Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Fangirl Generation

It has been brought to my attention, more often than I care to believe, that there is now a whole new level to "fandom." Fangirls. For those of you unfamiliar with this term, basically it means girls who are overly obsessed with a celebrity figure such as a popstar.

Now call me old fashioned but it really bugs me. When I'm on Twitter, there is not a day goes by where I don't see something trending that is something completely pointless about some singer or boyband. It's actually embarrassing. The main "idols" seem to be Justin Bieber, One Direction and JLS. And Jedward but I'm not even going to bother going into that one. So these "fangirls" trend things like "JUSTIN IS GOD" or "1DFAMILYRTHEBEST" or similarly stupid things like that. And it just drives me mad. Do these girls have no life whatsoever? Have they neglected basic grammar skills? I understand that when you like a singer, actor or whatever, you do talk about them a bit. We all have our idols. But I mean, come on. Justin Bieber? Really? He's some kid that gets paid an insane amount of money to sing whilst girls throw themselves at him and cry hysterically at merely being in the same room as him. He isn't anything special. So he can sing, and what? So can a lot of other people. He put a video on YouTube and was spotted by a celebrity. He hardly worked his arse off to get into the industry, he doesn't write his own songs. He just got lucky. He is not God.

It even makes me a little bit sad that THESE are the people that girls feel are worth worshipping, who are their role models and who they look up to. Whatever happened to your idol being someone inspirational, with immense talent who has worked extremely hard to get to where they are rather than having been on a talent show? As you know, my inspiration is J.K. Rowling. She was a single parent, raising her young baby whilst working, struggling financially and spending any spare time writing. She was rejected by around 12 publishers before she had her first book published. It took her years to write it and even more time to get someone to print it. She then carried on writing for a total of 17 years until her books were finally complete. That is dedication and someone worthy of being a role model and someone who deserves their fame. Not to mention all the other countless inspirational people from Martin Luther King to Stephen Hawking. People that actually made a difference to the world through intelligence, bravery, being strong-willed and hard-working. Not some 16 year olds who got lucky.

Yes, they might have the talent. We all have talents. And no doubt these popstars work hard doing albums and concerts. But they are NOT inspirational. I would be absolutely devastated if my daughter grew up having some teeny bopper as the person she looks up to. That she won't even know names like Hemmingway or Curie because she's too busy sat in her room making a Justin Bieber collage and reading teen pop magazines. It wouldn't bother me as much if the people these girls obsessed over were popstars who have worked their way up, who've had it tough and found it hard to break into the music industry. But the main offenders haven't. Justin Bieber was spotted on YouTube by chance, One Direction were a bunch of failed solo singers who were thrown together as a band on X Factor and got lucky, as with JLS who were also on X Factor. None of these people worked hard to get themselves out there. I just hope that one day, when those girls have to emerge from their poster-filled rooms into the real world they realise that actually, success isn't handed to you on a plate and that they can fill up their airheads with actual knowledge and awareness of people worth idolising.

Rant over.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Murder or principle: Defending your home

Imagine this scenario; you're in bed one evening when you hear a noise downstairs. Your partner is asleep next to you and your children are sleeping in the room next door. You pluck up the courage to investigate and you are confronted by an intruder. The intruder tries to wrestle you out of the way, maybe they even have a weapon. You know your family are possibly in danger. What do you do? You could step aside, allow this person to steal your belongings, knowing there is every possibility they may go upstairs and harm a member of your family, call the police although you know by the time they get there the intruder and your personal belongings will be well gone. That is what the law expects you to do. Human nature however is a different matter. Instinct tells you to protect yourself, your family and your possessions to the death. This person has broken into your home, putting your family at risk and is taking your things. They have no right to be there. So if you go with your instinct and try to defend your home, surely that is the correct thing to do. But the law doesn't expect you to do this.

On September 17th 2011, Vincent Cook was arrested for stabbing an armed intruder, that forced his way into his home, to death. The intruder, Raymond Jacob who was a common criminal and a drug addict, held Mr Cook at knifepoint after breaking into his house with another man. Mr Cook knew his wife and son would soon be returning home and so instinct caused him to stab the burglar to defend himself and his family. Yesterday, he was cleared with no charges after the CPS agreed that he acted in self-defence. Many would argue that there is a fine line between self-defence and murder. That killing someone for breaking into your home is unacceptable. But it begs the question, why is it unacceptable? There would be no need to act in self-defence if the intruders hadn't broken in in the first place.

I live alone with my daughter. I am meticulous when it comes to locking doors and windows. The thought of someone coming into my house, taking my things and putting our lives at risk makes me feel sick. And I don't condone murder in the slightest but if I was within reach of a harmful weapon when faced with an intruder, you can bet your bottom dollar that I would use all the strength I had to defend myself and my child. At least, that's what I'd like to think anyway. And I daresay that in those circumstances, most people would do the same.

But is it ever ok to kill in self-defence? And where do we draw the line? Somebody kills their partner and claims they were defending themselves. Somebody kills someone with who they were having an argument with and claim they were defending themselves. Surely murder to ensure your own safety cannot be condoned? Are material possessions worth taking someone's life over? Like I said, I don't agree with murder in most of its forms such as the death penalty. But we are programmed to protect our own. Look at animals in the wild, like lions for example. They protect their pride and every other lioness and cub within it, they even fight off other animals who try to take their food, a fresh kill or otherwise, because it belongs to them. It doesn't belong to anyone else and so other animals have no right to take it. It's all in principle. Your personal items may seem insignificant but they are your items, not to be stolen.

That said, if someone in the street came up to me and stole my purse, I wouldn't hunt them down and kill them. Yes, I would be angry and I would report them to the police. But after all, it's only a purse. It may have been mine, it may have had my cards and my money in it, but they are things that can be replaced. It is a whole different ball game when you start bringing loved ones into the equation. If someone broke into my house and tried to harm my daughter, I would take the biggest knife I could find and I wouldn't stop until they were dead. Because nobody hurts my child, she cannot be replaced if something happens to her. A person who has the nerve to come into a house that isn't theirs and try to harm someone whether they are a brother, daughter, mother or son to somebody, there is no excuse and in my opinion, they deserve everything they get. I would rather a scumbag drug addict was left dead than a member of my family at their hands. It doesn't make me a lunatic looking for an excuse to spill some blood. It makes me human.

Whether you think that murder in self-defence is right or not, the fact still remains that an intruder should not have entered your home in the first place. So why then, if they are consequently killed while the homeowner is defending themselves, is the homeowner the one that becomes the subject of scrutiny? Why does all the blame fall on them, these "knife-wielding maniacs" that absent mindedly stab at burglars until they're dead rather than the deadbeat low-life criminals that shouldn't have even been there in the first place? Why does nobody seem to question them? So many criminals break into houses as if it were second nature, harming its inhabitants and taking their belongings. And I don't doubt that, if caught, they would be punished accordingly. But more often than not, they aren't caught. I know people who have woken up one morning to find the downstairs of their home has been completely gutted of anything that was of any value. They can report it but the burglar will have since moved on and the likeliness of them being traced back there is small.

So just to reiterate what I have already said, anyone who thinks it is ok to force their way into someone's home deserves everything they get and I say good on those who stick up for themselves and try to fight off these criminals as a matter of principle and to protect what they hold dear. Because if we can't even defend our own, then what hope do we really have? And I for one will always go with my gut instinct to ensure me and my child come to no harm at the hands of a petty criminal. I whole heartedly believe that such circumstances shouldn't be punishable by law. Maybe then, burglars will think twice about breaking into people's homes in the first place.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Are we born to be great?

