JOE EGG – LIFE, DEATH AND DISABILITY

TODAY’S BLOG

JOE EGG – LIFE, DEATH AND DISABILITY

Trafalgar Studios have a run of “A Day in the Death of Joe Egg” a play by the late Peter Nichols. Like many of his plays, this is drawn from personal experience. The play considers the how a family copes with disability. Written in 1967 it is now located with a 50-year timeline. The convenient political distance of the 1960s has much that will encourage an audience about the improvements in both medical and support services over the last 50 years, not least of which is the language used.

The very first lines of the play are somewhat discomforting. Bri (Toby Stephens) addresses his classroom of pupils, who are clearly at the end of their lesson and he at the end of his tether, all eager to leave the confines of the classroom. His directions to the imaginary school children confuse the audience, many of whom respond to his instructions to place their hands on their heads in silence. We immediately enter a world that isn’t quite as expected. The line between what is real (a lecture or talk about disability) and what is not (the play) is blurred.

SOME UNCOMFORTABLE TRUTHS

The play itself could be a metaphor for uncomfortable truths that families do not wish to discuss, as outlined in the show notes. Set originally in not that post-war Britain, a determined modernist approach to life of keep calm and carry on. This discomforting truth is the severely impaired daughter Josephine (Storme Toolis) that Sheila (Claire Skinner) and Bri have had together.  It is the run up to Christmas, they relate their tale of how as new parents they were treated by the twin authorities of the day – medicine and religion. Both failing spectacularly to address the underlying questions or providing an appropriate human response.

Production photography by Marc Brenner

Production photography by Marc Brenner

DARK CHRISTMAS STORY

Beliefs underpin much of this Christmas story.  Bri is unable to cope with the constant care-giving that Joe requires, yet in truth he is able to escape to his classroom most days of the week, leaving Sheila to manage the care. Bri uses comedic dark humour to form conversation between the three of them, which Shelia indulges as part of helping him cope with the situation. Bri, clearly a product of his mother Grace (Patrica Hodge) is often lamenting what might have been. Similarly, Sheila blames herself, her own “promiscuity” and holding back during the lengthy labour that lead her to believe she is responsible to Jo’s condition.

Discussion about Joe is sometimes deeply empathic, at others very cold and theoretical, viewing her or anyone with disability as a “problem”. For some such problems are placed where they cannot be seen, some eradicated, some front and centre. On this advent evening, Joe is all three. The child seen only for the first time, by friends, (Freddie and Pam) the “prop-like” presence front of stage and the tender protective embrace of her parents. Freddie and Pam barely disguise their own discomfort at confronting the reality of living with disability.

Our own discomfort at listening to the conversations is heightened by the knowledge that these conversations are normally deeply private, perhaps never spoken, yet here they are enacted before and with an actor with a disability (Storme Toolis) the first to actually play the role in 50 years. Bad taste jokes that hang in the air like the sword of Damocles.

LIVING WITH DISABILITY

This inability with disability is something that a family have to adjust to. Yet I was mindful that disability is obviously not exclusively something that someone is born with. Any of us can become “disabled” in a moment.  There are of course degrees of ability and its loss. Managing expectations and coping with the practicalities is often challenging.

I was reminded of three groups of clients. Those that have children or family members with disabilities of varying degrees, who can tell of the difficulties in obtaining support. Then those that have become so, largely though stroke or accident. Then there are those that work with the severely impaired. One has spent the majority of her life living and working in a L’Arche community. They all have a fascinating story, as do those around them.

Most of us wouldn’t generally expect to become disabled, yet in many respects the loss of ability is a simple by-product of the aging process. We might be unfortunate to suffer a life changing sudden loss, such as a stroke, for which insurance can go some way to help alleviate the practical challenges, but inevitably not the loss of function.

This is a very thoughtful, provocative play, one of its era but with validity for today. Our cultural impetus to remove the uncomfortable out of sight is confronted with poignant truths that pose challenges and touch an empathy that is often just as hidden.

JUST THE TICKET..

The play is shown at Trafalgar Studios until the end of November 2019. You can get tickets here.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk 
Call – 020 8542 8084

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

If you would like a no-nonsense one page document explaining what financial planning is all about please enter your email here.

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GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk    Call – 020 8542 8084

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

If you would like a no-nonsense one page document explaining what financial planning is all about please enter your email here.

