My song today is ‘Neon Moon’. This song was written by Ronnie Dunn and recorded by American country music duo ‘Brooks & Dunn’. It was released in February 1992 as the third single from their debut album ‘Brand New Man’. The song became their third consecutive Number 1 single on the country charts. It was also their first single not to have an accompanying music video.
The song's narrator is a man who is at a bar, feeling broken-hearted because his significant other has left, so he spends "most every night beneath the light of a neon moon."
This song was released when I was forty-nine years old. Two years earlier, I had been asked by my employers ‘The West Yorkshire Probation Service’ to write a short book that dealt with ten themes that adversely affected the lives of young school children. The Probation Service agreed to fund the publication of this book which could be read in children’s schools and sold within the area of Kirklees. All the money raised would be donated to the November 1989 ‘Children in Need’ national fundraising event.
The initial motive behind the Probation Service’s willingness to fund such a project was to maximise its positive image within the West Yorkshire wider community, very much as local police constabularies had attempted to do across the country. It was not unusual in 1989 to have the local bobby go into schools and give ‘stranger danger’ talks or talks about the effects of crime upon a victim’s family. The police even visited primary schools to run safety cycle courses for owners of their first bicycle. An overall aim of the police at the time was to make the patrolling Bobby on the beat, a figure that young children could grow up to trust and respect.
As a person who had practiced all manner of Relaxation Training methods since I had incurred a serious traffic accident at the age of 11 years, I had instructed relaxation training in many segments of the community since the early 1970s. As a consequence of my expertise and credentials in the area of Relaxation methods, junior schools would invite me into their morning assemblies to tell the children how they could relax, and what to do should do to reduce anxious moments in their lives. My brief was to give the young children advice they could understand and teach them simple methods they could easily apply. I chose to provide this input wrapped within a children’s story I had constructed called ‘The Magic Garden’ (which incidentally was my first children’s story that I ever wrote). These school visits became so popular that school requests for me to attend other morning school assemblies quickly mushroomed. I could have literally devoted every minute of my day, every day, to this task alone.
At the time, my Relaxation Training programmes had attracted mass media attention in the regional and local press along with other media like regional radio and Yorkshire television stations. Rarely one week passed by when I did not appear in the local and regional newspapers across West and South Yorkshire at least three times or was not interviewed on a Yorkshire radio station or regional television channel. Ever since I joined the Probation Service in 1970/71, I had run my Relaxation Training programmes in Probation Offices across West Yorkshire, Hostels: Hospital Training Courses for Nurses, Doctors, and Psychiatric Staff: Mental Establishments for Psychiatric Patients: Old Folks Homes: Educational Establishments for Training Firemen, Police Constables, Probation Officers, Welfare and Clinical Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Prison Officers: Male Prisoners serving life sentences: Women Prisoners in general: Schools and Colleges for Teachers, Lecturers and Pupils: Churches for Congregation Members: Community Groups: and Charitable Associations. My work was attracting attention across social work bodies in Europe since I founded ‘Anger Management’ in 1972/73, and particularly after I had founded the process of ‘Anger Management’, a method which started to mushroom across the English-speaking world, and was even being cited in the research of some European Social Work manuals.
I had my first children’s storybook published by the start of November 1989. It was called ‘Everyone and Everything’ and contained ten stories for the reading age range 5-11 years that dealt with emotions and situations which children find hard to healthily cope with and emotionally resolve. The themes included Bereavement, Separation, Loss, Homelessness, Bullying, Environmental Protection, and Preservation, Racism, Sexism, Discrimination, plus one Relaxation Story. Instead of having a ‘Children in Need’ Fundraising day’, I decided to have a ‘Children in Need Fundraising Month’. To maximise book sales and publicity of my book, I arranged to have regional and national celebrities and famous names visit Kirklees Schools each morning and afternoon (Monday-Fridays) during November, and every November Saturday morning in a Kirklees Library to read from the book. I invited the most famous Yorkshire people that the public could instantly recognise from every walk of life and their television screens, plus a good many national names to read from my book in Kirklees’ First Schools.
