A Certain Kind Of Romance by Paul Featherstone

This weekend past, Hull hosted the 3rd annual Humber Street Sesh, the brainchild of local promoter Mark Page. Featuring everything from live music to silent discos to graffiti artists, it was the coming together of not only the creative people of Hull, but also those who enjoy the local scene and those who may be strangers to it.

I didn’t make it as I was working, which also explains my absence from this site recently, but a man gotta get paid, you feel me? No? Anyway, my news stream on Facebook has been filled with it enough, to know that is was a roaring success that people want back next year.

A quick glance at the numbers (40,920 at midnight) showed the talk around it wasn’t just hype and that in “dreary, old” Hull there is an appetite for events just like this, if they are done in the right way. Now firstly, I’m not here to be sycophantic about anything or anyone. Lord knows, there are enough writers in this city doing that and if you’re reading this, you know who you are and you’re more of a hindrance than a help as to how people view the cultural scene in Hull, so just lay off the scripture reach-arounds okay? Credit where credit is due though, and the event did set my mind whirling about whether Hull is starting to turn a corner in not only how people view it, but also how the people who inhabit it also view their surroundings and embrace events put on for them?

Make no mistake, the event is one put on off-the-backs of ordinary people with a passion for the city and raising it’s spotlight. David Cameron would love to grasp it as his Big Society, but really, as with anything in Britain, it’s just about the normal citizen fighting back against the daily tedium enforced by a Government all too dismissive of the positive impact that arts and culture can have, not only on the country’s mood, but (and listen up here geniuses) also the economy.

Now, the event of course benefited from warm weather and cold beer, but doesn’t everything in Britain? Imagine London 2012 or Euro 96 or Glastonbury, without balmy summer evenings, and a dripping bottle clutched firmly in hand (if that doesn’t sound too phallic). Yet, an event largely consisting of bands with guitars, when people are so indifferent to said bands with guitars, that still goes on to attract huge numbers should make someone sit up and take notice.

Those who may just sit up and take notice are those keeping an eye on Hull’s City Of Culture bid. Lots of people on the outside (and inside) of Hull laugh at the idea, but it’s not that preposterous. Sure, Hull has it’s problems but the majority of those are dwelled upon by the media etc due to poor PR and to say that Hull is the only city in Britain that is let down by a small minority of idiots or a lack of funding, is downright unfair- that is an epidemic that flows through the whole of the country in 2013.

In many ways, Hull is just unlucky it hasn’t had that huge, great breakthrough artist who defines a musical era to stamp it as a “cool” city that can marketed as such. Manchester, Sheffield and Liverpool all have those in the form of the various bands that have imposed themselves on the national consciousness, Hull just got unfortunate that theirs was the housewives favourites- The Beautiful South. Mmmm, music to hoover to…..nice. There have of course, been plenty of fine bands linked to Hull, but people do not flock there as they do as a result of The Stone Roses/Oasis, Arctic Monkeys/Pulp and The Beatles elsewhere.

All of the above cities have nice areas to visit and shop in, and ultimately settle down, but there are large parts of them that you sure as fuck wouldn’t like to walk around late at night, and Hull is no different than that. I live in the Avenues area of Hull, and would happily stay there for the rest of my life. It’s quiet, the neighbours say “hello” and I feel like Richard Briers from The Good Life. Two minutes away is the house I used to rent, where kids smashed footballs against my wall every night, my Sky dish was snapped and someone tried to pull my Sky box through the wall via the aerial at 3am (don’t fuck with my Sky man!). Hull has great bars such as down Princes Avenue and Newland Avenue, that you’d recommend to anyone visiting, that unfortunately can have drunken idiots in them that hospitalise people for no reason in the toilets. These things come with living in a city, and it’s one for society as a whole to try and fix.

Events such as the Humber Street Sesh will change people’s views of Hull and hopefully, there were lots of students at it that hadn’t gone home, so they could spread the good word to those who live outside the city.

These events also suggest that there is siege mentality in Hull by the people who live there, that they are sick of being trodden upon by those outside its borders. Siege mentalities are good, they often breed success. They occasionally breed events like Waco, but mostly success.

As people in Hull finally decide that they are going to prove the doubters wrong, and show them just what can be done here, they are doing what the good people of Britain have had to do for every major event we have ever put on, with the disapproving eyes of the world upon it. As you may have noticed, failure rarely comes. It looks like Hull may have just come out in fine fighting form, you can almost hear the Joe Esposito song from Karate Kid building in the background. I will be booking the weekend off next year to join all my friends at Humber Street Sesh and I’m sure many more will visit as the success grows.

There was a time when there really was nothing to do in Hull, but the bands are coming back and there are more than two options for a night out. Bars are closing sometimes and not every venture is a success, but that shouldn’t dishearten anyone from their path, the booming nineties this is not.

Look, Hull isn’t perfect, I get tired of living here far too often, but to turn my shoulder on it, would be to turn my back on all that is northern, working class and vaguely bittersweet about it, and I’m not about to do that.

To paraphrase Morgan Freeman quoting Ernest Hemingway, at the end of Se7en, “Hull is fine place and worth fighting for”, I agree with the second part…..and who knows, maybe I’m leaning towards the first part too as time goes on?

