Top Ten Must Play songs on New Years Eve

U2 New Years Day


Glitter Graphics

Happy New Year Glitter Pictures

Sonnet 17 "Who will believe my verse in time to come..." by William Shakespeare (poetry reading)

Quote of the day!

The English instinctively admire any man who has no talent and is modest about it

James Agate

100 word review: Wuthering Heights

I had heard several negative things about this novel: mainly that there is no protagonist for the reader to relate to. However, I found it to be the great English Classic that it is known as. Emily is the second of the Bronte sisters that I have read (Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre is one of my favourites) and I have to say she delivers quite a complex structure very well. At points I did get confused by the names, because everyone has very similar ones, but it is very easy to understand. A great book and a nice not-too-long read.

5 More Minutes

“Jamie your shoelace is undone. For God’s sake put the box down and do it up before you break your neck!”
“Yes Mum.”
I could hear the gentle mocking in his voice when he said that, like its some hilarious little joke that I still act like his mother. He could be 52 with four kids and a pension for all I care, I’d still tell him to do up his bloody shoes. He handed me the box and bent down to do it up. The tip of his tongue was clenched between his teeth and he carefully watched what the laces were doing. I could almost hear him saying “loop it, swoop it, pull”. He’d always been slow with learning how to do his shoelaces. We tried it all: the bunny ears, the squirrel and the tree, one of those giant cardboard shoes with laces to practice. He ended up wearing Velcro till he was 13.
He stood back up, sweeping his fringe out of his eyes. He’d always had big eyes, from the day he was born. The midwife brought him in and handed him to me and as he woke up he batted those long eyelashes at me and the blueness of his eyes took my breath away. In all his school pictures from primary school he reminded me of a caricature with his sticky out ears, big blue eyes and grin that was always missing at least two teeth. Then he went to high school and started growing his hair and forever covering his eyes with that bloody fringe. I told him countless times to cut the damn thing off but he always kissed his teeth and said “it’s fine, Mum”.
“Much better” I said, handing him back the box. He turned around to take the box out to the car, his jeans holding on to his buttocks for dear life as he walked. “Jamie, love, you need a new belt; that one you’re wearing doesn’t seem to be any good.”
Taking the hint, he steadied the box on one hand and pulled up his jeans with the other. Once he’d gone around the corner, I turned and went upstairs.
His bedroom door was wide open and the room looked neat tidy, two things it never was when he was in it. One large open box was in the middle and piled high with books and toys and little trinkets: the stuff he was leaving behind. I picked up a plastic cowboy from the top of the pile; once upon a time it had been his favourite toy. It all started when we took him to see Toy Story in the cinema and having a toy cowboy or astronaut as your best friend became ‘cool’. Before then he had never even given the thing a second glance and suddenly it had to sit with him at dinner, bathe with him and sleep with him. He had tried to write ‘Jamie’ on one of the boots but he could only fit in the ‘Ja’. The cowboy didn’t stay a favourite for long: his Dad bought him a Playstation for Christmas and so anything that wasn’t on a television screen was no longer worth playing with. I always joke that that Christmas was the day I lost my son to the Five More Minutes syndrome. He’d be playing that thing from the moment he woke up till when he went to bed that night, which he always tried to extend by turning his big brown eyes at me and whimpering, “Five more minutes?”
Bathing went out of the window: it took up too much game time. So did haircuts, fresh air, homework and friends. At mealtimes I would yell his name up the stairs, only to hear the faint response “I’m coming mum, five more minutes!” and his dinner would be stone cold by the time he came down. In a matter of days my sociable seven year old turned into an obsessive recluse. It took about 8 months for the novelty to wear off and he went back to playing football with friends and maintaining personal hygiene, but the Five More Minutes syndrome stayed. Throughout his teens those three words became an automatic response to my every command: get out of the shower, do the washing up, go to bed, tidy your room, walk the dog. It was also the excuse for anything that he didn’t want to stop doing: playstation, computer, television, girls. When he was 15 I let him bring his girlfriend round for the first time. She was a tiny blonde twig that barely came up to his shoulder, although by that time he towered well above just about everyone we knew, including me. He took her hand and led her up to his bedroom and I faced the inner struggle of not thinking about what they were doing. A few hours later I yelled up the stairs that her Dad had come to pick her up, to be met with the grunt “five more minutes, mum.” Heaven forbid I should ever know what they needed five more minutes for.
Jamie was leaning in the doorway, his eyes moving from me to the cowboy in my hands in confusion. I too looked down at the cowboy in my hands. It was dirty, dusty and had a broken arm. I lifted one of the feet to see the very faint traces of “Ja”. I sighed and put it back in the box.
“I was just remembering when you used to be in love with that toy. You were about 7 and we went to see toy story, remember?”
“Oh God Mum, don’t start going down memory lane, I haven’t got all day.”
“Oi, cheeky, don’t talk back.” There was that smile again; Funny little old mum who can’t help but nag. “Is that everything now?”
“Dad’s just setting up the Satnav for the journey. It’ll probably take him ages, he still can’t work it.”
I nodded and smiled weakly. “How long is going to take to get there?”
“About 2 hours. The campus is in the middle of nowhere but there’ll be loads of traffic with all the people coming at the same time. The country lanes are gonna be a friggin’ nightmare.”
I nodded and tried to smile. “All ready to go then?”
He looked around his room, put his hands in his pockets and nodded.
“Think so, yeah.”
I looked at his face, happy, confident and determined: he was ready. I covered my face with my hands.
“Aww Mum, don’t cry” I felt his arms around me and wrapped mine around him, burying my face in his chest.“S’alright, you’ll see me soon.”
I sniffed, pulled away and sat on his bed. “I know, I know. It’s just not easy watching your little boy grow up and leave.”
Jamie stayed quiet for a moment, looking at me awkwardly. He’d only ever seen me cry once, when his grandma died. He came and sat on the bed next to me.
“Remember when we went to Blackpool and you lost me at the Pleasure Beach?”
I laughed and wiped my eyes.
“You ran off after the man with the balloons. We were worried sick looking for you for hours and then when we came to pick you up from the lost and found office you were sat on a chair licking a 99 with a balloon hat on your head, happy as Larry.”
“I wasn’t for long after the arse-whooping you gave me!”
“Yeah well you never ran off again, did you!”
We both sat laughing. His laugh was deep and slow but I could still hear the high –pitched giggle in there. I put my hand on his and smiled at him. He pulled me towards him and hugged me.
“I’ll miss you Mum.”
An impatient yell came up the stairs: “Jamie! I got the Satnav working, let’s get going!”
I held Jamie tighter and yelled,
“Five more minutes!”

