Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Perception, our place in society.

Perception is key when it comes to establishing your presence in society, both yours of others, and how indeed you are perceived yourself by others.
For example, take figures of authority. If you walked into a Police station and every officer was standing dressed in Nike joggers, hoodies, and a nice pair of Air 180's, you would have difficulty taking them seriously. The same way you would not expect to be taken seriously if you turned up at a job interview for an office position, in shorts and a t-shirt.

So lets look at perception. How and why is it SO important to us, and when did it start getting used almost as a weapon?

The power of perception all starts with human instinct, a brief, judgemental opinion formed of someone within seconds of laying eyes on them. Stereotyping people until we have an opportunity to get to know more about them. See a pan of water on the cooker, we assume it will burn us, then carefully test it to find out its just been put on and is cold.

We do the same with people. Society pigeon holes people, teaching us that casually dressed people care carefree, well dressed people are professional and respectable, and depending what side of the fence you sit on this one, people in uniforms with authority, namely the police are either trustworthy and a safe refuge, or untrusted, and will abuse us.

When you walk down a street at night, and see a group walking towards you your subconsciousness kicks into overdrive. Scanning, looking for clues as to what part of society these people come from, do they pose a risk, should you take action. Cross over, turn around, or keep on walking to get a better idea before deciding. Depending on your experiences, you will be compelled by what you have learned from previous encounters. Those who have been victims of any sort of street crime are likely to cross away as soon as they make visual contact on the group.

Sadly, some groups in society have learned this, and perceive it as power, and a crazy form of respect. Having the ability to make people cross the road just because of the way you dress and behave. For example, the hoodie! Frowned upon by society, shrouding the wearers face from most angles. Hiding away their expression and making it nigh on impossible to get a read on them. Because of the media coverage, and the aggressive manner people who wear them are perceived behave, the average Joe on the streets will avoid contact with groups wearing hoodies. And if the situation necessitates them passing close by, all items of value will be hidden away, eye contact avoided, and pace increased.

To gangs perception has become key. Stamping their authority on neighbourhoods, using peoples perceptions of them against them. No longer to they need to actually do anything wrong, we just see them and fear them.

But for some this was not enough, and the fight for a positive perception within groups and gangs has now taken over. Infighting if you will.
Not content with being feared by society, the fight has now erupted from within. The knives and other weapons once used to instil fear on others outside the group, for fun or gain, have now turned inwards, and the fighting has begun.
This is not to say that all victims of knife crime are in a gang, far from it in fact. But the fighting from within has caused a lot of the members of the gangs to start carrying weapons.
Weapons which in turn, change a simple street altercation into a fatal or life changing incident.

I have never believed violence is the answer. Going from a road rage incident I was once caught up in, with the driver of the other vehicle feeling that having not been able to over take me for half a mile, warranted a fight (strange people), to a recent disagreement on the internet turning into threats and suggestions of "sorting this out face to face" Ironically the debate which caused the disagreement was on violence.

However, as the years have gone by, situations which were once finished with a cheeky sucker punch, and a black eye, have now turned into "I know, I have I knife, that will teach him". The cowards way, the easy way, or just the most idiotic and irresponsible decision and action a person can make. Ending a simple altercation with someone, in fact a whole group of peoples, lives being changed forever.

Having watched CCTV, and read witness accounts of some truly devastating assaults over recent years, it is abundantly clear that this knife carrying society is here, and is determined to stay for as long as it can.

So we go back to perception.....
In society we all make a decision, be it conscious or subconsciously , to make an impression on others. We don't see how we look for 99% of the day, so what we wear, how we walk, and how we behave is instead all a show. A show for others. Out for the night, impress the ladies, job interview, impress the potential boss, and so on. Clothing plays a key role, as it is a massive visual key for others to associate with.
Then there is how we walk and behave. Body language plays a huge part too. As we watch someone walking, we assess how much personal space of others they respect, body checking and barging is a sure sign that this person is bad news. Respectfully standing aside, being alert of your surroundings, paints a totally different picture.

Of course, all these reads we make on someone in the split second that it takes can all be terribly wrong. And we come back to stereotyping, the man in the hoodie knocking into people as he runs down the street, could in fact be a plain clothes police officer chasing that well dressed man you just passed, who you assumed was running for a bus.

I guess what I am trying to say here is two things, but they work against each other.

Perception IS key, for a fraction of a second. It tells us how to react, and what to expect from someone we perceive as friend or foe.
However perception is flawed, as society teaches us to pigeon hole people, and who to avoid, it also teaches others how easy it is to commit perception fraud. Making yourself to be something you are not is the easy part. Sadly backing up the threat your image paints is where it gets messy.
Proving a point, making a stand, and showing others that you deserve the respect you demand. Carrying a weapon, using violence, just for another step up the ladder.
Finding someone innocent to your behaviours. Unsuspecting and vulnerable, and using them to display how tough you are, is really just proving how weak you are.

Knife crime is nothing new, it will never disappear fully, but for now it is getting out of control. Maybe the media are over reporting it, over inflating the seriousness in our minds. Maybe it really is on the up and getting to a point of being uncontrollable, who knows.

