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.

2018

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.

 

I am no fan of Pride

I have been to a few pride events and I have decided I am not a fan. There are many reasons why and I know that some might not agree.

I attended my first Pride march last year in Newcastle and the second was in Prague. Both great times and it was a great atmosphere to be experienced. What I don’t like about Pride is that they are always trying to recreate a club atmosphere but in the middle of a park.

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I hate clubbing. I was watching a documentary the other day about the rave scene in the late 80s I remember even back then I had no desire to stand and wave my arms around to music in the middle of an abandoned warehouse with a lot of people I didn’t know. I despised being charged a fortune to stand in the middle of THE hottest dance floor buying the most expensive drinks.

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So it took me to get the age that I am now to realise that pride events are very similar and I prefer the fringe events. I would rather sit and chat in a pub or read a book. Discussion on LGBT issues rather than listening to someone who was famous once 20 years ago and hasn’t had a hit record since.

The LGBT community has a problem with age. In a society where people are obsessed with youth and beauty eg. Tom Daley and treat older people with a cordial but patronising sigh when we think of people such as Sir Ian McKellen.

I will always support the need to highlight that we don’t live in a perfect country. There are countless places in the world that you can lose your life if you are gay. There should be more information about the struggle for acceptance and the support for those who lives are blighted by homophobic abuse.