"During Wind and Rain" by Thomas Hardy (poetry reading)


Since I turned 17 i've had three books that teach you how to drive, the highway code and all that business and have yet to start driving lessons or get a provisional or anything. I think maybe I should do something about that...

No Title As Of Yet...

I haven't written poetry since I've started back a school. I honestly though my writing had taken a turn in the wrong direction, then last night, out of the blue, inspiration FINALLY hit! I haven't drafted yet; what is here is what I wrote last night

The darkness is my best friend,
For I have no compassion.
The tear stained pillow of my fears,
Has kept me strong over years.
The cards dealt by fate, I hate,
To have this yearning, burning
Sensation in my whole soul.
Who knows were the dead do go?
I was so full of hopes, dreams.
To be, be ripped at the seams
Is what we all truly fear.
I think, therefore I am not
fit to lead, let me be shot.
Cause this fate, I hate
Hates me.

"London Snow" by Robert Bridges (poetry reading)

Quote of the day!

Politics is the art of the possible

Prince Otto Von Bismarck

Benjamin Zephaniah - Rong Radio

4000 Characters

[A group of 10-15 1st year college students are sat on chairs, stage right. A sign is at the back of the stage “Uni Advice Day”. A teacher is stood in front of the students. On stage right are two chairs, one is empty and one has another student in it who looks deep in thought and serious. She appears to be saying something under her breath.]

Teacher: For the next hour or so we will be looking at one of the most crucial aspects of your university applications: your personal statements. First we have one of our students in the second year that recently completed her university application and is here to give you advice on writing your personal statements. Please would you all welcome, Kathy!

[The teacher goes and sits in the empty chair on stage left. Kathy, the student sitting stage left, stands and walks to centre stage, looking slightly towards the floor. Her face remains deep in thought and her mouth continues to move as if she is quietly speaking to herself. She reaches centre stage, stands completely still for a moment, mouthing. Then, suddenly, she jerks her head up and she has a wide smile.]

Kathy: [Extremely happy and excited, using big gestures and movements yet also obviously fake and forced.]

On my 7th birthday, my Dad bought me a chemistry set with 100 different experiments. It was just squeezing lemon juice into grape juice and watching the lemon juice turn red, but to me it was magic and from then on chemistry became my life!

[Kathy’s smile slowly falls and her face resumes one of grave seriousness. She speaks in a low, hushed voice, as if what she is saying is a terrible secret but her voice constantly grows in anger as she speaks until the point of shouting, when she calms herself. She faces the audience while speaking but looks straight ahead at something in the distance.]

Always start with an anecdote. It makes you seem more...friendly. Likeable. Human. Prove that your subject has been a life-long love. I much preferred the Barbie I got that day and didn’t like science till I was 15 but that’s what happens when you write these statements: truth and lies blur and entwine until you can no longer tell which is which. If you tell the complete truth, they won’t want you.

[Suddenly turns and points accusingly at the students]

Tell all lies and you’ll get caught! The boy who cried I read it! is the most common Uni fable to date.

[Walks towards the students, looking each of them in the eye. Stops right in front of them.]

Find the right mix of look-at-me lies and touching truths and you’ve got yourself a place. So what exactly is it that you need to deceive them of?

[Pauses for a few seconds]

Would you call yourself a well-rounded individual?

[Kathy turns her head sharply towards the students. She waits a moment, as the students look at each other, unsure of whether to answer. Kathy roars in frustration.]

Do you play an instrument? A sport? Do you volunteer?

[Still the students don’t answer, just look at her worried]

Show these universities that you are a human being worthy of their time. You can’t be a teenager that does nothing but drink with friends. You must be a talented musician and athlete that can contribute to Uni life. You must be interested in issues around you. You may be terrible at the violin, attend one football training match and not give a toss about the environment, but that doesn’t matter. Who you are is of no importance. It is who you are willing to be.

[Kathy pauses for a moment and then begins pacing in front of them.]

You question me.

[Mimicks the students voices]

Don’t they want to see who we really are? They’ll see through it if you’re fake! PAH! You want to be honest? Go ahead. Say you like the look of the course, you hear the night life is great, you want to get the hell away from your parents, you love that there are no examinations in the first year, you are a nice person and usually on time and please won’t they just give you a place? Thousands of other fools will do the same and you’ll all be lost in the stormy seas of rejection, begging for the power of Clearing to throw you a rope.