So I will sum up this random ramble with this.
As much as you can fool someone with your image, make them perceive you as a dangerous threat, let me put this to you...

Fear is NOT respect.
Violence does NOT earn respect
Respect is earned, and earned from decent people, not low life thugs who you look up to in some strange way, because you in turn fear them. Break the cycle!

My parting question. How do YOU want to be perceived, and how do you thing people actually perceive you?
Confident, vulnerable, confused, confrontational......

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Allow me to introduce myself. (Edited)

Since writing this piece, I realised it was both rushed and full of holes, so have come back to edit it, and fill in a few gaps.

I thought I would quickly write this, just as an introduction to me and my background. Following on from a fantastic, constructive conversation on Twitter recently, I thought it only fair that I show my true colours. So here goes.

I was born in Lewisham Hospital 14th Feb 1973, to a single mother. Becoming the youngest of 2 children. Growing up on Homecroft Road in Sydenham, it would be a lie to say things were rosy.
My father never played a part in my life, while knowing where we lived, and having the financial means to make life a lot easier, I believe it was his choice not to contribute. The separation and divorce was finalised prior to this anyway, so a live in dad was never on the cards. Choosing to spend his life with his new wife, and later on his son. Meeting him just the once that I recall, on a train heading into town, along with my sister. The destination was my nan's house. Again, I have very little recollection of the day, other than remembering I was not happy at all, it was not all I had ever dreamed of. Awkward and upsetting, and cemented my opinions of him. And also fixed in my mind that I would never do what he had done.

Mum did her best to provide for us, but with things like toasted burger buns with tomato ketchup as a meal, times were hard. On a good month, money would be squirrelled away, and a roast chicken would be the prise dinner of the month, on a Sunday of course. I would say all the trimmings, but a tin of carrots and a couple of potatoes was about all that went with it. We didn't starve, not for one second, but then free school dinners and milk etc were a real life line back then. I remember mum coming to see the teachers at school and telling them if I didn't want to eat, let me go hungry. I soon learned!
Obviously in the late 70's schools were quite strict, and there was no play time without eating something first. Needless to say I spent a lot of time in the dinner hall, and little time running about. Consequently I became the chubby kid in class. Asthma was diagnosed quite early on in one of my many trips to hospital and the doctors, and weight would blight me for years to come.

Other little gems during early years are below.

  • Being knocked down by a car, getting small head and foot injuries at the age of 3. I escaped by running out the side gate to cross the road to show everyone my new plaster... Ended up with more than a plaster.
  • Being hit by another car years later, getting up and running away telling the driver I was fine (I was)
  • Numerous broken wrists through being a little boy, slipping on ice, falling off a bike. The last one I hid for 2 days because I didn't want my mum getting mad at me. Eventually the pain and swelling became too much.
  • Punching my hand through a window, accidentally of course, as my sister shut the window to stop me getting in, I just didn't manage to stop in time.
  • Snapping a pencil lead off in my thumb and having it dug out with a needle at the hospital.
  • Oh, not forgetting having a ruptured testicle due to them twisting (just thought I would throw that one in there)

The list above is just what springs to mind at this precise moment, believe me there are plenty more little gems from those days. Needless to day, Sister Bell at Sydenham Childrens Hospital got to know me very well, to the point where she would fill out all my admission information without asking a question.

As hard as mum tried, there was always a balance to be found in anything we could do. Not being particularly outwardly social herself due to deafness, activities were based on this not being an issue, along with sporting a slipped disc, leaving her in considerable pain at times. But we always came first and she tried very hard to give us what we needed.

Occasionally when mum's back got really bad we would be looked after by social services. Sometimes in house, other times staying with families. Never for a long period that I recall, and living with another family for a few days wasn't so bad. At that age it felt like just some more friends. Then there was the live in care, can't say for one second that was a good time at all.One name springs to mind, Millie, and one smell, burning ironing. That's about my recollection of the misery of that, other than feeling very sad a lot of the time.

Television, toys, and fancy clothes were all just a dream. However with careful spending of the ILEA vouchers issued to get us school uniforms, sometimes there would be enough for some jeans to last the year. Bring a toy to school day at the end of term was always a little depressing, with all the other kids coming in with nice new toys just for that day, and me, well.... Occasionally I would have something, but as kids we shared, so I was never left out. All I can remember about those times is some weird helicopter game, where you changed the height to avoid obstacles and pick up magnetic objects. Don't ask me!!

Troubled at school for being the overweight, asthmatic, who wore old tatty clothes. Questioned if I was living with my nan, because mum looked older than the rest of the mums, having had me at 35. But as I grew older and stronger shall we say, I learned not to get too upset by the other kids comments, and made some great friends at primary school. Paul Jefferies, Joseph Ford, Simon Davies and Richard Frith were the lads I knocked about with when I could. Happy days had arrived.

None the less, looking back I had a positive childhood and learned much about the difference between need and want. Material objects have their place, but are no immediate priority.

