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.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023



My father was born in India and I have some Indian DNA. Family goes back to 1750.  Have always been drawn to things Indian and attended the very first concert given by Ravi Shankar in 1966 when he left India for the first time and performed at the Free Trad Hall in Manchester.  I had a contract as a Newsreader for Granada TV up there.

When in India in 2015 filming 'Real Marigold Hotel' treated myself to a stunning Royal Blue Sari. Despite her best efforts at teaching me, the lovely Sushma (owner of the Haveli in which we stayed) failed. When I returned home and tried to tie the sari, ended up with a load of material on the floor and an awful lot around my backside.  That sari has lain in a drawer since then.

I have a lovely designer friend, Linda Warren,  and one day asked if she would design a dress and jacket from the Sari which she has done. She also has a lovely seamstress - Shirley.  

This is what I collected today - only hope I have the courage to wear such a vibrant and eye catching colour. Got to find an event which justified it's wearing. The jacket of course is designed to be worn with other outfits.

Thrilled with my outfit and have now asked to have another made from the beautiful sari given to me by the Princess we interviewed.

I'll share their details with you in case you might require an outfit for a special occasion 

Linda Warren - lindawarrendesign.com

Shirley Ann designs Facebook 

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 ...