Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Union Debate

I write not today to press an opinion on the public sector strikes; I have enough friends on both sides and I do not wish to partake in this debate and have kept many of my opinions of it to myself. I write today to talk about the Unions who push for these strikes and how I disagree with the Unions and not those on strike.

After my research at University and my past experience with them myself and through my nearest and dearest, I have become increasingly disgusted with the unions who supposedly hold our welfare and our rights so dear to them. A friend of mine who is a teacher wondered whether to strike; he couldn't afford to take the day off work and he didn't really feel the strike was justified, but his union turned around and told him that if he didn't strike he shouldn't bother coming to them for help again in the future, despite them taking some of his salary every month so that they will be there to support him should the time come. I would be horrified but after studying organisations such as Unite and other unions, I am more than aware of their reputations.

Unite, a union always in the news, particularly for their association with British Airways staff, have on numerous occasions accused companies of bullying their staff, and yet Unite have infamously 'named and shamed' those who haven't gone on strike and actively encouraged union members to bully those who dare not go on strike. Many unions have also had alternative motives to strike (especially with Unite with their links with the Labour government) and is not always for the concern of the workers who have lost their pay to fight.

I realize that unions can be a lot of good; I realize there has to be a balance and that they have brought justice because sometimes an organisation is in the wrong. I also believe that when your employer is the government that yes there should be someone there to make sure that the workers have their say. But some of the horrific counts of bullying have made me never want to join a Union. As someone with quite unitary views, I see joining a union as distancing myself away from my employer, rather being a part of the company who have employed me. I also don't hold it against others for joining them as that is their right and they hold differing views to mine. Maybe I have just had good employers who have embraced their employees and maybe my views will change in the future, but for now I commit to not being a part of a union and embrace the organisation I work within rather than fight against it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Transexual Summer

While the final moments of last night's episode of My Transexual Summer was supposed to provide an air of hope and joy for a transgender girl finding a job around accepting people, it instead made me angry, unoptimistic and reduced me to tears. All this male to female transexual person wanted was to have a job and for once not be judged. Channel 4 watched her as she traveled from shop to shop asking for work. I was horrified to see how many people rejected her (on camera!) saying that she would make the customers feel uncomfortable and therefore could not give her a job. Is this legal? How can it be? If it is, it is disgusting. A flamboyant gay man, a disfigured or disabled person could make someone feel uncomfortable, but you would not dare reject them from a job they were perfectly be suitable and could easily do surely?

It probably didn't help that Channel 4 kept going up to customers and asking what they thought of the new transexual barista, they probably wouldn't have even noticed she was trans if they hadn't shaken bigotry out of these elderly customers.

I could not believe how horrificly these people are still treated in this country today; Britain claims it is a cosmopolitan and accepting place, but seeing how transgender people suffer on a daily basis shows that we are far from it. These people struggle a life time of pain just to be able to enjoy the simple luxury of being able to wear the clothes they wish to wear and feel comfortable in their own skin, which many of us take for granted on a daily basis.

The government need to crack down and make more clear that the poor treatment of these minorities will not be tolerated. Jobs should not be restricted from them because they might put off a bigoted customer. We need to open our arms and welcome these people who have suffered enough quietly themselves without the rest of the world looking in and judging them too.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ticket Inspector Bullies

The other day a good friend of mine was traveling on a train. She was tired and decided to rest her legs on a metal bar which sat beneith the seat in front of her. The ticket inspector passed and noticed her feet on this bar and without warning or even asking her to take her feet down, issued her a fine and threatened to have her arrested. The way they spoke to her was dispicable and had she not been so shook up by the whole process, she would have likely called the police herself for the way she had been treated. This was not some teenager causing a riot on a train, this was a twenty-something IT professional who was commuting for work purproses. Had she been asked to take her feet off the metal bar, she would have done so immediately and yet she hadn't and now faces a penalty.

Wind back a few months, I was traveling from Manchester to Leeds. A gentleman in the seat behind me gave a printed out confirmation receipt from his email to the ticket inspector after the ticket machine in Manchester had not worked. The Network Rail representative in Manchester had told the gentleman to just get on the train as he would miss his connection and to just explain to the ticket inspector. The ticket inspector did not believe the gentleman, despite him having full confirmation printed out with him. He demanded another ticket or he would have him arrested at Leeds station.