When I reached 8 we moved to Forest Hill, where I still live today.
Moving here was a change of life, lots more kids, loads of influences, pressures and things to get involved in. As I reached my teens, staying out all night, running amok, getting known by the police, encouraging a chase from them, it was just the done thing. However I managed to stay out of trouble for most of the time.
Avoiding the temptations of cigarettes, drugs and alcohol, I was one of the few kids from my generation, in fact I am tempted to say the only one, who avoided all of them. The pressure was there, but my interest wasn't.
Growing up on the street I would have to say David Maloney was my best friend, spending a lot of our younger years kicking about together, sharing trips into London to wander around Hamleys and St Pauls. Getting a Red Bus Rover ticket and spending the day travelling around on buses, seeing the sights, having a little adventure. There is a funny story to tell regarding one of these trips, but I will allow David some dignity lol.

As we reached secondary school, I went off to Malory miles away, shunning the opportunity to have scholarships to a couple of private schools. Meanwhile most others went to the local Forest Hill Boys school. The upside to going to a school miles away was, along with the free school dinners I still received, I also now got a term time free bus pass, making those Red Bus Rover trips even cheaper. However I would be lying if I said secondary school was a fantastic adventure. Sure we had some great times, but with sports becoming harder and harder, with asthma and allergies causing all sorts of problems, the weight piled on, and obviously, being secondary school, the name calling started.

Now I was not bullied at school, that just isn't the case, but I was the butt of a fair few jokes, earning nicknames etc, which made bad days harder. None the less, when push came to shove I would always stand my ground, and stand for what I believed in. A quality which has stuck with me for life.
There isn't much more to say about school, other than pretty much a straight A student, always released from class detentions as I was seen as non disruptive, and felt like I got on well with most of the kids and teachers. Only ended up in the heads office the once, and that was thanks to Mario Cameron being wound up, and me ending up with a split lip.

Unfortunately, on reaching the year of my exams, I decided I knew better, started hanging around with some slightly older people, and ducked out of school a few months before my exams. So here I am now, not one academic qualification to my name.
That same year, I also decided it was a good time, now approaching a responsible age, to get arrested and charged with an offence. Court came and went, bed advice from a solicitor, so here I am today, with a criminal record. Albeit dissolved by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, but still present enough to affect my direction in life at times. My application to work in the Met stonewalled at the final leg by the record. The years after that are just a bit of a blur, with nothing amazing happening, other than getting my first job just before I turned 16, being made redundant by the time I was 16 and a half, and falling into the folds of Sainsburys, where I would remain for 6 years. Great times there.

As I grew older and watched the younger generation in my area making the same decisions, following the same paths as some of the more troublesome kids I grew up with, I made the effort to spend time with them, chatting with them on the same wall I grew up sitting out on til the small hours. Looking at most of them now, calmed down, families of their own, working hard, and making something of their lives, the small reward of time spent with them is great.

Reaching my twenties, the birth of my daughter was a wake up call, and also a very painful time in my life. From finally understanding what responsibility was, caring for someone so precious, through to having that ripped away from me, out of my control. From separation, through sharing custody , to losing all contact with my daughter, my twenties were a painful life lesson. Not something I would wish on anyone.

For the next however many years, I have always tried to do the right thing, from getting involved in the neighbourhood, helping people in need where chance arises. Caring for my mum in  her  4 year battle with cancer was tough for sure. From the first day of her saying she found the lump, but didn't want any treatment, through the appointments for diagnosis, treatments and surgery, all seemed necessary at the time, but took their toll. Only realising how bad a state I was in towards the end of her life.
Fighting severe depression for the last 18 months of mums life was a tough one. Trying to find the balance between a normal life, watching someone you know and are now living with slowly slip away from you. Never nice, and I have huge respect for all the people caring for loved ones in their families with life long or terminal conditions. No pity required, its just life really, but it's not been easy or uninvolved for sure.

I think if you checked the log of calls to 999 over the years, there will be dozens from me. Not just nosey neighbour stuff. Quite a few active involvements in the arrests of drunk drivers, one particular one being the sister of a well know violent family. After appearing in court, I was really not the favourite for quite some time.
Foot chase with a gun man, a 20 min conversation and eventual talk down of a self harming man intent on taking his life as he walked up my road. Thankfully most of his cuts were superficial. A number of serious RTA's, helping treat and calm casualties. When I look back I can honestly say one thing, I am not afraid to get involved when the opportunity arises. Never thinking twice about getting stuck in to whatever was needed in the moment.

I would like to think that as the years have gone by, any signs of my upbringing, and bitterness about coming from such a poor background, have dissolved away. Leaving behind a strong willed, open minded, straight talking, responsible adult man. Of course, this isn't obvious to all.

Hope this has been an interesting and informative read.

One final thought.
Its sadly ironic that the reason for writing this whole thing, opening up and spilling more info about me on the internet, is because of an exchange with someone who while they talk of the positive work they do to help better communities, and give people a chance, judges, calls names, and mocks someone they know nothing about. All because our opinions differ.

