An English pastor is suing his local public school after he was driven from his second job as the school’s caretaker for posting a message on Twitter reminding Christians not to participate in LGBT Pride events.
Ely, a town 14 miles northeast of Cambridge, was preparing to host its annual LGBT Pride Festival in June. Keith Waters, 53, who serves as pastor of Ely’s New Connexions Free Church, wanted to warn Christians of the dangers of such events. Copying and slightly modifying a tweet from Rhode Island Bishop Thomas Tobin, Waters tweeted on June 1: “A reminder that Christians should not support or attend LGBTQ ‘Pride month’ events held in June. They promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Christian faith and morals. They are especially harmful to children.”
“The backlash was savage and swift,” reported Church Militant . “LGBT activists from Ely went ballistic and stirred up local residents in an attempt to drive the pastor and his family out of the countrified cathedral town.”
A local journalist and LGBT advocate almost immediately tweeted back, accusing Waters of attacking the local LGBT community.
The next day, council member Alison Whelan tagged the East Cambridgeshire police in a tweet demanding that Waters’ tweet be investigated as a “hate incident.”
On June 3, Waters made the front page of the Cambridge Evening News in an article that negatively contrasted his views with those of the local Anglican bishop, whose church flew a rainbow flag in support of the previous year’s Pride festival — an action the paper stated “did not represent a move from traditional church teachings on sexuality and gender.”
Waters acquitted himself well in his comments to the Evening News . Pride, he explained, “suggests something which is unbiblical is good. I’m not saying it’s not okay for people to be who they are, our view is everybody, unless it is who they are by Jesus and saved by Jesus, is none of us are the right people. We’re all messed up. It’s a case of loving everybody, but not necessarily loving what everybody does.”
That wasn’t the end of Waters’ troubles. According to a press release from Christian Concern, whose legal-aid arm, the Christian Legal Centre, is handling Waters’ case, the pastor “experienced a string of threats including his wife having to answer the door to funeral directors who had been sent to arrange his ‘funeral.’ [Real estate] agents contacted him, having been told he was moving from the area ‘in a hurry,’ and he was nearly knocked off his bike by an angry local resident in a car who wanted to remonstrate with him. False rumors were spread that Pastor Waters was a child molester.”
The ongoing threats to himself, his family, and his church led Waters to delete his tweet, but the persecution kept on coming.
At the time, Waters was supplementing his income from the church by working as a caretaker at the Isle of Ely Primary School. Waters’ last performance review called him “an asset to the school.”
Having received “a handful of complaints” about Waters’ tweet, including the ludicrous claim that he was threatening “violence” against Pride supporters, the school’s headteacher issued him “a final warning for allegedly bringing the school into disrepute and breaking the code of conduct,” wrote Christian Concern.
“As a result,” the group continued, “Pastor Waters believed he could no longer combine his roles as a Christian pastor and caretaker at the school, and decided that he had no alternative but to resign.”
Waters is suing the school for constructive dismissal (forced resignation due to a hostile work environment), indirect discrimination, and breach of public sector equality duty.
“Anyone who believes in freedom of religion and expression should be very concerned about my story,” Waters said. “This was an attack, not just against my Christian beliefs, but against anyone who dares to question these matters in public. The biggest concern should be that a story like mine is becoming normal.”
Indeed, noted Christian Legal Centre chief executive Andrea Williams, “This is not a local issue … but a growing intolerant and threatening trend towards, not just Christians, but anyone across the country who dares to oppose Pride.”
Sadly, the same can be said of many other nominally Christian countries, including the United States.
Kate Lindsey will play the title role of Orlando For the first time in its 150-year history, the Vienna State Opera is staging an opera by a woman.
Austrian composer Olga Neuwirth has written a new opera based on Virginia Woolf’s 1928 novel Orlando which deals with themes of gender fluidity and duality.
The title role is played by the singer Kate Lindsey.
Orlando lives for centuries, beginning as a man in Elizabethan England and then changing into a woman. The story by Virginia Woolf has been updated for the 21st Century Olga Neuwirth says androgyny and the rejection of gender stereotypes have inspired her ever since she first read Woolf’s novel as a teenager.
"Not only is it a journey through centuries, but it is a journey of constant questioning of imposed norms by society, and society is made by man," she told the BBC. Wiener Staatsoper/Michael Pöhn Orlando, for all of us, should be a symbol of freedom, humanity and freedom of opinion, but in a very playful and ironic way – which I like so much Olga Neuwirth
Composer, Orlando "Each human being is allowed to choose what they feel is inside them," she said. "There is no binary role model anymore."
Conductor Matthias Pintscher says the ‘in-betweenness" of the story of Orlando is reflected in the music.
"She is mixing it all up," he said. "We have a traditional orchestra in the pit. On top of that we have three keyboards, a jazz band and a lot of pre-recorded samples that interestingly, beautifully blend into the texture of the live instruments."
Olga Neuwirth says "it feels a little bit strange" to be the first female composer to have a work staged at the Vienna State Opera.
The opera house cancelled her previous attempt to put on an piece with a libretto by the Nobel Prize winning author Elfriede Jelinek. The opera has special significance for Justin Vivian Bond, who plays Orlando’s child "One hundred and fifty years is a long time. But I’ve always said it’s never too late. So it’s good that they finally have thought about it. And at least if you’re the first, there has to be a second and a third and so on. So it’s always good to have a starting point."
The costumes are by another woman, designer Rei Kawakubo, of Commes des Garçons.
The story has been brought up into the 21st Century.
For transgender and trans-genre artist Justin Vivian Bond, who plays the role of Orlando’s child, this opera has a personal significance.