Paul FeatherstonePaul Featherstone is 31 years old and lives in Hull. Most people call him “Fev.” He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of football and music and uses the word “c*nt” far too much in everyday conversation. He spends a lot of his time blagging his way into celebrity parties. He is to be commended for once meeting Jo Whiley and refraining from beating her to death with a big stick. You can read more of his vitirolic comments on http://twitter.com/FevTheRevoff

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Paul Gascoigne: A Pre-Emptive Requiem by Allen Miles

I have always been absolutely baffled when public figures die and people I know get really upset. I cannot understand why the death of someone you have never met would ever affect you personally. I remember being utterly bewildered as a fifteen year-old when the tidal wave of public tears and chest-beating greeted the death of Princess Diana. The thousands that lined the streets for her funeral, with their bloodshot eyes and quivering hands, none of them had ever met her, let alone formed any sort of personal relationship with her, so why did they get overtaken by these emotions? I remember being out one Saturday night and news got round the club that Layne Staley of Alice In Chains had been found dead after a massive heroin overdose. People were actually crying in the club. The man lived 4700 miles away in Seattle, and had probably never heard of Hull, yet people in Hull felt compelled to grieve openly about his demise. I didn’t understand.

The only time I’ve been slightly melancholy about the death of someone whom I’d never met came in 2009, with the death of former England manager Sir Bobby Robson. Robson had a reputation as the nicest man in football, commanded enormous respect on the world stage for his tactical knowledge and success all over Europe, and had been heavily involved in the development of some of the greatest talents of all time, figures such as Romario, Jose Mourinho and Ronaldo. He also gave me the definitive memory of my childhood, England’s barnstorming performance at Italia 90, and Italia 90 is my favourite thing of all time. He was a relentlessly positive man, and upon learning that he was suffering terminal cancer in 2008, having beaten the disease on three previous occasions, he said: “My condition is described as static and has not altered since my last bout of chemotherapy… I am going to die sooner rather than later. But then everyone has to go sometime and I have enjoyed every minute.” On the 26th Of July, 2009, a mere five days before his death, he made his last public appearance at a recreation of the Italia 90 semi-final against Germany, and almost all of the original players turned out in the name of The Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trust. Robson was scheduled to make an appearance in the director’s box but true to his persona, he insisted on being wheeled out onto the pitch to thank each player individually with a handshake. As he went down the line it was titilating to see the 1990 squad nearly twenty years later, broader of waistline (John Barnes,) higher of hairline (Mark Wright,) or both (David Platt,) but they were all instantly recognisable, apart from this one figure, a wiry, wizened man with a stringy neck and anaemic looking arms, who greeted Robson with an almost desperate enthusiasm, and as the Knight of the Realm released this man’s hand he looked on after him with hollow cheeks and the eyes of a puppy whose master had just abandoned him in the woods. This man had been the star of the show at Italia 90, and changed English football, and arguably world football,  forever at that tournament. He was unrecognizable from the old pictures. It was Paul Gascoigne, England’s greatest ever professional footballer. And Paul Gascoigne is going to die soon.

paul-gascoigne-with-sir-bobby-robson-2930519-1389990

This week we have seen him in the press yet again following another relapse into his alcohol addiction, which led to an arrest for affray. The desperation of the story was that he was not arrested at some trendy Soho nightclub or Mayfair hotel, places where the current breed of football superstars conduct their misdemeanours these days, but at Stevenage Railway Station on the platform. This followed an incident this February where he was taken into intensive care in a rehab clinic in Arizona, paid for by his great buddy, 1996’s Chris Evans. Gascoigne suffered such intense alcohol withdrawal that he had to be strapped to a bed, where he had to be revived three times after his heart stopped, and repeatedly injected with librium. A few months later he had made a public appearance at a sports event where he was due to give an after dinner speech during which, according to witnesses, he began rambling incoherently and frequently broke down into tears.

For those of you who are too young to have seen Gazza play, ignore the general comparison to Wayne Rooney that seems to get wheeled out by the press these days. It is unhelpful for many reasons; for a start Gascoigne was a far superior player, but the major difference is that Wayne Rooney is a brilliant player who can occasionally behave like an overgrown seven year-old. Gascoigne was an overgrown seven year old who occasionally behaved like a brilliant player. In many ways it is unhelpful to talk about his playing career at all as what we are dealing with here is a man who suffers from savage bi-polar disorder and OCD, and is also completely helpless in his battle against alcoholism, but his playing career is what defined him, made him, and will ultimately kill him.

