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16th Nov, 2010

La de da – the royal wedding; why it isn’t important and the myths that some will use it to try to r

I’ve never met William Windsor. I’ve met someone who was at St Andrews with him a while ago whilst working in Germany who described him as “nice but understandably standoffish”. I’m sure he is a nice bloke when push comes to shove, as most of us are. I’m pretty sure Kate is a nice girl as well. Word is she persuaded Will not to drop out of university and helped him adjust to university life. It’s the rather unremarkable story of boy goes to university, makes loads of friends and the girl he marries ends up right under his nose the whole time.

In less time than you can think, the news is everywhere and has covered the BBC News website and is all over BBC News 24, David Cameron has called it “a great day for the country” and I can smell the kilns as a million commemorative plates go into production.

I’ve got nothing against two people in love wanting to get married; I’m 2 months into my own marriage and in my incredibly biased view, my wife is deserving of much more attention from BBC News than she currently gets but those are the breaks it seems (sorry darling).

The problem for me personally right from the start is the level of media coverage is beyond excessive and will be right up to the day. It’s pretty much a certainty that both BBC and ITV will cover the event and it will start taking over the news, the print media and be everywhere and start to swamp other ultimately more important things.

On 16th November when the engagement was announced, the BBC News website had links to 9 stories related to either William or Kate or both of them including a link to watch BBC News 24 live as the story unfurled. The second story was payouts for those wrongly imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, the third was about the release of The Beatles back catalogue onto iTunes.
Also on the front page if you scrolled down was a link to a slideshow with attached audio telling the story of a young girl of 12 who was a carer for her mother left blind by a brain tumour who had to be fed by injections into her stomach. It was linked to a BBC study that there could be up to 4 times as many child carers in Britain as previously published.

Reportedly now there could be as many as 700,000 children caring for their parents and yet for some reason, the top story of the day was apparently a wedding. I just doesn't sit that well with me.

The other sense of false importance regarding this event will be the same reason that never fails to get my goat whenever a discussion regarding the monarchy or anything associated comes up. It's the age old argument of tourism and the economy and that for the money the monarchy bring in compared to their cost, the Windsors are value for money.

Firstly the big myth people trumpet is that the monarchy costs between £35-38 million is something we need to throw out right away. The accounts published are not properly scrutinised in the same way as other places that take public money and don't include any security costs for the Windsors either in London or on visits around the country which are taken up by the local council of wherever they happen to be that day.

Now that's dealt with, my question to you regarding the tourism issue. People will come to see it, people spend money. People like pomp and pageantry, I accept that but I don't think it's particularly important in the grand scheme of things. Tourism is a big part of the British economy but the question I pose to you is simple; which is of more importance; our economy or our democracy?

Now I realise there are some who will say the economy. They are entitled to that opinion, whatever I may think of it. For me personally, democracy and the rights of the population should come before the economy. People are more important than money and whilst I realise that's a really emotive stance to take, it is an honest one. You dear reader are more important to me than the £10 note in my wallet or the billions of pounds needed to bail out the banks or the millions this wedding will cost us, the rights we deserve as free people as well.

The system of constitutional monarchy we have is safe and warm for us and people give us the old adage of “if it's not broken, don't fix it.” Sadly the issue is that the system is broken. A democracy is, by definition a system where the people govern themselves which with a monarchy you don't have whether you think the monarchy is a good idea or you like/don't like the voting system for the house of commons. What we have is a system of privilege where the most important job in our country, the figurehead of it can not, at the moment be either you or me. Now I reckon I am not qualified but you may well be. Why should you not have your chance? Some of you think that William might be the right leader of the nation, that's fair enough. If he is so good at it then like all of us, he should be made to put his case to the nation and we should decide.

Now I was a bit young for the last big royal wedding as I wasn't born in 1982 but the memories live on in the form of commemorative plates, mugs, teatowels, thimbles and a thousand and one other trinkets besides. Now people make the point that this will bring much needed jobs into the economy and give the country a bit of a lift in these dark economic times.
With all due respect to people who enjoy this sort of thing, the later is utterly subjective and the former is purely a time limited enterprise. After the date of the wedding, what then? Will the demand for Will and Kate teapots be so insatiable that the market goes on so as to bring money into the economy? It's a short term solution that will not tackle the longer term problem.

