CONNECTING BUSINESSES ACROSS CHESHIRE
September/October 2021 Issue 2
From Freud to Vaughn
the hidden meaning of our dreams
VACCINE PASSPORTS: Bad for Business?
BREXIT 9 MONTHS LATER: A working class mistake?
NEW UK FREEPORTS : An indepth review
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: The impact on society
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I welcome you to our second edition of Paramount Press.
As our company continues to grow, we realize that is is normal and healthy for any organisation to adapt. We continue to develop this magazine specifically for you - our target audience. So, from September 2021, we are proud to confidently release Paramount Press - a bi-monthly online magazine - that delivers a mixture of trustworthy and authentic news.
Our range of topics will include entertainment, technology, sport, politics, lifestyle, and of course business.
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Page 06 : Brexit 9 months later: a working-class mistake?
Page 08 : New UK freeports
Page 11 : Vaccine Passports - the for and the against
Page 12 : Artificial Intelligence, and the impact it is having on society
Page 16 : From Freud to Vaughn. What do our dreams actually mean?
Page 20 : The story of a woman who gave birth with COVID-19
Page 24 : Do ghosts exist? This couple claim to live with one
Page 29 : Everything you need to know about unidentified flying objects
Page 31 : Take a look at what's to come in our next edition, online and social media
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Brexit 9 months later:
a working-class mistake?
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Do you remember Brexit?
Do you remember the constant media coverage? The family arguments over leave or remain? The political moment that took down two prime ministers.
I would be surprised if you do not remember Brexit. But since we now live in a pandemic, the media chooses to constantly cover COVID-19 instead.But if you think Brexit is a thing of the past, you are wrong.
Over nine months have passed since the United Kingdom (UK) left the European Union (EU), and during those nine months, many sectors of the British economy have found themselves unprepared.And those sectors happen to be predominantly working-class sectors.
But what does this mean?
The Financial Times report that since Britain left the EU, almost a third of British companies that trade with the EU have suffered a decline or loss of business. Moreover, combining Brexit and the pandemic, thinktank claims that Britain’s economy is on track to suffer more than £700bn.
People often shrug the idea of the country losing more than £700 billion. But realistically, it will collectively affect us in some way. And there is a high chance it will affect working-class people the most.
To start with, why is the economy important?
Scholar, Devi Parameswari, explains that the economy can help improve living standards, therefore making society a better place. According to the researcher, the economy is used towards institutions like science that "improves living standards. It partly depends on the priorities of society and what we consider most important".
So now we know that the economy is important, what sectors will be hit the most?
The combination of Brexit and COVID-19 will affect the British one way or another. Investopedia has reported the "few winners" and the "many losers"of Brexit, and they suggest the fishing industry, food, and agricultural sector - sectors that many working-class people work in - are two of the many losers.Nevertheless, the surprising winners of the Brexit vote are UK and EU manufacturing of specialised machine parts, the mining industry (that on average is unsustainable for the environment), and of course US bankers.
What does this mean?
From the evidence suggesting which sectors will be hit the most, it appears likely that working class people will be most affected. Statistics show that working-class men would be hit the most from Brexit, and that overall, 64% of the working class and 55% of men voted for leave.
With sectors such as the fishing industry - a predominantly working-class industry - having been "sold out", was Brexit a working-class mistake? Or was it a plan?
According to the London Economic, the fishing industry is "worth <£500 million to UK GDP (or 0.1 percent, 0.02 per cent of GDP)". The organization further explains that since the industry has "no money with which [the tories has] to lobby... it was logical that the Tories wouldn’t care about fishing".
With the agricultural sector bringing 0.6% of GDP, do the politicians care about the farmers? - with 56% of them voting to leave. Although the idea of making free trade deals and receiving food from other countries is apparent - the working class will be the ones eating American chlorinated or hormone-pumped meat as they may not be able to afford food from the EU. Thinktank reports that the economy is expected to grow by 5.7% this year, and to recover its pre-pandemic level at the end of 2022, the working class need to prepare themselves for the real disaster - Brexit.
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The Chancellor announced the UK's eight new freeports in this year's Spring Budget. These are: Liverpool City Region, East Midlands Airport, Felixstowe & Harwich, Humber, Plymouth, Solent, Thames and Teesside. Click here to see a brief summary of the Liverpool City Region Freeport (Liverpool Freeport).
