Monday, 25 July 2016

"a thoughtful & gentle memoir"

  " 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)

Left Field - the film

On sale at Amazon,   Amazon Kindle,   WH Smith,   WH Smith e-Books,   Waterstones,   Foyles Hive

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Left Field - 'Really Impressive'

Left Field quotes

MUNDHER ADHAMI: A brilliant achievement. The cover, the quotes, the dedication, the arrangement and titles of chapters. The language of novels. Really impressive.
AMIR AMIRANI, Director of We are Many: When I met David I was astonished not just by his warmth and friendliness and knowledge, but also by his contacts, and he was very generous sharing them with me. I will be speaking with David at South Bank literary festival and at WOMAD, discussing his book and the film that I made and where we can find interesting parallels.
SEBASTIAN BALFOUR: A vivid account of a life fought for justice, full of indignation and tenderness.
MANUELA BESTE: This is surely going to be your core readership - the 1960's generation who grew up with you, agitated like you, still hold true to these struggles like you and today's new generation of angry, frustrated, hopeful young people who are organising for a better and fairer world ...I found the book interesting, moving, thought-provoking, instructive. It thoroughly held my attention .. I wish I could think in visual metaphors like you.
NORMAN BOYER: You write very sensitively and lovingly about your parents. It must have been very hard for you and your Dad to cope with your mother’s accident. And secondly to cope with his slow death for your father and for you with - pardon the cliché - the long goodbye.
DOROTHY BYRNE, head of Channel 4 News and Documentaries: What a life this man has led.
STEVE DAY: Whatever your political currency or preferred methodology toward life, we can all agree on the absolute necessity for honesty, humanity and love, wherever possible, and on all fronts. Wilson's lively and challenging memoir keeps the reader in the grip of this, his frontline message. You weave through the rough and tumble of a life being shaped by events, then of a man intent on reshaping events, and helping rebuild the lives of others - particularly children - who were less fortunate. He held his line even when his own much beloved charity War Child was found to contain corrupt elements - whistleblowing on those he knew were threatening what had been built, and suffering the isolation that comes with this sort of honesty. History, celebrity, scandal, war and humour - Left Field is a personal report worth reading.
TIFFANY DRAKE, music therapist: David's courage and passion enabled those moments of reconciliation through music which was incredibly powerful to be a part of and a very real privilege for us to witness ... David's book can show us what can be hopeful and healing.
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.
DAVID HENCKE, former Guardian Westminster correspondent: This is the work of a determined guy who is prepared to expose fraud and injustice wherever he finds it.
RICHARD HORTON, Editor of The Lancet: You write absolutely beautifully. Thank you for your wonderful book.
MANDLA LANGA, author of The Lost Colours of the Chameleon and winner of the 2009 Commonwealth Writers' Prize: David Wilson is a national treasure.
SHADE MAKEKODUNMI: Have finally started reading THE book. It's fantastic. Love it. The early childhood stories remind me so much of my own childhood. Despite the fact that I was brought up in Lagos. Shows you the reach and influence of the British Empire. My parents also gave sherry parties!! And of course I too became an activist, perhaps not as young as you but by age 18, at uni, I had joined a Maoist type group and was marching against the Vietnam war.
ORHAN MASLO (OHA): One of the key people of my life has finished his book. There is a chapter that describes the times we spent together. What good times we had while giving spirit to the Pavarotti Music Centre. This was after my orphanage times and steered me to who I am and what I do today. Thank you David.
RUSSELL MILLS: You’ve done so much, achieved so much, that is for the good, the right, the just, that to be asked to undertake the cover design for you, which may be considered a minor thing in the great scheme of things, is for me a bloody major thing.
CRAIG MURRAY, ex-Ambassador and whistleblower, David's entire life has been dedicated to trying to make the world a better place ... He was at War Child where he did a tremendous job and then he had the soul-destroying experience of finding the institution he had started being perverted and having to become himself a whistleblower and tell the truth ... As is always the case the whistleblower ends up being the person suffering damage. It is very much to David's credit he was willing to take that on.
ELVEDIN NEZIROVIC, Director Pavarotti Music Centre: I have to say I'm impressed by your book. I'm still reading it, but after I finished the chapter associated with Mostar and Pavarotti Center, I feel deeply touched. I don't know why. I don't know if it is because of hard times of war I passed through or it is because of the local significance of your humanitarian engagement in my city or it is maybe because of sincerity of the book. Thank you for everything you've done for my city and for my generation of people here.
GRAINNE PALMER: A fascinating and authentic account of political activism from someone who has walked the talk. This book is a 'must read' for anyone concerned with fighting injustice and violence in our world. It's an illuminating window into the social history of political activism over the last few decades. I couldn't put it down. It's also a page-turner peppered with passion, wit and human interest. Elegantly written too.
DEBBI READ: I write this as I sit in the Pavarotti Music Centre in Mostar. It's obvious that David's tireless work before, during and after his time as Director of War Child still sits deep within those whose hearts have been touched by him in Bosnia Herzegovina. My time here confirms all that Left Field records, and only increases my admiration for the writer, his courage, wit, determination and politics. This memoir is a compelling read: the history of one man, lost battles and one war. If this doesn't inspire you nothing will.
UNBOUND'S FIRST READER of Left Field: There’s a fascinating range of subject matter in this writing sample. As the author confronts the prospect of his elderly father’s immanent death, he reflects on his father’s successful career as editor of The Lancet and how that influenced his own career choices and life. This blend of childhood anecdote and adult memory makes powerful reading – not least because of the author’s ability to distil character and dramatise moments from his own past. In addition to this, he also gives us clear explanations of social, political, psychological and neurological theories that directly inform the anecdotes he tells. These two elements combine to create a personal and philosophical study of humanity – taking both the microcosm of family relationships and the bigger picture of wars between nations.
EUGENE SKEEF: I am so elated to have read Left Field. I feel like a child at the fountain of narratives. David Wilson is truly one of the greatest storytellers I have ever met or read. For me he is right up there with Alice Walker, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Mandla Langa and Ariel Dorfman (Writing The Deep South) in his ability to enchant the reader while telling about harrowing and politically charged life experiences.
SIR TOM STOPPARD: David Wilson has lived a life and a half. I was proud to play a minor role in War Child, an organisation in which David was inspirational. The broken world needed people like David then; it still does and it always will.
ED VICTOR LITERARY AGENCY: Your relationship with your elderly father is described in such beautiful style that it would not be out of place from a literary novel by an established and seasoned author. The same goes for your childhood years at boarding school ... The 'Balkan years', including the bits where you fall in love with a Croat and the adventures of the mobile bakery could be from a historical thriller. The whole 'War Child' section could be an expose about the problems and hidden lives of charities, especially when they become powerful.
MICHAEL WALLING, Artistic Director, Border Crossings: Left Field is fantastic. So much I don’t know about someone I know well… and so much vivid colour around the bits I did know well. The Mostar sections are incredible - and salutary. Loving it.

