Strangers Being Human.

Today I am a stranger, passing a collection of strangers. I am a son to a father, a brother to a sister, an uncle to a nephew, a king to a pauper, a pauper to a king, a child to a grandfather, and a grandfather to a child. I am a foreigner to a traveller, an Englishman to a foreigner, a customer to a servant, and an associate to a customer. I am a source of joy to my friends, frustration to my enemies, and illusion to those who only know me through the work I produce; as much as those who produce their own art are to me. 

I am the suave Casanova in the crowd, the unkempt fool in the distance, the distant soul by the side, and the curious indifference to the few. I am the all for one and one for all, the free spirit, the too in love to leave, and the one that got away. I am the stroker of dogs, the visceral interloper of commercialism, and the Machiavellian response to those I unfairly deem culpable to ridicule. 

I am the chained to civilisation, the psychologically liberated, the trapped by conscious conflict, and the drifter upon free society. I am the person who pays for the addiction of freedom offered by technology, and the one who sells time in order to gain more of it. I am young, I am old, I am wise, I am an idiot, I am a philosopher, I am a clown. I am a hundred thoughts offering a thousand signs pointing along a million possibilities. I am your complete opposite, I am your exact replica…

Today I am a stranger, passing a collection of strangers. You are the stranger, and are all these people and more. This make us wonderful, it also makes us human.

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Bocker; the Shaggy Superhero.

"The Shaggy Superhero"
In June 2014, I made the bold decision to run a half-marathon for charity; in the leafy suburban serenity of St Albans, here in England. While difficult to select a cause to raise funds for, I settled on aiming for £1000 towards the Animal Cancer Trust; a group which aids treatment and research towards both humanity's strongest love, and nature's deepest fear. 

Four weeks of perseverance in training and promotion later - and twelve hours before the race, the full amount had finally been reached; its majority through the kind souls who have slowly grown into fans of my work - and loved animals. Compassion had yet again prevailed, and I finished the 13.1 miles with a firm sense of pride in the human spirit - and very tired legs.

And yet at the beginning of this idea, I was apprehensive; my initial amount was planned as £500, and I felt uncertain enough people would donate to a charity - especially one so little known, in a world where it is impossible to champion so many deserving causes. However, all those fears were conquered in a flash moments after opening the charity page, when I saw the first donation of $20.00 - "Wishing me all the best... from Bocker and Marie!"...

For those unaware, Bocker is a Labradoodle from New York (pictured). Half movie star, half therapy dog, full humanitarian, my friendship with he and his family began with an article written earlier this year (link below), celebrating his life and altruistic works. I was taken aback by the sheer volume of his charity, humility, and dedication to provide a richer, happier way of living to anyone he touches; as much as the welcoming nature from a family who clearly nurtured a young pup, into a proud, quite remarkable shaggy adult. Much like all dogs of the world, he came across as a giver, and writing about him was a pleasure, an honour, and still one of my favourite articles I have written to date.

"A smart cookie too"
Last month, Bocker was diagnosed with lymphoma - a form of cancer which stems from the lymph glands. With chemotherapy the only option of saving his life, his family currently guide him through the early stages of treatment. Chemotherapy unfortunately, is expensive, and the givers now find themselves needing a similar form charity and goodwill in return. Which is why I write this article. 

I would like anyone reading this to show your support, and donate whatever form of finance you can to aid his treatment; the link is below. Beyond this, sharing his plight through the internet, sending messages of support, of simply wishing for his full recovery can only help. Cancer in humans is treacherous enough, yet for dogs it must be a confusing and difficult time. While they may remain unaware they are ill, the sensitivity of those who love them would be impossible to ignore; in an animal which lives so viscerally through its emotions.

Bocker is a truly amazing character, and still has plenty of doggie duties to take care off - in that thankless manner canines live their lives. The boy who has helped so many humans, is now in need of vital human help in return. It was his donation which made me realise I was working towards a greater cause, and would eventually be a success. I now hope the same can happen for him...

CLICK HERE and donate to aid Bocker's chemotherapy
CLICK HERE to visit Bocker's Facebook Page
CLICK HERE for my previous article on the amazing Bocker

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How Would You Write, Back to the Future Four?

