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The tale of a knightsbridge housekeeper

Stuart White

The World in Black-N-White

In days gone by it used to be said that ‘behind every successful man was a good woman’. Today those words would be considered both sexist and patronising since it assumes that only men are capable of career success, whilst women are relegated to ensuring that his home and leisure life runs as smoothly as possible, courtesy of ‘the little woman’, another patronising term for a housewife.

Add to that the adage that ‘a woman’s place is in the home’ and that sums up how life was only a few years ago.  A woman could get a job – nursing or secretarial say, then in the fullness of time marry a doctor or her boss, resign and become a full-time wife and mother where she would be expected to turn her hand to running a household, raising the children and generally managing the home. 

If she was also careful with money and clever at stretching the family budget that was considered an added bonus, just as well since she would probably be running everything on a shoestring, just enough to cover housekeeping and childcare needs whilst the head of the household and major breadwinner would handle big finance matters and major purchases.

Now, thrift in any household is still an asset.  The world has moved on, women now feature as prominently in the workforce as men and families where both parents work full-time is very much the norm.   But though a joint income helps the overall economic situation it also brings added expenses such as childcare, not to mention running two cars, two working wardrobes and a host of other hidden costs.; so even with a double income, the household budget has to be controlled and planned so that all bills are paid and debts are met to ensure that your lifestyle is properly funded and at the end of the year the books balance. 

As Charles Dickens’ character Mr. Micawber so cleverly states it ‘Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds, nineteen shillings and six (pence), result happiness.  Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.’

I wonder what that frugal, thrifty man would have made of the banker’s wife who has hit the headlines this week with her ability to magically stretch her husband’s modest income by several thousand percent?  Azerbaijani national Mrs Zamira Hajiyeva spent more than £16m (P400m) at the famous London department store, Harrods, over the course of a decade, as well as purchasing two properties worth a combined £22m (P550m). 

This prodigious spending spree is all the more remarkable considering that her husband’s income as the former Chairman of the country’s national Bank of Azerbaijan, was a mere £54,000 (P810,000) per annum.  Sadly spouse Jahangir Hajiyeva is now serving time in his native country for fraud and embezzlement after being convicted in 2016 and sentenced to 15 years in prison. 

Also wanted by the local police, his wife quickly and quietly moved to London where she and her daughter are now enjoying a lavish lifestyle and where, presumably to facilitate her shopaholic habit, Mrs. Hajiyeva  paid £11.5 (P280m) for a luxury home a short walk away from her favourite Knightsbridge store in which it is recorded that on one visit alone she blew more than £150,000 (P3,750,000) on items of Boucheron and Cartier jewellery, paying for the purchases using the 35 credit cards issued to her by her husband’s bank.

Meanwhile Mrs Hajiyeva’s daughter, who was at school in London, had shares worth more than £15 million (P450m) , paying dividends of a further £1m  (P15m a year).  The family also had a £32 million (P820m) private jet, a Gulfstream G550, financed by a company linked to Mr Hajiyev.  His wife’s second property acquisition was a a prestigious country golf club, that was purchased in 2013 for £10.5 million (P160m)  by a Guernsey-based company over which Mrs Hajiyeva is said to have exerted ‘significant control.

Talk about stretching your budget!

Well, it seems she may have to do exactly that since she has been ordered to prove the source of her wealth is legitimate or risk losing her lovely Knightsbridge home.  Under new UK anti-corruption laws, Zamira Hajiyeva was named in February  as the first person subject to Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs) by the National Crime Agency (NCA) after the High Court lifted an anonymity order preventing reporting of the case.   

They required Mrs Hajiyeva to explain how she had obtained the funds to purchase the £22 million-worth of properties. Jonathan Hall QC, counsel for the NCA, outlined Mrs Hajiyeva’s luxury lifestyle, saying it was a sign that she was spending illicitly obtained money.  He added that some of the credit cards she used had been issued by her husband’s bank and that the ‘extraordinary nature’ of her spending was ‘strongly suggestive of spending money that did not belong’ to her.

