My 2014

Trigger Warnings – Strong language throughout

Are you excited readers? The new year will dawn upon us soon, it’s time to make plans you’ll never stick to and get so shit-faced your first words of 2015 will be “Oh my fucking god, kill me”, your first morning will have you wake up to being upside down and almost blind with your arse out and your guts on the floor. I’ll be starting my new year entirely sober, bored and probably sat on my butt in front of a screen but I’m not complaining, tis how I almost always start the new year, the only new year I ever spent away from home I spent sat in front of my girlfriend of the time’s TV instead… both of us, I didn’t just turn up and lounge on her sofa like some sort of intrusive sloth. Anyway, as is the tradition, this is the time of year where we all look back at the last twelve months and judge how far we have come and how far we still need to go. Tonight, I’ll talk about how far I’ve come, tomorrow, how far I need to go, a post in two halves such as it were.

I started this year with nothing really, my social life was dead in the water because my pockets were empty and my mood was awful. I had a small circle of people I could kill some time with now and then but for the most part I was just going through the motions. I’m in a similar stance now but something about it then seemed even less worthwhile, maybe it was the lingering feeling I was there because I didn’t get up, as opposed to biding time to come at it again. Anyway, I eventually got my ass back on job seeker’s, I’d been out of pocket since losing my job as a bartender and needed the money to get by. Shortly after that, things started picking up and I was learning to market my skills a bit better, a few job trials but nothing really went my way for a long time. Socially though, I improved, I got myself into a cosy relationship that I was quite happy with.

I won’t divulge into details of the relationship but you’re all aware I’m single so you can tell it didn’t last. I could bitch and whine or make them out as a callous cretin but I’ll avoid it, in spite of everything I just don’t feel venomous or anger towards them, I just keep out of their way and they keep out of mine. I learnt a lot from the relationship though and they helped me understand so many things from different perspectives – gender identities, contemporary feminism, philosophy and even how to be a better writer. The relationship wasn’t one of the body but more one of the mind but I suppose putting two people like us in a room together for too long was either going to be phenomenal or disastrous and so it started as the former and ended as the latter. If you’re reading, hello, hope you’re well, I’d be surprised if you did follow my blog but then again maybe I wouldn’t be. I’m not sure what I’d say to you if we met in person, I’m sure you feel the same probably, undecided if you’d punch me or kiss me but I shan’t overstep the line either way, just know that I do still think about you at times and I’m thankful for everything I gained from what we had, I like to think I am a better man now than I was then, and I don’t mean that with arrogance or bravado but with the opposite, I have learnt the value of listening, of measured selflessness and that we are more than a collection of traits, we are all vast and wide as oceans and just as mysterious. Thank you for that.

Sentimentality aside, the break up was about May time I believe, the details are hazy but it was around that time I started working at Oxfam. I quickly proved myself as a capable worker and found myself being entrusted with greater responsibility as time went by, my manager telling me I was being considered for a managerial role myself. I enjoyed my time at Oxfam, I met some good people and I got to see some of my old friends more regularly in an environment that was engaging without it being “Let’s meet up and stare at televisions and eat stuff”, now we were working together, we came to understand each other a bit better. I finally mended a long since shaking bridge with a friend of mine who has become irreplaceable over the past few months and I got to see sides to my best friend I had not seen before, all of us becoming much closer and much stronger as a unit and as individuals. I have no regrets there, this year to me is defined by the bonds I forged, the friends I made and the old friends I grew to know much better than I once did, holding them through tears and having them cheer me on to make something myself. I became warmer inside, warmer than I had felt before, much warmer than I started the year, a bitter and grumpy man simply existing, now I was working hard, spending time out being active and giving something back to my community.

Autumn rolled in and I got the job. I like to think I did pretty well, with everything considered, and my colleagues came to realise that I was not the shadow of my manager, I was a leader in my own right, I could feel that level of respect from them and it was demanding, sure, every issue that cropped up had a face staring towards me for directions. As the job came to an end, the overall evaluation came as a disappointment, I had not lived up to what I expected of myself or the targets I had been set, management is a challenging line of work for a man who barely says more than twenty words a day. I had my confidence shaken, some had doubted my capability in my role and went about their problems with me in ways I didn’t feel satisfied with, namely going around me to my superiors but hey, that’s the world of work, not everyone has it in them to come up to someone and resolve problems in such a direct manner, even myself at times. I took a step back from Oxfam after that point, to rest, to try and enjoy the festive season with a fair sum of money to my name, which I used to get some essentials for the future and to thoroughly spoil those that I cared about, knowing I wouldn’t get the chance too often. I did it because, well, even though not one of them would say I owe them anything, I felt I did, I had started this year so bitter and cold but each of them gave me something, each of them made me laugh, supported me through tough times and I had grown to love them all in ways I never did before. Blah, mushy…

