Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016 moves on to 2017

A split second, in this case a leap second, and we're into a new year, a new month, a new phase in our lives.
2016 saw joy and sadness. There was death, there was new birth. We all move on. I'm thinking about our Gambian friends, and wondering what the future holds for them. We pray that there will be peace, a chance for all to have health care and education, be free to love whoever they wish, a chance to live under democratic rule, where each life is valued equally.
I would like to be able to welcome Gambians back into the Commonwealth, if that is their wish. I would like to see them able to travel the world, to visit the UK if they wish, to be valued as important members of our country and culture, to have similarities acknowledged and differences respected. We are all equal members of this small world.
I wish to pay tribute to all who have welcomed us into their homes, fed us, cared for us an made us feel that our friendship is valued, and look forward to seeing us again.
Thank you all, friends, for you kindness, love, help and advice. We wish all of you Good Health, Long Life and Happiness. We love you all.
Joyce & Tom

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Girl on Wheels

Just in time for Christmas!  The latest book in the Malinding Village series about life in a Gambian community, Girl on Wheels, is available now on Amazon Kindle books.

Jodie, the girl on wheels, first appeared in the opening chapter of Empty Bananas, the original Malinding book. Now you can read her autobiography, starting with her life with her mum, through the tragedy of being an orphan, then her life in care, her troubled times ... and on to Africa!

As with all the series, all income is paid into the GOES account and from there to help fund education and health care in the Gambia.

The village is imaginary, as are the people who live there, but the details about life in the Gambia are accurate.

Hope you enjoy the book!

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Shameless advert for Malinding Village ebooks

Should be a link to the advert on Amazon for the first of the series (I think there's about six of them now!)

I do tend to get these things a bit wrong ....

All money from the sale of these books is placed in the bank account of GOES - Gambian Occasional Emergency Support - and helps clinics, schools and individuals in The Gambia.
We have local agents who authenticate appeals for assistance from people we don't know and, of course, we travel out there at our own expense once or twice a year to see how things are going.

The books are a mixture of travel information disguised as light romances set in the imaginary village of Malinding, set on the South bank of the River Gambia. We should warn you that if you follow the directions to the village as given in the books you will get very wet, possibly eaten by crocodiles or hippos, in addition to which your taxi driver will be very very cross and if you survive you will certainly have to buy him a nice new car.

You can learn a little about local customs, food, dress and places of interest.

Do go - it's a peaceful, gentle country with lovely people, great food, and if you go once (remember to get the best anti-mozzi tablets - you'll probably go back time and time again. We did.

Best wishes,
Happy travels,

Friday, 2 December 2016


Congratulations to my friends and all Gambians, for a peaceful election and change of president. May we wish all of you happiness, prosperity and long life.

Monday, 21 November 2016

E mail

timid tom at g mail dot com

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Extract from "Jodie's Wheels" due to be published at Christmas 2016

"Jodie's Wheels" is the working title of the next Malinding Series of Kindle Ebooks, available from Amazon. All income from the sales of these books is put directly into GOES bank account to help with education and health care in the Gambia.

In this extract Jodie, a wheelchair user, meets Sirra, the ex-Alkalo (Head) of Malinding village while they are both visiting Gladstone's Library in North Wales.

'Sorry if I was staring. I'm Sirra Ceesay, from Malinding village, in the Gambia' and held out her hand.

'And I'm Jodie Sonko, from darkest Cheshire. My mum and dad are over there, talking to people. How do you do?' Get me again, all this white tribe ritual.

'Hello, Jodie. Is it OK to sit and talk for a while?'

'Yeah, so long as you don't try to …' I was going to say 'try to molest me' but I managed to switch out of potty-mouth mode. I could sense Rachel beaming at me. Where had she been for the past couple of weeks? Sirra smiled.

'No, nothing like that, whatever you thought'.

 I tried again.

'Do you live in a mud hut with a thatched roof? Are there lots of wild tribes fighting each other? Do you … ' I know when I'm being laughed at. As soon as we got home I was going to ask dad to sponsor me for a brain transplant.

