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The Rat

One of 23 brilliant cartoons
by Euan Dunn
WITHIN THE GLADE: Poems for Children
(of all ages)
by Patrick Moore
(illustrating one of his favourite poems!)

I am a very friendly Rat,
Always ready for a chat.
Yet when I start to build my nest, Most people say "You are a pest!"

I think this is a crying shame. And I hope that all of you will shortly take a different view. I merely want to stay at home
and practise on my xylophone.

It's not my fault that I'm a rat - nature's taken care of that!

Softcover: now £8.00 UK post-free
1st edition,SIGNED COPIES: £10.00 UK post-free
ISBN 978-0-9568591-0-5

Why do adults read children's books? Blame modern life !
Dr Louise Joy, a Cambridge University academic, believes classic children's books, and the work they inspire, attract older readers because they give them things they cannot find in everyday lives, including direct communication, tasty home-cooked food, and tolerance towards eccentricity...(representing) 'a symbolic retreat from the disappointment of reality'.

Like THE WATER BABIES. Did you see the recent TV Programme on this book? (I re-read it every year!)

My Independent Bookshop is a new 'Reader Recommendation Site' recently (early April 2014) created by Penguin Random House, with Hive.

'Too often,' we are told, in Dan Franklin's Blog in The Bookseller magazine, 'the web assures us we are right, and that we've got great taste. But the art of bookselling and great publishing, is actually predicated on the idea that no-one knows what they want until they are introduced to it.'

There's nothing new in that! Read BFI Rebecca Barden's profound comment opposite. I posted it a long time ago.

Dan's blog continues: 'And recommendation amongst friends is particularly special because someone who knows you intimately (!) can put something into your hands that they've discovered and want you to discover in turn.'

Nothing new there, either! That's exactly what The People's Book Prize (Patron: Sir Frederick Forsyth) was set up to encourage.

Welcome to SMH!

Email: s.saer1@btinternet.com Tel. 01903 884968

'A Garden Shed industry'. That is what David Holloway, a former, distinguished Literary Editor of the Daily Telegraph, called SMH ENTERPRISES. It was founded in 1987 with the publication of COLDWALTHAM A Story of Three Hamlets, my history of the Civil Parish of Watersfield, Coldwaltham and Hardham. At that time, I lived in Watersfield at Pear Tree Cottage, and the 'garden shed' was my kitchen!

Things have developed somewhat since then! The name changed some time ago to SMH BOOKS. For almost thirty years, my work has included, and still includes, assessing scripts with a view to publication, and editing. SMH has published just a few worthwhile titles, not economically viable for the publishing 'Big Boys' to take on board, but ones which, I felt, deserved to be in print.

A risky business? Yes, but it paid off. My country books and poetry collections have sold well, and copies have found their way round the world. AN EXALTATION OF SKYLARKS - 2,300 years of Skylark prose and poetry - became a triple-award winner on publication. My children's book, THE GIANT AND THE MOUSE, received a prestigious David St John Thomas award. And as for WITHIN THE GLADE - Patrick Moore's only book of Children 'For Children of All Ages, well, as many of you know, that has been the greatest success story of all - and an enjoyable one, too!

Recently, I decided to go back to my writing, and stop publishing. But... I couldn't resist re-publishing Roy MacGregor Hastie's SIGNOR ROY. It took four years to get together the finances and carefully re-edit the book, for a paperback edition. THE BOOKS ARE NOW IN !

All kinds of local, national and international connections support my brother's book.

Local: I was asked to prepare a flyer to be distributed when Arundel Co-op opened, after refurbishment back in February. More than 200 copies flew (sorry!) out, and it was posted on Facebook, with the front-cover image. (See elsewhere on this page) It is hoped to launch SIGNOR ROY at the Co-op (my 'local'!) just before, or during Arundel Festival (20-29 August). Readings from SIGNOR ROY will be given at Arundel Museum during the Festival.

(see SMH Dates and Venues below).

National and international: The Co-operative News, distributed in print and on their website, all over the world, has already mentioned the coming of the book, and plan to follow-up shortly, with a major, illustrated review. An Italian edition is currently being prepared by my brother’s son, and my Godson Alasdhair. It will go on sale in Italian Co-ops, who already know of the plan.

Until mid-August, I have a Personal Customer Special Offer of £8.50 (retail price of £9.95), for the first 100 requests received; UK post-free. Cheques, made payable to SMH Saer, should accompany contact details. On payment - by PayPal as well as by cheque, books will be sent.

SIGNOR ROY is a fascinating, informative book; important social history simply told, with many amusing interludes. You'll love it!

Go to NEWS FROM SANDRA AT SMH, for more, and to read wonderful commendations from colleagues and tributes from her authors.

For one I loved
on the Anniversary of his Birthday
4th March

Come, sky, go blue !
and take away the grey
that threatens to engulf
my mind on this new day;
saddens my heart
with so much sunless gloom
like dust, a-gathering
in an empty room.

