Monthly Roundup: March 2017

This month flew like the wind, and it only felt like yesterday we just kicked off 2017! Time has flown so fast lately that it’s impossible to keep up with the speed of time.

I will make sure to take a look back at the articles published over the course of this month, and of course, I will be making sure to remember the victims and the police officer that died on Wednesday 22nd March 2017 down Westminster Bridge, London, as a result of the horrific terrorist attack.

1.3.2017 – Welcoming all of you to March on Mother Nature, I mentioned that I decided to go retro with the article image and did it up in the inspired style of Sonic Mania, considering that Sonic Mania and Project Sonic 2017 (now officially titled ‘Sonic Forces’) would be released over the next few months. I also mentioned that the next few weeks would be much busier considering my Summative Assessment deadline for the Self-Directed Curiosity Project was just around the corner.

3.3.2017 –  After a three-year break from music, and after his hotly anticipated second studio album became the most streamed album on Spotify and other music services, Ed Sheeran is back with his third studio album, ÷. Shape of You really sets the tone of his latest album, because it has a unique vibe that really sets the mood you want to experience when listening to this album. I mentioned that ÷ is the first ever vinyl record I have owned and that I felt so honoured to go retro for the first time and it was an absolute honour to review Ed Sheeran’s ÷ (Deluxe) album.

8.3.2017 – As this day marked International Women’s Day, I wanted to make sure all women across the world get to celebrate being the women they are and to always be themselves. I also mentioned that all women deserve equality, diversity, respect, compassion, care and love regardless of skin colour, sexuality, gender, culture, religion and place of origin and that it’s right for all of us, including myself to celebrate all women as part of International Women’s Day.

15.3.2017 –  Let’s face it. We’ve all seen for ourselves the negative stigma that has become attached to Mental Health. The negative stigma has all too often put a strain on all governments and organisations, with Mental Health sufferers having to experience the harsh reality that they may end up not being allowed to access the help, support and treatment they need. Writing this article gave me the chance to be open about my anxiety, and although I am not officially diagnosed, I do suffer from Anxiety, and writing this article gave me the chance to be open about my Anxiety, as well as to how I have been able to manage and keep my Anxiety under control.

20.3.2017 – It was an absolute honour for me to share with you, my review of Oli Regan’s recently released début album, My Diary of Pain. I talked about how the rawness of Oli’s voice on this album really stands out, as he spoke from the heart, the mind and the soul about how he really feels. If you get a chance, please do listen to his album, My Diary of Pain, it is so good!

22.3.2017 – 24.3.2017 – No articles were published as I released an open statement on Wednesday 22nd March 2017 in light of the horrific terrorist attack that took place down Westminster Bridge, London, in which 3 victims died, including the police officer, PC Keith Palmer.

25.3.2017 –  After months of rumours and speculation that she was pregnant, Cheryl & Liam officially announced a few weeks before that they were expecting their first child together. It became official that Cheryl & Liam officially welcomed their first ever child together!

Also, on this day, I asked you all if you were ready for the clocks to go forward, considering that the time went quicker than expected and that it had only felt like it was yesterday we had just put the clocks back one hour, which proves and rings true even to this day that time sure does fly.

26.3.2017 – As this day marked Mother’s Day, I wished all mothers around the world a Happy Mother’s Day and hoped that all mothers had their Mother’s Day filled with love, happiness, joy, respect, compassion and care.

28.3.2017 – As part of my Final Major Project for the last year of my UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma Film & Photography Course at Croydon College, I was asked to produce a 6 minute and 40 second presentation on a time-keeping tool called Pecha Kucha, which is the Japanese term for Chit-Chat.

Pecha Kucha, which is Japanese for Chit-Chat, is where you produce 20 slides that have to be exactly 20 seconds each. For every slide, you would need to explain in 20 seconds for each slide a brief run-down of the kind of work you are going to produce, regardless of whether it is project-based or not. The 20 slides would have to consist of one or more short sentences you can talk about within 20 seconds, including any work you have currently produced to date.

As my Pecha Kucha presentation focused solely on Facial Expressionism, I mentioned that I would research certain photographers, such as Cecil Beaton, Walker Evans, August Sander, Thomas Ruff and any other photographer that specialises in Facial Expressionism; the field of work I want to produce.

