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December 2013

My Yearly Review

By Friends & Family, Gigs & Shows, Happiness & Joy, Life, Thinking, TV, Online Streaming & FilmsNo Comments

Welcome to my yearly review. 2013 has been a great year; both for me and my creative writing. There’s so much to tell you about my writing that I’ve given My Awesome Year in Words it’s own post on my Writer Website. Here I shall focus on my personal life.

Alex Memorial 1 - Chinese Lanterns In January I did Something Uncomfortable, which was attending Alex’s Chinese lantern memorial. It was something I had always avoided, and became part of my New Experiences for 2013.

In February I went to a friend’s 50th birthday party and one of my nephew’s 18th birthday party. I undertook my February Photo Challenge.

free-speech-06.03.13-E March came along and I was on TV – Live To The Nation! Although an exciting, uncomfortable and anxiety ridden experience, it was also one of great learning. Educating me in the world of the media. And unbeknown to me at the time, it wasn’t going to be my last excursion into the media world this year. Oh and I got an iPhone 5.
My Birthday Presents - Happy Birthday Cake

My Birthday Presents – Happy Birthday Cake

I did so much in May. I had a great Bank Holiday Weekend. I celebrated my twenty seventh birthday by seeing friends and family; they got me some fab Birthday Presents. I got an extra special birthday present off the wonderful Writer Mel Bossa. I had a Cumbria Adventure. I enjoyed this Get Lucky Cover, as well as the original song by Daft Punk.
Rocky Horror Show 2013 In June, Steve came to live with me. We went watching The Rocky Horror Show. It’s a night out that I’ll remember for a very long time. I remembered Something I Forgot Along The Way.
Outside Rivington Castle - Covered In Greenery

Outside Rivington Castle – Covered In Greenery

July was filled with good times. I bought A Flashy New Car – Olly, The Citroen DS3. I attended Pagan Con for the first time and discovered Posh Coffee: The Flavour Collection from Douwe Egberts. I had some time off work and had an adventure in Rivington (see Rivington Adventure: Lever Castle and Rivington Adventure: Ruins & The Picni). I even witnessed A Sensational Sunset.
up4ameet3 In August my iMac Hard drive failed and I took it to the Apple Store for repair. Steve and I went watching Up4aMeet? – An Evening of Naked, Gay, Laugh-Out-Loud Comedy. I started reading the Gone Series.
More Minions!

More Minions!

In September I watched Despicable Me 2 and Percy Jackson – Sea of Monsters at the cinemas. I started Reading for Pleasure.
Me Wicked Outside Manchester In October Steve and I went watching Wicked at Manchester Palace Theatre. I had a bug, got offered a job which I initially accepted and then later declined. My contract at work got made permanent. I got interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live.

I started regular Reiki treatments at Halsa Healing. Jayne and I went to Castlerigg Stone Circle for Samhain.

Stephen Lynch LIVE My cousin and I saw Stephen Lynch in Manchester in November. I donated to two Homelessness charities.
My Christmas Presents

Presents People Bought Me

In December I bought an iPad, went to Manchester Christmas Market and spent Christmas with family and friends.

Blog soon,


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Import: My Awesome Year in Words

By Creativity, Journalism, ThinkingNo Comments

Hi all,

This year has been an awesome year for my reading & reviewing and for my creative writing. Let me take you through the highlights of this year:

In January Headline Publishers emailed me to say they wanted me to do more book reviews for them. I wrote, edited and submitted Stuck Between A Rock… to The Write Review Short Story Prize. Although it wasn’t shortlisted; the experience and learning gained from completing, editing and submitting the short story was invaluable.

In March I saw a call for submissions for short stories for a gay anthropology. I wrote, edited and submitted A Few Amazing Moments. The editors declined the submission stating that it has promise, but needs more work. Again, more invaluable experience and learning was gained.

In April I started writing for The Gay UK and shared this news with you. I decided to be brave and share my short stories online. I was inspired by this TED Talk: Elizabeth Gilbert – Your elusive creative genius.

In May I enjoyed reading & reviewing In His Secret Life by Mel Bossa. I was inspired by Advice About Writing From Anne Rice: ‘Kick Out The Pages!’ I wrote the politically sensitive NEWS: A Letter to Manchester Pride – Why are you giving less money to Gay Charities? article.

By June I was feeling more confident about my writing, thinking to myself: I’m doing it! I’m actually writing! This was helped by being commissioned for my first paid piece of writing by Hire Bloggers.

In July I reviewed I Want Your Love (DVD) and hosted two giveaways on blog, both of these activities was as a result of my continued writing. I renewed hosting on my personal blog and launched a professional writers website, both paid for by my writing.

By September I had submitted, had accepted and published twenty six articles or book reviews on The Gay UK.

In December, I begun work on my next short story and have enquired about a creative writing course at Runshaw College.

It’s been a truly awesome year of creative writing; with a good mix of successes and failures. In 2014, I hope to do more paid journalism and develop, write and submit more short stories into competitions.

