If you are lucky you meet some remarkable people in your life. I met Robin in 2002. He just walked in to my friend’s house. Sarah and I were having a cup of tea while our children were at an after school class. There was a knock on the door and she jokingly said, ” That’ll be a man for me.” “You’ve already got one, I think you will find that one is mine,” I replied. Many a word spoken in jest…. 14 years later he’s still here in my life and I am glad.
It is not uncommon for a remarkable man to have remarkable parents also. And children. Some months ago Robin’s mother died. She had achieved a ripe old age. Her passing was peaceful. More peaceful than her early life. Some weeks ago I sat with Clare, his daughter, and we read through some of her papers together. Letters. Letters from an ‘agent’ she had commissioned to discover whether her parents were still alive, and, if not, what had happened to them. You see, Lottie was a Jew, and she was born in Germany, and at some time I will write a book about her.
So, imagine. You are 14 years old and have been sent to school in a foreign country by parents with foresight and financial resources to get you to a safe place. Letters from home stop. You speak English a little, but have to leave school because your sponsor seems to have disappeared and you are alone. Aged 14. No money. You can’t get help from the Jewish Refugee board because you aren’t classified as being a refugee. And all around you are people, some who would help, others who find a pretty young girl alone to be a very attractive thing. Lottie survived, but then imagine. What we were reading were the letters from her agent that told her how her parent’s house was empty, how they had been moved to a ghetto, to Minsk, how there were a few survivors, but her parents were not amongst them and how they had died a terrible death. How she stayed sane and grew up to raise two children and grandchildren and then great grandchildren is a feat of heroism.
People ask why Syrian children are sent off alone, unaccompanied. Sometimes it is because they have no one left. Sometimes it is a desperate attempt to get them to a place of safety.
Clare is one of Lottie’s grandchildren. Jordan is her partner and they are two wonderful people. They are collecting money to take to Calais to help the refugees in the camp there. Last time they went they took food, bags of carrots and onions and potatoes and the kitchens were opened for the first time in three days because of this.
They have a just giving page. They are donating their time to work in the camp, to help. One of their number is a teacher and he is training so that in his summer holiday he can spend two weeks working in the camp. If you can, send them a little to help. You can buy a good many carrots with £10.
I have decided to auction a piece of work in order to help them raise some money.
The piece I have chosen is Nighteyes, from Robin Hobb’s books. This is an unpublished painting. Why Nighteyes? Because Bee dreams of her Wolf Father who watches over her and everyone needs a Wolf Father. Not because there are so many human wolves out there ready to prey on the vulnerable. Because there are also many people out there like Jordan, like Clare, desperate to help as they watch the inhumanity of our governments actions.
To bid, leave a comment in the comments box on this blog. Bidding starts at £50. PLEASE increase your bids by at least £5 a time. Please share. The bidding will close on June 1st, and please remember this isn’t eBay, don’t wait to the last minute to get a bargain, this is an attempt to raise money to help people who have nothing. All bids must be in £ sterling so if the bid is from abroad please use a currency converter before making your bid. All comments have to be approved by me and I will try and do this regularly, but I will also be painting, so please be patient with me.
Please share, tweet, link, blog.
I will contact the winner and their payment must be made direct to the Just Giving page, ONLY once I confirm that they are the winner of the auction. I will then send them the painting, and happy to send anywhere in the world.
If you can’t bid on the painting but want to give, even a little bit please do. Here’s the link again to the Just Giving page. If you can’t, and let’s face it, these days not many people have money to spare, draw a chair for the #3000chairs campaign with The Guardian. Although the government have said they will allow children into the UK they have now erected a massive fence of bureaucracy, by placing the problem with individual councils to come up with plans for where the children will be placed. As a result it may be Christmas before a single unaccompanied child enters the UK. We can do better than this in the 21st Century.
If it wasn’t for the kindness of strangers Lottie wouldn’t have survived the holocaust, Robin wouldn’t have been born, Clare wouldn’t be. It’s a matter of live, and death.
Image size 24cms x 34cms