Six exciting developments from the world of metal (In my opinion)

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that I am a big fan of metal. Even though I now cut my hair, shy away from wearing chains on everything, and genuinely don’t break out into screaming “SLAY-ARGH” at social functions, I still wear my choice of band shirts regularly and try to head-bang at least once a day. It’s good for the soul. Here are six exciting developments from the metal world that have got me quite excited. Warning:- haters of power/symphonic might want to shy away at this point. This article isn’t for you.

PowerQuest are reforming!

At Bloodstock 2013, I had a brilliant time. As a Power metal fan, it was chock-a-block full of bands that appealed to my tastes- Firewind, Sabaton, Tobias Sammet’s Avantasia. But perhaps the most important of all was the booking of Power Quest, underground heroes and cult legends of the small-scale British power metal scene, who were playing their last show ever on the festival’s second stage. Or at least that’s what they said at the time.

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A few short years later, their Facebook page began to buzz. The former members had an announcement. Maybe it was a reformation, or another farewell tour (they wouldn’t be the first band to do it), or perhaps it was just a compilation album coming out in memory of their years as a working band. Part of me hoped they would be coming back, but I tried not to get too excited about things- so often the music world lets you down. But the rumours were true- the band were coming back just a few years after announcing they were done for good. According to founding member Steve Williams, it is because he sat down one day and decided that the band had ‘unfinished business’. Alright, so it isn’t a reformation so much as a new line-up, with a fresh vocalist and a few familiar faces returning, but they’re back! They are set to release a new EP entitled Face The Raven, which is going to feature a few new songs that will stay true to their tried and tested musical formula. Okay, so it isn’t an album, but it is still new material and it may pave the way for another tour and- hopefully- a full length record in due time. Place your bets on what band will ‘reform’ after a ‘farewell tour’ next. My money’s on Motley Crue.

Sonata Arctica are touring the UK.

Ever since secondary school, when a friend of mine let me listen to their song Wildfire, I have had a love affair with Sonata Arctica. The titans of Finnish power metal have released a few albums since those days, and although they have broken away somewhat from the over-the-top power metal of old, they still create beautiful music that just makes you want to sing out loud and lose yourself in its depths. For years, I have been waiting for the chance to see them live and- due to the fact they rarely play the UK- hoping that perhaps a festival might book them. Instead, though, they clearly heard my call: 2017 will see them include the UK in their European tour.

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Even better is that they are playing a date in Bristol. On a Saturday, which means my job in education won’t get in the way of thing. So they’re only an hour’s drive away, and they’re playing on a day off. Truly epic. Tickets are already on sale, and I totally plan on splashing out for them, whatever it takes. There are only a few bands left on my bucket list, and SA are one of them. The thing is, SA have a huge cult following- a small but fanatical fan-base over here. So I can see every date selling well, and every crowd being pretty wild.If you like your metal ‘widdly’, as Sonata Arctica were once described, then make sure you check them out.

Amaranthe have released their fourth studio album.

Okay. I am going to admit something here. The only reason I initially got into Amaranthe is because of Elize Ryd, their beautiful, leggy, talented and all-round adorable frontwoman. At a gig in Bristol this one time, she touched me, and it was amazing, and Elize is so awesome that my girlfriend didn’t even mind. Amaranthe, though, are not to everyone’s taste, and I can accept and understand that.

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Their new album- their fourth- is called Maximalism and I think it is fair to say that the title matches their vision here. This album is far and away their most ambitious, although I highly doubt they’ll be winning any awards for innovation in the music industry. The announcement of the new album’s release came alongside the song- That Song being the title- in an audio and video format. On first listen, I really didn’t like the pop sensibilities of the track. They’ve always been a band to embrace pop music influences, but to transform themselves into a pop band with rock and metal influences seemed too much. Luckily, a lot of the other tracks on their album demonstrate that they’re still rock/metal at their core. Let us not forget, too, this this band isn’t even a decade old yet, and they are on their fourth album and are travelling on a very, very fast upward trajectory.


