Veteran Labour politician Dennis Skinner is celebrating his 85th birthday February 11, 2017.
We wrote the following to celebrate his birthday last year and we are reposting as we wish him well.
Your opinion of Mr Skinner is likely to be tainted by your political persuasion. If like this writer you are a bit of a leftie and a Labour supporter you could share a like of the so-called Beast of Bolsover.
Dennis has had a long political career but unlike some career politicians of today began his working life in the real world.
A coal miner and sport enthusiast he has become one of the most loved, hated, respected and maybe even despised people to work in the House of Commons; and yes in Mr Skinner's case it is work.
A lifelong active political career of activism it was fitting that a day ahead of his 2016 birthday celebration Mr Skinner told the Plymouth Herald;
"The NHS is a lifeline. I have had a heart bypass at Brompton hospital, I've been cured of cancer at Chelsea hospital and I've had a hip replaced. The reason I'm 84 tomorrow is because of the help of these doctors in London."
[Ahead of his birthday 2017 he was still campaigning for the NHS]
Mr Skinner's book, Sailing Close to the Wind, of what he has termed reminisces is great reading. It offers a glimpse into the life of Mr Skinner while allowing him to retain his privacy.
When in the book Skinner talks of singing to and with his elderly Mum who was lost to dementia you get a feel for a man who is sensitive and caring beneath what can sometimes appear to be a brusk exterior.
Mr Skinner has been the MP for Bolsover since 1970. That means there has been more than 40 years’ worth of entertaining political quotes uttered by Skinner in the Commons.
He may be past his best-before-date in the eyes of political opponents such as David Cameron but he remains a political animal. Some younger politicians, especially those on the opposite side of the House of Commons may choose to deride his words but he should never be ignored. One good way to describe Skinner would be like the famous John Wayne movie -- Dennis Skinner has True Grit.
Like or loathe him he is one politician who is hard to ignore and down the years he has been a source of amusement as well as a thorn in the side of successive Conservative Tory politicians. He even made his own 'side' grimace, especially when it was 'New Labour' with Tony Blair as leader.
Here are just a few of Mr Skinners' best quotes:
On the Tory Party:
He said "Half the Tory members opposite are crooks" and was told to withdraw the remark. He did and replaced it with "OK, half the Tory members aren’t crooks."
To Roy Jenkins, leader, Who Pronounced His Rs as Ws:
Roy said "I leave this party without rancour" to which Dennis replied "I thought you were taking Marquand with you."
On Tory Chancellor George Osborne:
Is my right hon. friend aware that in the 1970s and a lot of the 1980s, we would have thanked our lucky stars in the coalfield areas for growth of 1.75 per cent? The only thing growing then were the lines of coke in front of boy George and the rest of them.
On Calling an MP "A Pompous Sod":
Speaker: You had better withdraw that.
Skinner: I withdraw the word pompous.
Speaker: That’s not the word I’m looking for.
Skinner: I can’t withdraw both.
This got him thrown out of the Parliamentary session.
Birthdays come and go but Dennis remains as passionate about politics as ever.
That means there has been more than 40 years’ worth of entertaining political quotes uttered by Skinner in the Commons.
Happy Birthday Dennis x
The Welsh are famous for their beautiful singing voices. Wales has been the birthplace of many great singers. Some have been members of choirs.
Of course there has only ever been, or will only ever be, one Dame Shirley Bassey.
Shirley Bassey was born in Tiger Bay, Cardiff, Wales on January 8, 1937. This means that Our Shirl celebrates her 80th birthday in 2017.
Sunday it is Happy Birthday Our Shirl!
Amazing when you look at recent images and performances. She is as glamorous as ever and still has the same great singing voice.
Dame Shirley, as she has been since 1999, found fame in the late 1950s and has become something of a legend.
Shirley was the seventh and last child of Henry and Eliza Bassey. As a mixed race child, growing up in the UK, in the 1940s and 1950s, life would have been hard. Shirley spent her early years in a working class district of Cardiff. After singing in the choir whilst at school she took a packing job at a local factory, leaving school at the age of fifteen.
Shirley's nights and weekends were spent singing in local pubs and clubs. By 1953 she had secured her first proper musical work. After various appearances in two different shows her music career was halted. Shirley was pregnant aged just 16.
Within a couple of years though her talent was spotted again and this time her music career really took off.
Various hit records were to follow and there was a time when Shirley was rarely away from British television screens. Variety shows, such as Sunday Night at the London Palladium, were very popular and Shirley was often the top of the bill act.
As a child I would watch my Dad as he was entertained by Shirley's performances. Dad loved her. Our Shirl he would call her. She was a very good looking woman, with a powerful voice and her own individual style; she was often dressed in long glitzy gowns when she performed and threw her arms around dramatically as she sang.
She was and is a real Diva.
Shirley appeared on shows such as Morecambe and Wise in the UK and was not afraid to be seen in a funny light. In one performance on the Morecambe and Wise show Shirley wore a dazzling gown but ended up wearing hob nail boots. How did she keep a straight face?
Current fashions, in TV entertainment, mean that there are seldom opportunities for artists such as Dame Shirley to perform on TV. However we see and hear her now and then. She has been classed as semi-retired since the late 80s but still performs and has a large fan base.
Shirley was also the voice behind so many great Bond film soundtracks such as:-
These days Shirley lives in Monte Carlo a far cry from her early days in Tiger Bay, Wales but she has earned her life of luxury.
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