[Pauses for a few seconds and then turns away again and walks back to centre stage and talking in the direction of the audience.]

4000 characters, including spaces and full stops. That’s all you have. Those 4000 characters will become an inescapable nightmare for every one of you. Time after time you’ll type page upon page into your UCAS, press submit, cross your fingers and pray to the heavens, only to read that it is 354 characters too long. People try to gain a character here and there by ‘accidentally’ forgetting to put a space or a full stop but it doesn’t work.

[Again she turns towards the students, holding up a finger and walks slowly to stand in front of one particular student, who looks at her terrified.]

One single grammatical or spelling error and BAM...there goes your statement in the bin.

[She stands back to address the entire group.]

Check. Double-check. Triple-check. You can check it a hundred times and still a mistake can trickle through. You lie in bed thinking, do I spell necessary with two C’s or two S’s? Is it affect or effect? It doesn’t end when you fall asleep: your dreams are filled with professors laughing at your stupidity, throwing hours of your life into the shredder and you see your parents disappointed faces when you get rejected by each one. Then you wake up and see your statement lying on the desk, 354 characters too long, mocking you.

[Kathy shakes her head, stepping back into centre stage, mouthing something.]

You can’t imagine. Soon, you will know. The mind-numbing math swallows our thoughts and we find ourselves perpetually adding up. I knew a boy who studied Government & Politics, Philosophy, English language & literature and Business studies. He said each subject twice. That’s 712 characters squandered. I went on a Young Scientists Introduction to Chemistry in Higher Education Programme. I said it 4 times and lost 284 characters.

[Kathy wrings her hands, as if pleading with desperation and, still stood in front of the students, turns towards the audience.]

I did everything I could to cut it down. I didn’t mention it was for young sciences, I left out that it was just an introduction, but it was no use. I had no choice but to sacrifice 156 characters.

[Kathy walks back to centre stage, looking out into the audience. She takes long pauses between each sentence, mouthing something. She no longer looks angry, but upset, lost, desperate and exhausted]

It can be done. It must be. Stay up till the early hours scribbling out sentences and replacing it with ones four characters shorter. Count and contrast the characters of adjectives. Spend so much time counting it becomes second nature and everything you do fits into 4000 characters. Just like this speech.

[Kathy stands in silence. The students and teacher all watch her, awe-struck, confused and unsure of what to make of what just happened. After about 30 seconds, she turns around and walks off stage.]

New Books!

On Christmas Eve I went to a charity shop with my little brother and realised just how many cheapo books they have! I got about 5 books that I would have originally bought on Amazon for over £5 for 69p!!! So you can officially look forward to MORE 100 word reviews on the following books:

Dracula by Bram Stoker
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Filth by Irvine Welsh
Geisha by Liza Dalby
Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence
I capture the castle by Dodie Smith
Dune by Frank Herbert

Winter Wonderland: Jason Mraz

A nice twist on the winter wonderland song...

Last Christmas - Wham!

Classic Christmas song... We <3 George Michael

Happy Boxing Day!!!!

Christmas Glitter Graphics

They don't do boxing day glitter graphics, so we'll just wish you a Merry Christmas again!

Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas Is You

Robyn and Symone's favourite Christmas song...and one of the sexiest men on the planet...


Merry Christmas Everyone by Shakin' Stevens


Christmas Glitter Graphics


Glitter Graphics

Glitter Happy Birthday Graphics

12 Days of Christmas

This is my favourite Christmas song... many memories of bellowing "five GOOOOOOOOOOOOOLD rings" in primary school on the last day of school. Not sure about the cheesy background music in this video though.


Christmas Glitter Graphics

Mean Girls - Jingle Bell Rock

Great film and hilarious clip! (Keep an eye on any guys watching this video)

"Sonnet 18 - Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?" by William Shakespeare (poetry reading)

Quote of the day!

Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils

Hector Berlioz

100 word review: The Five People You Meet In Heaven

This is the perfect book to read on a lazy weekend afternoon. It's not very long and the plot is simple and uplifting. It was written by Mitch Albom, the author of the international bestseller Tuesdays with Morrie so if you have read it and liked it, then I recommend this too. If you haven't read any Mitch Albom, then you should read this! It's an interesting perspective on the afterlife and isn't so deep and profound that you have to really analyse it but still makes you think. It's a really nice book and leaves you warm and fuzzy.

"Rubaiyat of a Persian Kitten" by Oliver Herford (poetry reading)

You have to look at this!

I was reading an article about some poet or other on the BBC news website and saw this link:

If you like poetry then you have to look, it is so incredibly amazing! I don't want to spoil it and tell you anything that's on there so you'll just have to check it out for yourself!

100 word review: The Bell Jar

When you read this you can instantly tell that it is written by a poet. Rather than simple description, the novel is rife with figurative language and imagery. It doesn't become overwhelming, however, and the novel still has an easy to read simple style to it. In some ways it even reads as a poem because you can sense the deeper meanings to all the events without Plath having to spell it out to you,. Written 3 weeks before Sylvia Plath committed suicide, this novel gives an interesting insight into her mindset at the time. Almost like a suicide note.

Anne Sexton reads "The Truth The Dead Know"

4000 Characters

This is the very first piece I have written for my creative writing portfolio to send to East Anglia. (It's a monologue.)

[Spoken by a girl of 17-18 in a t-shirt and jeans.]