"Conceptually, I am the legacy of what the novel Orlando began to express about gender and transgression and about the difference between what it’s actually like to be a man or a woman, if indeed there is that much of a difference," said Bond.
"And since I’m a non-binary person who’s trans-feminine, I guess you could say I am happily stepping into a moment and I’m the sort of representation of where we’ve come."
You may also be interested in: Lucia Lucas tells the BBC what it’s like to be a transgender opera singer but still have to play male roles Child prodigy’s opera thrills Vienna
Royal Opera House fires tenor after ‘brawl’
Courtesy of Victor Llorente Anthony Bowens stands for more than solely great performances in the ring.
One of pro wrestling’s rising stars, Bowens is entertaining in the ring, able to work on the mat, in the air, and show off some power. He also provides a voice to those who have not often been heard. Bowens came out as bisexual in January 2017, showing courage and bravery in that decision, and acting as another role model in the world of pro wrestling.
“It means something when a person can see someone that looks like them, gets them, and understands what they’re going through,” said the 28-year-old Bowens. “I’m representing the LGBT community and athletes that are LGBT, but even more than that, too. I’m representing the small-town kid who was told he’d never make it, and I’m here for the shy kid that is ready to burst out of his shell and be that social butterfly.
“I’m trying to represent all of these people in the most positive way I can. I get messages from people that make me cry. To know that I’m having a positive impact on people is a blessing, and makes me feel that I made the right decision to come out.”
Bowens takes immense pride in his craft, delivering a unique and compelling style in the ring. Unafraid of hard work, he has taken different avenues to achieve wrestling stardom, beginning with his work in the BMG Talent modeling agency, formerly known as Silver Model Management, in New York City.
The decision to work with BMG was directly related to Bowens’ career aspirations in wrestling.
Following a failed WWE tryout in 2015—which was made even more crushing by the fact that he learned WWE had passed on him the same day his beloved grandmother passed away—Bowens made a fateful decision. He would not feel sorry for himself, or become bitter to those that had received the call from WWE. Instead, Bowens was hit with an epiphany—perhaps just to him from his grandmother—with the pathway to success in pro wrestling.
“WWE is not a wrestling company, it’s an entertainment company,” said Bowens. “Thinking about that was when the bells went off. I sought to make myself a more well-rounded performer, and I signed up with BMG Talent. From there, I started acting classes, improv classes, I did live sketch comedy shows, commercials, and modeling. It all helped create what the ‘Five-Tool Player’ is today.”
Bowens is wrestling’s “Five-Tool Player,” boasting that he is the perfect combination of power, athleticism, intelligence, look, and the elusive it-factor. On paper, that sounds like a classic wrestling heel, but Bowens has allowed art to imitate life and he has transformed his character into one of the most compelling indie stars in the business.
He is a former Division I baseball player at Seton Hall University with an action figure physique, but Bowens has bravely revealed his vulnerabilities in a realm better known for machismo and testosterone. He has constantly battled self-body image issues, which is an ongoing battle.
“I’d look at the mirror and immediately think I wasn’t good enough,” Bowens explained. Revealing his doubts and insecurities has deepened his connection with those who have followed his career. “Maybe to some people that is ridiculous, but there are times when I put on so much weight because of that. I can honestly say I’m happy with my appearance, and I’m happy in life.”
The next step for Bowens, who headlines a WrestlePro show this Saturday in the promotion’s first-ever ladder match in Alaska, is to sign an exclusive deal. He would fit anywhere, especially AEW or NXT, but he could also add buzz to Ring of Honor, Major League Wrestling or the NWA. But Bowens is not overly fixated on signing his name onto a contract, instead opting to remain focused on controlling the areas of his life he can control.
“I’m focused on having the highest quality, entertaining matches I possibly can,” said Bowens. “Getting signed, that’s an external factor. I’m sure big things will happen in 2020, but I’m going to focus on having as much fun as possible.
“My goal is to be as versatile and well-rounded as possible as a sports entertainer. I like the leaner frame that I have now [Bowens dropped 20 pounds over the past 18 months and now competes at 200 pounds]. I was probably a little too big before, and that hindered my in-ring performance, and my current size allows me to be more agile. I want to continue having really entertaining matches, and increase LGBT visibility in entertainment.”
Coming out represented an extraordinarily difficult challenge for Bowens.
“That was very, very hard when I was getting into the wrestling industry,” said Bowens, whose new documentary “The Five Tool Player” was released online Wednesday. “I knew, at some point, it was something I had to address. I wasn’t sure how people were going to react to it. It was a very scary thing. I didn’t know when would be the right time to say something, so I kept it to myself.”
Bowens met his boyfriend, Michael Pavano, in May 2016. After dating for six months, Bowens shared that he was not ready to come out yet, asking if they could keep the relationship to themselves.
“I don’t think you should ask anyone to do that, but to his credit, he liked me enough to put up with that,” said Bowens. “It took time. I was growing as a performer in wrestling, I had a platform where I knew, if I said something, I could help other people struggling with the same thing. My parents and friends already knew and supported me, and I created a YouTube video called ‘The Laughing Challenge.’ I was hesitant to do it, but I said, ‘I’ll just do it. Who’s going to see it?’”
The video was enormously popular. Many of Bowens’ peers in wrestling reached out to say they had viewed it and extended their support for his courage to come out.
“That’s when I realized I should say something,” said Bowens. “I first came out to a closer circle of people in January, and then I came out publicly to the world in a piece I wrote for Outsports . It was picked up by the Huffington Post, and that spread everywhere.
