Doctors’ strike: just 8 per cent take action
Just eight per cent of doctors working in the NHS took part in industrial action today, Government figures suggest. A quarter of GP surgeries are operating a reduced service due to BMA members participating in the day of action, the Department of Health said.
It said some 11,500 doctors up and down the country took part in their first day of action in 37 years in protest over the Government’s controversial pension reforms.
Around 2,700 elective operations were cancelled and rescheduled – approximately 9 per cent of normal daily number of elective operations.
Another 18,750 outpatient appointments have been cancelled and rescheduled – approximately 9.4 per cent of normal daily outpatient activity.
Approximately 6,000, or 75 per cent, of GP surgeries provided routine appointments today, with approximately 2,000, 25 per cent, providing urgent only appointments.
It follows a survey by The Daily Telegraph, published in today’s paper, which predicted two in three GP surgeries would be operating as normal despite the action.
In May, the BMA insisted it had a “strong” mandate for industrial action – its first strike in nearly 40 years – when half its members responded to a ballot with 79 per cent of votes in favour.
The Daily Telegraph’s research found that two thirds of GP surgeries expected to have all their doctors working today and would be open for business as usual. The vast majority of hospitals said few or no operations would be cancelled.
The slump in support for industrial action over pensions follows fierce public criticism and claims that doctors are being “greedy and immoral”. One poll on Wednesday found that only a third of Britons backed the action.
David Cameron said doctors should not strike as most already had gold-plated pensions which people working in the private sector “can only dream of”.
The BMA, representing two thirds of doctors, is fighting cuts to their £1million pension pots. Under government proposals, new doctors will have to work until 68 and make bigger contributions to earn a pension worth £68,000 a year.
According to the Department of Health, the taxpayer currently funds 80 per cent of doctors’ pensions, making the scheme “unsustainable”.
Under the terms of the BMA ballot, GPs were expected to refuse to see patients unless they were in urgent need, while hospitals were supposed to cancel all non-urgent surgery such as hip replacements and cataracts.
But a survey of 50 NHS organisations showed that many have had second thoughts.
Of 30 hospital trusts, more than two thirds said the strike would have “minimal” impact on operations and outpatient appointments, with six saying there would be no cancellations. They included the Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in Cambridgeshire, the Royal Marsden Hospital in London and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.
The University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust said that it was cancelling 3 per cent of operations involving an overnight stay and 7 per cent of day cases.
A survey of 20 primary care trusts found that two thirds of GP surgeries had no doctors taking part in the strike. Of those who were affected, the majority said that surgeries would remain open as normal and patients with pre-booked appointments would be seen. In South Yorkshire, Wiltshire and Oxfordshire more than two thirds of family doctors were not supporting the action and would be open for “business as usual”, while in Sussex and Wakefield just a quarter of GP surgeries were taking part.
Dr Kosta Manis, a GP in Bexley, south London, said the nine doctors in his surgery, which serves 16,000 people, had agreed “unanimously” not to take action. He said: “I do not agree with it. I think the BMA is an unreformed trade union and, quite frankly, I don’t see what they are going to achieve with it. There’s a reasonable offer on the table. In this time of austerity, it’s not the time to be asking for more money.”
Even Dr Hamish Meldrum, the chairman of the British Medical Association, conceded that many GPs were “reluctant” to strike.
He said: “Our fight is not with patients – we are not trying to maximise the disruption to patients. Because of the long-standing relationship that GPs have with their patients they are naturally more reluctant to do something that will inconvenience them.”
Doctors may also be concerned by the threat of litigation. The Medical Defence Union, which provides legal advice to doctors, is warning that they may be forced to justify any decisions to turn patients away.
Despite the public opposition to industrial action, the BMA has not ruled out another future strike.
Dr Meldrum said: “The BMA needs to review what the impact is. Sooner or later one has to try and find a resolution. I am not going to predict what the new chairman or the new council are going to do.”
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association said: “Doctors are just being greedy. It is immoral.
“The only losers in this are the patients who have been waiting for operations and are in pain.
“It is reassuring that some doctors are having second thoughts, I hope a lot more will have second thoughts because the public has little sympathy with them in this financial climate.”
Mr Cameron said: “Even after these reforms, they will have the sort of pensions that many people working in private sector companies can only dream of. So I don’t believe they should be on strike. I think reform is necessary because we are all living longer and if we want to have an affordable pension system we need to make some changes.”
