Be Kinder – Caroline Flack follow up

I’ve heard about the Caroline Flack documentary, and as I write this, I’m watching it. Inspired to do so by my guest post by JD. You see he’s one of lifes good guys. Genuinely. Someone who, despite having never met, I know tries to make a difference.

How do I know? Well one time when I’d gone off twitter for a short while. He sent me a card, just to say hey, just to check in as it was the only way he could contact me. He didn’t have to, he just did it. Went out of his way.

Caroline was well known, a familiar face on TV and on the front pages of the newspapers. She was a beautiful, funny, talented woman, ultimately a victim of her own success.

Watching the documentary, there’s a harrowing moment where she’s recording a video, distressed, wrapped in a parka and a yellow burberry scarf. Trying to scrape the tears from her face, saying the only person she’s ever hurt is herself. I can’t imagine how watching that makes her family and friends feel. It makes you want to reach through the screen and reassure her it’ll be okay. However, it won’t be. She’s now just a bookmark in entertainment history, but we must learn from her tragic loss and do better.

It was a fight, I’ve never hurt anyone in my life. The only person I’ve ever hurt is myself.

Caroline Flack

#BeKind shouldn’t just be a hasthtag that’s used to make us feel better. ‘Oh I wrote Be Kind so I’m good’. Look through your last 20 tweets. Is everything you wrote, particularly about someone else, true, necessary and kind. If the answer to just ONE of those is NO then why’s it there? Delete it!

Too many people are quick to write negative things. Just a few weeks ago, a good friend was thrilled to be playing a vinyl of one of her favourite artists and she tagged them in the short video. To my surprise.. I saw a reply that began ‘unpopular opinion’. Then I was gobsmacked to read something derogatory about the band. They’d untagged the band which I guess they thought was a kind thing to do. But it just showed me that the comment was unnecessary. Why do people on social media feel the need for controversy just for the sake of it. Or one-upmanship. Many times I see someone post a new release song they love. Instead of just letting people enjoy it, others are quick to boast and brag that they heard it weeks ago because they curate for a radio show or similar. For goodness sake just let the people that buy the merch and stream the music enjoy it. Praise the artist for a great song. Don’t make it about you, it’s such a dick move.

Watching the comments about social media, it was like an addiction for her. People posting the most abhorrent tweets about her. But she couldn’t stop looking, I guess she just wanted to be loved. She bottled all of this up from those she loved though. How many of us say, ‘yeah I’m fine’ when really there’s a whole heap of problems rolling round the back of your head. How someone can actually have written ‘Caroline Flack is one of the ugliest hosts on tv’.  I mean.. come on.. she was simply stunning.

I guess there are two things I take from this. 1. Be careful what you post, you can’t see someone’s reaction behind a screen. You may say something that might seem funny to you but you might just have inadvertently mentioned something about their biggest insecurity. It starts with you. You might be one sole voice in a sea of millions but you aren’t responsible for those others.

The other thing is check on your friends. The signs for Caroline were there, the reliance on social media, the craving to be loved. The fact her mum would dread her inevitable splits from boyfriends because she couldn’t handle heartbreak is just so desperately sad. The story of her final Christmas is again just haunting. Her family thrilled to be around her for a special day. Seeing the images of the bedroom, and the implication that the blood spilled was her actions on someone else, not herself, again is desperately sad and plain wrong. Seeing the sadness in her twin sister is just heartbreaking when she’s asked what she’d say to her now, and she awkwardly fidgets with her earring, her eyes glass up and she delicately whispers ‘I don’t know’.

Sometimes you have to be persistent. If your friends aren’t responsive, be patient. Keep checking. If you stop, they may think no one cares. I am sure that like Amy Winehouse, one person could have made a difference for Caroline too. You can be that difference and it starts with a little kindness.

VPC and Me…

As I sit writing this, the final preparations are being made for the twelfth and final #VirtualPubCrawl. Over the course of the last 4 months, the airwaves of Radio Matlock have, on every other Saturday been filled with the best in Indie music courtesy of Redders.

