the lady is bi-polar, by the end of the week the Steroids had induced a manic bi-polar episode from which she has never recovered.
Case 3, A woman in her 20s was given a course of Steroids to help with severe asthma, this course went un-monitored for over 10 years, side effects caused, vast weight gain, bouts of diabetes, mood swings, leg ulcers, skin thinning.
So when we ask Steroids, miracle or menace, without doubt i say MIRACLE, why? because you also have to ask about the thousands of people who have taken steroids, how would they be without them? how many people would have died during an asthma attack. Also the countless other diseases, would those patients have recovered without them.
There are 3 ways steroids may be given for Asthma
Inhaler - carry no side effects,
Oral - side effects as stated above
Injection - if given too fast can burst blood vessels in the brain, this feels like pins and needles in your head.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Battery farming and cheap chicken for all

I am getting a little bit fed up of people who say we should do away with battery farming. Take Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for example and his Chicken Out campaign . He is trying to persuade everyone to eat free range chicken. This is all fine and good but it is not practical. Our appetite for chicken is insatiable. Half the meat we eat in the U.K. is chicken. Chicken actually outnumber us in the western world by three chickens to every person !!!!

Okay, so battery hens have short lives (often only about 42 days) and their conditions are a bit miserable but they have a good conversion rate i.e the proportion of feed they eat to the meat they produce. This means that chicken is cheap to buy and in plentiful supply.

It means that families can eat healthily even on the lowest budget. It means that we don't need to feed our children on cholesterol filled meat, burgers and junk food because we can provide a healthy diet for them. When we are talking about the welfare of people and the welfare of chickens there is really no contest!

The idea that we should all eat free range chicken is a nonsense. It would take an area the size of the Lake District to be devoted to chicken farming and nothing else! Free-range chicken campaigners should face facts - it just wouldn't work! ( Unless everyone cares to rear chickens in their back gardens!)We need battery farming to feed the nation. No one would want to go back to the old days when the only time you could afford a chicken was at Christmas, if you were lucky.

The same applies to eggs. We need to produce eggs by battery hens if everyone is to be able to afford them and if they are to continue in plentiful supply. Nutitionally, battery-raised eggs aren't much different to free range or organically produced eggs.

So I would say to the "fluffy bunny" brigade who love to be so sentimental about animals that low cost meat is necessary. We farmers have to face facts. We can't afford to be sentimental about the animals we rear or you would all starve!! Farming is a business like any other. The days of having a few hens scratching round a farmyard are long gone.

Face facts, we are running out of fish so we need fish farming, we haven't enough room for free range hens so we need battery farming. Fish, hens and eggs are good, healthy staple food.

Some of the celebrity chefs, such as Jamie Oliver try their best to tell us that organic free range chicken actually tastes better.
Well, here is a recipe we have at home a lot. Try it with a battery chicken - one of Tesco's special offer cheapest - and try it with a really expensive free range organic chicken and you won't be able to tell the difference.

Curried Chicken and Rice

30grams( 1 oz )butter, 4 chicken breasts boned and cut into strips, pinch of salt, ground black pepper, 2 chopped onions, 2 crushed cloves of garlic , 85g (3oz) mild curry paste, 225g (8oz) long grain rice, 3/4 pint chicken stock, 400g can of chopped tomatoes, 340g (12oz) cauliflower florets, 60g (2oz) raisins, 115g (4 oz) frozen peas, 1/4 pint( 150ml )natural yogurt

First you melt the butter in a large flameproof casserole and cook the chicken in it over a moderate heat for about 5 minutes and move them to a plate and season them.

Next , fry the onions and garlic in the casserole until softened. Add the curry paste, rice, stock, tomatoes, cauliflower and raisins and slowly heat until it boils. Then reduce the heat. Cover the casserole and simmer for 15 minutes. You will need to stir it now and again.

Put the chicken back in the casserole, stir in the peas and put the lid on. Bring back to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until the rice is cooked and the liquid has been absorbed. remove from the heat, stir in the yogurt and serve.

You can find more chicken recipes a forum called The Catering Forum . This is a forum for anyone interested in food and cooking and they share all kinds of hints and recipes.
If you are trying to save money on the housekeeping or have very little in the store cupboard try a website called "Not Beans Again" where you just key in your ingredients and they produce a recipe for you.
So, have I changed your mind? What do YOU think?