NHS managers said “careful planning” meant “the vast majority of patients will receive their planned treatment and normal high standard of care”.
Roger Goss, co-founder of Patient Concern, a campaign group, said: “Doctors have had second thoughts. I think when they really thought about it they realised all they were going to get out of this was the label ‘greedy’.
“They will still get a pension, under the new deal, that is more than most people will earn. The BMA has lot the plot.”
A BMA spokesman said: “Doctors haven’t changed their minds, they still feel really angry about this.
“There are lots of caveats around industrial action to ensure patient safety but we are taking this action because of the huge turnout in the ballot and the clear result.”
More choice British teachers!
‘Dear mum, don’t cry but I’m dying’: Fury over school’s creative writing assignment that left a mother distraught
The words in her son’s homework left Vicki Walker numb with shock.
In a letter which began ‘Dear mum’, Wesley, 14, assured her he loved her, made a request for bright colours at his funeral, and listed who should inherit his most prized possessions.
Horrified, she ran to his bedroom praying he had not taken his own life. In fact, Wesley was sleeping soundly in bed – and the death note turned out to be the result of a creative writing assignment set by his teachers.
Last night his parents demanded an apology from the school, furious that teachers could have set such a piece of work without informing them. But while the Discovery Academy in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, apologised, staff insist the task was justified as an exercise in ‘expressive art’ and an opportunity for pupils to tell their mothers that they love them. The school said it would ‘review how we communicate to parents in the future’.
Mrs Walker, 42, and her husband Mark described the horrifying moment they read the note at their home in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent and thought their son might be about to commit suicide. Mr Walker, 52, a warehouse worker, said: ‘Wesley came down before going to bed and handed his mum this piece of paper. ‘He said goodnight and then off he went back upstairs to bed.
‘Vicki read it – and the colour just drained from her face. She just froze stiff and handed me this paper with her hands shaking.
‘She burst into his bedroom and expected to see him hanging there – she was horrified. The poor lad almost jumped out of his skin. It really has shaken us up.’ Wesley was set the task last month in his Expressive Arts class, a subject – also offered at GCSE – which aims to ‘develop pupils’ creativity and imagination’.
Children were asked to imagine they had a terminal illness and express thanks to loved ones. Wesley said: ‘I just thought it was like any other piece of work. I just got on with it.’
In the letter, which is littered with spelling errors, he asked family and friends to wear bright colours at his funeral and apologised for being ‘a pain’ at times. ‘I don’t want you to be sad,’ it said. ‘I’m with Nan and Grandad now so I love you and goodbye.’
Pupils were then told to take the letters home but no warning was given to parents about the notes.
‘I couldn’t believe the school did not warn us they were doing such a sick exercise,’ Mr Walker said. ‘They could have written something on top of the work.’ He added that the assignment could have been harmful to vulnerable teens. ‘It could give some kids the wrong ideas,’ he said. Mrs Walker, a teaching assistant, added: ‘Wesley is a lively boy and to see this made me think there was something seriously wrong.’
Last night the school said many parents and pupils found the exercise ‘valuable’, adding that it was in line with the national curriculum.
A spokesman said: ‘The purpose was to enable young people to explore their feelings and emotions and celebrate the many good things with their loved ones that are usually left unsaid.’
The moralistic, Malthusian war against fat people
Activists, professors, theologians – everyone is now promoting the depraved idea that human gluttony is plunging the planet into catastrophe
Sometimes, I hear something on a news programme that catches me unaware and makes me think: ‘Surely this is an Ali G spoof?’
It is early Monday morning and a professor from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, holding forth on the danger that human beings’ weight gain presents to the survival of the planet. ‘Having a heavy body is like driving a Range Rover’, he argues, with passion and conviction. Before you can even catch your breath, he is warning of the catastrophic things that will occur when ‘we are all as fat’ as people in America. After lecturing listeners about the need to factor people’s ‘body mass’ into all debates about the environment, he pauses and then reminds us again that fatness is an ‘ecological not just a health concern’.
