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How I made a film and changed the world! (for one 97 year old dementia patient)

Posted on 6 December 2012 | 9:12pm

Modesty and humility being big parts of what make me such a likeable and popular character, I very rarely blow my own trumpet on here. But something happened last night which leaves me with little option.

I had been doing a discussion with the lovely Delia Smith at the BMA, her explaining why she does God, me saying why I don’t, as part of a Lancaster University series on faith in public life. (It will be going online soon enough and I will let you know etc)

Afterwards there was a reception and bounding up to me came a man and a woman who said they had come along with the sole purpose of telling me that I had achieved something extraordinary.

These two people look after elderly people in care and they explained that one such, a 97 year old woman with dementia who had also developed a drink problem late in life, had suddenly stopped drinking after watching my documentary on alcoholism, Britain’s Hidden Alcoholics, from earlier this year. She watched it not once, twice or three times, but four times, which is probably more than the editor did.

They explained that watching a programme more than once was not uncommon for dementia patients. But what was remarkable was that the following morning the old woman announced to them that she had decided to give up drinking because of the film. She has not touched a drop since.

As the British booze tsunami reaches its high tide in the run up to Christmas, I take pride and pleasure in the reduction of anyone’s alcohol consumption. Don’t forget Alcohol Concern’s Dry January campaign btw.

But the other moral of the story is one I have sought to apply through my life as a communicator – sometimes you have to say something four times before it gets through.

You know the kind of thing. Osborne’s strategy isn’t working. Osborne’s strategy isn’t working. Osborne’s strategy isn’t working. Osborne’s strategy isn’t working.

  • Lovely story – somewhat spoiled by the overtly partisan comment at the end!

  • Susan

    Reminds me of the time I made a video of my mum’s grandson’s ( my nephew’s) wedding. She watched it over and over, and after the fourth or fifth viewing was sure she had been to the wedding which was wonderful, as it was 800 miles and a ferry or plane away and would have been impossible to take her. She then showed her friends the wedding that she’d been to. Great stuff – it made her so happy.
    However on the downside she would believe what she read or saw on the telly was happening to her, and so when the tsunami happened she nearly managed to convince the care centre staff to evacuate the folk, because there was a flood.

  • Gilliebc

    I find it surprising and encouraging, for those with dementia and a drink problem, that this old lady actually remembered her decision to stop drinking alcohol. Nice one AC.

  • Gilliebc

    ‘Osborne’s strategy isn’t working’
    No it certainly isn’t. Not for the ordinary people of this country it isn’t. But then he and the rest of this Tory led government are not working for the people of this country.
    They are clearly working for the hidden ruling elite, and towards their long held agenda for a NWO/OWG.
    If anyone else has a reasonable explanation for this Tory led government’s deliberately destructive economic policy, I’d like to hear it.

  • Robert

    A lovely insight into dementia: it is not all hopelessness. My father had it and I will never forget seeing his face when England regained The Ashes back in 2005.

    With regards to George Osborne, I found his scapegoating of the unemployed offensive and the Labour Party should do what is morally right, not just politically expedient.

  • I find that amazing too (I am one half of the couple in question, who approached Alastair following the event with Delia Smith). But it’s absolutely true – she doesn’t remember what happened two minutes ago, but she remembers her decision to give up drinking. Thanks, Alastair.

  • MaryMary

    ‘Hidden ruling elite’? They don’t seem all that hidden to me – but maybe that’s because I live a bit too near Chipping Norton… They don’t need a new world order; they’re quite cozy as they are, despite the ‘all in it together’ posturing of Tory politicians.

    My explanation for the policies is pretty simple, because Tories are simple creatures: they believe that wealth and social value are the same thing, and so the more you have of one, the more you will/should have of the other. Following this ‘logic’ through leads to the view that only wealthy people deserve power, and its corollary, that The Poor do not deserve a political voice; and further, that in order to become worthy of a notice they must work horrendously, grindingly hard in multiple low-paid jobs which they may well detest. That is, they must be ‘strivers’.

