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For more than twenty-eight years, I have assessed scripts, edited, published and promoted just a few worthwhile titles - not ones the major publishers would have found it economically viable to publish, but ones I truly felt deserved to be in print. A risky enterprise, but it proved successful: our books like Patrick Moore's WITHIN THE GLADE and Sister Jane's SEARCHING FOR JOY (see story below) have given much pleasure. So forgive me, if I allow myself
a pat on the back!
At present, although I have some books still to sell, I have gone back to my writing. I'm also scheduled to give more POETRY SESSIONS/READINGS to both adults and children.
Go to NEWS FROM SANDRA AT SMH, for more, and to read wonderful commendations from colleagues and tributes from her authors.
For Bella, remembering Grandfather
You came home with a story.
You took in your purse to school
to buy a poppy for Remembrance Day.
You slid a pound into the slot
of the collecting, respecting tin.
Why did they not give you change?!
I know, I know -
a pound for a small child can be a whole fortune.
for one, your grandfather, my father,
gave an eye, an ear, the use of some fingers
and got shrapnelled legs, for war.
He was a peaceful, quiet man
but the First World War called him,
like so many, and he went into it:
blood, sand, mud, death, horror, and more.
Your pound, your well-saved pound...
think of it as a cool, soothing ointment
on a burning wound;
think of it as a binding, saving bandage
on a bleeding cut;
think of it as a soft, gentle nurse's hand
on a fevered brow.
Think of this NOW
(Although this was in the past,
it will always be in our lives.)
as a sweet, calming smile,
like one of yours, my daughter,
when I am sad or cross, or so in need of you.
So much your pound is worth,
beyond value, beyond definition.
Please be glad you gave it, gave it all.
(c) Sandra Saer
Tom Evans, of Heart Sussex, tweeted:
If you pick one thing to never have to do again, what would it be? For me, it would be picking up the toys after my kids.
This is my reply to him, extracted from a poem by Coventrry Patmore (1823-1896),
My little Son, who looked from thoughtful eyes,
And moved and spoke in quiet grown-up wise,
Having my law the seventh time disobeyed,
I struck him, and dismissed
With hard words and unkissed.
His mother, who was patient, being dead.
Then, fearing lest his grief should hinder sleep,
I visited his bed,
But found him slumbering deep,
With darkened eyelids, and their lashes yet
From his late sobbing wet.
And I, with moan,
Kissing away his tears, left others of my own;
For on a table drawn beside his head,
He had put, within his reach,
A box of counters and a red-veined stone,
A piece of glass abraded by the beach,
And six or seven shells,
A bottle with bluebells,
And two French copper coins, ranged there with careful art,
To comfort his sad heart..
Heartening news, if not unexpected:
THE ROBIN has been voted THE NATION'S FAVOURITE BIRD!
I still have some copies of REDBREAST The Robin in Life and Literature at £10.00 for (from £19.95) Personal Customers, but I must now ask for £2.00 extra towards UK P&P (it's a very heavy book to post!)
I read in THE LADY magazine that 'New research by Vetsure reveals a third of dog owners over 55 are likely to confide or seek comfort in their pet'!
If only Fred, the family dog, was still around! We communed daily and often, inside and outside our old Sussex cottage; even more, when the children had left home. I also communed with Thely (Othello), another lovely dog at my son's parents-in-law home.
Here are two photos to prove my point.
TWO ARCHBISHOPS, TWO BISHOPS
TWO DATES, TWO ARUNDEL CONNECTIONS
and ONE SMH BOOK!
In 1961, Michael Ramsey, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, went to Chichester Cathedral to dedicate the newly-rebuilt Arundel Screen, in memory of
George Bell (1883-1958), one of the most outstanding Bishops of Chichester.
Two of Bishop Rowan's special guests were Mother Angela and Sister Jane, two Anglican Sisters.
In 2008, on another equally special occasion, the recently-retired Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, visited Chichester to declare open George Bell House.
Two of Bishop Rowan's special guests were Mother Angela and Sister Jane, two Anglican Sisters. (see photo to the right)
Why am I telling you this?
