Can you help this lovely little boy sleep safely?

This is Gabriel, he’s a happy, smiley little boy who is fast approaching 3 years old. His parents, Scott and Melissa are friends of mine and he has an older brother and a younger sister.

Gabriel has a medical condition which means sleeping without coming to harm is hard but for £2000 his parents can get him a safety sleeper to help him do that. You can help them.

This is Gabriel, he’s nearly three and has a smile that melts hearts from 100 paces

When Gabriel was 3 months old he was diagnosed with Smith Magenis Syndrome (SMS) which is a disability caused by an abnormal chromosome. With the syndrome comes behavioural problems, cognitive impairment and self injury. As well as significant sleep problems. He wakes a lot throughout the night and for long periods of time.  Gabriel has never slept through the night and is unlikely to ever do so. Gabriel, in common with other SMS sufferers I believe, doesn’t really have the mechanisms we do when he gets hurt either. Where we may pull away or protest about pain, he will not and of course with that comes increased risk of serious harm to this lovely boy.

You can help Gabriel be safe in bed by helping his parents get a safety sleeper. [See here for more].

As with any child approaching 3 years old, Gabriel’s parents will soon have to get him a bed. It’s a big moment for anyone to move from a cot into their first bed but for Gabriel it has a potential risk because of his SMS. Because he wakes every night and because he will be in a bed and he won’t stay in it his parents won’t have any peace of mind that he is safe.

Some thing like this could make all the difference to Gabriel and his family.

Some thing like this could make all the difference to Gabriel and his family.

The good news is that there are safety sleepers – like the one shown here – for just this kind of scenario and getting one of these would mean Gabriel can sleep safely and the family can even go on holidays because it is (reasonably) portable.

The bad news is they cost £2000 and that is money Scott and Melissa just don’t have but you might have. They’ve set up a fundraising page to raise the money to help keep Gabriel safe at night. I know we all have a lot of draw on our funds at the moment but if you could give something towards this, it would make a difference that my mere words could not begin to express. Please consider it.

Melissa is a talented artist as well and so everyone who donates at least £10 will be entered into a draw to win a one-off painting by her. Regular updates on the progress of the painting, “a leopard sleeping”, will be posted on the fundraising page.

Please consider if you can help this lovely family, I know there are a lot of these types of requests. This one means a lot to me because I know them. Please help if you can. I’ll leave the final word to his mum, Melissa:-

Gabriel is a beautiful little boy and I wish we could provide everything he needs but we [need help] for this special bed. We will be grateful for any contribution at all. Thank you for taking the time to read our story.


New poem: Roots


How deep do my roots go, how far do I let you reach?

Do they reach beyond my mind, do I let you roam in my thoughts?

Do they expand through my vision, do I let you show me you what you see?

Do they stretch as wide as my arms, do I let you guide my actions?

Do they burrow below the surface of my heart,  do I let you show me how to love?

Do they plunge the depths of my very soul, do I let you settle down and redecorate?

How deep do my roots go?

Far enough?

Strong enough?

Wide enough?

Long enough?

Can I ever make them that?

No,  but they only need to reach to you, to intertwine with you,  to become inseparable from you, to become part of you.

I am reaching towards you Lord. I am breaking my own barriers. I am stretching, knowing you go further and glad you got here first.

Roam in my thoughts, Lord. Show me what you see. Guide my actions. Show me how to love. Redecorate my soul. Make me part of you

New free sci-fi short story

I’ve posted a new, free science fiction short story over on my self publishing site.

Take a look here.

Crimpertoons: emails and my social life

There’s a new Crimpertoon out. I find this habit of putting text in a picture attachment to an email but not as text in the email body very frustrating.

Usual CC:By-SA-NC licence applies.

Cartoon of an email with an attachment containing text that could quite easily have gone in the body of the email. Cpation explains how frustrating this is.

As ever you can save this image by right-clicking it and selecting “Save image as” or similar.

A new children’s ebook

As you may know I am a self-published author of children’s books and children’s ebooks. You can find out all of that at my publishing site –

The cover of the new Kindle Book

The cover of the new Kindle Book. Superb photo CC:By Dominic Bartsch

I published a short story on there called “Face to face with the gorilla king” on a part by part basis. It’s about a boy who goes to the zoo with his family and suddenly finds himself whisked to another world full of speaking animals who expect him to compete in a battle for them.

The full story has now been published and I just wanted to let you know that you can now get it on your kindle device or app. It’s around 12,000 words which equates to about 40 pages. The cheapest I can offer it for on Kindle is 99p* so I’ve set it as that. You can of course read it for free on the Crimperbooks website as well.


Colour blind: What do you do at traffic lights?

There’s been one of those chain posts going around facebook recently. In it you are challenged to post 7 things people might not know about you. I’ve not been asked and I doubt I could come up with seven (or would want to) but one thing I think a lot of people are not aware of is that I am colour blind. I have one of the more common forms of colour blindness called “red-green”.

An Ishihara test

Apparently this has a “2” in it. I can’t see anything except a load of dots

What does that mean?

First a few myths to dispel:

  • I can see colours, “colour blind” is a misnomer
  • I can see red and green and I don’t get all reds and green mixed up.
  • Whilst I struggle with some red/green combinations those are not the only ones I struggle with
  • I can see traffic lights just fine thanks.

