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Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Times Online - Britain

'He has won again... he has taken the easy way out..' Excuse me ? Am I alone in wondering if hanging yourself in a prison cell on your knotted bedsheets via the bars could be called the 'easy way.' But the confusion surely is this.
When Shipman was tried and convicted, there was the usual clamour for the return of the death penalty -very lously indeed from the relatives of some of the victims. This is unsuprising and almost - but only almost - understandable, given that one can never understand why, if killing a person is wrong, killing that person should be acceptable as a punishment.
Yesterday, Shipman hanged himself in his cell. There was an immediate clamour, again, mainly from relatives of victims, for him to have been punished by being 'allowed to rot in jail for life.' I am genuinely puzzled as to what people WANT. Clarity of thought is not likely in those who have been bereaved in such dreadful circumstances but one might expect it from others who are not personally involved.
The expressed hope for which relatives claim to have been living was for Shipman to have confessed and explained... possibly even to have expresssed regret. Such an extreme and arrogant psychopath is never likely to express remorse.. it is not on the psychological make-up of such people; it is possible, though seems unlikely, that he might have 'explained' but would the relatives have felt better if he had issued a statement of satisfaction ? 'I murdered your mother because I hated her and wanted to watch her die.Her dying gave me great pleasure.'
One would prefer, surely, to remain in ignorance of a murderer`s explanation in such a circumstance.. which was likely to have been the case with Shipman, who apparently had no motive other than the pleasure of killing and the satisfaction of getting away with it for so long.


Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Saigon Children's Charity

SMALL-AND-BEAUTIFUL CHARITY NUMBER TWO
THE SAIGON CHILDREN`S CHARITY

I was introduced to this by a friend who runs a wholesaling business. I am one of his customers... not many of you know I am also known as Del-girl. I buy and sell all sorts of things, mainly over the internet, to raise money for smaller charities and have had many a good deal from Alan. At Christmas he sent a round-robin e-mail asking if all his mailing list subscribers would send something to help raise £600, which would renovate a school for children in Saigon, via this charity. There were 2 schools which were desperate - one of them was actually in danger of collapsing. Alan also discovered that few of the children could be sure of having a cooked meal every day, unless they were lucky enough - few are - to go to a school where some food is provided.
In the end, he raised £1400, notwithstanding some vicious e-mails from people of the our-own-children-come -first /charity-begins-at-home/these foreigners do nothing for themselves/ I am a cancer patient how dare you ask me for money for these foreign children.. school of thought.
Well, the Saigon School website speaks for itself... and it is yet another lesson in how a little goes a very long way in countries like Vietnam, whereas give money to Oxfam/Cancer Research/ etc etc and you are putting it into a bottomless pit.

Here`s the Saigonchildren charity... it will feature in the book to be published at the end of this year,
THE MAGIC BREAKFAST.. and 99 other smaller charities which need you. ( yeah, I know, I`m still jiggling the actual wording about...)

MEANWHILE... let`s lighten up. Light bulb jokes ? 'Mother, you are so sad...' so, younger daughter... but I think some light bulb jokes help amuse us during the long dark days of January so..
How Many Psychiatrists does it take to change a light-bulb ?
Just the one - but the light bulb has really got to want to change.

CHILDREN`S BOOKS WHICH ADULTS SHOULD READ...
The words beginning with H and P will not pass my lips, nor will the initials of the author P... P...
other children`s books need us now.
So here goes with the start of a list of books for children adults should read.. or maybe, would love reading...
1. THE FINN FAMILY MOOMINTROLL..
Introduced to me 30 years ago by a woman of 65... instant in-love. These magical stories about the Finn family who sleep all winter and wake up with song and a feather duster to welcome the spring, who have more character than the characters of many an adult novel, who make you laugh, intrigue you, get you all philosophical.. who live in a world so wonderfully evoked you will want to go there...these magical stories... oh, just read them. Read them in order too, no skipping about. There are lots
2. The Dido Twite stories.. The Wolves of Wiloughby Chase, Black Hearts in Battersea, Night Birds on Nantucket.. God, titles to die for...all by Joan Aiken, who died earlier this week. A really great and under-sung children`s writer.This series, set in an imaginary English historical period and featuring a feisty little girl called Dido Twite, were published by Cape in the 60s and are timeless.
One of the greatest insults to do with the Honours list, about which I wrote here last time, was dealt when THEY gave an MBE to Joan Aiken.. and bebeing the gentle , modest and gracious lady she was, she accepted gladly ... no one of such distinction who had served children`s literature so well for so long should have been made anything less than an O, and even better a CBE... personally, I`d have made her a Dame but they didn`t ask me.

so there are your first two which are actually about 7.. keep you going through January when the sky is like an upturned saucepan.






Thursday, January 08, 2004

magic breakfast

Here goes then.. the first small-is-still-beautiful charity. The title of the book which is being published at the of this year is
THE MAGIC BREAKFAST and 99 other small charities which deserve your help...
Title = I was looking for one. Then I was led to this excellent charity.. with its ace title. I nicked it.

