Mum – Mothering Sunday 19

When someone dies people are on an edge mentioning the person who has passed just incase you might upset the person. It’s a natural response because you don’t want to feel you have upset them.

The month of March is a difficult one for me in the middle is mum’s birthday and around a week or so later is mothers day. It used to be a time when I would cook food or take mum out for the day and we would spend happy times with each other.

Now she is no longer around I try to spend these days thinking about the good times especially the last ten years of her life when we were particularly close.

It is 25 years in July since my father died and when I eventually met up with some friends on a summer camp a couple of weeks later I could tell people were a little nervous around me. I told people then and tell people now I don’t mind talking about what happened and I don’t mind being asked questions. I might get a little upset but that not because you asked the question or I was offended just a little pain recalling information and sad thoughts. We tend as human beings to limit our pain whether it’s numbing it with alcohol, drugs illegal or otherwise to reduce the hurt. Slowly coming to terms with this loss is all part of the grieving process and allowing ourselves to get emotional.

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The people I say that we should watch out for that don’t show their emotion and I mean those who say that they aren’t upset or hurting inside. Bottling up emotions is dangerous for health both mental and physical. It will eat away at you for a long time and eventually you will reach a point when you might not able to handle that emotion in a safe and stable manner.

Girls and women in general are much better at accessing emotions as they talk to each other about them and process them in a more manageable way. Blokes on the other hand are crap with their emotions unable to talk your way out responses become violent and the person on the receiving end becomes a victim.

So we have another mothers day which I won’t ignore I won’t go overboard and build a shrine either but I will have moments when I can remember the good times I had and that’s what I have to take with me.

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Masculinity

It still amazes me that some men cling to their masculinity like a ship-wreck survivor to a life raft. If someone questions it it’s seen such a threat.

I used to work in a school where the boys had to be men and the girls got pregnant and stayed at home. It was like I was living in 1850s time warp. I look at some of the profiles on social media of some of the pupils I used to teach and its all to apparent the amount of time spent in the gym and the stark abuse steroids in contrast to the rest of society.

Their inability to leave toxic masculinity behind and seek a progressive attitude towards society means they see anything they isn’t part of their own is a threat. It took me years to be accepted in such a community even though I was only born a handful of miles away from the area.

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Terry Kupers, professor in psychiatry, explains in an article that the basis of toxic masculinity is the ‘constellation of socially regressive males traits that serve to foster domination, the devaluation of women, homophobia and wanton violence’. A man sees his right to assert dominance over women and any gay man he may come into contact is a threat to his own masculinity.

I see a lot of men who I define as having a ‘heterosexual blindness.’ What I mean is that anything that doesn’t fit into a mould of a macho stereotype will instantly dismissed. eg. Boybands are dismissed as being ‘gay’; any alignment with perceived femininity also the same. Jobs in the field of fashion the arts and world of entertainment were too brushed off as for ‘poofs’.

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Growing up in the 80s boys had to follow careers in hard industry. Domestic science or cooking was for girls and woodwork and metalwork for boys. It was alarming that I taught in a school that still harnessed these outdated beliefs.

I am not stating that all heterosexual men have this blindness some see beyond straight roles and have successful lives in various professions. But there are still that cling on to the fact that men shouldn’t talk about their ‘feelings’. Even talking openly to a gay man is frowned up on.

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The recent Gillette campaign for men to be ‘the best a man can get’ confronting toxic masculinity some were denouncing its campaign. Saying that it was unfair that all men are painted with the same brush but they missed the point. Some men are decent hardworking loyal people who contribute to society and haven’t done anything wrong. There are ones who look after their family work and pay for their children. We know that but we have all seen and know of the ones who don’t.

When we see the figures of domestic violence and how they affect women and incidents of bullying and violence it worries me that men somehow think it’s their right to carry on the way they do. They will be perceived as weak if they don’t tell a woman what they should be doing.

