Changes

 

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Everything changes. No I’m not talking about the first episode of Torchwood or the song by Take That. No I’m talking about in life. It’s like one of life’s certainties like death. For much of my life I have hated change. I have fought against it, had anxiety over it or got angry when changes are forced on me. This is at times when my life is going great. I loved the job I had at Somerfield’s until it got closed down. I’ve had close friends, spending time hanging out with them worrying about losing them only for this self-fulfilling prophecy to eventually come true.
Nowadays I try to have a more different view towards change. It was something I had to come to terms with in uni. I loved being a student, going to lectures and hanging out with fellow students in the SU bar drinking Snakebites. But I always knew it was temporary and that I would have no choice in when it ended. Three years and that’s it. With this time limit I learned to savour every moment I could out of my time there. I still have times when I miss things or people from my past, sometimes so much it hurts but at the same time when changes have happened they have always lead to something new in my life.
Had I not been made redundant I wouldn’t have got a job where I’d meet someone who’d not only turn out to be a great friend but got me into ghost hunting and was the one who suggested that I go back to college which eventually lead to going to uni. Many times changes have brought new experiences into my life.
I shouldn’t be surprised. That change can be good is something I learned very early on. Deep Space Nine had a character, Jadzia Dax, who was joined with a symbiont who had already lived seven lifetimes. In one episode I remember watching as a kid she talks about how each change is good because it leads to new experiences. That has always stuck in my mind.

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But even more so I’m a Doctor Who fan, a show where the lead character has changed faces and personalities twelve times and had companions and friends that have come and gone over the years. In my life I’ve been like the tenth Doctor, resisted to change, raging against it and haunted by those words. “I don’t want to go.” But his incarnation is an exception. As the second Doctor commented just after his regeneration that “Life depends upon change. Even more so there is the eleventh Doctor’s final speech.
Recently I was given a sudden and upsetting reminder of my past about a friend of mine that died young a long time ago. I could remember where she lived, I remembered where I was when I got the message that she had died but for the life of me I could not remember her name and that was what got to me. Thankfully it came back to me a couple of hours later and an important part of my life was returned to me.
So yeah I must remember my past, who I was, the things that I have done. All the things that have happened to me good and bad because among other things it shows that I always survive change and many times it leads to something new and exciting. And there may even be some indications that changes are coming my way. We did Tarot cards in circle this week. I’ve always loved Tarot and have many decks. Anyway I got a reading from someone which indicated some new things coming into my life including possibly a woman. Now obviously I can take that indication in two different ways but even so I left that night feeling very positive about the future.
Changes are a coming. Prepare yourself, embrace it, hold on tight and go with the flow. You never know what’s around the corner.

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I’m in a Circle

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So a few weeks ago I’m speaking to one of my best friends. She’s the one that got me into ghost hunting as well as mediumship. Her husband, who is a medium, was starting up a new open circle in my town and she suggested I should come along. For me the idea was good on two fronts. 1. Because it would help me get out and socialise more which I really need to do and which would help with my anxiety (hopefully) and 2. Because I use to do circle years ago and kind of wanted to try it again.
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For those of you reading that’s not sure what a circle is, it is not a group of us sat in a circle on the floor chanting while candles burn around us in the dark. A circle when it comes to mediumship is simply a group of us sat on chairs in a circle trying to develop our medium skills. So this involves learning to talk to spirits, guides etc. A closed circle is simply a closed group of people while an open circle means anyone can come along.
So far it’s been both interesting and helpful. As I mentioned I’d done spiritual work many years before and I think (judged on feedback) that I was developing quite well, to the point where the woman running the circle thought I’d be ready to go up on stage. Unfortunately due to circumstances at the time I had to take time out from it and sadly never went back.
So now I have a chance to try again. For me the reason for doing it as much as I do like helping people is because I want to explore myself. I’ve always felt I’ve been on a personal voyage of discovery. Why I am like I am? What is my potential? Where do I fit in in this world? And of course having the skills to communicate with the dead is rather Jedi-ish.

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But the other up side of this is I get to see one of my best friends every week and chat as well as a couple of other people in the group. I’m still slightly shy around the ones I don’t know yet but it’s a friendly bunch and we have a good laugh along the way. My Facebook page has almost had daily requests lately for friend requests from other members in the group.
So far over the last few weeks we dealt with the introductions and practised some meditation, looked at how we might read people, working with colours and emotions and looked at spirit guides. Also we have all given a little mini reading to someone else in the group. Mine hasn’t really been that much but I’ve had something to give which is nice even if my heart is beating like hell from having to do so. With luck confidence will come in time.
And for those reading this and thinking ‘well it’s all bollocks isn’t it’. If you are then why are you reading this? Especially if you’ve got this far. But I’m not judgemental. While I believe it is possible to communicate with the deceased and that we have guides I do doubt my own abilities. As I give readings both now and in the past I’m always thinking am I just making this up? But so far everyone I’ve read for has taken what I’ve said (unless they’re just being kind) So I look forward to being able to keep this blog updated with how I’m coming on, any interesting things that come up and maybe even some of the things I’ve learnt.
And then there is also the part about overcoming my anxiety. Socialising with strangers is a little step for me, done it plenty of times before and it doesn’t take me long to settle in. Putting myself in the spotlight with ten or more people watching me is a larger step. One I know I can do but it just pushes me just that little bit more. Then there is expressing myself bit by bit among this group. This is more than just developing myself spiritually. This is in front of people I don’t know and in front of people I have known for years. If I can develop the confidence to do readings for people with others watching me then hopefully I’ll develop confidence in other areas. And this may even, for better or worse, come around quicker than I would have thought.
When I posted on Facebook recently about how I’d finally finished editing my novel and ready to print off for some people to read, she commented yes please. Given that the nature of the novel is rather personal to me this is a big thing for me. I initially ignored it but she mentioned it again at circle this week. There was no way of avoiding it. I had to do a quick edit for her copy as one of the characters is named and based after her and given that that character is involved in a sex scene I’d better change the name. But hopefully she’ll be opened minded to the contents of the story when she reads it. In a way putting this novel out there is a little bit like coming out so it is nerve wracking. Anything to do with hinting at my alternative lifestyle is nerve wracking.
This week we worked on Psychometry. That where you hold an object (that we had brought in) and try to connect with it. To tap into the history of the object and get a reading from it. I’ll admit it wasn’t my specialist subject and I didn’t get anything right.
Interestingly though we had also been asked to bring a red herring in as well and with the above in mind I took in a neck choker that I’d brought last year but couldn’t really wear as it was too tight. When it was picked from the tray by one of the circle I felt a little guilty that they wouldn’t get anything from it or if they did I’d have to tell them how they were wrong. My heart was beating throughout not only from the guilt but because of having to own up to the object. Surprisingly though many of the things she did come up with I could actually take. Of course I had to admit to owning the item in the end but if the group thought there was anything strange in this it wasn’t mentioned. Of course when my friend starts reading the book little things like the neck choker might clue her in.
Still I believe the universe or the force has a way of working things out so maybe this is how things are meant to go? Maybe something will come through for me that will give me some insight. If anyone is listening, Can I get a sign please?

 

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Trans Matters

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No not that kind!

 

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Ok this following piece is going to be a very personal one and will deal with issues of Trans Gender and cross dressing. If this is not your cup of tea (or you know me personally and think that this may be too much information, yes you!) then I would recommend going no further……..

Ok. Are you sure? Then we’ll begin….

There is four things that have always fascinated me. Doctor Who, the supernatural, exploration of the self (both psychological and philosophical) and fetishes. I really don’t know where the fascination for fetishes has come from. I remember reading a book in uni on it and just got engrossed in learning why certain fetishes appealed to people as they did. But my interested started a long time before that and maybe it was because of some of the fetishes that I enjoyed myself. Ones that I would often feel guilty about, as if it wasn’t normal. I’m not going to go into details about which fetishes I like or don’t like except one of them was cross dressing. I began to want to understand what made such things fetishes. Was it something inherent or caused by something in our childhood? Maybe it’s just my interest in psychology and philosophy wanting to know how people and the world think and work. Or maybe I just wanted to know I’m not the only one out there. That what I like does not make me abnormal.

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And as long as such things don’t affect other people then is there really any harm? What happens behind closed doors stays behind closed doors. But what happens when it’s something more than that?. For over a year now I have been considering my gender identity. It no longer is simply just a fetish, something I do now and again but now an impact on my everyday life. Like many times before I have done research into transgenderism. I have read articles, watched You Tube videos and am an active member on a LGTB forum. Many of the You Tube videos I’ve watched have documented the tubers transition. I feel at the moment I’m in a position where I don’t know which way, if any, I want to go. It is a very confusing time for me as I swing from one feeling to the other. Or there’ll be times when I’m out somewhere and wished I’d gone more feminine or less.

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Sometimes I think that I would just like the chance to be out there for a short time and have considered drag act. Other times I think of if I want to actually start transitioning, begin medication and look towards surgeries. I’ve swung from thinking myself as a male to thinking of myself as wanting to be female and now lie somewhere in between counting myself for now as genderfluid. It’s gone from simply just dressing in clothes to trying out make up, wigs and I love doing photoshoots (even if they aren’t the best.) That is the other big thing for me. Would I pass? Could I pull off a feminine look. And it’s not just the look. The voice, the walk. They are all little tell tale signs of what gender someone is. And for me it’s not about wearing skirts out. I have women’s jeans and tops that overall could be seen more as gender neutral. Even if I was to simple go out as a cross dresser (something that seems to be less accepted then being trans) would I look good enough to be accepted or be stared at like I’m some sort of freak.

The novel I wrote is based around many of these themes and it has to be said that it was both helpful in allowing me to express and explore my own feelings but also brought up personal questions that I have had to face. True I have to admit I don’t feel the same every day, it is something that is ever changing which is one of the things that makes it so hard to decide what to do. Although I don’t really suffer from the dysphoria that other trans people experience, there was a time where I had to shave before I’d go out even if it would make me late and even going without earrings sometimes can feel wrong.

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But a few weeks ago I decided after four months of contemplating to final go and get my hair done and to have it dyed red, something that I’ve wanted to do but have held back. It is a bold move for me. Over the last year I have been pushing little bits such as painted nails and wearing earrings. No longer is the wearing of knickers something done for quick excitement but actually worn daily just because they feel right. In fact I recently figured out that I actually own more pairs of knickers then boxers! At work there are other little signs I’m giving out.

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Reaction to my hair have ranged from people liking it to downright piss taking. I’ve taken it in my stride, rolled with the banter, none of the comments were meant in a horrible way. It has also lead to the outcome that a couple of team mates remembered the character of Jessica Rabbit. Again I rolled with it and have now accepted the name as a nickname I use when playing. In many ways this takes away the power they have of taking the mickey because I’m not biting plus it’s putting the idea of a more feminine me out there. Personally I like it. It may not be a nickname (or alternative name) I would have chosen but never mind. Plus I have recently just started watching a You Tuber cross dresser called Jessica who has helped again to give me more confidence in myself. There does seem to be a nice symmetry there.