“Initially, it was very scary. It took me a while to really get comfortable with everything, but now I can say I’m living my happiest life. With all the walls I’ve broken down inside myself, I see a difference in the ring. What you see in the ring is Anthony Bowens, not a person with all these walls up trying to be who he’s not. I’m very, very lucky to have had all the support I have.”
As supportive as some people were, there were others that were brutal toward Bowens, particularly on social media. Despite the hate, Bowens refuses to apologize for being himself.
“I feel bad for those who are projecting so much negativity onto other people,” said Bowens. “I knew, as a performer, that I’d need thick skin, and I knew I’d need to ignore a lot as an LGBT performer. That criticism makes me laugh sometimes, and it needs to be taken in stride. You can’t let people have power over you.”
Bowens does not allow the hate to consume him, especially when he is well aware that his main objective is to provide a voice and support for those who need it most.
“The most important thing we do in wrestling is connect to an audience,” said Bowens. “We’re connecting with people, helping them forget about their worries through our art. It’s very humbling to take a step back and realize the importance of what we’re doing.
“People have written letters to me about their lives, and they make me cry. I want people to see I am living as authentically as possible, trying to give back and help people.”
This weekend’s ladder match is a significant step for Bowens. He is still riding the high of winning WrestlePro’s first-ever Dream 16 Tournament in October, wrestling three times in one night. Now he is preparing to headline a show in Alaska, on a card that features an appearance from wrestling royalty Bret “The Hitman” Hart, giving him another show to prove he belongs in the discussion of wrestling’s emerging talents.
“This is such a great opportunity, but I wouldn’t be here without people believing in me,” said Bowens. “I’m so thankful for my following. To have a core group of people that follow me, and are so supportive, I couldn’t be more grateful.
“If you watch on Saturday, you’ll see I’m also pretty badass in the ring. You’re going to get quality entertainment any time you see me perform. I have five tools and one rule, to prove that I am a superstar.”
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com . Follow him on Twitter @ JustinBarrasso .
Anthony Joshua produced a tactical masterclass to beat Andy Ruiz Jr Anthony Joshua said he was "emotional" after beating Andy Ruiz Jr to become a two-time world heavyweight champion – and is ready to "rock and roll" with Oleksandr Usyk within six months.
The Briton, 30, out-pointed Ruiz in Saudi Arabia to avenge his shock defeat by the Mexican in June.
"I didn’t want to get too carried away but it is emotional," he told the BBC.
"I’m a man that has made mistakes and when I was on a losing path in life, I matured and bounced back."
Joshua was transformed from their first meeting in New York and joined the likes of Muhammad Ali, Lennox Lewis, Floyd Patterson and Wladimir Klitschko as heavyweights who have reclaimed a world title.
In the aftermath, the WBO said he must face Ukraine’s Usyk within 180 days.
"Whatever I can do, I will," Joshua told BBC Radio 5 Live. "If that is fighting the other top fighters in the division, then so be it."
The Briton added: "Go to the BBC Radio 5 Live Twitter and leave your comment on who I should fight next because I’m up for anything."
IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev is also in line to face Joshua and agreements will need to be reached as to whether he faces the Bulgarian or Usyk first.
Usyk – who stepped up to heavyweight having held all four world belts at cruiserweight – was ringside to watch at the Diriyah Arena.
When asked about the fact WBO tweeted of his mandatory status just moments after his win, Joshua said: "In 180 days? No problem, let’s rock and roll."
Joshua would have to give up the IBF and WBO belts if he does not face his mandatory challengers and his promoter Eddie Hearn dismissed the chances of that happening.
If that is the case, any bout with WBC champion Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury appears some time away. No revelation but ‘simplicity is genius’
Anthony Joshua takes a selfie with his fans after regaining his world titles Joshua entered his post-fight news conference to cries of "and the new" and "the champ is here", just as Ruiz had on a shocking night six months earlier.
In the build-up to the fight, Joshua hinted he may open up about "obstacles" he had faced in the run up to Ruiz’s victory over him – a first loss of his career.
But when asked if he had anything to reveal he said he was simply beaten by the "better man".
In their repeat fixture on the outskirts of Riyadh, Joshua eased to a unanimous points win. He claimed back the IBF, WBA and WBO titles with a display of stylish boxing and stayed away from the close-range exchanges that saw floored him four times in the first meeting.
"I know I could have done more at times but sometimes simplicity is genius," he added. "That was the motto. Keep it simple as it will lead to a genius performance.
"It was outclassing a champion and proving to myself every time I step in the ring, if I prepare myself, I don’t think anyone is going to beat me.
"The belts have spent some time with me, some time with Andy. I think the belts realise they want to be around my waist. I am champion until the next time I go out as champions don’t live forever. All of the challengers are hungry."
In comparison to scenes of joy as Joshua spoke to media, Ruiz had earlier opened up on regrets over coming into the bout "overweight" as a result of "partying".
He called for a trilogy fight and Joshua revealed he told his rival to "never give up" as they embraced in the ring afterwards.
And he also had a message for his fans. "Don’t ever doubt yourself," he added. "Life is a rollercoaster. If you want to win at life every time, do not step in the ring. If you step in here, you are going to win and lose and that is life. As long as you are satisfied with yourself, no-one can tell you anything." Find out how to get into boxing with our special guide .
Time once again for Outsports to stop the clock for an instant reply of the week that was. It’s my way of memorializing the glorious victories, the ignominious defeats, and the players and personalities who made them, lived them or just couldn’t avoid them.
I realize my roster may differ from yours, and I welcome your comments, contributions and critiques. I read them all! Details on how to reach me are below, after our look at the week’s winners, losers and hopefuls. Courtesy of Simon Haerinck Simon Haerinck’s “Same Sport, Different Sexuality” takes social media by storm with photos emphasizing the bond between gay and straight rowers.