Left Field at WOMAD and at The South Bank Centre

'Protest in the Digital Age' (Huffington Post) 

Buy Left Field

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Support Jeremy Corbyn

In 'Left Field' I wrote this: "Ambrose Bierce, the American wit, said that politics is ‘a strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.’ This 'Politics' takes place in a box with shared rules of engagement. If, like me, you believe there is nothing ‘shared’ about our world, the only place for politics is on the streets, not in a debating chamber full of Right Honourables who barrack and ridicule each other, then go off to have cosy lunches together ... Despite my aversion to the ‘parliamentary road’ I supported Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour Party leadership campaign. I helped work the phones and databased the media. I have now joined the Labour Party. Perhaps this is because Jeremy offers an alternative to austerity and war, an alternative to the estate agents of New Labour. I have consistently voted for him as my constituency MP for these reasons and not because he belongs to the Labour Party. I write this on a Sunday afternoon in October after bumping into him on the street as he was cycling to visit his grandchild. He stopped to talk and asked me for permission to continue his journey! The next day he was addressing 7,000 people in Liverpool."

Saturday, 25 June 2016

James & The Giant Peach

“I crave the tasty tentacles of octopi for tea/I like hot dogs, but I love hot frogs, and surely you'll agree/A plate of soil with engine oil is a super recipe. I hardy need to mention that it's practically free!”
I watched 'The Marvellous World of Roald Dahl' on BBC TV and remembered that 'James and the Giant Peach', which he wrote as a bedtime story for his children was a favourite with mine. There were other links. When Dahl and his wife Patricia's son Theo was four months old a NYC cab hit his pram. He suffered brain damage and developed hydrocephalus. Without effective treatment, severe, damage to the brain will occur. His early treatment in the US had been with the type of valve developed by John Holter, a ventricle-to-atrium shunt system But it kept blocking, and every time it did so, the pressure of water inside his head rose to dangerously high levels. In 1961 the Dahl's returned to England and Theo's care was taken over by neuro-surgeon Kenneth Till at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. He, Dahl and Stanley Wade, a hydraulic engineer friend of Dahl's, set about designing a new valve. The WDT valve was popular for a while in the UK, but it offered too little resistance to flow and patients could experience overdrainage of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Today there are more than 40 different valve systems available, including variations on the original Holter valve - and the name itself is still in everyday use. Kenneth Till operated twice on my son Ben at Great Ormond street after he developed post-meningitic hydrocephalus and needed a shunt. I still remember staff there telling my wife and I that we must not worry, that Ben was in safe hands. He was and today, in his 40s, is living an active and happy life. You can read more about all this in 'Left Field'.

Friday, 17 June 2016

We are Many

Amir Amirani's "We Are Many' has been acquired by Universal Pictures for worldwide distribution, (excluding USA!), and it will be available on iTunes from July 18th and DVD from August 1st. Selected cinemas across the UK are bringing it back in time for the release of the Chilcot Report on July 6th. I am delighted that I will be with Amir on a panel at the South Bank Centre on 2 July as part of their "Protest in the Digital Age' event. Joining us are Gillian Slovo and Haifa Zangana He and I will also be at the Global Voices session at the WOMAD music festival on 31 July. Buy Left Field here

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Protest in the Digital Age

100,000 Signatures: Protest in the Digital Age
Royal Festival Hall, Saturday 2nd July 2016 
12.30 – 13.30
Panel Discussion. Speakers include Amir Amirani; Gillian Slovo; David Wilson and Haifa Zangana.

More details     Huffington Post        Buy Left Field