My testimony on Blake’s Cottage is finished

I have finally posted the last chapter of my testimony about what happened with Blake’s Cottage.

You can find all the chapters in the “My Testimony” section in this webpage. Please do go there if the following link doesn’t work: My Testimony

I am grateful to those who have had the patience to read so far. I am also grateful to the process itself: it has been immensely liberating. Throughout the writing of this testimony I have been able to engage joyfully again with William Blake’s work, without feeling anymore the pain and even sense of threat that the sole mention of his name used to trigger after this ordeal.

One day, after working on a chapter, I went to Bunhill Fields – a place I thought I’d never be able to visit again – and just sat there on a bench close to the familiar inscribed stone and fig tree. I recognized all the trees that I had come to love after many visits, and enjoyed again the quiet, the shade: peace. It was a most happy day.

Telling the truth performs this kind of humble miracles. I do hope that this testimony will do its bit, in time, towards a visible restoration of truth around Blake’s Cottage.

I do hope too that the Cottage will be saved from ruin, that its grounds will be saved from the aggression of the “multi-purpose building” that the Blake Cottage Trust is planning to impose, and that this small and much loved building will have its dignity restored.

I also demand pristine financial reports, backed by the relevant documents, from the Blake Cottage Trust and the Blake Society regarding Blake’s Cottage, and I remind the Trustees of both organisations that slandering is a serious offence. The sexism involved in their slandering of me would also, I think, have been offensive to such a libertarian as William Blake.

Image result for william blake

New chapters of my testimony, and financial concerns

I have added chapters X to XII to my testimony. You can find them in that section of this webpage, or in the following links:

Click to access chapter-x-my-testimony-blake-cottage.pdf

Click to access chapter-xi-my-testimony-blake-cottage.pdf

Click to access chapter-xii-my-testimony-blake-cottage.pdf

The final chapters, coming soon, will deal with what happened after I left the Cottage appeal and the Cottage was acquired; how Mr Heath appropriated the Cottage project; the extensive lying to the public by both the Blake Society and the Blake Cottage Trust; the futile attempts of both the Big Blake Project, me and other campaigners to engage in dialogue with them; the disrepair of the Cottage and its muddled finances.

I have also posted today a document in the Documents section in this webpage raising my concerns about the Blake Society’s recent report on how the money for the Cottage was raised, since the inconsistencies are still there:

Inconsistencies in Cottage’s finances, April 2017

I have received further confirmation that the Blake Society Trustees are slandering me. Slander is a serious offence. The sexism involved in the nature of their slandering is quite serious too, and something that anyone claiming to honour William Blake should be deeply ashamed of.

My testimony – new chapters

I have just added chapters V to IX to my testimony. You can read them in the My Testimony section in this webpage (https://blakecottage.com/what-happened-with-the-blakes-cottage-appeal-my-testimony/).

Unfortunately I can’t make a simple, concise narrative of events: because of the degree of dishonesty and the slandering involved, I see myself in the need, for truth’s sake and for my own protection, to include in this testimony all the evidence I have in the form of documents and correspondence, which will make the reading of the testimony harder, longer and repetitive. I’m sure it won’t be a pleasure to read, but it is a document that shows to whoever cares to know what happened exactly with the Cottage appeal, step by step; it shows that things have been very wrong indeed; that the Blake Society Committee always knew things were wrong and decided to ignore it, then collude; that my actions have never been stirred by resentment or ill will, and that the Blake Society is slandering me.

As for the inaccurate document on “how the funds were raised” in the Blake Society webpage mentioned in my previous entry, I insist: the Blake Society and the Blake Cottage Trust must respond directly to every single inconsistency in their handling of their finances pointed at in this webpage.

And the lies continue

I am finishing the next chapters of my testimony of what happened with the Blake Cottage appeal.

Meanwhile though, on visiting the Blake Society’s webpage, I’ve noticed two curious changes. One is that they have made disappear the minutes of the AGM held in January this year, which I have contested earlier in this blog since they were, again, lying about what took place that night.

If the Blake Society is planning to amend or manipulate them again, the reader and Blake Society members may be happy to know that I have saved the minutes they had originally published, so that we can compare if they decide to publish an altered document.

It is also interesting to see that they’ve published a little document called “How the Cottage Funds were raised”. They are lying there again.

They mention, disingenuously, donations made “through” the Blake Society. I’m afraid they have their prepositions wrong. The word is “to“. These donations were made to the Blake Society, who was running the appeal and responsible for the project as I have amply proved in the first chapters of my testimony.

