Thanks to the 45 of you worldwide who downloaded at Amazon for Christmas – including Germany and Japan. It is a challenging read with widely mixed reviews – from ‘unreadable’ to ‘really enjoyed’ – but not enough of them.
As it is my first novel (of 5 planned – 2 others in advanced stage) I would really appreciate more constructive comments.
Even if you gave up on it part-way, please tell me what would have improved it for you.
Do email me email@example.com
Take a look around this website and see if my views concur with your own – do challenge if not! It is a website with only occasional comment, rather than a blog.
The book Blurb:
Who are these three characters at Grumpy Men’s Breakfast?
Can Circus skills rehabilitate Child Soldiers in War Torn Africa?
Will I get my Sixties in my Sixties at last?
These will provide the answer to the Question “What is the meaning of Life?” Kenneth Griffin’s life anyway.
Influenced in equal measure by the piss-up of Plato’s ‘Symposium’, the campaigning humour of Indrah Sinha’s Booker shortlisted ‘Animal’s People’, and the mystery of the ‘Book of Genesis’, Kevan Pooler appeals on many levels and after a real blow to the solar plexus, readers can’t fail to be moved by the denouement.
Classic Blue statement in a modern setting.
Beyonce Knowles sings the Etta James song “I’d rather go Blind”
For five years, young Emmanuel Jal fought as a child soldier in the Sudan. Rescued by an aid worker, he’s become an international hip-hop star and an activist for kids in war zones. In words and lyrics, he tells the story of his amazing life.
Hear War Child Emmanuel giving his story in Oxford.
He finishes with a song to Emma McCune the aid worker who rescued him and 150 other Boy Soldiers. “What would I be if Emma never rescued me?”
I hope my story helps, too.
The characters in “Vetted, not Barred” in 2010 were caught up in the maelstrom of activity and panic to Safeguard Children, well after the Soham murders. They felt completely tied up with red-tape. The notorious element was people having maybe five CRB checks, or more. The ISA was promoted as getting rid of this – of having a “Portable CRB”. It didn’t and still won’t have by the look of these weasil words:
“Early in 2013
We are currently working to develop and deliver a new Update Service with a proposed implementation date of early 2013. The Update Service will allow individuals (if they choose to subscribe to it, and pay a small fee) to apply for a criminal record check once and then, if they need a similar sort of check again, to reuse their existing certificate, with their organisation checking online to see if it is still up to date. This will avoid many unnecessary repeat applications. More information will be made available about this new service – in the mean-time, it is business as usual.” (Home Office)
Thom Yorke said : “I have a real problem being a man in the 90s… Any man with any sensitivity or conscience toward the opposite sex would have a problem. To actually assert yourself in a masculine way without looking like you’re in a hard-rock band is a very difficult thing to do… It comes back to the music we write, which is not effeminate, but it’s not brutal in its arrogance. It is one of the things I’m always trying: To assert a sexual persona and on the other hand trying desperately to negate it.”
This fits so well into the theme of “Apple?”
Greeny is one of the characters in “Apple?” He finds that miserable songs cheer him up. There is a page of links to his top 15 at the back of the book.
Comment to add your own favourite.
The international criminal court has delivered the first verdict in its 10-year history, finding a Congolese warlord guilty of recruiting child soldiers.
Children as young as 11 were recruited from their homes and schools to take part in brutal ethnic fighting in 2002-03. They were taken to military training camps and beaten and drugged; girls were used as sex slaves.
The verdict is the first at an international trial focused exclusively on the use of child soldiers.
The case will set legal precedents that could be used if Joseph Kony, the elusive leader of the Ugandan rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army, is captured and brought to justice.
“Apple?” opens in Africa: I wrote about Dougal and Kenneth in Africa, as my bit towards drawing attention to the issue. After the review period I will give £1 (+ 25p Gift Aid) to War Child for every copy sold.
He is so funny – not Ha Ha – the other sort.
They say that ‘Patriotism is the last resort of the Scoundrel’, but l have found that the cry of “Trotskyite” is the last resort of Conservatives, frustrated by anyone suggesting “the people” may have a view.
The Conservatives made a bogey man of the Communist, and over a hundred years since the term Trotskyite was coined, Cameron seeks to scare the those wavering just right of centre, back into the far-right line, by trotting it out again.
In “Vetted, not Barred” (currently a work in progress), I have a character nick-named Leo, after his Trotskyist leanings. For me and for my characters who do this, we are using “Trotskyite” as a Joke – he’s not scaring us. Cameron endorses my book!