Last year, my friend's boyfriend traveled from London to Manchester. There were two trains departing at the same time and he accidentally got on the wrong one. Easy mistake. When the inspector inspected his ticket, he informed him he had got the wrong one and demanded he pay a full fair up to Manchester which cost over £100 because his ticket was not valid on this train, despite it being the same train company and was obviously an easy mistake to be made.

A few months before that, another friend of mine was traveling from Hull to Leeds. It was late at night, he was exhausted and had fallen asleep on the train and woke up in Manchester. He quickly got on the return train to Leeds and tried explaining his fault to the inspector who demanded he buys another ticket. My friend had no money on him at all and he had left his debit card at home. The inspector demanded he got off at Stockport or once again would be arrested. My friend pleaded with the driver explaining that if he got off at Stockport he would have no way of getting home and would have no where to stay. He would have had to have slept rough. He showed his ticket, showing the exact times he bought the ticket which would show he would have had to have got off and back on again in seconds to prove his mistake. The inspector continued to push my friend to buy a ticket and once again threatened him with the police. My friend had no choice and so he called his bluff on his threat of the police. The inspector instead of calling the cops went over to the tannoy and told the passengers that train would not be moving until my friend had got off, hoping that the passengers would begin an angry mob to get my friend off the train, unfortunately for the inspector it backfired and the angry mob was actually turned around onto the inspector and the train service who eventually had to set off.

These are just four of many stories I hear frequently. Who the hell are these bullies from these train companies? Who do they think they are? They would allow someone to remain homeless for the night or to be fined ludicrous fines because of innocent mistakes. They threaten with the police because the majority of people would respond to that, but clearly they know the police have more important cases on their hands. They resort to angry passengers to force these people off the trains. They are bullies, pure and simple, on a power trip. With rising fair tickets, the train companies are forgetting how much the public pay for this service and forget that we are customers. We get crushed on a daily basis on busy services because the companies will not provide an extra carriage. The facilities are a joke and the journey is pure hell. And yet we pay high prices for these poor facilities and are made to feel guilty for using them.

I want to put a stop to these Ticket Inspector bullies. I know we have to stop fair dodgers and yes if people are generally causing a nuscience on a train then sort it out. But don't try and send your message through the punishment of good, hard working people who just want to get from A to B and just want to get home and have paid to use the rubbish service this country provides. They threaten us with the police but evidence has shown that actually they are bluffing. I ask everyone to stand up to these nasty power-mad imbeciles. Call their bluff! Let them try and arrest you! You are in the right and these companies need to know that we are the customer and they cannot force us to be out of pocket because of innocent mistakes! I am not asking to cause a riot; no way. I'm not suggesting you break the law; far from it! But don't bend over and take it if these petty people demand us to be fined and treated poorly for innocent mistakes! I will happily face being arrested for any of the above incidents and I will happily meet them in court if it means an end to the disgusting way they treat us!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Darkness Rock Manchester

It had been several years since The Darkness had performed since Justin Hawkin's departure in 2006 and the world wondered whether they could live up to their name in their reunion tour. On the 12th November 2011, The Darkness proved at the Manchester Academy that their glam rocking days were not over.

Despite not having the flexibility of an arena for stage tricks, they managed to fill the stage with a large cage and a number of light illusions made it a terrific show. Justin and his brother managed to create some amazing guitar solos and Justin's voice is still just as high.

They played a number of new songs which ensured the audience that the new album will include some terrific tracks which relay the sounds of their rock n' roll legacy. But everyone was there for the oldies and they didn't let us down with tracks such as Black Shuck, I believe In a Thing Called Love and Growing On Me. They also played a few tracks off their second album, One Way Ticket and their famous Christmas Track, which despite being a little early, got everyone in the festive mood.

It was surprising to see them not perform any Queen tracks, which they usually did, but the lengthy show was filled with the Permission To Land classics which everyone loves. They are back next year with a new album and tour, and I cannot wait to see more from the rock legends!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Heavy D: 1967-2011

I was saddened to hear the news that rapper Heavy D died suddenly this week. While I hadn't followed Heavy's career closely, he had collaborated with my favourite artist of all time Michael Jackson on no other than my favourite Michael Jackson's song: Jam!

I saw Heavy live in his final weeks at the Michael Jackson Tribute Show in Cardiff in which he joined Michael's sister Latoya in the performance of Jam.

