Monday, 30 December 2019

The Ramblings Of A Silly Old Man - CHAPTER SIX


Being a silly OLD man, the emphasis on the word OLD, I have live through some events which have gone down in modern history as iconic moments in time There are a series of short moments which did not change the course of history as did the two world wars or the bombing of Hiroshima but there is something about each which holds the individual to where they were when they heard the news. There have been a lot of such times in my life so this chapter is going to be a long ramble, a very long ramble indeed. Shall we have a lottery on the number of words I will write ?

Where were you when you heard the news that President John F Kennedy, the 35th President of The United States had been assassinated. Friday 22nd November 1963 ?  You may not have graced this world with your presence on that date, not yet born,  but you will have heard of John John Fitzgerald Kennedy and know of his death. Your knowledge will be wrapped in the myths surrounding the events of Friday 22nd November 1963 and the days following. As I take you through my recollection of events I invite you to close your eyes to become the just turned thirteen year old I was at the time. Come and join me as I learned of the assassination of John F Kennedy.

It was a black and white world. Television was black and while. Newspapers were black and white obviously but without the colour images we know today. Cameras took black and white photographs, only those with loads of cash in their pockets could afford colour film. For me school was black and white, totally boring. Even our pet dog had a black coat while next door's cat was white.

It had been a black and white boring day at school but at least it was Friday. Friday afternoon, double Science with Mr Wall aka Brick. Brick Wall couldn't teach an interesting lesson if he lived to be one hundred years old. Given he had just celebrated his one hundred and second birthday, double science on Friday 22nd November 1963 had no hope.

One good thing, Friday evening was Boys' Brigade. Boys' Brigade ?  Almost defunct today it was a uniformed youth organisation similar to the Boy Scouts. Similar but The Boys' Brigade was semi-religious and we all marched up and down like toy soldiers. It was at that Friday evening meeting of The Boys' Brigade I heard President Kennedy was dead.  My friends and I were devastated.

Britain was monochrome, America so we thought was technicolour and President Kennedy was destined to export American Technicolour to the western world. Naivety, naivety big time. America in the 1060's was a grotty place, not a nice country to live in. However, so many naive teenagers dreamed of emigrating to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and taking up citizenship. Teenage folly !

A year before he was killed President Kennedy took the world to the edge of nuclear holocaust. History may have created the myth that he was the saviour of the world but that credit belongs to Nikita Khrushchev, leader of The Soviet Union.

The Russians had placed nuclear missiles on the island of Cuba, aiming them at American cities. It was all part of the game history has called The Cold War. I doubt the Russians would ever have fired them but that was now what we in the Western World thought.

Kennedy's way of thinking to resolve the game was to threaten firing nuclear missiles before the Russians did. He made a very clear threat to The Soviet Union. For several days the world held its breath, nuclear annihilation was inevitable. Parents kept their children at home, not sending them to school. A nuclear war was not considered by the headmaster of my school as an acceptable reason to bunk off.

Nikita Khrushchev backed down and removed his country's weapons of annihilation from Cuba. It was Nikita Khrushchev who backed off and saved the world, not John F Kennedy.

Kennedy was married to the beautiful, iconic Jackie but she was not enough for the president who had an affair with film megastar Marilyn Monro as did his younger brother Robert. Some would say those affairs were behind Marilyn's suicide, we will never know.

Slavery was abolished in America in 1863, one hundred years earlier. While Americans, so many of them, continued to treat Black Americans as lower forms of life. Segregation was common. Human rights ?  What human rights ? America certainly was a black and white society - literally !  Kennedy may have tried to change things but he did not try hard enough.

The foundation stones for the Vietnam War were put down in the mid 1950's but Kennedy did not block the road.

So it was at the Friday Parade of 1st Sutton Coldfield Boys' Brigade that I learned of the death of the 35th President of The United States. Were Kennedy still alive as I am writing this account he would be one hundred and two years old.  Donald Trump at seventy-three years of age, by the way, is the 45th president.

So who killed President Kennedy ?  Not Lee Harvey Oswald, that's for sure. Were he still alive he would be eighty years of age but he was killed by Jack Ruby two days after Kennedy, how convenient.  Myth generated by the American Secret Service would have you believe that Oswald was the assassin but NO WAY. The Soviet Union had no part, I am certain of that. If you ask me I believe the American Secret Service accidentally killed their president.

