Monday, 31 May 2010

Spring Storm

One of Tennessee Williams' fairly unknown and early works written when he was anIowa university student in 1937 is currently playing at the Cottesloe, at the National Theatre. It is a wonder that this is its British premier as it is an enchanting and beautifully written piece of drama.

Spring Storm follows the life of Heavenly Critchfield; a young, extrovert girl who finds herself torn between two admires each with their own qualities, the handsome Dick Miles or rich and successful Arthur Shannon. The pinnacle of the play sees Heavenly choose, but with consequences even she did not foresee. The underlying themes of loneliness echo hauntingly throughout the play and between the comedic moments it is Anna Tolputt’s beautiful and poignant scene in the library which truly emphasises this as well as the reoccurring thought of ‘sitting out on the porch in a white dress waiting for a man to come along.’

The comedy however is stolen by Jacqueline King who plays Heavenly’s mother. Her floating, flower dress and her perfect hair emphasise the very difference between these two characters and it is the relationship between them which creates many comedy moments at times when the audience least expect it.

Liz White’s acting as Heavenly is incredibly moving and believable; the audience can sit with ease and watch her create the story to which they become completely absorbed in.

Look at the udders on that one

Duke of Edinburgh is wonderful.

You get prepared, forget a few things, pack them, some how those small things make your bag so much heavier. Put on your walking boots after having waxed them to make them waterproof and leave the house. Hop on the mini-bus, don't appreciate a proper seat enough, get off the mini-bus. Then start walking. It starts to rain a bit. Ascend the very steep almost mountain-like hill, it rains a bit more. Stop for a quick snack and go again. Realise its raining quite a bit and put up your hood tightening the elastic so it doesn't blow off with the gale force winds which are more apparent on an exposed hill top. Forget to put on waterproof trousers. 12 passes, so does 1 and 2, don't stop for lunch. Boots start to squelch. Get confused and talk to other members of the group about how we're defying gravity. Fog settles, cannot see where you are going and head in general compass bearing direction. Team members begin to comment on cow's udders. Reach the end. Mini-bus is locked as the other groups aren't back yet, so cold you set up your tent on a roadside and squeeze seven people inside it. You can see the steam rising, drop your sandwich because your hands cannot physically grip things and wring out your socks from your apparently not waterproofed boots...
Back at camp site we set up our tents and cooked dinner which consisted of pasta and meatballs with a tomato sauce. Pretty good. Apart from you drop half the pasta on the ground. Never mind, place them in boiling water and wait. Now, eat more than a normal human man and make waterproof socks from bin liners to go inside your swampy boots.
10pm night walking, no torches, compass bearings. Walking into trees and other team members is a regular occurrence. Return after finding the pond and wait for one final group to arrive. It's past 1am. Lots of cars are entering the car park in the middle of nowhere, have a mass freak out about what all the people are doing. Laugh about it. Find Orion's belt in the sky and return to camp site when others are back. Collapse in sleeping bag and sleep.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Sudden heat

Isn't the weather lovely? Seriously, the past weekend and Monday were glorious, though being British we have to complain about the weather whatever it is, and so I stick with the conventions and say 'it was a little bit too hot'. You know, just a bit. All the same though, it really was enjoyable. I spent Monday without a blazer and almost all school normalities were dropped. People wore dresses, teachers sunbathed on the field, everyone bought ice lollies and work was slacked as we all claimed it was 'too hot to work.' At lunch our whole IB class met out on the field, ate lunch, exchanged stories and pretty much attempted and failed to get a tan without getting overbearingly hot. The sun does make everyone happier and it brings everyone together even if it is to moan about the heat collectively. Too all of our likes as well as our indecisive dislikes today was much cooler than yesterday.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Nothing more

Pretty much all my life I have worked hard to be where I am and what I achieve now. What I achieve is average and most of the time that's okay. Sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's the most annoying, frustrating and irritating thing ever! It also doesn't help when on the day you get your exam results back, someone who is sat in the same class as you every lesson gets a higher grade than your insignificant 4-, and whilst you are there looking at the comments at the bottom of the page about how vague and ill-prepared your essay is, you hear the person next to your who got the highest mark shrug it off and say 'I don't mind not getting the best grade, I didn't care about that exam, I didn't do a single bit of revision for it.' That's when it gets too much and it's difficult to be that person who works so hard and achieves below average. Almost every grade I have got back has made my self-confidence slip a great amount and truly makes you question whether all the work you put in is worth it in the end. I know it's stupid and something that I just have to get over and I sound really really ignorant saying this, but for once I actually want all my work to pay off and I want to get the best in the class, because in the end that's what we all want isn't it? To be better than everyone else and to rise above the crowd where we keep being swallowed and unseen.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Friday, 14 May 2010

The week that has passed.

