Just Something on my Mind…

After 16 series of Strictly Come Dancing it’s now time for the introduction of same-sex pairings, but that doesn’t solely mean gay/bi contestants only


SO, for all you die-hard Strictly obsessive’s, the dance show that we all love (and some of us secretly love) is back on our TV screens again. However, this no doubt, brings back the question of when they programme is going to introduce same-sex pairings cos after all it was only last year we had a brief dance routine between AJ and Gorka and I don’t recall a negative backlash. Looking back at it I wonder why the film crew didn’t give us a couple of minutes extra of the two guys when they were dancing together. One of the arguments that I can imagine would be from people with out-dated, old-fashioned views constantly moaning about how wrong it’d be and that’d it’d give the children ideas. Another would be from religious zealots who would quite happily (and angrily) argue how it went against their so-called ‘religious beliefs’. But in all seriousness now, who would it actually be harming, apart from a (very) small narrow-minded minority? No-one in all likeliness.
On the American version of the show, Dancing with The Stars, contestant Nyle DiMarco, did a dance routine with a male dancer, and it did actually receive a positive response from both the audience and viewers alike.
In the Israeli version, Rokdim Im Kokhavim, sports broadcaster, Gili Shem Tov, was paired up with a female dancer called Dorit Milman. This was in the show’s sixth series and did it do the show any harm? Considering that it went on for another series I’d say no.
Most recently in the Italian version, Ballando con le Stelle, openly gay fashion designer and stylist, Giovanni Ciacci, was paired up with professional dancer, Raimondo Todaro. It was a move which proved ground-breaking cos first and foremost their producers had never considered it and as you’d predict it did cause some controversy but after a while, they won both the audience and country over. They even made it to the finals. Not bad at all.
So now that you know, all this begs the big question; when is the UK version of the show going to introduce same-sex pairings to the format?
No doubt there will be numerous people out there complaining that it would just be gay/bi celebrities paired up with dancers, along with of course, potentially rumours of s******g. Seriously, when does that not happen to the couples who are rumoured by certain tabloid types to be ‘getting closer’. I mean seriously, get a bloody life for god’s sake.
But if we are going to bring celebrities from the LGBT+ community into this let’s look at who they have; Susan Calman, Julian Clarey, Scott Mills, Mark Foster, Russell Grant, Will Young, Judge Rinder and Dr Ranj Singh. Now all these were paired up with dancers of the opposite-sex, no same-sex pairings at all. And yes, I admit that Susan Calman was rumoured to have said that her dream pairing was with Kevin Clifton.
Even Craig Revel-Horwood, who’s the BBC equivalent to Simon Cowell’s Mr Nasty and Shirley Ballas have stated that even they would back the decision. The BBC, however, said in a statement that they would be open to the suggestion in the future. In more basic terms I think that probably means that we would all have to wait until they have finally grown a pair before they actually do it. Well You have had sixteen series and you are about to go into your seventeenth, what is there that is possibility stopping? apart from a small handful of angry letters from outrage parent, religious zealots and narrow-minded idiots who still probably haven’t quite got past seeing gay kisses on TV since the 80’s.
In all fairness there is probably nothing to stop them bringing in the introduction but I can imagine as with all these types of changes that they would probably have to wait for word from above. But until then there is nothing that says that we shouldn’t stop suggesting the idea to them, I mean after all, seeing two men dance together or two women dance together is hardly going to harm anyone no is it.

MusicNotts Talks With… The Dandylions

My last ever piece with MusicNotts. R.I.P MusicNotts, it was great writing for you 😦

Anyways for your reading pleasure, here’s The Dandylions

MusicNotts Talks With… The DandyLions



Just Something on my Mind…

Thirty years ago, My Left Foot, was released in cinemas nationwide and helped change the way disabled characters are represented in TV and film. But how much actually changed since?

