Feel free to talk in The Lobby

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This conversation is no longer accepting comments – Please visit our new off-topic discussion to keep the conversation going.

Update: August 2018

With just shy of 13K comments we have frozen comments and created a new off-topic Lobby for you to continue using.

Although you won’t be able to add new comments below, you can still link to this page, and to individual comments.

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Original post:

Since Which? Conversation launched six years ago, there have been almost 4,500 conversations on all sorts of consumer issues – from money to megabytes. And in those conversations, there have been close to 180,000 comments.

Of course, the real strength of Which? Convo lies in its members who contribute so much to every discussion. And one of the better aspects has been watching how this community has slowly but surely grown into such a caring one.

Our community

But, as with any community or conversation it can – and does – wander off-topic. This is perfectly natural, but it hasn’t always been possible to do so in some of the subjects we discuss due to the precisely defined nature of them.

So, at the behest of some of our community members, we’re creating a brand-new convo: The Lobby.

This will give you the space to discuss anything that takes your fancy providing, of course, that your comments remain within our community guidelines.

The Lobby will be available in exactly the same way as all the other conversations, and some of our regular community members will help with the moderation duties.

As always, any ideas spawned here in The Lobby could also be used to generate new topics for debate and discussion, so you – our community members – will be able to really help shape the direction of Which? Convo.

Rules in The Lobby

There are no rules… only kidding 😉

To ensure that this off-topic discussion remains a healthy and friendly place for you all to share your thoughts, musings and ideas, here’s a reminder of our most relevant guidelines:

  1. 1. You may go off-topic… that is the purpose of The Lobby 🙂
  2. 2. You can’t agree with everyone all of the time, but when you do disagree, please be polite and speak to others as you’d like to be spoken to.
  3. 3. Avoid ‘trolling’, or purposely provoking others into a desired emotional response. It’s just mean 😐
  4. 4. Avoid making comments that others might find offensive, threatening, abusive or defamatory.
  5. 5. Website feedback is best shared on this dedicated Conversation. If you would like to talk about the closure of Which.net, you can do so in this dedicated discussion area. This is so we can keep The Lobby to be about everything else.
  6. 6. If you’re a Which? member and you’re looking for somewhere to discuss issues related to our organisation, including governance, then please head over to which.co.uk/haveyoursay.

So without further ado… welcome to The Lobby. What are you waiting for!?

With special thanks to Which? Conversation community member, Ian, who kindly wrote the bulk of this conversation and provided the excellent name of The Lobby.

Comments

I am going to have a moan at the latest Which? Connect survey.

One section was on tumble dryers and asked Approximately how often do you clean the lint filters?
The answer choices were weekly, fortnightly, monthly, every 3 months, every 6 months, yearly, less often than yearly, don’t know.

I clean mine every single use without fail and twice if drying new items like towels.

What is Which? trying to prove? That people don’t clean their lint filters?

The other moan is the section on What do you expect from food items in the supermarket that are labelled with each of the below.
There were 8 labels: Fresh, Traditional, Pure, Finest, Luxury, Artisan, Natural, Wholegrain.

The same 7 answers to choose from for each label:
– That the item was made or has better quality ingredients.
– That there are fixed criteria to meet before this label can be used on a food item.
– That it is a higher quality product
– That the item is healthier than the same type of item without this label
– That the item was made by a particular method (e.g. using specialist skills)
– That the item was made without any artificial additives
– Don’t know

If a product is labelled fresh, I expect it to go from source to shelves quickly, not frozen or preserved in any way, not mouldy or drooping, no stale odours….. but no options to say those things.

Again, what is Which? getting at when answers don’t go with questions?

I can’t recall having seen this survey. I do get irritated when the response options are straitjacketed or just inappropriate. The absence of a ‘don’t know’ or ‘not applicable’ annoys me as well as sometimes that is the best answer.

Many offers of help with surveys have been made in this and other Conversations. I have little enthusiasm for responding until I know that the surveys have been improved.

I agree and I told them so in the survey – at the end – pretty much in the terms you have just outlined here.

I have pointed out repeatedly that we need to have sight of the questions before starting surveys so that we can for example look up when we purchased products rather than just put in guesses.

Some of us have been very dubious about the results published for “surveys”. I would like to see the information given to people before they answer the survey (for example, the whole background about the ATM closures) to ensure it is fair and balanced and see the questions asked (make sure they are not leading and that the cover the topic properly). I also do not like surveys conducted by commercial organisations using their panel of paid respondents.

I well remember a survey that stated (something like) 94% of people have no faith in car manufacturers, and this result was given to a parliamentary committee. As a sweeping statement I believe it was total nonsense.

Which? have a very large base of people that they can survey. I hope they use them. I regularly do complete Connect surveys in the hope it does help Which?’s research and they are sometimes lacking, but they usually have comment boxes at the end where you can enter helpful suggestions.

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The abstract concludes “It seems unlikely that Parliament would entertain a change in the law without having a much more clearly articulated scientific case to consider.“.

I wish Germany would not be brought into conversations like this when, as far as I know, embryo research is directed at understanding abnormalities and how to deal with them, not at “improving the (local) human race” for political reasons.

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Duncan: deploying Godwin’s law for every instance where you feel something is wrong doesn’t help your argument. The German scientific Jewish community was probably one of the most prolific in the world during the 1930s, and many fled to the US when they saw the way things were going, including Einstein.

At the end of the war what remained of that community actively sought capture by the Allies, since they feared the Russians far more, which is one reason why they almost al managed to make it to the US or the UK. We all know this, and it’s not news in any sense whatsoever

On the embryo issue every advanced country on the planet is experimenting with embryo-associated issues. Of course they are; that’s what science is all about. Now of course there’s a debate surrounding the media’s Frankenstein obsession and their neatly coined ‘designer baby’ tag but in reality research is aimed at eliminating some of the horrendous genetic conditions that continue to afflict children every day. Would you prefer them to be left as they are?

I do feel that, once again Duncan, you have mangled various bits of history in order to sensationalise and scandalise something that is ultimately beneficial. Embryo research is not the same as experiments on living infants as carried out in special establishments in Germany and Austria during the late 1930’s and early 1940’s in the name of racial purity. They have been rightly and consistently condemned and nothing like it is being carried out today.

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Two attempts to load the page on my PS this time.

I would be quite offended if I were German to see being attacked for something that happened over 70 years ago – outside the direct memory of the vast majority of their population.

It irritates me intensely when the sins of our forefathers are visited upon us. Demands being made for “us” to apologise for slavery and pay “reparations” when none of us have any links to the practice, abolished in 1883.

We need to live in the present and for the future, not in the distant past (although we should learn from past problems).

I think this part of the convo is so well off topic it needs to cease. If I were a new potential contributor I would not feel comfortable faced with this sort of comment.

Indeed, let’s leave this one here please. Also, can I just remind you all to remain polite and courteous – even when there are differences of opinion.

