Greedy British doctors
Thousands of strike doctors earn more than the PM (and hundreds are on more than £250,000). But everybody knows what a generous employer the taxpayer is
Hundreds of the GPs likely to strike this week earn more than £250,000 and thousands are on salaries higher than the Prime Minister, it emerged tonight.
Latest figures show that 210 family doctors have an income before tax of at least a quarter of a million pounds and 4,170 have annual earnings higher than £150,000. In contrast, David Cameron earns £142,500 a year. The NHS figures also show that in some areas, GPs are paid six times the amount of the average private sector worker.
It comes as thousands of doctors prepare to strike for the first time in almost 40 years over changes to their pensions.
More than a million patients will face disruption on Thursday when members of the British Medical Association refuse to treat patients unless their condition is life-threatening or urgent.
Some 79 per cent of the 17,561 family doctors who voted in the BMA’s ballot were in favour of industrial action.
The BMA is furious at Government plans to make its members contribute more from their salaries into their pension pots and retire later. But with some GPs retiring on annual pensions of £100,000 or more, and the new deal taking the average annual pension to around £68,000, critics have questioned the timing of the strike.
The BMA has insisted that patients will not be put at risk during the dispute and says it was ‘very reluctant’ to take action. It has pledged that emergency patients will be seen at hospital casualty wards.
But the day of action has already led to the cancellation of tens of thousands of cataract operations, hip and knee replacements and many more routine tests and scans. In addition, 1.25million GP appointments will be postponed, including 400,000 involving the elderly and 140,000 for children.
Critics also warn that the strike will create a huge backlog that will have knock-on effects for the NHS for several weeks.
Pressure group Patient Concern said that British doctors are among the best-paid, and with the most generous pensions, in the world. Joyce Robins, the group’s co-founder, said: ‘People who have been waiting months for operations won’t get them and whatever their condition is will get worse while they are waiting.’
Tory MP Chris Skidmore, who sits on the Health Select Committee, said that while GPs should be paid well, it stretches credibility that they strike over a pension deal that ‘most people could only dream of’. He said: ‘The public won’t understand how they can justify that, particularly when it will risk patient safety.’
Yesterday Karol Sikora, one of Britain’s leading cancer specialists, told the Daily Mail he is ‘violently against’ the strike. Professor Sikora said that the pension system needs to change, adding: ‘When the NHS was set up, doctors were living two or three years beyond retirement age. They are now living for 20 years. Something has got to give.’
He also questioned how committed doctors will be to Thursday’s strike. Around half of the BMA members eligible to vote turned out for the ballot, with 84 per cent of the 52,250 votes in favour of industrial action. But Professor Sikora said: ‘Most doctors are not going to do anything. Even though they have said they are going on strike, they are not going to do anything that will hurt patients.’
Health authorities say that they have ‘robust plans’ for ‘all types of contingencies’, and are urging patients with non-urgent conditions to contact NHS Direct, rather than their GP, and to stay away from A&E unless they have a serious or life-threatening condition.
In defence of fathers
It might perhaps be noted that there are some moves afoot in Britain to remedy the appalling situation described below. In Australia it has already been for some years the default assumption in the divorce courts that children will spend equal time with both mother and father — and Britain could be moving in that direction. Individual circumstances may of course move court orders away from the default assumption but Australian courts have been fairly resistant to that. A strong case has to be made to deviate from the default assumption of shared parenting.
A year ago today, David Cameron wrote an article for this newspaper, damning feckless and absent fathers. “We need to make Britain a genuinely hostile place for fathers who go awol,” he said. “It’s high time runaway dads were stigmatised, and the full force of shame was heaped upon them. They should be looked at like drink-drivers, people who are beyond the pale.”
Like thousands of other fathers, I snorted with derision and contempt when I read it, and have felt too angry to respond to it until now. Unmeasured public rage can be facilely dismissed as a kind of madness…
Dear Prime Minister,
You seem to be unaware that the principal reason that fathers become estranged from their families is that the family justice system is institutionally gender-biased. A father has to fight bitterly to get what is automatically awarded to mothers, and if he has no money he cannot even do this. Fair outcomes are reserved for people like me, who can afford them. Fathers get pillaged of their assets, and are then told that they cannot have their children overnight because their bedsits are unsuitable. They get accused of sexual or physical violence so that they cannot see their children for months while the accusations are dilatorily investigated.
