Wednesday, June 12, 2024

  I made a promise to myself that I would try and steer clear of Political comment because whenever I do on Twitter on here on my website, it gets me into hot water. Well - get the bath ready😀

I will have my say first and then hope I can post an excellent article by Camilla Toominey in the Telegraph.

When I was a little girl I was actually quite bright (what happened). We lived in a rough area - Woolwich, SE London (now very gentrified in places with accommodation on the site of the old Woolwich Arsenal selling at eye watering sums).  My father was brought up in India  with excellent schooling.

Daddy was a non commissioned soldier (though he did rise through the ranks to Captain) on very little pay but he managed £4 a term for me to go to a small Convent School in Charlton.  Everything is relative but when I started work at 17 I was paid by the BBC the huge sum of £6.10shillings.

I passed my 11+ with flying colours to the extent that I was offered a Scholarship to study at a private school - Christ's Hospital.  We lived in a Labour borough controlled by the LCC (London County Council). Because my father had paid that small sum to send me to what he considered to be a good school (not private just a fee paying convent) I was denied the Scholarship.  

I have often queried this with my father but he remained adamant that was why I couldn't accept the Scholarship.  I have never forgotten that or forgiven Labour.  

I am not a dyed in the wool Conservative and am shocked at their Government so I've no idea for whom I will vote but I never ever would vote Labour because in my book they wish to bring everyone down to a level. (Communism by another name - and that doesn't work) They don't like Business and the rich but it is exactly the rich who pay the largest amount of tax to HMRC. 

It is obvious that Labour will be our next Government possibly with a huge majority and that, in my humble opinion, is dangerous. (It is always dangerous to not have an effective opposition). Labour, like all parties, is promising so much but where is the funding?  In relative terms the biggest Tax burden falls on the middle classes.   The super rich don't feel the pinch, the poor are ring fenced.

And just watch the power of the Unions grow again.  I'm all for a fair day's pay for a fair day's work and there are many worthy workers who should be paid more but WHERE I ask you is the money to come from.  When I was born this country had 48 million inhabitants - we are now approaching 70 million with many millions not contributing to the economy.  People expect too much of the NHS which was never meant to deal with all the demands put upon it when begun after WW2.  

I lived in Australia in the early 60's and they had a Health System which worked and still does today.  If you were poor you got medical treatment for free but as your income increased so did your contributions to the State Health System.  Of course they have a much smaller population but you get to see a doctor quickly - you pay and then are reimbursed a percentage of the fee.  So you are not getting something for nothing but neither is the system abused.

The NHS is a Sacred Cow which no one dares touch but it is outdated.  I read that money is thrown at the NHS but is not used efficiently and much goes into Administration and paying huge salaries to Trust directors.  When I was young, there were Hospital Matrons who ran their wards with a rod of iron.  There were dedicated nurses who didn't need degrees and for those who wished to work in a caring profession but didn't wish to take qualifications you had the nursing auxiliaries.  I've been in hospital several times in my life and it seemed to me that the old system worked better.  However, IT didn't exist and there were jobs for everyone.  The situation is very different today and likely to get worse with more AI.  I'm so glad I was born when I was and though I would have loved grandchildren am now thankful I don't have any - I would be so worried for their future.

THE TELEGRAPH - Camilla Tominey

“How are you going to accommodate private school pupils into the already oversubscribed state sector if their parents can no longer afford the fees under a future Labour government?”

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has forecast that Labour imposing 20 per cent VAT on private school fees (and stripping private schools of business rate relief) could result in three to seven per cent of privately educated pupils switching to state schools as a result – up to 40,000 children.

Shadow minister after shadow minister refused to answer the question of what will happen to them, insisting that talk of an exodus had been overblown by vested interests – even though the IFS is completely independent. Wes Streeting, Yvette Cooper, Liz Kendall and even Bridget Phillipson, the woman hoping to be the next education secretary, appeared unable to provide a practical solution, preferring instead to blame “scaremongering from the private schools lobby” for the critical response to a policy Sir Keir Starmer had insisted will be implemented “straight away” if he wins the keys to Downing Street next month.

Then the shadow attorney general let the cat out of the bag by admitting that the policy does indeed risk increasing class sizes in the state sector. She was surprisingly relaxed about it considering she belongs to a party that has consistently railed against “Tory cuts” to the education sector and teacher shortages.

“Certainly, some schools that have vacancies [may take ex-private pupils]. My primary schools and my secondary schools have space and they’re very welcome”, said Thornberry, who is hoping to be re-elected as the Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury on July 4. 

“They are good schools and people should send their children there. I mean, it’s fine, and if we have to, in the short term, have larger classes, we have larger classes.”