Now I realise some of the flack I will get for this. I will be called unpatriotic and say I'm dishonouring someone or suchlike. That's not my intention nor is the definition of patriotism so limited.
From an objective viewpoint it is important to voice both sides of the debate. From a subjective viewpoint if I am going to have the supposedly impartial BBC News ram this down my throat till it happens then take over the television with it, I have the right of reply.

When it comes down to it, my wedding was the most important day of my life so far as Will and Kate's should be for them and all the best to them. However, I'd argue that all my wedding did was book out a hotel's conference room. This wedding will be used for propaganda of an institution that we neither need nor deserve thrust upon us. If we can't ask the questions now, then when?

Disclaimer; just my thoughts, I'm happy to answer any and all questions you have but I will respond to honest debate not mindless abuse.

4th Jun, 2010

An open letter to Keith Olbermann

Dear Keith,

I hope you don’t mind me calling you Keith but as I have listened to pretty much every show for the better part of 2 years via podcast here in Britain, I feel an element of familiarity with you.

I walk everyday to work listening to the previous night’s show and, along with reading copiously, Countdown has broadened my knowledge not just of American politics but of American culture and this strange nation across the water that has such influence in the world.

Countdown is my favourite news show, period. I prefer it to any news show in my native country because of your honesty and your team’s hard work that makes it listenable and informative as well as helping me to laugh at the wrongs of the world when the only other option would be to cry.

Then I listened to the podcast of Thursday 3rd June’s show and I was a little disappointed. I also knew somehow, I had to find a way to try and tell you why.

I know well of your love of baseball. Some call it America’s pastime because of its popularity. On Countdown’s website there is a link to your blog on the website of Major League Baseball. I am the same about ice hockey. We eat it, sleep it, breathe it, we trawl through stats for it, we read the history, we absorb every ounce of it we can possibly get our hands or eyes on because we love it. It is our game and when something goes wrong we want to yell and shout about it and make the whole world listen because damn it, they’re ruining it!

I have the ultimate sympathy for Armando Galarraga, the Detroit Tigers and baseball fans in general. Whilst shutouts happen more often in hockey, I have watched young British goaltenders face shot after shot and to come out with that little hint of perfection or to fall short at the last hurdle and we ride that wave with them because we love the game. We want that person to succeed; we want him to obtain what so many say is impossible.

I understand your frustration, Detroit’s frustration, baseball’s frustration but I looked at the front page of the BBC News website whilst listening to the last 15 or so minutes of Countdown and I couldn’t help but feel a little angry.

You and your team hold a privileged position. Between you all, you get to put something onto television and the internet that is heard by millions of ears and seen by millions of eyes where you have the chance to present the truth. It’s the cold hard facts and commentary on them and the chance for us to make up our minds about it. When healthcare looked in trouble, you asked people to give and free healthcare events sprung up around the United States put on by the brilliant people at the National Association of Free Clinics. This is the position you have.

Peace activists delivering aid supplies to Palestine, a man in Cumbria in the north west of England goes on a rampage with a shot gun, Iraq still broken, Afghanistan a mess and almost the last third of Countdown is devoted to one call in a baseball game.

You can say that I don’t understand. Maybe I don’t. I watch a bit of baseball and when I come to America, a friend has promised to get me tickets to see the Orioles. (Before you say it, I know, some friend.)
You can say the show has a light-hearted edge to it and you’re right, it does but it’s an undercurrent behind what you usually do.
You can even say that it’s important to you and that’s why it’s on. It’s your show, your decision and that’s fine but it was the wrong decision and someone needed to say it.

In the Arthur Conan Doyle story “The Yellow Face”, Holmes is his usual arrogant self and believes he’s solved the case almost instantly. At the end when he’s revealed to be wide of the mark, he asks Watson that if he ever acts that way again or oversteps the mark at any time to say “Norbury” to him; the name of the town and he will remember to reign himself in.

