Jess Thom – Me, My Mouth and I

We are very excited for the release this Saturday on BBC2 at 22:45, Me, My Mouth and I – a new film by Jess Thom exploring neurodiversity in the arts through the works of Samuel Beckett. Artist, activist and performer Jess Thom – has Tourette’s syndrome and is about to take on the biggest creative challenge of her life. In this film Jess takes us on a funny and unpredictable journey of discovery into one of Samuel Beckett’s most complex plays Not I and asks us to reconsider issues of representation and social exclusion as she prepares to perform the role of ‘Mouth’ in front of a live theatre audience.

Jess meets with fellow disabled artists such as activist, comedian and Silent Witness disabled actor Liz Carr, Beckett expert Derval Tubridy as well other people with lived experience of Tourette’s as she uncovers the central themes originally intended by Beckett for this piece. And as a lateral thinker we see her working with UK MC and rapper Rodney P, to learn from his oratory skills as she works to deliver an unforgettable performance.

Jess challenges the perception that only certain works can be performed by and made accessible to disabled audiences and questions the cultural curation that lies behind this assumption. Navigating her way through the practical and attitudinal barriers, she asks us to consider who is allowed to perform what, and who gets the final say.

 

About the performance, Jess says: “I’ve long been fascinated by the intensity of Not I. I have a strong affinity with Mouth,and I’m interested in how a neuro-diverse performance would work in practice. We’re claiming Mouth as a disabled voice and will explore the experience from that perspective.”

“By presenting Mouth in a way that works for my unpredictable body and speech, I aim to deproblematize previous interpretations, and show that Mouth is only as isolated as her community makes her.”

If you don’t know Jess already Jess Thom, 37, is a performer and the co-founder of Touretteshero, an organisation that seeks to raise awareness about Tourette syndrome and campaigns for a more inclusive society. Born in London, Thom was formally diagnosed with the condition in her early 20s and exhibits both vocal and motor tics (her frequent involuntary use of the word “biscuit” provided the title for her first standup show, Backstage in Biscuit Land). Jess published Welcome to Biscuit Land, a detailed and engaging guide to a year in her life covering the whole spectrum of her experiences, the challenges and the triumphs.

 

Welcome to Biscuit Land is available here: http://souvenirpress.co.uk/product/welcome-to-biscuit-land-a-year-in-the-life-of-touretteshero-jess-thom/

More information about Me, My Mouth and I here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0bcmh7z

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Weed and Medical Marijuana

The debate about the legalisation of marijuana for medicinal use has enlivened this week with the controversial news of 12-year-old Billy Caldwell having cannabis oil, which he was prescribed to help alleviate his severe epilepsy, confiscated from him after a six-month supply. After being granted an emergency license for the oil, many politicians have been discussing whether the law should be changed. This morning William Hague has ‘urged Theresa May to legalise cannabis, saying the UK’s drug policy is “inappropriate, ineffective and utterly out of date” and that the “battle is effectively over”. (See: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jun/19/william-hague-theresa-may-legalise-cannabis)

Weed by David Schmader is a comprehensive guide to marijuana and, as such, makes excellent points about medical marijuana and its palliative use for those with epilepsy:

‘Marijuana has been used as medicine for thousands of years. Typically, weed has been used not as an active treatment for disease, but for its palliative effects, which reliably diminish symptoms and side effects of AIDS, cancer, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis, and have recently shown promise in treating psychological disorders like PTSD.

[…]

‘Forever working against the recognition of marijuana as medicine is its ability to get users pleasantly high, which, in the minds of reactionary nimrods, makes all support for medical marijuana tainted by drug-seeking motives. This is one of a million reasons to cherish cannabidiol, popularly abbreviated to CBD. Unlike the popular THC, CBD has zero psychoactive effects, giving users access to weed’s medical benefits without requiring them to get stoned. Marijuana breeders are now creating strains with high levels of CBD and almost no THC, opening medical marijuana treatment possibilities for many patients who don’t want to get high – for example, children with seizure disorders.