Every celebrity I invited to visit a Kirklees school or library accepted my invitation. On the day of their visit, they would read a story from my ‘Everyone and Everything’ book to an assembly of Kirklees children and a packed audience of the children’s parents in the background. Given the quality of famous names who became celebrity readers, each school or library assembly throughout the entire month of November attracted half a dozen newspaper photographers and reporters, and there was always at least one radio interviewer, and on half a dozen occasions throughout the month, the television cameras would also be there. Even when the television crew wasn’t there, the event, book, and celebrity reader of it would be mentioned daily on the ‘Yorkshire Television’ and ‘Look North’ channel news bulletins. I naturally arranged things in such a way that maximised the publicity that the reading assemblies attracted. For example, on one reading day during the month of November 1989, the Archbishop of London (who would later become the Archbishop of York) read from the book in a school assembly, and afterward, he planted a tree of remembrance within the school grounds. During the afternoon of the same day, the late Geoffrey Smith (professional gardener, broadcaster, writer and the television presenter of Gardeners World between 1980 to 1982 and a number of other BBC series in the early 80s) would perform his school assembly reading before Christening a large wooden dragon that a local famous artist had constructed in the school playground for the children to secretly tell their troubles to and play merrily around.
The most minor celebrity on my list of famous names who read that month was the Kirklees Lord Mayor and the most famous included three national film stars: a female Astronaut in the space programme: the first Arctic Explorer in the world to walk to both the North and the South Poles: two Cabinet Ministers of the government: the Captains of the English Rugby Team and the English Football Team: the Arch Bishop of London, and three Yorkshire Bishops: the Chief Rabbi of England at the time: the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire: the Chief Fire Officer of West Yorkshire: National Authors, Painters, Television Weather Forecasters, Yorkshire Television Presenters: National Opera Singer: one famous Judge of the Crown Courts: two Lords of the Realm, one Baroness and three Lady Peers, and two Knights; one international Classical Pianist etc.etc. Such celebrity names attracted me more free regional publicity in Yorkshire than any amount of money could ever have bought me. My first published book, ‘Everyone and Everything’ raised over £10,000 in the month of November alone from book sale profits to local schools. The books sold out quicker than we could arrange to have them printed and we could have sold three times as many, had we had available stock to hand that November month. The overall exercise, however, made me a regional household name. Over the following year, there was never a week when I wasn’t paid to give a talk to one organization or another and there was rarely one weekend when I was not asked to open some library or community gala or fete. I always gave any fees paid to me to charitable sources and never kept a penny for myself.
By the end of the ‘Children in Need’ month, I was invited to write more children’s books by several regional and national charitable organisations who wanted me to raise money for their particular worthy cause as well as raising awareness of the good work they did. As the demand for me to write books increased, I decided that I wanted to write for charitable causes permanently, and never for personal profit. I also wanted to write about themes and subjects that I wanted to write about; themes that would not be determined by some book editor. I decided to have my own future stories and published books edited by an independent source who I selected. I also wanted to control my own work from the start of the process to the finish, in order to choose my own print type and size preference and select my own artists to illustrate the books I would write. After I had determined my range of preferences, I decided to write my own books, arrange for their printing and publication, and the artwork needed for my coloured illustrated covers and inner illustrations where required. I spent the next year establishing a stable of budding artists to illustrate my books for free and finding two printing companies who would print my limited editions of a few thousand copies of each book I wrote at cost (nil profit). I then I began sourcing vital contacts who would help me raise monies and organise community activities to fund the production and publication of my books. I had literally dozens of people helping me to begin with, which over one decade would become hundreds. I also invited hundreds of national and international celebrities and famous names to read in Yorkshire school assemblies from whichever charitable book I had written and was current when they attended school assemblies across all West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire Schools, plus a number of North Yorkshire schools. Many of these famous names became good friends and would read for me on half a dozen occasions if necessary. Even the Queen of England's household did their bit by helping me with my charitable books. The Queen's cousin, the Earl of Hareward and his wife the Countess, read in three different Yorkshire schools for me over the decade, and Princess Royal, Anne also read in a Dewsbury Disabled Centre for me, and Princess Margaret spoke with me on the phone once and arranged to help me with a riding school for disabled children in Liversedge, and Princess Diana increased my profile significantly by requesting that I send her two of my books so she might read them to her two young children, Prince William and Prince Harry at their bedtime. Even the Queen pinned a medal on me in 1995 for my contribution to the West Yorkshire Community at Buckingham Palace in 1995.