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But I want to get more involved in the community that I now feel part of and to help others. For example I make regular donations to Mermaids. But I want to do more. I want to help not just because that’s the kind of person I am but also because maybe by getting more involved will also help me figure myself out. I haven’t had much chance to get to Pride events and hopefully this is the year I’ll get chance to go. I’m also looking at a few other events coming up. I don’t know if my home town would ever do something but it would be great to be involved.
When I started this blog I wasn’t sure where I was going to take it. I knew I wanted to look at the heroes of my past and how they had affected me and from there it’s built up into my musings and my personal journey.

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When having my hair done my hairdresser told me to be who I want to be and fuck what anyone else thinks. To do what makes me happy. It’s good advice. My friend also told me something similar on her birthday night out. But to be someone who wants to stand up for peoples rights I guess one has to be brave enough to put themselves out there. I have to take on those aspects such as Robin Hood, the Doctor, Ace Rimmer and Batman that I’ve talked about. I’ve said previously about Supergirl, how in my novel she symbolised my main character’s realising their secret self and how Supergirl herself seems to be a metaphor for coming out as you true self as she does in the pilot episode of the series. I’ve mentioned about how maybe one day I’ll have my own Supergirl moment. Something that I would never have imagined myself doing.

This month is Pride month and this is it. It’s another little step but an important one.

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Musings on Batman

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Over the course of this blog I have mentioned many heroes that I have admired over the years. Heroes that I would like to aspire to due to the qualities they possess. Spider-man would be the most obvious superhero I’ve talked about. I loved the character as a kid. I read the comics, I watched the cartoon Spider-man and his amazing friends and the later 90’s cartoon. Along with the X-Men, they were the heroes for my young self and for a while I was more Marvel then DC.
In all honesty I’ve never really considered myself a Batman fan. I can’t recall reading any of the comics or watching the cartoons although I did use to watch repeats of the old 60’s series. I also remember going to watch Batman at the local cinema in 1989 and although I watched the four prequels I didn’t think they were that good. A couple of years ago I decided on a re watch of the films as I had them on DVD. I watched the first, fell asleep half way through the second and never went back. When the reboot came out I wasn’t that enthralled and it was a while before I watched both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. I have never watched the third movie. Likewise although I thought Ben Affleck did a good enough job in Batman vs Superman I wasn’t a fan and still haven’t watched Justice League. I got through two series of Gotham before, due to Channel Five dropping it from their schedules, giving up and although I may go back to it sometime in the future I found it very dark and also long winded. Likewise apart from the more common elements associated with the character I know very little of the long history of the hero.
And yet thinking about it tonight I find Batman merchandise is the second most numerous items I own. (Of course number one is Doctor Who merchandise, if there was any doubt).
I have an action figure, a number of t-shirts which I wear more often than other items of clothing. A Batman floor mat and a large picture of the various Bat symbols over the years (presents from my Brother and family) and the Arkham series of games for the PlayStation. Recently I’ve just brought a pair of Batman earrings which I’m actually wearing right now along with a Bat symbol t-shirt. As such I’ve started to take more of an interest in the character recently watching the Killing Joke and Gotham by Moonlight.

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So what is it about this character that has such a hold on me despite my lack of interest in his films or comics? Well there is the bat symbol. Like Doctor Who’s Tardis it is instantly recognisable and in fact the symbol is even used to call Batman to action lighting up the skies of Gotham. True much of what I own is dominated by that symbol but not everything and the image of Batman himself looks cool. I would rally love a change to wear a Batman costume to a costume party or something because it looks so good.
What we have with Batman, and I’ve mentioned this before (see Secret Identities – Not just for superheroes), is a hero who hasn’t got superpowers. He is a hero who has worked to become a hero through learning martial arts and science and of course developing great detecting skills being dubbed the world’s greatest detective. There is something appealing about a vigilante who takes on criminals just using the skills he’s learnt and not some power he has endowed with.
This is in some way the reason I like Arrow apart from his skill with a bow. I came to Arrow through watching the Flash and I think that season one is one of the best. It has Oliver Queen just going up against criminals’ way before Meta humans, magicians, aliens or alternate Earth Nazi’s. There was a sense of realism to this first series. Rather like Hawkeye in the Avengers when we see Green Arrow up against a super villain their skills seems rather lightweight compared to speedsters, ancient Gods and magic users.
Batman as well I think works better when against ordinary villains such as the Joker, Riddler and Ra Al Ghul. Put him with super beings too often and he can seem the weakest link although there are some interesting stories that explores those themes.

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I also love looking at the philosophy and psychology behind the character himself. We all know the tragedy that led him to take up the mantle of crime fighter but there is also how that affects him until it is unclear whether he is truly Bruce Wayne or Batman. It reminds me of a quote I used for my own novel. Perhaps it’s impossible to wear an identity without becoming what you pretend to be. While I was writing my novel and working on the themes of identity it was the complexity of Batman that was in the back of my mind.
So what we get is a very dark complex character (well if you ignore the 60’s series that is) who still doesn’t cross that line where he would intentionally kill a villain. Whether he is seen as a vigilante hiding from the police or on call whenever they need him, he has one mission and that is to help save his city. Despite any psychological issues that he has, despite any limitations he is a person who is ready to step up to the fight when needed. He may not be a role model to me but it seems there are still some things that I can take from the character.Batman-4

 

Untitled Drunken Musings

 

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It’s quarter past twelve on Saturday night. 03/06/18 to be precise and I’ve just got in. All in all in’s been a hell of a night. It’s not a post I was planning to blog and it’s thrown my schedule out a little. It should have been a Batman themed one with a blog on how I’ve joined a new mediumship circle to be the next one I wrote. But this night has prompted an unscheduled piece. One which I think needs to be posted sooner more than later but also ties in with my previous post on Ace Rimmer.
I’ve been out on the town. It’s my friends eighteenth and she’s invited me out. It’s a night I’ve been looking forward to although she and her boyfriend are the only ones I will know. Flashback to earlier in the evening when I’m getting ready to go out. Baring this month pride month. I’ve already ordered some rainbow laces. Yet I hesitate on getting ready. Do I wear earrings? Do I dress on the more slightly feminine side or more manly? In the back of my head is the question will I get the chance to pull? It’s not a question of worrying what people will think of me but more an issue of if it will effect any chances tonight.
I’ve had a quick tidy up around the flat today and hidden the more questionable items of my personality away. You never know.

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The night goes well. A couple of pints followed by many cocktails. I feel relaxed around the people I don’t know, my friend’s family and friends. Her mum even offers me a drink, a thanks for looking out for her daughter. I guess I’ve been mentioned before.
But something happens towards the middle of the night. It’s about ten and we’ve been out a few hours. There are some attractive women out tonight, one of the group is lined up nicely with another. I’m slightly jealous, yeah I want them to get together but I feel left out. My friend is constantly kissing her boyfriend. And the girl serving behind the bar I find attractive but she is too young.
But in my slightly intoxicated state I realise something. A fact. I’m going home alone tonight. It’s likely I’m going wake up in the morning alone and feel depressed about it. The girls around me are too young for me and I know my time out on a scene like this has come to an end. Tonight is almost like a flashback, a reunion. It’s like when Doctor Who has an anniversary special and old Doctors come back. They’re older, their time has come and gone and although it’s a nice nostalgic trip it’s a one off remembrance of the old days. I remember past days of glory when I’d be out on a Friday and Saturday night until the early hours of the morning nightclubbing it away.
Ok I feel slightly depressed about this. For a moment I want to go home and call it a night. But on the other hand there is something liberating about it. I know I’m going to be going home alone. Although I’ve seen girls that have peeked my interest I know any chance with them are non-existent. There’s no expectation for me tonight. I can go with the flow and not worry about what I say or do. It’s not a totally great feeling. I would still love to hold someone close to me, to have someone kiss me, those strings of passion whether or not they actually leads somewhere. Even the scary possibility that I’d wake up next to someone I hardly know in the morning but knowing it had followed a night of sex. It’s not so much I’m passed it but the fact that for me this isn’t a scene where someone like me is going to connect with someone else any more.

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Luckily I stick around. Maybe it was just the drink effecting me, maybe I just decide to go with the flow but more than anything it’s because this is my friends night and she wants me there and by the state of her she needs me there. She’s reached that state!! You know the one where the drink is making her tearful and regretful. Where she thinks she is a bad person and people hate her. I remind her that she is great and I remind her how she has been a great friends that has always stood by me, supported me. She wants to read my novel as soon as I can print it off. She is the one that encouraged me to get my hair dyed red. Have I mentioned I’ve had my hair dyed red? Most people despite a bit of banter have been ok with it, only Friday night did a couple of people go over the top with taking the piss about it. But my friend she has been there for me and as I quietly tell her all this she hugs me and rather more loudly then I would like mentions how great my hair is and how if I want to paint my nails and wear makeup then fuck what anyone else says. Yeah thanks M***. But in all seriousness it makes me feel better for who I am.

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It’s gone eleven and the group is now leaving. Her friends and family have lifts home. Her boyfriend and I grab food from the kabab shop and between us we manage to walk her home. Leaving them I walk back home eating my burger. I live in town. I could have got my food and been home within two minutes but I get my friends safely home. It’s something I have always done. Another flashback to fifteen years ago when I’d be out with my female friends, (I also used to be with female friends more than male ones. Maybe that was a sign) making sure they got home safe before I headed back, usually alone to my own flat. I guess somethings don’t chance, just people. I feel better about myself because A. I’ve only had a simple burger without chips and not a large pizza or something as I’m on a diet and B. I’ve celebrated my friends eighteenth and I’ve got her home safe. I’m thought of by people as someone who looks out for people. Maybe someone went home tonight thinking ‘what a guy ‘about me. Although given some of the comments I got tonight they might also have thought ‘what a girl’. It doesn’t matter. The depression I’m starting to feel now and will hit me forcefully in the morning will also pass and I hope that I’ll remind myself that despite my problems I’m a good friend and that I have good friends out there that also look out for me. And hopefully I’ll also forget that I resolved that this was my last swan song out drinking around town next time the opportunity comes up to go out.

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Oh god. It’s five thirty in the morning. I’m wide awake with a cup of tea and no hangover. No surprise there, I never get them and for some reason I always wake up early although this is sooner than even I expected. But there is something different. I’m not here cringing at anything I said or did last night, which given that my anxiety usually makes me question any social interaction is rather nice. There’s no bitter disappointment that I came home alone. Sure it would have been nice after a year and a half but never mind. I already have enough on my plate. No all I have is memories of a great night out and the knowledge that I’ll have the opportunity to take the piss out of my friend sometime in the near future.

