Tag Archives: blogging

Daily Prompt – Dilemma

What a very appropriate daily prompt I see today.  A one word prompt that sums up my summer.  The fact is that I have been so crazy busy for the last four months that my blog has taken a back seat.  My dilemma has been that something has to give and sadly paid work has to take priority over writing for fun.

There is a great deal of irony because it was this WordPress blog that directly led me into the world I now inhabit.  I began writing here to give myself a creative outlet after being forced to take early retirement on the grounds of ill health (depression.)

I now find myself writing and photographing for two music magazines and an USA based news agency.  All of that, my drift into creating art and becoming a professional photographer began right here on WordPress.  As a consequence I feel that this little corner of the internet is a part of me, it is largely responsible for me being in a totally creative world and for my current happiness and sense of well-being.

As a bit of fun I present you with another Dilemma.  On Saturday I attended an all day photoshoot with four other photographers and six lovely models.  During the first part of the day I was shooting a beautiful model dressed as an autumnal Poison Ivy.  By coincidence the adjacent room also had a Poison Ivy so we all got together to shoot a slice of double trouble.  The Dilemma?  How do you choose your favourite Poison Ivy from these two beautiful lady’s?

Reasons To Be Thankful – Precious Gifts

I started out blogging, mostly about music, less than three years ago. Little did I imagine that a hobby I started as a creative outlet would give me so much pleasure and lead to the making of a huge number of new friends and a second career.

My site now sees around 30K visitors a week and has led to paid work as a writer.  More importantly to me is that i now get numerous requests from artists and musicians asking me to review their work.

I can’t possibly meet all these requests, especially during the summer months, but I am really honoured that people are prepared to put their work into my hands to ask for a review.  An artists work is an extension of their person, every note in every song took thought, creativity and a huge amount of work to create.  An artist trusting me to review their work fairly and objectively is a huge leap of faith.  Every time I listen to a new piece of work I am aware that I have been handed a truly precious gift, a piece of work that someone has poured their all into.

I try very hard to that each piece of work with the respect it deserves.  I listen to an album numerous times before finger meets keyboard and I try to only review things that resonate with me on some level.  If I hate something I recognise that others may love it, I know that my view is not going to be shared by some who read my writing.  It is hard to tell an artist you won’t review their work because you don’t connect with it.

I am so thankful that people like to read my work.  As any musician will tell you it is incredibly difficult to be heard in today’s music industry.  It is equally hard to build an audience for your writing.

That is why it is such an honour to see musicians sharing your posts and reaching out to thank you for a review.

If you want to write about music it takes endeavour but much more importantly it needs total honesty if you are to gain any sort of credibility.

This week is something of a case in point.  I am off to Europe’s best and biggest rock festival, Download, on Thursday.  I have been inundated with requests for interviews and coverage of bands performance at the festival.  Of all the bands I have asked to interview not a single one has turned me down (though I still await two responses).  Those I will be interviewing are amongst the biggest names in rock music and they have agreed to be interviewed by me.

I do realise that bands are keen for any sort of coverage that will help to keep their name out there, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling that I am blessed to be able to do “work” of this nature.

This has been a very very good week.

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.


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.

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


Louis Tomlinson Baby Pictures Fake?- Some Facts

I wrote an article earlier today about the suspicion that one Direction star louis Tomlinson has shared a fake picture on his Instagram account claiming it to be an original of his newborn son.

In recent days I have seen lots of speculation as to whether or not the photo is real and part of some sick PR stunt.  The purpose of this article is to share some facts about digital photography and how we professional photographers edit our images.  Now to be 100% clear I am not attempting to sway your opinion either way.  I merely want to give you some facts to help you make up your own mind.

View this post on Instagram

Meet my little lad, Freddie 👶

A post shared by Louis Tomlinson (@louist91) on

My first point is that in the age of digital imagery almost anything is possible.  The only thing I see as a lost cause is when an image is horribly over exposed.  When this happens the pixel dated is basically lost.  That is just about the only thing that I can’t recover.

Secondly every professional photographer I know, including myself edits their images.  Images should be shot in RAW format and only output to JPEG or some other format when exported for web use or printing.  If you don’t know what I am talking about  the RAW file is a negative that has to be developed in the digital darkroom.