Write soon,


I aim for posts on this blog to be informative, educational and entertaining. If you have found this post useful or enjoyable, please consider making a contribution by Paypal:

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Christmas – Over Too Quickly

By Friends & Family, Happiness & Joy, HomeNo Comments
Christmas Presents Wrapped

The Presents for Others Wrapped

Christmas snuck up on me this year. Like a cat stalking it’s prey it pounced on me, causing a mad panic to get everything ready in time.

For starters Christmas cards didn’t get written or sent due to a bout of illness. The fibre optic tree was a last minute purchase and while most of the presents were ordered online, I had to dash out to the shops for a few people I’d forgotten about.

I was still wrapping the presents on the week of Christmas. Food wise, I had to go shopping with Steve for our Christmas dinner and arrange what time I had to be at mums for their christmas dinner. The prep. felt completely chaotic and stressful this year.

But Christmas Day came and it was all worth it. It was a wonderful day, starting in the late morning at mum’s watching my two year old nephew open his presents with his dad (Neil – my brother). Seeing and spending precious time with my family is always my favourite part of the day.

Then it was home for my first Christmas dinner with Steve and an exchange of presents. A quick nap followed before heading back to my mums.

Back at my mums, I had my second Christmas dinner with mum and her partner (Ian). Mum and Ian had opened their presents off me earlier and seemed pleased. I opened my presents from them, before heading back home to spend the night reading. Time seemed to speed up and the day flew by; it was over far too quickly for me.

I got lots of great presents this year:

My Christmas Presents

Presents People Bought Me

The theme of my presents seemed to be: minions (yay!), chocolate (double-yay!), smellies (tripple-yay!) and stories in the form of books & DVD’s (quadruple-yay!).

Hope you had a great Christmas!


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Import: 5 Pagan Origins of Christmas

By Journalism, PaganismNo Comments

Christmas is a Christian festival, but a lot of its traditions originate from the older pagan festival of Yule. Yule or the Winter Solstice is on 21st December; it is the shortest day and longest night in year. From this point on days will begin to get longer. Pagans come together celebrate the return of the sun or re-birth of the sun God.

Lets have a look at 5 Christmas traditions and discover their pagan origins:

Norbert Christmas Tree 2012 Decorated
1. The Christmas tree

The evergreen Christmas tree started with the pagans. They saw evergreen as symbolic of the eternal cycles of nature: birth, life, death and re-birth. The re-birth always being seen as a result of the sun’s return.

I remember decorating the Christmas tree when I was little. My mum would let me and my brothers decorate one side of the tree and then put that side against the wall. Or she’d let us decorate it and then strategically move all of the decorations to where she wanted them to be, before visitors began to arrive. As we got older, she simply refused to let us decorate the tree at all. Did anybody else’s mum do that, or was it just mine?

The decorations, like the round babuls in colours of red and yellow and the lights (before electricity candles were used) are all seen by pagans as representations of the sun God.

Christmas Presents

2. The Presents

Pagans gave presents long before Christian’s came along, but on New Years Day rather than at Yule. The presents were often small and symbolic of a blessing for the year ahead.

Christian’s didn’t start giving presents until relatively recently. In Britain due to poverty and culture, Christmas presents didn’t commonplace until around the Victorian Era. There are records of wealthy people giving presents before then, but it was only some people and these were the upper classes of society.


(Image Credit: Paula McManus @ Flickr)

3. Father Christmas

Father Christmas or Santa goes back to the Christian Saint Nicholas. Saint Nicholas had a reputation for secret gift giving to children and for valuing children greatly.

But what show his pagan roots are the colours of his archetypal dress. When I think of Father Christmas, I think of Miracle on 34th Street. I imagine the scene in which Kris is putting on his suit for the first time. His red suit with white trim, black belt with golden buckle, his black boots and of course his red hat. These colours: red, white and gold are all associated with the pagan sun god, who is believed to be re-born on Yule.


(Image Credit: Sandlewood19 @ Flickr)

4. Kissing Under The Mistletoe

This time of year, mistletoe always seems to find it’s way to the office Christmas party. Hung in some precarious doorway, it can lead to an awkward moment of avoiding eye contact and pretending you’ve not seen it or to a drunken Christmas snog with the hottie from the IT Department.

Mistletoe’s pagan origins are as a symbol of fertility. Yule was a festival of fertility, by the very nature of it being the festival were the life-giving sun God is re-born. Often pagan’s would give mistletoe to those wanting to conceive.


(Image Credit: Steve Bird @ Flickr)

5. The Humble Robin

Every year I receive at least one Christmas card with the humble robin on. His pagan associations come from his striking reddy orange chest, a symbol of the sun and also in his ability to fly. His ability to fly means that he can leave and then return, very much like the sun God.

There you have it, 5 Christmas Christian traditions that originated from paganism. It’s not just Christmas that has pagan roots, Christian festivals throughout the year have pagan traditions and elements integrated into them.

Have a great Christmas or Yule, whichever you choose to call it and whatever religious belief system (or not) is.

Published by: The Gay UK on Tuesday 24th December 2013.

I aim for posts on this blog to be informative, educational and entertaining. If you have found this post useful or enjoyable, please consider making a contribution by Paypal:

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