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Month: January 2011

The Murder of Jo Yeates, The Media & MPs react.

I have dillied and dallied on whether or not I was going to write this blog but it looks like I am going to go through with it. The murder of Jo Yeates is without a doubt a horrific crime and needs to be treated as such. However the way the media are going on it seems as though this is the first murder of a person in the UK for a generation. I could deal with that without too much of a murmur but the reporting in the Sunday newspapers have tipped me over the edge of silence.

Now I know Kerry McCarthy, Labour MP for Bristol East has claimed on her twitter feed that she has been misquoted but she did say – and the quotes are direct – that (about DNA testing) ‘but rather than taking DNA just from men in the Clifton area, where the population is somewhat transient, the operation should be widened to include the whole of the city.’

First of all this is not a sex crime. Therefore it could have been a woman who murdered her and in any DNA testing plan the police would have to test both men and women. Secondly as far as I’m aware people are free to travel outside of their local area so the murderer may not be a local. The profile of this murder seems to suggest that this wasn’t an opportunist killing and was planned. If it was planned then someone could have driven in and out of the area to do what they did.

So mass DNA testing would have to cover everyone essentially. It opens up the question of personal information and whether or not people who are not accused of a crime should have their DNA taken. I know there is an opinion of ‘if you are innocent then you have nothing to worry about’ but I don’t buy that. I do not (to my knowledge) live in a police state and live in a liberal and free society. I’m not surprised Labour MPs have backed this plan.

Tom Harris, Labour MP for Glasgow South tweeted, ‘However the comments by @KerryMP might have been misreported, I hope the idea of DNA tests for every man in Bristol is acted upon.’ The police have not even said that they have any DNA from the body to match any sample against or whether any sample is male or female. He is just desperate for attention and has already decided that a male is to blame for the murder. He’d be a great policeman…Not. So basically two Labour MPs have jumped on the populist bandwagon and said that DNA testing can possibly save the day. DNA evidence is clearly an important part of any case but just let the police do their job.

That brings me on to my biggest bugbear. I have read across the media and on various internet forums that the police are not doing a very good job. Well what bullshit. The police are trained to investigate crimes and we have to just let them get on with it. The media should just let the police do their job and be there to help the police with media appeals etc… Being critical of an ongoing case when no-one in the media actually knows what is going on in Police HQ is flat-out dumb and pathetic. There was a reason the police told itvNews to get out of their Press Conferences – and that is because they were hindering the investigation.

So an open memo to the media. Solving the crime is the most important thing. Not giving opinions on the investigation and what might or might not have happened. I’m not a trained police officer and therefore I have no knowledge of how to investigate a crime. Nor do members of the media or MPs for that matter. Let the people who are trained do the job and keep your opinions to yourself if you are going to make comments that might harm the investigation.

My final point of this matter is that Jo Yeates was a 20-something blonde who was murdered and the media have jumped on board like it’s the worst crime ever. I ask myself whether the media would be all over the story had for example the murder victim had been a 35 year-old Pakistani woman or a 40 year-old bald man? Sometimes I feel that the media jump on to a crime because the person killed fits that ‘middle England’ sense of perfection.

For example see the Madeline McCann coverage. Perfect blonde girl with a smile and wearing a football top. Again a terrible crime may well have happened here but kids get abducted all the time and they never get this coverage. Early last year there were a series of knife crimes in London where young teenagers were stabbed and killed but those stories went away after 24-48h. This one isn’t and the difference is in the gender. As far as I can recall no teenage girls were stabbed and killed during that spell of violence, had there been would the media reporting have been different? I know I certainly think so.

I may just be a 20-something cynic but if I disappeared and turned up dead, my death would not be making headlines a fortnight later. There might be a Crimewatch reconstruction a few months later and it might make the news when my body was discovered but I suspect that would be it.

The media know how to make a story and this is a legit story that needs to be reported but so are other murders and missing people. The media should not be able to pick and choose which murders are most important but they do and sadly this is something we have to live with. Hopefully the police are allowed to get on with their job and find out who killed Jo Yeates and then the streets will be safer but for now we know nothing so let’s give the police the time and space to conduct their investigations.

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2010 – A Neil Year in Review.

Well 2010 is in the books so it is time for me to write my review of the year. Usually I do this in the standard Meme form but not this year. This year it’ll be more of a blog post. So let’s play darts get on with the blog.

2010 will not go down as a vintage year but one important thing and one interesting thing happened. First of all the important. On July 3 2010 I made a decision that I was quitting caffeine and with particular reference to Coca-Cola. For the past 14 odd years I have drunk Coca-Cola as my standard drink – whether it be straight or of the Cherry variety. I woke up that morning and had heart palpitations and it wasn’t the first time. Enough was enough I thought.