A properly exposed image contains all the colour data and the ways the file can be manipulated are almost limitless. When editing an image I often stack two versions of the same image on top of the other which increases the depth of colour etc and allows me to add a few creative touches. I often use a soft blur on one of the images and edit so the parts I want are in focus whilst the blur is painted in to lead the eye to the subject.

Now if you look at where Louis chin meets baby’s head above it doesn’t look quite right.  I suspect that this is simply because of the lighting, there is dark shadow in that area and it looks a little “wrong.”  However if the baby had been layered in I would expect that area to bee too sharp rather than too fuzzy.  Speaking artistically I may even have blurred that area slightly to imply a connection between father and baby.

The area under Louis chin doesn’t look right either.  It is brighter than the rest of the image.  Why would this happen?  Well a number of scenario’s spring immediately to mind.  It may be that there was some distracting element in that space, an object or a light leak that the photographer wanted to remove and did so clumsily.  That said it may be that the photographer deliberately over exposed that small area to lead the eye to it immediately.

The most important part of this image is the connection between Louis and baby, that connection is strongest around that area of high contrast.

As you can see in the image in the Tweet above someone has superimposed the baby over what looks like a still from a video.  The main point is that whilst these do look similar they are not the same photo, angle, lighting, perspective and position are all different.

Whilst digging around I came across claims that the Instagram picture was converted to Black & White to hide the fact that the baby has red hair whilst neither Louis nor Briana has red hair.  Seriously WTF!  Who ever came up with this fuckwittery as a theory needs to go back to school.  My son has red hair, neither me or my wife have red hair and neither do any of my sons grandparents.  Honestly FFS.

I also came across this picture as evidence that the black and white had been converted and claiming this is the original.   Bullshit.  The colour image has been colorised by the editor.  I have left the editing information in the caption so you can see what has been done.

LouisTomlinsonFreddie copy


When people suspect an image has been faked they would do well to remember that this works both ways.  I make no claim that I offer conclusive proof that the original image isn’t fake.  That is pretty much impossible.  However it is entirely possible that the areas in the original have been made that way for artistic reasons.

Some people are claiming these issues as proof the image is fake.  Those people want you to believe a particular narrative, probably one that you believe so when you take all the weird stuff that went on around the birth of this kid it’s easy to buy into the claims the image is fake.

All I ask you to do is to keep an open mind.  There are many explanations and they are all as valid as each other.  Keep an open mind, question everything but don’t be drawn into believing something based on the most flimsy of evidence.

Louis Tomlinson’s “Fly High Buddy” Interview Transcript.


Yesterday I published an article on Inquisitr that received an incredible amount of attention. The article concerned One Direction star Louis Tomlinson and the support both Louis and his mother Johannah (Jay) Deakin had given to the family of nine-year-old Harvey Hex who was sadly claimed by childhood cancer neuroblastoma.

Harvey’s mother Sarah agreed to being interviewed by me and the interview made up the bulk of my story.  To date the Twitter imprint for the article is over 2.5 million and I found myself in the bizarre situation of trending all over the world.

I was shocked, surprised and if it doesn’t sound too immodest thrilled to see this happening.  Of course when writing for a trending news outlet you can’t simply use the interview and nothing else and people have indicated that they would like to see the full interview.  I am of course delighted to do this for one reason.

I can’t even begin to tell you how honored I am that Sarah agreed to this interview. We should never forget that Sarah’s family are dealing with a huge tragedy in their lives.  Little Harvey fought his illness with everything he had and sadly he ultimately lost that fight.  Sarah and her family are still trying to work out how to fill the huge whole that Harvey’s loss has left in their lives.

More than anything this is the story of two amazing family’s,  Sarah Hext’s and Louis Tomlinson’s.  What makes this story so incredible for me is how a world renowned star like Tomlinson is so securely ground, kind considerate and so very very thoughtful.  Sarah says that Louis, his family and the amazing charities that have supported them have given her family the most precious gift of all.  Sarah says her family have been given a host of special memories of Harvey.  Those memories are simply beyond price.

Below is the full interview.  All I have edited is grammar and spelling, these are Sarah’s words.  My questions are in bold.

