Jan Leeming Blog

Jan Leeming

Shoreham 2007

Shoreham Airshow 2007
Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.

 

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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.

THE FIGHT FOR BIGGIN HILL

Date: 12th September 2017

Have been sent this by the group trying to do their best for the old Biggin Hill Chapel.  Please read and help if you can - if only by signing the petition.  Although the original Chapel on the Airfield burned down, the current one houses many artefacts of great significance.  The building is Iconic.

 

September 15th is an important day for Biggin Hill!

It is Battle of Britain Day - and the day we will be presenting our Petition to Central Government to 'Protect the St George's RAF Chapel of Rembrance' from the damaging plans of the London Borough of Bromley, and to impress on all concerned the need for a Museum which is 'worthy' of the RAF and the Airfield's history, without affecting the memorial to 454 pilots who died defending our country.

May I ask three further favours of you all?

If you can add weight to our campaign with those in positions of influence, please, this is the time to do so!

If you have contacts within the Press or the Media, please inform them of the campaign and tell them we will be at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, Parliament Street, this Friday, 15th Sept at 12.00 noon.

Finally is there someone you have forgotten to tell about the campaign? We just need a few more signatories to reach the psychologically significant figure of 15,000 before Friday. The Petition will remain open indefinitely, whatever the outcome.

Here's the petition link: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/protect-biggin-hill-st-george-s-raf-chapel-of-remembrance

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.


MONEY FOR NOTHING

Date: 7th September 2017

Money for Nothing is a popular programme on BBC 1 which has been running for a few years now.  The usual concept is for the programme presenters to visit a 'Tip' or Household Waste Site and ask members of the public if they could take away their 'rubbish' to recycle it and sell it on.  The donors receive the money made on the sales - literally 'Money for Nothing'.

I was asked to be on one of the programmes and in my case the very personable young man called Jay actually came to my home and chose two articles out of stuff I was prepared to give away.  The money received for the revamped articles is mine to give to a Charity.

I chose to donate the money to The Brooke Donkey Sanctuary as I've long admired the work they do.

Brooke is an international animal welfare charity dedicated to improving the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules. Operating in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, they reach over 2 million working horses, donkeys and mules – more than any other organisation. They employ around 900 staff worldwide, including vets, animal welfare experts and development specialists.

It is horrible and heartbreaking to see the way working animals are treated in some countries and much of this is down to a lack of education as well as a lack of money.  The poor creatures are made to carry loads which are far too heavy, they develop sores which go untreated, their hooves are not attended to so that they walk badly and they are not fed and watered properly.  So although my financial donation will be small I hope that the programme will raise the profile of this very worthwhile Charity which must now be around 100 years old.

The programme goes out on Friday 15th September - BBC 1 - 4.30pm.

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.


JUST YOU SINGLES HOLIDAYS - Prizes to be won in British Travel Awards

Date: 6th September 2017

Just wanted to tell you that Just You Singles Holidays have been entered for the British Travel Awards.  There's a competitiion with loads of Travel Prizes and all you have to do is Enter the Competition before 30th September.  The link is -

 

http://bit.ly/2gCOV6g

Good luck.

JUST YOU SINGLES HOLIDAYS - Prizes to be won in British Travel Awards

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.


CANADA IN THE FALL & New York - Just You Singles Holidays

Date: 6th September 2017

Have only just washed, ironed and put away the clothes from Cuba and now I'm thinking of the packing again for my next Just You Singles Long Haul Holiday.  Aren't I lucky!  So I'm off on a whistle stop tour of various Canada cities - Toronto, Quebec, Montreal to mention a few.  We've visiting Niagara and JY have arranged for me to take a Helicopter Flight over the Falls - again aren't I lucky.

And after the jaunt around the Canadian cities, JY are sending me for a few nights in New York.  I've never visited the Big Apple before so am really looking forward to that as I am to visiting Canada in the Fall.  I hope to get some superb photos to share with you but it will depend on access to the Internet - it was appalling in Cuba.

