Tag Archives: news

Melbourne | Loss and love at Bourke Street Mall

imageI haven’t posted in a while. I’ll be honest and say I’ve just been working so much and haven’t had time to sit and write, but it’s not just that, I’ve lost my motivation a bit lately. While my life is almost full to bursting with exciting stories to tell, I’d kind of hit a wall with inspiration. It happens every now and again, life gets busy and gets in the way of writing, but when it happens I don’t try and fight it because I know that I’ll always regain my mojo in the end, it just takes time. You can’t force yourself to be inspired and to write beautiful things, it comes naturally or not at all. While I was struggling to express the beautiful sides of life through this blog, something awful happened, something painful and sad and devastating. I may have been struggling with the words to express the happier situations in my life, but once I started typing my feelings of anger and hurt at the dangerous assault on my favourite city and it’s people last week, the words just wouldn’t stop.

For those who don’t know what happened, on Friday five people including a baby boy died in a horrific incident in Melbourne’s busiest shopping centre. A man went on a rampage around the city after allegedly stabbing his brother, mowing people down with his car and leaving 31 people in hospital. For those who were around the shopping centre at the time – including myself and several friends of mine – it was a scary, confusing and devastating experience. I was just about to start work and was walking past the incident as around 20-30 police cars went tearing along the tramlines in the pedestrianised areas to try and stop the man. Police helicopters were circling and police were screaming at onlookers to get away as quickly as possible. Luckily I worked nearby so I could find shelter in the hotel, at this point we had no idea what had happened with vague reports of a shooting/stabbing and a lot of misinformation. My first fear when I saw the police reaction was that it could be a bomb or some kind of terrorist attack, lack of information put this fear straight into my mind.

But I don’t want to dwell too much on what happened, instead I want to focus on what really horrified me that day. While the man’s actions were terrifying and have left the whole city unnerved, it was the actions of the onlookers that really showed me a dark side of humanity. As I ran up the street towards work I was dodging between people who preferred to stand on their phones recording every second of the incident, ignoring police advice to move to safety and choosing instead to share it on social media. A friend of mine was right in the middle of the incident and dived straight into help the injured people – he was brave and selfless in that moment, ending up covered in blood and just grateful he could help stop the bleeding from a man’s head injury. He was kind and patient despite his fears for his own safety and I find that incredibly inspiring. As with all the people who stepped up and helped save lives or to protect their fellow man that day – the ones who stopped and cared. My friend has since received word that the man he helped is safe and recovering in hospital.imageBut less inspiring was the man who stood right behind my friend and videoed the whole thing – instead of helping to stop the bleeding and to tend to those who were seriously injured he preferred to stand there and capture what was happening. I know we live in a modern age where camera phones open up the world to all of us to be the journalists and to share every bit of news at a flick of a button. But just as I always felt uncomfortable reporting the news from a desperate situation when I felt I could be helping to ease the pain and suffering of others, I find it disgusting that people would prioritise social media sharing and Snapchatting attacks on mankind over helping to save lives. Have we really reached a point where sharing an experience is more important that protecting a human life? While this experience may have inspired me to write about my anger and pain, I still don’t see how sharing it could ever be more important than protecting lives. Since Friday, countless people have flocked to Bourke Street Mall to lay flowers and messages of strength, love and compassion. This really makes you see the other side of humanity – the warmth that helps the world to move on and heal after such an incident.

It’s times like these when people need to put down their smart phones and to come together, because that’s what is really important. The love you feel from the other side of the world when friends and family message to check you are okay, the love you share when your best friend’s safety is your first thought as an incident happens, the love you feel from co-workers who rant and cry and understand the pain of others. It’s so easy to get caught up in the modern world we live in and to forget to break it down to the most basic and most important things – those around us who make our lives worth living, those individuals whose lives and presence we treasure more than anything. After hearing about the death of a Lynn legend – Juggling Jim – back at home, it shows more than ever the love for this character. The outpourings of sadness on social media at his death, he brought light into the lives of others and will be sadly missed. His spot on Lynn High Street will never be filled and his memory will be treasured.