Knowing that I had a serious addiction I knew it was going to be hard so I had a plan. I was to cleanse my system as quickly as possible. I did this by drinking litres of squash for a couple of weeks. I was peeing every 20 minutes and then drinking another glass of squash. It worked. I had no significant headaches in this period and the caffeine had been flushed out of my system.

When you compare that to previous years where I’d have a headache after 24 hours of not having a Coke that says something.

Taking Coca-Cola out of my diet has led to other benefits. I now have a lot less sugar in my diet and this had directly led to both significant weight loss and the stop of night sweats. For years I had woken up drenched in the middle of the night and it was getting worse. In the past three months I haven’t had this once. Weight wise I have lost well over a stone despite doing no more exercise. I feel healthier and I don’t sweat just when eating hot food or just walking to the shop. My health has taken a giant step forward in 2010.

The other interesting thing that happened was at the start of the year I decided to see if I could go the whole of the calendar year without drinking any alcohol. I’m not a huge drinker any way but it was a worthwhile personal challenge. I succeeded and went through the year without alcohol. People have said on more than one occasion just how weird it is. I just feel that it is a sad indictment on society if not drinking alcohol is deemed as strange.

Workwise the year has trundled along with me doing the same work for the same company. I run a very successful World Cup campaign and all in all the department has certainly got stronger as the year has gone on. I could have possibly moved to either Malta or Leeds at various points early in the year but chose not to and to stay working from home.

Speaking of home I moved yet again in 2010. This time I moved into my own apartment in a small place called Thorpe Bay on the outskirts of Southend-on-Sea in Essex. I live within a stone’s throw of a railway station with trains every 15 mins into London if I want. I have local shops a stone’s throw in the other direction and the beach ten minutes walk down The Broadway. It is a quiet place and that in general suits me fine. At times I miss living with people and working from home and living alone leads to plenty of quiet times but overall I deal with that fine.

In my private life there isn’t a lot to tell. In 2010 I did have dates – for the first time since 2006 – however I had zero second dates. What that says about me I do not know but only one of those disappointed me. That story has been written elsewhere and I don’t feel the need to write it again. One cancelled a second date as they had – and I quote – ‘washing up to do’ and never spoke to me again. One didn’t speak to me again anyway and one cancelled a date after reading my blog and reading that I had never had a relationship before and basically said she wanted a man not a boy. Score!

Elsewhere the return to this area brought about my permanent return to Hospital Radio. In 2006-2007 before I moved to Aldershot I anchored the Wednesday Night Request Show at Southend Hospital Radio. When I returned there were several new presenters for the show but slowly they have left and I have slowly slid back into the role. I record the show these days as well for the wider non Hospital audience. It is purely voluntary and the feedback we get makes it well worth it.

Two of my closest friends from my school days got married. I was invited to one but not the other. When I was down there for the wedding it was scary just how much everyone had moved on. I felt completely out-of-place there for the first time. I haven’t lived there since 2004 but every time I had returned previously I didn’t feel like a total outsider. I did this time and the time I went back in April. It showed me quite clearly that I don’t belong there anymore and in a sad way I don’t belong anywhere. It made me sad but life moves on.

Sports wise I am still luke warm on Portsmouth as the crooks still hold the keys to the club. Until an owner steps forward who has the best interests of the club at heart and not about lining their own pockets then I’ll continue to not live and die by football results. Cricket has once again risen to the top of my tree but the NFL and NCAA FB are not far behind. I need to start playing sports again. This might be something I can address in 2011.

Overall I wouldn’t say I’m happier but I am certainly much more content with life. 2009 had been an up and down year and saw me call three addresses home and a change of job. 2010 was a lot more straightforward. financially I am doing better than I was and as I’ve already mentioned – my health is in a much much better position than it has been for years. When I used to work at Fubra I would have crashes in the afternoon after lunch and would at times struggle to stay awake. These days I have no problems with this whatsoever.

Lastly of course there is politics. I have become more interested and involved with this as the year has gone on. I’m still not a member of any political party despite my heavy Liberal leanings and Liberal Democrat sympathies. I keep umming and erring about joining and at some point I probably will. I find it interesting but also want to get more involved in other loves including space and the search for ET and UFOs this year. I love being a geek deep down.

So there we are. That was my 2010. I wouldn’t say any one day stands out as it really has been a quiet year. We’ll see what 2011 brings but things are ok. If my boiler gets fixed soon then I’ll be happy. I may write a blog about my hopes and dreams for 2011 but I might not. We shall see.

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