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.


Date: 22nd April 2013


I really do hope that I didn’t hear what I think I might have heard on the Classic FM early news this morning. I was in another room so didn’t quite hear the whole item but it seemed to be about penalising pensioners who own their own homes – which apparently is ‘holding up the house market’. I think it inferred that because we are retired we are staying put.  (A bit like Bed Blocking of which the elderly are regularly accused)

You’ve got to be joking. In the late 1980’s and early ‘90’s I remember the interest rate on our mortgages rising to a phenomenal 15% and, if you did make a purchase you had to put down a fairly hefty deposit. When I moved to Kent, and not wishing to get caught like that again I opted for a fixed rate mortgage of 7% and then watched for five years as the interest rate plummeted to around 2% and you didn’t have to have a deposit.

We pensioners have been hit from every angle. Any savings we may have are attracting such derisory interest that, if someone would tell me how many years I’ve got left, I’d blue the lot on travelling the world to see all the places I’d love to visit.

My state pension rise this year would buy me a cup of coffee per month with a few pence change – it must cost more to administrate the insulting rise than it does to give it. My state pension is not massive because for a large proportion of my life I was, not through any desire of my own but by the nature of my business, a freelance. Unless you turned yourself into a Limited Liability Company where you could pay National Insurance as both a proprietor and an employee, you were assessed at the end of every year for NI on a rate known as S4. If you had a good year you paid a very high rate of NI – then came the bad years but you couldn’t claim anything back – in other words the good and bad years were not evened out.  You had to earn a great deal in order to make it worthwhile to become Limited Liability.

I’m a careful individual and didn’t earn a vast amount – things were very different in my ‘glory’ days in TV – but when I had a couple of good years I squirreled the money away into a Pension Fund – sadly the Equitable. Gordon Brown raided the pension funds for short term gain for his government and long term loss for those of us who had pensions with that and other companies. Apparently the Equitable was seen as the Pension Fund of the toffs who could afford to lose their money. I can assure you I’ve never been in that bracket.

When you reach 65 you are allowed to have just over £10,000 tax free as your personal allowance. Now the tax rate is going to be raised to £10,000 for everyone – in fact I don’t think it has gone far enough. I believe that anyone earning under £15,000 should not have to pay tax. I’d like to see our MP’s living on that amount.
So, as a pensioner, you are taxed on you pensions which offer anything over £10,000. The left is screaming about cutting the benefit ceiling at £26,000. Are they living on Planet Zog – many hard working people earn far far less than that – and the word I use is ‘earn’.

Public service employees are threatening strikes because of their derisory salary rises. They should spare a thought for those of us on fixed incomes where there is no ‘rise’ and all we can do is watch our money being eroded by ridiculously low interest rates and rising costs. And although it is a myth that two can live as cheaply as one, it is very expensive to live solo. You have to pay the same for heating as a family would have to – you don’t want 3 for 2 offers because you can’t eat the stuff and you’ve probably got nowhere to store the extra anyway. I have to say I cannot see the justification for these ‘offers’ in a supermarket. If they can afford to sell you 3 for the price of 2 why can’t they put the appropriate price on just one item. I regularly have to pay over the odds for vegetables and fruit because there is no point in my having, say, two bunches of bananas for the price of one, when the second bunch will only go off. It really irks me having to pay extra for one – in effect I’m subsidising the larger families who avail themselves of the offers because they consume more. Even Waitrose have now joined the bandwagon.

How come there are 8,000 Hospital Managers and consultants on £100,000 plus when at the sharp end the nurses are paid a relative pittance. By consultants I presume they mean Management Consultants and not the hard working Surgeon Consultants who earn their money from years of training and expertise and into whose hands our lives are placed as they are into the hands of nursing staff. I think they should bring back the traditional Matron whose word was law and where you could have eaten off the hospital floors they were so clean. She was feared, she was obeyed, and my goodness the wards were clean and everything was so much more efficient than today.  I believe there is far too much 'contracting out' leading to a lack of 'Accountability'.

We had a case down here in Kent a couple of years ago with a Hospital Trust Manager on a salary of something like £250,000. She resigned before the Tribunal into dereliction of duty could be held but still walked off with a phenomenal pension pot that many of us would be thrilled to receive – and she sued for wrongful dismissal.

(Mind you it does seem to be par for the course – you can be a lousy CEO and a few months later you surface in a high position in another industry – it must be a kind of Mafia Union of Jobs for the Boys/Girls.)

A young lady I know who works extremely hard and has a wonderful work ethic told me that in her sixth form half the girls declared that they’d no intention of working, they were just going to procreate! Great isn’t it when that can be a life-style choice. Why should people pay taxes to subsidise the families of the feckless. Having a child is a joy- not a right to be paid for by the State. And, unless a miracle prevails, most of the children will be trapped into a dependency culture with poverty of ambition and no desire to better themselves.

And I read that Left wingers have hi-jacked some of the money from one of the Diana Charities to use it to encourage immigration – this country is drastically overcrowded as it is, we don’t have the jobs and our infrastructure is creaking at the joints so what madness prevails to make them want to encourage more people to this sad little nation. When I was born the population count was around 58 million and there were jobs for all. It was a very different nation – recovering from a war with rebuilding, manufacturing etc. Today the head count is over 68 million and we don’t have those manufacturing jobs anymore, we have burgeoning families and an NHS which simply cannot cope with the demands put on it by the medical advances of the day.

I am very glad I am the age I am. I was born and brought up in a country which in those days could truly afford to call itself Great Britain. We had pride and shame, respect for authority, a work ethic and a desire to better ourselves and not expect the ‘State’ to do it for us.

I’d better stop or I shall burst a blood vessel and I don’t fancy the idea of going into hospital.

Oh, how I wish I could win on the Lottery – I’d see that my family were OK financially, donate a huge amount to Charity and then get out of here to go and live near my son in Australia - a country in which I lived in the 60’s and wish I’d never left.

Referring to my opening paragraph - Oh yes I did -

So when they've taken away what little we have, what are we to use to fund us in care homes if we have no property left to sell.  Hey ho - when you hear about families paying £40,000 a year from a loved one's property for care and the person in the room next door being provided for by the state, it does make you wonder why bother to be thrifty and proud enough to try and take care of yourself.

I already worry about my old age.  My son has no money, no home of his own and is paying extortionate rent in Australia and my flat if sold would keep me for 5 years at today's rates for care.  The worry is because of the longevity in my family - father is 98, frail and blind,  and mother 92 with senility,  but please God I won't live anywhere near that length of time.  

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