Brian Harvey – East 17

Brian Harvey was extremely famous in the 1990s he had a string of hits with a band called East 17. Then after one interview the dream he was living all came crashing down.

Over the years I have followed Brian Harvey’s story. In the 90s I loved their music and bought a couple of their albums. It was just throwaway pop music that didn’t have too much meaning and shouldn’t be taken too serious or literally. In the last decade though, Harvey’s life in my opinion spiralled out of control. There was no solo career and the vain attempts at restarting the original line-up of the band fell at the first hurdle as they couldn’t even rehearse together without arguing or eventually turning into a punch up.

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It was Brian and other band members lack of disciple (by turning up to crucial meetings an hour late) that cause the tensions in the band. These men weren’t boys any longer and people don’t put up with bad behaviour when you are trying to restart a career. No excuses you get yourself there on time just as you would for interview for a job.

In the latest chapter Harvey was ranting online about his problems and threatening self-harm. This isn’t a second hand interpretation but a sad reflection on a video that is still posted to his YouTube site.

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In my opinion he is suffering from a persecution complex the idea that there is a shady underworld out their calculating and plotting to bring him down. There is no doubt in the last decade we have see terrible practices of the now defunct News of the World and their appalling phone hacking scandal that eventually forced its owner to close the newspaper down.

Harvey still believes there are people out there plotting to bring him down because of his knowledge of the phone hacking scandal. He describes in a video that his ex-manager had him sacked in the 90s and deliberately targeted Harvey because of the things he knew about Tom Watkins. In fact it was Harvey’s reluctance to continue churning out pop music for teenage girls and his desire to be a credible R&B singer that made people realise they had enough.

At the time I remember there was an anti-ecstasy campaign aimed for teenagers because of the death of school girl Leah Betts who had died after taking an E. It seemed strange now before social media but it was a radio interview Harvey gave that said it was okay to do E as he had in one night and driven home that caused outcry and his immediate dismissal from the band. The public might not have taken their music too seriously but Harvey’s words meant a lot especially if they were listened to by impressionable young teenagers.

Harvey’s apology and retraction did nothing to quell the anger and his fate was sealed. It is now he’s claiming he is all part of a conspiracy and others too as well as a manager are out to silence him.

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I think there are loads of changes he could make to stop the cycle of persecution complex but then I am not a trained psychologist. Harvey wouldn’t make any money from the youtube videos as they aren’t receiving enough views to generate the revenue he claims he is relying (one assumes) on Employment support allowance as he has will have declared himself unfit for work. I only know this sort of side of things as I spent a year claiming this after my mother passed away.

Whatever your opinion of Brian Harvey I am sure that we can agree that he shouldn’t be dismissed as ‘some nutcase’ but genuinely needs help and a powerful intervention. He should find another focus in life that brings him joy not something that continually contributes to his low self-esteem and poor mental health.

Vigil for the victims of New Zealand attack

Sometimes you feel helpless when bad things happen thousands of miles away. I felt I needed to show solidarity with those who are suffering.

In the days after the Christchurch killings I felt utterly helpless. In the past when I have seen such suffering I have been able to help by sending to money to those who need it. This time is different as how can you let people know that these people are not alone and we won’t sit silently allowing such hate and evil go unnoticed.

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I follow a north east group which protests against racism and those who chose to stir up hatred within the entire country. They felt it was necessary to hold a vigil for the people who have survived the massacre in New Zealand.

It was amazing to see so many gather in St Nicolas’s Cathedral, Newcastle. It isn’t surprising but very sad at the same time that we have witnesses the rise of hate-related incidents in this country and it parts of the world. People’s inability to leave in a harmonious way has led us into some terrible times.

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The rise in social media and people sharing unsavoury views about certain groups has led some in our society to have views which I think are plainly warped. Their views about the Muslim community has been distorted by those who have played a dangerous divisive game for years. Spreading lies and mistruths for their own agenda.

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Thank goodness now the social media companies have started to crack down on those who spread hate. The main ones have put the brakes on those who spread hatred. They have decried their so-called action as attempt to ‘silence’ and ‘censor’ them. This only plays into the hands of the supporters as it gets them angry even though there are thousands of other ways in which hatred can be spread throughout the world.

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The evening was a peaceful reflection where there were members representing a number of faiths, including those from the Jewish and Roma communities, came together as one. As someone with no faith I still strongly believe in standing shoulder to shoulder with those in a minority who had suffered in such a way.

