Guest Authors

Spotlight Author Blog Tour: Robin Chambers

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How to make the world a better place

I’m 72 years old now…

As I child I was badly bullied, and still remember the names of the two worst ones (one in primary and one in secondary school). Post university, I fell into secondary school teaching by accident. I needed a part-time job to fund the fourth year of an overlong Ph.D. and found a school that needed a part-time teacher academically qualified to teach ‘A’ level English (you didn’t need a PGCE in those days).

I arrived for my interview during morning break, when the playground was full of children, and the sight of them stopped me in my tracks. Tears came pouring from a well so deep I found I could hardly breathe. I sobbed my way all round the block before I could pull myself together enough to get beyond the school gate. Had the children still been out there, I might not have managed it even then.

That was my “Road-to-Damascus” moment: 1967 – nearly 48 years ago. The Ph.D. on Chaucer’s poetic uses of his native vocabulary was never finished. By 1979 I was Head of Clissold Park School in that part of Hackney in East London labelled the most stressful social services area in the U.K. On my second day the male head of the Design and Technology Department arrived at my office holding a rebellious child by the arm.

“I’ve come for the punishment book,” he said.  “I’m going to cane this boy…”

I told the child to sit outside, invited the fuming teacher into my office and shut the door. “No, you’re not…” I said quietly, and we went from there…

My assemblies regularly reminded everyone that school should be a place where noone was ever afraid: no teacher, and no child. It was my job to ensure that was as true as I could make it. I offered everyone protection from any kind of bullying: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, anywhere in the world.

“We’re all here to teach and learn from each other,” I said, “…and we can’t do that properly if we’re scared. So if ever you feel afraid of anyone or anything for any reason, all you have to do is to tell me and then it won’t be your problem anymore: because I will sort it. Do me one big favour: TRUST ME – then you’ll know.”

And as far as I know, for the most part they did: for the next 14 years, many nervous, quirky, odd, bright, borderline autistic, overweight or anorexic (and increasingly “middle-class”) children told me how grateful they were to feel safe and happy in school. It was a rainbow community of different cultures and religions: 56% on free school meals, 27 languages spoken as mother tongues…

In 1982, ClissoldPark was amalgamated with Woodberry Down to become StokeNewingtonSchool. I was its first head, and shortly after my appointment, I was walking the corridors of the Woodberry Down building. It was five minutes after the start of the afternoon session, and I came across a group of assorted, hard-faced lads with “boyz in da hood” written all over them.

“Good afternoon, Gentlemen,” I said, “…shouldn’t you be in a lesson?”

They looked me up and down.  “You fink you run this place, don’tcha,” their self-elected spokesperson replied. “You don’t run it. WE f**kin’ run it…”

I’d heard the rumours: protection rackets, indecent assaults on girls, pupil riots occasionally spilling out into the surrounding estate, ineffective senior management strategies for dealing with it all. “I’ll tell you what,” I said to them, “let’s all stick around for the next few weeks, and we’ll find out who f**king runs it.”

I said it with a smile, and I think they thought that was fair enough. One year and thirteen unavoidable expulsions later, there was no longer any doubt who ran it: I had taken it back, and a thousand children were safer because of it.

Of course this is my point of view; but I’ve told it this way because it’s how it was for me, and it focuses on my lifelong detestation of bullying in all its forms.

Two years ago – having at last the strength and will and cause and means – I began a very long story in the Lord of The Rings / Chronicles of Narnia / Harry Potter and… genre about a group of children with special powers charged with an awesome responsibility: to make the world a better place. I hope that anyone who has ever been bullied will want to follow it as it unfolds. You won’t be surprised to learn that my heroes and heroines are very good at counteracting cruelty.

The first five books are in the Amazon Kindle Store at 99p or 99c each.  Please visit www.myrddinsheir.com to find out more.  There’s a link to a video on the homepage, which tells you what you can do if you’d like to help: because this is only where the story starts.

A1 book covers

There’s also a Contact Me button.  I’m always interested in what you have to say.

You can find out more about it, and what people think of it, by visiting any or all of the following sites:

 

www.myrddinsheir.com:                    http://bit.ly/1ka0iuM
Amazon.com author page:                  http://amzn.to/1kA5w7x
Amazon.co.uk kindle store page:        http://amzn.to/1lGfgdb
Goodreads profile page:                     http://bit.ly/1otcaQT
Self-Publisher’s Showcase:                 http://bit.ly/1ovvJ6U
Irene’s Book Oasis:                             http://bit.ly/1pLvRnV

 

A Wizard of Dreams reviews:

Stephan Myers                                    http://bit.ly/1txSk63
Lucy Hay                                            http://bit.ly/1AZZLax
Lesley Hayes                                       http://amzn.to/1uh9RSB

My Facebook Myrddinsheir page:      http://on.fb.me/1p1S3af

My blog:                                              http://bit.ly/1neoX4n

 

author photo 128 x 128

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