The new freeports are aimed at increasing trade traffic through UK ports and growing industry around these ports. The freeports can cover up to a 45 km diameter although not everywhere within this area will benefit from special status. Instead the freeports can contain three types of designated site: tax sites, customs sites and a combination of the two. It is these sites which will benefit from special conditions.
Customs sites are what we commonly associated with the idea of freeports. They are essentially off-shore sites where customs borders are moved in-land. One of the key benefits of customs sites is that they offer UK-based, pre-customs border storage. Firstly, the simple factor of being able to store goods on-land before crossing a customs border can reduce buyers' risks in just-in-time deliveries. This supports UK buyers as they can maintain the cash-flow benefits of delaying expenditure whilst having supplies stored more proximately, reducing the risks involved in just-in-time deliveries. More generally, pre-customs storage also helps to keep supply chains moving, with non-compliant goods being able to be stored at the freeport whilst the rest of the delivery moves on across the border.
Customs sites are also seen to encourage secondary industry. In a transaction where raw materials are shipped to the UK to be developed and then sold onto other countries, customs sites enable businesses to do this without crossing a UK customs border, reducing the expenses involved in accessing UK labour. Further, when selling into the UK market, occasionally tariff inversion may apply, where the imported raw materials are manufactured into a secondary product at the customs site in order to take advantage of lower tariffs on the manufactured goods rather than on the raw materials.
Whilst customs sites are similar to the previous UK freeports' offering, tax sites represent a departure from this. These are essentially areas which benefit from government incentives, largely based on tax relief. The key tax benefits which may be offered at tax sites include:
·Employer National Insurance Contributions Relief;
·Stamp Duty Land Tax Relief;
·Full Business Rates Relief;
·Enhanced 10% rate on Structures and Buildings Allowances; &
·Enhanced Capital Allowances up to 100% on qualifying initial expenditures.
Although extensive, these tax incentives are currently only available for a limited period.
As well as these tax incentives, tax sites also may benefit from loosened planning regulations. This will likely be effected by a Generally Permitted Development Order which will designate areas where certain planning permissions are deemed granted without need for application. The extent to which this order relies on where the development is and not what it is will determine the extent to which these loosened planning permissions will encourage a diverse range of businesses.
Because of the vast areas which they can cover and the introduction of tax sites, these new freeports do represent a shift from the old and should go further to encourage a diverse array of business activities within and outside of the freeport area. Regions harbouring freeports will also see a boost to local infrastructure, with the Government setting aside £175 million to support associated infrastructure investment. Investing in multimodal transport is also a key part of theLiverpool Freeport proposals.
As part of the bidding process for freeport status, bidders have also had to demonstrate a commitment to increase local average wages and to the Government's Net Zero ambitions. This helps to combat the typical consequences associated with deregulation.For instance, the Liverpool Freeport proposals contain a commitment to the Real Living Wage. Although concrete proposals are yet to be seen, the Liverpool Freeportbid also emphasised commitments to exploring carbon capture technologies and to utilising the regionalTidal Power Projectand hydrogen assets.
Of course, freeports still bring risks. Freeports are commonly associated with money laundering and criminal activity.For instance, in 2014 archaeological relics valued at €9 million were discovered at the Geneva freeport. The UK's freeports susceptibility to such activities will depend on how they are eventually regulated but needless to say, caution should be exercised.
Land owners should also not become complacent in light of relaxed planning regulations. Environmental liabilities could still arise and full surveys should therefore continue to be carried out.
One of the main risks presented by freeports to businesses looking to locate within the freeport is their likelihood of success. It is hard to tell with any degree of accuracy just how beneficial these freeports will be to certain businesses. This is particularly the case at the moment as detailed plans are yet to be released. Many of the benefits of the tax sites are also only guaranteed for a temporary period and so the risk remains that these are reduced or withdrawn in the following years.
Freeports and the Liverpool Freeport therefore remain hot topics to watch. Although the details of their regulation and their stimulus remain unclear, these proposals will at least benefit the establishment of a wide range of businesses within the freeport areas for the short term.
New U.K Freeports :
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Vaccine Passports - the for and against
An in depth look on the impact of vaccine passports
It’s strange to think that as a society, we are going to have to provide a vaccination passport to endure our personal freedoms.To stop the spread of COVID-19, and the deaths of loved ones, the world has turned its reliance towards a vaccine.
But is there a price to pay?
Is it right for our personal freedoms to be put at stake?