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10 awesome opportunities being a journalist has given me

580161_10151456511187617_100428838_nBeing a journalist hasn’t given some people the best reputation in the last couple of years, but that doesn’t mean that journalism is a bad career choice. If anything, I say that journalism has opened countless doors for me and has given me some awesome opportunities over the last few years. There are lots of amazing things about the job – you get to work with people which is perfect for social butterflies like myself, you get the chance to hear amazing stories first-hand and have the privilege of sharing them with the world, the trust that your readers and those sharing their stories place in you. There are a lot of tougher sides of the job as well, like having to write a tribute to one of your former best friends after a horrible accident, but that is why I think it is important to enjoy the good parts.488260_10151030389642617_308764103_nI know some don’t agree with getting freebies through journalism, but this is one of my favourite parts of the job – the privilege and extras that come with it. Journalism opens you up to a world of opportunities that you would never have had otherwise, and that is something I love about it.I know a fair few journalists who never really take advantage of the extras in the job, which personally I think is a shame considering how low paid so many journalists are. I know some won’t agree, but I tend to look at it as the tips a waitress would get. This is just a bonus to the job and, as a bit of a blagger, I don’t mind asking – I always figure if you don’t ask you don’t get. Which is clear from how many amazing things I have been lucky enough to gain – I always ask the question. So what have been my best blags and the top experiences my job has given me?

  1. My top has got to be weekend tickets to an incredible electronic dance music festival, Glade Festival, that was right on my doorstep. It was only my second festival and this experience really showed me how much I love festivals, plus it gave me a taste for reviewing and writing about festivals which then led to my work at This Festival Feeling.
  2. Close behind was tickets to Wyndstock – a Midsummer Ball, another festival, this time a more upmarket one with swing dancing, posh banquets and a fake fox-hunt – it was so much fun and again gave me a great opportunity to write about festivals. As did free tickets to the first Zoo Project Festival.
  3. I have just booked in to write a feature on a circus that is coming to town – how better to do it than to have a lesson from a Mexican high-wire expert who has been walking the wire since he was six-years-old and to interview him?
  4. Tickets to the theatre – I have pre-written and reviewed various shows at theatres across the area over the last few years. All brilliant experiences and, as a big theatre-lover, have helped me develop a working relationship with the various theatre groups because I have actually seen their work.
  5. Tickets to the ballet – a stunning night watching Swan Lake as a thanks for giving a series of write-ups to another theatre and free tickets to music events in the town.
  6. Taking on a new local bootcamp for a feature was brilliant fun and I got to take along a group of mates to get really muddy as we tried to complete an obstacle course and had a boxercise class.
  7. I’ve got another coming up – this one is Loopy Ball, which is also for a group of mates and it football but inside giant blow up balls – should be funny and I’m looking forward to it.
  8. Getting to interview and meet theatre, music and TV stars is an amazing bonus of the job and running the entertainment section, I’ve been pretty lucky.
  9. Priority screenings of the pantomime – I love a Christmas panto, and getting invited along, with my family in tow, to watch it before anyone else has is pretty good fun. Priority tickets are always a winner – running the entertainment section means I always know first when a great comedian or show is coming to town and I can usually reserve tickets.
  10. A fantastic Glamping trip with my girls as part of a review.

250010_10151043161977617_225305037_nOf course, we’re not all in it for the freebies, we do it for the love of the job and a passion for reporting news. But, being a journalist is a stressful job with constant deadlines, you work hard and if opportunities come up I don’t think we should be afraid to snap them up. Much like bloggers accepting gifts of review products. There’s plenty more I haven’t listed – so budding journalists, if anyone tells you that you are making a mistake with your career – why not ask them if their job gives them the chance to do all of these amazing things?

What’s the best freebie you’ve ever had through work? Are you thinking about going into journalism?