In this webpage I have pointed that the Blake Society and the Blake Cottage Trust were lying saying donations made to the BS were made to the BCT and I mentioned evidence about if from, for instance, the  Heritage Lottery Fund, so they  have corrected the HLF’s item only, without bothering to say why the financial reports of both the BS and the BCT were lying in the first place.

They are still lying now, and still listing as donations to the Blake Cottage Trust money that we applied for, or received, as the Blake Society way before the Blake Cottage Trust even existed.

This spurious little document is not clarifying at all the inconsistencies in their finances I have made clear earlier in this blog, nor does it explain why the amounts mentioned as raised in the past have varied so widely. Please do take a look again at that entry in this blog.

The Blake Society’s new document, and their hiding of the minutes of their latest AGM, are further proof that they are manipulating information and trying to deceive the public. They are behaving like common thieves, but we still want the truth, and we still want them to be accountable and respond to every single issue raised in this blog regarding their murky finances.

You can read the two relevant entries here:

https://blakecottage.com/2017/02/16/fictitious-minutes-piling-up-chapter-iii-of-my-testimony/

and here:

https://blakecottage.com/2016/09/18/inconsistencies-in-blake-cottage-trusts-financial-report/

Keep an eye on this space. The next chapters of my testimony are coming soon.

(In case the BS keeps on playing games and decides to re-publish the 2017 AGM minutes after reading this blog, below is a screenshot of 4 April, the date of this entry, showing how they’ve been made disappear.)

SCREENSHOT NO MINUTES AGM 2017

Fictitious minutes piling up / Chapter III of my testimony

The Blake Society has just published in its webpage their minutes of their AGM last 20 January.

It’s a pity that so few paid Blake Society members attended and had the chance to see what the Committee that supposedly serves and represents them is capable of, so if you want to know what happened precisely at that AGM, please refer to my former blog entry, “A Time of Bullies”, of 22 January 2017: https://blakecottage.com/2017/01/22/a-time-of-bullies/

These new minutes of course do not record how I was shouted into silence, the Treasurer’s mention of my role in the Blake Cottage appeal, or the fact that I had to correct him and Mr Heath regarding the actual date of the setting up of the Blake Cottage Trust.

They make this curious claim, though, regarding one of my objections to their minutes of the 2016 AGM:

“She [that’s me] claimed that there had been no election because no vote had been held, despite her objection to one of the candidates. There had therefore been no lawfully elected Executive Committee during the year. The Chair and Secretary repeated the point made at the previous AGM: paragraph 16(5) of the Society’s constitution requires a ballot only when the number of candidates exceeds the number of vacancies on the Committee, which had not been the case.”

Apart from the fact that nothing was “explained” to me, since they didn’t allow any kind of dialogue in what was simply a display of silencing tactics, I think that the Blake Society Committee should read its Constitution again, because what paragraph 16(5) of their Constitution says is: “Nominations for election to the Executive Committee must be made by members of the Charity in writing and must be in the hands of the secretary of the Executive Committee at least 14 days before the annual general meeting.  Should nominations exceed vacancies, election shall be by ballot.”

This is not quite what we’re talking about, is it? I mean, namely, the BS members’ right to object to the election of Trustees who betray public Trust through the mismanagement, poor performance and/or unethical behaviour. The Constitution doesn’t say anywhere, in any way, that members cannot excercise such a righ. 

The Constitution’s paragraph 16 (2) also says, regarding Annual General Meetings, that: “All the members of the Charity shall be entitled to attend and vote at the meeting.” 

This is obvious. If members didn’t have such a right, why on earth would the Committee bother to go through the motions of asking for their members’ vote?

More importantly, where, if not at the AGM, do members of the Blake Society have the opportunity to call the Trustees to account?

In a document that the Secretary, Mr Antony Vinall, circulated among the Trustees on 23 October 2012, regarding governance options for the Society should it engage in major fund raising projects, he refers to “the Society’s present governance arrangements, under which members elect the Chair and Executive Committee at the AGM, where they also have the opportunity to call them to account.”

And that’s as it should be. Nominations exceeding vacancies or not have nothing whatsoever to do with every member’s right to excercise this crucial right.

I don’t expect an answer, since the Blake Society Committee never responds to uncomfortable questions, but still I will ask whether if they don’t believe that their members deserve any respect, and what exactly do they think they are doing when lying in their minutes and manipulating information  in this way.

Since they go on showing no respect whatsoever, for anybody, I will continue on writing my testimony of what happened with the Blake Cottage appeal. You can read chapter III in the section in this webpage titled “My Testimony”, or clicking on this link: chapter-iii-my-testimony-blake-cottage

Last Call

The Blake Society has published in their Webpage an interesting timeline and excerpts of minutes in an attempt to get away with the false information that they are giving regarding Blake’s Cottage.

