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C'est Moi

  • Why I don't buy Red Poppies

    For most of my life I have been buying poppies once a year from the Royal British Legion without really thinking about why. It has only been the last couple of years that I've really sat down and thought about it.

    The Poppy Appeal was originally set up as a way to help the families of those whose lives had been torn apart by the Great War. It was never intended to be something that was continuous as it was hoped, maybe naively, that it wouldn't be needed because the world would see how devastating the war was and would try to avoid it in the future. 

    But of course more war happened and more war happened and now here we are in 2014 and what has the Poppy Appeal become? Yes it is still raising money to help families but it seems to have lost its other equally important message, that war is dreadful and destroys the lives not just of those fighting but also the civilians who live in the areas invaded . 


    But it is this picture that has led me to write this message today, the picture of what I saw in Kingston town centre just yesterday. The Poppy Appeal team parading around with a military vehicle, a vehicle designed to kill and cause damage, children going up and having their photograph with it. It's disgusting, this is GLORIFYING war. "Look kids, you could grow up to drive one of these and kill some nasty foreigners"

    Why is this glorification of war allowed to happen? Rather than a symbol for death and despair of what has past, I fear the poppy is being used as a symbol of Pride for the British army, of Pride that the Brits keep attacking other countries for little to no reason, at my most cynical it is being used as recruitment for a future generation of killing machines. No war is necessary and in this country nobody is forced to join the army, no one is forced to go out and kill. The military it is a choice made by the individual and drives like this are trying to show war as a glamorous career choice.

    I am by no means suggesting that the work carried out by the Royal British Legion is not worth while and you would hope that it is, according to their website the Poppy Appeal raised £36.6 million last year and I imagine this year that amount will be far higher due to the centenary. Once these soldiers have gone to war and assuming they survive, they ruin their own lives from the trauma that they have seen, they NEED psychological help a lot of the time just to get back to living normal lives but you don't see the Poppy Appeal handing out pamphlets on Mental Health Problems. 

    And now to the Government, in raising money for the Poppy Appeal it relieves the Government from having to deal with the repercussions of the wars that they start. Imagine that £36.6 million for rehabilitation had to come from their budgets, maybe the wars wouldn't look so lucrative after all? 

    20141109_153527.jpgSo anyway this year I have decided that rather than giving my money to a charity that unintentionally, in my eyes, is part of the problem I have donated to the Peace Pledge Union and am wearing a White Poppy this year and showing my support for Peace! A charity that since 1934 has been tirelessly campaigning for a warless world. If you want to do the same you can donate, buy a white poppy or just read about the work they do by clicking this link; 


    Even if you don't agree with anything that I have said here, I hope I have at least made you think about why it is you wear a poppy.


  • Hitting mid-Twenties

    Yesterday I turned 24 years old; no longer can I parade around as a young man in my early twenties but as a gentleman in the mid-twenties. Usually I think of the age I turn as just being a number but this time it feels different, it feels like I should be somewhere important by this point in my life but enough of the deep thoughts for now, they are for later on in the blog. First I shall regale you with the Quad-tacular of events that was my 24th Birthday.



    Part 1: The Drinks

    Friday 11th February came about and due to my astute lack of any real planning we ended up in the Cock Tavern off Oxford Street. It is a wonderful pub complete with humorous name, reasonably priced drinks and is in close proximity to numerous trendy London establishments but it is not ideal as a venue to meet a large number of people as the capacity of the entire bar is about 12. Nevertheless after a good while hovering we grabbed ourselves some seats and slowly began to take over the establishment one chair at a time. We drank there telling stories 41607_53407685149_5266549_n.jpgof past times until eventually we decided to move on to the Roxy bar. Roxy bar was a mere ten minute walk down the road and provided us with much merriment into the wee hours. The music was described on the fliers as pop/disco but in truth it was far more wide ranging incorporating everything from Madonna to toots & the maytals with a bit of pendulum thrown in for good measure. I left the club reasonably early which in hindsight was a great idea as it meant I wouldn't be too hung-over for the next day. So it was to be a night bus home and then to sleep.


    Part 2: The Go-Karts

    Saturday 12th February I woke up surprisingly chipper considering the number of Jagerbombs amongst other drinks I had had the night before, said bon voyage to my guests and set of to Surbiton Raceway. As a group we had said that we should do GoKarting as we had enjoyed it so whilst stagging it up in the East end of the continent. The prices weren't pretty to say the least but I for one had a great time. 45 minutes of pedal to the metal thrills, well apart from Ross who I can only jon_1.jpgassume couldn't reach the pedals as he pondered around the track at what seemed like half the speed of everyone else. Saying this he didn't come last, in a race decided by track position slow and steady didn't quite win the race but it did mean that the serial crashers Blondie and Tate finished behind him. I finished comfortably in mid-table despite my fairly meager lap-times but was no where near the leading pack; both Tom and Mike were miles ahead of everyone else with Tom just pipping Mike to win by 6 seconds. A successful outing indeed.