Cameron is also a joke. He knows what he’s doing, but he surely doesn’t know what he is saying by criticising critics of the scheme, and saying it was time to “stand up against the Trotskyites of the Right to Work campaign”.
Is that another tautology – “Right to work”? We surely do have a right to work – get on with it. However, we also have a right to volunteer our services for free; we have a right within a paid activity like JSA, to opt for doing something for it.
The “Right to Work” campaign is surely saying there is a right to paid work, or to put it another way – we have a right to a paid job. If we agree to this, it will mean that everyone who is paid by the state, including benefits, is compelled to do something for it.
Is that Trotskyism or Conservatism?
[In a caring society, its young people surely have a right to work experience and to be able to afford to live independently. It is a job in itself supporting volunteers and in readying young people for the world of work.
Businesses do not do anything for nothing. Giving young people work experience, enables them to train someone up for shelf-stacking for free, assessing them and employing them if they are worth it, and getting rid of them if not. It saves on wasteful recruitment, unfair dismissal claims and on the (paid) job training.
In their onslaught on "Public Sector" Jobs, the Tories are trashing Youth Services across the nation, and paying A4E to do their work, and for the Chief executive to take the £8 million bonus.]
Is the Unpaid Work Experience Programme a “Modern form of Slavery?”
This Question was put to the Panel of “Question Time” last night.
The BBC itself says “Minister stumped over back-to-work.” http://www.news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/question_time/default.stm
None of the panel seemed to notice that not only is it Voluntary – it is – but it is also Paid. £50 per week is paid, not by Tesco and others using the volunteers, but by the tax payers.
Is it is antonym to say that something which is voluntary, is also paid?
Maybe that’s what stumped Ed Vaizey the Minister. Much as it was refreshing to have a minister say he didn’t know something because he hadn’t swatted that bit up, no one on the Panel answered the Question correctly.
They generally felt that any experience related to working life is valuable and I wholly agree. UKIP MEP Paul Nuttall stressed that it’s not Slavery, because it’s Voluntary. True, but not the correct answer. They all failed to point out the other distinction: that Slaves get nothing for working, where most Job Seekers and many of the Million NEETs get paid for nothing.
I applauded when the New Deal “Gateways” were explained to our Youth Service in 1998. I never saw it happen, though. The idea was that Young people had to be going through one of four “Gateways” in order to receive Job Seekers Allowance (JSA). These were basically: Employment– for JSA plus a contribution from an employer; Education or Training – for JSA plus expenses; Work in the Voluntary Sector – paid JSA plus £15, and another “V” – the real one – actual volunteering – but still for £50 JSA.
Participation in one of the four options was mandatory to receive benefits. Fair enough, I thought. But like all good riddles, there was also the fifth Gateway – to nowhere/no pay. The hinges rusted with no use. How rarely was that mandate enforced?
So I answer: No the Unpaid Work Experience Programme is not a Modern form of Slavery. People I pay £50 per week to, are offered the opportunity to do a real job. The employer doesn’t actually need them, but realises it will help the young person with experience which might get them a job later. That is good.
Tonight I will voluntarily work for no pay from 9.30pm until 3.30 aim. I will pay for the privilege of learning the job. With three others I will be walking round the town centre busy with people rendered vulnerable by drink. We’ll be picking up bottles, sweeping the broken ones and counting vomit sites. We will be available for first aid and keeping the peace. I will get cold, aches, and very tired.
I will be made to feel greatly valued by Police, Licensees, Bouncers and by many young people. I will gets hugs and pats on the back, and maybe even a kiss. Handsome pay.
I will love being a Street Pastor.
In the early 90s, one of Maggie’s henchmen voiced the realisation dawning on the cabinet that the “Enterprise Culture” may have a lethal flaw: it kills society.
Writing in the Times Education Supplement – in the dead month of August, when unfortunately few Teachers would see the free staff room copy – the cabinet member in the ‘Party of Law and Order’, suggested “Special Police” – volunteers – were in such short supply, that maybe a payment would be required.
Throughout the previous decade I had successfully recruited people to run local Youth Clubs. In one area, 12 completely voluntary clubs were run by sixty volunteers. Volunteers served an average of five years – the same as paid part-time workers. They did it for a different reason – to serve their local community, where paid staff wanted to serve young people generally, but also saw it as a job, with potential for a career.
As Thatcher’s ‘Enterprise Culture’ bit, the volunteers finished their ‘term’, but they were not replaced. Using the same recruitment techniques which brought in the sixty, I got no offers at all – not one. The ‘Enterprise Culture’ was actually saying to society “What are you Volunteering for, aren’t you good enough to get paid?”
