Sunday, 23 July 2017

Left Field as book, kindle or audio

Amazon Kindle 




Left Field film      
Brian Eno interview

'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 Ambassador.    'Sometimes funny, often moving and occasionally tragic ... one of my top recent reads.' - Morning Star.

Friday, 14 July 2017

The Fool is for the Many

Foolery, sir, does walk about the orb like the sun, it shines everywhere. —William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
In theatre the fool or jester is central to truth-telling. He / she is the conduit through which the dramatist can deal with essential and often politically subversive issues.
In Europe this tradition goes back to the Romans with the currae, mimi and histriones.
In 16th century England Shakespeare had his clown in Othello, The fool in King Lear, Puck in Midsummer Night's Dream.
In France there was the jongleur, originally applied to a monk, thrown out of his monastery for 'nun frolics'. In Collins Dictionary he is described as one 'who turns things topsy-turvy and makes a hash of all conventions.'
Beyond Europe, In China there are at least six words to describe this character in dramas. My favourite being changyou, who combines story-telling with music.
For the Navajo and Zuni in southwestern USA the coyote takes the place of the fool; deceiver, perceptive, survivor and trickster. Sometimes the Coyote is so involved in his own trickery that he tricks himself which is why there are so many mistakes in the way things are in the world.
In Germany there was Till Eulenspiegel, a folkloric hero dating back to medieval times and ruling each year over Fashing or carnival time, mocking politicians and public figures of power and authority with political satire.
Of course fools, real or invented for theatre, had humble origins. Claus Hinsse, the 16th century jester to Duke Johann Friedrich of Pomerania, began his working life as a cowherd. My favourite German 'fool' is the shepherd Simplex created by Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen in his novel Simplicius Simplicissimus.
After reading a translation of this book I based my first play Simple Writings, later changed to War Child, on Grimmelhausen's Simplex. I was drawn to the wisdom of foolery, not only as a clever means to wisdom, but as a wise and strategic method for truth-telling.
So it was a delight to see a dramatic interpretation of Jaroslav Hašek's novel The Good Soldier Schwejk at Sands Films in Rotherhithe. Written and directed by Christine Edzard and performed in Sands bijou theatre. Strikingly inventive sets, a vibrant cast and wonderful live music. The original story updated with Schwejk quoting from Tony Blair, Alasdair Campbell and George Bush
We joined with Schwejk's bumbling attempts to survive the First World War by becoming a nuisance to all those around him. He uses the 'fool's cunning to deal with army officers, police and judges who are urging him into battle. This is the story of the 'little man' caught in a vast bureaucratic machine hurling the world into war. When he arrives at the gates of heaven he is sent back into life because St Peter makes it clear that the world needs more little men to organise against the powerful.
Schwejk leaves us with these words: 'Shouldn't we start at the end and stop wars before they start?'
Yes, the world needs more fools.
The Sand's production runs for two more performances. Details here
(If you want to learn more about the fool in this world check out this link: )

Read more about my plays in Left Field

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

20th anniversary of the Pavarotti Music Centre

September 2017 will be the 20th anniversary of the setting up of the Pavarotti Music Centre. It will also mark the 10th anniversary of Pavarotti's death. As first director of the PMC, I am hoping that we will mark the date with an affirmation of his words when he said:

' If music is central to a person’s life, it can be something very special and life-affirming. The Music Centre was built for the children – I can only hope that making music helps in the healing process and that it will bring joy to the children of Mostar for many, many years to come.’ 

Watch this space 

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Kentish Towner and Left Field

My article about War Child now online at Kentish Towner And the audio version of Left Field is now available as audio version on Amazon, iTunes and Audible

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Pavarotti Music Centre, Mostar. 30 years on

Last week was a good one for me with the publication of my Guardian whistleblower article. This week will be good because I am visiting Mostar and the Pavarotti Music Centre to stay with good friends and do research for Julie Etchingham and ITV's 'On Assignment filming there later this year. Going to meet some of the children she interviewed 20 years ago - now in their 30s. And me? Now in my 70s!

Friday, 17 February 2017

Left Field reviews

'Gasholder' review (see pic) will be online soon.  