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Rain, stabbings and Digital Soundboy shut-down at Notting Hill Carnival

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So, Notting Hill Carnival was a pretty soggy affair this year. I still haven’t managed to wring all the water out or my clothes and my Converse are looking pretty sorry for themselves right now. Despite the rain and the disappointment at not seeing some of my favourite acts, we had a bloody good day out and made loads of friends. I’m not sure if it beat my first time at the event last summer, even though we only went on the Sunday, but it is definitely the sort of event that calls for sunshine – you can’t dance to reggae and eat Jamaican jerk chicken in the rain. Taking place on the August bank holiday weekend, you would expect that we would be in for a few rays, but apparently not! Instead, it was wet, very, very wet.image

We caught the train to London first thing and were more than excited to return to the Carnival and on the main day this time – plus with a line-up on the Digital Soundboy stage that included Shy FX, Chase and Status, Lily Allen, Mark Ronson, Gorgon City, Sigma, David Rodigan and B Traits among many others – we couldn’t wait to get dancing. We had been checking the weather forecast every day in the run-up to Monday, and those dark clouds were threatening but we remained positive and although laden with macs and umbrellas, we prayed the sun would shine. Last year the forecast wasn’t great but about lunchtime the sun came out and shone all day – it was gorgeous! This year, we were disappointed to say the least and spent the day trying to avoid the huge puddles, to find the smallest bit of shelter and to dance at stages that with busted speakers. It sounds rubbish, but don’t be fooled – we had a fantastic day and made lots of friends – we didn’t even mind the rain until the music all stopped and we had no more distractions. Then it was a very long, cold and wet train journey home.

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After arriving in London, we headed straight to Westbourne Park Station and took a stroll along the road – immediately enveloped in the spicy smells of jerk chicken, goat curry and various other tasty carnival delights. The streets were lined with people and various sound systems at bars and houses along the road. We walked straight into the parade, which I had heard had a late start due to the weather, but they were out in full force and we shaking their tail feathers to the sound of steel drums. The beats from the parade are so strong that you can’t help but dance and we found a good spot in a doorway to watch the parade from a height – strangely we bumped into two friends from home who were already standing there! It was brilliant and helped us stay dry for a short time. After three floats of extravagant costumes and great music filed past, we headed back towards the station with a mojito in hand to find the Digital Soundboy stage – where everyone seemed to be heading.imageimage

Our spirits stayed high despite the rain and we were looking forward to a good dance,  but sadly we arrived at the Digital Soundboy stage to find no music, just waiting crowds. We stuck around for a bit, then decided to wander around the block and found some great smaller sound systems that had the music going full pelt and everyone dancing. Later, when we headed back to Digital Soundboy we found that again, there was no music and someone told us apparently a generator had broken. Gutted wasn’t the word, we, like countless others had travelled great distances to see this top list of acts play and now none of them would be playing. I understand that it was bad luck that a generator broke, but was there really no way of getting another delivered, or even borrowing one from one of the smaller stages – everyone would have appreciated it considering they had turned out in the pouring rain. I was also surprised to see no signs around explaining what had happened, we only found out by luck after chatting to someone in the crowd as we had no signal on our phones to check the Facebook or Twitter pages – perhaps better communication might have helped.imageimage

With music off the cards – we found it pretty difficult to navigate our way to another stage so hung out at the smaller ones – we made it our business to have as much fun as possible. We made lots of friends, had a good laugh with lots of fantastic people including some guys who went to our last festival – BoomTown Fair, and lots of others from our home town. The atmosphere is one of the things I love most about Notting Hill Carnival, everyone is so friendly and happy and just wants to have a good time. We had lots of fun dancing like idiots and taking rain-soaked pictures of our sexy mascara-sodden faces, while basically walking round in circles. I even walked into a portaloo and found two people shagging in the toilet – a new low? It was pretty funny and certainly kept our minds off being wet until the very end when all the stages shut down and suddenly we had no more distractions – we all just looked at each other and realised quite how soggy we were. Cue a soggy tube ride back to King’s Cross and an attempt to use hand dryers in the toilets to dry our clothes – it was not happening. Every item of clothing was drenched and I don’t even want to talk about the state of my shoes.image

Others were also having a rather interesting train ride home and were attracting quite a lot of attention – reckon she must have been pretty chilly! It was pretty gutting when we finally sat down on our train home and realised we had two hours of being soaking wet before we were home – thankfully the time flew by and we finally arrived home and could jump in a hot shower, some warm, dry clothes and bed. It was such a good feeling after such a long day of being so wet and cold. I definitely had a great time at Carnival but it’s not a good event to do in the rain – there is little to no shelter around the route and no escaping the elements. Plus no matter how waterproof your shoes, coat or umbrellas are marketed as being, when faced with constant rainfall over a day, they lose their waterproof abilities a wee bit. Not so much of a problem if you live in the city and can get home quickly, but when sat in a puddle the whole way home, it kills your mood a little bit.