I have made this entry, as with all my other blogs over the years, to put information on me out there on the internet. Call it attention seeking, or an open book. Whatever you call it, finding information on me and my life online is not hard to do, and I am quite happy for people to do so for whatever purpose they see fit.
All I would ask is, if you don't have all the information to make a genuine balanced judgement on me, just ask. I have no secrets, but can't stand when people assume, make up stories, or just get carried away with what the reality of me really is.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

"You don't understand"

Nope, you're right, I don't understand at all. I don't understand some peoples insistence that only THEY understand a situation, and you could not possibly begin to get it because of your are, sex, location, beliefs etc. Single minded thinking, refusing to believe that someone else can possibly have any understanding of something is in itself a root problem in resolving issues.

Before this gets too confusing, I shall be a bit more specific.

Yesterday around midday, an 18 year old lad was stabbed in the chest on Sydenham High Street outside the Co-Op in SE26. The air ambulance was called and landed just up Mayow Road, and the area was closed off. Sadly in the early hours of the morning the lad passed away from his injuries. My condolences go to the friends and family who have lost a young loved one in such a tragic manner.

In the midst of this lad fighting for his life, and the police scrambling to get answers quickly and the suspect(s) in custody, Twitter and Facebook had the whole situation wrapped up and solved in a tidal wave of guesses, assumptions, sweeping statements, and opinions. Daring to question any of these would result in a true internet flaming.

Taking some time to read through some of these posts, and interact and respond to a few of them, one thing became very obvious. People have opinions set in concrete and refuse to be moved on them. Its gangs, its racist, its estate wars, whatever the opinion, it was vague and sweeping. Tarring all with the same brush, and stating that there was no hope, and no end in sight.
Well with that attitude and jumping so quickly to conclusions, you are right, and also a cause of the vicious circle of violence and retribution.

Something has clearly gone wrong in society, there is no doubt about that at all, but playing the blame game, or the I know best line isn't going to solve a thing. Nor is locking your doors and hiding away from it all in the belief that it all ends in some kind of Armageddon. Truth it, its not!

I realise plenty are just airing their misguided concerns, and others a fearful of what awaits their growing youngsters when they reach the age of independence. However living in fear only perpetuates the cycle. People not wanting to speak out, give information to the police, or speak to anyone about things they know, just in case someone comes for revenge. "Snitches get stitches" etc. The same old one liners that have been touted around for decades, yet 99.9% of people giving evidence in court, even against some of the most dangerous people and families are still walking amongst us today, without so much as even a nasty letter or phone call.
Of course revenge is real, and people seek retribution, but the fear of it is far more common, and a thousand times more powerful.

So taking the above point into account, it is really sad to see people totally uninvolved in matters throw such comments and empty threats around Twitter and Facebook. You are not involved, you play no part in the situation. Take your wannabe gangsta comments and threats and go away. People like this strive to belong, be a part of something, and somehow want to be portrayed as dangerous. Believing it gives them power and respect. Well let me set the record straight here, respect it earned, not demanded. Fear, yup you can command that with cowardly actions like internet threats, empty aggressive behaviour, and strutting around like you are a someone. But it is nothing more than respect for cowards. Worthless keyboard warrior.

Then there are those who preach there is no hope, all hope is lost, and it will spiral into self destruction.
For starters, growing up in the area (i.e within a mile of the scene) for the whole 42 years of my life, I would like to say I have seen the changes and am aware of the situation. Some would disagree, somehow saying that my age means I have lost touch with the youth and the area, and am unqualified to speak on such matters. A sweeping statement I might say, and one that again just categorises and dismisses me without any consideration or knowledge of me. Just simple rejection.
Having been interested in and involved with the police from an early age, and being quite socially aware (i'm not blinkered, I realise some things have gone un-noticed by me) I like to think that I am open minded and somewhat in touch. Taking the time to speak to the police on a regular basis, discuss goings on around the area, and play an active role in crime reduction where possible, in any way required.

Sadly the toughest crowd are the youths, gangs, crowds, crews, call them what you may.
The South East struggles with various on going anti-social and violent behaviours, as well as the "usual" street robberies, burglary and car crime that it.
Put a higher than normal density of young people in a small area, make them believe that they somehow have to matter more than the next person. Give them unrealistic goals to achieve, be it wealth, material items or fake respect. Then watch how it all unravels. Groups form, a mini power struggle ensues, and from within that, another struggle to be the head of the now group evolves. Human nature you might say, survival of the fittest, but on steroids.
But what is causing all this? Why suddenly has society exploded with hundreds of mini empires, and people wanting to believe that they have the right to stamp their authority on others, with threats of violence or unwanted behaviour?

From riding around on moped and motorcycles with no crash helmets on, popping wheelies in traffic, jumping lights and snatching the occasional mobile phone or bag on the way, to hanging around in gangs, carrying weapons, and intimidating others to do as you say, or at least never speak ill of you, there is a wide span of things going on, certainly in the South East which all need addressing.

But how?

Well that IS the question of the moment, and indeed a large quandary. While the adults run about like headless chickens blaming governments of days gone by, preaching that the current government are failing the youth of today. Blaming parents, and quoting back to days gone by when youngsters stood for older people on the buses, or leaving your front door unlocked. None of this helps. While people are out there shouting, posturing and blaming, the youth look on for guidance and find nothing. Nothing that is other than the generation before them rioting, "solving" issues, or having a voice with, yup, you guessed it, violence and disorder. Masks on, bricks in hands, the right to protest is exercised by vandalism, property damage, and running amok. Taunting the police who have been told NOT to intervene. not to appear heavy handed, and to gather intelligence and strike later when its all calmed down.