Her husband, he said, was a state employee and that ‘it is very unlikely that such a position would have generated sufficient income to fund the acquisition of the property’. Documents produced in court showed Mr Hajiyev had a modest salary from 2001 to 2008 of between £22,000 and £54,000 (P330,000 & P810,000) But in a statement submitted to court, Mrs Hajiyeva said he had substantial means and was independently wealthy when they married in 1997.

‘He was very well-off when we married and had accumulated capital and wealth since the early 1990s,’ she said. ‘I understand, but have no way of evidencing the fact, that he had a number of business interests before joining the bank, and he maintained those investments. He also had a substantial portfolio of shares in the bank, and was always very proud that the bank was doing so well….As to the purchase of the property, this was my husband’s responsibility…I… had no knowledge of any of the payments made to purchase the property, our family home, their source, or any other detail.’

Her lawyers claimed the NCA was wrong to characterise Mr Hajiyev as a low-paid state employee and that he had earned his money legitimately as a businessman. ‘He was a fat-cat international banker who went to Davos as part of his activities,’ said James Lewis QC, representing Mrs Hajiyeva. ‘He was a well-known international banker at a commercial bank. He is not a civil servant any more than the chairman of RBS.’ (Royal Bank of Scotland)

Mrs. Hajieva’s identity become known last week when Mr Justice Supperstone  discharged an anonymity order, preventing identification of her  and her husband, their country of origin, the bank Mr Hajiyev worked for and the two properties under question.  On Tuesday, Lord Justice Sales dismissed an application to extend the anonymity order, ruling that “no good case” had been made for its extension.

Meanwhile Mrs Hajiyeva continues to deny any wrongdoing and is fighting to hold onto the properties covered by the order.  In a statement, her lawyers said: “The decision of the High Court upholding the grant of an Unexplained Wealth Order against Zamira Hajiyeva does not and should not be taken to imply any wrong-doing, whether on her part or that of her husband….. 

The NCA's case is that the UWO is part of an investigative process, not a criminal procedure, and it does not involve the finding of any criminal offence….On Mrs Hajiyeva's behalf, an application for permission to appeal against the order of Mr Justice Supperstone was filed on 8 October 2018….Mrs Hajiyeva has made clear her intention to engage fully in the judicial process and will present her case to the court as appropriate through her lawyers. She will, therefore, make no further comment at this time.”

So we await with interest Mrs. Hajiyeva’s chapter and verse on the fiduciary equivalent of Jesus and the five loaves and two fishes and none more keenly, I suspect, than the government of Azerbaijan one of whose citizens appears to have got through the GDP of a small country is very short order: a small country like, say, Azerbaijan!  As for Mrs. Hajiyeva, she, no doubt, will be hoping that in her case the term ‘housekeeping’ will taken quite literally.  After all, it is very close to the shops.

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Appendicitis: Recognising the Signs

29th March 2022

Many a times I get clients casually walking into my room and requesting to be checked for “appendix”.  Few questions down the line, it is clear they are unaware of where the appendix is or what to expect when one does have it (appendicitis). Jokingly (or maybe not) I would tell them they would possibly not be having appendicitis and laughing as hard as they are doing. On the other hand, I would be impressed that at least they know and acknowledge that appendicitis is a serious thing that they should be worried about.

So, what is Appendicitis?

Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix; a thin, finger-like pouch attached to the large intestine on the lower right side of the abdomen. Often the inflammation can be as a result of blockage either by the faecal matter, a foreign body, infection, trauma or a tumour. Appendicitis is generally acute, with symptoms coming on over the course of a day and becoming severe rapidly. Chronic appendicitis can also occur, though rarely. In chronic cases, symptoms are less severe and can last for days, weeks, or even months. 

Acute appendicitis is a medical emergency that almost always ends up in the operating theatre. Though the appendix is locally referred to as “lela la sukiri”, no one knows its exact role and it definitely does not have anything to do with sugar metabolism. Appendicitis can strike at any age, but it is mostly common from the teen years to the 30s.