 

Gascoigne was that rare breed of English player: The Entertainer. Driven by a child-like need to please people and be seen, there was an almost desperate air right from the start of his career, when put-downs from his Newcastle team-mates about his weight led to him behaving in increasingly bizarre ways, on one occasion stealing the groundsman’s tractor and driving it through the wall of the team’s changing room. In the build-up to the match that cemented his place in the Italia 90 squad, a friendly against Czechoslovakia, he was seen in the tunnel before the kick-off, wild-eyed and unapproachable, ferociously thrashing a ball against a wall, seemingly oblivious to his surroundings. The night before the 1991 FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal, he had to have sedative injections to get to sleep, and in one very revealing incident from just after his career-changing turn in Turin, got leglessly drunk and marched into his old primary school to berate his old teacher who had, many years ago, told him he’d never make it as a footballer. He was the most famous person in the country at this point, and had cemented his reputation as one of the greatest players in the world on the biggest stage of all, yet his fragile self-esteem still prompted the need to go and say “I told you so.”

gazza dribbling

Gazza played his last professional game in 2004 for Boston United, yet it is the critical opinion that his career effectively ended in 1991 when he went rampaging around the Wembley turf like a pitbull with a needle full of amphetamines up its arse, nearly decapitating Gary Parker and then mangling his cruciate ligaments in an idiotic lunge at Gary Charles. He was out for nearly two years after that match, having behaved like a wild animal for the fifteen minutes he was on the field, and his decline, both on a professional and personal level, began here. He wouldn’t be picked regularly for England again as Taylor and later on, Hoddle, both had misgivings about his “re-fuelling habits.” Only Terry Venables put his trust in him, and he was rewarded with Gazza’s last three decent performances at the highest level, against Scotland and Germany at Euro 96, and, at the same tournament, as the ringmaster in the 4-1 evisceration of a very decent Holland side, his greatest match in an England shirt. Two years after that, Glenn Hoddle dropped him from the France 98 squad, he was both overweight and out of form, and stood and watched as Gascoigne trashed his office in a fit of temper.

You see, what wasn’t realised at the time, before the era of sports psychologists and the like, was that in order for Gascoigne to perform with such intensity on the pitch, his adrenalin levels had to be through the roof, and when you’re reaching those self-inflicted chemical highs 50 times a season, the volatility of mood swings would be utterly uncontrollable. Imagine the most wound-up you’ve ever been in your whole life, the biggest pressure situation you’ve ever endured, be it your wedding day, the birth of a child, a really important job interview, a medical emergency you’ve been involved in, whatever, now imagine being at that level of mental and physical intensity, twice a week, having 30,000 people staring and cheering at you in rapt adoration, and the press are camped on your front doorstep every day looking to see how you react to it. How can you possibly deal with those highs and lows, particularly if you’re a less-intelligent-than-average bloke who already has embryonic mental health issues and an addictive personality? You escape. You escape into whatever brings it down for you. And in this case, Paul Gascoigne escaped into alcohol.

For the people who are reading this that have no interest in football, I have tried to think of a public figure to compare Gazza to, so you can appreciate the tragedy of this situation. Initially I thought of someone like Kerry Katona, a relatively normal person who is just not bright enough to be famous and needs someone to look after her. Kerry Katona, however, has no discernible talent and is on the telly simply because the general public enjoy watching human car-crashes. Then I thought of Ozzy Osbourne, a man who has a talent, but is out-of-control and in thrall to his vices. But again no, because Osbourne is a very wealthy man who lives in a huge mansion in LA and is taken care of by his wife, who keeps him off the booze and makes him lots of money.

No, I had to think of someone who, like Gascoigne, was an absolute master of his stage, had millions of adoring, hysterical fans, and when he wasn’t on his stage, simply didn’t know how to make his way through life, and would pick up all manner of grotesque hangers-on who just wanted to fleece him of his money. He would develop an addiction to mind-numbing substances and would blow all of his wealth, another deeply-disturbed man-child who on some level, possessed that rare trait that we know as “genius.”

MichaelJackson_Wide_620x350

And as we choose to remember Michael Jackson for the video to Billie Jean rather than his squalid court cases and the horrific self-inflicted facial disfigurements, let us hark back to the 2nd most famous photograph in English football history, the photograph that documented how one brilliant player’s inability to control his emotions one night in Italy led to an irreversible change in the English game, how it was dragged out of the doldrums of hooliganism and right wing politics to be the billion-pound entertainment industry, that, for better or worse, we all subscribe to today. Look at the carved stomach muscles and tree-trunk thighs of a player who, for much of his career was derided for being fat; a player who, for much of his career, was the best on the planet.

gazza turin

 

It is difficult and heart-breaking to equate the gaunt and frail looking figure that is the Paul Gascoigne of today to that photo. And it is deeply upsetting to watch the perpetual chain of humiliations that his life has become, whether it be turning up at a police barrier to give a lunatic who’d gone beserk with a shotgun some fried chicken and a fishing rod, or cashing in by giving “confessional interviews” to parasitic vermin like Piers Morgan. His friend and former team-mate, Gary Lineker, recently spouted up on twitter with the following:

“Lots of you asking for my thoughts on Gazza’s plight. I can only hope he finds peace somehow, but fear those hopes maybe forlorn.”

And Lineker is right, Paul Gascoigne is going to die soon. Whether he commits suicide, poisons his liver beyond repair or drunkenly toddles out in front of a bus, unless he finds someone who can nail the thought into his brain that he has to stop drinking, he will end up dead. And when he dies, a big chunk of my childhood will die as well. This is the saddest story professional sport has to offer. If you don’t want to shed a tear, don’t look at the following video.

