Thursday, January 31, 2008

But juggling

No, that's not something you might expect to find in an erotic circus.
Nor is it an activity you might find behind the bike sheds in the playground.

It's a day in the life of a sandwich carer.

This is how it goes.

FB is off school sick
But I haven't managed to see my dad yet this week.
But FB is poorly and I don't want to leave him alone.
But dad's pills need replenishing.
But FB will feel abandoned.
But dad has bills that need paying.
But I'm FB's mum. He only has one mum.
But I'm dad's daughter. He only has one daughter.

And she's going to feel bad whatever she does!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Smiles for Smailes

Caroline Smailes, that is.

Caroline is the author of In Search of Adam.
She has written a companion novella featuring some of the characters in the original book.
She has also persuaded her publisher, typesetter and cover designer to give their services free.

And you can buy the book free too - as a download.

Why? I hear you ask.
Because what she then wants you to do, is make a voluntary donation to One in Four - a charity run for and by people with experience of sexual abuse.

You can see further details here.

A good deed in a naughty world ...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Lest we forget

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day.

First Born and Little Guy are taking part in a play this afternoon.
FB is the narrator and LG is playing Otto Frank (and Hitler, but we won't talk about that ...)
We've been warned to bring a large supply of tissues.

I think back to when I was their age.
I was part of the first post war generation, born at a time when the world was still reeling from the revelation that evil could exist on such a vast scale.
I played Anne Frank in a presentation at my school.
My geography teacher was leaving the next day.
I knew nothing about this teacher's private life or history.

When I came back to school, my geography book was returned to me.
Inside was a note from the teacher, thanking me for my moving performance and telling me how closely her own life had been related to 'all that' as she called it.

Many years later, I copied and enlarged some old family photos.
As a result, my parents were able to identify some of the sepia images of people standing stiffly against backdrops (sheets hung between wooden houses).
We were able to point to the individuals and say - they didn't make it. Neither did they ... Or them ...

You'd think we'd learn, wouldn't you?
That never again wouldn't just be a slogan ...
You don't have to look far to see what a long way off we still are.

So I'll end with some quotes:

'Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.'

Edmund Burke

'Each time a man stands up for an idea he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.'

Bobby Kennedy

'First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.'

Pastor Martin Niemoller

'I am now almost ninety and my strength is slowly failing. Still, the task I received from Anne continues to restore my energy: to struggle for reconciliation and human rights throughout the world.'

Otto Frank

The last words must go to Anne herself.

'And finally I twist my heart round again, so that the bad is on the outside and the good is on the inside, and keep on trying to find a way of becoming what I would so like to be, and could be, if there weren't any other people living in the world.'

'How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.'

I don't think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.'

'I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.

'Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don't know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!'

'No one has ever become poor by giving.'

'The final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.'

'Whoever is happy will make others happy too.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Put this in your pipe and smoke it ...

Me: I have some really exciting news to share with you about a forthcoming event.
You: Go on then. Spill.
Me: Well, it's in South London ...
You: Where???
Me: Oh right. If you're going to be like that then ...
You: Sorry. Please continue.
Me: Hmmm. It's going to be on Sunday 24th February ...
You: Oh goody. I like Sundays.
Me: You're gonna love this Sunday, believe me.
You: You haven't told me anything to believe yet.
Me: OK. OK. Keep your hair on. Cailleach's going to be there ...
You: Ooooh. Now you're talking.
Me: Told you so. And she's going to be reading from Kairos.
You: Oh wow! Why didn't you say so?
Me: I just did. But there's more ...
You: More? My literary cup runneth over.
Me: Quite right too. But wait. Carver's also coming and he's going to be launching his Pomes.
You: The Wordcarver? But he's a Merkan!
Me: Exactly. He'll be crossing the Atlantic to be there.
You: Puts crossing the Thames into perspective, I suppose ...
Me: Glad you see it that way. But that's not all.
You: Can there possibly be anything to add? Please stop torturing me ...
Me: Spoilsport. OK then. There will be other poets, authors, musicians ... It's in a cool venue with a stage whose boards were allegedly trodden in the 60s by The Stones ...
You: *Gasp* Details. I thirst for details.
Me: Pay attention. Haven't you guessed yet? Think back to here ...
You: Oh! The Pipe ...
Me: And the Slippers. You can check them out here. And here's their MySpace page.
You: What could possibly be cooler than this?
Me: Not a thing. See you there.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

My son's a vid kid

First Born has been involved with a film project at his school, run by Cineclub.