The year has brought joys and sorrows. Ok, so I had my heart trampled on again, my cynicism towards romance is at its absolute peak now but through careful discussions, I came to understand what I REALLY want in a relationship, not what I told myself I wanted, so I’ve got my fingers crossed that things will work out and I actually feel some hope there. I felt a sense of elation on my birthday though, that for me was brilliant, that so many would show up even without seeing me for so long, just to celebrate my birthday and all of them paired their contribution to the party cost and then some, it reminded me that for all my money worries and dead love life, I’ve got good friends, in that sense I am rich. Granted, this is all a bit doey-eyed but it’s New Year’s Eve, it’s what we do, followed by ridiculous promises tomorrow.

So where am I now? Well, back to being unemployed and single but I have a better sense of who I am, how I feel and I now have a blog I actually put effort into, friends who actually want to spend time with me (Like, few weeks ago, met up with a friend I hadn’t seen in years and my god, it was like we’d never been apart, it was just natural friendly banter all the time, we shared a lot about ourselves and we’re meeting up again soon) and I have more experience of work, a better attitude and the support and resources to do more than claim benefits and rummage around for job opportunities like some sort of beggar, now I’m a desirable employee… though a car would help. Plans for the new year! Woop!

Anyway, happy new year readers, hope 2014 was your year and if not, fuck it, here’s another one, maybe it won’t be shitty, maybe it will, let’s find out together shall we? Hit like and share on here and be sure to check me out at my Facebook page, it’s funny now and then and the comment sections are a hoot (Though if this ever takes off, beware ze trolls!)

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2014 Retrospective

Trigger Warnings – Mentions of suicide/depression, related to Robin Williams

2014 was a pretty full year, granted it’s not quite done yet but I’ll be damned if I’m waiting to the very last second for every single morsel of news and trivia to include in here. I had originally thought of making a month by month Charlie Brooker-esque look back at the news of the year – media, films, business, politics, technology, war – all that jazz and more but my god was there a lot to cover, far too much to squeeze into my usual article length. I mean, when I look back at the year, it feels like it went on forever, not like 2013 which sorta came and went for me at least.

A strange year, we lost many great names and we saw twerks and jerks all over our News Feeds – Russell Brand became a ‘revolutionary’, the battle for equality escalated tremendously with victories for Gay Marriage cropping up across the US, Scotland voted on independence, photos were hacked and made global, cinemas cowered from cyber threats, Rocket Raccoon became a recognisable character to the mainstream and we learnt the dark truths behind some famous faces of yesteryear. So much to cover on one little blog, some of it I only really rediscovered in my research and was surprised at how recent things had been and just how much had happened. I’ll cover what I can, in brief summary.

So globally, the most searched names were those of Robin Williams, Jennifer Lawrence and Kim Kardashian. Robin Williams being one of the most tragic losses, at least to me and to the public community, and he served as a reminder as to the truth of depression – that outward appearances do not portray inner feelings for this man who brought nothing but joy felt such intense sadness and pain inside that it eventually overcame him, that’s a blog post in itself, something I can relate to, but I’ll leave it be for now. Jennifer Lawrence, of course, was constantly in the public eye for her various film appearances in the likes of Hunger Games films and X-Men First Class, as well as being a victim of the nude photo hack scandal. To clear up my stance on that one, she’s a victim and no she shouldn’t have just not taken the pictures of herself, that’s like saying if you don’t want to be robbed, don’t own valuables, victims are victims, criminals are criminals, stop blurring the lines. Yes, leaving a door unlocked will let a burglar into the house more easily but I can walk post a door and not open it, if someone goes ahead and walks in where they’re not invited, they need to be punished accordingly, we shouldn’t shrug and say it was inevitable. As for Kim, Kim tried to ‘break the internet’ by posing naked on a magazine cover, apparently forgetting the internet already knows what she looks like naked. I heard talk of it being brave or bold or stupid or whatever, I just shrugged, it was the least spectacular bit of ‘news’ I’d ever read, it’s why I’d never even considered doing an article on it – I refuse to make my blog into a celebrity gossip dump.