Floor Jansen has a bun in the oven

After the Tarja Turunen debacle, and then the Olzen disaster, Nightwish desperately needed to get their third vocalist appointment right. And they managed that in Floor Jansen, who has the versatility to sing in an operatic style, a slightly rockier style, or even to full-blown scream on occasion. When I saw them at Wembley Arena in December, it was one of the best gigs of my life, and excitement reached fever pitch when I realised that footage from that show was going to be included on their live DVD.

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And then rumours started circulating that the band,- who were on a break anyway- were taking time to congratulate one of their members, who was going to become a parent. That person was Floor Jansen, who is pregnant, and understandably will be taking a break from being a musician in order to bring a new life into the world. What makes this story even cooler is that the baby’s father- and therefore, by extension, her partner- is Sabaton drummer Hannes van Dahl, which means that baby is going to grow up with some seriously good taste in music. Either that, or it’ll rebel against its parents and become a pop star.

Metallica stream their third single.

The legends that are Metallica don’t need to release new material. Their legacy is enough that they could, if they chose to, tour forever on a wave of nostalgia until they all passed away or retired. However, not wanting to be outdone by their fellows such as Iron Maiden, they have finally announced their new album- Hardwired…to Self Destruct. That’s a pretty dramatic name for an album that I only hope will live up to the hype.

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Early signs are positive, though. The current singles Hardwired and Moth Into The Flame are absolute bangers, typifying everything the band stand for- epic vocals, almighty riffs and that familiar Hetfield scowl ‘n’ growl. Their third single is now streaming on selected sites and it has the name of Atlas, Rise! This has me seriously wondering what the band have in store in this song. Will it be about the ancient god of the same name who carried the world on his back? Will it be about something more mundane, you know, like an actual, normal, everyday atlas? Is it about something completely unrelated to the title? I mean, I’ll find out when I go and listen to the track, but one this is for sure: the signs so far are good that Metallica’s return will be emphatic.


In Flames release a new album

In Flames have come a long way- and have changed immensely- since their early days as part of the Swedish ‘Gothernburg’ melo-death movement. Whilst their friends in At The Gates and Dark Tranquillity continue to fly the flag, IF have moved with the times, always keeping their music heavy but embracing melody, harmonics, clean vocals and even the occasional ballad into their sound. Fans of the band who still bitch and moan that they aren’t releasing a Whoracle Part 2 should have really moved on about a decade ago. And there are other fans, like me, who like what band’s modern output as much as their earlier work.

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The band’s latest release seems to be a mix of everything they’ve done in their ‘second phase’. The album, entitled Battles, has been accompanied by the release of three tracks, the best of which is The End, which is accompanied by an awesome first-person video, clearly inspired heavily by the movie Hardcore Henry. All three of the tracks are typical ‘single’ fodder- catchy, but certainly not the best the album has to offer. In Flames are shaping their sound, and whilst it may lose them older fans on the way, there’s every chance it’ll win them newer ones as they progress.

So there you have. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 things that have got me excited for the next few months and the new year. Keep posted for more updates in the future!


Attack of the numptee drivers! YET ANOTHER rant against awful road-users!

To the people who I meet on the roads these days who can’t reverse…thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for giving me a reason to smile in the mornings. It helps me realise that no matter how bad life gets, no matter how many painstakingly hard days I have, I will never have the added burden of being an absolute melt on the road.

