It is hard to imagine that 35000 years ago, in caves stretching from Europe to Asia, Paleolithic man was busy painting pictures. The images were mostly of animals and hand prints and were generally created using fingers, sticks and leaves with some outlines scratched into the rock surface with stones. For thousands of years, subsequent generations worked hard adding to these cave paintings and today, the reasons that they were made remains a mystery with endless speculative explanations.
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During the Margaret Thatcher era, legislation was introduced that gave secure tenants of council properties, the “right to buy” their homes, often at a significant discount to the market value of up to 50% and sometimes with assisted mortgages. Ironically, the Labour Party had proposed this policy in their Manifesto for the 1959 General Election which they went on to lose. Local councils had always been able to sell properties but after 1980, the right for a tenant to buy a rented home became legally enshrined.
The intention was clearly to remove a burden from local authorities, particularly of maintaining older properties and to allow capital to flow from the state to people who could spread wealth through the generations and through society. If the hope was that local authorities who received a half of all the proceeds could use these funds to invest in new housing, then this aspiration floundered immediately as they were initially required to apply these receipts to reducing their debt.
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You may remember seeing a film clip of a young man running across a road and violently pushing an elderly lady in the back and forcing her to the ground. At first you think she is being mugged but then the camera pans upwards and you see a grand piano falling from a crane. Far from attacking her, the young man is saving her life. Not only does this demonstrate that things are not always what they seem, this is also a clear example of how we want to see the bigger picture beyond the frame. It also gives us the opportunity to highlight specific details.
Much of life today is seen solely within a frame. Pictures, photos and mirrors are obvious examples and televisions, cinema and computer screens, tablets, and smart phones all show us the world within a clearly defined frame. There are now so many instrument panels, dashboards, video entry systems and, of course, cameras that we can barely escape from seeing the world unframed.
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The generation that grew up during Beatlemania, the early Comprehensive school system, The Cold War (with The Berlin Wall as its iconic symbol) and listened to Radio Caroline as Alf Ramsay began his World Cup preparations is now reaching retirement age. The lucky ones are considering “downsizing” from large family homes, releasing equity to add to their pensions and looking forward to a long and active retirement.
100 years ago, there were only 13000 people in Britain over the age of 90. Today there are almost half a million and there are over nine million over the age of 65. This part of the population has grown by over a million in the past ten years and is now growing more quickly. Continue reading →
A couple of months ago we all shared in the celebration of Vera Lynn’s 100th birthday. She became a national treasure during the war. Her heart felt songs brought hope and joy to the military at home and abroad as well as civilians in Britain pondering the fate of their loved ones on stationed overseas.
She retained her enormous popularity with records, on radio and in concerts and eventually fronted her own television shows, airing initially in 1969. By that time, she was a true matriarchal English icon, loved, respected and admired.
In her programmes, she sang alongside or sat upon a high bar stool. This was also an international icon of modern furniture design, created by Harry Bertoia in 1952 and still manufactured today by Knoll International. Continue reading →