Monday, January 29, 2007

Has anyone seen my immune system?

I'm sure it must be round here somewhere.

We've always had a really good relationship, me and my immune system. Last year we were particularly close - I didn't have a single cold all winter.

This year ... I'm just embarking on the 4th miserable virus of the season.

Have I done something to upset it? I feed it lots of fresh fruit and veg. Maybe it thought I was taking it for granted ... I swear I didn't and I wouldn't.

Maybe it's lost its memory and is wandering round somewhere searching for a way back to me. Or could someone have nicked it, jealous of our special relationship?

If you should happen to stumble across my immune system, please give it this message from me:

I love you. I need you. I can't live without you. Please come back ...

Saturday, January 27, 2007

On the subject of birthdays ...

Tomorrow my blog will be exactly one year old.

Now ... what to buy the blog who has everything?

Reckon it might like to play charades?

The Return of Nasty Mean Mummy.

I need your opinion.

Last week was Little Guy's birthday. Thanks to the generosity of family and frineds, he's managed to save the princely sum of £120.

'I want to buy a Ninetendo.'
'Why not?'
'Because they're an outrageous amount of money for something that's not even the teensiest bit creative or constructive.'
'But all my friends have got them ...'
'Aha! So that's it ... You only want one cos everyone else has got them.'
'No - I really do want one.'
'Look. You know how it goes. You'll play with it non-stop for a couple of days, then it'll gather dust in a box and probably get broken. You can do the same with something costing a fraction of that money.'
'OK. I promise I'll play with it all the time and not put it away.'
'Eeek! That's worse ...'
'I won't play with it all the time then ...'
'Exactly! So why pay all that money for a passing fad? That's more than the rent. It's more than the weekly shopping budget. It's more than I've spent on clothes for the last 10 years, for chrissakes!'
'But it's my money ...'
'And I don't want it going to support a pernicious form of capitalism that preys on children and turns them into zombies. I wouldn't mind if you bought a bike or something that you'd get loads of use out of, would get you out in the open air and would be good exercise ...'
'But I've already got a bike ...'
'The answer's still no.'

3 pairs of accusing eyes drill into Nasty Mean Mummy, who pretends not to notice.

So tell me the truth, am I wrong? Am I mean? Do I have a problem with the 21st century? With boys? Is it boring to prefer books or old-fashioned toys and games to chunks of techno crap?

There's a postscript. I'm talking to my brother on the phone later, convinced he'll understand.

'Your kids didn't have Nintendo or Playstation or any of that crap, did they?'
'Oh yeah. L's still got his Playstation1 with loads of games. Racing and stuff - nothing violent. He hasn't played with it for years. I'll bring it next week.'

So there you have it. Looks like LG has discovered the magic of wish fulfillment.

Everyone's a winner, babe.
LG gets his Playstation and gets to keep his money.
And I don't have to feel guilty - either for supporting the manufacture of this junk by buying it, or for being mean to LG.

Now don't anyone dare to tell me Playstation 1 is out-of-date and what he really needs is ...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Dear Bloggers ...

Debi has asked me to let you know she's fine.
She's very busy with All That as well as lots of unrelated Life Stuff.

She'll be back as soon as she can and meanwhile apologises for the minimal input both here and on your blogs.

She wanted me to put some music in here to soothe any savage brows that may be lurking out there but she has no idea how to do it - and neither do I.
So please hum something appropriate at this point .

Love and light to you all,

Bedi xxx (Debi's calmer and less frantic alter-ego)

PS A fox just ran over the snow-covered garage roofs outside my window. Just thought I'd let you know.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

2007 - the year of wish fulfillment

I decided 2007 was going to be the year of wish fulfillment before the old year had gasped its last.

And I'm delighted to tell you that so far it's living up to its designated title.