Now we go back in time again, to 2003. when a small package arrived in the post. It contained an exercise book crammed with small handwriting, accompanied by pony-camera photographs which had been glued tightly into the book. A note read: 'Would you like to publish my story ? Sister Jane.'
Well - I threw up my hands, literally! Where to begin? 'Begin at the beginning...'. I went on to read a beautiful, heart-warming account of an Anglican Community's life and the devoted but joyful way the Sisters lived it. And of course I published it.
On the back cover of SURPRISED BY JOY A History of the Community of the Servants of the Cross (see details to the right), I quoted Eric W Kemp, Bishop of Chichester from 1974 to 2000, and the Community's Visitor:
This is an admirable and encouraging story. I have known the Community since 1974. It has given long years of faithful service to the church in various ways. The Sisters have been faithful to their calling through many changes forced upon them by circumstances.
Oh yes, the other Arundel connection.
In February 2014, Rowan Williams now known more correctly as the Rt Revd Dr and Rt Hon Baron Williams of Oystermouth, made a two-day visit to our Parish and Priory Church of St Nicholas, in Arundel.
On 22 February 2014, he gave the second in the church's 'Poetry and Faith' series, this time on Dylan Thomas, illustrated with readings of his poems. Next day, he celebrated and preached the sermon at the 10 am Eucharist Service.
Needless to say, the church was packed on both days, and a great many people (some, we had never seen before, but hope to see again) had the opportunity to listen, learn, and thoroughly enjoy what the erudite but engaging Bishop said, with such charm and humour.
Our Vicar, David Farrer (also a Bishop!) commented to me in an email, after the weekend, that 'the humble humanity of the man shines through'. That said it exactly!
Very sadly, Sister Jane Edwards, CSC, passed away. Her Requiem Eucharist at the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, East Preston, West Sussex, was packed with her many friends and members of her family. The Celebrant was Martin, Bishop of Chichester: the last Episcopal Visitor to the Community of the Servants of the Cross.
THE PEOPLE'S BOOK PRIZE
Sandra reading 'The Rat' poem during the Awards CeremonyAs the publisher of Patrick Moore's WITHIN THE GLADE Poems for Children of all ages! I represented him in May 2013 at The People's Book Prize awards ceremony in London. He had been nominated a finalist.
It was a glittering, glamorous evening, held in the Stationers' Hall of The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers in the City. Before the reception, I was filmed, talking about Sir Patrick, our long friendship, WITHIN THE GLADE and my own work as a poet and writer. (Click Here to view the awards evening on YouTube).
At the reception, I was introduced to Sir Frederick Forsyth, CBE, the Prize's Patron.
At dinner in the beautiful 17th Century banqueting hall. I sat between Orlando, my youngest son and my escort for the evening, and minister of Christ Church, Southampton (he had been announced with due pomp and ceremony to say The Grace) and Christopher McKane, a former Master of Stationers, and retired managing director of THE TIMES. With Chris, a stimulating and revealing conversation ensued!
Sandra with Chris McCane,
my right-hand companion at dinner - and still laughing afterwards!
It transpired that we had both started our careers as
juniors on local newspapers.
In my case, it was the CHESTER CHRONICLE; in his, the OXFORD TIMES.
WITHIN THE GLADE did not win a prize, but I was invited during the awards ceremony to go up to the podium, say a few words about Sir Patrick (I managed to keep it brief!) and read one of his favourite poems from WITHIN THE GLADE:
It was an appropriate posthumous honour for him, and the loud applause was gratifying, too!
Sir Patrick Moore, CBE, FRS
I met Patrick when I worked at the BBC, PR-promoting their books. We became friends when I worked with him on media interviews for two editions of
The Sky at Night.
The friendship lasted almost forty years...
When my four children were small, Patrick invited us over to his Selsey home where, in great excitement, they walked round the garden with him, peering through the telescopes and getting a master stargazer's guided tour. What an adventure!
Although he had no children of his own, apart from two 'adopted' sons, to whom he was devoted, he loved the company of small people (and big people, for that matter!).
