#RelationshipGoals

I saw this competition on the Twitter page of Elle. After kicking myself for not seeing it sooner, I set about trying to write the entry I would’ve submitted. It seemed so easy, write a 500 word essay on the theme ‘#relationshipgoals’. It could be about your relationship with anyone and what you want from it. Little did I know it would take me at least 6 days to write the first sentence.

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We must all continue the work of Charlie Hebdo!

Whenever an act of terrorism or unnecessary violence on a grande scale is committed, I find myself asking the same question: Why? What did the perpetrator want to achieve?  Very rarely do they act without a goal or purpose, whether this to be to shock, gain media attention or they believe it is to stand up for their religion.

The attack on French publication Charlie Hebdo that left twelve dead is horrendous and cannot, for many reasons, go unmarked. The pouring of outrage that is currently sweeping the internet and social media shows that the world is shocked, and quite rightly so, but this is not enough. In all honesty who amongst my readers can name all of the journalists that have been beheaded in the shocking videos distributed by ISIS? Without googling it, I can’t. We need something to mark today and ensure that it stays in the public’s mind for years to come because today, a monumental change has occurred. Our right to freedom of speech is being challenged and we, like the cartoonists and editors of Charlie Hebdo, need to stand up and fight back.

‘Freedom of speech’ is under threat. Will journalists and the public alike now have to monitor what they say through fear of repercussion on a fatal scale?  The nine Charlie Hebdo employees that lost their lives; Stephane Charbonnier, Jean Cabut, Georges Wolinski, Bernard Verlhac, Bernard Maris, Frederic Boisseau, Franck Brinsolaro, Elsa Cayat, Phillippe Honore, were dedicated to pushing the limits in their satirical magazine despite previous attacks on the publication, including a fire attack in 2011, for their controversial published cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed in various actions which people could deem offensive. Editor Stephane Charbonnier had been under police protection since 2011 following a controversial illustration.

The world has come together in a show of solidarity for this. Social media channels were swamped with posts of ‘Je Suis Charlie’; I am Charlie, to support the people of Paris through this hard time. To me ‘Je Suis Charlie is so much more than support. It is a demonstration to all of the fundamentalists who think that they can silence the written, spoken or illustrated word simply because they disagreed with it. It is a clear voice amongst the chaos saying ‘NO’. We will keep questioning things we do not understand, debating things we do not agree with and laugh at things we find unfathomable. Our future will not be dictated by fundamentalists of religions that depict peace and goodwill in their scriptures.

People of all religions are standing side by side today and if this act was meant to put even more strain on the relationship between French people and the Islamic world, something that has been tenuous due to its history, then they have failed. The French are not turning their backs on all people of Islamic religion, they are focusing their energies on finding the three allegedly Al-Qaeda fundamentalists that committed this heinous act.

In the strongest demonstration of defiance against this act, the surviving journalists of Charlie Hebdo are planning to publish their publication next week. They have shown that they will not be silenced and fellow publications, most of which are currently under protection, have offered offices and editorial support to ensure it happens.
In 2012, Charbonnier told magazine Tel Quel that he would “rather die standing than live on my knees’. This struck a chord with me; he refused to be silenced by people who thought he was mocking them, stood strong against those who told him not to publish illustrations through fear of attack and today I stand here and join the world as I say with pride ‘Je Suis Charlie’

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2014: You have been a lazy one!

I wouldn’t be a very good blogger if I didn’t write about my past year on New Years Eve. Tomorrow 2015 will start and resolutions will be made. These probably won’t be stuck to but people will start with a naive enthusiasm. A lot of the people I work with have come up with generic ones, heard a multitude of times: get fit, stop smoking, lose weight, gym more, read more etc. I truly wish them all the best but mine is simple, in theory at least: I want to stop being lazy.

I could easily blame my lack of success on being busy. I work as a radio presenter, run a house, commute 60 miles a day and try to visit my family at least once a week. All these are contributing factors but, if I am brutally honest with myself, it is me to blame. If I strip back everything and really look at my year, I have been procrastinating more than I should. Spending evenings curled up on the sofa watching the latest series on Netflix ( Breaking Bad, Dead like me and Scrubs) or reading a book. This is great, and I would never begrudge anyone a night of rest, but this has become a bit of a routine which needs to stop!

Whilst at University, I was constantly busy. I threw myself into a lot of different extra curricular activities whilst also commuting from home to take care of my mum who was, at that time, sick. I loved it. I felt energised, active and seemed to have a lot of success come my way. Even appearing on Tonight’s the night. After University I told myself that I would take a little break. Mum was better and I could relax a little. I think this went on a little too long, its still happening 3 years later.