Signs to look out for

If you have any of the following symptoms, go and see a Doctor immediately! Timely diagnosis and treatment are vital in acute appendicitis;

Sudden pain that starts around the navel and shifts to the lower right abdomen within hours

The pain becomes constant and increases in severity (or comes back despite painkillers)

The pain worsens on coughing, sneezing, laughing, walking or deep breaths

Loss of appetite

Nausea and vomiting

Fever

Constipation or diarrhoea

Abdominal bloating/fullness

Diagnosis

The doctor often asks questions regarding the symptoms and the patient’s medical history. This will be followed up by a physical examination in which the Doctor presses on the abdomen to check for any tenderness, and the location of the pain. With acute appendicitis, pressing on and letting go of the right lower abdomen usually elicits an excruciatingly unbearable pain. Several tests may be ordered to determine especially the severity of the illness and to rule out other causes of abdominal pain. The tests may conditions include: blood tests, a pregnancy test, urinalysis, abdominal  “How do ultrasound scans work?” ultrasound (scan), CT scan or MRI Scan.

Treatment

The gold standard treatment of acute appendicitis is surgical removal of the appendix known as appendectomy. Luckily, a person can live just fine without an appendix! Surgical options include laparoscopy or open surgery and the type will be decided on by the Surgeon after assessing the patient’s condition. Painkillers and antibiotics are also given intravenously usually before, during and after the surgery.

Complications

Appendicitis can cause serious complications such as;

Appendicular mass/abscessIf the appendix is inflamed or bursts, one may develop a pocket of pus around it known as an abscess. In most cases, the abscess will be treated with antibiotics and drained first by placing a tube through one’s abdominal wall into the abscess. The tube may be left in place for a few hours or days while the infection is clearing up but ultimately one would still have surgery to remove the appendix.

Peritonitis – without treatment, the appendix can rupture/burst. The risk of this rises 48–72 hours after symptoms start. A ruptured appendix spreads the infection throughout the abdomen (peritonitis). This is life threatening and requires immediate surgery to remove the appendix and clean the abdominal cavity.

Death – The complications of appendicitis (and appendectomy) can be life threatening, only if the diagnosis has been missed and no proper treatment has been given on time. This is rare though with the evolved medical care.

If you need further advice or treatment please call 4924730, email  HYPERLINK “mailto:info@themedicscentre.co.bw” info@themedicscentre.co.bw or visit www.themedisccentre.co.bw

Antoinette Boima, MBBS, BMedSci, PgDip HIV/AIDS, Cert Aesth Med is the Managing Director of The Medics Centre in Palapye.

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A degree of common sense

7th February 2022

Here’s a news item from last month you may have missed. In December 2021 the University of Staffordshire announced it would be offered a degree course in pantomime! Yes, that’s right, a degree in popular festive entertainment, the Christmas panto.

We used to have one here, put on by the Capitol Players, though it seems to have fallen away in recent times, but the spectacle is still alive and well in the UK, both in local ad-dram (amateur dramatic ) societies and on the London stage and most of the major cities, these latter productions usually featuring at least one big-draw name from the world of show business with ticket prices commensurate with the star’s salary.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the pantomime format, it consists of a raucous mixture of songs and comedy all based around a well-known fairy or folk tale. Aladdin and His Magic Lamp, Cinderella, Jack & The Beanstalk & Dick Whittington are perennial favourites but any well-known tall tale goes. There is no set script, unlike a play, and storyline is just a peg to hang a coat of contemporary, often bawdy, gags on, in what should be a rollicking production of cross dressing – there has to be at least one pantomime dame, played by a man and always a figure of fun, and a Principal Boy, ostensibly the male lead, yet played by an attractive young woman.

As an art form it can trace its roots back to 16th century Italy and the Commedia Del’Arte which used a mélange of music, dance, acrobatics along with a cast of comic stock characters so it has a long and proud theatrical tradition but you have to wonder, does that really qualify it as a suitable subject for a university? Further, what use might any degree be that can be acquired in a single year? And last but not least, how much standing does any degree have which comes from a jumped-up polytechnic, granted university status along with many of its ilk back in 1992, for reasons best known to the government of the time? Even more worrying are the stated aims of the course.

