November 30, 2012 · 12:01 am
What’s the connection between Charles Dickens and this: Should have died in infancy. Didn’t. At the age of four had meningitis and went into a coma. Recovered. Had a stroke with complications that lasted a year. Survived. Major blood transfusions. Long term organ damage. Hours of chelation therapy five times a week to reduce iron overload from blood transfusions. Bruising, discoloration, pain, pain, pain…
Dickens is renowned for cataloging the suffering of the poor and downtrodden, but this is not the torment visited by his imagination on some poor character. It’s real suffering. It’s what happens when a young girl is born with sickle cell anaemia.
A young girl like Chantelle Msumbuga. She’s now a young woman – almost 16 years old. Last weekend she told me and some others about the succession of pain and setbacks she’s undergone in her short life. And she was so cheerful and beautiful as she told it. Her blog is here. She educated us about the condition and the very invasive and intensive treatment she received at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) for Children.
Liliane’s lovely buns – you have to bite through the head of Charles Dickens to taste them.
Now do you get it?
After JM Barrie and Peter Pan, Charles Dickens is the famous figure most associated with this London hospital for children. Shortly after it opened, he helped save it from bankrupcy and to double in size.
That’s why Charles Dickens fan Christopher West (who also lectures under the nom de plume Charles Dickens London) arranged a special Dickens Day to raise funds for GOSH – to mark the connection between writer and hospital during this year, the 200th anniversary of Dickens’s birth.
Liliane the beautiful cake maker from the Cote d’Ivoire
Oh – there’s another reason too. It’s not just Chantelle who medical staff at GOSH are helping. They also saved the life of Christopher’s granddaughter not so long ago. So, like Chantelle he’s also saying thank you for personal reasons.
Chantelle and Christopher were helped and supported by lots of other people too. People like the Kings College Chorus, schools, experts and Liliane. She’s from the Cote d’Ivoire, has beautfully accented French, beautiful buns (no not that! I do actually mean the buns in the picture) and is just beautiful.
There was a lot of beauty around that day – and that includes Continue reading →
Filed under art, D - Loose Bloggers Consortium, friends
Tagged as africa, anaemia, art, beauty, blackwater, blackwatertown, bravery, buns, cakes, chantelle msumbuga, charles dickens, charles dickens london, christopher west, Cote d'Ivoire, cupcakes, doom, doom and gloom, gloom, GOSH, Great Ormond Street, hospital, Ivory Coast, JM Barrie, Liliane, Lilianne, loose bloggers consortium, Peter Pan, sick, sickle cell
February 8, 2012 · 1:58 am
These two faces of London are both trying their best to make the city and the people therein more grounded, more aware and more connected with each other – for which I salute both Christopher West and Emeka Egbuonu.
1. Christopher West brings London’ s history back to life in the persona of Charles Dickens – or perhaps it’s the great man’s ghost. I’ve seen this ghost in action and he’s a lively recreation. And topical given that it would have been Charles Dickens’s 200th birthday today (7th February). The Charles Dickens London blog is here. You can invite him to give a talk – in character and Dickensian outfit – at your gathering. For a sample – check out his appearance in this Voice of America news report by correspondent Dominic Laurie.
My favourite Dickens character? The villain Pecksniff from Martin Chuzzlewit. From Pecksniff we derive Pecksniffian – sanctimonious, hypocritical. (Do you have a favourite – good-hearted or malign?)
And what’s your Dickensian name? To find out take a first name from a great grandparent and add on the name or street name of your primary school (but leave out the “Saint” part to allow variety). Which makes me something along the lines of Charlie Derryvolgie – which has a good ring to it, I think.
2. Emeka Egbuonu arrived in east London from Nigeria aged seven, and survived the blows and temptations of teenage violence, to become an anti-gang intervention worker. He runs a scheme called Consequences – Breaking the Negative Cycle which aims to awaken young people to the alternative possibilities their lives can offer once they take responsibility for their actions. Continue reading →
Filed under friends
Tagged as blackwater, blackwatertown, charles dickens, charles dickens london, charlie derryvolgie, christopher west, consequences, consequences breaking the negative cycle, crib, derryvolgie, Dickens, dickensian name, dominic laurie, egbuonu, emeka, emeka egbuonu, english riots, hackney, literature, London, london riots, martin chuzzlewit, pecksniff, riots, voice of america, writer
July 1, 2011 · 12:19 am
On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog. Wasn’t there a cartoon to that effect? (Oh yes. There it is.)
Same with internet dating. That six foot blond Viking type you met online may have been literally telling the truth. You only get to see that he’s also six feet wide when you meet face to face. Which is when you also notice that he smells like a Viking who hasn’t washed since they used to rule England. (True, happened to a mate of mate.)
Speaking of smelly Vikings – did you know they used week-old horse wee to kill bugs in their hair? Couldn’t afford combs. It was the amonia in the aged equine urine that turned their hair blonde. Does that make you feel differently about ABBA?
But the main point is this – how can you be sure that anything or anyone on the net is who they say they are?
Or if they even exist at all?
Well, I can now officially confirm that Padmum does exist.
Remember I asked if anyone wanted to come to the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy with me. Padmum – or Padmini as I now call her – immediately put her hand up.
And she came. All the way from Chennai in India. Chennai! In India! With her daughter Nitila. That’s them in the picture. In the flesh Continue reading →
Filed under blogs, friends, life
Tagged as abba, ammonia, art, BBC, Belfast, bill rogers, blackwater, blackwatertown, blogs, charles dickens, charles dickens london, chennai, chris wesson, comb, crimesceneni, Cultural Snow, day of the jackal, drumcree, Frederick Forsyth, friend, Fuxingman, gerard brennan, gurudad, hair, horse, India, Ireland, madras, malachi O'Doherty, mick fealty, nitila, Northern Ireland, On My Watch, OnMyWatch, Orange Order, Orangemen, padmini, padmum, politics, Portadown, prayer, prayer debate, RA, royal academy, Sam Henry, samhenry, sluger o'toole, Stan Burridge, Summer Exhibition, thailand, the cable, tim footman, trading as wdr, troubles, urine, viking, wee, will leitch, will the belfast journo
June 18, 2010 · 3:16 am
Finnish. (Bear with me, my proofreading is slow.)
Blackwatertown the book and Blackwatertown the blog have both come good this week.
A while ago Kerry View told me to hurry up and “finish the damn book. I promised to get it!”
Just the other day Tony Schaab asked, “Is your novel completely written?”
The answer is – Continue reading →
Filed under blogs, My Writing
Tagged as annie rhiannon, Baino, blackwater, blackwatertown, blog, Bobballs, book, charles dickens, charles dickens london, Comely Banking Crisis, Cultural Snow, Duke of York, Exile Imaging, finish, Finland, Finnish, For the Fainthearted, Fuxing Man, Head Rambles, Helen Trokara, Jake Kale, James Digby, Kerry View, Life in China, links, little pinch of salt, malachi O'Doherty, My Writing, Nigel Good, Polo, Sam Henry, Spartan, Stan Burridge, Systematic Weasel, tim footman, tomy zimnoch, Tony Schaab