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By The Gay UK, Dec 19 2014 12:00AM

Latest figures from Public Health England (PHE) indicate that flu is now circulating in the community. Increases have been seen in both children and adults across a range of indicators, including GP consultations.

Following PHE advice, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) has this week issued guidance to all GPs on the use of antiviral drugs for the management of people presenting with flu-like illness in England, who are at higher risk of developing complications. Although flu is starting to circulate, flu levels currently remain relatively low.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said: “The NHS is well prepared for the flu season, and although flu levels remain relatively low, we are starting to see increases.

“Prevention is better than cure, and the increase in flu activity means it is even more important to get your flu jab if you are in an at-risk group. If you have not already had it, call your GP as soon as possible. I am very grateful to GPs for the work they are already doing to vaccinate people, and I know they will continue to strive for higher uptake.”

Dr Richard Pebody, head of seasonal flu surveillance at PHE, said: “We are starting to see increases in flu activity in both children and adults, indicating the start of this year’s flu season.

“People in ‘at risk’ groups can get the vaccine for free as they are at much greater risk of becoming seriously unwell if they catch flu, and sadly many end up in hospital. This includes people with health conditions, even those that are well managed, such as asthma, diabetes, heart, lung, liver or renal diseases, those with weakened immune systems, as well as older people and pregnant women.”

The latest vaccine uptake figures show some positive signs with 70.6% of people aged 65 and over vaccinated. However, only 47.1% in those aged under 65 with a health condition have been vaccinated and 41.6% of pregnant women. In addition, 34.8% of all 2 year olds, 37.3% of all 3 year olds and 29.3 % of all 4 year olds have been vaccinated with the nasal spray vaccine as part of the childhood flu immunisation programme. PHE also encourages healthcare workers and carers who could pass the infection to vulnerable people to also get vaccinated.

Dr Pebody, added: “Although unpleasant, for most healthy people, flu is a self-limiting illness. Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, cough as well as sore throat, aching muscles and joints. The best advice for treating flu in healthy people is to stay at home, rest, drink plenty of fluids and take pain relievers such as paracetamol. Children under 16 should not take any medicines containing aspirin. People in at risk groups who develop symptoms consistent with flu, or if anyone’s symptoms persist or become more severe, they should seek medical advice.

“Maintaining good cough and hand hygiene, such as covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough and sneeze, disposing of the tissue as soon as possible and cleaning your hands as soon you can are important actions that can help prevent the spread of germs and reduce the risk of transmission.

“Every season we remain vigilant and assess the flu situation as more information becomes available from our various surveillance systems, and from the different virus samples we receive from across the UK.”


8 Foods To Beat Colds And Flu

By The Gay UK, Dec 18 2014 08:00PM

Sam Smith has become the only artist in the world to score a million-selling album in both the UK and the US during 2014, the Official Charts Company confirms today.

Smith's In The Lonely Hour passed the 1 million landmark in the UK during the past 24 hours, making it only the second artist album to reach the landmark this side of the Atlantic.

The confirmation comes 24 hours after his album was confirmed a million-seller in the United States, by Nielsen Music.

Sam told "OFFICIALLY sold 1 MILLION copies of In The Lonely Hour! To say I am ecstatic is a huge understatement. Thank you so much to every single person who has purchased my album."

By Midnight last night, In The Lonely Hour had sold 1.007 million copies (based on Official Charts data), making it only the second artist album to achieve the feat in the UK this year, after Ed Sheeran's X hit the milestone at the end of November. In the US, Only Sam Smith, Taylor Swift and the Frozen soundtrack have passed the million-mark this year, according to Nielsen Music.

The success of Smith and Sheeran also makes 2014 the first year since 2011 when more than one album has passed 1 million sales in the UK – in 2011, Adele's 21 and 19, Michael Buble's Christmas and Bruno Mars' Doo-Wops & Hooligans all passed 1 million sales.

Official Charts' Chief Executive Martin Talbot, said: "Many festive congratulations to Sam. To hit a million anywhere is impressive, but to become the only artist in the world to do so on both sides of the Atlantic is quite remarkable. His journey in 2014, from unknown newcomer winning the Brit Awards' Critics Choice award to internationally renowned double million-seller, has been incredible."

The BPI's Gennaro Castaldo added: "It's proving to be another amazing year for British artists, who are not only dominating the charts at home but continue to fly the flag for British music around the world.