So now we are finally closer to the truth.

Labour hopes the policy will raise £1.7 billion, which it has pledged to spend on recruiting 6,500 new state school teachers (it’s going to need them) rolling out a new national “oracy” programme and ensuring all state schools in England have access to mental health counselling. (Curiously, Labour has said nothing about the mental health of private school pupils who will be affected by this policy).

But the truth Thornberry has exposed is that it will inevitably come at a cost. Teaching unions are already agitating over potential redundancies after two independent schools announced they will close at the end of the summer term – both blamed in part on Labour’s VAT plan.

Labour hoped this was a policy only the “privileged” would have to worry about. But the impact on all parents – including those who send their children to state schools (and note to the left: my son attends a state school) – has now been laid bare. It is certainly a dramatic departure from how Labour fought and won a general election in 1997. Back then, privately educated Tony Blair made five clear pledges to the electorate, the first of which was to cut class sizes to 30 or under for 5, 6 and 7-year-olds.

Amid a 2007 row over his then Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly sending one of her children to a £15,000-a-year private school for pupils with learning difficulties, Blair made it clear he supported “the right of parents to choose the school they send their children to”.

“What the Prime Minister supports absolutely is the right of parents to make choices about their children’s education which are best suited to their children’s needs irrespective of who their parents are or what job they do,” a spokesman said.

How times have changed.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Fear of getting old and ill in this country

I've always had a healthy respect and regard for the NHS but it is no longer functioning properly.  We have too large a population, too much is expected of the service and we have too few doctors and nurses.  Little wonder when you realise that upon qualification doctors and nurses can leave the UK and work in much more inviting countries like Australia.  As the training of doctors and nurses is very expensive, one would have thought they would be required to put in a few years of work for the country which afforded them their education.  I've met retired NHS workers who say that money is thrown at the NHS but in the wrong direction - apparently it goes into the burgeoning bureaucracy.  I am old enough to remember the days when Matron controlled the wards and not some nameless administrators who are not 'hands on'. The hospitals were spotless and everything was done in house and not farmed out to private companies.

To my shock I was diagnosed recently with needing  knee replacement surgery following on from an old accident in 1969 when my leg was broken in two places.  I've had several Xrays which just stated 'Age Related degeneration' and nothing further was done.

My right knee gave way completely and I had to have surgery on May 1st.  I make no complaints about the surgery but do question the fact that one is discharged the day after surgery with only 2 days of strong painkillers and after that paracetamol which doesn't even touch the sides of the pain.

Prior to surgery my Doctor had given me a prescription of Melatonin to aid sleep after the operation. It was useless and so began a vicious cycle of not sleeping, tossing and turning all night and exacerbating the intense pain in the knee.  In desperation on Friday I filled in one of the wretched Econsult forms on line.  I am a touch typist but it still took 20 minutes of answering mostly inappropriate questions.  By the afternoon I was in tears with the pain and tiredness and held on for the now obligatory half hour.  A prescription was sent to the chemist and a friend picked it up for me - promithezane which is an anti histamine and useless.  Monday I phoned the Surgery again explaining the position but heard nothing.  Today I held on for 30 minutes and a very sympathetic lady explained that none of the doctors would write me a prescription for sleep until I'd had a consultation.  Of course, I am totally housebound for another few weeks.  She offered me a phone consultation for June 5th.

When I joined the surgery 6 years ago, there were 6 names on the Partnership board - there are now 4 and when I looked up the surgery - all the doctors were part time.  I'm sure there are other non partnership doctors at the practice but all this mechanised  handling does not bode well for the patient.

The average wait for a face to face with a doctor at my practice is anything from 4 weeks plus.

After knee surgery one is supposed to do a series of exercises 3 times daily.  I have tried hard but the combination of tiredness and pain means I've not been able to do the exercises as often as I should.  All I can say about the pain is I'd rather give birth.

I only pray that when my time comes, I die quickly and don't need a hospital.

When I was born there were 48 million people in this country - we are now approaching 70 million.  The NHS existed for basics such as tuberculosis, broken limbs etc.  Now it is a service of which so very much is demanded and I doubt most people have any idea what all the treatments cost.  I do, having had to raid my Rainy Day money to pay for the Knee operation.

Thursday, September 21, 2023


Am very behind on my Blogs but have actually been rather busy and hope to catch up next week.