Former rugby star Israel Folau, who said “hell awaits” gay people, settled with Rugby Australia for a confidential amount, according to a joint statement.
Matt Gay was mocked for his last name and will wear special cleats in Sunday’s ‘My Cause, My Cleats.’
British-born American Olympic freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy told SkySports he’s formally signed with Great Britain in hopes of competing in the 2022 Winter Games.
Dywane Wade has the perfect response to ‘hate’ and ‘stupidity’ launched at his son with long fingernails.
We don’t really think they’re losers, but the truth is these four trans athletes work harder for slower results. Winning is rare, but they compete for the love of sports.
Our resident transgender athlete contributor takes a peek at the transphobe’s playbook.
In one year Tom Bosworth went from proposing to his boyfriend at the Olympics to attempting to end his life.
For the eight openly gay or bi college football players, being out athletes enhanced their experiences.
Jamie O’Neill tackles her next challenge.
Megan Rapinoe capped her incredible year by winning the Ballon d’Or Féminin on Monday in Paris, presented annually now to the top player in women’s soccer.
Writing in The New York Times , transgender cyclist Dr. Rachel McKinnon revealed that she had faced abuse and death threats after Donald Trump Jr’s comments.
Gay referee Steve Strimling was tapped as the head referee for Friday night’s Pac-12 championship . The Oregon Ducks defeated the Utah Utes 37-15.
From drag queens singing the national anthem to on-court entertainment and education, fans of the Green Waves enjoyed a special night in New Orleans.
A top English rugby referee has used the Rainbow Laces campaign to come out as gay.
The participants in multiple “all gay” MK finals finish league play first and second, securing spots in the Final Kombat championship event in March 2020.
The 21-year-old fighting game champion and LGBTQ advocate wins even when they don’t have a controller in their hand.
Former Dallas Cowboys teammates express support for Rohrer, who came out as gay, and his husband and family.
After coming out to his University of Connecticut team, Gavin Parker finds the strength to be himself and be visible.
That’s all for this week! I’ll bring you a fresh list of winners and losers next Saturday. Got a name I missed, or want to challenge my choices? Comment here or on Facebook or Instagram, tweet at us , message me via any social media, or just plain email me at email@example.com Thanks!
Peter Teich and Ms Becko say they felt ‘numb’ after almost losing £193,000 worth of inheritance A pensioner has been forced to take legal action after a bank withheld his £193,000 inheritance.
Peter Teich, 74, from Cambridge gave his solicitor the wrong sort code and the money was mistakenly transferred to another Barclays customer’s account, who refused to return it.
He expected to receive the money in April after his father’s death.
But he realised there was an issue when his sister received her inheritance and he did not.
Mr Teich says his solicitor immediately contacted Barclays and was told it would take a week for the money to be returned.
In May, Barclays wrote to Mr Teich saying he had been "mis-advised" about the funds being restored – and credited his account with a "small token gesture" of £25.
"I freely acknowledge my mistake in this unhappy saga," said Mr Teich.
"I provided the sort code of the wrong Barclays branch. But my error fades into near insignificance when considered in the context of Barclays’ conduct."
He said he had given his correct name, address and Barclays account number in Cambridge to his solicitor, but the last two digits of his sort code were incorrect.
He decided to seek legal advice and in June, after spending £12,000 in legal and court fees, he managed to obtain the other Barclays customer’s name.
But costs continued to rack up with Mr Teich spending £34,000 for a court injunction to force the other Barclays customer to pay.
In July the inheritance was finally paid into his account. Name check plan
His wife, Veronica Becko, 75, told the Press Association: "We just felt numb. It didn’t seem possible or right that a big bank like Barclays could not sort this out. It was an obvious mistake.
When Mr Teich asked the bank to repay the £46,000 he had spent in legal fees, he claims Barclays refused.
Ms Becko said it was only after they contacted the Guardian newspaper that the bank agreed to pay the fees and offer a further £750 for their inconvenience.
"Barclays has done the right thing, finally, although through a rather long-winded way," Ms Becko said.
"We hope our story will help other people who find themselves in a similar situation."
In a statement, Barclays said: "It is evident that on this occasion we have failed to meet the high standards that Mr Teich can expect to receive from Barclays, and for this we have offered our sincere apologies.
"After taking a closer look at this situation, we can confirm that Mr Teich can expect the fees he has incurred to be refunded in full with interest, together with a payment for the distress and inconvenience this matter has caused."
At present, anyone wanting to transfer money enters the intended recipient’s name, account number and sort code. However, the name is not checked.
Under plans from the UK’s payments operator , from next spring the sender will be alerted if the name does not match the account. The change was originally set to begin in summer 2019, but was delayed.
Doug Putman believes in keeping HMV’s core customers happy Since Doug Putman rescued UK music retailer HMV in February, he has thrown himself wholeheartedly into running a transatlantic retail empire.
The Canadian businessman has found himself jetting back and forth between his Ontario-based Sunrise Records chain and his newer acquisition.
On average, he spends one week a month in the UK. "I must do about 500,000 air miles a year," he says.
Now he faces his latest challenge, the all-important Christmas period.
"That’s crunch time," he says. "All the hard work you do for 10 months of the year, that period is when you see it come to fruition and you see how good a job you did."
A lot is riding on the chain’s performance over the festive season. HMV has twice fallen into administration, in 2013 and 2018, and Mr Putman acknowledges that many people didn’t expect his relaunch to last six months.