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JOE EGG – LIFE, DEATH AND DISABILITY2019-10-15T18:36:50+01:00

A Certain Future

A Certain Future

Our culture is full of clamour for certainty… tell us the future? Why was your forecast wrong? (as a Radio4 presenter seem to berate The Bank of England this morning). Why didn’t you foresee such and such? It seems that we all want certainty – perhaps to affirm our own beliefs about life and people, or perhaps because deep down we know that life is anything but certain.

It appears this quest for certainty is intense at present, I say “seems” because I doubt that’s true, but we are bombarded with messages that would leave most rational folk with a deep sense of anxiety due to climate change, Brexit, technology, feckless politicians and a sense that perhaps, perhaps… the bullies are winning.

If only…

Investors are unsurprisingly startled by the normal behaviour of investment markets, when the “corrections” come. There is always anxiety over when is the best time to invest and when is a bad time to invest. None of us wishes to appear foolish.

Yet the basic law of investing (not speculating) is that markets are volatile, short term investing is unwise, long-term investing in a globally diverse portfolio is the best, most logical way to grow the value of money over time. In exchange you must live with seeing the “value” rise and fall rapidly and daily. If only we knew the future and had some certainty…

The Phlebotomist

I’m here to tell you that there is none. Yet we will search and research for it, developing theories to help us navigate the condition of life. This in mind, I was intrigued by a brief review of a new play “The Phlebotomist” by a young playwriter (Ella Road) which considers a not too distant dystopian future, where a blood test can reveal what illnesses you will suffer from, all rather like a credit score, but a health score.

I understand that this is explored in the context of a dating app, when people are forced to consider their choice of partner, given this pre-warning information. Sadly, I am not able to see the play at Hampstead Theatre which is sold out and runs until Saturday 19th May 2018. I hope that its success will lead to a wider, longer run. If you are going, please let me know your thoughts.

Life would be very dull if we knew what would happen. A sense of “Groundhog Day” is deeply unsatisfying. This fragile life, for all its faults is delightful (or potentially) precisely because of the lack of certainty.

Anyway, here’s a video from the cast of “The Phlebotomist” by Ella Road and directed by Sam Yates.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

Email me to get in touch
A Certain Future2018-05-11T10:41:16+01:00

Glengarry Glen Ross

Glengarry Glen Ross

The 1984 play by David Mamet opened in London last week. I had seen the 1992 film but had not the play. They are certainly different. To my mind the characters in the film generated more sympathy than those in the play. Whatever your view, the performances are strong, but perhaps not as strong as the language which is about as “locker room” as you can get, as clashing egos and dysfunctional ideas about masculinity are spat across the space between characters.

These are “men” that have a fluid understanding of truth, it seems that they believe that it serves their purpose to be economical with the truth. Selling whatever they can for as much as they can to whomever they can. We are all probably familiar with the hard sell and yet despite it being largely frowned upon here in Britain, we are all still regularly blitzed by people trying to grab our attention. This week I’ve had the customary junk emails, a few text messages and a call or two about an accident that wasn’t my fault and never happened. Selling, sadly, is a regular bedfellow of scamming.

Always Closing

Anyone in business will recognise the constant problem of attracting and obtaining new customers. Those that provide a particular product may only ever sell it once, as opposed to those that sell a service. It is telling that in the play, none of the characters really possess much by way of a sense of ethics. Sadly this is nothing new and of course the notion of hypocrisy (at best) lying (at worst) is familiar in almost any sector of society and unique to none. To the salesman (person) the enquiry or “lead” is their opportunity to close a sale. However bad or unethical selling can only lead to a failed business and one that closes.

A Brood of Vipers

I have never really understood those that knowingly and deliberately lie in order to make a sale. Financial services (my sector) is of course one where many sharks and charlatans have resided. Life may be harder for them now, but invariably they exist and find a way to part people from their money with apparent ease. Some “advisers” often refer to the “good old days” of financial services, by which they mean earning a commission for selling products. It may interest you to know that back in those good old days there were about 250,000 people selling financial products, primarily in person, often at your doorstep. Today there are around 25,000 authorised individuals who are able to provide advice and arrange “stuff”. Of those probably no more than 5,000 are financial planners, who, like me, don’t need to arrange “stuff” to get paid and provide a valuable service to clients, but of course most of us will arrange investments and the like as required.