'Sorry, Jodie, I wasn't laughing at you. Of course we don't do any of those things, anymore than you do. We do have several tribes, I'm Mandinka. There are also Wolof, Jola, Serehula and Aku.  Some people do live in mud brick houses but they may well have piped water and electricity. And to be honest, it's far too hot to fight. And to explain why I wanted to talk to you, well, you look like a Mandinka girl.' Was that an insult? Was it better or worse than looking like a girl from Widnes? I could hear Rachel telling me to shut up and listen. Fat chance.

'I'm here because my mum and dad wanted me to be here. I'm adopted. My real mum's dead. My legs are like this because I was in a car crash. I'm rubbish with books and I'm so stupid I'm a plank. I'm a half caste and a half wit.'

'Jodie, that's not you. I suppose you could call my children half caste. My first husband was a white man. He died a while ago and I came back here to help remember him. I've two children. My son is the Alkalo, the chief, of our village. He's also a university lecturer. My daughter is a lawyer and she's also a member of parliament. And you don't seem to be at all half-witted. You can listen, you can express yourself fluently and you're not afraid to ask questions. I'm a teacher. Don't look so scared, I won't bite. We have crocodiles to do that for us.' It took me a moment to see that she was joking. I hoped she was, about the crocodiles, anyway. I was having a conversation with a stranger. What was happening to me? I was having meals with the wrong names. I was being fairly polite. I was staying in the sort of place that normally wouldn't let me in. I was in the sort of place I didn't know existed.


'Yes, Jodie?'

'Tell me about Africa?'

'Don't look for the differences. Look for the similarities. Start small. Let's start with Malinding. A couple of hundred compounds - places where people live. Men, women and children. There are three schools, a clinic, half a dozen mosques.'

Friday, 11 November 2016

Two minutes silence

Today, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, I stood silently in the market square of my home time, recalling the occasions when I have stood in the War Grave Cemetery at Fajara, in the Gambia.
In that garden lie the bodies of many brave young men who gave their lives so that we may live as free men and women, free to hope that our children will also life in peace, irrespective of colour or race. The neatly tended graves point to a multicultural community, young Gambians, a French Legion Officer, the British crew of a crashed flying boat, all sacrificed their lives for us.
It disturbs me that I can visit their lovely country, enjoy the 'Smiling Coast' whenever I wish to, but the families of those Gambian Heroes are generally denied travel to Britain, which many still call their motherland, denied a Visa because our Government suspects possible 'immigrants' and labels them 'Aliens'. Perhaps more people should visit Fajara and wander among the graves, and weep.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Where characters come from ...

I guess most writers of fiction are questioned about how they find their characters. Let's have a look at Jodie Sonko, the girl I'm writing about at the moment.
She started life when I was a little boy living in Widnes, seventy years ago. Mrs E lived across the road from us and was a sort of second mother to most of the kids in Norlands Lane. She lived, it seemed, in a hand-propelled wheelchair and the story we believed was that she had crashed her sports car on an icy road one night and lay trapped beneath it till the next morning. She didn't have children of her own but her door was open to the gang I played cricket (in the road) with, and she listened to our stories of digging caves and building bonfires and trapping rabbits ... so she's Jodie?
Not entirely. She's also my cousin Margaret, who lived in Knutsford. I used to cycle there from home most week-ends. Margaret was a few years older than me and always seemed to be having adventures. She was, I think, unaware of my existence, but I was amazed that someone so glamourous could have adventures and still be a girl!
I picked 'Jodie' for her name because I don't know anyone called that and Sonko became her family name because one of my best friends has that name and I borrowed it!
So, beware. Don't speak to writers if you don't want to have bits of you mixed up and put in a book!
Quite a number of my family and friends are featured in the Malinding village books. None under their real names, some have changed colour, some have changed jobs, some have been mixed up with imaginary characters, some would possibly never speak to me again if they knew. So, I won't end by saying 'You know who you are' because I hope you don't! The villains, of course, are purely imaginary. Of course they are ...