Many countries around the globe are introducing vaccine passports, that will be mandatory for everyday living activities. In countries like the United Kingdom, Italy, and France, they have already been implemented. All three countries require an individual to have two shots of the vaccine to travel abroad, or to have a negative PCR test. In addition, France mandates people to have the vaccine or a negative PCR test to visit a venue with more than 50 people. These venues include cafes, bars, and restaurants (or any venue with more than 50 people). Also, from September, the British public may even require two jabs of a negative test to enter a nightclub. The one thing these restrictions have caused is for society to divide – like religion and politics, these requirements have divided people over their personal beliefs.Is taking the vaccine for public safety the right thing to do? Or is having the choice to take it and not be restricted, morally correct?
From a survey of 6000 Italians, French, Germans, and Brits, all but Germany were in favour of vaccine passports for travel. Seven out of ten britons were in favour of vaccine passports to travel, making the United Kingdom the most favoured country. Of course, the main reason is to protect society, as the vaccine reduces chances of the virus mutating. Also, the Guardian explains, mandatory vaccines could help to reopen the borders safely without fear of the virus, and for greater work opportunities. The world has stalled, and by “getting a certificate, some individuals who have been deprived of access to certain work opportunities by the pandemic, could benefit”.
World Wide Demonstration is an organisation that is “devoted to emboldening citizens to push back against Coronavirus related restrictions in their countries”, and demonstrations have taken part in 180 cities globally. The reason behind the protests is that people believe civil liberties and human rights are at risk. According to the demonstration’s website, freedom of movement and health and liberties such as privacy are at stake due to mandatory vaccines.
Moreover, Liberty, an independent organisation that “challenges injustice, defends freedom and campaigns to make sure everyone in the UK is treated fairly” has explained that the introduction of vaccine passports will “undermine relationships, and seed distrust and division”. The campaign further explains that mandatory vaccines are a “by-product of the failings of this Government’s entire pandemic response”.
We recognize that both sides are just as equally valid, but what do you think?
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AI - most commonly known as artificial intelligence.
As a society, we have already embedded AI into our normal daily livings.Do you search on google search engines? Do you use facial recognition on your phone? Do you have a voice-controlled device in your home? Most people would just think that these devices are just modern-day valuables - but with technology increasing at a rapid rate, how far will AI go? Could AI cure diseases like cancer or HIV? Or could humans use a personalised robot as a house assistant?
This may sound exciting to some, but one of the world’s most reputable physicists, Stephen Hawking, showed extreme scepticism towards AI. He explained at the opening of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (LCFI) at Cambridge University, that artificial intelligence will be “either the best, or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity”. The Oxford English Dictionary defines artificial intelligence as “the study and development of computer systems that can copy intelligent human behaviour”. Bernard Marr-a world-renowned futurist, influencer and thought leader in the fields of business and technology-groups AI into four categories.
Reactive: The technology has no memory, and only responds to certain stimuli. This is the oldest type of AI and does not have learning ability. It can only automatically respond to a limited set or a combination of inputted information. IBMs Deep blue – a computer that in 1997, beat chess-master Garry Kasparov – is the best example of reactive technology.
Limited memory: The technology uses memory to learn and improve its response. Limited memory technology is capable of learning from previously inputted data from the introduction of algorithms in 2012, and according to Forbes “nearly all existing applications that we know of come under this category of AI”. Google search engine is an example of limited memory, as it uses algorithms from the data input, but can also interpret data it observes to read its environment and adjust when necessary.
Theory of mind: The technology understands the needs of other intelligent entities. Bernard Marr explains that the theory of mind technology “are machines that acquire decision-making capabilities equal to humans”. Theory of mind level AI can understand what it is interacting with judging its characteristics and thought processes. Sophia the Robot is the latest milestone in the theory of mind AI.
Self-aware: This type of technology has humanised intelligence and self-awareness. These machines will be fully aware of not only human emotions, but of their own. Currently, this AI has not yet been produced.
How will AI change our society? Computer scientist Dr. Kai-Fu Lee explained, in an interview with CBS, that artificial intelligence "is going to change the world more than anything in the history of mankind. More than electricity.” Here are some examples of how AI could change our lives - whether for the better or worse, you can decide.
Smart homes: The obvious example that AI could change our lives is AI for personal use. Homes are becoming smarter and smarter, as most household items now contain artificial intelligence. Smartphones are the best example. Statista (specialists in consumer and market data) state that 3.8 billion people have access to a smartphone, meaning over a third of the global population has access to a device that can augment your reality, recognise your face and fingerprint, and can predict what someone is about to say. Moreover, the first-ever smart fridge was introduced in the year 2000 and has surged in popularity. However, Times reports that in the next 10 years it is predicted that households will contain a robot kitchen arm used to help people with cooking, smart showers with voice control, and shape-shifting furniture.