29.3.2017 –  In the last few years, the police numbers have gone down due to cuts that have been made to save our government money, our money of which is supposed to be used to keep our police officers on the streets. On Wednesday 22nd March 2017, exactly one year to the day of the devastating attacks that took place in Brussels, which saw 35 people killed (32 victims, 3 perpetrators), with more than 300 people injured, a terrorist attack took place down Westminster Bridge, where 5 people were killed as a result, one of which was the terrorist, while the other was a police officer who was stabbed and sadly died as a result of his injuries.

31.3.2017 – I published two photographic articles that focused on Croydon, considering that I ceased the opportunity to photograph Croydon while the lovely weather lasts. The weather has been absolutely peaceful lately and it was good to see that the weather was finally looking up and that it was most certainly shaping up to make the two-week holiday as relaxing and as peaceful as ever!

Thanks so much for a great month everyone, and although it was a great month, it was also quite devastating as a result of the terrorist attack that took place down Westminster Bridge, London and I shall take this opportunity to pay my full respects and condolences to the families of the victims who lost their loved ones on Wednesday 22nd March 2017, including paying my full respects and condolences to the family of the police officer, PC Keith Palmer.

Again, thanks so much for a good month everyone, and I will see you all in April!

Alex Smithson

CROYDON / FRIDAY 31ST MARCH 2017

Today, as part of the photographic collection of Croydon I produced last week and published yesterday, I continued to develop my photography skills further with the pre-installed Camera app, and as today was such a wonderful, lovely, peaceful and happy day, I couldn’t resist producing an up-to-date collection of photographs of Croydon. For this photographic collection of Croydon, I wanted to make sure that the beauty and essence of Croydon were captured in these photographs, considering that on a sunny and beautiful day like today, Croydon is vibrant, colourful, bold and bursting with life.

Shown below are the most current photographs of Croydon that I produced today.

What a better way to end March! For once, the weather has been lovely for a change and right at the end of the month too. It’s safe to say I was not at all disappointed with the way this photographic collection turned out and I am so happy with the final end result I have managed to achieve from this photographic collection.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this photographic collection I have produced of Croydon. All feedback is much appreciated.

Alex Smithson

CROYDON / FRIDAY 24TH MARCH 2017

Last Friday, considering we have had such lovely sunny weather lately, I ceased the opportunity to photograph Croydon from different perspectives that I felt stood out the most, and I used the traditional Camera app that comes pre-installed with all versions of iOS.

The weather has been absolutely peaceful lately, and it’s good to see that the weather is finally looking up and it is most certainly shaping up to make the two-week holiday as relaxing and as peaceful as ever!

Below are the photographs I have produced, including two of the same photos that have notable edits.

Which photography hotspots interest you the most? Please let me know. I would love to hear which photography hotspots interest you the most.

Alex Smithson

Does the UK Need More Policing?

In the last few years, the police numbers have gone down due to cuts that have been made to save our government money, our money of which is supposed to be used to keep our police officers on the streets.

On the 22nd March 2017, exactly one year to the day of the devastating attacks that took place in Brussels, which saw 35 people killed (32 victims, 3 perpetrators), with more than 300 people injured, a terrorist attack took place down Westminster Bridge, where 5 people were killed as a result, one of which was the terrorist, while the other was a police officer who was stabbed and sadly died as a result of his injuries.

It’s disgraceful to know that the police numbers have been cut, but the bigger picture myself and everyone have to look at is how the lack of policing is going to have an impact on all of us as a country. The harsh reality of the bigger picture is that by there being a lack of policing, this country and its counterparts where security is concerned is seeing a potentially dangerous downside in protection where security is concerned.

