Jimmy Perry 9.9.23 – 23.10.16

October 24, 2016

We know the shows and the actors, but the names of the people who write the scripts are often less familiar.

One of these whose work entertained millions, Jimmy Perry, has died.

Jimmy Perry was best known as the creator of Dad’s Army, one of television’s most popular, and long running sitcoms.

His 25-year partnership with David Croft also produced It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, Hi-de-Hi and You Rang M’Lord?

Much of his writing was based on his own varied work experiences which included a spell as a Butlin’s Redcoat.

He also had an encyclopaedic knowledge of music hall, something he used to good effect when he presented the BBC series Turns, which chronicled variety performances from the 1930s and 40s.

Jimmy Perry was born on 20 September 1923 in Barnes, south-west London.

His fascination for the world of showbusiness came at an early age and, while still at school, he had his sights set on becoming a stand up-comedian.

When war broke out in 1939 he was too young for the army so he signed up in his local Home Guard. . . 

366 days of gratitude

October 6, 2016

The first time I went to town after our son died I was aware that the world was still turning as normal while my life had been changed irrevocably.

About half way to town I passed a grove of flowering cherry trees, their pink blossom standing out against the clear, blue sky.

Part of me was confounded by this exuberant show of new life while I was so consumed by a death. But a small part of my mind also registered that this was a sign that spring always follows winter.

I remember that each I drive past those trees, which is usually several times each week, and none more so than at this time of year when they are again in full bloom.

Today I’m grateful for nature’s message that life goes on and that after winter there will be spring.

What about the doctors?

August 30, 2016

Proponents of euthanasia argue that people have autonomy over themselves which includes the right to die.

They rarely look at the debate from the point of view of doctors who would prescribe lethal doses of medication or administer them.

At The Spinoff, Medical Association chair Stephen Child gives that perspective:

For many, the key discussion point is whether it is possible to write and administer perfect legislation that permits someone autonomy at the end of life without the secondary negative consequences of:

  • inappropriate deaths
  • reduction in quality of palliative care
  • normalisation of suicide.

Both sides of this debate will emphasise anecdotes, surveys or “research” demonstrating cases of potential intolerable human suffering, or cases of coercion/inappropriate decision making, resulting in potentially unnecessary death. . . 

The ethical standards of a profession often go beyond public opinion, the law and market demands, and may also differ from the personal values held by some individuals within that profession. The role of professional ethics, however, is not only to prevent harm and exploitation of the patient but also to protect the integrity of the profession as a whole. This often requires the professional body to fulfil a leadership role to ensure clarity and provide direction.

The NZMA, along with the World Medical Association and 53 national medical associations, holds the following positions on voluntary euthanasia and assisted dying:

  • We recognise the rights of patient autonomy, so we recognise the right for society to have this discussion. We also acknowledge that people currently have the right to end their own life and that this legislation focuses on third-party assistance with this act.
  • We recognise the rights of patients to refuse treatment or for the removal of lifesaving treatment, and that the natural consequences of an illness may progress to death.
  • We recognise the rights of patients to have good access to high quality palliative care services and we passionately advocate for improved resources, education, workforce and facilities to achieve this goal. We strongly oppose the current necessity for our major hospice facilities in New Zealand to have to raise half their funds themselves.
  • We recognise the patient’s right to have administered analgesia and sedation to relieve pain and suffering – even if a secondary consequence of this is the shortening of life. Morphine is not an agent of euthanasia, and will not by and of itself reliably end the life of a patient. These agents are administered to relieve suffering, applying a risk/benefit analysis similar to all treatments, with a shared understanding of the potential risks in their prescription.

It might look like dancing on the head of a pin but there is a difference between giving something to alleviate pain and suffering in the knowledge it could hasten death and giving to deliberately kill.

. . .  Many people, however, still find confusing the difference between the concept of administering terminal analgesia/sedation to a dying patient, and that of administering voluntary euthanasia to a patient with concurrently stable physiology. The difference between palliative care and assisted dying is well documented and clear. The World Health Organisation definition of palliative care includes the statement that palliative care “intends to neither hasten nor postpone death”.

In jurisdictions where euthanasia and assisted laws exist, concern is growing about the impact on palliative care, where those seeking euthanasia are referred first to palliative care for assessment. This has led to confusion in patients as to the role of palliative care and – in some instances – patients who are opposed to euthanasia declining palliative care services.

The profession as a whole has also echoed concerns about the accuracy of diagnosis and prognosis, as well as the lack of certainty around measuring the capacity of patients facing terminal illness, who often also have reactive depression, altered brain physiology from medications or metastases, as well as potential external coercion factors.

For the profession, as well as ethical considerations, physician-assisted dying raises issues of:

  • potential impacts on palliative care delivery
  • potential changes to a doctor-patient relationship
  • difficulties with adequate training, assessment and regulation of the profession
  • potential negative impact on health providers participating in such acts.