Extremely happy and excited, using big gestures and movements

For my 7th birthday, my father bought me a chemistry set with 100 different experiments. That’s what it said on the box: learn to make colourful crystals, find out how rockets burn with colour, separate and analyse substances! Really it was just squeezing lemon juice into grape juice and watching the lemon juice turn red, but to the 7 year old me it was magic and from then on science became my life.

Body language completely changes to one of seriousness, bottled anger and frustration. Voice has a dark, cynical tone. Voice constantly builds to a point of shouting, but then returns to calm as she controls herself.

The teachers tell you to start with an anecdote. It makes you seem more...friendly. Likeable. Human. But all I can think is that anecdote cost me 406 characters. 406 characters lost trying to prove that chemistry has been a love for all of my life when really I much preferred the Barbie I got for my birthday and hardly touched the chemistry set. But that is just what happens when you write these statements: truth and lies blur and entwine until you can no longer remember which is which. If you tell the truth they won’t want you. In truth very few people have always loved and always wanted to study that course. Most just stumble across it when deciding what to do with the rest of their lives. But if you tell all lies, you’ll get caught. The boy who cried “I read it!” is the most common University fable to date. What you have to do is find the right mix of look-at-me lies and touching truths and you’ve got yourself a place.

You have 4000 characters for this cunning persuasion. That includes spaces and full stops. They charge you for wanting the admissions department to take breaths when they read. Some people try to gain a character here and there by ‘accidentally’ forgetting to put a space or missing out a full stop but it doesn’t work. One single grammatical or spelling error and BAM...there goes your statement in the bin. Those 4000 characters become the haunting, taunting, oh-so-daunting nightmare of every student. I know a girl who wants to do Scandinavian studies and English Literature. She had to write it six times. That’s 258 characters gone. Sure you can pick up little tricks like using an ampersand instead of writing ‘and’ or saying ‘this course’ instead of the full course name but it isn’t enough. I know a boy who studied Government and Politics, Philosophy, English language and literature and Business studies. He had to say each subject twice. That’s 712 characters squandered. And he wanted to study Business Studies and Marketing, the poor sod. After the anecdote, course name and his A level subjects, he had 200 characters left. No-where near enough space to show what a well-rounded individual he was. That’s the other thing they tell you to do: prove that you are more than just grades with all of your extra-curricular activities. Here’s where more deception comes into play. People pick up sports and instruments and volunteering becomes their life. They pretend to care about old people, children, the disabled, the environment and charities but really they resent using their Saturdays and while they shovel mud and pick up rubbish and change a child or old woman’s nappy, they pray to God that this gets them a place and all becomes worth it.

My Mum couldn’t believe it when I told her. Mimicks her mothers voice and shocked body posture All these lies, surely University’s will see through it all and only want the truthful people?” Bless her. She didn’t go to University. Maybe my Mum is right, they do see through it and take you anyway for your admirable attempt at ambidexterity (learning fancy words is another must), who knows. The student certainly doesn’t, and that’s the whole point. We know absolutely NOTHING about what they want, except that what they want is not what we have to offer. I could use my 4000 characters to be honest and say that I really want to do this course and I know it would be perfect for me and I hear the night life is fantastic at your University and I just want to get the hell away from my parents and I work pretty hard and am mainly punctual and a nice person and will be a great student and please-oh-please won’t you give me a place? But 10 zillion other applicants will say the same and you become lost in the messy mass of rejection, begging to be saved by the power of Clearing. It’s all about standing out from the crowd. In a way personal statements are the best preparation for life: you learn that no-one will want you just the way you are; you need to persuade them that you are what they need. Bosses, our husbands and wives, our children, our friends will all need persuading. Contorting the truth is the shotgun you need for survival in the Jungle of your future and the 4000 characters are your bullets. Use them wisely.


100 word review: Saturday Night Peter

This is the second autobiography by comedian Peter Kay. I read his first, The Sound of Laughter, because he is my favourite comedian and I read Saturday Night Peter because the first autobiography was so good I wanted more! It's packed with jokes, emotion and simple honesty and you really get to know Peter Kay the person, not just the comedian. A must read if you are a fan of Peter Kay or of his style of comedy but I would suggest reading The Sound of Laughter first. It just makes sense to read the first before the sequel. Brilliant.

100 word review: Un Lun Dun

When I bought this book I didn't realise that it was a children's book but that don't let it put you off! I absolutely love this book and it is definitely in my top ten. It is the most imaginative plot I have come across in years and reminds me of a darker and more serious Roald Dahl. It is also has fantastic illustrations by the author, China Mieville. This is his first children's book and it has made me really want to read his adult ones. Un Lun Dun is thoroughly entertaining and a breath of literary fresh air.

Sylvia Plath Reads 'Daddy'

Monty Python - Storytime

Got a letter...

I got a letter from Nottingham. At first I thought it might be an offer but they would have said about that online too. It was basically telling me that because of the number of applicants for my course and the fact that they have to take everyone into equal consideration, they are postponing giving offers until after the January deadline. Ah well, getting nothing is better than getting a rejection!

Siegfried Sassoon's return to Cambridge

The archive of World War I poet Siegfried Sassoon has been delivered to the Cambridge University Library after a campaign to raise £1.25m. Siegfried Sassoon was an English poet and author who is among the sixteen Great War Poets commemorated in Westminster Abbey's Poet's Corner. Sassoon was an undergraduate at the university and became an honorary fellow of Clare College.