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

2p Fuel Duty Increase

I’m sure most people are now aware that we recently saw a rise of 2p per litre in fuel duty. I’m no expert on economics or anything like that but I know that three fuel duty increases in nine months is too much. The most annoying thing is that in the USA, they are all complaining about ‘gas prices’ but they still pay as little as 2.271 per gallon (, which if I’m not wrong, is less than half what we pay in the UK! The Times Online is suggesting that this is just a way for the government to increase taxes under the radar. (Times Online). With three increases in nine months, that certainly makes a certain amount of sense.

What gets me is that last time unleaded went over £1 per litre, people went mad, forming road blocks at oil refineries, etc and putting on the pressure to reduce petrol prices. This seemed to work but now we are over the £1 mark again, nobody seems too bothered.

One of our friends owns a medium sized haulage company and for every penny increase in fuel, their annual diesel bill is £20,000 more! Last time we spoke, Alan was saying that he may have to let some staff go, all because of increasing fuel bills. I read online that Millfield Haulage Ltd, who are based in York will have an extra £100,000 on their fuel bill due to the 2p rise in duty alone! ( As far as I can see, this is just going to lead to more unemployment and how can that ever be a good thing?!

I know that crude oil isn’t going to last forever and therefore fuel prices are going to keep going up but why on earth does the government have to take so much in tax (approx 65p per litre)?

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

The end of Big Brother say Channel 4

Big Brother is coming to an end Channel 4 have said, love it or hate it ( just like Marmite ) when Big Brother started each year we all knew summer had begun. When the first series hit our screens 10 years ago nobody could ever have guessed what a phenominum it would become. At first it was a novelty to watch what these people locked in a house got up to each day, but not until Nasty Nick and his note writing did it hit the news big time. It was an experiment that went massive.
Series 1 was won by Craig Phillips who gave away his prize money to pay for a friends heart transplant, he now does what he knows best DIY and is currently on ITV 60 minute makeover. Who will ever forget Jade Goody? and not always for the right reasons, but even now writing about her she brings a smile. We would all ask " are people really so simple?" the answer is yes, there is a Jade in everyones life to some degree. She is no longer with us was a huge Big Brother contestant and she never even won, the show that year was won by Kate Lawler.
We also have Brian Dowling, lovely Irish Brian, but my favourite winner of the 10 years by a mile was Nadia, she won series 5, wonderful screaming in the diary room for cigarettes. Each series has had twists and turns, people you love, people you hate, Friday night evictions and all the drama of the crowd.
So love it or hate it everyone knows it, it has been a talking point in millions of people lives over the years, but no more, Channel 4 say viewers are bored of it and it has reached a natural end. What do you think?
There will be 1 more Celebrity Big Brother early next year.
Davina McCall said last May that she thought this year would be the end and on Twitter this week said she spent the day she got the news in tears, but she says she will spend 24 hours as a housemate before the final end.

NHS recently debated in America

After listening to all the topics on the great NHS debate in America and the public battering the great Daniel Hannan took at the hands of the mass media I have resisted the urge to join this most stupid of discussions with anyone.

Daniel Hannan said that the NHS was a failed 60 year experiment. One of my best reads was 'The Welfare State We're In by James Bartholomew' avaliable on Amazon, every tax payer should buy it and have a greater understanding of how it is claimed within that the NHS is equal to a 'Train crash every day' in the number of avoidable fatalities.I love seeing books on sale which tell nothing but truth and have some of the most appalling reviews in Amazon - people should ensure that they prove either employment status or non - civil servant status before they are allowed to comment.

On the radio earlier a middle aged woman came on to defend the NHS due to her great experience with a hip operation. Her 5 minutes of radio fame came straight after a gentleman who was still very distressed that his wife has died through the lack of care within the hospital wards. Completely without any shame she just said that she was sorry for the gentleman's bad experience but it would have been a 'one off' and he should not run down a great british institution.

How can people just write off other people's life as is they are a mere inconvience to the point of view they are trying to push 'Look mate - sorry your wife is dead - but if she went in for a hip operation she would have got tea and biscuits'

I would much rather have an awful experience with a hip operation / ingrown toenail and live to moan about it.

I dont blame America for trying to stop the introduction of national health care. If America can have a paid / opt in scheme as they do and offer the good service that they do AND make money for their private shareholders then the NHS is doing something seriously wrong.

Would I care if there was a two tier system in this country that gave the best care to the people that paid into the system and basic emergency cover to those who give nothing but take everything ? No I would not. The NHS waiting lists are long, the appointments are rushed and the same care is given to all. I would rejoice in a system whereby I knew that people ahead of me on the waiting list where not people who hadnt done a day's work in their lives.

British workers should be able to opt out of the NHS and instead pay their national insurance into private healthcare.