Somebody certainly did fire shots from the Texas Book Depository, that may or may not have been Lee Harvey Oswald, but he missed. A secret service bodyguard in the presidential motorcade grabbed his weapon but in his panic he accidentally fired while bringing the gun to focus on where the shots had come from. It was the bullet from that gun that brought the life of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of The United States of America, to its end.

Question. Who was the last American President to be shot ?  Kennedy's brother Robert. No, he was a presidential candidate, he had not yet been elected. The answer is the 40th president of the US Ronald Regan who served in office for eight years from January 1981 to January 1989.  On 30th March 1981 John Hickley fired a shot at Regan who was injured but not killed.

I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and safely returning him to the Earth............. Words of Kennedy.

It was not only New York Airport which took the name of the 35th president but also Cape Canaveral in Florida from where space rockets were launched. It became Cape Kennedy or Kennedy Launch Control.

So where were you when man first walked on the moon ?  Sunday 20th July 1969, were you alive then ? Let me invite you to enter into my memories and make them your own.

I have said in other chapters of this ramble that I grew up in a monochrome world and indeed I did but teenage sanity was preserved by two things, the pop music scene and space travel. Within both exciting things were happening an a daily basis. There was a time when young boys dreamed of becoming train drivers, myth says we lads dreamed of being spacemen but not so as we belied when we reached adulthood space travel would be as common and easy as riding a bike. What went wrong  ?

If you are not as ancient in years as I am then I guess I need to remind you there were two totally different ideological super powers. The USA - United States Of America with its satellite allies such as Great Britain. The USSR - United of Soviet Socialist Republics. Between them  they set up The Space Race, a competition to rival The Olympic Games, The Football World Cup and The Eurovision Song Contest all rolled into one. Russia quickly established itself as the leader and favourite to win.

Russia put the first tiny unmanned space craft into Earth orbit with Sputnik One, that was 4th October 1957. It orbited the Earth a staggering 1,440 times before its batteries died and fell back to Earth. America eventually upped the game with Telstar launched on 10th July 1962. We lads used to tune our parent's valve powered radio sets to pick up static and pretend it was signals from Telstar. In honour of Telstar the English group The Tornadoes released a single on 17th August 1962. It made number one in the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. I don't think people in The Soviet Union listened.

Russia was the first to put a living creature into space in November 1957 with the dog Laika. On 28th May 1959 America sent a monkey into space. Hang on a be patient will you, I've got a lot more rambling to go through before we reach Apollo 11 and Neil Armstrong dancing the twist on the surface of the moon.

In another chapter I will ramble about arrogance, a character trait I have possessed since birth. My arrogance was in the spring of 1961 was put up against the arrogance of a man old enough to be my grandfather. I was ten years old, he was seventy years old.

You silly little boy, man will never fly in space.

You stupid old man, I silently replied. How dare you call me a little boy ?  I am ten years old, double figures, I am not a little boy and besides I am right.

Right I was ! Russia always kept its space race activities secret until the mission reached the point of success. Of course I was right, I am always right. What is the point of arrogance if you are not always right.

Russian Astronaut Juri Gagarin, No - the Russians called its spacemen Cosmonauts, Russian Cosmonaut Juri Gagarin orbited the Earth in spaceship Vostock One to become the first man in space. There were a lot of red faces in The United States Of America including the new President John F Kennedy while in the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev led the red smiles of his nation. Gagarin was in space for 1 hour 48 minutes on 12th April 1961.

I guess we lads wanted America to win the space race but we were definitely not backing the favourite. America's response to Juri Gagarin was to put Alan Shepard into space in May 1961 but his craft was not sophisticated enough to orbit the Earth, all it did was to up and then down again. Hi was a single seater space craft was a Mercury capsule named after Mercury the god spied. Not speedy enough to get into orbit. Russia smiled again.

I believe this nation should commit itself and so on and so forth. While all of America believed in Kennedy's dream, across the world belief was not so strong.  Would it ever come true ?

Alan Shepard's Mercury space ship was designed for one person. If America was to have a man walk on the Moon he was not going to be able to fly that distance on his own. Exit Mercury, bring on Gemini, a two seater spaceship named after the Babylonian god of the underworld.

June 1963 another first for The Soviet Union, Valentina Tereshkova became the world's first female asto - I mean cosmonaut. America was not in the least bit bothered, space was a man's world with no space for the female sex.  Valentina Tereshkova is still with us today aged eighty-two.