    Part 3: The Gig

    On the very same evening I went out to a gig in Camden, I knew very well that this was not going to be one for the masses but I did enjoy the company of Ross as well as my little sister. We arrived at the barfly just as the 1st band was starting, perfect timing you might think? You'd be wrong what we thought were the first band were in fact the second but considering I only knew one of the 4 bands on show I wasn't particularly distressed. Hooded Fang took to the stage, a Canadian grunge-rock outfit who apart from the odd computerised noises sounded like they could have been dragged straight out of the early 90s. This isn't to say that they were bad; I enjoyed their first number a lot despite the lead singer forgetting the words half way through. As the set wore on and the clichés carried on I did grow tired of the performance though and wasn't upset when they got off stage. A short interlude ensued before the next bad appeared, first a long, greasy haired man with extremely thick glasses, then a podgy bassist with a permanent grin and nirvana hoody, shortly followed by a very young looking drummer; I was assuming more of the same. Then the lead singer came on, a man with a dirty green puffer jacket and matching beanie came on and started shouting and hollering over some distorted guitars. Usually that is the kind of thing that I would hate but the 'cleverly' named Eagulls had something about them that I quite liked, even if I couldn't put my finger on what it was. I won't lie; my enjoyment of the set definitely wasn't hindered by the overly aggressive dwarf who barged his way through the audience before grabbing the mic and proclaiming that this was the best band ever before starting a mosh pit. Needless to say he was fairly quickly removed by a bouncer who you could see had a wry smile on his face whilst asking him to leave.The-History-Of-Apple-Pie.jpg The final band of the evening and the act that I had wanted to see, The History of Apple Pie; I really enjoyed the performance even if it did take the lead woman a good half a song to get her voice in tune. To my knowledge the band have only released two singles, one of which they didn't play and whether this was through arrogance or just a lack of time I wasn't too disheartened as they did play my favourite song of theirs 'Science for the young' which I do highly recommend checking out. On the way home I bought some Orange and White Chocolate cookies, win!


    Part 4: The Football

    Tuesday 14th and the day of my actual birthday came and started with a lovely fried breakfast down the local cafe before a short stint at work. Then the excitement came Sutton United vs. Boreham Wood... Again I wasn't surprised that this wasn't a highly attended part of the celebration but I, Ross, Matt and my Uncle enjoyed Sutton playing out a 2-1 victory over the Blue Square South Mid-Tablers. The quality of the football was exactly what you would expect from teams in the 6th tier of the English league, not particularly skillful but passionate. You could see both in the opening goal as Sutton's Simon Downer swung and missed the ball in his own penalty area leading to Boreham Wood's goal which was a beautiful chip over the Sutton keeper, 4032199772-04122011181215.jpgSutton's number 5 could be seen shortly after with his head in his hands sitting on the pitch. Just before half time though out of nowhere Craig Dundas took a shot from outside the area which skimmed across the pitch into the bottom corner of Boreham Wood's goal, leveling the tie. It stayed like that until about 10 minutes from the end of the match when a mistake from the Boreham Wood keeper put the ball at the feet of Harry Beautyman who took advantage and slotted the ball into the top corner and provided the mighty U's with the victory. Then that was it, the end of the match and near as damn it the end of my birthday for another year. A massive thank you to all who took part in it in some way or another as I enjoyed it all thoroughly.



    Now as promised at the start I shall go into the reasons that turning 24 genuinely feels different from the average birthday because lets face it I only write a blog once in a blue moon so I should probably get as much into this one as humanly possible.


    The most notable factor of my increasing age at the moment is that sudden decision of just about every couple I know moving in together. In 2011 I was lucky enough to be invited to two of my friend’s weddings which were wonderful and scary events, wonderful in that I had a great time at both, scary in that I was seeing these people that I had grown up with taking a massive leap into REAL adulthood. Now in what seems like the last two or three weeks I have found out about another 3 sets of couples who are moving in together. At this point in time I don't see myself being any closer to moving away from home than I was the day I came home from the hospital screaming in my mother's arms. Maybe if I hadn't been stupid last year I may have been in a similar position to my friends but I was and that is just something that I have had to come to terms with. Nevertheless it does feel a little like I am being left behind in youth whilst everyone around me is turning into these "real", grown-up people.

    Saying that this week I have put my application in for the CQF (Formerly GNVQ) level 3 in care. This effectively moves what I am doing at the moment from just a job to a potential career. Due to my intelligence and charm I have been able to avoid doing levels 1 and 2 and have moved straight up to level 3 which potentially will allow me to move up to become a manager or equivalent within the next year or so. I would still like to involve politics in my life at some point as it is still something I am very passionate about although now I think I will probably use that passion to campaign for the rights of people with disabilities rather than just go into the ugly world of party politics.

