Johnny Depp and Amber Heard Saga

Johnny Depp being accused of domestic violence has got everyone talking. He’s been apart of our life’s for years. He’s entered and infiltrated our homes through DVD box sets, prime time TV and national newspapers. He’s been pictured as a loveable rogue with a kind heart, as his charity work nearly succeeds his acting career. But let’s add some caution here, as we remember that he is not the only kind hearted celebrity to visit hospitals with a dark past.

Many avid Johnny Depp fans rushed out to brand Amber Heard, (his soon to be ex-wife) “Gold Digger” as an initial reaction for accusing Johnny of being anything but nice. With a 23 year age difference between them, she must have been after his money right? I would say no. This pretty model turned actress is worth around 14 million dollars and is quite independent as far as her film career is concerned. She’s more than up and coming, she’s a Hollywood star in her own right.

I believe she is not a Gold Digger, just someone caught up in a whirlwind romance, infused with all the craziness of Hollywood. I mean like you would say no if Johnny Depp invited you out for dinner. He’s most women’s dream date after all.

Us mortals will never know the real goings on behind these Hollywood doors. These A-list celebrity’s live in another world; often an untouchable one as we are about to discover.

The divorce settlement had finally been reached and announced last week. Experts wrongly predicted Amber would walk away with 21 million, instead a mere 7 million was the figure finally reached in return for a joint divorce statement and charges of domestic violence against Mr Depp dropped.

Personally I think 7 million is nothing to buy her silence, when the actor is reported worth 400 million. She’s going to donate the full settlement it’s been announced, to some domestic violence charity, we are told in a press release.

To Johnny Depp fans this slinks of bitter revenge, but to others who sit on the fence a cheap publicity stunt. Some kind of last ditch attempt at rubbing salt into a very open wound. Some would say its a very clever card to play in getting one over the Pirates of the Caribbean star, but to others it’s a massive blow for women and men affected my this type of violence, as justice won’t be served.

Yes 7 million will change lives through the various charity’s she will donate to, but no way near as much as Amber fighting for justice. Accepting a settlement for her silence does nothing to empower any woman or man in her situation; in fact it serves as a massive discredit to herself, her story and to men and women with a similar history of domestic violence.

In fact it undermines the very serious nature to domestic violence. Now people will doubt her story, as there’s no follow up of justice. This will in turn cast a huge doubt on other genuine cases. Silence from an accuser after all just adds volume to the sound of “made up allegation” comments from others.

The general public will never fully know what happened that night or in the build up to that night. Most of us won’t even know about the earlier reports of violence in 2015 which have been in circulation on-line about Johnny’s jealous behaviour to Billy Bob Thornton. Apparently Johnny cut the end of his finger off by accident in a fit of rage and then dipped it in dark blue paint writing “Billy Bob”and then the words “Easy Amber” underneath on their bathroom mirror. This was in reference to her alleged affair with her co actor. Amber insists the allegations of an affair with Mr Thornton are of fantasy and strongly denies the accusation. Whether the whole chopping finger/mirror paint story is totally true we shall never know, but there are graphic pictures circulating on-line of his supposed finger and of the mirror. We also now know he has a scar on that finger too. So we are left to connect the dots for that occasion.

We know Johnny has a reputation for throwing and smashing things up whilst drunk. 1994 saw the Marks hotel NYC fall victim to another one of his vile rages. Johnny was arrested for destroying a hotel room after an argument with then girlfriend Kate Moss. He tried to blame the $10,000 worth of damage on an armadillo which was never found.

Which then leads us to the fact that Johnny never denied throwing the phone at Ambers face in their recent and final argument and their joint statement confirms no one lied. However all charges dropped to a sceptic looks as if it never took place. This is the worst form of publicity that anti domestic violence needed. In my opinion a buy out is an insult to any genuine case of domestic violence. There must have been a reason behind it I’m sure?

Speaking to others who have suffered first hand domestic violence – they can sympathise with Amber. “It’s easy…” one woman said “to sit there from a distance and say what someone should do in that type of situation, but these abusers often make you feel worthless or as if you deserved to be hurt. Sometimes the mental scars are worst than the physical ones, making it hard to speak out.”

There’s either got to be a massive lack of evidence for her not to have pressed ahead – as domestic violence cases are notorious for needing to be air tight cases. Often having no witnesses becomes harder to prove an act of violence actually took place. Alternatively Amber may have had a “I can’t be bothered – I want it all to go away attitude”. I can imagine the press hounding you day and night will take its toll. I mean could you imagine going up against one of the most loved people in the world? Calling them out and shattering their well preserved and well protected personalities. It’s ironic that he did something bad and it is her who has been made out to be the bad guy. Where’s the justice there?

