A Poem to make Grown Women Cry.

                                                              A Poem to move one to tears.

 

This year, for Mother’s day, I received Poems that make Grown Women Cry. My daughter, knowing how much I enjoy reading and writing poetry, gave me this anthology; edited by Anthony and Ben Holden.

The collection includes masterpieces chosen and introduced by some of the world’s most eminent writers, actors, artists and academics. In addition to this list of famous and respected people are broadcasters and activists; making for a fascinating collection of poems.

Whilst I have enjoyed reading the whole collection, there was one in particular that really did make me cry.

Written by the English war poet, Siegfried Sassoon (1886 – 1967) this poem sends out a clear and painful message about a young soldier who died in the ‘hell we’ll never know’ in the First World War trenches.

 

Suicide in the Trenches.

I knew a simple soldier boy

Who grinned at life in empty joy,

Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,

And whistled early with the lark.

 

In winter trenches, cowed and glum,

With crumps and lice and lack of rum,

He put a bullet through his brain.

No one spoke of him again.

 

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye

Who cheer when soldier lads march by,

Sneak home and pray you’ll never know

The hell where youth and laughter go.

 

 

Simply writing down these few powerful words is enough for me to visualise the trauma these young men must have suffered in the hell we will never know. Driven to the point of taking their own life as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder; the families of these so-called cowards were made to feel ashamed. At that point in time, it was considered an act of treason to commit suicide in order to remove oneself from combat.

I find it so hard to believe that a parent was unable to grieve as they would have done, had their son died in combat. The words, ‘no one spoke of him again’ I find particularly sad.  My sadness transforms into anger as Siegfried Sassoon delivers the final punch. ‘You smug-faced crowds.’

 

Autism Awareness Day

 

World Autism Day 2018

 

We are approaching the eleventh annual autism day of 2018. A day when autism organisations around the world, celebrate the day, by way of unique fundraising events and raising awareness of the condition.

Raising awareness is fundamental in the strides forward that need to be made in order for this developmental disability to be recognised and fully understood.

Autism is a developmental disability that remains with a person for their entire life. Each child or adult with autism is unique. For this reason, a person is described as being on the spectrum. This describes the condition as having a range of similar traits of various degrees.

Most notably autism is characterised by noticeable impaired social skills, difficulty with communication and restrictive and repetitive behaviour.

This spectrum is why each person with autism, is unique and as such, their treatment plan should be bespoke. Early intervention, involving the entire family is the most effective treatment.

Asperger’s is a form of autism. It is characterised by impaired social skills, repetitive behaviours and often a narrow and limited set of interests. However, linguistic and cognitive development is not delayed.

Asperger’s is explored in the story of Alfie, the protagonist in Love, Secrets, and Absolution. Love, Secrets, and Absolution - novel

Alfie is not like other little boys, that much is clear from a very young age. He is a lonely boy, full of obsessive thoughts and repetitive behaviours. His young life is one long struggle for him.

Before the increased awareness of Autism, such children, all over the world were considered naughty and strange. No professional help was offered, or even available, and their lives and the lives of their families was made difficult.

 

Thankfully, the whole world is moving forward with the understanding of this neurobiological condition.

                                                                   Together we can make a difference.The Inner Wheel club of Warsop has been hosting events in support of Autism East Midlands.

Happy International Women’s Day

.                                   International Women’s Day 2018

 

A day that brings together women’s organisations, global governments, businesses and charities. The day will be marked with rallies, talks, networking events, marches and performances on a global scale.

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #PressforProgress. A strong call to whole communities, colleagues and friends, to think, act and be gender inclusive.

This is a call for motivation to change the gender parity gap. The Worlds Economic Forum’s Global Gender Report of 2017, suggests that it will take 100 years to close the gender parity gap.

The original aim of International Women’s Day was to achieve gender equality for women – this has not yet been realised.

With the many scandals surrounding gender issues and the recent Hollywood scandal, it is now time to #PressforProgress.

 

MeToo movement.