However if I leave it till then, you will miss it.  I recorded an interview for BOOM RADIO some time ago and have just heard that it will be transmitted on Sunday 25th September at 9.30 pm .  It was a long interview covering many aspects of my long career and longevity.  The programme will, of necessity, be edited but I hope they keep in the story of my Search for René Mouchotte and also the work of one of the Charities of which I am Patron - Animals SOS Sri Lanka.  Particularly hoping for exposure for the latter and that it might just engender some donations and perhaps a few listeners will sign up for a regular small monthly donation.  There is no posh HQ and is run by Founder and Director, Kim Cooking, working from her spare bedroom.  In Sri Lanka, they are looking after over 2,000 Street dogs and simply feeding them is a financial headache. Kim has a huge heart and never turns away a dog in need.

Either download the app, or go online here:


Was delighted to be asked to Voice Over a new series for Channel 5 - initially called 'Controversial' and now renamed 'That Was the Year that Was' - remind you of any other series?😀 The programmes look at whole years - the Good, the Bad and the Ugly (and the funny) events which happened in specific years.  This Saturday it is 1976 into the archives of which we are delving

The VO script is written very much in the style of the VO for 'Come Dine with Me' (which I've always liked).  So now I've had an opportunity to show that I am more than 'just a newsreader' and have been immensely enjoying the recordings.

Knew we were to record  ten programmes but the Producers weren't sure whether they would go out sequentially or just be slotted in as and when there was a 2 hour slot needing filling.

Have only recorded six so far and we are having a short break. It's hard work for the Production team trawling through hundreds of hours of Archive material.  I think they are doing a smashing job. I haven't enjoyed myself so much for ages.

We expected a Transmission slot later in the year  but today I heard the first programme dealing with the year 1976 will be going out on Channel 5 this Saturday evening at 9.30 (24th September). It's a prime slot but we are up against fierce competition in the form of Rugby, Blankety Blank, It's a Knockout and Kylie Minogue.  I like to think that this early scheduling is because the programme is Good and not that we were needed to fill a 2 hour slot😀. 

What I personally remember of 1976 is that we had a huge heatwave and I was incarcerated in a studio in Bristol, wearing woollen knitwear, recording a series called 'Knitting Fashion'.  Even the make up artist - a personal friend Grisell Lindsay couldn't keep me cool.

So do please tune in. Saturday is a difficult evening for ratings and the channels fight hard.  So every little helps.

Monday, August 21, 2023


So proud of Jonathan.  He had the courage and determination to change careers 'mid life'.  Jonathan was never really happy working in Media/Advertising.  Three years ago he decided he wanted to work in Wine and started at the very beginning working in a Bottle Store (Off Licence) in Sydney, Australia.  He was already fairly knowledgeable about Wine but decided he would do the Wine Spirits and Educational Trust Diploma.  I paid for the course as his 40th Birthday present.

Jonathan soon began to advise customers in the Wine Shop and steadily increased his knowledge to the point that he secured a good position with Taylors Wines, Australia.  He held down a demanding job whilst studying very hard for his Diploma.  He passed a few months ago and the Graduation Ceremony was held recently.  Only wish I could have been there to see him receive his certificate. He is now Brand Marketing Manager for Taylors Wines.


Recently I was asked to become a Patron for the charity 'Safe Haven for Donkeys' working out of Israel and the West Bank.  They have also now extended their work into Egypt and dealing predominantly with the badly treated Donkeys (often a lack of basic understanding of donkeys' welfare) working at the Brick Kilns.  I was delighted to accept.

Some time ago a sick donkey was brought to the Charity and nursed back to health.  She has been named for me.

This is Jan - isn't she a little Darling and I hope one day to meet and cuddle her.

Safe Haven for Donkeys


 Getting quite excited.  After a sixteen year project in my 'Searching for René' am finally coming to the end - sadly.

Sunday, 27th August marks the 80th Anniversary of the death of Cdt./Squ. Ldr. René Mouchotte and I've been able to organise a special service at the Biggin Hill Chapel to commemorate this honourable man. The service has been put together with great care by Vergers and the Chaplain.

The French Air Attaché   Col. Xavier Rival will be attending and giving the Eulogy and reading René's last Testament in French and English.  I will be reading a poem about the Memorial Chapel, written by Owen Leeming in 1959. We have a couple of lovely hymns and the service will be brought to an end with the singing of the Marseillaise.   There's also a page devoted to the creation of the original Chapel - a wooden hut on an Airfield - it is thought inspired by the death of Mouchotte.

The Mayor and Mayoress of Bromley have kindly indicated that they will attend the Service.

On Saturday, 26th August, again in the Chapel, I shall be giving my René Mouchotte Presentation including the BBC 2 Documentary transmitted in 2013.

If you live near Biggin Hill, why not come along.  Both the talk and the Service commence at 3.30 on the Saturday and the Sunday.

  I made a promise to myself that I would try and steer clear of Political comment because whenever I do on Twitter on here on my website, i...