In film, we had the undying popularity of Frozen linger on well into Christmas this year, so much so various shops had to enforce maximum budgets on customer purchases for Frozen merchandise, we had Guardians of the Galaxy make Marvel a shit ton more money than they already had, there were Hobbits and Ninja Turtles all over the place, Lego became a film… somehow, Divergent joined the roster of “Dystopian teen fiction made into long running Hollywood money machine” novels, and we learnt that Benedict Cumberbatch REALLY can’t say penguins and that apes can outmatch the military. A lot of good films, a lot of not so good films, a lot of films I meant to watch and didn’t but the most part of it was “You know what we need? A team of characters standing around in epic poses whilst stuff explodes, it made Marvel rich, it must be the key to immortality or something” – so much so the freakin’ Penguins of Madagascar parodies the scene with the penguins stood in the trademark everyone-is-here-let’s-stand-back-to-back position and their leader saying to hold the position until maximum coolness is achieved. I still have a lot of these films to catch up on, Big Hero 6 looks fun, definitely need to see The Theory of Everything and wouldn’t mind giving some of the others a go just to say I have done. Of course, there was the fiasco with The Interview, which has been resolved with online releases, though there is a discussion in that for another day maybe.

World news, the big charity pushes this year were the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that every fucker and their nan took part in and the fight against Ebola, which America handled by saying “OH GOD NO AFRICANS WILL KILL US ALL, EBOLA IS EVERYWHERE!” whilst actual charities worked hard to clear up the damages and the rumours. We heard news reports on wars and conflicts across the globe, so much so it all sort of blurred into one horrid mess for people who didn’t follow these things, myself included. Conflicts in Gaza, Israel, Crimea, Ukraine, it became this endless stream of human beings just doing horrid stuff to one another and I daren’t even step on the subject because I just didn’t read up on it, it passed me by, I’m sure it did for most of you – the advantages of our lifestyles huh? We have our complaints and financial insecurity but there are considerably less guns and explosions in Shrewsbury, I’ll give you that much. In my neck of the woods, UKIP enjoyed a surge in support, much to my disgust, but at least the Greens did too. Scotland had their vote on independence and said it wasn’t for them, which to me is a wise decision, Britain as a whole barely stays afloat, breaking chunks off won’t do anyone any favours. Yes, that’s very brief and vague, so what?

Ugh, my gosh, over a thousand words, barely scratched the surface. I haven’t covered ISIS or Ferguson or the Sochi Olympics or Peaches Geldof or Conchita Wurst or… do you see my point? A lot happened this year, it’s impractical for a man of my limited resources to go into these things in one go so maybe this post will jog some memories of “Oh yeah, that happened” and start a few discussions. Truth be told, in this modern age, our attention spans are short, things don’t stay relevant very long – try it, do an ice bucket challenge now, see who gives a flip. Come 2015, we’ll have forgotten most of this year, I’ve certainly forgotten most of 2013 and 2012 before that. Anyway, perhaps slightly more interesting, tomorrow I’ll do a review of 2014 for me as a person rather than parroting Google searches. I have a lot to say there and it’ll be my way of signing off this year, letting it go

Letting it go… let it go… oh fuck

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Not Today

Trigger Warnings – Some strong language.

I’ll put this out there at the beginning, this post doesn’t really have a subject per se, it is just a record of thoughts, I’m at a loss for what to discuss today and don’t really feel like writing anything requiring a lot of research and thought at the moment. I feel sort of tired at the moment, mentally and physically, and though there are news worthy pieces up in the public eye right now, I can’t cover them without repeating myself a lot and nothing really gripped me in the headlines, the same old same old – Ebola here, job losses there, disasters somewhere else – it’s a sad state of affairs that we live in a world where you can react to the word ‘disaster’ with ‘meh’. Granted, my reaction would be different if it affected me directly, that goes without saying, but since it didn’t, I hate to say it but I can find myself looking the other way but then I’m hardly the only culprit there and considering I usually make such a song and dance of the latest news, you can forgive me for a few personal days.

I’ve decided I will reduce the frequency of my posts in the new year, in terms of articles at least. I feel bombarding my audience with a thousand words a day for them to munch on is a bit much for some readers, so much so that even good friends of mine can end up with a backed up list of articles to catch up on and some never get round to it. I ask for feedback and I get the stock responses “Very good” or “You write really well”, which, thanks for the compliments but vague as heck, however I suppose I can’t hold it against people if I’m pushing for their opinions on social issues every day, I’d eventually find myself saying “Yeah, you’re right” now and then just to appear to be saying something. I have a Facebook page, I think I’ve plugged that a lot, but it tells me how many people see a post and how many people engage with it – most posts get very little engagement unless they’re short and snappy status updates, the articles themselves get barely any commentary. I guess this could be down to my latest articles all being news, news, news, maybe I need to break up the pace a bit, I have suggested such in the past and some readers sounded pleased with that idea but perhaps there is also room to just do mini posts, little rants and raves that are no more than a few lines long to make the conversation easier to break into, such as it were.