The first-ever smart fridge was introduced in the year 2000 and has surged in popularity. Times reports, that in the next 10 years, it is predicted that households will contain a robot kitchen arm used to help people with cooking, smart showers with voice control, and shape-shifting furniture.
Smart cities: Believe it or not, cities are using also using AI. Countries in the European Union – and yes, that does include ex-member the United Kingdom – have started to implement AI, which according to the union’s website “enable[es]ing smart urban solutions brings multiple benefits, including more efficient energy, water and waste management, reduced pollution, noise and traffic congestions”. Organisation ASME have reported the top 10 upcoming smart cities, naming Singapore, Oslo, New York, London, and Dubai as examples. Forbes regards that in the “Chinese city of Hangzhou, an AI-based smart “City Brain” has helped to reduce traffic jams by 15 percent”. Moreover, sources predict that “automated visual garbage sorting using robots, visual inspection of power transmission lines using drones equipped with cameras” will be implemented, and potentially a microchip – that will be implanted in a human hand –could be used for future payments.
Smart militaries: Finally, it has been reported that various countries are starting to use AI in their military. Scholar Elsa Kania conveys that the "Chinese military and China’s defence industry have been pursuing significant investments in robotics, swarming, and other applications of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)". Additionally, journalist Harry Lea explains that China's interest in using AI for military uses has forced the US to take action, in which previous US secretary of defence Mark Esper explained that "China believes it can leapfrog our current technology and go straight to the next generation.”
Yes, the world does seem bright. However, how reliant are we going to be on AI? It is looking like robots will fight future wars.
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National Air Ambulance Week (6th– 12th September), the North West Air Ambulance Charity (NWAA) is raising awareness of the lifesaving impact its service has had on people across the North West.
From 1st September 2020 – 31st August 2021, the charity completed 2,590 missions across the region, including 399 in Cheshire. With three helicopters and 4 HEMs response vehicles across its Barton and Blackpool air bases, the charity’s crew of highly skilled specialist doctors and helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) paramedics deliver enhanced pre-hospital care to the most critically ill and injured patients. In cases of serious incidents and accidents, their care can make a lifesaving difference to patients, such as Rik Waddon.
Rik, 44, from Chester, is a Paralympian cyclist with numerous medals under his belt. In March 2020, he was out on his bike training for the Tokyo Paralympic games, when his plans were upended in an instant.
Cycling along remote lanes in Trafford Bowland, a motorbike collision saw Rik catapulted from his bike. Knocked unconscious, when Rik came to, his injuries were extensive: broken ribs, a broken collar bone, a punctured lung and a nearly amputated arm. Unable to move or call for attention, a local passer-by eventually came upon him, and the NWAA crew was quickly alerted.
Arriving on scene, the NWAA crew stabilised Rik’s condition and administered pain relief. He was airlifted to Royal Preston Hospital, a major trauma centre, in a matter of minutes, undergoing surgery for his collar bone and arm during a ten-day hospital stay. The speed of the crew’s response helped to minimise the severity of Rik’s injuries.
Rik recalled the day: “Had it not been for how quickly the crew got to me that day, I really think my injuries would have been so much worse. Getting into trouble in such a remote area, I was terrified I wouldn’t be found in time, so when I heard the helicopter arrive, the relief was immense. I was in a similar accident when I was 5 years old, back before the air ambulance existed, and the difference in care I received this time around was incredible. This is such a vital service, and truly deserves every ounce of support it can get. I dread to think what the statistics for these types of accidents would be like if the region didn’t have an air ambulance service.”
In cases of serious trauma or illness, the NWAA Critical Care Paramedics and consultant-level doctors can administer highly advanced interventions before reaching the hospital, such as anaesthesia, blood transfusion or intubation. It can make the difference between life and death for patients like Rik.
As a charity funded operation that does not receive any government or NHS funding, NWAA must raise over £9.5m a year to remain operational, relying on generous donations, fundraisers and volunteers to maintain its 365-days-a-year service.
Discharged from hospital in the early days of lockdown, Rik’s road to recovery has been complicated.