I read with interest that the OSCARS goodie bags this year contained: pepper spray, a rape alarm and a test to discover if your drink has been spiked. These offerings were as a result of the #MeToo movement; where women from all over the world came forward to share their story of sexual harassment.  How forward thinking of the OSCARS  management team.

It seems to me that this last decade has uncovered a lot of detritus, with profound results. I will watch with growing optimism, the progress as it takes place over the next decade and sincerely hope that the changes are in favour of our daughters and granddaughters. Sadly and to my disgust. The gender pay gap still exists in The United Kingdom, where women earn up to less than 14% less than men.

We have a lot to thank the suffragettes for, and all of the other women throughout history and the current times; who have valiantly pushed forwards and made sure that their voices were heard loud and clear.

Ladies I am proud of you all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Army of Grandparents Mobiliized

 

Army of Grandparents mobilized.

 

Up and down the country as schools and nurseries were closed. The army of Grandparents was mobilized to the front. While the Beast from the East enveloped most of the United Kingdom, Grandparents everywhere were being called to arms.

Blizzards, strong winds and drifting snow caused chaos, reinforced by the message from the Met Office as they issued a red warning – it’s most severe alert.

‘Your country needs you’ was the cry from frazzled parents as they attempted to make their way to work, fighting through the snow storms and icy conditions.

It is well documented that Grandparents provide immense support for their children and grandchildren alike. As the cost of child-care increases so does the need for struggling families to become dependent on their ageing parents.

Just because you don’t live next door doesn’t mean that you are exempt. Oh no. Armed with snow shovels and de-icer, grandparents pushed onwards to the front, ready to face any battle.

But does it end there? Once again. Oh no, my friend. Having found a way to push forward against the enemy of the force of nature, there are rules and regulations to be observed.

As your offspring wave a cheery goodbye and fight their way down the path that you have forged with your own snow shovel, they call out the final orders of the day.

‘I don’t suppose you could stay until the end of the week could you, only I’ve heard that storm Emma is on the way?’

Celebrating World Book Day

 

Celebrating World Book Day in the United Kingdom.

 I cannot think of a better gift for a child, than a book or a book token. Growing up, these were always my favourite gifts; and even now as an adult, I count book tokens and books amongst my favourite things.

On World Book Day, every child in full-time education in the United Kingdom is given a voucher to be spent on books. How amazing is that?

What could be more magical than reading to a child? Stories open up a world of wonder, feeding the imagination and educating at the same time.

 

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

 

 

The ADHD Foundation are calling for action from the government

 

The ADHD Foundation are calling for action from the government.

 

Victoria Derbyshire, an English journalist and broadcaster, today interviewed Dr Tony Lloyd on the BBC. Her live current affairs and debate programme discussed the call for action by the ADHD Foundation.

The charity says that there is a big economic impact in terms of ADHD going undiagnosed. An example was given, that some children with undiagnosed ADHD end up in Pupil Referral Units. The issues around early intervention are compounded by the fact, that these children cannot be officially diagnosed until the age of six.

Dr Tony Lloyd stated ‘nine out of ten exclusions at school are children with learning difficulties and other additional needs.’

These additional needs are explored in the story of Alfie, a young boy who is the protagonist in the book, Love, Secrets, and Absolution, available from Amazon and Waterstones.

Blurb.

‘People in the village gossip about Grace’s son Alfie. He is a lonely boy full of secrets, lies and obsessive thoughts.’

 

Love, Secrets, and Absolution - novel

 

Obsessive thoughts are one of the many issues that some children with ADHD suffer from.

OCD and ADHD Dual Diagnosis written by, Dr Amitai Abromovitch  a neuropsychologist and research fellow and Andrew Mittelman,a research coordinator; report that research suggests, one out of five children with OCD have co-occurring ADHD.

Seventy-five percent of all individuals diagnosed with ADHD are diagnosed with the impulsive hyperactive combined type.

Reference.

Abromovitch A. Mittelman A., Dual Diagnosis Misdiagnosis and the cognitive cost of Obsessions.

