Posted in News & Views

Eat Out to Help Out: Half Price Meal Scheme

Image by analogicus from Pixabay

UK customers can enjoy half price meals throughout August at participating restaurants, cafes and pubs under the government “eat out to help out” scheme.

The chancellor Rishi Sunak made the announcement last month, in a bid to encourage the public to resume indoor dining and boost the economy, as lockdown restrictions continue to ease.

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Posted in News & Views

Suffering is Suffering: There is No Monopoly

Great Britain has been rocked by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announcing they will be stepping down as senior royals last week. The media has gone into a frenzy, with wild and frankly absurb suggestions the future of the British Monarch is under threat. Both pro and anti Sussex camps took to the stands. With discussion ranging from taxpayers money to sibling fallout, racism, sexism and celebrity status, media intrusion, carbon footprints, shabby treatment towards the Queen. Even the timing of the announcement, on the eve of the Duchess of Cambridge birthday was not left off the table.

Don’t worry readers, this post is not further opinion and scrutiny of the blame game surrounding the latest royal rift. Far from it. But pause for thought about the monopoly on suffering: something which nobody holds the key.

Piers Morgan known for his candid criticism of Meghan and the Sussexes, was one of the first off the mark with the mud slinging when the announcement broke on January 8. Even referring to them as “a pair of spoilt brats”.

What’s been ‘painful to watch’ has been their absurd woke hypocrisy & constant whining. All on our dime.

Piers Morgan

This stood out to me as unfair. Yes Prince Harry was born into royalty, prestige and privilege something he did not choose, and is inconsiquential if it does not make him happy. Like his mother he won the hearts of the public. From the chilling iconic image of a twelve year old head bowed, walking with his brother behind their mothers coffin. Through his captured rebellious actions as a young adult. And his determination to serve as an active soldier. Poignantly saying he felt a sense of normality in Afghanistan. Few could deny only feeling normal on the frontline of a warzone is shocking. He has talked openly about his mental health, and the fear he has of his wife being dragged to the same fate as his mother. That is real and has no relevance to privilege and fortune.

Then there is Meghan accused of social climbing and being an insatiable diva. Or maybe she just fell in love, left her career and country behind, married into a world none of us commoners can comprehend, and became a new mother. All under intense scrutiny, which perhaps she was unprepared for the impact it would have on her emotional wellbeing.

Does anybody have the monopoly on suffering?

The state of a person or thing that suffers.

The nature of distress and suffering is largely subjective. And how long is a piece of string regarding an individuals ability to cope with the difficulties life throws at us, wherever they came from. Looking out onto the rocky global road, most of us see somebody worse off than us. Does that make the suffering we are experiencing any less painful?

Posted in News & Views, Social Issues

Help the Homeless: Billy Chips

An estimated 320,000 people are homeless in the UK, according to the latest research by Shelter. This equates to one in every 201 Brits and was an increase of four per cent on the previous year’s number.
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

As shops on the high street diminsh leaving nothing but boarded shop windows, the sad truth is all that thrives is rising numbers of homeless, sleeping rough in the empty doorways. Passerbys veering round avoiding eye contact. Of course, some of those simply don’t want to help “they are at fault to end up on the streets”. For many it is not cold heartedness that forces them to look away, but disquiet trepidation: cash donations will only fuel addictions of alcohol and drugs.

Homeless figures are likely to be an underestimate of the problem as they do not capture people who experience hidden homelessness, such as sofa surfers, and others living insecurely.

One young man Billy Abernethy-Hope a 20 year old ambulance driver from Bristol, had since childhood been troubled by the issue of homelessness, and the apprehension of the general public to help. He recognised the challenges, and forged a vision of a token that could be purchased by the public and passed on to the homeless in exchange for a hot drink or food. Sadly soon after his idea, in March 2018 while backpacking in Thailand, Billy was killed in a motorcycle accident.

This could have been the tragic end of the tale. But no! Billys family were determined to see his idea become reality. In his home city of Bristol, the public can now purchase Billy Chips for £2 from participating retailers. These can then be passed on to homeless individuals and redeemed for hot or cold drinks (some businesses offer more). The blue tokens resemble a poker chip, containing on one side an image of Billys smiling face and on the other the quote:

You’re fabulous, and don’t you ever forget it.