Then judges reason preposterously that, since the children have got used to the situation, this should not be disturbed, and will decree that the father is now entitled to even less time. A mother is never punished for disobeying court orders, in case this upsets her and her distress impacts on the children. A father’s distress will be used against him to show that he is unstable. The children’s distress at losing their father does not count, and their stated preferences are ignored.
Mothers often try to move long distances away to ensure that contact is in fact impossible, and children find themselves saddled with a stepfather of whose existence they may have been previously unaware. Cases are adjourned over and over, for months, and are heard by different judges at each sitting. Cases are investigated by people from a body called Cafcass, which is underfunded, understaffed, undertrained, chaotic, unaccountable, does not do long-term studies, and simplifies its tasks by following anachronistic gender stereotypes.
In the meantime, the father loses physical and emotional touch with his children; he loses all hope; the stress and despair make it impossible to concentrate on his work. He finds that the more his children are withheld from him, the more maintenance he has to pay. The children are what he loves most and are his reason for living. Some men may spiral down into mental illness, alcoholism or even suicide. One charity used to keep a book of suicides called “The Book of The Dead”.
Mr Cameron, I condemn feckless fathers as strongly as you do, but you appear unaware that by far the majority of relationships involving children are dissolved by mothers. A statistic I have read recently stated that it is 83 per cent. I look forward to your article next Mother’s Day.
The biggest social scandal of our time is the absolute lack of justice for fathers, and the cruelty to which they and their children are routinely subjected by a legal system that is capricious and out of touch with the way we live now. These days, Mr Cameron, fathers push buggies, make meals, change nappies and spend hours watching awful children’s programmes just for the sake of the cuddles. The only thing we can’t do is breastfeed.
You are a father of young children, and I hope you never experience the horrors that come from a failed marriage. It is a Kafkaesque nightmare of injustices and double-binds. As you get demoted to the status of distant relative, you will find that your relations also lose your children, too. Most of my letters of support have come from women who are desperate on their brothers’ and sons’ behalf, or from grandmothers who have not seen their grandchildren for years.
Mr Cameron, the treatment of fathers in this country amounts to a contravention of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which concerns the right to a family life, and our court procedures contravene the right to a fair trial. If I could raise the necessary money to take cases to the European Court, I would give up years of my life to do so. Some day, somebody will.
Yours truly, etc
Louis de Bernières
I have been very lucky, Louis de Bernières writes
I have had the good fortune to have come to an understanding with my ex, and to continue to be a part of her family. We separated two years ago – after 10 years together, and two children: Sophie, four, and Robin, seven. My ex now lives in the village next door, and we have shared residence, which is working very well. This Father’s Day, I will be working, giving a talk at a literary festival. Then I shall rush back in time for bedtime and presents (I hope) at my ex’s house. My ex is very good about observing Father’s Day.
For a time, though, I had months of the most extreme despair after our personal fiasco blew up in our faces, and this has given me the determination to fight on, not for myself, but on behalf of the tens of thousands of fathers who do not have my public profile or financial means.
The fact is that fatherhood has changed. My own father was not a “hands-on” father, as he admits himself. His generation was not allowed to be, and didn’t know it was possible. I remember the slight awkwardness if he bathed us when our mother was out. He was still a wonderful father, and the important thing is none of us doubted that he loved us deeply and would have endured any hardship for our sakes. His ability to quote appropriate bits of Shakespeare is undimmed by age, and he still writes poems for each of us.
I admired him hugely as boy. He had been through the Italian campaign on the Gothic Line, and my mother assured me that he was “as brave as a lion”. He had medals to prove it, and a “Mentioned in Despatches”. His fathering skills included an ability to bark like a sergeant major, and so he had no discipline problems with us. After leaving the Army, he spent his life working for charities, and continued to do so unpaid after he retired. I am mystified as to why he never received an honour when many undeserving people have received them, such as donors to party funds. My father devoted his entire life to the service of others, for a part of it at the risk of his own life.
Of course, when I was a teenager I thought my father was an old fascist. “Fascist” was the word that my useless generation employed to dismiss anyone who didn’t blame “society” for everything. When I grew to maturity – quite recently – I understood that my father was one of those who laid his life on the line to save us from Fascists, to conserve those freedoms that we take for granted and are always in danger of losing.