    I hate ‘strivers’. It’s the most awful kind of cowardly, patronizing newspeak.

    Politicians in general are possibly not the sharpest knives in the box when it comes to keeping up with developments in economic theory – but then as Keynes said: ‘Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist’.

    As far as I can see, the government is pursuing a state-sector-shrinking metapolicy in the guise of austerity measures, not because of high-flown ideas about the private sector being more effective than the state, but because they and their friends can only get their sticky fingers further into the pie if it’s all out to private tender.

    I’ll bet they know full well that this is just one big fire sale before they’re out of government again and can set up nice little private-sector earners filling the holes they’re currently creating.

  • Anonymous

    GOOD GAWD! A 97 year old alci? Her liver must be made out of wrought iron.

    But yes, those that have abstained do tend to fall off the wagon at Xmas, sadly – the temptation with social environment is torture, and then there we go. Difficult, as I stand from the otherside of the line, not going to experience it, this year.

    Difficult, really difficult. Think the worst bit when I gave up booze on Xmas occassions was wherever you go, the whole air was stinking of booze from peoples breath – they must have even sweat it. Underground trains – booze, Liverpool Street Station, booze, Oxford Street and shops, totally humming with booze.

    It was torture while I was keeping myself clean then. Don’t know what to say Alastair, apart from scoff a load of chocolates in compensation, quality street and roses tins, and run it off in the morning. Nothing else I can advise.

  • Anonymous

    Well, it isn’t, isn’t it?

  • Olli Issakainen

    Doing God.
    According to the QUANTUM THEORY OF CONSCIOUSNESS developed by Sir Roger Penrose the nature of our SOUL is in structures, the so-called MICRO-TUBULES contained in brain cells.
    Consciousness is a PROGRAM of a QUANTUM COMPUTER in brain.
    We have immortal soul.
    There are HIGHER DIMENSIONS and countless UNIVERSES.
    Ps. According to ENEA the SHROUD OF TURIN is SUPERNATURAL!

  • Gilliebc

    Maybe I should explain what I mean when I mention the hidden ruling elite. I’m referring mainly to the big international banks and giant corporations, among others.
    Also, the Royal Institute for International Affairs, the CFR, numerous NGOs and powerful lobby groups.
    They are the people who really call the shots in this world.
    Governments of any shade, i.e. the LibLabCon, (is there any real and meaningful difference between them?) are little more than frontmen.

  • Anonymous

    Did hear Delia is partial to the cooking sherry… Think she was embarrassed after that “let’s be ‘avin you” speech she did before that Norwich match. As here, to make her cringe even more,

    Link here for the BMA night, with video,

  • Anonymous

    Good grief, Chipping Norton – that is the republic of Jezza Clarkson isn’t it? Suppose you spot him about now and then, or passing in the other direction on the road in one of his 4×4 tanks.

    Overall feeling I get from these tory lot in this coalition setup, is that they find governing the middle classes and downwards quite tiresome and a total bore. They could do without it, while only really looking after their own mateys from their private clubs.

  • MaryMary

    I know what you mean by the phrase. I just think it’s not a particularly useful way of talking about it because they’re not all that hidden – although they *are* unelected and probably have an undue influence on many politicians. To me, talking about a hidden elite is a way of abdicating responsibility, and of failing to interrogate the issues in proper detail. It also lets the politicians off the hook, in a way, if they are characterized as helpless to change things.

    My point remains the same, because the people in the lobby groups move in expensive circles; some, and their clients, appear to believe they have a right to subvert the democratic process to their own ends because they are wealthy and powerful and sophisticated and not ‘little people’. It seems unfair to lump the NGOs in all together, by the way – are you saying Oxfam, Greenpeace etc. are a part of this ‘hidden elite’? Their views would seem to be divergent from the corporates…

    But it really boils down to who politicians – and *all* of us – believe deserves a voice; and the nasty fact that a political voice is mostly, currently, dependent upon wealth.

