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“We Are Sorry To Announce…”

It’s been a long day. You’ve been up since the crack of dawn and all you want to do is get home as soon as you can and chill out. You’re feeling hot, stuffy and the last thing you need is an over crowded train journey home. You want a thirty five minute commute home, and a stress free, quiet chilled one at that. 
This is me, and many others every single day after work. 

Then you hear the words over the tannoy, echoing out across all five platforms. 

“Due to a fatality on the tracks, this train has been delayed by…”

The crowds offer a tsunami of sighs, followed by a few F bombs and people looking at the time in disgust at how anyone could be so selfish to do this to them. How could anyone be so rude to cause so much disruption at this time of day? The cheek of the person. We all have problems, we all have stressful lives and we all now will be late to get home too. 

Now lets take just a minute to pause. 

Yes, we will be late home, it has been a long day and yes, we probably will now miss the first twenty minutes of Bake Off. What a pain! In your worry and stress, how much time have you given to the poor person who felt life was just too much to handle that they couldn’t carry on? A minute? Thirty seconds? Or that one second, where your initial thought upon hearing the news was panic and rage for your own selfish reasons of things not going your way?

This person, minutes after death, will be spoken about, ridiculed and tutted about throughout journeys, on social media and spoken about as if they were an inconvenience. Texts and tweets will be sent calling the person selfish, an idiot and jokes will be made that they could have waited an hour or so. A life was lost and in an instant all they have become is a statistic and an inconvenience. Not once has anybody thought about what pushed this person so far to the edge where they thought about ending their own life in such an awful way. Who has thought about the family who will have to get that call and eventually identify the body? What about the poor driver of the train, who so badly wished they could stop the train in time but had no control? What about the staff at the station who, whilst we all moan, shake our fists at and demand refunds from, are all dealing with the pressures of their own jobs but now are also dealing with a fatality at their place of work. 

That announcement of your train being delayed is much more than an inconvenience to your journey. 

There were 237 rail track related suicides last year. Shockingly, a decrease from years before. The decrease comes from rail staff working closely with the Samaritans, who offers courses to teach members of staff on what to do and say to a person who may be looking vulnerable. The Samaritans stress that talking and sharing is the first action in saving the life of someone close to a situation of this nature. 

We must do better in situations where we hear about incidents of suicide. Yes, it affects our evenings for an hour or so when we want to get home and yes, it may make us late for an event, but please remember those who are really effected. The next time your train is delayed for this reason, take thirty seconds to remember that person positively. You didn’t know them, but surely they deserve a prayer or a moments silence, even if it is just personally from you. 

They deserve respect now that they have found their peace. 

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Raising a Glass to P!nk

I was 13 when I first saw P!nk. I remember it very clearly. I was at my Nans, with my siblings and cousins. It was either just after school or the holidays – the only time we would all be at Nans together watching TV with overly sweet tea and jam sandwiches. 
Her bright pink hair and attitude made her cool, her IDGAF persona made her edgy and everyone in the room, both boys and girls, were in awe of her. Full of angst and oozing coolness, it seemed like even the lads could be fans of this soon to be megastar. I remember recording the video to There You Go and rewatching that awesome scene with the motorcycle about twenty times. What a badass! 

I didn’t really get as far as listening to the whole album then, and wouldn’t have called myself a huge fan. I was aware of her, but wasn’t really checking for her, she was cool and that was that. I was too busy still being in my bubblegum pop music stage, listening to S Club 7 and buying magazines marketed to teenage girls. I wasn’t really a “normal lad” for my age and even though I wasn’t bullied horrendously, being picked on throughout my early teens definitely had an impact, and made me feel terrible about being me, which forced me to then hide away my true self out of fear of not being seen as normal. 

Normal, I suppose was football, it was rap music and RnB. It was only having girl friends if you were after one thing and it was being a straight up #LAD drenched in Lynx Africa with a JD sports bag and cool trainers. I guess I wasn’t normal. This sort of really bothered me as I didn’t like being lonely. I knew I was a vessel of fun and laughter waiting to erupt, and I just needed the right people in my life to allow me to do it. Anyway, enough about me, back to Pink. Fast forward a bit, and the year is now 2003. I was on a trip to India with my Brother and Dad, both of whom I didn’t really have the closest of relationships with, but there I was. Three weeks alone with them. I had taken a few CDs with me (pirate copies – I was 16, and was a broke teenager, forgive me!) and a battery powered disc-man. It was on this trip where I fell in love with Pink. 