Dipu Ahad is a Labour councillor in Newcastle and was the person who introduced some people to speak about the attack in New Zealand. It was heart-warming to hear of the generosity of those who had reached out to the community on the other side of the world. As I said at the beginning of this post I certainly felt helpless at being unable to share my sympathies with those who were hurting but after this evenings vigil I felt I was able to give my support to the victims of hate and violence.

New Zealand Mosque Attack

My heartfelt sympathies go out to the friends and family of this despicable crime. New Zealand and other decent countries deserve better than this awful tragedy. 

I watched carefully the response of people from all side of the political spectrum. It was incredible to see the wonderful response of the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Arden.

These sort of crimes could happen anywhere in the world. The fact that it happened in New Zealand was appalling as they had been immune to terrorism on the scale that has been seen other countries around the world.

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The different between other terrorist attacks was that it was carried out by a white supremacist someone who believed that his race is better than others and those people who were killed somehow deserved it.

Like others who have murdered in the name of an ideology the terrorist had to be radicalised a word that is often used to describe the process of someone turning from a normal human being into a cold mass murdering killer. I wrote a blog post in 2017 about how people become radicalised into becoming terrorists and it is often a long process that has taken place over time where people will look for answers to complex problems.

People will want to know the reason why the terrorist did what did and why he thought carrying out such an atrocity was the right thing to do. He will try to promote his cause in court and claim his a soldier in some sort of war. We often put ourselves in the position of the person carrying out the crime and wonder how and why they could carry out something so despicable.

These sort of actions don’t happen over night they aren drip-fed through media, television and news outlets that often portray immigrant communities in a negative light. We know there are bad people in all races not all are perfect we all have problems to contend with whether it is illegal drug trades, knife crime or domestic violence. Each community has its own share of problems.

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Just as the Islamic community now is being blamed for terrorist groups like Isis people believe in conspiracy theories repeating by far right agitators like Tommy Robinson. These sort of conspiracies are extremely dangerous. At the turn of the 20th century there was a publication printed called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In it was the ideas that somehow the Jewish people should be regarded with suspicion as they were seen as some sort of threat to world order and that they were the ones who wanted to over all control and domination.

The same lies is being spread by those on the far-right and those who choose to demonise all immigrants as bad people. This is how people like the terrorist become radicalised in the first place.

I always like to think I am a free-thinker. I am a humanist. I don’t believe in god but I do believe religion and political ideologies can have a strong influence on someones beliefs, and actions. Sometimes those actions have catastrophic consequences.

I want a life with compassion, hope, love, justice and hopefully peace.

 

 

When people pass

I am saddened and upset that someone should take their own life no matter the circumstances or how life seems it isn’t the answer.

Firstly, I have been there where I thought that ending it all was the option. The only option. It isn’t something I took on the whim of a moment but something that was very real and very personal.

A young lad sadly took his own life in my home town of Chester-le-Street and I posted the news on the facebook page I run about the town. I have written about the problem of suicide in the UK and how over six thousand people a year take their own lives.

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The number of suicides is slowly reducing but it is my opinion still very high. People don’t realise that words can do so much damage especially in times when people are feeling vulnerable and near to doing something that could put their own lives at risk. It’s not right to tell the person that everything is going to be alright or they should ‘cheer up’. In that very moment the person is feeling 0% of that. They do not see a way out of it.

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I don’t know how to but I want to help. I feel helpless that people are still taking their own lives. Even if it helps by writing this post and realising that you are NOT alone in those feelings I hope that I can do something.

There are organisations out there that can help and in my experience its always good to have someone you can trust and talk to when you are feeling low. These sort of friends are invaluable people who can guide you through tough times.

Even if you don’t feel you can share something so personal telling someone in the medical field can also give you a lifeline in a desperate time.

From my own experience keeping the NHS 111 number in your phone. Knowing that you might have other numbers is also a good way of knowing you have something to fall back upon like the Samaritans 116 123. They are fully trained and not there to judge but to listen and provide an amazing lifeline to those in need of help.

 

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What do we do when someone we know commits suicide? How do we handle it? Do we mock them for being weak and ‘taking the easy way out’? Do we simply brand the person selfish? If only the answers to those questions were that simple.

I have tried to commit suicide. There I said it. I’ve wanted to. I don’t feel ashamed of saying it, but I am not proud of it. I don’t wear as a badge in a ‘feel sorry for me’ statement. My mental health has reached crisis point and it’s acknowledging that it’s got so serious.