“I’m still coping with the aftershock of the accident to this day. Memory can sometimes be a struggle, and my training for the Tokyo games was completely thrown off schedule meaning I was unable to compete. However, I’m fighting every day to make a positive recovery, and I’m now back into training. I’m set on qualifying for Paris 2024 and ending my career on a high note!
“I owe a huge thank you to everyone who was there for me during my accident and recovery, especially the air ambulance crew. I still cannot believe it is a charity. The work it carries out is so important, and there are many people still here today thanks to the service. I’m testament to that.”
Heather Arrowsmith, CEO at the North West Air Ambulance Charity, commented: “Hearing from patients like Rik demonstrates just how important the charity’s work is. Our crew are out there every day, having a life-changing impact on people’s lives, and it wouldn’t be possible without the incredible support we receive from supporters, donors, fundraisers and volunteers.”
“The nature of our work means there will always be patients in need, and public support, no matter how big or small, makes an incredible difference. It keeps our helicopters in the air, our rapid response vehicles out on the road, and provides vital funds to enable us to continually adapt our service to make sure we’re always offering the best possible care and emergency interventions for our patients.”
For more information on the North West Air Ambulance Charity or to donate, please visit www.nwairambulance.org.uk or call 0800 587 4570.
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From the pyramids to alien life - there are many mysteries in the world.
One mystery that often causes confusion to most people is the ability to dream. What happens when people dream? Why do people dream? Do dreams parallel our own life?
Dream on - a few facts about dreams
Oneirology- the scientific study of dreams - dates back to the 19th century. Through two centuries of studying, psychologistshave identified stages of sleep - NREM (non-rapid eye movement) and REM (rapid eye movement).REM sleep usually begins 90 minutes after falling asleep.Data shows that the average brain enters REM sleep four times per sleep.During REM, human muscles become "paralysed", as the brain becomes aroused with mental activity. Hence during REM, dreams occur.Many people think they do not dream, but according to Very WellMinds - “an award-winning resource for reliable,compassionate, and up-to-date information on the mental health topics” - humans forget up to 95% of all dreams shortly after waking up.According to Statista (Consumer and Market data specialists) a survey involving 1019 Polish people and their dreams, “every second Polish respondent dreamed of material things like an apartment or a car”. In addition, a fifth of respondents dreamed about health involving themselves or their families, and nine percent of respondents dreamed of traveling. Furthermore, a 2017 study accords that even people who are blind since birth can have visual dreams.
Several of the most influential inventions were created in dreams. Various sources accord that Larry Page dreamt of Google before inventing the most popular search engine, and Dimitri Mendeleyev – the person who created the periodic table – also dreamt of it. The source explains that dreaming of inventions “proves that our brains are active even when we’re fast asleep, and they continue working on a problem we’ve been thinking about while awake”.
Is there any scientific evidence to explain what our dreams mean?
Sigmund Freud is arguably the most controversial psychologist. Freud created and believed the Oedipus Complex – a theory that proposes children have sexual desires for their opposite-sex parent, whilst viewing their same-sex parent as a rival. Although this theory does not apply to dreams, it gives an example of Freud's psychoanalytic interpretations. In an 1899 book called The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud theorised dreams as a mental activity that follows life’s logic. Freud.Org, an online organisation that contains academic information regarding Freud’s work, reports that the psychologist also “shed new light on the workings of the unconscious and its powerful role in human life”.Freuds theory of dreams suggests that imagery in our dreams are wishes from the individuals’ childhood that have been repressed.
"The role of dreams is to ensure that the brain's visual cortex is stimulated during sleep. Otherwise, if the visual system were deprived of input all night long, the visual cortex's function might degrade".Eagleman and Vaughn
Eagleman and Vaughn take amore modern approach to the study of dreams. Their study is called the defensive action theory. The psychologists explain that the visual cortex - located in the brain's occipital lobe - starts to respond to non-visual signals if it is deprived of visual input.The brain preserves the territory of the visual cortex by keeping it active at night. In the “defensive activation theory,” dream sleep exists to keep neurons in the visual cortex active, therefore combating a takeover by the neighbouring senses. In this view, dreams are primarily visual precisely because this is the only sense that is disadvantaged by darkness. Thus, only the visual cortex is vulnerable in a way that warrants internally generated activity to preserve its territory.
For example, if a human is in a dark place, the person will get little or no visual input. Therefore, the visual cortex will become vulnerable. Hence, dreams are "our brain's way of defending the integrity of our visual system...". Dreams are keeping our visual system alive.This study supports the visual dreams in blind people. ‘Discover’ conveys that dreams are defending a blind person's visual system in response to other senses, like touch - "the occipital lobe strongly responds to touch. This rewiring or repurposing of under-utilized brain areas is a form of neuroplasticity".
