This Week I Have Been Mostly Listening To…


The ‘Challenge Alex’ experiment continues. This weeks suggestion comes from Kay. I didn’t ask, and was not informed as to what style of music I was about to encounter – so I looked them up beforehand. Skillet is, according to Wikipedia, an American Christian rock band formed in Memphis, Tennessee in 1996.

Now, I have to declare a dislike for ‘church music’, by which I mean the ‘happy-clappy-guitar-strumming-we’re-all-one-family’ music, not traditional hymns (I like some of those). So, not sure what’s going to happen here!

So time to genuflect (if my poor old knees allow) and get me some of that ‘old time religion’ with Skillet…

N.B: this is NOT a review – it’s simply an experiment in expanding (and challenging) my listening tastes.

What I listened to –

1. Feel Invincible (RD: 2016)– Had a familiar feel to it, was sure I had heard something similar before….. Straight in with the thrash guitar and a good catchy rhythm; and quite dynamic. Introductory verse sounded like lead singer,John Cooper’s voice had been meddled with on one of those nasty electronic vox machines (hated that).

What does it sound like to me? Rock/Pop/Stadium Rock.

Did I like it? Kind of. My feelings about this were quite divided – I hate ‘Stadium Rock’ for it’s crowd pandering blandness, and yet…I didn’t hate this.

2. Back From The Dead (RD: 2017) – Another slappy guitar opening, though not as solid as the previous. Has a rather dated feeling, like something from a 90s American TV teen show. The lyrics are kind of…mainstream, commercial…boring.

What does it sound like to me? Commercial Rock-Pop

Did I like it? No.

3. Gasoline (RD: 1996) – So I decided to head right back to their first album and see what had changed/progressed/improved. This sounds less over-produced, has a less ‘polished’ feel, which actually adds to it, for me; I hate over production in music.

What does it sound like to me? There is a definite rock feel, with a dash of early 90s electronic dance music and a slice of Grunge on the side.

Did I like it? It was okay! Better than previous two.

Skillet – Invincible

4. Collide (RD: 2003) – Big strings opening, violins, cellos…then the thrashing guitar belts out (can I hear an electronic keyboard in background? Distracting). The first song that I can hear lyrics about faith; “there’s something deep inside that keeps my faith alive”, religious or otherwise.

What does it sound like to me? Any old Hard Rock band.

Did I like it? Nope!

5. Better Than Drugs (RD: 2010) – Don’t do drugs kids! Oh no, dum-cha-dum-cha drums, whispery, electronic voice – (‘Gag me with a spoon’ as Mr Zappa’s eldest would say).

What does it sound like to me? Any old soft Rock band.

Did I like it? Nope

Skillet have won 14 music awards!


6. Comatose (RD:2006) – Again with the perky strings intro…generic vocals, generic melody interspersed with a twinkly piano and stop-start guitar and drums.

What does it sound like to me? Yet another Rock Band…

Did I like it? I didn’t hate it!

7. Monster (RD: 2011) – Feel like I’ve gone back in time! What you expect from any old rock band re- rhythm and bass, drums, vocals. I envision a hundred sweaty teens bopping up and down at the chorus.

What does it sound like to me? Stadium Rock

Did I like it? Not really.

8. Stars (RD: 2016) – WTF! Electronic keyboard, synthy voices. What happened here?! This was what I expected from a ‘Christian’ Rock band, what happened there then?!

What does it sound like to me? This feels like the bland, poppy pop music I was subjected to in the 80s.

Did I like it? I had to stop listening to it, made my bowels loose…

9. Watching For Comets (RD: 2016) – Seem to have lost their guitarist! Where’s the rock, the thrash, the vocals?! Let’s all just sway side to side with candles/lighters held aloft and embrace…

What does it sound like to me? Dreary. The worst kind of Pop/Rock! And too long!

Did I like it? Do I need to fill in this space…really!!!

10. We Are The Saviours of The World (RD: 2016) – Well God help us, ‘oh, oh, oh’ etc. Electronics, again, not something I would associate with Rock music.

What does it sound like to me? ‘heavy’ pop.

Did I like it? ‘No sir, I don’t like it.’