So I think we are starting to see where some of these groups get their ideas of disorder from. Not totally of course.

There is no over night solution, there is no quick fix, but there is hope. There is always hope.
Somewhere in the not to distant future the infighting and bickering, within the groups who can actually influence change, will stop, and sensible open discussion on what can be done to calm the situation will begin.

There is much talk that its the lack of parenting, open spaces, opportunities, employment, funding and so on, that is to blame for the situation. Individually none of that is true, but together it makes sense. There ARE without a doubt some terrible parents out there, not only leading by very poor example, and influencing their kids to behave in a totally unacceptable manner, but also those with little or no interest in their kids behaviour when outside the house. Poor school reports, exclusions, getting in trouble with the police and so on, with little or no consequence. On the flip side there are parents out there working 2 jobs and every hour god sends, to try and provide a stable home for their children. Some sadly unaware that the child is up to no good, and too exhausted at the end of the day to pick up on the signs and markers displayed during their short time with their child at home.

The hands off approach in schools has not helped particularly, with kids thinking they can behave in any way they so choose, again with little consequence. Violence and aggression towards teaching staff, assaults on them too. Somehow over the generations, as the ability for leading figures, such as teachers, police officers, and others figures of authority, to have any form of intervention other than saying "stop that", so the youth has stretched their reaches, daring to push the boundaries further and further, until we are where we are today. Again this is not "the cause", a high percentage of kids of school age show a lot of respect towards such figures, but the minority have the loudest voice. Setting the example, showing what is possible, and tempting others to join them in their unruly ways.

Government, well I guess at some point there is a level of responsibility for society in general, but to feel there is something that they could do, that they are not is maybe a little misguided. There is no magic fix. Suddenly offering every member of a gang or group a job is not going to dissuade them from their ways. Why work 40 hours a week for what you can earn in a few hours, grabbing a purse or phone, or swiping someones motorbike. Stereotyping at its finest there I know, but its just an example. Forget their age for a moment, and just look at how many battle to stay ON benefits, because working a long week to be in the same financial position just is not appealing.

That doesn't make that thought process right of course, from experience I would rather be working than sitting around, and would rather have the pride and rightly earned respect of working for a living, rather than living on handouts, and demanding the state supports me. But again, just like the riots and yobbish behaviour of the older generation, the same applies to the "why bother" attitude of the youth and their older generation. The example set is very much why work when you can be given it all on a platter. Mix that with the ability to impose fear on others for gain, and you are doing quite well for yourself.

I could ramble on all day about this, and air all my own opinions, but in fairness the whole point is, its an open platform, and it awaits all those with an opinion, a voice, and something to say and contribute to the melting pot, which in turn might one day become the beginning of the improvement.

All is not lost, other than the heads of some, and the common sense of others. So lets gather our thoughts, get involved, and start to understand the situation from all perspectives, and not just the single track, narrow minded view that we currently hold on it.
Pigs DON'T like living in mud, but common perception teaches that they do. Kids DON'T all like being in gangs, carrying weapons and scaring the elderly. But the media and some loud voices on social media would like you to believe that it is all a child strives for these days. It's nothing more than a way of life to most, and a way of life they would happily shake off if they were offered the sense of belonging they somehow falsely feel when surrounded by those in gangs and groups on the streets.

I'm not going to go as far as hug a hoodie. I won't try and preach that we can all play a part in this. Truth is, we cant. But I will say one thing, and something that I believe strongly in, and I guess is the point of this whole blog.

The negative press, the negative comments, judgements, and beliefs of the youth in society today. Yes they are as much to blame for their own behaviour as any parent, role model, or other influential figures in their lives. But to condemn a whole generation to the gutter, to believe that every child or youth on the street is armed, means you harm, and will grow up to be a criminal is probably THE most damaging influence on society out there right now.

Stop the pigeon holing, stop the judgements based on the actions of others, and open your mind a little. If you care enough to have an opinion, try and care enough to have an influence on this lost generation and help make the change. One baby step at a time.

Feel free to air your own opinions on this post right here, anonymous always welcome. Although try and keep it constructive. Or if you are reading this on Twitter and think it makes sense or is a load of rubbish, feel free to share or say.

Thanks for reading, and please, don't give up.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

F1 is a fix....FACT*

*All facts gathered from people claiming to be genuine F1 and driver fans.

So there you have it, straight from the mouths of unbiased, well informed fans of the sport, the whole thing is just a big show, which is fixed and predetermined by powerful people, with the wins going to the highest bidder. (or something like that)

I thought I would write this blog in order to address some of the questions (in the form of abusive posts) I have received on a simple comment on the Mercedes F1 teams Facebook page.

It read a little something like this..