 

profile b and wAllen Miles is 31 years old and lives in Hull. He is married and has a 2 year-old daughter who is into Queens Of The Stone Age. He is a staunch supporter of Sheffield Wednesday FC and drinks far too much wine. He spends most of his spare time watching old football videos on youtube and watching 1940s film noir. He is the author of 18 Days, which is widely recognized to be the best book ever written. It is available here. http://tinyurl.com/8d2pysx

Paradise (A Story Of Shambolic Failure) Part 2 by Allen Miles

sp

The euphoria didn’t last long. But the enthusiasm did. And the enthusiasm overtook any form of common sense. We agreed to loads of terrible gigs, gigs that we shouldn’t have even contemplated doing. Our third live performance as a group was a Battle Of The Bands at Polar Bear down Spring Bank, and two of the billed four bands had pulled out, so it was us and Blind Frog Ernie, a mediocre post-grunge outfit who had been together years and were pretty tight, and were friends with the promoter, who was also the judge. Obviously we had absolutely no chance of winning but we really were shite that night, Danny buggered up the intro to Introvert and I forgot the words to Flaming Raymond, Leanne had a barney with the soundman because the mix was terrible and the crowd certainly thinned during our set. I was almost in tears when we came off. When you’re playing a show and you know that you’re on it that night, when you sound good, feel completely confident on stage, and the crowd are into it, there is no better feeling in the world. When you know that you’re performing terribly, everything is going wrong and you just want to pack up and go home, it is one of the most disheartening and humiliating experiences you can put yourself through. We didn’t play another gig for six weeks after the Polar Bear debacle.

sals 2005

One night much later into our lifespan we played at The Tap and Spile, with Frank’s Right Hand Trouser. Why the hell they decided to put bands on at Tap was totally beyond me. We went on in front of about forty regulars, of whom thirty-five would have been over sixty, out for a quiet pint of mild and a smoke of their pipes on a Sunday night. I’d made my eyes up and Andrew was in the midst of his “hat phase.” We tore through a ferocious set and when we came off half an hour later there were about three people left in the pub.

wurr bass

A place we played far more times than we should have was a venue called The White Room. I have never been to such a place in my life, before or since. For those of you who have never played in a band before, when you first get going you’re expected to play what is known in the trade as “the toilet circuit,” which is basically shithole venues where you have to kick things to make them work and it would be commonplace for someone to be openly urinating against the wall outside. The most well-known toilet circuit venue in Hull is The Adelphi, which is a complete dump but is beloved by all due to its intimate atmosphere, excellent sound quality and the owner’s propensity for putting acts on that are outside any sort of “scene.” The White Room, on the other hand, was like the end of the world.

One day I'll tell my grandkids I played there. Yeah.

One day I’ll tell my grandkids I played there. Yeah.

It was about half a mile past Spiders down Cleveland Street in Hull, and there no other human dwellings for miles. No shops, no houses, no other pubs. The only place where people would congregate were the building sites dotted round and about, and the only people who would casually drink in The White Room, or The Full Measure as it used to be called, were the site-labourers who would pop in for a pint or two after their shifts. The owner was a six foot six Geordie lunatic who wore leather capes and had tried to set the place up as a warm-up venue for all the metal-heads who would go to Spiders on a Saturday night, and he would try and plug it as a music venue for the rest of the week. The problem was, The White Room was in no way, shape or form a music venue. There was an enormous load-bearing pillar directly in front of the middle of the stage for a start, which meant that 90% of the pub couldn’t actually see the acts, the drums had to be stuffed in a corner and there was very little room for the rest of the band, particularly if you were a five-piece, which at the time we were.

west

The White Room’s one saving grace was Mark Chatterton, a genuinely nice guy who did the mixing, and although he was on a bit of a hiding to nothing, he managed to get a pretty good sound out of us whenever we played there. We ended up rehearsing at his rooms for all of our many comeback/last ever gigs and I always thoroughly enjoy his company. He couldn’t save the stigma I’ve since attached to that venue though. I remember so many utterly abject moments that made us come really close to packing it in, there at The White Room.

The first time we played there we were absolutely terrible, and I was so demoralised by our performance that I threw my first prima-donna tantrum and stamped off-stage before the end of the last song. That was only our second gig though, so it could be taken as a learning curve.

There was the time we played and my dad offered to drive me and Leigh down there with our equipment in his transit, and as we pulled up to the Musician’s Entrance, which was actually a fire-door with the bolt smashed off it, I wished I’d got a taxi instead. I remember the single lowest point of my entire showbiz career, one night there in front of about fifteen people. We finished a song, got a few claps and, in the lull I heard the following discourse from two blokes at the bar.

“You see the singer there?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s where the dartboard used to be.”

There was the show just before we did our first out of town gig, we were all really gee’d up for the occasion and we needed a good performance to set us up for it. We were going to try a couple of new songs and gauge the crowd’s reaction to see if they were worth chucking in the set for the Leeds gig. Sadly the “crowd,” as we went on stage, was from front-to-back, as follows.