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Admittedly, I live in a village. I have spent a lot of time on narrow country lanes where if you meet anyone, you end up reversing seventeen miles back the way you’ve come until you can find a passing point. It also means I’ve gotten used to meeting other vehicles and passing them with just inches to spare. But even so, I don’t think the excuse of ‘well I live in a built up area’ is a good enough excuse. Personally, I think the driving lessons should include a mandatory section where you have to drive on a country road. Yes, even if you live in the middle of London. After all, even the biggest cities have narrow side roads with very few passing points. If you can’t handle them, then quite frankly- in my humble opinion- you don’t deserve to hold a full UK driving licence. There is an area not far from where I live that is affectionately called ‘The Banks’ by everyone who is a local. This is because the road has steep banks on either side and- other than about two passing points- will generally involve one person having to reverse back for a few hundred yards to allow the other to pass. Okay, so that’s a pain in the backside, but if you spent your driving lessons actually learning to drive rather than, presumably, flirting with the instructor or picking your nose or something, you should still be able to cope with simply making your car go backwards. Instead, I regularly meet people who will either panic, or will stubbornly sit there until you go back- and that is normally because they are unable to do so themselves.

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In the Banks one day, I met a young lady in a Ford KA who met me, realised I had a queue of cars behind me and so would need to reverse, and promptly responded to the situation by wetting herself, stalling the car and then pathetically sitting there with her head in her hands looking distraught. Bear in mind that all she had to do was reverse around a corner- something you should have learned to do in order to pass your driving test. Also let us consider that she was only driving a KA, not exactly a vehicle famed for being huge. You’re not driving a tank, love! I’ve met van drivers and even a lorry driver who can competently revere in roads like this. In the end, I could see in her eyes that she had lost all semblance of control, and I had to get out of my car and actually guide her back. I was standing there in the road like the most low budget traffic warden in the world whilst some incompetent young woman struggled to move her car back about 50 yards. She managed it, but I was furious. I gave her a piece of mind about how she should just tear her licence up, and she began crying (although I think that was more from embarrassment rather than because I had been particularly harsh). By now, about 10 cars were waiting to go past on both sides of the road, all because one person couldn’t complete a simple action in a car. And that’s the problem for me. Too many people pass their test with absolutely no knowledge of some of the mad roads that exist in this world. This girl was probably a lovely person, and maybe she went home that night and felt terrible for her inability to reverse, but I actually can’t bring myself to feel sorry for her in the slightest. If you can’t do it, stay off the damn roads!

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The same goes for people who drive down village roads at suicidal speeds! I tend to find they are people who actually live in the village, and so should, by all accounts, understand just how careful a person needs to be on the road. I meet tractors going too fast. Land Rovers going too fast. BMWs going too fast. Then again, I should expect nothing less than insane speeds from somebody who has an ego big enough to splash out on a German prestige car. If you don’t know the roads, you should drive carefully. If you do know the roads, you should slow down for certain because, for goodness sake, you’ve been driving these roads for years and so you know that there’s a sharp turn 100 yards ahead. Basically, whether you know the roads or not, there is absolutely no reason to go slamming it through the roads. Also, you’re in a village; villages have farms and whatnot. Even if you don’t meet another driver, there’s a fair chance you’ll come speeding around a corner to meet a big, fluffy, adorable but incredibly stupid sheep that will totally leave a cloud shaped dent in your car’s bonnet. I suppose this rant is basically me pleading with you to just not be an absolute eejit on the roads- urban, rural or otherwise.

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Oh, and to the person who I met on the road last week who couldn’t reverse, wouldn’t reverse, and then had to reverse anyway considering I had 4 cars lined up behind me, and then proceeded to stick his middle finger up at me: thank you. Thank you ever so much. I was already pretty annoyed at how stubborn you’d been, but you know what? Your cursing and rude hand gestures really turned my day around. I was happy and overjoyed when I arrived home after you had insulted me with your fingers. It wasn’t even justified- if anything, it should have been me flicking the v’s at you.

Get off the road, you freakin’ morons!