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Then and now and books

J and I had a day off yesterday. We went to my birth-town, Northwich in Cheshire, to meet some other people who, like us, are interested in History. J even bought me a slice of cake as a reward for driving! Cheshire is one of the most beautiful counties in England. Gentle rolling hills, green lanes, trees, sheep and cows, lovely little villages with a school and a church and a pond with ducks paddling around it. We have rivers and canals and castles and lots of history. Pretty, all very pretty.
But a couple of hundred years ago some of these lovely villages weren't quite so pretty: some of the pretty little cottages, the ones that cost a fortune to buy or rent now, these cottages would have been crammed with children and with parents who worked very hard down the coal mines. No coal mines now, of course; they belonged to the bad old days. There's a nice new BMW or AUDI parked outside today. Back in the day the miner, and some of his children, walked a couple to miles to the mine, spent their days in darkness, and, exhausted after a hard day's work, walked the same couple of miles back to their rented cottage.
And what has this to do with the Gambia? Well, so what was going on there, a couple of hundred years ago? Well, people were working their gardens, building their houses, trying to look after their children, just like the poor people of Cheshire, but with one huge difference. The poor folk of Cheshire were not likely to have been taken as slaves. Slavery still goes on, possibly even more than in the bad old days. Poverty still exists, even in Cheshire people live in slums, parents go hungry to let their children eat. Families depend on food banks, places set up in village halls and churches, to help people in poverty have food to eat. I know that people in the Gambia live in poverty, depend on support from family and friends and neighbours.
My point?
We are the same people, linked by a desire to support our children, see them educated, see them live happy, secure lives. We want to see them in good employment. The more I travel the more I realise that all good people are the same, whatever colour or faith or language they have, I feel safe when I live for a while in the homes of my Gambian friends. I wish that they could travel safely to visit me, and I wish that they could prosper in their own lands so that, having made that visit, they could cheerfully and willingly return to their own prosperous, happy, country.

In the meantime, learn a little about village life by purchasing one (or all!) of the Malinding series of eBooks from Amazon. All the income from the sale of these books goes, without deduction, to help schools and clinics in The Gambia.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Everything but the Gambia!

There seem to be too many things happening to stop us concentrating on GOES. The house is being decorated, the car needs an MOT, both J and I have medical treatments looming, J has a uni course to complete and I'm 26k words into the next book ... whinge whinge and whine whine!
We have managed to tear ourselves away from coping with everyday life long enough to pay a few teachers, send a few children to school, pay a couple of hospital bills, send money to repair a house damaged by rain and spend a little money on some plumbing.
Someday we will have to wind up the charity. Retire? No, not just yet - retiring is what old folk do! Just think of this post as a seasonal grumble. We're missing Africa - it's eight months since we were there. J is missing the babies and I'm missing Domada and Benechin (not two beautiful ladies - two beautiful ways of cooking fish!) and we're both missing the sunshine and our lovely friends.

You could help by buying any or all of the Malinding series of ebooks from Amazon - the money goes directly into the GOES bank account and from there to the Gambia to support health and educational projects. And HMRC adds 25% Gift Aid to help!

Monday, 10 October 2016

They had me in stitches!

Or, just call me Scarface! A longer absence from the blog than I intended. We spent a couple of very happy weeks in Germany, staying with family friends and visiting art galleries and museums and eating too much cake. A totally wonderful experience. Jodie grew another 2K words and enjoyed herself immensely. She managed to behave well too!
Things went wrong when, safely back on English soil I managed to trip over something on my way back from the village shop and knock myself out. I woke up in an ambulance on the way to our local hospital. We paused to pick up J from home and I was deposited, very gently, at A & E. I had all sorts of tests and scans (it seems that the brain is in good condition!) and I had a bit of face sewn back into position. I was kept in hospital for a night, ate an excellent apple crumble with custard. A charming Irish nurse told me Irish folk stories and I was packed off home feeling very much better. The brain news was cheering.
Yesterday I was able to attend the wedding of a niece. I thought my injuries might scare people off but I was asked to dance by charming ladies (including J of course!) I had a whale of a great time - thanks to all of you, young/old, Anglo or Germanic! I love the world :-)
Delighted to discover that another niece is going to train for a very demanding Nursing role - hope I don't need her skills but very proud of her.
Managed to conduct a bit of GOES business during all this - sent some help for students and dealt with a couple of requests for help with repairs, and modifications to the plumbing at a village clinic.
Having for once been on the receiving end of medical help I wish that all countries in the world, especially those in what we call 'the third world' could receive treatment to the same standard I was give just a few short days ago. GOES tries: perhaps you could help by purchasing one or more of the 'Malinding' series of ebooks about life in an African village?
All income from the sale of these books goes (!) straight into the charity account.
Best wishes,
(Oh, and thanks to P, who chatted to me about life in a chair and gave Jodie a vast amount of information).