I have recently become increasingly aware of Zoella and Alfie Deyes. These are the Beckhams of the Youtube world and have amassed a healthy fortune via their Youtube videos and blogs. I could make up the excuse that they write about beauty and make up, things that are more popular than writing short stories, and that they appeal to a younger audience (17-24). Whilst this is true, I have to open my eyes to the fact that they have worked hard to get where they are. If I had applied myself with the amount of energy they have, I may be a little more popular than I am now.

I am not saying it hasn’t been a huge year. It has. I have moved in with my other half and am learning daily about the struggles that comes with running a home; bills, time management, cleaning and the never-ending mountain of washing that seems to regenerate faster than you can wash it. In the next few weeks I will have a new car, purchased thanks to a loan, another major milestone.

So, in 2015, I would like the following:

– To write a blog at least 3 times a week!
– To have at least 100 subscribers, and a 1000 followers on my blog!
– To stop procrastinating and really work towards my goals
– To enter writing competitions regularly to increase my skills
– Have my writing idols contact me via Twitter (Sad, I know, but it is a dream)

Whatever your New Years brings, I hope you have a great one! What are you resolutions?

The letter I wish I’d written

To the man who changed my life,

I was 16 when I watched you take the life of a man in, what I later found out, was a drunken accident.  Do you think about him now you are free from prison? I do.  I think about it every time I am walking the streets at night, every time I jump at an unknown sound and in the fear I feel almost every day of my life.  I don’t trust men now, even in my own family, as you proved that appearances truly can be deceiving.

There was nothing strange about your appearance as you first passed by me.  If that was the only time we had met, I probably wouldn’t have remembered what you looked like the next day.  As I walked into the restaurant to get the last round of hot drinks for my family before visiting times ended, you were unstable on your feet but seemed to be discussing food with the chef quite politely.  It was when he tried to help you that you turned violent.

He was simply carrying your tray to the till so you could pay.  He was being a good Samaritan, trying to help someone who didn’t deserve it.  A good deed that shouldn’t have been received with anything but gratitude, instead you punched him in the face after verbally abusing him.  The security guard you killed wasn’t simply doing his job.  He didn’t even work there.

Are you living comfortably now? Maybe happy with a family? He had a family you know.  He was visiting his daughter as he had just become a granddad.  It was meant to be a day of celebration for him and his family.  A day to remember and it is, for all the wrong reasons.

As you fled the scene, did you think about him lying on the floor? As I ran through the hospital to get a doctor, I couldn’t think of anything else, the image of his lips turning blue during the seizure has stayed with me all my life.

You served just 4 years for manslaughter due to ‘diminished responsibility’.  How is drinking to the point you are violent diminished responsibility? I will never understand how you can live your life, knowing you took his.  The implications of that day will haunt those involved forever; the court cases, the emotions, the childhood you stole can never be returned.  I grew up instantly as I took my place on the witness stand and, for that, I will resent you forever.

This isn’t a letter to berate you for what you did; I hope that the thought of what you did plagues your daily life, but rather a thank you.  That night changed my life.  Whilst some of the changes were unwelcome, some of them weren’t.  Due to an ill titled article in my local newspaper, I decided to become a journalist.  I worked hard to succeed at university, write creatively in my spare time, and use my fear of the familiar to inspire my work.

I won’t tell my children about you.  I’m sure his grandchildren were told all about you.  The reason they will never see their granddad or celebrate family milestones with him present.  I hope you have told your family too.  Warned them of the dangers drinking holds, the implications that one night can have on the rest of your life, and encourage them to not make the same mistakes.

I am now 25, 10 years have passed, and I have decided to forgive you. By staying angry, you and your actions will always be remembered. Why should I remember the person you are and not the bravery of the security guard who died that night? I am moving on and beating a different fear daily. You may have taken his life that night, but I won’t let you take mine.

No longer bound,

Sarah-Jayne

 

Just a few of my favourite things!

A blogger recently said there were not enough things about me on here, that I didn’t connect on a personal level. I’ll be honest, I am not great with opening up so I thought a quick list of my favourite things about November would be a good place to start!