 

 

Arnold J Rimmer

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For those who don’t know Arnold Judas Rimmer is a character from the show Red Dwarf. In the first episode he is killed in the same explosion that kills all the rest of the crew, bar one, but is brought back as a hologram.
The character of Rimmer, played by Chris Barrie, is as fellow crew member Dave Lister puts it a “you’re a gutless, spineless, gormless, direction-less, neurotic, underachieving, sniveling, cowardly pile of smeg. No offence, but get real, man; most eunuchs have got more balls than you.” A physical coward blaming his upbringing for the way he is.
But sometimes little things will break though that show he does have the potential to be a better person. He comes up with a plan that saves the crew at the end of series ten and he sacrifices his chance at a new life in order to save a woman he has just met even if he can’t believe it himself.
But never is it clearer what his potential could have been then with the appearance of Ace Rimmer, an Arnold Rimmer from another dimension. Brave, charismatic, smart and all round magnificent guy. And this Rimmer is so different due to one decision made in the past. Ace due to the embarrassment of being kept back a year ends up buckling down and fighting back to become the guy he is. This ties into my blog on being me about how different I myself may have been if something in my past changed and how it is our past that makes us who we are.

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When Ace Rimmer first appeared on our screen I loved the character. After all who wouldn’t want to be like this guy? It’s not until a recent re-watch of Dimension Jump that brought back to my mind how I would have liked to have been like him and slight feelings of regret that I hadn’t. But like I’ve done with the heroes I’ve mentioned so far I looked deeper into the character. He’s smart but that’s because he’s studied. He’s brave because he’ll do what’s needed without thought for himself, putting others first. And he’s modest with his achievements bestowing praise on the people around him while playing down any credit to himself.
Well I can say that over my life I’ve studied. I’ve gone to college and university. And even away from them I’ve looked into things that interest me. My job at the moment isn’t exactly the ideal job but I spend my time learning everything I can about it. Five years ago I couldn’t imagine being the kind of person stuck inside a generator trying to work out how to fix it but that’s what I do. I may not be saving universes but I’m doing my best to get units ready to go out on hire. Ok I may be replaceable but I am still a valued member of the team.
And I’m one of those who also put others first no matter if it’s an inconvenience to me. Late night pickups, dropping everything at the drop of a hat to go out and help someone out. As for the modest bit, well that might be something I do have to work on.
So maybe I’m not so far removed from Ace Rimmer as I first thought. Ok I might not have the handsome dashing looks and sex appeal unfortunately but the basic character traits are there in some form. To look at the difference between the two Rimmers we can see what happens when one spends time simply blaming people and circumstances for the way they are but failing to do anything about it and when one sets out to be the best they can be. And the potential is always there.
Ace returns in to later episodes. Briefly when Arnold Rimmer gets all his bitterness and resentment sucked from him he ends up as Ace showing that it really is a case of overcoming the bad habits of a lifetime to achieve your potential.
In his final appearance Ace returns wounded. Not the original Ace but another one who has took on the mantle after the original Ace had been killed. He wants Arnold Rimmer to take over, to become the new Ace. Something which Rimmer believes himself to be incapable of but in the end, after some false starts he goes out into the universe to try his best.
It’s never too late to try and be the best person you can. To learn what is holding you back and overcoming it. Standing up when needed instead of running for the nearest escape pod. To be there for people when needed. To unleash the wild power that lurks inside you. To be the cougar running free and unfettered through the mountains.

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Musings on Me

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It’s funny what pops into your mind on a drive home. I began to think about what makes me ME. What set it off was thinking about an episode of Doctor Who. Heaven Sent (2015) In this episode regarded by many fans as one of the best of Capidi’s run the Doctor finds himself in a strange castle, works out how to escape but is killed before he is able to. Luckily he is able to survive longer to reset the teleportation device that brought him there before dying thus allowing another copy of himself to arrive in the castle and have to start again eventually (after billions of years) breaking down a wall and escaping. One of the things that was discussed on the Gallifrey Base forum following this episode was the question of the Doctor’s age (A subject that has been debated over many years) Did this now mean the Doctor was now billions of years old or was the Doctor that finally escaped just a couple of days older then he was in the previous episode having been reset by the transporter.
The whole thing raises the question of whether this is really still the Doctor, the original or just a copy with all the memories of the original that first died in the castle. And what about all the times before hand when the Doctor has used teleporters. Is the person that comes out the other end the ‘same’ person that went in? What about all those Starfleet officers from Star Trek. Did the original Captain Kirk simply disappear into nothing and get replaced by an exact copy. One of the Bernice Summerfield novels (a Doctor Who spin off) Down deals with this issue having one character scared of any kind of transport believe it will be the end of the real her.

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So all this was going on in my head leading me off on other thoughts. One of the questions I’ve seen many times on the Empty Closets forum is how do I know if I’m trans? With one answer being if you could change into your ideal body of the opposites sex would you do it? My answer has most of the time been yes I would. But then I have issues with my body anyway so why wouldn’t I jump at the chance to be placed into another body if it’s how I would ideally see myself as female. For the record we are probably talking Renée Felice Smith or Caity Lotz or Michelle Hendley. If this magical device was around of course I’d use it.
But the point that sticks in my mind when imagining this scenario is that if it was somehow possible to change my body or be placed into a body that was female then would it not also be possible to be place in the ideal male body. And again yes given the choice I would swop bodies for one that looked like Stephen Amell or Tom Ellis.

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And the point that crossed my mind was if I was able to do any of this would I still be ME. Because I am made up of my experiences and act accordingly. If I suddenly was more confident in my looks would my attitude change? Would I do things I normal wouldn’t? Is what makes me who I am simply my thoughts, my soul or is also connected to the body I inhabit?
Let’s look at the scenario of this girl I like. One of the things holding me back is my insecurity about my looks. Would see go for someone like me. Am I too old looking? Not hunky enough? Wrong colour hair? Fairly shallow stuff but its true many people go for people they find attractive. (I know it’s not always about looks) If I looked like Tom Ellis would I feel more confident at asking her out and also would I actually be more successful in this new body? And if I looked like Caity Lotz would I have less chance then I do now being the same sex. Would I even bother trying or just end up being a ‘girl’ friend hanging around with her. Already we can see that changing bodies would make me act differently than the Me sitting here right now.

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Another scenario that has always kicked around in my head is what would it be like if I suddenly found myself leaping back into my body of when I was say fourteen, back at school but with all the memories I had built up over the years? Would I change how I did things back then? Of course I bloody would. Johnny Hates Jazz had a song called Turn Back the Clock. While it sums up about how I feel about getting older the lines about not wanting to change a single day can go right out the window. I probably had even less confidence as a teenager then I do now. If I knew what I know now of course I would use it to my advantage. I could retry to do all those things I never did and regret missing out on. I could change my career path, join the police force like I wanted to.
But then once again that would change the person I am now. I have been shaped by the people and events of my life. Would I really make changes to my life if it meant that I never met some of the people that had meant so much to me over the years? Sure some of those people have brought me heartache and taken me to the darkest times in my life but there are many memories there. Precious ones. And which changes would I make? Ones that made me more popular with girls, a better career. Or maybe I would have started transitioning at an early age. Now that would be a life changing direction.
Either way none of those people, for better or worse, would be the same person that is sitting here now in a café typing out these words. I am unique just like everyone else in the world. The Doctor once said, “A man is the sum of his memories.” I guess that’s what makes me, ME.

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Media and desserts

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It is the twenty first century. Even in the short time I have been on the planet technology has moved so fast. Televisions, Computers, mobile phones. I’ve nothing against them. I love my laptop. For ages I had a simple mobile phone simply for calls and texting before getting one that had internet and I couldn’t go back now to a basic. As for TV. When I was a kind my uncle gave me his old black and white small television to have in my room. Now the TV in front of me is a 32in flat screen connected to the net. I have Sky, Netflix, Amazon Prime and You Tube at the push of a button. The computer I had as a kid was a Commodore 64. You had to plug a tape player to it to load the game. Waiting for ten minutes while it loaded to a screen of flickering coloured lines hoping that it would load correctly and not just reach the end of the tape and switch off. Now a game can be loaded instantly or played online.
Even in just the last ten years things have changed so much. Doctor Who came back and I use to have to make sure I was home to watch it even though I would record it on VHS tape. These days my Sky box is set up to record it and even though I have the DVDs most of the series is available to watch on my screen at any time. It’s very easy these days to catch up with your favourite shows and I have quite a few. This is a list of the programmes I’m watching at the moment. NCIS, NCIS Los Angeles (currently waiting to catch up from season 4 onwards) MacGyver, Hawaii Five-0, Bull, Lucifer, Supergirl, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Arrow and currently on season four of Gold Rush and just started watching Blindspot. Not only that but Elementary season five starts this month. That is thirteen hours of television!! (and that’s if I only watch one episode of Blindspot, Gold Rush and Los Angeles a week)

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This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They usually take a break over Christmas and the programmes for the majority show over the winter season when it’s too wet and cold to go outside anyway but still I finds myself simply sat watching TV then feeling bad as I haven’t done anything around the house, or no writing, no more learning on the guitar or simply just reading my book. Towards the end of the running seasons I start working out how many episodes are left, how many more weeks until I get some of my free time back. Yes I know I could simply stop watching or cut down but to be honest I love these shows, I’m connected to the characters. And I can’t argue about how useful internet technology is. You Tube is helping me learn guitar, there are various writing forums and website out there where I can get tips and feedback.
In the old days things weren’t too bad. Adverts were annoying but at least during that time I could nip out and do bits in the five minutes break. Now most of the time I’m able to forward through them. I have to physically make time to go and do stuff. Yesterday was quite nice in that I didn’t turn my TV on until about eight in the evening.
It is the same when I go walking. True I enjoy listening to music but once in a while I will take out the headphones and stop and just listen to the world around me and apart from using it to tell the time my phone stays in my pocket. Phones these days have become almost attached to our hands, I’m just as guilty checking Facebook or the LGTB forum, playing Criminal Case or Song Pop. I do however generally keep the phone in my pocket most of the time I’m out and about. Last Friday at work I had to pop out. In one part of town I had one woman pushing a pram with one hand whilst using her phone in the other while she crossed a busy road. Later when I actually wanted to take a turning to the store a cyclist riding on the pavement while speaking on his mobile shot across the turning without even realising I was there. People today are so focused with their phone they fail to take in the things around them.

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Many people think we have to much technology and thus we just waste away our precious time while others think that we live in a marvellous age and technology is the best thing around. I think the answer is somewhere in between. It’s like desserts. I love desserts, I always get a craving in the evenings for something sweet but I have an ever-growing waist so I’m mindful of how much I eat. I think it’s the same for technology. It’s good, very good but it is better in moderation. I try now to watch one of my programmes then take time to do something before watching something else. I’d rather be out doing stuff on my Saturday and use my Sunday for relaxing in front of the TV. But boy I really need to get out and do more.

