just a quick life update!

I – like many other people – got my A-Level results on Thursday and I am happy to say that all the hard work paid off and I achieved more than I needed to get a place at my first choice university.

So this is just a very quick one to say congratulations to everyone who picked up their results and I hope that you all did brilliantly!

But this is also to say that if you didn’t do as well as you hoped, then it is not the end of the world. Exams and grades don’t mean everything and you can still achieve anything you want to. Good luck in the future and seriously, don’t worry too much!

As they say, whatever will be will be!

 

 

 

 

 

 

as of today

As of today, I have had this blog for a year. It has changed since I first started it but then, so have I. This blog has grown with me as I have and I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone that has read of my posts, and an even bigger thank you to the people that have stuck with it from the beginning.

This year has been a really big and exciting year for me and it’s been wonderful to share even parts of that with you all! Here is a short list of some of the best bits about this year.

  • I finished college and I got accepted into my first choice university, I’m going to study Creative Writing and English Literature in September.
  • I went to Rome and it reminded me why I love city breaks, I went to so many amazing places and saw so many amazing things.
  • I actually starting writing properly again, and writing something that I’m actually going to finish!
  • I got even more into slam poetry and actually managed to write my own, it’s not perfect but it is mine and I love it.
  • I got given a camera as a birthday present and have since got into photography, again, I’m not brilliant but I’m having fun! Maybe I’ll put some up in the future and you can all see how not great I am!

But no, this year has been amazing and I just wanted to say thank you! Here’s to many more years!

 

 

 

something a little bit different

This is something a little bit different because I’m not writing about books. But I am going to write about something else that is incredibly important to me.

I re-watched a film recently that I love, I had forgotten quite how much I loved it. Made in Dagenham is an amazing film with a wonderful cast. It’s set in the late 1960s in Britain and follows the story of the women’s strikes at Ford regarding pay equality.

It is a story of strong, real women who fought for gender equality long after Emmeline Pankhurst and her Suffragettes. This is not to say that the work that the Suffragettes did wasn’t crucial because it was, without it women may never have fought for other things like equal pay. But it does show that women’s fights are not over. They weren’t then and they aren’t now. The battle may be different but the war is still the same.

But after watching this film again, I started thinking more about feminism and I decided that I wanted to share my thoughts on it with you.

People laugh at third-wave feminism, saying that it’s ‘man-hating’ and ‘militant’, many people – particularly celebrities – refuse to identify with the label of ‘feminist’ because of these implications. But this just isn’t the case. This may be the case for a tiny minority but the majority of people who fight under the title of feminism want exactly what everyone else wants. Equality. What about that is militant?

The ideas encompassed in third-wave feminism are in fact, the most accepting and diverse. True third-wave feminism is about intersectionality, the inclusion of all women instead of the vile, prevalent ‘white feminism’ of the second wave. Third-wave feminism was designed to include women of colour and LGBTQ+ women. It is also incredibly important for men and non-binary people as one of the main focuses of third-wave feminism is about battling gender roles and expectations which affect everyone, not just straight, white women.

As with any group, there are a few who have taken it to the extremes, those who have taken an almost misandrist approach and those who having been oh-so-lovingly branded TERFs – to stand for trans-exclusionary radical feminists – but these are not the majority and thus, third-wave feminism is still the most accepting and open of all strands of feminism. That doesn’t mean there aren’t still massive issues that need to be fixed, as a white woman I am unable to speak on behalf of women of colour but I am aware that there are still issues surrounding their inclusion and issues of white women speaking over them about problems that only affect them. There are also issues within the community regarding the inclusion of LGBTQ+ women, mostly issues surrounding gender rather than sexuality but that is not to say that there are none.

So, no, I am not going to stand here and tell you that it’s perfect. Because it’s not. But then, nothing is so how about, instead of writing it off because of this, we work together to make it as close to perfect as possible.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this something a little bit different. Let me know what you think and maybe I’ll write more like it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April

Despite the fact that three months have already passed, April always feels like a beginning to me. Perhaps it is because it is the real beginning of spring, the flowers are blooming, the lambs are out and the sun is actually shining! Or perhaps it’s because my birthday falls at the end of March and so April feels like something special. byu

I don’t know why but I do that the first days of April always feel like a new beginning and this year I am embracing that even more fully than I have before. I have started on a new writing project, I have picked my journal back up and I am even looking into eating more healthily… let’s see how long that lasts!

