The sticky issue of charities and wages explained

Warning… This may be a controversial post so do not read if you suffer from high blood pressure, are expecting a child, own a cricket bat and know where I live.

You’ve run a marathon, you’ve done a bake sale, you’ve shaved your hair off and you’ve pestered people with donation pots. Now you send all that hard earned money into the charity of your choice and sit back knowing that your effort has gone directly to cleaning water, providing shelter, getting girls into education or, my own favourite, looking after donkeys.

As a professional writer I have a variety of clients, law firms, estate agents, surf websites, newspapers, myself… of course, and charities. Now, here is the interesting thing when you say:

“I volunteer for a charity.”

This suggests you do things out of the kindness of your heart, a sweet and generous person who puts themselves before others, a veritable hero and in some lights, that might just be a halo hovering over your head.


“I work for A charity and get paid.”

This suggests that you’re a cold hearted bastard who is trying to steal food out of children’s mouths, rip shirts from refugees backs and piddle in the only well in the village, just for shits and gigs and, in certain lights, are they not horns poking from under your fringe?

Well… I work for a charity and I get paid.

I can hear you gasping from here. What? Kind and sweet Olz, the timid adventurer? The jester from Leicester?
It’s true, all of it… Well, I don’t actually have a fringe. This blog article deals with the rather sticky issue of being paid to work for a charity and, I do have to point out, these are merely my views and I’m very open to yours so please comment after you’ve finished reading.

Take a shiny pound coin. ideally that little nugget would be pushed into a little hole and, somewhere in the world, a wonderful thing would happen. It would rain, the blind would see again, the ravages of war would vanish and donkeys would be one sterling pound happier.

And this is what, as charities, we have to make you believe. It’s a fairytale we sell. We want you to believe that every drop of sweat you shed, every relative you annoyed and every singed eyebrow from that bake sale has been £100 percent effective in solving the issue you care about.

Take our pound. It was put in a pot. It was cashed in and went into the charities bank account, where, please look away if you get upset easily, it seased to exist, it dissolved into the mass. All of it’s pennies sloshing together with all the other pennies.

Now what? well this is the thing, and you’re not going to like this… Charities are businesses. I know, it sounds horrible. Business is run by fat cats and charity is done by sweet giving people. As, with most things in this world, the truth is somewhere in between.

The difference between a ‘for profit’ business and a ‘not for profit’ is purpose. A ‘for profit’ might sell you a gadget, food, clothes or maybe a life sized model of a t-rex. A ’not for profit’ business will sell a solution. It will see a problem and it will generate revenue to solve that problem.

They are both still businesses and, as such, businesses have to run and therefore they need staff who, yes, we’ve come to the point of this blog, need to be paid. As lovely as the feeling of ‘doing good’ is, it doesn’t put a roof over your head, food on the table or any of the other things that you expect to be able to afford from working in any job.

Yes, people could work for free but, you know what? The charity would fail. Volunteering is escentail for any charity, don’t get me wrong, but a volunteer can screw up, they can sleep in, they can quit and they are not accountable to anyone apart from their own conscience. You pay a member of staff and they can do none of those things. It ensures the longevity of the charity, it means it can run like a business and continue to provide the solution and continue to help people in what ever way that charity’s mission statement says.

So please continue to volunteer, make a difference. Support causes close to your heart because they are important, they change the world.

Such industrious machines need managing and maintaining and that takes time, it takes a lot of time. Be comforted that when the limelight fades, the hordes of volunteers scurry away to the next fashionable cause, we’re still here, we’re still doing good work and fighting the fight because it’s our job..

What are your views? Is it okay for people to be given a wage when working in a charity? Under what conditions should this be allowed?

Smart phone + Dark mind =

Before you read this little piece of fiction I’d like to say a couple of things.
Though See4Me is fictional, such apps exist. They are making great strides in artificial intelligence and image recognition which is being engineered to help blind people live more independent lives. These truly are the days of miracles and wonder.

This story, or idea, is based on my own experience with a similar app. The below scenario popped into my head and now I’m terrified to use the app. I have deleted it from my phone.

We’re all afraid of what is out there, unseen, in the darkness, beyond our perceptions… Even those of us to whom darkness is a constant companion.

I hope you enjoy.