With so much going on in the world and such a platform to say what needs saying and with such a chance missed, Norbury Keith, Norbury.

I will be coming to New York in September and if I were to pass you on the street I would stop you and shake your hand and thank you for what you do and to tell you that you are arguably the best in the world at what you do; however it’s a two way street Keith and I needed to tell you that you got it wrong.

It is hopefully not taken as an insult but as the friendly criticism it was meant to be.

Yours faithfully,

Anthony Russell
Southampton GB

9th May, 2009

Basingstoke Bison; pros and cons of the EPL

Aside from the money issue there are some pros and cons for Basingstoke Bison dropping into the EPL:


The quality of hockey will be lower: Higher amount of less quality players means lower quality hockey. Less exciting possibly not but definitely lower quality. The Elite League may be chaotic in terms of its refereeing, organisation and how the wage cap is implemented but there were some quality players in it. We even had some at Basingstoke; Mark Desantis anyone?

The loss of touch icing and the line change rule: A big pet peeve of mine which many of you know about, two rules that I feel actually have added to the excitement of the game in the NHL and the EIHL are not used in the EPL for some reason and I've heard people actually speak out in favour of the EPL system. My argument to them is not only the issue that constant icing for line changes gets repetitive and slows the game down, this is adult mens hockey not u10s, adult rules for adults so let them chase the damn puck. People say that touch icing increases the risk of injury but I have seen no evidence of it and to be honest it can be no less dangerous than what they are already doing, ie skating around at speed throwing their 170lbs frame at other grown men to knock them over or into the boards.
The line change rule also discourages the use of icing and keeps the flow of the game moving. I don't see why people would be against that.

No chance to see Brad Cruikshank or Greg Owen visit: A personal one there, two class players who I enjoy no matter what jersey they are in.


No Dave Simms and no Brad Voth: A loud mouth narcissist who doesn't care a jot about the EPL so won't talk about us and a violent thug who has no place on the ice will no longer visit our rink. Huzzah!

We "might" be competitive: I say might as it's no guarantee but the squad being put together, bolstered the other day by Kurt Reynolds re-signing could challenge for silverware. It's about time we had something new to put on the wall.

Local derbies: Bracknell's situation is still up in the air and Wightlink are dropping to the ENL but Slough, Girlflood and Swindon are all nearby so should make for some interesting games. Also Steve Moria seems intent on stealing a chunk of his Slough squad from last season so that may make things interesting.

Prices go down: Season ticket and door prices will be cheaper all round and we're playing teams nearer us so petrol costs for away games will be lower as well.

Just a few ideas.

27th Apr, 2009

Broadway Beats and death on the streets

1. Well since I last blogged the Caps fell asleep, went 3-1 down to the Rangers and have now stormed back to win the last 2 games, chased Henrik Lundqvist twice and forced game 7 back at the Verizon Centre. To be fair the Caps should have taken this series easily but not being awake for 2 games didn't help and the man in nets for New York that they call "The King" was immense. However the slightest change came after game 1. Jose Theodore was replaced between the pipes by 20 year old rookie netminder Simeon Varlamov.
Varlamov lost game 2 but then won game 3 and shut out the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, lost game 4 then won games 5 and 6. Varlamov, who managed about 4 games worth of ice time has now got 2 shutouts in 5 playoff games, is 3-2 and has a goals against average of 1.00. That's insane for anyone let alone a rookie netminder.
Game 7 is Tuesday night in Washington and it's for all the marbles. We can only hope the good guys win.

2. Ian Tomlinson, murdered by the police. I wonder what has to happen in this country before people call a spade a spade. The worrying thing of course is that it's one of a few incidents that has resulted in nobody being held fully to account for their actions. 96 Liverpool fans dead due to police failures; no police accountability. Blair Peach hit over the head at an anti National Front rally by a policeman, not even investigated. John Charles de Menezes, killed by the police in cold blood, police are done on a health and safety charge.
I throughly recommend an article written recently in the New Statesman by James Mcintyre called "Public Enemy Number One" where he asks the question of who polices the police?