 

 

Musings on Saturdays and Sundays

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So the aforementioned walk. It’s a gorgeous sunny Saturday. And one of the things that crosses my mind is that it feels like a Saturday and that I wished that I had got up earlier in the day. I wanted to do some tidying before going to do some writing. I wanted to do something. But what.
I begin to think back on my childhood. Saturdays to me was always a day that felt like it was made for adventure. Friday night I always seemed to stay at my Nan’s so Saturday morning I would be up. Watch cartoons and Going Live whilst eating an Animal bar and having a hot chocolate (I never drank Tea until much later in life) before going out to play with my friends. Later in life Saturday meant meeting up with my mate Nick and might involve a shopping trip to the city or washing his car. Even as an adult Saturdays were spent hanging out with friends, weather off doing something or just relaxing. Ut that’s my Saturday and more than once over the years I’ve wondered how others spend their Saturdays. I use to see strangers in their gardens or through the window into their houses and I’d get a brief flash of imagining what their life was like. Weather I was ever right I’d never know. I also remember a girl I worked with and thinking how does she and her husband spend their Saturday. What do they get up and do.
You see I have this notion in my head of what a Saturday should be like. I think it’s getting up and putting the TV on. Maybe the music channels to listen to whilst having a morning cuppa and maybe doing bits around the house. Perhaps it’s relaxing with a book on the sofa. Or just sat watching movies on TV and preparing lunch. What is this idyllic lifestyle I’m dreaming of? AS I walk I see people out cutting their grass. Ah now there’s a memory. A strong one, a favourite one from my childhood, my dad cutting the grass, the sound of the mower, over head the sound of a propeller plane or helicopter. The smell of the cut grass in the heat of summer. The smell of petrol. The feel of heat on my skin and the feeling of happiness and carefree. It is a moment I think of whenever I hear the sound of propellers faintly in the sky or the sound of a mower or the smell of cut grass.
Saturday to me is for relaxing after a week of work but also doing something. Work on the car or pottering in the garden. Going out shopping somewhere or maybe cutting the grass and having a BBQ. Maybe it’s out playing football. I just know that with so few Saturdays in our life they should be lived to the full and enjoyed.

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But what about Sundays. Sundays are also part of the weekend but somehow they feel different. True all those things I’ve mentioned above could be done on a Sunday. Indeed I plan on cutting my grass tomorrow. But for me Sunday has always got Monday looming over it. It’s back to work the next day. No staying up late. Sunday is a day for relaxing. Not doing anything. Maybe a pint or two in the local. That’s what my childhood always thinks of. Going down he local football club on a Sunday morning. My Mum would be working behind the bar and my dad drinking on the other side. We would have a bottle of coke. Proper glass bottles and hopefully get on the pool table. In fact even when I and my brother stayed at my nans in the holidays this is what happened with my Gramp. Him drinking at the pub whilst we eat crisps and drink coke.
Then followed by a Sunday roast. Actually our Sunday roast was always on a Monday due to my mum working. But yeah for most people, even myself now it’s a roast for Sunday. When I live with one of my girlfriend years ago Sundays followed this pattern. She would cook a Sunday Roast then we would relax in front of the TV.
So that’s Sunday, relaxing ready for a week of work ahead and not really doing anything. It’s funny how to days, both on the weekend can feel different. To have some kind of idea in my head of what those days should be like.
It’s now half seven on a Saturday evening and I haven’t tidied nothing up as planned. But I’ve done some washing. I have washing up in the sink. I’ve done some work on my novel and written a few blog posts. I’ve been for a nice long walk and had a pint with friends. Maybe this Saturday hasn’t been too bad overall and there is always tomorrow morning before the Sunday roast.

 

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Reflections on the past, facing the future

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Ok it’s been a little while since I’ve posted. Life has been a little busy recently. There is a couple of blogs I’m working on to do with music but it’s taking some time. I’ve also been busy with starting another novel. NaNoWrimo is running their April writing camp and I’ve set myself a goal of 20000 words for the month. (Currently on 10200)
It’s another great day. The sun is shining, the day is warm with the promise of a hot week to come. I’ve spent a couple of hours in the café writing and now I fancy a walk. I’m thinking maybe half an hour to an hour. It actually takes me about two hours but it’s good. I have my music playing, I’m exploring the countryside and I’m musing on things. I start with thinking about my novel. Ideas for scenes, where my main character is heading. In amongst this my mind starts wondering to other topics and it’s while I’m out walking that I realise something. At this moment I am happy. I feel content. Sure not everything in my life is perfect but things are ok at the moment. I still want out of the job I’m in but I’ve come to terms with the job and don’t get as stressed or depressed about it as I was a few months ago. My love life is also still up in the air but I’ll keep working on it and whichever eay things with this girl goes I know I can get on with my life.
As I’m taking in the sounds and the smell of the things around me and thinking where the hell am I and will I ever find my way back home I think of where I am. I can see for miles across the quarry I’m currently making myself around thinking on just how far I seemed to have walked and remembering previous times I’ve been out for walks. A lot of those walks have evolved soul searching and a lot of brooding. Many times I feel pangs of regrets that I’ve got older as I remember my past and think on regrets and how my situations have changed over the years from times when I was happy to now. About things that I’ve missed out on.
This doesn’t happen this time. I realise that I’ve had a good life. Not what some people might think is fantastic. I haven’t travelled far and wide. I haven’t been off on great adventures or spent time pursuing some extreme sport or activity. But I’ve been to uni. I’ve been a Ghost Hunter. I’ve had some good relationships with good friends over the years even if some of those friendship are now sadly gone or changed into something less than what they were.

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You see I spend a lot of time reflecting on my past. Remembering times when I felt happy. With pain in my heart I also want to go back and have thing how they were before. But recently I read some words of Russel T Davis the man who brought Doctor Who back to our scenes thirteen years ago. About how he is often asked if he would go back to writing for Doctor Who and his answer is no. Not because he didn’t enjoy it but because he realises that he has moved forward and looks towards the future.
I’ve spent so long thinking how I loved it when I was hanging out with my best friend or how I wish I was still in uni that sometimes I make myself feel as if my life is over and the best years are behind me. And I’ve always been afraid of getting older. I want to be young again, fresh faced and full fringed. And these are the kind of thoughts has made me get stuck in a rut instead of thinking what’s next. And I have always worried about change. Ever since I was a teenager I realised that change always come. There is that saying where people talk of children wanting to grow up to fast. That never happened to be. I loved my childhood and I didn’t want it to end. I tried to cling on to it for dear life. I wasn’t worried about wanting to be old enough to drive or drink. Because it meant I also had to work. I had to grow up and be mature. I wanted to carry on playing in the woods, building camps and enjoying long sunny holidays with nothing much to do but hang out with my friends. I wanted to run forever and feel the wind beneath my feet.
I ended up working and I loved the job but it came to an end. I started another job, not great but I met a woman who would become one of my best friends and together we got into ghost hunting and I felt true happiness for the first time and the fear things would change and ultimately in a self-prophecy kind of way it did. But after a year I pulled myself together. Before we fell out my friend had suggested I go back to college at the time we fell out I was already looking at uni. And I loved uni. I enjoyed the lessons, I like writing and doing the research and even more I enjoyed hanging out with fellow students in the SU bar.
And this time I learnt to saviour every moment because I knew this time there was a time limit of this situation. Uni was for three years and nothing I could do could change that so instead of worrying about it I just took every moment for what it was worth.
Things change but if we concentrate on trying to make your life better then things will come along. I’ve forgotten to think about my future. I’ve forgotten to live in the present. This moment right here and right now where I feel content and happy isn’t the time to mope about the lost past. I have to start trying to find and enjoy the good times again. No they won’t be the same as before. It might involve different people, different lifestyle but it could be fun. It could be good. I still have plenty of life left and its there for enjoying. I have ideas buzzing around in my head and I want to get back home to get writing. Instead nearing the end of my walk and on the last stretch home I get picked up in a car by two men and taken for a drink (its ok I know them, a lucky coincidence being there at that moment. It leads to an invitation to a party later in the month. Things are hopefully coming to me again. If anything my past has taught me that these things usually come around.

 

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Musings on Karma and Hell on Earth

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I’m in a good mood today. No change that I’m in a great mood. I got up late sure but I guess I needed the sleep. It’s been a hard week but now I feel fully rested. Yesterday I wrote the end of my novel. Ok I still have about a thousand words to write and then a lot of editing and rewrites to go through but writing those last few lines of a story that has taken me the last year to write was a wonderful feeling. The sun is out. I go to do my shopping enjoying driving and listening to my music. After shopping I go to get fuel. The station is rather full and a car from the other direction is waiting to get in. There is also another car behind me who I believe is trying to get pass to exit the store car park. I’m trying to be nice so I pull out of the way to let them go on round. The car in front of me at the garage and I wave the car opposite me to go in front. Just as she is about to move the car behind me goes around pulling into the garage in front of both of us.
It’s annoying but I continue to let the waiting lady go in front of me before finding my own pump at the garage. I fill up and go to play. The woman I let in is just in front of me also paying. I look around for the car that had pushed in front of both of us. The pump she had pulled up to had been out of order. She’s had to wait until the car in front has moved and so she is still filling up. I finish paying just as she comes in to pay. I don’t need to say anything. My mood is still good and I feel a sense of justice that even though she had pushed in both myself and the other lady have already finish. A sense of karma having prevailed.

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It’s a funny business this idea of karma. I’ve seen friends use the phase all the time on Facebook when someone has crossed them. Karma will bite them in the ass is the usual comment. I have one friend who often says this having fallen out with someone. Rather ironically she is a person who has in the past crossed people and sure enough bad things have happened to her and yet she never thinks that this might be karma working against her. Sometimes I guess people only think that karma is something that can be wished on other people.
But surely the idea behind karma (in as much as it’s used as a catch all term) is that there is rewards for being a good person and punishment if you are not and isn’t wishing bad karma on someone also a bad deed. Is it just a case of wanting to feel that somehow justice is done and people can’t get away with doing bad things? That some universal force will sort this all out. And again if this is true then is there such a thing as free will? That we have to be good because otherwise something bad will happen to us?
It’s an idea that has been around for centuries. In some ideas of reincarnation it depends on what sort of life you’ve lived before that influences your next life. That we need to learn some sort of lesson that we failed on previously. Even in Christianity there is the idea that if we are good in this life we go to heaven but if we sin we go to hell. So if you are someone who believes in the idea of karma surely you should be spending your life trying to do as much good as you can in this lifetime and void anything bad. It may seem like a nice world but then all we are doing is good things for the sake of reward and not simple because we want to.
And the fact is if this universal law applies all over then that would mean those people who are good should always be successful in life and those who are bad will have a terrible life but we can see that this just isn’t true. I suppose in the end it’s just nice when justice does seem to be done. That’s why we like crime dramas I guess.
But we must also think about what is considered to be bad, what actions deserves punishment. What if someone does a bad deed but with good intentions or visa versa. The trolley problem is a good example of this.

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How many times I’ve read something to do with Trans gender and the usual comment about how trying to change gender is against God and will be punished. Really? This is what your God does? Go around punishing people who are trying to find their way in this world and to be the person they want to be? When I read such comments I get mad and to me it’s those people who need a dose of karma for being so hateful. So really I’m just as bad as many others out there.

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As for the whole idea of heaven or hell well I’m a fan of the TV show Lucifer and on the episode I watched this morning there is a scene where Lucifer comments that he is not the one who sends people to Hell. It is the person themselves that sends themselves there. Trapped in a world of their own guilt and remorse.