And don't forget the British Travel Awards Competition - with loads of Travel Related prizes

Just You Singles Holidays won in 2015 - in 2016 the Prize went, very surprisingly to a Coach Tour Company!!!!!!!!  I really do hope JY wins again in 2017- they really do attend to every detail.  Oh Yes, you'll always get the moaners but I've met with 99% approval.  And I have to share with you that on one of the holidays there was a male who never stopped complaining but, much to my surprise I discovered he was on his 12th Just You Holiday - was booking another - and always complains????

 

I repeat what I've said often that I wished I had known about Just You Singles Holidays a decade ago - I'd have seen a lot more of the world.  JY doesn't pretend that you will travel in 5 star luxury or stay in 5 star hotels but they pack in a huge amount of caring and information.  So long as the toilet flushes, the water runs hot and the sheets are clean - to me an hotel on holiday is just a place to sleep.  It is the organsation and the sights for which one is paying - and on my 3 holidays I've only praise for the Tour Managers and the Tour Guides.  And NO I don't get special treatment - I'm just one of the group.

Happy Holidaying and Good Luck with the Competition.  Jan

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.


ALLIED AIR FORCES MEMORIAL DAY - ELVINGTON. 3rd September

Date: 31st August 2017

As a Vice President of the Allied Air Forces Museum at Elvington near York, I shall be attending the Memorial Day Service this Sunday, 3rd September. 

 

I've attended all the Memorial Days since becoming a Vice President.  They are all special but this one is extra special as the French Gift of a Mirage will be unveiled.  The Aircraft was gifted many years ago but the paperwork was interminable and was only completed a few months ago.

 

Sir Stephen Dalton is our President (Retired Chief of Staff of the AirForce) and will be in attendance along with many high ranking members of the French Air Force.

http://yorkshireairmusuem.org

 

Sometimes we are graced with a Flypast of a Spitfire from RAF Coningsby where the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is based - so fingers crossed again this year and also for a fine day.

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.


APOLOGIES FOR LACK OF BLOGS

Date: 29th August 2017

Sorry to have been quiet for a while.   I had a wonderful holiday in Provence with my friends and will tell you about some of the highlights when I have a moment.

Returned from Provence and almost immediately flew to Cuba for filming.  I can't tell you anything about it yet - all hush hush but will do so as soon as am allowed.  Havana was very interesting as was Cuba - yet another example of Communism not really working - but more of that later.  Although the time difference was only 5 hours I suffered worse Jet Lag than when I visit my son in Australia - strange that.

Was also in another TV programme which will go out in the Stand Up to Cancer week in November - again Radio silence at the moment.

I seem to be constantly unpacking, washing, ironing and repacking but it is all very exciting and I'm so grateful to be still wanted at my 'advanced years'!??????

Next adventure is for Just You Singles Holidays - they are sending me to Canada in the Fall and a few days in New York.  So I'll be able to Tweet pictures and might have time to write Blogs.

Have to say that Wifi in Cuba was virtually non existent - it felt odd to be cut off from the rest of the world.

Á Bientôt,   Jan

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.


BBC SALARIES

Date: 20th July 2017

 

Yesterday I was asked to join the ITV Breakfast programme and had I not been on the TGV to Avignon would  like to have accepted the invitation to clear up some misconceptions about the gargantuan salaries paid to some - a very few - who work in television.

For years I’ve suffered from the public perception that, because I worked in Television and with a relatively high profile, I must be rich. Far from it. Now, I suppose that misconception will be more prevalent.

I know it was 30 years ago but even so I’d have earned far more had I been a PA to a CEO in a job carrying a pension. I’d already been working in television for 15 years when I was ‘lent’ by BBC Radio to BBC Television News. I say lent because I was on a Staff Contract with Radio which gave me a certain degree of security. I don’t know if it still exists but there were 3 tiers of employment within the BBC - Staff carrying a Pension and with job security, Staff Contract with less security but still carrying a pension and Contract - with no security, no pension and the fear that one could be got rid of at a moment’s notice on the whim of a producer. I remember the PR man telling me that if I wanted the job I would need to sacrifice my Staff Contract and go completely Freelance.

So today’s ‘Stars’ are earning millions and though it is contrary to the ethos of what was envisaged when the Public Broadcasting Company was set up, that is the way of the world and though it is funded by the Licence Fee, the BBC seems to be in a ratings war with ITV and hence pays these eye watering salaries to keep their ‘stars’ in golden handcuffs.