Of course, the next step up is YouTube, people are much happier to watch stuff than read stuff, it’s the modern world. I won’t stop writing, writing is my forte, my craft, I must practice it constantly and I do want to be recognised for it so as to one day make a living by my words but the allure of the videos is the allure of performance and of being heard much more easily than being a blogger in some dark corner of the internet. I want to share my thoughts and feelings and odd moments of comedy with as wide an audience as possible really, especially if the issue is something important like feminism or politics. I’ve had people ask “Why don’t you just blog about stuff you like?” and it’s been tempting, I might use Totally Obscure Tuesday to do a few pieces on stuff I like but the point of the matter is I want to be recognised for my writing, I enjoy the process but I enjoy the feedback and discussion just as much and if this is to be my future, I need to make it something more easily marketed than “Well, he’s a bit of an unknown but he sure as hell knows a lot about samurai history”

I’ll have to get used to self-promoting, I know I give the impression that I do nothing else but self promote, constantly pushing myself forward and begging for attention and comments and the like but I actually despise doing it, it feels like I’m being the obnoxious prat in the coffee shop  typing loudly and looking around to see if anyone will ask what I’m doing, I feel like that one in the group who says “I’ve composed a poem for this moment”, clears their throat and then recites it without invitation as everyone else sits in awkward silence and replies with “It was good, great, yeah…”. I’m not, I assure you, I’m not that guy, in person I am almost entirely silent, even in good company, and I don’t sit in conversations waiting for my chance to say “Well actually, in my blog I…” because immediately my lingering doubt smirks at me and calls me a pretentious little cunt muffin.

In short, I need to make myself seen and heard but there’s more to it than cramming articles down throats every day of the week so come the new year, this blog is going to need another rethinking. Less frequent articles, aim for regular timing (which so far, not too bad), more frequent statuses and small ways of getting to know my audience, maybe some more interesting ways to get people involved other than “Praise me!” or “I demand intellectual discussions!” so this is as much about me as it is about you. I thank you for your continued support readers, maybe one day Jacob Wolfe will be a name people recognise without saying “The guy from Twilight?”

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Patriots and Nationalists

Trigger Warnings – Strong language in some places.

I remember when I first heard the word ‘patriot’, it was in school, I must have been about ten years old and my teacher said it meant someone who was proud of their home nation, to put it simply. I thought this was true of most people and indeed it is but it was a word that I rarely heard being used, even in a country like Britain, for most of my life I never heard people refer to themselves as patriotic because it was just a given but now? Patriot is one of those words you just can’t escape any more and the problem with a common place word is that it is open to being used in the wrong context, this is the fate the word irony suffers at the hands of hipsters, or the word random suffers at the hands of those sorts of girls who shout out their love of dinosaurs and cheese and pink hair. I think we need to define the difference between a patriot and a nationalist, they are similar but not the same and so many people I encounter claiming they are ‘British Patriots’ are in fact, nationalists – nationalism being an irresponsible and selfish viewpoint whereas patriotism being perfectly fine and commendable.

Here’s some food for thought to start the discussion:

Patriotism is proud of a country’s virtues and eager to correct its deficiencies; it also acknowledges the legitimate patriotism of other countries, with their own specific virtues. The pride of nationalism, however, trumpets its country’s virtues and denies its deficiencies, while it is contemptuous toward the virtues of other countries. It wants to be, and proclaims itself to be, “the greatest,” but greatness is not required of a country; only goodness is – Sydney J. Harris

That’s a good quote but that was just the appetiser, here’s something to really sink your teeth into:

The difference between patriotism and nationalism is that the patriot is proud of his country for what it does, and the nationalist is proud of his country no matter what it does; the first attitude creates a feeling of responsibility, but the second a feeling of blind arrogance that leads to war – Sydney J. Harris

Now, do you notice a recurring theme here with his quotes? Granted, same guy said both quotes but this man was no fool, he was a widely respected columnist and author, as well as an advocate for women’s rights, pro-choice stances and bringing an end to the death penalty, which might land him in the eyes of a lefty-tosser to some of you but this man held honorary doctorates, awards from the National Conference of Christians and the Chicago Newspaper Guild, I think that earns him some merit. Even without it, he makes a good point about patriotism and nationalism, one that reminds me of something a friend of mine once said in that patriotism is rooting for the home team and turning up at their matches, nationalism is believing the team to be infallible and destroying the stadium at away games. A patriot feels a sense of responsibility to their country and even love has the ability to step back and tell someone they have failed or done wrong, you do not truly love someone if you blindly agree with everything that comes out of their mouth. You have to take pride in their achievements and feel the shame of their shortcomings, encouraging them to do their absolute best.