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Home again!

No, not from Gambia for once! We went to stay with some relatives, who also happen to be best friends, in Germany. We had a wonderful, exciting and funny time. Lots of laughter, lots of good food and good company. Visited the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, for the third time. I'm fascinated by the history of printing and this visit included a demonstration of type-casting 1439 style.
Back to work now, though I wasn't entirely idle while we were away - Jodie has gained a couple of thousand new words and endured some heavy editing.
Just thought I'd let you know we're back in the real world now (had to deal with wasps in the house, a computer on the blink and Windows 10 not recognising most of my passwords. Just a normal day. I need a haircut almost as much as I need more Plum Tart and Black Forest Gateau!)

P.S. If you get the chance to hear a choir called 'PopCHORn' take it. They are brilliant!

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Been a bit busy again

Hello again. J and I have been pottering round clinics and hospitals for a little maintenance and we are restored now to working order. We haven't been too idle - I've been conducting the usual struggle with TalkTalk, a firm which seems dedicated to making me spend more time calling the computer rude names than allowing me to complete GOES work without crashing (the computer, that is): if I get to spend 15 minutes without the machine crashing I'm having a good day!
Still, the days of TalkTalk are numbered - I'll let you all have the new address when everything is sorted out ... I need biscuits!
Our friend S has offered the Clinic a supply of medical goodies - I don't know exactly what but should find out soon.
The latest book - 'Jodie's Wheels'* is coming along at a steady pace, inspired by the coming Paralympics - hope Gambia can field a team again this year. I believe that it's more important to have the participation of teams from the smallest nations to make the Olympic spirit truly fulfilled.
P, a friend of J's, has made a very kind donation to GOES funds. We would love to be able to take on some new projects but money is a little tight at the moment.
*I think I posted a short extract here a while ago?

Best wishes to all of you,

Saturday, 13 August 2016

2016 Olympics and Paralympics

Congratulations to the GB Olympic Team who will bring home a well deserved basket full of medals and personal bests.
Let us also salute the efforts of tiny teams from less advantaged countries: I'm thinking of the Gambian team: Pap Jonga, aged 19, a swimmer, and Judoka N'Jie, aged 22, who competes in Judo. No medals, but they gave it their best.

Gambian Paralympian Demba Jarju was among the athletes received by the deputy permanent secretary for sports after deputizing for the Youth and Sports Minister Alieu K Jammeh earlier today at the National Sports Council office at the Independence Stadium in Bakau. Demba secured Olympic qualification standard for the second time after representing the country for the first in London 2012. The courtesy call is the first by the Ministry of Youth and Sports since the athlete achieved the qualification standard earlier in May in the 200mtrs T54. Demba was accompanied by the other two athletes Adama Jammeh and Gina Bass who earned the qualification standard for the Rio 2016 Games in the male and female categories of the 200mtrs

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

GOES does not work alone - we co-operate with other charities and NGOs

From: Sanyang Musa Sent: 01 August 2016 23:21
To: Stuart
Subject: greetings

hi stuart how are you and the rest of the family friends and all wishes .hope you are al fine there the school annual report on the development of the school and is achievements ,stuart, the nursery is 3

