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Category Archives: Charity

On the turning away…

I doubt this is the first post you’ve read today on this subject and I’m sure it won’t be the last, so maybe that means I shouldn’t even bother.

You might even see what it’s about and scroll on past. After all, I’m sure you all have busy lives and you only have so much time to spend on the internet.

“Compassion fatigue”, I think that’s the phrase somebody once coined to describe the phenomenon.
In a world so filled with tragedy and injustice, we, as a society, merely the more fortunate spectators of other people’s distress, become hardened and inured to their suffering, somehow managing to push them to the back of our minds, just another unpleasant statistic.

But the situation in which Europe finds itself today is not something we can turn our faces away from, the sheer weight of human destitution and degradation that plays out on our television screens daily cannot be ignored or shrugged off as “not our problem”, not when we are all supposed to be part of the same global community.

The refugee crisis that now faces our world is second only to the evacuation of civilians during the holocaust of the second world war, when millions of people were tortured, murdered and persecuted under the Nazi and Soviet regimes.
During that time, public opinion was so strong that a huge mobilisation of aid began, culminating in the formation of the Kindertransport, a series of humanitarian rescue missions which brought up to 10,000 children across war-torn Europe to the safety of the UK.
These innocent victims, many of them Jews who had escaped extermination by Hitler’s death squads, had already suffered terribly at the hands of the advancing forces which had invaded their homelands and the majority of them would never see their families again, their parents murdered in places with names that will forever live in international infamy;  Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor, and Treblinka.

The children, most of whom arrived by train at London’s Liverpool Street station, were welcomed by a charitable nation, now itself at war with Germany, were clothed, fed, educated and cared for, staying with volunteer foster families or at hostels which were set up in hotels, farms and schools around Britain.
Not only were these refugees given respite from the suffering they had endured in their native countries, but after the war they were allowed to remain here permanently and were given British citizenship, or relocated to Canada, Israel, America and Australia where they were finally able to make new lives for themselves, albeit as orphans from the most destructive conflict in human history.

Fast forward seventy years and look at how far we’ve come since those days:
We no longer live in the blitz-ravaged and impoverished post-war nation we inhabited back then; despite the minor inconvenience of enforced “austerity” brought about by the worldwide financial meltdown of a few years ago, we are still a prosperous country which benefits from all the material trappings of western civilisation; our lives, for the most part, are comparatively easy and trouble-free, our needs catered for by a welfare state that so many brave men and women died to protect from those who would enslave us.
And yet the spirit of global charity and accepted duty of care that we once showed to others less fortunate than ourselves seems to have declined exponentially in relation to our increase in wealth and prosperity.

At least that would appear to be the case if some of the right-wing press and hate-filled posts on social media are to be believed.

The number of vitriolic newspaper headlines, status updates and rabble-rousing political speeches denouncing displaced migrants and refugees as “lazy spongers”, “scroungers”, “benefit cheats” and, paradoxically, undeserving recipients of “British jobs” grows every day, despite the compelling evidence that a great many of those requesting asylum are fleeing persecution, incarceration, torture or even death in their own countries.

The weasel words of politicians and journalists, who claim the country is “full” and therefore unable to accept a few thousand extra members into our already rich, multi-cultural society, most of whom are simply looking for a safe place to work hard and raise families, make me almost ashamed to be British sometimes.

Many of those children who were rescued by the Kindertransport in Europe’s darkest days not only went on to become valuable and hard working members of society, some actually volunteered for the armed forces and died fighting for the country that had taken them in during their hour of need.
Any of those that survived, looking at their adopted country now, must despair at the neglect and misanthropy shown by some that share the land they swore to defend.

It seems that only in the last few days has the enormity of the crisis sunk in to the national consciousness, and then only at the price of adding one more innocent life to the toll of those needlessly sacrificed, this time on a beach usually thronged by holidaying tourists.
Aylan Kurdi, a three year old boy who travelled to Turkey with his family to escape ISIS and the brutal situation in Syria, drowned in his father’s arms, along with his five year old brother and their mother, when their small boat capsized on the final leg of a journey that should have saved them from a life most of us cannot imagine.

Only the heartbreaking photo of an aid worker carrying Aylan’s lifeless body away from the spot where he was found, washed up on the shore of a foreign land he knew nothing about, now seems to have galvanised our unforgivably slow-moving government (finally bowing to an increasing public outcry) into taking action.

Too little, too late.