I therefore see myself in the position to contest quite a few of the statements found there and include in my response the relevant evidence, so that the public, Blake Society members and donors are fully informed.

That will take time and I am extremely busy these days but my comments will be here soon. Keep an eye on this space.

I am not looking forward to this use of my time, and it is bound to bring trouble for the Blake Society and the Blake Cottage Trust.

So I am making a last call to both of them: for dialogue, and truth. The inclusive dialogue with everyone who has been involved in this project that I have been calling for for over two years, so that among all of us we find the fair and honest solutions for the Cottage to thrive, and so that public and donors stop being betrayed.

After the harassing and bullying I was subject to last 20 January (please see my former post, “A Time of Bullies”) at the Blake Society’s AGM, I doubt that the BS or BCT will listen. However, I’m still calling. People have held constructive dialogues in far worse problems than this. The power for doing that, to do the right thing, is in all of us.

It is possible. Apologizing, explaining, putting right what has gone wrong, is possible. Treating each other with respect and tell the truth, is possible.

If they are willing, I hope to hear from them over the weekend.

Otherwise they will have to face the consequences of their actions and of this prolonged attempt to hide the truth. It has taken too long. Too many things and people have been trampled on already.

 

To Change The World

Revolution

Yesterday I saw You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970 at the V&A. The exhibition is extraordinary in many ways (I’ll be writing about it in my next column for a Mexican newspaper), and the name of William Blake is repeatedly mentioned. In fact, the exhibition’s soundtrack ends with two emblematic songs: John Lennon’s “Imagine” and Parry’s setting to “Jerusalem”.

It makes sense, in a space that discusses revolution, freedom, the expansion of consciousness, the dream, and the courage, to change the world. It leaves us with a bitter-sweet feeling, for the world did change, yet not as much as it had been dreamt, and some facets of the dream did go wrong.

A look at the world at this precise moment is a heartbreaking reminder of how much we’ve fallen short. Yet the dream cyclically resurfaces, and more often than not, William Blake is somehow part of it.

The Cottage appeal was one such dream, an attempt at contributing in some humble way to the construction of a better world. There was nobility in it.

And look at what we have now: while the world out there goes on spiraling down into mindless violence and a very scary political panorama, we’re having to defend Blake’s Cottage from a shameful and petty attempt at appropriating a public project through exactly the kind of human behaviour that William Blake abhorred.

It is utterly sad.

A call

Fighting like this is not pleasant. I do not want, did not call for this in my life.

There is plenty of evidence out there that shows how much I tried for all of us involved in the sad story of the Cottage appeal to get together and find together a solution like decent human beings, looking at each other, face to face. All such efforts were ignored, while both the Blake Society and the Blake Cottage Trust went on lying, deceiving, bullying if they felt the need, using, abusing, taking what was not theirs.

Next 20 January the Blake Society will be having its AGM. The one in 2016 was shameful (you can look at my comments to their minutes in the documents section in this webpage).

Let us hope that this time there will be more truth. I am calling yet again to all the Trustees of both Charities to own up to what they have done, apologize, explain why they’ve behaved this way and be part of the solution by fully accepting the consequences of their actions.

If they don’t, they’ll just dig themselves deeper into this awful mess. It doesn’t matter what I, or other campaigners say, or even if we don’t say anything at all. The BS and the BCT may get away with one or two things now and then, but they won’t be able to get away with everything, and not forever. The truth will be known, sooner or later.

Taking what is not yours

In a recent blog author Beryl Kingston asks her readers whether if people think they should go on giving money or not to the Blake Cottage Trust, if the latter happened to promise that they would use the money exclusively to repair the Cottage and not to demolish the annex in order to build their “visitor centre” instead (https://berylkingstonblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/06/two-different-aims-for-blakes-cottage/).

I commented on that, and I’ll say it here as well: I agree entirely, the repair of the Cottage is the most urgent matter. But the BCT should not be given a single pound more. They are the ones who have allowed the Cottage to go into disrepair; they are the ones who stole a public project and lied to the public; they, along with the BS, the ones who are proving incapable of giving a consistent report about what they have done with the money received. Why should we trust them now?

The Cottage must be in the  hands of people who care, and if it is to remain a public space, then it has to be in the hands of people who are honest and accountable.

Mrs Kingston’s latest blog entry regarding the Cottage is sad to read, as it makes clear the extent to which the dishonesty of some individuals and their appropriation of what does not belong to them have shattered the Cottage’s dream.