After all, there have been plenty of casualties in the sector. At the start of the 21st Century, there were a number of other big retailers selling records and CDs, including Virgin, Our Price, Tower and Fopp.
But now, although many local independent shops are still in robust health, HMV is the only national chain standing, with Fopp as its wholly-owned subsidiary.
Poor Christmas sales have capsized many a High Street retailer in recent years, but Mr Putman is pinning his hopes on the chain’s "loyal fan base" and the changes he has been making. Can anyone make HMV successful?
Did streaming cause HMV to fail?
Is this the end of owning music?
As he sees it, many shops have run into trouble by trying to be all things to all people.
"I think stores trying to appeal to everyone are really getting left behind," he told the BBC.
"If your goal in life is to make everyone like you, that’s not going to happen. We have to identify the core customers, make sure we know what they expect from us and deliver on that." So who are those core customers? Young or old? "It’s not about their age, it’s about what they’re into," he says. "We have a younger generation coming in to buy K-Pop and vinyl.
"It’s about people who want something tangible, who appreciate physical formats and talking to the staff – it’s the personal touch. They want something physical, whether it’s for gift-giving or collecting."
Under Mr Putman’s ownership, stores have given more space to vinyl albums and displayed them prominently, although he admits that CDs are still bigger than vinyl for HMV.
In a music industry that is increasingly dominated by streaming, record shops have to be attuned to changing trends in physical formats. ‘Easy wins’
Reflecting the vinyl revival is one of a number of "easy wins" that Mr Putman says he has achieved in the past seven months.
Others include displaying staff picks in stores and allowing individual stores to go their own way in terms of choosing the right stock for their local customers. HMV stores are stocking more vinyl "I don’t believe in taking away too much control from stores and micro-managing from head office. If your customers want more metal, let’s get more metal," he says.
"It’s about allowing stores to create their own assortment mix. When I’m doing my store visits, I’m seeing it change."
Looking ahead, Mr Putman wants to establish HMV as the trusted gatekeeper in a crowded cultural environment.
"We need to be the expert in the entertainment field. We need to cut through the noise," he says.
"We can say, here are the 100 songs that are really interesting, here are the albums that are worth listening to.
"It’s a bit overwhelming at times: what movie, what show do I want to watch? These are small things that we need to do better." Vaulting ambition
HMV now has 113 shops, but is suffering from the lack of a big central London outlet since the closure of the heavily loss-making flagship store in Oxford Street in the wake of Mr Putman’s takeover.
"We’re just trying to find a location that makes sense. Oxford Street was a very, very big location, but we couldn’t make the financials work. If we can find that right location, we will certainly be back," he says. HMV’s Oxford Street store made heavy losses and was closed down New shops are already coming to other cities, with a 25,000 sq-ft store known as the HMV Vault now open in Birmingham.
This boasts "an unrivalled range" of music and DVDs, plus a permanent stage area and PA sound system, in line with Mr Putman’s intention to "make the stores more exciting".
Also in the run-up to Christmas, HMV’s online store and its Purehmv loyalty card scheme are being revived.
"We’re lucky to be in an industry that you’re either passionate about it or you’re not. That’s been its strength from day one. It attracts people who love talking about film or music," he says.
But even if HMV is making progress, Mr Putman knows he cannot afford to become complacent.
"The minute you feel you’re exactly where you need to be and nothing needs to change, that’s when you start falling into problems," he says.
"You need to be always changing, while staying authentic to what you are." Challenges
However, retail analyst Richard Hyman questioned whether the business would continue to progress when having to fight against online giants such as Amazon.
"The challenges facing HMV are that the product is the same wherever you buy it from," he said. "Increasingly in retail, it’s going to be difficult selling someone else’s product.
"Things like scale become the main differentiator. Only one person can be the cheapest and have the best and most convenient delivery."
Mr Hyman said the trouble with offering a wide range of products and having "fantastic" customer service was that "they will kill your trading economics because they are both very expensive".
"Back in the day, when retail was less cut-throat and before the internet came along, that was a viable store," he said. "That has become increasingly difficult when your main competitor has got the scale to blow you out of the water."
He added that the UK retail market was the "toughest on the planet", in part due to the ease with which retail firms could enter the market by buying an off-the-shelf website and partly due to softer consumer demand.
BBC business reporter Tom Espiner contributed to this article.
With concerns about the environment a major theme in the election, what are the parties’ plans on green issues?
Here, we answer a selection of readers’ questions. What is being done to stop the decline in UK wildlife? – Jet Janman, Seaford
More than a quarter of UK mammals – including the Scottish wildcat, the frosted green moth and the pine marten – are facing extinction, according to a report published in October 2019 . It added that 97% of the UK’s wildflower meadows have been lost in the last 100 years.
In its environmental manifesto , Labour details how it will spend nearly £10bn over the next 10 years on restoring nature and protecting the environment. It also wants to create 10 new national parks.
The Liberal Democrats will introduce a Nature Act to restore the natural environment. This will set targets for improving water, air, soil, and wildlife and its habitat. This will cost at least £18bn over five years.
The Green Party has a raft of policies on wildlife. Among these are a new law to prevent crimes against the natural environment. The Greens would also introduce an environmental protection commission to enforce the protection of wildlife and habitat.
The Tory manifesto does not mention UK wildlife specifically, although it does pledge to work with other countries on issues such as deforestation, wildlife protection and the oceans. What will be done about single-use plastics? – Christine, High Wycombe full name
The BBC’s Blue Planet II series sparked a debate about single-use plastics, and it’s also featured in this election campaign.
The Liberal Democrats and the Green Party would clamp down on single-use plastics, banning them outright.