"You have five minutes of the exam remaining." Five minutes passed and it was all over. Mocks are finished nothing can change my grades now. It has been decided.
You know, after a week of exams, revision, exams, revision, eating, revision, exams, eating, revision, final exam, I am quite glad to be back to a normal timetable next week. I have literally had time for nothing else and it seems I have become some what more of a geek than I already was in this past week. It felt weird not to revise and not to always have something to do. This weekend is going to be lovely. I have nothing planned other than a post-mock-celebration this evening and a gathering for my friends birthday, then music tomorrow. But I have no homework and nothing I really need to do. It's nice to have no stress and no time limit to something.
I literally love everyone in my classes this year. It's so nice to have people around you who you can be completely yourself around for better or worse sides of your personality, but it's nice to be comfortable with a group of people and not have to fake anything. You take them for their weird crazed obsessions with Korean bands, and they take you for your completely insane Doctor Who theories.
Last exam was democratic philosophy, so although there is a lot to learn, once in the exam you can basically just write about what you want creating an argument based upon your own views with a few examples of philosophical ideas, theories and people. It was quite enjoyable to say the least.
I have also enjoyed my occasional day off from exams where I have eaten, revised and sung to my hearts content with no one in the house to hear me or tell me to shut up. It's been a wonderful time.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

The vision of 1984

The thing I like most about George Orwell's 1984 is his vision of that time. He wrote it before that time around 1945 and although probably hyperbolic, his novel is probably what he envisioned the year 1984 to be like in Britain. I asked my mum the other day about what she thought the year 2000 would be like when she was growing up. She said "Oh. I thought there would be flying cars, a cure for every disease, but more of a broken world, more of a dystopia." So it seems quite a few people think and thought the future would be grim. There are no flying cars, there is no big brother, no double speak, or thought police. Yet, tone it down a notch, we have planes, CCTV cameras watching our every move, contradictions and lies, and our education which all seem to be connected to these crazed ideas others had of the future. I like the future. It's so interesting and so full of things and anatomies that we have no idea exist yet and to think that all of this carries on long after we’re gone. Did cavemen ever think that we would progress so much as a species when they were alive, you know, they probably didn’t even know what a species was!

We think that right now we have everything we need, nothing could makes our lives more satisfactory aside from that robot servant to bring us cocktails all evening and the self cleansing floor we’ve always needed of course. But I remember a time when hardly anyone had an Internet connection in their own home, now a lot of us can’t even imagine how we would survive without that amenity. What is it we won’t be able to live without in the future?

The future is also interesting because we are at a constant debate to whether life is predetermined or whether things happen in due course and you have complete self-control and freewill. It might be a thing we will never know, but we don’t know what the future holds.

So whilst you sit and ponder about what is going to happen one minute from now, I will have already have experienced how this writing has affected what I am going to do next. Spooky stuff.

So this whole government thing: I don’t think anyone knows what is really happening anymore. No one got the most amount of votes, so instead of someone walking straight into number 10, we don’t really have a ‘proper’ Prime Minster at the moment. Gordon Brown seems to have resigned; The Liberal Democrats are trying to negotiate deals with the Conservatives and Labour. No one really knows what is going to happen, it’s basically up to Nick Clegg and I don’t think it will last very long no matter what happens before they decide to do a re-vote. I’d quite like this in a year’s time. So I can vote please? What I want to happen? Not a coalition, not a Tory government.

Edit: So a Lib Dem/ Tory coalition did happen. Not the best news and I don't understand how these two parties can work with each other due to highly differing views. But we'll see. I am sad to see Gordon Brown go, but what can we do. I think he probably made the right choice. He was hated by the majority.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Revision is making me fat

Revision is making me fat. I just eat a lot, all the time to help me get myself through my revision. It's not good. I'll take you through Friday/Saturday. Though not a revision day, this is how much I eat.
Friday consisted of a grapefruit, a plate of pasta with a tomato bacon sauce I made myself (very proud), bearing in mind that that was around 3pm. At 6:30 Catriona came, we went out for Chinese with her family, then stopped off at the coop on the way home to buy food for the journey to Warwick and the evening. Came home, ate a big bar of chocolate and half a bag of haribo. Then we woke up had a croissant and a plate of fruit. In the car we ate 2 kinder buenos each, the rest of the haribo, and half a bag of mint imperials - between three people. Once we got there after 2 and a half hours we had some tea and carrot cake which was SO nice. Then we walked around for a few hours, having lunch around 2pm which consisted of pasta with roasted vegetables, and the way home we ate the rest of the mints and some more chocolates. So, I ate a lot. It was insane. I couldn't eat anything for around 2 meals. I swear I eat more than the normal person. But not that much. It's a wonder I'm not fat.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

A list of 11 down to 5

It's a bit scary to think that in a years time I will know what university I am going to go to. Yesterday I went to my first 'real' open day at Warwick university. It's a campus university, which basically means that the university itself is almost a small town. with shops and cafes and restaurants for the students who live there to use. Everything is there, you seriously would never need to leave the campus. Anyway, I was going with the impression that I wouldn't really like it. Bit too many students in one place, no where to escape to, you're basically always at school, which is why I had always thought that I wouldn't really like a campus university and I would prefer to go to a college based or a city one instead. But I loved it! It's not completely in a bubble of it's own, and it's big enough so that you can get away from everyone, yet small enough so that you could know your way around in no time and always have friends close by. The English course sounds near perfect for me, with such flexibility I could pretty much make my very own unique degree course for myself and be very happy. It's very modern and all the buildings are really nice and practical. The one thing that I think really won me over was the arts centre they have in the middle of the campus. It is beautiful, with a huge theatre, cinema, EVERYTHING! and I love theatre, so that I one thing I would definitely feel was the place to be if I went there.