I look across the breakfast table, and my wife affirms my suspicion that this must indeed be an Ali G moment. But alas, a few minutes later, the twenty-first-century equivalent of a Trollope-like, worldly cleric, the weight-conscious priest Giles Fraser, is on the air to give his ‘thought for the day’. He, too, is morally weighed down by the problem of body mass. His little homily on sustainability is on-message in this Ali G world of ours. When I hear him say that ‘bigger is not always better’, it becomes clear why theology is in trouble. But when he finishes by saying ‘economic growth is like getting fat’, I slowly start to realise that this is more than just a bad joke…
There is something deeply troubling about having a professor, followed by a cleric, casually turning the size of the human body into a marker of moral evil. And they weren’t only talking about the weight of humanity in metaphorical terms. The professor and his London-based team have apparently quantified fatness around the globe. According to their calculations, the weight of the global human population stands at 287million tonnes. Of this mass of human fat, 15million tonnes of it is a result of people being overweight and 3.5 million tonnes is a consequence of full-on obesity. Apparently, American fatties bear greatest responsibility for weighing down the planet: the professor’s team says that although Americans only make up six per cent of the global population, they’re responsible for more than a third of the obesity.
This degraded depiction of human beings is really about morally indicting people for the original sins of eating and breeding. These days we are told that eating too much is as bad as having too many children. So the professor’s report on global gluttony claims that increasing levels of fatness around the world have the same impact on global resources as an extra billion people would. In other words, if people, especially American people, hung out at their local Weight Watchers a bit more, then the planet could be spared the misery and horrors that an extra billion people would bring it.
Sadly, it isn’t only small groups of scaremongers who have a tendency to present people’s eating and breeding habits as the cause of catastrophes to come. The current targeting of people’s allegedly immoral body mass coincides with the Rio+20 conference, the latest UN gathering to discuss sustainability, where the key argument doing the rounds is that human salvation will require a significant restraint of the breeding and consumption behaviour of human beings. This is a very fashionable prejudice these days. Indeed, on the eve of the Rio+20 conference, 105 science academies issued a statement warning that a failure to tackle population growth and overconsumption would have ‘potentially catastrophic implications for human wellbeing’.
‘Less body mass’ and ‘smaller human footprint’ – those are the mottos of today’s morally disoriented scaremongers, whose philosophical and theological outlook continually reduces human life to physical quantities of biological material and carbon footprints. Those who wish to make us feel guilty about our bodies should follow through the logic of their depraved misanthropy, and go whip themselves.
Top British firms ‘must file a greenhouse audit’: Latest plan by Liberal zealot Clegg for more red tape
He will have a battle getting it enacted — only in watered-down form if at all. Making it “voluntary” would be a good wheeze!
A thousand of Britain’s biggest firms will be forced to report all their greenhouse gas emissions under a scheme to ‘benefit the planet’ announced by Nick Clegg yesterday.
All FTSE-listed companies such as BP, Aviva and Tesco will have to comply with the regulations, which will cover their entire UK operations from next April.
It could be extended to all large businesses in Britain within four years as a way to calculate green taxes already imposed on firms.
While some companies are prepared for the move, business analysts expressed concerns about the short timescale and urged the Government to scrap some existing environmental red tape.
There are fears that the requirement could become a burden if imposed on smaller and medium sized firms. At present, the move will apply to 1,049 listed UK-based companies, which will have to report every ton of greenhouse gas they emit and will be placed in a league table for their green performance.
Some large companies, such as Marks & Spencer, already calculate their emissions voluntarily but others are said to be unprepared to meet the regulations.
The Deputy Prime Minister announced the scheme – the most stringent in the world – shortly after jetting in to Rio+20, the UN environment summit which began in the Brazilian capital yesterday.
Mr Clegg said that emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane are leading to dangerous global warming, sea level rises, droughts and floods and said the regulations would help businesses save money on energy bills. He added: ‘Counting your business costs while hiding your greenhouse gas emissions is a false economy.
‘British companies need to reduce their harmful emissions for the benefit of the planet, but many back our plans because being energy efficient makes good business sense too. Climate change is one of the gravest threats we face. The UK is leading the urgent action needed at home and abroad.’
The move was backed by the Confederation of British Industry as a way to standardise the way emissions are calculated.
But the CBI called for other green regulations under the Carbon Reduction Commitment to be scrapped as they do little to improve efficiency and damage business competitiveness. Alan McGill, an independent analyst with PwC, said: ‘As a company, measuring carbon means setting targets, reducing cost, increasing margins. For large companies this won’t be seen as a huge burden.
‘There may be fears that extending it to extending it beyond large listed companies, into small or medium sized enterprises could be too much of a burden.’