When we are born, we are like seemingly small and empty vessels with the ability to learn and develop skills which will help us in our day-to-day life. We learn to walk, we learn to talk. All of of the basics. But what about everything else? What about a top scientist? A doctor at the height of their profession? An Olympic athelete? Where do all of their outstanding skills come from? Is it something they have learnt over time by being influenced by the world around them or were they simply born to do what they do?

You often hear people say that someone was "born" to do something. Born to be a writer, a singer, a mathematician. But is this really the case? Can you really be "born" with all of these abilities already in you?

Imagine two children. One of the children has attended state schools all of their life from pre-school up to secondary. The other child has attended a private school for the same time. Which of the children then is most likely to leave school with the highest grades and level of education? Possibly the second child, who has had the best education that money can buy, attending a succesful school where they will have most likely encountered stricter rules and more one-on-one tutoring, you might think. But I actually believe that both children have every chance of achieving high grades regardless of their school. That is because I believe that a child has a natural ability to learn. If the first child is naturally bright yet attends an ordinary state school, they will achieve good grades because they have the intellect to do so. Similarly, if a child with little capacity to learn attends an expensive private school, they may not achieve good grades because if you don't have that capacity, you cannot force it upon someone and make them intelligent.

I used to have this argument with my daughter's father. He wants her to attend a private school and I want her to stick to state school. I find the idea of private schools stuffy and quite devoid of reality. I went to state school and, although I'm not the brightest person in the world, far from Oxbridge standards at least, I left with fairly good grades because I enjoy learning to a degree. There were people in my classes who were hopeless and no amount of money poured into their education would have made an ounce of difference.

Which brings me on to my original statement; are we born to be great? In a word; yes. In my opinion, you cannot create a great person. You cannot take someone who is a terrible singer, give them a few lessons and expect them to end up as the next Celine Dion. They can either sing or they can't. I think this is the case with pretty much everything that I can think of. I am very interested in space. I love everything about it and I have even visited the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. One of my "things to do before you die" is to go to a rocket launch. I watch programmes about space on TV sometimes, about the big bang theory, star formations and far-off galaxies. It is all really fascinating. However, I could never be say, an astrologist. As much as space and all it comes with amazes me, I don't have the capacity to do it. I have never been very good at science or maths, no matter how hard I tried. It doesn't come naturally to me, numbers confuse me and I couldn't tell you the names of any chemical reactions. Even if I studied those subjects for years (which I did) it would never come to me because I wasn't born with the ability to understand it.

I have always been good at English. Literature in particular. When I was in my first year of Primary school, which would have made me about 5/6, I had the reading age of a sixteen year old. The year after I was given the reading age of an eighteen year old. Since I was about 7 or 8, I have written stories. I wrote a full story when I was just 9 (which I have still got as it is written in a notebook) When I was in Year 8 of secondary school when I was about thirteen, we were given the task to come up with and write an extra chapter for a book we had been reading in class. When we all got given ours back, my teacher made me stand up in front of everyone to tell me she had graded my work with a 7 even though the highest grade you could get for our year was a 6 because she had been so impressed. Another old teacher of mine once asked my mum if I had taken English Lit at University and was surprised when she told her I was doing Philosophy. Give me a pen and some paper and I can write pretty much anything. Give me a calculator or a test tube and I will most likely have a nervous breakdown.

I suppose it's all down to our want to embrace our abilities. If you grow up with a particular gift but you don't act on it then it can easily go to waste. Some skills can be learnt and built upon but there always has to be a passion for it. Your natural ability to do calculations could make you a good accountant. Your natural ability to run could make you a good athlete. But even if you have the ability, if there is no passion then the talent will go to waste. If you don't enjoy sport, it makes no difference if you are a fast runner because you will never put it into practice.

To put it more plainly, I believe we are all born with our abilities, skills and intellectual capacity already built within us. It is then up to us to use them and express them so that we can fulfil their potential. I do agree that our surroundings, the way we are brought up and the paths we choose will have an effect on them to a certain degree. But the basis of it is always there. Everybody has a natural-born talent whether it be that they can dance down to their ability to listen well to others, it is only when you embrace it that you will truly know what yours is.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

We meet again...

Wow, I have really neglected this blog lately! I've been so busy with my new story that I've barely had time. That and nothing interesting has happened to me.

Since the last time I wrote, like I said I have started (another) new story. As it stands I'm almost 110 pages and 25,000 words in, so about a quarter of the way. This is the furthest I've ever actually got with a story before, usually I write about 20 pages then stick it into my "attempts" pile because I've had a better idea for another story. But no, I've stuck with this one so hopefully I'll be able to finish it.

One of my characters has been a little bit influenced by my ultimate teenage crush. To understand the intensity of this crush I feel I must explain a little. He is "famous" so to speak. I first saw him in Holby City (for those who don't know, it's a medical drama and one that I was absolutely obsessed with from I was about 13) and he played a doctor. I was actually in love with him. I watched every single episode he was in and I cried my little heart out when he was killed off. Usually my crushes come and go but this one has remained and I will not rest until I have married him. His name is Noah Huntley and he is my future husband. He is also in the very beginning of the film Your Highness (hilarious film by the way) and I also hear on the grapevine that he is currently filming Snow White and the Huntsman with Kristen "I'm so rich and famous but I'm still a miserable bitch" Stewart of Twilight fame. I even managed to find a new episode of Midsomer Murders from a couple of weeks ago with him in as well as trawling Youtube for old Holby City episodes the he was in, including the one where he was cruelly killed in a bizarre scaffolding incident and yes, I did cry all over again. The whole thing has made me remember the terrible fact that the personal signed photo that he sent me all those years ago has been lost in transit during my many moves. Just heartbreaking.

This is the very man I will marry. Becki & Noah 4eva...

Anyway, yes. There was a point to all of this. So, one of my characters, who happens to be my favourite of the story, is based (loosely) on the character Noah played in Holby City. It wasn't originally but as I've written more, he has just popped into my head hence the re-living of my teenage years of lust for Mr Huntley. But the book (and its characters) are all coming along well and when it is finished, and I will finish it I promise, I'm thinking of getting it published as an e-book on Amazon. It would only go for about 75p a copy but if I promoted it on Facebook, Twitter, my website and on here, someone might buy it and then technically I will be a published author and publishing houses have no excuse to turn me down. Well, they can still turn me down but not for being an unpublished author.

I shall stick in my prologue anyhow. I don't want to give too much away. Well actually, I don't want to give anything away and the prologue is short and pretty vague as to the storyline so here it is for your reading enjoyment. Or not if you think it's crap.

It’s funny how we never really live our lives until tragedy strikes and reminds us that we’re all living on borrowed time. I am guilty of it. We all are. Not living to our full potential, always assuming there will be tomorrow. It’s not until you or someone you love comes close to death that we stand up, re-evaluate and appreciate how fragile life is. People diagnosed with terminal illness battle to live each day as if it is their last because there is every chance it might be. A car crash injures a loved one and once they’ve been patched up and sent home, they vow never to take their life for granted again having cheated death and by a miracle, survived. It is a bittersweet moment, when good comes from sadness. Someone may have left this world behind but often, from their death, blooms one, two, maybe a dozen people who begin to take in everything around them; the sounds; the smells. Who never forget to tell their family and friends how much they are loved.  Who wake up every morning ready to face the world head on and appreciate that they are alive, breathing and are able to seize the day and take everything they can from it.
I was not one of those people.



Sunday, 11 September 2011

Never forgotten

This day 10 years ago, 19 hijackers boarded 4 planes on the East coast of America. Two of them flew into the World Trade Center towers. One flew into the Pentagon and another crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Almost 3000 people lost their lives.

Ten years on many more have died in the subsequent wars against terror in Afghanistan and Iraq, American, British and foreign alike, soldiers and innocent civilians.