I hear some people speak of a foreign threat, this was what UKIP appealed to and it’s what Republicans appeal to in America, making people cautious and wary of those that are different in colour or religion or way of life, accusing them of stealing from your country’s resources or trying to bring their culture into your home and ruin your old traditions for you with their strange new ways. Ok, straight away, no white person alive has the right to say “You come over here with your foreign ways and try to make us change? Fuck off!”, that’s what our ancestors did to three quarters of the globe, I think we can overlook building a mosque when we had them baptised and decapitated once upon a time. If you are proud of your country and it’s traditions, you needn’t feel threatened when these changes come, the traditions will live on through you and all traditions need to adapt anyway, that is how we advance as a society from traditions of sacrificing lambs to idols into gathering in churches on a Sunday, someone has to say “Actually, how about we don’t do that any more? It seems a bit primitive/cruel/unfair/silly”. As for patriotism, well, you should be proud that your country is growing and attracting more people and encourage everyone to work together, but it becomes nationalism when you expect them to become like you to be allowed to live amongst you. I remember my stepmother taking her citizenship test to live here, the stuff she had to know was more than nine out of ten Brits actually did know about the country but even so, just because someone has moved to a new country, they haven’t left their heritage for dirt, what they must adhere to in order to live somewhere is the law, they don’t have to adopt the national stereotype to prove themselves worthy.

I’m mostly speaking to Britain here, I was inspired by a UKIP MP actually tearing down his own party for their racist views and that they need to avoid thinking about isolationist views because Britain became ‘Great’ through its allies and neighbours, we didn’t get given the prefix by God as if to say “Yep, you guys are really on the ball with that society you’ve got there, top job, God is British too, keep it up lads”. After all, that term in its most basic form was coined almost two thousand years ago and literally just meant “The bigger bit of the British Isles”, with Ireland being called “The smaller bit of the British Isles”. Don’t get it twisted, I love Britain, I really do, but it is because I’m proud of these isles that I don’t want it become a hive for hateful ignorants telling people to go away and never bother trying to change anything. I know some may strive for the traditions of old but as I said yesterday, that includes bear baiting, where do you want to draw the line? Britain, before it gained friends overseas, was a struggling little island with an infant mortality problem and an 80 hour work week in some instances, is that what we want to bring back?

Charlie Brooker made a good joke about this a while ago about how he liked Britain before the Romanians and the Poles and the Irish and the French and the Normans and the Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons and the Romans, that was proper Britain, clearly exaggerating nationalism to the most radical extreme but perfectly valid. Nationalism is a related philosophy to tribalism when you think about it, it is not a love of the British public as a whole, it is a love of their allies. I mean think about it, really think, could you imagine Nigel Farage calling the left-wing political parties his brethren and respected allies, or even addressing them as good people? Boris Johnson called the left-wing party ‘tossers’, and admittedly I refer to my fellow Brits of wealth and status as entitled pricks, which is a tribal view point, a sort of “If you’re not one of us, you’re against us” mentality more befitting the Great Khans of Fallout than a political party. If you dare speak against the tribe, you’re disloyal, you’re disrespecting your great homeland, you’re a sympathiser with an imagined foe and should be shunned and loathed. Nationalism is essentially thinking your tribe or country deserves the status of the best, which is silly, we’re not in competition, not really, we all share a planet and at the end of the day, countries are invented concepts and if God exists, he won’t gather us all together in a thousand years and say “So it turns out the USA did the best at being a good country, all Americans shall get to go to VIP Heaven and hang out with Jesus, the rest of you get to go to Commoner’s Heaven and polish halos for a living!”

I know there’s an air of ridicule in this post but we need to be clear, you are not a patriot if you support a nationalistic party or believe you live in the best country ever or that your current society is what people should aim for, there is no set guideline as to what a country is supposed to be, a lot of people say we all want to be America really but that’s because it’s a rich nation and everyone wants to be rich. Support your nation, by all means, love it and wear the colours, but respect that people aren’t obliged to take part, even if they’re your next door neighbour, and if you ever start dismissing people for having a different cultural background to you or a desire to practice their own religion or language despite living in a place not reflecting that background, take a step back and imagine it the opposite way round. White people fear a white minority because they’re worried we’d be treated the way we treat them – racism, intolerance and ignorance bordering on being abused simply for existing. In time, maybe we can live in a world where no minority need ever live in constant fear, where every man and woman is a valid peer as should be true of democracy, and lord knows we all love a good democracy.