Duncan, I wish you would please desist from rehearsing your incomplete and highly tendentious comments that are irrelevant to the subject under discussion. Once again you have tried to take us back to the second world war about which you claim to know almost everything whereas to me it seems obvious that you don’t and that you have an extremely distorted slant on history. I suspect that a lot of what you have read was written some time ago. So much more material has become available to historians in recent years that conventional history is indeed being revised, and rightly so. Much of what you say is basically factual but out of its historical context and conflated with other disconnected episodes or actions. It is not helpful and can give a false impression to readers who, having been born more recently, are (a) less interested in the period than our generation so not aware of more recent research, (b) are more suggestible due to the nature of modern perceptions.

You started this thread on human embryo research but immediately used it to launch into a diatribe about Germany during WW2. Somehow the Russians got into the narrative because you twisted a truthful [and generally uncontentious] remark by Ian. We don’t need to debate this here, but there were atrocities on all sides during that period and it is well known that one of the characteristics of dictatorships is a complete disregard for the value of human life, even of their own populations.

So, for the benefit of rational discussion and relevant contributions to our Conversations, could we please have an end to quasi-historical polemic that does not advance the core subject?

I am sure there are worthwhile things to say about human embryo research – a subject you introduced – and I am eager to learn more about it, but if we carry on like this there will be no further contributions from people who might know more than you or me about current developments.

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I read this some time ago and thought they were going to substitute wooden utensils but I might have muddled this up with another company that is also abandoning plastic utensils [?M&S]. These announcements are coming along thick and fast now [possibly for marketing advantage] and it would be useful if Which? could do a round-up of which take-away operations are eliminating plastic and their target dates for complete substitution. We need similar information on beakers and straws because there is a lot of talk but not much sign of action.

While wooden utensils are certainly better than plastic ones and will not have the harmful consequences from incorrect disposal they will still contribute to the litter that accumulates and has to be disposed of by incineration or burial, neither of which are entirely acceptable from an environmental viewpoint. I think we need to move away from ‘disposable’ things altogether and encourage people to have their own accessories if they want to buy food and drink for consuming ‘on the go’ or alternatively sit in the establishment until they have eaten or drunk it.

I cannot understand why people cannot manage to get to their workplace without stopping to ‘get’ a coffee which they slurp as they rush along the street. Some of the people doing this claim to be highly civilised!

This is what we need. Our forebears had the solution.

Oh, now I’ve found this: National Trust Fold Up Cutlery Set, Orange, Blue & Green £8
I wonder if Amazon sell it? Maybe there will be a “buy now” button somewhere on Wh……..

I totally agree about coffee. Drink it at home, drink it at work, stop at a cafe. What enjoyment can their possibly be drinking expensive coffee on the run. Get a vacuum flask if you must do this and take your supply with you.

Pret did receive a wooden spoon award from users who felt that size matters.

I don’t understand why it has become a lifestyle choice to grab a coffee on the way to work and if time is that short then why wait to be served when you can take your own Dewar flask of coffee (as a chemist usually refers to vacuum flasks).

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More a case of déjà vu rather than psychic insights, I think, Duncan.

Some of the companies that are promising new ways of doing things have been proclaiming their environmental credentials for years . . . so how does it come that they are only now dealing with plastic waste? Could it be because they have only just woken up to the popular appeal of this issue and its significance to the younger generation? They rarely give a target date for achievement. It is becoming difficult to disentangle marketing hype from genuine conscientious beliefs.

Welcome to the day in 1595 when Kepler has an epiphany and develops his theory of the geometrical basis of the universe while teaching in Graz, the day in 1843 when the steamship SS Great Britain was launched, designed by Brunel and was the first ocean-going craft with an iron hull or screw propeller and the largest vessel afloat in the world and the day in when 1866 Tennessee became the first state to ratify the 14th Amendment to the US constitution, guaranteeing civil rights.

@adam-gillett Hi Adam – The problem with blank pages when entering The Lobby has become much worse, at least for me. Please could you have another look.

I’m not sure Adam has claimed a solution as yet. It takes 2 or 3 attempts to access The Lobby on my mobile and then only takes me to the introduction, not the comment.

I can see you buying a shiny new mobile soon, Malcolm. 🙂

“This page isn’t working
conversation.which.co.uk is currently unable to handle this request.
HTTP ERROR 500”

was the first response when I attempted to reply, wavechange.

I use a Samsung Galaxy S4 – it’s shiny but not new. It works well on Convos normally (apart from a propensity to make awful spelling mistakes as I do not have fingers the size of matchsticks).

However, you might scoff! mrs r had a birthday last Sunday and I bought her a Which? Best Buy Galaxy S7 – a very shiny new mobile. She is not into Convos but I will check whether it makes any difference (if I can find the time).

I did find the time. One reload required on mrs r’s phone and it did not take me to the comment, only the Intro.

I don’t think the problem with The Lobby is related to what device the user is using to access it. I’m pleased that you and Mrs R are finding smartphones useful. I was a fairly late purchaser myself, possibly because I made use of friends’ smartphones when on holiday, which is when I find phones most useful.

I wonder which of us will be first to adopt phone banking and payments.

Smart move, Malcolm. I suppose Mrs R had been worrying that she was going to get a lawnmower for her birthday.

He he he he 🙂 I’m allowed to use her smartphone so…….

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Who has ignored you?

The sad thing about smartphones is that you can buy three lawnmowers for the price of one smartphone and at least you will have a nice lawn.

There is a five-minute fix, Duncan. As Alfa has suggested, cut off everything in The Lobby up to 2017 and park it somewhere else. At a stroke that would reduce the weight of data that is dragging down the servers’ performance.

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If the issue is related to the sheer number of comments, then distributing the load between a number of servers would make sense.

No, not block access, Duncan, just transfer the first two years to a new Conversation [the Lounge, for example, where old Conversations can retire and relax after frequent disturbance].

A 5-minute fix would be to start a second lobby and make this one read only. It would fix it for all but references to the past.

John wrote: “The sad thing about smartphones is that you can buy three lawnmowers for the price of one smartphone and at least you will have a nice lawn.”

Equally you could argue that a lawnmower is a single-use device, though I used mine to vacuum up rose prunings and hedge prunings thrown on the grass. It takes up room in the garage and there will be additional costs if you have to pay for it to be professionally serviced.

A smartphone can save (and in some cases waste) a great deal of time. The cost can be mitigated in various ways, such as to look for local free parking and setting an alarm so that you don’t risk parking fines.

You can also use your smart phone to arrange for someone to come round to cut your lawn. Much can be done these days without ever getting off your sofa. I’m not sure that is healthy.

I wish a lawnmower were a single use device; mine normally is used twice a week and not only cuts the grass and scalps anthills but mashes up hedge clippings so they can be composted. It takes up no room in the garage – it lives in a shed. Its also cheaper to run than a phone. And my elderly Honda is still going strong after 18 years; will my Galaxy S4 survive that long?