"Like Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith is enjoying an absolutely stellar year, but for him to sell a million copies of his debut album in the UK and, remarkably, the US within the same 12 month-period that he collected his BRITs Critics Choice Award is a truly outstanding achievement. British music has unearthed another great talent that has all the makings of a global superstar, following in the traditions of Amy Winehouse and Adele."

In The Lonely Hour debuted Number 1 on the Official Albums Chart in May and June this year with impressive first-week sales of 102,000. It spent a second week at the top returning for a further fortnight 12 weeks later.

The record has also been a regular feature at the top end of the chart, having spent just one week outside the Top 5 since its release.

Sam's album has also spawned a string of successful singles, including Number 1s Money On My Mind and Stay With Me, as well as Top 10s I'm Not The Only One (Number 3) and Like I Can (9). To date, To date, tracks downloaded from his album total 2.48 million, have been streamed 87 million times and viewed on video streaming sites in the UK 48 million times.

By The Gay UK, Dec 18 2014 07:00PM

Here’s our Top Ten List of Fab Films to Fill a Christmas Stocking to suit any (movie) buff boyfriend from Amazon that will still arrive by the 25th if you have still not bought a Christmas gift for ‘him indoors’?

1) LA FOLIE D’AMOUR: THE XAVIER DOLAN COLLECTION. A box set of three of the award winning movies from Canadian Wunderkind (still only 25 years old). These astonishing, glorious films explore themes that are always deeply personal: fundamental questions of sexual identity and the boundaries of love, the testing of friendship, the obsessive nature of desire, and sexual awakening.

2) THE WIZARD OF OZ: SING-ALONG VERSION. To mark the 75th Anniversary of the release of this wonderful classic, Warner Brothers has released this new Blu-ray that encourages you to be Dorothy in your own home.

3) BOYS ON FILM 12: UK film distributor Peccadillo Pictures much acclaimed series of gay short films has a new 12th Edition called CONFESSIONS. Like all the previous collections this shockingly-good compilation of movies from mainly first-time filmmakers around the world features different stories about the lives of young gay men. As the title indicates the theme of this latest collection is about exposing private lives and uncovering secrets and presenting a choice or whether to keep hiding or to confess?

4) THE NORMAL HEART: Unquestionably one of the best gay films to hit our screens this year, Ryan Murphy’s powerful adaption of Larry Kramer’s celebrated play about the onslaught of the AIDS epidemic is an unmissable and compelling part of our history.

5) THE EROTIC FILMS OF PETER DE ROME: In the late 1960s and early 1970s British-born New Yorker and unsung hero of gay underground filmmaking Peter de Rome produced a number of explicit, painstakingly crafted Super 8 films each of which took the viewer on an immersive sexual journey. In 1973, eight of these films were brought together as The Erotic Films of Peter de Rome producing one of the finest cinematic examples of the intersection of artistry and eroticism. Now released on DVD for the first time, these extraordinary films are accompanied by a new BFI documentary.

6) THE LAST MATCH: A heartbreaking and touching wee drama that is completely engaging as it so accurately portrays the price that young men have to pay when they discover their sexuality in such an un-accepting and intolerant culture like Cuba.

7) THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL: A wonderful drama/comedy about a group of older impoverished Brits who seek an alternative cheaper retirement in a charming but dilapidated hotel in Mumbai with a star studded cast that includes both Maggie Smith and Judi Dench.

8) EASTSIDERS: an edgy and intense dramatic comedy that shows a slice of contemporary gay life in LA, which refreshingly does not just focus on his characters sexual orientations as its major plot point. Highly enjoyable.

9) FIVE DANCES: Alan Brown's latest movie has one of the most accurate titles that pulls no punches and is exactly what it promises i.e five dances. Held together by the strands of a wisp of a tenuous plot, it is however still a sweet and sensual coming-out-tale thanks to the presence of a charming young dancer who proves he is quite a mean actor too, despite his inexperience. You don't have to be a contemporary dance fan to love this one, but if you are, it does help.

