Landan Town

This weekend I went on the trip I’d been ever so excited for for a long time now. I went to visit some family and someone special down in London and rather enjoyed myself.

Following on from work on Saturday afternoon I was able to dash off to Manchester Piccadilly for my train southwards. Embarking to enjoy the cheap (or not so) thrills of first class and free wifi, I was surprised at how quickly the train took. To think one can now cover >206miles in 2 hours in relative comfort is mindblowing, especially when prior to that your longest train journey had been 1 hour on a steam train from Port Erin to Douglas whilst being thrown about the carriage.

Arriving in London I was whisked off to catch a train Hertsfordshire way to meet my aunt and uncle for dinner at a lovely Italian restaurant. It’d been such a long time since I’d seen any of my maternal family, who happen to be the family members I relate to closest, other than a fleeting hug back in November from my aunt when I was at the student protests. The meal was delightful, chicken ravioli om nom nom, and my aunt forcefed me dessert… It was rather passive forcefeeding in hindsight, more ‘Shall we get dessert? Yeah, let’s get dessert. Cally’s a student, we need to feed him up before he goes back to misery.’ So we got dessert and I actively put it in my mouth and swallowed… After that we walked back home and had a lovely long catch up until quite late, and considering we had to be up in the morning afterwards we parted. Me for the sofa-bed, because their spare room was currently taken up by an old school-friend of my aunt’s before she sets off for her new 2-year contract in Houston, Texas, and them for their bedroom… But not after my uncle showed me his newest toy…  One of those tv bed things… 😛 The sole reason I don’t have cousins on my mother’s side of the family is because my uncle is such a big kid, he was so excited to show me so I feigned awe and amazement 😛

Sunday morning I was awoken by purring, to find Ozzie and Ringo had decided my face was a lovely paw rest, and their tails wrapped around my head. I looked like a cat-creature myself from all the fur… My aunt and I had a good natter before being dropped off at the station to head into London where I would spend the next 7 and a half hours walking around, enjoying the sights, the hustle, the bustle, and, I’ll willingly admit, the company.

Monday, despite having planned to go in to London early for breakfast with my aunt, I stayed at my aunt’s and uncle’s house in quiet contemplation. I felt awful, as until that morning I’d forgotten how meaningful that day was. It was a day of poor news stacked with mourning and depression… Ending with reassessment of my situation. I’d cried most of the day for a multitude of things, and felt the need to be close to the Lord, and then when I found his house was closed to me I cried more and more. Feeling abandoned, unloved, and abused was not the highest point to my weekend, but it’s got better.

We all face adversity in life. For some it’s a case of luck, other’s karma. For me, it’s a test of faith and constitution. I came so close to failing on Monday, but I persevered. I trusted. I grew as a person. I’m thankful.


Royal Wedding: Yeah, my invite’s in the post, right?

Article first published in Issue 17 of Salford Student Direct

In preparation for the upcoming royal marriage of His Royal Highness, Prince William of Wales, KG to Miss Catherine Middleton, last week saw approximately 1 900 invites sent out to guests to attend to the happy couple on April 29th at Westminster Abbey. Of which, a lucky 650 will be further invited to attend the reception at the palace, and a further 300 of them will be invited to dine privately with the newlyweds in the evening. Huzzah!

But who really cares? Aside from the monarchists, of course. Oh, and the tourists. But who cares about them? In fact, who cares about any of them? I’m an island. A one man island. Numéro Uno. That’s who I care about…

In truth, I think we should all care, even if just a little bit. What we’re about to experience this year is something to go down in history books our children and grandchildren will read and write about, and if not them, most certainly their children and grandchildren. This isn’t a normal marriage between two peers of the realm. This is the marriage of a future King of England who is more accessible than any of his ancestors, to a woman who is just as accessible and everyday as if you were to walk through Selfridge’s. If the idea of being able to say ‘I watched their marriage take place’ to the future generations of your family as you hand out our generations’ version of Werther’s Originals isn’t enough for you, let’s look at some other reasons why I think you should, or indeed truly do care.

Evidently, there’s the extra day off over the weekend. Who doesn’t like an extra day off to go plan DIY projects, or skip reading material for university, or go shopping, partying, drinking in a cold and dark room… Sit back down if you just said that you don’t, because evidently you’re a liar.