Could I live without a lawnmower? I don’t think I’d be happy for my garden to be turned into a complete wilderness, no more than I’d stop vacuuming my carpets. Could I live without a smartphone? I did until very recently and am still alive.

I’m not clear whether I’m adding my comment to an ongoing conversation, in which case this is going to be completely irrelevant, or if we can all just pitch in any comments. It’s taken me 10 minutes just to find somewhere I can post a question at all.
I have been reading all the reviews and topics I can find about laundry detergents and I am left with one question. Why are there no reviews about the ‘Colour’ versions of detergents? The ONLY one that has been reviewed anywhere is Persil Colour Capsules, but why that one, and why no others? All the major brands produce Colour detergents, but Which? makes no comment anywhere about how they score or how they compare to their non-colour equivalents. There are comments and scores relating to colour fading, and remarks about liquids being better than powders for this, but only in relation to the non-colour liquids. Surely if you are looking for detergents that don’t fade colours, we want to know how effective the colour detergents are, and how they compare to their non-colour counterparts for cleaning. I have always used non-colour for white and lights, and a colour detergent for colours. But how does Ariel gel for colours compare to e.g. Persil Small & Mighty (non-colour) Bio gel that gets the best score from Which? for not fading your colours?
There is also no comment about how they affect your machine. My machine repair man tells me that it is much better for your machine to use powders. Liquids/gels contribute to the build up of mould in my machine (which is a constant battle!), and aren’t so good at getting that bacterial funky smell (a mild damp mouldy taint) out of your clothes. But how does powder colour detergent compare to gel colour detergent when it comes to both their cleaning abilities and colour fading? All important questions, I feel, but Which? completely avoids any of these topics which I feel are pretty central to doing the laundry!
Also there’s an article about whether washing at 60 gets rid of bacteria, but I feel we need more information about washing at cooler temperatures. I never wash at 60, things shrink. But does it make any difference washing at 40 or at 30? Do different detergents handle this better? Why is there no information about it?
We all have to wash our clothes all the time, these are important questions!

Hi Heylyn and welcome to Which? Conversation.

There are various relevant Conversations which you can find if you search the homepage for terms such as washing machine and washing temperature.

The top priority in my view is to run the washing machine on the highest temperature periodically to help remove the grease, bacteria and moulds that can accumulate unseen in the machine. This is a maintenance wash and if you do this at the intervals recommended and preferably more frequently you should be able to use low temperature washing without problems. On modern machines, a setting of 60°C often does not mean that this temperature is achieved and will vary between machines. I would not use 15 or 20 minute quick washes because effective washing at low temperatures does require long washing cycles.

Powders and tablets generally contain bleach. That’s fine for light colours and helping the machine starty free of bugs, but will fade dark colours. Colour detergents will not contain bleach and should be safe.

Gels and liquids don’t contain bleach and as your repair man has said they can cause problems, but that’s probably where people do low temperature washing and don’t do any maintenance washes or use powder and higher temperature when this is possible (e.g. light coloured towels and bedding).

It’s worth following the advice in the instruction manual and skipping the bit on quick washes. I am expecting to read an article in Which? about how ineffective these washes are.

Hello. Heylyn; welcome to Which? Conversation.

As one of the regulars I thought I’d try to see how easy it is to find a topic about washing powders. It seems the most recent was in 2013 and there is none in House and Energy.

Seems like we need a new topic about washing powders!

mrs r uses a Dettol “Laundry cleanser” in the wash. I wonder if Which? have looked at the efficacy of products like this, particularly on cool washes.

It contains quaternary ammonium compounds that are harmful to the environment. Now that Which? are looking at the problem of waste plastics they might look at the risks posed by some of the everyday household products some of us use and others avoid.

Here are 286 pages on quaternary ammonium compounds. https://smartech.gatech.edu/bitstream/handle/1853/28229/tezel_ulas_200905_phd.pdf
Many compounds are, in principle, harmful to the environment.

However, my question was whether this product is useful in low temperature washes.

I know a fair amount about these compounds (often referred to as QACs or QATs) and there is considerable concern about aquatic ecosystems and these compounds getting into our food. With few exceptions, chemicals that are effective at killing bacteria etc or stopping their growth are not good for humans and other forms of life. Recall the earlier discussions about neonicotinoids and bees. QATs have uses but I have never found any need to use them in a washing machine.

I don’t doubt that but, as I said, my question was about their effectiveness in low temperature washes.

There are many chemicals that are bad for the environment, depending upon concentration and accumulation. The ECHA deals with it in the EU, I believe (?). Whether when we exit the EU we might make regulations more restrictive remains to be seen, but that will be our opportunity.

The MSDS only mentions the harmful chemicals used in the formulation and I don’t know what else the product contains. Which did identify this or another Dettol product containing QACs as not worth buying.

Antibacterial hand washes are no better than soap and water but they too put harmful chemicals into the environment. I know people involved in an EU-funded international project studying the extent to which some household chemicals and popular pharmaceuticals are impacting on the environment. You will recall that Duncan has mentioned that fish are changing sex thanks to pollution of rivers etc. Human male fertility is falling in the western world.

Choice in Australia do their own testing and as of June last year had 109 tested. Bizarrely there are many top loaders is Australia and specific washes made for them and front-loaders. Front loaders do best apparently.

However Choice test in water at 20C which seems absurd to me and certainly something that presumably is only looking at optical cleanliness. Apart from that they also wash in plain water which scores 44% marginally less than a Woolworths product.

This is a sample of what they cover.

Criteria Results
Brand xxxxxxxx
Model Concentrated Laundry Powder
Type of detergent Powder
Washes per pack 20
Price $5.99
Cost per wash $0.30
Washing machine type Top loader
Pack size (g or mL) 1500
Recommended Yes
Overall score 64%
General detergency 69%
Perspiration 53%
Grass / Mud 70%
Olive oil 52%
Tomato 67%
Make up 64%
Chocolate ice cream 82%
Baby food 88%
Mineral oil 45%
Blood 44%
Total suspended solids 2 star
GreySmart rating Fail
Safe for septics claim No
Low to no phosphate claim Yes
Has enzymes claim Yes
Optical brighteners claim Not stated
Origin Australia
Contact aldi.com.au
Comments 6 sided box with scoop

QueChoisir in France have only tested 21 but they do a thorough job and do address the problems of colour fastness and perhaps importantly the allergens. They also believe that powders will wear out colours but fortunately a brand of powder that is OK is not far off the best powder – but it is not sold in the UK.

They test at 40C.

Unfortuantely the star gradings do not copy which means this is a little incomplete but still gives a flavour.