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And while driving back home thinking on the idea of karma and the idea of good and bad I realise that while the idea behind Lucifer’s comment is that we create on own hell I think that this is something we sometimes do here in our own lifetime.
We can try and be the sort of person we want to be and we have a choice on whether we do good things or bad. Sometime yes we may get carried away with events, swept along with the tide. How many crimes are committed in the heat of the moment? Maybe we do something unaware of the consequences of those actions. We don’t see the result.
Ultimately then does all this boils down to the fact of whether someone feels guilty for their actions. If we do something bad and we know then is the right thing to do is to try and make amends. Maybe we can’t fix the original problem but we can try and rebalance the scales. Something I touched upon in the blog of Angel as a role model looking for redemption for his past deeds. And for all his bad press and people blaming him for the evil in the world Lucifer is at heart a good person. He punishes those who deserve punishment and by doing so helps the police solve crimes and catch the bad guys.
Maybe we should stop wishing karma will come and sort people out and concentrate on being the type of person that doesn’t deserve it. Instead of making our own hell and blaming other people for it we can make it that our heaven is a place on Earth. I know it’s not easy. Yeah I feel great today but maybe tomorrow I’ll feel my depression hit me again. I will feel bad over choices I’ve made in the past, people I’ve lost and how my life is stuck and I can’t seem to get out. Hopefully I will be able in those times look back at this post and remind myself that I can do some things to make myself feel better, that there is still good things to come in my life and that I can choose to feel the way I do.

 

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Role Models Encore

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So that it. I’ve posted about the six role models heroes that have help defined the person I am today and gave me insights to the kind of person I want to be. Six fictional males. This may seem a bit odd given certain revelations I have made on this page but…
Well for a start one could now argue that with Jodie Whittaker stepping into the role the Doctor can also be female. True but at the time of writing the original list the new series hadn’t even started let alone the idea that one day there would be a female Doctor. Likewise however my Trans feelings only really came to the front last year. And though the representatives of these role models are male the traits that they embody for me are not necessarily male. He-man gave me my sense of morals, of right and wrong. The same as his sister She-Ra who I also watched as a child. Spider-man is the sense of responsibility for my actions and to keep fighting and not give up. Supergirl could be said to be the same and Angel is about redemption for your past, something I could have easily got from watching Xena who follows the same themes of trying to make up for her bad past and finally making the ultimate sacrifice in order to make amends.
That’s not to say there hasn’t been or isn’t female characters that I do like. Apart from those mentioned above there is Buffy and from the Arrow Universe there is Sara Lance the Black/White Canary, a character who I really admire and wouldn’t mind being like.

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The same can be said for Alex Drake from Ashes to Ashes. I love her style of dress and her attitude to the world she finds herself in. Bernice Summerfield is my one of my favourite Doctor Who companions who influenced me enough to base some of my novel’s character on. Yeah there are parts of her I’d like to be like, loyal, hardworking, sarcastic wit, able to hold her booze but the idea behind the list was those characters had qualities that I could identify with and highlighted qualities that I could find within myself. There are plenty of characters on both sides of gender that have aspects that I like but not enough that they have actually influenced me into the person I am. Not enough to become role models that I can draw on when I need inspiration or courage or faith in myself.
But there is another thing about this list I wrote so long ago. There were in fact seven heroes on that list and the final one has two things that the others didn’t and I’m not talking the obvious here. Firstly she is female. Secondly she wasn’t fictional. Yes for all the points made above about the role models I’ve blogged being all male they are also all fictional. Characters that are given interesting backgrounds, can do amazing feats and above all draw on a wealth of writers and their ideas melding together to make the character.

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Since I wrote that list I would say that the list has grown a little with a few more role models added and all of them are real females that I admire and take something from that helps define who I am. And that’s who I’m going to talk about now. But I’m aware that these are real people and they may not want their names posted and so I will use simple letters.
The woman that was on the original list was N. A person that I worked with some years ago. She was brilliant and we worked together well, knew how each other operated allowing our office to run smoothly. Even when she had problems she would always appear bubbly and cheerful. She had a great sense of strength about her and this is what I took from here. She was always someone I could talk to about my problems and unlike the other role models who could on guide me through my knowledge of their characters N could give me real advice and feedback. She did a lot to help boost my confidence in myself. So when looking for strength and confidence in what I’m doing I think back on her. Sadly we are no longer in contact with each other but to this day I always remember the things I learnt from her. Hell she was the one who taught me how to multi task.
After N came J. She taught me a lot of spiritual stuff. She is how I got into ghost hunting. To me she always seems to glow with a youthful energy. She help me learn about trusting in karma and the balance of the universe. She is who I need when I’m feeling drained or feel like everything is against me. And she too gave me confidence and the belief that I could be a better person and to believe that I could get what I want. It was her that made the suggestion to go to college which in turn lead to university.

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C I have known for years. She is an amazing woman and probably the closest I would say to an actual superhero. I also know she may read this blog as out of everyone I know she is the only one I trust completely with my secrets. She has done so much in her life that I wish I had done myself. An excellent musician, she has had the courage to get up on stage to sing. I’d love to play the guitar and piano. I also have the dream of getting up on stage (especially as my alter ego) but lack the courage so much at the moment. On top of this she has done so many other things which I’d better not mention here and yet always seemed to take on so much more on top. She is a fighter, always getting back up when she’s knocked down because she need to. Clever, witty and always, always stands up for herself and what she believes in. I cannot name what traits I take from her because it’s her whole character overall. She is like many of my heroes rolled into one. J might have been the one who lead me to university but C is the one who helped me get through it. She has been there for me in my darkest hours allowing me to find my way again. Seriously this woman needs a cape.
She can be quite bossy though.

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So that’s it. Three more role models, real life role models at that who I believe are amazing and would love to have just some of the strength, determination, courage and abilities that they have. I’ll also just add one more recent female who I have been following through the media this year. C.M. She is a transgender person who documented her transformation online over the last few years. (I had to play catch-up and watched as she over time turned into this very attractive woman. But it’s not just her bravery at doing those videos and her determination to go through everything she has had to in order to become the woman she wanted but she has also created the life that she wants for herself. She is now a racing driver, a traveller and a presenter. She has changed herself and her life to how she wanted it to be and I hope that, with her and every other of my role models, real or fiction in mind, I too can overcome the obstacles in my way. To fight for what I want, to be whom I want and to have the life that I want. And I hope those who have read this can find the strength to do this too.
Here endith the lesson.

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My Beliefs

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Recently on a forum a question was asked about religion. More specifically how do you feel about other religions? With many people stating which religion they followed. My answer included the fact that I’m a Wiccan Jedi. Which raised some interest. It’s not the first time I’ve mentioned it. It says it in the about me part of this blog and I was engaged in a very interesting conversation one night in the SU bar at uni with another student. I had also started to write a blog post about being a Wiccan Jedi to explain my beliefs but then I found myself struggling. You see I do like the Jedi religion. I’ve spent a great time studying it and would have explored it further had I gone on to do my Masters degree.
And I do believe that it should be considered a real religion in a way. Forget the films and the ideas of light sabres. For most being a Jedi is leading a life seeking knowledge, something I love doing anyway. It also teaches how to be at peace with yourself and to be a good person. But then does someone really need to follow a ‘religion’ in order to accomplish those things. You see there is nothing in my being a Jedi that requires any dedication and as shown by the blogs on role models our morals and values can come from various sources. One of my tutors at University, Dave Webster wrote the book Dispirited. In which he claims that being using Spiritual to define your belief system is basically lazy as you pick out the bits you like and leave out those that you don’t. Therefore there is no inner debate or theorisation within yourself on ‘ethical’ issues relating to said beliefs. And I began to think that really this is what I was doing with the Jedi religion. (Let me be straight here, I don’t think this is a flaw with Jedi religion just with me personally.) While there is nothing I leave out of being a Jedi it seems to be that I like the ideas contained within in and so call myself a Jedi.

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The same could be said for the Wicca part. I don’t cast spells (although I have in the past) or follow any deity. For me it is because it is connected to nature and I like nature. But there is something I feel that connects the two religions which is why if I had done my Master’s my dissertation would have made the case for Jedism being a pagan religion because both religions indicate a belief in a force. Sure in the films Obi Wan explains how the force is a energy that surrounds and penetrates everything around us and some of those, myself included, believe that there is actually a force out there. For me I think that it is a natural energy force that at times we can feel and I believe that when we die our energy become part of this universal force. There is a similar type of force in Wicca called the All or the One. I also think that this force is part of what we think of as karma, In Chinese cultures it is known as QI or Chi and for those that follow the Law of Attraction the universal energy. Given that George Lucus when writing Star Wars took inspiration from many religious sources this is likely where the ideas came from.

 

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So yeah my main belief allowing me to claim to be Wicca or Jedi is this belief in this force. That’s it, everything else that is Jedi or Wiccan such as meditation, Do no harm to others, to seek knowledge is just part of who I am and like Geroge Lucus’s Jedi’s and his force it all comes from various sources that I have fused together to try and be the person I want to. There is nothing I do to go out of my way to practiced or debate any ethical issues. I believe in something that hasn’t been proven but I don’t really go around telling people about it.
So why is my beliefs been playing on my mind recently. Well there is the girl I like (see blog post Trapped.) She has recently become a Christian. Wasn’t before, is now. I have no problem with that, I’m all for people finding their own way in life and even if I have taken the mickey out of Christianity before now I still respect peoples beliefs. And to be fair this girl is not going around ramming it down people’s throats. She’s not frowning on people doing things that might go against her beliefs but she does follow them. She goes out and does things related to being a Christian. You know the type of thing. A stall at a public event, that sort of thing. She has a dedication to her religion.
Now I don’t think I’m going to become a Christian myself, it’s not really my thing. I mean if I can’t really dedicate myself to the religions I am drawn to what chance is there for one that I’m not. But would I, if put in the situation, go out and help on one of this stalls. Well the answer is yes. Not because of any belief and not just because I’ll want to impress this girl. (all right it would be a big part of the reason I would but come on whose going to blame me) but because I’m the kind of person that would help out if asked. I feel like it’s my duty on this planet to help others and while my head might hold the idea it’s because I’m a Jedi really deep down I think I’m just, for the most part, a nice person and I don’t need a religion to be that person.
So that’s my belief. That there is some kind of force out there, somewhere where we go when we die and, something that we can ask for help, or for guidance or even for the girl. Time maybe for me to go meditate or chant and focus on what I want. Or at the very least stand by those things I do believe in and make sure I’m the best person I can be. And while I’m about it may be ask the universe for people to have a bit of tolerance for those who believe something different.

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The Doctor as a role model

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For anyone who has ready all the posts in this blog it should come as no surprise that the final role model on this list is the Doctor. Seriously I’ve been doing this blog for months, stating at the beginning that I’m a big fan and yet somehow I haven’t wrote anything about Doctor Who yet. He wasn’t even the last role model on my list. He was actually number four and on a list that had been written before the series returned. But I’ve saved him until last because he has more than any of the others been the biggest influence on my life. The main role model who has been there from when I was a kid in the eighties to today. And it is surprising how sometimes it has have had parallels with my life. For example the first Doctor novel I was reading back in 2007 Venusian Lullaby which dealt with the loss and remembrance of loved ones was the same time I lost my nan. The eleventh Doctor’s relationship with married companions Amy and Rory came to an end at the same time as my friendship with a couple I was close with. To this day I still haven’t seen or heard from her much to my sadness. And now the Doctor after being male for all his life is now becoming a woman in the same year I start to question my own gender identity. It’s not surprising that my dissertation in uni was based around Doctor Who. A Modern Myth for a Post Cristian society. The idea that Doctor Who could act as a replacement for religion.