Instead of defeating the American citizens, it has brought them together and made them stronger and on that day brought out the best in people when so much bad had been brought out in others. So for everyone who has been affected by the events that took place, my thoughts are with you on this 10th anniversary. I hope never to witness a horror like this again in my lifetime.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

9/11: The day that changed the world

We all remember where we were on September 11th 2001. We all remember being glued to the TV, watching the haunting images of that second plane hitting the South tower of the World Trade Center. I remember vividly coming home from school to find my mum watching the news and seeing the pictures for the first time, sitting down on the couch in shock. It was a day that started like any other and ended like no other.

19 hijackers boarded four planes that morning, intent on driving them into the most important buildings in the country. At 8:46am, five of the hijackers flew American Airlines flight 11 into the North tower of the World Trade Center. People on the ground were obviously shocked, many believed they had seen a small aircraft fly into the building and it was beginning to seem like a tragic accident. However, at 9:03am, when all eyes and all TV cameras were on the North tower which was burning fiercely, billowing smoke, a second plane which was quite visibly a jet airliner, United Airlines flight 175, flew straight into the South tower. It was then that it became obvious that this was no accident. America was under attack.

New York became a scene of utter chaos with nobody knowing what was going to happen next. People were running for their lives, screaming, away from the towers. Meanwhile, at 9:37am, American Airlines flight 77 flew into the Pentagon. The White House began evacuating, believing that they would be the next target. And then there was news that a fourth hijacked plane was on its way towards Washington. However the plane never made it. United Airlines flight 93 crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Originally thought to have been shot down by F-15 fighter pilots, it surfaced that in fact, the passengers had attempted to take over the plane from the hijackers after finding out that other planes had hit buildings that day. The hijackers feared the passengers would override them and instead, abandoned their plans and crashed into the field. It is believed the flight was bound for the White House.

Back in New York, the towers burned and thousands of firefighters, police and paramedics had rushed to the scene, evacuating people outside and inside the towers. The first fireman killed on that day was killed by a man who had fallen from the 100+ storey building and landed on him. That man was not the only one to "jump" that day. Around 200 people fell to their deaths from the towers, either because they felt that was their only choice or the intensity of the fires forced them out. One of the most famous images of 9/11 is that of "The falling man." The man was photographed a number of times as he tumbled through the air towards the ground after falling from somewhere near the top of the burning towers. Many attempts were made to identify him from the photo. Although it has never officially been confirmed, he was identified as Jonathan Briley, a worker in the Windows on the World restaurant in the North tower.

With fireman inside both towers attempting to rescue all of those trapped beneath the impact zones, more disaster was to come. At 9:59am, the South tower fell, 56 minutes after it was hit followed by the North tower at 10:28am, 102 minutes after it was hit. All still trapped inside were killed, including 343 firemen. In total, including people in the Pentagon, New York and all passengers on board the four planes, almost 3,000 died.

The FBI were certain that these hijackers were part of al-Qaeda, a terrorist group fronted by their most wanted man, Osama Bin Laden, after having read through the flight manifests of the crashed planes to see names that they recognised. It begs the question as to why these men were allowed on the planes if they were known to be terrorists but of course, there are plenty of what-ifs surrounding this tragic and horrifying day.

Also surrounding these attacks are conspiracy theories. Many people believe that this was not an attack on America. In fact, it is believed that it was the government themselves that orchestrated the attacks. I am a little on the fence over these conspiracy theories. Having read about both points of view it is difficult to know what to believe. There are a lot of unanswerable questions, strange coincidences that crop up on this subject time and time again. Eyewitness accounts that don't add up. Numerous explosions seen before the towers collapsed in a way that many would describe as "as if they fell due to a controlled demolition." I'll go through a few of the more major points that crop up in the conspiracy theories of 9/11.

George W. Bush, the former President was in Florida on September 11th. When the attacks took place, he was inside a classroom full of eight year olds. He was being filmed at the time and in this film we see a White House advisor walk over to him and whisper into his ear. The advisor was telling him that a second plane had hit the second tower, after being briefly told about the first before he entered the classroom, and that America was under attack. The President's reaction was strange to say the least. He seemed calm considering and continued to look down and bite his lip as if anxious. But he continued to listen to the children reading in the class until they had finished before he took any kind of action. He did not return to Washington until hours later after being advised by the secret service to stay away as he was probably a target. However, a few months after the attacks, Bush spoke at a conference, describing the events he witnessed that day. He is heard clearly saying that he was outside the Florida classroom when he saw the first plane hit the North tower on the TV. He was then ushered into the room and told about the second plane whilst inside. But there is no way he could have seen the first plane hit that day because there was no video of it that surfaced until September 12th and he was inside the classroom when he heard the news of the second plane so he couldn't have confused the two as he wouldn't have seen either of the planes hit the towers.

Another point raised is the ways in which the surrounding areas of the crashes of United flight 93 and AA flight 77 were inconsistent with that of a plane crash. At the site of the crash of United flight 93, there were no bodies or body parts found. There were no wing or tail sections, tyres and only remains of one engine was found miles away from the scene. In any ordinary plane crash, where an airline has gone down in a field, hillside etc there have always been remains of passengers and plane. I have a small obsession with air crashes and have watched countless programmes and documentaries on them. And from watching them, I know that no matter how intense the crash, there are always recognisable pieces left which identify the plane. But we are led to believe that the plane that went down in that field in Pennsylvania was pulverised on impact, leaving behind only a small littering of metal debris and a gaping hole. Where were the bodies? Where were the huge wing and tail sections?

Similarly, flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon left no real sign that a plane had been the cause. Only a small hole was left in the side of the building, in comparison to the size of the plane and there was no evidence that the huge wings of the airline had penetrated the building, as the windows next to the hole were still intact, nor were they found. The hijacker in control of the plane was only used to a single engine plane but managed to manouvre the jet in a way that not even a professional pilot could in order to crash into building the way it did. It seems questionable.

Some of the recordings from the planes have been under scrutiny, leading some to believe they were not from the planes at all. Betty Ong, an air stewardess on flight 11 is heard describing the events that were unfolding on the plane as the hijackers took over. She seems extremely calm and passive whilst telling the operator that people had been stabbed and the men had taken over the cockpit. Not particularly the kind of reaction you would expect from a woman witnessing these horrors, knowing she is probably going to die. On flight 93, Mark Bingham calls his mother from an airphone. He says "Hi, this is Mark Bingham." Why would you use your full name to your own mother? He then went on to say "You believe me don't you, mom?" after describing the scene.

One of the biggest points conspiracy theorists make is about the towers and how they fell. Many, including experts, say that the way in which the towers collapsed mirrored the way a building collapses in a controlled demolition. A lot of people claim to have heard a number of loud bangs, like explosions and seen numerous flashes of light underneath the impact zones of both towers before their collapse, suggesting explosives had been let off throughout them to further weaken its structure and bring it down. To date, only 3 buildings have ever collapsed completely due to fire. WTC 1, WTC2 and WTC7. WTC 7 was a smaller building on the WTC complex that collapsed a few hours after the towers. It has been said that this happened due to a small internal fire that was started from the falling debris and fires from the towers.

A couple of other points are, from eyewitness accounts on the day, a lot of people described the planes that hit the towers as having "no windows" and looking more like some kind of military aircraft as there were no markings on them to suggest they were a commercial airliner from that area. And there was also a record that two planes landed at a nearby airport when the alert was sent out that planes were being hijacked. One was a Delta flight. The other; United Airlines flight 93. It is said that the Delta flight was offloaded within an hour or so with all passengers being taken into the airport buildings. Flight 93 however, was evacuated within a few minutes with all passengers being taken to a nearby NASA building. However it has been said by authorities that flight 93 had been confused with the Delta airline and only the Delta had landed safely that day.