Others have mocked people who have tried to take their own lives. A simple disruption to someones travel plans of a few minutes is met with derision on social media if they have found out that it was due to someone’s action at that critical point. It was someone on the lines or someone at the top of a building; cue the insults.

I don’t wish my worst enemy the thoughts of suicide. Believe me. If you have been there you know what it is like. Nothing that you could ever put into words or have a go at describing.

Chester Bennington’s death seems to some a natural consequence of a rock star lifestyle.

“He struggled for years with alcohol and drugs addiction” as is often reported in these cases. So do a lot of people, despite their wealth or fame, but suicide isn’t inevitable. It is the treatable manageable disease of depression which causes it. Depression and mental health problems aren’t helped by substance abuse although people seek short-term fixes to alleviate the suffering.

I have come to terms with my suicidal thoughts, I acknowledge them. If they get bigger than I can handle I know I have to seek help. Recognising they are serious is the first step. Stopping yourself getting to that crisis point by telling someone else you are feeling this way. I have done it numerous times. People will be happy enough to stick with you if they are good friends. It’s the pain of not reaching out to someone at that point that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Good Grief

Who talks to you about grief when you are growing up? When my grandfather died in 1984, my parents went into silence and I was told under no circumstances was I going to see him. Another member of my family experienced the death of a friend and again I was told not to talk to him about it. Silence was the way to deal with grief.

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It was certainly a generational thing, as it wasn’t just applicable to my family alone. You didn’t talk when someone died. It not a healthy way I have learned to start to cope with someones passing.

Jeff Brazier was in a relationship with Big Brother contestant Jade Goody. They had two sons in that time and he was given custody of them when Jade sadly passed away after suffering from cervical cancer.

I always remember that when I was a teacher, there were a lot of lads that had so many problems due to losing someone. Usually a bond between them and a grandfather and the grandfather had passed away and they have an inability to cope and deal with the grief, which in turn, causes major mental health problems.

It’s about time that people talked about grief and I am sure that Jeff Brazier, through his own experiences, will be able to guide people in how to deal with the over-whelming emotion of losing someone.

Back to therapy

“If I could pay to have you in therapy for the rest of your life I would”

Is what one of my doctors said to me a few years ago. I don’t take it as a negative thing as therapy and talking works for me, certainly better than most medication, although in the long run that has helped as well.

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It was good to realize that I can look forwards rather than constantly backward on my life. I have never been a one to get excited about what’s going to take place in the next six months, more regretting what has happened and why things went so wrong.

Having someone that’s completely independent, someone doesn’t know anything about who I am or what I have done, giving their honest opinion. As the therapist said ‘I am not here to tell you what you want to hear’.

The opinion on matters and what they think about them. Unlike someone who has known you for some time, they aren’t afraid to give their honest response. One of the things I noticed I was doing was apologizing for those things that interest me like books, religion, and music. I always got a strange look and a pitied reply when I told them that my degree was in Religion. It seems I have had to apologize a lot for what I like.

Things have changed in the last few months. I have managed to get on a plane and fly to another country on my own. If you knew what state I was in twelve months ago you wouldn’t believe I would be able to do such a thing. But I have and I will continue to get better and more confident. There have been some knocks but I am resigned to put that in the past and moving on.

Last week I gained the most visits and views on my blog here than ever before and that has made me one happy person. Not that I am sitting hoping that I get thousands of views but to know that maybe some people are interested in those things I often apologize for.

How do you move on?

I spoke in the last blog about remembering the time when my father died and how it has affected me now that my mother is no longer with us. There are some people who stick to death and bereavement like chewing gum sticks to the cat. But how do we move on?

Firstly, do you want to move on? There seems a thread now in society that if we aren’t at the grave every week or sometimes even every day that we have forgotten the person or the person somehow doesn’t hold the same meaning to us when they were alive. I have seen and read numerous times how families are clinging on to the memory of their loved one in some vain attempt to keep them alive. Siblings forced to mourn for a brother or sister they haven’t even met.

Because you are moving on with your life that doesn’t mean you forget the person or love them less. Building shrines to someone aren’t helpful. I will talk about the person but there are times now after the stage of mourning where you have to start living your life again. Sitting around thinking about the person you have lost all day isn’t helpful or healthy.