Mandatory reporting of greenhouse gases every year is seen as a victory for the Liberal Democrats amid claims the Treasury was against the plans.
Manufacturers’ association EEF said the current climate change legislation should have been reviewed first to reduce red tape for businesses.
Nick Clegg is leading a 50-strong UK team at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development – the largest in UN history with around 50,000 people attending.
Winds of change among British Conservatives
A government re-think on costly green energy resources is a winning statement of intent
There was a palpable surge in Conservative fortunes when David Cameron said “No” to the euro rescue treaty. The public noticed this simple act of defiance. It shone amid the drab worthiness of most government action. Party members in particular delighted in their leader’s sudden outbreak of decisiveness. That “No” sent a positive charge through British politics. It galvanised the troops, put a spring in their step. If only for a moment, Tory hearts beat stronger and dreamed of what might yet be possible.
The good mood didn’t last long. The omnishambles, the Budget U-turns, the sapping effect of Leveson, and most of all the ever-worsening economic crisis wiped out the gains. Mr Cameron is struggling again. Conservatives yearn for red meat policies to please the voters. They want a political Plan B for a Tory majority in 2015 to replace the one based on the assumption of economic recovery and tax cuts that blew up in George Osborne’s hands last year. MPs wondering how to achieve a victory in today’s darkened circumstances want compelling measures that can be described in a few crisp words on the doorstep.
The Chancellor will shortly give them just that. In a few weeks, as part of the Energy Bill, ministers will announce a reduction of up to a quarter in the value of Renewable Obligation Certificates – or “Rocs”. Yes, I realise that’s hardly a sentence to set the pulse racing. But if one considers that Rocs are the means by which the taxpayer subsidises the wind farm industry, and that the Chancellor proposes to slash that giveaway by 25 per cent, then translated into plain English it means this: onshore wind farms will be killed stone dead.
A simple tweak of the financial incentives will halt the march of the turbines across the British landscape. An issue that has poisoned the relationship between millions of affected voters and the politicians who represent them will be resolved. Conservatives will be able to say: “We did that. We stopped the wind farm madness.” No wonder some optimists on the backbenches speak of a defining moment that will give them something to cheer – and be cheered for.
Of course, nothing can ever be quite as simple. Cabinet negotiations are not complete. The politics of so-called green energy remain painfully complex. The legacy of the last government’s enthusiasm for piling burdens on the taxpayer has not been eliminated. In all probability, the industry is not going to give up easily. There are already 3,000 turbines spinning (or, too often, not) across the landscape, with a further 4,500 planned. It may well be that some will sprout where they already have permission, and if the promoters are prepared to press on without a guaranteed income far higher than the market price of the electricity they produce. And while campaigners hope that those new turbines will now be stayed, there is uncertainty about the fate of those already in existence. Will their operators want to keep them if – as a leaked memo from Oliver Letwin, one of the Government’s greenest Tories, indicated this week – the subsidy is not only cut by a quarter straightaway, but eliminated altogether by 2020?
The Government’s about-face on wind farms is the result of greater forces that may change the dynamic of the second half of this Parliament. The first is Mr Osborne’s political decision to shift the Government off its initial enthusiasm for environmental largesse, which he signalled in his speech to Tory conference in October when he declared that Britain was no longer willing to go faster than other EU states in reducing emissions. His intervention made clear that Mr Cameron’s husky-hugging love of all things green has been set aside in the face of the economic storm. He is also acutely aware of the bottom line: voters who have endured steep climbs in the cost of living have had enough of seeing their energy bills rise. The Government is now anxiously searching for ways to mitigate the anger of voters who don’t see why they should pay more for politically fashionable green energies.
Mr Osborne’s new-found scepticism in turn gave his backbenchers permission to step up their efforts against wind farms. Earlier this year, a letter to Mr Cameron drafted by the MP for Daventry, Chris Heaton-Harris, and signed by more than 100 Tory MPs put Downing Street on notice that it faced a major rebellion if it failed to address the issue. Cabinet ministers in recent days have fallen over themselves to assure Mr Heaton-Harris that he has won. His well-marshalled campaign has demonstrated the power of the backbenches and in particular the 2010 intake. He has not only improved his prospects of a ministerial job, but he has also demonstrated that in this Government, power lies increasingly with backbenchers. The challenge for both Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne is to sell this as a moment of leadership. Having surrendered on pasties, charities, static caravans, now wind farms and next Lords reform, they cannot afford to be seen to be meekly following their MPs.