[…]

‘For sufferers of neurological disorders – ALS, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease – marijuana can reduce problematic inflammation, with cannabinoids correcting imbalances in the endocannabinoid system that coincide with neurological degeneration. Specifically, weed has been cited as a treatment for the pain and spasticity of ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease, for the muscle spasms and tremors of multiple sclerosis, and for seizures related to epilepsy.’

Find out more from Weed by David Schmader here: http://souvenirpress.co.uk/product/weed/

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The Carer’s Bible by Amanda Waring

Today we’re very proud to publish The Carer’s Bible by Amanda Waring. The Carer’s Bible is an invaluable, inspiring guide to how to give your loved one the best possible care while addressing the anxieties that all carers suffer. As part of Carer’s Week, The Carer’s Bible is an excellent guide for those wishing to learn more about this deeply important subject.

The Carer’s Bible includes practical tips, checklists for best practice, descriptions of their experience from a wide range of carers that addresses solutions to common problems and expert advice on how to deliver compassionate and dignified care to older people. It is easy to read and provides anecdotal experience from carers and tips from the experts.

The Carer’s Bible covers topics such as:

HOW TO ENSURE DIGNIFIED CARE

HOW TO SUPPORT PERSONAL CARE AND DAILY LIVING

HOW TO CARE FOR SOMEONE WITH DEMENTIA

HOW TO CARE FOR YOURSELF AND PREVENT BURNOUT

HOW TO SUPPORT EMOTIONAL AND SPIRITUAL NEEDS

HOW TO SUPPORT CREATIVITY AND ACTIVITY

HOW TO CARE AS RELATIVES FOR LOVED ONES

HOW TO GIVE COMPASSIONATE END OF LIFE CARE

Uniquely, Amanda Waring also provides support and guidance for the carer, how to maintain energy and commitment, how to recognise the signs of compassion fatigue and where carers can get help if they need it. The Carer’s Bible is essential reading for anyone who cares for an elderly person, whether as a professional or as a loved one, in its promotion of the role dignity and respect should play.

Amanda Waring is a filmmaker, her campaigning film What Do You See has been shown across the world, and a leader of training workshops on dignified care of the elderly. Amanda is a presenter for Aged Care TV, an advisor on the government’s Dignity board and the author of The Heart of Care.

Find The Carer’s Bible here: http://souvenirpress.co.uk/product/the-carers-bible-2/

 

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Weed by David Schmader

‘When Canopy Growth opened its first cannabis factory in an old chocolate plant near Ottawa four years ago, it did so predicting a bright future. Canada had already legalized medical marijuana, and Canopy predicted full legalization for recreational use to be next.

What the company hadn’t predicted, however, was the sudden flood of foreign visitors. Politicians and police authorities from Jamaica, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Greece and Australia have all come knocking, as well as doctors from New Zealand, Brazil and Chile, along with groups of corporate investors and bankers – so many that Canopy now splits the groups into smaller units according to their birthdays.

“We knew we’d have to give a lot of tours, so we just cut a window into the wall,” said the company spokesman, Jordan Sinclair. “We put windows in all of the doors.”

Canada will be thrust even more directly under the international microscope on Thursday, when a vote in the Senate is expected to ratify Bill C-45, effectively making Canada the first G20 nation to legalize recreational marijuana.’

So begins Selena Ross’ article ‘All eyes on Canada as first G7 nation prepares to make marijuana legal’  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/06/all-eyes-on-canada-as-first-g7-nation-prepares-to-make-marijuana-legal  

Weed: A User’s Guide is the key text to understanding the ins and outs of marijuana. This definitive, hands-on, guide will educate and entertain the novice and experienced user alike. Complete with history, ways to enjoy, recipes, safety and legality tips, and medical-use information, this witty guide is perfect for the new world of decriminalised recreational marijuana.