My father was not interested in sport, and mother taught us cricket. It was with my father, however, that I cut logs, mixed concrete and laid slabs. He taught me how to use the carpentry tools that I still love to use. He encouraged my fanatical model-making, and was spectacular at it. Most importantly, he was interested in literature, in politics, in moral issues, in religion, in history and what could be learnt from it.
His creativity and intellectual engagement are the explanation for my vocation as a writer. Well done, Pa, it’s been a life well-lived. See if you can beat your own father past 96. And thank you with all my heart.
Churches Challenge British Government Over Same-Sex Marriage
The British government was headed for a bruising showdown on Tuesday with Anglican and Roman Catholic Church leaders over Prime Minister David Cameron’s contentious plan to legalize same-sex marriage, presaging what some clerics called the most serious rift between church and state in centuries.
Two days before a deadline for public responses to the plan, the Church of England and Roman Catholic bishops insisted in public statements that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.
Mr. Cameron, who leads a coalition government with the junior Liberal Democrats, has described himself as an ardent supporter of same-sex marriage, going beyond existing laws covering civil partnerships, which were introduced eight years ago.
In some ways, the debate here mirrors arguments in the United States swirling around President Obama’s support for same-sex marriage.
The proposal to legalize same-sex marriage threatens not only to provoke a clash with Christian and Muslim leaders, but also to divide Mr. Cameron’s Conservative Party, adding to political woes that have been building over policy reversals and accusations by his critics that the Conservatives are too close to the rich and powerful.
It could also deepen strains within the coalition, since Mr. Cameron has said Conservative lawmakers may vote on the proposal according to their consciences, while the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, wants all of his party’s legislators in Parliament to approve the proposal.
In its statement on Tuesday, the Church of England said, “Marriage benefits society in many ways, not only by promoting mutuality and fidelity, but also by acknowledging an underlying biological complementarity which includes, for many, the possibility of procreation.
“The law should not seek to define away the underlying, objective distinctiveness of men and women,” the statement continued. “The church has supported the removal of previous legal and material inequities between heterosexual and same-sex partnerships. To change the nature of marriage for everyone will deliver no obvious additional legal gains to those already now conferred by civil partnerships.”
The bishop of Sheffield, the Rev. Steven Croft, said the government plans represented a “really, really fundamental change to an institution which has been at the core of our society for hundreds of years and which for the church is not a matter of social convention but of Christian doctrine and teaching.”
Roman Catholic bishops in England and Wales said in a statement, “In the interest of upholding the uniqueness of marriage as a civil institution for the common good of society, we strongly urge the government not to proceed with legislative proposals which will ‘enable all couples, regardless of their gender, to have a civil marriage ceremony.’ “
The positions taken by the churches drew a scathing response from gay rights activists, like Ben Summerskill, the head of an advocacy group called Stonewall, who accused the Church of England of orchestrating a “master class in melodramatic scaremongering.”
He accused church leaders of promoting a belief that “this is somehow the biggest upheaval since the sacking of the monasteries” in the Middle Ages.
With church attendance falling in Britain, only one in four marriages is conducted in a church.
The question of same-sex marriage is only one of the many gender- and sexuality-related issues confronting the Church of England, which has admitted female priests but is still embroiled in a bitter dispute over their ordination as bishops.
The broader international Anglican Communion, moreover, is riven by a dispute over the question of ordaining openly gay bishops.
A British government official, speaking in return for customary anonymity, said Mr. Cameron’s proposals, foreseeing the introduction of civil marriages for same-sex couples, would not force religious leaders to conduct marriage ceremonies in places of worship.
Referring to “the government’s view that marriage is one of the most important institutions we have got,” the official said the proposal “makes very clear that no religious organization will be forced to conduct same-sex marriages as a result of our proposals.”
Dubious “Charities” in Britain
Many years ago, in a terrifying third world city, I and a colleague were looking for a safe place to stay. We didn’t want much, just a compound in which to hide from the local gang militias, have access to clean water, reliably electricity and a good phone link.
It chanced that we heard that such a place existed, owned by a charity. We went round, introduced ourselves and said that, if they would put us up, we would arrange for our office in London to donate to them what we would normally have paid for a good standard hotel.
We were in need, though not desperate. We wouldn’t have been much trouble, and there was space. Other journalists had, so far as we knew, stayed there recently. But the local representative of the charity turned us down flat. Maybe he didn’t like our paper, or me. That was his choice. But what astonished me most of all was that a charity would so breezily reject several hundred pounds, possibly more than a thousand if we stayed any length of time, in return for services that would have cost a tiny fraction of that.
