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.

Be Kind – Caroline Flack

Guest post by JD

Be Kind…. Life is short and precious…. 

Having watched earlier this week, the hard hitting but poignant documentary Caroline Flack: Her Life and Death… Her story has given me time to reflect and I have to say it is one of the most emotional pieces of TV I can remember watching. It was not easy, I felt sad, helpless, guilty and frustrated…. I am not sure which of these emotions I felt the most but they made me want to put pen to paper, something I have never done before….

We live in a world where we are quick to judge, say negative things and at times hurt people for no particular reason. People that we may know, but also people we do not have a relationship with.  In a climate where the pandemic has magnified people’s mental health and social media can be all encompassing, it is easy to say something that may make us feel better, but at the cost of someone else… Some seem to find it cathartic to post something that, both intentionally and unintentionally can be upsetting or offensive to an individual. We all need to take time to think before we say something.  

Like everyone, I want to feel good about myself, but more importantly, I want to make others feel good about themselves. Life is not easy at the best of times and I am sure there are people we all may know who need support, some help, a shoulder to cry on or just an ear to listen, however small their problems or challenges may be. Quite often though people look or seem ok when they aren’t.

I’m fortunate to have good friends around me, including virtually, and some friends will tell me I say it too much, but we are here for a good time not a long time and if you don’t have something positive to say then say nothing. Maybe it is a cliché but if we all take 5 minutes to say hi, send a text, make a call or write a letter it might just make a difference.

Caroline will be missed by many people and I feel so much for her friends and family, and there are other families who will be in the same situation.

We should all do something nice for someone today, let us all look out for each other as we hopefully come out of the pandemic.  Life is precious, and I hope all those struggling will get some support from those around them. 

RIP Caroline … #BeKind #ItsOkayNotToBeOkay #Mental health

2020 Vision

As the clock struck midnight to usher in the New Year, I was filled with optimism. Despite 2019 not being a great year, I convinced myself that this was going to be better. I was eagerly anticipating moving into my new home. I had got my running to a really, really good level. I was healthier than I had been in a long time. I’d spent alot of time managing gigs and becoming more involved in Softlad Promos, and despite losing one of my best and longest standing friends I was looking forwards not backwards.

Sure, I’d made a couple of mistakes in my personal life. Forgivable, if not forgiven. I regret the hurt I caused, but don’t think I deserved the hounding I got over one of them in particular. But that’s in the past and not the point of this blog. I even had a date lined up for the first week in January with someone who I had admired from afar and man was she beautiful. On top of this there was also the Smut Marathon to look forward to. It was going to be a busy year no doubt.

Fast forward 3 months and St Patricks day. The dating was going swimmingly. Despite it never being a relationship, it was fun, exciting, sexy. We connected and had the best of times for those fleeting months. I never knew St Patricks day would be the last I saw of her, but I don’t regret a thing, not even the gesture that in my opinion ruined it all, despite it just being read completely wrong. It’s just who I am.

After my twitter drama in January/February (with reprisals in April and June and September) I had to change my account for the Smut Marathon and little did I know how important this writing competition would be for me. The competition had to be shelved, which was a really sad state of affairs, as once again the ugly side of social media was laid bare. However, It did bring me closer to the organiser Marie Rebelle. We spoke often. We listened caringly, we shared tales both happy and sad. Marie always takes the time to read and comment on my blogs. To have that from someone who writes so wonderfully is incredible. The fact I get to call her a friend blows that out of the water though. Along with Marie I made some amazing writer friends along the way. Myself and Jae Lynn bonded over a love of music and most notably Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Go Your Own Way‘ and now rather than being a writer friend. Jae is simply a friend who writes.

Not only did I connect with Jae but I also stumbled across Carolyna Luna. We bonded over stickers (who knows, 2021 may be the year I get them) as well as writing and music and Star Wars and Bourbon to name a few. She inspired me to write when I didn’t have the words. She encouraged my confidence when I’d found my way with my new twitter but more than that, she became a huge part of my daily life.