In the ensuing 25 years since the release of the third and final portion of science-fiction classic, Back to the Future, movie fans worldwide have mused over the possibility of a fourth instalment one day coming to fruition. However, with Christopher Lloyd in his seventies, Michael J Fox’s acting limited by the debilitation of Parkinson’s disease, and writers Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis openly dismissing the project as 'boring', it would seem part four hitting our silver screens is more a work of fan-boy fantasy, than Hollywood reality.

Yet we live in a world where minds can rapidly change like a Scottish highland breeze. And what if – whether for love, money, or a script strong enough to justify the time and effort in writing it, the original cast and crew found a desire to recreate a modern version of the past, and signed up to this fresh green lighted project. With the collection of issues born from time working against it, and the intricate level of construction needed, how would you write a movie, like Back to the Future Four?

The year is 2020. Marty and Jennifer remain comfortably healthy and married; living in the pleasant present future displayed in Back to the Future Two - minus Hoverboards, flying cars, and Jaws 19. Biff Tannen is a middle-aged loser who flips burgers (in the movie world, flipping burgers means loser - even though it is an honest way to make a living), while Doc Emmett Brown remains in 1915 with Clara Clayton and family. 

The McFly’s live with their only child; 21-year old Mikey - a carbon copy in looks and personality to his 1980’s father. One fateful day in the family garage, the Doc turns up in his trusted Delorean - the spacecraft/train was too large and expensive to maintain. He explains to Marty – aside why Hoverboards, flying cars and Jaws 19 never came to pass, how they need to venture back to 1999 – in order to maintain the course of his sons conception; who faces the dangers of Biff and his usual hair brained schemes from separating Marty and Jennifer. Of course Marty – being older, is usurped by young Mikey – eager to prove himself; being the only soul ever convinced by his father's stories of 1955/2015/1885. Mikey McFly ends up venturing back to 1999 with the Doc – discovering a world before smart-phones, widely available broadband, and twitter; but still with a surly and stupid burger flipping bully, named Biff Tannen. For the next 90 minutes, all kinds of mayhem and mischief ensue, ending with a resolution which leaves everyone happy, and involves Michael J.Fox in the final scene in some capacity. While rehashing elements of the events in 1955, the difference lies in the cultural and moral interests of two very different periods of history; and in the hands of crafted screenwriters like Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis, this would surely create a recipe for cine-magic...

Regardless of the plot, working a fresh Back to the Future movie would prove an arduous task for any director; a fourth movie runs the risk of tarnishing a series universally loved and regarded, and our imaginations often create a magic, reality is unable to reproduce. Added to this is the audience accepting Michael J.Fox in an extended cameo role; even though they would understand his limits are forced by illness, it may still feel difficult to see him take a back seat, as well as needing a very talented young actor to fill a lead role of a cultural icon.

On the reverse, there would be no trouble prizing the still active Christopher Lloyd, or pulling Thomas F.Wilson from his comedy gigs and voice-overs. And it is also a project Hollywood would invest good money into; as the movie alone would likely generate a large financial return, regardless of quality. It is a major risk, and a highly unexpected event, but I would happily accept an adequate part four, purely to enjoy seeing beloved characters and situations re-awoken for one final occasion; while a different genre, it never hurt Rocky Balboa or Rambo. The only other option is an attempt to ‘reboot’ the original; which going on the recent Robocop and Karate Kid ventures, I cannot imagine anyone under the age of 25 - or with any regard for the artistic beauty of classic cinema, wishes to see happen. 

There are a multitude of ideas and possibilities with this, and this article is merely the musing of one person. With millions of die-hard fans of the series out there, I would love to know how you feel Back to the Future Four should pan out - if it even should? Would you allow the son of Marty to travel with the Doc? Would Biff be flipping burgers, or running a corporation after some kind of mid-life epiphany? Or would you create an entirely new direction altogether? Please comment below, and I will post the most original and interesting one up in my next article...

Petition to Extend Sentences for Animal Abuse.

The manner in which a culture treats its animals, speak volumes about the state of their society. Each creature lives at the mercy of our attitudes, and rely on humanity to respect their existence with protection and nurture; providing us with indefinite love and affection in return.