I forgot to mention that this year we really noticed the more violent side of Carnival, one of the girls we met had been punched by some crazy girl with an attitude problem, we saw a girl and her boyfriend having a pretty full on fight and we were right next to where one of the policemen got stabbed. We were just walking along the road when police started roping off the road and I just assumed the parade was about to arrive, but the policeman told me to move back along the street because a policeman had just been stabbed. I know that this happens a lot of the main day of the Carnival and that lost of drugs and violent incidents occur, although lower numbers of them this year. But I just don’t understand how anyone could turn such a pure, fun, friendly and happy event like Notting Hill Carnival into something unsafe and aggressive. This applies to all of the festivals where violent incidents are recorded – these people are idiots. It takes a lot of organising and planning to put on an event of this scale and yet it takes one stupid and dangerous incident to close an event down. People acting rashly and stupidly seriously risks the lives of revellers and it risks future fun if the event is no longer allowed to run. Think before you act.image image

Did you brave the rain to go to Notting Hill Carnival this year? How did you think it compared to previous years? Were you disappointed by the shut-down of the Digital Soundboy stage?

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Hopes for a life free from fear for Raju the elephant

rajuI don’t know about you, but elephants are my favourite animal. It’s something about the way they are so powerful, but so calm and gentle at the same time. Of course, I know they are also wild animals that can be dangerous when provoked, but when left to their own devices, they will just follow their natural instincts which are rather more peaceful. Many of you will have heard about the story of Raju the elephant who was finally freed after spending years in chains and being beaten by his owners, treated like a slave and cruelly left in spiked shackles that left him to bleed. It makes me feel sick just to think about it.The rather more innocent animal-lover in me, the girl who used to read endless books about life in the jungle or made up stories about the animals using her cuddly toys, wants to say she would never believe that anyone could be so cruel. But the truth is, I walk around with my eyes wide open, I read the stories, see those harrowing images and have seen the footage of cruel attacks.

None of us in this day and age can say we are ignorant of the disgusting treatment of some animals – as my regular readers will know it is something I am quite passionate about. I wrote a previous post on the treatment of killer whales at SeaWorld after watching the Blackfish documentary, which had a huge response from others who were equally devastated by watching it. I signed several petitions after seeing that, and encouraged my readers to do the same. It is a horrible thing, to know that these things go on and yet to know that we are limited in what we can do individually to ease the situation – it is only when we come together to protest and act that we are actually powerful. But it is important that we do this, whether it is by signing petitions, choosing to use make-up that is not tested on animals or even choosing to be vegetarian – we can all help in very small ways that won’t make a huge difference to our own lives.

As a journalist, I know that this story will have been blown out of proportion by the writers at The Mail in order to attract more readers, but I also know that behind any story is truth. The fact that this poor animal was living off handouts and stood injured and bleeding after being shackled with spikes and cruelly beaten is just awful – I don’t understand who could treat another living being this way. Much like the guy who videoed himself punching a dog repeatedly, these people are sick and sad individuals who should be dealt with and stopped immediately from having any further contact with animals. Sadly, in a world as huge as ours, that is not always possible and often cannot be monitored as well as would be liked, this means some repeat offenders are able to own pets or take care of animals again leading to more terrible situations like this.

In this case, the poor elephant, Raju, cried tears of relief after being freed by charity workers on American Independence Day – such a beautiful ending, to know the animal has been freed by a charity who have moved him to a secure location where he will receive the care and love he needs to recuperate. The sad thing is that this animal will always be scarred by his experiences, afraid of humans and rightly so if this is how we treat our fellow creatures. This will live with Raju for years to come and you have to wonder if he will ever truly be free of the memories and the fear that comes with them. It’s heartbreaking. This is just another reason why I love elephants so much – because there is so much evidence to support them having real emotions as we experience them. I’ve read several cases of elephants crying or showing real grief after the death of a loved one – and this is something that just touches my heart in  a way that other animals don’t quite achieve.