As lockdown continued, I stumbled across the #VirtualPubCrawl when Shiner Sam posed a selfie one day with a beer and a band tee. All of a sudden I was engrossed by this wonderful community. Raising money for charity whilst drinking beers and listening to exquisite music. I mean… what is that about! Too good to be true right? But as the clock struck 3 every other weekend, the chords to Primal Screams ‘Loaded‘ signalled the start of the madness. There are far too many people to mention that have made this an amazing part of my year and everyone that has spoken to me or tweeted or done a down in one or donated to charity are all legends. However it would be remiss not to mention a handful. Al Burke was the first person to speak to me and become a friend. Then there are a ton I plan to meet in 2021. Andie, Ems, Danny, JD, Kirsty, Jake, Paula, Ady, Andy, Al, Dom, Rob, Matt, Sarah, Sarah, Russ, Redders, Dan, Amy, Michael, Lisa x 2, Johnny, Richie.The list really is endless and that’s before I even mention all the bands.. again special shout outs to Revivalry and Citylightz, you guys are the absolute bomb.

Now I make no apologies for mentioning these next few people who made my year much more bearable. People that transcended Twitter and I met in real life.

Lilycat – You gave me confidence and support in the unlikeliest of circumstances. You were the best part of the first quarter of 2020. Thanks for the Peanut Butter Latte and well just for being you. Keep swishing your pony.

New Indie Sounds. Mate. That night in Manchester was just the best. Never met someone that felt like an old pal within a few minutes. I promise I’ll get you that drink back when tier 4 lifts.

Indie Rob and Gems. Rob. You gave me so much this year buddy. You helped me through an awful time and I cannot thank you enough. Gems. Who knew we have probably been in each others presence so many times in Wigan and never even knew we existed. So much love for you two.

Scott and Kay. What an amazing couple you are. The kindest people I know.. how you treated 12 was the most warming thing I witnessed in 2020. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Sam. Thanks for giving me some much needed confidence over summer. Amazing to think 12 months ago you never knew I existed. But I did with you. Yet here we are now and I can class you as a friend. Probably the craziest thing to happen to me in 2020. Keep being that new music champion but more importantly keep me posted on my fav, Beryl

Dating was a bit hit and miss in 2020 some incredible highs and some earth shattering lows. So let’s just leave that eh.

A special mention to my twitter bro and twitter sis. Syriz and Vimtotime. Again 2 absoluye shining stars. Both with amazing twitter accounts that I just connected with.

To Amy, who’s been there on twitter for me for over a year. Making me laugh daily and sharing her beautiful blogs and amazing pics.

To Splintercat who keeps me in check, never let’s me get too big for my boots and keeps me in tea and cakey. A smile is never far away.

Finally, my last memory of 2020 is dedicated to my mum. She’s had the toughest of years. 2 strokes, losing friends with alarming regularity (nooo not falling out with em, them sadly passing, no she didn’t do it) . One of the best things about seeing 2021 in will be the fact my mum gets to see it in as on more than one occasion I was frightened that she wouldn’t.

So as 2021 arrives. Here’s to health and happiness. To kindness and care and to getting back to doing the things we enjoy with those that we love.

Belief

an acceptance that something exists or is true, especially one without proof.

trust, faith, or confidence in (someone or something).

As the night draws to a close on World Suicide Prevention Day, I felt compelled to write something, anything. I dread to think what this years statistics will look like as the fall out of not just the mental effects of lockdown start to take their toll, but also the effect of Covid 19 on those brave brave NHS workers who literally, helplessly, watched people die from this awful disease. That being said, lockdown does seem to have given us something of a renaissance in communicating with people virtually both new and old friends. How many messages did you send to people you had lost touch with, just checking in, seeing how they were doing? or how many new friends did you make on social media like Twitter?

Men aged 45-49 still have the highest rate of suicides.

Samaritans Key Trends 2019

Fortunately, I have never been closely connected to anyone that has taken that dark decision to end their life, believing that it’s the best, or sometimes the only option. I know people who have though, and the lasting impression that this leaves on those left behind, is just as devastating. People thinking, “why didn’t I do something?” Blaming themselves for not seeing the signs or responding to them. People that take their own lives, aren’t cowards, it’s a daunting step to do something where you know it will lead to your final breath. It leaves an indelible mark on those left behind, who are left with a life sentence of their own coming to terms with such a sad, cruel, and in many cases avoidable loss.

Suicide rate for females under 25 in England & Wales has risen by 93.8% since 2012

Samaritans Key Trends 2019

I’ve been there. Only once and once was enough to scare me senseless. I was nineteen, maybe twenty. I was a cocktail bartender in a busy town centre pub. The managers there were, (and still are) like a second family to me. I worked with my oldest friend, who I had grown up with from the age of 3. I had a loving family. Yet still, STILL, that dark winters night, when my confidence had taken a beating, I thought for a few moments about just ending it all.