The Greens would ban their production and extend the plastic bag tax to cover plastic bottles and other single-use plastics as well. Parties have also made promises on plastic waste. The Conservatives want to set up a £500m "Blue Planet" fund dedicated to tackling pollution in the oceans. Labour has promised to invest in the recyling and reusing of plastics. The government is set to introduce new rules on single-use plastic next year. Bars and restaurants will not be allowed to display plastic straws or automatically hand them out, and plastic stirrers will be subject to a total ban.
Several parties want to ban the export of plastic waste, including the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and the Brexit Party. Plaid Cymru has committed to making Wales a single-use plastic-free nation by 2030. How could UK industry be affected by promises to tackle climate change? – Ron Barton, Guildford
Some of the largest contributors to the UK’s emissions of greenhouse gases – in particular, carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming – include transport, energy supply and parts of industry.
So, cutting emissions from "heavy" industry – things like oil, mining, steel or machine manufacturing – is a big challenge.
The Conservatives have said they would invest £500m to help energy-intensive industries move to low-carbon techniques.
Labour and the Lib Dems say they would offer support for ways of making steel that use less carbon. Jeremy Corbyn has also promised a "windfall tax" on oil firms. The SNP has called for a pot of money for places heavily reliant on oil, such as Falkirk or Aberdeen, to help diversify their economies as the UK looks to reduce its carbon emissions.
The Green Party has promised to invest in training to help people get new jobs in manufacturing for the renewable energy sector.
Plaid says it would start what is called a "green jobs revolution" by investing in renewable energy and transport infrastructure. If the UK leaves the EU, will it still have to fulfil its promises on the environment and climate change? – Toni Massari, Bristol
Making sure the UK sticks to EU rules about water, air, waste and wildlife is currently monitored and enforced by institutions including the European Commission and Court of Justice .
Government ministers haven’t yet guaranteed that the UK will stick to the same standards if Brexit happens. CONFUSED? Our simple election guide CONFUSED? Our simple election guide
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The government has said it would set up a new Office for Environmental Protection to make sure ministers hit their targets. But critics have pointed out this body won’t be independent, as it will answer to government and not to Parliament.
It’s also been suggested the government wouldn’t be able to issue fines, as the EU previously has.
Leaving the EU also won’t affect the UK’s commitments under the Climate Change Act. This set legally binding targets to reduce the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions by at least 80% by 2050, although since then a law has passed to reach zero-carbon emissions in the same time frame. Why isn’t more freight being sent by rail to reduce diesel emissions? – Valerie Robertson, Wiltshire
Sending goods by rail can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 76% compared to using road transport. However, only about 9% of goods in the UK are carried by rail.
Some parties have made specific commitments about rail freight, while others are more general.
The Conservatives have pledged to invest an extra £100m in roads and rail, while Labour says it wants to find more environmentally friendly ways of running the railways. GETTY IMAGES
Rail freight in numbers
United Kingdom 9.1% of freight goes by rail
£1.7bn annual economic contribution
60 HGVs equivalent carried per train
76% less CO2 emissions than road
£30bn value of goods carried per year
Source: Office of Rail and Road, Rail Delivery Group
The Lib Dems say they will shift more freight transport from road to rail. They will also make the electrification of rail lines from major sea ports a priority.
The Greens have pledged to have more freight carried by rail. They say there is "enormous scope" to cut emissions.
In May 2019, the SNP-run Scottish government announced a new rail freight fund . Up to £25m will be made available to upgrade track and other areas of the rail network. Are farmers being encouraged to move from meat to plants? – Jordan Davies, Telford
Only the Green Party has made promises in this area. It wants to change the payments made to farmers to help them move away from the intensive farming of livestock, like beef cattle. It would also introduce a tax on meat and dairy products. This would, it says, shift people towards plant-based diets, benefitting health and animal welfare, and combating global warming.
Other parties have made wider pledges about agriculture.
The Conservatives have said that – in return for funding – farmers must work in a way that protects and enhances the natural environment, with high animal welfare standards.
Labour has pledged to have net-zero carbon food production in Britain by 2040. It says it will help farmers change the way they work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
The Lib Dems want farmers to focus more on restoring nature, with targets for water, air and soil quality. They would introduce a National Food Strategy, to promote healthy, sustainable and affordable food, and cut food waste. More Your Questions Answered:
Do party leaders have to publish their tax returns?
Are there record numbers of NHS staff? Could my student debt be written off? Can fathers get maternity pay? What are your questions about the general election? You can let us know by completing the form below. In some cases your question will be published, displaying your name and location as you provide it, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions. 0/140 Your contact info We’ll be in touch if we look into your question.The BBC retains the right to select from these contributions based on editorial requirements and subject to online terms and conditions and BBC editorial guidelines . For more information about how the BBC handles your personal data, see here .Made with Hearken
The mother of a child who developed meningitis and sepsis because of a bacterial infection called Group B Strep is calling for all pregnant women to be tested for it. Currently, for women showing no symptoms, the test is only available privately – and some are still not being told about the potential threat the bug poses to their baby.
Bethany Rashley had a straightforward pregnancy until 33 weeks, when she experienced possible labour pains and noticed her baby was moving less than it had before. She went into Kettering General Hospital, was kept in for a few days, and then sent home.
There was no improvement in the baby’s movements, however, and at 39 weeks Bethany went back to the hospital with her partner, Andy Halcrow, to be induced.
"I think they weren’t happy, his growth had slowed a little bit as well, and they just decided he was ready to come," says Bethany.
Arthur Halcrow was born at 07:58 on 1 March 2019. An instrument called a ventouse suction cup had to be attached to his head to help with the delivery.