  • Well now I've been emailed by the PR at El Tercer Nombre. Wow! Direct contact at last!
  • Apparently, 2 Spanish radio networks want to interview me - but only if I speak fluent Spanish, so that's out. Shame ...
  • But 2 Spanish magazines - one national monthly and one online - also want to do interviews after they've read the book. If they're done by email, translation shouldn't be a problem. As long as they don't use Babel Fish ...
  • I hadn't wanted to admit, but I was struggling a bit with my current novel, Depth Charge. The plot revolves around local government corruption but the theme is blood relations. (As opposed to the alternative Nirvana family.) I was worried that I wasn't binding the two together effectively. Over the holidays, I read through the story so far and wrote the content (or intent) of each chapter in 3 or 4 words. Then a few days ago, I had a bathtime moment. For the first time in ages I jumped out and, still dripping, grabbed pen and paper and scribbled down an outline of where I was going as well as a later chapter that I'd visualised clearly. It works! You see, I'd forgotten. This panic always happens about 30-40,000 words in.
  • Remember I said I needed to find work? Debi got proactive. Think irons ... think fires ... I put my cv in at LG's school for possible classroon assistant work; I applied for a p/t charity finance worker job; on the advice of my agent, I contacted some of the literary consultancies. And guess what ... I have my first 90,000 word m/s to read and write a 3,000 word report on!
This is what I said the last time I posted about getting work:

So the harsh reality is that I'm going to have to look for a job. I can't see any way round it. I'll try to find something that fits in around the school hours. It would be good if it was local, so I don't have to spend hours travelling. It would be wonderful if it was related in some way to writing.

Blimey! This wish fulfillment thing is mighty strong medicine ... Pinch me ...

Monday, January 15, 2007

Tatiana goes to Spain

A while back I mentioned that Trading Tatiana was going to be translated into Spanish and was due to be published in January.

Well here she is! Buscando a Tatiana.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

I can't quite work out the significance of the cover photo.
And according to the publicity, I still work as a charity finance officer and wedding photographer ...
But that's not surprising since I've had no direct communication with the Spanish Publisher, El Tercer Nombre, and the info held by Orion, the UK publisher, is several years out of date.

I hope it's a good translation ... I'm going to ask a Spanish-speaking friend to check the online extract.

I certainly hope they've done a better job than Google's auto-translation of the blurb on the website.

Looking for Tatiana

Jo Cooper, a young person of 28 years, takes a life calmed after surpassing the addiction that tied to him to the heroin. He lives in a social house of a London suburb and works like jewel salesman in a position of the market. It is the person class who knows to take care of better of the others than of itself.
The life of Jo gives to an unexpected turn the day that knows Tatiana, one prostituta ucraniana of 17 years that flees from the Russian Mafia. The irruption of Tatiana in its life submerges in the squalid world of illegal immigration and the prostitution to it, in which the violence and the sexual operation are the prevailing routine. It decides to help it and it requests aid, as well, to Mags, his old social worker during the chemical decontamination, that lives in a commune of antiglobalización activists and knows the form well to operate of the Mafias. The life of Jo no longer will return to be the same one.

Debi Alper lives in the south of London with its family. It works like financial adviser in a consulting company. In his free short whiles she is photographer of weddings. Until the moment it has published two novels Nirvana Bites and TRADING Tatiana (Looking for Tatiana).


It feels very strange to have so little connection with what's happening to my baby - no input, no feedback ... You may remember I only found out about the translation by accident.

It's still exciting though ...

Friday, January 12, 2007

No More Blood on my Blog!

It can't have escaped your notice that my blog has recently become drenched in blood, sweat and tears.

The following is directed to everyone who is reading and thinking of commenting:

ENOUGH! Please stop using my blog as a battlefield to attack me or each other.

Time and time again over these last few weeks I've ignored attacks from different quarters on the grounds that they distracted from the real issue of protecting vulnerable children.

I've taken responsibility where appropriate and I think I've been really patient.


People are free to disagree with me and each other by all means. I have strong opinions and sometimes post on controversial subjects. I welcome proper debate on those issues.

But if you're thinking of leaving a comment on my blog, please ensure it is phrased with respect and care. This is my space and though I have never censored or deleted other people's comments I have the right to make this request.

To those who would never dream of abusing my space in this way and who have always been supportive and caring - thank you. Please don't feel intimidated.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Happy birthday, Mum

Or it would have been.
If you hadn't died in 1991.

You never met G.
Or my children.
Or knew I'd have books published.

I'd like to think you'd be proud if you could see me now.

Only you always said you just wanted an ordinary daughter.

Sorry, Mum.
I still don't seem to be able to do ordinary.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Refugee post

<>I promised to do some research on the issue of refugees and here at last are the results. I’ve decided to move beyond the specific issue of ‘unaccompanied children’ so we don’t get bogged down in definitions, so much of what follows applies to all refugee children.