It has once more fallen to private citizens and charity organisations to take on the responsibilities that we would usually expect to be shouldered by the state; many UK families and local authorities unilaterally offering places for refugees to stay and settling up collections of basic essentials, to be distributed amongst those still trapped in the transit camps, both in the middle east and Europe.

{The problem isn’t only in Europe, see a report on another disturbing story HERE}

The next step should be doing something about the estimated 11 MILLION empty properties, enough to put a huge dent in not only the current refugee crisis but also the domestic homelessness problem that has plagued many countries on the continent for years.

In the seventy years since the end of a war that decimated whole countries in Europe, I don’t believe that the charitable spirit of the British people which demanded the humanitarian rescue of holocaust victims has deteriorated to the point of not caring about displaced and persecuted refugees, but the continuous drip-drip-drip of negativity in the press and the rise of bigoted hate groups, especially on social media, has had the knock-on effect of making us question the legitimacy of genuine claims for asylum, no matter how horrific evidence to the contrary may be.

It’s a sad day indeed when it takes the hopeless grief of a broken father, burying his entire family in the full glare of the news media, to make us remember that we need to remain human and compassionate, despite the inescapable fact that, if not for an accident of birth, that could have been you or I, paying the ultimate price for the sake of freedom.

I will leave the last word to Pink Floyd and the song from which I borrowed the title of this post: “On The Turning Away”.

[Should you wish to assist in the aid effort, please consider donating to The Red Cross or to the independent charity Calaid, set up to help refugees still caught up in the transit camps in Calais.]

 

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Spring windup and the persistence of The persistence of memory…

Yesterday…

As is predictable for an English bank holiday Monday, it is now grey and raining outside, but the rest of the weekend has been very pleasant indeed, not least because we had an unexpected guest on Thursday evening.

Old friend and co-star of my Wales watching… posts, (about our pilgrimage to Portmeirion, the home of psychedelic, spy-paranoia fixated cult TV show, The Prisoner) Trevor arrived on the doorstep not long after I got home from work, ostensibly on a short break to try his hand at some fishing on the rocky North Devon shoreline, but as with many weekends that I’ve spent with Trev, plans tend to be rather elastic.

While I went off to work on Friday morning, after a late-ish night of catching up and reminiscing, Trev went in search of a suitable fishing spot and somewhere to pitch his specially purchased tent.
When I returned home at lunchtime however, Elaine had already put him to work in the garden and there were a few more jobs lined up for us too.

Obviously there were some memories to be mulled over, some bollocks to be talked, some cider to be drunk and some pool to be played along the way, so what with buying and fitting a replacement for our suddenly defunct electric shower, fitting a new ceiling light in the bathroom, drinking some more cider, laying a couple of paving slabs, making and consuming a pan of,..ahem..herbally enhanced Hyena Soup, (enabling you to make a “laughing stock” of yourself) repairing our front door, reading all the e-mails and blogs I’ve got behind with, and drinking some more cider, I haven’t had a lot of time to do any blogging.

And Trevor never did go fishing.

The upshot of which is, this post is like one of those cheap-to-make TV episodes which recap a character’s back-story for no discernible reason.

Except this is really interesting.

Honest.

Ok, now I’m worried I’ve built it up too much.
All I was going to do was give you a bit of an update really, nothing earth-shattering.

{Note to self: comparing posts to crap tv show formatting is not sensible or effective blog promotion}

Back in February I had a bit of a rant about the rise of stupid nomination challenges on social media and how it would be nice if people used the same communication technology for doing something positive for a change, suggesting BlogNominate as the way forward.
As with a lot of these things, there was plenty of support for the idea but I’ll be honest, I hadn’t really considered all the logistics of the plan and it kind of fizzled out.
But not before two friends at work had rebranded the idea as EggNominate, the idea being that people would contribute either cash or Easter eggs to the appeal, to eventually be distributed among the residents of Little Bridge House children’s hospice and the local children’s cancer ward.
The final total was over 150 chocolate eggs, which were delivered personally to the children, and nearly £200 in cash to be donated to the hospice.

But one event I probably can shoehorn into the “Random act of kindness” category is the fundraiser we held at work, whereby myself and the two erstwhile EggNominators, Mike and Shane, challenged ourselves to raise the modest sum of £45 between us on the Friday of Breast Cancer Awareness week.
There was a catch however; should we reach our target in the two hours or so before our morning break, we would allow a couple of our female colleagues to give us a makeover (our version of the “make-up-on selfie” that became a popular male response to the campaign of women posting photos of themselves without make-up on social media to promote breast cancer awareness) which we would wear for the remainder of the working day.