Memorabilia. I’m not just talking about the stuff spouting out congratulations, or with greyed photos of the happy couple beneath a poorly overlayed Union Jack. Because people ‘don’t care’ so very much, there’s a plethora of satirical memorabilia to tuck into! Take, for instance, the plates released by KK Outlet, which lists among everyday items on ‘Kate’s Wedding List’, a tiara, and the peerage of Oxfordshire.

I suppose, I’m beating around my point at the moment. I’m trying to say that, those that don’t care have unconsciously cared enough to consciously decide to not care. And beneath this ‘apathy’ you’ll actually find an almost Fawkes-esque backlog of sentiments. It’s not that you don’t care about Wills and Kate, you’ll wish them a happy marriage as you would any couple, whether you know them personally or not. You’re just unhappy with the coverage and the system in general, and that’s what you’re trying to give the cold shoulder to. Why is their marriage given such significance over your cousin Rachel’s, when she’s been planning her wedding on that date for almost a year now? What use is the monarchy in our democratic society other than for spending oh so very lavishly (imagine the cost of those 1 900 invitations)?

Whether you like it or not, the society in which we live with a royal family has combined with Hollywood culture.  We don’t afford royals the same awe as our forefathers did; we do, however, afford them ‘celebrity’ status, and it’s because of this that they are given such significance when they commemorate these everyday rituals and ceremonies. Let Wills and Kate have their day. Don’t spoil it for them because you hate the system and the media spin. They can’t help what society burdens them with. Save your grudge for after their big day. Besides, what’s the use in spending your free day off moaning? Save it for the following working week.

30 Song Challenge – Part III

Day 15 – A Song That Describes You

Haha, this was a hard one to choose, so in the end I had to choose two songs… The first was Meredith Brook’s BITCH the second of which was a rather comical, and current one, you can check it out here as I don’t particularly want to go too in depth with it 😛

Day 16 – A Song You Used To Love… But Now Hate

Now this song, I fell in love with instantly… but then, it used to ALWAYS come up in my shuffle playlists, so much so I get extremely pissed off and have taken to skipping it entirely now. I’ve yet to decide to delete it, I don’t think I’ll ever get to that stage, but PLEASE iPod, just give me a break!!! Brett Dennen – Heaven

Day 17 – A Song You Hear Often On The Radio

I love it, so it’s not so much a chore to hear it… at the moment. However, it may just become a #16 (as above) if I keep hearing it… Post Break Up Sex – The Vaccines

Day 18  – A Song You Wish You Heard On The Radio

This song happens to have been one of iTunes’ Singles of the Week. If you’ve not yet tried it out, I highly advise it… I’ve enjoyed each of them so far, for different reasons, and they’re free! Lauren Pritchard – When The Night Kills The Day

Day 19 – A Song From Your Favourite Album

It’s surprising that this isn’t a Killer’s song, considering I love them sooooo much. Instead, the following album is possibly equally as good. Plus, he’s kinda hot and I love the name… Fyfe Dangerfield – She’s Always a Woman, from the Faster Than The Setting Sun album. I think I might prefer this cover to the Billy Joel version too… :S

Day 20 – A Song You Listen To When Angry

NOTHING can beat a bit of angry socio-political, punk-rock, and my Deutsch forefathers certainly got it spot on with this one.  Nena – 99Luftballons

Day 21 – A Song You Listen To When Happy

Gosh. A tough one. I suppose the hardest part about it was trying to recall a time I was happy before I started listening to my music. It might sound strange but I use music as an aid to make me happy, not so much when I’m already content.. How emo-ish does that sound? One song that makes me remarkably happy at the moment comes from Glee, something I’ve surprisingly not covered much of in this challenge. Strange, considering I am the worlds largest Gleek EVER! Teenage Dream – Glee (Cover)

Day 22 – A Song You Listen To When Sad

As described above, all of my music generally 😛 However, cast back to when I left home for university and one song features ever so highly. It’s the song mother and I listened to together, in sync. Feelin’ Good – Joe Bonamassa

Day 23 – A Song You Want Played At Your Wedding

Oh gosh! Anyone subscribed to my spotify will be aware that I have an entire playlist dedicated to songs for a first dance at my wedding 😛 There are two clear favourites, but one of them I have decided would suit more in the ceremony and the other for the dance at the reception. For the ceremony: White Diamond – Kylie and for the reception: As Long As You’re Mine – Wicked (The Original Broadway Cast) Got to love Idina Menzel 🙂