Also check out this run down of deaths at the hands of the police

15th Apr, 2009

The 2nd season begins

Well the Washington Capitals start their playoff run on Thursday with a 7 game series against the New York Rangers. Caps have the edge of the regular season series 3-1 but the teams have not met since the coaching change on Broadway with John Torterella. The difference this makes? None at all, New York do not possess the firepower or the blue line to beat the Caps. Lundqvist is good, not that good.

I will not care too much about every series (Vancouver vs St Louis, snore) but Boston should roll over Montreal to really round of a sucky 100th season. I have Carolina over New Jersey in 7 and Pittsburgh over the Flyers. That said the Penguins and the Flyers in one place at the same time for at least 4 nights? Dear God, just one meteor strike...please?

Good news for the New York Islanders; after a season where they went down faster than a $5 whore in front of a $50 note, the Isles have got themselves the number one pick in the draft. Enjoy Long Island John Tavares...it's going to be a long 3 years.

27th Mar, 2009

And so the door closes

Earlier this week, Planet Ice made the announcement that Basingstoke Bison would resign from the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) with the intention of the team joining the English Premier League (EPL).

Reactions are mixed to this as was to be expected. Make no mistake, it's the same sport but the game and quality of hockey is very different between the EIHL and the EPL. Rules are different, the import levels are a lot lower and the standard compared to other leagues is lower as well.

That said the reality of today means that, in my eyes, joining the EPL is a sensible move for the Bison. Running a team with 11 imports like we were costs a lot of money; money that people seemed to steal or we didn't have. As much as I think 4 imports is too few in the EPL, cutting costs in this way means a large expense has already gone. Bizarrely there is no salary cap in the EPL so we could technically do a Sheffield and spend a bucket but we can't.

The quality of hockey will suffer, that I can appreciate but there is a marked difference between the quality of the football in the Premiership and the Championship yet this doesn't make the game any less exciting. It's a big misconception that people seem to have that Bison hockey next year because we're playing the Scimitars rather than the Steelers next season, the games will be boring. Horse manure! I have watched exciting games of hockey between two German sides icing a squad that ranged from 17 to 57. Hockey is exciting by nature and we will get exciting games in the EPL as well. We are used to seeing hard hitting, fast paced hockey. The speed in the EPL is slower and there's less hitting but that doesn't mean the game can't be good.
Going back to football, there's more of a passing game at Man Utd vs Chelsea then there is at Rochdale vs Leyton Orient but as a fan of a lower league football team, I prefer lower league football. The talent may not be as obvious but the levels of desire are far higher. Also, and here is where I feel the EPL could make things interesting for fans of Bison hockey, nearly anyone with good coaching and will can win. Yes money plays a factor or Wightlink would have won the EPL 30 times over but look at the 2008/09 season. Guildford have by far the largest budget but who won the league? Peterborough; a team with a good collection of players well coached by Colin Patterson.

The door for us on the Elite League has closed but one to the EPL opens and I think we should all grab it with both hands. I'd have loved to be at Nottingham this season as Brent Hughes lifted the playoff trophy over his head and our fairy tale season ended. It wasn't to be and next season we have a different set of players and goals.

English Premier League Champions; if it's good enough for Man Utd, it's good enough for me.

10th Mar, 2009

Clothesline from hell...well maybe just hell

OK, as if there wasn't enough reason to dislike WWE for it's painful programming with wrestlings like Kofi Kingston, Carlito and Primo Carlon holding tag team title belts, Jack Swagger being champion of the piss weak WW-ECW, Raw went too far last night.

Now I admit that I am a big fan of CM Punk and so am slightly biased. I recently bought Ring of Honor's 'Joe vs Punk 2' dvd where the Samoan Submission Machine and the Second City Saint go to a 60 minute time limit draw in a match that garnered the top rating of 5 stars from THE wrestling publication, The Wrestling Observer Newsletter. CM Punk is one of the best wrestlers on earth today in my opinion next to Samoa Joe, Nigel McGuinness, Bryan Danielson and Doug Williams.