One question for the angry Hamilton fans out there. If it's foul play, if it's a fix, if it's the plan to have Nico as world champion...... Why is Lewis Hamilton the current world champion, with the same team they were both with last season. And while you are at it, why the hell would Mercedes have just given Lewis another 3 year contract? 
Bad ending to the race, not the first time it has happened in F1, won't be the last. Now get a grip, and move on to Canada like the rest of the fans. 
Thank you Mercedes for having the decency to speak to the fans direct, and offer answers. To the proper questions at least. 

The point I was trying to make was actually quite simple. People were batting around the idea that Mercedes want a German champion, but if that were the case, why is Lewis the current world champion, with the same team and team mate as last year. If Mercedes yearn for this German driver in a German car match up so much. And why indeed have they just RE-signed Lewis for 3 more years.

At no point have I attacked a driver or individual within the team. Some of the replies were constructive, others a little less so, heck some people even went as far as reallocating people a new nationality in order to make their point.. Apparently Toto Wolff is now German. Anyway, I was saying about the fans and their facts that its a fix. And of course the fans and their comments.

Here are a couple of replies I received.

Sherry Ann Ramroop If it was a fix?????Did you see the look on Lewis face?????

Jayme Zazworsky-Opincar If it's not a fix, are we to assume they honestly can't do basic math? Because that's what their error comes down to.....

Riki EspadroniThis one is easy hahaha! Because he is a FAR superior driver to Rosberg. Something that is obvious to everyone but Nico fans and people who hate Hamilton just because. How would you like to have driven a masterful race only to have some idiot mess it up? Hamilton is supposed to be a "good little boy" and high five? A 20+ second lead on a tight course is major. Not to mention his qualifying time was 1.4 seconds off of the track record with a V6 hybrid. Stop being so foolish...
Keira FoxI dont hate Nico or think it was a fix. However I do believe someone needs a headbutt for being such a dufus. Honestly, even if Nico and Seb pitted, Lewis would still have easily won because his tyres were only 30 laps old and right before the race people were saying the compound was quite hard for Monaco and the prime would do all 78 laps if needed. Therefore Lewis tyres would have been fine to hold 1st place for 10 laps. Can I also state I think Grosjean was more to blame than Verstappen, Anyone else agree? I really think the penalty was OTT
Mouna Mardini I think you have short memory ,last year was even worst for Lewis with a lot of sabotage...the only reason Lewis is the champion is because he is the better driver and nothing changes that fact

A mixed bag im sure you agree.

My personal favourites come from another post, which I was told a little about myself

Lovely people, so polite. I love constructive conversations.

Right, so lets look at the facts now. F1 is indeed a fix, a show, nothing more.

Lets for the sake of the Monaco argument take Mercedes F1
Lewis and Nico both drove for Mercedes F1 in 2014. Lewis fought off all challenges, including some high profile questionable moments of the season, and reigned victorious, claiming his second F1 Championship. There were moments of bad blood, and some great wheel to wheel racing, but in 2014 the best man won. Fact..

This year however, with events at Monaco, it is now being suggested that Mercedes F1 want a German champion in their German car, for the German team. With the late pit stop being put down to team tactics to fabricate a win for the German driver by some, this is the factual basis of the title of this blog entry.


Its flawed.
IF F1 is a fix, IF Mercedes are orchestrating the races to generate the winners they want... Then in fact Lewis was handed the 2014 F1 Championship on a plate.
Now I know the immediate answer to this is written above, Lewis is the far superior driver, and won under his own steam. Well in my books, yes I agree, he did win fair and square, as fair as you can get in motor racing anyway. But you can't have your cake and eat it. If its a fix, then its a fix, and Lewis was handed 2014. If its not a fix, then stop crying about a simple and bad decision by the team.

The team said from the start of the saga "we messed up", Lewis said from the off "we win together, we lose together" and stated he too was in on the decision. Lauda expressed his anger at a bad decision. What more do people want to realise it was a genuine mistake.

But lets say for a second it WAS a fix, that it was done on purpose. Lets look at that.
First up, at what point was this fix masterminded? Was Max Verstappen in on the ploy? Did Torro Rosso agree to throw millions of pounds of car into a barrier, along with risking young Max's life, to help another German team win one race? Did an evil genius leave a note on the pit wall saying "Open only if there is a safety car towards the end of the race, Lewis is winning and Nico is within 20 seconds"..With instructions on how to call Lewis in, brainwash him into agreeing it was the right call etc?

Speaking of Lewis, he said he made a bad call himself, he said he thought the others were pitting. People have responded saying the team could have at least told him that this was not the case. OK, fair enough, they could have. But Lewis said he thought he saw something on a screen indicating it was fact, so why would he even question it? Why waste time on pointless conversation when you know something? Actually, was there even time to have such a discussion.
Its so easy playing devils advocate on these matters, but F1 cars move kinda fast, there is only one pit entry, in reality only one pit window to use during the safety car. For example if Lewis saw the screen a couple of corners before the pit entry, hit the radio button and said, guys im coming in for tyres, by which point he was approaching the it entry, there would be little time to say no, and losing a lap of opportunity would be suicide in itself.

