August 2020 Digest

August 2020 Digest


August 2020

“You know you have reached middle age when a broad mind and a narrow waist exchange places”


In its wisdom the government in looking for something to blame has settled on peoples bodies. They call it a war.  I expect it will be as pathetic as the 70 year old war on drugs that they haven’t the guts to admit is unwinnable.

How do you know if you are obese?  Well, there is a cunning little formula that allows a yes-no decision. First gather the data.  Height and weight in kilograms and metres are they.  Take your calculator and divide weight by height twice.  Written mathematically this is W/(H)².  The result is called body mass index (BMI).  Over 30 is considered to be bad. 

If you turn out to be a bad boy or girl what are you going to do about it?  Please don’t go rushing off to one of these proprietary diets that cuts out any class of food.  Your intake must be balanced and that includes fat.  The only answer is – eat less.  Exercise more helps but only a bit.  A heavy session at the gym is balanced by 1 Mars Bar.  That is 600 calories.  However, any holistic approach to weight loss should include regular exercise.  It keeps the body in shape and prevents atrophy of muscles.  Walking is cheap and easy.  Add some weight lifting and you have covered the waterfront.  Incidentally do you know what is a calorie?  It’s the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1kg of water by 1°C.

At the mention of water I am reminded that your body might be retaining it.  Some diets claim instant success when all they have done it shed excess water.  Recently and for reasons nothing to do with my weight I was diagnosed with fluid on the lungs and an obviously swollen ankle.  I am now taking a diuretic which has cured the ankle and presumably done the same for my lungs.

Do you remember the Victorian maxim that said you should leave the dinner table feeling hungry?  They never said why but I think there is a simple explanation.

Your stomach is both friend and foe.  What it does, or rather doesn’t do is wait twenty minutes before it tells the brain that it is full.  Its ‘thinking’ is to make you overeat in case of a future shortage.  So the effect is to make you overeat without being the slightest bit aware! 

CONCLUSION:  Pause for at least 20 minutes and see how you feel before continuing to eat.

There was a 2 page spread in the Echo on 4 August 2020 that exploded a lot of the myths surrounding weight loss diets.  I covered them in para 3 when I advised against cutting out classes of food.  One snippet is worth quoting, “Jo Travers, registered dietician and author says, a healthy, balanced diet is called such because it is healthy and balanced!”

TV licences

NPC has sent us information I need to pass on.  Quote, this week TV Licensing have started sending letters to anyone aged over 75 asking them to either pay for their TV licence or apply for a free one. They want to make sure you know what to expect when you get your letter, so that if you’re contacted by scammers before then you’ll be able to spot them.

TV Licensing will only ask you to pay using the following options:

  • By post using the address: 
  • TV Licensing,
    PO Box 578, Darlington DL98 1AN 

  • Over the phone on 0300 790 6151

If this is not the case then do not respond as it will be a scam. Wait for the real request.  Licensing have also been clear that they will not come to your doorstep to collect the licence fee if you are over 75, so anyone who claims to do so is also a scammer.

If you’re unsure about anything, you can call TV Licensing on 0300 303 9695 to speak with someone who can help.

The lighter side

From a book of “Blackboard Blunders”

The two cars sped down the road.  The crooks had stolen the Jagger but the police were catching up fast with their top of the range Grandad.


Many are out of pocket due to the virus.  Examples are holidays you were unable to take or paid for services you could not use.  Such are senior railcards and National Trust and English Heritage memberships.

Holiday insurance was useless while unable to travel and so was the cost of a second home you couldn’t visit.

Your legal rights are absolutely clear.  If you have paid for something that does not happen then you are entitled to a cash refund without any deductions for administration. 

Often companies will plead poverty and offer vouchers.  Chose these if you wish.  A disadvantage is they have expiry dates and even worse if the business goes bust they are worthless!

If you are waiting for a refund your bank may help.  For payments from £100 to £30,000 paid by credit card you may claim under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act because credit card providers are jointly liable with retailers.  Refunds are less certain with debit cards but it is worth making a claim.

Thoughts on Modern Life

“Muddled messaging” by the government over Covid-19 has left much of the public confused.  A recent study suggests that fewer than 50% of adults in England understand the guidelines. Ministers seemed “nonchalant” about this until a series of “jolting reminders” that Covid-19 cannot be “wished away”. A resurgence in infections in Europe “triggered the snap imposition of new quarantine rules”. This was followed by a sudden ban, affecting millions, on different households meeting indoors in Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and West Yorkshire.

Government messaging is unclear and inconsistent. It makes no sense that households in the north can’t meet but people can still go to the pub, and that churchgoers have to wear a mask but we can go to restaurants and chew, talk and cough to our heart’s content.  How about being honest – ie, we can take measures to try and stop the spread of Covid-19; we can invest in protective equipment and research. but we “cannot lockdown forever and the public cannot expect 100% protection”.

It is a fact that even the most vulnerable the chance of dying from Covid-19 is much lower than from one of the big four (cancer, heart disease, etc). However, people are much more eager to avoid Covid-19 then they are to make lifestyle changes that decrease their likelihood of dying from the big four. Eventually, a realistic fear of the huge and accelerating loss of life, culture, health and wealth caused by lockdowns, social distancing and dehumanising masks may supplant our disproportionate fear of it.

Nevertheless, the possibility of a second spike is very real. Daily cases are rising. However, the public are unlikely to be tolerant of a resurgence, particularly if it can be blamed on government “incompetence and recklessness”. There is still no routine testing programme for the whole population, which would probably be the most assured method of containing the virus. Even health workers still aren’t being routinely tested. The limited test, trace and isolate regime is not comprehensive, never mind the promised “world beating” tracing app.

Look who isn’t worried.  Sweden, which didn’t impose a lockdown and broadly trusted people to “use their nous”, reasoning that a vaccine was a long way off and that herd immunity would be part of the solution. Covid-19 cases there are down 90% from their peak. Yes, it has suffered, but it will have comfortably outperformed most European countries and avoided massive borrowing. It may turn out that the cost was not the eventual death toll so much as the price exacted from the survivors”.

Dates for your Diary

19 Aug : Members Meeting. 1st floor. Balmoral Centre.  2pm David Stansfield “ My working life in the Oil Industry”

26 Aug:  Lunch at Brewers Fayre , Eastern Esplanade.  12 noon.  Tell Jean on 341047

16 Sep:  Members meeting, 1st floor Balmoral Centre.  2pm. Ann Hardy “The Theatrical Costumier”