Bring on Apollo, this time the spaceship took the name from Apollo god of the sun, I thought Kennedy said to put a man on the Moon !  America was now in the lead for the space race but what it did not realise was Soviet Russia was slowly bowing out of the race. It was all secret back then but now we know Nikita Khrushchev  was becoming increasingly concerned that the money being spent on the futility of heading to the moon would be better spent on Earth in the lives of the ordinary people. That's communism for you. Capitalism ? In capitalism who are the ordinary people ?

Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins in the command module Columbia on the top of the giant Saturn 4B rocket took off at 2.23pm (7.32pm UK) on 16th July 1969...Thirty seconds and counting. Astronauts report it feels good. T minus 25 seconds. Twenty seconds  T-minus15 seconds, guidance is internal. 12, 11, 10, 9 ... ignition sequence start ... 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0 ... All engines running. Liftoff! We have a liftoff ... 32 minutes past the hour, liftoff on Apollo 11. Tower clear.............

I left school in the summer of 1967 and at the time of the launch I had just successfully completer my two year initial training course as a manager at Lewis's Department Store in the city centre of Birmingham. Not as high as the trio on Apollo 11 but I was flying high in my career and well on the way to becoming a retail magnate. That did not actually happen but that's another ramble.

In those days shops had sensible opening hours. Monday to Friday 9am to 5.30pm with late opening on Thursday to 5.30pm. On a Saturday the store closed at 5 o'clock and did not open at all on a Sunday. 16th July 1969 was a Wednesday, my day off that week,  so I was able to watch the launch of Apollo 11 live.The landing on the Moon on Sunday 20th July 1969 the store was closed.

I had my Dad's Grundig wheel to wheel tape recorder with the microphone wedged to the loud speaker of that black and white GEC television.  There was a time when that recording would have been valuable but not today when modern technology makes everything available via the internet and at the click of a mouse.

Let me click that mouse.

Aldrin: Altitude-velocity light. 3 1/2 down, 220 feet, 13 forward … forward. Coming down nicely. 200 feet, 4 1/2 down. 5 1/2 down. 5 1/2 down, 9 forward. That's good. 120 feet. 100 feet, 3 1/2 down, 9 forward. Five percent. Okay. 75 feet. There's looking good. Down a half, 6 forward.

Mission control: 60 seconds of fuel remaining.

Aldrin: Lights on ... Down 2 1/2. Forward. Forward. Good. 40 feet, down 2 1/2. Kicking up some dust. 30 feet, 2 1/2 down. Faint shadow. 4 forward. 4 forward. Drifting to the right a little. Okay. Down a half.

Mission Control: 30 seconds of fuel remaining.

Armstrong: Forward drift ?

Aldrin: Yes. Okay. Contact light. OK, engine stop.

Armstrong: Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed.

Mission Control: Roger, Tranquillity. We copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We're breathing again. Thanks a lot.

The flight plan was then for Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to sleep before opening the hatch and slipping out on to the moon. Doh !  Who planned that ?  I milestone in the history of mankind and the astronauts were expected to go to bed. Doh !

Houston Texas. Mission Control, is four hours behind Britain. Most people in England watching live on their flickering black and white televisions went to bed intending to get up and watch the moon walk live once the astronauts had had a kip.

Richard Strauss composed Thus Sprak Zarathustra in 1896. The BBC used this as the music to introduce its reports on the Apollo Space Programme.

I did not go to bed, I did not go to sleep. Neither did Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.  Mission Control saw sense so advanced the time of the Moon walk. There were no Lunar Sheep to count so they did not sleep a wink. I watched everything live and recorded it on the now antique Grundig tape recorder.

The television picture was faint and not very clear but I could see Neil Armstrong descending the ladder from the LEM - Lunar Excursion Module, more commonly referred to as the Lunar Module.

I do not recall Neil Armstrong saying That's one small step for a man, a giant leap for mankind. He did say it but few, outside, the media actually remember hearing it live.

Back at work in Lewis's Department Store the next day the talk among both staff and customers was of mankind and the Moon. How long before Mars ? How long before the store's travel agency stated booking space tours ?  We all thought it would happen but now in the third decade of the twenty-first century we are  no closer than we were in that summer of 1969.

Apollo 12 came and went the following November, nobody can remember the three crew members. The astronauts broke the camera so shutting out the world from much of the action on the surface of the moon. Had the camera not been broken would there have been much public interest ?  Hard to say. Apollo 11 won the space race, Apollo 12 could never have equalled Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.

