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

Just another day as the years roll by

It’s hard when somethings gone and you’ve never really had it in the first place. You know, that nagging feeling you’ve forgotten something but you can’t for the life of you think what? It’s there in the back of your mind somewhere, but try as you might it just won’t spring to the fore.

I guess that’s how I can describe not having my dad. He was never there, but I knew he was missing. The years have rolled by. Forty three years to the day to be exact. I torture myself with have I wasted my years. After all, I’m six years older than he was when he was cruelly taken away on that snowy winters day. He’d done a lot. Captained the local cricket team, played rugby to a decent level too. He fancied himself as a comedian and even won a talent contest at Butlins.

He worked so hard, he’d worked down the pits as a lot of kids his age did in the grim towns of the North.  When the pits closed though, he didn’t sulk, he cracked on and qualified as a teacher. He even taught future world champion boxer John Conteh. Dad would probably joke that he taught him everything he knew to be honest.

As for playing hard, yep, he did that too. He was forever taking motorbikes apart, usually in my grandma’s kitchen. Much to her annoyance. When he wasn’t doing that he was building and flying model aircraft. I think he did it at Burtonwood. That used to be a magical place for me as a kid, but since the old aircraft hangars have been replaced with modern warehouses for The Hut Group and Dominoes… it’s kind of lost it’s charm. He didn’t stop at model aircraft though and when he left us,he’d actually completed many hours training to be a pilot. He was a right daredevil my dad. Me, not so much. Maybe, just maybe I’d be a bit more daring if I’d have had more of his influence rather than just his genes.

But, as one of my favourite Feeder songs exclaims

We can’t rewind!

I don’t know what he’d make of Covid. He’d probably shrug his shoulders and get back to fixing or tinkering something as the world rolls on. I’m sure many of you have lost loved ones. As one of my good friends said today ‘it’s the circle of life’. I quickly replied ‘alright Elton’. Maybe I have got some of his comedy genes after all, as they found it hilarious.

As some of you know, mum’s not been well either. Her MRI showed she’d had four strokes not the three we believed. However she is a warrior. She’s faced so much in life and still battles on. I’m not sure how my heart will cope when anything happens to her. I mean I know it will. When you’re younger, most just take for granted that your parents will be around. They seem indestructible. Especially when handing out punishments. As you mature though, you see their weaknesses grow and their shield lower. You become the one worrying about them, protecting them. It’s a sobering moment, that’s for sure.

I guess that’s why the years rolling by without dad get easier. As much as I’ve never heard his voice or smelled his scent. It wasn’t taken from me as a memory. Just a dream, one which I can play out however I imagine.

I miss him, I always will. My sisters got the holidays and the memories, but they also got the heartbreak much more than I did. So I feel for them more than I used to. I used to be jealous but no one wins, every hurt is valid and relevant to every person.

So please, whatever you do, be kind. Always.

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.

Strong

Strong – Adjective – Able to withstand force, pressure or wear.

Excuse me for a while, While I’m wide-eyed and I’m so down caught in the middle

I’ve excused you for a while, While I’m wide-eyed and I’m so down caught in the middle

And a lion, a lion, Roars would you not listen?

If a child, a child, Cries would you not give them?

Yeah, I might seem so strong, Yeah, I might speak so long

I’ve never been so wrong

London Grammar – Strong

Like love and hate, there is an incredibly fine line between strength and vulnerability.
Two people who I have become close to, underneath the surface, have been dealing with so much, even disregarding this shitty covid year.
They have faced very different but nonetheless difficult times. However to a casual observer, you wouldn’t know a single thing was hurting their beautiful hearts.
I mean, I feel privileged to have become close enough to them that they allowed me to see them at their most vulnerable. It displays a huge amount of trust to be given this no holds barred, soul bearing view.
They’ll get through it, I know they will, even if they don’t. Hopefully I’ll be able to help them raise a few smiles along the way.
That being said, there’s a friend of a friend who’s having just the absolute worst time possible. Like hand on your heart, blow after blow, crushing time.
It’s not at the hands of a malicious ex though, or anything at all like that. They are facing the biggest battle, and man does my heart ache for them.
I mean, why does it happen to the beautiful souls, with so much to give? Why does it always home in on their greatest attributes to weaken them?
It’s in these moments though when they see who’s got their back. Who’s worth their time. There is a phrase,

Darkness can only be scattered by light and hatred can only be scattered by love.

