Category Archives: Blogging

What A Day Of Mixed Blessings – Joy And Despair

Yesterday was a bit of a whirl.  After being away at a music festival for the weekend I had a lot to catch up on.  I managed to visit my mum, catch up on some writing and some chores I had outstanding.  So far so good.

I have for some time being thinking of buying a ukulele as a supplement to my guitar playing so I popped off to Absolute Music my local music and guitar store.  I came away with a concert standard Gretsch Ukulele and it is a thing of beauty.  It is wonderfully made and the tone is exquisite.  I will now be working hard to get down my use chord shapes and learn a few songs on my new instrument.  Lets be honest when you hear a ukulele you can’t fail to smile.

uke-1

Sadly that was to be the end of good things in my day.  The afternoon saw me head out on the school run and as is normal I took the dogs onto a local heathland for a walk.  I use the same route 3 or 4 times a week and have done for years.  Just five minutes into my walk I had a terrible fall.

Heavy rain over the winter has washed away lots of the sandy soil on the most used paths and as a result tree roots have been exposed.  I stood on a root and slipped, my ankle turning in as I slipped.  I ended up face down in the path throwing up as the result of the most incredible pain.  I was certain I had broken my ankle.  I managed to hobble back to the car and drive home after collecting my son.  By the time I got home my left ankle was horribly swollen and I had bruises from ankle to mid shin.

I iced the ankle for a few hours and thankfully it feels a little better today.  I can at least flex my foot but lateral movement is impossible and I can’t put any weight on it.  I have now strapped it up but am panicking in case I can’t make this weekends festival.

I guess the bright side is being laid up will allow me to practise those use chords.

Social Media Bullying – What A Few Days It’s Been

On Sunday I did something rather stupid.  I spoke publicly about my concerns that One Direction’s Harry Styles may be suffering from depression.  I did so knowing that the subject might be controversial but I also did it with the best of intentions.

At no point did I say that Harry Styles was actually mentally ill, the point was that he is in a very high risk group.  I did expect to generate discussion, what I didn’t expect was the avalanche of hatred that came my way as a result of an article that I have since deleted.

Over the past 18-months or so I have written a lot about One Direction and their fans chiefly because I believe that both the band and their fans are given a bad press by the media in general.  As a result of my writing I have supported fans, fan projects and fan charitable efforts both with publicity and with my own hard-earned cash.  My experience with the One Direction fandom has, for the most part been a really positive one.  I have established online friendships with many fans and found most to be caring, genuine mature people.

jpeg;base64cc8e98b54334e4aeThe last thing I expected was to become the victim of cyber-bullying myself.  The disturbing thing wasn’t that people lashed out, I understand that reaction, it was that I became the focus of an orchestrated campaign that took its rise on social blogging platform Tumblr.

 

I most certainly did not expect a couple of influential bloggers whom I have supported publicly in the past to fan the flames of hatred.  As a result I was being subjected to hatred from people who didn’t even trouble themselves to read the article and make their own judgement.  Most simply jumped on a band-wagon they knew nothing about and spewed forth hatred.  One even accused me of encouraging fans to self-harm!  Words that I did not even utter in the article.

It was very interesting that a lot of people contacted me privately to provide their support, most saying that they understood where I was coming from and advising me to simply block the haters and move on.  I find this difficult because after spending my entire working life in the armed services and the police fighting injustice and standing up for myself and others is second nature.  That said I am all too aware that no-one wins fights on the internet.  There are only losers.

4e4a69a9aa132a0a5710816e36e2ef0eThe last few days have been tough.  Anytime I post something online I seem to receive a barrage of hate, it doesn’t even matter what the subject is.  I can only imagine the devastating effect that this type of behaviour must have on young people who are fragile and much less able to deal with this type of behaviour than I am.