Please check the links and judge for yourself whether or not you feel happy about the way many children who come to this country are treated in the
UK. <>This first link is from the Refugee Council and lists 205 different articles. These seem to be archived in a way that means I’m unable to link to the individual articles. Check out the one on the report on the first page by the Chief Inspector of Prisons (I assume most people would consider this to be from a respected source) about children held in detention. <>

This is a quote from another of those links that I have managed to copy and paste:

UK government is locking up thousands of children and their families in immigration detention centres. Refugee Council has joined with Save the Children UK, Bail for Immigration Detainees, together with Scottish Refugee Council and Welsh Refugee Council in a campaign that aims to put a stop to locking up innocent children.

Children and their parents aren't told how long they will be detained for - it could be days or many months. For many of these families detention is particularly traumatic because they have come to the UK to escape terror in their own country, often at the hands of state officials.

  • 2,000 children or more were detained in 2004
  • They had not committed any crime
  • Over 30% spent more than 7 days locked up

For children, the effects of detention in the UK have been shown to be extremely damaging. Children feel they are being punished but don't understand why.

Despite the fact that these families comply with immigration regulations, the UK government is increasing its use of immigration detention for children.

See BBC Radio 4 All in the mind for a report on the campaign
I haven't had a chance to check this myself yet ...

Click here to Read the report on the alternatives to detention written in July 2006.

I also found the following quotes:

‘Nothing can justify an immigration policy that involves locking up children. All the research has shown how incredibly damaging it is for children who may already have experienced serious trauma. There are alternatives which have been successful in other countries. It is time to end this inhumane practice.’ Maeve Sherlock, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council:

‘Detention is a stressful and confusing environment for children which has huge physical and psychological implications. The UK Government cannot defend a policy that has such a damaging effect on children when viable alternatives exist. These children have done nothing wrong; the Home Office cannot justify locking them up.’ Colette Marshall, UK Director of Save the Children

This next link is to a report by John Bercow MP, Lord Dubs and Evan Harris MP written in July 2006 for the No Place for a Child Campaign:
The report states that ‘The Home Office is in contravention of a series of national and international legal guidelines and is failing to protect children who are being detained in the
UK as part of the immigration process.'


Please also check the link to the Refugee Council press release written in July 2001 also on the list (again apologies for lack of direct link). I’d be interested to hear if this situation has changed since.

The headline is Refugee children arriving alone are being left unsupported and unprotected, reveals UK report’ and includes the following areas of specific concern:

· Many separated children, some as young as 15, are expected to look after themselves like adults; there are still anomalies in Government funding to local authorities

· separated children are kept locked up in detention when they have committed no crime

· racism and racially motivated attacks in the UK add to the fear and trauma children have already experienced

· most children are only given temporary immigration status (Exceptional Leave to Remain), leaving them in fear of being returned and insecure about planning a future

· increased barriers across 'Fortress Europe' are forcing children into the hands of dangerous smugglers and traffickers as their only way of reaching a place of safety.

Here are a couple of quotes from the article:

‘The level of support an unaccompanied refugee child receives from the local authority can be a lottery and one of the most worrying practices is that of placing young people in unsupported B&B accommodation. The UK currently lacks a strategic approach to the reception and care of separated children. This needs to be urgently addressed if we are to stop vulnerable children falling through the net.’ Judy Lister of Save the Children

It's clear from this report that separated refugee children are not getting the same level of care as any other child would receive under UK childcare legislation. But we should never forget that any child is a child first and foremost and a refugee second. We have a duty to these children under domestic and international law and they must be protected.’ Margaret Lally of the Refugee Council

This next link is to a report by Statewatch written in November 2006 which suggests there has been little improvement. (I wish I could copy and paste the most shocking parts … damn my techy shortcomings! Please follow the link.)

I also found another really disturbing report on the way in which some children are being failed by the system. It’s on the 2nd page of the original link headed “unaccompanied children” and makes for some really upsetting and disturbing reading.

I apologise if some of the quotes above may seem out of date. Unfortunately, some of the newer links are in a format that I can’t work out how to copy and paste. I used some of the older ones where this was the case but in order to get the full picture you will need to check the others yourself. Please don’t take my word for anything - click the links and check for yourself to see if you feel this country is falling short in acting in the interests of the children involved.