To round-up – Phew, glad that’s over. Okay, so maybe I’m being unfair, it wasn’t horrendous music… just awfully bland and uninteresting – at least it wasn’t ‘happy-clappy-guitar-strumming…’, and I’m not sure that Skillet should be classed as a Christian Rock band, more like a Rock band whose members happen to be Christian? Did I get me some of that ‘old time religion’? Nope – and if that’s what you’re expecting when you read Christian Rock – then you’re going to be disappointed. Skillet obviously heard that old saying ‘the Devil has all the best tunes’, and have tried to make amends. So….it that respect…I have to concede that Skillet challenged my preconceptions of what ‘Christian’ music is.


Will I be listening to Skillet again? No. Why? Because, as mentioned in a previous ‘Challenge Alex’, there are better bands from previous decades if I want to listen to Rock (Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones). Did it challenge me musically? Not at all, it left me asking “So what?” Weird thing is, the stuff they were producing back when they began sounded much better to me. I’m no expert, and again, this is not an educated criticism, but I do feel like the genre of Rock music struggles to define itself in modern culture, it doesn’t seem to have moved on like, say, Dance music, so what we end up with when new groups do Rock, is the soup of the soup, (i.e. watered down.).

Skillet latest album – Unleashed Beyond

Have I got Misophonia, or Am I just an Angry Person?

Image result for Misophonia or just easily irritated

Imagine you are at the theatre or cinema. You quite possibly don’t come very often; it’s expensive isn’t it? You sit through the crappy adverts and trailers…the theatre goes dark…music…opening scene and… BAM! Some bastard opens a packet of sweets.

Do you ignore it? Can you ignore it?

I sure as hell can’t.


Trigger un-Happy

Misophonia is defined as the hatred of sound. But not just any sound, there are usually specific sets of sounds that trigger a response in the listener. For many it is lip-smacking or open-mouthed-eating noises, or pen clicking and repeated sniffing.

Cinemas Should Sell Quiet Food

I personally cannot bear it when people sniff repeatedly – I offer a paper tissue. Pen clicking makes me want to slap the writing implement right out of their hand.

But most annoying is background noise in theatres. Watching Black Panther recently, a man seated in the row behind me opened his sweet packet after the movie had begun – why not do it before-hand? And at regular intervals, he opened a noisy wrapper, and even stuffed his hand into the packet on his kid’s lap. Honestly, just shut the fuck up!

Fight or Flight

And it doesn’t stop at the ears. For the duration of one of these trigger events, my muscles tense, my jaw clenches; I can feel my heartbeat rise – my body is essentially preparing for a fight!

So, for the rest of the movie, my ears were attuned, not to the wonderful experience before me, but to the crunchy, scrunching behind me. I was fit to burst by the end.(It didn’t help that the woman next to me read all the subtitles to her son).

“Aargh!! Eat your food quietly!!!”


Seriously, if it wasn’t for the fact that my husband was with me, I may have clobbered the man with his own child. Hubby says “Just ignore it.” or “Tune it out.” The problem is, I can’t. Believe me, I have tried.

But why was I so angry? I mean, I was REALLY angry. I swore all the way home, driving in a manner to cause hubby to leave nail indents in the car seat. I would have loved to vent my anger on sweet-wrapper-man (and the woman), to drown him in a barrage of expletives and venom.

Is It Just Me?

So, do I have an anger management issue, or some perception of sound issue? This is a regular event for me. At work there is a lady who makes this little half-cough-half-noise in her throat, we are only in the same room for staff development once or twice a year – but I want to strangle her by the end of the morning. Another person I know breathes heavily! I want to shout “Stop fucking breathing! You might die? So what!” My own father used to make weird shuffle motions and noises with his hands and feet when watching the TV, (I did shout then), a student smacks his lips and my hackles rise. Another has a snuffly cold and I’m tempted to punch him in the head!

Misophonia is difficult to identify. Studies have been done, but it doesn’t come under an particular ‘umbrella’ – it isn’t a physical difficulty, it isn’t a mental health issue, so what is it? And is there a way to ‘cure’ it?

Maybe cinemas and theatres should have Misophonia Days, so people who may fall into this uncategorised category can watch their entertainment in peace!