Nombre de lavages 25
Prix au lavage 0,38 €
Effectiveness Bon
Enzymatiques Bon
Grasses Moyen
Oxydables Bon
Note 13,70 /20
Maintien du blanc Bon

Couleurs
***Transfert Médiocre
****Maintien One star [out of three] Best Powder rates mediocre

Moyen
Parfums Très bon
Conservateurs Très bon
Étiquetage Très bon
Cohérence marketing Très bon
Sécurité enfant Non concerné

***Des coupons de couleur sont mélangés à des tissus blancs en coton et en polyamide, puis lavés 30 min. L’essai est effectué à 4 reprises avec une couleur différente à chaque fois. Les mesures colorimétriques sont faites sur les tissus blancs avant et après lavage.
**** 14 tissus de couleur différente et intense (noir, vert, bleu, jaune, rouge…) sont ajoutés à du linge. Le tout est lavé 20 fois. Des mesures, avant et après ces lavages, déterminent le degré d’affadissement des couleurs.

Ian – I agree that Which? advice on washing powders etc. is needed. There is some useful information on the website and in Conversations but it needs to be pulled together to provide clear, simple and up to date advice. Fabrics have changed, washing temperatures have decreased and washing cycles are longer to compensate for the change in temperature.

The recent Which magazine examined washing machine cycles and their length. The article produced a graph showing the three things that machine manufacturers work with: heat, length of time in contact with the detergent and the correct amount of detergent for a particular fabric and wash programme. It would seem that the two and a half to three hours needed to wash clothes is necessary to ensure that the detergent does what it should. Some manufacturers make their wash cycles longer than others. In general, the dosage of detergent is that which is displayed on the packet or the amount inside the capsule. Which seem to prefer powders, saying that they produce cleaner laundry, but their machine tests show a wide performance difference between machines using the same detergent. I have found one that seems to do what I want and that’s what I buy.

I remember that article but not which magazine it was in. I had not appreciated the differences between machines until I read it.

Washing machines are assessed by optical means, testing how effective a cycle is at removing dirt. In order to clean effectively at lower temperatures, longer cycle times are needed. Temperature settings may be meaningless on modern machines and seem to be disappearing and replaced by descriptions, albeit not consistent across brands. Long washing cycles are often criticised but some fabrics have to be washed at low temperature.

My approach is to use powder or tablets because where possible because they contain bleach, tend to be more effective and help keep the machine free from bugs. Liquids and gels are needed for dark colours to minimise fading. Biological detergents are more effective than non-bio versions and their action will be helped by long wash cycles.

Capsules don’t always work well with my machine. Too often they find their way into the bottom of the door seal and gradually lose their detergent during washing and rinsing, so that there is still foam present at the end and I need to do extra rinses. Each time I have my camera poised to make a video it does not happen.

Welcome to Moon Day, a celebration of the time we first left footsteps upon our nearest astronomical neighbour. It’s the day in 1969 of the first Moon Landing: Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped down from Apollo 11, and 530 million watched the live global broadcast (wonder what the advertising rates were?). It’s also the day in 1976 that Viking 1 landed on Mars at Chryse Planitia.

Morning all, apologies if this has already been mentioned, but I couldn’t see a comment about this. I just wanted to update you on what we are doing to combat plastic waste, as I know a lot of people are very environmentally conscious.

We have identified a fully biodegradable wrapper, made of renewable material that breaks down to water, carbon dioxide, and biomass within 12 weeks in compost or in a food waste bin. We’re going to trial this new wrapper with around 8,000 readers over the next few months to ensure it works. So if you notice a change in the packaging, look out for the information and response leaflet that will come with the magazine. Your feedback is crucial.

We are also doing more to be environmentally responsible in our business. All staff at Which? have been given free reusable water bottles and in our London office we have started the rollout of free reusable hot drinks cups made out of recycled plastic. Since 2015 we’ve reduced waste from our London building by 60 tonnes per year to 37 tonnes – 53% of this waste is recycled and the rest goes to producing biofuel. We’re now looking at ensuring we recycle all our food waste and coffee grounds.

@awhittle That is promising news Alex.
Perhaps someone (er, Which??) could establish a league table for the supermarkets who reduce packaging and use more recyclable materials in as few different materials as possible. A bit like you, at Which, do with the shopping basket and like the FSA do with campylobacter. Regular updates in the mag and online, supported by press releases, might spur efforts on..

Would the new Which? mag wrappers be made of oxo-biodegradable plastic by any chance? There was a piece on the BBC News last night showing that this British-made film does not do what the manufacturer says and degrade quickly and completely to nothing [like a tree leaf, which was used as the comparison]. They illustrated this with a demonstration carried out by a university showing that a bag made of this material that had been in the sea for two years was still in more or less its original form and had hardly degraded at all. Moreover, there was a concern that far from atomising to nothing, minute particles would remain in the ecosystem, affect creatures, and ultimately accumulate in the food chain.

I am not trying to heap gratuitous praise on M&S, but I have not seen a better set of environmental objectives for businesses of all kinds than their Plan A 2025 which is accessible via the Marks & Spencer corporate website. I commend it to Which?’s attention. It doesn’t need to be swallowed whole and can be nibbled in small chunks or left in the fridge for later.

John – Biodegradable plastics have a long history of not being as good as companies have claimed and I recall the term ‘sham biodegradables’ appeared in the 90s. A great deal depends on the actual conditions and even acknowledged biodegradable products like wood can survive for a very long time.

I have a photodegradable bag that is still in good condition after 20 years. It normally lives at the back of a filing cabinet but burial in landfill would also help preserve it. 🙁

Most of my post comes in paper envelopes which, whilst a waste of a natural resource (but not as much as newspapers full of ads) is, in principle, recyclable – unless there is too much on the market.

Before the world was taken over by LDPE film products I seem to remember getting mags and journals through the post rolled up and secured by a short paper sleeve. I suppose these are more difficult for address-reading machines to read?

The oxo-degradable material was proclaimed as a breakthrough and the item was supported by an insert from Ivory Coast where all other sorts of plastic have been banned. They have special police who look for and remove non-oxo-degradable plastic and fine offenders.

If you want some plastic bags that will disintegrate into shreds in no time at all I can recommend Rymans the stationers. I used a few of their large carrier bags to store some files in and they just made a mess everywhere when I went to get a file out.

I’ve had some fun with Tesco bags disintegrating when used for storage. Elderly bags that predate supposed degradable plastics are now carefully reused by me.

If a bag breaks down into shreds or pieces these can persist in the environment for many years and contribute to the plastic waste in our oceans.

Oxo-degradable plastics have been around for many years but I’d like to see evidence that new products are better than what has gone before.

What I said above does seem to be the case for the new version of oxo-degradable plastic: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/science-environment-44893580/plastic-bags-that-biodegrade-to-nothing

Some time ago we were told about a wonderful new biodegradable bottle, but I would like to see independent confirmation that it breaks down within a reasonable time.

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It’s nothing to do with seaweed, just polythene with some metal-based additive to catalyse breakdown of the long polymer chains, which removes the strength of the plastic. Here’s the website of the company that makes the new oxo-degradable plastics: https://www.symphonyenvironmental.com/d2w/ They make the point that they will not comply with standards for compostability. This is not the first time w have seen oxo-degradable plastic bags that have a predetermined life before they break into pieces that will still pollute the environment. At least old fashioned polythene bags could be reused.