So you may ask, why the conspiracy theories? On a day when so many lives were lost, why add to the tragedy by suggesting it was all part of a plan? Most people believe one of two things: Either the government constructed the plot themselves, deciding that a small loss of American lives was what length they were willing to go to in order to justify going to war with Afghanistan and Iraq. Others suggest that, although the government were not the ringleaders, they did have some knowledge that al-Qaeda were planning the attacks but didn't intervene knowing that this would give them the justification without them having to do anything themselves. It is well documented that the FBI knew these attacks were being planned by al-Qaeda but a miscommunication with government officials meant that nothing was done about it. In May 2011, American troops finally found their most wanted man; Osama Bin Laden. He was shot and killed in his small hideaway home.

As I said, I am on the fence with the conspiracy theories. On the one hand I do see all the discrepencies, the coincidences that conspiracy theorists see. I do believe that there is something not quite right about the whole thing. However, a part of me still carries a small bit of hope that a government could not do that to its own people. It is one of those things that we will probably never know the truth of. The only people who know what really happened for certain are the ones that people cannot trust or the victims who are no longer with us.

Whatever happened, government scheme or act of terrorism, thousands of innocent civillian lives were lost that day. Wives lost husbands, children lost parents, parents lost children. It is a day that we will all remember. For the shock images, for the lives lost and for the brave who risked and gave their lives to save others. It has been almost 10 years since 11th September 2001 yet the impact that day had on us all is still fresh in everyone's minds. And we can only pray that we will never again witness such horror and tragedy again in our lifetime.

RIP to all the victims of 9/11

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Fairytale romance is dead

There is only one thing I hate more than men; Love. I use a lot of four-letter words in my everyday vocabulary but this one, on the rare occassion that I use it, rolls off my tongue with much difficulty and is full of bitterness. Love is crap.

I never believed in love at first sight, even when I wasn't a cynical 22 year old with a terrible track record of relationships. I find it completely illogical that anyone can see someone across a crowded room and instantly fall in love, thinking "I'm going to marry them." You can't. How can you love someone you don't know? It is built up over a long period of time and is based on what you have in common, if you find each other attractive, whether or not you can look past their bad habits and still want to be with them. It doesn't happen instantaneously, it's logically impossible.

I read people's stories about their "fairytale romances" and how they were swept off their feet, are desperately in love after only a few days together. Utter bullshit. Relationships take work. The real name for a fairytale romance is "the honeymoon period." When you meet someone new, they're exciting because you know nothing about them and it's all lovey-dovey mushy stuff, the generic "you hang up" " no, you hang up" phone scenarios, walks along the beach, romantic picnics. I suppose it varies with everyone. Your honeymood period could last a few weeks, others a few months. I would define a fairytale romance as finding your prince charming out of nowhere and living happily ever after. Apart from in Disney movies, this never happens.

When I read these romance stories, I wish I could scream at the person "Look, love. It's all a load of bollocks. You can't fall in love with someone after a week. You don't even know them. They could be a serial killer for all you know. How can you say that this will be the person you're going to marry. Get a grip!" But of course, I don't. I would see it as a fair warning but they would probably just see it as me raining on their parade.

So you may ask where I get off telling people this love nonsense is well... nonsense. Personal experience, my friends. I fell in love with someone I thought was my "one" when I was 17. We had a great time together, everything was lovely, romantic and all that. I genuinely believed he was for me. I even moved in with him into our own place and I had a baby with him. Then he abused me, lied to me, cheated on me and eventually left me. I don't believe I did anything to deserve it other than try and fight to keep together what I had wished for. Ever since, I have had whirlwind romances, everytime I kid myself into thinking this one will be different from the last. I dated an old friend who couldn't stop himself from flirting with other girls. I dated an insanely dull guy, mainly based on his looks, who suddenly dropped me with no warning and I later found out he had had another girlfriend all along. I dated a guy who turned out to be a crazy person when I realised things weren't working out between us and tried to finish things, he threatened to throw himself off a bridge. So, as you can see, love does not fit into my grand plan very well.

Everyone always says to me "You feel like that now, but when you find the right person you'll feel differently." To those people, I say "Hell to the no." I used to go through life hating being single. I hated everything about it. Being lonely, having nobody who could call round or take me out when I felt rubbish. Now I couldn't be happier to be single. I genuinely DO NOT want a man. Ever. Times three.

So, just to re-capp; Love at first sight equals a load of crap; Fairytale romances equals total rubbish. Love equals more effort than it's worth. I may be bitter and cynical, but I don't need a man and I'm happier for it. The thing is we can hope life works that way, that there are lovely, loyal men all around us who will grab us when we most need to be caught, but it doesn't. They may be there to begin with but months, years down the line, they will just end up letting you down. The more we wish, the more we delude ourselves and the worse we feel when things don't go right.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Long time, no speak...

Hello all! Well, it's been quite a while since I graced this blog with my presence isn't it? Where to begin...

Well I have been deathly ill for a while. Ok, slight over exaggeration but it definitely felt like I was. I went to the doctor about my shoulder which has been agony for weeks. She told me I probably have a frozen shoulder. Fantastic. I'd been feeling sick for a week but I didn't mention it to her anyway. So the next day I went to Gay Pride in Liverpool with two of my friends. I have never seen so many transvestites in my life. Especially ones that have better legs than me. That night was when I thought I might be dying and I ended up laid in bed for the next couple of days until I managed to haul my ass out of it to get myself to the doctor. Again. I went out in my total scruffs, no make up, jogging bottoms tucked into Uggs. Not very sexy to say the least. I was seen by a new doctor. Dr Sillitoe (I did laugh) who was fairly young. I had to sit down and tell this young, new doctor about my bodily functions whilst looking like I'd crawled out from under a rock. He gave me some pills and I went back home to bed since I had to get up at stupid o clock to go and have my bloods taken the next day. I went in the next morning and the woman looked like she should be working in a tattoo parlour, not a doctors. She said to me "I'll go and find a smaller needle" which made me feel a little better. I'm fine with needles, not so much with blood though. But alas, she came back and told me she couldn't find one and so she'd have to use the big needle. Sob. It was fine though and I soldiered on.

On Wednesday, I went to Belfast to see some family. I had to get up at 4am which did not please me as I am NOT a morning person at the best of times, especially not when feeling like death. The plane journey was short but bumpy, like riding a bucking bronco because it was one of those propellor planes and there was cloud after cloud after cloud. We were staying in a nice apartment right in the middle of the city and we did a few things, shopping, museum wandering etc. The first day I got an ominous voicemail from the doctors asking me to call them urgently. Thankfully I am fairly cool-headed and didn't panic (joke, I was panicking like a panicky thing on panic pills) but he just wanted to tell me I need to go and get my blood done again and that I had, and I quote, a "deranged liver function." Anyway, I started feeling a little better as the days went on and I actually started eating again which I thought I would never do. Last night we went out for my dad's birthday to a nice Italian restaurant and then went back to the apartment to have a nose at the concert that was going on across the road. None other than 30 Seconds to Mars and my future husband Jared Leto. That was our last night and we flew home today. No clouds so it was fairly nice. Stepped off the plane and it was actually warm. Belfast isn't exactly reknowned for its hot weather so it was nice to be back in sunny England.

On a sadder note, our cat Peppy died today. My grandma was keeping an eye on her while we were away and she called while we were still in Belfast to say Peppy wasn't well and by the time we had got back home, she called to say she had died. It was then that I really realised that I have a strange way of dealing with death. My sisters were in tears, so was my mum who didn't even like the cat. I had her growing up, she was 16 and we had her from a little kitten, when she was a little grey furball. I did feel a bit sad when I heard she had died, poor thing. But I didn't cry. I was surprised she lasted as long as she did. She was deaf, blind in one eye, not to mention ancient. And she died curled up on my grandad's knee rather than being put down by some strange vet. Feels a bit weird that I won't see her parading around my mum's house anymore but I suppose when it's our time, it's our time. So RIP Peppy. Hope you enjoy playing with the other crazy kitties up in kittycat heaven.

