For Carers Rights Day

This year the theme for Carers Rights Day is ‘rights, advice, support’: ensuring that carers understand their rights and get access to good quality advice and support.

The charity Carers UK organises Carers Rights Day every year to raise awareness of the vital work carers do, and the support that is available to them. Carers UK can offer financial advice and practical support to carers, and can help the carer feel less isolated.

The latest statistics reveal that 3 in 5 of us will become carers at some stage in our lives, and in most cases this will be because someone we love is ill. And as the average age of the UK population rises, more and more of us will find ourselves caring for – or arranging care for – an older relative.

So what are the main challenges facing carers today?

Financial support

42% of carers say they missed out on financial support due to a lack of clear, accessible advice, according to a report by Carers UK. 40% of carers have fallen into debt as a result of their caring responsibilities, with many not knowing where to turn for advice and support. Almost half of carers claim that they are cutting back on food and heating as a way of cutting costs. It is clear that the lack of financial advice and support has a direct impact on the quality of care that the carer can provide.

Ensuring person-centred care

It seems you can’t open a newspaper at the minute without reading about how overstretched and understaffed our hospitals are. Amanda Waring in her book The Heart of Care tells of the appalling treatment received by her mother Dame Dorothy Tutin, which drove Amanda to begin campaigning for person-centred, compassionate elder care. The recent scandal of the fifteen-minute care visits highlighted that the focus of care has slipped away from the person, and is instead about meeting goals and hitting targets. In The Heart of Care Amanda Waring promotes respect for the dignity and intrinsic worth of others, regardless of age or disability.

“Dignified, person-centred care requires getting to the heart of things, getting personally involved and motivated rather than staying at the edges or ticking boxes.” – Amanda Waring, The Heart of Care

Isolation and guilt

Caring for others can often be a lonely and isolating process. Many carers have to give up their jobs as they are unable caring for a loved one and working full time, which means that as well as causing financial problems, they also miss out on the social element of going to work. Combined with the constant nagging guilt (could you be doing more? Have you missed some medication/a doctor’s appointment?), caring puts a huge mental strain on the carer. Carers UK advises that if you are caring for a family member, to try and share the caring responsibilities among the extended family. Read more advice from Carers UK on avoiding feeling isolated and overwhelmed by your caring duties.

This Carers Rights Day, stop and ask yourself: what if you were the person needing care?




Bob Dylan at the Royal Albert Hall

Tonight is the last of three concerts by Bob Dylan at the Royal Albert Hall on the latest leg of his Never Ending Tour which started in 1988.

Earlier dates on Dylan’s Never Ending Tour form the core of Daniel Mark Epstein’s The Ballad of Bob Dylan, the first significant biography of Dylan since Dylan’s own memoir, Chronicles. The Ballad of Bob Dylan is structured around four separate Dylan concerts: Washington, D.C, 1963; Madison Square Garden, 1974; Tanglewood, 1997; and Aberdeen, 2009. These four career-defining shows, all witnessed first-hand by the author, provide the backdrop for in-depth interviews with Dylan’s friends and fellow musicians. Epstein also quotes extensively from Dylan’s songs – a treat rarely granted – and the book includes previously unpublished photographs from Dylan’s life, all of which contribute to building a complete portrait of Dylan the songwriter and poet.

For Dylan and his fans, his return to the Royal Albert Hall is another piece of musical history, much like those performances at the core of The Ballad of Bob Dylan.

His first appearances at the Royal Albert Hall came on 9th and 10th May 1965, the final dates in his England Tour 1965. These concerts are noted as bringing to an end his last acoustic tour, before he returned to the Royal Albert Hall a little over a year later for two concerts on 26th and 27th May 1966 on his first tour with a full electric band backing him.

Now, almost fifty years after his first appearance at the Royal Albert Hall, he returns for a three-night, sold-out run. He is over 2,500 performances into his Never Ending Tour, which has been rolling steadily onward for 35 years and shows no sign of coming to an end. The Independent called his performance on Tuesday night “a stunning return to form”, and the Evening Standard gave the same show four stars.