Trump vs Clinton: Whoever wins, we lose

Do you remember that movie, Alien Vs Predator? Sadly, I do. It was directed by Paul W.S Anderson- universally agreed by everyone to be a hack of a director- and for the most part, was a terrible movie that will forever be remembered for turning a clash between science fiction’s most iconic into something resembling a scene from Street Fighter. If you’ve managed to successfully block it from your memory, then congratulations, but some of us are still wearing our scars in despair. Anyway- you probably the tag line that was attached to the movie: whoever wins, we lose. The implication of that was that it made no difference whether the creepy Xenomorphs won or if the ugly mofo that is the Predator was victorious. Humanity would still be royally screwed. Does that remind you of a certain presidential rivalry by any chance?

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Whilst we’re on the subjects of non-human creatures who are hell-bent on mankind’s destruction, let’s get talking about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. I think there are a few things that can be said about this absolute cavalcade of calamity, but the tagline ‘Whoever wins, we lose’ seems worryingly apt. In one corner- let’s call it the red corner, for no other reason than that it suits his angry face quite well- is Donald Trump, a man who has spent millions on his publicity campaign and has apparently not had any money left to invest in a decent hair stylist. I won’t profess to be a political expert. All I will say is that I don’t understand how a man can get to the point that he is whilst being so openly racist and displaying such open dislike towards women. This approach seems unwise to me, to say the least, especially when one considers that the human race- and by extension, the population of the USA- consists of 51% of the fairer sex. In a totally blunt way, it makes no tactical sense to annoy over half of the people who potentially could vote for you. Also, by being so openly racist, he is further alienating a section of the male population who are of mixed-race or who half loved ones that are. If a single woman supports him after what he has so openly said, I want to meet that woman, sit her down for some tea and biscuits, and ask her just what the hell she thinks she is doing. Voting for Trump as a female is a little bit like a Jew showing support for Hitler during the holocaust. Can I just say, though, as a male, that I found Trump’s sexist comments to be offensive? So even just hating women isn’t enough to guarantee that he’ll get the majority of men on his side. If anything, it just annoys them more.

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In the other corner- and lets call it the blue corner because, goodness, I have no idea why- is Hillary Clinton. On paper, she has an advantage over Trump. She has political experience, having been First Lady during her marriage to Bill “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” Clinton, and she was also Secretary of State where she earned herself some negative press coverage for some shocking mistakes, but still nonetheless held down an important role in a largely male-oriented career. Plus, America is in a bit of a renaissance. Barrack Obama made history by being the first black president of the United States, so next in line is the groundbreaking appointment of a woman. Of course, Clinton shouldn’t be appointed just because she was born without a dangly thing between her legs. She should be appointed because she is the best man- or woman- for the job. The email scandals of a few weeks ago didn’t do her reputation any good, but compared to some of the flatly ignorant things her rival has said, she is still coming up smelling of roses. There are a few things I feel will hold her back, though. Firstly: she just isn’t that popular. Despite leading the polls- so far at least- she hasn’t quite gained the huge lead one would imagine. Strangely, she is struggling to make an impact on a lot of people because she comes across as cold and difficult to like. Trump, by comparison, may be seen by many to be a moron, but he has managed to ride the momentum of controversy all the way to this stage and so must know a thing or two. On top of that is the fact that he has charisma and fights his corner like a rabid dog. And nobody can deny his patriotism for a country that needs a strong leader.

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In conclusion, I think that the current US Presidential battle is a bit too similar to that aforementioned science fiction mash-up movie. America has to pick a side, but it is seen by many to be more a case of choosing the lesser of two evils rather than picking the best candidate. Picking between Clinton and Trump is a little like picking between having your teeth pulled without anaesthetic or being poked repeatedly in the eye. Neither is going to be comfortable, but one may be more bearable than the other. How did it come to this? How did a country that prides itself on being the most powerful nation in the world end up with two ill-equipped people gunning to take charge of it?

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As for the Paul WS Anderson movie that had an awesome tagline and an awesome premise, but was a terrible movie in every other aspect…well, the less said about it the better. Although, for my money, we should all vote for the Xenomorphs to be presidents of America. A lot of people would argue that it couldn’t be any worse an appointment.