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That Wily Fox Cameron

Trigger Warnings – Animal abuse/death, death by asphyxiation

So this is in the news, and I shit you not here, David Cameron has promised that if the Tories win the next election, one of their priorities will be legalising fox hunting after the ban placed on it by the Labour Government of 2004. I am not joking, this is a serious issue to him apparently, one he needs to address if he gets to have his way in the next election and I’m here to put in my say for those of you who are interested because in lieu of actually slapping Cameron around the ear and telling him to be less of an entitled rich prick, this is the best I can realistically do on the matter.

No points for guessing where I stand on this issue then, in typical Green Party supporting, gay marriage okaying, upper class hating fashion, I’m against this primitive bloodsport, they say it is the sport of kings but it hardly seems that dignified and noble to ride a horse after a pack of angry dogs chasing down a lone fox or a deer and then letting them rip it apart or shoot at it, it’s not sport if one team has a clear and consistent advantage – give the fox a team of his mates and some weapons, then it’s a sport. Anyway, I’m not alone in this, in 2012 a public opinion poll showed 81% of the general public were against repealing the ban from eight years prior and though there are a large number of people supporting lifting this ban, these people are an entitled few. Now I’m not against stamping on people’s private joys, you do what you will but when your idea of having a good time involves the word ‘killing’, that’s not fair, what right do you have to kill for amusement?

Nigel Farage also wants to repeal this ban, he’s not called it a priority besides his policies on immigration and such but when Farage and Cameron agree on something, it worries me, the Kippers consist of breakaways from the Tories but in this instance we see them holding hands and as if a testament as to how out of touch Cameron is with the world, he’s running into the arms of UKIP and asking for a hug and a pint of fox blood. In the grand scheme of things, is hunting really an issue that needs addressing that badly? We have people living in poverty, apparently immigration is a major issue and there are still people without jobs and students racking up massive debts for daring to invest in their own future but nope, whether or not rich people can give the fox both barrels is much more important. A politician, ideally, should be a vessel for the will of the people, the one with the legal power to do what Joe Everyman wants to see made better about society and even in a town as rural and traditional as Shrewsbury, I’ve seen maybe two car window stickers saying “Support Fox Hunting!”. I mean, this is ridiculous that it’s even come up, this is not something worth investing resources into discussing when there are soldiers dying, children starving and companies trouncing our tax systems – are the Tories so out of touch that they honestly have to prioritise this ridiculous pass time for the rich? Do they really care so little for the people beneath them that they’re like “Oh sorry Britain, I know you’re all peeved about this wealth inequality situation but can we all take a moment of our time to decide whether or not my mates and I have your permission to go shoot woodland critters? Thanks!”

I’m not an idiot, I know there are necessary culls and population booms and jobs that rely upon hunting, I know that people will say “It’s nature, it’s good for the animals to be hunted to keep them fit!” (Which is a load of bollocks, foxes and deer have no natural predator in this country other than farmers so… they’re only learning the lesson of avoid human beings, they have muskets) but this is a cruel and inhumane way to go about controlling the population, the animals suffer a lot for the sake of fun, fun and suffering are not supposed to go together,we know that, we lock up people who think they do. You might speak of preserving tradition, of standing up for what defines our country but does that mean we need to bring back bear-baiting, the cruel process of sicking a pack of starved mongrels on a shaved and beaten bear? Or how about we bring back the British tradition of public hangings? We used to take the kids out to watch the Hangman’s Jig! Traditions should not be preserved simply because “It’s what our forefathers did!”, yeah, our ancestors used to shit in holes and display severed heads in their garden as a sign of status, we stopped those things, we can stop hunting as well – we must constantly challenge traditions for their flaws and adapt them to the times we live in for a fairer society. Some say the Hunting Act was an attack on the lives of the rural people but I’m sorry, pleasure and slaughter are not supposed to go together, that’s just how it works.

The argument about fox hunting, in particular legalising it, distracts from the real issues at hand and if Cameron brings it up, it’s going to detract from the core values of his party – immigration control, a stronger economy and welfare regulation reform – I don’t want the Tories to win the next election but even so, this is just a bad move, it’s using power and status to defend private interests. Heck, even UKIP said that whilst they want the ban lifted, it’s not something they’re actively fighting for just yet, immigration control comes first. You know something isn’t right when UKIP have more common sense… I NEVER thought I’d say that about them, ever…

Hey readers, thanks for reading this article – let me know your opinions on the subject either in the comment section down below or message me on my Facebook page, the link is down below. As always, please be sure to like and share and click like at the link down below for the latest updates, you need never miss a post again!