10) JOAN RIVERS: A PIECE OF WORK: The late great gay icon allowed the filmmakers unfettered access to her for a whole year and the result is an extraordinary frank and compelling documentary when we see the real Joan up front and personal. This one should be everybody’s stocking this Christmas

By The Gay UK, Dec 18 2014 03:16PM

Renowned world champion ballroom dancer Pierre Dulaine returns to his home town of Jaffa for the very first time since his family fled when he was just 4 years old. At that time when the state of Israel was established the majority of the Arab population were pushed out, and those that remained became Palestinian Israelis.


Dancing In Jaffa
Dancing In Jaffa

Sixty years on it is still a deeply divided city and Dulaine believes that through his program of teaching children to dance he can break through some of the political and cultural differences and bring a moment of unity that hopefully may even endure.

Enlisting the support of six local schools, all but one segregated by religion, he realises early on that his task will not be an easy one. What he is asking them is literally that they dance with the 'enemy' which both the parents and the children themselves have deep reservations about, especially as it doesn't just involve close social interactions but physical touching between the children.

Dancing In Jaffa
Dancing In Jaffa

At the beginning Dulaine struggles to hide his sheer frustration that despite all his charm and elegance he seems to simply fail to convince many of the reluctant children of how much they would enjoy learning to dance if they would just at least try it. Things start to improve when his ex dancing partner Yvonne Marceau flies in for a visit so that she can help demonstrate all the dances he is trying to teach them. The children are entranced by the elegant Marceau and in response to their questions about his 35 year old professional relationship with her, Dulaine tells the children that 'you don't have to marry everyone you dance with!' 

As the weeks pass, the camera follows a handful of the children around so we can see how this new activity will impact on their particular lives. They include Noor a slightly chubby Palestinian girl who seems to have no friends and who lives alone with her unemployed mother. Her unhappiness with her lot is carried through to school where she is often in trouble for being a disruptive influence and a bully. She is not initially keen on the dancing lessons especially as none of the boys want to be her partner, but when Dulaine selects her to be part of the team to represent her school in the Competition they have been working towards, she somehow remarkably transforms into a totally different, and rather charming, young lady. 

Dancing In Jaffa
Dancing In Jaffa

It is actually a reflection of Dulaine's success that by the time it comes to naming the children that will make up the teams, some of the unlucky ones who are so upset that they didn't make the cut, round on him demanding explanations.

The day of the Competition in the packed local Community Hall the atmosphere is rife with excitement. Palestinian mothers sit next to Jewish parents to watch their children dance with other children from other schools and other faiths.  And somehow the patient Dulaine with his irrepressible good humour has turned these once reluctant and clumsy ugly ducklings into graceful swans that just glide around the dance floor. It is a rather sensational success and one that we could have never have forecasted after watching Dulaine struggle to break the children's initial deep-rooted resistance. The main pay-off was not who won medals of the gold cup, but the scenes in the days after when Arab children are playing with their new Jewish friends, something that no-one would have ever deemed feasible just a few weeks ago.

This enchanting documentary from prolific filmmaker Hilla Medalia (also has just released the excellent 'Web Junkie') cannot avoid being compared to 'Mad Hot Ballroom', a highly emotional roller-coaster story of kids in New York Public Schools getting addicted to a mean tango too. Both movies so beautifully prove their point that dancing like this not only crosses the divide but also is a great eye-opener as to how it affects the children's social behaviour and attitudes.

This is a heartwarming tale beautifully told that makes one feel so greatly encouraged that one man's vision of putting something back into society could pay off so handsomely.


By Roger Walker-Dack

By The Gay UK, Dec 18 2014 01:00PM

Members have made it clear that if their demands aren't met then they will be taking another two days of strike action over Christmas says GMB.

GMB, the union for health service workers, warned that last ditch talks on Thursday 18th December between GMB, ISS and the NHS Trust must make progress to resolve the long running dispute over the two tier workforce for over 200 members employed by ISS at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich to avert further strike action on 25th and 26th December.

Over 200 GMB members are employed by ISS at the hospital as cleaners, security, ward hostesses, caterers, on the switchboard and as porters.

GMB members have already held three days of solid strike action on Monday 24th and Tuesday 25th November and on 8th October. See notes to editors for previous GMB press release on the dispute.

GMB successfully resisted attempts by ISS to get an injunction in the High Court on Thursday 20th November to stop these members at Queen Elizabeth Hospital holding further days of strike action.

GMB members want the same pay rates and weekend enhancements and unsocial hours rates as the staff directly employed by the NHS Trust.