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It’s hard to know where to start with the Doctor as a role model, there have been twelve Doctors so far, each with their own personalities and traits and I don’t really want to go through each Doctor listing their differences. Because basically, at heart, there is a fundamental Doctorness that comes through each incarnation. Even Eccleston who I though initially was not suited to the role had it and it’s why I have little fear that Whittaker will be able to pull it off.
There is a phase that has been used to describe the Doctor that writer Terrence Dicks came up with and that in recent years has been used by the Doctor himself. Never cruel, never cowardly. It is a good phase to live by. Not to be cruel to people and never to be scared of standing up for yourself and others even if deep down you are scared.
But there are other things I take from the Doctor. His sense of wonder at the universe, his love of exploring the unknown. His search for truth and knowledge. I have three favourite Doctors. Peter Davison, Sylvester McCoy and Matt Smith. The fifth, seventh and eleventh Doctors respectively.
It was of course the classic Doctors that I grew up with and the fifth Doctor was the one from my childhood. Just to see his youthful energy and pleasure at life. The following exchange is the best example of this.
The Doctor: Emotions have their uses.
Cyber Leader: They restrict and curtail the intellect, and logic of the mind.
The Doctor: They also enhance life. When did you last have the pleasure of smelling a flower, watching a sunset, eating a well-prepared meal?
Cyber Leader: These things are irrelevant.
The Doctor:

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The fifth Doctor had an honest charm about him and would often hesitate before making rash choices always trying to find a better way to solve the problems usually trying diplomacy first. He is the Doctor that perhaps shows the most conscience. It is telling that unlike his bombastic incarnations either side he died saving just the single life of his companion, willing to sacrifice himself for his friend.

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The type of passion and youthfulness that the fifth Doctor showed is one of the reasons the eleventh Doctor is one of my favourites from the new series. He too values the little things in life but is also willing to do what he can to help his friends and others. He has a great childish nature but this hides a calculating side of him where his enemies underestimate him. I find the eleventh Doctor to almost be a mix of both the fifth Doctor and the Seventh.

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Sadly the series went off air in 1989 with the seventh Doctor who continued his adventures in a series of novels. This made him become another favourite of mine. But unlike the carefree fifth Doctor who just seemed to get caught up in things the seventh Doctor was a master planner. He engineered plans to defeat his enemies and at times this caused conflicts with his companions but there was lessons to be learned here. I learnt that it is possible to make plans and to try and work out all the angles but at times things can go wrong and you need to improvise. But from the seventh Doctor’s flaws I leant that it is important to be mindful of your actions and to be careful not to hurt those close to you. To keep in mind the bigger picture but to also not forget the small stuff.
But overall there are aspects from all Doctors that are good with morals and lessons from all the incarnations.

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We see the first Doctor changed over time from a selfish suspicious alien to a character that dares to stop the villains he comes across. The second Doctor continues this, continuing to fight and to save the people he comes across and yet having the sense of fun with his adventures and touched with tenderness towards his companions. The third was all action and became part of a team. There was a lot of Buddhist themes during his era especially where he learns that his own thirst for knowledge can be seen as a greed and finally learning to let go of his old life in order to become a new man.
This of course was when he became the fourth Doctor and it’s interesting to note that after changing he abandons his old life, leaving behind his job and his ‘family’ and goes out to wonder the cosmos looking for adventure. A great lesson for those who want to change their life. With regards to the sixth Doctor the lessons learnt here are more to do with the aftermath of this incarnation. His predecessor comes to think of the sixth doctor in a negative light and it is only later that he comes to realise that his own memories are twisted and learns to forgive himself, a lesson in forgiving your past. The eighth Doctor regains his love of life again and living in the moment. His glee in his first adventure over a simple well-fitting pair of shoes is a great moment.
The ninth Doctor had some nice moments but above all when we meet him he is broken by his actions in the past and through his friendship with Rose he heals himself. Rose says it herself that the Doctor showed her a better way to live life.
That you don’t just give up, you don’t just let things happen. You make a stand, you say no, you have the guts to do what’s right.

 
The tenth had a story arch where his arrogance is eventually his downfall and the twelve questions whether he is a good man. So there is something that can be learnt from every incarnation

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But my favourite quote concerning the Doctor comes from writer Lance Parkin.

No one can be The Doctor, he’s more than human, but we can try to be like The Doctor – peaceful, intelligent, witty, reasonable, aware of what is truly important.”
Take joy in life, plan the big stuff but take pleasure in the little things. Stand up for yourself and others when scared. Remember who you were but keep moving forward. Search for truth Hate is always foolish and love is always wise. Always try to be nice but never fail to be kind. Laugh hard and run fast. And be fantastic.

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Trapped

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I’m slightly claustrophobic. I don’t get panic attacks or anything like that just thinking about it but I hate being confined. (Bondage I’m alright with but that’s probably too much information) No it’s the feeling of feeling stuck with no way out that gets me.
But thinking about it recently it’s not just being physically trapped that I hate. It’s the whole feeling of being trapped by life I hate. My last relationship broke up partly because we had fallen into a rut and things weren’t moving. Since then I’ve been kind of liking living the single life but again feeling trapped by life. I hate my job and have very little hobbies so I get this image of this sand timer slowly running out and thinking I’ve got to get out and do things.
It’s not always that easy though. Ok yes this week I’ve applied for a new job. Fingers crossed. It’s a scary thought for as much as I hate the job I’m in it is secure. I’ve got used to it over the last four years and moving on is moving out of that comfort zone.

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It’s the same with relationships. My interest in girls has picked up again recently now that I’ve had some time to myself. I need to get back out into the social world. I’m just not that good at it. I feel awkward in social events. Quiet and withdrawn to begin with which isn’t the best impression. There’s a girl I’ve known for a while who I like and so I’ve decided I’m going to see what happens. I’m going to try and make some moves. (Is that the right phase?) Just simple things like actually trying to chat to her instead of being shy in case I say something wrong. If anything at least it’s an escape attempt from this life I’m now in. I’ve spent years thinking she was out of my league and that I wasn’t good enough. And so I’ve never tried.
Funnily enough I’ve been catching up with other friends recently. One is married but it’s not a good relationship. She feels trapped in a rut. Another friend is single at the moment. Her latest try with someone didn’t work out. She feels disappointed and trapped wondering why she can’t meet someone nice. Oddly both those friends are women that I’ve been interested in before. One was a close friend and one was someone I got to know through and arranged date. But sadly in both situations I wasn’t the one for them. I just wasn’t their type. So they’ve gone on and gone with those they feel are their type and now it hasn’t worked out.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not taking any pleasure out of the fact I got turned down and then things don’t work out for them. They are friends and all I want for any of my friends are for them to be happy whether that is with me or someone else. And going back through the messages that use to pass between us I can see I was flirty, funny (I hope) and above all good at talking to people.
So why can’t I do that now? Why is it I get sent a simple message by this girl and I have to think about a reply for ten minutes? Worrying about whether I’m going to say the right thing or not. Then when I do reply I get nothing back. Did the conversation just end? Did my reply bomb? Or is she busy and just not replied? I want to compliment a photo of her, on how pretty her eyes are, but is the comment going to sound cheesy, creepy or will it be liked. I realise that I have become trapped within my own world of self-doubt.
But I’m a good guy aren’t I? I try to help others. I’m not mean or abusive. All my previous relationships have ended naturally and with me still being on friendly terms with them. Is it true women like the bad guys? I have plenty of women friends all happy to give me advice. Be yourself. Don’t try so hard. You a great guy, it’ll happen. Surely the best place to get advice about women is from other women. Even if they’re not interested in me themselves, hmmm.
I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going to happen with this girl but then I don’t know what’s going to happen with this job or even with me in the future. We’ll just have to see and hope. And if not pick myself back up and try again. I sometimes feel like the donkey in the well.

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But either way I’ve got to keep moving. All I can do is fight and search and stay alive because somehow I will find…….. Hold on I’m back quoting Ashes to Ashes again. But the thought is still the same. I’ve got to keep trying to stop feeling trapped by life but to take control and go for it.

Positive thoughts.

 

Angel as a Role Model

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When I wrote the original role model piece years ago Angel was the last one I added on it. In fact the series had just ended. Although originally a character in Buffy, the vampire slayer the series found its own way to go. The main theme of Angel is quite clearly one of redemption. Angel was a vampire killer but was given his soul back and so now feels guilty about his past. He is quite literary battling his inner demon(s). At the time I was going through some things that resonated with this theme and so it is little wonder that I felt a little connected to the character. As such it was what inspired me to write the original piece about the role models I my life as I tried to put myself back together.
It would not be the last time that life knocked me down and like Spider-man I would have to force myself back up and to carry on. Like Duncan MacLeod I would have to explore inside myself and find inner peace with my decisions and the bad things of my past. To carry on trying to be the good guy that I wanted to be led by the morals and the sense of right that I had learned as a kid from He-man and Robin of Sherwood.
But with Angel there was a sense of trying to get out there and do things to make up for my past. To try and make a difference in the world and to the people around me. Spider-man felt a responsibility to go out and help people. He-man too was given his powers to be the hero. Robin Hood felt a sense of justice to fight back. For Angel it was all about trying to make amends by doing the right thing.
This is clear in Buffy where as a character he helps Buffy until that time when completely happy he turns back into his dark identity of Angelus. By the time he comes back to normal he realises he must leave Buffy and Sunnydale behind. Buffy the series is a metaphor for growing up, the demons metaphors for the trials and tribulations of going through teenage life and into adulthood. Here is after season three a bit of a shift in tone for the series as we see Buffy trying to make her way in the world after high school. Angel the series is a lot darker. (well for the most part)

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This is now showing us a metaphor for being a grown up and having to live in the world. Angel and his friends may start their investigations agency with the aim to help the lost souls of Los Angles but it’s not long before the reality hits that they need to charge sometimes for their services. The must make a living from what they do. There is no great wealth hidden away for our heroes to concentrate simply on helping people. The closest hero on this list that comes close to being in the same situation as Angel is Peter Parker who is seen always struggling to make ends meet while trying to still help the world as a hero. What we do get with Angel is a show that considers what makes life meaningful in amongst the rigors of everyday life in which we get caught up in. We see this not just with Angel’s actions but also the relationships of those around him.
The series also deals with loss and with making sacrifices. We have Angel initially trying to forget the love of his life and get on with his life, shutting himself away from people, a brooding figure, and it’s interesting to see how the cast grows over the five series as Angel becomes more at peace with who he is. But there is also more lost to come with one of the initial characters dying in the first part of the first season. It is made clear from this moment on that this is a show that is going to deal with darker issues.
And it does this most with season five showing what can happen when you make compromises to get what you want. Even though death has been shown throughout the series the death of Fred is both sudden and shocking. As for the final, it is possibly one of the darkest endings for a show that I have seen. (The only other one I can personally think of is Blake’s 7) It’s an emotional rollercoaster which left me in complete shock. In hind sight I can see it was really the only good way the show could end and it also highlights the whole theme of redemption as Angel and his team make the ultimate sacrifice in order to do the right thing.

