Saturday, 14 January 2017

Kirkus review of 'Left Field'

review of 'Left Field' has been featured in Kirkus Reviews 12/15 issue. Less than 10% of their reviews are chosen, so am well pleased. "His shared heart wrenching observations are clearly a highlight of this richly textured, moving work … Raw and compelling; a story well told of a vital and varied life in a war-torn region."(Kirkus Reviews).
 * Only one month to go to release of audio version of the book 

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Corbyn's wage caps

Jeremy Corbyn has excited the fury of the media with his proposal for wage caps. The Daily Mail denounced his 'sub-Marxist drivel' while The Daily Telegraph fumed at his 'staggering assault on individual ambition and market forces.' 
In fact he probably took the idea, not from Das Kapital but from (Lord) Richard Rogers, who long ago applied a ratio earnings cap in his architectural practice.
 With lurid accounts of how planes out of the UK would be full of investment bankers and football players I wonder how many charity bosses would be on board. 
As the co-founder of the charity War Child * I am shocked at the salary level of charity bosses. We have all heard of the £234,000 salary at Save the Children. In fact executives working for the UK’s top 100 charities have an average remuneration package of just over £167,000.
I suppose that the wage of the present War Child CEO, a mere £95,000, is modest by comparison. 
The justification is always that the voluntary sector has to compete with the corporate world and attract appropriate 'talent”. 
Reprieve founder, Clive Stafford Clark, would disagree. Supporting the rights of prisoners worldwide, the charity employs numerous lawyers who would be paid much more in corporatopia. In a recent Guardian article, Clark wrote that the highest paid cannot be paid more than one-third more than the lowest paid... 'one should want to do good rather than do well. That said, we pay a very reasonable salary, and we attract brilliant people from all walks of life – we just don’t pay them (or me) excessively, and we do it with a degree of equality. … fairness is much more likely to foster happiness than the brutal competition over money advocated by some.'
Here here to that and I would recommend that the charity I founded follow the Reprieve example. 
If wage cap principles cannot be applied in the voluntary sector we will have increased cynicism towards their motives on the part of the public and a diminishment of their potential to bring about change for the better in this 1% world. 
As Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, the secretary-general of Civicus has said: ‘We have become a part of the problem rather than the solution. Our corporatization has steered us towards activism-lite, a version of our work rendered palatable to big business and capitalist states. Not only does this approach threaten no one in power, but it stifles grassroots activism.' 
*I have been asked to state that my views concerning War Child are my own, otherwise “there is a risk that I will be seen to be passing myself off as a current War Child representative.”
You can read about my work as former director at War Child and how it ended in Left Field

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Buy 'Left Field'

where to buy Left Field ....


Amazon Kindle

Public Reading Rooms

Non-UK buyers

also available at Waterstones, Foyles, WH Smith & other bookshops

David is an adventurer and a freethinker, who did something truly useful with his life - Brian Eno David Wilson has lived a life and a half.The broken world needed people like David; it still does - Sir Tom Stoppard Fantastic and salutary … a born raconteur's account of a remarkable life - Michael Walling, Artistic Director, Border Crossings This memoir of a very colourful life is both entertaining and illuminating - Amir Amirani, Director “We are Many” What a life this man has led - Dorothy Byrne, Head of Channel 4 Documentaries David's entire life has been dedicated to trying to make the world a better place - Craig Murray, ex-UK Amassador Sometimes funny, often moving and occasionally tragic ... one of my top recent reads - Morning Star