Strike Three. But J.K.Rowling is not out

 ‘Strike three, but J. K. Rowling is not out.’

Once again J. K. Rowling, writing under the pen name of Robert Gailbraith has written another striking novel.

Joanne Rowling, CH, OBE, FRSL, FRCPE, the British novelist, screenwriter and producer, is best known for writing the Harry Potter fantasy series. Her journey into the world of writing crime fiction has demonstrated once again the unending talents of this remarkable woman.

 Career of Evil, the third book in the series, about the private investigator, Cormoran Strike was aired on British Television recently and has proved to be yet another brilliant piece of work.

This follows hot on the heels of the previous two books in the series: The cuckoo’s calling and The Silkworm.

 Credit to.

Tom Edge who wrote the scripts and Charles Sturridge, the director who have quite clearly looked into the heart and soul of the books and transferred the story to screen magnificently.

 Review.

The story follows Cormoran Strike a private investigator played by Tom Burke; and his sidekick, wannabe sleuth, Robin Ellacott, played by Holliday Grainger.

Their highly flirtatious relationship adds another layer of anticipation to the drama, making for a crime-fiction drama that is softened at the edges.

But there is nothing soft, about the story content. Career of Evil begins with the gruesome delivery of a parcel containing Red blooded mail.

Not the variety of’ Male’ that Robin is accustomed to accepting at the office. The twist associated with this delivery is the symbolism of the content. No spoiler intended.

 

 

For those of you, who in the past have read my list of literary personalities I wish to invite for dinner at mine. You will have noted that J.K.Rowling is high on my list. I expect I will have to get in line amongst the thousands of others, who like me believe that her success is well deserved.

I eagerly await the concluding episode of Career of Evil and look forward to reading further crime-fiction novels written by, Robert Gailbraith.

The Beast from the East.

 

 

As the Beast from the East, the description that is given to the current weather front that is threatening, the East Midlands and much of the United Kingdom arrives; I began to think of days-gone-by, snuggling up around our coal fire.

My late father worked at Thorseby Colliery. As such we were lucky as a family to always have a warm house.  Concessionary coal was an integral part of his wages. The glow of the coal fire a welcome sight to come home to when the weather outside was freezing cold. Sadly, the era of the coal fire was to rapidly decline as a result of the Miners strike of 1984.

Thorseby Colliery closed in 2015, marking the end of an era of mining in Nottinghamshire.

 

 

 

At one time Nottinghamshire, with 42 collieries and 40,000 miners, was one of the most successful coal-fields in Europe. Many of Nottinghamshire’s towns and villages were established around the collieries. There was a good community spirit and a sense of belonging. Sons often followed their fathers into the mines or allied professions which supported the mining industry.

Sadly, all of this changed in March 1984 when Arthur Scargill led major industrial action.

The choice of whether to join a picket line or continue working; divided workforces, caused arguments within families and began fights across the country.

As the situation became worse, many miners refusing to work found themselves struggling financially and kitchens were set up by families to provide food for those who could not afford it. These struggles are explored in my book, a work of contemporary fiction.

Love, Secrets, and Absolution. Published by The Globeflower Agency.  Available from Amazon and Waterstones. 

Love, Secrets, and Absolution - novel

Extracts from Love, Secrets, and Absolution.

  ‘You heard the news?’ Grace nodded and said, ‘Will you be going on strike?’ Paul gulped his beer and then began to update Grace on what was happening. He told her that the Nottinghamshire NUM supported strike action, but some members wanted to continue working as they didn’t agree with it. Paul explained that he didn’t know what to do. His whole family worked, or had worked, in the mines of Nottinghamshire. His great-grandfather had helped to sink the first mine in their district and his own father had carried on the family tradition of working the coal face. He felt loyal to his family and fellow miners, and didn’t want to be a ‘scab’. But, if he went on strike then money would be tight.

Helping in the soup kitchen.

