Tuesday, May 07, 2013

World Press Freedom Day 3 May 2013 - An Unexpected Award

Last week my friend Tonee and I went to the Press Freedom Awards at a central London hotel to celebrate World Press Freedom Day. There, I and a whole host of journalists from many different countries were each presented with a wonderfully grand engraved shield and certificate. 

The invitation came via Blackbird Digital Books' Associate Editor Sarah Tomley at editorsonline.org. The organisers, Alhaqiqa TV, had been in touch with her and had asked her to pass on the invitation to me. I contacted them to find out more. What for??? Why?? In thanks for my "high morals" in contribution to journalism. I was a bit mystified. The business of Blackbird Digital is run on Buddhist Diamond Cutter principles, but this was related to journalism. I haven't done much journalism lately, and when I do it's usually to do with healthy home cleaning tips and my long-running Guardian Space Solves column. It was to be a sit down dinner in a 5* hotel hosted by a royal Sheikh. I'm also a romantic novelist, so, having checked I could take a friend, off Tonee and I went...

We were greeted warmly by the Managing Director of Alhaqiqa TV, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Hashimi

and shown to our seats

We were placed next to a young Polish couple who were able to fill us in a little on the Sheikh and Alhaqiqa TV.  She was a nutritionist, a fellow classmate, who had studied with the Sheikh. It turns out he's a very wise and learned man - a doctor of herbal medicine, passionate about helping people find natural ways of recovering from illnesses. This work is affiliated to his tv stations which broadcast in Arabic all over the Arab world and in London. We were shown a film featuring all the different studio locations

He has also set up many health centres, including one in London: The Alhashimi Centre For Natural Herbs.

Alhashimi Centre For Natural Herbs
Honey is an important ingredient, the nutritionist told us. So the link to my work as a journalist became a little more clear. My very first ebook (and later paperback) being:

Done & Dusted -  The Organic Home On A Budget

As the cleaning guru for The Guardian’s Weekend Magazine Space Solves column from 2005 to 2011, Stephanie Zia has helped hundreds of readers solve their impossible stains and cleaning catastrophes. This book gathers together 100+ of the best of her columns. PLUS
• Cleaning without chemicals – the housework hater’s healthy, quick cleaning guide.
• Non-toxic stain removal – the knowledge. Learn the quick, easy way to identify and treat stains instantly without the need of a chart.
• How to avoid the nasty chemicals lurking in everyday household products with links to online experts for further study.
• What about the vinegar? The best uses for vinegar, baking powder, lemon juice etc – what works and what doesn’t.
And much, much more.

Done & Dusted is not anti-non-organic or anti-chemical – everything is made of chemicals – but about balance. How to avoid the possible nasties and make informed, affordable compromises. You’ll find plenty of top tips for using everyday non-toxic products you have around the home for cleaning and stain removal, but also the occasional recommendation for chlorine bleach and oxalic acid.
40,000 Words.

“I admit to being the worst house-cleaner of anybody who has ever lived. I hate housework. But not any more! Done & Dusted has CHANGED MY LIFE! BRILLIANT book. It should be required reading for every housewife/househusband.” See Full Review here

“I was partly expecting it to be yet another ‘lemons and white wine vinegar’ kind of book, but it’s actually full of interesting new ideas and products. ” Penny Golightly Consumer Website For The Bon Viveur

So it wasn't a mistake! Hurrah. 

When I was interviewed for Alhaqiqa TV I didn't speak about Done & Dusted, however, but my very first job at the BBC when I joined the Russian Section as an office junior, age 16. 

The iron curtain was very much still up at that stage. Though at the time it was all a little lost on me (I was a bit miffed I hadn't been placed at Radio 1) I appreciate now what a remarkable place it was to be. My prized role was selecting the fill discs for the end of the broadcasts. A job I took very seriously, blasting T Rex and David Bowie into the Russian heartland.  So I was able to say my bit about what freedom of speech meant to me. Along with the engraved shield came a certificate:

and a slap up meal

It just goes to show, when you're a writer you really don't know what's around the corner. 

Thank you Alhaqiqa TV and Sheikh Bin Rashid Al-hashimi. 


Deb said...

Soooo proud of you. How wonderful.xxx

julia jones said...

This is a lovely story and I'm so happy for you. Up the Sheikh!

Stephanie Zia said...

Thank you Deb & Julia...up the Sheikh!