The pub was 2 miles from my home, and after we finished serving at 11pm (ask your parents you young uns) I would sometimes call at the Asda and grab a bite to eat. Then I’d stick a film on my Playstation 2 (usually Men in Black or Independence Day (The originals not these reboot shite)) and settle down ready for my alarm to go back to work in the morning. This one night though, I didn’t go to Asda, I just felt numb. I got in my little Blue Ford Escort and sat looking up at the moon and the stars. I have always been fascinated by the moon, especially when you can see the craters. It looks so peaceful and still up there, and at that point, that’s what I felt like I wanted. I turned the ignition, and started the journey home. About a third of the way home, there is a railway bridge, and the road narrows as the bridge juts out at an awkward angle. I started to pick up speed as it’s pretty much a straight line to that point. The only movement came from my eyes as I checked the speed, and my right foot as I continued to press hard on the accelerator. I was way over the speed limit as my hands froze, locked on the wheel not moving it to steer me away from the stonewall structure of the bridge. The road was desolate, as was my heart at that moment. I don’t even know why. I didn’t even have a girlfriend at that time such was my luck in love. Maybe that’s what it was, maybe I just felt lonely. As the car moved ever closer to the bridge, my heart pounding so loud it felt like it would burst my ear drums, my eyes staring only at the structure in front of me, something caught my eye. It could have been a cat or a fox, or even just a weird reflection, but in that instance I snapped out of it, eased my foot of the accelerator and steered gently away from the bridge safely home.

I guess my point is, as a young lad, with not a care in the world, with good friends and family, it can happen to anyone. I consider myself fortunate really. That I have people that believe in me.

Belief is such a precious commodity, and the first step for anyone with troubles is having someone believe in them. It’s coming up to 12 months since I made a new friend on Twitter. She was funny, and kind, but so very sad. Her life had been turned upside down when her partner cheated with a neighbour. She had to face this reality every day, getting anxious every time she left the house. We first started talking about writing, and I encouraged her (as I do with anyone) to write. People worry about if it’s any good. My view is, I am writing as my release, my escape, so as long as I like it, I don’t mind what others think. Of course, it’s lovely when someone says your writing resonated with them or they enjoyed it but when you start to like what you write, you believe in yourself. Anyway, my friend told me that she always wanted to live by the sea. When an opportunity came up a few months later, I encouraged her, “Why can’t you?” I gave her some belief and a little encouragement and she decided to do it. here we are and she is a world away from those dark times, living by the sea. She still says that my belief in her was a big factor that led her to make that choice, but to me it was nothing. Just a bit of kindness and honesty. Big things aren’t big things when you take them apart.

Belief can also be a bad thing. I won’t focus too much on it, but not everything is black and white. Just because someone has a good reputation, doesn’t mean they are telling the truth. Sometimes it can be their version of the truth which is a very different matter. I know that there are 3 sides to every story, so I try not to form opinions based on someone else’s feedback. I take people as they come, and treat them accordingly. In this day and age though, we each have a responsibility with regards to what we are saying, especially on social media, when it is put out there on a platform, for all to see forever.

Is It True, Is It Kind, Is It Necessary

Bernar Melter

I see many people tweeting about mental health, but sometimes these are the ones not adhering to the quote above and it makes me so sad. But, for every unkind person there are a whole heap of kind ones. You see, when people believe in you, eventually you start to feel it yourself. Especially when those people are practically strangers, who ultimately owe you nothing. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the kindness of strangers who are now friends. Likewise, I try and pay it back, I can think of two people in particular who just give without asking and feel guilty for taking. Two people who feel every heartache and almost cry every tear for someone else who is hurting. The biggest compliment I can give myself is that they allowed me in. They trust me with things, and seem to appreciate my ear or words.

I guess my final point is to stress to anyone who is reading this, who is having a bad day, or week or month or year … I’ll be there for you. (Oh come on you sang the theme in your head right?)

Seriously though, I would hate for anyone reading this to think they have no one. There is always a way, help is there, and the hardest part is asking for it. You can contact me via my blog or by Twitter. I can’t promise I can fix anything, but I can promise I will listen and give my perspective. No judgement. There are so many little things that can be done to make yourself feel brighter, but you’ve got to want to.

I will ALWAYS leave a light on for anyone that needs it.

If you are too embarrassed to speak to me then please try and contact The Samaritans or CALM it can even be done via webchat these days if you don’t like the sound of your own voice (who does) . #BeKind