I just hope that now Raju the elephant will live a much happier and peaceful life away from fear and brutality, with those who will care for and protect him. I’m hoping to volunteer at an wildlife sanctuary when I go travelling next year and among the animals I will be caring for are elephants – I hope that by doing so, I will be doing my bit to help ease the problems. For those who feel the way I do about all this, I have posted links to some petitions below – feel free to sign them and to do your bit to try and help the elephants.

Are you an animal lover? How did you feel when you read the news story and have you done anything about it?

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School killings: We Need To Talk About Kevin

We-Need-to-Talk-about-Kev-007No-one could have missed the news reports on the stabbing of teacher Ann Maguire as she taught a class, with a 15-year-old pupil charged for her murder. Such a horrifying and devastating thing to have happened, but in a world that is becoming more and more violent we can hardly be surprised that this would happen eventually. Throughout my time as a student a high school, I saw a pupil lose it with a teacher and hurl a table across the room at her, I saw teachers lose it with pupils and throw things at them. When at university I even heard about stabbings and twice was unable to get on or leave my campus because police were having a stand-off. I’m sure this is no different to many other schools and universities, in fact in many places I know it is far worse. What concerns me is why so many are turning immediately to violence to deal with their frustrations.

All this press brought a book and film back into my mind, one I read a few years ago but which still haunts me now. We Need To Talk About Kevin is a chilling tale of murder and love entwined, striking at the heart of parenthood by offering up the greatest test of unconditional love. It raises questions that no parent should ever have to ask themselves – such as whether the age of a child prevents them from blame over the seriousness of their crime, and whether in fact the parents are to blame. Lionel Shriver’s prizewinning 2003 novel is written in a series of letters from Eva, to her estranged husband, Franklin, in the wake of their son, Kevin’s disgusting crime. She looks at her son and writes about his childhood and her memories of him, trying desperately to see if there were things she should have noticed. If she could have prevented his later actions.

I watched the film after reading the book, and I was so glad to have done both. The film too is brilliant, but completely different to the book. It has been completely reworked by British director Lynne Ramsey who focuses on the question of what happens if bad children are born to good parents? And does this mean that the parents themselves are inherently bad and they just fail to realise it? Ramsey too follows Kevin’s short life up to the climax, showing some scenes of a disturbing nature but actually it is the acting and portrayal of Kevin by Ezra Miller that really haunts you. Tilda Swinton does an amazing job of exploring the internal and external struggles experienced by a parent whose child has committed murder as she comes to terms with what her own life, and Kevin’s has become. You see her struggles to realise that actually the son she had unconditional love for was an extremely rose-tinted view of reality, and her shock and fear as she realises that Kevin was not injured by the shooter, that he was the shooter.

It is also interesting to see her connection throughout both the book and the film with her baby – the relationship between her and Kevin is tested and difficult throughout with the clear understanding that she does not like her baby. It suggests she was suffering from post-natal depression and makes you wonder if this, which clearly sets the tone for their life-long relationship, was in fact the effect of her treatment and resentment for her baby in the first instance. Could she have influenced his behaviour by rejecting him so early? It does make you wonder if her understanding of his goading her and playing up as a child is in fact her own depression painting the way she views it. Could it be that in fact Kevin was just an innocent baby at birth and that his mother’s hatred of him caused him to turn into a monster? If not, does that mean he was a monster from birth?

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Such an interesting story because it raises all those big questions about good and evil, nature vs nurture. The questions we squirm over answering because we don’t want to believe that someone could be born evil, but at the same time, society doesn’t ever want to believe in people reaching breaking point or parents being unable to cope. Although the telling of a fictional event, some have said it was based on real events such as the Columbine High School killings which makes it ever more terrifying, to know that this has really happened, and now just a few hours from where we all live in the UK.

The vicious nature of the crime is scary enough, but actually what scares me more in the film and book is the fact that Kevin is so calculating and clever. He is not that kid that is just pushed a bit too far by the bullies or doesn’t get on with his teacher, he is a cold-blooded psycho killer who plans the whole thing. I have a slight admission that I have always found the psychology of killers absolutely fascinating and love programmes like CSI and Luthor and films like Seven that delve into the killer psyche. I’m just so curious to know how some people can be wired so differently, or whether in fact this lurks in all of us, it just takes the right circumstance and experiences to bring it out and let it loose. I would really recommend this book because it is one of the best I have read of its type and despite reading it years ago, it has stayed with me ever since. The film is also worth a watch, but after reading the book because it does change the way you view the story significantly and actually I think there are parts of the film that didn’t quite make sense without the book to explain them.

