£400 Blood Test to reveal your life-span – would you take it?

Would you want to know how long you had left to live if let us assume the above test is nearer to science fact than fiction?

£400 is about the price of a certain Apple tablet – knowing the extent of my remaining mortality or enjoying the myriad delights of an iPad?!

This test made me think of the film The Bucket List which I watched recently for the first time on ITV – one of the items on my bucket list was to watch the fine 2007 Rob Reiner film The Bucket List starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman – sorry could not resist!

Scene from The Bucket List

In that film the Carter character opines that a survey revealed that if we could know the exact date we would die 95% of us would not want to know. The Edward character replies that ‘if life has taught him anything is that 95% of people are always wrong’!

I though would be one of the 95% here – there is the Latin expression and wise advice Memento Mori – Remember You Will Die – to remember that life is indeed not a dress-rehearsal, that one day tomorrow will not come and that very knowledge should cause us to live our lives more fully, not to squander our time but to cherish it.

That said, accepting I will die is one thing, knowing the exact day or even week month or year is knowledge I would rather not have.

This particular test is based on established scientific work on the length of telomeres – briefly a correlation between their length and the lengths of our lives – hint we would want our telomeres to be as long as possible!

The Nobel Prize Winners

This is Nobel winning science – the 2009 Prize for Physiology or Medicine for ‘the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase”  – but the recent media interest such as this article in The Independent is due to commercial interest in its application – most obviously offering us the blood DNA test for a fee. This clearly is information that insurance companies would want too – where here the shorter our telomeres the higher our premiums.

It could also be of use in health practice prioritising care and or prejudicing care depending on your viewpoint. The science is moving along a pace and as often is the case the ethics are left lagging behind.

For me I can think of a lot of other things I could spend £400 on – and not just an iPad!

Scott and Bailey – the latest DC’s on the TV beat

Scott and BaileyScott and Bailey is a new Manchester based detective drama from Manchester based Red Production Company whose first episode (of six) broadcast on ITV Sunday May 29th.

A new detective drama or yet another detective drama or just how many detective dramas do we need? Like hospital dramas and cooking shows there is an endless supply whether there is an endless demand or not.

Scott and Bailey are two female detective constables which gives it some edge – like Ashes to Ashes if Alex Drake had managed to have booted out Gene Hunt and appointed Shaz Granger as her assistant and without the science-fiction. Perhaps!

Janet Scott and Rachel Bailey are played by Lesley Sharp and Suranne Jones respectively.

Lesley Sharp was very recently in the BBC drama ‘The Shadow Line’ and has been in numerous other shows such as ‘Clocking Off’ and starred in in the movie ‘The Full Monty’.

Bailey and Co-creator

Suranne Jones was most recently on our TV screen in an episode of Doctor Who, The Doctor’s Wife, where she made a memorable captivating performance as The Doctor’s Wife. Not her first time playing a DC either having starred as DC Laurie Franklin in the BBC drama ‘Five Days’.

Their boss DCI Gill Murray is played by Amelia Bullmore.

Though Scott and Bailey is the name of the show the chemistry between them in the first episode was lukewarm, just a pair of work colleagues sharing a desk. Scott is the cooler headed one, Bailey the impulsive hearted one – Sense and Sensibility meets the Manchester Metropolitan Police.

The crime in the first episode was a murder made to look like a suicide and a cheating husband and jealous mistress which infidelity echoed the recently jilted Bailey whose boyfriend of two years turns out to be married fourteen years with two sons! The cheated Bailey feels some empathy with the cheated mistress save that the cheated mistress wrought revenge with murder rather than getting the mortgage paid in full on their love nest.

Suranne Jones is not just Bailey in this show – it is also her idea along with Sally Lindsay. They co-created it with Diane Taylor herself a retired Detective Inspector from the Greater Manchester Police Force’s Major Incident Team. This bodes well I think as we can expect a passionate involvement in the show from Suranne Jones and for a very realistic drama from Diane Taylor. The main writer is Sally Wainwright (At Home with the Braithwaites) whose job will be to translate the prosaic details of one presumes real with poetic license case history’s into more compelling fiction.

A promising first episode with strong performances by both Suranne Jones and Lesley Sharpe but whether this series will rise above being ‘just another TV detective drama’ the case remains open.

Callista Gingrich – Credit at Tiffany’s

Callista Gingrich it has recently been revealed had a credit line with Tiffany & Co of nearly half-a-million dollars. The extent of the line does not surprise me but that it was interest free made my eyebrows raise!

It is more significant as she is the wife of Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich and that in these times of austerity such politicians will make great play of a ‘shared sacrifice’.

This week it was also revealed that UK Prime Minister David Cameron has spent up to £700000 of its tax-payers money renovating 10 Downing Street within his first year of office.

He and his party also when announcing cuts – or in the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition Orwellian speak, savings, will state that we are all in this together.

Both these actions reveal that we are most definitely not.

Any reductions in public spending is going to be felt most by those most reliant on those services – our rich politicians are not likely to feel any pain at all from such cuts.