But the main point of this post is to say that people often want to make a change in their lives but they feel like they have to wait until they have a reason to do so, be it Lent or the new year, yet I am here to say that if you want to make a change then just make it! Don’t decide that you have to leave it until you have a ‘reason’ to do it because by then you might not want to!

Make April your month to start something new, or May, or June, or simply tomorrow. Because every day is the first day of the rest of your life!

 

 

 

 

 

 

always my favourite series

I have always loved Harry Potter, I read the first three with my parents at a very young age and then aged eleven, I read them for myself again. Slightly later than a lot of people but clearly the perfect time to do so. I read them all in less than month and then two months later, read them all again. I then devoured anything linked to it, reading the Tales of Beedle the Bard, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch through the Ages. I bought the Cursed Child on the day of release and read it in a day. Harry Potter was – and is – a massive part of my life and a major reason for that is because of the messages they hold.

You could simply dismiss them as children’s books and leave it at that but in doing that, you miss out on some crucial lessons and an incredible world. The Wizarding world is widespread and encompasses more than simply Hogwarts and Diagon Alley. If the new Fantastic Beasts film has taught us anything, it is that the Wizarding world stretches across time and cultures, each being slightly different but all as wonderful as each other.

It was watching Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them that inspired my to write about Harry Potter. I felt that because they can be easily dismissed as children’s books that they weren’t books that I could write about but I was so wrong and watching Fantastic Beasts reminded me why.

Fantastic Beasts reminded me of the wonderful world that JK Rowling created and all of the parts that sit in the background and make it all work. The way that she can develop and add to it so easily because she made a world that blends so seamlessly with our own. The plot of the main storyline were the perfect basis for the events in Fantastic Beasts and the events of Fantastic Beasts are the perfect complement to unanswered questions in the original novels. The American Wizarding World appeared so effortless, as if it just had to be different in the exact ways that it was and illustrated how in-tune Rowling still is with the world she created.

And don’t even get me started on the characters! Newt was the exact scatter-brained, animal-loving guy that I feel came across so brilliantly in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them book that Rowling released for Comic Relief and Tina and Queenie were honestly incredible. I love strong female characters and Tina fits into that idea, she’s not perfect but she is amazing, she fights for what she believes, damn the consequences (even if to start with this only seems to get herself and Newt in trouble!) and Queenie is sweet but strong, the ultimate combination. Jacob was a sweetheart and I fell completely in love with him from the very beginning.

I also loved the way that it left the storyline so open and ready for the next four films, I was a bit uncertain about that to begin with. Five films based on Fantastic Beasts? Sounded impossible but then I saw more information about what the films were going to cover and I came around to the idea more. Credence was amazing, the obscurial idea was amazing and Grindelwald was so much more than amazing!

This all shows that JK Rowling isn’t done yet and neither is the Wizarding World and I, for one, can’t wait!

I loved the film and can’t wait until I can read the screenplay! (hopefully I’ll have it by the New Year! Fingers crossed for Christmas)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“just because it’s proven, doesn’t mean it’s true”

Slam poetry is a form of poetry that I never really thought would appeal to me. Poetry is a private, personal thing. Not something that you share during an open mic night at university. But then, I stopped being such a poetry snob, put down my collection of Byron and listened to some slam poetry with a (slightly) more open mind. The first one I stumbled across was called ‘Hi, I’m a slut’ and can be found on YouTube (I would suggest listening to it, if you haven’t already) I never thought that slam poetry would appeal to me…

Damn, was I wrong!

It was one of the most incredible poems I’ve ever found and honestly, I think I must have listened to it at least a hundred times in the last six months. I will never again shun a kind of poetry because it doesn’t fit in with my previous expectations.

Savannah Brown’s poem holds so much raw emotion that, in fact, I now feel it would be impossible to enjoy it in any way other than as performance poetry. If you just read it from a book, you lose so much of that emotion because so much of it is just from her voice, not even the words. It’s amazing, go listen to it now! Now!