The collection includes the diaries Sassoon kept on the Western Front and in Palestine between 1915 and 1918, a manuscript of Sassoon's statement refusing to return to duty after being wounded and notebooks with records of his school days and post-war journals and the progress of his literary career.

The library bought the collection after a successful fundraising drive - helped by a £550,000 grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund. Other organisations which helped fund the purchase of the collection included the Monument Trust, the JP Getty Jr Trust and Sir Siegmund Warburg's Voluntary Settlement. Private individuals also contributed.

Information taken from:

Collecting Alice and other pointless things

A rare edition of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, given to the real Alice, has sold for $115,000 at an auction. I can understand people wanting to hold a little part of history in their hands but isn't $115,000 a bit excessive?

The book was sold by American football star and book collector Pat McInally who said: "I think it is the most important children's book ever written... so finding a book given to Alice by Lewis Carroll was really exciting." I haven't actually read the book, only watched the Disney film and the 1999 TV film so I don't really see how it is the most important children's book ever written. Please, someone, enlighten me.

Mr McInally was selling the books to raise money to buy Winnie the Pooh books at another auction coming up. Again, I haven't read the books and only watched the Disney film but I can understand someone's love of Pooh. On the other hand, doesn't the fact that he is selling off one lot to buy another show that he isn't particularly concerned with the books themselves and it is more an obsession with collection? I know how easy it is to become obsessed with collecting things. It's never happened to me personally but my little brother Michael has spent God knows how much money on collecting Match Attack cards and now the season is over, the cards are worthless and he threw them all away. Then the new season started and he started collecting again. The waste of money drives me MAD!

To read more about this story go to:

100 word review: The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

I didn't finish this book. I gave up after about three volumes (there are nine). Tristram isn't born for over 150 pages because of the narration. He digresses to the point where you have completely forgotten the plot of the novel. When his father and uncle are having a conversation, before telling you the conversation, the narrator tells you about his father’s philosophy of children's names and his uncles groin injury caused in war. It’s meant to be funny and isn't, mainly because of the 300 year difference between when the book was written and when I am reading it.


New Books!

I recently bought 15 new books and I've listed them below so you can know what 100 word reviews you've got coming up!

The Stepmothers Diary by Fay Waldon
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
The Oversight by Will Eaves
Saturday Night Peter by Peter Kay
His Illegal Self by Peter Carey
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Vanity Fair by William Thackeray
Burning Bright by Helen Dunmore
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood
Money by Martin Amis
Nothing To Be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes
Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie


Lyla Poetry Slam Winner

"Vampire" by Ted Hughes (poetry)


I got an email from East Anglia today asking for a 7 page creative writing portfolio in 2-3 weeks.... something tells me that this is NOT going to be a relaxing Christmas. Plus now that I have finished school, I don't have any teachers to tell me if what I've written is any good so YOU shall have to read and comment for me =]

100 word review: All My Sons

I read this play as part of my A2 English Literature & Language course. I am a firm believer that plays are meant to be watched not read and that people only read plays to over-analyse them (which is incidentally exactly why we are reading it for my course). However, All My Sons is, unlike others, still a good play even when it is just being read. If you are a fan of Arthur Miller then you should read and if you have never read him then read this because he is one of those writers that everyone should experience.

Lovesong -- by Ted Hughes

My Kent Visist Day

I have officially booked my place on the Kent visit day for February 10th 2010! Here's hoping I like the place!


100 word review: The Waves

The first time I tried to read this book, I gave up. I just couldn't get to grips with Virginia Woolf's stream-of-consciousness style. However, I tried again and this time I finished it. It's a very short novel and a very interesting observation of life. On the manuscript of the novel, Woolf wrote 'the author would be glad if the following pages were not read as a novel' and you really do have to do just that. I didn't like the style but if you should read anyway if you like Woolf's novels and because some people love this style.

"Black Ice and Rain" by Michael Donaghy (poetry reading)

Really really old book on display in Scotland

The oldest book in Scotland is going on display for the first time in history and for the next 3 months, the public will be able to look at view it at the Edinburgh University library. The Celtic Psalter dates from the 11th Century and contains hand-written psalms in Latin, with Celtic and Pictish illustrations.

The psalter is part of a display which marks the refurbishment of the university library's exhibition room. Also on display is the finest surviving copy of Scotland's first substantial printed book, the Aberdeen Breviary which dates back to 1509.There is also a copy of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet published during the playwright's lifetime. The exhibition opens on Friday and lasts until 14 March.

So if you live in Edinburgh or fancy travelling down there, you should definitely go and have a look! Be one of the few people on earth to see the oldest book in Scotland!

Information taken from:

100 word review: The Golden Notebook

Doris Lessing is an author that everyone should read, purely for her credentials: winner of the nobel prize for literature, a Companion of Honour and a Companion of Literature, David Cohen Memorial prize for British Literature, Spain's Prince of Asturias Prize, the International Catalunya award and the S.T. Dupont Golden PEN Award for a Lifetime's Distinguished Service to Lierature, to name but a few. The Golden Notebook gives a fascinating political insight into socialist and communist thought in the 1950s as well as the moving story of a woman trying to find herself. Brilliant book that should definitely be read.

100 word review: Little Women

This has been one of my favourite books since I was a child and it is a classic that everyone should read. Many would say that only women could enjoy it, but I disagree. You watch the sisters of the March household grow up and change and feel such a connection with them that you can't help but react like a proud parent. The plot is fantastic and do not think this a romance. It is about four sisters growing and finding who they are and making their place in the world. I absolutely love it and you will too!