Amy Lee’s ‘Dream Too Much’: just what is the Evanescence frontwoman up to now?

In the early 2000s, no angry teenager’s record collection was complete without Evanescence’s debut album, Fallen. It was, without a doubt, the soundtrack to a generation of teenagers who- like teenagers before and teenagers to come- felt that the world didn’t understand them. The band’s broody music, laden with angst and gothic lyrical themes, paved the way for their monumental success. Lead singer Amy Lee, in fact, became the figurehead of the emo movement and, alongside that, a pin up for every hormonal metal fan out there. I was one of them and believe me when I say that there was at least one poster of her on my wall. I think I loved her back then.

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So what on Earth is she up to these days? Technically, Evanescence are still a band. They have never officially broken up, despite line-up changes, and every few years sees them embark on a new tour or release a new album. They aren’t the most prolific of bands, but they release material and when they do, everybody goes crazy for it. They remain as huge as they always were. Which is why Amy Lee’s latest musical adventure is so odd…
Understandably, the sultry alto took some time out of her undoubtedly busy schedule to have a child and become a mother. Her son, Jack, now two years old, inspired her to take a step away from metal- at least temporarily- and to instead surprise everybody other than herself by releasing a children’s album. This wouldn’t be the first time that an artist would make a fascinating U-turn. Neil Young once released an Electronica album. Linkin Park went from a metal band to a techno band and back to a metal band again. Frank Turner used to play in an angry punk band, and now he sings folk-laden radio rock songs that are instant earworms. What makes this transformation so odd is partly because it is such a radical shift from angst to dreamscape, but also because, cor blimey, it’s actually really good!

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Amy’s  album is called ‘Dream Too Much’, and it is aimed squarely at young listeners of her son’s age or slightly older. It features covers of bands such as The Beatles, but it also features some of her own original works with imaginative titles such as “If You’re A Star”. The album’s title track- which was released accompanied by a video that, if it wasn’t aimed at kids, would almost certainly convince you that she had taken LSD when making it- is actually a charming little song that encourages children to ‘dream too much’. In the chorus, she takes time to remind children both young and old that there is absolutely no way you can dream too much which, when you think about it, is actually a really nice sentiment. Too many of us grow up too fast, become cynical, throw our dreams away and forget that the imagination is the single greatest thing any person can possess. Encouraging children to go ahead and live in make-believe land is actually a really positive thing. Also, the song is catchy as all get-out, and you can definitely pick out Amy’s uniquely haunting voice. You can tell that her ear for a good tune hasn’t been tainted by her time away from the musical world. When she gets behind a piano and gets creative, she can churn out some nice songs no matter the target audience.

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Also lyrically featured in this frankly amazing song are sleeping muffins, a monkey in a band, flying sandwiches, a mystery train conductor and some very kindly jellyfish who help the listener build a watermelon tower. I can only assume Amy Lee is recounting stories her young son related to her, as the whimsical nature of the themes suggest the mind of a child in how random they are. If not, then she truly understands the way a child’s mind works better than some psychiatrists. Then again, she is a mother now, so why doesn’t it surprise me. Most shocking of all is her drastic change of image. Gone is her goth image. Before, panda eyes were a must for her. She wore black, and she would continue to do so until something darker came along. In recent pictures, though, she is smiling, wearing bright colours and actually looking as if she isn’t pissed off at the world. She still looks wonderful, though. A more mature version of me would say she looks radiant- certainly more attractive than before. Or maybe I’m just growing up and becoming miserable. Anyway, it just goes to show that you’re never too old to make a change in direction.

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If you’re curious, here is the video for ‘Dream Too Much’. It is just so lovely, as is the whole song, the message behind it, and indeed the message of Amy Lee’s whole new album. I still hope she comes back with Evanescence soon though, if nothing else than because I have some black skinny jeans somewhere that I want to squeeze into one last time!

John Turteltaub’s ‘Meg’: Ever wanted to see Jason Statham take on a Shark? Now you can!