IT’S been thirty years to this year since the ground-breaking film, My Left Foot, came out in cinemas nationwide. The reason why it was so extraordinary was that it was one on of the first films in British cinema in its day to have a disabled character in the lead role.
Having a lead character who has a disability is a taboo that is still being challenged to this day and age in terms of representation. Many TV and film studios have been reluctant to cast disabled in the past but thankfully that’s now changing.
The lead character in the film is played by both Daniel Day Lewis and Hugh O’Connor who play the role of Christy Brown during the story of his life. The film is set in an Irish town in 1932. Christy suffers from Cerebral Palsy, a condition which affects his mobility. In the opening of the film it begins in the present when he is an adult and the film, the story of his life, is told in a flash-back. Daniel Day-Lewis appears both at the start and gradually appears at later stages of the film as the character is getting older Both actors are fantastic in how they carry the film between themselves in regards to the story telling.
Hugh O’Connor, who plays the younger version of the main character does an excellent job of not just carrying the majority of the story but showing us, as both people and viewers, the ups and downs as well as the struggles of having to live with the condition. During the film we witness the strain it has on both him, his family as well as his friends including the struggles that he has in trying to communicate his feelings with people.
The film is based on the life of real-life artist, writer and poet, Christy Brown. Now what is worth mentioning is that even though Daniel and Hugh who both play the character who lives with Cerebral Palsy is that neither of them actually has it. Whereas the real-life Christy does genuinely live with it.
On the whole this has led to some debate when it comes to casting abled-bodied actors to play disabled characters. For example, in the film, Inside I’m Dancing, James McAvoy plays a character who is disabled yet in real-life he isn’t and it’s the same in film and TV shows such as Glee, The Theory of Everything, Breaking Bad, Me Before You and Ironside. They all feature characters who have a physical disability yet are able-bodied themselves, though has caused outcry from many people who are disabled and from groups representing them. In many ways it depends on how you see it, at the end of the day actors are people who are paid to portray a character.
One of the reasons for this debate is that it is seen as not authentic and that it robs actors with actual disabilities from being able to play such roles. Though on the flip-side of the argument it is only acting and one of the points of being in the acting profession is playing a vast array of different characters be it of religious beliefs, sexuality, accents or nationality. A quick example I can think of is actress, writer and comedian, Francesca Martinez. She has Cerebral Palsy, though she prefers to describe herself was wobbly. From 1994 to 1998 she appeared in the TV school series, Grange Hill, playing a character called Racheal Burns.

For me, she was the very first person I saw on TV who had a disability. I remember feeling very proud for her as I’d seen someone like her before.
But going back to the film itself, I saw it as ground-breaking because like so many others I had never seen a film with a disabled lead-character. So, for me it was pretty much ahead of its time as there were no other films that were like it.

However, coming back to the present, My Left Foot, is an astonishing work of art in cinematic history and one that deserves to be told in the way that it shows the harsh realities of people growing up with a disability like Cerebral Palsy and how society can often treat them. Struggles, trials, tribulations and overcoming the odds. Nothing is ever hidden from the viewer.


Whats On UK: MacMillan Fest 19′ review

My review for the last-ever MacMillan Fest in Nottingham for Whats On UK, have a read, share and enjoy.




Just Something on my Mind…

Lying politicians, far-right manipulation, prejudiced religious zealots. I’m not afraid, I’m the other ‘A’, Annoyed. Many people can see what’s going on but just get sucked into the baloney