Then came Apollo 13. The world's attention was totally captured. Houston we have a problem. The world watched and prayed, I watched and prayed. Launched on Saturday 11th April 1970, I had put Lewis's Department Store and a career as a retail magnate behind me. I was an unqualified assistant teacher in a boys preparatory school. Under my direction, I was in charge of morning assemblies, the boys watched and prayed then prayed in thanks when the three astronauts, Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise returned safely to Earth.

And that was that. 

I am thinking which event to ramble through next, it occurs to me there has not been an iconic moment in recent times. Not for a couple and more decades. Where were you when you heard that Elvis Presley, The King of Rock and Roll, had died ? Wednesday 16th August 1977. You may not have been born but, of course, every single person here reading my words will know who Elvis Presley was and will have heard his music.

I was on a beach in Cornwall. someone heard the news on a transistor radio. It quickly spread right round the beach.

The man who died was not the King of Rock and Roll. Aged forty-two he looked much older. He was an unwell man who died of a heart attack while sitting on the toilet. No he did not die from drugs, he was not addicted to drugs but he was too dependant on prescription medication.

We do not remember him as the fat, overweight old man, an old man yet aged only forty-two years. We remember him as the hip swinging King of Rock and Roll. It's better that way. 

John Lennon, murdered in cold blood, that what assassination is, murdered on Friday 12th December 1980 in New York. He should have stayed in Liverpool, asking for trouble relocating to New York.

As a teenager I was not a Beatles fan, only in recent years have I come to appreciate the music of the Fab Four and the pure genius of John Lennon. I went to an all boys school, it was girls who screamed in Beatlemania. It was not so cool for boys to get excited.

I was in the hall of Leon School were, as a senior member of staff, I was overseeing the team of teenager DJ's who ran the lunchtime disco. It was there I heard the news of John Lennon's murder. For the rest of the lunch hour we played only Beatles music.

9/11 - Why do Americans always write their dates backwards ?  Tuesday 11th September 2001. I was visiting my parents when somebody telephones to say the twin towers of The World Trade Centre in New York had been bombed and collapsed. Impossible, I had been to New York and had seen the Twin Towers they were too big to be brought to the ground by a bomb but wasn't a bomb was it. A bomb that killed 2,996 people.

It was a bomb that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 on Wednesday 21st December 1988 over Lockerbie in Scotland.  I was in a shopping centre when I heard the news.

I had flown to San Francisco in charge of a party of teenagers from Leon School. We flew on Pan Am 747 Clipper Juan Trippe. The purser on the flight wrote to the headmaster of Leon School saying what a delight it had been to have Leon School on her aircraft. She was the purser on Pan Am Flight 103.

Bombs. Back to when I was a management trainee at Lewis's Department Store in Birmingham. I have not consumed alcohol since I was twenty-six but all those years ago, aged sixteen, underage drinking was fun. A pint or three at lunch time followed by a Polo Mint was great.

the favourite pup of my friends and I was The Hole In The Wall. We had used The Mulberry Bush but it was not that great. The Tavern In The Town was good but too packed so we preferred  The Hole In The Wall.  The Tavern In The Town was in a cellar beneath the shops in New Street. Sadly the IRA chose well selecting The Tavern In the Town as part of its bombing campaign on Thursday 21st November 1974. I was a newly qualified teacher living in Milton Keynes. Turning on the television I heard the news. I was pleased I no longer worked in Birmingham and had not been drinking in The Tavern In The Town.

One more where was I than I'll ramble into a different subject. I did warn you this was going to be a long chapter.

Sunday 31st August 1997 I had gone doen to the kitchen to make a cup of tea for my wife Maureen who was still in bed. I turned on the radio. As I listened my mind was asking itself who was the news reader talking about ? Who had died ?  It had to be someone important, someone high profile but who ?  And then, eventually, the news reader said her name - Princess Dianna. The country went utterly crazy in mourning. Five days Mother Teresa died but the media hardly noticed.

As with all of the nation, indeed the world, I watched Dianna's funeral live on television. As with millions of others I sent a letter of condolence to her brother Earl Spencer. It was just two weeks later I received a black edged card thanking me for my letter.