Of course I realise that the vast majority of One Direction fans are decent and honourable people who would not dream of acting in this way.  I have had lengthy discussion’s with some fans who disagreed with me over this article totally.  Those people are the ones who convinced me that I was wrong to publish this article and that’s why I deleted it.

It is a simple fact that those who shout abuse and try to bully you into doing what they demand get nowhere, this behaviour leads only to people digging in and fighting with each other.  In the end it is totally counter productive.

If I am totally honest I always knew that the One Direction fandom had a dark and sinister underbelly.  The small minority who behave in this way are over-publicised by a media who try to paint all One Direction fans as obsessive and nasty and I would hate to tarnish all the lovely genuine and caring fans with that kind of label.

As you might imagine I was feeling a little isolated earlier today when a friendly One Direction fan sent me a link to this post from a writer at the Huffington Post.  The post demonstrates that what I have experienced is nothing new.  I am not the first “friend” of the One Direction fandom to have been treated this way and I am sure I won’t be the last.

d-300x227It would be easy to lash out at the bullies because they have caused me a degree of pain.  I won’t though because I am all too well aware that Bullies, especially those who choose the internet as their field of prey, are sad and pathetic individuals who need help.  These are people with so little in their lives that their self-esteem is through the floor and as a result they see anything that challenges them to think beyond their narrow minds as a threat.

For the most part bullies are people with a sensitised amygdala who lash out at any perceived threat, real or otherwise.  As the great Billy Connelly would say “they are more to be pitied than scolded I can assure you.”

If you are a One Direction fan who has suffered cyber-bullying I encourage you to speak out about it.  One Direction NDA have a superb anti-bullying initiative in place so I would encourage you to get in touch with them if you need support.

I would also ask everyone to remember that to err is to be human.  We all make an error of judgement every now and then and the world would be a much better place if we could just remember our own failings before we leap to condemn and harass others for theirs.  We are all entitled to make mistakes, we are entitled to screw up now and then, none of us is perfect.

We all have the right to live our lives free from bullying and harassment even, or perhaps especially, when we make a mistake.

Finally to the many many people who reached out to check if I was OK or who defended me publicly I am honored and humbled by the kindness and understanding you have shown.

The experience has left me a little battered and bruised but unbowed.  It was never my intention to cause anyone distress and genuinely regret causing anyone pain.

I wish every last one of you, even the bullies, love and peace.

So Now I’m Part Of The ‘Babygate’ Cover UP

Earlier today I made it clear that I was no longer going to write articles about the Louis Tomlinson babygate saga.  I have been humbled by the fact that most fans on twitter understand exactly where I am coming from but it seems that some think I am now part of the babygate cover-up.

I am both amused and flattered that people think I am important enough to have been paid off or silenced 🙂  I am simply a guy with a thirst for truth and honesty who has a few thousand readers of his articles each week.  If I ever get to the stage where I am actually important enough to be silenced I will be sure to let you know 🙂

Most of the accusations seem to have stemmed from this Tumblr account. http://allegedlymags.tumblr.com/post/139483049090/i-get-that-alan-was-probably-used-prior-to-the

Here is the post and below it my response in case they choose not to publish my response.

Anonymous asked: I get that Alan was probably used prior to the baby being born to add to the confusion and also spread good, and true, stories about Louis in the face of some bad press. So it really bothers me, now that he’s either been told to back off or is just going with a changing tide, that his reasoning is that speculation is hurting Louis and his family. It’s the same thing as Larries ruining their friendship. If they didn’t want or like speculation, they shouldn’t have added to it and encouraged it.

I agree with what you’re saying here. Really makes you wonder who’s been pulling the strings on Alan.

Hi,

Its Alan Ewart from Inquisitr here. A friend sent me a link to your tumblr when they saw the comments being made about me being some sort of plant or having been paid off.

Firstly I don’t want to disappoint you but no-one has ever used me to write anything about Louis or anyone else nor was I ever asked to help spread confusion.