Money Interest

Money is invariably the barrier to an honest conversation. In 2013 after much mucking around the regulator of the day banned most forms of commission (note I started the firm in 1999 completely removing commission). In January 2018 the rules will be taken to a higher level due to a European agreement (MIFID2). This will mean advisers and product providers need to be crystal clear about their charges and agree terms for their service. This is coming from a sensible, laudable intention of protecting investors, unfortunately I can see very few benefits at this stage, at least for those that are already provided with a costed and agreed service, as our clients are. If anything, people are more likely to make more bad decisions, focussed on cost rather than value. One of the new rules is quarterly valuations and prompt/immediate notification if a portfolio falls by 10%. These sort of actions tend to panic investors and shift their focus to the short-term rather than the long-term benefits of disciplined investing and having a proper financial plan.

Unintended Consequences… again

Your in-boxes will become fuller of correspondence, which will in turn lead to either inertia or anxiety, perhaps both. This is likely to be followed by the current serpent de jour, dressed as a helpful paramedic, but actually seeking to suck a pint of blood or two for themselves – the ambulance chasers will find some way to bombard you and convince some, many perhaps that their portfolio will only ever rise and if it doesn’t or didn’t, please take a ticket and join the queue for those seeking remedy or the fantasy of one. To my mind the equivalent of worrying that an egg was broken when the intention is to make an omelette. If I’m sounding fed up or perhaps “aggressive” this is because, well I am certainly tired of pointless changes, but equally aware that we will need to do more work, for no benefit, which will result in higher costs and fees, which will inevitably be passed on to clients. It won’t really deter the liars or crooks, perhaps it will make like marginally harder, but those are people that never play by the rules and would never offer you anything of value.

As for the play, well it’s on in London near Embankment tube. It has not been updated (if it has I cannot see where). It has contains some very uncomfortable language – racism and sexism which jar and are not helpful to the underlying message of the play. Of course it deals with bigger topics such as the dog-eat-dog world that forms of capitalism create, where collaboration isn’t in evidence, but rather ruining your peers helps your own cause. Starring Christian Slater, Kris Marshall, Oliver Ryan and Don Warrington to name a few. Get your tickets here – (warning – very sweary!)

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

Email me to get in touch
Glengarry Glen Ross2017-10-31T18:57:10+00:00

New Term, New Start

New Term, New Start?

So its September. A new term is about to start (it has already in Scotland). As someone with children much of my life has been demarked by the term timetable, this year its a little different… my eldest daughter begins her career as a teacher…. wow, where did the time go?

Time Flies

I’m reminded of a new play “Everyman” which I was lucky enough to catch it at the weekend – in fact the penultimate performance. The ensemble cast is headed by Chiwetel Ejiofor in the title role (you may have seen him in “Twelve Years A Slave” for which he was short-listed for an Oscar). The play confronts the familiar big existential questions in a contemporary and provocative way. Everyman’s journey is brief, confronting his values and their eternal significance. At his 40th birthday party he is forced to confront the question – Where did the time go?

There are some memorable scenes – with friends, family, discarded refuse (his and ours) and the checkout of consumer validation – the shopping store. The 2009 Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy pieces together some innovative rhyme, providing a 2015 upgrade to an otherwise familiar tale…. of God, the Devil and everyman…. and reposes the riddled question “have you lived a good life?”.

The stage is itself an almost ghostly reminder of morality plays of old, (stage with pit). Sadly the play is also out of time at the National Theatre, but those that saw it will be haunted by Death’s final call… eeny, meeny, miney.. mo… and the thought that invariably we only confront the value of life in death.

A plan that reflects your values

Whatever your thoughts about the meaning of life, a life well lived will mean different things to each. In an age of 24 hour “news” and the appearance of a shrinking world, we are regularly confronted with the hardship that others endure or suffer, whether on our doorstep or someone else’s. Invariably I find myself wrestling with the guilt of advantages that I have compared to many.

We live in an imperfect world and I have yet to write anything other than an imperfect financial plan. However I firmly believe that the effort made to ensure that your financial plan is based upon your values is more than “a nice thing” to my mind it is of significant importance – helping us come to terms with both our luck and our lack.

So may this term, or new academic year be time well spent…. and full of good performances! (let me know of those you enjoy).

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

New Term, New Start2017-01-27T11:08:23+00:00
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