So lets be real about this for a second. As painful as it is to see a win just slip away like that. An incident over which Mercedes had no bearing occurred, causing a virtual then actual safety car. Lewis thought he saw Nico and Seb pitting via a screen around the track, thinking on his toes, not wanting 2 cars with new tyres challenging him on the restart, he called in for tyres. The team agreed with the decision, failing to identify that it would put him out behind them by a close margin. Was the question ever asked about Nico pitting? Who knows. Did it have bad consequences, clearly yes. Is Nico somehow involved in this "ploy", was he always the hopeful recipient of a gifted win, unlikely.

Its F1, its fast, furious, arse clenching, seat of the pants decision making. Sometimes people get it wrong. No conspiracy, no fixing.

Lewis took it very well, behaved admirably, and conducted himself with dignity in the face of a soul crushing loss, which he accepts some blame for. So why oh why do so many people insist on making it out to be something that it wasn't. Mistakes happen, lessons are learned, drivers and teams move on. Maybe its time the fans (and me) did too.
Put it to bed people, let it go, and look forwards to Lewis' fight back in Canada, defending his points lead and indeed his title.

Oh one last thing.. Nico and his celebration. It was hardly over dramatic, not theatrical, and he said himself he was blessed and very lucky, possibly his luckiest ever. Humble but victorious. This is Monaco, the show stopper, the cat walk, the show reel for the big money in F1. Its an awful race, one that possibly should not even be considered a race anymore, but never the less its a necessary evil on the calender. So boring in fact that I stopped watching half way through on Sunday.
For Nico to have taken the trophy then sat on the step sulking, or not smiled or celebrated would have been improper and borderline offensive to the waiting crowd.
Im sure if some of the mature folk who have commented on my Facebook comments were there, they would have welcomed him with booing and jeering, just to show how mature they really are. Thankfully the crowd were genuine F1 fans, and showed some respect.

In short, the summary of the above.
Shit happens, its a sport. Get over it.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Formula 1, Nico Rosberg, and Lewis Hamilton

Its been a while since I have written a blog, certainly a long time since I have felt compelled to air my views on something so strongly. Not that my voice matters, but its boiling up inside of me so here goes.

My feelings on Lewis Hamilton have changed back and forth over the years. In times of frustration he has been known to sulk a little and seems to have gained a reputation with the negative media for being childish and a dummy spitter.
That said, time after time Lewis has shown himself to be an amazing driver, a great personality, and a deserving winner of both races and championships. As time has gone on I have realised that all in all he is a good guy, great at what he does, but just a little complex to read at times. Emotions show through and he is being a baby, hide them and he is being arrogant.

Then there is Nico. For me I have always seen Nico as a genuine guy, heart on his sleeve and saying it as he sees it. Happy times, sad times, whatever he is feeling is what is shown on the front. Rarely bitter in defeat, but not unheard of, Nico strikes me as someone who strives to have a good PR game, and tries to perform with grace. He has shown he has the spirit to win at times. However over recent times he seems to have been a little down trodden and settle for #2.

So Monaco..... Last year we had the lock up and over shoot scandal. Forcing his way to pole, ruining Lewis's chances of the position, and therefore stealing the race. A year later, the jury is still out on the matter, with different "experts" batting their feelings on the matter around again on the build up to this years race. Sky F1 for example, Johnny Herbert did 5 mins on the surface and approach to the corner this year, showing undulations in the surface, suspension bouncing, body flexing, and explaining how some favour the right to avoid uneven loads. This was followed by OvershootGate with all the theories once again resurfacing. Even though it had just been explained.

This year, pretty clear cut quali, Nico locking up a couple of times, but no impeding anyone in doing so. Lewis takes pole. Phew!
Or so we thought!

Half way through a rather dull race, I decided to go and wash my cars, so knew nothing of what would happen in the last 12 laps or so. Reading a comment on Facebook I realised that positions had changed, and looking at social media, could see it was getting messy already. Watching the highlights a short while later, there it was, Max having a huge crash (glad he is ok), safety car, and with so little time left, a strange decision by the team and Hamilton to pit.... Was passing at Monaco ever really that much of a threat.
In post race interviews, both the team and Lewis took part of the blame for the decision, and agreed it was a very badly thought out one, with dire consequences. How communication could have been so bad I don't know, but shit happens, and mistakes are made. That's just how it goes. You win some, you lose some. At times you take a gamble and it blows up in your face.

So post race, interviews with the media showed a rather disappointed Lewis Hamilton, and rightly so, and a very happy, and somewhat gracious (or I saw it that way) Nico Rosberg. From the first interview he sung Lewis praises, empathised as he is able to do, and said Lewis deserved the win.

So, so far, its a race, with an unexpected outcome, a disappointed driver, a happy driver, and a team in conflict with itself. All as expected there then really.

Now lets look at the fans....WOW !

As I have said I am all for backing someone and supporting them, even defending them (even though they don't know me, and probably don't care about my thoughts)
But some people take it all a little too far.. No scratch that, some people take it WAY too far. With personal attacks on the drivers (people they know little about), spiteful comments, and I would think that they even make the person they are supporting cringe a little with some of the comments made.

