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Over twenty-seven 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 a wonderful Recommendation posted on a social-network site by a long-time friend, and fellow poet and colleague.
LENT is a time when it's nice to be as quiet as possible, on one's own... I've just 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'!
I wish Fred, 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.
ALONG THE BRONZING LANES, SMH's major anthology is currently under a 'double spotlight' on two of the poems: one showing World War I personal respect; the second, exciting news about an unusual honour.
(see NEWS FROM SANDRA AT SMH)
But first, a tribute to my father, Alan MacGregor Hastie:
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 it worth,
beyond value, beyond definition.
aren't you glad you gave it, gave it all.
1979, from Along the Bronzing Lanes
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, this February. 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.
2012 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 to be held, in the UN Year of Co-operatives, in Greater Manchester, and Rochdale the designated World Capital
I AM STILL LOOKING FOR SPONSORS TO HELP FINANCE THE REPRINTING OF MY LATE BROTHER'S GREAT BOOK - IT MUST NOT BE LOST! I am asking for TWENTY SPONSORS to provide £100.00 each, or FORTY SPONSORS to contribute £50.00 each. This will cover my updated Introduction, a list of all the sponsors with their contact details (if they wish it), printing, and marketing costs.
THE CO-OPERATIVE NEWS has a major, illustrated feature about SIGNOR ROY on its website.
The link is:
S. M. H. S.
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.
SMH DATES AND VENUES
7 and 8 April, 10-4 pm
SMH has a bookstall at the Norfolk Centre, Mill Road, Arundel
(opposite the Museum)
10 April, 7.30 for 8 pm
JOAD BRAINS TRUST, Celebrating the 62nd Anniversary of C E M
Joad's death. He was a South Downs philosopher and famed as
'Professor' Joad, a panellist on BBC Home Service's wartime
'Brain Trust. Our Arundel panellists include Simon Brett, John
Munro and - yours truly, Sandra Saer!
Come and join us for what promising to be a great evening!
Window Space by Sandra Saer