What irritates you, drop me an angry comment.

That means you cinema-sweet-wrapper-man

Is Facebook Selling Your Data?

You ‘protect’ your physical privacy – why not your electronic?

We like our privacy in the UK. We build walls, fences and hedges around our homes. We pull our curtains tight shut at night; some will even go so far as to not answer their phones after a certain hour in the evening. We even have a saying – high fences make good neighbours. However – we appear quite happy for the world to potentially see us in our bathing suits, or for our ideas, thoughts and responses to be used to influence political campaigns. Where is the privacy now? And it’s not just the UK – if you use social media, wherever you live on planet Earth, someone, somewhere is pawing through your personal stuff!

BBC Radio, this morning, ran an article about the possibility that Facebook is selling your data to third parties. There are concerns about sharing data that goes beyond what is acceptable – what is acceptable may differ from country to country, person to person. It’s a minefield.

We have heard many tales about people; families, holidaying in foreign parts and discovering a photograph of themselves in shop fronts. It could be argued that when you sign up for Facebook, or other social media sites, that you agree to all their terms and conditions – but who really takes time to read the small print, honestly?

Cambridge_Analytica is a London based company that serves businesses and political parties who want to change audience behaviour and  it is your data that they have apparently been using to assist with their analyses.

Who hasn’t done a quiz, or questionnaire, or similar on social media? I know I have – whether to actually find something out about yourself, or for pure vanity, is neither here nor there. One quiz platform – ‘This is Your Quizzical Life’, agreed to hand over your data. You gave your consent – did you know that?

One of the questions being asked is – Did it use your Facebook data in the Trump campaign? Investigators believe they have given misleading information to social media users, and that tighter regulation is called for. Simply put – are you being exploited? Investigators are seeking to conduct a data audit,part of that investigation will pose the question – What is Facebook’s integrity?

How do you safeguard your information? Who, exactly, do they share your data with? Data Protection in the UK is pretty strong; so we are told. How secure are platforms like Facebook in actuality? I know I have posed questions and given no answers, but that’s the issue – how exactly do we deal with protecting personal data; including family photos, whilst at the same time, sharing with friends and colleagues? And it isn’t just your information, but all those connected with you through social media; friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances; that bloke across the other side of the world – if everyone doesn’t act to protect themselves, then the door, so to speak, is still open for the users.

We could all go down the draconian route, and delete all our social media accounts; not give these, let’s face it – huge – companies the opportunity to profit from our personal lives. But that ain’t going to happen. Or, we could do what Nicholas Waddell suggests in his article on The Sociable, and sell it yourself – you make the money instead of the companies!

In the meantime I would suggest – 1. Do not post any pictures at all. 2. Do not do any quizzes. 3. Do not share your political opinions.

But do remember – Your business, is their Business!

It’s not quite Netrunning – but they are already inside our heads!

Fiction Writing Opportunities

Hi there!

I’m in the process of editing a novella length story, writing a short Horror piece and a short Sci-Fi piece, plus some other stuff that may (or may not) happen. But I am still keeping my eyes open for other opportunities. I keep entering competitions, not necessarily to win anything, but more as a means to improve my writing. There are opportunities for writers all over the place, you just need to keep a look-out.

Sometimes you just want a writing prompt; for story writing. There are loads of bloggers who provide this, take a look on Twitter too!

Check out some of these:-

Add them to your Favourites and revisit monthly. Follow the instructions to the letter, this will help you, 1)Develop the habit of writing to specs; should you ever have to for money! 2)Writing to deadlines; should you ever have to for money!! £€¥

And don’t forget the good old fashioned magazine from the newsagents such as ‘Competitions: Guide 2018’, and look at the Notice Board in your local library.

Poets & Writers Magazine, from all good newsagents
Writing Magazine. Bestseller for opportunities/competitions.


But however you do it, keep on writing! 

How Do You Not Know That!?

We all read, see or hear stuff that makes our mouths drop. Common sense in society in general, seems to have taken a holiday. My daughter used to regularly come home from school and then college, with little quotes from her friends – and we would have a jolly good laugh at their expense – how did they not know that? Here’s a couple of things that bug me (what, another Alex? I hear you say) Yep!