It looks as though Dylan’s return to the Royal Albert Hall after 47 years is being hailed as a resounding triumph. If you weren’t lucky enough to get tickets (or even if you were), why not share your own Dylan memories with us in the comments section, below?

Ballad of Bob Dylan pb coverPraise for The Ballad of Bob Dylan:

“As you ride through Dylan’s decades of changes, lovers and bands, a satisfyingly clear portrait emerges from the shadows, ever sharpening the focus on the most cleverly elusive artist.” – Book of the Year, ‘Jewish Chronicle’

“What sets Epstein’s book apart is its accessibility… Refreshingly direct and approachable… it is his own clear, emotional enthusiasm that carries the tale.” – ‘Sunday Times’

“Epstein offers a portrait that explodes the semi-hostile cliché of much unauthorised biography. New interviews and photographs add depth to an account distinguished by a fine sensitivity to all aspects of Dylan’s art, from the personal to the music’s history, but Epstein also manages to put across a significant amount of biographical detail.” – ‘Daily Telegraph’

Reviews round-up: The Joy of Allotments

One of our hot picks for the Christmas gift season is The Joy of Allotments by Caroline Deput. A beautifully illustrated diary of two years on her allotment in Richmond, London, this is a must-read for all gardeners and the perfect gift for your green-fingered loved one.

Published at the start of this month, the reviews are now flooding in, with so many people loving Caroline Deput’s colourful illustrations and her humorous tale of two years on her allotment.

“Caroline Deput’s illustrated diary takes the reader through two years of life on her allotment, Plot 19. She shares her joy in growing her own food in a humorous, quirky way.” – Garden News

“A charming pictorial tale of life on Caroline Deput’s allotment in colour drawings… Inventive and humorous… Life is depicted in a much more realistic way than most allotment manuals manage using photographs.” – Veg Plotting blog

“You can never have too many gardening books… when ‘The Joy of Allotments’ arrived… I was delighted to welcome it to my collection. Its light-hearted tone makes it a refreshing read… Caroline is a talented illustrator and there are witty, colourful doodles and sketches on every page.” – Allotment Mum blog

“Every page brings joyful discoveries of Caroline’s allotment… all handwritten alongside her exquisite drawings.” – Dobies of Devon

On Amazon it is also proving a hit, with 7 reviews, all of which are rated five stars. Read all the Amazon five-star reviews here.

Joy of Allotments - September

Lou Reed and Delmore Schwartz

When Lou Reed died last month from complications following a liver transplant, the world of rock music lost one of its most enduring and influential characters.

But while Lou Reed will be remembered for his music and the influence he had on artists including David Bowie, U2, Patti Smith and Morrissey, what do we know about the influences on Reed’s own music?

While studying at Syracuse University, Lou Reed was taught by Delmore Schwartz, who had a huge influence on Reed’s lyrical style. Lou Reed described Delmore Schwartz as his “spiritual godfather” and dedicated ‘European Son’ on the Velvet Underground and Nico album to Schwartz.

But it is his 1982 album ‘The Blue Mask’ that gives the best indicator of how Reed valued Schwartz’s influence. The song ‘My House’ tells of Reed’s relationship with Schwartz, calling him “my friend and teacher”. In the song, Reed writes that Schwartz “was the first great man that I ever met”.

In June 2012, Poetry magazine published a short prose piece by Lou Reed, ‘O Delmore how I miss you’, a tribute to Delmore Schwartz that makes several mentions of Schwartz’s seminal work, In Dreams Begin Responsibilities.

In Dreams Begin Responsibilities is the opening story in the collection of eight of Delmore Schwartz’s finest short stories, published by Souvenir Press. It is the first British paperback publication of a work of fiction that was the foundation for all post-World-War-Two American-Jewish fiction.

Discover the man who was a defining influence on Lou Reed, but died destitute and alone in a New York hotel aged only 52.

