Waiting for the ink to dry #JusticeforLB
One of the ever-present themes of JusticeforLB has been the eternal waiting. Pretty much nothing has been swift, smooth and efficient. Chapter 7 of Justice for Laughing Boy is called The Waiting Game. It starts:
There is particular pain associated with the preventable death of a loved one in the care of the NHS. First, the shock associated with finding out that the organisation which you have grown up thinking of only in terms of benevolent goodness can act with malevolence. This realisation involves the peeling back of layers of awfulness over time as more details are uncovered or further brutality is meted out to the family by the Trust.
Second, because this catastrophic happening occurred within such a monolithic institution, there is an unremitting, unchecked, almost wanton drawing out of never quite pinning down what happened. Every step takes so much longer than can be humanly possible. You are typically the last to know any tiny development or decision. Documents are circulated to you at least a week or so after other relevant people, the Trust, local authority or broader, receive them. Decisions are eventually relayed to you as an afterthought or when you chase them up.
References to waiting are littered throughout Sara’s book. Many readers of this blog will remember waiting for the first Verita report to be published back in February 2014. Twitter was busy with chat, 9am came and went, 10am, midday. A couple phonecalls to the press office resulted in garbled non-commitment. The day slowly passed by until the report was eventually published on the Southern Health NHSFT website just after 6pm, too late for the day’s news bulletins to cover. JusticeforLB’ers waited then, and they’ve waited since. Most recently we waited, holding our collective breaths, as the MPTS tribunal adjourned to discuss striking Dr Valerie Murphy off the medical register. We’d been told to return midday on Friday, and then it became mid afternoon, then 5pm, then another hour, then 7pm, a missed flight and overnight accommodation hurriedly arranged, another half hour, another, until eventually we were called back in to hear their determination of facts at 8:30pm on a Friday evening.
Imagine our relief when we heard that the publication of Sara’s book about LB was to be brought forward to Wednesday 27 September. Never in the history of JusticeforLB had anything been delivered early. Not once. We knew that the book was good, Sara had written it and it’s about LB (amongst other things) so greatness was guaranteed. #JusticeforLB has always been supported by amazing people, who have given their time, skills and money whenever asked, so it was no surprise to see the tweets of pre-orders rolling in.
The day before publication we were a little flummoxed in the Justice Shed that no printed copy had been delivered.
Publication day arrived, and the expected flurry of tweets from people receiving their books didn’t materialise, despite all those pre-orders.
In fact it was the end of publication day before Sara herself held the book in her hands, just before her and Tom headed to Salford for BBC interviews the next day.
It's arrived. It exists… Wow. #JusticeforLB pic.twitter.com/dBXrJLiUF7
— Sara (@sarasiobhan) September 27, 2017
The day after publication day Sara and Tom did three BBC interviews, first up was 5 Live [from 1h 39mins]. Followed by the red sofa of BBC breakfast
He was a great guy @rapidrhino123 on LB #JusticeforLB pic.twitter.com/wAUthk983d
— Justice for LB (@JusticeforLB) September 28, 2017
Finally, it was an appearance of Radio 4’s Today Programme [from 2hr 30].
There was so much (utterly deserving) love for Tom and Sara, for LB and excitement about the chance to read Sara’s book.
Since then we have received numerous tweets from people who have been unable to secure a copy of the book. They have tried various websites and shops, and none have stock. All of those people who pre-ordered on amazon are still waiting, the kindle version was initially unavailable, then it was made available with errors in it leading to the third review on amazon only giving 3 stars due to the poor quality.
The book’s publishers do not appear phased by the delay, just another group of people for whom delay is an acceptable everyday part of life
Longer wait but ppl wld then get to read it; changed date and ppl are being offered opportunity to cancel order and no clarity #JusticeforLB
— Justice for LB (@JusticeforLB) September 28, 2017
It would seem that JusticeforLB’ers are just going to have to wait even longer. We are well versed in patiently waiting. It will be worth the wait though, here are a selection of feedback tweets from people who could wait no longer and bought the kindle version:
@sarasiobhan @rapidrhino123 missed you on @BBCr4today but you were excellent on @BBCBreakfast – & to everyone else the book is even better
— Richard Humphries (@RichardatKF) September 28, 2017
If you buy one book this year, make it Justice for Laughing Boy, masterfully written by @sarasiobhan #JusticeforLB https://t.co/5ZKNk4m7Y2
— Colm O Cuanachain (@ColmOCuanachain) September 28, 2017
@sarasiobhan Finished book today laughed, cried & am left with an overwhelming anger abt the indifference that took Connor from this world
— Dr Sarah MBPsS (@sarahthesheepu) September 28, 2017
#JusticeForLB is a brilliant and deeply moving book that needs to be read and acted on https://t.co/k52xcmpPaq @JKPBooks
— Rhidian Hughes (@rhidianhughes) September 27, 2017
Just finished #justiceforLB book by @sarasiobhan too sad to read in one go – should be on any UG/PG readimg lists @JusticeforLB
— Dr Jenny Fisher (@JennyCFisher) September 29, 2017
So privileged to have been asked to write an endorsement for this vital book. Essential reading for the caring professions #JusticeforLB pic.twitter.com/oSokTKPSdF
— Sarah Holmes MBE (@CalmHolmes) September 29, 2017
A powerful campaign (shouldn't have had to be fought), a harrowing, beautiful book (shouldn't have had had to be written). Essential reading https://t.co/5ffvxKPCLr
— Saba Salman (@Saba_Salman) September 28, 2017
Have just finished it. I'm now wiping away accumulated tear salt-crust from around my eyes. #JusticeforLB
— Chris Hatton (@chrishattoncedr) September 28, 2017
So perhaps it is time for the publisher to stop being polite and sucking it up and tell it how it is. It has been a real shock to find that when everyone in the office (and out of it – this is not a working day) is running round doing everything they possibly can to make this work, we are being accused of incompetence, and what is almost worse for JKP, not giving a damn. The worst nightmare for a publisher is major publicity well in advance of publication. You have a choice – you can say `tough’, let the book take its chances. But if you do that, you are pretty much guaranteeing that when the book comes out it will be a damp squib – the people who always knew about it and supported it will buy it, but all those others who need to know that story for the book to do what it truly should be doing have lost interest. Believe me, I speak of what I know. OR you can try to move the earth to get it out to meet the publicity. We knew very well that if one big story broke, there would be an avalanche. There didn’t seem to be a choice. There was a truly huge amount to do – you don’t just push a button and change a pub date. People have to pull together, work late, do all this on top of what else needs to be done – and they have to care. We have had people emailing each other in the middle of the night, rechecking detail, trying their absolute best in every way to make this work, not least to find out what on earth Amazon has done with the copies they have. There has been huge distress around this at JKP – this is a book that is right at the heart of what we do, for goodness sake. So all the negative and frankly horrible things that have been said about JKP really hurt, and that’s why I can’t let your comments above pass, and why I hope that my colleagues don’t read this blog. Isn’t that a bit ironic?
It’s just such a huge statement about our society and I think all the anger maybe has been misdirected .