Politics Essay: Political Parties

To what extent are parties effective in promoting political participation?

Political parties depend on political participation as they need good political participation to ensure a good turnout at elections. As political parties are brought to government power by the electorate, they need the electorate to have political participation. Political participation, therefore, is one of the functions of a political party.

The first activity that political parties have for participation is the opportunity for people to become members of the political party. By being a member, people can help to shape party policy by submitting their ideas. However the membership of parties in the UK has fallen and so less political participation is made this way. Also, political parties do not make much effort to make the public members of their party and only really try to elicit support at the time of the general election. Also, while some members are very active in supporting the party, the majority are very passive and so do not have any political participation anyway.

Political parties also help to educate and mobilize the electorate. They do this through a range of activities such as meetings, canvassing and advertising. The majority of these activities are done only around the time of the general election ad also all the activities are designed to elicit support for that party and its policy and ideological agendas. This means that the electorate are only actually educated during certain periods of time and all the education is very biased. This means that the electorate are only party educated, not politically educated.

Political parties have not succeeded in their aims to mobilize the electorate, as shown by the decrease in turnout for the general election. This means that their campaign activities and opportunities for people to become members haven’t filled the function of increasing political participation.


Monty Python-Writers Sketch

100 word review: The Portrait Of A Lady

Another classic that should definitely be read. It follows Isobel Archer, whose main aim in life is to protect her independence. It is a great look at women in society and although set in the 1800s, there are still many themes and feelings that modern women can sympathise with. The only bad thing I will say is that I think there was a little too much detail and the plot could actually have been done in lot less pages! I still say that you should read it because Henry James is one of the greatest authors of the 19th century.

Politics Essay: Pressure Groups

What are two differences between insider and outsider groups?

One of the differences between insider and outsider groups is that insider groups have access to policy-makers and outsider groups have limited or no access. This means that insider groups can have a much bigger impact and can do so much easier than outsider groups who have to make large efforts to be heard. This fact links to the second difference. Because insider groups don’t have to work hard to affect policy, they are often little heard of by the public. Outsider groups, on the other hand, use the public and their support to be heard and try to achieve their aims.

Monty Python - Northern Playwright

"Dubliners - Araby" by James Joyce (story reading)






100 word review: A Doll's House

I read this play as part of my A2 English Literature and Language course. I believe that plays are meant to be watched and not read, but there is no doubting that A Doll's House is a fantastic play. When it was published it caused created controversy over the ending, (which I shan't spoil for you), and the whole play thoroughly tests the cultural norms of 19th century marriage. I liked it but now want to watch it. Then again, some of Ibsen's more subtle messages can be seen when you have the words in front of you to analyse.

Politics Essay: Conservatism

How have conservatives justified private property?

Like liberals, conservatives support the ability to accumulate wealth as an important economic incentive but conservatives also see property as having a range of psychological and social advantages.

The first advantage is that it provides security. Property ownership provides a sense of confidence and assurance as they have something to fall back on. It also provides individuals with a source of protection. This is why, for conservatives, thrift is in itself a virtue and they encourage private savings and investment in property.

Secondly, by possessing property people are more likely to respect the property of others. They are made aware that property must be safeguarded from disorder and lawlessness. Property ownership gives people a stake in society and thereby gives them an intent in maintaining law and order.

Lastly, private property is seen as an extension of the individuals personality as people realise themselves in what they own. A home is the most personal and intimate of possessions and often reflects the owners personality. This gives the individual a sense of history, roots and belonging in their own home which are values encouraged by conservatives.

However, unlike liberals, conservatives don’t believe that individuals have a right to property. Although libertarian conservatives support a liberal view of property, traditional conservatives believe that all rights, including property, entail obligations. Property is an issue for society, not just the individual as property is not just the creation of the present generation. The present generation are the custodians of the wealth of the nation and so have a duty to preserve and protect it for future generations. This stands by the conservative belief in tradition and preservation, with private property acting as a link between the past, present and future generations.

"Insensibility" by Wilfred Owen (poetry reading)

OOooooh another message...

Nottingham emailed me today saying that they got my application and giving me a username and password for their Application's Portal... The nerves are building...

Lancaster is the only one I haven't heard anything from yet...

Writers (Wilde, Shaw) - Monty Python's Flying Circus

100 word review: Eugene Onegin

This novel in verse follows three men. It takes a little while to become accustomed to reading complete verse but once you get used to it, it's no problem. You will need to be able to read and understand poetry to be able to completely follow the plot because if all the rhyming becomes to much then you have no idea what's going on. I would recommend if you like novels in verse, 19th century literature or Russian literature but if you don't like that, then don't read it. If you haven't experienced one before, then give it a try!

Politics Essay: Pressure Groups

Why has the distinction between the interest and cause pressure groups been criticised?

The interest and cause distinction has been subject to increasing criticism. The differences between interest and caue groups are blurred in at least three ways.

The first of these is that some pressure groups have both section and promotional characteristics. For example, some sectional groups such as UK Coalition of People Living with HIV and Aids also carry out promotional activities related to public health and education. In a way, all pressure groups have sectional concerns which are based on the interested of their staff, property and money they own.

Secondly, a single pressure group may include members with both sectional and promotional motivations, for example against a third runway at Heathrow Airport. The protesters included people with sectional concerns such as homes being demolished but also contain people with promotional concerns about the environment.