Dave Stothard (The chef from mine and Andrew’s work)

Cousin Devvers

Luke Lowery (mate of mine from work)

What a waste of fucking time.

In closing, the last White Room story is possibly the most ridiculous. It was our fourth show, the first since our hiatus after the Polar Bear fiasco. We’d rehearsed hard and had two new songs written, and although there weren’t many people there I had invited some who had turned up. After soundcheck the owner, I can’t remember his name for the life of me, said to me:

“You’re getting paid tonight. Ten per cent of the bar.”

I was quite chuffed at this news and shot back over to my band mates to tell them. As of tonight we are professional musicians! I immediately seized my printed setlist from my bag and scrawled the now customary pretentious quote underneath it.

HATE AND REGRET
FLAMING RAYMOND
THE FALLACY
I CAN SEE A BOY
SPASTIC ROMANTIC
DEVVERS
INTROVERT

“When we are victorious I think we shall use gold for the purpose of building public lavatories.” – V.I.Lenin

When we came offstage after our best performance since our debut at Haworth, the massive Geordie handed me an envelope. Our first payment as professional musicians. I opened it.

Six quid.

Not six quid each, six quid.

One pound twenty each.

You can read part one of this article here.

profile b and wAllen Miles is 31 years old and lives in Hull. He is married and has a 2 year-old daughter who is into Queens Of The Stone Age. He is a staunch supporter of Sheffield Wednesday FC and drinks far too much wine. He spends most of his spare time watching old football videos on youtube and watching 1940s film noir. He is the author of 18 Days, which is widely recognized to be the best book ever written. It is available here. http://tinyurl.com/8d2pysx

Why Talk About Something Else? by Paul Featherstone

The recent revelations surrounding the suicide attempts of Stephen Fry and Paris Jackson have once again raised the issue of mental health in the public spotlight. However, in the case of the young Jackson, rather than the even-handed approach that would have been dealt out to any normal 15 year-old, coming to terms with the untimely death of their father, it was, with a crushing inevitability, splashed across the front of every tabloid. The headlines positively dripped with glee that, even though the main source had perished, the Jackson family show rolled on, just when it seemed the children may end it with their party-pooping normality.

I then read with abject horror, as Fry revealed on Twitter that he had been doorstepped by a journalist, the day after revealing on a radio show of his own attempt to take his life in 2012.

Fry’s long battle with depression is well documented, and whilst it is not entirely un-newsworthy that one of Britain’s most loved entertainers had attempted to end their life, where is the line? Is it acceptable to seek someone out, and then aggressively question them in the street about the most personal of matters. More importantly? What does that say about our continuing attitude to mental health in this country?

The suicide of Gary Speed, the Wales football manager, hit me hard on the day it was announced. He wasn’t my favourite footballer of all time. I wasn’t a die-hard Bolton, Newcastle or Leeds fan. In fact, he was merely a promising football manager to me, who was starting to turn around the incredibly poor fortunes of his national team.

What resonated was the fact he had seemed so happy and normal, with a life to behold from the outside looking in, complete with a Wife and family. Everybody in football who spoke of him, had never known he had any problems that would indicate he would ever take such action.

You see that was me. For a long period of my life, from my teens to my mid-twenties, I was outwardly happy and inwardly being crushed by bouts of depression. Rather foolishly, like Speed, I rarely opened up to anyone about it, and if I did, just brushed it off the next day, almost out of some kind of mis-guided shame. I’m much happier now, heavily due to my life with my fiancee and those I care about around me, but if I wasn’t, would I open up about it? I doubt it.

For me, mental health is just that. The brain is an organ that operates vast functions, beyond the compare of any in our body. One of those is the well-being of our inner consciousness, and sometimes that can go wrong – the organ is not as healthy as it might be. Sometimes for a short period of time, sometimes for a whole life or as in my case, it was on and off for several years.

So why not mention it? Why suffer for such an long time, in relative solitude? If the illness is surely one of genetics, being that the mind is not firing quite right beyond my own control, why shield it from view? If anything else in your body stops working correctly beyond your control, should you really feel ashamed? Would a Paralympian be ashamed that their limb did not work to it’s full capacity? If asked about it, why should I want to talk about something else?

Yet millions of other people in the world feel the need to suffer alone, without the help needed for their mind, and that quite often is down to society’s attitude to mental health. It’s relatively easy to sit and type these things from the comfort blanket of a keyboard, but I couldn’t verbalise them. The vast majority of that comes from that British embarrassment in admitting that you can’t or couldn’t cope with things but also, if you do open up, what would people think? How many of us have dismissed someone with depression, or given them a wide berth because they are “mental?”

That sometimes extends from fear of the different, but also people have the natural cynicism that the person is making it up “for attention”, but what if the person wants that attention to just be able to open up?

Undoubtedly many people reading this piece will have pointed and sniggered at high profile people such as Kerry Katona, Paul Gascoigne and Britney Spears, as they suffered various mental health issues in the spotlight, but would we react the same if that was our father or sister? Of course we wouldn’t.

The same can be said towards the public attitude to anyone suffering dementia. How often have you avoided or got annoyed at a confused old man, when if it was your grandfather or father, you would help him find his way home or what he needed in the shop?