I was told the charity didn’t need our money. They were already on the government payroll, and did not really rely on individual donations any more.
Since then, I have never given so much as a bent penny to the charity involved. I have also known what most people don’t know, that many major British charities are in fact semi-nationalised organisations. It is seared on my memory and so I often forget that other people don’t know this.
So I am particularly grateful to Christopher Snowdon of the Institute of Economic Affairs, who has produced a fascinating pamphlet ‘Sock Puppets: How the Government Lobbies Itself and Why’ which can be found by going here
Its basic points are these. That many (but please note, by no means all ) British charities (some very major ones) get millions of pounds from central and local government; that the rules which used to ban them from engaging in political lobbying have been greatly relaxed, so that almost anything short of direct party political propaganda will probably be passed by the Charity Commission; and that in effect, British government money, ostensibly spent on good causes, often ends up being used to lobby the government to do things it wants to do anyway.
As Mr Snowdon rightly points out, these tend to be minority causes, not great popular movements. These need no lobbies to get themselves son to the political agenda.
Even so, it occurs to me as remarkable that increased spending on foreign aid, which is dubious in itself and also widely unloved, is a successful cause, whereas nobody much is defending the armed forces from cuts, and much of the treatment of men badly injured in wars is met through genuine charitable donations.
I quite like some of the organisations he picks on (such as those which campaign for better public transport), but I did laugh at his brief history of the ‘Child Poverty Action Group’ which wrote in 1965 to the then premier, Harold Wilson about ‘at least half a million children in this country’ who were ‘in homes where there is hardship due to poverty’.
Billions of pounds of welfare spending later, the same CPAG now speaks of 3.8 million children living in poverty. All that time, and all that money, and ‘child poverty’ has increased sevenfold and more. Or perhaps something else has happened?
I’ll leave you some other figures from Mr Snowdon (he provides references) . The ‘voluntary’ sector employs more than 600,000 people. Between 1997 and 2005, the income of Britain’s charities almost doubled, from £19.8 billion to £39.7 billion, with the biggest growth coming in grants and contracts from government departments (state funding rose by 38% in the first years f this century, while private donations rose by 7%).
27,000 charities depend on the state for more than three quarters of their income, more than a third of the sector’s total income – £12.8 billion in 2007-8) came from the state.
By the way, you will be pleased to know that most British charities remain small organisations which take no cash from the state. The problem is confined to the big organisations. Yet even among the big organisations some – for example the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and the Donkey Sanctuary – are wholly independent of the state (so why, I ask, does the RNLI irritatingly use metric measurements for wave-heights in its advertisements? Feet, please).
My advice on charities is to check before giving. Do they take government cash? If so, how much? It will be in their accounts, though not always as obvious as it ought to be. And do they engage in propaganda? In which case, is it propaganda you don’t mind helping to support?
But in general, be aware of the fact that many very important lobbies are in fact funded by the government, so that it can lobby itself to do things it wants to do, but which you may not want done. I am not sure ’charity’ is the right name for such organisations. Mr Snowdon has done us a valuable service.
No pork sausages in British school meals
Roast pork and sausages have always been a staple of British diets. But now hundreds of school children will be denied them for school lunches because of ‘religious reasons’.
Pork, which is not eaten by devout Jews or Muslims, has been banned by councils across the country to satisfy the needs of staff and pupils who are not allowed contact with it.
However, it is thought many schools do not serve halal or kosher meat, so Jewish and Muslim children would not be able to eat it anyway.
The decision has been criticised by MPs who have said the ban will cause unnecessary resentment among pupils and religious leaders who said they never asked for a ban in the first place.
John Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said it was simply not an issue and added that Jews of a certain level would choose not to eat in non-kosher environments.
‘Children at mainstream school who are bothered would probably have packed lunches,’ he said to the Sunday Telegraph.
‘Children who are comfortable with using the same cutlery and crockery as everyone else would choose their dishes from the options available. It is live and let live – we are certainly not calling for this.’
Muslim leaders have only ever asked that halal and non-halal meat be handled separately in an effort to avoid any cross contamination and for clear labelling when serving school dinners.
Haringey Council, north London, recently issued advice to all its schools and recommended a ban to meet the needs of staff and pupils who are not allowed contact with pork for religious reasons.
Figures supplied by school caterer Pabulum, in the south-east of England, show that around 20 of the 48 schools it supplied chose non-pork options.