Tell me a little about your family.  What sort of little boy was harvey?  How close are your kids?  What do the twins like to do?  

David and I met in 1995 and were married in 1997. In October 2002 our Daughter Olivia was born and in July 2006 she became big sister to our beautiful identical twin boys Spencer and Harvey, the boys were diagnosed at birth with Down Syndrome. The diagnoses was a huge shock and we had been thrown into a world that we knew nothing about, but it wasn’t long before the boys personality’s started to shine through and we all fell head over heels in love with them. The early days went past in a bit of a haze, having twins is hard work!
All three children were incredibly close and Olivia was a very proud big sister, we worried what affect the boys diagnoses may have on Olivia at first, after all she had two brothers with special needs that took up a lot of our time but she took to them like a duck to water, they were just her little brothers and she was always ready to show them off at every opportunity. Olivia never complained about the lack of attention she received, she was just happy to help us with the boys in any way she could.
Spencer and Harvey were a real double act, they went everywhere together and would always be up to some kind of mischief. Dave once decorated a bedroom and when he had finished he came downstairs to have a cup of tea, in the meantime the boys snook upstairs and found a 1/2 full tin of pain without a lid on, they had a paint fight and ended it by pouring the tin of paint over Harvey’s head!
They would love to play hide and seek with Harvey once running off in a shop and us in complete panic searching for him, only for someone to point out that the little mannequin in the shop window had just moved! Both boys were full of fun but Harvey was always the instigator of trouble and fun, he had spirit and wasn’t frightened of anything where as Spencer was always far more sensitive. The boys would love to confuse their swimming teacher by telling her they were each other! Spencer and Harvey were two halves of a whole and something that always gave me comfort was knowing they would always have each other, they would never feel that they were different because some one else was the same as them.


How did you find out about Harvey’s illness?  What effect did the news have on you all?  How did you cope with the illness?
In 2010 a month before Harveys 5th birthday.  Harvey had been poorly on and off for months and had a very distended tummy, he didn’t want to walk and wasn’t sleeping at night but the Doctors always put it down to a bug or food poisoning, after around 7 visits to the GP and twice going to A&E insisting that something was wrong they told me that they could find nothing untoward and if I was still concerned to go and see a paediatrician.
The Paediatrician referred us to a local hospital for tests and within a few days we were referred to Bristol Children’s hospital and given the devastating news that they believed our little boy had Stage 4 Neuroblastoma – a very aggressive childhood cancer with a survival rate of 20%. The cancer had spread to Harvey’s bones. Straight after we were given the news the Doctors asked for Spencer to be tested, thankfully he was clear of cancer but he will be monitored for many years to come. The actual diagnoses took a few weeks as there are no other cases worldwide of any child ever having Down Syndrome and Neuroblastoma, Kids with DS don’t usually get solid tumours. It was unheard of.


The news was devastating, the treatment protocol for Neuroblastoma is harsh, we were looking at 18months of intensive treatment. After 8 rounds of punishing chemotherapy then surgery (Harvey’s operation was 14hrs long) we were told that the treatment was not working, two more rounds of chemo was then followed by MIBG therapy in London, this entailed Harvey having a high dose of a Radioactive  drug and having to stay in a lead lined room until his levels were low enough for him to mix with the general public.  As parents we had restricted contact with him for our own safety although we did stay with him as much as we were allowed. After further tests Harvey was given an oral chemotherapy for 18months and his Neurablastoma remained stable, never cured but stable.

Over the years Harvey had many blood transfusions, a stem cell transfusion, platelets and general aesthetics but he would often wake from a GA and ask to go to school. He did manage school now and then and Spencer was always so thrilled.That whole period of time took its toll on all of us.

My Mum moved in with us and looked after Olivia and Spencer as we were always in hospital or London and Dave was eventually made redundant from his job- this often happens to parents of sick children.

As Harvey didn’t follow the treatment protocol we were taken off the Neuroblastoma trial, this meant that all treatment options were no longer available to Harvey so we started the mamouth job of raising £300,000 incase we needed to take Harvey to the USA or Germany to access the treatment privately. [We currently have £200,000 in a fund that will be used to Help children in Harvey’s situation].