Over a ten-year period, I wrote over forty books, and raised over two hundred thousand pounds for charitable bodies through the profits of book sales, while still working full time as a Probation Officer, and operating my numerous community Relaxation Training programmes. All my books (after my first book) were sold exclusively to Yorkshire schools, and after my fifth book had been published, I had one hundred schools in Yorkshire who were prepared to pre-order fifty copies of my next book before I had even started writing it, and one year before it was published. I had approximately four books a year published over ten years. Each book had themes that I considered more helpful for the healthy emotional development of young children.
I knew in advance that I could sell 5,000 copies of any book that I had published, on pre-orders from 100 schools alone in Yorkshire, by providing the school children with stories that their teachers and parents approved of, and which contained the kind of themes I wrote about. The production quality and cost of all my books stood favourably alongside any other author’s book on the school library shelf or which could be found in any book shop. I was not concerned with selling as many copies of each book as I could, as I was writing them faster than I could get the printers to run them off and bind. While I wanted to raise money for worthy charitable causes through donating all the profits from book sales to those charities, I was also wanting to raise awareness on so many subjects which I felt could be of significant help to all children in Yorkshire from 5-13 years. Consequently, I also wanted to include as many useful themes in my stories as I could, and the three and four books which I would write one year would always be published the following year.
In a ten-year period between 1990-2000, over eight hundred national and international famous names read from my books in Yorkshire schools. I was writing limited-edition books which the general public could not buy, and as my books became more exclusive to purchase, schools wanted their ration of them even more. There came a time when all school orders could not be met unless the schools concerned had pre-ordered their copies one year in advance or I agreed to have more than between 2000 and 5000 copies printed. I refused to do this as the books needed to be physically delivered to each school of purchase, a daily task that I personally undertook, or got a volunteer worker to do. Local radio presenters who regularly interviewed me began describing me as 'the author whose books cannot be bought by the general public!'
After I retired prematurely from the Probation Service on health grounds in 1995, I wrote copiously and still allowed all my book profits to be diverted toward charitable causes in perpetuity. I have now had over sixty books published, and after 2006 when I put up my pen, it was my wife Sheila, who persuaded me to write again after we married in 2012. Since then I have had fourteen romantic novels and two ‘strictly for adults only’ books published. I have since stopped writing books and spend much of my leisure time when I am not reading the books of other authors practising my singing. I sing these days to improve my lung capacity and increase the oxygenation level in my blood count (which is a bi-product of terminal blood cancer I have had since early 2013).
All my writing these days is done on my website and my Facebook daily post. I have made all my published romantic novels freely available to read and download, along with two musical plays and over one dozen professionally recorded audiotapes of children’s stories that were produced for radio transmission many years ago, plus a relaxation tape that I made in a studio forty years ago and which has helped over 10,000 people to relax. I was offered £10,000 to sell the Relaxation tape to a recording company in 1982 but declined. The tape has never been sold since it was first produced and has always been freely given to anyone who could benefit from hearing it.
Not being able to write upon the theme of a neon moon today, I have written instead of what I was doing between the dates when the song was released and when I first heard it.
Love and peace Bill xxx