It seems as though there is an unhealthy urge for people to see grown men made up like the world’s least convincing transvestites, (although a disturbing number of people told me how good I looked as a woman) because by ten o’clock we had raised nearly £130.

Ok then, let the plastering begin…

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Me, getting a bit of slap on, courtesy of Gemma, one of our volunteer artistes.

…and yes, apparently I have to let my hair down..

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That “Cher / Max Wall hybrid” look in full.

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“The Sugarblokes” – Shane, Mike and I, with our make-up artistes Gemma and Naomi.

Possibly the most worrying part of the day was, having driven back from work in full make-up, with my hair by now a tangled mess, I stopped at our local shop on the way home and……nobody batted an eyelid.
Which only struck me as strange until I remembered that over the past few years I’ve walked in there dressed as a cowboy, Elvis, a native American chief and a pirate, amongst other things, so perhaps it wasn’t that strange after all.

(additional makeover photography by Vernon Smith, cheers Vern)

And finally in this random round-up of stuff that’s occurred to me this Spring, I have a puzzle for you;

What is the connection between a 1931 surrealist masterpiece by Salvador Dali and a blog post about the horrors of war?

Well, this is The Persistence of Memory, a painting by Salvador Dali…

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..and this is The Persistence Of Memory, a blog post by dalecooper57.

I pinched Dali’s title because it went with the theme of remembrance and the importance of keeping memories of terrible events alive for future generations to learn from.
I was pleased with the post and I got some good feedback from it.
Ok. Happy with that.

(At this point I should say that my previous best day’s traffic on the whole blog was 269 hits, and that was on a day I posted three times. Very rarely do I get anything like those numbers, especially on a day that I haven’t posted anything)

So imagine my surprise when, over a week after publishing the post, which got a respectable 100+ hits on the day, I suddenly got 385 hits on that post alone, ending the day on an astounding 409!
Now this was amazing enough a month ago, but ever since then the same post has been getting many more hits than any other, to the point that on one platform alone it’s passed the 2,000 mark, something I doubt anything else I’ve written has come close to.

All of which would be fine except for one thing.
No comments.

Not that I’m saying nobody commented on the post originally, several of my lovely readers made valuable contributions via that little box at the bottom of the post (the one so many of you seem scared of. Come on in, I won’t bite) but after the avalanche of traffic began I haven’t had one single word of feedback and that does strike me as odd. And not just because I’ve had a lot of spam get past my filter recently either.
(Note: Before you ask, none of the search terms for the post were mistaken searches for Dali’s painting)

So if you’re one of the allegedly thousands of people who have read The persistence of memory… in the last couple of weeks, let me know.
Because much as I’d like to think that it was a moving, heartfelt, brilliantly researched and potentially award-winning piece of journalism, therefore attracting inordinate numbers of (very shy) new readers, I can’t help thinking that something maybe amiss.

Please feel free to prove me wrong.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of new readers, I’d like to welcome the flurry of new followers I’ve been honoured to receive in recent weeks (Diary of an Internet Nobody now has 320, thank you all) I shall attempt to justify your interest in my continuing total failure to find a theme.

Since I began writing this post yesterday, I think that I should now wind-up my Spring clean of the odds and sods from the blog and I shall leave you with two views of another fabulous Devon sunset from the weekend, along with the rainbow and ethereal clouds that appeared opposite it.

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{See, that was better than a flashback episode of Star Trek wasn’t it?}

 

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One for the good guys…

I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, bloggers are some of the nicest people I’ve met on the internet.
Whether it’s raising money for good causes, increasing awareness of social issues or simply providing help and advice to other bloggers and aspiring writers, there’s always someone who’s willing to lend a hand or act as a sounding board for new ideas.

Well I think it’s time we put some of that goodwill to good use.

The mass media, social media and the internet in general are so full of bad news, inequality and small mindedness these days, that sometimes it’s just good to read about something decent happening for the sake of decency itself, without any hidden agenda or need for personal gain being involved.

The amount of lazy, thoughtless racism and casual, allegedly comical bigotry that permeates the average antisocial network in the 21st century sometimes makes scrolling down a newsfeed an exercise in anger management and restraint, when it should be a reasonably innocent way of killing time and keeping in touch with friends.
And that’s without the videos of gratuitously violent executions, the inane rantings of Katy Hopkins or people trying to drink themselves to death.

