Weight weighs In Well for Longer Life

Oh what a gem  of news which proclaims that a few extra kilos are worth their weight in a bid for a longer life.

It applies to men and women who are slightly plump and not the obese, who face a raft of health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

US Government researchers have collated results from almost 100 studies to reveal the surprising finding that people of a normal weight  will actually die younger than weightier people.

Those dreaded scales which expose a few extra kilos carry a new message that mean plump people actually have more fat reserves to call upon when they lose weight when ill health hits.  They also believe fat reserves could also help older people survive falls without serious injury.

Researchers added that this does not apply to obese or grossly overweight people, who are about a third more likely to die during the research period than those who were slightly overweight.

The findings carry a lot of weight (!) because the US government researchers studied 91 previous research papers from around the world involving millions of men and women.

Researchers noted people’s body mass index at the beginning of the study and how likely they were to have died by the end of the time period.

Of course this is not new news because a renowned world gerontologist also gave the same message at an “Ageing Successfully” lecture at the University of Adelaide two years ago.

“If you remember one thing from this lecture,” he said at the beginning of the lecture. “It is that if you are over 60 and not obese, do not try to lose wieght – you just might need it.”



Of Cats, Frogs, Madmen and Shearers

One of the finer cultural moments of 2012 was a poetry event at my book club.

We had been asked each to bring a piece of poetry to be read and discussed in some length.

One of Australia’s outstanding poets is Dorothy Porter, who, unfortunately died in December four years ago.  A prolific poet, she wrote more than 1000 poems and many will be aware of her most well known work – The Monkey’s Mask. However I chose the verse novel What a Piece of Work, which captures institutional life seen through the eyes of the new superintendent at Callan Park Psychiatric Hospital.  Amongst her many titles, this booklet caught my eye because it is the reputed exclamation that Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s made under-his-breath at Prime Minister Gillard’s renowned misogyny attack.


However, what was more striking at the Christmas poetry event was the diversity of ideas which our group displayed – from familiar nursery rhymes to poems about cats and frogs and daffodils and men daydreaming in shearing sheds.

From classic gems such as Wordsworth’s Daffodils, which our generation learnt by heart at school, (I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o’er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host of golden daffodils)  we moved onto the challenge of ageing with Lewis Carol’s You are old Father William.

Gwen Harwood’s, The Secret Life of Frogs, carried a shock amongst its innocent beginning with words: “We knew about Poor George, who cried if any woman touched her hair. He’d been inside a brothel when the Jerries came and started shooting. (We thought a brothel was a French hotel that served hot broth to diggers.)

The girl that he’d been with was scalped. Every Frog in the house was killed.

Henry Lawson’s classic poem,The Shearer’s Dream had us all laughing at the imagery:

Oh, I dreamt I shore in a shearin’-shed, and it was a dream of joy,

For every one of the rouseabouts was a girl dressed up as a boy—But after dreaming of three girls to each lad, our poet crushed his hopes with When I woke with me head in the blazin’ sun to find ‘twas a shearer’s dream.”

Then one of our number took us on a Medieval history lesson with the English Nursery Rhyme“Oranges and Lemons”  of the famous British bells, how their ringing tones were used to communicate when ships laden with citrus fruit sailed along the Thames to  London.

On a more sombre note, we listened in awe to W.H. Auden’s emotive poem Stop the Clocks.

Then, in case any of us weren’t gobsmacked by the amazing array of topic and talent, we heard John Clarke’s take on TS Elliot’s  Macavity, The Mystery  Cat  who wrote a clever parody entitled Liquidity, The Accounting Cat.

Naturally, we all agreed that a poetry event would celebrate Christmas each year from now on.




French court rules thumbs down for wealth tax

In a surprising update on France’s tax hike for the ultra-rich,  France’s highest court has thrown out the controversial plan to tax the wealthy at a rate of 75 per cent, saying it was unfair.

In a further blow for the embattled French president, Francois Holland, the constitutional council found that the way the tax was designed was “legally unconstitutional’’.

Although the tax would have applied to only a small number of taxpayers with incomes more than $1.32 million, the threat of the wealth tax had led to an exodus from France to Switzerland, Belgium and even Britain by many wealthy French families.

High profile actor Gerard Depardeau made a much-publicised move to Belgium renouncing his French citizenship and handing back his French passport in a rejection of the tax.