Carpe diem sweetheart, carpe diem

Photo by Linda Cronin

Topic #191:

Write a short letter to yourself, to be read one year from now. You don’t have to post the entire letter, but you do have to a) write it b) post about what surprised you the most about what you wrote, or whether you found the experience interesting or not.
And don’t forget to set a reminder in your calendar to read it in one year. 

This was a very interesting topic. I’ve never really thought about writing a letter to myself, so I thought I’d try it. Nothing really surprised me when I wrote it. Below is the second version. The first was just a little bit too personal.

I love writing and receiving letters. Sadly it doesn’t happen very often anymore. I do think the art of letter writing is dying, thanks to electronic means. The US state of Indiana is to stop teaching children joined up handwriting, saying that keyboard skills are more useful. Personally, I think that the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard. We all need to be able to write legibly. Being able to put pen to paper helps you remember things, and is a different skill. You are not always going to have a computer to hand.

My letter to myself

Dear Future Sarah,

Wow, what a 2011 so far! One car crash later, and you’ve gone orbital. But it’s a good thing. The crash has certainly put things into perspective and you’ve got some hard decisions to make.

Don’t give up. You’ve got so much to going for you. Carry on with your blogging and photography. You can only get better! You’ve only got six months to go. And remember, this November you are going to live out one of your dreams – to spend your 30th on Mount Everest. Ok, so you’re not going to the summit, but Base Camp isn’t that bad. You need to exercise more though. You’re not doing enough, and you know it. Get that heart rate up!

Yes, things are a bit rubbish at the moment, but you’re a fighter and you always get what you want in the end. You have amazing friends, who are helping you get through this sticky patch. I know you will return the favour when they need you. Make sure they know this. Get your head down, work hard, play harder, and everything will be ok in the end.

Remember this quote – be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind, don’t matter, and those who matter, don’t mind.

Or, as Jimmy Eat World says – you’re in the middle of a ride. Everything will be just fine.

All the best for the future,

Present Sarah

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Listen and watch

Have some spare time? It’s worth listening to The Guardian’s podcast. Very interesting. The reporter who broke the story of Milly Dowler’s phone being hacked by The News of the World warns of more shocking revelations and they discuss the regulation of the press  and the future of journalism.

And if you need to lighten the mood, then Jon Stewart gives his verdict on the on scandal.

The story that keeps on giving

The latest revelation from the News of the World phone hacking scandal now includes former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. It alleged that The Sun (owned by Murdoch) obtained medical information on his son, who has cystic fibrosis, while The Times (owned by Murdoch) obtained private financial and property details through blagging.

The Guardian reports that Brown was targeted for more than 10 years when he was Chancellor and as Prime Minster. Rebekah Brooks – then editor of The Sun –  is said to have phoned up Brown to tell him that they’ve obtained details of their son’s medical file, who was only four months old at the time.

Gordon Brown and family

He joins the ever growing list which includes many Labour politicians – Tony Blair, John Prescott, Tessa Jowell, Peter Mandelson – as well as Milly Dowler, The Queen, Prince Charles, the parents of murdered Soham schoolgirls, Holly Wells and Jessica Champman, relatives of the 7/7 bombing victims, family of the British troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, Hugh Grant, Sienna Miller and 4, 000 other people.

Here’s an outsider’s view on the scandal.

Say what you like about Gordon Brown, but to drag his four-month old son into the spotlight – after finding out he had cystic fibrosis, and after the death of their daughter  – is callous and calculated. It doesn’t matter who the victims are now -be it a celebrity, politician, the average Joe – this goes beyond politics. The centre here, and always has been, is morals and ethics.

This scandal will leave a stain on British journalism for many years to come. When the furore calms down, questions have to be raised and debated – without emotion. Will our privacy laws be tightened? How will this affect law-abiding journalists who – like Nick Davis and The Guardian – expose those in power of wrong doing. How can we stop one man and his company weald so much power over the British government? Any why did he scare them so much?

However, recent a marketing survey of 1000 people  found that 34% of News of the World readers were aware of the story and care very much (what happened to the other 66%?), while a fifth said they didn’t care about the scandal and 27% strongly agreed that advertisers should pull ads.