Phage therapy might help us deal with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Phage (or bacteriophage to give their full name) are viruses that stick to and destroy bacteria, but they are highly specific and there are no phage known to infect many bacteria that are harmful to humans.

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The BBC 10 O’clock News report that covered the oxo-degradable bags made by Symphony Environmental found that in tests carried out by a university [I forget which one] bags were still intact after two years’ immersion in the sea. The concern was that even when it did disintegrate it would not be totally eliminated as it would degrade into minute particles that would be ingested by sea life and upwards through the food chain.

That’s a difficult question, Duncan. The time taken for degradation can vary greatly depend on the conditions. I would not be surprised if many of the bags in the dead whale were supposedly biodegradable ones.

Oxygen in the sea is quite complex too. Most of our oxygen is produced in the oceans, largely by phytoplankton. They need light for photosynthesis, so are dependent on how far light can penetrate. The oxygen in our oceans has declined as a result of human activity.

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John – The link that I posted above has a video showing one of the oxo-degradable bags that had been in the sea for two years. The comment was ‘it’s probably still strong enough to carry your shopping’.

The manufacturer’s own website says that the material does not meet the standard for compostability: https://www.symphonyenvironmental.com/frequently-asked-questions/

I remain to be convinced that there is any difference between this an earlier examples of oxo-degradable plastics.

I agree with you, Wavechange. I think the BBC should have been more cautious and not given so much positive spin on the supposedly new material. The reporter was somewhat sceptical and did show that the bag in the experiment had still not degraded after two years in the sea but the general tone of the piece was that this is a great breakthrough and that we should be able to continue using plastic. The material used for wrapping is only part of the problem; the real concern should be over the attitude to waste disposal.

It would appear today that the National Audit Office has discovered that much of the UK’s recyclable waste collected by local authorities is not necessarily being recycled but exported and possibly dumped. They found there was inadequate record-keeping, inadequate inspections, and inadequate follow-through to see that the objectives of the recycling policy were being met. See –
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44905576

The more I see posted on plastics, the more I want to see reusable and recyclable as the solutions we must pursue with urgency. I do not support a throw away culture of unnatural materials hiding under the guise of “compostable”; that will simply store up more problems and divert attention from the main issue.

John – I am seriously concerned by suggestions that degradable materials are a viable alternative for dealing with plastic waste. Even products that meet the compostable standard (and none of the oxo-degradable plastics do, as far as I am aware) only break down quickly under ideal conditions.

For years we have been told that potentially recyclable materials go into landfill and one reason is that some members of the public put out contaminated waste – either non-recyclable material in the recycling bin or vice-versa.

I agree that the BBC should have been more cautious. Even if the biodegradable bottles mentioned in another Convo do break down, we only know how long it takes under optimum conditions, which might not be realised in practice. We tend to think of wood as a biodegradable material and most of it breaks down sufficiently quickly in the environment, but under some conditions it can survive for hundreds of years.

With Reduce, Reuse and Recycle we need to focus more on the first two options.

Recycle should be a priority as well. Most plastics are better treated this way. Compostable does not fit into this category.

‘Reduce’ must be the first priority. On Saturday we had a family group with six adults and five children at a charity event. They turned up with trays of sandwiches and other food from Marks & Spencer, left a full tray of sandwiches and binned the rest, including the trays. Interestingly, they took home some bottles and cans for recycling. Me and two friends who hosted the small fundraising event had all brought our own sandwiches etc. in reusable plastic boxes, so there is no waste to dispose of.

My idea of ready meals is to cook food, eat a portion and put the rest in the freezer or fridge. No aluminium trays, no plastic film and no cardboard sleeves. There is little need to defrost frozen food if it is transferred to the fridge beforehand. The ingredients will obviously be packaged but overall this reduces waste.

Water in a reusable bottle, coffee in a vacuum flask and there is no waste.

I do seem to produce far too much glass waste and maybe I should start making chutney. Our parents’ generation were much better at reusing jars.

If we are to specify addressing plastics and supermarket packaging we should begin at the beginning
eliminate all unnecessary packaging. Sell appropriate goods loose to go straight into your (reusable) shopping bag or into permanent containers you take with you.
reduce essential packaging to a minimum
This implies there will then be waste packaging to deal with so, onto:
simplify packaging so materials can be easily identified for processing (avoid composites for example)
minimise types of plastic and ensure they are all easily recyclable into useful and necessary products – like more necessary plastic packaging
recycle all waste.

This will require energy, including recycling aluminium containers where they are appropriate. We can, through tidal power for example, provide this energy without damaging the environment, unlike discarded packaging.

I used to complain when Tesco checkout operators insisted in putting my bunch of bananas in a plastic bag. Nature provides a protective and fully biodegradable container. Now Morrisons are at it. I assumed that this was to sell bananas that had been separated by customers but each pack that I looked at consisted of one bunch.

Recycled plastic tends to be inferior to be virgin material, as a result of decline in relative molecular mass. That’s not what we are generally told but my information came from people working in industry. Low-grade material can usefully be used for weatherproof and vandal-proof park benches. I have used it as a replacement for outdoor plywood and it’s amazingly durable albeit rather too flexible.

Recycled plastic tends to be inferior
which is why it is important to concentrate on using the minimum of types of packaging materials best suited to recycling and concentrating efforts on developing the best techniques.

Glass and aluminium are all good as well. I’m not sure about paper and how welcome it is at recyclers. I seem to remember they had far too much to reprocess at one time. Abolishing Sunday supplements and reducing the vast number of magazines could help the planet.

Paper bags could be used instead of polythene but why not take reusable containers/bags?

HDPE – WRAP has worked with industry partners in series of pioneering research and development projects to create the worlds’ first process to recycle HDPE milk bottles back into food grade recycled HDPE (rHDPE) for use in new milk bottles.

PET – There are numerous elements of bottle design that affect its recyclability and WRAP has worked with key industry players including a selection of soft drinks companies to develop a matrix of recyclability categories, focusing on the production of plastic PET bottles that can be reprocessed back into plastic bottles.

I find that the bananas often have condensation on them after going straight from the warehouse or the chilled display shelves into my trolley, so I take advantage of the free polythene bags to prevent the moisture affecting other things. I give the bags to a friend who has a dog and needs them to pick up her droppings [the dog’s, of course].

At the end of their natural service life plastic articles ultimately have to be disposed of or can it be recycled indefinitely? We don’t seem to have an answer other than garden chairs and benches and wheelie bins, although they are a good way to ‘dispose’ of something for a very long time whereas other forms of re-use are very temporary. There must be more things we can make from recycled plastic to avoid the use of virgin plastic [roof-line products], metal [traffic sign columns], concrete [non-structural building blocks and partition walling], and wood [fencing] – or is the re-processing cost prohibitive?