Anyway, I'm now back in my own house and my own bed now. I have so much tidying up to do. I was far too ill to tidy up the place before I went away and a week later I've come back to a pigsty. But of course, I will put it off again until tomorrow. I'm looking forward to getting back into my story again too. Had a writing itch all week.

I shall say ta-ta for now though.

Night :)

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Monday, 1 August 2011

And then my mother poisoned me...

Not written on here in a few days. Apologies! I've been super busy working on a website to promote my writing. Which is actually going terribly.

I had been thinking about doing one for a while so on Friday I thought I'd just go for it. I paid for a domain and web host. And that was where I had no idea what I was doing. Someone suggested I find a web design site online so I did and I sat up until 3am doing it, getting it perfect. Then on Sunday, it occured to me that I couldn't actually use it, as it was published with another website. I wasn't impressed to say the least but I carried on. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing so a couple of people helped me out and it looked like I was finally getting somewhere, only I couldn't find a decent website template that made the site look awesome. So I gave in and started doing some housework.

I got a call off my dad asking did I want to go over for dinner and seeing as I had eaten nothing all day and had nothing in I did go over. My mum had made pasta with chicken and bacon and it was nice, up until I thought I had eaten a bit of raw chicken. I have major chicken paranoia, I usually always check inside every piece before I eat it incase it has the slightest tinge of pink. But as I was so hungry, I didn't bother to check. And to my own peril. Not 5 minutes after finishing it, I felt so sick, I actually had to run back to my house. All night then, I felt off so I ended up going to bed at 9. I can't help but wonder if I had picked up the wrong meal and the raw chicken was actually meant for my sister who was driving my mum up the wall.

Anyway, I feel a little better today, although it is August 1st and instead of blaring sunshine, it is grey and raining. So I got up fairly early and decided to have another go at this website. Which has resulted in me completely blocking myself out of my control panel so I can't access anything at all. Fantastic. I really cannot be trusted with these things. I have the technical capacity of a dead squirrel.

Infact, I should probably get off here now, before I do something wrong and my page just vanishes. I'll put up the link to my website on here. If it ever gets finished and I don't throw my laptop at the wall beforehand.


Friday, 29 July 2011

Grace's Story

I wrote this out last night but forgot to post it. I thought it was the cutest thing ever so I had to share it with you. Before she went to bed, Grace told me she wanted to tell me a story about Mickey and Minnie Mouse. And here it is:

One day, Minnie was walking in the forest and she fell over and hurt her knee. Mickey took her to the doctors and the doctor said "That's not good" and gave Minnie some sweeties. Then they went outside and there was a monster and Minnie got caught in its mouth but then she got out and went back into the clubhouse because it was getting dark and the stars were coming out.

She's so adorable. And loves reading and telling stories. Just like her mummy :)

Anyway, that was all for now so I'll sign this off on behalf of my little story teller...

By Grace aged 3

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Addiction: Illness or life choice?

The news that dominated headlines at the weekend is that of the death of singer Amy Winehouse at the tender age of only 27. As famous for her public breakdowns, alcohol and drug abuse, just as much as her dark, solemn lyrics and impressive voice, her songs were full of soul, all relevant to the kind of person she was. But, as talented as she was, she is now just another statistic of a young life snatched by addiction.

I find that I am unsympathetic, to a degree, to those who have an addiction, whether it be drinking, smoking, even sunbed use, that the indivdual knows is putting their health at serious risk. So when I heard that Amy Winehouse had died, I wasn't completely sympathetic towards her. She took drugs and drank like it was going out of fashion, despite health experts and even her own friends and family, telling her that it was slowly killing her. And although her post mortem results haven't been confirmed as of yet, I can only imagine her addictions played a large part in her death.

With anyone, their death is, on the most part, a sad event. Whether they died of old age or from an addiction. I find that my sympathy lies, in the case of addicts, not only with their family and friends who will have no doubt tried their hardest to help their loved one, but with the addict themselves. For example, a heroin addict I do not feel sorry for. However I do feel sorry that they are an addict. I can only assume, having never tried any drug in my life, merely because it has never appealed to me, that it is all too easy for some people to get in with the wrong crowd and to feel pressured into trying things, whether they do or don't want to try them. The more they try, the more involved they get. They may start smoking cannabis in the park. The same people may end up doing lines of coke or injecting themselves with heroin not long after.

Obviously, I don't mean that that 14 year old kid you saw at the bus stop last week smoking weed is going to become a hard-faced cokehead. But for most people who become drug addicts, it starts, as it does with any addiction, small. A few spliffs here and there, a couple of E's at a party, you then start to develop a curiosity and an itch for more. The previous no longer satisfy your needs so you need to move onto the stronger stuff. As I have already said, I have never taken drugs, and never will. But I can imagine that in a way, it is like alcohol, when you start off the night on some kind of alco-pop until you realise that it is doing nothing, so you start on double vodkas. But of course, on a much larger scale. And once you know that harder drugs are much more effective than the soft ones you used to take, there's no going back. Why would you go back to the drugs that now seemed dull in comparison to the ones that can take you off into some other dimension and make you feel blissful and unaware?

This is what I find sad. That some people, whether they have been dragged in or have gone willingly, can end up so addicted that there is no turning back. Many people dabble in drugs and can give them up easily, as they only really use them socially. Others do them regularly but realise that they're harming themselves, that they can no longer seperate reality from their comatose hallucinations and that they could be killing themselves. And these people will ask for help to quit, get themselves into a rehab and try their absolute damndest to "get clean" so they can live a healthier, drugs free life. Take Russell Brand, for example. A well known celebrity (and one of my favpurite comedians) who's life of sex, drugs and alcohol is as famous as he is. He was into heavy drugs and was a sex addict. After being in and out of rehab, he finally got clean, at the age of 27, the same age Amy Winehouse lost her life, and he is now extremely succesful, married and even starring in Hollywood movies. It will not have been easy by any means, to get to where he is today. Because addiction is an illness, and like any other illness, if you do not seek to get it treated, it can spiral until it is no longer treatable and will kill you.

But is it a mental illness? Are people who take drugs just hiding from reality? Do they just have demons that they want to be rid of and so numb their minds with drugs and alcohol? Not on the most part, in my opinion. I know that people drink and take drugs, simply to try and forget about a memory or an event that haunts them. Perhaps someone was abused as a child or they are an ex serviceman who has come home from war. There are many reasons why someone would turn to an addiction, it isn't simply just because they thought it looked fun. And for those people, I feel deeply sorry. To feel you have nowhere left to turn. It must be dreadful to say the least. But just as we cannot group all addicts as just people who've gone a bit crazy as kids and mixed with the wrong crowds, we cannot group them all into being emotional recluses. What we can group them as are those who want help and those who don't.

I have the utmost respect for those who say, no, this has to stop and fights until they no longer have to rely on drugs. I have considerablely less for those who say, I could stop but I don't want to. I'm sure that most addicts would like to get clean but they feel they can't and give in even trying. And I can only find these people as weak. If you really don't want your addiction to kill you, if you want to live a long, healthy life, you need to be strong and determined. If you can't fight your addiction, I can't help but feel that sometimes it's because you don't have the willpower to do so, even if part of you wants to. And it is for those people I feel the most sympathy of all. Not because they're "poor little addicts with no hope in the world" but because they have no means to better themselves. Perhaps I am being naive. I know alcoholics who have been given plenty of opportunity to stop, been in rehab, even had liver transplants so that they can start their new lives with a healthy organ to give them the best chance. And what have they done? They've carried on drinking regardless. Something I find extremely irritating and almost disrespectful, that there are no doubt much more worthy candidates on the transplant list that could have had the liver that is now being abused. It makes me think why? Why, after being given a second chance, would you throw it all away for a a few bottles of vodka?

