Friday, 11 November 2011
Tuesday, 18 October 2011
Friday, 30 September 2011
How can I choose between langoustine and potato stew eaten in a cosy Iceland restaurant in a freezing February, or fresh Capitaine fish from the river Niger, cooked on the river bank and eaten in lamplight beneath an enormous moon with shooting stars overhead? A rich stew of goat served by a Tuareg in his home in Timbuktu or a plate of reindeer stew served in a Sami tent in the Arctic Circle? Cuba, not known for its five star cuisine provided the best spit-roast pork in the world. They say appetite is the best sauce and certainly we had trekked a good few miles up on the mountains to reach it. Lobster and crocodile were also on the menu here so who cared if bread often ran out owing to short supply?
Friday, 12 August 2011
A Little Success: authonomy Blog | authonomy writing community: Announcing the Winner of the Pitch Writing Competi...
authonomy Blog | authonomy writing community: Announcing the Winner of the Pitch Writing Competi...: "Last month we launched a pitch writing competition for authonomy authors. The premise? Pitch us your novels – we’ll select the strongest pit..."
Monday, 11 July 2011
Friday, 17 June 2011
Sunday, 13 March 2011
Jamie Byng who dreamed up this incredible event, opened the evening quoting C.S. Lewis, ‘We read to know that we are not alone.’ In such a large crowd, we certainly weren’t alone and were in for a treat listening to many authors, as well as actors, read aloud. Some read from their own books, while others read work from other well-known writers. Fiction was joined by poems and autobiography. Listening to great authors like Edna O’Brien, Margaret Attwood, John Le Carré, and Phillip Pullman was a delight, but for me, the highlight was Alan Bennett. I’ve never been a huge fan of his, but hearing him read from A Life Like Other People’s, one of the 25 WBN titles, made me want to read it for myself. I was lucky enough to receive a copy in return for one of my own books.
Since the launch, I have been busy giving away my 48 books. Some have been appreciatively received at Homeless Action Barnet, others at Chase Farm Hospital, and some have gone to people I know, many of whom will, in turn, pass the books on. I have registered some copies on BookCrossing and have released them into the wild! Who knows who may capture them?
If my chosen book, A Fine Balance, which I am re-reading, brings its new readers as much pleasure as it brought me, it will be a great job done, and I hope that it will perhaps open up somebody’s world while enabling somebody else to know that they are not alone.
Thursday, 3 March 2011
The launch event is tomorrow night in Trafalgar Square. I'm looking forward to it but hope the temperature improves a bit. It's exciting to be part of this massive event.
Saturday, 5 February 2011
On World Book Night, 20,000 book-lovers will be doing just that. Each has selected a book from 25 titles, and will be giving away four dozen of their chosen book - to anybody they please. The aim is to encourage reading, so giving books to people who may not be great readers or have ready access to books is an important aspect of the project. An additional 40,000 books will be delivered by WBN to places such as prisons or hospitals, bringing the total to a million books for distribution.
I've been selected as a 'giver-away', and will be handing out copies of Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance. Set in India of the mid 70s against a turbulent political backdrop, it charts the lives of four people who come together in circumstances none of them could have foreseen. It shows how unlikely bonds and friendships can be formed across cultures. It especially resonates with me as I spent two exciting and stimulating months in India in 1974 as a young overlander (before the word back-packing was invented - before guide books, Internet cafes and texting home on a daily basis).
I'm thinking hard about the possible recipients of my book and will be registering some copies with BookCroosing. Like my 1974 journey, some of my chosen books will be sent on journeys of their own and will, I hope, be caught by people I don't know, read, enjoyed and passed on.See: http://www.bookcrossing.com/
Monday, 10 January 2011
I have just seen the excellent film - The King’s Speech. Colin Firth who plays King George VI, brilliantly demonstrates the agony of a stammer, made worse for George VI as he ascended the throne at a time when broadcasting was a new and vital medium for the Royal Family.
Many people are aware that King George VI stammered and overcame it, but how many realised, until this film, that he had specialist help to do so? In this case it was from Australian, Lionel Logue, wonderfully portrayed by Geoffrey Rush. The film, based on Logue’s diaries and letters, has put speech therapists into the limelight. About time, I say, as very few people know anything about this profession - the one in which I have worked for most of my working life.
‘A four year degree just to teach people to speak properly!’ exclaimed one of my friends. Perhaps I should say former friend, as he never quite recovered from hearing the long list of subjects we studied and the breadth of speech, language, voice and swallowing disorders we now work with. It has been estimated that speech and language therapists deliver £765 million in benefits to the UK tax-payer (but please don’t ask me how this has been assessed) and our work with swallowing problems saves, not only lives, but over £13 million savings to the NHS every year by avoiding other costly treatments and support.
Although now known as ‘speech and language therapists’ the early therapists evolved from working in the speech and drama field, and they worked mostly with people who stammered and had articulation difficulties. The work was, as the film portrays Logue explaining, an experimental approach with no set working methods. ‘Evidence base’ wasn’t a term in common use then!
The first official clinics for speech difficulties was established exactly 100 hundred years ago in 1911 at Bart’s Hospital. A couple of years later the indomitable Elsie Fogarty, Principal of the Central School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art, based at The Albert Hall, established specialized training courses and clinics for people with speech difficulties. The First World War saw these new speech therapists pioneering work with ‘shell shocked’ soldiers and those with acquired speech and language disorders from head injury.
In 1925, the same year that the then Duke of York gave his first broadcast public speech, a new department was established in the Central School of Speech and Drama with a three year course for speech therapy. Fifty years later, I became a student there! 1926 saw courses set up at West End Hospital, and the National Nose Throat and Ear Hospital.
The Association of Speech Therapists was instigated in 1930, with members mostly having trained in the remedial section of speech and drama training. Those who had received specialist and hospital based training formed the British Society of Speech Therapists.
Eventually these two associations came together as the College of Speech Therapists, founded in 1945, with Lionel Logue, the King’s speech therapist, as one of the fellows enrolled on foundation. King George VI became patron in 1948 at the request of Logue, for its 350 members. After his death, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother became patron until her death in 2002, since when HRH The Countess of Wessex has taken the role. At the College’s Golden Jubilee in 1995, it became the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.
Sixty five years on the speech therapy diploma is now a four-year undergraduate degree and over 14,000 College members work with a huge range of communication and swallowing problems in a variety of settings, including hospitals and rehabilitation units, clinics and schools, centres for adult with learning difficulties and with young offenders.
The College has just launched its Giving Voice Campaign, attended by Lionel Logue’s grandson along with another of Logue‘s clients from the 1940s. Perhaps, with this publicity I won’t have to explain what I do for a living, and I won’t hear yet another person quipping ‘Oh. I’d better talk proper then!' Perhaps.