"When he was born he was brilliant," says Bethany. "He was screaming, he was lovely and pink. His temperature was good. All of his signs were really good."
It was on the postnatal ward that Bethany started to realise something wasn’t right.
"In the afternoon, he was sort of making this funny grunting noise," she says.
Bethany mentioned it to a midwife, who said she would get the doctors to take a look at Arthur, but by late afternoon he had settled down and it no longer seemed necessary. Overnight Arthur didn’t feed as much, but staff were not especially concerned – they thought the suction device used on Arthur’s head during the birth might have given him a headache. At 06:00 Bethany got up ready to feed and change Arthur. "He just started this screaming," says Bethany, "and it was this really high-pitched, real scream. I hadn’t heard anything like it."
For the next few hours, Arthur just would not settle.
"I’d pick him up and it was like he was being electrocuted, he was jerking everywhere. Every time I touched him, it was like he was in such pain, but then I’d put him down and he’d want to be close to me again. I just didn’t know if this was normal. It was my first baby, I had no idea."
As the day progressed, Bethany and Andy became increasingly worried.
"Even when he was asleep he was still whimpering, and his breathing just didn’t seem right at all," says Bethany.
His tiny fingers and toes had turned purple and the skin all over his chest was mottled. What is Group B Strep?
"Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a common bacterium that can live in our bodies and which usually causes no harm," says Dr Pat O’Brien, consultant obstetrician at University College London Hospitals.
It is carried in the vagina or rectum of 20-40% of women in the UK, he says, so many babies come into contact with it when they are born. Usually this doesn’t matter – only a small minority of babies develop an infection.
A surveillance study carried out between April 2014 and April 2015 , found that one in every 1,750 babies born in the UK and Ireland developed an "early-onset" GBS infection (in the first six days of life). Of these, 5% died and 7% were thought to have been left with a "major, minor or possible disability", including brain damage, cerebral palsy, deafness, blindness or learning difficulties.
The study recorded 53 GBS deaths over the year, in babies less than 90 days old – roughly one per week.
At about 16:00, a registrar checked Arthur and noticed that he was also sucking his chest in under his ribcage. He was transferred to the special care unit and and a sample of his spinal fluid was taken.
"They did loads of blood tests, gave him some more paracetamol just to try and calm him down and he sort of seemed to relax," says Bethany. "It was like he knew he was getting help."
The medical team started to ask Bethany lots of questions. Had she heard of Group B Strep (GBS)? Had she had a swab done, and had she had any infections when she was pregnant?
The results of Arthur’s tests weren’t due back until the following day, but at 21:00 a doctor from the pathology lab called to express concern about the amount of GBS bacteria that had already been grown from Arthur’s spinal fluid. He clearly had an infection.
It was also confirmed that Arthur now had meningitis and sepsis – a dangerous blood infection – so he was put on antibiotics. He was breathing for himself but Bethany and Andy were warned that he may need to be ventilated if he didn’t improve quickly. A member of staff then asked if they had any questions, and Bethany asked if Arthur would be OK.
"She couldn’t look at me, she just put her head down and she said, ‘It’s not something we can answer, just spend as much time as you can with him.’
"I thought, ‘This isn’t right, we were supposed to go home today, I don’t understand how now we’re being told that he might not come home.’
"We’d got everything ready at home for us to walk in. We’d set the little Moses basket up and we’d got all the bottles and everything ready for him and I just thought, ‘I can’t go home without him.’" Bethany and Andy were able to stay in a parent room next to Arthur’s room. They witnessed as, the next day, he became floppy and unresponsive – and was moved into an incubator.
"It was awful, it just made everything ache," says Bethany.
Over the next few days they could only watch and wait.
"We still hadn’t let our family come and see him," says Bethany. "We were just so worried, and in a way I wanted to protect them. It sounds really morbid, but I didn’t want them to get to know him if he wasn’t going to make it. I wanted to stop them from being hurt, I guess."
By day five Arthur’s blood test results were much more positive and he was very alert. The danger appeared to be over. But then the medical staff discussed the possible long-term effects of meningitis.
"They mentioned cerebral palsy and I thought, ‘Oh my God, he’s gone through all of this and he’s then going to have a severe disability,’" says Bethany. "So they were telling us signs to look out for and then they said blindness and deafness were also really common with meningitis."
At the end of the week Arthur had made such good progress that he was allowed to stay in Bethany and Andy’s room and by day 14, the family were finally able to go home. Before they left, Arthur had a full health check and seemed to be well. Later he also had a special hearing test, but fortunately everything was OK.
Bethany says she wishes she had been warned about GBS – and thinks all pregnant women should be tested for it.
Signs of GBS infection in newborn babies: Grunting, noisy breathing and working harder to breathe
High or low temperature and skin feels too hot or cold
Unresponsive or sleepy
Abnormally slow or fast breathing and/or heart rate
Not feeding properly
Crying or irritable
Changes in skin colour such as blotchy skin
Source: NHS and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
At present, if it’s known that a pregnant woman is carrying the GBS bacterium, she will be offered an antibiotic drip during labour, which usually prevents the baby developing an infection.