I am not a one to shy away from bereavement and expressing the hurt and pain it causes. At my funeral, I don’t want any of this ‘celebration of life’ crap. I want crying and tears. Then when you have done the dishes and hoovered then you can raise a glass or seven and then start moving on with life. I am dead. Gone. Not coming back. No amount of bright colours or waving off balloons is going to bring me back. I might joke about this but I know that a lot of people want a celebration of life and there is nothing wrong with that either. It’s not me and not who I am.

People who post messages to a person on social media like they are looking in from another spiritual dimension can be helpful for younger people in the beginning but again I have read where people are posting messages about how the person who has died will be drinking alcohol and spending Christmas on a cloud somewhere. A bizarre way to view the afterlife and a little childish in my opinion.

Bereavement can cause a whole raft of behaviours that are strange. It’s when that behaviour is unhealthy or even dangerous that help should be given. It can cause serious mental illness and as someone who has suffered from depression for over twenty years I have had to be aware of my own health and keeping that from slipping downwards.

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The best advice I have heard in the past few months is taking a few small steps into the world again but don’t expect change over night. I am terrified of leaving my home town and going on holiday. I am racked with guilt about ‘enjoying’ life. Somehow it seems wrong to have a life outside of mum. Having been her carer for so many years. But if I was to ask what she might say about my guilt, she probably would laugh, and ask ‘What on earth have you got to feel guilty about?’.

She would then chastise me for being silly and tell me to move on. It would have been her way of dealing with things. Dismissing them and then getting on with life. If life was as easy as that I wouldn’t be writing this blog in my living room but in the south of France somewhere.

So you take small steps until you are ready. I went for bereavement counselling as part of those small steps I am not ashamed to say I got help. There is no shame in asking for help from anyone. It hasn’t been easy but I am glad I did it. It doesn’t make me any weaker or less of a man it means I am being honest about what I am feeling and willing enough to take steps to being well again.

RIP – Jo Cox MP

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These are the headlines as I write on this terrible day. I am upset that she has lost her life doing the thing she wanted to do and help her constituency lead a decent life in West Yorkshire.

As with the shooting in Orlando over the past weekend we have seen claim and counter-claim from various sides of the political debate. People appropriating blame where it certainly does not lie.

I made a simple statement on the Britain First Facebook site and said that if the person who has been detained made the comment ‘Britain First’ numerous times then their organisation would be proscribed as a terrorist organisation. After about fifteen minutes I expected that it would be deleted as they don’t like people criticising their vile beliefs. I was right and getting just over a hundred likes the comment disappeared.

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Britain First openly claimed that they will use “direct action” against Sadiq Khan to target where he “lives, works and prays”. The underlining racism that BF has and their hatred for Muslims and people who are seen to be colluding with them make them a dangerous organisation. I would rather have a Muslim living next-door to me than a member of Britain First. That is the level of distrust I have for this despicable organisation.

In all instances of any crime such as this, there has to be a full investigation and especially when there has been a murder it could take months. It is only a speculation at the moment that the alleged attacker has a disturbing motive for the crime but once it has been established the correct proscribing should take place.

Like others, I will continue to say that hate, division, and racist beliefs have no place in the UK or any civilised society. My thoughts are with Jo Cox and her family at this terrible time.

Giving up (update)

I few weeks I posted a blog about looking towards the future and trying to comprehend life after the death of my mother. The post got me thinking that taking small steps to achieving something was the way forward. I know that from time under the CBT therapist she mentioned about setting smaller goals and putting a step forward in ways I know that could be measured and achievable.

I turned to one of my great loves. Photography? no. Drinking? no. Ogling young men? NO! Just tell us!!!

Food.

It always makes me chuckle when people ask me if I like a certain food as I pat my belly as say I didn’t get this size chomping on sticks of celery. I learned to like all food. It was a given in my household growing up that if you didn’t like what you were given you would go hungry as there was no alternative.

So I decided to make the thing that I really wanted to eat. Gone are the days when people cooked traditional food in the house. It’s now ‘pub food’ or ‘gastronomy delights’ and that sort of crap. I do like meat and I am a fan of the steak and kidney pie. I thought I would try it first rather than the steak and kidney pudding which my grandmother used to make.

So I have cooked and prepared. At the moment the meat is cooking and I have other stuff to do. I haven’t made the pastry from scratch because I don’t want to try everything at the same time and I haven’t made pastry since I was a kid.