So, the sufferer puts up the public show that all is fine, when internally it couldn’t be further from the truth. I was always the life and soul of a party, burying myself in drink before going home to face the fact that the drinking had only made matters worse. Sometimes, I would drink too much and the act would drop, then the next day it would be forgotten or pinned on too many ales. All once again, down to that shame attached.

So there needs to be huge work in our society to remove the stigma attached to this. I feel uncomfortable typing this right now, I will do even more so when it posted. There pulse is a little faster and the breathing a little shorter, yet all I am doing is talking about a part of my life that is now (thankfully) over.

There is so much work going on for sections of our society such as those who are disabled, or suffering from cancer, or any other health issue, to shout out and not be ashamed of what they are going through, but there is still so far to go with regards to mental health.

Yes, Stephen Fry and Paris Jackson should be afforded the privacy to deal with their own issues in their own time and with the people they wish too, but should they feel the need to hide from prying eyes what they chose to do in attempting suicide? No, because once in a while someone will check in that they are okay, and lend them an ear to talk things through.

The most foolish of things to do is to lock it all away and suffer it alone. Society needs to be in a position to allow and encourage them, and others, to open up about what is going on inside their heads, when they feel comfortable to.

Splashing it across a front page and treating it as something alien, will only cause that teenager at home going through the same thing, to clam up and put on the old, familiar show.

It’s not that alien, it’s incredibly human, and it’s going on in so many places you wouldn’t think.

 

Paul FeatherstonePaul Featherstone is 31 years old and lives in Hull. Most people call him “Fev.” He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of football and music and uses the word “c*nt” far too much in everyday conversation. He spends a lot of his time blagging his way into celebrity parties. He is to be commended for once meeting Jo Whiley and refraining from beating her to death with a big stick. You can read more of his vitirolic comments on http://twitter.com/FevTheRevoff

The You Tube Tour by Martyn Taylor

‘YouTube’ is an amazing medium. The facts and figures are even more amazing. They look much more interesting when formatted into a jazzy diagram, so here they are.

youtube-facts-figures-by-techwelkin

Some of the stats in the picture are a little out dated now (We all know that ‘Gangnam Style’ by ‘Psy’ is now the most viewed YouTube clip currently (HORRIFICALLY)) It is simply to show you how gargantuan the site is now.

Most of the time, people visit YouTube to quickly watch a video clip of panda sneezing, or a dog talking, or maybe to look at a fish with a hair style like Elvis Presley. I think this is a crime. There is so much information on the website, that if you come away from a YouTube session having not learned something new, it is surely a session wasted.

I used to use YouTube purely for nostalgic reasons. I would type in a request for ‘top 10 Premier League goals’ or an episode of Men Behaving Badly, watch them then go on what I can a ‘YouTube Tour’. A ‘YouTube Tour’ is when you click on the suggestions list down the side, and keep on doing so until you end up watching something totally unrelated to the original video you requested. The other night I ended up watching a clip of Lex Luger body slamming Yokozuna in 1993, and I cant even remember what I was watching at the beginning.

Astonishingly, Lex Luger admitted dabbling in steroids. Just dabbling though. He definitely wasn't eating bowls of them for breakfast.

Astonishingly, Lex Luger admitted dabbling in steroids. Just dabbling though. He definitely wasn’t eating bowls of them for breakfast. Oh no.

On a recent ‘YouTube Tour’ I was watching a clip from Russell Brand’s controversial documentary about drug addiction from a couple of years ago. This led me to a clip from Newsnight where Mr Brand (on a promotional tour for the documentary) got himself into a debate with a vile man by the name of Peter Hitchens. Basically Peter Hitchens is a journalist for the Mail On Sunday and has very strong opinions. He took an instant dislike to Russell Brand, and his documentary, and did his best to shoot him down. Russell called him a ‘silly willy man’ or something ludicrous like that and made fun of him, which was all very amusing.

The next stop on my Tour was a revelation, and has opened my eyes as to how powerful a man’s opinion can be. I was led to a clip of Peter Hitchens’ brother, Christopher Hitchens. If like me you had never heard of Christopher Hitchens, he is an English journalist who spent the last 30 odd years of his career on American T.V and radio, leading debates on such subjects as religion, politics, racism, sexuality and Darwinism.

I was not going to bother watching the clip because of my dislike of his brother, Peter, but I thought “what the fuck” and watched a quick clip of an argument that he was having with a white supremacist about, you guessed it, racism. To my surprise, the man was not only strongly opinionated, but also had charisma and a certain charm (unlike his brother.)

I think even Cliff Richard would look cool with a cigarette.

This is Christopher Hitchens. He was smarter than you.

I was hooked!

I spent not only that night, but many nights since watching as many clips of him debating that I could get my hands on.

His political views were that of a left wing socialist, and he describes his religious beliefs as a ‘Antitheist’ (Which is similar to an ‘Atheist’ but with a twist, Google it). These two strong beliefs led him to be put into many debates with Religious fanatics, the KKK, Right wing politicians, and at one point, found himself in a three-way debate with Salman Rushdie and rapper Mos Def (Very strange indeed.)