In Haringey’s infant, junior and primary schools, 37 out of 47 have a no pork rule. In Bradford 24 out of 160 schools choose not to have pork and in Newham, east London, 25 out of 75 opt out.
Luton has 23 out of 57 schools which choose not to supply pork to pupils and in Tower Hamlets, east London, 85 out of 90 do not offer a pork option. All schools offer a vegetarian option.
Conservative MP for Shipley in West Yorkshire, Philip Davies, who has campaigned for clearer labelling on meat products said the bans were ‘misguided political correctness’.
He said he fully believed that pupils should be able to choose not to have pork but added that it was unfair to deny those with no objection to the meat.
Mr Davies said decisions like these could cause resentment among pupils and added that he hoped schools would change their stance.
Stewart Houston, chief executive of the National Pig Association said the decision by schools was disappointing and added that sausages and roast pork were a staple of British diets.
It’s no wonder the world’s cooling on climate change
By James Delingpole, writing from England
They used to call it ‘Flaming June’. Nearer the mark today would be ‘Flaming ruddy awful June’. We are on the cusp of the Summer Solstice (starting on Wednesday evening), in the wake of the wettest April on record and in the midst of what promises to be a June that is both record-breakingly damp and 1.4C cooler than average. Out of our rain-streaked windows we spy leaden skies, louring clouds and oily puddles.
Of course, you are not supposed to ask yourselves: ‘Whatever happened to global warming?’
Not even if you say it particularly quietly, or as a joke. If you do, chances are you will be sharply reminded that ‘weather is not the same as climate’.
This is true. But it’s also a bit of a cop-out. After all, as most of us are now aware, there has been no ‘global warming’ since 1998, which is when the curve on the graph goes flat.
In the eternally moving battlefield of claim and counter-claim in the great climate change debate, even the fervently warmist Professor Phil Jones – of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit – concedes that there has been no ‘statistically significant warming’ since 1995.
In the simplest, human terms, therefore, no one younger than 14 years old has experienced global warming.
So why does our Government go on acting as if it’s a major problem? Why all these hugely expensive commitments to ‘decarbonisation’ and ‘renewable energy’? Why all the eco-taxes on our holiday flights and wind-farms – if the supposed threat they were designed to avert now turns out to be unsupported by real-world evidence?
It is not just ‘deniers’ who are asking these questions. Last week, in London, the Global Warming Policy Foundation hosted a lecture by a leading German green – former activist and Hamburg state environment senator Prof Fritz Vahrenholt.
The evidence for man-made global warming is looking shakier by the day, Germany’s answer to Jonathon Porritt or George Monbiot admitted. Far more likely a culprit is the sun.
Vahrenholt isn’t the only green guru to recant. Earlier this year, Prof James Lovelock graciously conceded his doomsday claims about climate change – for example his prediction that 80 per cent of all humans would be wiped out by 2100 – had been somewhat overdone.
‘The world has not warmed up very much since the Millennium,’ he said. ‘The problem is that we don’t know what climate is doing. We thought we did 20 years ago.’ Indeed we did.
But as a reminder of just how very much things have changed between then and now, we have the Rio +20 Summit opening in Brazil this week. Staged by the United Nations to mark the 20th anniversary of the world’s first Earth Summit (also held in Rio), it is turning out to be a pale imitation of the original.
The 1992 Rio Earth Summit was the greatest political gathering the world had ever seen – attended by politicians from 172 countries, including no fewer than 108 presidents and prime ministers.
At the end of it, 154 nations signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) committing themselves to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions in order to prevent ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference with Earth’s climate system’. In fact, symbolically, it was rather humbling – an example of how humanity coalesced in the face of a common enemy.
Alas, two decades on, about the best Rio +20 can manage is Nick Clegg. President Obama is not going, nor is Angela Merkel, nor David Cameron. Global warming no longer seems to be quite the urgent threat it was after a succession of bitingly cold winters and miserable summers.
Like the disastrous Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban summits before it, the Rio event looks set to be another damp squib, beset by bickering, achieving nothing other than a few vague, non-binding commitments to do something serious some time in the future.
How much simpler things were in the early Nineties. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had just produced its first Assessment Report in which the world’s most expert scientists all apparently agreed that the world was doomed to burn in hellfire unless man amended his wicked ways.