ISS workers are paid between £7.10 and £7.32 per hour. The lowest rate for directly employed staff is £7.33 per hour which moves in yearly increments to £7.51 and £7.69 under the current NHS pay progression system.

ISS staff who work unsocial hours get between 90p - £2:05per hour. As direct staff they would be entitled to time and a half, ISS staff work on Saturday get time and a quarter. As direct staff this would be time and a half. When they work Sunday or a bank holiday they get time and a half. As direct staff this would be double time. ISS also pay less than sick pay for weekend.

There are a number of health and safety issues to resolve too.

Nadine Houghton, GMB Regional Officer, said "GMB members working for ISS at the hospital remain firm in their resolve to fight for the correct rates of pay for working in the NHS. This has been demonstrated through the 3 hugely successful days of strike action that GMB members have already staged.

We have talks with management on Thursday but our members have made it clear that if their demands aren't met then they will be taking another two days of strike action over Christmas"

By The Gay UK, Dec 18 2014 09:00AM

In a new twist to the annual plea to drivers not to ‘drink and drive’ the South Dakota Highway Safety Commission issued this video telling us that when the winter weather conditions are really bad that we shouldn’t ‘jerk and drive’.

As the exceedingly polite female voiceover says at the end ‘no-one loves a jerker’ which renders one momentarily speechless.

However now some more worldly person in this remote US State has pointed out to the Safety Commissioners the real message that that are sending out and so they immediately withdrew it from all the media. We however have tracked it down on YouTube to show all you bad drivers who get so easily distracted.

By The Gay UK, Dec 17 2014 02:00PM

Commission launches new project to help tackle LGB and T hate crime.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has launched a 16-month-long project to tackle significant under-reporting of hate crime against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people in Great Britain.

Recent figures in England and Wales show less than 4,500 homophobic and transphobic incidents and crimes reported to police between 2012 and 2013, with just under 750 reports in Scotland. However, the Crime Survey for England and Wales indicate 39,000 homophobic incidents took place in the same period.

The Commission, which promotes and enforces the laws that protect everyone’s right to be treated with fairness, dignity and respect, is now working with LGB and T organisations, the government, criminal justice and other agencies to improve recognition, reporting and prevention of these crimes.

A major issue in relation to LGB and T hate crimes are that victims are not reporting incidents because they fear the authorities will not take them seriously, but also that people’s accounts are not being recorded in the first place.

The Commission’s project will seek to develop alternative channels for reporting incidents for people who do not wish to go to the official authorities. Particular attention will be paid to rural communities where reporting is especially low.

Equality and Human Rights Commissioner Evelyn Asante-Mensah said:

“Everyone in Britain should feel confident and sufficiently empowered to recognise and report incidents of hatred, hostility and harassment and yet we know that for LGB and T people this is very often not the case.

“It is difficult to tackle crimes that are not reported. Therefore, addressing under-reporting is crucial to the broader aim of reducing these incidents and creating a fairer and safer society.”

The National Policing Lead for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Issues, Chief Constable Jane Sawyers, said:

“All people have a fundamental right to feel safe, secure and confident about themselves. Targeting someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity is totally unacceptable.

“Many forms of hate crime, including LGBT hate crime, are still significantly under-reported. The police are committed to tackling hate crime and bringing offenders to justice. However, we can only do this effectively and continue to improve our approach if we know about it.

“We strongly encourage all victims and witnesses of hate crime to report incidents to the police by calling 101 or using our True Vision website”

By The Gay UK, Dec 17 2014 11:00AM

The Manhattan Grill sits very comfortably on the West India Quay of Canary Wharf. This place is brimming with style, but most importantly a talented team who know exactly what they are doing, and you can tell that they love what they do. With head chef, Damian Trejo having cooked for the likes of Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama, the Manhattan Grill provides a star factor at every angle from start to finish.


Our experience starts in their G&Tea bar where we have a gin tasting session with the lovely Sam. Sam takes us through the tasting and stories of 7 gins where we hear of London's first distillery, olden porn sellers, and where “Soho” originates from, to name a few.

Tasting highlights for me were the French Saffron gin, the Monkey47 (a Black Forest German gin sold only in 500ml bottles, giving it the exclusive edge), and the Opihr (a gin where the recipe was based on a spice being taken and infused into the gin from every port on it's journey).