I simply write what I believe to be newsworthy.  We all have our own views on the whole babygate drama and I still think it stinks.  Believe me if any firm news emerges I will be all over it in a flash.

At present I think I have made my views on babygate pretty clear but there is nothing new to report and as Inquisitr deals in trending news I have no intention of simply repeating myself ad-nauseum.

The attacks by some fans on Louis’ family yesterday were pretty sick so that why I am stepping back from babygate until something new emerges.

I will continue to look for information about stunts and misleading information and I will report it if and when I find it.

I have been totally open about why I report Louis the way I do.  The information is on my personal website for anyone who cares to read it.

I know that some of you think that there is a conspiracy behind every corner and I am kind of amused that you think I am important enough to be included as part of some cover up.

I’m simply a guy whose articles get read by a few thousand people each week.  I try to be honest in what I write and will continue to do so.  I’m sure that you will be able to dream up some reason or other as to why I have chosen to stop reporting babygate for the time being.  The truth is that I am simply tired of the whole thing, it has spilt over into personal abuse and bullying of Louis family and I want to distance myself from that for ethical reasons.

There it is.  You can choose to believe what you wish 🙂

Peace & Love

Alan

Sometimes You Reap The Whirlwind And Get Told To Kill Yourself

Over the past few months I have written extensively about One Direction.  Make no mistake One Direction fans are a passionate lot.  I have been blessed by having a great deal of support from many One Direction fans for my writing.  As I have developed contacts and online friendships I have been hugely impressed by the thoughtfulness, analytical skills and friendliness of those I have interacted with.

I have written extensively about the range of incredible projects devised by One Direction fans.  From charity fundraising, anti-bullying projects and support for LGBTQA causes I have been mightily impressed by the efforts of One Direction fans to do their bit to make the world a better place.  I had seen little of the much talked about dark and nasty side of the One Direction fandom.

Now to be fair I had been warned by some One Direction fans that this side of the fandom was alive and well, but I had never seen it personally.  Until yesterday.

I have always been very open with those One Direction fans that I interact with.  I knew that at some point I would write things that the fans don’t agree with and don’t like.  What I didn’t expect was the level of hate and pure nastiness that came my way after an article I wrote yesterday.

In that article I put forward the view that Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson’s rumoured relationship, dubbed Larry Stylinson by One Direction fans elevated “Larry” to the position of gay icons.  Now I was extremely careful to recognise that the issue is one that causes division between One Direction fans.  I carefully balanced the article to ensure that I pointed out that both sides of the argument put forward strong and convincing arguments to support their own case.  That said I did not expect everyone to understand what I was trying to say.

My argument is actually a very simple one.  It makes no difference whether to not Styles and Tomlinson are gay, straight or any other sexuality you care to mention.  The fact that tens of millions of people are aware of the rumours and as a result discuss LBGTQA matters can only be a good thing.  Awareness is raised about the issues and as a result One Direction’s fans come to realise that every sexuality or none is legitimate and normal.

Just last year a poll by the UK Governments YouGov named One Direction as the band that the greatest proportion of gay people in the UK identified with.  Add to that Harry Styles in particular has been very supportive of LGBTQA causes.  Styles frequently wraps himself in the rainbow flag on stage.  Styles is telling One Direction fans in no uncertain terms that every sexuality and none is OK.

One Direction between them have well over 100 million followers on social media.  Their support for LGBTQA causes is beyond question.  In my book that gives One Direction “gay icon” status.

You can disagree, that is fine and that is your right.  I have no problem with people challenging my views and thought.  Only by considering wider and opposing views can we expect to learn and broaden our own thinking.  If you disagree with me by all means say so and explain why.  It was somewhat to my surprise that some One Direction fans simply see the words Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Larry and Gay in the same sentence and feel that they have the right to spew forward hatred.

I suspect that many of those who have been urging me to kill myself didn’t even read the article.  If they did they certainly did not approach it with an open mind.