I am sickened by the fact that there is not enough policing on the streets. Years ago, the gun and knife crime rates were much lower compared to today’s gun and knife crime rates, as the odd occasional stabbing and gun crime was committed, but was nowhere near as frequent as it is today, and it really does get under my skin knowing that myself and every single one of us have to face the harsh reality of knowing our own safety is at risk no matter where we are.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, broke his silence following the devastating terrorist attack that took place down Westminster Bridge, London, which has officially been dubbed the worst terrorist incident since 7/7:

Today London suffered a horrific attack near Parliament Square which we are treating as a terror attack. A number of people have lost their lives and at least twenty people have been injured. My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones and to everyone who has been affected. Tragically, a Metropolitan Police officer who was doing his duty protecting out city is amongst those who have been killed and my thoughts are with his family this evening. I want to express my gratitude, on behalf of all Londoners, to the police and emergency services who have shown tremendous bravery in exceptionally difficult circumstances. I have spoken to the Acting Commissioner Metropolitan Police Commissioner Craig Mackay and national lead for Counter-Terrorism Policing and Acting Deputy Commissioner Mark Rowley and remain in close contact with them. Londoners should be aware that there will be additional armed and unarmed police officers on our streets from tonight in order to keep Londoners, and all those visiting out city safe. I want to reassure all Londoners, and all our visitors, not to be alarmed. Our city remains one of the safest in the world. London is the greatest city in the world and we stand together in the face of those who seek to harm us and destroy our way of life. We always have and we always will. Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism.” – Sadiq Khan’s official statement released to all mainstream media sources on the 22nd March 2017.

To show solidarity in light of the horrific terrorist attack, Paris switched off the lights of the Eiffel Tower to pay full respect to the injured victims, including those who lost their lives. The police officer that was sadly confirmed to have passed away as a result of being stabbed was named as PC Keith Palmer. Other landmarks around the world showed solidarity to the United Kingdom by lighting themselves up in the colours of the Union Jack, and today, thousands of people came together to remember the victims exactly a week after the horrific terrorist attack took place down Westminster Bridge, London.

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May, broke her silence following the devastating terrorist attack that took place down Westminster Bridge, London, which saw 4 people (3 victims and one police officer), with the 5th person being Khalid Masood, who was shot dead after committing this disgraceful terrorist attack:

I have just chaired a meeting of the Government’s emergency committee, COBRA, following the sick and depraved terrorist attack on the streets of our Capital this afternoon. The full details of exactly what happened are still emerging. But, having been updated by police and security officials, I can confirm that this appalling incident began when a single attacker drove his vehicle into pedestrians walking across Westminster Bridge, killing two people and injuring many more, including three police officers. This attacker, who was armed with a knife, then ran towards Parliament where he was confronted by the police officers who keep us – and our democratic institutions – safe. Tragically, one officer was killed. The terrorist was also shot dead. The United Kingdom’s threat level has been set at severe for some time and this will not change. Acting Deputy Commissioner Rowley will give a further operational update later this evening. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all who have been affected – to the victims themselves, and their family and friends who waved their loved ones off, but will not now be welcoming them home. For those of us who were in Parliament at the time of this attack, these events provide a particular reminder of the exceptional bravery of our police and security services who risk their lives to keep us safe. Once again today, these exceptional men and women ran towards the danger even as they encouraged others to move the other way. On behalf of the whole country, I want to pay tribute to them – and to all our emergency services – for the work they have been doing to reassure the public and bring security back to the streets of our Capital City. That they have lost one of their own in today’s attack only makes their calmness and professionalism under pressure all the more remarkable. The location of this attack was no accident. The terrorists chose to strike at the heart of our Capital City, where people of all nationalities, religions and cultures come together to celebrate the values of liberty, democracy and freedom of speech. These streets of Westminster – home to the world’s oldest Parliament – are engrained with a spirit of freedom that echoes in some of the furthest corners of the globe. And the values our Parliament represents – democracy, freedom, human rights, the rule of law – command the admiration and respect of free people everywhere. That is why it is a target for those who reject those values. But let me make it clear today, as I have had cause to do before: any attempt to defeat those values through violence and terror is doomed to failure. Tomorrow morning, Parliament will meet as normal. We will come together as normal. And Londoners – and others from around the world who have come here to visit this great City – will get up and go about their day as normal. They will board their trains, they will leave their hotels, they will walk these streets, they will live their lives. And we will all move forward together. Never giving in to terror. And never allowing the voices of hate and evil to drive us apart.” – Theresa May’s official statement released to all mainstream media sources on the 22nd March 2017.