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A Bond With Racism

Trigger Warnings – Some strong language

Ok, Christmas obligations dealt with, let’s get back to the normal routine with this blog shall we? I’ve passed over some interesting subjects for the sake of doing some Christmassy stuff but I want to cover these before they fade from the attention of the public and so without further adieu, I want to talk about the recent leaked tidbit of information that Sony want Idris Elba as the next James Bond. Idris Elba, perhaps my audience know him best as Heimdall of the Marvel Thor franchise and you’re probably all aware that he is black, something that James Bond isn’t typically portrayed as. Now, anyone with half a brain can tell what happened when this info became public, opinions were polarised between “Why not? He’s a great actor, go Idris!” and “James Bond as a black man? OUTRAGE! Fuck the minorities ruining everything!”. I’m here to represent the former, in particular, taking opposition to some of the most ridiculous arguments as to why he shouldn’t be allowed to take on this role after Daniel Craig.

Film buffs, do not despise me but do you remember when Ben Affleck was announced to be the next Batman? My reaction was not one of anger but acceptance, I mean, he’s an established actor, writer, director and nerd, he’s got the physical requirements and the fact nobody could imagine him as being this tough vigilante meant he’d be all the more believable as Bruce Wayne, rather than looking like a slab of muscular man meat forced into a suit and trying to enjoy fancy dinner parties, this’d be a guy who could equally at home in his mansion as his cave. I felt that was important, too many people see Batman as the mean nitty-gritty dark hero because of Frank Miller’s work but a comic book franchise needs to do more than just brood in the shadows and say “Look, this is serious now, don’t laugh at the bat costume, it’s fucking cool”, it’s still a rich boy playing out a power fantasy in dress up, let’s at least PRETEND he occasionally gets off on it, rather than sulk around everywhere spouting poetic rubbish. However, people really get attached to fictional characters and when you shake up how they see them being played, they get really upset – a concept of there being a female Doctor, a black Captain America, a female Thor – you announce these things and fans lose their shit, sure a franchise is as much about the fans as the creators but you have to let a franchise shift and change or it goes stale, that’s where nitty gritty Batman came in, the original Batman was the campiest American family friendly silliness going in comics, Frank Miller made Batman into a dark hero and then suddenly people saw Batman as nothing else, not realising that this was pigeon-holing possibilities and leading DC Comics into a filthy rut.

So, looping back to the discussion at hand, this is the same deal with James Bond, people see James Bond, they think a suave British fellow driving cars really fast, banging hot babes and blowing shit up, essentially another entitled white guy living out fantasies with a seemingly infinite pool of resources. Idris Elba is our Ben Affleck Batman then, he doesn’t LOOK like the preconceived notion of the character, ergo, he can’t be the character. Well last time I checked, Idris Elba is British and by the way, the idea that James Bond was always a Scottish man is false, that was something Ian Fleming changed his mind on after seeing Sean Connery in the role so you know, clearly even the creator can bend the rules on the character, why can’t we? Idris Elba is a great actor and maybe he’ll play the Bond we all know and love as this reckless drunken gadgethead or maybe he’ll play a different Bond, a more sombre and pensive bond like Roger Moore once did perhaps? The beauty of fictional characters is we can interpret them in different ways and each different portrayal of that character brings a new element that fans can discuss, grow to love and fantasise about even newer ideas – this is how Doctor Who refreshes itself after all, each Doctor is different, you have your hate-filled lone wolf Eccleston and you have your silly lunatic Smith, fictional characters can change, they can adapt and each new combination of actors and writers open a world of possibilities.

Rush Limbaugh weighed in on this choice and said it was akin to a white guy playing Barack Obama, admitting it sounded racist but he went by the logic of comparing James Bond to Barack Obama, here’s why that’s a shallow argument. I know James Bond is based on actual facts, loosely, Ian Fleming got the idea from things that did happen but by and large, this is a made up guy, a story, a collection of pieces of paper that can be throw away or corrected. Barack Obama, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, they’re real people and you can’t have them portrayed by white guys because what was significant about their stories was the fact they were black, that’s what made them stand out in history, not just their accomplishments but the fact that they were the greats of black American history. The first black president, the black man who fought the white system without ever raising a weapon – changing them to white guys changes the story, it’s no longer a moving tale of a minority overcoming adversity to make the world a fairer place, it becomes the story of a minority being sent a white saviour to rescue them from their oppressors. Barack Obama and James Bond are two different kettles of fish – one of them is a fictional character, the other a historical figure. You can have a black man be Bond because Bond is the story of a super spy fighting super villains and having lots of sex, that has no skin colour requirements, but to portray the first black president in a film, you kinda need to be black for the film to make sense.