I suppose I would have to delve into the psychology of an addict's mind, but of course, I don't have that capacity of information. All I know is that there are some people willing to be helped and those who aren't because they aren't willing to help themselves. A sad but true fact that will continue to take the lives of people before their time. So what I have to say is this. Not all addicts are the ones you picture in your mind when you hear the word. Those dirty people who reside in doorways or filthy run-down flats, spread across the floor surrounded by empty bottles and used syringes. Some are people who are crying out for help and feel they have no other way out and no other means of escape. Normal people, like you and I, who take a bad path and can't seem to find a way to back track. Some do and they grab that second chance with both hands. Some, however, are like those people you picture. Addiction is a terrible thing. It consumes people so entirely that there is often no light at the end of the tunnel. And more often than not, it claims lives. And it is this and this alone, that I find the most tragic of all.

RIP Amy Winehouse

Monday, 25 July 2011

*insert witty title here*

I'm procrastinating slightly so as I don't have to go up to the park just yet. So I thought I would just do a quick summary of my week. Which, on the most part, has been generically boring.

So I didn't actually really do anything other than sit in the garden and go to the park until Saturday. Grace was out with her dad so I went out with a couple of friends. We ended up going to get one of my friend's belly button pierced which was fun to watch. Then after being ripped off by Subway after they put up the price of footlongs without warning me, we decided to go on a random drive to Southport. On the way, we took some fairly random pictures. One cyclist turned and smiled for the camera. I saw a cake shop and yelled extremely loudly "CAKE!" forgetting that my window was down and that people walking by probably thought I had some serious mental issues. We also amused ourselves by taking a picture of a sign for a garden centre called Lady Green, however the word "garden" was written underneath "lady" so naturally, since our brains haven't yet matured beyond the age of 14, we found this hilarious.

We finally got to Southport, still taking pictures of random people and phallic shaped monuments (spurring the conversation "Take a photo of that" "It's too big, I can't get it in... Oh wait, I got the top in..." Again, our maturity levels are low) We walked through the town to get to the pier and stopped in a bar where some guy that looked like a cheap version of Rod Stewart was singing and thinking he was all that. A cute little old couple started dancing together and as we tried to take a photograph we were constantly blocked by some woman, who was in the bar on her own, standing up and rapidly shaking her fat arse along to the music. Bar abandoned, we went to the fair. I hate fairs but we wandered around anyway. There was an air show going on and we couldn't quite understand why the tickets were £9 when we could see it for free, you know, since it was in the sky and all. Then, as we were minding our own business, a huge bang made everyone just stop and look up as if to say "Jesus tonight, what was that?!" Turned out it was some fighter plane, one of those ones that breaks the sound barrier, thus to unsuspecting ears, sounds like a bomb going off and causes a flutter of panic. We joked, saying it might actually be a terrorist attack but everyone would just think it was part of the air show. Then we hear an even bigger bang than the one the plane was repeatedly making. We turned around to see two huge black billows of smoke coming from behind us. For a few seconds we kind of looked at each other like, wow, maybe we were right. But of course, it was just part of the air show. Seems strange to use bombs as entertainment but I suppose if you've paid £9 to see something you could see and hear miles away for free then you'll want to see something different. Then we got bored and made our way back to the car, passing a sexy street singer on the way. Which we also took a photo of.

Not even joking...In the background. Look at the people on the right, running for their lives...

Said friends came back to mine later that night and we watched some Dynamo (super amazing magician, possibly the second coming of Christ) and ate Rusks. Then when they left, I went to put up the photos we took that day. 90 bloody photos. Of crap, basically. But still.

Yesterday I went with a friend to a forest near ours with Grace. We told her there were fairies in there and she had to look for them. We put her in fairy wings and my friend took some photos of her looking cute. Then she turned into demon child and started screaming and crying and being a general pain in the bum. So she wasn't allowed to go to the beach and we went home instead. Nipped over to my mums and she ended up playing inside their new caravan (Grace, not my mum) for about 2 hours until I forced her to come home so I could make dinner, spag bol, which she smeared all over her face.

Once she was in bed, I settled down to watch some TV. I watched a programme I'd recorded about the last space shuttle flight. Gutted because I never got to see it. Last time I went to Florida, I went to the Kennedy Space Center and I LOVED it. We were meant to see a shuttle launch but it was postponed. It's on my list of "things to do before I die" only shuttle has now been changed to rocket as the shuttle programme has finished now and so there'll be no more shuttle launches. Then I started watching a film called The Lovely Bones. The title sounded fairly nice, I'd never seen it nor read the book. But, my god, what a horrible film! It's about a girl who is murdered by a seriously creepy neighbour who lures her into an underground den he has built, then slit her throat, bunged her in a sack and shoved her into a giant metal safe, after she tried escaping. If I hadn't watched How I met your mother afterwards, I would have definitely had nightmares about it.

Anyway, I'm supposed to be going to the park for a picnic and I'm trying to get together the energy to actually move. Got to take Grace to the doctors later as well, landed with the creepy GP again. Whenever I get an appointment I always end up getting him. He's so weird, he never looks you in the eye, he either stares at his computer the whole time, or your chest if you've got a bit of boob showing. So that should be fun.

Anyway, I suppose I best go and sort this child out. I'm also dedicating this post (although there is nothing relevant in it) to all the people who were killed in Norway last week. Such a terrible world we live in sometimes.

Bye bye

Saturday, 23 July 2011

To all my beautiful blog readers

I just wanted to write a quick post to say thank you. To everyone who reads and follows my blog; who appreciate my writing; who give me positive encouragement to carry on. Without you all, I'd be lost.

This time last year, things weren't great and I wasn't sure about anything. But after starting this blog and having such lovely comments on and off here, it has given me the push and the drive to continue. I have always gone through life thinking everything I did was never good enough, that I was always second best at everything. But to be given such praise for something I would gladly spend the rest of my life doing really means a lot, especially when it gets me down that the people I wish would praise me most are those who never do.

I was going to include some names of people who have always avidly followed my blog from day 1 and, I hope, will continue to do so, but there are just far too many. But you know who you are and I would like to say thank you, personally, to you.

This blog might not mean anything much to those of you who read it, to you it is just a place that you can read about my life and my views. Which is, essentially, the idea. But for me it is so much more and although not all of you will understand why, from the bottom of my heart I want to say that I am so grateful for all your comments and your positivity and I hope that ten years from now, I can look back on it all as the starting point that got me to where I want to be.


Friday, 22 July 2011

A teenage pregnancy away from an ASBO

It's inevitable, in life, that we are stereotyped according to certain things. Whether it be because of our social status, race, sexuality, gender, sometimes even hair colour. And I am no exception. I have been stereotyped many times. I'm naturally blonde, so of course, I'm stupid, for example. Which, I suppose on occasion, is probably true. But for the last few years I have been cast aside into the big bad world of lifestyle stereotyping. Because I had a baby when I was 19 and I have relied on the the welfare state to help me since.

What do you think when you hear "teenage pregnancy"? Silly little school girls getting knocked  up so they can get a council house? Leaving their babies with others while they go out clubbing with their mates every weekend? What do you think when you hear "on benefits"? Lazy scumbags who sit on their backsides all day watching Antiques Roadshow and drinking lager? From my experience, and probably mine before it happened to me, that is the general opinion on those topics. Of course, I understand that this is a narrow minded view and not everyone will feel the same but both things are frowned upon in society, not actively encouraged by any means. So I just wanted to give a little insight into the life of your average "young single mum, scrounging off the state."