Things I love about November:

❤ Waking up to the sound of rain hitting my windows ❤
❤ Going to bed to the sound of rain hitting my windows ❤
❤ The way the world shines after it has just rained ❤
❤ Hot drinks in a warm bed ❤
<Doing the ‘tippy tappy’ dance when I first put my feet on the cold kitchen floor ❤
❤ Big Jumpers and fluffy socks ❤
❤ Bright glittery scarves and gloves ❤
❤ Big woolen hats that you can hide bad hair days under ❤
❤ Nights on the couch, in your slobs, eating comfort food ❤
❤ The warm golden make up colours you use ❤
❤ Red Noses ❤
❤ Comfort food: bring on pasta, chillis and stews ❤
❤ Firework nights ❤
❤ Watching endless movies ❤
❤ Watching the world slowly become more Christmassy ❤
❤ Horror film nights with my friends and family ❤
❤ Candles are suddenly cool again ❤
❤ Watching the leaves fall off the trees ❤
❤ Autumn crafts ❤
❤ Ugg Boots ❤

What are you looking forward to this November?
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Would you sacrifice freedom for a dystopian future?

I watched the Marvel spectacular that was Captain America: The Winter Soldier the day after it was released and it posed a question that has plagued me since. If you were guaranteed protection would you give up your freedom?

*Spoilers* Shield are in cahoots with Hydra and are designing drone planes that would permanently hover in the air (with a little help from Tony Stark) and eliminate any potential ‘threat’. These threats are worked out by a formula using peoples past in order to judge whether they pose a credible threat or not – if they do then they are eliminated. Captain America disputes this stating that it is not freedom but fear that will control people.

This got me thinking about which I would prefer to live in: an isolated area with guards protecting you and taking out any potential threats or having freedom at its own risk? I am not talking about a flawed judgement system as in Marvel where the threat is determined through past tests, behavioural psychology and the person’s personal history. I am talking about the sort of control you would have in institutions, prison, hospitals and other controlled environments.
Freedom does come with its own risks. It does mean that people can commit crimes and act in a way that society disagrees with but, it also gives you the opportunity to make your own fate, as said by the American Revolution during the War of Independence ‘Give me liberty or give me death’.

I have an unhealthy fear of being attacked which stems from an addiction to horror of all kinds. I lock all my doors as soon as I am in my flat, view all people as potential threats and spend a lot of my time jumping at any noise that I do not recognise. I wasn’t always like this; infact I was a nightmare growing up as nothing was seen as a threat to me; I went missing before as a girl about my age (I was five at the time) wanted to show me her new pet rats and my brother stopped me taking ‘painkillers’ from a man who I thought at the time was trying to be nice and stop my headache.

All this being said, I do not think I could live in a world where I am monitored constantly. As I reached an age where I was going out on my own; my mum taught me the basics on how to be street wise.  We are protected throughout our life by agents of socialisation. These people affect an individual directly i.e. family, school, peer group and the media. These can act individually or as a group to sculpt how a person sees, thinks and interacts with the world. The mother who ensures that you know about stranger danger, the school trips to ‘Hazard Alley’ to teach you about dark alleys, unmarked cabs and your friends who tell you to not go off with the friend you just made on a night out.
The sculpting is not always this apparent, infact it can be immensely subtle so that you don’t know that this is happening. I have recently moved in with my other half and things that my mother used to do and say have clearly come with me despite the fact that I do not remember ever being told to act this way – my brother is different in many ways but we have redeeming qualities that are the same – these must come from our upbringing.

As a Journalist first and blogger second I have to argue both sides of this question, to be honest there are aspects of complete control that I find appealing. The idea of structure and discipline does seem like a good way to live – especially in a world of complete uncertainty. I watch the news with growing concern over the world’s actions and their apparent growing hate towards each other.

The idea of repression as a way of life is sobering and, with history as one big casebook, rebellions will happen as people do not like living under strict rule. But if this was done right and in a way where it looked more like a leadership and less like a dictatorship would this not be ok?
I am not defining control as the extremes of District 13 in Hunger Games: Catching Fire with guards everywhere, running people out of town and whipping those that are disobedient or that of Enemy of the State where they bug every piece of technology you have but maybe a little stricter than we currently have.

I am thinking more living through societal rules that are then re-enforced by law and government. Some of you will argue that this is what we have now: the judicial system, but when it is not enforced as much as it should be, is it really something we have?
People get away with crime a lot; I have experienced this first hand as my brother’s attacker got away with putting him in a coma due to their not being enough evidence, but with proper governmental control – would this still happen? With all the money thrown at pointless schemes that then fizzle out or (supposedly) used to fix our roads, could we not spare some money to increase security! More CCTV and monitoring so that, if a crime is committed, we know we can catch the person who did it in the act so we can convict them. Once convicted, there should be strict sentences that do not differ i.e. Murder is Murder no matter how many you killed, you would get the maximum punishment either way.

What do you think- Would you like more security or more freedom?