If you stumbled upon this blog by any other means than twitter, you probably will wonder what on earth I am going on about, so here’s a brief summary.
#VirtualPubCrawl started out as the brainchild of Indie Rob as a way to cope with lockdown and spend a Saturday with your mates down the virtual pub. It quickly grew and once Redders was on board, the platform was set. Add in some awesome logo’s and merchandise from Russ (Brandsintheair) and everything was good to go. Saturday afternoon’s consisted of music, drinking (not essential but recommended to cope with the mayhem) and a whole army of twitter folk, commenting, sharing and liking posts.

I first stumbled across the crawl at the end of May courtesy of a selfie from the beautiful Shiner Sam. Sam posting selfies isn’t anything new, and to be honest with you, there are many MANY worse things to see on the internet aren’t there (even on a bad day with bed head she’s a solid 9.5)? However, this selfie was different. She was posing in a fancy tee and having a drink. I clicked on the hashtag and my screen filled with tweets from a whole host of people from different places. I had followed Sam on my old account and she just struck me as someone always smiling, obviously loved music (new and old) and just had something about her. So, I started following the crawl and whilst not joining in, I listened to the show. Sam later became a part of the team officially, and following the crawl will be hosting a regular show all about new music. Giving bands that wouldn’t get airtime much needed publicity. She really doesn’t see how valuable the tweets are for the artists she merely listens to, but she brings them to a wider audience and sends them on their way of reaching people they probably wouldn’t otherwise. It’s a wonderful thing she does without even realising and even better than that I get to message her most days and call her one of my very closest friends.

Back to the story, I saw that the next VPC was on the 6th June and made sure I wasn’t busy.. (jokes) Lockdown was in full swing and this community was not only making the most of the Saturdays, I also discovered that they were raising money for a little hospice in Hartlepool, (Rob’s home town). Alice House Hospice is a small hospice doing incredible things for those with loved ones affected by a life limiting illness. Ensuring people get the care and support they need at the most difficult of times. I think I am right in saying that Rob just wanted to raise £300 for them initially. As it stands right now, the VPC has just raised £8000. YES EIGHT THOUSAND POUNDS. I can’t imagine what that does for a small charity like this, but regardless, for a group of folk that just love music, it’s a pretty outstanding effort for just having a laugh every other Saturday. It’s what Rob intended the VPC to be about in the first place and has exceeded all expectations. What Rob didn’t realise, was by having this aim of raising a few quid for the hospice and having a laugh with some friends, something far greater was born.

Anyway, now you have the background, I’m gonna tell you about what the VPC means to me. It’s been an incredibly humbling experience. I get teased endlessly, but as often is remarked, I bring it on myself. It’s always in good spirits and full of affection. I remember being completely lost at first, not knowing anyone, like the new kid at school, and I will always be thankful to Al Burke for talking to me that first day and being my OG. She’s a brilliant young lady, a great writer and full of enthusiasm for new bands. I mean we won’t talk about the DM slide she received because of talking to me, but needless to say it set the tone for the hilarity of the VPC for me.

Throughout the VPC, my following has grown and grown and grown. I have spoken to so many people and now I even get followed by bands just because of my involvement. I really don’t think they know what they are letting themselves in for.

It’s the community that I don’t think Rob could have ever dreamed of being formed. I have already met 2 people purely because of the crawl and even without the VPC live event in Octber, I know that would have grown, because the crawl is about the people.

People supporting people, strangers bonding not only over music but just the strangest of things. Who can ever forget the Flamingo’s. Now, I am going to let you into a little secret. The flamingo pants were just an accident. I had ordered myself a VPC t shirt from Russ, and was excited at debuting it on the crawl. I tweeted that when I had finished work I was going to slip into something more comfortable. Meaning the tee. HOWEVER, the gaffer (ROB) picked up on this and tweeted about it. I panicked a bit as every fecker had worn the t shirts so it wasn’t nearly as exciting for anyone but me. I tried to blag Rob by saying I’d only show if I got something like 25 RT. (bear in mind Rob had thousands of followers but I’d never had even 5 retweets on a tweet so I though I was safe). OH NO. Rob made sure I wasn’t so I then had to think of something that would stand out. I’d done my washing (you know cos I am a house trained, clean conscientious bloke… form a queue ladies) and there were my flamingo boxers.So bingo, I have a decent arse (I know, I know) so i lay on my plush rug and took a couple of snaps and away we went. I didn’t think it would get any attention at all and would be forgotten about by the Sunday morning hangovers, yet here we are 2 months later, and it’s there in VPC folklore. The amount of love I got on my birthday, Chippy and Mrs.Chippy with Dave the flamingo. Jake and Kirst with their flamingo tribute on their new garden bar. I can never ever tell people how important that was for me.