Lastly, some pressure groups try to mask their sectional motivations by adopting the language and arguments of a promotional group. This happens because moral concerns matter more to the public than self-interest. For instance, the BMA only care for the interests of doctors but will talk in terms of public health, patients welfare and the NHS.


Politics Essay: Liberalism

Explain the liberal view of justice

The liberal theory of justice is based on a belief in equality of various kinds. The liberal belief in individualism implies a commitment to foundational equality, where human beings are born equal with each individual being of equal moral worth. This idea is embodied in the notion of natural rights. Foundational equality implies a belief in formal equality and the idea that individuals should enjoy the same formal status in society.

The most important forms of formal equality are legal and political equality. Legal equality emphasizes equality before the law and insists that all non-legal factors be irrelevant to the process of legal decision making. Political equality is embodied in the idea of ‘one person, one vote’ and underpins the liberal commitment to democracy.

Liberals subscribe to a belief in equality of opportunity, where every individual has the same chance to rise or fall in society. Liberals believe social equality is undesirable because people aren’t born the same but possess different talents and skills and some are prepared to work harder than others. Equality means that individuals should have an equal opportunity to develop their unequal skills and abilities.

Liberals believe it is right to reward merit, ability and willingness to work harder than others. This lead to a belief in meritocracy where inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings. A meritocratic society is socially just because individuals are judged by their talents and willingness to work rather than gender or race. Social equality is unjust because it treats unlike individuals alike.

Classic liberals believe justice requires that unequal individuals are not treated equally. Modern liberals also have taken social justice to imply a belief in some measure of social equality.

Sylvia Plath reads November Graveyard

This is getting exciting...

I got three emails today from Kent, Warwick and East Anglia saying that they have received my application so all I can do now is sit and wait... SO NERVOUS!


"When I Am Dead, My Dearest" by Christina Rossetti


I have finally sent off my UCAS today! Now I just have to sit and wait for the offers (or rejections :/ ) to start rolling in!

Exciting stuff!


Politics Essay: Socialism

Distinguish between fundamentalist socialism and revisionist socialism

One of the major issues that have divided competing traditions and tendencies within socialism is the goals or ends for which socialists should strive. Socialists have held very different conceptions of what a socialist society should look like and so have developed competing definitions of socialism. The principal disagreement is between fundamentalist socialism and revisionist socialism, represented respectively by the communist and the social democratic traditions.

Fundamentalist socialism rejects capitalism and seeks to abolish and replace it with a form of communism. Both revolutionary socialists and evolutionary socialists can seek fundamentalist socialism. Marxists use revolution to overthrow capitalism and replace it with a new system. This system would involve a class-less society in which there is common ownership rather than private property and total social equality to have a substantial equality of outcome. Groups such as The Fabian Society, on the other hand, felt that the development of the democratic state made the call for revolution redundant and would rather that the working class used the ballot box to introduce socialism. Nevertheless, they too sought the goal of communism, albeit by pursuing a democratic road.

Revisionist socialism, by contrast, seeks to reform or tame capitalism rather than abolish it. Unlike with fundamentalist socialism, there can only be evolutionary revisionist socialists, never revolutionary. The most obvious example of revisionist socialism is social democracy. Revisionist socialism seeks social justice to reduce economic and social inequalities rather than common ownership. This is achieved through the welfare state which would act as a redistributive mechanism. In the view of revisionist socialism, capitalism is no longer needed to be abolished, only modified through the establishment of reformed or welfare capitalism.