On that last note (and with a nod to the post title) I once was asked so many, frankly, daft questions by someone about my colour blindness that I told them my driving licence allowed me to go through any traffic light regardless of colour (it doesn’t and I don’t but they were getting on my nerves).

My disability means I am unable to consistently distinguish certain colour shades. So whereas a “normal” person might be able to pick out the same shade of red as red regardless of lighting etc. I cannot. As a child I drove my mother mad when shopping for school trousers as I would consistently pick up dark green or navy ones instead of black. When playing snooker once I had to get my opponent to hold his finger over the brown ball as every time I bent down to take my shot the ball “disappeared” into the cushion behind it. My children used to have gresat fun asking me to “pass the orange” crayon and wait for me to pick up the light brown one.

I can’t explain it fully as I don’t understand it fully. I know it has to do with the cones in my eye and the way my brain interprets but to be honest the medical definition won’t help you much unless you understand the medical stuff.

Why am I telling you?

I am telling you all this because I have noticed an increase of text-on-images around the web. When text is text on a page I can adjust my browser to ensure I can see it. When text is embedded in an image I cannot and some of those colour combinations you use are literally making me nauseas. No I mean it. One side effect of my disability is that when certain colours/shades are next to each other my eyes struggle to pick out the dividing edge. The result is my eyes keep trying and failing to focus and this has a similar effect to vertigo or migraine on me. I have been known to vomit after seeing a red-on-blue poster in a shop (I did make it outside) and  I once feinted in a meeting because the person in front was wearing a green shirt with red pinstripes. So if you meet me and I say “Your shirt is making me sick” I may not be kidding or being rude.

I am saying all this to ask you to be more careful about the images you post. At best I (and the 10% of the male population like me) won’t be able to see it. At worst it will make me feel ill and I will either mention it or will just block you if you are a repeat offender. It’s not personal, it’s just that I’d rather not feel sick from reading the web (I make a point of not going to the Daily Mail website for the same reason).

You want examples don’t you. I can tell. Well I’m not going to give you any because to do so would mean looking for poor examples and that would make me ill. What I will do is point you at this website which gives you tips on making design – be it website, posters, flyers or images – more friendly to colour-blind people. I can vouch for the examples they give. Yes it’s American so they spell “colour” wrong :)

Tips for designing for colorblind users

It’s not just colour-blindness

Just for your information it’s not just colour blind people you can and should make allowances for. There are a range of visual impairments which people using the web may have. So posting an image without a text alternative (an Alt tag) will prejudice against some and posting text which has a low contrast with its background will affect others. Nobody is saying you can’t have that “cool” design (although I question whether all of them are indeed cool) but if your aim is for people to read, peruse and browse your work then you will exclude a significant proportion of people by refusing to allow for them. In certain jurisdictions it may be illegal to not allow for those with visual impairment under Disability discrimination acts and the like. Sadly colour blindness is left out of test designed to check against those laws but I am asking you – on behalf of all of us who walk around in a world of grey-shade (or not if you have been paying attention) to please include us or we will exclude you.

Quick survey: How do you feel that “God is watching you”

This is a very quick (3 questions) survey about the phrase “God is watching you”. I’m not asking for contact details, I won’t track you and I won’t pass any of your details to anyone else (mostly because I’m not asking for or storing them). I may compile the results of this survey into a blog post at a later date but for the moment it’s just a bit of anecdotal research for a talk I am giving.

I appreciate some of the questions may be a bit deeper than the simple answers I give but this is not a deep discussion just as quick survey on your gut feeling. I won’t be using this to suggest that “people” feel one way or the other but I will be using it to suggest that people who responded here answered one way or another. :)

The poll is now closed. Thanks to all those who responded. I will post results here soon.

Crimpertoon – Pumpkins

Crimpertoons began with a Hallowe’en toon so I feel obliged to do one each year. This one is about what to do with the unsold pumpkins your local supermarket will throw away.

Usual CC:By-SA-NC licence applies.

Cartoon: Various uses of unsold pumpkins incorporated into a church service: font, thurible, hymn board, drums, offertory plate

As ever you can save this image by right-clicking it and selecting “Save image as” or similar.

Crimpertoon – plans

There’s a new Crimpertoon about plans out – usual CC:By-SA-NC licence applies.

Depiction of God as a search engine with the question "what are the plans you have for me"

As ever you can save this image by right-clicking it and selecting “Save image as” or similar.

A new book – Do not feed the Troll!

The cover of my latest children’s novel

If you haven’t heard by other means already I am pleased to announce my latest children’s book Do not feed the Troll! has been published.

It’s book two in what has become The Roboteers series (book one being Sugar the Robot and the race to save the Earth) and is about a family who move to a new house and discover a trapdoor buried under their back lawn. The trapdoor has a sign which reads “DO NOT FEED THE TROLL!” and inside they do indeed find a troll. What happens next is a hilarious adventure as the troll begins to take over their garden and their lives. The book is, like the first one, illustrated with fantastic drawings by my own children (thanks guys!) and aimed at 6 to 11 year olds.

As with all my books you can get this as a free eBook in various formats under a Creative Commons CC:By-SA licence. You can also buy it in paperback and on eReader devices such as Kindle.

As ever all other details are on the Crimperbooks website, Twitter account, Google+ page and Facebook page.