Have you ever wanted to see a movie about a giant shark? Of course you have, and you’ve probably satiated that appetite by watching Jaws. Have you ever wanted to see a Jason Statham movie? Of course you have, and again, you probably satiated that urge by  watching The Transporter or its sequel, but strangely not the third one, because that movie shouldn’t rightfully exist. However, if you’re one of those niche people who has been longing for a movie featuring a giant shark and Mr Statham, then prepare to have your tiny little brain detonated in a bloody mass of grey and red. That’s because in March 2018, the cinematic world will be left both amazed and confused in equal measure when the movie Meg comes out.

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Contrary to popular belief, Meg is not a movie about least loved member of the Family Guy Griffin clan. Instead, from what little news has been released about it, it features Jason Statham in fully-buffed-out mode as he takes on a Megalodon- a gigantic prehistoric shark that basically looked like a Great White except bigger, badder and with way more teeth. Admit it- you didn’t even think that was possible. Scientists have even recently begun exploring the ocean depths to try and find evidence that the Megalodon still exists. Depending on the type of person you are, that is either fascinating or terrifying and absolutely nothing in between. This movie is tapping into that by pitting one of most iconic faces in modern action cinema against one of the most popular movie monsters- a fuck-off massive shark. The movie also stars Li Bing Bing, who was a leading face in 1911, and also has an impressive repertoire in her home country of China, and also a CGI shark that we cannot be absolutely sure won’t look terrible. Directing the movie is John Turteltaub, who usually takes control of family friendly actioners such as the awful Nicholas Cage engine The Sorceror’s Apprentice. Also set to star in the movie is Ruby Rose, who is also appearing in the last Resident Evil movie, and so may regret breaking away from Orange is the New Black to go to Hollywood, especially if this is the sort of dross she’s forced to get involved with.

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This worries me. Hopefully Disney won’t go anywhere near this movie. If they do, you can guarantee the shark will be misunderstood, will have a change of heart, and will end up helping the heroes out as they attempt to free the sea from a greater evil…or something. Maybe that fat queen Ursula from The Little Mermaid will go toe to toe with the creature in a bloodless fight that will actually end in a hug. It has Jason Statham and a shark in it, and so is it too much to ask that it has blood, guts, explosions and at least once scene where he punches the shark clean in the face? Interestingly, the movie is based on a book by author Steve Alten, and the likes of Jan de Bont (Speed), Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim) and Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel) were all attached as possible directors. It has been in development hell, but like all true classics, the waves of creative momentum could not be stopped. Thankfully, this clearly Oscar-worthy movie is coming to cinemas, and I am sure it will help cement Jason Statham as one of the most iconic and revolutionary actors of his age. There is absolutely no way, no way at all, that he is doing this movie for the money. No way.

Let’s not be too hasty to write this movie off, though. Let us not forget that Deadpool went through development problems, and it ended up making bucketloads at the box office, as well as receiving relatively decent critical reviews. Admittedly, that movie had a depth of source material whereas this movie has a pulp novel as inspiration. But even so, this movie will be fantastic. Don’t take it too seriously, and you’ll probably have a good time. I highly doubt it will be as bad as any of the Sharknado movies, and even they were good for a few laughs.

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The movie has Jason Statham fighting a giant, prehistoric shark. I can’t think of a single person on Earth who won’t want to get involved with this movie!

Why being hated isn’t the end of the world!

Some home truths: some people are just assholes.

A few weeks ago, I decided to attempt to right a few wrongs. Years ago, I was incredibly active on the Sonisphere forums- a pretty dead forum for a very dead festival. At the time, I posted a lot on there, arguably too much, to the point where- understandably- a lot of other users were annoyed. At Sonisphere 2010, I met up with a few of these people, and it would be more than fair to say that I didn’t hit it off with all of them. It was a combination of my own crippling lack of confidence- a lack of confidence that made me over compensate for things to an extreme amount- and the fact that these people just didn’t like me.