WHENEVER I used to have conversations with either friends at university, work colleagues, friends from home or family members about social and political issues I’d say I’m not afraid, just annoyed. And I’ll tell you why. To me, it just seems that whenever any kind of hysteria happens, be it either to a public catastrophe, national tragedy, terror attack or political movement of some sort it just seems that there are people who are all too keen to whip-up the frenzy.
Let me give you an example, when we had the presidential elections back in 2016 there was a lot of public unrest in regards to war, social issues and employment etc. One of Trump’s proposals was to have a travel ban on people coming from places that were predominately Muslim. This was something I, like many others, thought was just ridiculous as you could tell that he wasn’t just feeding on public fear and anxiety, he was fueling it to. At the time America had been gradually recovering from terrorist-related attacks dating back from 9/11 on-wards.
As a human being I was just disgusted that he was using national tragedy and fear to fuel his campaign. Remember what he said after the Orlando massacre? Among other things he mocked a reporter with disabilities which I found completely abhorrent so a person living with a disability myself. When all this died down at bit, I told people that I wasn’t afraid of him or people like him, but rather annoyed. It was just so clear that he was using fear and hatred and many people swallowed it.
You have people like Nigel Farage who was continuously going on about our country’s safety, sovereignty and immigration etc. I just found it annoying as he just seemed to use immigrants and refugees as a sort of scapegoat. Now I just found it to some degree, laughable, as he clearly seemed to forget that many people living in this country are descended from immigrants and others were refugees of conflict and genocide.
Throughout his campaign I wondered why people just seemed to swallow what he was saying as quite a bit of it could easily be viewed as xenophobic hate-speech. One of the thoughts that went through my mind was ‘Is anyone here actually dumb enough to believe everything he’s coming out with?’
Like Trump and Farage, I also detest how Corbyn attempts to whip-up public anger to as he even sucks up to people. The last time I saw him giving one of his political speeches I couldn’t see any distinction between his and Trump’s. What I’ve found since listening to them both is just how similar they both are and how they seem to both feed and fuel public outcry and anger.
Whenever I look at people like Trump, Corbyn, Farage, Marine Le Penn, Jayda Fransen and other far-right conservative and religious zealot types I just find them a disappointment to both humanity and society. They know that there is public outrage, fear and distrust due to conflict both abroad and across the nation and political distrust yet they just seem to milk it and a lot of people just follow them blindly like sheep. My only concern is that if we allow them to get away with it is that it’ll just get worse and worse and worse to the point where it’ll all just implode on itself.
As a society we need to both face and understand the facts; yes, there is fear but that’s because we’re scared of something we don’t understand. Yes, we don’t trust our own politicians but we have to trust that there are some who actually want to help make things better for us all. But most of all; yes, we need to know when to question something when we don’t agree with it cos otherwise it’ll just be a game of follow the leader and they’ll lead us somewhere where we definitely don’t want to go

Just Something on My Mind…

I’ve occasionally asked myself that when comedians such as Francesca Martinez, Liz Carr, Rosie Jones and Alex Brooker joke about their problems, why can’t non-disabled comedians do the same?


I SAW Francesca Martinez on Live at The Apollo on t.v the other day, and during her routine she made jokes about her problems which got several laughs from the audience. During her routine though I began to ask myself a couple of questions; the first being that when people who don’t have any form of disability make jokes about those who do it turns into immediate outrage along with a furious backlash on social media, yet why is it acceptable when those with problems do it? The other question that sprang to mind was that if those with problems can mock themselves then why can’t non-disabled people do it? Just curious to know, that’s all.
Now before you go down the hell have no fury route, or similar routes, let me just point something out to you; I’m autistic and I live with a disability known as Asperger Syndrome which I a mild form of autism. And yes, I openly admit that once in a blue moon I referred to myself as a ‘spastic’, but only in the example terms or whenever I am mocking myself.
Back in 2007 Heat magazine apologised to glamour model, Katie Price, over one of their free giveaways when it featured a sticker with her son, Harvey, with a speech quote ‘Harvey wants to eat me’. Understandably Katie was furious with the magazine, as were many of the publication’s readers. In 2010 another controversy ensured when controversial comedian, Frankie Boyle, made a remark about Harvey during an episode of his Channel 4 show Frankie Boyle’s Tramadol Nights.
Whenever I look at episodes like this, as well as others, one thing that it always sparks off is the whole issue within regards to free-speech, what is deemed acceptable and what isn’t when it comes to live comedy, sketch shows or satirical programmes. Another thing that I always find is that there are some people who seem quite content and claim that how the comment or the joke hasn’t harmed anyone. Others would say how people need to get over it and stop being so mardy. Looking back over the past couple of decades we’ve always had this debate within regards to free-speech and expression whenever it comes to stand-up comics and the material that they do.
Now I openly admit that I am a supporter of free-speech and expression as much as the next person but what I also know is that you have to take responsibility for what you say and do as well. In a way it’s a bit like the line in Spiderman ‘With great power comes great responsibility’. Sure, we’re supposed to be living in a country where we’re able to say what we want, do what we want etc but at the end of the day we can’t void ourselves of our individual responsibilities either.