I was at University when I got pregnant by accident. I had done well in school and had just started my course when I found out. My first instinct was to get rid straight away. I had my whole life ahead of me, I was a very selfish person and hated kids so I was by no means maternal. But the father insisted I keep it. So I did. Less than a month after my 19th birthday, I had Grace. I remember the first night we had together, she lay in her plastic cot in the hospital and just stared at me with her huge eyes. She didn't cry once. Just watched me. It felt a little surreal, being a mother at 19 especially when children had never been on my priority list. But here she was and she was gorgeous. However, things with her dad didn't last and he left us when she was 7 months old. At the time I was on maternity leave from work. I worked at a hotel part time as a waitress and had done since I was 16, which is where I met Grace's dad. So luckily I still had a little bit of money to tide us over. To buy formula and nappies and clothes. But £90 a week was not going to be enough to cover all of that plus the £525 rent and all the bills. So I had a choice. I could live out on the streets or I could apply for benefits. So I chose the latter.

Later on that year, I returned to my job. While I had been away, Grace's dad had been back, telling everybody what a terrible mother I was and whatnot. Even though he was the one that had left me, but obviously he felt guilty and wanted to palm the blame off onto somebody else. So naturally, none of my workmates spoke to me and on the rare occasion that they did, it was in an offhandish kind of way. It was horrible to do an 8 hour shift with everybody ignoring you, whispering to each other about you and speaking to you as if you were something they'd just scraped off their shoe. It upset me that, not only had he left and made my life extremely difficult, he also made it so I found it impossible to work. I called my boss up and I told him that I wanted to leave because I couldn't work in an environment with so much tension because everybody hated me for some reason. A comment he didn't deny but instead replied "Yes, that's probably for the best." So now I was a 19 year old single mother, on benefits, with no job.

That was all a long time ago, as Grace is 3 now. But it hasn't all been rainbows and butterflies. I gave up on looking for a job for a while after leaving the hotel. I started looking again last year and applied for a few with no luck. I was even turned down for a job because I was "too overqualified." This year, I've thrown myself into writing. I started a distance learning journalism course, I am writing two books and of course, I'm updating this blog when I can. I'm looking for a part time job, sending my CV's off and also looking for freelance writing work online.  I couldn't think of anything worse than willingly living my whole life on benefits. And even while I am on them, I cannot understand why on earth people would be happy to do so.

Because, you see, not everyone on benefits is an idle scrounger. There are, a lot of us, who have some self worth and want to do something with our lives and the welfare state merely helps us get to that point when we're struggling. I was brought up with a high work ethic. I worked as a Saturday girl in a hairdressers owned by my grandparents from the age of 13 because my parents believed that if I wanted money for something, I should earn it myself instead of them giving it to me, because out in the real world, nobody hands you something for nothing. When I turned 16, I left there and started at the hotel working long shifts up until I was 36 weeks pregnant. But seeing the money I had worked for in my bank account was worth it and whenever I bought something, I felt a sense of pride, knowing that I had bought it with my own, hard earned money. Something that I can't wait to get back to. To be able to say "I pay for this house" or "I bought myself some new clothes." It may not seem like a big deal to a lot of people. But I wish, as much as I love my daughter, I could get out of this house and start earning some money of my own.

Many people do call me lazy because I have no job at the minute. Usually those people aren't single parents with a lot of things going on on the side which I would not associate with laziness. But, on that afternoon when I saw those lines come up on that test and my world fell down around me, when I truly thought my life was over and I could never do the things I'd hoped to do with my life, I genuinely thought I had ruined everything for myself. But it has taken me 3 years and a lot of ups and downs, most of which I could group together and turn into an Eastenders storyline, for me to get to where I am now. I may still be on benefits and not have a job. But one day, hopefully soon, I will. It has taken me this long to realise that if you are determined enough, things will prevail, whether or not you started out as a naive 19 year old, left holding the baby and relying on the state to help you. And I only hope that someday, I can pay back into the system that helped me to get to where I wish to be.

So next time you raise your eyebrows at a teenage mother or you feel like moaning about how you have to pay tax to fund all those dole-heads who class work as getting dressed ready in time to go to the pub, then perhaps stop and think. There will always be a handful of those, the "stereotypes" that let the majority down. There are teenage girls who get pregnant on purpose and for all the wrong reasons. And there are people who bleed the welfare system dry because they don't want to have to get out of bed to be able to fund their lifestyle. But there are people, like me, who blow apart the stereotypes. I became a teenage mother by accident and decided to face the consequences of my actions and ever since, I have only ever done what is best for my child. I hated having to go on benefits, but I didn't make my daughter's father leave us with nothing. And I fully intend to get out of the system sooner rather than later. Unless you have ever been cast in a situation, you are not free to judge. To do so is small minded. Don't aim your anger or your frustrations at a group of people, aim them at the individual who lets them down.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

So you want to be a writer?

  If it doesn't come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don't do it.

unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don't do it.

if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don't do it.

if you're doing it for money or
don't do it.

if you're doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don't do it.

if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don't do it.

if it's hard work just thinking about doing it,
don't do it.

if you're trying to write like somebody
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you're not ready.

don't be like so many writers,
don't be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don't be dull and boring and
pretentious, don't be consumed with self-

the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don't add to that.
don't do it.

unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don't do it.

unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don't do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

~Charles Buckowski~

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Casey Anthony: Bereaved mother or child killer?

Glued to the live stream on my laptop of Casey Anthony's sentencing, I was horrified by the outcome. The jury found her not guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated manslaughter and aggravated child abuse. Guilty of four counts of giving false information given to a law enforcment officer. For this she receieved a year in jail and a $1000 fine for each count, given 3 years credit for the time she had already served and additional credit for good behaviour. She was released from jail on 17th July 2011. The world watched as this woman, initially accused of murdering her 2 year old daughter, Caylee Marie Anthony, walk scot free, a smug smile brightning her usually cold, emotionless face.

Casey Anthony lived in Orlando, Florida, with her parents Cindy and George and her daughter Caylee. On 16th June 2008, Casey took Caylee from her parent's home for 31 days. In this time, Casey's mother Cindy asked numerous times could she see Caylee but was told that Casey was busy with a work assignment, that Caylee was sleeping or that she was with a nanny, Zenaida "Zanny" Fernandez-Gonzalez. On 15th July 2008, Casey's parents found that her car had been towed and went to go and retrieve it. Both George and the assistant at the tow yard describe smelling a terrible odour coming from the boot of the car, later saying that it smelt as if there had been a decomposing body in it, but when it was opened, it contained only a bag of rubbish. It was on this date that Cindy phoned the police and reported Caylee missing. In the phonecall she explained that she had been missing for 31 days. Casey told her that the aforementioned nanny had kidnapped Caylee and she had not seen her in a month. However, this nanny was to be only one of the number of discrepancies in Anthony's story.

After Caylee's disappearence was reported, Casey concoted a number of lies to take any impending blame off herself. The nanny story was just one of many. Casey said that the nanny, who she referred to as Zanny, had kidnapped Caylee. Zanny had never been seen by any of Casey's family or friends and it played out that although she did exist, she had never even met Casey or Caylee. So where had Caylee been for a whole month if she hadn't been with her supposed nanny? Another lie Casey told was to law enforcement officers, where she claimed she was employed at Universal Studios. She was taken there by police and asked to show them her office. After walking around for a while, she was then forced to admit she no longer worked there and hadn't done for around 2 years. She was arrested on 16th July 2008 for child neglect, providing false information and obstructing a criminal investigation. Her appeal for bail was rejected by a judge who claimed "she showed woeful disregard for the welfare of her child." However, after just one month, she was bailed out in the hopes that she would co-operate with the investigation looking for Caylee. She was arrested again on 14th October, indicted on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and manslaughter and four counts of providing false information. If found guilty of first-degree murder, the prosecution later decided that they would push for the death penalty, which is still legal in the State of Florida.