It’s worth considering what happens when paper is recycled. Factory waste is not contaminated and can be used to make more white paper, but the quality will not be quite as good because the fibres will be shorter. Post-consumer waste varies and the quality of recycled paper can vary greatly, depending on the source of waste paper and the proportion used. Newspaper is not good quality paper but that makes it easier to remove ink, or so I have read. Magazines with glossy covers and inside pages do not recycle as well as less extravagant publications.

In general, recycling of plastics will result in an inferior product, though it depends on the example and in one case (I cannot remember, but we have discussed it) it is claimed that deterioration can be mitigated.

Maybe the answer is to recycle plastic bottles to produce more plastic bottles and hope that the slightly brown or grey plastic might encourage the public to fill their own bottles with tap water, which is what some of us have done for years. After all, we already use a proportion of recycled plastic in ‘bags for life’ which is why they are rough and not as strong as bags made from virgin polythene.

John, yes, there is a limit to how many times plastic can be recycled and/or used with virgin mix. As you point out it is used in applications like outdoor furniture, and “street furniture” like bollards. It has limited strength, necessary for traffic sign columns to resist wind forces and I haven’t seen it used their, but maybe you have.

So the top priority, I suggest, must be to eliminate unnecessary single-use packaging and start to persuade people to bring their own reusable containers, where appropriate, or use a material that can be recycled indefinitely, like aluminium.

One of the useful products made from recycled plastic is sold under the generic name of stock board. It’s usually black or dark grey and unattractive but the stock board I was given by a farmer has survived outdoors for around ten years and shows no sign of deterioration.

I’d like to think that retailers would compete to voluntarily cut down on use of plastics rather than have to bring in legislation but that would need encouragement from customers who are concerned about the environment.

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Several times when I have been abroad in hotter climates, (Spain and Cyprus spring to mind), I have seen the miles of plastic sheeting covering crops. I have also seen far too many that are no longer in use, just left to deteriorate, flapping in the wind, with shreds of plastic going into the sea and inland.

@awhittle Hi Alex – Here is another question that might have been asked before. Can you point me to a page that shows the subscription costs for the Which? magazine? You or Lauren did mention that an electronic subscription was available. If I’m not logged in to Which? I see an invitation to pay £1 for the first month and then £10.75 per month after that. I see no mention of the option for an electronic subscription.

I’m quite happy to pay my subscription but younger people who are often happy to read online might find a cheaper electronic subscription attractive.

I find that though I am an digital subscriber to QueChoisir I occasionally buy the monthly magazine [as well as there useful books such as the one on neighbours as in legal rights, boundaries, peace etc].

I do find that reading A4 size text and the layout makes it a much more satisfying read than the same information on any size screen. However where the online scores is of course the updating and searchability. And of course the unlimited space if one wishes to go into details that readers might want and expect.

I also buy the magazines from 60m Consummateurs which are lovely in the detail that they are prepared to go to in providing an overview on milk production and how it is treated and goes for sale.
It is this educational overview which I think is sadly lacking.

Hi Wavechange! You can find a list of our available subscriptions here: https://www.which.co.uk/about-which/our-products-and-services/657/our-magazines-apps

Unfortunately, this doesn’t include a list of the prices because we have a number of different packages available so the best way to find out is to call our membership team on 01992 822 800 and they can take a look into it for you.

Could you not have a Which?Sub so you can put in your requirements and find the best available package, either on a fixed term subscription or a variable one?

It does seem odd, though, that Which?’s products cannot be simply priced in a transparent way. Maybe having to ring up simply puts people off asking, particularly potential new members? It seems easier to find an energy tariff……..

Hi Alex – Thanks for replying. We seem to have been discussing the same point in another Convo. I find the pricing a little confusing and now realise that an electronic-only subscription is not available. I’m not interested for myself but would like to encourage others to subscribe.

I might buy a subscription for Which? Gardening for a friend. I’m assuming it’s available separately from the main magazine but if not I could subscribe and pass it on.

Welcome to the day in 1904 when, after 13 years, the 4,607-mile Trans-Siberian railway was completed, the day in 1925 John T. Scopes was found guilty of teaching evolution in the “Scopes monkey trial”, Dayton, Tennessee, fined $100 & costs and the day in 1969 when Armstrong became the first person (that we know of…) to set foot on the Moon at 2:56:15 AM (GMT) (watched it live).

“…. that we know of.” Only a SF enthusiast would think of that. 🙂

I’m only sorry I can’t attach an MP3 file that would autoplay sinister music… 🙂

Fans of Activision’s 1998 computer game “Battlezone” will know all about the secret military landings on the moon… 😉

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whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=59

As an example of fuller explanations this is excellent on lima beans. If Which? only ocassionally covers food matters [ sausages, too much mayo etc] perhaps it would be a useful service to have an article/section highlighting the really useful resources available such as this and the BBC Recipes etc.

Which? then could concentrate on the problem areas in the food industry and the companies.

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Welcome to the day in 1515 when the First Congress of Vienna settled issues between Poland and Holy Roman Empire, the day in 1942 when the Warsaw Ghetto Jews (300,000) were sent to Treblinka Extermination Camp and the day in 1963 that Sarawak achieved independence from Britain.

Closer to home, 22 July 1706 was when what is now known as the Treaty of Union resulted in the creation of Great Britain the following year.

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Heavily opposed by the Scots“. A view reversed in 2014 when 23.7% more of those who voted decided not to choose independence. 🙂

Carol Ann Duffy penned:
September 2014

Tha gaol agam ort.

A thistle can draw blood,
so can a rose,
growing together
where the river flows, shared currency,
across a border it can never know;
where, somewhen, Rabbie Burns might swim,
or pilgrim Keats come walking
out of love for him.
Aye, here’s to you,
cousins, sisters, brothers,
in your brave, bold, brilliant land:
the thistle jags our hearts,
take these roses
from our bloodied hands.”

although I don’t know why I should pay any particular attention to what a poet says, dead or alive.

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There seem to be a number of versions of the National Anthem but I only remember the first verse. The standard version only has 3, according to Wiki.
Verse 2 seems very appropriate at the moment.

“God Save the Queen”
(standard version)

All stand…….

“God save our gracious Queen!
Long live our noble Queen!
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us:
God save the Queen!

O Lord our God arise,
Scatter her enemies,
And make them fall:
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks,
On Thee our hopes we fix:
God save us all.

Thy choicest gifts in store,
On her be pleased to pour;
Long may she reign:
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause,
To sing with heart and voice,
God save the Queen!

The Royal.uk website says “There is no authorised version of the National Anthem as the words are a matter of tradition. Additional verses have been added down the years, but these are rarely used.

The words used today are those sung in 1745, substituting ‘Queen’ for ‘King’ where appropriate. “

Whenever a rapid mass evacuation was required it proved a good solution. Just as the cinema film was about to end and the drum roll would begin…….

I wonder how we will deal with the National Anthem when the new incumbent is of alternative gender.