Paul went on strike, and initially tried to be constructive with his time. He planted the garden with the vegetables, as Grace had suggested. He also chopped down an old tree at the bottom of the garden and cut it into logs. Along with the loss of wages the concessionary fuel was stopped. Their last load of coal that was delivered would have to be used very carefully. Grace thought it was fantastic that Paul would take Alfie to the playground every day. However, she noted that Alfie never seemed happy upon their return. Money was very tight, so throughout the strike the wives rallied round and supported each other. Whilst Paul took Alfie out, Grace met her friend Hazel and they would talk about the strike. Hazel informed her that the Women’s Institute was helping struggling families, and she wondered if Grace would like to help set up a local soup kitchen with funding from the Women’s Institute. Grace thought that this was a fantastic idea and threw herself into this new role of helping others. She began to feel empowered by her actions and her confidence soared.

 

 

 

 

Make your travel dreams come true, through the media of books.

 

 

 

The Little Paris Bookshop.

Written by Nina George.

I took this delightful book with me, to read while travelling around Central America with my husband. But let me tell you! Despite the beauty of the places I visited, I yearned to be travelling with the protagonist of the story, Jean Perdu; aboard the ‘Literary Apothecary.’ Such a wonderful name for Jean Perdu’s canal barge.

I was transported through the streets of Paris and into the Champagne regions of France. The rivers Seine and Rhone beckoned me to visit, such was the wonderful descriptions  that the writer, ‘Nina George’ wove into this charming story.

This is an uplifting story of: love, loss and friendship. I was fascinated by the idea of a books content, helping to heal the tormented mind of a reader. Using books like medicine is a magical concept.
By giving a voice to Manon through the media of a diary, adds another dimension to this fascinating book.
The characters all came to life for me, each one unique and interesting.

 

Improving Lives.

                                     Improving Lives.

 

I am a great believer in donating to charity. However, of late, I am becoming confused, with respect to the increasing number of charities seeking a donation.

According to Wikipedia, charitable giving is the act of giving money, goods or time, to the unfortunate. Either, directly or by means of a charitable trust or other worthy cause.

Sounds pretty straightforward and heart-warming. Yes! It feels good to be generous and helpful. Fulfilling an inner need to be benevolent.

With all of these worthy causes, how do we know if our donation helps to drastically improve or save people’s lives in a cost-effective way? How do we know if the aid that is put in place, is sustainable? There are a countless number of charities to choose from and many are doing good work. The question is. Where should I give to accomplish the most good?

What is the answer?

This is a difficult one to answer. Medical research, medical welfare, mental health, learning disabilities, children and youth, hearing and visual impairment, disability, hospice, hospitals and helping the aged, are just a few, within one category. Phew! This is just the tip of the iceberg.

There are a number of different categories.

There are local charities, British charities, and International charities. The High street has charity shops, the Banks and Post offices accept donations when an appeal goes public. We now have the lottery charities, which appear to be new on the scene.

In the past, the majority of the charity work was done by the church. Also, do any of you remember the large animal-shaped collection boxes, outside of shops and Post offices where you could pop a penny or two in? Let us not forget the charity workers who relentlessly jangle their collection boxes and offer us a flag and a pin. No matter what the weather, these charity heroes trudge the streets and stand in draughty shop doorways. I am proud of you all.

Here is the thing. How efficient is the management of these donations? What is the percentage left at the expense of soliciting them? Apparently, there are governing bodies who are responsible for monitoring charities. For starters, there is a Charity register and a charity commission. Overall charities are accountable to the people who donate.

FACT.

Did you know that more than one million people-mostly children die each year, due to malaria? Insecticide-treated bed-nets that are relatively inexpensive can prevent these deaths. This is evidence-based fact. Perhaps we need quality research to identify the best use of our donations and identify ways of reducing the overhead costs of getting aid to the needy.

If there was a policy of one charity for all, where the donations were divided according to evidence-based need and effective use of funds, then that would solve my problem. There is another point that I would like to make, and that is my feeling that we should prioritise our children, the next generation, these are at the beginning of their lives and as such, deserve every opportunity for a good life.