The Ramblings Of A Silly Old Man - CHAPTER FIVE


Can you remember the name of your first teddy bear ?  Mine was Sooty, named after the puppet Sooty a TV programme for kids with Harry Corbett - Sooty and Sweep. Do you remember ?

I still have Sooty, he lives in a cupboard in my home. It is now sixty-seven years ago that Sooty first became a friend. I do not know who first introduced him to me, who gave me Sooty, it may well have been Father Christmas. What I do remember is I had been out with Mum and Dad, Sooty being with us all. When we got home I found that I did not have Sooty any longer. Oh dear. All these years later I can remember so clearly Dad going out in the rain and the dark, retracing our steps in an attempt to rescue Sooty.

Dad did find Sooty, I had dropped him in the entrance drive to a petrol station. There were not that many cars back then but laying on the ground and covered in mud cars had driven over my friend. He must have felt very sad and lonely.  My Mum lovingly restored Sooty to health. She gave him an bath, hung him up to dry by his ears and all was well again.

Sooty soon had a friends to play with, another teddy bear who I called Archie. Archie today lives in retirement with Sooty in the cupboard at home. Arche took his name, or I gave it to him, from the BBC Home Service programme Educating Archie starring ventriloquist Peter Brough. How can you have a ventriloquist show on the radio ? Only The BBC could come up with that mad idea !

The teddy bear is named after U.S. President Theodore “Teddy" Roosevelt. In 1902, President Roosevelt participated in a bear-hunting trip in Mississippi. While hunting, Roosevelt declared the behavior of the other hunters “unsportsmanlike" after he refused to kill a bear they had captured.

A teddy bear is an inanimate object, a child's toy made from fur fabric and stuffing. At least it is when it leaved the factory. The love of its child friend then changes it. Oh yes it does, it becomes real. By ingesting the love the child gives to it the teddy takes on a life of its own. Do you remember the song Puff The Magic Dragon from Peter, Paul and Mary. The magic is the child's love. Allow me to share the words with you.

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honahlee
Little Jackie paper loved that rascal puff
And brought him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff oh..

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honahlee
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honahlee

Together they would travel on a boat with billowed sail
Jackie kept a lookout perched on Puff's gigantic tail
Noble kings and princes would bow where'ere they sailed
Pirate ships would lower their flags when Puff roared out his name

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honahlee
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honahlee

A dragon lives for ever but not so little boys
Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys
One grey night it happened Jackie Paper came no more
And Puff that mighty dragon ceased his fearless roar

His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain
Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane
Without his life-long fiend Puff could not be brave
So Puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honahlee
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honahlee

Don't tell me you are too cold hearted for that not to have brought a tear to your eye.  Sooty, Archie I think I had better go and find you in that cupboard. I have another teddy bear you can make friends.  Ben is my teddy and mascot for the music I play. Ben is a radio star, he has his own video on YouTube and has danced The Lambeth Walk on London's Lambeth Walk.

But Ben was once homeless, unloved and unwanted. A friend found him on a pile of rubbish waiting for the bin men to take him away and bury him deep in landfill. Oh Ben, how sad. So Ben is now my mascot with the love of all the music I play, he now has his own chapter in this silly little book I am writing. For me Ben represents all the people society has discarded and wants to disappear, the homeless rough-sleepers, the lonely, the forgotten, those with depression. To you all I tell you that Ben loves you.

The Sun Never Sets On Ronald McDonald

The Sun Never Sets On Ronald McDonald

My family has always supported Ronald McDonald House Charities. When Rebekah was in Guys Hospital receiving her kidney transplant we were among the first families to stay in the very first Ronald McDonald House in Britain’

There are 365 Ronald McDonald Houses throughout the world. Each places a loving arm around families who have a child sick in hospital. When a child needs specialist treatment it can be in a hospital away from home. Ronald McDonald then provides accommodation keeping families together.

Ronald McDonald Houses are totally separate from McDonald’s the fast food giant. They are separate legal entities although McDonald’s is the primary sponsor, without this support no houses could exist.

Rebekah put in her will that we should continue to support Ronald McDonald in her memory. Within a few days of her death Beck’s friends started OurRebekah to honour her wish.

We initially tried to be everything to everybody before concentrating our efforts on Ronald McDonald House attached to Birmingham Children’s Hospital. For three years at Christmas we ran Secret Santa. We have raised in excess of £4,000, the figure below does not include direct payments to the Birmingham House bank and cash gifts to Ronald McDonald Houses in Oxford, Bristol and Liverpool.