In the meantime I will go out on this nice sunny day.

“Monarch”?

We’re not the only place suffering from the heat. This seems to be throughout the
Northern Hemisphere. In the city of Kyoto temperatures have stood above 38C (100.4F) for seven days in a row for the first time since records began in the 19th Century while temperatures reached 40.7C (105F) in central Japan earlier this week, resulting in at least 30 deaths. In Denver, Colorado temperatures hit 40.5C last week while Motherwell recorded Scotland’s highest ever temperature, with the thermometer reaching 33.2C.

In Oman, the world’s highest sustained temperature in a 24-hour period of 42.6C was recorded at the end of last month in the city of Quriyat.

This coming week the UK is expected to exceed the 30C point again and the usual concerns about water and drought are surfacing.

In 4200 BP there was what is euphemistically termed an aridification event – a drought that lasted for a century, and was so severe it’s been thought to have contributed to, if not caused, the decline and fall of the Old Kingdom in Egypt as well as the Akkadian Empire in Mesopotamia, and the Liangzhu culture in the lower Yangtze River area.

We’ve become used to rain in the UK, and to moderate temperatures for most of the time, although I wish I’d placed money on my prediction in March of a heatwave this summer. But rains can stop.

Climate change is a really complex topic and it’s not helped by the fact that most of it is based in fluid dynamics, probability and fractal geometry, for which the maths is horrendously complex.
But the reality is simpler. Water should not, perhaps, be seen as freely available and plentiful and we need to take the entire prospect of climate change more seriously.

Every reputable and highly qualified climatologist now believes that the atmosphere is warming through human activity. But it’s tricky to know precisely how we as individuals can help alleviate the problems that a warming planet will bring.

The move towards EVs is one aspect, as is the Dutch legislation that forces farmers to inject instead of simply spread muck on fields. Efficiency labelling on domestic goods which the EU introduced is an essential aspect of the information process that enables us to make better decisions.

But we can deal with the odd heatwave, although this one is lasting longer than many, thus far; what we cannot deal with is a lack of rain. We may be surrounded by water but without a massive and not yet even considered programme of desalination plant construction things could go wrong very quickly, very badly.

Every major social disturbance for the past half century has occurred during hot summers. A lack of water could not only exacerbate an already fraught situation but could create more social problems than we can currently imagine.

Far too much water is wasted as a result of leakage. I reported a leak some time back and the company has yet to show it on their map, though I pointed that out a couple of days later. The person I spoke to said that it’s not being wasted because it is running down the drains. 🙁

We could conserve water by encouraging the storage and use of rainwater and by making water meters mandatory. It’s a long time since meters were a requirement for new property and those who are economical are likely to pay less by having a meter.

One of the consequences of the drought is that there is likely to be many subsidence claims from those with houses on clay soils, but we may all share the cost of increased insurance.

Lorraine Smith says:
22 July 2018

Does anybody have any experience of devices like ‘Revitive’ . It’s some kind of vibration plate marketed at the elderly front man is Ian Botham.
My mother thinks if she gets one she will be able to walk like she did in her 50’s!
I am more cynical and think it’s an expensive con

I know nothing about the product but found this online: https://www.highya.com/revitive-reviews
I’d suggest you discuss the science behind it with your doctor (if you can get hold of them) to see whether it might help her condition.

Does your mum want to play cricket 🙂 ? I think when “celebrities” endorse any product, particularly one out of their area of expertise (I don’t know what medical experience Ian has but as regards health he did promote Hamlet cigars), there should be some evidence that they are being truthful and sincere. Many seem to hang on to every word spoken by “celebs” and advertisers trade on that – of course.

If your mum is under the care of a specialist they could give advice, Lorraine.

I am automatically suspicious about any product that is subject to endorsement.

Lorraine,

I have no direct experience.

There do seem to have been some clinical trials e.g.

impact.ref.ac.uk/CaseStudies/CaseStudy.aspx?Id=43394

If it is NOT a CON then:

Is there a money back guarantee?

Via the retailer (or otherwise) can you get in touch with any existing customers, so you can hear their views?

What advice, if any, have your local health professionals given for your mother’s circumstances?

Would a cute little doggie, that deserved regular walks, help better?

Hi Lorraine,

I bought the Revitive IX for hubby before it was endorsed by Ian Botham. It pulses rather than vibrates, contracting your muscles, probably strengthening them.

I don’t think it will enable her to walk again, but it does give excellent relief to aching feet and legs and we both use it regularly.

I paid £120 for ours but the price is now rather high (probably paying celebs fees).

If ours packed up tomorrow, I would be looking out for a special offer to buy another one. There are other cheaper brands, but I don’t have experience of them.

I have just read the reviews in the link malcolm gives above.

Hmmm… It sort of confirms what I said, but even I would be wary of buying one after reading some of those comments. They were almost non-existent when I bought ours. Hubby is diabetic, I was struggling to find him a present and it suggested it was good for improving circulation in diabetics.

We have been using it for a few years now with no problems, so I would still buy another one just for the aching feet and leg relief.

I do think it good advice to discuss it with her doctor before getting one though.

If it is felt to work, alfa, then stick with it – unless anyone advises it can cause harm.

mrs r has a back problem currently and, to relieve the constant paint, apart from the prescribed tablets she uses a heated cushion. Her doc, when examining her, asked why her back was bruised. It was not, but apparently the same effect can be created by heat causing the blood vessels to leak (if I remember the conversation correctly) and causing permanent discolouration. We didn’t know that.

Back ailments can be very painful and annoying.

Within a whole raft of measures to combat backache, a few years ago I used a couple of electromechanical back massaging devices. One of those also featured the option of heat, which I liked too.

Alt least in my case, those devices did seem to help, but they weren’t the only measures that I used to get rid of my back ache.

Thanks DerekP. Unfortunately this started with a slightly fractured vertebrae and, apparently, muscles and ligaments can take a long time to recover.

One son has just bought a secondhand car with heated and massaging rear seats. We’ll have to try a few trips in that. He did buy it with Mum in mind 🙂

It is worth getting to the root cause of back problems.

If you go to your GP they give you pain killers, then the route is maybe a few physio sessions with little idea of what exactly the problem is, maybe an x-ray, maybe steroid injections, a specialist and an operation.

While on the operation waiting list, Hubby went to a sports doctor who sent him for a CT or MRI scan (can’t remember which now) but it gave a 360° view of his spine. This doctor identified the cause of his pain and organised specific osteo, physio and strengthening exercises. Operation avoided. We were lucky to get this on BUPA (the sports doctor was their suggestion) and is not a route we would have known about. Otherwise it would have cost about £1000 and money well spent.

The NHS is seriously lacking when it comes to back pain. I’m not saying all back pain can be sorted out in the same way, but the right investigation and self-help could save the NHS a lot of money in operations, pain killers, doctors time plus less time off work.