Please note: this post is by no means intended as an attack on the people working in the field, many of whom may well be good-hearted and humane and trying to do their best given the political restrictions under which they are forced to operate.

It seems to me the government is trying to juggle two contradictory imperatives: the need to protect children with the pressure maintained by the tabloid line that feeds voters’ fears that the country is being overrun.

Please do click the links and judge for yourself whether you believe the balance is right. I’ve only just scratched the surface of the information available.

I have no doubt that there are unscrupulous people working to use the system for their own ends. But I feel this is a necessary evil if we are to ensure the wellbeing of every child. Personally I’d rather be exploited by some rather than risk missing one genuine child. But that’s just me …

In an ideal world, we would feel able to do something practical to alter the horrific conditions these children are escaping from. But what can we really do about civil war in Somalia or the situation in Darfur? My personal view is that this is the country where I live and vote. The treatment these children get here is being done in my name and here is where I feel most able and responsible to put on pressure to protect these children.

At the same time I’m fighting despair. How many of us were opposed to going to war in Iraq and warned of the consequences? But it still happened and as a result there is now a new wave of refugees coming from that area of the world.

<>All I feel able to do is ensure this information is out there so people can judge for themselves if they feel enough is being done to protect vulnerable children and care for them appropriately. Meanwhile I will do all I can to support the campaigns working at grassroots level and the individuals within them as well as those working within the system who are asking these same questions.

I've rushed to publish this in order to shift the focus back onto the real issues. If I've missed anything or if any of the links don't work, please let me know. Apologies for the weird format of some bits. Making it look pretty wasn't a priority!

Thanks for listening.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Running for Refuge

Some facts about domestic violence:

  • 1 in 4 women experiences domestic violence at some point in their lives
  • 2 women are killed each week by a current or former partner
  • Domestic violence kills more 19-44 year old women than anything else - more than cancer or road accidents
  • In 90% of domestic violence incidents in families, children are in the same or the next room and in 50% of these cases, children are directly abused themselves

Until 35 years ago, the vast majority of women in these situations had no choice but to stay in the relationship. Then in 1971 Erin Pizzey opened the world's first women's refuge in Chiswick, west London.

Today, Refuge operates a network of safe houses offering emergency accommodation to 900 women and children at any one time. Demand always exceeds supply, yet they still manage to offer their lifeline to up to 80,000 people a year.

They also have an outreach service to support women when they move on from the refuge and they ensure that all their services are culturally specific.

Together with another organisation, Women's Aid, they operate a free 24 hour National Domestic Violence Helpline providing emotional and practical support.

0808 2000 247

This year, G's running the London marathon in aid of Refuge. They rely on charitable donations and are constantly struggling to raise funds for their services - even though those services can and do save lives!

If you would like to sponsor G and help make a difference, you can donate directly here.

Thank you!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

A steep learning curve

Sometimes you need some distance.

I've decided to revisit the battlefield of Outrageous 2. Now that time has passed and I've reread the arguments, I can see it with a bit more perspective. At the time I was aware that I had lost objectivity. Communication had broken down and I knew that had to be partly my responsibility.

The only solution I could see at that point was to withdraw, concentrate on other things and then come back with a fresher eye and hopefully more balanced perspective.

So - this is how I see it now:

I take full responsibility for my initial post, which was intended to express my exasperation about bureaucracy. Perhaps naively, I never expected the issue of defining or proving the existence of 'unaccompanied children' to become the focus. Among my own circle it would not have been. But a blog isn't only seen by my mates!

I can't talk about individual cases or risk identifying people so I'm unable to provide the kind of information necessary to prove the specific claim made in the post.

On the general issue of unaccompanied children, I'm going to do some research to see if I can provide evidence that will not compromise any individuals. If anyone reading this has relevant information, please pass it on in the comments section or email me at info at debialper dot co dot uk.

However, I accept that the way I phrased the original post has led to frustration. I stoked up emotion but then failed to equip people with the means to do anything practical to try to make a difference. If I was unable to do that, I should not have published the post in the first place.

Would I do it differently if I had my time again? Yes, definitely.

I will be very careful in future not to dash off posts on such vital subjects without thinking through the implications. I clearly hadn't done that in this situation.

I'm still getting used to having these global conversations via my blog with my direct voice 'out there' and available to everyone.

I'd imagine that's true for all of us. It's a steep learning curve and I'm still climbing.