Find Weed by David Schmader here: http://souvenirpress.co.uk/product/weed/

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World Autism Month

We are coming to the end of World Autism Month and thought we’d share two engaging and insightful books on the subject.

 

First up is Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism by Dr Barry M. Prizant. Winner of the Autism Society of America’s Dr Temple Grandin Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Autism, Uniquely Human is a comprehensive guide to understanding Autism.

Autism Spectrum Disorder is now among the most commonly diagnosed developmental disabilities, affecting 1% of the population. Uniquely Human is based on 40 years of practical experience with schools, hospitals, families and academic study.

Dr Prizant’s revolutionary approach is to understand autism as a different way of being human. By understanding autistic behaviours as responses based on that individual’s experiences he seeks to enhance the child’s abilities, teach skills and build coping strategies for a better quality of life.

With a wealth of inspiring stories and practical advice Uniquely Human conveys a deep respect for the qualities in people with autism that make them special. Offering a compassionate and insightful perspective, this groundbreaking perspective that could be life-changing and uplifting.

This is essential reading for any parent, teacher or therapist of a person with autism. An internationally acclaimed expert who views autism not as a disability but as a unique way of being human.

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Find Uniquely Human here: https://bit.ly/2f4PaG9

 

Secondly, Aspertools by Dr Harold Reitman.

Aspertools offers advice from three perspectives, with that of a special needs education teacher, Pati Fizzano, as well as inspirational stories from Dr Reitman’s daughter, Rebecca, about her own experience, for understanding and managing life with an Aspie. It includes tips to make daily life less frustrating and more productive, focusing on the importance of positive routines, coping with social awkwardness and creating stability in daily activities.

Including tips on how to cope with social anxiety through preparation, encouragement and lists; how to effect positive changes in behaviour by utilising rules, rewards and consequences; how to decrease the frequency of meltdowns by providing an escape route to ‘a safe place’. This comprehensive and accessible work will open up the opportunity of a fulfilling life for everyone with a different brain – no matter the label.

Dr Reitman immediately realised that his good intentions as a parent had been off-course when bringing up his daughter as he could not understand the landscape of Rebecca’s mind and feelings. This is the book he wishes that he had had access to when Rebecca was a child and teenager.

Harold Reitman outlines how Aspies process information differently in a way that affects their daily life and provides practical, self-administered tools to manage life inside and outside the home.

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Find Aspertools here: https://bit.ly/2o3JXlN

Out of Your Mind by Alan Watts

We are delighted to publish today Out of Your Mind by Alan Watts.

In order to come to your senses, Alan Watts often said, you sometimes need to go out of your mind. Out of Your Mind brings readers, for the first time, six of this legendary thinker’s most engaging teachings on how to break through the limits of the rational mind and expand your awareness and appreciation of how we can transcend all that is unfolding all around us.

Offering answers to generations of spiritual seekers, Alan Watts is the voice for all who search for an understanding of their identity and role in the world.

For those both new and familiar with Watts, this book invites us to delve into his favourite pathways out of the trap of conventional awareness:

Discover art of the “controlled accident”—what happens when you stop taking your life so seriously and start enjoying it with complete sincerity.

Embrace chaos to discover your deepest purpose.

How do we come to believe “the myth of myself”—that we are skin-encapsulated egos separate from the world around us—and how to transcend that illusion?

Find the miracle that occurs when we stop taking life so seriously.

Alan Watts was one of the best-known writers of the 1960s and 1970s, and the leading interpreter of Eastern religion and philosophy for Western readers. He published over 25 books, including The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, The Way of Zen and Tao: The Watercourse Way.

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Find Out of Your Mind here: https://bit.ly/2I1jxvG

Gazetteer of British Ghosts – Peter Underwood (Extract)

Editor’s Introduction to the Revised Edition by Adam Underwood

What does the word ‘gazetteer’ mean?

This is the question I asked my grandfather in 2010, as we walked along Northumberland Avenue – along with my brother, father and mother. The sky was grey. The streets were quiet. It had become something of a custom of ours to meet Peter in London each year around Christmas time.