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
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 Ambassador

'Left Field' reviews

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
From heavy drinking to launching a charity, David Wilson’s life story is an absorbing read Camden New Journal
Sometimes funny, often moving and occasionally tragic ... one of my top recent reads -Morning Star
'Left Field' is a thoughtful and gentle memoir. David’s obvious good nature and ability to connect with people is demonstrated over and over Socialist Review 

Watch the Left Field film
News for 2017 - Juliet Etchingham and ITV's 'On Assignment' will be visiting the Pavarotti Music Centre in September to film on the 20th anniversary of its opening

Left Field is published by Unbound, distributed by Penguin Books and available at Waterstones, Foyles, on Amazon and other retail websites

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Whistles need Blowing

Whistles are for blowing ....We know the names Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange. Forced exile, imprisonment and confinement. They are whistleblowers whose lives have suffered from attempting to better the human condition. I personally know a couple more; Ex-SAS trooper, Ben Griffin and former UK Ambassador, Craig Murray. Ben was persecuted for holding information about the UK military's collaboration with US torturers, Craig for wanting Jack Straw and his then Foreign Office employers to acknowledge that some allies in the 'war against terror' boil their prisoners alive. My respect for these people is great because, at a much lower level, I too was a whistleblower. I didn't suffer their fates, but was sacked from the NGO I had co-founded, and never employed again in that world. Even as an OAP, I was shocked to be refused work stuffing envelopes at an NGO whose work in the Middle East I had admired. When I have spoken out on political matters I have been told by that I must make it clear that I have nothing to do with my former charity. So I recommend Ian Cobain's article in the Guardian, (16 Feb 2016) about the Law Commissioners recent report suggesting a new law criminalising, not only those who disclose official information, but anyone “who obtains or gathers information”. If passed into law this will tighten up even further on the 1979 Official Secrets Act which the Liberal MP, Clement Freud said, “gives the attorney general more power than a bad man should have or a good man should need.” Of course this covers only the state sector, but as in my case, this thinking infects the wider world. Sadly in Trump-World we are going to need an army of Snowdens, Mannings, Assanges, Griffins and Murrays. You can read more about my experiences as a whistleblower in 'Left Field'

Friday, 10 February 2017

Personal battles of the man behind War Child

“From heavy drinking to launching a charity, David Wilson’s life story is an absorbing read” Camden New Journal reviews 'Left Field'

Earlier reviews:  Morning Star     Socialist Review     Kirkus Reviews 

Buy 'Left Field' for £13 (includes P&p) from Public Reading Rooms

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

ITV's 'On Assignment' in Mostar

Julie Etchingham has confirmed that she will be coming to Mostar in September 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 will meet some of the children, now adults, 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

Wednesday, 11 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

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

The Sunny Side of the Street

Recently I went to Bridgeside Lodge Care Home in Islington to see for myself the work carried out by the Spitz Charitable Trust. It was set up by my old friend Jane Glitre to 'relieve social isolation in local communities through the power of live music.' Bringing professional musicians to perform alongside the residents of places such as Bridgeside, at this gig vocalist Emine Pirhasan was accompanied by Arthur Lea on keyboards performing songs by Aretha Franklin, Bill Withers, Ben E King, Jonny Nash, Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong and Jimmy Cliff. Not a white cliff of Dover in sight, which tells us all we need to know about the speed of time! The home overlooks the Regent Canal and when I looked across the water at the Hanover Primary School I could see kids in the gym skimming about the floor to music. There was no skimming here at Bridgeside, but there was movement of mind and body which was at least as impressive. John had been wheeled into the room slumped to one side and apparently asleep. But as 'Stand By Me' opened he started tapping his feet and mouthing the words. In another wheelchair Julia's initial contribution of loud vocal exclamations gave way to hand and arm dancing in perfect rhythm with the musicians. Song sheets were handed out and most joined in with their favourites. One woman who didn't seem to be aware of her surroundings grabbed a rattle and with determination moved it and herself into the rhythm. A lot of the songs referred to sunshine. 'On the sunny side of the street', 'You are the sunshine of my life', 'Sunlight hurts my Eyes' and my favourite for this bright sunny winter morning, Jonny Nash's, 'Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind, It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.'