From Freud to Vaughn: The hidden meanings in our dreams
“The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind"
"The role of dreams is to ensure that the brain's visual cortex is stimulated during sleep. Otherwise, if the visual system were deprived of input all night long, the visual cortex's function might degrade"
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The story of a woman who gave birth with COVID-19
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Giving birth is an act only a woman can experience.
The patience, the changes, the pain, the trauma, and the eventual pleasure of biologically delivering a baby is life-changing. Giving birth during a global pandemic is also quite a challenge – a challenge which many couples did not expect to happen, which may have postponed or stopped their choice. According to data by the national statistics agency Istat, 50% of Germans and French have postponed the decision to have a baby; and 37% of Italians have abandoned the idea of having a baby. Despite birth rates dropping at an alarming rate, there are many people who decided to have a baby. But there are also some people, like Stephanie McDowell, who gave birth whilst infected with COVID-19.
Stephanie McDowell, a Widnes resident, gave birth to her baby whilst being infected with the virus. “It was the craziest experience of my life”, explained the mother, who originally tested positive for the virus on the 10th of January 2021. During this time, she was 36 weeks pregnant. Originally, Steph decided to take a test after her mother tested positive. At first, she conducted a lateral flow test which came back negative. However, days later, symptoms started to develop – high temperature, and no taste or smell – resulting in herdecision to take a PCR test. Steph explained that due to her symptoms, she had to isolate - she “was worried and cautious. No one understood anything. I could not turn to my family, as we were in lockdown”.
The combination of being pregnant, living in a pandemic due to a ‘deadly virus’, and having to isolate herself because of her symptoms dramatically affected her mental health. This comes concerning theNHS’s statement that pregnant women are in the “moderate risk (clinically vulnerable) group”.Pregnant women are “sometimes more at risk from viruses like flu”. “My anxiety was through the roof”. The thought of whether the virus could affect her pregnancy and more importantly "my baby, was constantly on my mind”. However, during her isolation period Steph’s “most frightening thought” became reality- Steph went into labour.
“My waters broke, and as this was my first time I worried” explained Steph. But even though she had symptoms, “there was no COVID procedure”. “I first called the delivery suite, and the baby’s father drove us to the hospital. Once arriving, I was placed into a side room due to having symptoms. But because of the confusion, everybody was giving different advice”.Even though McDowell’s waters broke on the Saturday, the staff allowed her to go home as “she was not in full labour”,but to return the following day for a routine check-up. She decided to go home “so she was not on her own”. Steph’s labour progressed. She returned for the routine check-up, when, due to her anxiety, she requested medics to induce her the following day.
Steph encountered more problems during labour. “There was a COVID nurse on the delivery suite who takes charge of all of the people who have got symptoms or has COVID-19”. The nurse explained if her partner took a test, which showed a negative result, he would be allowed in the delivery suite. But more confusion occurred once a nurse questioned the type of test her partner had taken. Since the test was a lateral flow test, he could not come in. “This was at 2am, I was ready to go into labour. I burst into tears since he could not come in. Everyone was in lockdown. My family were isolating. What do I do?”. However, an opportunity was given to Steph to allow her sister in the delivery suite with her, as her sister did not have - symptoms. The NHS claims that a birth partner is allowed in if they do not have symptoms.But after all the fear, confusion, and 15 hours of pain in labour, baby Teddy was born. Due to the mother having COVID-19, the baby also had the virus which as a result, he “was put on a register, which I think carefully watches him in case any future health problems happen to him as a result of COVID-19”. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists reports that if you have the virus, it is “unlikely to cause problems with your baby’s development, as there have been no reports of this so far”. Looking back at her first chapter as a mother, Steph acknowledges that it was challenging. The baby is in good health, and so is she. However, a message the mother has to new upcoming mothers is “do not worry”.“It was all worth it in the end”.
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"we thought we were going to die"
Ben & Lainey - learning to live with their resident spirit
"...a gruff mans voice called my name"
The story of a couple living with a 'poltergeist'
When people hear the word poltergeist, most people think of “Hollywood’s most haunted horror film”.