The album Missundaztood changed my life in ways I now only know. Don’t Let Me Get Me was just an anthem for exactly how I had been feeling for those early teenage years. Feeling trapped in a body with a mind, which didn’t match everything I was supposed to represent, and craving to just wanting to be someone else for a short while, to have a break or to experience life in someone elses shoes. Tracks like Eventually, Lonely Girl, 18 Wheeler and Family Portrait just connected with me, where I was able to bridge so many situations I was going through myself to the music and lyrics Pink was singing. It was like someone had climbed into my brain and thought “this would make such a great album!”. 

This album would go on to be one of my most listened to records ever, and I’m happy to say, I’ve bought a real copy! No more pirating over here!

Since this album, P!nk has continued to be the soundtrack to my life. Every situation I’ve found myself in, she has been a constant. When I didn’t want to bother friends or when I felt I didn’t have anyone to turn too, Pink always had a song. She has taught me acceptance with my brilliant mind, self love where I know I’m worthy of great things and she has been one of my best support systems through some of my darkest days. 

When I wanted to give up, she told me that passion and pain would keep me alive someday, and she was right. When I was being beaten down physically and emotionally, she told me to get up and try, when I struggled to speak out about myself and could only think of negatives and didn’t have any self worth, Pink told me I was still perfect, and when I would mess up, she reminded me to brush myself off , say “so what?” and that I was still a rockstar. 

She is so much more than a singer, an artist or a superstar to me. She has been the person I seek for counsel and is a reminder that no matter how bad things are or get, with determination, hard work and self belief, we can all achieve great things. 17 years on, she still continues to inspire, amaze and prove to me just why I’m always so in awe of her. 

“I’ve already seen the bottom so theres nothing to fear…” is one of the lines from her new album, further proving to me that she is the soundtrack to my life.

Thank you Alecia. 

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ALEPPO: I can’t watch this

Over the last few days people over Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites have been sharing videos, news clips  and extremely graphic photos of what is going on right now in Aleppo. 

I for one, with my head down in shame, have not yet bought myself to read or watch the news, watch any videos or click articles about anything going on in Aleppo regarding this terrible ordeal at the moment. I know it must sound really selfish and to many of you, it might sound really self-centred and that it may seem that I have a heart of stone painted black.  It just saddens me so much to see, especially children, but also innocent people suffering at the hands of such evil, brutal and unforgiving terrorists . I’m not sure where this sadness stems from but the only thing I can think of is when I see children upset, especially video clips where I can imagine the emotions are heightned in the movement of tears and the sounds of their lonely terrified cries, it would really depress me as I would only think of my own nephews who I can’t even imagine what I would be feeling if it were them in such situation. 

It just brings me down so much because I feel so helpless. Its not that I don’t care or I’m blind to the ways of the world and its many sufferings, its basically that I’ll watch it and the only thing I can do in that moment is to write down a status, change my avatar or profile picture to a flag to fit in with everyone else or funnel in cash to a charity to clear ny own conscience. Which, right now, doesn’t seem enough. We can all keep the people of Aleppo in our thoughts and prayers, we can all give websites another few clicks here and there, and we can all offer a tenner to make ourselves feel better for the day, but what is actually changing? This isn’t a natural disaster where we can give as much aid and charity as possible and keep people in our prayers, because we can hope for the best, this is a man made disaster where innocent people are dying for no reason at all. I suppose what I’m saying is, there just doesn’t seem to be anything I feel I can do postively to help these people and by watching these clips, I’m only feeling more guilty, upset and angry by having the fortunate life I do. 
I’m not sure why I’m writing this, I’m not really after a debate, I just wanted to write something down, but I’m sure many will have views, but please, if anyone knows of ways we can actively make a difference to the lives of the people of Aleppo, please let me know. 

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