But, it was not actually this poem that encouraged me to write this post. But another brilliant piece of slam poetry from Harry Baker – slam poetry world champion. An incredible poem called ‘Paper People’. To manage to talk about politics and greed and war and still manage to make me laugh in less than three minutes is pretty impressive. What starts as a deceptively simple poem (simple thematically, I mean!) quickly becomes a wonderfully astute critique of society as a whole.

And, as you’ll know if you read my post about The Great Gatsby, there is nothing I love more than a social critique of society!

But, if I thought that simply listening to it was incredible, I very quickly found that it was nothing compared to seeing it performed live.

I was lucky enough to be able to see Harry Baker live as part of the Appledore Book Festival – a large literary festival set in a very small town – and honestly, I was completely blown away.

Because his poetry is so much more incredible when you’re part of it – and that is saying something, because I thought that it was pretty damn incredible before this – because when you actually have to repeat the random German phrase back at him, it’s a lot more fun than mumbling it awkwardly under your breath! The atmosphere makes everything more wonderful and honestly, I would do it all over again right now if I could.

And if getting to see him perform wasn’t enough, I also got to meet him afterwards… I wanted to tell him how amazing I thought his poetry was but instead all I managed was my name and an awkward request for a photo. (maybe if I’m lucky he’ll find this and know how amazing I think he was)

But the main point of this post is not to prove to you all how awkward I am but in fact to encourage you to give slam poetry a chance because it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Actually, not just to give slam poetry a chance but instead to give everything a chance, particularly if you’ve already decided that you won’t like it. Basically, as long as it’s legal, give it a go!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“onwards and upwards”

Whilst lazing about on the beach during my summer holiday, I read a truly phenomenal novel of female empowerment, the BBC and the rise of Hitler. It doesn’t really seem possible that these three topics can somehow be linked and truly done justice to in less than 500 pages. But Sarah-Jane Stratford manages to succeed in this monumental task in her 2016 debut novel Radio Girls.

Not only is the plot itself incredible, a perfect mixture of action, society and even a smattering of romance, the clever use of actual historical facts and rumours makes it all the more realistic. So much so, that at some points within the novel it is almost impossible to discern fact from fiction. It blends almost seamlessly with the actual history of the time, and is that not exactly what you want from historical fiction?

There are a large amount of  female characters with very different but equally strong personalities. The main protagonist Maisie Musgrave changes drastically over the course of the novel, at the beginning her only goal is to marry quick and marry rich. By the end of the novel she is a smart, hard-working woman who is both employed and married!

Maisie and her friends Phyllida and Beanie embody the changing ideals of society at the time, from the more conservative pre-WWI Britain to the new country portrayed in this novel. Unfortunately, and shown very well in Radio Girls, there were still some very conservative ideas during this time. This can be seen in the fact that Beanie quits her job at the BBC shortly after finding a gentleman to marry. Another point at which this can be seen is when Maisie goes to vote for the first time and she is asked whether “the appearance of the candidates” had swayed her decision at all. But this only adds to the historical context.

My favourite character, however, has to the wonderful Director of Talk Programming at the BBC when it started up in 1926, Hilda Matheson. Well, character is the probably the wrong word to use, as she was a real person and an incredible one at that. She needed no sensationalism to make her interesting enough for a novel to be written about her! If being the first to lead the Department of Talks at the BBC wasn’t good enough, she also had links to MI5 and worked with them during WWI AND she worked as the political secretary to the first female MP, Lady Nancy Astor.

However, by not having the novel narrated through Hilda herself, but instead by the entirely fictional Maisie Musgrave, Sarah-Jane Stratford  both adds to and detracts from the story. This is NOT a bad thing, though it sounds like it could be! What I mean is that Hilda maintains her air of mystery and you get to discover things about her alongside Maisie.

And if the wonderful plot and incredible characters weren’t enough, it also has some extremely quote-worthy lines! Like, when one of the male characters says to Maisie “I’d have pegged you as the type who faints at the sight of blood” she replies with the wonderfully cutting “And I’d have pegged you for a gentleman.”. There is a reason for that, but I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you now, would I?

But, I would have to say that this is probably one of the greatest books I’ve read this year. So much so, that two days after I finished reading it, I picked it back up and started again!

The combination of the near-seamless historical context, fascinating characters and punchy one-liners has this wonderful novel all set to become a classic!

(hopefully!)