Released in 1982, the blockbuster ‘Poltergeist’ focuses on a demonic spirit that haunts a family - trapping a little girl in a television. However, there is a dark "curse" that surrounds the film. The conspiracy being four of the film’s actors dying following the release of the first, and multiple sequels. Although the deaths were officially explained, there is no denying the unusualness of the main characters - of the most popular horror film of 1982 - continuously dying in a chronological order.
This unusualness brings questions to people's minds. Questions such as: were the events coincidental? was it a conspiracy? Or do ghosts and poltergeists exist? The sort of questions an individual's belief can only answer, as even science struggles to conclude.Nevertheless, statistics favour a certain answer. The Independent reports that three out of five people claim to have seen a ghost. And with consideration of the many unexplainable moments posted on social media, it is clear that there are a lot of people that do believe in the supernatural.
Ben and Lainey, teachers from Buckinghamshire, are two of the many people who do believe in the supernatural. Unique as it is, the couple publicly express that they live with a “spirit, demon, or poltergeist” in their house. But they don’t just live with the supernatural, they have turned to social media to "tell their story” of living in a house with the paranormal activity. Their documentation of the activity has achieved a tremendous amount of success on social media, in which they have achieved over 6.5 million likes and 107 million views onTikTok, and over 4.6 thousand subscribers onYouTube. However, despite having many sceptics question their story, Ben and Lainey only post the "evidence" to “tell their truth”.
The duo explained that before moving into the house, Ben used to be the “biggest sceptic known to man” in terms of believing in the paranormal. He identified himself as a paranormal "non-believer" and that he had no personal experience with ghosts, spirits, or poltergeists. Moreover, Lainey, who was more optimistic in believing in the paranormal than Ben, stated that she "...had not really experienced anything with the paranormal”, but she “hoped that there was something out there". The couple moved into their house three years ago. Lainey described the house as a new build, which has three floors.“Our top floor is our bedroom, our middle floor is where the bath is, and our first floor is the living room”. But six weeks after the couple moved into their new house, everything changed, according to Ben"I was very wrong. I could not have been more wrong” -paranormal activity started to happen.
They both expressed that "silly little things" started happening to them both, with Ben explaining that he would "catch figures or shadows at the corner of my eye when I was home alone, and I would hear footsteps coming up the stairs". The couple would just "shrug it off" until a defining moment for Lainey happened when she was having a “pamper in the bathtub". "I was having some time alone, having a bath in the afternoon when suddenly...",“…a gruff, man’s voice called my name”. Shocked and alone, Lainey expressed that she felt "really vulnerable.... I wonder[ed] if this was paranormal, or if I was going crazy". However, she was adamant about what she heard, and nothing could change her mind - a man shouted her name. Lainey’s reaction was absolutely and utterly concerned.“I got upright and shouted “hello”. I thought, "what if somebody has got into the house?”.
She felt sure that the voice came from the floor above, which was the couple’s bedroom.
However, despite the strange activity in the house - that included seeing shapes, hearing footsteps, and shouting names - the couple tried to remain calm. “We did not talk to each other about it. Myself [Ben] and Lainey wrote our experiences off. She did not mention to me the voice or anything”. One evening the pair were watching television together after work. Relaxing, they noticed a strange encounter together. A plant pot - that was on the TV stand - slid from one side to the other in front of their eyes. Both of them “shot up” to their feet.“I did not want to say what I thought it was” Ben explained, which after that he admitted to Lainey - and vice versa - that “things have been happening”. But with the only experience of the supernatural being Hollywood films, such as thePoltergeist or The Conjuring...“we thought that we were going to die”.
Witnessing the activity together was a relief for the couple, with Lainey explaining “It was like an epiphany for us. We knew we were not mad”. At first, they were reluctant to stay in the house. However, they both share a love for that house, and “It was either we get out of here, or we try and work out what is going on” .“This thing is clearly wanting our attention”, explained Lainey. However, the couple naturally started to ask questions such as “does it need help? Is it a demon? Or is it a curse?”.
The pair decided to continue living in the home they admire and love, but they did pursue help from reputable psychics and mediums. They contacted Lorraine Warren – a professor in clairvoyance, and a light trance medium that is most famous for pursuing psychic investigations involving the possessed doll Annabelle and Amityville horror. “We have had some paranormal investigators come into the house, to help us understand the spirit" ."Between him, a psychic medium, and us, we felt safe and protected. These people have 30 years of experience each and that was why we are more comfortable”.