So, do we care where journalists get their stories from, as long as our ever-increasing hunger for exclusives, sex and gossip is fed? Despite the disgusting nature of how a select few managed to get their stories, it sold papers. The News of the World was the biggest selling Sunday paper. It sold 7.4 million papers a week. Britain’s best-selling daily paper is The Sun, followed by the Daily Mail and The Daily Mirror – all tabloids. Are we, as consumers of news, partly to blame for this?

It’s the end of the News of the World as we know it…

It has been a week of jaw dropping revelations from The News of the World  and the alleged phone hacking scandal. Ironically, the paper which broke news on a weekly basis, became the story.  But it is no more. A few hours ago, News International issued a statement, closing the 168 year old paper for good. And while Rebekah Brooks manages to keep her job, the 200 or so employees at the red top now find themselves jobless. The Sub-Editors at the sister paper, The Sun have walked out in protest.

The world was ambivalent when it emerged the paper had been hacking into the phones of the celebrities including Hugh Grant and Sienna Miller, who accepted £10, 000 of damages last month. But the paper sank to an all time low when the Guardian discovered that News of the World journalists paid a private investigator to hack into the voicemail of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, who then deleted messages.

It was this that sparked outrage on the social media site, Twitter. Incensed, Melissa Harrison set about targeting the paper where it hurt – advertisers. The pressure was mounting, and one by one companies such as Ford, Sainsbury’s and Halifax bowed to public pressure who said they wouldn’t advertise in this Sunday’s edition. Only Mumsnet pulled out of their Sky campaign in protest.

Over the last few days, it has emerged that victims of the London 7/7 bombings, dead soldiers and 4,000 possible victims were involved in the phone hacking affair.

Tomorrow Andy Coulson – who was the head  of communications to PM David Cameron – will be arrested over the phone hacking row. The paper may cease to exist, but the allegations will rumble on for a very long time. It has involved the highest echelon in politics, the police and the Murdoch empire. It is an interesting time for journalism and British democracy as a whole.

Now that’s what I call Progress

I was 14 when I went to my first gig. I would love to say I went to a Blur, or an another 90’s indie band such as Terrorvision. It wasn’t. It was the mighty Take That on their Never Forget tour at Earl’s Court. By this point, Robbie had left and I had resigned myself to never see the band a five-piece. Ever.

Fast-forward 15 years later, and I find myself near the front of Wembley and one of the 85, 000 people eagerly awaiting the arrival of Take That plus Robbie Williams. I was 14 again.

You know you’re in for a good time when the concert your going to is the biggest-ever live tour,  with 1.76 million people buying tickets to see them, and 1.34 million of those sold in just 24 hours after going on sale. On top to that, the Pet Shops Boys were the supporting act.

Starting off with Rule the World, the show was split in definite sections – their latest hits, the Robbie show, their latest album, Progress and their old stuff.

Ok – so it was a bit of ego stroking for the Robster, but actually I didn’t mind. He is and always will be an entertainer, and he didn’t fail to perform. And yes, he did get a bit emotional. Was it an act? Who knows? Although I did like his rap about super injunctions.

Their Progress section was very industrial, lots of tribal drumming with the electronic robot coming to life. Didn’t I say there was a massive electronic robot, which moved down the runway to stage two with the band singing Never Forget? Costing £1.5 million, it was the centre piece of the set, and quite scary, especially when it’s eyes lit up. They had dancers on ropes running across the up and down the stage (Pet Shop Boys inspired), and wall of water for The Flood. But my favourite bit – other than hearing Rule the World live – was seeing the band perform their old stuff. Hearing A Million Love Songs, Everything Changes and Never Forget took me back to my younger days of having the biggest crush on Gary, school, and figuring out who I was.

On a separate, but not totally unrelated topic – I loved the fact the newspapers reported a spike at Manchester’s A&E department due to boozed-up middle-aged women not handling their alcohol very well. The pictures are even funnier. Imagine opening the papers and seeing your Mum flashing her breasts at you. Decorum ladies, decorum.

“We used to have the record for the number of girls fainting,’ 37-year-old Robbie Williams told the crowd at their concert in Cardiff.  Now we have the record for the most middle-aged boozed-up women. I, Robbie Williams, am proud of you.”

And before you ask – no I wasn’t drinking, and I kept myself fully clothed at all times.