It reflects another force at play, too, which may well transform not just our physical landscapes by making wind farms obsolete, but our economic prospects as well. We saw it in yesterday’s fall in inflation: the price of energy is plummeting. With little fanfare, the discovery of vast reserves of accessible shale gas in the United States and elsewhere is rapidly changing the economics of this sector. Contrary to most predictions of barely five years ago, the US may turn out to be self-sufficient in energy. As a result, it is increasingly likely that the developed world’s reliance on Middle East oil is about to end, with untold consequences for the West’s involvement in the region.
It should also transform our economic competitiveness, as effectively unlimited quantities of relatively clean, cheap gas come on to the market, but only if we embrace a politics of cheap energy, too. Suddenly, all those trendy renewable energies whose success was predicated on an assumption that gas prices would rise inexorably, making them relatively affordable, are left looking like unjustifiable luxuries. Even James Lovelock, the nonagenarian green guru who invented the Gaia thesis, in a Guardian interview last week turned on wind farms as “ugly and useless”, renewable energy schemes as “largely hopelessly inefficient and unpleasant”, and urged Britain to “go mad” for shale.
It is no wonder Mr Osborne wants to get out of his commitments to more expensive renewable energy when he sees around him evidence that the price of traditional fuels are falling through the floor: a Chancellor whose political fate depends on producing growth would be daft to defend rising bills for both households and companies. Cheap money is being thrown at the financial crisis. Cheap energy might be the bonus that gets us going again.
For the Conservatives, there is a political bonanza to be had from this moment. Dismay about wind farms has been particularly acute among the party’s grassroots. It is no surprise that Ukip is making the most of its opposition to turbines. Switching off subsidies for wind farms puts clear blue water between the Tories and the Lib Dems. And if played right, it could put Mr Cameron on the side of a global energy revolution that promises to keep the lights on, lower the cost to voters, and energise his electoral prospects when he most needs it.
British windmills sinking into the sea
They are expensive to maintain at the best of times — which is why California is littered with abandoned ones
Hundreds of Britain’s offshore wind turbines could be sinking into the sea because of a design flaw.
It is believed the concrete used to fix some turbines to their steel foundation can wear away, causing the power generators to drop a few inches.
The fault was first discovered at the Egmond aan Zee wind farm in the Netherlands and affects those with single cylinder foundations.
An Antony Gormley figure and a Tall Ship flank the Burbo Bank windfarm. Dong Energy said it was one of the farms affected by a fault that caused turbines to sink
Energy company engineers are now urgently investigating what extent the turbines have been destabilised. If repairs are necessary then turbines will be shut down one at a time to prevent energy losses.
Experts from Renewables UK, which represents wind farm developers, said it could cost £50million to fix Britain’s 336 turbines thought to be at risk.
Peter Madigan from Renewables UK, told The Times: ‘A fault has been identified and has been shared with the industry, which has moved to see if there is a larger problem.’
Dong Energy said three of its wind farms were affected, including Gunfleet Sands off the Essex coast and Burbo Bank in Liverpool Bay.
However Centrica, which owns British Gas and Dong Energy, said there were no safety or operational issues.
Offshore farms produce more reliable power because the wind is less intermittent, and they allow firms to avoid getting entangled in the UK’s labyrinthine planning regulations.
But they are notoriously expensive, and large firms including BP and Royal Dutch Shell have pulled out of the sector.
A British woman who thinks that clothes make the man
I don’t think this woman is wise. As I am nearing 70, I too am a serious sartorial offender, despite spasms of fashionability in my earlier days. Anne heroically puts up with my largely absent dress sense but her patience does occasionally earn rewards. I bought a new suit (charcoal grey with a faint chalk stripe) to take her to Die Wiener Philharmoniker when it came to Brisbane. And she has other occasional triumphs. Patience and forbearance is needed with us old guys!
Baggy corduroys with worn patches; faded short-sleeve shirts; dingy, threadbare jumpers and exploding trainers. Glance at most older men in the High Street and this is what you will see.
And could these decrepit garments not only make them look past it, but be the real reason why older men fail so spectacularly when it comes to forming new relationships with their female peers?
A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece in the Mail pondering why older men are such emotional cripples — born out of eight years searching for a man after the death of my partner.