It sickens me to the core that violence still exists in this world. Why can’t we all just get along? There should be no violence, no hatred, no inequality and there most certainly shouldn’t be a lack of diversity in this world. All of have to come together and end violence, end hatred, end inequality and end a lack of diversity, and we should all come together and respect one another, and always be equal and diverse towards one another. Regardless of sexuality, religion, gender, skin colour, background, place of origin and culture, we should all stick together and treat one another with respect and also treat one another equally and diversely.

Here’s the open statement I issued on Thursday 23rd March 2017, exactly one day after the horrific terrorist attack took place down Westminster Bridge, London:

In light of the devastating terrorist attack that took place down Westminster Bridge on Wednesday 22nd March 2017. Listen to this. We stand with solidarity. We stand with dignity. We shall not be silenced by violence. We, as a country, as a nation, as a community, will not be silenced. We are all stronger than you think and we will not & shall not be silenced! We shall never bow down, let alone take this horrific attack lying down. We shall all stand together and never be silenced. Take this opportunity to pay tribute to the victims who sadly lost their lives on Wednesday 22nd March 2017 and also take this opportunity to pay tribute to PC Keith Palmer, but take this opportunity to know we are not afraid. We shall never be afraid.” – Alex Smithson

I will say this. We shall never bow down to violence, we shall never be silenced. We shall stand resilient and never be defeated. This world doesn’t deserve violence at all. We are not afraid. We shall never be afraid.

Do you agree that this world should never be full of violence, inequality and a lack of diversity, and should be filled with equality, diversity, love, care, compassion and respect? If you agree, please let me know by commenting below. We shall all remember the victims who lost their lives and also pay our full respects and condolences to the family of PC Keith Palmer.

Alex Smithson

Pecha Kucha / Japanese for Chit-Chat

As part of my Final Major Project for the last year of my UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma Film & Photography Course at Croydon College, I was asked to produce a 6 minute and 40 second presentation on a time-keeping tool called Pecha Kucha, which is the Japanese term for Chit-Chat.

Pecha Kucha, which is Japanese for Chit-Chat, is where you produce 20 slides that have to be exactly 20 seconds each. For every slide, you would need to explain in 20 seconds for each slide a brief run-down of the kind of work you are going to produce, regardless of whether it is project-based or not. The 20 slides would have to consist of one or more short sentences you can talk about within 20 seconds, including any work you have currently produced to date.

For me, because I am fascinated by Facial Expressionism, which was a concept I worked on last year, I am interested in a photograph that captures the subject’s facial expression and emotion, and for me, I will make sure I can research certain photographers, such as Cecil Beaton, Walker Evans, August Sander, Thomas Ruff and any other photographer that specialises in Facial Expressionism; the field of work I want to produce.

These are all the notes I gathered together as part of my Pecha Kucha presentation yesterday, which went brilliantly for me yesterday considering I was nervous but showed confidence the moment I presented the work I am looking to produce for my Final Major Project. Please keep in mind just a few of the noted photographs that aren’t mine will have the name of the photographed subject, including the year the photograph was produced, also the name of the website I found the photograph from, including the website address and the recorded date that specific website was last visited. The photographs that aren’t mine at all that I referenced in this presentation as part of my Film & Photography coursework can be found on Page 4 & 9. I take absolutely no credit from the photographers who produced the work I have referenced. Those photographers whose work I have referenced in this presentation are Thomas Ruff & Bert Stern.

Over the coming weeks, I will be making sure to work my absolute hardest to really push for the best final grade possible as I want to succeed in my final year of the UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma Film & Photography Course. I will also be making sure to work as hard as I can to really push for the highest possible grades in both GCSE English & GCSE Maths.

If you enjoyed reading the notes and research I gathered together for this Pecha Kucha presentation, please feel free to comment below. All feedback is much appreciated and the all of the notes and research from the Pecha Kucha presentation, including the photographs I produced from my visits to Kelsey Park, Dulwich Park and Beddington Park can be found in my E-FOLIO.

Alex Smithson

Ready for the Clocks to Go Forward?

The time went quicker than expected, and it only felt like yesterday we had just put the clocks back one hour. Time sure does fly.

Are you ready for the clocks to go forward at 1:00 AM on Sunday 26th March 2017? I’m most certainly ready for the clocks to go forward.