The drip is also offered to pregnant women on the basis of the following risk factors: Fever during labour
A previous child developed a GBS infection
Giving birth prematurely (at less than 37 weeks)
The catch is that it’s generally not known who is carrying GBS. Occasionally it is discovered by chance, when a woman is tested for another symptom, such as a suspected urine infection. Some women also pay to have a test known as an Enriched Culture Medium test carried out privately. But there is no routine screening.The charity Group B Strep Support has long argued that all women should be screened, but in 2017 the UK National Screening Committee decided against this step.Their argument was that it would result in "many thousands of women receiving antibiotics in labour when there is no benefit for them or their babies, and the harms this may cause are unknown".In most cases there would be no benefit, because even when a woman is carrying the bacteria it’s rare for her baby to develop an infection. So what are the possible harms? According to Prof Peter Brocklehurst, professor of women’s health at the University of Birmingham, one is that the mother can have an allergic reaction to the antibiotics, though he concedes that this is very rare. Another is that receiving antibiotics at birth has a "major impact" on the growth of bacteria in the baby’s digestive tract, or "microbiota"."We increasingly think that these are really, really important for the development of the baby’s health and well-being," he says."When a baby is born it has no bacteria in its gut. If it is born vaginally, it will pick up organisms from the mother’s birth canal and around that area, and if it’s born by caesarean section it often picks up a lot of the skin organisms from the mother, and these begin to colonise the baby’s gut."Babies born by caesarean section are more likely to develop asthma and eczema and certain other allergic conditions, and this may be because of differences in their gut bacteria, Brocklehurst says. The use of antibiotics, he suggests, could have even more far-reaching effects."There’s that uncertainty, therefore, about treating many hundreds of thousands of women with antibiotics to potentially prevent a few cases of Group B Strep sepsis, with balancing that against the potential long-term harms of disrupting all of these babies’ microbiota at birth."Public Health England told the BBC it had been estimated that between 1,675 and 1,854 women giving birth at 37 weeks or later would need to be treated with intravenous antibiotics in labour to prevent one case of early-onset GBS, and that between 24,000 and 32,000 would need to be treated to prevent a death. Further help and information NHS: Group B Strep Group B Strep Support Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Mama Academy: Group B Strep Group B Strep Support says it has not been demonstrated that antibiotics during labour are bad for the baby’s health. It also points to countries where screening for GBS has been introduced – such as the US and Australia, France and Spain – where it is claimed […]
The main political party leaders are continuing to push their election pledges to voters, as the campaign enters its final few days.
Conservative leader Boris Johnson says in a open letter that Thursday’s poll is "historic" and a choice to "move forwards" after Brexit.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says the election is a "chance to vote for hope" and he has "the most ambitious plan to transform our country in decades".
The UK goes to the polls on Thursday.
With just four days to go, the candidates are travelling around the country in a bid to spread their election messages.
Among the manifesto pledges being highlighted by the main UK parties on Sunday are: a Conservative promise to introduce an Australian-style points-based immigration system to control unskilled migration
a Labour plan to "head off the social care crisis" by offering free personal care for older people and an additional £10bn of funds by 2023-4
a so-called regional rebalancing programme from the Lib Dems, which would see £50bn invested in infrastructure outside of London
Meanwhile, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon is warning "the very future of Scotland" is at stake in the election.
She is appealing to voters to back her party "to escape Brexit, protect the NHS, and to put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands". How do election spending plans compare?
Who should I vote for? Election 2019 manifesto guide
A really simple guide to the UK general election
In his letter to voters published in the Mail on Sunday , Mr Johnson says the election will be one that "shapes future decades" – describing it as "a choice is between a working Conservative majority government that will get Brexit done, end the uncertainty and allow Britain to move on". ‘High stakes’
The Tories are also highlighting their pledge for an Australian-style points-based immigration system that it would introduce from January 2021.
Writing in the Sunday Express , Home Secretary Priti Patel said the proposed system will attract the best talent that our country and our economy needs, while reducing overall numbers, especially low skilled immigration."
In the Sunday Telegraph , Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove cautions against paying too much attention to opinion polls, saying "this election is on a knife edge".
He adds: "Just a handful of votes are the difference between moving Britain forward with a Conservative majority, or backwards with another hung parliament. The stakes could hardly be higher." Boris Johnson is touring the UK before Thursday’s election Labour is restating its plan to help alleviate pressure in social care through the introduction of free personal care for older people. ‘Vote to stop Brexit’
The party says its new funding will help working age adults and pensioners with care costs, which will also be capped under the proposals.
According to the King’s Fund , providing free personal care would require an additional £6bn on top of planned spending by 2020-21, taking the social care budget to roughly £26bn.
Labour is also talking about its own research on the issue, which it says shows 9,290 people have approached their local authority since April 2017 for help with care costs after draining their savings. Labour have pledged to provide free care for older people to end what the party says is a "crisis in social care" The Lib Dems say their plans will "address the historic investment disparities between our nations and regions".
Its regional rebalancing programme for infrastructure outside London would boost railway electrification, increasing the availability of charging points for electric vehicles and improve broadband access.
Liberal Democrat deputy leader Ed Davey said: "Neither Labour or the Tories can square their spending promises today with the cost of Brexit. They are writing promises on cheques that will bounce…
"Every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to stop Brexit so we can invest billions across the UK, helping to tackle ingrained inequality." ‘Real change’
On Friday, shadow chancellor John McDonnell again vowed there would be "no deals" with the SNP in the event of the party forming a minority government.
But in his letter, the prime minister claims that if his party did not win, a "nightmare alliance" between Labour and the SNP "will become a reality".
Mr Johnson says he wants to focus on people’s priorities, including urgent investment in the NHS and action on the cost of living.
Speaking ahead of the last stretch on the campaign trail, Mr Corbyn says Mr Johnson cannot be trusted to deliver Brexit, or anything else".
He says Labour will "rescue" the NHS and "get Brexit sorted".
Mr Corbyn adds: "When Labour wins, the nurse wins, the pensioner wins, the student wins, the office worker wins, the engineer wins… it’s time for real change." CONFUSED? Our simple election guide
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