-4 yrs old the school was founded by mr momodou  and mr musa, and your effort s are complimented by mr stuart, tom and joyce and the members of the white church .the school started with only 7 children with no proper furniture and learning resources .but today it is a different history .the school is developing at a alarming rate a school of 7 children before ,now counting up to 85 children .stuart’s nursery has five staff two teachers are on pay roll while the heads and two others are doing voluntary .the school has good furniture for both children and teachers .the staff monitoring tools, visitors book registers for children daily attendance are of paramount importance. the introduction of the school bell and the school official stamp are steps for the well being of a develop institute ..the school is now  recognised as a learning institute ,because children dress smartly in their school uniform with the school badges bearing the name of the school .the provision of break fast for the children pay a great dividend for the development of the school ,thanks to the white church ,for their immense contribution achievement .in no exception the school achieved a lot the community has a school at their door steps ,the risk of their young children travelling a kilometre or so is now a think of the past .another great achievement are children can now read and write very well .they can display teaching and learning materials on their own ,and can identify both letters and numbers from one to hundred .in 2015 three children from stuart’s  memorial are moved to the primary school  namely 1 kadijatou, 2 cherno and 3, bubacarr.have done well in their final third term exams .the f=llowing children are going to be transit to grade one .coming  september .2016they are as follows 1 kaddy,  2 nyima,  3 amadou, 4 pa,  5 samba and finally 6 mam. we started enrolling children into nursery one ,all are issued with report school ,and school close on the 22 july and open on the 3rd of september 2016 i want to thank you all once again may god blessed you all .

“Our friend Stuart forwarded this message from the head teacher of a school in the Gambia. Stuart has been instrumental in setting up this school in a small village a long way off the tourist track. GOES has from time to time been able to co-operate with Stuart and the villagers. I enclose the message with the permission of the school staff and Stuart. Names of children have been modified.

Stuart also does great humanitarian work in other areas of Africa. The 'White Church' is in the town of Lytham St Annes in UK and the support from them is provided through their Outreach Group which raises funds for International and Local charities.”

Friday, 5 August 2016

Every penny counts!

Hi Tom,
You and your supporters have raised £4.07 for Gambian Occasional Emergency Support (GOES) so far.
Your funds are safe in your easyfundraising account and will be paid to you once you've raised £15 or more. Donations are sent out to our good causes every three months.
Keep shopping the easyfundraising way so we can pay you next time!
Your Statement
Date: April - June 2016
Payment method: Cheque
Amount raised: £4.07
View your statement »

Saturday, 16 July 2016

On the road with GOES ...

Where does your money go with GOES? Fair question. Let's imagine we're going to find out as we travel to some of the villages together.
We're staying at a small hotel on the Atlantic coast near Kotu village. Turn left out of the hotel and a ten minute walk takes you to the centre of the village. There are a few shops, a market, several hotels and that's it! Back to the hotel, keep going to the crossroads and we'll pick a taxi to Bakau, the next village along the coast. It's a good 20 minute jog but it's a hot day ... Bakau is a much larger fishing village with a fish market, a craft market, several hotels, large shops and banks and a crocodile pool! We've helped one of the large families here with housing, education, and health care. We might as well drop in for a brew of attaya (green tea). The children are anxious to show us their school reports and parents smile proudly ... while we're nearby we'll pop along to the Capital city, Banjul, and visit the hospital. We need to drop off supplies you've donated - medicines, bandages, catheters  and a ream of computer paper.
Where next? Another taxi ride to see one of the schools we help in a suburb of Serrekunda. We drive across Denton Bridge which carries us across Oyster Creek, a wonderful place for bird watching, and eventually turn off the blacktop road onto a series of sand tracks which lead us to Bundung, where the school is. Here we have contributed to the running costs, bought paint, supplied school gates - numerous items which you've contributed to. The children greet us and sing! We tell a story but refrain from song!
 Back in the taxi - one of the yellow Mercedes which transport everything from people to goats and chickens and sheets of corrugated iron and ... everything that requires transporting, and mostly at the same time! Off again, back on the main road, past Abuko nature reserve on the right - must find time to visit one day - and Lamin Lodge Hotel on the left, on the bank of the mighty River Gambia, through Lamin village and turn left by the Taxi Centre on the road to Mandinari. We pass the Lower Basic School which has received a couple of dozen dictionaries given by you and carried free by Thomas Cook, plus a locally purchased sack of rice which the head teacher cooks so the children start the day with happy tummies - and stop outside the village clinic. We've had a long and happy relationship with this place. You'll remember helping to provide a clean water supply? See, there's the tap! This time we're bringing supplies for the medicine cupboard - stacks of paracetamol (for treatment of malaria) and rolls of bandages and a blood-pressure monitor.
 We also pay a quick visit to the nursery school next to the clinic and check that funds we donated last trip have been put to good use. More attaya, then a quick round of visits to friends GOES has helped over the years - school fees paid for children and adults (mainly women who missed out on formal education, house repairs funded - if cement is added to the home-made building blocks it can resist water damage for a much longer time.  So many people here want us to stay and chat and drink attaya and share a meal that we promise to return in a couple of days and stay longer.
 Time to head back to the hotel in Kotu. Our driver, a long-time friend, mentions that his wife is preparing the evening meal and perhaps ... and the children would like to read to us? Of course - you don't mind, do you? You'll be welcome!
 It's much later when we return to the hotel and sit by the pool watching the bats chasing mosquitoes across the night sky. Hope you enjoyed the journey? What's that? Mandinari seems very like Malinding in the story books? I couldn't possibly comment!