Staffordshire University claims it is a world first and the masters course is aimed at people working inside as well as outside the industry. Students on the course, due to start in September 2022, will get practical training in the art form as well as research the discipline.

“We want to see how far we can take this,” Associate Professor of Acting and Directing Robert Marsden said. The role of pantomime in the 21st Century was also going to be examined, he said, “particularly post Me Too and Black Lives Matter”. Questions including “how do we address the gender issues, how do we tell the story of Aladdin in 2021, how do we get that balance of male/female roles?” will be asked, Prof Marsden added.

Eek! Sounds like Prof. Marsden wants to rob it of both its history and its comedic aspects – well, good luck with that! Of course that isn’t the only bizarre, obscure and frankly time and money-wasting degree course available. Staying with the performing arts there’s Contemporary Circus and Physical Performance at Bath Spa University. Sounds like fun but why on earth would a circus performer need a university degree?

Or how about a Surf Science and Technology degree at Cornwall College (part of the University of Plymouth). Where the one thing you don’t learn is….how to surf!

Then there is a  degree in Floral Design at University Centre Myerscough. No, I hadn’t heard of it either – turns out it’s a college of further education in Preston, a town that in my experience fits the old joke of ‘I went there once…..It was closed’ to a ‘T’!

Another handy (pun intended) art is that of Hand Embroidery BA (Hons), offered at the University for the Creative Arts. Or you could waste away sorry, while away, your time on a course in Animal Behaviour and Psychology. This degree at the University of Chester teaches you about the way animals think and feel. Cockroaches have personalities according to the subject specs– you couldn’t make it up.

Happily all these educational institutes may have to look to their laurels and try to justify their very existence in the near future. In plans announced this week, universities could face fines of up to £500,000 (P750m), be stripped of their right to take student loans or effectively shut down if they cannot get 60 per cent of students into a professional job under a crackdown on ‘Mickey Mouse’ courses. Further, at least 80 per cent of students should not drop out after the first year, and 75 per cent should graduate.

The rules, published by the Office for Students (OfS), aim to eliminate ‘low-quality’ courses by setting new standards & requiring courses to improve their rating in the TEF, the official universities ratings system. Universities not meeting the new standards will not be able to charge full annual fees of £9,250. Unconventional courses that could fall victim to the new rules could include the University of Sunderland’s BA in Fashion Journalism, where students learn essential’ skills such as catwalk reporting and the history of Chanel.  They have only a 40 per cent chance of entering highly skilled work 15 months after leaving.

At University College Birmingham, BSC Bakery and Patisserie Technology students – who learn how to ‘make artisan bread’ – have a 15 per cent chance of a professional job within 15 months. Universities minister Michelle Donelan welcomed the move, saying ‘When students go to university, they do so in the pursuit of a life-changing education, one which helps pave their path towards a highly skilled career. Any university that fails to match this ambition must be held to account.’

OfS found that at 25 universities, fewer than half of students find professional work within 15 months.  Business and management courses at the University of Bedfordshire (14.8 per cent) were among the least likely to lead to graduate-level jobs.  Asked to comment, the University of Sunderland said it always looked ‘to find ways to improve outcomes’; University College Birmingham said data on graduates and definition of ‘professional work’ was limited. I’ll bet it is! As the saying goes, ’what the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over’. What a pantomime!

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Why regular health checks are important!

7th February 2022

With the world still reeling from the negative impact of the Coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19), and the latest Omicron variant (which is responsible for the ongoing global forth wave) on everyone’s lips, we should not forget and neglect other aspects of our health.

While anyone can get infected with corona virus and become seriously ill or die at any age, studies continue to show that people aged 60 years and above, and those with underlying medical conditions like hypertension, heart and lung problems, diabetes, obesity, cancers, or mental illness are at a higher risk of developing serious illness or dying from covid-19.

It is a good habit to visit a doctor regularly, even if you feel healthy. Regular health checks can help identify any early signs of health issues or assess your risk of future illness hence prompting one to take charge and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and other non-communicable diseases (even communicable) can often be picked up in their early stages, when chances for effective treatment are high.