I’m not sure what those people expect to achieve by spewing out hatred.  Do they think I will be silenced?  Do they expect viciousness to change my views, do they think I can be bullied?  I will let those haters into a secret.  You don’t get heard when you behave like this, you get ignored.  The way to be heard is to speak calmly and respectfully to lay out your own position.  This seems to be something that is lost on a small proportion of One Direction fans.

I am a little saddened by this but it most certainly will not silence me and here is a little message to the haters who say Harry and Louis do nothing to support the LBGTQA community

 

Charity Fundraising Idea

I have been thinking for some time about what I might be able to do to support the charities that the various fandom groups have worked with.

Rainbow Direction, One Direction NDA and 1D fans give all do amazing things to raise funds and I thought I might be able to help.  Below are four different pieces of artwork that I have created.  These are of course just samples in low resolution.  In full resolution these are good to print on a 40 inch canvas.

If I were doing these pieces for a client (including taking the photographs) I would be charging in the region of £500 to £1500 depending on the canvas size and the amount of detail required to finish the piece.

I could do one of two things.

Option 1. I could give a copy of an art piece to every fan who donated lets say $25 or £20.  I would simply set up a few pieces and each person could select their favorite.  They would then be free to print in whatever format they preferred.

Option 2.  I could get one or more of the charity drives to auction one unique signed piece with that one piece being the only one in the world.  To ensure printing and carriage costs are covered there would need to be a strict reserve.

Let me know if this would interest you and if so what option would you think best?

Why I Write – Love Not Money

Yesterday was an amazing day.  I published an article on Inquisitr telling the story of Harvey Hext, a little boy who was taken at just nine-years-old by childhood cancer neuroblastoma.

Harvey’s mom Sarah was kind enough to give me an interview outlining how One Direction star Louis Tomlinson and his family gave the Hext family amazing support, both whilst harvey was ill and after he passed.

I was truly honored that Sarah trusted me to tell the story.  Harvey’s passing was at the end of November and I am certain that Harvey’s parents, his big sister Olivia and more than anyone his twin brother Spencer must still be hurting fiercely.  It was my belief that Harvey’s story needed to be told and clearly One Direction fans agreed.

Tweets about the story had over One Million impressions on twitter in a few hours and unbelievably I found myself trending all over the world.  I am truly humbled by the outpouring of love for Harvey and his family and for Louis Tomlinson and his amazing family who do so much unreported work for sick kids.

One Direction fans are an investigative bunch and they have long learned never to take things at face value.  I think that is to be admired.  To be fair they have been fed so many lies and rumors over the years that it would be incredible if they didn’t question the motivation of every word that is written.

I published Harvey’s story on Inquisitr and of course I do get paid for my writing there.  Some fans suspect that my stories there are written as ‘click bait’ and I truly understand that.

Of course the truth is very different.  As most writers will agree writing isn’t something you do for money.  Millions of aspiring writers will tell you all to readily that making a living from writing is something only a very few people successfully do.  Writers write for love, not money.  We need a voice, a creative outlet and we want to be heard.  Money comes  along way down the line.

I have been writing this blog for a long time before I started to write for Inquisitr.  I also write for a couple of music magazines without receiving any kind of payment.  You can check out my writers archives on Louder Than War and Echoes And Dust if you wish.

Don’t misunderstand me.  I am thrilled to be lucky enough to get paid for writing for Inquisitr but I am not dependent on the money.  As a result of taking early retirement I have a nice pension, no mortgage and I am debt free.  If I never earned another penny from writing I would still be doing it.

There are stories that need to be told, music that needs to be heard and little boys like Harvey who need a voice.  I hope that I will be able to tell those stories for many years to come.

Incidentally I am also a mad keen photographer, something I earn virtually nothing from.  Like writing I do it for love, for a creative outlet and to share a view of my life through a lens.

Love & peace.