WWE has no idea what to do with the most gifted natural talent in wrestling today. They showed it by having him drop the World Heavyweight Title after holding it for 30 seconds despite being arguably the most over wrestler on the roster. They then gave him the tag belts with Kofi Kingston who whilst my beautiful fiancée finds entertaining, I personally can't stand nor am I convinced he can actually wrestle well enough. So after carrying that team for a while they then give Punk the Intercontinental Title. His matches with William Regal (who I cheer for because he's a Brit not because I'm a smark) were great but last night (9th March) they had him drop the belt to John Bradshaw Layfield.

I couldn't believe it. Layfield epitomises everything wrong with the wrestling business. He can't talk, he wrestles stiff and deliberately hurts people in the ring (ask the Blue Meanie). Outside of the ring he's also a right wing nutjob who is xenophobic and racist. In Germany at a WWE show he got arrested for doing a Nazi salute and goose stepping around the ring. Somehow he was WWE champion for a year and keeps getting pushes and big story lines when he deserves to be working dark matches for Velocity tapings.

They had Punk drop the belt to this guy. Unless Punk ends up with the World Title by about May, I hope Punk quits WWE. I hope he goes to TNA or to ROH or the indys or anywhere but I hope he walks from WWE and tells them to stick it. If they can't find a way to use one of the gifted wrestlers on the planet, they don't deserve him.

28th Feb, 2009

The lady's not for turning but this man may well be

So I am watching this docu-drama about Margret Thatcher. It's actually well produced bit of television, well acted with some funny jokes in there as well. (Mark Thatcher as a boy wanting to go to Africa had me laughing out loud considering his intervention in Equatorial Guinea). The issue for me is that, if anything it makes Thatcher too likable.

Personally, I can appreciate the difficulties she faced getting the spot of candidate in what was and is a misogynistic party but as this televisual story ended with her entry to the House of Commons, we are not treated to what she became. I do not say this lightly and it's sad to think of but Margret Thatcher and the Conservative Party raped Britain in the 1980s and early 90s. She made it harder to be a working person and easier to be rich and arrogant. She was obsessed with the rise of unbridled capitalism, something which we're seeing in 2009's Britain is ruining the lives of many. People will complain about Labour for this (and they would be right to do so) but the blame cannot be solely laid at the door of Gordon Brown. Thatcher's economic ideas led us to this as well.

"And all the rich folks act surprised when all sense of community dies. You just close your eyes to the other side of all the things that she did, that's right, Thatcher f&£($d the kids."
Frank Turner - Thatcher f(£&$d the kids from 'Campfire Punk Rock'

I have picked up a thing recently for mellower punk rock. I look at the last couple of musical albums that I have bought:

Love, Ire and Song by Frank Turner
Save the world, get the girl by The King Blues
Addicted to bad ideas; Peter Lorre's 20th Century by The World/Inferno Friendship Society

Now I still love my music that causes holes in walls and blood to run from the ears of the scared but I think the influence of Billy Bragg and Greg Graffin's solo work has taken its toll on me. Tom Morello once sang "you don't have to be loud son to be as heavy as shit" which is very true. All three of the above have their moments but the style is a lot more eclectic but maintains the integrity I am looking for in my music. It's actually nice and I feel much more rounded this way.

"Well we've been a good few hours drinking
So I'm going to say what everyone's thinking
If we're stuck on this ship and it's sinking
Then we might as well have a parade
Cos if it's still going to hurt in the morning
And a better plan's set to get forming
Then where's the harm spending an evening
In manning the old barricades, so come on old friends to the streets
Let's be 1905 but not 1917, let's be heroes, let's be martyrs, let's be radical thinkers
Who never have to test drive the least of their dreams
Let's divide up the world into the damned and safe
And then ride to the valleys like the old life brigade
And straighten our backs and we won't be afraid
And they'll celebrate our deaths with a national parade

So come on let's be young, let's be crass enough to care
Let's refuse to live and learn, let's make all our mistakes again yes
And then darling, just for one day, we can fight and we can win
And if only for a little while, we could insist on the impossible"
Frank Turner - Love, Ire and Song from 'Love, Ire and Song'

21st Feb, 2009

Open Letter to Mr Gary Hillier of Swanley, Kent

Dear Mr Hillier,
I was very interesting to hear your opinions on the victory of British National Party member Paul Golding in the recent council in your area.
According to the article published at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/golding-8216i8217m-not-racist-but-you-have-to-start-looking-after-your-own8217-1628232.html you are quoted as saying the following:

“I swear on my life this is the first time I’ve ever voted,” he said. “I’m not racist by a long shot, but we’ve got to start looking out for our own. People wait for years on the housing list round here, but as soon as a foreigner comes along they get sent straight to the front of the queue.”