DID YOU KNOW THAT
for one in four children the food they receive at school, in the form of school dinners and now for the lucky few - VERY few - a magic breakfast,is their only daily source of nutrition ? No, I didn`t either.
The Magic Breakfast, in partnership, as you will read if you browse their pages, provides a nutritious breakfast for chidren at a few primary schools in London.
Other inner city schools need them. They might be able to spread, with help in all sorts ways from people out there - like us.
And not only inner-city schools. I live in rural Gloucestershire - the North Cotswolds.. rich, you think. Tourist honeypots.
But that is not the whole truth. There is much hidden poverty in rural areas. In a local primary school I know, two children were discovered squirrellin away food that had been left on the plates of others at the end of dinner time. They had nothing else to eat for the rest of the day at home. Nothing before dinner either. They were hungry. Simple as that.
So here is the first of 100 smaller charities, THE MAGIC BREAKFAST. I commend it to you.
Another small charity next week.


Tuesday, January 06, 2004

JUST A LITTLE LIGHT RELIEF
... while you wait to learn about The Magic Breakfast..
someone said.. 'One advantage of growing older is that one`s quest for the risible becomes more and more easily rewarded...' I`m discovering how right he was.
Things to make us laugh and laugh have been
1. Watching people who have publicly declared their vehement disapproval of Honours wriggling on the pin of their consciences trying to justify accepting one when it`s offered to THEM.
2. Watching people who have accepted one and can`t believe they just did that attempt to justify said acceptance in public. (I am only accepting this on behalf of the wife/honour of the community/school/theatre.. de da de da...
3.Watching people who have refused an honour trying to find a way of telling us they were offered one so as to have the pleasure of cake and eat it...

Speaking of Honours... if they are to continue, should there not be some equality in these as in all the other things Our Masters are anxious to have us be Equal about..
If a man is knighted, his wife becomes LADY X
If a woman becomes a Dame, her husband becomes nothing
Fair or what ?



SMALL IS STILL BEAUTIFUL

Especially where charities are concerned. A friend says he is Oxfamallergic.. using Oxfam as a generis for any of the huge high profile charities.
Many people have become wary of and cynical about them. We have all had a last straw situation.. mine was when the NSPCC - and what worthier aim could a charity have than existing in order to prevent cruelty to children ?- spent money on a campaign to persuade us that sending a child - any child - to boarding school - any boarding school - should be classed as cruelty. Meanwhile, a woman I know whose violent husband started to beat up her child in front of her was told when she rang the NSPCC helpline to call the police... and then that they did not have a worker covering her area.
OK, for every bad story there`s a good one. But for some years now I have supported only smaller charities and now I want to take this support one step further.
For the past right years I have run a tiny one-woman publishing company, Long Barn Books. Next year, one of our titles is going to be
THE MAGIC BREAKFAST ....(and 99 other small charities worth anyone`s money)
The book will contain accounts of 100 smaller charities and it will be published in the autumn, nicely in time for everyone`s Christmas giving. It will be published as a paperback and it will cost just £1. I hope to persuade bookshops to stock it for nothing...it will be sold via mail order on my website...I will give copies away, there will be media features about it.
And to start with, I am going to feature each of the 100 charities on my blog.

BUT WHAT IS ' A SMALLER CHARITY' ?
1. One which cannot afford national advertising and marketing campaigns.
2. One which concentrates on a small individual task and does not try to solve the problems of the world single-handed.
3. One which has a very, very, very small paid staff and relies largely upon volunteers.
4. One which takes the absolute minimum out of its funds for admin. You know those drawings the charities favour of a cake cut into segments.. they show what percentage is spent on admin, advertising, marketing and fund-raising. My smaller charities, by definition, will spend no more, and I hope a lot less, than 1% of annual income. Most major charities spend up to 15%, some much more.
5. Other than that the choice is that of a benevolent despot - me. The charities all appeal to me and to people I know, will have been recommended to me by friends and, I hope, by people coming to this blg or to my author website, www.susan-hill.com.
They will represent many different areas.. humanitiarian, children, medical research, educational, the arts, social deprivation, disability even animal occasionally... I have nothing against animals.I love them. I keep them. But people come first...

In my next post, I will begin with 'the title charity'.... THE MAGIC BREAKFAST. Know about it ?
You should.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

JANUARY 1ST 2004.
Time for All Things New. I don`t make NY Resolutions. Don`t keep New Year for that matter... go to bed early. Yes, I know, I know... it was all that coal they made me eat when I was a bairn in Yorkshire when winters were winters and we made our own entertainment.
NEW is to start a Blog. I am indebted to NORMAN GERAS ( normblog) for letting me in on the secret of blogging. I have an author website (www.susan-hill.com) and I write in various journals and newspapers from time to time but the Blog will be as journal of comment on matters not suitable for articles people might pay me for, not especially relevant to my author website.. maybe matters on which I am totally unqualified to comment but on which I feel the need, now I have my bus pass, to have my two pennyworth.

Please e-mail me to comment on my Blog. Please be kind, gentle and forgiving at least for January while I count as a newbie to Blogging - is that blogging ?- ask Lynne Truss.
After January, do take off the kid gloves and lay them back on the lavender-scented drawer-liners.

Do post. Do argue back. Do help me out there.
Do have a Happy New year

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