The paranormal team decided to do a séance with a spirit board – a board marked with letters and numbers for the use of contacting spirits. The séance lasted three hours, in which they understood that the spirit was “called David”. “We learned that he passed away due to a car crash in 1983. He was also here because of us”, with Lainey explaining ‘David’ has the connection with her more so than Ben.
***During the interview at this giving moment, the couple stated, “there is banging going on upstairs right now”. Through listening back to the recording, the banging can be explicitly heard twice***
In addition, one of the psychic’s brothers regularly visits the pair’s house, as he has "connected well with the spirit".
The couple are aware of how unbelievable they may sound, as they said: “saying it out loud, it sounds ridiculous to say. We cannot believe what we say”. They are also nervous regarding their profession, as they are both teachers which means they both require a professional, unbiased opinion of topics such as religion, politics, or anything that can influence a person's lifestyle. The couple stated: "As professionals, we are scared to lose our professional stand. But it got to a point where we put up with this for a couple of years. We said “we need to put it out there - this is something. We need someone who can relate with us or help us with our situation”.
From this, the couple turned to social media, they realise they may receive backlash for posting their experiences on social media, but their reasoning is "not for attention or popularity, but to tell their truth”. “We have had big influencers contact us, stating that we need to do it in a different way, but we do not post it on social media for attention. This is our truth, and we post it to share it, and to see if people go through the same”. Ben and Lainey’s TikTok account has over 5 million likes and 107 million views of their videos, they have over 4.6 thousand subscribers on YouTube.
Coincidence, or conspiracy? What do you think?
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UFO's - Explainable or Extra-terrestrial?
Most people will agree that one of the best views is the sky on a clear night. Especially where there is no light pollution, such as in deserts or small towns, the eye can see as much as possible - the moon, the countless number of stars, and luckily maybe even a shooting star. But there is one question that stalls even the smartest, and most experienced minds.
Is there anybody out there?
By anybody, most people think anything living. Anything extra-terrestrial. Anything alien. The definition of alien according to the Oxford dictionary is strange and frightening. Something that is different from what you are used to. This definition could apply to many contexts, for example, an individual could be in an alien land; frightened and alone, or a professional could see an alien object in the sky.
Nick Pope, a former civil servant for the UK government/Ministry of Defence and established journalist and author, is sure about one thing - there are unexplainable unidentified flying objects in the sky. Pope has explained that throughout his time of working with the government, he is confident that there are unknown objects that fly into the British air space - objects that could practically threaten Britain, and her society. Pope’s job was to explore these objects ,“If there was something in our airspace, the government, the ministry of defence, or the air force need to know what it is”, and the most logical reasoning for these objects was to assume they were from planet Earth. “We asked ourselves for example, could some of it be from Russian aircraft probing our defences?". Although logic suggests that a threatening country could send the aircraft, "you cannot rule out” the possibility of the unknown. “If it is unknown, it is unknown. Could it be something else?”.
Could these UFOs be extra-terrestrial? The professional explained that there have been some objects that had unexplainable moments, that even government and Royal Air Force officials could not explain. These UFOs were more advanced in terms of their advanced speed, manoeuvres, and acceleration. "For example, objects that were apparently – according to visual sightings of the pilots and the radar data – capable of doing a sharp right-hand turn. Or, moving from a very slow speed or a hover, to high speeds in an instance. All sorts of things that if you asked an RAF pilot to do it, they would say the plane does not do that”. “On many occasions, this has been reported with UFOs, no sonic boom is heard. So again, what is the mechanism for that?”. This type of technology and physics is too advanced for humans, and this is the reason why Pope believes the government should carry on exploring UFOs. The Ministry of Defence stopped the policy in 2009 - "The government stopped as they wanted to put their funds towards better defence". This contrasts with the USA, which recently the pentagon released a report that involved observations made by military aviators between the years 2004 and 2021. The report is "largely inclusive" according to Intelligencer, and it conveys that the UFOs identified do not have "extra-terrestrial origin... but that doesn’t mean the task force has ruled that possibility out, however". Pope stated that it was "unnecessary for the British government to stop their investigations". “We did not have definitive proof that any of these things were extra-terrestrial, but neither did we rule out the possibility, and neither should we”.
When asked about what extra-terrestrial life could look like, Pope explains that people think of the typical Hollywood aliens. "People think big green men with long arms", but Pope explained that the slightest touch of bacteria could potentially mean that alien life does exist, that will not be enough for science "They would expect something bigger, say outside our solar system".
Will we ever find out if alien life exists? Well according to Pope, the only way is to keep on researching.
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