He stayed late every evening for several weeks, working on the edit with his friend (FB chose not to act in the film himself).

The end result was a short film created by a small group of children with minimal adult input, called Retribution at School on the theme of Tell Someone.

It's a cautionary tale of what can happen to a child who is being bullied and who, instead of seeking help by telling an adult, takes matters into his own hands, with tragic consequences.

It's being screened in Greenwich shortly, along with contributions from other schools in Southwark and Greenwich. The winning film will be shown at the National Film Theatre.

But you can see it right here!

Next stop Hollywood?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Mark Reid - the final chapter?

When I wrote this post in memory of Mark Reid, I thought it would be the only memorial to him.

He has continued to be in my mind ever since.

I never expected his story to continue.
At best, I though I might hear some clues about what had happened to him in his last few days and weeks.

The one thing I never anticipated was that I would hear from his family, who had done an internet search on his name in an attempt to fill in some of the missing details of Mark's life, and arrived at my post.

The story they tell about Mark's childhood is very different from the one he told me and it's not my place to decide whose version is accurate.
Either way, it's very sad ...

I'm really grateful to Mark's sisters for contacting me and giving their perspective, which I've reproduced here:

I am the sister of Mark. He was always. and is still loved, and is now deeply mourned. He will be given a decent burial once the Police can release the body and will be surrounded by his Mother and sisters.

I am Mark's other sister. Whilst we are very touched by everyone's kind words, please remember that Mark was a heroin user for most of his adult life. He did not leave home in his early teens. He had a very promising job for five years with British Telecom. He left home at 19 on his own accord, returning home several times. Mark had a very normal childhood and was loved dearly by his family and we all mourn him and miss him terribly. Mark severed ties with his family, despite our best efforts, we did not know of his whereabouts since 1998, until we were informed of his death in December. Please remember there are always two sides to a story.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Age is no barrier

Check this out.

Hover your mouse and keep clicking on the couple and background.

Reckon we should ask this pair over to join the cast at Castle Minx?

To see what Bashment looks like when it's done really well, take a peek at my gorgeous goddaughter.
(Click on the videos.)

Oh and while I'm busy linking the generations, this is her equally gorgeous brother.
And if you scroll down, you can see a pic of the cat we were looking after over the hols too.

Ah yes. All life is here.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Trash to Cash

If you're in the Kent area on Saturday 19th January and you ...

a) would like to buy something different and special
b) would like to contribute to a worthy cause
and c) would like to possibly appear on tv ...

I have just the event for you.

The Friends of Phoenix School are holding a Trash to Cash Sale and the tv cameras will be rolling for a forthcoming BBC programme about charities.
(No link as the programme is being pre-recorded.)

If you would like to attend, email, the Chair of Friends of Phoenix, who is hosting the sale at her home.

BTW - don't be misled by that word 'trash'.
This is no ordinary rummage sale.
I'm reliably informed that included in the diverse array of goodies on offer are signed copies of Harry Potter books as well as a 6'tall Garfield ...

Update: You could also call the researcher, Molly Gilbert 0207 836 8595, for further details.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Literary thought for the day

'Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. '

Groucho Marx

My, how the years fly by ...

It seems only yesterday that a patter of tiny keys heralded the birth of my bouncing baby blog.

Just look at her now ...

She has 117 links with other li'l lit bloggers, many of whom she's now met in Real Life.

This will be her 938th post.

According to Stat Counter, she's received 36,465 visits.
Site Meter has counted 50,315.

(Since neither were set up at the birth, I suppose these numbers are pretty meaningless.
But hey, it's coming up to my blogday. Give me a break, will you?)

To commemorate 2 years of beautiful blogginess, I'm going to do the same as I did this time last year.

So here goes. These are the first sentences of the first posts for each month of the last year.


Behold - a blog is born

I'd like you all to join me in welcoming Meloney Lemon to the blogosphere.


Mystery Women in Oxford

Mystery Women are holding an event at Blackwell's bookshop in Oxford at 6.30pm on 7th February.



I've recently joined a Bloggers with Book Deals forum set up by the indefatigable Clare at Boob Pencil.


Blogging from the dark side

All life is here in the blogosphere.


Seeking Retribution

I need your help to devise a suitable punishment for G.


Heads up - we're in the Guardian ...

The review section of Saturday's Guardian has a 'From the blogs' section chosen by the editor of Guardian Unlimited books.



Rachel's cyberstalker (see here and here) has been jailed for 6 months (see here and here) after she was caught in an internet cafe.


Sitting on the edge of the world, ma

So there I was, sitting on the edge of the world, surrounded by people I love ...
... and thinking about ...