And before I asked him that question, we had just met him at The Savage Club in Whitehall Place. It was still a regular haunt of his. Peter had been a member for decades. It had served as an official address via which readers could correspond with him. We would stand in the main entrance hall of a large building, waiting to see him descend the grand staircase at the end. Waiting and absorbing the atmosphere of a past time that still permeated the stately space we were temporarily immersed in.

From there, we would proceed around the corner into Northumberland Avenue and continue on before arriving at The Sherlock Holmes pub for an early lunch. It was at the site of this establishment that there once existed the hotel where Sherlock Holmes tracks down Francis Hay Moulton in The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor.

Arthur Conan Doyle had once been a member of the Ghost Club (Peter was President for decades), before falling out with the then Chairman Harry Price. Doyle’s daughter Dame Jean Conan Doyle would subsequently become a member – and Peter’s friend. And she would invariably introduce him to others as ‘the Sherlock Holmes of psychical research’.

What is clear now is how my question to Peter betrayed a deeper lack of awareness of his life’s work as a whole (the word ‘gazetteer’ had piqued my interest upon my seeing it on the cover of the Japanese translation that year of the Gazetteer. The word adorned a flag that a skeleton carried).

I don’t recall him giving me answer.

But things change. Not long after Peter’s passing in 2014, my interest in ensuring that his work somehow live on conjured some interesting developments. If ‘gazetteer’ means ‘geographical dictionary’, then what better way might there be to further complete Peter’s original project than via the construction of a unique Google Map to cover all 236 haunted sites from the original book, together with a WordPress Blog dedicated to hunting down images to illustrate them?

Such is the lively afterlife that cultural objects can continue to enjoy. I am reminded of a line from the excellent book by Roger Clarke on ghosts, which evokes the significance of them as a cultural phenomenon beyond proving or disproving their existence: “ghosts exist because people constantly report that they see them”; A Natural History of Ghosts (2012); p.17.

After creating the map, the next logical step was to create a new fully revised edition to accompany it. And in the process of typing it up, I found myself slipping into an editorial mode. For no expense has been spared in the task of carrying on Peter’s original labours. As a result, there is hardly a single entry that has not been updated or revised or reformatted in some way. Which is simply a result of the editorial pursuit (or compulsion or burden) to render his work as lively and legible as possible for today’s readers.

The Folklore Society (FLS) exhibited a somewhat snobby attitude toward the broad appeal of the Gazetteer, characterising it as having been ‘written in frank journalese [a hackneyed style of writing supposedly characteristic of that in newspapers and magazines – AU]’ (Folklore, Volume 82, Autumn 1971; ‘Reviews’, pp.249-260; p.256).

But perhaps this is to misunderstand the practical nature of Peter’s project, which he offers to the reader in his original introduction as ‘a reference book and as a guide to ghost-hunting’. And it would thereby be all too easy not to be able to see the wood for the trees should one only understand all things ‘paranormal’ from the standpoint of an individual, self-contained academic discipline.

Against the grain of such a narrow disciplinary standpoint, Peter’s work might be said to be modestly emblematic of a whole host of interconnections – between experience, belief, testimony, memory, imagination, narrative, tradition, the past, violence, religion, death, the psyche, and mourning.

So ultimately this ‘revised’ edition could be said to exist in the service of the accounts themselves, which Peter was himself doing service to, whether reflecting upon the existing literature, acting as an unofficial ‘folklore historian’, reporting upon his own inquiries and investigation, upon the testimony of others, or functioning to continue a tradition of folklore itself – by regaling the reader with a tantalising legend or tale associated with a place or site.

Although the ‘illustrations’ (the photographs that my father took the majority of) that originally accompanied the Gazetteer are not contained within this ‘pure digital’ edition, they do form part of a forthcoming, fully-illustrated paperback version of this revised edition.

