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I’d already donated money to Comic Relief on Friday night when David Tennant made his impassioned plea, but if I hadn’t, that would have been enough to persuade me.

 

I always try to give to charity where I can, but I’m just as guilty as the next person of sitting complacently on my sofa watching Comic Relief or Children in Need while some celebrity cries on my TV screen. I may even have rolled my eyes. I’ve laughed at the entertainment, I’ve cheered as the total rises and then I’ve slept soundly having given nothing, and all simply because I couldn’t be bothered.

 

I am lucky enough to have never been in a position where I can’t afford to give at least a small amount. Even now, with no job, I can easily spare a little. And it doesn’t take much:

  • £1 will pay for one child in Uganda to be tested for malaria so they can get quick diagnosis and life-saving treatment. Just £1 to save a life!
  • £3 will provide hot meals for 4 children living in extreme poverty in the UK, something most of us take for granted.
  • £5 will buy an insecticide treated bed net – it will protect someone in Africa from being bitten by mosquitoes while they sleep. Malaria kills – the net could save their life.
  • £5 will pay for a vaccine that will protect a child in Malawi against deadly diseases such as tetanus and hepatitis B – here in the UK childhood vaccinations are freely available to all.
  • £10 could provide vital information to 100 armed forces veterans who are experiencing mental health problems, so they know where to turn for help. They risked their lives for us, £10 is a small price to pay in return.
  • £20 will buy a Braille kit enabling a blind child in Kenya to have a proper education. Every child in the UK receives a free and full education regardless of what physical challenges they may face.
  • £30 will pay for the training of a volunteer to provide support to an isolated elderly man in the UK. No-one should grow old completely alone.
  • £50 could keep a homeless child safe, fed and off the streets for a whole month in Uganda. Think about that when you curl up under your duvet at night.
  • £100 will provide vital support to a young woman in the UK who is being sexually exploited, helping her stay safe and healthy, and take the first steps towards a new life. She is someone’s daughter, sister, cousin…

 

I don’t mean to preach, I just never fully appreciated that so much good could be done with so little.

 

If you’ve ever researched your family tree then you will no doubt be aware that the further back you delve into your genealogy the more ancestors you have in each generation, the number increasing exponentially. Just 21 generations back you had over 2 million ancestors. Bearing this in mind, it’s not unreasonable to suppose that somehow we are all related to each other, that everyone in the world is just one gigantic family. We are all connected and we all need each other to survive. This was never more apparent to me than when watching Comic Relief.

 

The stories I saw on the television on Friday night moved me immeasurably: children dying from preventable diseases, mothers dying so their children can live, young people suffering abuse, people living with HIV and AIDS. I am so lucky and so privileged to live the way I do. Watching made me feel ashamed for being dissatisfied with my lot.

 

I can’t promise to never wish for something more from life; that is human nature. But, I do promise that I will never be “that person” again – the one that sits there and watches but does nothing. If all I can afford to give is £1 then I will remember that even an amount as small as that can help to save a life.

 

Give what you can, because every little helps. Don’t do nothing. Don’t be that person.

 


 
 
To find out more about Comic Relief and the work they do, or to donate, please visit their website by clicking here.

There is also information on the Red Nose Day website which you can visit by clicking here.

I obtained the information above about what your money can do from TK Maxx and the Red Nose Day fund-raising kit which can be downloaded from this page.

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Note: I appreciate this has the potential to be an emotive subject. This is simply my opinion so feel free to disagree with anything I have written but please note, this is my blog and I reserve the right to remove or not publish any comments. Anything I deem to be defamatory, rude or libellous will be removed and the user blocked from commenting on any further posts. I would also ask you to refrain from discussing the merits of the X-Factor as a competition as this is not what this post is about. 


 

Back in August I wrote about why I love to watch the X-Factor. I said what I enjoyed most was the audition stage because of the occasional glimpses of seriously talented passionate people and I used James Arthur as an example of someone I thought was exactly that and so much more. On Sunday he won the competition.

 

In past series of the X-Factor I have always been disappointed to see that after the initial raw auditions, those contestants reaching the live shows often have their talent compromised by unsuitable songs from genres they would probably never tackle if they were trying to make it on their own. I have seen a few of my own personal favourites go out early.

 

Unsurprisingly, there are huge differences in people’s perceptions of what it means to have that elusive “x-factor”. In the context of the TV programme, these are the things that for me give someone the x-factor, and despite what some might expect, it doesn’t involve being to my own personal taste:

  • Be able to sing in tune – I know there are established artists out there who frequently fail to do this, however, if you’re going to try to win a singing competition, for me it’s a no-brainer.
  • Being able to sing doesn’t make you musical and you do need to be musical. This doesn’t mean you have to be able to play an instrument, but you need to be able to feel the music and interpret it, not just rehash someone else’s interpretation. Anyone can stand up and do karaoke.
  • Know your style, be true to it and don’t be bullied into singing things that don’t suit you – Leona Lewis did this very well and look at her now!
  • Be exciting. New bands and singers come to prominence, not because they make a nice sound or because they can sing a song that everyone knows, but because they bring something new, fresh and unique to the table. Great examples of this are The Arctic Monkeys, Jake Bugg and Plan B.
  • Engage the audience and entertain them. Whether that’s through big productions and multitudes of dancers, or by allowing them to see into your soul, is down to your own personal style.
  • Be humble, be modest and treat others as you might wish them to treat you – at least until you’ve won and have established yourself!
  • Perform honestly and don’t pretend to be something you’re not.
  • Be passionate.