 What did you think of We Need To Talk About Kevin and have you got any others like this you could recommend? Where do you stand on the nature vs nurture debate when it comes to evil acts like this?

An emotional trip to see what had risen from the rubble

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One of the most poignant moments on the trip to New York was our visit to Ground Zero – I had personally been looking forward to seeing the changes made to the site since our last visit had shown one of the the newly erected buildings towering over rubble and the other just beginning to take shape. That visit alone was really something and after feeling so detached from the original attack due to my age and lack of knowledge, I found it a really powerful and emotional experience to walk between the buildings and see this enormous pile of rubble where those majestic buildings once stood. It was horrifying to think what it must have been like for the people in the buildings, nearby or anywhere in the city, knowing what was happening or having no clue and just being petrified.

IMG_4810The museum devastated me. I don’t even know how to explain it to anyone who hasn’t been – it is just the saddest place I have ever been and to hear the last calls made by people in the towers to their loved ones is just beyond anything I have experienced. Looking at pictures of the toppling towers and hearing those desperate and terrified voices as they took those last moments to express their love and fear just tore me apart and I was a mess afterwards. On that trip, it poured with rain as we walked around – quite suiting the mood.

IMG_4812On this trip, the new buildings were glinting with sunlight and rainbows bounced through the water pouring from the fountains. The grounds are now a very odd place to walk around, strangely peaceful but at the same time, still heartbreaking. The work continues and the new museum is yet to open, with a sculpture being created from the remnants of metal taken from the buildings’ original foundations. They ask for donations rather than charging people to visit, and there are maps available to find where different groups of people are remembered.

The names of all of those who were died in the North or South Tower collapse, or trying to save those trapped amongst the rubble, have all been remembered individually with their names engraved on each of the two fountains – the largest man-made waterfalls in North America – that now stand “within the footprints of where the Towers once stood”. As you can see above, their fire crews, ambulance crews or any other affiliation has also been recognised, and every year, on each of their birthdays, a white rose is placed in their name. This was the bit that really caught a lump in my throat. This is the bit that makes us realise this happened to real people and that their memory lives on in the families, children and loved ones who survived – the same ones who received the frantic messages in those last moments.

IMG_4817We arrived at the site just a few hours after midday and in the grounds there was also a sign stating that at lunchtime of that day, three 9/11 volunteers had completed a total of 2,983 hours of service to the memorial – with one hour dedicated to each of the names listed on the memorial. This was just one very small, but important part of the 37,500 hours that the entire 9/11 volunteer corps had amassed since the memorial’s opening on 9/11/11.

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Have you been to the 9/11 memorial? Or to see the rubble that lay before? What was your experience like?

 

Pathetic Fallacy – it’s all news to me

Photo by John O'Nolan

Photo by John O’Nolan

Something that has always stuck in my mind, throughout studying English at school and then at university, are all those literary devices and the terminology for all of these – things like alliteration, hyperbole, dramatic irony and anthropomorphism. I think we had them drilled to us so much, and had to apply them to so many different texts that they have just stayed in my mind. One that I will always remember from those long nights spent studying dense texts and all that poetry is pathetic fallacy – when the mood of the character is reflected in the weather or inanimate objects.

I bring this up now because I have noticed of late, since I have been feeling a bit blue, that things around me seem to be mimicking how I am feeling inside. I don’t know if I am just more aware of the negatives that are always present, or whether there is more sadness around me, but either way something is going on. I have spent the last two weeks writing the most depressing collection of stories on a range of topics including two terminal brain tumours and terrible hospital care that has left a man to be fed through a tube. It is horrible to have to write such painful stories and really has challenged me as a journalist, but all I can think is how much this should be putting things in perspective for me when really it is just making me feel even more confused.

It’s just left me wondering whether this sudden influx of sad stories is just coincidence or whether the world really is just a cycle of energies and I just seem to be attracting the more negative stuff at the moment. I’m not really sure what I believe but could certainly do with some more upbeat and happy stories to cover now so if you are in Norfolk and have a tale to tell that will put a smile on my face, it would be much appreciated!