How A Middle Aged Punk Rocker Ends Up 1D Obsessed

In recent weeks I have gained a huge number of followers and attention from fans of One Direction because I write articles about them for news outlet Inquisitr.  A huge number of people have asked me my views on a lot of issues connected with the band and as I can’t answer everyone personally this post is and attempt to answer those questions.

Let me explain a little bit about how I arrived where I am now.  I retired from work a couple of years back on the grounds of ill health.  I had been suffering badly from depression.  I began writing to give myself a creative outlet and to fill my time.  I have been a lifelong music nut.  I still can’t walk past a record shop and I have a CD collection of around 10,000 discs.

As a result it was a no-brainer that I would write about music.  After a short time I was invited to write for a couple of music outlets and that eventually led to me writing for Inquisitr.

Inquisitr is what is known as a news aggregation service.  This means that it reports trending news based on what people are searching for on Google, Yahoo and Bing.  When I started out with Inquisitr around 13-months ago I noticed quickly that there was a lot of interest in stories about One Direction and pop culture in general and that is where most of my stories are drawn from.  In the beginning I wrote pretty much what the other outlets were covering whether that was positive or negative.

I confess that being a punk and metal fan I didn’t know a huge amount about One Direction.  I detest reality TV and Simon Cowell so I have never watched X-Factor or the like.  In all honesty I swallowed the line that One Direction was music for boy-band obsessed 12-year-old girls.

This all changed in October 2015.  I had written a couple of articles based on what Dan Wootton had said in the Sun.  As a result I was contacted by a number of 1D fans who challenged what I had written in a very nice, calm and measured way.  I had interesting conversations with them and promised that if they had angles that they thought I should research I would do so.

They asked me to look into a number of things and as promised I began to look deeply into the back story.  I was horrified by what I found.  What was immediately apparent was the degree of manipulation of the image the various members of One Direction were subject to.  The links between Anne Marie Samson and the Sun and all of the things that the more analytical fans have known for years fascinated and appalled me.

As a result of all my research I totally changed my outlook.  As time went on I became aware of the amazing work that 1D fans do for charity and how unfairly fans were represented in the media.  My experience was very different to the media portrayal.  I found that I admired the efforts that 1D fans went to in supporting the boys in all aspects of their lives.

I am particularly disgusted by the treatment Louis Tomlinson has had in some sections of the media so I set out to provide some balance by calling out lazy reporting by other outlets, challenging lies and reporting the positive stories.

This week I gained a huge number of new followers after some fans revealed that Louis’ mom, Johanna Deakin was following me on Twitter.  She even retweeted one of my articles after I said that I would believe that she approved of my articles when she retweeted them.  Shortly afterwards she did!

The question that most people ask me is whether or not I am a “Larry”meaning do I think Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson are a couple?

The genuine truth is that I don’t know.  That said a lot of the reported 1D “girlfriend” stories are so transparently false that it is hard to believe that anyone falls for it.  Do I believe in Lounielle?  Not for one second.  Do I believe in Hendall?  Not for one second.

Based on what I have read I believe Louis is probably gay and I think Harry is probably bi-sexual.  My guess is that they either have or had a relationship but in all honesty I don’t really care about their sexuality all that much.  I am of the view that “some people are gay, get over it.” What I do care about is the fact that both the boys and the fans are being manipulated to preserve the image and the 1D brand.

If Larry is real then the boys should be able to come out and show who they really are.  The vast majority of fans will accept them no matter what.

My intention is to keep digging for the truth whatever that may be.  Where I find positive stories I will report them.  I hope 1D fans will continue to enjoy my work even if I write something they disagree with.  I can’t promise that every story will be a positive one or that every one will be liked by fans.  I can’t promise that I won’t be clumsy with my words on occasion.

What I can promise is that I will write every story with an open mind.  I will look beyond the headline and where possible I will get to the truth of the matter.

I hope that explains where I am coming from and where I am now.  I’m happy to answer any questions in the comments below.