Here in the United Kingdom, we are fortunate to posses a system which does indeed protect domesticated animals; the RSPCA operate to monitor their welfare, veterinary services operate from Lands End to John O' Groats, and laws are designed as punishment for the unfortunate forms of animal abuse - which both anger and sadden us to hear, read or discover. As vital as these laws are, the current maximum sentence for severe cases stand at a £20,000 fine and six months served in prison, and animal lover Joanne Warrior feels - as much as I do, this is far too lenient a punishment; for what are in many cases, acts of cold-blooded murder upon creatures who deserve shelter, food, and a loving happy home. 

Because of this, she has created an E-Petition for Her Majesty's Government, in order to have this issue discussed in parliament; with the hope of raising the maximum sentence of animal cruelty to a maximum two year spell of incarceration - in line with other forms of non-animal related sentencing. The cause has currently received over 11,000 signatures, and the British Government have responded to this plight letting us know - should the level of signatures reach over 100,000, it will be considered for debate in parliament, by a backbench committee.

While I understand a cynicism in general toward politicians and their often maligned ways - as well as the feeling of futility in campaigns such as this, I remain an idealist. Knowing animal lovers exist in all walks of life - and with an Election on the horizon in 2015, it would suit many local government MPs to promote this cause, as well as push it forward before Electoral voting takes place in May of 2015. All we need to do is spread and promote this as far reaching as we can to the animal lovers and compassionate souls across the land; hoping the campaign catches a flame to surge over 100,000, and hand a little back to the world's endless givers.

Please click the link and sign the petition below. Animal welfare is a vital portion of any civilized society, and as I am sure you are fully aware dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters and all other forms of domestic family member, are lives of a far richer value, than the weak minority who abuse their trust. Our culture treats its animals with respect; this is merely a continuation of our never-ending gratitude...

Thank you,

Lee Gunnell.


If Birds Were Human.

It is a strange notion of any developed society. For me to set foot upon a piece of land – which nobody but nature can lay claim of true ownership, I need a small micro-chipped booklet containing my photo and personal details, in order to do so. Even then, should I happen to have exited the womb upon an area declared dodgy by the onlookers from another zone, even my miserable mug shot doesn't qualify to grace certain portions of God’s greenest garden. According to the passport, our world is owned by human beings, even though human beings are mere guests on planet Earth…

In certain parts of these lands, and by certain types of people, I wouldn’t be allowed to criticise an invisible man in the sky, whose existence hasn't even been proved genuine; going on doctrines of two thousand year old books, carrying tales more ludicrous than an average episode of Dallas. They will fiercely proclaim to me how (insert atypical religious figure here), is the true God, and no living being is allowed to question his word; otherwise they will chop my legs off, or something similarly ludicrous. They will fail to mention the benefit to themselves these ideals conveniently provide, as well as the fact their worshipped leader just happens to come from the land they stop people from entering, without that small, micro-chipped booklet - and total capitulation of personal viewpoint. They have all the answers, even though nobody was asking them any questions...

If I drive around in an expensive car, and wear an even more expensive watch; the kind famous movie and sport stars have carefully shot photos of themselves taken with, other people will become convinced I am better than they are; as well as those whose cars and watches - while still perfectly functional, are not plastered on gigantic billboards much larger than I am. Even though - regardless of the watch we own and car we drive, we all sleep at night, dream of nonsense and look like shit in the morning, this is deemed of the utmost importance to civilisation. Attaining these items is considered a vital part of being a success; as if success is not spiritual enlightenment and emotion evolution, but owning a Ferrari, and living in a massive house. Money talks, and it never shuts up...

If birds were human beings, none of this would exist, much less matter. We would fly to a land of our choosing at will, vanish once the winter sets in, and never worry about borderline checks across the skies; we would all look the same anyway, so national security would be shot to hell. Buildings would be provided by nature, and none would remain out of bounds from the illusion of an invisible man in the sky declaring we can’t enter, without telling him he is absolutely right about everything. And finally, as bird don’t carry clothes or start bank accounts, money wouldn’t exist. Yes, we would miss out on all the inventions of man, but much like the internet to the majority of those living in the 20th century - you cannot miss what you never even knew was there.

Birds live the simple life. They fly, they eat, they love, they survive. They are wealthier because they have no desire for money, possess greater freedom without need for a passport, and are closer to God as they carry zero concept of religion. What we gain in the ability to walk and talk, we lose in our ability to just feel. Of course, on the flip-side, we would do a lot of accidental crapping on one another, so it wouldn't all be sunshine and roses....