First it's ME ME ME, then a plea for more deserving cases, being helped by the amazing Mark Frankland, who I've written about before. He helps run a charity in Dumfries called First Base, and they need cash. They help people - mainly ex-servicemen - to survive and now they need help to survive themselves. MARK WRITES:
One donation stands out of course. £5000 from Mark Jardine. Unbelievable generosity. I am pretty sure Mark won't want me to write much about this. He's not that kind of guy. Well, tough.
Mark is a funeral director and all too often over the last thirteen years he has buried clients of ours. Average age? Maybe thirty. How? The usual. Drug overdoses. Or the gradual physical disintegration Class A's bring to the party. Or the slow inexorable drip, drip poisoning that is alcoholism. Or suicide when life has just gotten way too dark. Or the sharp end of the violence that stalks to streets of addiction.
When young people die from drink, drugs, violence or despair it is an unimaginably terrible time for their families. These are very worst of funerals. And sadly over the years Mark has had far too much practice when it comes to finding the right words.
At First Base, we try to stop the worst thing in the world from happening. If it happens, then Mark tries to find a way to make the unbearable a little more bearable for the families who are left behind.
I guess what I am trying to say is that we share the sharp end of things with Mark. The darkest of the dark places where things get so broken they will never, ever be fixed. So to receive such an unbelievable vote of confidence from Mark means one hell of a lot, believe me.
I am pretty sure there are a few more folk in the pipeline who are going to spend half a week eating one of our food parcels and raising some cash. Fancy having a go? If you do, give me a bell on 01387 279680 or 07770 443483. Or you can e mail me at email@example.com.
Now back to the ME ME ME (in case you think I'm a frigging saint, or something!)
DO YOU want to win a copy of Jan Needle’s hugely popular ‘Wild Wood’ – a twist on the classic ‘The Wind in the Willows’ from the point of view of the ‘villains’.
To be in with a chance, simply answer this question:
What is the title of Jan Needle’s latest book?
Send your answer with you name and contact details by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to: Book competition, Saddleworth Independent, PO Box 725, Greenfield, Oldham, OL3 7XJ.
The first correct entry drawn after the closing date of Friday, September 30, 2016 wins.
TO MAKE IT EASIER, HERE'S WHAT AIMEE BELMORE WROTE!
Jan Needle’s latest book, ‘In Too Deep’, looks at how the frogman, Lionel ‘Buster’
Crabb, was sent into the murky waters of Portsmouth Harbour to spy on a visiting Russian cruiser in the Cold War.
The Russian warship was carrying the two most powerful men in the Soviet Union – Nikita Khrushchev and Nicolai Bulganin – on a mission meant to promote goodwill.
The head of MI6’s London station, Nicholas Elliott, saw it as an opportunity too good to miss and persuaded Buster Crabb to come out of retirement for one last secret mission.
Crabb, whose war record had been unequalled, was, by 1956, approaching fifty, a diabetic, an extremely heavy smoker and an alcoholic.
He slipped into the chilly April waters for the mission but when he had not returned after about an hour, his diving support crew went back on shore and began the cover-up.
The hotel registration book, which he had bizarrely signed with his real name, had two pages ripped from it, and the Portsmouth police were ordered not to talk to the press.
Rumours flew: wild theories included the Soviets had kidnapped Buster Crabb or their frogmen had killed him underwater, or sailors had shot him from the warship’s deck.
It was fourteen months before a body was found in Chichester Harbour, and – conveniently – it did not have a head or hands. It was declared to be Lionel Crabb, and it was officially classified as an accident.
Although the body was buried in a local cemetery, very few people, and none of his family, believed that it was his.
Over the years theories proliferated. Crabb was even supposed to have defected to Russia to train Soviet frogmen in sophisticated underwater techniques.
“Whatever happened to him, it was tantamount to a cold-blooded murder,” Jan said. “He may have been stabbed, he may have been abducted, he may have been thrown overboard somewhere out in the cold Atlantic Ocean. But whichever way you look at it the British, through MI6 and the ‘Eton Mafia’, were responsible.”
He added: “I was born in Portsmouth, and know the harbour well. It is cold and dangerous, with fast flowing currents.
“At that time of his life, in that condition, Buster Crabb was doomed to die. They had the blood of a great British hero on their hands.”