The three IPCC reports since then have confirmed this prognosis with increasingly shrill certainty. But, unfortunately, no one outside the Government and the green movement takes them very seriously any more, because the real world has stubbornly refused to act in accordance with all the climate scientists’ scary predictions.
Sea levels have not risen dramatically. ‘Threatened’ regions such as Tuvalu, the Maldives and Bangladesh have not drowned. Polar bear populations continue to thrive. Arctic sea ice is recovering while the Antarctic ice is expanding. But, most damningly of all, global warming stopped at the end of the last century.
And if we’re to believe Fritz Vahrenholt in his bestselling book Die Kalte Sonne (The Cold Sun) it’s in no danger of starting any time soon.
Vahrenholt’s thesis – based on the observations of increasingly respected scientists such as the Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark – is that the main agent of climate change is not CO2 but solar radiation.
Much of the mild global warming we’ve experienced in the past 150 years (a rise of about 0.8C) was, it would appear, the result of solar activity (detectable in the number of sun spots) which is now slowing down.
We are entering a period of ‘weak’ solar cycles, and this decline in activity is expected to continue until about 2040, by which time – according to some pessimistic predictions – global mean temperatures will have fallen by 2C.
For many of us, in other words, ‘global warming’ is something we will never experience again in our lifetime. From now on we can expect drabber, wetter summers and colder winters.
And as if that weren’t depressing enough, here are our political leaders regulating and carbon taxing our economies as if the non-existent global warming problem was still something to fear.
This is madness – and one day future historians will see it as such. They will gasp in astonishment that in 2011 the global carbon trading market climbed to a record $176 billion (£113 billion) – about the same as global wheat production.
They will ask how CO2 could be valued as highly as the essential foodstuff that supplies 20 per cent of the calories consumed by the seven billion people on the planet.
A good place for them to start would be the hysteria and optimism of that original Earth summit, in which a mix of panic and good intentions were allowed to override common sense. In short, blame it on Rio.
Chewing on chewing gum keeps memories from sticking in the brain
There could be something in this. Doing more than one thing at a time may be a distraction
Chewing gum can be annoying to people around you and it leaves a sticky mess behind, but now researchers say it can also hamper your memory. According to experts from Cardiff University in the UK, people who chewed gum had a harder time recalling lists of letters and numbers than those who avoided the habit.
Researchers believe that the motion involved in chewing impedes the brain’s ability to memorize serial lists. Just like tapping your finger or foot may distract you from accomplishing the same task, continual movements like chomping on a piece of gum can also interfere with your short-term memory.
The study, published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, challenges the prevailing notion that chewing gum — at least when it is flavored — is a performance enhancer that can boost brain power.
It also provides further proof that human beings are bad at multitasking, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Some previous studies have argued that gum improves concentration by triggering an increase in blood flow through the brain, said lead author Michail Kozlov, of Cardiff University.
But his team found that an oral activity such as gum chewing can interfere with the process that is normally used to remember verbal content.
The study found that it made no difference whether the volunteers chewed vigorously or naturally
As part of the study, the researches gave subjects tasks to perform while chewing gum and without gum.
In one test, the volunteers were told to masticate vigorously and asked to remember a sequence of randomly ordered letters, such as P, V, B, C, D, G, T. Another group repeated the experiment, but chewed at a natural pace.
In the second test, students chewed the flavorless gum and tried to pick up the missing item in the sequence.
The study found that it made no difference whether the volunteers chewed vigorously or naturally. In both cases, ‘chewing has an overall adverse affect on serial recall,’ researchers wrote.
The jury is still out, however, on the role of flavor. In a 2002 study, the participants chewed mint-flavored gum and performed better on short-term word and memory tasks than those who did not chew gum.
But because chewing gum loses its flavor in several minutes, ‘it seems advisable that chewing gum is only considered a performance enhancer as long as its flavor lasts,’ the researchers noted.
Must not mention that a fat person is fat?
Three builders who posted a photograph of a householder’s large shorts on Facebook have been sacked. Under the picture of one of the men holding up the denim shorts was the comment ‘the fattest person I have seen in my life’.
But the resident, who has not been identified, was said to be horrified by the incident at the housing association-run Maesgerchen estate, in Bangor, North Wales.
Local councillor Chris O’Neal, who was contacted by the resident, said: ‘He is absolutely disgusted. His family are fuming about this. ‘There is a lot of bad feeling towards the workers. The man was absolutely distraught and gutted.’