Day 24 – A Song That You Want To Play At Your Funeral

Oh how grievously morbid! What’s worse, is I already have that decided upon…

When my great-grandfather passed, there was one song that mother and I both decided we shall have played at our funerals as a way to remember him, the way he lived his life, and the bizarre way in which we found out of his passing. Great-Granddad Rick (what I knew him as, Rick was short for Rickward, the family surname) was a strong and lively character, and it was indeed this that ended up killing him when he collapsed whilst on a holiday in America that my grandfather had advised him not to go on. Despite Granddad’s advise, Great-Granddad Rick went anyway and ended up collapsing half-way up a lighthouse in New York as he tried to run to the top. Now, no-one back home on the Isle of Man knew this for a long while, but mother and I both knew that something was up when we left the house at approximately the same time as Granddad Rick would have collapsed singing this song as it had just been on the radio in the house and we both love the artist. Once in the car and switching on a different radio station, we found the same song to be playing in sync with where the song was up to on the previous station. Changing it once more to a third station, it was also the same song, in the same place… Granddad Rick, missing you. Jon Bon Jovi – It’s My Life

The second song I would like to have played at my funeral is a bit of a fun one 😀 Frank Turner – Long Live The Queen 😛

6 more to go… to be continued 🙂

“I Do” For You, and You, and Maybe You

Unabridged article first published in Issue 15 of Salford Student Direct

In the coming weeks it is expected for proposals to be made which will look to allow religious organisations to hold same-sex marriages within their hallowed walls. This leap in the direction of equality for same-sex couples is thought to offer the option for Christian, Muslim, and Jewish societies to permit the same standard of union as is only afforded to heterosexual couples at present in the United Kingdom, however, there is already a strong defence from the two leading Christian denominations in England (Roman Catholicism and Church of England), and it is expected that leaders of Islam and Orthodox Judaism will not permit such unions to occur in their sacred buildings.

The major part to this proposal, which I wholeheartedly stand behind, is the fact that it is fully optional. As you may have read in issue 13 of Salford Student Direct, I am a homosexual who observes religion devoutly. The idea of being wed in a church is something I have never even thought about, not solely because it was the British law who had banned such observations, but because I too don’t agree with the idea. There’s something within me that repulses at the idea of same-sex marriage. Perhaps it is from years of doctrine condemning it, but then, as discussed previously, why would I even be gay if I so deftly believed in the multitude anti-sodomitic axioms? Or maybe, after a long history of prejudice against same-sex relationships, it’s because I don’t want to be tarred and feathered as an equal, pre-defined by the government. Perhaps, when I look to equality, I merely want my future partnership to be equal but different, like me and my relationship.

Perhaps I want, and would be happy being, on equal standing and afforded the same liberties, yet under a term reserved solely for both myself and the others who feel the same. Although, I suppose this would be far too difficult a task for the government. First, think up a new and original name. Secondly, copy and paste current T&Cs for marriage, ensuring to replace the word ‘marriage’ with the innovative name. Thirdly, release to the public. I agree, not only is this, perchance, an over simplified picture of what the government does, but also too great an expectation of the government and their creative think tanks.

I firmly believe there should remain a distinction between hetero- and homo-sexuals. There is something about this proposal, and why it is being backed by the Conservative MPs, that screams out to me to remember Phillipa Stroud and her prayer sessions to ‘cure’ people like myself.  Aside from that, we can all foresee the evident line that will be drawn by those who are against the decision of their religious authorities, should they choose to allow such acts, and so the question is begged as to whether it is merely the government looking for equality for equality’s sake, whether as a way to acknowledge Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) History Month or to continue with the movement made by Stroud to try and bring an aspect of conformation to a stereotypically outlandish minority, and whether this has truly been thought through thoroughly enough.

Of course I would love to have a degree of sacredness in my unionship with my future partner, if he would allow me to, and the lifting of the ban on any religious material in the current secular civil partnership would allow me to do this. But as the proposal does not stop there, I just hope that any religious authority who decides to apply for the right to perform same-sex marriages in their buildings has a good measure of their followers and does not end up doing more harm than good.

Adieu to ASBOs

Article from Issue 14 of Salford Student Direct

Following the coalition government’s plans to abolish Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) on Monday last week, one cannot help but contemplate the effectiveness of the proposed replacement. The new ‘toolkit’, as it is described by the Under-Secretary of State for Crime Prevention, James Brokenshire, is to replace the commonly glorified, semi-medallic ASBO as a ‘real deterrent to perpetrators.’ Rewind back to 1998 and the Crime and Disorder Act of the same year and one has the feelings that when these orders first came into play, they too had the exact same goal.