In Dreams cover scan

World Toilet Day

Bum Fodder by Richard Smyth is an absorbing look at how we moved from the early days of leaf-wiping, to the modern age of toilet paper, and beyond, into the age of the Washlet. With World Toilet Day highlighting the importance of access to sanitation worldwide, we thought we’d share four facts about the past, present(ish) and future of toilet paper.

  • Toilet paper originated in China. Like the invention of paper in around 100 CE, though it is unclear when the transition was made from writing to wiping material.
  • The neck of a live goose is the finest means of wiping one’s behind. At least according to the works of Rabelais, a French priest and scholar in the 1500s. He created the character of Gargantua, who amused the masses in tales of exploration in bum-wiping. Which concluded – naturally – that the neck of a live goose was the best thing you could use.
  • In 2010 a French photography prize was awarded to a photo of a man using the tricolor to wipe with. It caused a national outrage but, as far as we know, no-one was prosecuted.
  • The future is the Washlet. Because who doesn’t want to be rinsed clean with some warm water and then dried with a blast of air. Now all the rage in Japan, but coming soon to a bathroom near you.

(Facts taken from Bum Fodder by Richard Smyth)

But this World Toilet Day, a UN-recognised event observed annually on 19th November, stop and think. We don’t need Washlets. We don’t need the necks of live geese. Just a clean, safe toilet.

Can you imagine not having a toilet? 2.5 billion people worldwide do not have access to a clean and safe toilet. Having access to safe, clean and private toilet facilities is proven to be a contributing factor in keeping girls in school, and increasing the chances of girls completing their education. Access to proper sanitation has been declared a human right for all, and yet 2.5 billion people still don’t have that. Visit the World Toilet Day website for more information.

Bum Fodder Richard Smyth

Author Corner: Caroline Deput on the Joy of Allotments

Book Review Two for Vegetable Growers The Joy of AllotmentsCaroline Deput is the author of THE JOY OF ALLOTMENTS, a beautifully illustrated diary of two years on her allotment. A must-read for all gardeners, who will all recognise the trials and rewards of tending a garden, you can read a free sample here, or read on for Caroline’s illustrated guide to planning your allotment. From crop rotation to pest prevention, you can plan for everything – except, of course, the great British weather.

For more blog posts in our Author Corner, click here.

The Importance of Planning
By Caroline Deput

Over the last 13 years, I’ve discovered that tending an allotment requires a lot of planning and organisation.

Caroline Deput blog 1

 Crop Rotation – not my strongest subject

I’m not good at remembering which vegetables should follow one another. I know it’s important and I should look it up and write it down, but I always forget. Do brassicas go before or after potatoes? No idea. And what about this new tomato grafted onto a potato plant, so it produces tomatoes above ground and potatoes below? How does that fit into a crop rotation?! If I could eventually get the hang of it, my veg would grow like a well-orchestrated symphony.

Caroline Deput blog 2

 Crops need constant vigilance against all sorts of pests.

Perhaps I’m paranoid, but right from the first day I got the allotment, I could sense the wildlife watching, waiting for me to fail.

I try to garden organically, and that means I have to be quite tough. So look away now if you are squeamish…

I’m afraid slugs get stamped underfoot, whitefly larvae get squished, and the rabbits are eaten by the foxes. I don’t mind the parakeets, rumoured to have escaped from the set of ‘The African Queen’ at Shepperton Studios nearby, as they look pretty eating the sunflowers.

Caroline Deput blog 3

You need accommodate different veg’s particular growing needs.

Some like a sandy soil; others need protection from the elements at the beginning of the growing season while others are unhelpfully described as ‘not fussy.’

Caroline Deput blog 4

Plan DIY projects properly

I’ve always fancied one of those ornate circular seats that fit round a tree – the sort you see at National Trust properties. Our local DIY store was throwing out 6-foot long pallets, so my husband helped me take 5 of them up to the allotment.

‘What will you do with them?’ he asked.

‘Make a bench!’ I replied.

‘Need a hand?’

‘No, I’ll be fine, ta.’