Which brings me neatly to the subject of this post, the continued rise in the idiotic, dangerous and now officially deadly social media game, Neknomination, which has now claimed at least two lives as a result of “players” daring each other to indulge in massive alcohol intake in a short space of time.
Now however, the inventors of the game have begun furiously backpedaling in the face of the public backlash generated by the deaths, and by incidents involving kids unused to drinking becoming seriously ill after downing ridiculous quantities of alcohol.
In one case, a mother came home to find her nineteen year-old son unconscious on the sofa after having drunk three bottles of spirits and posted a photo of him covered in vomit on Facebook to teach him a lesson. He was lucky that he passed out whilst sitting up, had he been lying down he almost certainly would have died.

So the instigators of the craze have told their followers to switch instead to Donominate, the idea being that participants nominate each other to do “random acts of kindness” for strangers.

Now, call me cynical but I can’t picture the sort of bloke (unsurprisingly the players are almost all male) who’d drink a pint of whiskey with the contents of an ashtray tipped into it would suddenly take to carrying old ladies’ shopping or mowing lawns, just because some faceless internet goblin told him to.
I also have serious doubts about the sincerity of the goblins, thinking it rather more likely that they are attempting to dig themselves out of a hole of their own making, in the face of furious public opinion.

But let’s just for a moment be charitable and assume they are fully sincere and terribly contrite, the concept of doing small good deeds purely for the sake of it definitely has the makings of workable idea.
All it needs is a group of like-minded people who are prepared to put the idea into practice.

Do you see where I’m going with this…?

Yes that’s right, I am officially inaugurating a whole new branch of internet-philanthropy, Blognominate.

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No, wait, come back!
This doesn’t involve donating money, sponsoring an event or even sitting in bathfulls of baked beans, all it requires is that you, the enlightened bloggers of the web, perform some small act of kindness for another person, whether it be a complete stranger or a needy neighbour, in the hope that the resulting karmic harmonics go some way to redress the balance of goodness in the world.

I haven’t been able to raise a team for this year’s Exmoor Startrek charity night hike and we haven’t had a chance to do any daft dressing up at work recently, so for my part it seemed as good a time as any to try and engage in some goodwill recruitment on the factory floor this morning.
And I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at the willingness of my colleagues to pledge their support to my plan, which is as follows;

I have asked my workmates for a list of candidates from which we can choose one or more people who we agree would benefit from a random act of kindness, and once we come up with a suggestion we shall organise a party of willing volunteers to somehow make their lives just that little bit easier or more cheerful.
It doesn’t have to be spectacular, it could be anything from tidying up a garden or doing a bit of decorating, to collecting shopping or clearing out a garage. Nothing that’s going to cost a fortune or require specialist equipment, just something to demonstrate that there are plenty of folks out there who are happy to make the world a better place by giving of themselves for no other reason than it feels good to do good.

Whatever we decide to do, you can be sure I shall document it with photos and possibly video in a future post.

So how about it, I’m nominating all of you, are you up for it?

Obviously you don’t have to be a blogger to take part, I’m sure anyone reading this has somebody they know that would appreciate a helping hand.
But if you have a Facebook account or any other social media profile, why not ask your friends to join you for the Blognominate challenge and help score one for the good guys.

 

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One man’s commenter is another man’s troll…

All it takes is a news report on the death of a statesman, rock legend or movie star to bring the usually silent contributors to internet discussions scuttling out of their holes, pouncing on the slightest opportunity to cast their pearls of vindictive wisdom before the common swine of social media.

Such was the case this week with the deaths of both Hollywood star Paul Walker and elder statesman, Nobel Peace Prize winner and all-round international man of the people, Nelson Mandela.

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From the first post on my Facebook newsfeed the morning of Walker’s tragic accident, messages of sympathy and condolence appeared every few minutes, (at which point I have to admit I Googled his name, not being a fan of the Fast and Furious movie franchise that made him famous) and it soon became obvious that he had been a much loved and respected figure in an industry so often populated by superficial and cynical egomaniacs.

In an age when celebrities tend to see a chance to do good deeds as more of an opportunity to get good publicity, it was good to discover – albeit in tragic circumstances – that here was a man who really did “do a lot of work for charity, but I don’t like to talk about it”, not only setting up a disaster relief charity in the wake of a tornado which hit Alabama, but also personally funding and helping distribute aid in earthquake-ravaged Haiti.
All without the slightest hint of a photo-op or magazine exclusive.

And yet not 24 hours after this online outpouring of seemingly genuine grief and compassion, the mean spirited, troll-like inhabitants of the Weird Wide Web hunched over their permanently sticky keyboards to start producing rants and memes that would render any subsequent display of public emotion trivial and confrontational.