According to the BBC, Thatcher “managed to destroy the power of the trade unions for almost a generation”.
She herself said: “… irresponsibility will for a large number of people become the norm. More important still, the attitudes may be passed on to their children.” She also “had great regard for the Victorians – not least their civic spirit to which the increase in voluntary societies pay tribute (M. Thatcher, The Downing Street Years, 1995)
She is famous for saying, “There is no such thing as society.” I believe she destroyed it. In talking up the “Big Society”, Cameron’s Conservatives should be aware that that their predecessor’s Thatcherite Enterprise Culture destroyed the power of the Big Society for a generation.
If they were ten years old in 1979 or 2000, or any of 30 years in between, they were influenced by that culture.
I remember asking some young people to help me carry their disco equipment into their club for them to be able to run their own Disco Night. They asked how much I would pay them. “Five Pounds” I said.
At the end of the evening they asked for their five pounds. I told them they had had it, even in the value of the equipment, but more so in the cost of the hall hire, their paid youth workers and my time and effort. Unfortunately the lesson I taught, could not unlearn the effect the “Iron Lady” had had on them or most of British society for another twenty years.
Their Youth Club, along with 25 others in the area that served 800 teenagers a week, no longer exists. My lifetime career – Youth Service – is no longer valued. Thanks to my Maggie Moriarty.
Will Cameron’s Big Society step forward, please?
[Category: The Youth of Today - Fifty years of them]
Philip Roth’s was Polio, or Polio did for his hero in ‘Nemesis’. Having just read it, and now reading about Sherlock Holmes’ Moriarty, brought me to thinking of my Nemesis: The Iron Lady honestly, really, nearly ‘did’ for me.
I quake at the idea of going to see “The Iron Lady”. Meryl Streep has long been my favourite actress because of her uncanny ability to convincingly impersonate.
I’m not sure I can cope with Maggie Thatcher’s face filling my whole field of vision for a second, not least for a couple of dramatic hours.
There are three elements of the Maggie Thatcher’s influence which rile me: The Enterprise Culture; her destruction of British Heavy Industry, and with it the labouring, working class; and her pseudo religiosity characterised by her creepy paraphrasing of St Francis’s Prayer for Peace.
The Enterprise Culture destroyed the Big Society which existed at the time (See other blog – Youth of Today – how the Iron Lady spoilt it for them)
I’ve lived in ‘Middle England’, in both senses, all my life, near the Car Factories of Oxford, the Cotton Mills of Lancashire, the Steel Mills of Sheffield, The Hosiery Mills of Mansfield, and the mines of Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire. I’ve seen the all decimated and many workers inculcated to the dependency culture.
St Francis is the Saint of the Poor. I belonged to his Order of Friars for ten years. To have ANY Conservative Millionaire bowdlerising Francis’s prayer is tantamount to blasphemy. Millionaire Denis Thatcher’s Iron puppet, Maggie, did it to cynically hoodwink the poor, and bring unthinking Christians into her safe hands. It worked. Unforgivable.
My life has been spent within a caring Society, in the midst of families working hard in near dead industries, and espousing the virtues of loving my neighbour and giving to the poor. It has been at times a desperate struggle for me.
Thank you, Maggie Moriarty.
[Category: The Youth of Today - Fifty years of them]
“We’ve got the first ‘undred pound ‘ooligan, Kevan, do you kn0w that?” Our friendly local Bobby and Management Committee member was proud of the milestone we passed at Potter’s Bar Youth Centre in 1971.
“How come, Peter?” I asked.
I could guess who it was, but didn’t know about this incident away from the Youth Centre. It had taken me a while to tame the membership after the peremptory departure of the Leader-in-Charge. I discovered how dark was the cloud he had left under, only many months later. The ‘ooligan I suspected had led a gang who terrorised both the youth centre (and the other young people of course – they are always the highest proportion of victims of youth crime) and the Tottenham estate.
Twenty (sic) of the gang had eventually been convicted of a favourite trick of standing blocking the road. When the driver got out they would add some insult before shambling off. When they added injury to the insult, the law decided they went too far.
At Christmas, PC Peter had told me with much relish, that they had the leader in the nick, rolling round in his own vomit, in his brand new full length fur coat that his Daddy had spoilt him with.
So what had he got up to now?
“He gave some lip to a bloke at the football match and they done ‘im – he’s the first person to be fined an ‘undred pounds for being a football ‘oologan?”
I didn’t ask if he thought we should put up a plaque.