The Whistler – December 2013

Wintry Bandstand by Clare Harms
Wintry Bandstand by Clare Harms

The holiday season over December and January is traditionally the time when families get together. But there are those who are lonely and who feel especially lonely at this time of the year. Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, recently raised the issue of loneliness.

According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, there are 800,000 people in England who are chronically lonely. 46% of people aged 80 or over report feeling lonely some of the time or often. 5m people say television is their main form of company. Studies show that chronic loneliness wrecks one’s health: pushing up stress levels, increasing blood pressure, disrupting sleep, even bringing on dementia. Air pollution increases your chances of dying early by 5%; obesity by 20%. Excessive loneliness pushes up your odds of an early death by 45%. Hunt thinks that every lonely person has someone who could visit them and offer companionship.

Readers who have heard the story of 38 year-old Joyce Carol Vincent, who lay dead and undiscovered in her flat for three years from 2003, or seen Carol Morely’s film about her, ‘Dreams of a Life’, will know that it’s not just older people who suffer from loneliness. Morley’s 2011 drama-documentary, shows city living as a series of weak links, forgettable friendships and single people getting by in their single housing units. By the end of it, you not only understand how a person can disappear from view; you wonder how many others suffer the same fate.

Surveys by the Mental Health Foundation suggest that young people are more likely to feel lonely than older people. Britain has seen a big rise in people living alone, from 17% of all households in 1971 to 31% now. Is Brighton & Hove immune from these statistics? Not likely.

WHCA is holding a special early Quiz on New Year’s Eve, Tues 31 Dec at 7pm in West Hill Hall. It will be a warm and social occasion where everyone is welcome. Come for the Quiz – where fun is had and clues are given – and we’ll raise a glass or two with our neighbours, and leave time enough for people to go onto other New Year celebrations or just go home having met some new people.

Zumba Mami

My name is Jenny and I have started a day-time Zumba class at West Hill Hall where babies are welcome to come along and watch! Prams or car seats can be parked at the side of the hall, while mummies can go back and tend to little ones as and when needed. There is absolutely no pressure to stick to the routines at all, as long as you have fun. The music is a lot quieter than in a normal Zumba class to protect tiny ears!
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Letters to the Whistler

Dear Whistler
A major area of Brighton constantly has issues concerning ATMs that are either not working at all, or they are, but they have no cash in them. I don’t know if The Whistler or its readers are aware of this. The area concerned is the Seven Dials and I have experienced this problem for the last 18 months at least. I’m sure this is a major issue for residents of the Seven Dials area, because the next nearest ATMs are either in London Road or in Queen’s Road. This means if you are a pedestrian, which I am, at least a 30-minute round trip from the Seven Dials, whatever the weather conditions.
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I signed up for a short story writing course at the Friends’ Centre when it was in the Lanes, almost ten years ago. The tutors were encouraging and I learned a lot. My first published story was in Alt-Brighton by Queenspark Press in 2006. My partner treated me to a meal at Bankers in Western Road to celebrate. The first time I felt like a writer was when I read out my winning story to a full theatre at the Ilkley Literary festival in 2009. The audience laughed at the right bits. It was a great feeling.
Continue reading Centurionman