Three new books

It’s a bit unusual to have three publications out in one month, but very exciting – and they are all collaborations with lovely people.

The first two are picture books, co-written with the English Traveller, Richard O’Neill, and are published to coincide with Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month. Yokki and the Parno Gry, about a magic horse and its relationship with a Traveller family which has fallen on hard times, is a really lovely story and was great fun to work on with Richard, turning it, with his blessing from an oral story to a picture book. The other, Ossiri and the Bala Mengro, is a more comical story about a monster, and a girl from a Travelling background who yearns to be a musician.

Equally, it was an honour to contribute a chapter, ‘Becoming English’ to A Country of Refuge, edited by Lucy Popescu and published by Unbound this month. This was a book that celebrates the contributions that refugees have made to this country. I wrote about my mother and grandmother coming to the UK just after the war from what was then Yugoslavia.

I’m so proud of all three books, which have at their heart a respect of difference and diversity. We need publishers who fund such books at a time when refugees are being turned away at the borders of Europe. My mother and grandmother were welcomed when they arrived at Croydon airport in 1946, with the aid of the Red Cross. Things are very different now. They don’t have to be. Gypsies, Roma and Travellers are still persecuted across Europe. They don’t have to be. As Jo Cox said, we have more in common than divides us.



Statement from the Disability Hate Crime Network (Contempt of court and other reporting issues for the Jo Cox killing)

From the co-ordinators of the Disability Hate Crime Network:


We are all saddened and shocked by the killing of Jo Cox and we would like to extend our sympathies to her family, to her constituency and to all those who knew her.

A local man has been named as her alleged attacker and his family has made it clear that he may have had a long-standing mental health condition. In addition, it is being reported that he may have had links with extremist groups.

As co-ordinators of the Disability Hate Crime Network, we would urge, as we would always do, pre-trial, caution in reporting, on social media and in the press generally. This is so that there is a fair trial and that it does not break down. The family of Jo Cox deserve nothing less.

The alleged attacker, also, deserves a fair trial. As a person who may have a disability, he may need, and be given, extra support during the trial process. Uncomfortable as it may seem at times, given the tragic nature of the circumstances, reporting of his disability should be done within the usual reporting guidelines of mental health.