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Happy Koriteh!

Happy Koriteh to all my Muslim friends! I hope that's the right way to spell it! I believe that it's the celebration held at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, when there is a fast during daylight hours.
I have the greatest respect for those people who can observe it. Years ago, while I was staying with friends in the village I tried to follow the rule of no food or drink. I think I managed 3 days and then my friends ordered me to stop! I was, they said, exempt because of my age and they didn't want me to come to any harm. They said that they respected my attempt, but it wasn't a good idea to make myself ill. They provided food for me at lunch time and checked that I was drinking water regularly. I was more than happy to contribute to the feast at the end of the month!
May I take this chance to wish all my friends Good Health, Long Life, and Happiness.

Monday, 4 July 2016

A preview page from one of the Malinding Village books


Rachel's smiling at me. I've done something right. Or something write? This book seems to be a book about a book. How not to write a book? Do all writers agonise about what they're trying to say? Or do they just sit down in their studies, smile at the beautiful bunch of flowers their fan club sent, gaze out at their swimming pools, sip at a G & T and then write perfect prose at the rate of a thousand words an hour? What is a G & T? Must be something to drink if you sip at it. I've got this old laptop with windows 98 and a battery that lasts all of half an hour if I don't play games. Couple of hundred words a day? If I'm lucky. I once did five hundred but when I read it I was so ashamed. I shouldn't have thoughts like that. Rachel** said I should have kept them in, they were what this book is really about. But what if one of my teachers - what if Miss Ellesmere - read it? Not that it's likely that anyone will ever read it, but what if?  I wish I could keep this book in order, day-by-day, month-by-month. It keeps leaping about from year to year then back to another year. That last bit I wrote, about love and lovers. That was before I went to Uni.

I need a time line. BW and AW. Before wheels and after wheels.

Sorry, I came to a grinding halt after that last thought. Why do halts grind?  Teeth grind. Mills grind. How do halts grind? Halt! Who goes there? An old lame lady, sir. She goes haltingly. I'm rabbiting on and on. Haltingly. It's a good job I've got Rachel to talk to. I'd be talking to myself otherwise. Going quietly mad. Stark raving starkers mad - like I did at school after those prefects assaulted me. I wonder what happened to them? I could make something up about them, I'm a liar: all writers are liars, well, the fictional ones are. I'm fictional, you know. I am. So's Rachel and everybody else I know. We're all a pack of liars.