    It’s not as simple as the ‘Westminster bubble’ and the pernicious influence of PPE; nor is it only about corporate interests, or a lack of transparency in lobbying. It’s about a broader attitude in which such interests are allowed to thrive, while those whose voice can mostly only be exercised through the democratic process, rather than at a nice little lunch on the Terrace, are undervalued because they lack power – and they lack power because they lack wealth, in a society which has been persuaded that material success is the only kind worth bothering with.

  • Anonymous

    Put a wotsit on Guido’s site for you Alastair – hope you like and are amused,

    Hope the link get’s you there. Don’t expect an Xmas card from me, season’s greetings and all that bollocks! : ) Enjoy. Swans welcomes Delia’s tribe tomorrow, ironically, and good luck in that Sherwood Forest Alastair.

  • Anonymous

    Ah I see! Let’s try that:

    Alistair Darling’s strategy was the exact same, whereas Balls and Ed haven’t told us theirs.
    Alistair Darling’s strategy was the exact same, whereas Balls and Ed haven’t told us theirs.
    Alistair Darling’s strategy was the exact same, whereas Balls and Ed haven’t told us theirs.
    Alistair Darling’s strategy was the exact same, whereas Balls and Ed haven’t told us theirs.

    Any good?

  • Gilliebc

    I think your last paragraph is spot-on Huw.

  • Gilliebc

    You are obviously politically aware. But the deliberately dumbed-down majority of the electorate are not as aware and frankly don’t care or even know which party or parties form the government. So for these people the really ruling elite are ‘hidden’.

    However, I take your point about it (possibly) letting politicians ‘off the hook’. I don’t think anyone would want to allow that to happen! But, the reality is, that it does happen and all too often.
    There is little incentive for high-ranking politicians to govern in the interests of the people, when the alternative is so much more financially rewarding for them. When a high-ranking MP looses his or her seat, for whatever reason, if they have served their globalist elite masters well, they are rewarded with another highly paid job or non-job in, for example the EU, banking or some other elite controlled organisation. It’s a win win situation for them, as far as I can see. There is no deterrent for some greedy, self-serving MPs to play the game properly.
    I wouldn’t lump all MPs or even cabinet ministers into the same self-serving category. A few are there for the right reasons, hopefully. By their works………..
    But, it’s all too easy for the others not just to wriggle off the hook, but to never get caught/hooked in the first place.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Gilliebc – I know how to string a few english words together, even if it is my third language, after welsh and swearing… : )

    Song for you Gilliebc, think you might like it, from Catrin O’Neill – she is seven eighths welsh, like me, but with an irish great grandad, and where she gets her irish surname from,

    Any good?

  • Anonymous

    reaguns, you have have more repeats than the BBC, in the old days.


  • MaryMary

    My favourite Clarkson fact is that there are big red ‘SLOW’ signs and 40 MPH signs on the (otherwise 60 MPH) road either side of the entrance to his drive. No speeding there, Mr. C.

  • MaryMary

    I agree with Ehtch: the Tories seem to have found out the hard way that even when one is born to rule, it isn’t much fun when the pesky plebs keep answering back.

    And I agree with you that if people
    aren’t looking for something, or don’t care whether it’s there, then they’re unlikely to see it. But does that mean it’s ‘hidden’? Behind a cheap sparkly curtain of talent shows, maybe……

    George Carlin had it pretty right in relation to the States (, although the class mystique which operates here is a really important added dimension, I think.

  • Anonymous

    Most probably due to all his Top Gear tribe slowing down and rubber-necking his house, fawning and praising. His entrance must have produced a few backenders, it seems.

  • Anonymous

    Brilliant spot on vid MaryMary – bring on the revolution. After 21 Dec this week the Mayans predicted, when we actually as a whole become more altruistic, they said.

    Or to those that hold the power and influence in the world about, messing with things, an end of the world to them. Hope they are good with their hands, rather than in shoving paper around and spouting hot air.

    The real start of the end of capitalism it will be, and the start of non-nepotistic true meritocratism.