watch the 'Left Field' film

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Miracle at Midnight

A regular guest at our house was Karl Henrik Køster, a Danish neurosurgeon who wrote for The Lancet and who’d met my father in Bergen-Belsen when they were both serving in the RAMC. They became close friends and my sisters and I called him Uncle Karl. Because he always came to stay in December, this large man with his deep voice and Nordic accent was Father Christmas, though now I realise he looked more like Karl Marx.
Uncle Karl always arrived with a large bottle of Cherry Heering, a Danish liqueur, and gifts for us children. I remember the nine-inch-high brightly-painted wooden soldier with its red tunic and blue trousers. It had moveable arms and a detachable lance which was quickly lost.
Karl Henrik was a surgeon at Copenhagen’s Bispebjerg hospital. After operating on a wounded member of the Resistance, medical students asked him to help hide 40 Jews while their escape by boat to Sweden was organised. But how to get them into the hospital? Karl Henrik organised a ‘funeral’ with dark cars, black clothes and flowers. 140 turned up and all of them had to be hidden.
He then arranged for ambulances to take them to the coast. In all, he and his hospital saved 2,000 Jews. Then their luck ran out. One day, when leaving his apartment, he passed the Gestapo on the stairs. They asked him where Dr Køster could be found. As he left the building, he passed the body of a medical student shot in the back. He then followed the same route as those he had helped save and escaped by boat to Sweden. He made his way to the UK and joined the British army.
His wife Doris was at home. The Gestapo imprisoned her.
My father lost contact with him when he retired from The Lancet. The last he knew of Karl was when he heard from a mutual friend that he had, as my father put it, ‘taken up with his secretary’. He had no idea what happened to poor Doris.
Karl committed suicide in the 1980s and didn’t live to see the 1998 Disney film made about his life, Miracle at Midnight. Directed by Ken Cameron, it starred Sam Waterson as Karl and Mia Farrow as Doris.
I recently came across words of his explaining why he acted as he did. ‘It was the natural thing to do. I would have helped any group of Danes being persecuted. The Germans picking on the Jews made as much sense to me as picking on redheads.’
What with Uncle Karl and the Hungarians, I had contact at a young age with people who’d led dangerous political lives. Karl Henrik’s booming voice and wry humour has stayed with me. It has always been important to be able to see the funny side of the grimmest experiences. There is always a Springtime for Hitler.

'Left Field' is a memoir packed full of music and politics. You are invited to a party to celebrate the book with both. It will be on sale at half price with £5 per book donated to MOMENTUM . Live music with Brazilian guitarist Deicola Neves and other guests.
Tuesday 6 December 2016, 7pm, 
Whittington Park Community Centre Yerbury Rd N19 4RS 

Friday, 28 October 2016

On Assignment in Mostar

Julie Etchingham has confirmed that she will be coming to Mostar next year to make a short film for ITV's 'On Assignment' – about the Pavarotti Music Centre 20 years after its founding. Julie was in Mostar for BBC Newsround when Pavarotti came to open the centre. Here is a film of the opening.
 She hopes to meet some of the children who attended the Centre twenty years ago and find out what has happened to them in the intervening years and how the PMC affected their lives. People like Adin Omerovic, aged nine at the time, who remembers this:

‘I, together with my classmates, practised a song to perform for the opening of the Pavarotti Music Centre. I had heard of plans for the Centre, but I could not dream that I would be there or near to Pavarotti. At the end of the song, “Big Bam Boo”, I gave Luciano Pavarotti a flower. I still remember that day when we waited for him so long and I cannot forget how strong my heart was beating after his speech. He said, ‘Grazie, grazie,’ I still remember that. I got a toy from him which I still have. I would like to have more memories like this one. Thank you very much, Pavarotti.’

Left Field is available at Waterstones and on Amazon

Saturday, 22 October 2016

"a thoughtful & gentle memoir"

Brian Eno: This is an excellent and inspiring book. David is an adventurer and a freethinker, who, despite the best efforts of an education designed to equip him for obedient anonymity, somehow did something truly useful with his life. His stubborn and yet self-effacing commitment to his ideals carried him through many daunting situations, and his sense of humour kept him able to see the funny side.
Haifa Zangana: a memoir where the personal is entwined with activism and woven into a poetic multi-coloured tapestry.

" Left Field is a thoughtful and gentle memoir. David’s obvious good nature and ability to connect with people is demonstrated over and over, from the influential individuals whose support he enlisted in the early days of War Child to the character sketches that he draws regularly throughout the book… I enjoyed his relaxed writing style and the chapters that veered from the chronology to reflect or add narrative detail... His is an enjoyable memoir, reflecting on a compassionate and varied life, and an important reminder of how destructive war is both on individuals and communities, and the important role we can all play in fighting for a better world. Socialist Review (July/August 2016)