Lockdown was shit, Like really shit, but thanks to everyone, it won’t be what I remember 2020 for. I’ll remember despite being alone for 12 gruelling weeks, unable to see my daughter or mum or sisters, I never once felt lonely. When I felt rejected in other parts of my life, I never felt anything but welcomed by the VPC crew. To think I have grown up in the same town as Gems and Matt but never crossed their path, but thanks to the VPC, I know I have friends for life in my home town. It’s hard to put into words how much everyone has been a shining star for me. Further afield there’s my Scottish pals Sarah, Robbie, Alan, and Kris. Sarah called me last week, and despite not being able to understand a word she said, (think Jimmy Crankee on acid) shes an absolute beaut. We have a shared love of Alan Partridge and again I know that we will be pals for life and see each other, whether in Wigan or Scotland.

Then there are the guys, like Gary, Danny, Richie, Mike, Rob and Ady. All legends in their own lunchtime. Gary took my VPC tweet up virginity and it was just the best. We sat and chatted like old friends, he was as nice in person as he seems on twitter (when he’s not being a tw4t) . Again another friend for life and a salt of the earth guy. Danny sent me a flamingo gift, just well, for nothing and it made my day. Richie always checks in and has a giggle, usually at my expense. Mike with his unending love of the Lathums and just the funniest dancing vids ever! Rob, I recently discovered lives near to me too, so that is another excuse for a pint. Then Ady, another one to get his own show soon, who always checks in, and gives you the most precious gift anyone can. their time.

Onto the ladies, Lelly who produced the amazing video for VPC and who along with SSC never lets up about my arse pic, when we speak, along with 3 beautiful women who will have the pleasure of my company in a few weeks. Andie who, despite me previoulsy often wondering if she actually likes me or tolerates me (tw4t), has shown herself to be one of the most beautiful people I know, inside and out. Then Paula another beaut with an accent to die for but who has the kindest biggest heart. The first person to send me anything and she just makes my wee face hurt from smiling. Finally Emma completes the terrible trio. Someone who I only started talking to properly recently, after she restarted a thread that blew up not long ago and I dmd her to tell her off. Again, a surprising connection that came from nowhere that I just cherish so much with the weird and wacky convos we have.

I could go on all night with bands like Revivalry immersing themselves in the community and just being amazing, and I know there are others I will have missed out but you are probably all bored now.

I am going to finish by saying thank you. I love you all incredibly. You have changed so many lives, not just mine, and the world is a much better place for the VPC. Rob you should be immensely proud mate. You have genuinely created something special that will never be forgotten. You have probably unwittingly connected people that may have saved each other, if not literally, mentally. You have given people a platform to create bonds and friendships that have literally changed lives. I just cannot express how much this means to so many.

Just Thank You….

Musically Ranting #2 – Soundtrack of my relationships

Reading Jae’s latest prompt, made me wonder about what to write. For some reason her writing resonates with me inexplicably. I don’t have a significant other, so would I write about family, or friends? As it turns out, neither but I thought i’d do a mixtape, I won’t say of exes as, well, that wouldn’t strictly be true. So it’s my mixtape of exes, encounters, loves lost, or never experienced and one incredibly special lady. So sit back, pour yourself a drink and in true charts style, you can run down my top 10.

Kissing You – Des’ree.

The girl that took away my innocence. Long distance love existed in those days you know. We were from totally different circles. I was a working class kid from the north west and she was on the east side of the country from an extremely wealthy family. Her mum made me so welcome, and I later discovered it was because of her dislike of her daughters ex. Our first date was to the cinema watching Romeo and Juliet and it mesmerised me. This song always reminds me of a wonderfully short lived time in my life where I knew I didn’t belong. Almost like Romeo and Juliet really.

Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac

A song so beautifully poetic, and applicable to any failed relationship. We never had a relationship as such, and it was a short lived summer, but what a summer. Everyone comes into your life for a reason. I helped her secure a qualification and promotion and she gave me the best birthday I have had for a long time including seeing Fleetwood Mac. But again it was never ever going to last. I’d never really had a ‘one that got away’ before but I think this was the first but not the last.

Mr Brightside – The Killers

Mrs Brightside, we met at a casino (working not gambling) and stayed up all night talking after I checked she had got home in the snow that cold December night. Our first date was me doing her washing up (which many people told her meant I was a keeper) and we had a fantastic 12 months together. Holidays, gigs, birthdays. I even helped her with her filming of weddings and we had a blast. Sadly, things weren’t meant to be. Insecurities consumed us and a traumatic New Years Eve was the end of something once beautiful.

Hedonism – Skunk Anansie

A song that meant very little, now takes me back to someone I barely knew. For once, I was chased, and it flattered me. Young, pretty, funny. She knew what she was doing and got me exactly where she wanted me. But that night will live with me forever, and as hot as it was, it possibly isn’t for the right reasons. However this song, is more appropriate than ever given the circumstances and the lyrics always take me back. Someone that came and went like a ghost in the night but impacted me forever.

Buffalo Stance – Neneh Cherry

A song from my youth, that reminds me of someone from my present. Beautiful smile, killer eyes, always swishing her pony. This song came on my playlist once just as she messaged me about it. Now, anything 80’s brings me to her and she makes me smile often. No one knows what the future holds and she won’t be around forever, but I know that this song will always remind me of something and someone magical (and I am so gonna nail that rap one day).

Blackout – Freya Ridings

She was a what could have been. We connected, a connection that rarely happens. She is beautiful, funny, sexy, kind, elegant. But a lack of confidence and some poor reading of signals (both on my part) meant that a mistake was made which I could never recover from. To hurt someone you really barely know, so much, was gut wrenching. Part of me will always wonder what if, but sadly I will never know.

Sit Down – James

Curtains hair cut, baggy mustard jeans, ‘naf naf’ jacket. I was a catch… My first crush in high school. I was absolutely dreadful with girls back then (some things never change) and I was always the guy that would sit patiently on the school fields, drinking cider on a friday night, listening to her tell me how horrible the boys had treated her. I knew even then I was kind and would have been so good for her, but as the chubby kid with no confidence I was forever in the friendzone.

I Think We’re Alone Now – Tiffany

My first actual crush was a teaching assistant in primary school. I was maybe 8 or 9 and this teacher looked like Tiffany. I absolutely adored her and was thrilled when on a school trip to the zoo, she held my hand most of the day (the teacher not Tiffany) and I was convinced I would marry her.

Steal My Sunshine – Len

My first experience of an online connection. Sweet Aline (I’ll name her hoping she somehow reads this after all this time), the all-american sweet heart that did cheerleading. Sun kissed blonde hair. We spoke on AOL most evenings and spoke about music and life across the pond. It was my first pure connection as we just spoke knowing we would never meet or be together. She was older than me too which again was new on me. This song takes me back so much and always make me think of that god awful dial up screeching.

Pompeii – Bastille

A bit of a cheat one this, but that’s okay. It’s a song I cherish because my daughter thankfully shares my eclectic taste in music rather than her mums taste. I absolutely adore this song but one day we were driving in the car and she piped up “Dad, can you put that song on you like, the one about the wolves?” I was completely bemused but eventually it was just her misheard lyric “When the wolves come tumbling down” and now I always picture cartoon wolves ‘roly-polying’ down a hill.

There, you have 10 songs that take me back to different people who I have cared about immensely at some point in my life. Some I still speak to, others, I have let go or have chosen to let go of me. I hope you’ve maybe learned something about me or discovered a song you may have not heard or at least heard in a while. If you have Apple Music you can listen to my soundtrack here

Who knows if and when that playlist will grow…

Smut Marathon – Round One

The Brief

Write an erotic sentence including alliteration.
Only ONE sentence

Specific requirements:
– No dialogue.
– Only one sentence.
– your sentence is between 15-25 words. No less, no more.
– give your story a title of maximum 2 words.