When I transferred from BBC Radio to BBC TV News in 1981 I was paid the princely sum of £10,000 and for the first year a wardrobe allowance of £500. Over seven years and reaching audiences of over 14 million, my salary rose to the dizzying heights of £23,500 and still NO pension. 

I would have loved the security of a staff job but the bosses want the ability to hire and fire at will and very often, despite the viewing figures, the new boss sweeps clean and the ‘baby goes out with the bath water’.

Being a cautious Capricorn, every time I had any spare cash it was ploughed into the Equitable Pension Fund and we all know what happened to that - it went Belly Up and despite fighting them for 5 years I ended up with half the pension I should have received and I can assure you that was in single figures.

As for discrimination and the pay gap between the men and the women - it was ever thus. When working on ‘Pebble Mill at One’ in the late 70’s my colleague Marian Foster and I discovered that not only were the three male members of the team paid nearly twice as much as we were but they were also getting living expenses (we were having to fund our living away from home out of our own income - £6,000! ). As a united front of two we approached the Editor of the programme and I shall never forget his response ‘Ladies, if you don’t like it, there is the door’. We were doing a job many people would kill for and basically he knew he could easily replace us.

In TV News I was well aware that my male colleagues were paid a great deal more than I was but I wanted the job and had to accept the rather adverse terms. And in my day, we were prohibited form doing most outside work which would have proved lucrative.

Although the ‘Stars’ today earn eye watering sums, there are a huge number of ‘bottom feeders’ who are getting nowhere even remotely near what the high flyers are earning. And even when we do record programmes we are paid comparatively small fees and have to sign a form giving the Production Company for the BBC or ITV total rights to the programme without any residuals.

All that being said, and despite the insecurity, working in television as a reporter, interviewer and presenter has brought me great satisfaction, has enabled me to meet and talk with some fascinating people, and, apart from often being nervous before an interview, I’ve always looked forward to the next day. We spend so much of our lives working - what more could a man or woman ask. It is and continues to be a privilege to be part of the Television Industry.

When a member of the public greets me warmly and expresses gratitude for the pleasure of a performance they’ve watched, I feel humbled and blessed.

I’ve never even remotely earned the kind of money sloshing around in the industry today, but I’ve had an interesting and varied career and, at a time when I thought I’d have to ‘put my feet up’ I’m still working. Aren’t I lucky.
 

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.


BATTLE OF BRITAIN MEMORIAL DAY

Date: 9th July 2017

Battle of Britain Memorial Day at Capel le Ferne.

Can't believe that this was my tenth BOB Memorial Day.  The weather couldn't have been better but sadly we only had one Veteran in attendance - Wing Commander Paul Farnes.  A few more Vets are still with us but too fragile to make the journey to Capel.  We've been losing the veterans at a rapid rate and I think back to the first Memorial Day I attended in 2007 and then there were 25 Veterans laying wreaths around the Pilot who sits at the Memorial looking out to sea and to France.

So much has happened in the intervening ten years - possibly one of the most exciting being my research into and making of a documentary on Squadron Ldr.  René Mouchotte, the first name I sponsored on the Foxley Norris Memorial Wall.  I chose a French name because of my French ancestry and what a wonderful world of research opened up before me.  It took six long years to get anyone interested in making a programme and then it was only a 15 minute documentary for BBC South East but it was better than nothing.  There is so much material on René and his family that I could easily have made a 1 hour documentary without having to pad it out at all.

Because of my work on René and support for the BOB Memorial Trust, I was given membership of the RAF Club - an honour of which I am very proud.  My work also led to an association with the Allied Air Forces Museum at Elvington near York of which I am a Vice President.  That in turn has led to much involvement with the French and I've been thrilled to have been invited for the last four years to the Bastille Day Celebrations at the French Ambassador's Residence in London - a great occasion.  The French certainly know how to throw a party.

On BOB Memorial Day with Paul Farnes the only Vet in attendance this year who celebrated his 99th Birthday on 16th July

BATTLE OF BRITAIN MEMORIAL DAY

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.