For Amber there may not be any justice, but let’s hope that 7 million goes towards helping others.

Domino’s Urban Rider Games the reason why?

The Domino’s Urban Riders Games – I get asked a lot why we put on events at the ATBShop Warehouse, when they so obviously fail to make any money?

My reply: ”Sometimes it’s not about the money.” – Cliché?

Stuart and I both own and manage ATBShop and ATBShop Skate Warehouse. We haven’t any biological children but owning a unique business like ATB’ makes us feel like we do. A lot of things happen at the warehouse for the kids where parents comment, “You’ll never be a millionaires”. But in a way we feel richer in our lives for these gestures. I know it’s cheesy, and a little bit of sick has probably just come up in your mouth reading this, but we’ve always been like it.

I met a group of youths – or as I like to call them “Lost boys” who were living in a hedge. Yes, you just read that correctly a hedge. It was only last year (2015) that I some how discovered that these three youths were living in a hedge by the side of a busy Swindon Road. Bruce Street Bridges seemed to be the “Bain” of every Swindon driver’s life as the road works destroyed Swindon’s transport network, but to these three young people Bruce Street Bridges was home. They had zero money, no parents or family to fall back on, just a tent and some extreme sports equipment. One was a skater, one was a scooter rider and the other a BMX rider. It’s important to know these are not bad kids, just people who have found themselves in a bad situation.

It was so cold when I discovered them. When I say cold, I actually mean freezing; One day the temp’ fell below zero. They felt failed and betrayed by everyone and were barley keeping a job down between them. Huddled round an open fire made from pallets from the industrial estate they told me, the local council had offered little help. It was hard for the council, as Swindon has a severe homeless problem and housing was and is still short. Being young fit males made them nearly invisible on the long list of emergency housing for Swindon.

The youngest who wasn’t even 18 would have been chucked into some youth housing, but his loyalty to his other new found brothers made him want to stay living in the third would country conditions that was a Swindon ditch. I kid you not, their home looked worst than a Syrian refugee camp. At least at a refugee camp they would have had members of the red cross piecing back their life back together, not a crazy woman from ATBShop and a few kind people from Street Games – An organisation set up to help underprivileged youths in sport. We were far from qualified for this role.

These three lads 12 months on with a little help have a new life but the bottom line was that the “Oasis Skate Park” became a sanctuary to them and their friends when they all had nothing to do and no where to go.

For people not familiar with Swindon’s terrible but iconic landmark – “The Oasis Skate Park” is a metal skate park in dilapidation, built at the back of Swindon’s famous “Oasis Sports Centre”. Sadly this haven where no one judges your back ground – just your tricks and riding style is set to be taken away from these youths and other fellow riders in a recent set of plans from developers. The new owners of the site plan to replace the skate park with a grassy seating area.

For some of you wondering why we would ever want to save such a rubbish part of Swindon, then I ask you where will these young people go? Its more than just a hang out, it’s a second home and a place to exercise and socialise without bothering anyone but fellow riders. When these kids had nothing, the skate park offered them everything. It’s been this way for 30 years.

Stuart and I with a massive team including our generous sponsor Domino’s Swindon, put on a huge event annually to show case this “urban raw talent” that has evolved from such free spaces as the Oasis. This event is about showing Swindon what these spaces can achieve and whose life’s they will be effecting if they are removed.

They funny thing is when I started the Change.org campaign to protect this site for further generation, most were happy to sign but there were some very ill educated people who said level it who were in fact riders themselves. I hope they read this and see why I, and so many others feel so passionate about this site.
Financially the Oasis skate park is competition for ATBShop Skate Warehouse but for me personally it’s so much more.

Friday the 8th of April 2016 marks the second years of the Urban Rider Games or as it’s now known now – The Domino’s Urban Rider Games.

As they say “Actions Speak Loader Than Words.” And yes they do. This Friday we shall show Swindon there is a need to keep these places alive and funded, that there is a particular need to keep this space active for all to enjoy, rich or poor.

Without this space those kids wouldn’t have the friends they have and wouldn’t have found their new way to a better life. Two will be competing this Friday in the Games and we wish them the best of lucky.

Lets just hope the council wake up and save this special space and improve it for future generations.