Hi, honey. I'm home ...

It may not have escaped your attention that I've been a bit scarce of late.


Don't know what it signifies but ...

Wow! Look at what just cropped up in my stat meter ...


Debi and her Dad. Part 7

I seem to have spread quite a bit of doom and gloom about the NHS with this series of posts.


Debi and her Dad. Part 10

So there was I, planning a post about my fabarooni weekend, but you never know what's around the corner.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

My hero!

It's a very strange feeling when you hear one of your books is going to be translated into a language you don't speak.

When I heard Trading Tatiana was going to be published in Spain, I was of course delighted on one level.
On another, I was filled with dread.

Who would do the translation?
How could I expect anyone to agonise for hours over the correct word to use ... the right image ... the most powerful phrase ... in the way that I had?
What if they didn't get the voice and the intentions behind it?
What if they hated the book, as I'm sure must happen sometimes to translators?
Or - perhaps even worse from my point of view - what if they had very different politics and subtly changed the slant in ways undetectable to the editor who presumably had never read the original English version?

Eventually, via Steve Redwood whose wonderful book, Fisher of Devils, has been translated by the same person, I had a name - Frank Schleper - and the reassurance that he was one of the good guys.
And people I know who have seen both versions have told me it's a faithful translation.

Then, in the dying embers of the old year, I received an email from the man himself.
And I knew at last that my baby had been in a safe and caring pair of hands.

With Frank's permission, I'm reproducing part of our conversation that lead me to say the man is a hero of the first order.

Hi Debi,
this is Frank, "your translator" into Spanish (of Trading Tatiana). I meant to write earlier but somehow never got around to it. But now that I finally finished reading"Nirvana Bites" there's no way to put off writing any longer. I very much enjoyed the book, maybe even a bit more than Tatiana because in many ways I "feel" a little closer to Jen than to Jo, but basically I enjoyed the story, the suspense and the wit just the same in both books. One of the things Jen and me have in common is that it is not easy for us to cry, but I finally did last nite when her drugged schizophrenic brother finally recognizes her.

Oh hi, Frank! How wonderful to hear from you. I feel a bit like I’m making contact with someone I donated one of my kidneys to … or maybe a child I gave up for adoption …

Hi Debi, I like your comparisons with kidneys and adopted kids, especially the second one, and your "safe hands" expression. And I am glad to hear (from what you wrote further down) that there's somebody out there who thinks I am a good adoptive parent.
I have been in love with books for most of my life. I would not mind to be able to write (I mean, as good as you or Steve, for example), but since I am not, translating as well as possible is the least I can do to pay you guys back at least a small part of what I have received spiritually, emotionally, humourously and a bunch of other -lys, too. It was a real privilege for me to translate Tatiana, after having read it first and written the reader's report.

Frank - Ah now you see this is the point you got me and I fell hopelessly in love with you. Starting with such a passionate love of books would have had me weak at the knees on its own but then spicing it up with the concept of paying something back – something I believe in passionately in every area of my life …. My heart is yours forever, Frank!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

A night at the awards (what to wear?)

And now I've just seen that Absolute Vanilla has given me not one, but two awards while my back was turned.

Click here to see who else she has nominated for an array of bloggy gloriosityness.

Ten Questions

Sarah Salway has devised a list of 10 lit-related questions for Bookarazzi members.
You can see my contribution here.

If anyone would like to adapt the questions for their own blog, feel free.

Just as long as you don't call it a meme ...

Nirvana Bites its long tail

While I was away, other people were clearly a lot more active than I was.

Nirvana Bites was first published nearly 5 years ago, but it continues to demonstrate the length of its tail with two new recent reviews.

The first is by Riverwillow, whom I've met in Real Life a couple of times but only just realised she has a blog.
You can see her review here.

And the second is by Suzan Abrahams, who used to blog here but has moved here now.
Click here to see her review.

New year, new reviews and new links.
Goody - starting the way I'd like to carry on.

I'm back ... sort of ...

My body's back in position, but it seems to be taking a while for my head to catch up.

We had a good time in Brighton - lots of long walks and even longer lie ins.
I don't think any of us had realised quite how much we needed the break.

Have you ever noticed that the sea looks different every single day?
It blows me away to think that it's the one place on earth that humanity can make no real impression on.
Sure it's polluted, but from the shoreline it looks the same today as it did when the dinosaurs stared out at it.

One day, we'll live by the sea ...

But for now, welcome to 2008 wherever you are and whatever you look out at.