24 hours with See4Me

This is a quick review I want to do of an app I’ve just downloaded called See4Me.

for those of you not familiar with See4Me, it’s an app for blind people, like myself, who most likely live alone. It uses artificial intelligence to describe the world. So, for example, the first thing I pointed my phone at was a vase on the windowsill and See4You said ‘Vase’. It’s amazing. I think there are still a few bugs though as it then said ‘face’. I’m guessing it might have been confused by the plant in the vase.

I also got ‘knee’, ‘armpit’, ‘hand’, ’two fingers raised’… It identified my computer correctly, ‘Apple mac air’. It even told me that ‘a white car’ drove past my house as I held my iPhone out the window. Still, it kept calling the carpet ‘grass’ and couldn’t identify my butt. I’m hurt. :(

Anyway. I’m going to keep a record of using it throughout the day. I can picture this becoming a great tool for me.


Okay, I’ve had the app installed for a few hours now. I used it to identify a tin of beans to have with my dinner and a CD I’m now listening too. Ages since I’ve listened to a CD. The app actually read out the title, Barry White, Greatest Hits… Oh Yeah. Hello ladies. ;)

Saying that, it’s still misidentifying objects. When in continuous mode, where you can sweep, it’s said ‘face’ no less than four times. I tweeted the developer who told me that it’s called a ‘false positive’, where the artificial intelligence is simply misidentifying objects. Despite such niggles, it’s still an impressive app. Would be amazing to have it connected to a glasses mounted camera.

Much later…

Okay, now this is getting creepy. It’s just after 3 AM and I’m in my room again. I just went to the bathroom. I don’t sleep well and was trying to find the Nytol, and with See4Me on continuous mode I managed to go through the medical cabinet and find the sleeping tablets but, and this is going to sound silly, when I turned around the app still running it again said ‘face’. Now, it’s probably just that I’m tired and the quiet of the house is kinda creepy in itself but, well, why does it keep saying ‘face’? I live alone. I’m certain there is no one in the house… Certain. Maybe I should try it again here in my room. Though, if it says it again, I think I might just scream. I’m sure I’ll laugh about this in the morning. I’ve just spooked myself. It’s just a ‘ghost’ in the machine, as it were. :)

Oh God… It didn’t say ‘face’ this time. No. It said ‘Man smiling.’.

#AustraliaDay An extract from #InvisibleShores South America

By the time Australia day came around, Jack was back on his feet and if not an example of peak human health with his pale skin and loss of appetite; something unheard of for Jack, he was willing. A testament to his stubborn nature.
I had never heard of ‘Australia day’ before. Was there an England day? Of course if there had been I assumed we were not allowed to celebrate it as we may have offended people from different countries, quite rightly so. Why should we have had pride in a country that disallows pride in a country? They had just saved us the effort.
The day bloomed fresh and bright. By this time the hostel was only half full, Word of Mike’s culinary misdemeanours had spread, the little tyke. As a consequence there were only two Ozzies that I was aware of. One called Sophie: a diminutive girl who was very sweet with large breasts. Jack spent many diplomatic hours accusing her of them being fake, the little tyke. The other was a guy called Sebastian, who was cool in a sort of geeky way, Fernando our ever subtle Argentinean friend proclaimed that Seb was gay and proceeded to refer to him as simply “The gay”, the little tyke.
A game of cricket was organised between our hostel and Loki, which was heavily populated by our upside down cousins.
The two groups of men approached each other under the mid-day sun. The meeting spot was clearly marked half way down the beach. The sea was the only witness of this ancient feud, well, the sea and anyone that walked by.
Eyes were locked and stances were that of gunslingers.
One man wearing a hat stippled with corks in the brim stepped forward.
“You came then.” Every eyeball was on him, every ear cocked to hear.
“We did.” Rory, our intrepid leader and manager of The Point spat on the sand.
The two men bowed like marshal artists.
“I declare,” the man in the hat held up a sun-darkened hand, “This game of cricket begun!”
And so they played. It was fast, vicious and over all too quickly. I never knew that a game, conceived for recreational purposes could be perverted into such an impassioned display of terror and pain. Balls zipped through the air like missiles to meet with a thunderous clap on the face of the bat. On that barren beach where the sea met the land foes were slaughtered.
I was very proud of my travel companions. Jack had destroyed both the Australians defence and racked up a great number of runs before he was put out. All that was required was a mop up by Liam, who delivered a series of blistering throws. The Australians; looking for a fun day of sport, had been reduced to weeping men, beaten in just an hour.
Liam was suddenly the celebrity, having finished them off. The memory of Jack’s contribution soon faded in the face of Liam’s humble admissions of greatness and his graceful acceptance of worship.
Jack, in sheer morbid despair of his stolen glory, plodded into the sea in a half-hearted attempt to drown himself. Several minutes passed until with a cry Jack emerged from the water like a fabled monster from the depths…
“My fags! He held up a sad looking packet with smeared ink on the front, containing several bloated tumescent objects. “They’re ruined.” And Jack’s misery was complete.
Liam returned to the hostel smug and glorious. He wondered around wearing the stolen Australian flag like some super hero who had been deported from Victorian England. As far as I know The Point still possesses that flag which was won so brutally on that most savage of days from the salt-callused hands of Loki.