So in tribute to heavy here are his lyrics from one of the greatest collaborations of all time; Jam:

Jam Jam
Here Comes The Man
Hot Damn
The Big Boy Stands
Movin' Up A Hand
Makin' Funky Tracks
With My Man
Michael Jackson
Smooth Criminal
That's The Man
Mike's So Relaxed
Mingle Mingle Jingle
In The Jungle
Bum Rushed The Door
3 And 4's In A Bundle
Execute The Plan
First I Cooled Like A Fan
Got With Janet
Then With Guy
Now With Michael
Cause It Ain't Hard To...


Sally Morgan's Psychic Skeptics

Sally Morgan is in hot water again after Derren Brown managed to expose her as a fraud on his Secret of Luck show. The ''medium'' went to visit a 'lucky dog' and confirmed its powers, unbeknownst to her that Derren had planted the dog and made up the rumor that it had any form of lucky powers.

After years of incresing success and popularity, especially with high profile celebrity admirers, Sally's career seems to be these days facing increasing scruitny. Recently she has been accused of having back stage helpers feeding information to her as audience members in Dublin said they heard a man reading out messages which Sally would seconds later repeat. Her reviews on Ticketmaster of her shows also show that her fans have been very disapointed and that her tv show really does show the best of her guess work.

In October of this year a skeptic group in Liverpool invited Sally to come and prove her powers, offering £1 million if she was able to prove it. Derren Brown has even been involved urging her it is more for a matter of science than exposure. Sally declined the invitation.

Is this the end of Sally Morgan's career? It is doubtful, no matter how much evidence is presented against her, people will still believe her. Derren Brown proved this in a documentary on mediums as he did the same tricks as mediums but explained he was just using guess work; a girl he tested his theory on still believed he was 'magic' despite him telling her otherwise.

All we can do is urge Sally to come forward and do this test, it could after all save her credibility and line her pockets with £1million; but with the amount of proof against her and the number of sold books and contracts with Living TV/ITV2, she is most likely to earn more than the million proposed and her credibility will always be strong with those who will believe almost anything.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Conrad Murray: Dr Death

I awaited for the verdict as it came out live on Sky News on Monday evening. It was unbelivably intense as we awaited the fate of Conrad Murray and the verdict which would outline his part in Michael Jackson's death. Unlike many fans, I wanted to give him a fair trial and let him have his day in court like we gave Michael in 2005; but the evidence was clear soon into the trial that this man had been irresponsible and had to face punishment.

Fans across the world have deemed a murderer and a monster. I don't believe him to be either. I believe that he was idiotic and money hungry; he gave into whatever Michael Jackson demanded and for that he needs to be stripped of his medical liscence. While he may have felt he was giving Michael everything he wanted, he was letting him down. I have no doubt that Michael thanked him everyday for going against the law to end his insomnia. Conrad, instead of finding him help, he sat and fed his addiction, even recording Jackson's drugged up slurs.

Conrad Murray isn't the only one to blame; AEG, everyone involved with the This Is It tour, his management and anyone who had access to him in those last few weeks were just as much as to blame for Jackson's death as Murray. They made the world believe Michael was ok and encouraged him onto a stage when he was obviously in no fit state to perform. Instead of getting him to recuperate and come off the drugs, they fed him whatever he wanted to get him on that stage and ready to go.

Of course Michael too was to blame, but he was an addict, he didn't know any better. If your friend, family member or colleague is an addict, you help them and say ''please don't die''. You don't ignore it or (in Murray's case) feed the addiction. Michael relied on those closest to him and today only Conrad Murray is the one who is on trial.

The world has lost an icon and it is all down to an entourage of money-hungry men who felt it better to line their own pockets, rather than considering the welfare of a human being. Should Murray serve time? Possibly, anyone responsible for someone else's death should have some of their own life taken away. Prison is probably the safest place for him right now; I know I wouldn't want to face billions of angry Michael Jackson fans after being blamed for killing their hero. But more than anything he should have his medical liscence away, he went against the oath that as a Doctor he had to take. There is no doubt he will find some fortune at the end of this, the media are already beginning to make programmes and when he is released he will be able to exploit the media attention in interviews, books and television documentaries.

But if nothing else, Michael's family and fans will be able to at last have closure on what did happen to him on his final weeks, they have got that person to blame and he is now being punished. While there are people out there who should still be blamed, it will never replace the King of Pop, and now the world should let him go and embrace his musical legacy that he leaves behind.