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First we had a wave of rants berating users of social networking sites like Facebook for posting memorials to Walker which failed to also commiserate with the families of Roger Rodas, the driver of the car in which they both died.
As if they themselves had been busy posting tributes to Rodas the whole time, champions of the common man that they are.

But that was nothing to the pseudo-indignation that was unleashed when, a week later, Mandela died and the whole world mourned a man who many considered the father of modern South African society, a man who was the face and voice of oppressed black South Africans even during 27 years of imprisonment.

It was then that the Trolls went into creative mode, knocking together a particularly fine example of their art.
This one featured pictures of both Walker and Mandela, but instead of showing respect to two good men it chose to once again castigate those unfeeling enough to have paid tribute to a mere film actor when there was a real-life, bona-fide saintly hero to be eulogising.
The text went along the lines of;
“If you’ve spent a week grieving over a dumb movie star and don’t know who this man (Mandela) is, then YOU are what is wrong with the world”

Now, this automatically assumes that anyone with the compassion to mourn for a charismatic and generous entertainer is unable to feel similar emotions toward a Nobel winning politician.
But worse than this is the fact that people are then encouraged to engage with these agent provocateurs, giving them the satisfaction of responding with the skewed logic of trolls everywhere.

For despite having started off their diatribe seemingly in support of the ANC leader, when someone in the comments posts an objection that they should be free to show equal respect for both men, they somehow reverse their position and resort to the fatuous “One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist” argument, belittling Mandela’s contribution and instigating a less than dignified slanging match between other commenters on the thread, before slinking off to their hole unnoticed.

What none of these anonymous cyber-trolls seem to understand (or more likely choose to ignore) is that some young people who grew up with certain celebrities in their lives really do feel a bond with them and are genuinely devastated when they pass away.
It is almost certainly a more profound and sincere loss than that felt by the politicians and pundits who cry crocodile tears for the cameras at the thought of a week of retrospective news specials and biographical documentaries when a head of state dies.
And I’d like to think that they also don’t give enough credit to those same young people, most of whom are perfectly well aware of what a great man Nelson was and what he contributed to the world.

So don’t give them the satisfaction.

Because unless they read every obituary, in every paper in the world, every day of the year and then mourn the loss of every life lost that day, they are just like the rest of us.
Each of us touched by the lives of others in different ways, not always knowing the way in which our lives are affected by those we don’t get a chance to meet but still open to being part of their legacy.

(Much respect and gratitude to Ho for his fabulous “Cyber-troll” cartoon, done at very short notice this afternoon)

 
 

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Final score…

So it’s official.
The votes have been counted, the totals tallied and the ‘taches tittivated.

Faces have been palmed, donations handed in and awards handed out.
Posts have been polled, opinions have been opined and I will finally feature a physiognomy free from facial fungus.

That’s right, it’s results time folks and first of all I’d like to doff one final congratulatory cap towards Mr Adam Pain for organising such a top event last weekend.

Only today A World Of Pain posted a message of thanks to all those involved which I have his kind permission to reproduce here.

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Next up is Movember.
I’d like to thank everyone who has donated money or posted words of encouragement, and to pay tribute to fellow Mo Bros and Mo Sistas whose sheepish thumbs-up whilst indicating their own top lip topiary has become the international salute of Team Movember.

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My own modest campaign has made £70, contributing to a worldwide total to date (involving 964,862 fundraisers) that has reached the astounding sum of, get this, £54,241, 979!

Amazing effort all round I think you’ll agree, one that will allow charities around the world to continue the good work they do in the research and treatment of prostate cancer and other men’s health issues.

Oh, and special mention to honorary Mo Sista and Diary of an Internet Nobody Movember mascot, Queen Audrey of Michigan.

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Which brings me to the results of the first Readers Choice Award for most popular blog post.

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I wasn’t sure what to expect when I decided to try polling my readers to find out their top three favourite posts.
What I found is that people like reading but they don’t like voting, so I had to put together a shortlist myself.
I would have liked to have got a few more people engaged in voting, but I’m happy with the result none the less.

Drum roll please.

With 27% of the vote, the runaway winner of my first ever blog poll is Dog days. (occasional tales of life with my people)… the episodic life stories of our much-missed dog Karla, told from her own unique perspective.

A fitting result, as it is almost exactly two years ago that we lost her, and one which has prompted me to “translate” another chapter of her memoirs for my next post.

Karla loved being made a fuss of, so I’m sure she would have appreciated all the attention from her new fans.
I can just see her happy little face now…

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I shall leave the poll on the Greatest hits… page active for a while, just in case anyone new to the blog fancies checking out the others on the list.