Many of his debates regularly followed this pattern:-

:-Ask question to opposition or guest

:-Listen to the reply with a smug look on his face

:-Take a breath

:-Then shoot the mother fuckers down!

He was in many ways a mean man, and he put his argument across in a similar to the way that Brian Clough would belittle many a interviewer in the past. He would tell the opposition why he thought their opinion was wrong (which when he was debating religion, he revelled in it), told you his views on his subject, then sat back and watched the person sink into their seats to their death!

Christopher Hitchens made him to be disliked, but it was this contemptuous attitude to his fellow debaters that drew me to him. Don’t get me wrong, if, in the unlikely event that I happened to ever meet the man, no doubt, I would of enjoyed nothing more than to pulverize him into oblivion, but in his medium, he was a god. (He wouldn’t like that description I feel.)

After a few nights intently watching the man on YouTube. I decided to ‘Google’ the man, to learn a little more about him, and see what he’s up to nowadays.

To my horror, his description on Wikipedia read: ‘Christopher Eric Hitchens was a British-American author and journalist.’

Did you see it? the emphasis being on the word ‘WAS’. The man is dead!

He died in 2011 from Hereditary Oesophageal Cancer (no doubt, not helped by his lifelong chain smoking and alcohol abuse) I was strangely taken aback by this this news. I had only just found the man and now he was gone.

Christopher was asked by a religious nutter towards the end of his life if he would accept the wonderful offer of religion, to save his soul.

“Wouldn’t you like to go to heaven and meet Shakespeare for example” the bible-basher asked.

Christopher’s reply went something like this: (not word for word, but pretty close)

“I can meet him, he is immortal in in the works that he has left behind. If you have read those, surely meeting the author would be a disappointment”

This response is kind of ironic for me really, because, as I had only just discovered Christopher Hitchens, and lost him in the space of a fortnight. He is immortal in the works that he has left behind……. And on YouTube!

Here is a link to Hitchens at his finest:

http://tinyurl.com/l7o728r

 

mart questionsMartyn Taylor is a 31 year-old father of three and lives in Hull. His pastimes include watching 80s action films over and over again and and debating the all-time Premiership XI with Mr Miles. His knowledge of American sitcoms of the 90s stands second to none. He once walked into a men’s public lavatory absent-mindedly singing the theme tune from Two And A Half Men. You can find him on http://www.twitter.com/shirleysblower but he never tweets, so just follow him on here.

Life Is Like A Box Of Chocolates…. By Martyn Taylor

Surely a remake would feature him shaking hands with a CGI Princess Diana...

Perhaps a sequel would feature him shaking hands with a CGI Princess Diana…

WARNING! SPOILER ALERT! Do not carry on reading if you are planning on watching ‘Forrest Gump’ any time soon, are a fan of ‘Forrest Gump,’ or are a fan of happy endings in general.

If you’re wondering what I’m alluding to, this is it. Forrest Gump had H.I.V. Here’s why.
Let me start this off by giving you a brief summary of the film ‘Forrest Gump’ so that you can see my point at the end.

‘Forrest Gump’ is the story of a man called Forrest Gump (played by Tom Hanks) He was born with a small I.Q, but a large generous heart. He grew up in a town called Greenbow, which is in Alabama. On his first day of school he meets a girl called Jenny (played later by Robin Wright.) The film tells the tales of the lives of these two characters running in parallel with each other. Once they leave school they only meet again on a few occasions. Forrest goes through his life accidentally experiencing and influencing some of the most important men in America. He taught Elvis to swing his hips, influenced John Lennon to write ‘Imagine’ and also accidentally unearthed the ‘Watergate’ scandal that caused Richard Nixon to resign as President. The problem was that he was too stupid to realize the significance of his actions. Forrest becomes rich and famous by, becoming a college football (not soccer) star, fighting in Vietnam, receiving the ‘Congressional Medal of Honour,’ representing the U.S.A in China on the table tennis team, owning a highly successful shrimp boat fishing company and for running across America coast-to-coast several times.

Jenny, on the other hand, lived a much more difficult life. Struggling to settle down, she got caught posing topless while at college, spent time as a ‘singing’ stripper, Experimented in several types of drugs (marijuana, L.S.D, cocaine and heroin among others.) Jenny also has many relationships with many men throughout the film, some are abusive, over-powering and they almost certainly get her hooked on drugs.

After college Forrest and Jenny only meet again a total of four times.

On the third occasion that they meet, Jenny goes to the house that Forrest lives in to stay with him for a while. On the night before she leaves she climbs through his window and makes love with him (as a goodbye gift or as way of thanks, I don’t know.)
Later on in the film Forrest receives a letter from Jenny asking him to come and see her where she is living now. When Forrest arrives at the apartment where Jenny is living a babysitter arrives with Jenny’s son. She proceeds to tell Forrest that he is called Forrest Jr and he is the father from their one night stand together. Jenny also informs Forrest that she is sick and is in fact dying from a mystery virus that the doctors could not diagnose.

Jenny and Forrest move back together to Greenbow where they get married. Jenny dies soon after from the previously mentioned mystery virus. THE END.