It's a bit like being a god, being a writer. What would I do to the prefects?* You want to know? O.K. How's this: on their way home, after the head teacher had sacked them, they rescued a kitten that had fallen into the canal. They took turns to give it mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and wrapped it up in my skirt (which they'd stolen as a souvenir). They took it to the R.S.P.C.A. and it later found a good home with an old lady who lived a long, long way from any dangerous water. Sadly, on their way home they were trampled by a Mastodon which had escaped from a secret research centre and had to be shot before it trampled the whole population of Weaverham. It took years to breed another Mastodon from DNA and stem cells. I've just re-read that last bit and realised what a nasty piece of work I am. Still, I'm not going to change it. I hope it's not true …

Rachel's vanished. Maybe the last bit of the story was too far-fetched even for her? Maybe. She's pretty far-fetched herself; maybe that's why we get on so well together. If I had a real friend I'd like her to be like Rach. I know she's not gone far because she never does. She once stayed away for nearly a whole week. She thought I was becoming too dependent on her. But she did come back. She doesn't find fault with me so much nowadays. She used to be on my case all the time, day and night, but now we're best mates. She does give me that look at times and I stop and think what I've said or what I've done that wasn't quite right. Not appropriate kind of thing. I worry a bit about my state of mind. I was unconscious for a couple of days after the accident. I wonder if a few of my brain-cells opted out and didn't grow back. I never had that many to start with.  know I'm not normal. Normal people have legs and walk and run and dance and swim. I can swim, actually. Sort of doggy-paddle a lobster might do. My instructor thought it was a variety of butterfly-stroke, so that's it then: the halting-moth crawl. It works, gets me from one end of the pool to the other.

*Three racist senior students had attacked Jodie on her first day at school.
** Rachel is Jodie's imaginary friend.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

The first Malinding Village book


Kindle Price: £2.11
includes VAT*
* Unlike print books, digital books are subject to VAT.

Read this title for free. Learn more
Read for £0.00
with Kindle Unlimited


These promotions will be applied to this item:
Some promotions may be combined; others are not eligible to be combined with other offers. For details, please see the Terms & Conditions associated with these promotions.
Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Flip to back Flip to front
Audible Narration Playing... Paused   You are listening to a sample of the Audible narration for this Kindle book.
Learn more
Kindle App Ad

Empty Bananas (Malinding Book 1) Kindle Edition

   All income from the sale of Malinding Village books is paid directly into the bank account of GOES (Gambian Occasional Emergency Support) where it has a little rest then speeds off to the Gambia to work in a school or clinic ... 
In this first book Malinding Village meets Ed Edwards and various characters from England and West Africa meet  for the first time ...                                                                                                                           

Length: 209 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

Kindle Unlimited
Kindle Unlimited
Enjoy unlimited access to over 1 million titles and thousands of audiobooks on any device for £7.99 a month, including this one. Learn more

Friday, 1 July 2016

Back on course!

Been rather busy for a while. Slow progress for a while, trying to get funds to a student teacher. We use a money transfer that used to be called Bayba. Normally it's been excellent, beneficiaries frequently receiving money on the day we send it.  In all the years we've been supporting West Africans things have never gone wrong. Until a couple of weeks ago. We'd promised help to a young trainee teacher that we've known for a while. The system is that a trainee works full time in a school, hopefully with the support of the rest of the staff, and is paid a small wage. He or she saves as much as possible and attends Training College during the summer vacation. There are charges for books, uniform (a T-shirt) and travel expenses. Three weeks ago H reminded me, very politely, of our promise. I immediately paid the money into the Bayba account, they sent me the transfer code and I passed that on to H. All she had to do was turn up at the collection point, quote the code and show her ID card and walk away with the money. Not so this time: code not recognised, call again tomorrow. H did this three times without success then WhatsApped me. I checked: code correct - try again. I emailed her copies of my documents, H tried again. Code not recognised. Somehow H managed to mislay her ID card.
Cutting a long story a bit shorter, I cancelled that transaction, Bayba refunded the money and I asked K (GOES agent) to receive the money and pass it onto H. That took one day, worked perfectly. H has the funds for her course and all she has to do now is to find or replace her ID card. No problem!
Now problems either for young S - the child who needed an operation on his eye a couple of years ago. GOES funded his trip to Senegal for the operation and subsequent visits for after-care. We can now report his complete cure.
J's wheelchair needed a small repair and this has been attended to.
Thanks, friends. You know who you are!
Best wishes,
Tom & Joyce.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Every penny counts!