During a health check, your doctor will take a thorough history from you regarding your medical history, your family’s history of disease, your social life and habits, including your diet, physical activity, alcohol use, smoking and drug intake. S/he will examine you including measuring your weight, blood pressure, feeling your body organs and listening to your heart and lungs amongst the rest. Depending on the assessment, your doctor will notify you how often you need to have a health check. If you have a high risk of a particular health condition, your doctor may recommend more frequent health checks from an early age.

Diet – a healthy diet improves one’s general health and wellbeing. It is recommended that we have at least two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables daily. Physical activity – regular physical activity has significant health benefits on one’s body, mind & soul. It contributes to preventing and managing non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers and diabetes, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, enhances thinking, learning, and judgment skills and improves overall well-being. According to the world health organisation (WHO), people who are insufficiently active have a 20% to 30% increased risk of death compared to people who are sufficiently active. Aim for 30 minutes to an hour of moderate physical activity at least four days in a week. Examples of moderate physical activity include brisk walking, gentle swimming and social tennis.

Weight – maintaining a healthy weight range helps in preventing long-term complications like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and arthritis. It is also vital for one’s mental wellbeing and keeping up with normal activities of daily living. Ask your doctor to check your body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference annually. If you are at a higher risk, you should have your weight checked more frequently and a stern management plan in place.

Alcohol – as per WHO reports, alcohol consumption contributes to 3 million deaths each year globally as well as to the disabilities and poor health of millions of people. Healthy drinking entails taking no more than two standard drinks per drinking day with at least two alcohol-free days in a week.

Smoking –Nicotine contained in tobacco is highly addictive and tobacco use is a major risk factor for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, many different types of cancer, and many other debilitating health conditions. Every year, at least a whopping 8 million people succumb from tobacco use worldwide. Tobacco can also be deadly for non-smokers through second-hand smoke exposure. It is not ‘fashionable’ if it is going to cost you and your loved ones lives! If you are currently smoking, talk to your doctor and get help in quitting as soon as possible to reduce the harm.

Blood pressure: Hypertension is a serious medical condition and can increase the risk of heart, brain, kidney and other diseases. It is a major cause of premature death worldwide, with upwards of 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women – over a billion people – having the condition. Have your blood pressure checked annually if it is normal, you are aged under 40 and there is no family history of hypertension. You might need to have it checked more frequently if you are over 40, your blood pressure is on the high side, or you have a personal or family history of high blood pressure, stroke or heart attack. Your doctor will be there to guide you.

Dental care – eating a low-sugar diet and cleaning and flossing the teeth regularly can reduce one’s risk of tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss. Visit a dentist every six months for a dental examination and professional cleaning, or more frequently as per your dentist’s advice.
Blood tests – annual to five-yearly blood tests may be done to further assess or confirm risk of disease. These may include blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, kidney function, liver function, tumour markers, among other things. They may be done frequently if there is already an existing medical condition.

Cancer screening – various screening techniques can be done to detect different cancers in their early or pre-cancer stages. These include; skin inspections for any suspicious moles/spots, two-yearly mammograms for those at risk of developing breast cancer, Pap smear or the new Cervical Screening Test (CST) every five years, stool tests and colonoscopy (every five years) for those at most risk of bowel cancer, prostate cancer screening for those at risk (over 45 years of age, family history of cancers etc.). Discuss appropriate tests with your doctor.

Vaccinations – You should discuss with your doctor about the necessary routine immunisation, in particular; the Covid-19 vaccines, an annual flu shot, a five-yearly pneumococcal vaccine if you have never had one or you are immunocompromised and any other boosters that you might need.

If you need further advice or treatment please call 4924730, email HYPERLINK “mailto:info@themedicscentre.co.bw” info@themedicscentre.co.bw or visit www.themedisccentre.co.bw

Antoinette Boima, MBBS, BMedSci, PgDip HIV/AIDS, Cert Aesth Med is the Managing Director of The Medics Centre in Palapye.

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