Billy Abernethy-Hope

These were the words Billy wote on a homemade mothers day card shortly before his death.

This young mans untimely tragic death has left a powerful legacy. Billy Chips have the potential to go nationwide and even international, offering an outlet for a random act of kindness providing hope to millions.

Find out more at

Posted in News & Views

Pearson Sells Penguin Books to German Bertelsmann

Image by Sue Rickhuss from Pixabay

Pearson is selling Penguin Random House in a decision to focus on educational publishing. Its CEO John Fallon will retire in 2020, once his successor has been found.

Pearson who have owned Penguin Random House since 1970, began a joint venture with the German media group Bertelsmann in 2013. In July 2017 Pearson sold a further 22% to Bertelsmann for $1bn. And has now announced it will be selling its last 25% for £530m.

This means none of the top five English Language book publishers are owned by British companies: Simon & Schuster once owned by Pearson is now part of the US media conglomerate ViacomCBS, German Holtzbrinck owns Macmillian, HarperCollins is part of the US News Corporation. And John Murray was sold in 2002 to the French publishers Hachette.

Penguin was founded in July 1935 by Sir Allen Lane. The idea first occurred to him, while waiting for a train back to London from Exeter St Davids. He had spent the weekend at Agatha Christies, Torquay country home. As he browsed the stalls for something to read, a young Sir Allen was disgusted by the poor selection of novels and magazines. He had a vision of making books readily available, in cheap paperback format.

“I wanted the books to sell at the same price as a packet of cigarettes so that no one could possibly say they couldn’t afford them.”

Sir Allen Lane

Despite much scepticism, three million books were sold during Penguins first year in business. The publishers paperback books cost just sixpence (£1.74 in todays money), oppose to eight shillings (£27.89) for the traditional hardback book.

Sir Allen Lane died in 1970 age 69. Weeks later the publishing house would be sold to Pearson. Now we can only wait and see what the future holds for a legendary British publishing brand.

Posted in Journal, News & Views

Salute the Weight Lossers

Image by Vidmir Raic from Pixabay

We are well into a month hiatus for the weighing scales, Christmas is coming and the pantry is getting full: glazed hams, a growing pile of selection boxes, pastries, cakes and plenty of bubbly boozy tipples.

Sitting in a vest and joggers with strands of grey, shimmering amongst a crocodile clip on the top of my head, my blossoming waistline proves calorie counting these past few months has yielded zero results. The needle on the scale has been fluctuating upwards for some years now, and my lack of vanity has allowed it to take control. But poor health forced me to acknowledge and address my weight gain.

I have fibromyalgia, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. I suffer daily with chronic pain, particular muscular aches in my legs, and joint pain in my hands, feet, hips and knees. Always supportive of the phrase we all come in different shapes and sizes, I cannot deny my joints will benefit from carrying less weight. Knowing this, and achieving this, are two very different things.

Diets always begin with enthusiasm. The cupboards are emptied of crisps and chocolate, replaced with plenty of fruit and vegetables. I write down everything I eat, and strictly weigh ingredients to achieve portion control, remaining in my daily allowance of 1500 calories. Exercise is difficult for me, but I go for plenty of walks and attempt exercise routines at home. Swimming is supposed to be good for arthritic and chronic pain, but I wont lie I just don’t like it.

All is well for a few days, even a week. After that a few extra goodies land in the shopping basket and into my mouth (left out of the food diary of course). Dieting brings out the sneaky liar in me, if I don’t confess I mustn’t have eaten it. Finally I reach the point where I sit down in an evening, overwhelmed with the reality of what I need to do to succeed. I give a big huff and puff “blow it”. Ten minutes later bacon and sausages are sizzling in the pan, alongside mushrooms and tomatoes, beans in the microwave, egg cracked ready to fry and fat slabs of bread in the toaster. Fry-up supper consumed, the plate mopped clean with bread, I continue to raid the cupboards for chocolate and numerous packets of crisps. The next day I could give myself a strict talk, get back on the band wagon but I don’t, all willpower diminished.

So I salute all the people out there who are losing weight, be proud of your achievement.

Well my Christmas food shop is here and needs unpacking. Will consider my dieting options in January.

Have a happy Christmas everybody.