Interior Redecoration Courtesy of UK Taxpayers

Any rise in our income tax is not likely to be borne equally either – we know that the very rich can use tax-evasion, or with more Orwellian speak, tax-avoidance measures, as the actions of UK Uncut most explicitly demonstrate.

And any rise in our direct tax, such as VAT, again is going to impact those on lowest incomes most with but the faintest of ripples upon those of six and seven figure annual incomes and beyond (that is our politicians and their wealthy friends and patrons) being as it is a regressive taxation measure.

This is the Downton Abbey economy – where servants and masters all occupy the same house – all occupants in it together!

When watching shows like Made in Chelsea we are no longer watching the spectacle of how the other half live but how the other ten tending toward one percent live. And our politicians are of and beholden to that ever shrinking percentage of super-wealth.

If only we had politicians and political parties whose primary agenda was to address income inequality and social mobility rather than appease wealthy special interests and entrench social immobility. If only.

PJ Harvey – Let England Shake – in video

I live and die through England…

Let England Shake released by PJ Harvey in February 2011 has produced two single releases so far ‘The Words That Maketh Murder’ and ‘The Glorious Land’ yet each and every song from the album is available to watch in video.

Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy montaged every track from that album into one extended video. The videos for Let England Shake are discrete pieces. I hope this is a trend we see more of.

No industry music video productions are these though created as they are by a Battlefield photographer Seamus Murphy whose more usual subjects are Mexican Drug Wars, Mogadishu and Maoists.

All of the videos include brief poetry recited by the English public relating to the lyrics of each of the songs before leading into PJ Harvey’s performances.

The images featured in this post are from the England video and include still photographs among the moving images. The photographer’s eye as we should expect is very noticeable in all these videos – no video-director visions of Hollywood here.

As uncompromising and eyes wide open as the songs of Let England Shake itself.

A Hand in Glove fit.

Undaunted, never failing love for you England

UK Uncut – transform banks into hospitals

UK Uncut’s latest claims on our attention is due Saturday May 28 – to transform high street banks into NHS hospitals. The action is to highlight that cuts proposed to the National Health Service could be met by removing the annual public subsidy (in the form of free insurance and guarantees) to banks of up to a staggering £100 billion per year. Hospitals it seems are not too big to fail.

UK Uncut’s previous actions have focused on the link between the amount of cuts to public services the Coalition say are required to balance our National budget and the amount lost to our Exchequer from big UK corporations such as Sir Philip Green’s retail empire and Vodaphone offshoring their taxes. A reminder that much of the cuts are ideological as necessity – and that it is largely our tax regime that has seen the gap between the rich and the poor ever widen.

I commend them for bringing important and complex issues to wider attention. They are filling a vacuum left by mainstream political parties who seem ever eager to lean on the poor and show how tough they are on the ‘have nots” whilst at the same time being as accommodating as possible to those “that have”.

I had a knowledge that tax evasion went on in the UK but not the scale of it, not the details of it and not who the biggest culprits are – UK Uncut in their actions have made this common knowledge in a way that an informed and informative article in a newspaper or magazine would likely never have done.

An article in today’s Guardian states a worry that their stunts need to change as otherwise will lose their impact and the interest of the public – becoming like “High Street chanting Hare Krishnas”!

I do not entirely share this view. There is something impactful about an organisation being relentless and repetitious in their actions – like a political signature tune – but I do accept there is a danger that we the public and our media get bored with them for this and shift our attention elsewhere.

Likewise occupying public spaces to inconvenience the organisations they are targeting risks also inconveniencing the customers of those targeted organisations and losing public support they may otherwise have had.

I continue to welcome them though. We live in a parliamentary democracy made more vital and relevant by the role of peaceful protest movements – and now even more so they are needed when Crony Capitalism seems ever more entrenched in our professional political life.

Fashion Fringe Finalists Revealed

Fyodor Golan

Nabil El Nayal

Fyodor Golan, Heidi Leung and Nabil El Nayal are the favoured three by the judges Claudia Schiffer and Roland Mouret.

The finalists will now spend June, July and August working on their Fashion Fringe Collections which will be showcased at September’s London Fashion Week.

They will also receive a two-year development package to set up and sustain their business; which includes a mixture of cash, business advice, mentoring and a fully equipped studio at Somerset House.

Fashion Fringe have a stated manifesto of:

The Vitality and Energy of London, Great Britain
The Uniqueness of British Design Talent
The Necessity for Extreme Creativity
Total Modernity
A Commitment to the Future of British Fashion

The finalists works can be viewed online.

Fyodor Golan have a website where their collections can be seen as stills or videos. Their pieces can also be bought though not in a very customer friendly way. You could visit their stockist – if you should live in Hong Kong.

Heidi Leung

Nabil El Nayal have a website too but which consists only of a brief YouTube hosted video of her work and a link to her stockist, none other than Harrods. Instead her works can better be viewed on the Catwalking website where a full collection of this Royal College of Art MA Graduate can be seen.



Heidi Leung has no website that I could find. Some photos of her work can be found on the Trendstop Blog and the Fashion Fringe website itself provides some sketches of her pieces.

Fashion Fringe are providing a fine prize for the winner of this annual event and delivering a tangible investment in Britain’s emerging Fashion talent.