The bar was fairly busy for a Tuesday evening with a mix of cosy couples and booted business men. The restaurant was extremely quiet with the majority of tables being taken by solo suited chaps.

We couldn't decide what to have for starter so our friendly (and rather good looking, a recurring theme in the staff) offered to have the kitchen do us a tasting platter of the starters. Juicy King prawns in mixed chilli garlic butter, Black pearl scallops with pea puree, Devonshire pork belly, and Baked Blue Swimmer crab cake. So pretty altogether on the plate this should feature on their menu as a tasting platter.

The pork belly was far too salty for me although it was matched with a fruity cabbage- the flesh itself was heaven. The scallop with pea puree was insanely good – if I had to pick just one out of their starters, it would be this. Very closely followed by the crab cake; meaty, light and just the right amount of herbs. I also tried the clam chowder which tasted like a holiday I once had in the U.S – lovely.

In between courses you are invited to join a sommelier (free of charge), to try some classic wines and some interesting wines from South America, South Africa and Australia. Again, here the Manhattan Grill reinforces that they know their stuff and are going to make you feel special along the way. It also came to light that this company invest in their employees, sending them on courses and trips that are of interest, which clearly adds to the staff's happy and passionate buzz.

Mariott Steak
Mariott Steak

Following our waiter's suggestion on his favourite main I went for the Rib-Eye and my friend had the Fillet. The meat was superb and cooked to perfection- I asked for mine to be cooked however the chef wanted me to have the meat and it was a winner. Restaurant's such as the Manhattan Grill that revolve around one important ingredient, means that it has to be on point. The meat was faultless.

Manhattan Grill Steak
Manhattan Grill Steak

For sides we had the macaroni cheese (although I wish we had opted for the version they do with lobster), seared mushrooms, and onion rings. I am a sauce monster – gravy, dips, marinades the lot. So I naturally asked to taste a selection of the restaurant's sauces; Chimichurri, Bearnaise, Bourbon Peppercorn, and red wine. Unfortunately, the sauces were a let down- I found the Chimichurri over oily and the Bearnaise bland. Bourbon Peppercorn saved the day on the sauces and it went particularly well with the Mac N Cheese.



GBK Launches New 15 Minute Lunch Menu

After both gin and wine tasting, a starter platter and a hunk of meat we decided to share the restaurant's Key Lime Pie for dessert – light pastry and super citrus filling it was the perfect way to end the meal.

The experience from start to finish was 5 stars, there is no doubt about that. However I cannot forgive the issue with the sauces and over salted pork I'm afraid, hence a star has been deducted. You will certainly both arrive and leave with a smile on your face, and a slightly bigger belly than when you entered! Both myself and my friend said we would be back to dine and drink again. We had a fantastic time.

Reviewed by Jordan Lohan

The Manhattan Grill

22 Hertsmere Road, Canary Wharf London, E14 4ED

By The Gay UK, Dec 17 2014 09:00AM

15 years ago Russell T Davies set our television screens alight with his groundbreaking series QUEER AS FOLK that was so successful that the Americans copied it.

Now this award-winning openly gay writer is back an about to explode on our screens with not one BUT three series for three different channels.

CUCUMBER an original drama series follows 46-year-old Henry and his long-term boyfriend Lance in the aftermath of “the worst date night in history” and will air on Channel 4. BANANAS which will be on E4, will tell standalone stories by up-and-coming talent that cover – wait for it – “fifty shades of gay”.

TOFU meanwhile, is an online documentary series about sex and sexuality and will be screened on 4oD.

Here’s the first clip that has just been released and suddenly staying in during January looks a whole lot brighter

By The Gay UK, Dec 17 2014 07:30AM

If you loved the wonderfully funny and touching 2011 movie about a bunch of impoverished older Brits seeking out a cheaper retirement in a dilapidated Hotel in India that had a veritable cast of the cream of the crop of wonderful British superstar actors, then you will want to see this new trailer just released by Fox Searchlight of the sequel that will open in our cinemas this Spring.

Dames Maggie Smith and Judi Dench are once again joined by Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup and Dev Patel and with newcomers David Strathairn and none other than silver fox Richard Gere (who knew he was old enough to ‘retire’?).

You will see from this clip that the Dames are still sparring with each other... in the nicest possible way...

and we cannot wait to see the whole thing play out in the new year.

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