I hope mrs r gets better, sometimes a good osteo can help.

edited…
Hubby has several fractured vertebrae at the base of his spine, so a similar problem. He was in agony with it for months until he got steroid injections on the NHS. Strengthening the muscles around the fractures to support the area, means he rarely needs pain killers now.

alfa, many thanks. We are persistent with docs – the only way to avoid being fobbed off with a wait-and-see-hope-tablets-help approach. Another x-ray coming up. I believe it might be MRI rather than CT as the next step (more persistence) if the problem persists. I think determining the root cause is vital before embarking on physio, which could inadvertently cause damage.

Fortunately her gardening duties are light because of the drought – the lawn doesn’t need mowing, the hedges have hardly grown and I have, somewhat reluctantly, agreed that it is too early to empty the big compost heap and start the winter dig. But time is ticking on……..
🙁

I hope waiting times have improved, they were dreadful when hubby was in agony.

If you get fed up with the NHS and can afford it, Hubby was sent here:
https://puresportsmed.com/

Appointments are within days rather than months and they treat people of all ages, not just sports people.

The last (and first) x-ray was made the same day as we phoned the hospital. I do not know what happens if and when we escalate it to an MRI scan.

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It is probably the allocation of money within the NHS rather than the lack of it that is the problem. So long as it works well, an old scanner can be as useful as a new one, especially if resources are tight as they undeniably have been in relation to demand. Responsibly containing demand must go hand in hand with throwing in more money in my opinion. It is arguable that every one who arranges private treatment is doing the country a service.

It is arguable but that’s my view too.

Private treatment certainly takes some load off NHS hospital accommodation (apart from pay beds) but if it takes doctors and consultants away from their normal NHS work it makes little impact. All the qualified staff in private hospitals – from health care assistants onward – might be better used in NHS establishments. I have mixed feelings when the real resources – human – are limited.

For years I suffered frequent bouts of back pain even passing out on one occasion.

Having tried osteopathy with only temporary relief, a friend finally introduced me to a chiropractor who, after a few extremely skilful manoeuvres was able to fix the root cause of my chronic back problems and follow up with suitable exercises to prevent any recurrence of the pain.

Back pain is now no more, and unlike most people of my age I am still able to do all of my own housecleaning and gardening (apart from cutting the grass). I now have regular 8 weekly sessions which keeps me off the pain killers and my spine erect and straight.

Some practitioners offer special rates for the over 65s so it may be advisable to shop around until you find one you can afford and feel comfortable with, which may include a choice of either a male or female practioner at some clinics.

For the sceptics, all chiropractic treatment is now recognised and sanctioned by NICE and they operate under a strict code of practice and as Malcolm makes the point, they do save the NHS quite a lot of money.

There are good and bad practitioners in osteo, chiro and physio. Everybody who uses them has differing perceptions of their abilities and we have seen many over the years.

We generally prefer osteos with back problems (apart from hubby and his lower spine). We had a brilliant one until he moved then a lot of trial and error and wasted time and money finding a new one. One idiot used laying on of shaking hands and thought transference to ‘cure’ me on one occasion. Didn’t work of course.

We now have a good one again. I don’t have to tell him what the problem is. He will get me to do a few bends, touch a spot and say that’s where it hurts. A good osteo will sort out many problems in just one or two visits. I rarely need a second visit. The bad ones give you a little relief and tell you to come back next week. We also went to one that only gave temporary relief so never went back to him although a neighbour thinks he is brilliant because he gives her temporary relief and visits him regularly.

Our experience of chiros is they spin out treatment doing a little at a time and keep you coming back, but there may be good ones out there that don’t.

Beryl, I wasn’t sure how to read your post. I hope I read you only visit your chiro once every 8 weeks and not once a week for 8 weeks.

But whatever works for you and you are comfortable with, go for it.

Once every 8 weeks Alfa is sufficient for me.

It may take a few weekly visits to treat some initial and acute problems like sciatica for example, but then it iusually changes to a longer period between visits as a preventative measure, dependant upon the individual person and the specific problem.

A good chiropractor will apply a holistic approach by spending some time discussing with you such things as your diet, any inherited autoimmune disorders, which recent research has established and confirms is responsible for various inflammatory painful joints and also several neurological and muscular disorders which they end up treating, as most GP’s can only offer strong painkillers that give temporary relief and ultimately a reliance upon them.

If you are not happy with your treatment you can always try another as there seems to be a clinic in most towns, both large and small these days.

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The tax in the UK is 5% vat, dictated as the minimum that we can apply by the EU. Nothing to do with profit makers (except tax is a government profit). From what I recall our government have lobbied to have this tax abolished. When we Brexit we can probably do it unilaterally.
e.g. https://www.womanandhome.com/life/news-entertainment/what-is-the-tampon-tax-why-do-we-pay-it-and-when-will-it-finally-be-scrapped-205638/

Toilet paper is charged at 20%. I’d have thought that a natural biological occurrence for everyone .

I had not appreciated that toilet paper was taxed. I’ll try to use 17% less to foil the tax take.
https://petition.parliament.uk/archived/petitions/125097
This petition was submitted during the 2015–2017 Conservative government
Remove the Value Added Tax charged on toilet rolls and make them VAT Exempt.
Value Added Tax is currently charged by HM Treasury on the sale of toilet rolls at the rate of 20%. I believe that this should be abolished as they are not “non-essential, luxury items” and are an essential item as are female hygeine products which are rated at 5%.

This petition is closed
This petition ran for 6 months
16 signatures

However, there are ways round it. My grandparents had a privy outside and used to tear the Sheffield Star into convenient size pieces and hang them on the door. An early example of recycling. Newspapers are rated as 0% vat.

Strange that sewage services and cesspit emptying are also zero rated.

I believe that the Romans used sponges, reusable, but they seem to be taxed like bogrolls at 20%.

Your grandparents were the same as mine, but i suspect you have to be rather anal about your news to use that method.

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The late unlamented previous Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, did at least divert the revenues from the compulsory VAT on female sanitary products to women-supporting charities. Of course, it was beyond his imagination that we would be leaving the EU so he made no pronouncement on future application of the tax.

My great aunt in Birmingham also provided newspaper in the outside toilet except as a special treat at Christmas time when the tissue wrappers from oranges, collected over the year, were strung up in the lavvy. Sheer luxury. The gaps above and below the door provided ventilation and the paraffin lamp masked any odours; all very efficient and economical and kept occupation to a minimum. After newspaper, the shiny Bronco and Izal were the favoured loo rolls, also available in sheets interleaved in packets to fit inside an elegant dispenser. Those still using rolls had to have a knitted ‘cosy’ to disguise the spare one; not very hygienic IMHO.

I suppose toilet tissue attracts full VAT because it is not specific to one sex and has other uses. If the tax were reduced or zero-rated it would be interesting to see how the shelf price and consumption would change.

I’m not sure what other uses toilet paper has but perhaps it should be zero-rated or exempt from VAT. I think purchase tax offers a more intelligent solution because luxury goods could attract a higher rate of tax.