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Years later, after a diagnosis of anxiety, a troubled few years and a difficult relationship or two, my counsellor mentioned that it may be worthwhile apologising for some of my more annoying younger moments, and if that included apologising to forum members, then so be it. It wouldn’t do any harm, she said. She actually was right, in a way, but also wrong. So I did what she suggested- I posted on the forums, years after making my last post, with a thought out apology. I didn’t try to point the blame- I just apologised for the sheer abundance of posts I made. For a few days, I didn’t receive anything. That was fine by me. I hadn’t made the post to try and gather any sympathy- if I received no reply to it ever it wouldn’t matter. I had done it for closure, not for sympathy or attention.

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Anyway, about a week or so later, I received my first replies to the post. And no, they weren’t posts of support…almost universally they were sarcastic, damning or just downright rude. People said they didn’t care, that they hated me regardless. That hurt for a while, but then I dusted myself off, reminded myself that these are people that I haven’t met for years and largely have no intention of meeting again, and got on with my life. I had tried to apologise for something that, although not a heinous crime, was something I felt I wanted to set right. People hadn’t cared for an apology. Now, largely, if the apology doesn’t fit well for a person, they have every right not to accept it, but it is normally accepted as good practice to simply not respond, rather than reply with a tirade of hatred. It was at that point that I came to the conclusion that, sure, I’m far from perfect, but the Sonisphere forums were largely filled with absolute assholes. They had seen somebody apologise, open themselves up for ridicule, and had decided to descend like vultures and tear them apart. I’m not a baby- I’ve developed to a point where somebody saying something mean to me over the internet doesn’t ruin my day. It just got me thinking about life in general.

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No matter what good you do, no matter how many mistakes you make up for, the fact remains that people will always exist somewhere that hate you. It could be that you’re a bad person, it could be that THEY are a bad person, although it normally just works out that neither of you are bad people: you’re both just different people who clash for whatever reason. Unless you’re married to them, this won’t be a problem. You’ll either grin and be civil to each other for the sake of other people or you’ll just avoid each other like the plague.I’m far too old now to be worrying about what people think of me. I have a girlfriend, my family and my friends, and they all accept me for the person I am. I’m sometimes nervous, due to my anxiety, and I’m not afraid to say things as they are. They choose to surround me with their presence. I can be blunt, and I have a very dry sense of humour, but at the age of 25 it is unlikely I could change the person I am even if I wanted to. But the fact of the matter is this: I am far from perfect, and I am totally okay with that.

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The reason I likely annoyed those people from the forums when I met them in person was because I tried way too hard to impress them. I was anxious, I was young, I was convinced people hated me due to a lack of confidence and the aforementioned anxiety, and I tried to portray a version of myself that wasn’t accurate. I was magically happy, overly excitable and- for one poor forum friend who worked in welfare- only seconds away from a complete meltdown. I look back now and realise what a nuisance I was. But I also realise that the way I acted was a cry for help. I wanted someone to accept me, and I honestly believe all it would have taken was one kind soul to accept me and I would’ve been calmer through that whole weekend. But you live and you learn.It took longer than it should have, but I finally worked out that if a person didn’t like me- that was once I had found out who I actually wanted to be in the first place- then there wasn’t any point trying to convince them. Nowadays, I don’t give a fuck. Either like me, hate me, or just be annoyingly indifferent to me. Any of that is fine. I was born and one day I will die, and I don’t have enough time between those two points to worry about people who can’t grow to know me.

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So what I am trying to say, I suppose, is that sometimes people don’t like you, sometimes you won’t like them either, or sometimes they might just be assholes who seemingly don’t like anyone. Don’t let it ruin your life.

Love, live, and carry on regardless. You can guarantee they those people who dislike you aren’t wasting a second more thinking of you, so don’t waste a second more thinking about them.

October 15th 2016 football overview: a day of ups, downs and full blown corkscrews.