Now I am aware that there will always be a bit of journalistic license used on quotes, it happened to me in a German newspaper I was interviewed for in 2005 but for the sake of argument, lets assume that this is at least close to what you intended to say.

Firstly sir, well done for voting, I think it is every adults' duty to vote but I wonder why you have not voted in previous elections. Surely the way to complain before now would be to use the ballot box and investigate your options rather than waiting and randomly voting for the first person to trumpet false British values in Swanley. You'll find that some more mainstream parties actually did it already!

Then there's the bit that instantly sticks in my craw...“I’m not racist by a long shot, but..."
Now this is a phrase that instantly makes me sit up and wonder what people are about to say. In my experience this is used as a thinly veiled attempt to disguise something racist that someone is about to say. So you really had my attention at that point.

Then you said this, "we’ve got to start looking out for our own." Oh yes, we agree. That's nice. We can agree that we need to look after each other and what's best for us but it seems our methods of doing that are very different. Your attempt to "protect your own" has come in the form of voting for a party who are racist (which you have indirectly admitted by saying "I'm not racist by a long shot"), whose leader denies the holocaust in spite of the mountain range amount of evidence that it happened (http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/in_depth/programmes/2001/bnp_special/the_leader/beliefs.stm), whose founder John Tyndall was a member of various British National Socialist movements (http://www.stopthebnp.org.uk/uncovered/images/JohnTyndall02.gif that's Tyndall on the left). Without sounding too cheesy, my grandad fought for this country. He went to war to fight people who shared the ideals of the people you have now voted for. The BNP has members who have committed acts of violence, been convicted of attempting to nailbomb socialist organisations and the Brixton Nail Bomber David Copeland's racist ideology was heavily influenced by his time in the BNP. I'm not sure how you can justify that this lot will look after our own as it were.

The last bit of your quote says "People wait for years on the housing list round here, but as soon as a foreigner comes along they get sent straight to the front of the queue." Now this again is an interesting topic. I don't believe for a second that either of us know the actual ins and outs of how local council housing works in your region. Having been given insight into how it works in my home city of Southampton (a very ethnically diverse city), it's a really complicated thing so to simplify it to "foreigners get the houses" is not accurate.

Aside from that, we need to accept that because of our relative material wealth compared to a lot of other countries, people will want to come here. There is no shame in being an economic migrant, nor should their ever be. People want to come here because they see a better life for themselves, what is so wrong with that? Britain has always been a migrant country; Saxons, Vikings, Normans, Romans, Europeans, Africans, West Indians, people from the colonies, what makes any of them so different? A bit of digging on SurnameDB.com shows that the leader of the BNP, Nick Griffin's surname is arguably German in origin. What does that mean for him?

Lastly, have you wondered what sort of housing the immigrants are in? People who come to Britain who are economic migrants from poor nations are generally the people who will work the longest hours for the lowest pay and live in the worst accommodation. With asylum seekers (remember that Britain is 33rd in terms of how many asylum seekers we take in a year), there is a duty to house them. These people, if they stayed at home, would be killed. Nobody deserves that so they came here to our great country for a chance of safety and a better life. How do we greet them? With racism. So much for British fair play and everyone getting a crack. I naturally sympathise with people who end up on a long list for council housing but don't assume that people from overseas are getting housing over local residents when you have no proof of it.

Do not simply take my word for it sir, there is a vast wealth of resources out there so I beg of you, go and investigate. You owe it to Swanley and yourself that Mr Golding never gets re-elected and that the BNP get no seats in the upcoming European elections.