What makes this new utility belt any different other than a slight name change? Well, the current proposals certainly seem a tad more severe. The new Criminal Behaviour Orders will not only be quicker and easier to obtain, but can carry a 5 year imprisonment for any breach. However, from what one can read at present, other than a new name and potentially harsher sentence, these new orders are no different, and with the current state of affairs in our prisons many cynics will call out that the harsher sentence will rarely be used to full effect.

Perhaps the most interesting of these new means is the last. The new ‘Police Direction Powers’ will allow police to ‘direct any individual causing or likely to cause crime or disorder away from a particular place and to confiscate related items.’ For example, in the event of noise pollution the officers will be entitled to by law to confiscate the item causing the disturbance as well as moving the upstarts along. Though what exactly the police would be entitled to confiscate in the event of noise pollution like that of Caroline Cartwright’s in 2009, I’m not too sure.

Another point worth note is how much the new rebranding will cost. In a time with huge cuts across the board the question must be raised as to whether this is entirely necessary? ASBOs have never been the most popular for the economically minded, and with the rate of visible success minimal it must be asked as to why the government is not scrapping the entire aspect of the system altogether.

Time will only tell as to the effectiveness of the new methods against anti-social behaviour. For who knows, this could be a good mark left by the coalition upon society, or another poor patch-up attempt.

Homo-Pious! Can You Be Gay & Religious?

Unabridged article first published in Issue 13 of Salford Student Direct

When first approached with the title for this article I was, needless to say, a bit shocked. Having read such an article the previous week in The Mancunian I had thought quietly to myself about whether or not all the bases had been covered, and then in a recent debate it was brought up that I would be left to burn in hell no matter how ‘good’ a Christian I were. It was all in jest and I shrugged it off, if anything I had been the one to deliver the ‘punch-line’, but it left me thinking. That was when I decided to change the question. The original proposal seemed silly. Of course you can! I, like many others, are living examples of such despite passages such as Romans 1:26-32. The real question is ‘Why?’ Why continue to practice a faith that estranges you due to your sexual preferences? I can’t answer for everyone, as with all matters when faith is discussed everyone is different, there are as many practicing homosexuals in religion as there are who abstain from such a prejudiced environment, so for me to comment for all would be absurd. I can, however, comment on why I continue to practice, and hope to do my belief justice here.

The epiphany of my sexuality is fairly recent, after years of brushing off remarks from peers (not intellectual, thankfully) it is only recently I questioned my sexuality. Enter my first real love. It was all very hush-hush, as you’d imagine living in a society that until very recently still devalued your human rights as soon as the thought of sodomy came into play but, despite everything that went against our very existence, we existed in secrecy and were, for the most part, happy.

To say I come from a religious background would be somewhat foolish. My maternal family were brought up in Roman Catholicism, however once out of the clutches of their small town in Ireland it was quickly renounced by my grandmother, mother, and uncles. They’ve all lived quite happily as agnostics since. I on the other hand was never forced into religion from birth, and this is what separates me from them. I’ve consciously made the choice to practice my faith rather than have that choice made for me by my familial elders. This, I feel, only strengthens my bond with the Lord because I know of life without Him taking an active part in the life I lead.

I know many atheists hate this but my faith is my security blanket, like it or not, however it is not out of fear, it is a form of relief. After and during tough times of my life I have always turned to Him, and I know that He’ll always care. So what if I’m gay? I remain one of His creatures, one of His sons, a creation of His image, and if I wish to love another person who is also in His image what is so wrong with that? So when I and my first love were together, I could still hold my head up high and say that I was a good Christian, and furthermore a good man. And when we broke up after a long and tiresome dispute, I had someone to turn to. Someone that would listen for hours on end. Him. When one of my closest friends passed on, He was there for me. He still remains so throughout the turbulence of my life.

The Most Reverend Archbishop Tutu gave a resounding comparison between homophobia and the South African apartheid:

We struggled against apartheid in South Africa, supported by people the world over, because black people were being blamed and made to suffer for something we could do nothing about; our very skins… We make them [homosexuals] doubt that they too are children of God – and this must be nearly the ultimate blasphemy. We blame them for what they are.

I think that’s why I can be religious and gay at the same time, because I know that I’m not doing wrong, despite what others might think and say, and because I know that He will love me no matter what for I am His child. I might be wrong, but I will continue to live as I see morally acceptable, and just ask that people allow me to. I’m willing to leave it for Him to judge in His own good time, and so should you.