Clothes need washing regularly. You filthy beggar! That’s what my mum called us when we had grubby kid hands. I was brought up in a time when laundry was done daily (I still do) and it was shameful to be grubby and/or smelly. There was a thread on Twitter a few months ago asking people how often they washed their jeans. Some responses were gag-making. ‘Once a month’! ‘Get them out laundry if nothing else to wear.’! Seriously, you’re going to shower your body and hair clean in the morning, and then put on dirty clothes?! I have seen people wearing coats with greasy streaks down the front; where they have wiped their hands. Coats needs washing too people. Fabric holds odours; cigarettes, food, you! Wash your clothes!

The laundry was becoming seriously unmanageable!


Take Vitamin D in winter This is a potentially serious issue for some people. Winter is a time when we in the UK see less sun than usual. Sunshine = Vitamin D. If you have darker skin and you live in Europe, chances are you’re going to need to take Vitamin D supplements – or you may be putting yourself at risk of rickets. A recent tragic news story in UK news, told us how a baby died of rickets at less than a year old. He was black of black parents – I do not understand why her GP had not recommended she take vitamin D supplements during her winter pregnancy. Black skin does not absorb D from sunshine as readily as white skin, and in a dull place like UK, precautions should be taken.

Take care of your beautiful self during times of little sunshine.


Clouds move – No, seriously. The conversation went something like this:-

Girl(looking out of window)- “Oh my God, the clouds are moving!”

Staff (raises eyebrows)- “Are you kidding?”

Girl- “No, the clouds are moving. I didn’t know clouds move.”

Staff – “You’re telling me, that you’ve lived on planet Earth for 16 years and never noticed the clouds moving?”

Girl -”No.”

Staff – “…”

‘Cumulus Nimbus’ Big Moving Day – and other stories.’


Crisps and Pop for breakfast = BAD. I am sure I’m not the only person who has seen the kids on their way to school in the morning eating crisps. When my daughter was in Primary school, there was a kid who I saw eating a bag of crisps and drinking a small bottle of pop at least once a week. College students have freedom to buy whatever they want with their money, some do fine, but others just buy crap. And who is feeding them? The parents! How does anyone, in this day and age, not know that salt and sugar are bad for us – especially everyday for breakfast. How can any parent not know to give their child a good start to the day in the form of toast or porridge or cereal or fruit? There is plenty of information for parents these days – I’m sorry, but there is no excuse.



Spitting is not only disgusting – Its a health hazard. I’m getting quite pissed off with asking then telling people not to spit. It seems to be a growing habit in the area I live; especially amongst young males, and the occasional female. Spitting carries disease as well as germs. We had eradicated TB in this country – now it’s on the rise again! People might want to put their bags on the floor, and there’s gob everywhere (especially in smoking shelters). Guide dogs walk in it! Wheelchair users get it on their hands! It moves at speed spreading droplets into the air as it flies to the ground. It is gross! And unhealthy! And offensive to see and hear!

Footballer, Jamie Carragher, spitting at member of the public. Dirty boy!


Smaller birds aren’t babies of bigger birds! This was one of my daughter’s friends things. Walking at the beach one sunny day watching the birds peck about, the friend made a comment about the ‘baby birds’. Turns out she thought that the pigeons were the gull’s babies!!!!!! I seriously wondered what was going on in her head.

What!? It’s not my baby. It’s dinner!


Slugs are NOT snails without shells! Overheard small boy and his friend.

Boy – “Look! There’s a snail without a shell.”

Girl – “That’s a slug, Jake. They don’t have shells.”

“Morning Gary.” “Morning Simon.” “On you way home from a late night again!?”


Seriously, I can’t believe some of the things people just don’t know!

This Week I Have Been Mostly Listening To…

Image result for thunder rock band


The ‘Challenge Alex’ experiment continues. This weeks suggestion comes from Jack. When I asked what genre of music this was I was told it is a kind of Heavy Metal/Rock. Despite having been around for approximately 28 years, I had never heard of this group. Described by Wikipedia as an English hard rock band from London. Formed in 1989, many of their albums are sold under the genre Metal. Thunder is this weeks challenge.