Pope John Paul II

It’s true on both counts. When you’re down and you’ve reached the bottom. In your darkest moments, there will almost always be someone there for you.
A little beacon of light for you to gravitate towards. In this case, this person has at least one that shines brighter than a light saber. AT LEAST ONE, and to be honest, even if they only had this one person, I know that would be enough.
Nothing is ever too big or too much trouble. So when you’re reading this, know that you can focus on what’s ahead, as you know your back is covered.
You’re stronger than you think, but let others take up the slack when you want to be weak. No one will judge you for it. Be kind to yourself above anyone else.

When those times hit, have a listen to the playlist. I hope it helps you get through a moment, because ultimately, that’s all they are, just moments in time. And each one that passes is another big win. If you ever need anything then know you have someone else to call upon, unconditionally……..

You got this.


Nobody’s perfect

I hate that I let you down, and I feel so bad about it. I guess karma comes back around, cos now I’m the one that’s hurting.

Jessie J

This song randomly came on this week, and back in the day I listened to it alot. It’s been noted before that music touches your soul and creates memories. Sometimes the memories are good, often, not so good. It’s always the lyrics rather than the melody that cut deep when you’re feeling sad, and that makes sense. When you’re happy, you want to dance like no one’s watching. When you’re sad you simply want to curl up, be numb and let the world pass you by. When this song came on, I listened, I was mesmerised, in a glassy eyed daze and I just kept repeating it over and over and over. Every single word resonated deep inside me.

I’ve been thinking alot about Karma, social media is rife for people wishing Karma on those that have wronged them. One recent incident was someone who’d been hurt by their partner years ago. Their partner came home one day and said they’d connected with someone else and it was over. The ‘wronged’ person, years later had connected with someone that was already in the burgeoning steps of a relationship. Incredibly they were wishing that their new connection would choose them ahead of this person’s partner. Quite happily praying that this would be the universes way of paying it forward.

I mean that’s gross isn’t it? Wishing ill on someone you have never met, who you don’t even know, who has done precisely nothing to you. That’s not karma,  that’s just vile. Two wrongs definitely don’t make a right, and surely if the person you snatch is capable of doing that to be with you. They are capable of doing that to you?

Having read up on Karma, it’s more about getting back what you give. You send kindness to someone, anyone and at some point down the line, that kindness comes back to you. Not in a mirror form, not in the same way it was sent. It’s like yin and yang, it’s like the theory that every action has a reaction in a way. Everything you say,  everything you do, has a cause and effect. That being said, I was left disappointed recently. Something that I was looking forward to happening didn’t, I was hugely excited cos you know things like this don’t happen to me, (and I was right, they don’t). I’m sure this person never meant to cause any disappointment, I won’t say hurt because it really wasn’t. You can’t miss something you’ve never had. Ultimately, they owed me nothing, having never met. Things change and that’s when people can’t cope. Change scares alot of people, when something is planned or scheduled, alot of people don’t bank on needing a plan B, C or D. Thankfully, I can process things, one of my closest friends always is in awe of my ability to compartmentalise things. Once something is done, I accept it, box it up, and move on. There’s literally nothing to be gained over mourning or stressing about things you can’t change or influence.

Anyway, the more I replayed this event in my head, the more it reminded me of something I’d done to someone. The parallels were there for all to see, even the month it occurred was the same. As the lyrics from Jessie J chimed out

And I hate that I made you think that the trust we had is broken
So don’t tell me you can’t forgive me
‘Cause nobody’s perfect,

Jessie J

It is almost like this song was written for what I did. I connected with someone, didn’t believe it was going to go anywhere and just before we met I let her down. She did forgive me, and tried and tried to keep that connection, but ultimately it was just too hard. I guess that’s because it was a very real connection. That’s my only consolation from that mess. At the time, I was upset, but also kept convincing myself that we hadn’t met, we’d made no promises, we ultimately didn’t owe each other anything.

Fast forward to a similar event happening to me, and albeit it was a much smaller disappointment, and less had been invested in it, but ultimately it made me realise how badly I had treated someone. Everything for a reason and I guess this was my lesson.

Never underestimate the power of your words and actions on another person. You can lift them up and slam them down far more easily than you can ever imagine. Behind a screen it’s even worse because you know, you can’t see someones tears behind a screen.

It’s strange how the world operates, but just as I’d began to compute what I was dealing with, I saw an unusual message from someone I’ve known on and off for a while. Someone who lights up wherever she goes, someone who never ceases to make people smile. I reached out and checked in. The conversation flowed and I must have struck a chord because just like that, everything came out. It was like I’d undone the pressure cap and my word my heart ached. I completely forgot about my insignificant woes and listened intently to someone who was struggling so much. I had no idea, but why would I? Take a happy selfie, post a silly picture, tell a stupid joke (they are stupid mate) and everyone behind a screen smiles and laughs. Who’s making you laugh though?