One thing to note:

If Airplane Mode is turned on for any devices you own, whether it be any smartphone, tablet or smartwatch, including a Laptop / PC, you will need to switch it off in order for the device to automatically go forward one hour. After the clocks have gone forward one hour on every device, Airplane Mode can be switched back on and time will continue as normal.

Alex Smithson

IT’S OFFICIAL!!!

After months of rumours and speculation that she was pregnant, Cheryl & Liam officially announced a few weeks ago that they were expecting their first child together.

It’s just become official that Cheryl & Liam have officially welcomed their first ever child together!

Congratulations to both Cheryl & Liam on giving birth to a baby boy! Both of you are going to make such wonderful parents!

Sending my love, compassion, kind regards, happiness and joy to Cheryl & Liam Payne on the birth of their baby boy!

Alex Smithson

SWEENØ / My Diary of Pain / An Album of Honesty & Power Where Oli Speaks from the Heart, the Mind & the Soul.

It is an absolute honour for me to share with you, my review of Oli Regan’s recently released début album, My Diary of Pain.

As a Mental Health Sufferer who suffers from Bipolar & ADHD, both of which among many other Mental Health conditions, is often overlooked, Oli Regan channels his true feelings, emotions, strength, rawness and energy into this album, My Diary of Pain.

My Diary of Pain certainly is an eye-opener, because it has a sense of power that you can’t quite describe, but the rawness of Oli’s voice on this album really stands out, as he speaks from the heart, the mind and the soul about how he really feels.

When you listen to Oli Regan’s album all the way through, you begin to not only understand and appreciate life more, but you begin to realise that life is filled with pain and that pain can strike you at certain points in your life, but with resilience, care, compassion, support, love and respect, the world can be a better place and that negativity can disappear altogether from all existence.

For Oli, an ambassador for Time to Change, to really put his heart, his mind and his soul into producing My Diary of Pain, you can’t help but appreciate Oli Regan entirely for producing such an interesting and powerful album.

SWEENØ – My Diary of Pain (Official Album Artwork)

Oli’s EP, My Diary of Pain, is really powerful and he has created that cut-throat approach where it’s no fuss, no messing about, just get on with it and for Oli, he’s made sure to highlight that this world is already messed up enough as it is and the only way we can all make it a better place is if we all put in the hard work and graft now and make sure that negativity is completely non-existent and that positivity blossoms in this world.

My words of praise go to Oli Regan (SWEENØ):Oli, keep expressing yourself and keep raising awareness to end this negative stigma that is attached to Mental Health, you’re awesome!

To listen to Oli Regan’s album, click or tap the Play button below to listen to My Diary of Pain.

Trust me, Oli Regan’s album, My Diary of Pain is worth a listen, because it reflects on how he feels about this world and everything else in general and it’s worth a listen.

If you enjoyed my review of Oli Regan (SWEENØ)’s album, My Diary of Pain, please feel free to comment below. Your feedback is much appreciated.

Alex Smithson

© Oli Regan, OnPoint Headshots, SWEENØ 2017

© The photograph used above of Oli Regan (SWEENØ), including the album, My Diary of Pain, the Official Album Artwork of My Diary of Pain and the logo, SWEENØ, are all copyright of Oli Regan, OnPoint Headshots & SWEENØ. No Copyright Infringement Intended.

Album Rating: 10 / 10

Mental Health / The Negative Stigma & How it Affects Everyone (feat. Oli Regan)

Let’s face it. We’ve all seen for ourselves the negative stigma that has become attached to Mental Health. The negative stigma has all too often put a strain on all governments and organisations, with Mental Health sufferers having to experience the harsh reality that they may end up not being allowed to access the help, support and treatment they need.

What is Mental Health?

Mental Health is where a person may possibly have a condition that affects their psychological and well-being in the emotional sense.

For instance, there are so many recognised Mental Health conditions that affect more or less everyone, in this case, this can be Anxiety, Depression, Post-Natal Depression, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and even Bipolar.

There are so many recognised Mental Health conditions around that with the correct help, support and treatment available, can help anyone suffering from Mental Health to control the type of Mental Health condition they suffer from.