As a coda to this new edition you are reading there is an ‘Afterword’ by writer Alan Williams, followed by the text of an article based on an interview he conducted with Peter in 1997, which appeared in a publication he was editor of at the time – Writers’ Monthly.

Williams is the author of The Blackheath Seance Parlour (2013), a highly enjoyable mixture of gothic horror and historical fiction – with an additional injection of humour. In his ‘Afterword’, he reflects back upon the first time he encountered Peter’s work, and forward to the opportunity he later had to interview Peter about his paranormal life.

Adam Underwood

May 2017, London

Original 1971 Introduction by Peter Underwood

There are more ghosts seen, reported and accepted in the British Isles than anywhere else on earth. I am often asked why this is so and can only suggest that a unique ancestry with Mediterranean, Scandinavian, Celtic and other strains, an intrinsic island detachment, an enquiring nature, and perhaps our readiness to accept a supernormal explanation for curious happenings may all have played their part in bringing about this state of affairs.

Another question I am repeatedly asked is whether I believe in ghosts and my answer is that belief does not come into it as far as my work in this field is concerned. I try to investigate and study reportes of these phenomena dispassionately but I am impressed by the wealth of evidence for ghosts and hauntings: strikingly similar reports from all over the world since the beginning of recorded history. I am quite certain that I have spoken to many people who are genuinely convinced that they have seen apparitions, phantoms, spectres, ghosts – call them what you will.

My interest in ghosts and haunted houses probably stems from the fact that my maternal grandparents lived in a reputedly haunted house and as a child I heard all about ghosts and soon found that other people believed that they too, lived with them. As a boy I was intrigued that adults should take the subject seriously and I began to collect notes of hauntings and then press-cuttings and reports.

A collection that has today grown into an enormous collection of data on the subject, and from this material, the result of over thirty years study of the subject, I have selected most of the famous cases of haunting and many hitherto unpublished accounts of ghostly phenomena to offer a representative account of apparently paranormal activity throughout the British Isles.

The entries marked with an asterisk [ * ] are those about which I have personal knowledge, either having interviewed the witnesses, carried out an investigation of the case, or visited the place in question myself.

And I hope that in reading between the lines, it would be possible to glimpse my opinion on some of these fascinating mysteries. It is interesting to note, for example, that there are often children up to and around the age of adolescence in the affected houses who may be conscious or unconscious participants in the disturbances and I have also often noticed in such houses a dominating mother or a woman who is unhappy or frustrated.

The entries are arranged in alphabetical order of the place where the ghost has been sighted or where the curious happenings have occurred, something that has never been attempted before on this scale.

I hope the work will be of value as a reference book and as a guide to ghost-hunting, although I must emphasize that the inclusion of a haunted house in this volume does not necessarily mean that the house is open to the public. At the end of each entry I have indicated a nearby hotel which may be of assistance to those who plan a visit or itinerary to some of these haunted places.

I did consider referring readers to various volumes containing fuller details of some of the cases included, but decided against this, because many well-known hauntings are dealt with – with varying reliability – in many books. The select bibliography at the end of this work includes most of the best books of true ghostly experiences published to date.

I would like to acknowledge the help I have received from many correspondents and people I have talked to, for their cooperation extending over many years. To my wife for inexhaustible patience and understanding. To my daughter for reading the first draft and for many helpful suggestions. And particularly to my son Chris who has provided most of the excellent photographs.

I am always interested to receive first-hand or reliable accounts of ghosts and haunted houses: a subject that has interested me for almost as long as I can remember and will probably continue to interest me until, perhaps, I become a ghost myself!

Peter Underwood

The Savage Club,

London S.W.1

 

Extracted from The Gazetteer of British Ghosts by Peter Underwood

The Gazetteer of British Ghosts is available free on Kindle in today’s promotion: https://amzn.to/2JpLEEg

You can find our other Peter Underwood title – Where the Ghosts Walk here: https://bit.ly/2HWOBMW