Buy the new book ‘Invisible Shores, South America’

A memory of a friend

“You’re such a tory.” He sneered and waved his bottle of beer at me like a boozy lightsaber flat on batteries.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.

“Pedders, I…”

But he, like a monkey swinging through a communist forest had already reached for another branch.

“You think it’s okay for people to suffer while you fudging (He didn’t say ‘fudging’) tories live the high life? Huh?”

We were seated on the stern of a narrowboat, puttering through the english countryside on one of the most beautiful days of 2015. Pedders had removed his shirt, in his mind becoming a sexual flytrap to any of the middle aged women who were coming up the canal in the opposite direction.

“She defo wanted a piece.” Pedders said as he turned to watch the flustered elderly woman pass by.

“She can hear you mate.”

“Well,” Pedders, never to be unsettled by such annoyances as the sensibilities of narrow boat life, shrugged. “She did want a piece.” He smiled and winked at the escaping boat which I noticed had sped up.

His head snapped back round. “Anyway, you think it’s alright for people to go to food banks whilst bankers drink champagne in hot tubs in the alps?”

I briefly thought of the squat little woman who was the manager of my bank bobbing around like a plump wrinkled pea with white capped mountains in the background. I wished I hadn’t.

Not for the first time on this trip, I considered pushing Pedders into the canal for just a little peace. Instead, I turned my face to the sun, took a swig of beer and let his socialist rant break over me.

Most that read this will have been lucky enough to know the friend I depict here. Tragically this friend recently left our midsts. For those of you who knew him, my heart felt sympathy goes out to you and yet, even more sympathy goes out to those who didn’t know him. He was a rare and beautiful human, thoughtful, kind with a burning need for justice and, ultimately, a disappointment that justice wasn’t forthcoming in the world.

In itself, this snapshot memory I have shown you does not do him justice, it is a fragment of the person he was but, it is my fragment to remember, and when I do it makes me smile.

This didn’t say much, but it said a little. Sometimes that is enough.

But seriously, I was so close to pushing him in the water.

For Neil Pedly, my departed friend.

11 reasons why dating a blind guy is awesome

11 reasons why dating a blind guy is awesome

The bar was steamy and full of the scent of alcohol, perfume and sweat. I threw a smile her way and hoped to hell I wasn’t smiling at the wrong person.. Again.

I cleared my throat, it was time to escalate this situation, simply standing there, poised with a Scotch and looking dashing probably wasn’t going to close this deal. I touched her lightly on the forearm and leant in.

“You’re beautiful you know?”

She giggled and I heard the smile in her voice as she looked up at me and said:

“Oh Olz, that’s lovely. Thank you.…”

She paused. Angel Olz, my guardian in these situations and perpetually balanced on my left shoulder stirred. He’d smelled smoke, heard a bump in the night, felt the changing of the wind. In short, he new that something was amiss.

“Hang on a second, how do you know I’m beautiful? You can’t see me.”

I felt the conversational scree on which I was standing begin to shift. I took a swig of my drink, coughed as it went down the wrong way before plonking the glass back down on the slick bar.

“I can hear it in your voice?” I considered what I had just said and removed the question mark.

“I can hear it in your voice.” Yes, that sounded better. Far more self assured. Angel Olz punched the air and grinned. Two pompoms appeared in his hands as he went into a cheerleader routine.