Is Mental Health Often Ignored?

In the real world, Mental Health is often ignored, which is why the stigma attached to Mental Health all too often creates a negative spiral that sees governments and organisations making little to no effort to provide funding for help, support, treatment and even medical supplies for those who need it the most.

The Mental Health Foundation highlighted that each year, more than 6,000 suicides occur in the UK & Ireland as a result of a lack of funding for Mental Health, with more than 55,000 suicides occurring in the European Union.

The suicide rate for Mental Health sufferers is dangerously high, because again, there is a lack of funding which means that Mental Health sufferers aren’t being provided the help, support and treatment that they need, which ultimately puts any Mental Health sufferer at risk of committing suicide.

Is Social Media Responsible for Creating Problems in Mental Health Sufferers?

The harsh reality is that social media is responsible for creating problems in Mental Health sufferers, because not a day goes by where I am on Facebook & Twitter where I don’t see a positive comment being made about someone who suffers from Mental Health.

I am disgusted by the large number of those on social media who feel it’s okay to make those suffering from Mental Health feel insecure about their appearance, how they act towards others, including what they look like.

Social media is connected to the negative stigma in the personal sense, because when it is not used properly, anyone can make abusive comments about others and that can effectively have a negative impact on the person suffering from that specific Mental Health condition.

Oli Regan’s Experiences With Mental Health

Oli Regan, who is an aspiring actor and ambassador for Time to Change, was just one of many Mental Health sufferers who had struggled to open up about his feelings of loneliness and isolation, both of which he experienced for so many years, which was brought on by bipolar and anxiety, which led him to contemplate suicide, and in some circumstances, he attempted to commit suicide.

Of course, Oli’s experiences with Mental Health affected his wellbeing, and he mentioned in an article he did with TheLADBible as part of the UOKM8? Campaign that: “I just felt weak. Like I wasn’t a real man, I felt like I was missing something. I felt lonely. Completely isolated.

Oli’s experiences with Mental Health enabled him to raise awareness and to give all those who suffer from Mental Health their voice and to make sure that if you’re a Mental Health sufferer, then it’s good to open up and talk about your experiences with Mental Health and how they affect you.

My Experiences With Anxiety

For me, and this is personal to my wellbeing, although I haven’t officially been diagnosed with having a Mental Health condition, I am not ashamed to admit I suffer from Anxiety.

Of course, I often feared that if I opened up to everyone about how I really feel that I would be targeted just for being the man I am in speaking up about how I really feel.

At school, if I cried, I was bullied and all too often, if I spoke to someone in confidence about how I was really feeling, I would be targeted just for being honest and open about how I really felt emotionally.

I often tend to bottle my emotions up but it’s only recently that I did suffer from some anxiety attacks that were brought on by personal problems and heartbreak which caused me to have a panic attack and also break down in tears.

Since that first panic attack and since I broke down in tears during those anxiety attacks, I have been able to open up to everyone and I feel a lot more confident talking to someone about how I really feel, and it gives me peace of mind knowing I can turn to a counsellor and everyone else for support. I am a lot stronger now than I was before and a lot more confident as well as I can speak up a lot more and not be afraid to speak my mind and say how I really feel.

This is the first time ever that I have actually admitted to all of you I suffer from Anxiety and this took a lot of guts for me to open up on my own experiences with Anxiety in general.

Conclusion

I personally feel that the negative stigma attached to Mental Health needs to disappear permanently and that Mental Health should never be ignored.

Governments and organisations should make all the effort possible to put their funding into help, support and treatment for any Mental Health sufferers and to make sure that every Mental Health sufferer gets the help, support and treatment that they need.

One more thing, it’s about time we all open up and say to everyone exactly how we feel, and in a society and any society that tells you to ‘man up’, all societies need to get a grip and realise that Mental Health doesn’t just exist for a reason, but that it exists because we are all born differently and never the same.

If you are a Mental Health Sufferer and you have just one or many of the recognised Mental Health conditions as well as the Mental Health Conditions mentioned here, then please feel free to comment below. I would love to hear your response.

Alex Smithson

Recommended Article Worth Looking At (Please Read): Lad Opens Up About Battle With Bipolar And Anxiety And His Attempted Suicide