Monday, 25 June 2012

When ignorance is not bliss

Thank goodness.  Thank goodness England didn't beat Italy; thank goodness the German football team won't get the opportunity to humiliate us.

Disappointed by my apparent lack of patriotism?  I do apologise.  But we all know that a lot of it's-okay-because-we-all-know-who-won-World-War-2 'jokes' would have started popping up when we had been beaten in the semi-final.  Except they're not jokes, because they're not funny.

It's ridiculous how the gloating is still there when more than half a century has passed but, nevertheless, it continues to drag on.  German people are perfectly normal - I'm Facebook friends with some I met last year while camping - and do not deserve to be looked upon with such ignorant prejudice.

The real irony of the situation lies in the fact that Germany seem to have done better out of the war in the long run - their economy is currently superior to ours and those of many other countries (Greece, for instance).  Furthermore, they are unquestionably better than us Brits at nabbing sun-beds when on holiday, so surely banging on about the distant past is a little bit, well, pathetic?

Tuesday, 19 June 2012


There is a reason why my blog posts are so infrequent; when it comes to thinking up a notion to expand on, I can never think of anything that I might want to dedicate a few hundred words to.  As a perfectionist through and through - and, believe me, that isn't an understatement - I often spend hours on end drafting a post, re-drafting it and then deleting it all to start again.  It's silly, I know, but I just can't help it.

This post, however, is going to be different.  Firstly, it only took me between fifteen and twenty minutes to write that first paragraph (pretty much a personal best for me) and, secondly, I started it without having any specific topic in mind.  I still don't, by the way.

Of course, that would happen, wouldn't it?  Every time I read an opinion piece, be it in the form of a newspaper article or someone else's blog, I always want to write my reaction to it on here.  The only trouble is that I usually read these sort of things when I'm meant to be doing something else (i.e. homework or revision) and, although I can allow myself to take a small break, guilt tears me to pieces when this break then lasts for an hour or so.

So I apologise for the long break; it was the result of guilt over revision and a lack of stimuli.  But I am more apologetic for returning to the 'blogosphere' with this piece of work - I mean, it's hardly riveting, is it?  On the plus side, I finished it in just under an hour, so I'm allowing myself to put in this little smiley face right here :)

P.S.  My next post will be better and out within a week, I promise!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Same Old, Same Old

The dictionary definition of boring is 'dull; repetitious; uninteresting'. The prevalence of this sort of introduction is now so great that it is just about becoming as clichéd as waking up to find the whole piece of creative writing was all just a dream. Let's blame the restrictive nature of the curriculum for now.

I find there is also an over-abundance of rhetorical questions. Are they really necessary for creating a stimulating article? Our English teachers may have all told us that using them is a good tool in 'provoking thought and discussion' but, in any sort of opinion piece, questioning your own argument cannot be anything other than counterproductive. If the writer is not fully convincing, then the reader will never be fully convinced.

To me, leaving the reader to think for themselves all the time is essentially opting out of thinking for yourself. Furthermore, when the same device punctuates the piece at a rate of every other line, it becomes, well, a little bit irritating. After all, too many question marks spoil the broth, and adding too much flavour is just a recipe for disaster.

Now, I am not claiming innocence in all of this - if you scroll further down this blog you can find some examples for yourself (a fun, festive challenge perhaps) - but, apparent hypocrisy aside, I do not think that creative writing is ever formulaic. Some things can be taught in this way, like how to structure essays, solve quadratic equations and calculate the velocity of a moving object, but not this.

Practice makes perfect, and while perfection is, of course, subjective, we are not all gifted enough to spontaneously produce work that emulates Shakespeare and his fellow literature peers.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Let's not make a song and dance about it all

Tomorrow will see the House of Commons debate, and then vote, on whether to have a national referendum on our EU membership.  But there is a catch, as demonstrated in this weekend's papers.

The words 'Tory backbench revolt' have been popping up everywhere, along with pictures of David Cameron's 'worried face' in its many different forms. It seems that some members of the Conservative party are misbehaving.

The troublemakers want to leave the EU.  As an island, we are already detached from mainland Europe, and it seems that several politicians want to cut off the other ties.  However, it is of the utmost importance that we remain in the EU for one reason in particular.  Here, I am referring to the continent's most prestigious contest - the Eurovision Song Contest of course (was this not obvious all along?).

In recent years we have been struggling as a nation to win over the hearts of our beloved neighbours but, alas, it appears that the only cure would be to relocate to Scandinavia.  This would be fine - until it snowed.  Then our lives would just stop for a bit and we could pick up where we left off sometime in the Spring.  Simple.

Now all we have to do is find somebody who can sing.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

A different perspective

It was one minute past midnight and, downstairs in the kitchen, the do-gooders were running late.  First came the quiet scratching as they shuffled out from under the fridge, and then two small heads popped out, followed by two small bodies.  With big, round eyes, they stood and surveyed the spider scuttling in the corner, and listened to the dripping tap.  The moon shone in through the narrow gap in the curtains and illuminated their pale faces as one of them said,

"Coast is clear, Jam."

Jam was still blinking away the darkness from under her matted brown hair, but she managed to stumble after him (albeit sleepily) as he crossed the linoleum tiles over to the gap under the back door and slipped out.  The outside chill bit into their skin as the wind whipped past them, so they pulled themselves tighter into their clothes and hurried round the house into the street.

A gasp slipped out from Jam's lips, "Oh, Silver."

Up and down the road, the remains of small fires smoked upwards into the sky, and all around them lay the debris from earlier; plastic bags, bits of brick, smashed bottles.  Far away, Silver could see the glint of a, no, it couldn't be, surely not, that wasn't a television set, was it?  There was a dragging noise behind him.  He turned around to see Jam tugging at a black balaclava with one of the other do-gooders from the house across the road - Bench perhaps.

With a sweeping glance he saw a total of fifty-odd of them altogether, all working hard to clear the tarmac.  As he picked up a long shard of emerald glass, he realised that, even with such a large number, it was going to be a long night.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

"The man who has no imagination has no wings" - Muhammad Ali

Before you all think I am completely mad, I think this post needs a little bit of an explanation:

The other evening, I told my dad that I had lost my imagination (which he thought was 'very careless'), and so he asked me to poetically describe the nearest tree to us.  But I couldn't do it - I got about as far as 'tall and green' and then I gave up.  So here is my much revised description of that very same tree.

Tall, slender and white, the trunk stands straight, like a soldier brought to attention.  Its bark is decorated with a spiral of dark, castaneous scratches which look as if they have been sketched on with a wax crayon.  Then, it splits off into multiple branches; the ends of which are draped with strings of emerald leaves, giving the overall impression of an antique jewellery stand.  It stands aloof, offering its treasures up to the sky...

But only Autumn will take these leaves.