 

X-Factor contestants who I believe have fulfilled enough of these requirements over the last 9 years to be described as having the x-factor are:

Leona Lewis
Winner in 2006 and now a multi-platinum selling international artist.

Alexandra Burke
Winner in 2008 and one of the most successful winners to date.

JLS
Runners-up in 2008 and now a successful boy band having released 3 albums, and won 5 MOBOs and 2 Brit awards.

Olly Murs
Runner-up in 2009 and now a successful recording artist with 3 albums, 4 UK number 1 singles and a career as a TV presenter.

Stacey Solomon
3rd in 2009 and went on to win I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! in 2010. Now a TV presenter and working on a début album.

One Direction
3rd in 2010 and now an internationally successful boy band. An example of contestants who are most definitely not to my personal taste, however, millions of young female fans all over the world find them charismatic and I would be hard pushed to argue against any of the above requirements, excepting musicality which is probably not so important with the type of music they produce.

Rylan Clark
5th in 2012 and although he frequently failed to sing in tune, and lacked musicality, he had something that most contestants don’t – charisma – in bucket loads. He is over-the-top, outrageous in his fashion choices, and, let’s be honest, a bit of a novelty. The x-factor he possesses is perhaps more attuned to TV presenting and stage work than music but I applaud his commitment to being true to himself at all times.

James Arthur
Winner in 2012.

 

 

James Arthur, for me, epitomises everything that I listed above:

  • Natural charisma. The dictionary definitions of charisma are compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others and a divinely conferred power or talent. His charm is wrapped up in all the other things on the list.
  • Be able to sing in tune – no explanation needed. While I understand that everything else is subjective, this is not. I can sing in tune and I know when someone is not. James was the only contestant this year I never heard singing a bum note.
  • Be musical. He is a musician, writes his own music, and was doing so long before the X-Factor. He interprets songs in such a way that they become uniquely his while he sings them. He has been championed by many successful artists during his time in the competition and this, in my opinion, is very telling.
  • Know your style and be true to it. Not once was he ever accused of compromising himself. He never allowed himself to be forced into singing something that made him uncomfortable (of course I don’t know that anyone tried) and after being in the bottom two, he didn’t change himself in any way in an attempt to garner more support.
  • Be exciting. New, fresh, unique? James Arthur is probably the first singer that the X-Factor has ever had where we can use these words. I’ve seen comments likening him to artists such as Plan B but just because he sings and raps, doesn’t make him the same. Songs he recorded and released with his band before the X-Factor, show him to be truly original.
  • Be engaging and entertaining. James most definitely went down the soul-baring route. It is only when he sings that you realise exactly what singing means to him. He shows raw emotion and you cannot help but be moved by that.
  • Be humble. Never did he look more humble than when he was receiving praise. He was popular with his fellow contestants, was referred to on more than one occasion as one of the hardest workers, and throughout the entire competition, never looked like he expected any of it.
  • Perform honestly. This goes hand in hand with humility. He was never anything other than himself and that’s obvious when watching and listening to his earlier work.
  • Be passionate. It was his passion for music that was plain for all to see when he bared his soul.

 

 

Despite the X-Factor having maybe had its day, James Arthur made it exciting by bringing real raw talent to the stage, something that has been lacking in recent years. I for one, wish him all the luck in the world.

 

 

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I realise it’s probably not cool to admit that I enjoy watching TV talent shows like The X Factor, not least because my Twitter timeline is frequently full of people complaining about how terrible they are, but enjoy them I do.

 

The bit I enjoy most is the audition stage, but not for the reasons a lot of people will think. The auditions are where the producers make real fools out of those deluded people who truly believe they have talent when they don’t, or those who simply think they’ll push their luck. This is not what I enjoy, in fact I frequently fast-forward through these bits as I’m usually watching on a delay.

 

What I enjoy is seeing the occasional glimpse of seriously talented passionate people. People who love what they do and who do it exceptionally well. In this day and age it’s not easy to find success as a recording artist so why wouldn’t these people chance their luck on such a wide-reaching forum? It’s at the audition stage that we see their raw talent before someone persuades them to sing songs from genres to which they’re not really suited. For a few precious moments, they truly shine. Best of all, they surprise and delight us, and I hugely admire their courage and humility.

 

This video is the audition of a young man called James Arthur who epitomises the passionate few. Yes, there’s a bit of a sob story but ultimately his talent surpasses all that. If the rapping does nothing for you then please wait for him to start singing again, he is totally lost in the music and I love him for it:

 

 

And if you have any doubt about his talent and think maybe this was staged to look better than it was then please listen to this original track of him with his band which is just simply beautiful. He used some of the words from it in the rap part of the Tulisa cover he sang for his audition:

 

 

In my opinion he should be signed now because I want to buy his music. Much as I love to watch it, he is far too good for The X Factor.

 

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