Among the many letters in response were a few from older men themselves which particularly piqued my interest. They claimed that the real divide between older men and women is not their emotions, but their attitude to clothing. While older men are comfortable in their decades-old outfits, women, forever fickle and changeable, always have to be buying something new.
And this difference of opinion causes a distance between the sexes. It might sound flippant, but I think these men have a point. My respondents intended this as a criticism of women, of course — yet it says something not too savoury about older men as well and the pitiful way they will go on wearing the same ancient clothes year after year.
For while men view women’s obsession with fashion as vapid, women see men’s sartorial reticence as, at best bad manners and, at worst, unattractive. My ex-husband Neville Hodgkinson, 68, is a case in point. He was once so smartly turned out. Now it’s a very different story.
At a family funeral three years ago, he arrived wearing a suit that looked both strangely familiar and weirdly old-fashioned. Dark blue, boxy and double-breasted, it was too tight and slightly spivvy-looking.
‘How long have you had that?’ I frowned. ‘Don’t you remember, you helped me choose it,’ he said.
We had been divorced for more than 25 years at that point. And his excuse for still wearing it? ‘Well, it was ahead of its time when we bought it,’ he said. It turns out that since our separation, Neville never buys any new clothes if he can possibly help it. Our two sons, Tom, 44, and Will, 42, have tried to shock and bully him into getting himself up-to-date, but to no avail. They now say he is ‘beyond redemption’.
It seems he is typical of the older man who will cling onto clothes bought decades ago, rather than face the ultimate horror of going into a shop and choosing new ones. When I pressed him for his reasons, he said: ‘I hate shopping for clothes almost more than anything else in the world, and it’s nothing to do with money. There has to be an absolute necessity to buy something new before I will even enter a clothes shop.’
Very many of my male friends share Neville’s view. The other day, one of them, also in his late 60s, turned up at my house in a 30-year-old mac that made him look like something out of an episode of Seventies detective series Columbo. When I suggested he might get a new one, he said: ‘But why? This one is still in perfect condition. What’s wrong with it?’
He, too, said that his only suit was one bought in the Eighties. ‘But it is an Ermenegildo Zegna,’ he added proudly, as if that made it all right.
So many men do not seem to realize that even the sharpest Italian suit will eventually go out of fashion. To them, fashion stands still, and it’s a major reason why women — who stay up-to-date with trends — find it so difficult to connect with older men. If they persist in wearing shabby old-fashioned clothes, what does it say about their minds?
For me, and most of my women friends, outdated clothes indicate outdated attitudes and a reluctance to take on board new ideas. All of which is terribly off-putting. Even older celebrities are not immune from looking shabby and scruffy when they are off-duty.
I once met Chris Tarrant, the supersmart host of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, at a party… In short, he looked like a tramp
I once met Chris Tarrant, the supersmart host of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, at a party. He was in ancient torn jeans, those all-too-familiar dirty exploded trainers and dingy, once-white T-shirt. In short, he looked like a tramp, and we all know he could afford several shops full of new jeans. But he, like so many older men, apparently prefers to hang on to his existing ones.
Yet while today’s older men seem to be getting shabbier and more ill-dressed than ever before, the very opposite is happening with older women, whose fashion sense seems to improve with each decade. One woman friend was informed by her 30-something daughter that she had just reached her fashion peak — aged 67.
A new book of photos, Advanced Style, pictures women in their 80s and 90s looking fantastic and proving that there is no age limit when it comes to flair and style. The author of the book, Ari Seth Cohen, now says he has so many images on his website of women aged 80 and over looking wonderful, he hasn’t room for any more.
There is even a successful fashion label, The Old Ladies’ Rebellion, aimed specifically at the 70-plus woman who wants to look ‘a bit rock ’n’ roll’. Nobody could possibly produce a book of octogenarian men looking fantastic or launch a fashion label aimed at this age group.
In fact, I can think of only one very old man who is well-dressed: the 91-year-old Duke of Edinburgh. He emerged from hospital recently looking totally appropriate in smart-but-casual tweed jacket with jaunty hanky in the pocket, plus shirt and tie.
Any other nonagenarian coming out of hospital would be in a nasty anorak and old sweatshirt. So is there something about Phil being Greek [He is actually German — a Battenberg] that allows him to look dapper into extreme old age?
Whatever the reason, there is no denying the slump of disappointment when you go on a date with a man wearing an outfit older than your children.