Rebekah was always known as Little Miss Sunshine, we have widened her smile to include a wide range of good causes, OurRebekah became The Sunshine Smile Crew. Sunshine Smile Crew member Stewart Bailey gave us our SIMILE CARD.

During December 2019 we gave out in excess of 150 cards including one to every family staying in Ronald McDonald House in Birmingham. The card is deliberately anonymous, no link to The Sunshine Smile Crew it is simply there to make people smile. We hand out cards through Dreamsai, The Food Bank and relatives rooms in University Hospital Milton Keynes.

As of December 2019 we have 59 members within The Sunshine Smile Crew’s Facebook Page, each and every one of them is charged with making someone smile every day. Rebekah left us on Friday 19th May 2017, this coming year will have completed 3 years of operation and begin Year Four. We have a very exciting agenda of projects touching the lives of many people, touching lives with smiles.

We have never, ever taken a penny from what we do to cover costs, that is funded from my pocket and I want things to remain that way.
Support, of course, does not always mean money but support must mean love. If there is no love within anything anyone does it is worthless. £1 with love is of greater value than £1,000,000 minus love.

I often say that the wave of love flows in two directions. The love given my making someone smile flows back to lift the donor

I want The Sunshine Smile Crew to adopt 2020 vision for the coming year and I want our King of Smiles card to be at the centre of every project. I want to suggest something for 2020 THE SUN NEVER SETS ON RONALD McDONALD.

Starting with Ronald McDonald House in Birmingham I have picked out a small group from the 365 Ronald McDonald Houses round the world. Together every day of the year these houses are lovingly caring for 341 families,

Birmingham England                   65 rooms
Alberta Canada                         27 rooms
Auckland New Zealand               13 rooms
New York USA                          95 rooms
Los Angeles USA                      75 rooms
Nashville USA       `                 36 rooms
Mumbai India                            19 rooms
Canberra Australia                    11 rooms
Johannesburg South Africa       27 rooms
TOTAL:                         368 rooms

I have picked out India not because of our strong friendship with Dreamsai but because I have regular listeners to my radio shows in India. That said I will be looking to Dreamsai for help and support. Advice is needed for language. I have a lot of listeners to my radio shows from Russia and there is a Ronald McDonald House in Moscow. However, language is would be a significant issue and there are political problems here which I would rather not get into. I always have listeners in Germany and there is a Ronald McDonald House in Munich but again or language issues I am not proposing we include this house, perhaps we could at a later stage.

To produce Smile Cards for general use I have four on a sheet of A4 paper which I simply print off, laminate then cut out. All very simple. For The Sun Never Sets On Ronald McDonald the idea is to print on card rather than paper, friends then take sheets and write a simple message of love on the back, love for the family which will receive the card.  It would be nice if children could draw pictures. Strictly NO religion and NO politics. Simple and full of love. These are then laminated, cut up and ready to send to families in our 8 houses.

To give a card to every family staying in every house – 368 each day, we are likely to been between 600 and 800 cards a month. Some families stay with Ronald for a short time while others stay for many weeks. With four cards on a sheet we need to find between 150 and 200 friends every month. This will not be difficult, our network includes:
·         The Sunshine Smile Crew
·         Deamsai
·         SMART Hub homeless shelter
·         West Bletchley Community Centre user groups
·         Thames Valley Police
·         Community Payback
·         Radio CRMK
·         Newport Pagnell FC
·         Sam Crook – Mayor of Milton Keynes
·         Paul Day – Mayor of Newport Pagnell
·         COBRA – Consortium of Bletchley Residents Associations
·         Windmill Hill Golf Club
·         Car homes served by Graham’s Musical Memories
·         Lord Grey School
·         Oakgrove School
·         Curly Tails
I would suggest that we start involving friends to sign cards w/b 13th January then send signed cards to reach families for Saint Valentine’s Day – Friday 14th February. We then send out cards to reach houses mid-month thereafter.
From Monday 17th February I will include a feature within my Monday radio show. All houses will be given the podcast. This can develop to include requests and dedications. The show runs:
·         UK - 6am to 8am
·         USA New York – 1am to 3am
·         USA Nashville – midnight to 2am
·         USA Los Angeles – 10pm to midnight
·         Canada Alberta – 1am to 3am
·         Australia  Canberra – 5pm to 7pm
·         Johannesburg South Africa – 8am to 10am
·         Auckland New Zealand – 5pm to 7pm
·         Mumbai India – 11.30am to 1.30pm
I would be prepared to ask for scheduling at the radio station to extend the show to either 6am – 9am or 5am – 9am.