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The line that sticks in my mind most from the show, and one of the most quoted, is one that I try to live by. “If nothing we do matters then all that matter is what we do”. It is something that resonates with me even more after I studied philosophy. Sometime are actions might not make that much of a difference to the world. Sometimes it may make thing a little better for a while but the actions will soon be overshadowed by the realities of life. But we should still do what we think is right even if such actions are futile. And this is true especially if we are trying to make up for something in our past. This is something that Angel learns when he finds out that there may not be some great destiny of final win to aim for. It’s about little acts of kindness.
As mentioned in the Highlander post there is the point about accepting yourself for who you are good or bad. With Angel there is the message that you can make up for that past by trying to be a better person and do the right thing no matter how dark things are. Angel realises this at last. It’s not about doing it for any reward or redemption but simply to help. It is important to try and make that difference, to stand up and be counted. And maybe then when we finally face death we can do it with courage, safe in our knowledge that we lived the best life we could and tried to make a difference and what more could someone want in that final moment.

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Secret Identities Not just for superheroes

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I’ve been thinking a lot about secret identities recently. In my novel the main character is a guy who is a cross dresser and develops a female alter ego who slowly starts to take over. In a recently written scene where my character is having a bit of a crisis about who he is and who he wants to be he has a dream which ends with him reviling he/she is Supergirl. The dream as I wrote it is meant to represent my character embracing who they really are. It symbolises the two identities in his life.

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Now this is a novel I started years ago in university as part of my course (I took a novel writing module in my third year.) It was to write a first chapter and I got a B grade and was pleased with the piece. I always felt it was worth finishing so after a bit of a break, both in time and relationship I returned to writing early last year. Currently I’m on chapter eighteen which is where I wrote the dream sequence. Now I have a rough plan in my head where the novel is going but not specifics and the dream sequence was thought up yesterday on the spot. That said it felt that there was something familiar about it that stuck in the back of my head until suddenly at 3am this morning I remembered why. Part of the module all those years ago in uni had been to write chapter one of the novel. The other assignment had revolved around a 500 word essay about the influences on the novel. And it was in part of that assignment where I mentioned Batman as an influence. I had ‘forgotten’ it until now although the theme was still in my head.
It also got me re thinking about secret identities, something that has always fascinated me. After all the first two heroes in the role model blogs both have secret identities. There is always the thrill when I see Adam turn to He-man, something as a kid I acted out numerous times. He goes from the weak Prince Adam to the strongest man in the universe, hero of Eternal. An actual physical change. There is the whole underlying masturbation metaphor of a boy turning into a man, secret powers that were revealed when he held aloft his magic sword but we won’t got into that right now. (err just how many of my heroes actually weld swords?)
Then there is Spider-man. Of course his costume, like other costumed heroes, is to protect his secret identity and therefore keep him and their his family safe but we also notice that often Peter Parker feels freer as Spider-man swinging about town. He is metaphorically raising above his troubles. He can appear to be more confident as spider-man then Parker especially in his early high school days. So like my character the alter ego in the ‘costume’ allows them to have more freedom and to be whom they’d like to be. However in the movie Spider-man 2 we see how there is a struggle with the duel identities.

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But of course earlier I mentioned Batman. Batman is a fascinating case because even though it is Bruce Wayne starting out as Batman it can be a bit confusing to who the secret identity is. After his parents die young Bruce embarks upon a mission to train himself to fight crime. He learns martial arts, the sciences. He trains himself to be the world’s best detective. He uses his wealth to build the various gadgets and vehicles he’ll need. The only reason he uses a costume is that he needed something that would help install fear in his enemies. In the meantime he portrays Bruce Wayne as a carefree party animal. It raises the question which is really the secret identity. Batman or Bruce Wayne. There is a case to be made that the real person here is the one who goes out dressed up as a bat. It was this blurred line that I wanted to install in my novel with the male and female alter egos being blurred to who was the real person and who was the lie. Which identity hid the real person? Like in Spider-man 2 I wanted this to be a struggle between the two identities.

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I’m going to side step a minute to talk about Batman. There is something fascinating about him so much so that I had thought about doing a blog just on him. I think as kids many of us have a superhero we’d like to be mainly because they have some great power. But with Batman he becomes a hero though hard work, determination and discipline. He is (if rather unlikely) a hero that anyone could become. After all anyone could train in martial arts. Others can train their minds to solve complex crimes or become a forensic expert. And with money you could use technology to build gadgets. Batman represents the pinnacle of what mankind could achieve without the added benefits of some supernatural ability. Obviously there are many other heroes that fall into this category and Batman is simply an example of one. The Scarlet Pimpernel is one of the earliest. But there is a realism to these types of hero even if the feats they perform are not and today there are some people out there that do go out as costumed heroes.
Anyway returning to the themes of my novel for a moment while the Batman/Bruce Wayne theme runs through it the dream sequence has Supergirl. Why? Well when you think about it Supergirl (and for that matter Superman) is the secret identity. It is in fact Kara (and Clark) who is the mask with which she hide behind. For my character it is telling him to discard the secret identity he is hiding under and emerge as the more powerful true alter ego.

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There are I’m guessing many people out there that have secret identities or wish they had. Some may want to be heroes. Some just may want to be a different version of themselves. And some may want to be the person they would love to be but are too scared to be that person. They have to go into the real world hiding their real selves away. For those brave enough to dare take their alter ego out into the world there is of course the real fear that their secret identity may be found out. And to those who have had their Supergirl/Superman moment I say well done even if tinted with more than a hint of jealousy.
Of course it is lucky that for my character that he can pass easily for a woman even though he carries the fear of being found out. There is of course a bit of myself woven throughout the novel. Well they say to write about what you know. For myself I’ve been pushing my boundaries a little bit. Kind of testing my abilities. Little trials hidden in darkness. No great launch of my alter ego into the world. (Although I really would like a supergirl fancy dress outfit) Rather like Bruce Wayne I would have to put in a lot of disciplined hard work first. No magical way to transform myself in a blaze of energy into someone different and I’m still not sure who I really am yet anyway. I’ll carry on for the moment living in my secret identity. Maybe one day one of the pics on here will be ‘me’.

 

Highlander as a role model

So eventually returning to the hero series it’s time to talk about my next role model. He is Duncan MacLeod, The Highlander.

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Now with Highlander and indeed the next hero we have something a little different because where the heroes before were heroes from my childhood influencing me as I grew up. But I came across Highlander one night watching sky back in around 1994 if I remember right (either way it was half way through series two). By now I was what could be considered a young adult but I believe that we can always find mentors, role models and lessons throughout our lives so there was still stuff I could learn from Duncan MacLeod.
For a start there is the fact that once again we have a sword bearing hero and to be fair the sword fight scenes in the series are one of the highlights. But unlike He-man and Robin of Sherwood this is just a normal everyday sword not some magical powerful artefact although the lighting effects that follow a beheading is cool. MacLeod is also very well trained in martial arts (as is Adrian Paul, the actor who plays him) and it was because of watching this programme that I eventually took up martial arts myself including sword work.
Now I’ll be the first to admit that I was not that good at it, I didn’t practise as much as I should have and at times I found it quite difficult. I did it for about a year but I did get to my yellow belt (the first upgrade) so it’s still something I can be proud of.
The show also taught me to be aware of life itself and how short it is. There is one episode where MacLeod berates a fellow immortal of not following his dreams stating that most people grow old and die before realising them. This to me is a great lesson that we should get out there. Life is for living and to strive for our goals. It’s interesting that Macleod and the final two heroes on the list are immortal in a way or at least live longer than normal lives. It does show that immortality can be more of a curse and what it means to be human.

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MacLeod also shows other traits such as personal honour, a sense of moral duty and an acceptance for who you are. If we take a look at the character we see that in his life he has fought in many wars and taken down many immortals and mortals. He is at heart a warrior raised by a warrior clan in the 1400’s. Where you could draw a similarity with the early MacLeod and He-man, both being warriors He-man is always a clear cut good guy. It is impossible for him to do bad things. MacLeod on the other hand has chosen sides in wars, he has killed people. He is more realistic and therefore not as clear a hero as He-man. The same can be said with Spider-man in that Spider-man never aims to kill anyone. The closes comparable hero we have looked at so far then is Robin Hood where we have someone who has chosen to fight for honour even if it means having to kill at times. (and it should be just pointed out here that I’m not justifying killing per say but that it does mark these two heroes as flawed heroes or even to a degree antiheroes.
Here is a role model who in later life is disciplined and uses meditation to reflect on problems in his life and to bring calm. Thus he is able to balance his role as a warrior and being peaceful. Many time in my life I have battled my way through life that sometimes it has felt like I’ve been fighting a hard battle and sometimes I need to step back and take a rest and enjoy the good things I have in my life. Such times have come and gone but there has always been some other good thing come along and that keeps me fighting against the difficult things in life.

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Finally in his final episode there is a line where he thanks fellow immortal Methos saying that he has taught him that life is about change, about accepting who you are, good or bad. He knows he has done some bad things in his life, as mentioned above, even if he believed he was right at the time. But he has come to accept who he has been and made peace with that. This too is a lesson that can be taken from the show. I have made mistakes in my past and there is nothing I can do to change them but I can learn from them and move on and try to be a better person. The part about accepting change is also very poignant. Over the course of the series through the use of flashbacks we see how his life had changed and it highlights how people and places have come into and out of his life. In the second season we see his long term girlfriend killed and after a time MacLeod had to move on. The fact that the song Dust in the wind is used following the aftermath of Tessa’s death is very apt. It is something that I have kept in mind ever since that people and situations will change throughout my life and I’ve learnt to enjoy the moment knowing that it can soon be gone. Uni is a great example of this as I was very aware that it would end one day.
MacLeod therefore ends up being the role model that makes me look at my inner self and to my past and try to find peace with myself and that past. He also make me more aware of my limited time in the world and to try and make the most of it. To enjoy friends and adventures while I can.