Hi Tom,

Hope all is well with you and Gambian Occasional Emergency Support (GOES). The sun is shining and your supporters are shopping, so I'm here to help you make sure they don't forget to collect donations for Gambian Occasional Emergency Support (GOES).

See how Gambian Occasional Emergency Support (GOES) is getting on:

£159.85 raised so far
£1.13 raised last month
£5.11 raised in the last 3 months
3 supporters
0 supporters signed up last month

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Jodie's hard at work!

That's Jodie, in the bottom right hand corner of the window. She's not best pleased. In fact, she's several miles away from being even slightly pleased. I knew it was a mistake to encourage her to write a book by herself. Just because she features in the opening pages of 'Empty Bananas' (you did get your copy a couple of weeks ago when it was on free offer? Good.) Just because she was pleased to see herself in print she thought she could write a book. Well, to be honest she's had a very interesting life. She's seen some very tough times and she's coped brilliantly. I tried to give her a few hints but, fair enough, she wanted to do it her way. She was busy every day, managed to use Word without too much trouble, wrote and re-wrote, read it aloud - sometimes at half past two in the morning. Then, she 'lost' half her work. Possibly didn't save it, possibly didn't have 'auto-save' on?  Who knows? Bear in mind that she's a fictional character herself, it can't be easy working in a factual world!
Well, she's still there, in the shed at the bottom of the garden, tap-tap-tapping away. Honestly? Would I lie to you?
best wishes,

Monday, 23 May 2016

I deserve cake!

Yes, I do! I've completed the Gift Aid claim and sent it off! Took 37 attempts but good old English imprecations such as "Drat" and "Double Drat" and "Bother" and "Goodness Gracious" and "Trudget" won the day. Joyce, Jodie and the whole population of Malinding village held their breath and crossed their fingers and it worked!
Talking of Malinding there's still a couple of days left to download the free, revised version of Empty Bananas from Amazon eBooks. Jodie wants me to mention that she's the first character you meet when you start to read the book (unless you start at the back!)
I need a cup of tea and a piece of cake. Ah, Jodie has a very guilty look on her face ...
P.S. Not all this post is fiction!

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Free eBook

Empty Bananas, the first Kindle eBook in the Malinding Village series is, as promised, on free offer for four days from Sunday 22/05/2016. It's the revised, corrected version.
Hope it tempts you to buy the other books and support GOES!
Best wishes,

Saturday, 21 May 2016

How it works

Every little helps, they say. Well, here's an example. GOES is funding the travel from a small Gambian village to Dakar in Senegal of a young boy. He needs urgent medical treatment that isn't available at home. So, they asked and we agreed to help. The funding came from the sales of a couple of dozen 'Malinding Village' eBooks, an eBay sale of a couple of donated items, part of a regular monthly gift-aided donation (thanks A - you know who you are!) and a bit of topping up from us.
I received a text message from the little boy's father yesterday - they've arrived safely in Dakar (in spite of the Gambian/Senegal border being closed) and the child will be attended to in the hospital today.
Every little helps! (Please keep buying the books - you never know who is going to benefit!)
Best wishes,

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Advert! Buy the bloomin' book! GOES needs your money, we've got humanitarian work to do!


Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.
Kindle Price: £2.11
includes VAT*
* Unlike print books, digital books are subject to VAT.

Flip to back Flip to front
Audible Narration Playing... Paused   You are listening to a sample of the Audible narration for this Kindle book.
Learn more

Empty Bananas (Malinding Book 1) Kindle Edition

Length: 209 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

Kindle Unlimited
Kindle Unlimited
Enjoy unlimited access to over 1 million titles and thousands of audiobooks on any device for £7.99 a month, including this one.