It was, first, for children that he wrote the poems in WITHIN THE GLADE. However, I purposely sub-titled his little book (his only book of poems) 'A collection of poems written to amuse Children - of all ages' because, as with Edward Lear's Nonsense poems, like 'The Owl and the Pussycat', they have an appeal for readers aged nine to ninety.
Many tributes continue to be paid to him, most connected with his worldwide legendary position as an astronomer.
My own memories are of Patrick as a man. I could chat with him on many subjects, usually unconnected with the stars! He asked me once "Do you like avocados?" "Yes," I said. "And what do you make your sauce with?" he enquired. When I got to garlic, he said, firmly "I hate garlic!" I parried with "You should eat garlic. It's very good for the heart". He looked me full in the eye and said, with a smile "There's nothing wrong with my heart". Nothing else needed to be said.
He was so kind, so friendly, so hospitable, so generous with his time, and with the garden he threw open for Selsey events, especially those in aid of cats!
When, latterly, in hospital, I asked how he was, he just said "Not too well" (an understatement, so as not to worry me). Ending our conversation, he said "Goodbye, my dear". I never saw him again. But did I? Do I?
On the night after he died, I lay in bed, thinking about him. Something made me look up into the dark sky, and there was the brightest star I have ever seen, flashing and twinkling joyously. I said out loud "Hello, Patrick" - because up there is where he always wanted to be. And I still, on some dark nights, see that same star.
United Nations Year of the Co-operatives
The 2012 Union Nations Year of the Co-operatives presented a golden opportunity to raise global awareness of the Co-operative Movement's pioneers. My late brother, Roy MacGregor-Hastie, was one of them.
Roy MacGregor-Hastie, sheltering with a peasant friend from the rain
in Odalengo Piccolo, an ancient commune in the Piemonte region of north-west Italy
In the early 1960s, Roy went to live for a while, with his Italian family, in Odalengo Piccolo. This ancient commune was in the then impoverished heartland of north-west region of Piedmont in Italy, in the Province of Alessandria. There, despite political suspicion, and the hostility of the very peasants he wanted to help, he succeeded in bringing them real prosperity.
He became known affectionately as "Signor Roy", and wrote of his experiences in a captivating book - SIGNOR ROY.
THE CO-OPERATIVE NEWS published a major, illustrated feature about SIGNOR ROY and the book's significance, in its 23 October-6 November 2012 Special Issue. It highlighted the Co-operatives United Festival, held in the UN Year of Co-operatives, in Greater Manchester, and Rochdale, the designated World Capital
The link is:
My brother Roy lectured in European History, and was much revered at Kingston upon Hull College of Eduation, then re-named Hull College of Education, and finally subsumed into the University of Lincoln. In Hull, he was contemporary of Philip Larkin; they were colleagues and fellow-poets.
Because of Roys connections with Hull and its confirmation as the UK City of Culture 2017, I am now actively seeking sponsors to help to finance the re-printing of my brothers ground-breaking book. IT MUST NOT BE LOST! I am inviting 20 SPONSORS to contribute £100 each, or 40 SPONSORS to provide a modest £50 each. All sponsors will be listed at the back of the book (unless they wish not to be).
The moneys will cover my updating Introduction, words from Olga, his former wife, who still lives in Odalengo Piccolo, and a short note from a former student, who tells me Roy was one of the greatest influences on his life. He was taught by my brother when he was for a time Liberial Studies Tutor at St Asaph Grammar School, Flintshire, North Wales.
THE LUCKY ONES
I am still looking for a TV or radio 'home' for these important Plays inspired by, and based on the Eight Beatitudes.
See NEWS FROM SANDRA AT SMH for more details of my own projects.
DATES AND VENUES
St Nicholas Barbershop Quartet, warming up
a performance of SACRED NATURE in Words and Music!
It was lovely to give a repeat performance of our Celebration of Nature Writing, this time, in St Nicholas' Church, Arundel, with its wonderful acoustic properties. Our audience thoroughly enjoyed the evening,
clear from the resounding applause, hugs and handshakes we got afterwards.
|Saturday, 21 November|
9am - 1pm
| Arundel Farmers' Market, SMH bookstall there, as usual. With special Christmas offers!|
Window Space by Sandra Saer