 

Musings on death

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This wasn’t planned for the blog. I’ve been working on a couple of pieces including the next hero blog when lying in bed last Thursday night (28th December) and suddenly had to go back onto my laptop and onto Facebook for something. There in the little trending column something caught my eye. Sue Grafton, Author dead. Sad news indeed. But then I had only just discovered her books, The Alphabet mystery Series starring private detective Kinsey Millhone about two years ago when I then started collecting them and currently making my way through the range. I can’t even remember now how I came to learn about them, some research for University if I remember correctly. In fact in a bit of an odd synchronicity I had just finished reading F is for Fugitive the day before. I felt saddened of course but partly because the mystery line now ends. She had written books A to Y. Z is for Zero would have been the last final novel for Kinsey. But now that will never come to pass. An incomplete series. When I get to Y is for Yesterday and finish it I’ll know that will be it, the story not quite complete. It is of course it is completely selfish on my part. But I’ve never met Sue Grafton, never talked to her or even seen her on TV. She is a name on a range of books I’m reading and a Wikipedia entry I’ve read through.
Then again personal mourning is in a way selfish. We feel sad because we will miss the person gone. Words not said, things left undone, a suitcase of memories and still frames in your mind. We feel sad because their going means a change in our own lives.
I think on that night as I read through various comments from other people about adding my own comment. About how I’m one of her readers, new but still now a part of this group of admirers and fans. I don’t. Somehow I don’t feel I have the right. I’m not saying that those who did comment didn’t either. There was some lovely messages posted. But while I’m here I will admit that at the very least Kinsey in a little way influenced parts of my own novel and the character of Bernice in my book so I’m grateful to Sue for giving me that as well as the pleasure of reading her novels. But it’s Kinsey that I’m going to miss. The character has died alongside her creator without closure. I hate unfinished business.
It is an odd thing to feel sadness for some celebrity that has passed on. With friends and family it is people you have been close to who, as I said above, have left a hole in your life. But when it comes to a celebrity death the hole that is made is because we can still feel a connection to that person because they have somehow touch our lives. The first celebrity that really touched me was George Peppard. Cigar chopping leader of the A Team that had thrilled me as a kid. That’s all I knew him from, I knew nothing of his film career before. To me it wasn’t George Peppard that had died it was Hannibal Smith. It was part of my childhood. It was years later I found out about his feud with Mr T and feeling disappointed that this image of a team of actors coming together to make this show hadn’t got on. I wanted the chance to tell him that not everyone preferred Mr T to Hannibal. I wanted to be like Hannibal with the plans and the leadership. (Although Murdock was my favourite cause he was funny)
You see it’s that personal connection. Whilst writing this I glance through the BBC webpage of notable deaths for 2017. Sue Grafton isn’t on it. Colin Dexter is. The creator of Inspector Morse. He died in March, I didn’t know. His death brings a sense of ‘oh’. I was more saddened by Morse actor John Thaw’s death. The person I had seen playing Inspector Morse. I’ve never read the books. I feel disconnected.
Much of course has been made about the infamous 2016 where we seemed to lose a load of big name celebrities. Alan Rickman, Bowie, Prince. For me personally it was Robert Vaughn again the A Team but before that The Man from Uncle another programme I grew up watching. And then of course Hustle. A series I watched from start to finish and quite often watch the repeats. At least Hustle got a final end. But when I think of Robert Vaughn I think of Albert Stroller or Napoleon Solo because I don’t know Robert Vaughn. I don’t know what he was really like. I have only his characters to go on.
See these are my ‘heroes’, they are supposed to be around for ever, immortalised. That’s why we feel shock and sadness when we see a favourite TV character die. Something that the soaps have capitalised on for the Christmas season. No longer is it the season to be jolly but instead an excuse to pull at the heartstrings with some beloved character killed off. Its characters that we have got to know, an insight to some made up world that we become a part of. Their story finished. (Unless it’s a superhero/villain or any character created by Steven Moffat that we know will probably somehow get resurrected in some way). We as humans do seem to have some morbid curiosity with death.
As a Doctor Who fan I felt sad when Jon Pertwee died in 1996 but it’s been watered down somewhat since because stories of the third Doctor continued on. First with novels and now Big Finish have a range with Tim Treloar doing the voice. The third Doctor carries on much like how David Bradley recently did the first Doctor this Christmas. ‘Sort of a way of cheating death’. But this is years after the actor has passed on. When popular ex companion actress Liz Sladen died in the middle of filming the fifth series of the Sarah Jane Adventures the series aired with only the completed episodes. The loss to raw, the idea of recasting or carrying on the shoe somehow deemed (quite rightly) unthinkable. The wound still fresh, the story brought to a sudden and unplanned finish. I hate unfinished business. Of course not all fans like the idea of these recasts but in some ways at least they remain ‘almost’ faithful to their original portrayal. I suppose that’s why I hate remakes. The A Team film, The Dukes of Hazard films, reboots of childhood favourites that doesn’t match the original. A tarnished version. At least with Ghostbusters (2016) they used new characters. I’m ok with Hawaii Five 0 because I never watched the original and there is no connection. (I’m surprisingly ok with the new MacGyver as well though I was sceptical at first.)
But I’m getting slightly off topic. The fact is would I had felt differently about the death of Sue Grafton if she had already finished the range? I have to answer an honest yes, to a degree. Because I’m still working through those novels and I have a way to go. They are currently part of my life and the death hangs over them now like a shadow. It would still sadden me a little when I had read it that night and then it would have been put in the back of my mind like some of the others this year such as Rodney Bewes, Keith Chegwin and Sean Hughes, People I’ve watched in the past that bring a little sadness at their passing but that I’ve moved on from. Oddly enough I have been watching the Bottom Live shows. One last week, one tonight and it was tonight as I read written by Rik Mayell and Ade Edmondson that it hits me again that Rik is no longer with us. There will never be another Bottom, live or otherwise. With Rik dead so is that character now dead. When I now watch these shows I know I am watching something that will never be able to be continued. The same feeling I’ll get when I finally reach that ‘final’ novel. I hate unfinished business.

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But at least there is one glimmer I suppose we can take from writers, actors, singers, characters et al that we lose is that their work, which is their connection to us, will be their legacy. A lasting footprint on our world. Always personal, sometime cultural. Conan Doyle, Elvis Presley, Eric Morecambe all still remembered to this day. So the same can be said for the immortal characters created in this world. It will probably be many years before I reach that last novel. Maybe by then I will have finished my own novel, maybe even hopefully be published, my own little stake on immortally. As the Roman philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero said “The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living”.

What Christmas means to me

 

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Ok so it’s been a little while since I’ve been able to write any updates to my blog. This is mainly because of trying to reach a goal on my novel before Christmas as well as being busy over the Christmas period as well. In fact Christmas really started for me back at the start of November. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
First I want to take you (and myself) back to Christmas past and examine what Christmas was like for me when I was younger. As a kid I loved a lot of things around Christmas. Christmas Eve was always spent at the local club which in those days was always full of people from the village. There was music, food and drinking (Coke for us kids). About half eleven we would return home and be allowed to open one gift. Then it was to bed and one of my favourite times because as I floated off to sleep in my innocence of childhood I could hardly feel the empty stocking at the bottom of the bed. But come five in the morning and I would slowly wake up and feel the heavy weight. I would spend about five minutes just moving my feet around the stocking excited by the fact that it was simply there. At some age I came to realise that this would not last for ever and so I made special effort to try and remember the feeling over the years. It is one of the things I miss most about Christmas.
Then my brother and I would be up waking our poor parents and sitting on the bed unwrap the presents in the stockings. When that was done we were ordered back to our rooms for half an hour. My dad would get up to make the fire and we were eventually allowed down stair where spread over the two sofas were all the presents glistening in the firelight. Ok they weren’t really glistening being simply paper wrapped gifts but let’s allow a little artistic licence here.
So Christmas morning was spent opening presents, playing with new toys and eating lots of chocolate. As mentioned in the He-man blog the best Christmas I can remember is the one where I got lots of He-man toys and the memory of putting Castle Greyskull together with my dad. On other Christmases we would spend the morning at the club again, my brother and me playing endless games of pool. Eventually we would visit one of my Nans for Christmas dinner (and more presents) and then to my other Nan for a great big family tea with all members of the family coming together. Uncles, Aunts and cousins all there. This is how it continued for many years with the big family get together eventually changing to Boxing Day at my parents’ house.
But they say all good things come to an end. The amount of family coming on Boxing Day shrank. Eventually my one Nan passed away and my brother got married and had his own family. Over the years I’ve had girlfriends. So I’ve had the joy of spending Christmas morning with them opening each other gifts and for me over time the joy for me was not seeing what I had but watching others open their gifts and seeing their faces.
And so we move more into the present but not quite 2017. Being with someone allowed me to have somewhere there when going Christmas shopping. Yes most presents could be brought online but there is something great about going to a city centre especially one with a Christmas market. Bristol in the last couple of years has been one such place. The atmosphere, the smells and the unusual gifts on the stores made it special. And while I might have some idea of what I might buy people I love looking around until I see the perfect present for people. It’s one of the reason I hate to give money or gift vouchers to people. So even in adulthood there is joy to be had for Christmas.
This year however I found myself on my own. No one to go shopping with (and car troubles also limited me) and not really many gifts to buy anyway. But I still love Christmas and so tried to find other ways to enjoy the Christmas spirit. One way was helping put up my towns Christmas decorations. Starting in November and taking about six weeks to do I would spend my Sundays helping out and towards the end sometimes a whole weekend. Hence that’s where all my time has been spent recently. But when the day came for the switch on I felt excitement followed by a large sense of pride as my local town was lit up. A sense of pride that comes every night when I drive though my town. Plus there was a Dalek at the switch on (Don’t know why) where I was able to get a photo of myself with it. I also decorated my tree, something else I enjoy doing at Christmas spending hours trying to get it right. This year was about four hours (although it take an hour and a half to put the tree together. Four sets of lights, tinsel and bulbuls in a colour scheme (this year being silver and blue). Add in an evening spent wrapping presents to Christmas songs playing. These days I suppose the build up to Christmas means more to me then the day itself.
So Christmas Day a bit boring, waking up that morning by myself. A bit of breakfast, opening a present I’d brought for my alter ego. Then over to my parents, a drink down the club (which this year was surprisingly full) with my dad and Christmas dinner with my parents. My brother and family showed up later and the kids opened the presents brought by my parents and myself. That was exciting. Then home in front of the TV.
Boxing Day not so good. Only one family member (an uncle) coming for Boxing Day. But the evening was spent playing a board game with my parents before heading home and that’s Christmas over. But I had done my best to make it as good as I could. I even spent several hours Christmas Eve sending personal messages to friends on Facebook even those I hadn’t spoken to for ages. And I had pushed myself out a little bit by having my nails done a couple of weeks before for our last skittle game where a few free drinks were consumed. And to be fair although there was a bit of piss taking overall the reaction wasn’t as bad as I feared. I remember sitting waiting to have my nails done thinking do I really want to do this. But I have a couple of friends who have taught me to be myself and sod anyone else. And I was pleased with them.

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And so finally let’s try and look at what Christmas means for me in the future. The problem is it’s hard to tell without some supernatural being showing me. This time next year will I be with someone else, or more comfortable with myself that I can ask for more ‘female’ gifts? Will I still be in this town or even this country if plans come to fruition? One of the things I do at Christmas is watch Christmas films especially different versions of A Christmas Carol. And there is the message there to always keep Christmas in your heart. Yes that’s meant to be all year round and I like to think I do my best to help others where I can and try to be a good man person. But around this time next year I will again do my best to see what I can do to make Christmas special to me and those around me.
Hope everyone had a good Christmas and going forward a peaceful and happy New Year.