GINA FRATINI - R.I.P.

Date: 17th June 2017

 

In the 70’s I worked for HTV in Bristol and had my own programme called ‘Women Only’ (not sure that would be allowed now in our politically correct world) although we did have male interviewers working with us. We entertained some fascinating guests on the programme and one of them was Gina Fratini the Fashion Designer. Her creations were pure Romance - she made the wedding dress for Princess Anne, dressed many famous people including Liz Taylor and Joan Collins and refused to work in anything other than pure fabrics her particular love being silk for its flowing quality.

I was already buying Gina designs when the budget allowed (my budget - I’ve always had to buy my own wardrobe- again different from today) and then I came to interview her and still have the programme which I transferred from tape to DVD. The producer allowed us to devote the whole programme to Silk looking at aspects of this fine material from the Silk Road, through the silkworm to Gina’s lovely creations. With absolutely no prompting, Gina invited me to buy from her at wholesale prices so I was able to indulge my love for her clothes particularly evening wear. During my newsreading years for the BBC I was invited to all manner of delightful functions which required evening dress. I wish I’d been able to keep all the Gina’s I bought over the years but I still have a few which I can still get into- just about!

One which I’ve never been able to let go was a gorgeously romantic and floaty design in graded silk. Mine was pink and I know that Anita Harris had the same design in Blue because she wore it on Television and then much later I learned that Liz Taylor married Richard Burton for the second time on a beach wearing the Gina in a green hue.

For many years Gina was a lovely acquaintance and then she shut her salon and we were reduced to Christmas cards. She left the UK to go and live with an old love, Tony Newley and we lost touch. I’ve often thought about her - she was as lovely in nature as were her designs. She had the sweetest of smiles, almost beatific and the loveliest voice.

I wish we’d not lost touch but that is the way of the world. A close friend of hers was kind enough to email me with the sad news that she had died. So R.I.P. lovely Gina and, if there is a heaven, hopefully you will meet up with your loved ones.

The same friend sent me a link to a short video they made for Gina. In it I saw several of the designs I had the delight and honour to purchase and wear. Here’s the link  

https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=em-subs_digest&v=yu1iYcXALqc

And this is the dress.  Sadly, in the old days people smoked and unforgivably 'on the dance floor' so the lovely floating sleeves got burns and had to be shortened but it is still a gorgeous outfit.This photo was taken in 2011 by professional photographer - Alan Ollie - not only a super photographer but great to work with.

GINA FRATINI - R.I.P.

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.


TV PROGRAMMES - THE LOCH, FEARLESS & THE FULL MONTY

Date: 17th June 2017

RECENT TV - THE LOCH, FEARLESS, THE FULL MONTY

As I had a busy week, had to record these three programmes.

Just as well I recorded The Loch because although I found it gripping, I also found it necessary to re-run some of the dialogue as much as 4 times as I was unable to get subtitles but maybe that was because I’d recorded the programme originally without them assuming that as it was in 'my language' I wouldn't need them.

One’s ears have to become familiar with accents and when you only get one shot at it, it can be very frustrating. We not only have much more regional accent TV but we also have a new school of ‘mumble’. Marlon Brando got away with it because he was Marlon Brando. Apart from his sex appeal I never liked his acting because for much of the time he was unintelligible.

Fearless had me on the edge of my seat and the only reason I knew Emma Banville, the lawyer, would not meet a nasty end, was because we need her for another 5 episodes.

And finally - The Full Monty. At one and a half hours, just a tad too long but highly enjoyable. What a great thing to do - these well known guys taking everything off to promote the cause of Prostate Cancer. If caught early, this cancer is curable but if left it is a killer.
My son had testicular cancer 10 years ago and I have to thank the programme Hollyoaks for him ‘having a feel’ and doing something about it. The theme of the episode which Jonathan watched was Testicular Cancer and it spurred him to make a check. He had to have surgery and has to be checked every year but who knows what would have happened had he not watched the programme. We then both supported Orchid which is a purely male Cancer Charity dealing with testicular, prostate and penile cancers.

So well done to Alexander Armstrong who came up with the concept and Bless you to all the chaps who took part - a very brave thing to do. 

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.