On 11th December 2008, a man called Roy Kronk reported a suspicious sighting in some woods. The police came to investigate it and found a black binbag with yellow ties in the trees. Inside was a laundry bag which contained Caylee's skeletal remains, duct tape covering her mouth area and stuck to the hair that remained. From then on, the case became extremely complicated, a mish-mash of stories, evidence, false statements, all encased in an obvious shell of guilt.

A lot of evidence was presented in regards to the unexplained disappearance and death of Caylee. The boot of Casey's car, as already explained, had had the smell of " a decomposed body" in it. A new forensic science, called "hair banding" was used, in which hair develops a dark band at the root after death. Such a hair was found in the boot of Casey Anthony's car and air samples came back positive for components consistent with that of a "decompositional event" although whether this could be of a human decomposition or not was not proven, nor ruled out. It also emerged that traces of chloroform were found. A search for how to make chloroform was found on a computer used by the Anthony's, along with searches for 'neck breaking' and 'death.' Cindy Anthony testified in court that it was her that did the searches on chloroform, not her daughter. When asked how she did so after records show she would have been at work at the times these internet searches were carried out, she responded that she had left work early on the days in question.

It all starts to seem a litte coincidental at this point. But that's not the end. The same types of laundry bags, binbags and duct tape all found at the scene where Caylee's body was found, were present in Casey Anthony's home. A Winnie the Pooh blanket found at the scene was similar to one that had gone missing from the home. And investigators retrieved heart shaped stickers, as a record showed that on the duct tape covering Caylee's mouth had had a heart shaped outline on although it was not visible after the tape had been dusted for fingerprints. Casey had also written a diary entry that was examined, It had no year on it, only the date, 21st June, in which Casey writes how she has "no regrets" and that she was the happiest she had ever been. She and her defence argued that the diary was from 2003, before Caylee was born, however further investigation showed that that particular diary had infact not been available for purchase until 2004.

Casey Anthony's trial began on 24th May 2011, led by Judge Belvin Perry. The defence was led by Jose Baez. In his statement, he suggested that Caylee Marie had climbed into the pool at her grandparent's house and drowned. In a panic, George Anthony had taken her body and hidden it in fear that his daughter would be charged with neglect. He and his daughter kept this a secret, explaining why Casey had continued to go out clubbing in the 31 day period that Caylee had supposedly been missing. Baez painted Casey as a poor, tortured soul, who was able to deny the fact her young daughter was dead and carry on as if nothing had happened because she was used to hiding her emotions, given that she was sexually abused as a child by her father and possibly by her brother, Lee. Both claim that this is a lie and neither of them had ever made any sexual advances towards Casey. This version of events begs the question, if Caylee had drowned in the pool, then why was she found with duct tape covering her mouth? Why cover a child's mouth as if to suffocate them or stop them from screaming if they were already dead? Why would George try to cover up what could easily have been construed as a tragic accident, as if it were a murder? Surely if she had drowned, his daughter would have been better off with a neglect charge instead of a possible murder charge? And why would he openly describe the smell in Casey's car boot as that of a decomposing body, when surely, if he had disposed of Caylee, he would not have wanted to draw that kind of attention?

The prosecution would, of course, agree with the unanswered questions above. They claimed that Casey duct taped her daughter's mouth to suffocate her after she became unconscious due to the use of chloroform. Her body was then left in the boot of Casey's car and was later disposed of in the woods. All the while, Casey was out partying. They painted her in quite a different light to the defence, saying that she murdered her daughter to get rid of the responsibilities of parenthood so she was free to enjoy her social life. Two cadavar dogs found stong traces of cadavar scent in the boot of the car and the Anthony's backyard also, but this was rendered as irrelevant by the defence team. Casey herself, did not take the stand to testify in her defence throughout the trial.

On 5th July 2011, Casey Anthony was found not guilty of first-degree murder, child abuse and manslaughter. The jury found her guilty only on four counts of providing false information. Watching the action unfold live, the Casey I had previously seen had melted away. When the sentencing was read out, she began to smile. A smile of relief that she was not going to be convicted of a murder she didn't commit perhaps. Or a smile of relief that she had gotten away with it. Despite the recollections and descriptions of her little girl's death, her face remained stony at best, rarely a tear shed.

This case attracted a lot of public and media attention and has been duped as "OJ Simpson 2" due to the overwhelming evidence against her yet still being found not guilty. People all over the world openly expressed their disgust at the verdict, which most thought would be guilty and that Casey would be facing the death penalty. But the jury on the trial were told specifically not to take into account anything they heard or saw about the case beyond the courtroom and they were told not to let their emotions affect their decision. With no absolute concrete evidence, without reasonable doubt, that Casey murdered Caylee, the jury was forced to hand her a not guilty verdict, to which many of the jurors were "sickened" by. despite it being the correct decision in regards to the law.

So, to the important part. What do I believe? I believe, along with at at least 90% of everyone else who has followed this case, that Casey Anthony is as guilty as sin. She was able to go out partying and drinking, knowing her child was dead. If Caylee had died accidentally, it would have been even harder to cope with than knowing she had been murdered at Casey's hands, which probably made it easier for her to take her mind off it. Although Casey would have probably loved her child, she saw her as nothing more than a burden, stopping her from living her life the way she wanted to, dragged down by being a parent, bundled with reponsibilties. She took Caylee away, refusing to let her grandmother to see her by concocting a number of lies to cover her tracks. In the 31 days that Caylee was "missing," Casey did as the prosecution claimed. Knocked Caylee out using chloroform, put duct tape over her mouth so she would suffocate and possibly to prevent her from screaming should she come round prematurely, then when Caylee was dead she was kept in the boot of Casey's car until she had worked out a plan of how to dispose of her. Then when she did so, she was able to carry on her party lifestyle, even getting the tattoo "Bella Vita" meaning "beautiful life" while her daughter was dead and buried in a woods, a laundry bag for a coffin, up until her mother reported Caylee missing and Casey was arrested in October. Her lies about sexual abuse at the hands of her father, although deemed untrue, were spread in a bid to make people symapthise with her. And in court, she showed little emotion, considering, had this death been accidental, she would surely breakdown remembering the whole traumatic experience that any normal parent would show being taken back to the day her daughter was found dead in a binbag.

As far as I am aware, because of double jeapordy, it means that Casey Anthony can never be tried again on the same offence now she has been accquitted and convicted (in the loosest sense of the word.) Therefore, she has walked away completely scot-free. Technically, she could go and tell people she did it and it would make no ounce of difference. So now she walks, a free woman. Or as free as you can possibly be when you are hated by such a huge number of people. Infact, she was probably safer in jail, now she is out, there will be people out there, other mother's, waiting to rip her apart. Caylee Marie Anthony did not recieve the justice she deserved. A young, beautiful little girl who didn't understand that her mother felt that her social life was more important than her daughter and would go to such terrible lengths to have her way. A little girl who no doubt loved her mother unconditionally and trusted her with her life, a life that that same mother snatched away from her for her own selfish gain. The only consolation is that Casey Anthony will have to spend the rest of her life looking over her shoulder, because there will no doubt always be someone watching, waiting for her. Because, although the case may be over, one day karma will catch up with Casey Anthony, and when it does, that is when the true justice will be done.

RIP Caylee Marie Anthony (2005-2008) May your justice be served some day