So that’s about it, thank you again to all who got involved and watch out for my review of the year, coming soon…

 

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Surrey with a cringe on top…

Part one – Meeting the Man.

It was back in 1983 when I made my one and only other trip to Guildford.
The last time I travelled up by train from Sussex as an excited teenager, on my way to an audition for the stage management course at the drama school there.
As it happens, I passed the audition and was offered a place, only to have my hopes dashed by the County Council bean counters refusing me a grant, otherwise I may have by now been part of the apparently thriving arts scene in this bustling, historic and leafy Surrey town.

Fast forward 30 years and this time I was making the journey with Elaine in my trusty Nissan Micra, all the way from rural North Devon.
But let me tell you, I was no less excited.

Possibly even more so.

Because this was it.
The event for which I’d been waiting with no small degree of anticipation for several months had finally arrived.

After a pleasantly uneventful journey “up country”, along spectacularly colourful, tree lined roads that cut through the undulating autumnal landscapes of Wiltshire and Hampshire countryside, we arrived at the pub guesthouse on Saturday afternoon (functional but disappointing) and went to stretch our legs in a nearby park.
And it was just as we returned to our accommodation that the man I was most looking forward to meeting arrived.

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Adam Pain, the man behind the  excellent A World Of Pain blog and co-creator of the Golden Face Palms, to nobody’s surprise turned out to be a thoroughly decent bloke.
Instantly likable, hospitable to a fault and possessing a talent to infect you with the same passionate enthusiasm he has for this mad idea – to spotlight the cringingly awful behaviour of those paragons of ineptitude and insensitivity in public life who clog up our newspapers and TV screens with their endless drivel by giving them awards, to be collected on their behalf by those who nominated them – he talked animatedly over a pint about how the project had first evolved and how blown away he was at the way support had grown in the lead up to the event.

(It is worth pointing out that Adam already has form for this type of spur-of-the-moment altruism, having used connections made via his job as music lecturer at the Academy of Contemporary Music to put together a charity single to raise money for Sophie, a little girl with cancer.
The video below was made after asking people on Facebook to send in thumbs-up photos, the idea being to get as many “likes” as possible.
The campaign eventually raised over £300,000, enabling Sophie to have life saving treatment)

Having agreed to meet up later on for a longer chat over a few drinks Elaine and I went in search of sustenance, finally settling on one of Adam’s recommendations, The Old Wheatsheaf, on the grounds it had the same name as our old local back in Sussex.
By coincidence they had just won Pub of the Year, and if the food and fine selection of draught ciders were anything to go by it was well deserved.

Suitably fortified we strolled back to meet Adam and his brother Matt at a more drink-centric establishment in the village, where we were soon chattering away like old friends. (I mentioned to Adam at the time how reading each others’ blogs had been a sort of virtual introduction, and that I’d known we’d get on before we even met) 
Adam walked with us back to our digs on his way home, where we bid him goodnight and promised to meet up after we checked out on Sunday morning to finalise plans for the evening’s ceremony.

Once we’d taken our post-breakfast walk with Adam and his two dogs it was time to get nearer the action.
Ho and Trevor, old friends from Sussex, were coming up for the festivities and we were moving to meet them at a Premier Inn nearer town in order to have less of a journey home that night.
So having decamped to our new quarters and caught up with each other, eaten dinner and had a few pre-awards drinks, it was time (“at last!” I hear you cry) for the main event.

Part two – Beyond the velvet rope.

A quick trip up to our room to change into our glad rags and we were ready to go.

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              Me and my girl.

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Look out Guildford! With Ho and Trev.

Arriving at The Star Inn we were met by our genial and frenetic host Adam, seemingly calm and eager to get things underway, who welcomed us with his normal affable charm and commented on how impressed he was with Ho’s cartoons on the blog before vanishing on some last minute errand.

And so to the ceremony itself.

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The function room was already buzzing with excitement and laughter when we walked in, the neon signs of the bar giving a cozy glow to the back of the room, contrasting with the brightly lit stage in front of us.

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Adam took the stage to wild applause and introduced The Spud Smith Band, the house band for the evening, who played superb off the wall funked-up jazz fusion numbers throughout the show.

Then the award ceremony began in earnest with the presentation of Golden Face Palm awards in categories including;
Film – won by Life of Pi for managing to win the Oscar for best cinematography, despite being mostly CGI-created animation;
Sports Personality – Oscar Pistorius for many obvious reasons;
and Music – Robbie Williams for Candy because, well, have you heard it?
All picked up – to the accompaniment of rapturous applause and wild cheering – by ordinary folk who had voted online for their own personal favourite celebrity cretin-fest or moment of teeth-grinding political stupidity.