    And finally and less importantly I know too many people my age and younger who are becoming successful in the music business making me realise that the chances are I probably never will be a rock star considering my music career to date is a couple of demos about socks and farm animals written with my sister. Clement-Marfo-and-the-Fro-006.jpgDon't get me wrong I am very proud of "Sock Puppets" and "Farmhouse Fury" and if you look for them hard enough, they are there to be heard out there on the interweb but they aren't a patch on the quality on the recordings of people like Clement Marfo & the Frontline or DRAPER. Clement was in my class at school and has now been named in a number of the 'next big thing for 2012' lists and he has been collaborating with the likes of Kano who has been at the top of the game for a good number of years. 407168_342014912495321_173356189361195_1277300_1735477795_n.jpgDRAPER, as the name might suggest is a relative of mine, my little cousin in fact and he has been signed up by Drop Dead (A label owned by Bring me the Horizon front man Oli Sykes). His music falls into dubstep or 'liquidstep' as he has labeled it. His EP just came out and he's been played on radio 1 and all sorts. I am massively jealous. 


    Anyway I think that really is it. Cheers for reading. END

  • Gregory J. Draper

    For those that don't know, this is my brother, he is 3 years older than me (26) and is heavily disabled. Gregory has been afflicted since birth with CHARGE syndrome which is very complex but the obvious symptoms you will see in him is deafblindness as well as not talking. 


    This weekend, 3rd & 4th December 2011 was the first time tat Gregory has come home since mum died back in February. Don't get me wrong we have seen him plenty of times at his home near Guildford but through a mixture of fear and disorganisation he hasn't been here. So this weekend was always going to be a tough one but it was necessary as we hope to have him home for Christmas. 

    A number of things have happened since the last time Gregory was here barring the obvious mentioned above; I have got my new job caring for people with disabilities and Gregory has progressed a lot at his home since his giving up of musical toys. I will start with the latter and move backwards. 

    Gregory, from a young age has been obsessed with children's musical toys, the kind that play a generic, repetitive tune. Gregs would play with them all day and all night... greg2.jpgand then all of the next day... and all of the next night, you get the idea. Being family we only saw the positives of this, that they were bringing him immediate joy and not the side affects that they were causing him to wind himself up and get agitated. It took a number of years but this was noticed at his home and they slowly started phasing out his toy usage and sure as anything his behaviour improved drastically. Over the course of the last year this affect has continued to show with his sleeping and eating improving as well has his attitude towards doing outside activities, he now does things such as bowling, boating and even archery. 

    Onto my 'new' job, I invert that due to the fact that I have now been in the position for over 5 months and thus it probably doesn't constitute new anymore although I am still within my probation period until December 27th. My official title is a Support Worker and I get to do all sorts of things from serving food to people with disabilities to taking them out to exciting places such as bowling alleys, parks, restaurants, cinemas etc. It is a very rewarding job and one that is nothing like anything I have done before. Through this job I have gone on training courses to learn the likes of first aid and food hygiene as well as how to protect vulnerable people. All of this training has definitely affected how I treat my brother now though. I still see him through family eyes as before but rather than just pandering to his every desire as I would have in the past I now can see that some things can be done to benefit him better in the long term.


    Anyway back to this weekend and how the above has come into play. When Gregory first got home he seemed confused about where he was but within 10-15 minutes he seemed to remember everything about the house which is astonishing considering his lack of vision. At first Dad and I were pandering to him and gave him chocolate bar after chocolate bar but soon even Gregory grew tired of that and so we made him some real food which he ate happily. Soon after Gregory went upstairs and was looking for his toys. greg1.jpgNow, even as the home were phasing out the toys there were always some here at our house but not any more... Gregory felt around the room for a while but to no avail and this is where my instincts from my job kicked in. I found a radio, turned it on and gave it to him. In bygone times he would have destroyed it in seconds but his improved behaviour meant that he patiently listened to it and because, unlike his old toys it wasn't a repetitive pattern he wasn't working himself up. A perfect solution! Furthermore though I started to notice a pattern in his behaviour towards individual songs on the radio, to some he noticeably was dancing to some he was fiddling with the buttons (on the toys pressing buttons would change the tune). I found this intriguing for the first time ever I could actually see and define my brother's taste in music, some of it I approve of he took a real shine to Vampire Weekend's 'Holiday' but unfortunately he did also seem to enjoy Olly Murs which I can't say I agree with. 

    We listened to music in his room for a couple of hours before Gregs decided to go downstairs for a bit and try and raid the cupboards for some more chocolate. I was having none of it now though and I convinced him that it would make him feel sick. Family and friends came to see him and then left and it was getting towards midnight with him just relaxing downstairs. He had a few angry shouts throughout the evening but nothing major, a definite improvement on his behaviour of old. One behaviour really hasn't changed though and that is his lack of sleep, even when both he and I know he is tired he fights it and tries to stay awake and so here I am at 3:30 in the morning watching over him and writing this blog. He has settled down though so fingers crossed I won't have to stay up too much longer!