N.B: this is NOT a review – it’s simply an experiment in expanding my listening tastes.

What I listened to –

1. River of Pain

What does it sound like to me? Rocky. Not exactly hard! Some typical guitar solo and predictable drum n bass rhythm.

Did I like it? Was inoffensive, and uninteresting.

2. She’s So Fine

What does it sound like to me? Deep Purple anyone? Sounds to me like a poor man’s imitation of Deep Purple and AC/DC combined. Good vocals from Danny Bowes. I had the strange feeling that a tiny amount of Country Rock had snuck in there at points.

Did I like it? Nope.

Thunder in their hirsute days.

3. A Better Man

What does it sound like to me? This is not Hard Rock! The writer must have been listening to C&W again – and that harmonica!? Why? A little guitar riff stolen from The Who thrown in there too.

Did I like it? Absolutely hated it.

4. Low Life in High Places

What does it sound like to me? A little slappy guitar, sad vocals. Not until halfway through does it turn into, what I recognise as, real Rock music; gravelly voice, heavy drums, whining guitar.

Did I like it? No.

5. In a Broken Dream

What does it sound like to me? Soft Rock/Pop. Oo, an organ! Intro has a little of the 70s influence going on, then dreary vocals; despite the effort to sound like Robert Plant (that ain’t gonna happen!) Makes me think of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar- Gethsemane song – but less emotional.

Did I like it? Meh.

Still from ‘Dirty Love’ video shoot, 1989


6. Preaching from a Chair

What does it sound like to me? Rock/Pop. There is a maturity here which was missing from the previous pieces. Can imagine this used on a TV crime show. There’s the organ in the background again, albeit briefly, but the solo guitar returns the piece to teenage-boydom.

Did I like it? Best so far. But like it? Not much.

7.Right From the Start

What does it sound like to me? I get the feeling they were trying to get this used as opening theme for James Bond; that kind of Rock!! More love song stuff. Some typical guitar riffs. Dull rhythm.

Did I like it? Not really (and I’m trying to be nice here!)

8. Resurrection Day

What does it sound like to me? Rock. Thump-drum-cymbal-over-and-over-dum-cha-dum-cha-dum-cha-dum etc…

Did I like it? Yawn

9. Broken

What does it sound like to me? Like I want to cry out – “Where’s this Hard Rock I was promised!” Broken hearts and tambourines -bleurgh!

Did I like it? No!

10. No One Gets Out Alive

What does it sound like to me? Rock. Finally! Some good solid beats and strings. Typical sounding ‘old style’ rock, decent lyrics, obligatory guitar solo, a little thrashing, strong vocals. Nothing new here.

Did I like it? I didn’t hate it!

Image result for thunder rock band
Thunder. Photo from Times Free Press

To round-up – I won’t be listening to Thunder again. Why? Because it’s boring and other bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, do it better. Reading that they were classed not only under the Rock, but Metal genre, I struggled to find anything ‘metallic’ about any of it. For supporters of the group, I would remind you that the point of this’experiment’, was for people to challenge my listening habits, get me out of my comfort zone – rattle me, make me struggle, make me make an effort. So far, not a single suggestion has done that – least of all Thunder! Was it challenging? No, not at all. Not so much Thunder, as a rain-shower.

I just wrote to say…

Good morning to all my followers
Good Morning Followers

How many Followers a blogger has is all relative. How many Followers actually read posts? How many bloggers and Followers communicate with each other? How current or ‘on trend’ a bloggers posts are may depend on the subject matter – lists, we are told, are always popular, but specialising in the life cycle of bugs may not be so much.

It is easy to write in a ‘bubble’. But I believe, as I did when I was a visual artist, that the post isn’t complete without an audience response (and that response may sometimes be silence!)

I am always delighted when someone comments on a post, or I get a new Follower – and I tell my husband – and he says, with not a small amount of incredulity – “These people actually go out of their way to ‘hear’ you rant and make inane comments? I get it daily without making an effort!”

So, to all of you who read my ‘inane comments and rants – a BIG Thank You! Some of you are reading via WordPress and have blogs yourselves, some of you are reading via e-mail, and some just trip over this nonsense accidentally…

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