I want to go and see every university that I am considering, but they are so far away some of them, taking either about 5 hours in the car or costing my whole bank account for a return train ticket. I have a list of 11 that I need to whittle down to just 5. It's so difficult.

On the way up Catriona and I had a conversation about how we both felt like we were still 11 years old starting at our 'new, secondary school'. Oh scarier times are to come!

Friday, 7 May 2010

The Hunger Games

Sometimes I don't think that children or teen books get enough good things said about them. Of course, there is the whole Twilight franchise which has gone a bit too overboard for a story which is not so great. But there are other books apart from Harry Potter which have recently come into the light. One of those books is, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I came across it on YouTube, which a few of the people I was subscribed to, living in the US had read. It is a children's book, and I am 17. Yet this book is so captivating. When I was younger I didn't enjoy reading all the much. I was pretty much limited to Jaqueline Wilson, and then later Harry Potter. I didn't feel that any of the books were exciting, and I think this is something that all children seek in a book. Excitement and thrill, something that happens quickly and straight away, whipping them into the world right from the moment they read the first page of the book, otherwise it just gets left on the shelf. So despite The Hunger Games being, largely a book written for children I felt that I needed to read it. So I went into a bookshop one day and got it off the shelf. When I reached the cash desk the cashier told me how great a book this was and how exciting it was. She was around 25. At school once I had finished I had to tell everyone about it. And soon enough I had leant out my book to around 3 people all of whom had finished almost in one day of reading it. It's quick and it's gutsy. It doesn't concern overly itself with frilly topics such as best friends and boys (though this is part of the book), but its full of topics that could affect our world. In some ways it represents the perfect dystopia. The implications, celebrations, the terror, and constantly asks questions such as what is good and bad? What is right and wrong? Is there such thing as fate?
For all older people out there. Seriously read this book. So good.

Monday, 3 May 2010

I love this photo.

Walking in the footsteps of the dead.

I love the idea of history. Not just the events that happened like the holocaust and the invention of the wheel, but the whole concept of how people used to live so differently yet in exactly the same place as you do. Millions of people could have stood and walked your way into town hundreds of years ago, maybe not into town, but walked where you have walked. Your footsteps covering their ancient ones. I am quite lucky to live in a place steeped with history. Castles and forts surround the place, old hospitals and so on. I feel a connection to those figures of history that everyone knows but who I may have walked in the footsteps of. Charles Dickens literally lived 10 minutes away from me at some point in his life and a couple of his books are based in the area where I live. Walking through the old cathedral city over the bridge almost takes me back in time. All the buildings are slightly wonky, have decaying wood that make them impossible to keep up the appearance of. When you walk down that High Street you feel part of history, you can image people in the Victorian times walking round in their big gowns and bonnets selling and buying things, conversing with their acquaintances just like in a Charles Dickens novel.
Another historically important building is the fort that Florence Nightingale converted into a hospital for army soldiers in 1860. It was also home to an asylum, which is not too great to think about whilst walking around the school which is now there instead. There are rumours of mental ghosts and spirits haunting the place, and although I am not a believer of such things, it is a bit creepy to walk around there on your own. But still, imagine what it was like back then, all the people who walked the same corridors as you do. I just find it fascinating.

I never really enjoyed history as a subject at school mainly due to my bad experiences with bad teachers who did not give me an enthusiasm for the subject and I hated going to every lesson. I am a bit sad that I didn't take it for GCSE, but although I think it would have been incredibly interesting, it's not the individual events that fascinate me as much as the whole concept of history and how people lived almost as you do now. We may have computers and cars, but life was still largely the same, we all still have the same problems and feel elation at some of the same things. As humans we have not progressed that much.

I don't know about anyone else, but I also find it insane that those born in 2000 are already 10 years old! I still remember 1999/2000 new years eve. I was in Denmark. I remember sitting in a tree with my friend and sister and we were firing these firework bullet things from these toy guns (I was such a boy!) Then I remember seeing the number 2000 in large blue figures printed across the sky. We ate lamb.

Saturday, 1 May 2010


The first of May. I swear months just seem to fly right past my eyes. In a year I will have left school and will be preparing for 'real-deal' exams that count more than anything else. Know what uni I'm going to etc... It's insane. I still remember year 7 at school. I remember my form room, my form teacher, I remember where everyone sat. I always used to go round that class seating plan in my head to make sure I remembered everyone in my form when I wrote Christmas cards to everyone. Some of them moved on to different schools and colleges last year, but next year all my friends will be going to different places all over Britain and even all over the whole world. Seriously, it's kind of scary how much I can remember from 6 years ago as clearly as I can. I love the fact we have memories. Not only for the things that matter and shape us as a person affecting us for, what is sometimes the entirety of our lives, but also the small irrelevant things that in no way matter to your life apart from that time of reflection and acknowledgment that something happened in the past that you still remember. It's nice to have those little bits of useless memory.