Last night ABC1 showed the first episode of Last Tango in Halifax, one of those dramas the Brits do so well. I watched it because of Derek Jacobi – such a brilliant actor – as anything else, and he was great as were the rest of the cast.


Apparently the storyline was based on a real event.

Writer Sally Wainwright based the story on the experience of her mother Dorothy who was put in touch with her childhood sweetheart Alec via Friends Reunited after being widowed at the ago of 75. Alec had also recently been widowed. The couple fell in love all over again and got married.

See this article in The Guardian.

After retirement, relationships often change: we see quite a high number of divorces among older people. I get the impression there’s also a growing number of marriages, too, so I liked the premise of this series, about two people in their 70s, Celia (Anne Reid) and Alan (Derek Jacobi), who arrange via Facebook to meet. They almost got together as teenagers, but haven’t seen each other for 60 years; after one date, they decide to marry.

The fact they get engaged so quickly did strike me as pretty preposterous, but I loved the way the programme showed them using Facebook. Internet use among older people is still low – only about a quarter of people who are 75 and over have the internet at home – but a growing number of older people are using social media, so it’s great to see a programme treating it as quite normal. We got a lovely sense of the tension that surrounds arranging their date online, just as you would with a young couple.

That’s the best thing about the programme, really: Celia and Alan are depicted as normal, healthy and sane. All the silly, entertaining drama lies in the lives of the people around them – Celia’s daughter is having a lesbian affair, while Alan’s daughter is accused of killing her husband. Ageism is one of the last non-taboo prejudices people see on TV: we did some polling last year that showed people over 65 felt TV depictions of their age group were patronising. Older characters are often vulnerable and frail; here, we have two real, rounded individuals. Even Alan’s heart problems aren’t holding him back…

A lovely balance of the serious – some of it quite dark – and humour.


Mapping disadvantage

Compare this:

With this:


Or, closer up:


Map 1 is from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and is linked to source. Map 3 is also based on ABS 2011 census data but may be found in the Sydney Morning Herald where the map is interactive.

Ku-ring-gai on Sydney’s north shore has been ranked the second most advantaged neighbourhood in Australia by the Bureau of Statistics. But in a sign of how the mining boom is reshaping Australia, Perth now has four of the nation’s five most socio-economically advantaged council areas.

The Western Australian capital’s exclusive riverside local government area of Peppermint Grove topped the national list, with Nedlands third, Cottesloe fourth, and Cambridge fifth. Yarrabah Shire in north Queensland was rated the country’s most disadvantaged area.

The Bureau’s index of advantage and disadvantage, which uses census figures to measure social and economic conditions in small geographic areas, revealed huge disparities across greater Sydney.

The city had 42 suburbs ranked in the nation’s most advantaged 1 per cent of neighbourhoods but it also had two suburbs ranked in the most disadvantaged 1 per cent. More than 30 Sydney suburbs were in the nation’s most disadvantaged 5 per cent.

The index covers 25 variables, such as the proportion of households with high or low incomes, the proportion with broadband or no internet access, how many people work as professionals or labourers, the size of mortgages and rent payments, the proportion of one-parent households, the number of bedrooms and occupants’ qualifications…

Map 2 was in the Herald two weeks ago – see my post What does it all mean, I hear you cry….  It shows Year 3 Reading score averages in NAPLAN. My comment at the time was:

Even more ingenious and expensive tests will be inflicted on the kiddies, and even more amazing things will be done with the results on the My School website. And we’ll end up with another graph just like the one above – which does say a lot about the demography and sociology of Sydney, but not necessarily anything at all about the quality of the teaching that is going on.

The maps suggest that is the case.

Homing in on where I used to live and work we see Waterloo sticking out through the surrounding green.


And down here in The Gong:


Always was fond of maps.