“I don’t believe you.”

“You smell nice.” Angel Olz paused, pompoms spread and frowned.

“So you’re complimenting my perfume?”

I felt the rockslide still beneath my feet as I hit firmer ground.

“Yes, yes I am.” Angel Olz gave me a wide smile and a thumbs up.

“But then, you’re not complimenting me are you, just my perfume?”

I scrambled for something to say. It had been going so well, laughter, flirting, physical contact and with that thought, my big stupid mouth opened. Angel Olz leapt forward, pompoms extended to plug the widening hole… But, he was too late.

“I felt your side boob as you were guiding me?”

Angel Olz put his face in his hands and began to weep.

. There was a disturbance in the air, a waft of intoxicating perfume before the gin and tonic splashed into my face.

I sighed, sucked at my damp collar and thought, not for the first time:

“This dating lark is hard.”

Blind dating

It’s difficult for anyone to meet the right person, sighted or not. People will often avoid asking the questions which they should ask. In any relationship we look for common ground and sometimes, when it’s hard to find, we have to build the foundations ourselves. We need to get the big awkward questions out the way so we can move on, especially in the dating situations. Questions like:

  • “How much can you actually see?”

  • “Can you manage to use the toilet alone?”

  • “Do you need help with cutting up your food?”

  • “Would you like another scotch?”

I, self appointed ambassador for all Face Feelers. (Blind people), aim debunk these points of contention and, hopefully, in my own little way, make the world just that little bit better.

As an aside, a girl did actually make me feel her face at the weekend, she then felt mine even though she could see.

“Mummy, why are those two people rubbing each other’s faces?” Asks fictional child.

“Stop looking,” Replies the overweight and flustered mother. “They must be high.”

So, I’d like to take this opportunity to explain why dating a blind guy is actually pretty damn great.

In marketing they have a billion and sixty-three acronyms, that’s not an exaggeration, I counted them, one of which is USP, unique Selling Point. So, to all the girls out there that wonder what the benefits of dating a blind guy are, here goes:

1. Your looks

You’re just as beautiful first thing in the morning as you are when you are ready to go out: This is actually a chat-up line I’ve used a few times, all the better because it’s true. Sadly it can work both ways so some girlfriends will take advantage to go out looking like they’ve just woken up, bed breath and all… Gross.

2. Dinner dates

At dinner you can have half a jar of spaghetti on your face, parmesan in your hair and a courgette protruding from your bra and I really won’t care… That is, right up until you start attracting seagulls.

3. Other women

Not that I’m a polygamous man by nature, but I can’t have my head turned by another woman unless caught off guard by an errant handbag or any other similar violations of my personal space.

4. Power cuts

Think about it… In the dark I’m a demon in more ways than one ;)… Whilst your still fumbling around for a flashlight I’ve already opened a bottle of wine, whipped up a delicious midnight snack and popped on my Spongebob onesie before I return to take your hand and lead you through the dark. Hey, you do it for me.

5. I make you look good.

There is a certain cool factor to looking after others. In the past I have been treated like a fabulous accessory with women fighting over who gets to guide me. Plus, by helping out a blind guy you get some serious karmic credit which means you can totally push old people out the way at supermarket checkouts without feeling an ounce of guilt.

6. We can skip queues

It’s kinda funny that this happens as I’m pretty sure blind people can queue just as well as anyone else but, hey, I’ll take it and you should too though, with a warning. I have also been refused and consequently kicked out of nightclubs for arguing that I should only pay half price as I can’t see the shitty decor.

7. Your outfits

Don’t push this point. Eventually I will work out if you’re wearing, say, scuba gear or a clown costume.

8. Drunken stability

I can be used as a support if you are unsteady on your feet due to alcohol. The great thing is that it still looks like you’re helping me.

9. I’m entitled to a guide dog

Everyone loves dogs and, if you don’t, well, we’re probably not going to get on. Just remember, the date is with me, not the dog…

10. Your driving

Until you start swearing, swerving and slamming on the anchors, I will be none the wiser that you are a danger to hedges,, pedestrians and, more importantly, me.

11. Loving acts of kindness

Whilst sleeping, you can draw a penis on my forehead and I won’t know for days.