However, going back to comedians who mock themselves. Whenever Francesca does her set, she frequently refers to her disability in a self-mocking way cos in way, or as I see it, it’s a way of owning the so-called tag and reusing it in another way. During my life there have actually been times when I’ve been mocked for my disability and it’s left me feeling upset and annoyed, and yes it was from people who I didn’t like. Yet whenever I do it to myself, I don’t feel any upset whatsoever.

So, this all in all, has left me wondering in theory that maybe why people with disabilities mock themselves cos it’s a way of finding the humour in their problems, and also because it’s coming from themselves and their nearest and dearest there’s no cold-hearted malice in it. However, this still leaves one question that will every so often will rear its head whenever things like this rise up again; if disabled comedians can mock themselves, why can’t comedians with no disabilities or problems do the same?

MacMillan Fest 19′ various venues, Nottingham 7/9/19


At 1pm on Saturday afternoon the crowds gradually poured themselves into the infamous music venues, Rock City Basement, The Albert (formerly Spanky van Dykes), Stealth, the Red Rooms, Tap ‘n’ Tumbler and the Rescue Rooms. Saturday the 7th September 2019 marked the day that the legendary MacMillan Fest put on its last ever event. The MacMillan Fest is a charity gig for the MacMillan Cancer charity cause and had been running since 2010 and had quickly become part of the fixtures for popular music events in and around Nottingham. Over the course of its 9 year the event had attracted the attention of some of the biggest names in the music industry such as Eyre Llew, Bleed from Within, Evil Scarecrow, Shapes, Black Peaks, Jet Black, Savour the Kill and many, many more.


In terms of you got a fair amount of rock variety rock metal, acoustic, electro and a bit of screamo thrown in for good measure. Overall, an avid rock fan’s paradise


This year saw the return of band favourites such as With Tripper, Lycan, Vanity Box, Patriot Rebel, Matthew Moore and Cotton Mouth as well as new artists making their first (and sadly their only) appearance, Joey Collins, Myles Knight, Invisions, Wilted Flower and Widows.


Music fans who came from all areas Nottingham, even those from further afield, were treated to a selection of stalls offering alternative clothing courtesy of Hit or Miss and Alibi Clothing, whisky stalls and jewellery. There was even a food stall offering sweet and savoury crepes, yum-yum. I had 3, bit greedy I know but I was hungry. For the festival goers who like to dare two of the stalls consisted of henna body-art and another where you could either have your hair shaved or body waxed using wax-strips. Yes, there was a fair few brave individuals who braved a waxing for charity.


Going around each of the venues was a bit like going on a musical merry-go-round, a tiny trek between venues but totally worth if to go and see new bands come and perform. In each one the rooms were full of people and some there were fists flying in the air and the blood, sweat and adrenaline was going to the roof. Going to other areas the hype was less intense and you could sit down to enjoy the performances. If you went up the Red Rooms which were above the Tap & Tumbler you got the odd gig where the lead singer occasionally took the performance into the crowd.


Starting the musical extravaganza off Matthew Moore in the Rescue Rooms along with sets by Witch-Tripper, Eyre Llew and SHVPES. No shortage of crowds in the building.

Over at the Rock City Basement, which underwent an impressive refit since my last visit was Widows, True Colours, Lotus Eater, Invisions and Oceans Ate Alaska. Seriously, they knew how to get the crowds going. Blood, sweat, adrenaline and crowd-jumping ahoy.

Upstairs in the Red Rooms Take 96, My Pet Favxes and Ava Saint entertained the room. Some great artists there.
Halfway across the building in Stealth as Lycan, Veridian, The Five Hundred and Street Solider. Seriously, that venue has hosted some incredible bands.


Around the corner at The Albert’s was Cotton Mouth, Patriot Rebel, Crosslight and The Kut. Both levels of that place were one huge rock metal and adrenaline ride from start to finish.
In the main acoustic bar people were treated to solo musicians such as Wilted Flower, Joey Collins, Myles Knight and George Gadd. Matthew Moore, who had performed with his band in the Rescue Rooms took a slot at the last second and performed an incredible solo set. No matter where you went, there was always something worth catching.