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“And the winner is…” Adam presents the first award.

There were many others, which I shan’t list here because the event was filmed for YouTube release next month sometime and I’ll let Adam do the honours on his own blog.

However I can say that one of the awards was for;
Documentary – won, despite tough competition from a film about London’s ceremonial bumbler-in-chief and novelty politician Boris Johnson, by a Channel 4 News report about Nigel Farage in Bulgaria.

And who’d have believed it, but that’s one of the many nominations I’d sent in, along with one for the deeply unpleasant Katie Hopkins (who I was secretly hoping was going to be the one I’d receive an award for) but never mind, she also won something. Much to my relief.

So I made my way to the stage amid much cheering – Farage had proved a popular choice – and to my delight was presented with my commemorative plaque by one of Adam’s former students, now BBC Radio 2 A-listed rising star, the beautiful, charming and extremely talented Emma Stevens.
(Sadly the only photo of this moment of glory was captured by Ho, on actual film, but I will post it as soon as I get it)

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During the evening we were entertained by other former alumni of the ACM where Adam works.

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    Liv Dawson wows the crowd.

Apart from the wonderful Spud Smith and his band, we had music from Liv Dawson who had the crowd enchanted with her haunting voice and also a set by comedian Matt Blair, topped off with a short but fantastic set from Emma Stevens herself.

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Here are some clips to give you an idea, including Matt’s brilliant text-speak karaoke song and one of the tracks from Emma’ debut album that she performed live.

I’m honoured to say that Adam singled me out more than once during proceedings, at one point getting the entire crowd to stand and raise a glass in salute to the dedication shown by me (and my “entourage” as he called it) by travelling from Devon to attend.
Although I think he may have used the word “lunatic” once or twice, I still choose to take it as a huge compliment from a man who not only brought together a whole load of amazing people in the name a really good cause, but showed them all a bloody good time and helped raise money for charity into the bargain.

I’m also happy to report that the parents of Sophie, the little girl for whom Adam raised the money, were there to present an award and to tell everyone that she was doing fine and that they’d celebrated her birthday only the day before.

And as if that wasn’t enough, before we all went our separate ways the next morning Adam insisted on meeting up so he could buy us breakfast.

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The breakfast after the night before, Adam – second right.

A complete and utter triumph all round then.
We met some great people including top bloke Matt Pain, the lovely Simon Venn and the even lovelier Debbie, Adam’s wife.
And what’s more, I’m reliably informed that there are already plans in the offing for next year’s event, so watch this space.

Now, where can I position my award for maximum impact…?

 

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The Sunshine Award. (7 degrees of separation)…

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I’m delighted to say that I’ve just received another blogger award.
This time it’s the Sunshine Award, presented to me by Lanthie at Life Cherries and as usual it comes with some pass-on-the-award-to-other-people-and-give-some-facts-about-yourself type rules.
But if you’re a regular reader then you’ll know that I try and do something a little more interesting with my nominations, so with that in mind jet me introduce you to my new award.

All seven people nominated are of course automatically recipients of the Sunshine Award, but in addition they will receive my brand new accolade. (along with bespoke Ho artwork)

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Tenuous Lynx Award.

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Here’s the idea. We all know we can connect ourselves with each other via six degrees of separation but I thought I’d go one better and connect the seven blogs I’m nominating for my newly minted award by seven degrees, all via stuff I like, thereby giving you that all-important insight.

Just because, alright?

(It would please me greatly if you attempt something similar when you pass it on to whomever you choose, but feel free to just bestow the Sunshine upon them if you so wish)

Let us begin…

☆★☆★☆★☆
Life Cherries gave me the award.
Cherries have stones.
The Rolling Stones recorded a song called Mother’s Little Helper, about housewives getting pills from their doctor.

The Doctor is soon to be played by John Hurt in the 50th anniversary episode of Dr Who and he was also in classic sci-fi horror masterpiece, Alien
4º …the second sequel of which stars a host of British actors, including Charles Dance.
5º Charles now stars in the TV adaptation of George R.R.Martin‘s brilliant Game of Thrones.
6º Game of Thrones has a plotline involving dragons..
…bringing me to my first nominee, windhound’s colorful and experimental Dragon Shades blog, featuring beautiful abstract digital art and photography.

☆★☆★☆★☆
Dragon Shades brings colour to life.
Living Colour were a heavy rock band from the late ’80s who I once saw at Reading Festival.