We managed Harvey’s illness day by day but for us it put the fact that the boys had Down Syndrome in a completely different context, the Downs didn’t matter to us at all and to be honest made Harvey who he was, so for that I am grateful.

How did you meet Jay?  I assume Jay got Louis involved but how did that happen?
I first met Jay at a Believe in Magic Party at London Zoo in Dec 2014, Louis had asked her to attend the party for her as they had funded the event but he couldn’t be there as he was on the X Factor that night. Jay came over and introduced herself and I think Harvey and Spencer stole her heart there and then. Only a twin mum can really understand the impact that losing one twin could have on a family and of course Jay having two sets of twins made her fully qualified to understand my fears.
Harvey has a Facebook page and soon after Jay sent a message saying that she had been thinking of us a lot, we started chatting and soon build up a friendship. Louis became involved through Jay and started supporting Harvey by doing things like wearing a Gold ribbon for Childhood cancer awareness.
Tell me about the Cinderella Ball.  Were the whole family Louis & Johanna’s guests at the event?  How was the evening, what was the experience like?
Yes the whole family were guests at the ball. For us the Ball was the stuff that fairy tales are made of. We were all taken to the beautiful Langham hotel in London and the boys were given Ralph Lauren suits to wear, Olivia was given a made to measure silk dress.
Cars were at the hotel to collect us and we were taken to the beautiful Natural history Museum. When we arrived  there were 100’s of 1D fans at the gates and as we walked up the red carpet Harvey turned to them, stopped and gave them a bow! Spencer turned to the crowd an shook his bottom! Everyone was cheering and clapping them, it was magical.
Inside we had a champagne reception and the kids were entertained by Dynamo. Olivia was busy star spotting and she has made some lovely friends through Believe in Magic so spent time running around with them.
Then we were called to the main room and all the children walked down the main staircase in true Cinderella style. I have to say it was just breath taking. So much thought had gone into the children and there was a section of the room filled with toys, face painting,arts and crafts. There was also a photo booth which was a great hit. The food was beautiful and again there was food especially for the kids. There was a really fun auction and then Ben Heynow sung a few songs. Unfortunately we had to leave before 12 as Harvey couldn’t keep his little eyes open but it was a night we will treasure forever.