If you want to read further adventures of Olz, check out Invisible Shores – South America, a blind backpackers muddled memoirs.

Art is subjective… #100WordTales

New year’s day has come and gone. Well wishing has faded to a murmur and new year’s resolutions flutter their and amniotic fluid slicked wings in a hope that they’ll last more than a couple of weeks.

This time of year is the time when writers review their goals, a perfect time to start that book, or that play, all the while focusing on the completed article, imagining the interviews, the accolades and maybe the cameo in the film version… Believe me, I’ve been there and will be again. We resolve to talk about it too, rather than doing anything as ridiculous as actually, well, write it.

All over the internet blogs open like hungry maws waiting to snap at internet pedestrians heels, gobbling away that commodity we value so much, time.

And so, my blog will join that bouquet of carnivorous blooms and, dear reader, if you have come this far, your soul is mine!…

You may have noticed that over the last couple of weeks I’ve been writing flash fiction; but a hundred words, a concept introduced to me by a friend. It’s a challenge which I find fascinating, to be able to condense an idea into something you’ll read in under a minute and yet will survive longer than those fledgling new year’s resolutions? Well, I’m game. Here is my latest 100 word story, maybe this carnivorous internet bloom will bare fruit after all…

This one is entitled… Art is subjective, and, if I were to tell you what it was about, well, that would be cheating wouldn’t it?

Art is subjective

They always ran away screaming and he never understood why. What he did understand was that it broke his artists heart. All that time, seeking the majesty in their faces, in their posture. Teasing out their soul to lay bare on the canvas. He saw beyond the frills and decorations, passed the wrinkles and wattles to their essence, their component beauty.

He could still hear the fading clack of high heels as his latest model sped away. He sighed, carefully lifted the portrait, took it into his private gallery and hung it with all the other paintings of dismembered corpses.


It was a chilly Monday morning when the man in the dark trench coat, limped up the garden path to deliver the news. I stood at the kitchen window with a steaming cup of black coffee in my hand. I watched as he unlatched the garden gate and opened it with a squeal of protesting hinges. I watched as he carefully closed it behind him and started his slow progress to my front door. I watched as he noticed me watching, I saw it in his eyes, and it was then that I knew that my wife was finally dead.

A memory of snow

“A long time ago, in the very depths of Earth’s winter, we had a festival. People sang carols, ate delicious food and exchanged gifts, and it would snow.”

“Snow?” The child’s eyes were wide as she gazed at her grandfather.

“Yes, snow; pure white, cold as ice. It fell in pretty flakes from the sky and settled until the snow was thick and blanketed everything. Every house, every road, every field, every tree, until the whole world was pure white.” He sighed. “It was just beautiful.”

“Do you miss it Grandpa? Earth I mean?”

The old man could only nod.

Get your copies by ChristmasInvisible Shores: South America: Oliver Kennett

So, it is here… Rather than mess about giving it a big build up… I’ve just sent you the order page… Do with it as you will…

Merry Christmas…

Olz X Prime

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Invisible Shores: South AmericaPaperback – 13 Nov 2015

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Holding the baby… An author’s perspective

Winter has certainly come. I had to break the ice on the toilet this morning and snap several unfortunate dogs off lamp posts.

I know I keep saying this but, the book is nearly here! But it is this time. The proofs arrived yesterday and today I will be posting them out to a lucky few, who I will then hound mercilessly to read and check for any overlooked errors.

I do have a book cover but, well, I think you can wait a couple of weeks. It looks fantastic, or so I’m told. It’s very exciting.

If I’m honest, I wasn’t too bothered about the whole, holding the final book, thing. A lot of authors say that it is a great feeling to touch something which they have created, a conceptual concept made physical. My thinking was, well, I could be holding any book but, as usual, the world prooved me wrong. It was good to know that weight in my hand was a real book which I had created. I assume it could be compared, though distantly, with holding your child for the first time, though this papery sporn is quieter and smells better.

I’m also looking to do the audio book. I’m tossing up whether to have a professional read it for your listening pleasure or to do it myself. I’d rather do it myself but my reading speed in brail isn’t great so I’ll have to have a think about how I can make it work. I’m sure there is a way.

Until next time, which I hope will be the announcement that the book is now available to buy, keep warm, keep safe and keep reading.