What do you think? Are we all releasing good and bad energies and in turn attracting them? Or is it all just in my head?

The tough side of being a journalist..

A few days ago, the mother of an old friend and ex-boyfriend posted this picture on his Facebook page. Another tribute paid to a fantastic young man who was still finding his way in the world, when a horrific and shocking accident struck him down in his prime. I was one of the first to hear the news when he had tripped while camping fallen on a huge knife used for cutting wood, and while in the woods, with his brother, he bled to death.

It was horrible and I’m getting a lump in my throat just thinking about it. Even now, more than half a year on, the thought still sends a wave of nausea over my body and the news hits me all over again. With family and friends scattered across the UK and Canada, it was difficult to pass the news on to others who, like myself, had grown up with him. While his body remained in Canada, his mother attending the funeral, we held a memorial service in his home town where old friends, family and school chums all came together and spoke of memories we shared of that crazy boy, before releasing purple balloons.

It was a very emotional day and really tough to see so many tear-stained faces there. His mother gave a beautiful speech about him and others spoke of their time with our dear friend. Despite losing others in years gone by, this was easily the most poignant loss, partly because this was the first time I was old enough to really register the loss, and because it was such a shock to us all.

There was another reason why – because this was the first time I had to report on a death that touched my life so much. As a journalist, I am used to dealing with death, horror stories and shocking news on a daily basis (as well as all the more feel-good stuff – it does balance out). I have been dealing with horrible accidents and death knocks almost since I first started and remember clearly reporting on the case of a three-year-old child that ran out into the road while at the town’s annual Mart (fair) and was hit by a car and died shortly after. I saw the accident happen and it was devastating to watch the family’s reaction, then a passer-by holding the little’ boy’s hand as he took his last breath. It was horrifying and I was in total shock, but the next day, I took a deep breath and headed into the office to report on the ‘story’. It was one of the hardest days at work that we have had for a long time, and I was reporting on it with a woman who has a little boy the same age.

It was definitely one of the worst stories I have ever had to write, but it was easily trumped when I had to write a tribute to a boy who used to be one of my best friends, and who was a huge part of my teen years. Having to chase up with the Canadian authorities the details of what happened to him and how the accident came about was hard. It was tough to hear them talk about him as a case rather than as my friend, but I battled through it. Being a journalist is difficult because once you release that part of your mind, you are constantly looking for the story in everything. When you are trying to comfort the family and friends of the deceased, it is tough not to listen out for the quotes and the introduction to your story. It is not heartless, just amazing training coming into play. But the last thing you want in this situation.

It became easier after the memorial service, when I saw his mother alone to put together a tribute piece to him. It was a tearful afternoon but was filled with laughter at lovely memories and it really helped me. It helped me to come to terms with the fact that my friend was really gone, but also to know that he would never just disappear as long as we all remember him. It also helped me to write a fantastic tribute that really did justice to the type of person he was, and I hope that all of his friends agreed.

This is the first time I have managed to speak about this in so much detail since it happened and I hope that I have used my friend as a way of illustrating that journalists actually do a very hard job – particularly if they live in the patch they cover and have to report on loved ones in terrible situations. Not all journalists are heartless, many, like myself, become completely involved in their area and genuinely love it. We live each moment of pride and failure for our town and form strong bonds with the people who live there. Journalism is not just a trade, or a job, it is a lifestyle and a decision to become a huge part of your local community.

But we like the noise!!

Once again councils have got involved with something that should not really concern them. For one weekend a year, in a few fields in the middle of nowhere, what is really the problem? Should we all tip-toe and whisper like librarians?

This festival was amazing last year and part of the reason why was because it attacked your senses, all of them. The bass was incredible, the sights were astonishing and everything else just blew your mind. Stop putting the kibosh on our fun.

Boomtown Fair licence under review over noise levels

Noise complaints investigated

Journalism: What’s it really all about?

“It is one of the professional tasks of newspapers to unmask the fraudulent and the scandalous. It is in the public interest to do it. It is a job which newspapers have done time and time again in their long history.”

Lord Justice Lawton