So, Rush, I doubt you’re reading but it is racist to suggest George Clooney play Barack Obama but it is not a problem to have Idris Elba play a made up spy in a film that is nowhere close to being real. As for worrying about them darn minorities stealing away our fictional characters, calm down, it doesn’t take a great deal of strain to list your top ten white male heroes in fiction does it? Or top twenty, or thirty… point being, you have a lot to choose from, not every last one of them will be ‘stolen’ and even if they were, so what? If you have a problem with a black Bond or a black Captain America, you need to think about that internalised racism you have going on in your mind and seriously ask yourself why these made up people HAVE to look the way you imagine them? Do minorities not deserve to look up to characters like James Bond or Doctor Who and think “That could be me one day, I could be the next actor to play Bond!” or is daydreaming an exclusively white privilege?

Thanks as always for reading, credit goes to my friend Millie for giving me the idea, I saw her Facebook status on the topic and decided to delve into the subject myself after meaning to do so earlier. You can check her out at the link below (As in her writing, not actually oggle at her, that’d be weird)

http://www.fatalfeminism.wordpress.com

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Christmas Day Special – My Christmas of 2014

Trigger Warnings – None.

Merry Christmas folks! Sorry if this is up late but come on, credit where credit is due, even posting anything on this day deserves a pat on the back really doesn’t it? I hope you are all having a jolly good time of this festive occasion, my Christmas hasn’t exactly been what one would typically call Christmas Day but I’m not here to complain, not today, not on Christmas Day, I’ll save you that much. Anyway, Christmas and the New Year come so close together that it is at this time of year, particularly in the evening, we come to reflect on how far we have come since this same time last year and whilst I plan to do a personal post on all that another day, my mind still dwells there and I’ve been rather thoughtful tonight so allow me to share my musings.

So, Christmas was sort of cancelled this year, for us – our family has endured some hard ordeals that have been taxing on my father and my stepmother and a recent family incident destroyed the festive spirit of my Dad, the youngest of our family stole a great sum of money from other members and for a holiday all about family and togetherness, this came as a harsh blow. I’m all for second chances but if you knew the history, this kid isn’t on his second, he’s on his tenth, we’re tired. Anyway, moving on to less depressing subjects, we managed to enjoy some festivity here – there were gifts being passed around, we had a very large dinner and we’ve enjoyed some films and games, as well as you know, plenty of chocolate. Yes, Christmas is a cosy time of year for most of us, we cannot all enjoy it, there are those who still starve and scream even today and for that, we have to be thankful for what we have, as I am sure you are all aware.

I am thankful for a lot this year, even in spite of finding myself unemployed and some less than ideal health issues, mood issues and family issues but beyond that, I have a lot to be grateful for even so. You see, as Christmas looked set to be miserable, I was flooded with love and support from friends and even invitations to join them for Christmas next year if it looks set to be much the same. I dare not think that far ahead but the invitations are very much welcomed and maybe I will take up on one of those invitations, maybe not, time will tell and it is much too soon to make shots in the dark at what the next Christmas has in store for me. I like to think I have been very festive this year, I had a fair sum of money to my name at the time and did what I wanted to do the most with it – I wanted to spoil those close to me, to buy them thought out gifts to tell each of them that I care because each of those people that got something, they got me through the year, they gave me strength and I knew I would not get the opportunity to indulge them too often so I figured why not? I find the most joy in the joy of others, sounds cheesy and stupid but I do. You know what sound I love more than anything? A gasp, a gasp of surprise when you have got someone something they did not expect, when they put their hand to their mouth and smile. I find it deeply satisfying and maybe there is an element of selfishness in pursuing that reaction but it’s a redeemable selfishness surely? I’ll leave it to you to make that call.

I’ve not been a true saint of the holiday, I’ve done so few charitable deeds unless it was for someone within my family or circle of friends, I didn’t help out at a soup kitchen, I didn’t deliver toys to children in hospitals, I didn’t give my coat to a homeless man and such things are indeed praiseworthy, I wish I had the resources to do such things constantly and rest assured, come the new year, I will get back into charity work, it is rewarding and can be quite fun in the right environment. The new year holds a lot in store for me, mostly the reality that I must get my life on track and move forward from this endless wandering in circles. Still, as I said, it being Christmas, let me take this opportunity to thank you all for a great year – my blog is back and better than before, I have such good close friends and I have done so much with this year that it amazes me that this has been one year, it has been a long one for me but what I’ve gained from it, I am happy to have found.

Merry Christmas readers and a Happy New Year to all. Give me a little present of a like and a share and be sure to like my page on Facebook. Thank you for reading and let’s see what the new year brings for us all!

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