Social media is a blessing and a curse, it can lift these lonely moments, on demand company from people who share the same interests. But, let your guard down and it can consume you, take over your life, so much so that you find yourself checking WhatsApp last seen, hoping upon hope that someone who doesn’t deserve you is okay. You become a social media version of yourself and when the screen lights up, it’s show time, put on your happy face and please your audience when inside you heart is shattering.

It’s okay not to be okay, Karma really doesn’t work as a mirror and I know my incident wasn’t karma, it was just a way of ending a connection that wasn’t necessary and leading me to a new one that absolutely was, for both of us.

Everything for a reason, no matter how hard it is and how many tears it causes. People that are meant to be there will be, and people that care will always step up, even when you don’t know you need them.

Unconditional Love

Loving Someone you barely know.

Imagine for one second, that you had the unconditional love of someone for seven months. Someone so ecstatic you were in their life, they performed cartwheels in front of strangers. How sweet to know that someone had nothing but unconditional, unadulterated love for you.

Sounds perfect right? The stuff that happens only in movies. I mean real life gets in the way of everyone doesn’t it and we get tired and emotional. Misunderstandings and miscommunication causes all sorts of anxiousness, unrest, jealousy.

Now imagine, knowing that, but not being able to experience it. Imagine craving all of that but never feeling it. The purest most perfect love,, that was there but out of reach. Heart wrenching surely. But, despite the nature of this post, you might believe me when I say I feel like I am the lucky one.

The 25th May 1940, was the day that my dad was born. Whilst World War Two was gaining momentum, along came a baby, that led me to be sat here writing this. You see, I don’t remember my dad. He was taken away cruelly from me when I was just 7 months old. I grew up without him, I don’t remember when I understood he wasn’t there. He just never was. Sure I was jealous of the kids with the whole family. The dads that took their son to rugby, camping and fishing. The dads that took apart motorcycles and cars.

Just last year, I got help with my car and was taught a few basic things. Someone that looked out for me when I worked for them. When I looked up at the sun that day and took it all in, a tear rolled down my cheek. I realised what I’d missed out on. Dad would definitely have taught me all of these things and some.

My dad could turn his hand to anything. He was clever, funny, kind, was captain of the local cricket team. He worked down the pits but when they closed he trained to be a teacher and taught troubled kids in a rough area in Liverpool. He was training to be a pilot and MADE model aeroplanes. How cool is that!

Dad’s Spitfiire

Do I think of him often? Hell yes! Would I alter my path? Hell No

I used to be angry he wasn’t there. Every birthday and every new year my heart ached, wondering what it would have been like. I’d take a moment alone. My 21st birthday arrived and was a Saturday. I worked in a bar at the time and my school friends were at University (I wasn’t brave enough to go to Uni). Everyone and I mean everyone expected me to have the night off, but I felt insulted. A night off to do what? Be alone! All my friends at Uni were in the middle of exams. All my friends from the bar were working in the middle of a World Cup (France 98) so I politely declined and pleaded to work. They only relented when I finally snapped back.

“For fucks sake, it’s MY twenty first and I WANT to work. If I had a choice I’d go to the pub for a quiet pint with my DAD but seeing as no one can make that happen, I’ll work please!!”

They obviously relented and I worked. The bar was decorated with posters of me, the screen displayed messages for me. I only ended up working for about an hour and half and then I was spoiled with drinks and gifts” But I still took that moment alone, and thought about Dad later on.

Would I have played cricket at a high level? Would I have flown model aircraft? I think so, but in my Twilight Traveler post for Carolyna Luna states. I wouldn’t change anything. In one of those parallel universes somewhere, there’s no lockdown and Covid-19 and I have made him his favourite dessert (whatever that is, I’ll have to ask my mum) and I am toasting his 80th birthday.

But here and now, I will just toast him with a scotch later. I take comfort in how excited he was to be finally having a boy. Our only Christmas together he set up a model trainset for me despite me being only 6 months. It’s a photo I cherish.

Yours truly – Christmas 1977

I used to be so annoyed when kids would say “I Hate my dad!” I longed to have real feelings about my dad, they didn’t realise how lucky they were, but as you get older you realise families aren’t perfect, and some of you will have reasons for wishing nothing to do with your dad. I get it. So that’s why I am lucky. A perfect love, a man I can put on a pedestal because he never let me down. A man that cherished me every day, singing Johnny Mathis ‘When a child is born’ endlessly annoying my mum, waiting for me to arrive.

I know I have made mistakes, as we all do. However I think I am a decent person. I certainly believe I inherited his kindness from what others have said and I hope I have done him proud.

So Dad, Happy Birthday. I Love You. David x