Peace

The former Secretary of the Blake Society (who succeeded me, then left the BS because of his disapproval of how the Cottage problem was handled) seems to be still promoting his bizarre idea of how we can all find reconciliation, and does so using very big, noble words. We’ve exchanged some correspondence about this in the past.

He’s very angry because I have spoken out, invokes kindness and good will and seems to have forgotten entirely all my gestures of kindness, forgiving, good will and inexhaustible attempts at bringing together all of those involved in order to find a solution, and how all those attempts were ignored, even by himself. I have an email of his from 2014, by the way, praising me for how graciously I managed to deal with all the aggression I was receiving from the Blake Society’s Chair at the moment.

This peaceful man saw from very close quarters another human being on the verge of breakdown and with her health in tatters due to the unbearable pressure put on her by the bullying and entirely dishonest behaviour of the Chair on one side, and the rest of the BS Committee on the other, asking her to go out of her way in order to save the reputation of the Society and the Cottage campaign while they themselves, though telling her how outraged they were by what was happening, failed to call the Chair to task. He then saw the Big Blake Project in Felpham being pushed out of the appeal, robbed of the fruits of their work, just as I had been before, and treated in the most dishonourable way by the Chair, who simply used them, and he still did nothing.

I have asked him why he hasn’t spoken out, and why he didn’t fulfill his most elementary duties as a Trustee: to challenge the Chair, say everything that he said to me, in private, that was making him so angry, and if that failed, contact the Charity Commission. He told me that he’s “not an accuser”, and has accused me instead, with no little anger, for waging war.

After all I went through trying to avert disaster both for the Blake Society and the Cottage, with more good will than could be possibly expected, under the circumstances, from any human being, what he’s doing in blaming me this way for the disaster brought about by others amounts in fact to more bullying, and the scapegoating that other Trustees have been happy to indulge in as well. I have told this man, and I say it here again: while he was a Trustee, he never showed any discernible interest in the Cottage appeal nor worked in it at all. He failed to fulfill his duties as a Trustee, then Secretary, in the face of seriously unethical practice in the Charity he was supposed to serve, and now he’s not even a Trustee of that Charity. Therefore he has no business interfering and would do well in keeping away from all this.

His ideas about peace are very strange, so I have to remind him that you don’t build peace upon injustice, trampling on others or turning a blind eye to such abuse, and certainly not upon cowardice.

Famous benefactors

One of my concerns when I realized how Mr Heath had stolen the Cottage project, by creating secretly his own illegitimate Trust, and how the Trustees of the Blake Society and the Blake Cottage Trust were more than happy to collude in a cover up, was how this might affect the reputation of some generous and very vocal famous donors, patrons, supporters of the Society and the appeal, to whom I was very grateful.

It has been one more of the lessons about human nature learnt in this ordeal – that I seemed to be more worried about the harm that might come to them than themselves. I let them know what was happening. And what was happening was, and is, very unpleasant.

They didn’t want to hear unpleasant things, so they simply shielded behind silence. They didn’t even bother to ask me what evidence I had (and I do have it, as I let them all know), didn’t even bother to tell me they deemed my accusations untoward. They simply ignored me, a person they have no reason whatsoever to treat with the disdain involved in the refusal to dialogue. One would expect from such illustrious persons the capacity to show the elementary respect for another human being who’s taking the trouble, and the risk, to express rather serious concerns about a project they have publicly endorsed.

Without knowing anything at all of what has happened here (because they have refused to know), they have told the press, when asked, that they don’t see anything wrong with the state of affairs regarding the Cottage. They may not be aware of this, it may not be their intention, but they must surely know that their names will give weight to their statements to the press, and since their statements reflect their willful ignorance of the wrongdoing, their actions contribute to the abuse of power that has been at the heart of this sad business.

I would therefore like to remind them that supporting a public project is a public responsibility. It is not a matter of how many good causes they can be seen to endorse, let alone of appearing like superheroes in posters in the bus stops. In case they don’t know, refusing to hear what has gone wrong with the causes they support is a way of colluding with the cover up. When things get worse, as they inevitably will if the BCT is allowed to go on doing as it wants, they won’t be able to claim that they were not warned.

The same applies to those local authorities who refuse to acknowledge the problems surrounding the handling of the Cottage.

Truth

I am saddened beyond words by this whole ghastly story. I didn’t want any war and, again, there is plenty of evidence to prove that.

But I did want, and do want still, truth.

Fairness, accountability, peace, solutions to conflicts, only come by with truth.

The Trustees of the Blake Society and the Blake Cottage Trust would bring about a much needed transparency if they had the courage to stop lying in Blake’s name, and I am again calling for them to do exactly that.

Blake, William, 1757-1827; Our Lady with the Infant Jesus Riding on a Lamb with Saint John