Well, I measured and re-measured for my octagonal bench, which would fit perfectly around my palm tree on the allotment. Yet somehow I ended up with something more like a septagon-and-a-half than an octagon. And so flimsy, it would collapse if anything more than a robin should sit on it. Hey ho.

Caroline Deput blog 5

 But not everything can be planned…

Unexpected generosity

One of the chaps on the allotments had some manure delivered this summer. I say ‘some.’ It was more like a ton. We all couldn’t believe it when he told us all to help ourselves. You could barely see us, we moved so fast with our wheelbarrows up and down that path to the main gate. (The soil is so sandy on the plot that without constant muck it would dry out and blow away.

Caroline Deput blog 6

And you can never plan for the weather

When you work full time, as I do, you have to get onto your plot at the weekend – whatever the weather.

Last summer was like a monsoon. The rain just kept on coming.

Caroline Deput blog 7

So I gave up hoping the weather would improve, and longed instead for a stylish boat that I could use to sail around the potato beds…

Caroline Deput blog 8

A #translationthurs Spotlight Feature

As it’s #translationthurs we thought we would give you a special treat. Take a look at some hot picks of literature in translation from Souvenir Press: The Testament by Elie Wiesel, translated from the French by his wife Marion Wiesel; Pablo Neruda’s Isla Negra, a bi-lingual edition translated from the Spanish  by Alastair Reid; and Dreamers by Knut Hamsun, translated from the Norwegian by Tom Geddes.

All three authors are Nobel Prize Winners – Neruda and Hamsun were awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971 and 1920 respectively, and in 1986 Elie Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Testament

The Testament, translated by Marion Wiesel, is an encompassing history of the twentieth-century. Paltiel Kossover, a “mute poet” and witness to history, travels from his Jewish childhood in pre-revolutionary Russia to Paris and Berlin in the 1930s as the Nazis take power, and then to Spain during its Civil War. He embraces Communism and returns to Russia, only to be imprisoned. In his cell he writes his ‘testament’ – a long letter to the son he will never see again, an account of his life as a man “who lived a Communist and died a Jew”.

In The Testament Wiesel pays tribute to the many writers killed by Stalin, and in Paltiel he has created one of the great Everyman characters of contemporary literature.

Souvenir Press revived Elie Wiesel’s lost classic in its acclaimed Independent Voices series, dedicated to publishing writers who provide alternative viewpoints and challenge conventional wisdom, making available work that has been unavailable in the UK although it is as relevant today as on its original publication.

isla-negraIsla Negra by Pablo Neruda contains more than a hundred poems that together make up Neruda’s poetic autobiography, exploring his landscape, his roots, and his experiences in an attempt to unify the various “lives” he had left behind in the span of his writing career. Written from the vantage point of Isla Negra, the small village on the Pacific coast of Chile which he came to regard as the centre of his world, the book reads like a series of notes which link past and present, and is perhaps the most revealing of all his collections.This collection moves from childhood impressions and awakenings through his early loves, travels and the dawning of his political awareness to self-scrutiny and self-definition.

This bi-lingual edition contains both Neruda’s Spanish originals and Alastair Reid’s English translations. Souvenir Press also publishes Memoirs, Fully Empowered and Residence on Earth by Pablo Neruda.

DreamersAW_tpDreamers by Knut Hamsun is one of nine books by Hamsun published by Souvenir Press. All nine books are available in eye-catching, uniform editions with cover artwork featuring the paintings of Edvard Munch.

In this delightful comedy, Ove Rolandsen, the telegraph operator in an isolated fishing village in northern Norway, is a man of sudden passions, a cheerful rogue fond of girls and alcohol. He constantly hatches ambitious schemes to the despair of his fiancée, Marie, housekeeper at the vicarage.

When a plan to manufacture glue from fish waste lands him in trouble, is his feckless career over or could fortune, for once, be on his side?

Knut Hamsun is recognised as one of the greatest literary figures of the twentieth century, so be sure to take a look at our website for the full selection of Knut Hamsun titles.

What are you reading this #translationthurs?