Principles of autonomy and self-determination are, of course, central to this debate. The NZMA respects and supports patient autonomy but is concerned about relying on these principles to enact euthanasia or assisted suicide. Principles of autonomy demand full knowledge of risks and alternatives, and consent must be free of coercion, duress or undue influence.

An absolute guarantee that those who choose assisted dying are doing it voluntarily would be extremely difficult to establish in legislation and ensure in practice. Doctors are often not in a position to detect subtle coercion – as is also the case when trying to identify signs of emotional or financial abuse of elders more generally. Coercion also extends to assumptions of being a burden, giving rise to a sense of an “obligation” to die.

Given the gravity of the risk involved for individuals where autonomy is claimed but cannot be guaranteed, the belief that autonomy should trump all should be viewed with caution. . . 


I gave doctors permission not to keep trying to save the life of our first son and seven years later asked them not to call the crash team when our second son stopped breathing.

Both had degenerative brain disorders and any treatment would have only prolonged their suffering and postponed their inevitable deaths.

If I faced the same decisions in the same circumstances I’d do the same thing.

That isn’t euthanasia though.

It’s also very different from an adult in full control of their minds who requests the right to die and I understand how the fear of  what might be ahead could lead someone to that decision.

But legalising euthanasia isn’t only about fully competent individuals who want the right to control their lives and deaths.

It’s also about others who might feel pressured to choose a premature end or who might forgo high quality palliative care for fear euthanasia will be an inevitable consequence.

And it’s about medical professionals and what it asks of them too.

In abridging the article from which I’ve quoted, I missed a paragraph on surveys carried out in Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Each survey showed while roughly 30% of doctors agree “in principle” with the concept of assisted dying only 10% would feel comfortable in participating.

That’s what is often missed in the debate. It’s not just about the right to die and the patients, it’s also about the right to kill and the doctors.


There’s an assisted suicide table-talk in Auckland tonight:

Broadcaster and comedian Jeremy Elwood hosts the Ika-Spinoff.co.nz current affairs cabaret, Table Talk, on the subject of Assisted Suicide. Join panelists David Seymour MP, promoter of the End-of-Life Choice Bill; Dr Jan Crosthwaite, University of Auckland Proctor and formerly Department of Philosophy; and Dr Stephen Child, Chair of the NZ Medical Association for a free-ranging discussion of a topic that defies politics.

Enjoy the full & delicious Ika menu, join a table or book for a group. Doors open and bar and dinner service from 5.30 pm, the discussion will start at 7.30 pm.

Follow the discussion on the TheSpinoff.co.nz

August 30, 2016 at 5:30pm – 10:30pm


Ika Seafood Bar and Grill
3 Mt Eden Rd
Auckland 1023

366 days of gratitude

July 27, 2016

Last week’s funeral was for a man in his 90s, sad but the natural order of things.

Today’s was for a man who was only 58, sad.

But he was a man who packed more into those 58 years than many others would have in twice that time, including saving several lives while risking his own as a helicopter pilot.

Today I am sad that his life is over far too soon but grateful that he lived in a way that made the world so much better for his being in it.


366 days of gratitude

July 20, 2016

Had you walked into his funeral this morning not knowing him you would have walked out feeling you knew him well.

His family shared their memories of a loving family man; a hard worker; a good man who lived his faith and acted on his belief that you must give children something constructive to do to save them from the temptation to do something destructive.

Today I’m grateful for the long life of a good man who left the world a better place for his contribution to it.

Alan Young 19.11.19 – 19.5.16

May 21, 2016

Alan Young, who starred as Mr Ed’s human side kick in the eponymous television programme, has died.

Alan Young, famous for his role as the human companion to a talking horse in sitcom Mister Ed, died on Thursday (local time), at the Motion Picture and Television Home in Woodland Hills, California. He was aged 96.

The UK-born, Canadian-raised actor had lived in a retirement community for four years. His children were with him when he died of natural causes.

In the series, which ran from 1961-1966 on US network CBS, Young played architect Wilbur Post, who owned the wacky talking horse with his wife, Carol.  Mr Ed would only talk for Wilbur, and could occasionally get him into trouble.

Young was also the voice of Disney character Scrooge McDuck on Duck Tales and voiced several other animated characters. He had made numerous cameos on dozens of TV shows. . . 

366 days of gratitude

May 17, 2016

Our second son would have been celebrating a birthday today.

But he died just 10 days after his fifth birthday. He had a brain disorder that left him with multiple handicaps and had led to the death of his older brother, Tom, when he was only 20 weeks-old.

When Dan died I was sad, but I was also relieved. Looking after a five year-old who could do no more than a new-born child was demanding and I knew our lives would be easier without him but I also know they are better because he lived.

His death freed us up to do things which were difficult to do with him but his life made us realise we shouldn’t take them for granted.

It was easy to say he couldn’t do anything but he taught us to appreciate simple pleasures, to lose the ignorance we had about intellectual disability, how fortunate we are to be part of a close extended family and circle of friends, that ability isn’t a right but a privilege and that love really is stronger than death.

Today I’m grateful for all of that.

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