Football is such an emotional rollercoaster. One minute you’re up, one minute you’re down, and one minute you’re vomiting profusely all over the floor after one barrel roll too many. Okay, so maybe the last part was a bad analogy, but its fair that football has its fair share of ups and downs.

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Today saw quite a few of them. Newport County, who have yet to see double figures when it comes to points, came to Yeovil and watched as Tom Eaves bundled in a goal in the 80th minute to give Yeovil a valuable three points and yet another win at home. Newport fans will be gutted, and Yeovil fans will be happy. Rollercoaster. In the Man City vs Everton match, two decent goals were undermined by a fantastic goalkeeping performance from Everton shot-stopper Maarten Stekelenburg, who save not one, but two penalties to keep the sky blues at bay and take a valuable point. For Everton fans, that will be a huge point, and for Manchester City fans, it will represent a huge turning point in the season. If City fail to win the league, they will look back to matches like this and wonder why they couldn’t see the game out. After all, a penalty is the easiest chance to win the game. Being given a second chance and to successfully blow that too is just unforgivable.

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However, when it comes to sheer joy and despair, nothing comes close to the match that took place in Bournemouth this afternoon. During the week, Mike Phelan was appointed manager of Hull City on a permanent basis. By 5pm today, he was probably wishing he’d declined the job as his team were on the receiving end of a 6-1 drubbing. Hull fans will be wondering what happened, especially as the appointment of a manager put an end to weeks of indecision and at least gave the club a direction to head in. Eddie Howe and Bournemouth, though, will be jubilant. Hull were poor, admittedly, but Bournemouth weren’t to be denied, and their performance today is the best that they have managed all season. If they can play as emphatically at home as that again, they could easily emulate the performances of last season when they were seeing off the likes of Manchester United. Okay, so Hull will probably be near the bottom of the league by the end of the season, but six goals is six goals. Phelan, my man, you have a lot of work to do.

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Meanwhile, Swansea themselves 3-2 down and playing with real passion when Granit Xhaka was sent off for Arsenal, and they must have thought that the extra man advantage would make at least a point easy to achieve. That didn’t happen. If ever a team demonstrated their title credentials, then Arsenal did. To win a match with ten men and a team coming at you to try and equalise is a good performance, no matter which way you look it. Arsenal could yet have what it takes to grind out games and get those all important points of the board. Could Wenger do it in the twilight of his career? Swansea are in desperate trouble, and today’s match went from one full of hope to another bleak one. They will be wondering where the next win is going to come from, and they will also be sickeningly puzzled by how their team couldn’t get something today. Leicester, too, must finally be starting to believe that they won’t be winning the league again. Let’s be honest, they knew that it was unlikely to happen, but a 3-0 defeat today to a rampant Chelsea- a Chelsea who felt confident enough to bring on some youngsters from the bench to get them blooded into the first team- will not fill them with confidence. They will probably be too good to stay up, and they will have half an eye on the Champions League group stages, but today should be proof to any of the believers still left that Leicester don’t have it in them to defend the title. Especially not when they’re fighting on more than one front this time around.

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Finally, too, West Ham got a win. They went down to ten men but were already ahead, and they saw the game out against Crystal Palace to win. Okay, so the match was played at home- which doesn’t exactly solve their major problems at their new home stadium- but they do at least have three more points on the board. A win, is a win, is a win, as they say. Besides, if it gives them the confidence to go on a run and win matches in front of their home crowd, it could be the turn of form that they need. Most importantly is the fact that they’re out of the relegation zone. That is a morale boost if ever there was one. Finally,  Aston Villa shared a point with Wolves, with both teams being awarded penalties and scoring them. So Steve Bruce has at least stopped the rot at Aston Villa. There’s something to build on there.

So yeah. Once again the football was an up and down situation for all fans. But never fear: if your team lost, they might win next week. And if they don’t, there’s always alcohol. And it could be worse- no really, it could be. You could be a Newport County fan!