Lets take a look at a few of the comments posted on Nico Rosberg's Facebook page...

Henry Felix Mwesigwa Shame upon you Nico for the celebrations you made to day in Monaco as if u had won the race when actually u were just cheated into winning the race. Total shame and embarrassment to Mercedes team. U can cheat into winning but can't break Lewis Hamilton's fighting spirit and talent.

Mark Jones Learn to win with grace , you did not deserve to win , so why celebrate like that , I'm sorry but you came across as smug , when really you hould have been more humble and realise the situation you were in , that's why your not a champion

Christina Justice Gillardo Thank Mercedes for handing you the win that you absolutely DID NOT deserve!!! Lewis is a better person and driver than you will ever be.

There are many more where these came from.

One of the biggest complaints, from what I assume are the Hamilton fans is how Nico behaved on the podium. Huge celebrations.
Lets be honest for a second here about a couple of things.
Firstly, this is Monaco, EVERYTHING is big and overdone in Monaco, its the F1 showcase, its the fashion show, the catwalk of Formula 1. The race itself is generally a huge parade, with little overtaking or position changing, unless there is some bad luck.
Secondly, a win IS a win, you can't deny that. Gifted or fought for, crossing the line first is what matters. In the rules, a mistake was made by a team, no one cheated or broke rules. Nico crossed the line first, so celebrate. I imagine there would be even more fury if Nico had "stolen" the win, then refused to show any excitement or celebration in doing so.

At this point I would hazard a guess that Lewis and all other drivers would love to distance themselves from the true haters out there. We all have cheeky snipes, and comments about the ones we don't want to win, god only knows how many jabs I have taken at Hamilton over time, especially when he has acted like a child, or that play the race card moment he had.

I just don't understand where so much anger and hatred comes from in these people, especially given that 99.9% have never met and probably never will meet both their idol and their adversary. Having an opinion on something is all well and good, I mean, look at me typing away. But going to town, assassinating someone's character, judging them far beyond the limitations of the track and sport, and in some peoples cases, obsessing to the extend of hunting out every piece of positive media on someone, and airing an opinion on it, shooting them down with hatred and contempt. That's is borderline worrying.

For me, sadly, this has all become part of modern day sport. Social media is a wonderful thing, self expression, joining a global conversation, airing an opinion. All welcome for sure. But them some take it to a whole other level.

For me, Monaco, Mercedes, Lewis and Nico...
Merc brought a great package to the race, and gave themselves the best possible start. Lewis drove away from the start and controlled the race, as he does so well. Nico stayed close enough to take advantage of any mistakes by driver or team. The mistake was made, Nico was in the right place, gained from the error, and took the flag.
Nico's post race comments were very generous to Lewis, humble in the win, praise for his team mate who he said deserved the win.
Lewis was pretty restrained, not much he could say about the situation, but was nice not to see a hissy fit.
Mercedes admitted an error.
Nico celebrated Monaco style, and as any winner of an F1 race should.

Then sadly the people who call themselves fans destroyed the whole thing with a barrage of hatred and abuse.

Fair play to Mercedes to trying to calm things down a little.

So my message to you 'fans' out there.
Get a grip, its a sport, there will always be winners and losers. Celebrate wins, and take defeat with dignity. The drivers managed it, why can't you?
Here's to Canada, when the on track fight starts all over again, hopefully with a little less off track, on-line immaturity and pathetic behaviour from all the fans.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Back on the wagon.

After two weeks of feeling rough as old boots, and not being able to train. Not to mention a couple of weeks before that of having a non stop sore throat, which resulted in me finally losing my voice a couple of weeks ago, I am back.

Not 100%, but breathing well enough, and fighting hard enough to get back into training. I can't pretend the last two weeks have been good, that would be a lie. Instead its been two weeks of NO training, severely decreased dog walks, with some days only managing about 3,000 steps rather than my average 18,000, and a whole heap of unhealthy eating.

The outcome, I have LOST 2lbs approx from my last weigh in, and am now balancing on the edge of 240lbs. So the next goal now has to be officially set, and here it is. 234lbs. Not far away, not unrealistic, but a good number, and ever closer to the end goal.

So I started training again on Monday, and took a rest day on Tuesday as I was suffering from the first day back. Dropping the weight, reps and sets to a realistic return number, its actually been quite refreshing to start over. Remembering form is key, and weight is secondary. A good clean session with mid range weights on Monday took its toll on Tuesday (hence the rest). Quads, pecs and tris all suffering a little, but in a good way. However, first week back, I didn't like to push too hard.

So the training ethos of this week is keep the weights down, and keep the form up. With the fresh start I want to avoid ramping the weight up too much too fast again. After all im aiming for more definition and NO more bulk. Clothes are a pain in the arse to buy as it is, so i don't want to make things worse.

With a healthy goal of 234lbs in my sights, and a new beginning, hopefully I can get there in the coming month. Lets see what April brings. Another good reason to keep the weight down and reps up is of course to avoid muscle gains, and promote fat burning. But like I say, lets see where we are in 3-4 weeks time. 6 or so pounds to shift in that time should be pretty routine if I can keep the intake clean enough.