The Ballad of Reading Gaol is a poem by Oscar Wilde.
Wilde was played by Stephen Fry in the film of his life.

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Stephen Fry – Wilde man.

Fry used to be in a double act with Hugh Laurie.
Laurie has found fame in America both through his music and as the unconventional doctor in the title role of House.
House Music is often accompanied by elaborate computer graphics and digital video effects.
Which are just the sort of things that are on display on the blog of my second nominee, Waking Spirals.

☆★☆★☆★☆
Waking Spirals combines cutting edge art with literary quotes and philosophical musings…
…as does Waking Life, the extraordinary film by Richard Linklater who also made A Scanner Darkly.
Scanners is a film by David Cronenberg who also made disturbing dystopian hi-tech nightmare Videodrome, starring Debbie Harry
..who was in Blondie.

Blondie began their career at CBGB, along with other punk legends The Ramones and Talking Heads.
Talking Heads made my favourite concert film of all time, Stop Making Sense..
…during which David Byrne wears a giant white suit…
..and what do you have in the back of a suit?
A Vent, that’s what. Which is what Ron calls his blog, and he’s nominee number 3.
Check out his take on life in the big city, it’s faaabuuloso.

☆★☆★☆★☆
A vent is something you would use to release air.
Air are a French electronica band whose first single was the sublime Sexy Boy

…from the album Moon Safari and when the Apollo 11 mission went to the moon they planted a flag.
Flagg is a character in many Stephen King novels including The Stand, many of which contain monsters..
…and Stand is a song by R.E.M.
..who recorded an album called Monster.
6º  They also had a massive hit with Everybody hurts.
And what do you have if everybody hurts?
A World Of Pain, that’s what. Adam’s blog is funny, clever, thought provoking and occasionally mischievous. Go and take a look, you won’t regret it.

☆★☆★☆★☆
A World Of Pain’s Golden Face Palms are raising a lot of dough for cancer charities.
Dough is what bread is made of and Pain is the French for bread.
Pizza is also a dough and Pizzaman is one of the many aliases of Fat Boy Slim.

Fat Boy Slim’s real name is Quentin and Christopher Walken appeared in one of his videos.
Walken also appears in another Quentin‘s film, Tarantino‘s Pulp Fiction.
Tarantino’s films frequently contain prolonged shoot-outs, much like those favoured by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in Spaced.
Someone else who was severely spaced was Arthur Dent in Douglas Adams’ fantastic Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, in which he and his friend stick out their thumbs and travel round the universe..
…as opposed to Quillan and Angela at Toemail, the fourth of my award recipients, who travel round the world and send back stories with photos attached, all of which contain a toe or two. Go dip a toe in their blog.

☆★☆★☆★☆
Toemail posts all feature feet.
A giant foot ends the Monty Python title sequence
…which is animated by Terry Gilliam who also made the dark and Orwellian Brazil
The original Orwellian nightmare, Nineteen Eighty Four revolves around the character Winston Smith.
The Smiths recorded a live album called Rank.

The Rank Organisation movies of the ’50s and ’60s opened with a man striking a giant gong.
The psychedelic band Gong recorded an album about a “Radio Gnome Invisible” who travelled in a Flying Teapot
…which would be an ideal accompaniment to my penultimate nominee, The Flying Fruitbowl, where you will find Aaron curating all manner of fabulous digital and fantasy art by new and exciting young artists.

☆★☆★☆★☆
A fruit bowl is an item favoured by artists painting still life pictures.
Still Life is an album by prog rock pioneers Van de Graff Generator.
The scientific apparatus, the Van de Graff Generator is used for making electricity.
Electricity was the debut single from Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

…who also recorded Maid of Orleans, a song about Joan of Arc.
In Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Joan of Arc is played by Jane Wiedlin from The Go-Gos who had a hit with Rush Hour.

Canadian rock band Rush released an album called Moving Pictures..
..like the ones you’ll find on Sandro’s blog Life in Pictures, an eclectic selection of beautiful photography with something to interest and enchant everyone.

Which is my seventh and final Tenuous Link to an award nominee in this daisy chain of tangential twaddle. I hope you found something to entertain you amidst the forest of links and clips and if you are a lucky recipient, why not have a go yourself and pass along the Tenuous Lynx.

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{Ooh, and please link back to Diary of an Internet Nobody in your post. Thanks)

 
12 Comments

Posted by on November 12, 2013 in Arts, Awards, Blogging, Charity, Films, Ho., Humour, Music, Music festivals, TV

 

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