But it my opinion it takes a real man to be able to discuss his feelings. To not be afraid to cry in from of his peers. Its not about men becoming feminine either. Critics of the Gillette campaign have said that men are told they should adopt feminine characteristics.  But again they still have missed the point its not about making men more like women its asking men to stop behaving in a way that has a negative affect on other people. Surely that has to be a good thing.

R Kelly

I never liked him even from the 90s so much so I would deliberately not buy compilation albums if he was featured on them but R Kelly is part of a music scene that treats women as objects and not human beings. 

You only have to look at the music that the artists produce and the derogatory ways in which women are used in the videos.

Let’s take this group of guys who think that putting loads of women around them some how make them desirable and worthy of what they are singing about. But you have to ask yourselves the question why are there so many women in bikinis in this video and what is their purpose?

If you have managed to take your eyes off them for at least twenty seconds you would realise there is absolutely no reason why they should be in the video. Its basically talking about meeting people and sex but the women are used as objects. You would be mistaken to think it resembled a beauty contest from the 1970s. It’s a reflection of something that should be consigned to a bygone era.

R Kelly has been accused of using women and abusing them in coercive relationships. It an appalled indictment of a person who has spent decades in the public eye. A number of documentaries have been made about him and the women who have known Kelly have gone on record to say that they were controlled in every part of their lives. What they can wear and who them can talk to is a common pattern in controlling relationships.

It has been stated that an average of two women a week are killed in England and Wales by a partner or ex-partner yet it seems to continue without much attention. There should be public outrage that so many people lose their lives to horrendous abusive relationships.

Women aren’t placed on this planet to be subjugated to mens pathetic egos when they cannot cope with the fact that another man talks to their girlfriend or wife. They lose it when a relationship ends and aren’t mature enough to deal that there is no longer love in the affinity between the pair.

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I have know men confront me because they don’t like the fact that I have been talking a laughing with their fiancé even though I am gay I was still seen as threat. If you are with someone who cannot cope with you going out with your friends then its time to look at the relationship to see if its really worth the stress the mans jealousy causes.

People like R Kelly get away with bad behaviour because some allowed it to happen. The mark of a true feminist is to believe that you are worth just as a man and not to be controlled by anyone.

 

A review of 2018

It’s been a very odd year things have happened I never thought would happened and I am getting closer to having a normal life. I look back on 2018.

At the beginning of the year I visited Newcastle Central Mosque as part of a national campaign for people to visit their local mosque to learn more about Islam and to dispel the myths and lies that often heard about Muslims in this country and around the world. I am really looking forward to visiting again in 2019 and receiving the same warm welcome I was given at the start of the year.

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Not only did I visit a mosque a made time to visit a recently open Buddhist centre again in Newcastle. It was a really interesting time talking to people about their beliefs. I was amazed that there is a thriving Buddhist community in the north east. Wonderful to see that they had raised so much money and completed the renovation of an old shop on Westgate Road.

Not only was I to visit in Newcastle but I stumbled across a cafe in Chester-le-Street where people were serving food that would have been destroyed. Refuse Cafe takes that food and with having no set price you pay what you think the meal is worth and donate. A way to use the surplus food that is often discarded by large companies. Cutting the waste that we produce.

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I started a Chester-le-Street facebook group which basically post local news all to so with the town. It was in response to a local free newspaper no longer distributing around the town but being on sale instead in local newsagents. I combined the facebook site with the twitter account @lovechesta I acquired in the early part of the year. It has gone fairly well in my opinion we have about 1400 followers so far and slowly that number is increasing.

I continued by speaking out on the likes of Tommy Robinson and his band of hideous followers as Brexit deadline looms their obvious attempts to capitalise on this event and persuade people to become anti-islam still exists in this country. As long as I am still breathing I won’t let him win.

I got closer and closer to becoming employed this year much better than the previous year and how the world of work has changed so much in the years leading up to this time. More and more people chasing posts and the competition has become harder by employers expecting much more.