Friday, January 05, 2007

His space

Blimey! No sooner do I post my first YouTube link, than I follow up with this link to myspace.

Should I be getting out more? Not when there are gems like this to share!

Afterrabbit and Liver and Lights are the brainchildren of John Bently. John is an artist, writer, poet, performer ... and he makes books - in every sense of the word.

Here's how he describes his work:

Afterrabbit are an occasional band centred around the rantings of crazed yet strangely sensitive poet John Bently. First conceived in 2003, the band play live a few times every year, the gigs usually coinciding with the launch of one of Bently's infamous and bloody mindedly hand made publications. These are published under the collective heading of Liver and far there have been 37 volumes in 20 years, stuffed with illustrations in editions of about 200. People seem to collect them! All over the world! The last four have contained Afterrabbit recordings and the new one, Liver & Lights no 37 Van Gig Zine contains a dvd of them performing earlier this year at the launch of Three Songs and a Camper Van, where they invited the audience to bring home made instruments to the gig to perform with them. What Fun! When it comes to jam, shoes and music Afterrabbit believe Home made is best!

I went to this gig. (Who says I never go out?) It was amazing - the home-made instruments included a crutch with string attachments, three lengths of hosepipe with cones on the ends, an ancient transistor radio with a fretboard added on ... and much more. When the audience joined in to jam with the band, the result was not only good music but was also strangely uplifting ...

Anyway, check them out. John also blogs here. I can promise you, you will never have come across anyone quite like him before!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

My, how time flies ...

Check this out. Of course it would be much better if I could do that direct link-thingy to the video on YouTube ... new year - same old lack of techy knowhow ...

Anyway - the point is - the gorgeous dancer on the right with the afro is my goddaughter!

I know it's a cliche, but I can't help thinking back 20 years to the hairy-shouldered snuffly new baby looking for all the world like a miniature sumo wrestler ... Now just look at her ...

Me ... me ... on me blog

Happy New Year everyone.

This is a timely meme thanks to Amy Nelson-Mile - who liked it so much she posted it both here and here.

So - here are the first sentences of the first post on my blog from each month of the old year:


Saturday, January 28, 2006

My very first post

Testing ... I'm in a blog panic.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

What kind of parent ...

Can you imagine your eleven year old doing something so bad you would throw them out of the house?


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Schools fools

So my son has got into the secondary school of his choice.


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Fundamental design fault - 'Off' switch not included.

Dear Creator,
I am writing to point out a major design fault in your model Homo Sapiens Version I in the hope that you will take my comments into account before launching Version II.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Choices. Would you choose to have them?

I've been thinking quite a bit about this stuff.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I'm back - and to prove it - I'm here ...

Hi all! Thanks for keeping an eye on the blog for me and for keeping me alive in my absence.


Sunday, July 02, 2006

Two new reviews blast their way into the blogosphere

Maxine and Crimeficreader have both written really thoughtful reviews of Nirvana Bites on their blogs.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Funny thing, time ...

Never enough of it.


Monday, September 11, 2006

Deep in the ether, something stirred ...

Now what's going on???


Sunday, October 01, 2006

ocCult Fiction

I've finished copy editing Minx's book, Coven of One, published by Skint's company, Opening Chapter and due out 31/10.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

A coven for all of us

I was a long way from home.


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Welcome to my world!

I seem to be on multi-tasking megadrive at the moment!

On we go to the next 12 months ... looking forward to seeing you here - or there ...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Behold - a blog is born

I'd like you all to join me in welcoming Meloney Lemon to the blogosphere. After a difficult incubation period, Meloney has just given birth to a beautiful bouncing baby blog.

You may have come across Meloney before on my blog - here, here and here. She's a writer, poet, artist, loyal friend and parent with a keen wit and a frequently surreal take on life.

You remember those early days when your blog first blinked its way into the radiance of Blogworld, don't you? The tears ... the tantrums ... the sleepless nights ...

Then, as the months roll past and your blog takes on a life of its own, you get - the tears ... the tantrums ... the sleepless nights ... But at least now you have someone - lots of someones - to share them with.

Then there's the laughs, the stimulation, the debates, the warmth, the support and the feeling of belonging to a community that you have helped forge ...

So I hope you'll all open up your hearts, minds and templates to Meloney. Welcome aboard, babe!