I understand that at that event Louis and Liam and Jay tried to spend time with all of the children.  Is that correct?  How did they deal with getting round so many people etc.  What did they say?  Were they comfortable?  How did the children react?
All the children were greeted at the foot of the staircase by Louis and Liam, many had photos taken with the boys and then we sat for Dinner. After dinner the boys were having more photos with the kids, they spent time in the arts section with the kids and lots of funny photos were taken with the boys in the photo booth, Ben Heynow also joined in the fun. Liam had his face painted as a tiger and the boys were in fine spirits. they were just chit chatting as anyone else would, asking the kids if they were enjoying the evening, were they feeling ok? etc.  They seemed completely relaxed and I am sure they enjoyed the evening as much as we did. Jay was talking to everyone as were Meg and Jean [founders of BIM].  Cars were waiting outside to take anyone back to the hotel when they were ready to leave.
I notice on your Facebook post you talk about Louis and Jay providing support to Olivia and Spencer.  How is that provided?  Do you have regular contact etc?
Jay and some of her family came to Harvey’s celebration. We played “Best song ever” in the church and had a little smile to each other whilst it was playing. We exchange texts fairly regularly and a week after the service Jay called and said that Louis had two tickets for the X Factor finals and they wanted to offer them to us, we decided it would be good for the kids so we accepted.
On the Saturday we went to the Believe in Magic Christmas party, it was hard without Harvey but they are a fantastic charity that continue to support siblings even after the sick child has passed. That’s so important to family’s. After the party Jay had booked us into a beautiful Central London hotel and Dave and Spencer went swimming and out for dinner whilst Olivia and I were whisked off in a luxury car to a VIP X Factor party and then to see the show. The whole night was a very welcome distraction and although we were so so sad we did manage to have a fun weekend, never forgetting Harvey though.
Jay and Louis do all these amazing things and never ask for anything in return, what could you possibly give them? We decided that we would send them a treasured colouring that Harvey had done and Dan has laminated it and its used as a family placemat. I loved that idea.
LouisTomlinson Harvey3
Tell me about the Disney trip.  How did Harvey react, did you all have fun?
Disney was awesome. We didn’t tell the boys we were going until just before and they were so excited. Disney was Harvey’s favourite place. There were about 10 Believe in Magic family’s who went and the kids were given a suitcase each full of beautiful clothes.  We stayed in The Pink Palace hotel which is just stunning,everything was taken care of. We were there Monday-Thursday and we had a ball. There were characters walking around the hotel and at night we all went to the top floor of the hotel to watch the Fireworks. Harvey and Spencer loved the Frozen show so we went to that a few times. Some of the girls had lunch with Cinderella but my boys just wanted to go on the rides over and over again!
Harvey was a real thrill seeker and the faster the rides the better. Jay and her family joined everyone for the last few days. We had the best time there and the kids were just blown away by the whole experience.
Tell me about the microphone, how it was delivered and Harvey’s reaction.  Why was this a big deal for him?  Were there gifts for the other kids too?  If so tell me a little about that.
On the way to London I sent Jay a video of Harvey singing to 1D in the car, “Best song ever.” I understand Louis was with her when she received it, when we arrived at the hotel (another beautiful one) there were two microphones waiting for the boys, it was so thoughtful and  there were also some beautiful girly gift’s for Olivia. The boys started playing with them immediately and took them to the concert that night. Spencer often plays with his Microphone and I love the photo we have of Harvey with his. Gifts sent with such thought behind them.
What is your impression of Louis as a man?  Does he love kids as much as he appears to?  How do children react to him?
Louis is kind and considerate. He comes from a large and loving family and I guess that helps him to stay grounded. Louis younger twin sisters are also kind sweet girls so I think it runs in the family. When you come from a large family I think you feel at ease with children and he seems to be able to make people feel naturally at ease. Olivia loves Louis, she giggles a lot when she sees him, he’s in 1D and she’s 13yrs old! Lol.  Harvey and Spencer didn’t really appreciate the fact he is a global star but that makes it even more genuine for me as it shows Louis not doing it for the glory.
Louis Tomlinson Harvey1
Tell me about Harvey’s 1D concert.  Did you all manage to go?  How did Harvey react?  Did you all get to go backstage to meet Louis and the rest of the boys?  How were you treated?  
We stayed in the beautiful Kensington Hotel . There were gifts for the children and Louis’ PA called to give us all the arrangements. We were made to feel very special. These are hotels that we would never normally be able to experience.
The Concert was something I would never have taken the boys to for fear of it being too loud or us having to leave and spoiling Olivia’s fun so we took my niece in case she needed to take the boys out for us.
Louis had offered us the Green room should the boys decide it was too much for them. We were taken to the friends and family room before the show and then back stage to meet all the boys. It was a bit of a whirlwind meet as there were many other fans waiting to meet the boys. After that we were taken to our seats right near the stage and the concert began. All the children absolutely loved the concert and Harvey was up dancing to many songs. It was a lovely experience and one that I would not have chosen to take the boys too but I am so glad we did. After the concert Louis PA came and showed us to our waiting car. Everything we needed was taken care of.
The next day a car was sent for us to take us to a Believe in Magic party in Hamley’s toy store. It was a perfect weekend and we made some beautiful memories.
What are your thoughts about how Louis is being treated by some sections of the media?
It makes me angry. These people don’t know the real Louis, to them its a story but its actually quite hurtful to the people that know different. Something they don’t understand is that he helps so many familys and the fact that he doesn’t shout about it makes him even more special, he doesn’t do it for the glory he does it because he wants to help people. Jay once told me that on a bad press day Louis will often say to her. “Come on mum, lets make someone happy today”
What do you think people should know about Louis and Johannah?
How genuine they are. They go out of their way to help people and expect no recognition for it. Louis has stayed grounded and I think that’s thanks to great parenting on Jays part. He’s a lovely family orientated guy. Jay doesn’t have to help us or anyone else but she does it because she wants too and she is truly grateful for what she has.
Tell me about your charitable efforts in Harvey’s memory.  Links to any website, just giving page etc.
Harvey only passed on 29th Nov, I am hoping to set up a charity in his name providing treats for poorly children but haven’t yet got this up and running.
http://solvingkidscancer.org/ hold Harvey’s appeal page, money donated to them will pay for research into Neuroblastoma and other childhood cancers.
http://upsanddowns.net/ are the charity that have supported us since the boys were born and this is the charity we collected for at Harvey’s Celebration.
What question do you really wish I had asked and didn’t?  What would the answer be?  Feel free to add anything you think relevant or that you want people to know about.
When Jay knew that Harvey didn’t have much time left she came to the house with her Twin girls [Daisy and Phoebe], they took a day out of school to come and spent all day playing with Olivia, Harvey and Spencer.
Louis sent Olivia a Pandora bracelet and lots of toys for the boys. Louis driver brought them here and came in to say hi, he’s a lovely guy and also came to Harvey’s celebration, in fact he arranged the balloon release on that day. As they left we talked about doing a winter wonderland for Harvey on our decking but sadly there was never the time. We left for the hospice that day and only had two other days at home.
I cant tell you the importance of having things to look forward to and Jay and Louis have given us many of them. Louis has also offered us a holiday at Centre parcs whenever we are ready. They hold a very special place in my heart and Jay keeps in regular contact by FB or texting every now and again to see how we all are.
Louis and Jay have given us precious memories with Harvey and all of our children and that is priceless, we have so many beautiful photos of Harvey to look back on in some amazing places!  I do feel that I have made a genuine friend in Jay and she certainly doesn’t do it for the glory.
I once asked Jay if any of the boys knew Ant and Dec as Harvey loved them. A few weeks we had a personal message from them to the kids and wishing Harvey well.