I wanted to trying a write more and my pathetic non-exist attempt at painting still remains to be resuscitated. It lies dormant and unused. Let’s hope 2019 is the year I finally pull my finger out and do something about it.

My health took a serious turn at the beginning of December as most of the people who know me read about; it ended up a couple of days of hospital and then weeks of recovery. It’s in these moments that you realise that people do care and those that have decided the no longer wish to be a part of my life have given little or no response to what has taken place. I am blessed that I have friends that are genuine who I have know for over thirty years. Life isn’t all plain sailing and those who cannot cope with a storm have no place in my life.

So I am making progress on the job front made changes to my lifestyle and looking forward to seeing what the new year brings.

A Christmas reflection

I always liked Christmas. Something mystical, magical and special about this time of year. But do we need religion to celebrate?

As I humanist, I am always aware that people might question why atheists and other non-believers celebrate Christmas a mixture of tradition and familiar obligations force people together at this time of the year. Sometimes causing tensions and arguments. Why would you want to spend a wonderful time with people you barely speak or have absolutely nothing in common?

I visited my old church and had lunch in their parish centre. People I have known for over thirty years sat and gossiped and chatted over their food.

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I began to realise that we have moved further away from the true meaning of Christmas that ever before. No room in the inn for the homeless, young, disabled and young people. Described by one church member of ‘teenage yobbos’ when talking about the youth that must have be behind the recent drone incidents at Gatwick Airport. Her predictions have been proved wrong so far.

My view of Christmas is based (like some Christian traditions) in pagan origins. The belief that the old year has ended and we celebrate the coming year with greenery, fire, food and celebrations. A celebration of Yuletide.

We look back at the year 2018. What a bad year for some and opportunities for others to create mayhem and mischief while those less fortunate are cast aside.

Attitudes have changed. Christmas has changed. I believe we should change and open our hearts and lives to those who are less fortunate than ourselves.

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Billy Preston

Billy Preston isn’t a name you would have heard of and probably wouldn’t know what part he played in music history. 

I was mulling over some time today and listening to some Beatles songs and it got me thinking about their infamous roof top concert they played at the end of the 60s. I was reminding myself of how much I love the song their performed called ‘Don’t let me down’. It was during this performance I noticed a man playing keyboards and wanted to know who he was and what connecting he had to the band.

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My first reaction to him was that I loved the hair. But who was he and where did come from? His name was Billy Preston and he was born in Houston, Texas and his family eventually moved to Los Angeles where Billy was a renowned child prodigy as his keyboard skills had got him work with Little Richard as his keyboardist (their name not mine). It was while performing in Hamburg in the early 60s he met the Beatles.

Billy hooked up with the band again just as they were breaking up at the end of the decade and he played during the ‘Get Back sessions’ and kept the band together for what would be some of their final work.

He struggled all through his life with sexuality, knowing he was gay, which was in direct conflict with his strict evangelical Christianity. It must have been terrible of him knowing that who he was in a life which would have been fraught with guilt and self-loathing as homosexuality to those around him was a grave sin.

During the latter years of his life he struggled with drugs as it was a way of coping with the sexual abuse he suffered a child. It didn’t help his well-being that his mother did not believe him when he disclosed the abuse he had experienced.

Billy passed away in 2006 as a result of hypertension and pericarditis. He was 59.

In some ways the world has made great steps in LGBT inclusivity but still there remains pockets of hatred and ignorance when read of stories where people have been attack or worse killed because of their own sexuality.

I haven’t posted

I haven’t posted in a while and this is not like me. Here goes I will let you know why.

Lots of things have been happening in my life and in the world. I am shocked that each day we seem to wake up to one tragedy or another only for it to be replaced by something more horrendous.

I have been trying to put together the first of my videos for a YouTube channel then after days of working on something I get distracted and something else seems to take over. Concentration levels are not the best at the moment.

I always seem to conquer it with lists and notes and lots of music piled on top of it. Listening to music as regular readers will know is a great passion of mine and has kept me motivated in a lot of things.