Thursday, 28 April 2016
Friday, 8 April 2016
Fictional stories about domestic abuse always capture the public conscience. Why not? It happens so often in reality, imaginary versions should cause neither alarm or surprise but instead give us deeper insight into what happens once the blinds are down next door.
So while it was probably no coincidence that I read Helen Laycock’s tale From This Day Forward as a similar storyline in the BBC Radio 4’s The Archers reached a near fatal climax, I was amazed to learn that the soap opera’s plot has caused a massive, continuing row. Is it the intimate immediacy of radio drama that’s behind it?
Not all the stories work for me as their characters are self-absorbed and their lives read as flimsy cliches. But others, including ‘Til Death Do Us Part and My Name is Not Simon are exceptionally good.
Then comes Charming Viola.
Well, the author does advise us to ‘sleep tight’.
What? After reading that …?
© Natalie Wood (08 April 2016)
Tuesday, 29 March 2016
Sunday, 20 March 2016
Adam MacDonald is a Canadian actor turned film director probably best known to his countrymen as the villain, Josh MacIntosh in the popular television drama series, Being Erica.
But until he published his teenage memoir**, MacDonald’s fans were most likely unaware that he spent those years fighting personal demons and that it is nothing short of miraculous that he lived to tell his own story.
Indeed, it is one that would make a good coming-of-age modern morality tale and so one that he may want to consider directing himself.
MacDonald’s Wiki entry states that he speaks Spanish and is fluent in French, so it’s a shame that his book is littered with crass English grammar and spelling errors that spoil an otherwise interesting read.
**Light in Shadows: A Memoir is published in e-format by Touch the Sun which republished it last month in paperback.
© Natalie Wood (20 March 2016)
Thursday, 10 March 2016
Israel’s Ayalim (‘Deer’) Association encourages young immigrants to live in the country’s less populated areas in the Galilee and the Negev.
Indeed, when the association was established 14 years ago, it was hoped that it would help to spark a nationwide social revolution based on the pioneering tradition of the state’s founding fathers.
Now more than 1,000 people live in 11 Ayalim student villages, helping to renovate neglected neighbourhoods.
On Wednesday, about 150 students from several northern towns including Acco, Kiryat Shmona and Menechamia gathered in Karmiel, western Galilee for a full-day volunteering session followed by an evening relaxing at the city’s second annual beer festival where they enjoyed local brews and a rock concert.
The day was part-sponsored by ESRA Karmiel (English Speaking Residents’ Association) with a donation towards the cost of the t-shirts worn by participating students. After work, ESRA Karmiel chairman, Brian Fink and his committee visited the Ayalim Village which is managed by Roiy Frenkel with his wife, Miri.
My pictures show students and ESRA members at the village and later, students enjoying the festival and concert.
© Natalie Wood (10 March 2016)
Wednesday, 9 March 2016
Dr Harold Shipman was Britain’s most notorious and prolific serial killer.
No wonder former High Court Judge Dame Janet Smith, who chaired The Shipman Inquiry into his activities, remarked: ”He betrayed his patients' trust in a way and to the extent that I believe is unparalleled in history”.
Now freelance writer Ryan Green has produced a new book about him and discusses in Harold Shipman: The True Story of Britain's Most Notorious Serial Killer, how and why he slaughtered 218 patients before he was discovered and arrested.
The answer to ‘why’ is a crazed mix of a highly addictive personality, the ‘banality of evil’ and a bizarrely brazen self-confidence. The ‘how’ was the staggering incompetence of those in authority around him.
As Shipman’s horrific story has been retold many times, here I’ll focus on how he was convicted by the evidence of forensic toxicology performed on several exhumed bodies although the majority of his victims had been cremated.
Julie Evans, then a relatively junior forensic toxicologist, told Shipman’s trial that she was ‘breaking new ground … in novel scientific territory’’ when she began work on the case by performing tests for opiates.
But her view was contradicted by her colleague, Dr Robert Anderson of Glasgow University Department of Forensic Toxicology who told The Guardian newspaper that toxicology was not a new science. “What's new”, he maintained, “is that things are better understood”.
He explained: “'…. it depends on what's happened to the body after death. Usually morphine is relatively stable after death, and it wouldn't decompose very quickly … (however) … sometimes there is no trace of a poison in the blood because it killed the person too quickly. A heroin addict found dead with a needle sticking out of his arm is an example - sometimes there's no trace of the drug at post-mortem. However, if the person lived long enough [after the morphine was administered] for the blood to get into circulation, it should be present”.
It is known that Shipman urged the bereaved families of most of his victims to opt for cremation in order to destroy all evidence of how they died. This has to be the best argument I know against the practice and in my opinion, a good reason for it to be wholly proscribed although I realise that this will never happen!
* Harold Shipman: The True Story of Britain's Most Notorious Serial Killer is available on Kindle $3.99 (£2.80; ₪ 15.60 approx) and paperback $9.97 (£7.00; ₪ 38.95 approx).
© Natalie Wood (09 March 2016)
Sunday, 6 March 2016
Now’s your chance to see where his courageous journey began!
Join an ESRA Karmiel outing to Khawaled, the home of Ishmael Khaldi, Israel’s first Bedouin diplomat who spent many years fighting Israel’s case against its vicious foes in the USA and Britain.
Ishmael will host the visit which is to include a tour of the village, meeting local residents and lunchtime hospitality at his family home.
According to Khawaled’s Wikipedia entry, Ishmael is well used to hosting such visits as he initiated a project named ‘Hike and Learn with Bedouins in the Galilee’ that has brought thousands of young Jews to the village to learn about Bedouin culture and history. These encounters prompted his ambition to become a diplomat, he says.
The basic cost includes a vegetarian meal and a gift for the village children with separate bus travel costs that depend on the number of registrations.
Those interested are asked to register swiftly in advance so appropriate transport arrangements may be made.
When the total cost is known, credit card bookings may be made via ESRA: 09-748 2957 or contact the ESRA Karmiel treasurer to register and arrange advance payment.
Venue: Village of Kafr Khawaled
Date: 28 March 2016
Time: 11:00 - 16:00
Transport Meeting Point: To be announced
Contact Details: Via ESRA Karmiel
Cost before transport: ₪ 50 (ESRA members) ₪ 60.00 (non members)
Transport costs: ₪ 50 - ₪ 60.00 depending on number of registrations
© Natalie Wood (06 March 2016)