My composition – Tender Touch #107

Careful caresses, coyness as she undresses, desire in their eyes, fire deep inside, fingers entwined, bodies collide, over and over until the darkness subsides

David @Penhitspaper

The Feedback –

Marsha Adams – “Shortlisted but not voted for.”
107. I love it as erotic poetry, I just don’t know how many sentences it is.

Brigit Delaney – “And others just didn’t stand out as being particularly memorable, good or bad “

Tantivy – “The ones I liked the most had music in the lines (Tender Touch’107) and/or sensory experiences that were specific and concrete (Summer Sin/92).”

E L Byrne – “#107- Tender Touch- Poetry and alliteration.. nice!”

C.P. Mclennan – “#107 – This felt like a run-on sentence. Was not a natural-sounding sentence as I read it out loud and felt as though it was multiple sentences spliced together.”

Bluesubmission – “107. I like the rhythm to this sentence.”

Marie Rebelle – “107) TENDER TOUCH: I feel like there is something missing here. It’s like there might be a word or words missing? The idea is good though, but I think you might have wanted to put too much in here.”

May More –

107) TENDER TOUCH

  • Visually pleasing.
  • Bit like a list and seems crowded.

Here are all of the entries for Round One of SmutMarathon

Smut Marathon 2020

As I write this, I’m busily trying to finish my entry for the second round of the smut marathon. But let’s rewind a bit. I joined twitter with my writing account towards the end of 2019. At first it was meant to recount my tales of dating, but that didn’t seem to fit right. So I started writing blogs, and I received some positive feedback from people I had never met. A few months later with a freshened up blog and a new account and well here I am. You see, I have always wanted to write a book, and I am currently wading my way through endless drafts and rewrites. Some people have said I should focus on the book, but I am finding writing short stories from different angles makes me feel like I am improving my style and vocabulary and rhythm.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t following the Smut Marathon in 2019 as it only came on my radar after it had finished, but after following Marie and having received encouragement from some friends, I decided to enter this year.

I had no idea what to expect when I sent the email, and when my entry was confirmed, I still didn’t feel too nervous. Then the rules came. It felt a little more real and then it dawned on me.

I have never been that good at anything competitively, and yet here I was, with my words being compared to over 100 other writers. Now, my writing, well it’s my release. I don’t really write for anyone but me, so as long as I like it, it really doesn’t bother me. People have told me that they enjoy it and that I am really good. Some may be friends just not wanting to hurt y feelings, but others are people I admire for their own writing, and always strike me as honest. I have had negative feedback about my writing, but usually it’s a loaded comment rather than constructive, from people who have praised it in the past. If they change their tune, then they are either criticising it because of personal feelings, or they lied about it from the outset. To be totally honest, I don’t really think that kind of feedback will ever benefit me.

So, round one was set. Complete an erotic sentence using alliteration, with between 15 and 25 words. Seems simple, right? WRONG. I started with a couple of key words and ended up starting over two or three times. I settled on a sentence and submitted it. It was tough because I wanted to be true to the brief. But what’s too much alliteration, what’s too little? Is it smutty enough, is it too crass. The doubts washed over me but I was committed, and the good thing was, there was no fear of making the cut for round two as everyone in the first round got to write again.

I didn’t spend too much time thinking about the results to be honest. I read all the other entries and cast my votes, there was some really clever and brilliant entries and then came the day of the voting. When I saw the result, I was absolutely blown away. I was second overall in the competition, but I had gained the most public votes! I mean that was unbelievable. 20 people other than myself decided that they liked my writing. It was such a buzz to think that my words had resonated with so many people.

I read the feedback, especially the judges, and although it wasn’t all positive, I just remembered that the negative feedback was just an opinion, a means to improve and not at all personal.

So with an amazing start to the competition, the Round 2 entry was received and here I am busily preparing the final edit.