We need to include within our website as it is rewritten for 2020 Vision a major area featuring each house with regular updates. We need to feature the groups and individuals signing the cards. This has to become a focal point for everyone involved in the project at all levels.

It would be lovely to send to each house a gift from The Sunshine Smile Crew every month. This does not have to be of high value but packed with love. For everything sent to houses, including the Smile Cards, there will be customs paperwork to complete.

I have included Piggie Alfie from Curly Tails in the list above. Curly Tails is more than an animal sanctuary, it radiates love to all kinds of people and groups. Piggie Alfie, our music sponsors Piggie Alfie, could send love all round the world to families in Ronald McDonald Houses.  I have an idea for a cartoon Adventures of Piggie Alfie. This could be a monthly drawing or a strip cartoon. While I am, myself, a writer the genre of Paddington Bear turning into Piggie Alfie is not my thing. However, if someone could take this on we could use the Max Robinson account with Amazon Publishing to turn it into both an e-book and a paperback. We then buy copies for the houses. I will discuss this with Alfie.

Funding for all our projects comes from my own pockets, we do not take a single penny from any good cause within our smiles. Right across 2020 Vision I am going to have to deepen my pockets.

As you know I am a writer publishing on Amazon. There are Amazon Millionaire Writers, as well as the royalties Amazon puts up a huge monthly prize fund for its top 100 authors. I have never bothered with money, writing is done for fun. However, modesty aside my books are every bit as good as those appearing in the top 100.  I did suggest we try to find someone to promote my writing and start making money, I suggested someone working right across my library shelf. However, I think this would work better if we had one marketeer per book and project. For Ronald McDonald I am suggesting we use a book I am currently writing, something I am turning out about 2,000 words a day.

This is a comedy, tongue in the cheek look at twenty-first society. Bathed in sarcasm I am having a lot of fun scribbling away. Each chapter is an independent sarcastic ramble. To date I have written:
·         Riding Along In My Automobile
·         1967 The Summer of Love
·         Damned Invention
·         Teenage Rampage
·         Where Were You
I am planning to write chapters:
·         I Hate Robots
·         Close Down The BBC
·         Aging Arrogance
·         Quotations From A Silly Old Man
·         Patriotic Pensioner
·         When Did You Last Hear A Cuckoo
·         When I Was A Student
·         My Family
That’s a total of 13 chapters. I will probably add in more to reach between 15 and 20. Of the chapters so far written each is 2,700 word long. 2,700 x 13 = 35,100 words. The average length of a novel is 65,000 words so this is a novelette.

Commission from Amazon is likely to be in the region of 20p per sale. The cover price is not known until a book is published.

·         Selling 10 copies = £2 royalties
·         Selling 100 copies = £20 royalties
·         Selling 1,000 copies = £200 royalties
·         Selling 10,000 copies = £2,000 royalties
To get into the Amazon top 100 sales would need to be 100,000 = £20,000 in royalties.

As crazy and far fetches as this sounds a proven system exists and we have the product to exploit it. Can we do it ?

I can’t do it, I have neither the skills nor the time. I am suggesting we find someone who could do this then split the royalties 50/50. Amazon deduct tax at source so w do not have to go into complex accounting. Half of the money fund the Smile Card and half goes into the pocket of our marketeer. Selling 10,000 copies would cover costs of Ronald McDonald buy Amazon would say be more ambitious.

I am thinking that a younger person who has grown up with the Internet and all associated could do this. If a guy in his twenties can make a fortune talking about chicken shops on YouTube then a marketeer could exploit all areas of on-line media to make money.  I work with teenagers in schools through Worktree and I know 16,17,18 year olds could do this. Making some good money surely would be motivation. I know, talking to these teenagers, that while they aspire to go to university the fear of student debt holds them back. Perhaps we could look for our marketeer and indeed marketeers for other projects within the undergraduate population.

So that’s part of my 2020 Vision for our Smile Card. I have another idea to get the card into hospitals for patients, families and visitors but that I will deal with separately. Can we make this Ronald McDonald project work ?  Can we bring smile of love to families with a child seriously ill in hospital ?

David aka The Silly Old Man
28th December 2019