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.

Saudi Arabia: It's Time To Break Links With These Barbarians

Saudi Arabia: It’s Time To Break Links With These Barbarians

News has broken today that Saudi Arabia has celebrated the new-year by publicly beheading 47 people.

According to the BBC the 47 people were executed for ‘terrorist’ offences, amongst them was a prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.  He was  a prominent and outspoken opponent of the Saudi regime who articulated the feelings of those in the country’s Shia minority who feel marginalised and discriminated against. This was a figure active on the sensitive Sunni-Shia sectarian fault line that creates tension in the Kingdom and far beyond.

Human rights group Reprieve point out that at least four of those executed were convicted of nothing more than attending protest against the regime.

One of those executed was Ali al-Ribh who was 18 when he was arrested, and sentenced to death for organizing and participating in demonstrations; vandalism; helping to organize demonstrations through the use of his BlackBerry; attending an address of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. Mohammad Shioukh, 19 at the time of his arrest, was sentenced to death for a number of offences, including writing anti-Government graffiti and filming demonstrations for the purpose of documenting and publishing their content.  Both were tortured while in custody.

According to the Independent several groups that monitor the death penalty worldwide said that Saudi Arabia executed at least 157 people in 2015, with beheadings reaching their highest level in two decades.

As one would expect David Cameron our morally corrupt and spineless Prime Minister refused to intervene, even in the execution of a child who was just 14-years-old at the time of his arrest.

The interview with Jon Snow above shows that Cameron floundered to answer questions about dodgy deals done behind the scenes that allowed Saudi Arabia to become the head of the UN Human Rights Council.

You couldn’t make it up, Saudi Arabia, a nation that cheerfully lops the head off people in public displays of barbarism, that denies women the right to drive a car and which routinely tortures prisoners and then chops off their limbs for minor crimes heads the UN Human Rights Council.

What Cameron won’t say is that he will allow the Saudi’s to do as they please because he wants to continue to sell military hardware to one of the most barbaric regimes on the planet.  Cameron insists that the UK needs to trade with Saudi Arabia and the price of that trade is paid in blood.

I don’t know about you but I don’t think that the UK or any “civilised” society should have anything to do with this regime.

According to the Guardian Cameron eventually had to concede that he turned a blind eye to human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia because:

“We have a relationship with Saudi Arabia and if you want to know why I’ll tell you why.

“It’s because we receive from them important intelligence and security information that keeps us safe. The reason we have the relationship is our own national security.”

Strangely Cameron does’t mention the fact that the Al Queda terrorist group originates in Saudi Arabia.

Pause for a moment to reflect that had I l;lived in Saudi Arabia when I wrote this blog post I would very likely have been tortured and beheaded for doing so!