Yours in hope,

Anthony Russell
Southampton, Hampshire

5th Feb, 2009

Jesus is unafraid

About 10 days ago I gave a talk at Living Room on the subject "Jesus is unafraid". I was told to keep it personal and not ott and bogged down in Bible jargon. I have cobbled my notes together to form it into a conscious stream of thought. Hope you enjoy.

Sometimes I find it hard to relate to Jesus the man, the human aspect of him. If you read the Bible, it's easy to see Jesus as some kind of hardcore superman.

Jesus spent the last 2-3 years of his life walking around the Holy Land (what we now call Israel/Palestine) with his 12 mates flaunting every rule and social taboo there was. In those days, men didn't talk to women on their own, Jews certainly didn't talk to Samaritans and divorced people were talked to by nobody. Jesus imparted one of his great lessons to a multi divorced Samaritan woman who was living with a man who wasn't her husband.

On the Sabbath (Jewish holy day), you weren't supposed to do any work. Jesus went around curing people of debilitating illnesses. He hung out with tax collectors, the poor, the sick, any sort of social outcast were who he wanted to meet and he basically went about hacking off the religious establishment. Jesus doesn't seem to be afraid of anything. The guy let himself be beaten and executed.

It's why I struggled with Jesus at times; mainly because I struggle so much with fear.

I suffer from Panic Disorder, basically I am really hyper sensitive to panic attacks. Mix in a bit of hypochondria and mild depression over the years and you have most mental health professionals' dream research paper. I've suffered from them since I was 17. They are triggered by health concerns so if I can't rationalise something that's wrong with me like a twinge or a blemish on my skin or I can't catch my breath it will set me off. Worry leads my brain to run amok which leads to hyperventilation, pins and needles on both arms, chest and face, sweating, etc. It resembles a heart attack in some ways. (As an aside, if you ever see me having an attack, please resist the urge to a defibrillator on me, cheers.)

Sometimes I see them coming, sometimes not. December 2007 is where stuff came to a head. In the space of a few days I had a series of attacks and I basically ceased to function. I ended up seeing a doctor and ended up on Paroxetine (same family as Prozac but the bigger, stronger cousin as it were) for 8 months. I read up on my condition and learned some coping strategies so I can now "talk myself off the ledge" as it were. My friends and fiance are amazing with me and they know how to handle me. They only pull out the defibrillator when I get really crazy. Fitting Jesus into all this can be really hard. There's a really cheesy Christian song that says "cast your burdens onto Jesus for he cares for you" but it's easy to be insular when you are scare that you are about to die.

The thing is, Jesus does understand that feeling. The Bible tells us that before he died Jesus first asked God if there was any other way of doing this then great but if not ok, was betrayed by his friend, dragged before 3 sets of local leaders, paraded before a crowd of angry locals calling for him to be killed in place of a convicted murderer, beaten within an inch of his life and then forced to carry his method of execution up a hill before being nailed to it. They guy understands fear.

The trick is not being ruled by it. To Christians, Jesus is God but he also was a man at that point. Many people (and I reckon I can include whoever you are reading this as well as myself) if they were asked to do what Jesus went through, would run so fast that Usain Bolt wouldn't catch them.

Luckily for us, Jesus knew what was right and I believe he saved humanity with it.

Fear is part of being human as the world isn't perfect but letting fear run your life isn't right.

I got laid off in November, a victim of the credit crunch and there were 2 ways to deal with that; either wallow in self pity or get out and find another job. Now I was afraid that I would never find another job but I trusted that God knew better than me and that my fear was unjustified and would not control my situation. I now have a job which is handy now I have a wedding to save for.

Ultimately while in my darker times of panic I struggle with not being afraid but I can be certain of a couple of things;
Jesus knows how we feel when we face times that we feel are too big for us and he is unafraid to trust and believe in us in spite of how many times we don't trust him and stuff things up. He faces it with us.

Realising that has resulted in making me less of a paranoid headcase and I can get back to being a slightly over eager, easy to manage big mouth or at least to a point where I can tell you all this story. That will do for me

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