Come, sky, go blue!
And let me think of you:
the comrade, whom
I miss, beyond description.
Give me star joy
that I may find in life some glimpse
of other dazzling days to come,
even, without you.

(c) Sandra Saer


Roy MacGregor-Hastie, sheltering from the rain with a peasant friend in Odalengo Piccolo, an ancient commune in the Piemonte region of north-west Italy.
As many of you know, I have been trying for some time to raise funds to re-publish SIGNOR ROY, my late brother's account of founding a Co-operative in Northern Italy, bringing prosperity to the poverty-stricken region of Monferrato.

At last - a breakthrough! READ ON:

Because of the 'Co-operative' connection, I was asked to prepare a flier about SIGNOR ROY, for the re-opening on 19 February, after great refurbishment, of Arundel Co-op - right next door to where I live! I had 300 fliers printed, of which more than 200 were distributed very quickly indeed in the store.

Below is the two-sided flier, which contains a PRE-PUBLICATION SPECIAL OFFER, I need the money raised to pay for the re-printing of the book. All other costs involved in the republication, will be met by me. If you would like to have a hard copy of the flier, let me know.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Payment may also be made by payPal
(Go to How to Order, for my contact details)

Signor Roy Flyer
Click Thumbnail to download Flyer


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's Cambridge home..

Sandra with her faithful companionSandra with her faithful companion

Here are two photos to prove my point.



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. (And, in my book, and in that of the 200+ who have recently signed a Petition to have his name cleared and his greatness reinstated, a Bishop forever to be remembered.)

Archbishop Williams
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.'

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.

SURPRISED BY JOY A History of the Community of the Servants of the Cross This is a beautiful, heart-warming account . On the back cover, I quoted from the Rt Rev's Eric Kemp, Bishop of Chichester, 1974-2000, and the Community's Visitor:

...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.

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, unforgettable visit to our Parish and Priory Church of St Nicholas.

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.


Sandra reading 'The Rat' poem during the Awards Ceremony

As 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 Saer with Chris McKane
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: 'The Rat'.

It was an appropriate posthumous honour for him, and the loud applause was gratifying, too!

Sandra Saer

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.

S.S. xx


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.


Arundel Festival (20-29 August)

Thursday, 25 August 6.00pm - 7.30pm Arundel Museum Sandra reads from SIGNOR ROY

Friday, 26 August 12.15 pm Jubilee Gardens NELLIE THE ELEPHANT - and Other Creatures (not just for children!). Words read by Sandra Saer, Ricky Richardson and two young people,with Music by The St Nicholas Barbershop Quartet


SMH Specials

A History of the Community of the Servants of the Cross

ISBN: 978-0-9534611-3-4
by Sister Jane CSC
now in short supply
£10.00 to Personal Customers, UK post-free

Click for more details

Price:£11.00 RRP
Leather-bound, limited edition
Special Offer to Personal Customers: Signed copies, £8.50, UK post-free
ISBN: 978-0-9512619-6-7
by Sandra MacGregor Hastie

Click for more details
REDBREAST: The Robin in Life and Literature

Published price:£19.95
Special Offer for Personal Customers:
**unsigned copies only now £10.00 plus £2.00 towards UK P&P

ISBN: 978-0-9553827-2-7
by Andrew Lack

Click for more details

Published price for Re-printed COLOUR EDITION:£13.95
Personal Customers £10.00, UK post-free
**Copies signed by Richard Mabey and Stewart Beer: £11.00 UK post-free
ISBN: 978-0-9512619-7-2
by Stewart Beer

Click for more details

Published price: £9.95
Special Offer to Personal Customers: £8.00, UK post-free*
ISBN: 978-0-9534611-2-7
by Sandra Saer

Click for more details

Published price:£12.00
Ideal for school and home production, including Home Education groups
£8.00 UK post-free
ISBN: 978-0-9568591-1-2
by Sandra Saer

Click for more details

Published Price:£8.50
Personal Customers £7.50, UK post-free
ISBN: 978-0-9568591-2-9
by Sandra Saer

Click for more details
Within the Glade: Poems for Children - of All Ages

Published Price 1st edition, £9.50
2nd edition (11.00) £8.00, UK-post-free
1st edition, signed by Patrick Moore £10.00 UK post-free
ISBN: 978-0956859105
by Sir Patrick Moore

Click for more details

Noted in
The Bookseller magazine:

On a discussion
about picking
bestselling titles,
the British Film Institute's
Rebecca Barden
told publishers
the answer was
not to follow
the latest trends...

'Don't give people
what they have -
give people
what they haven't
yet realised
that they need'

she advised.

Wise words indeed!

Yet more Wise Words! -
This is not just about novels, however. We poets and writers also need to imbue our words with compassion and understanding.

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