However, by 9pm much the crowds gathered for one of the big finales at the Rescue Rooms where Nordic Giants put on an amazing, show-shopping performance. One of the best ways I can probably describe it as is a sweeping, sci-fi electronic landscape straight from an ahead-of-its-time film/novel. The opening sound was of an apocalyptic feel where you just know something big is coming.
Overall it was a fantastic day that was absolutely jam-packed with music, food, drink, henna and trinkets and fun for all. That just leaves me to say thank you to MacMillan Fest for some incredible weekends and everything you have both done and achieved, all in the name of charity. Sad to see you go

Just Something on my Mind…

If we claim we care about others, why do we enjoy seeing mental breakdown’s people enduring a public fall from grace?


SINCE reality TV hit our screens and became such a monster hit, why do we as people, fans and viewers take such delight in watching others endure mental breakdown’s and public upset? Let me give you a quick example of what I’m on about; if you remember watching Big Brother you got all sorts of characters with various sorts of personalities, and I think it’s fair to assume that the producers somehow hoping for some sort of Clash of the Titans-style personality clashes. For instance, do you remember Nick Bateman, or Nasty Nick as the tabloids called him? He was the first contestant to be removed from the house for cheating and attempting to rig votes.

Now because of what he did and how he manipulated people we, both as viewers and fans, were all too happy to see him endure a public fall from grace and become a sort of panto villain. Though I’m not sure whether the infamous panto villains themselves quite got a public backlash as he ever did.
I openly admit that in some ways I am as guilty as charged as anybody else would be. Not long after the news broke out, I remember talking about it on the phone with my sister, who also took great delight in telling me how she’d defaced a front cover of a tabloid paper with Nick’s face on it with devil-like features. Every time I saw pictures of him in the months that followed, I looked at his face with vitriol claiming how he deserved any abuse he got.
Going back to 1999 to the BBC t.v series, Castaway 2000, it’s the show where a group of people were selected to live on the remote Scottish island of Taransay to make a small community for whole year. One of the people on the programme was a guy named Ray Bowler, and one of things that we pretty much remember him for was his aggressive outbursts. In my naivety, and due to the footage I saw of him, he just came across as an aggressive guy who I wouldn’t want to be in the same room with. Looking back at now I think it must have been quite upsetting for his family to see him portrayed as a constantly angry guy who just seemed like he was ready to raise a fist to anyone whenever he temper flared. For all we know he was probably a decent guy for whom it had become too much for. And all because of the mechanics of reality tv and our joy in watching his frequent shout-fests we just saw a man type-cast as an aggressive man.
As avid reality-t.v obsessives we don’t seem to be quite helpful in these sorts of situations, especially where the supposed entertainment-factor is. If anything, we seem to want more of it. As though we can’t seem to get enough of other peoples’ misfortune.
Now another programme I’m not a fan of in anyway is The X Factor, especially in its early days. Contestants who were hungry (or desperate) for a shot at fame went before the judges and did what they could to secure a vote and be liked by the viewers. However, the moment humiliation begins we just begin to find some sort of pleasure in watching some poor soul be publicly slaughtered, for all the nation to see. A few years ago, I remember seeing footage of a young male contestant doing whatever they could to impress the judges enough to be selected. Sadly, the guy wasn’t chosen but what happened afterwards, I think, looked almost unbearable. The infamous rejections from the judges began then escalated into a heated war of the words and swearing. The man in question then ran off stage, barging past the two co-presenters in the process in a state.
For as much as I don’t know the guy in question, I just remember feeling quite sorry for him as when he ran off the stage there was a tidal wave of laughter from the audience. I mean, to suffer a small embarrassment before your friends and family is one thing but to suffer total, soul-destroying humiliation before an entire crowd is quite another. Yet all made worse knowing that millions around the country observed it to.
Something we really need to ask ourselves is if these shows have a negative impact on someone’s well-being, what pleasure are were actually getting out of it, and is it really worth it?

MusicNotts Talks With… 94 Gunships

My penultimate piece for MusicNotts with Nottingham’s own 94 Gunships. Have a read and enjoy.

MusicNotts Talks With… 94 Gunships