Its all very sad, but we are left with the thought that Forrest and Forrest Jr live happily ever after. I am here to burst that bubble now!

Jenny told Forrest that she had a mystery undiagnosed virus. I believe that Jenny had in fact caught H.I.V. As this part of the film was set in the early 80’s, A.I.D’s had only just been discovered and H.I.V was unknown. She may have caught it during her time in the 70’s experimenting with heroin, possibly sharing needles, or she may have caught it from having unprotected sex during this time.

 

To be fair, I can't imagine this bloke would pass an STD test either...

To be fair, I can’t imagine this bloke would pass an STD test either…

Jenny then had unprotected sex with Forrest on the night when Forrest Jr was conceived. She must have passed the virus on to Forrest that night, and during child birth, as the virus was unknown, she most certainly infected Forrest Jr with H.I.V at this time.
Unfortunately for all you romantics out there who thought that Forrest and Forrest Jr lived happily ever after, I’m afraid not. They more than likely suffered a similar fate as Jenny, it was probably a painful death for the pair of them soon after the film had ended.

mart questionsMartyn Taylor is a 31 year-old father of three and lives in Hull. His pastimes include watching 80s action films over and over again and and debating the all-time Premiership XI with Mr Miles. His knowledge of American sitcoms of the 90s stands second to none. He once walked into a men’s public lavatory absent-mindedly singing the theme tune from Two And A Half Men. You can find him on http://www.twitter.com/shirleysblower but he never tweets, so just follow him on here.

A Lesson In Power Of A Common Superhero by Paul Featherstone

Football is quite clearly the national past time of the British. Every weekend hundreds of thousands of people pour into stadiums, to watch their heroes decked in the colours of their chosen team. Sons mingle with fathers, mothers get rare time with their whole family that their partner or children won’t complain about, friends forget their troubles for a few hours.

People do this, not just because of their love for the sport, nor their wonder at the tension and joy played out on the pitch, but also because, like every major event, they trust that they will be kept safe, along with all of these people that they attend it with. That trust is such a small, but hugely important thing. We as a society, build almost everything on trust. Without it, we would all stay inside, lock our doors and never venture for anything but sustenance. Quite often, that trust is placed on the men and women of the emergency services and that when called upon, they will be there to protect and help us, even if it means giving their own lives in the process.

Imagine leaving for a football match, excited at the theatre the day promised, but it being routine enough to be like any other? You don’t say you love your mother. You maybe don’t see your wife because she is at work, because it’s safe in your mind. You trust you will be home to do any number of all those things again. You trust someone to take care of you when you get to the game. You’re so busy living, death is not ever a thought.

96 people never came home on that exciting, but ultimately routine day of April 15th, 1989. We now know the truth of course, that the trust they placed in someone, somewhere to keep them safe at the game, was not rewarded with their lives.

The astonishing mistakes that led to their deaths, were only exacerbated by the impending lies and smears that firmly pointed the blame at the innocent dead. Their fellow fans were branded “animalistic” – The Sun newspaper effectively compared them to war criminals. Accused of urinating on police officers, picking pockets of victims and beating those trying to save lives.

I’ve never known the pain of someone I care about dying in such a manner and nor do I either wish to. I’m truly lucky to be able to make that statement, as are most people. It would shatter all of our existences.

To then find the strength to fight back against those slurs, to even be able to get up and make a cup of tea every morning, is a feat that is difficult to surpass.To have to do that for 24 years, is torturous. Yet, the phrase “Justice For The 96” is one that every football fan, and those beyond the sport, are aware of. That is down to the campaigning families of those 96 dead people.

It is a beautiful life lesson, borne out of horror- that if you scream and shout loud enough,and if you don’t back down in the face of adversity, the truth will out. You will win.

That is not always the case of course. It is frightening how the power of the establishments in this world, can silence and destroy the will of the many. However, a victory of this magnitude stirs the soul and should provide fortitude, for anyone who faces anything of this sickening manner ever again.

Bravery, true bravery, is very rarely shown. This was not running into a fire to save someone, in the knowledge that death was what really awaited behind those flames. Yet, it required the same courage of a super human level. Every year, people flock to the cinema to look at those qualities exhibited on a silver screen, but if we look hard enough, it can be in our own world, waiting to inspire us.

The superheroes we need to protect us from evil, are sometimes waiting in the wings, with just their voice for a power. Every single one of those who campaigned should pass into folklore, because their actions should be the inspiration that ensures no football pitch should ever be cloaked in wreaths ever again. To use a football analogy, this was a wondrous victory, snatched from the most unforgiving jaws of defeat.

Whatever your teams colour, whatever your allegiance, if you ever meet anyone of those people who secured it, treat them like the superhero they are.

Paul FeatherstonePaul Featherstone is 31 years old and lives in Hull. Most people call him “Fev.” He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of football and music and uses the word “c*nt” far too much in everyday conversation. He spends a lot of his time blagging his way into celebrity parties. He is to be commended for once meeting Jo Whiley and refraining from beating her to death with a big stick. You can read more of his vitirolic comments on http://twitter.com/FevTheRevoff