Famous Speeches: Aragorn at the Black Gate

Lungfuls Of Air

Her sister, Osila, opened the front door armed with two shopping bags and wiped her feet on the faded welcome mat. She watched Osila leave the bags on the table and walk over to her. Osila tilted her head and asked her how she was but she didn’t respond, she had returned to watching the fish tank. Osila sighed, put the shopping away and started cleaning.
Osila wiped the surface around Jacob’s last meal which was growing new life by the kitchen sink. Osila wouldn’t dare move it. Nor would she open the curtains. After dusting the final wedding photo and placing it back onto the mantelpiece, Osila went over to her one last time to tell her that she would be back next Wednesday and left, shutting the door behind her.
At the noise of the door shutting, the goldfish flitted to the other side of the tank. The sound came at the same time every week but goldfish have no notion of time and little memory so the shock of sound panicked it. That was one of the good things about goldfish, she thought. Without memory they could experience every trauma life could throw at them and have no recollection of it moments later. Then again, without time the goldfish wouldn’t know that it would all be over in 15 seconds. Perhaps to the goldfish it never seemed to go away. After all, her presence no longer fazed the goldfish so it had to remember her somehow.
She bought the goldfish with Jacob when they moved in together. They were the only ones in the pet shop and she could understand why. The paint was flaking off of the walls, the natural light was blocked by the hutches outside and a teenager was smoking at the counter. She pulled her coat tighter around her and grabbed Jacobs hand. He kissed her forehead, told her it was fine and squeezed her hand. They walked down the aisles, their free hands pointing out potential furry candidates. At the end of it was a long dirty aquarium that lined the back of the shop. Jacob bent down to look into it and pressed his finger onto the glass. She bent over to see what he was pointing to and smiled. The goldfish was perfect.
Now there were algae on the tank. She leant over the arm of the chair and picked up a cloth from the floor. Dipping her hand inside the water, she rubbed it away. Dropping the cloth back where it was, she sat back upright with her lugs tucked into her chest, her arms wrapped around her thighs and chin resting on her knees. When did it get there? She didn’t know. All she knew was that it wasn’t there and then it was.
She had noticed that the more time she spent with the goldfish, the more this seemed to happen. She tried to remember how much time she had spent with the goldfish but she couldn’t. Osila always said she came on Wednesdays, but when were Wednesdays? The darkness that smothered her and the goldfish meant that day and night and summer and winter and past and present had all rolled into a seamless eternity and with no time to age them, she thought, they would live together forever.
Osila opened the front door armed with two shopping bags and wiped her feet on the faded welcome mat. When Jacob met Osila for the first time, she could remember Jacob going to get them all drinks and Osila leaning over and whispering that she never knew horticulturalists could be so funny. She knew Osila meant white men. Jacob returned with the drinks and told Osila they weren’t unless they’d been smoking their plants. She felt Osila watching them as Jacob then put his arm around her, rubbed his nose against hers and kissed her.
She watched Osila leave the shopping bags on the kitchen table and walk over to her. Osila tilted her head and asked her how she was but she didn’t respond. Jacob had his hands over her eyes and kept telling her not to peek. Giggling and squealing she told him she wasn’t. Jacob asked her if she was ready. He removed his hands and revealed their garden, which he had been working on ever since they moved in. She told him it was beautiful but he had better be ready to keep it this way because she certainly wouldn’t be. Wrapping his arms round her waist and looking into her eyes, Jacob convinced her that he had created it so it wouldn’t need a lot of work. It was his very own Eden, he said, and he was the God. Then he kissed her on the forehead, told her he loved her and left for a drink with friends.
After dusting the final wedding photo and placing it back onto the mantelpiece, Osila went over to her one last time to tell her that she would be back next Wednesday, but she wasn’t listening. The night Jacob had gone for a drink, she was woken up by the phone ringing. Then came the drive to the hospital, the waiting room, the police officers, the morgue, the funeral directors, the phone calls, the crematorium, the wake, the apologies, the courtroom, the journalists and the empty house. She went home alone but Osila had promised to come on Wednesday. Taking a final look out of the garden window, she locked all the windows, closed all the curtains, pulled Jacob’s armchair over to face the fish tank and sat down. The Doctor that Osila brought over said she had developed agoraphobia from depression, but she hadn’t. She just didn’t need the outside company. She had the goldfish right here.
Osila left, shutting the door behind her. At the noise of the door shutting, she raised her head with a start. The goldfish didn’t flit; it hadn’t even moved. She unfurled herself, stood up and placed her hands on either side of the tank, looking into the top of it. The goldfish was floating upside down, dead. When had it died? She didn’t know. All she knew was that it had been alive and then it wasn’t. Her eyes widened, her nostrils flared and her breathing quickened.
They were meant to live together forever. Cold water slopped onto her bare arms and feet as she lifted the heavy tank and lurched it against the wall. The glass shattered, the water splattered and the goldfish’s lifeless body, so small and pathetic, fell among the dust and spiders carpeting the floor.
They were meant to be together forever. She knocked the photos off of the mantelpiece with a sweep of her arm, overturned the wooden kitchen table, picked up one of the matching dining chairs and hurled it with all her weakened might across the room where it hit the thick red curtains, smashing something glass on the other side of them and bringing the curtains crashing to the floor.
Strong white light blinded her and she threw her hands up to shield her face. The glittering rays reflecting off shards of the broken window had formed a warm halo around the window pane. She lowered her hands, her chest heaving with exhausted dusty breaths and her petrified brown eyes transfixed on the scene before her. She began to walk towards it, stepping over smashed images of her and
Jacobs wedding day along the way, her feet ignorant of the glass ripping at her soles.
She reached the window. Lavender bushes wafted their scent under her nose. Thick ivy climbed the garden walls and it’s waxy green leaves had begun seeping in through the broken window. Red poppies dotted among bluebells billowing in the breeze while bright dandelions and armies of daisies adorned cracked paving stones only just visible in the overgrown grass, leading to a large apple tree.
She placed a hand on the knob of the garden door and turned. She stepped down onto the paving stones, the wind whipping her baggy cardigan away from her thin frame so the sun could bless each pore of her skin. She stepped carefully through the tangled weave of flowers, her fingers stroking the petals while the stalks tickled her thighs. She stopped in the middle of the garden.
She could see him now, brushing long blonde curls out of bright blue eyes and holding out his hand,
“Nice to meet you, I’m Jacob”
She took his hand, noting the comforting grip and smiled,
“Interesting name, does it mean anything?”
Turning up her head in submission to the heavens, the sun kissed her forehead and Ejira took a lungful of air.



It feels like only yesterday that this blog started up but it's already been a year and what a year it's been! Here's to another gizzillion years of success!!!!

Glitter Graphics

Happy Birthday Glitter Pictures

Famous Speeches: To Kill a Mockingbird

Are you really BFF?

I met my best friend Julia when I was 8 years old. I had just started at a new school and she had volunteered to take care of me for the first few days. Those few days turned into weeks, months and years and last weekend we celebrated 10 years of friendship. In those ten years, we have made new friends and lost just as many but while these friends have come and gone, Jules and I are closer than ever. What is it that makes some of our friendships break down as we get older and others last a lifetime?
Scientists say that we choose friends that we have the most in common with. We have similar behaviour, attitudes and identities as our friends but as we grow up these things change, particularly when we become teenagers. Hitting puberty is never easy and so our friends become our safety rope as we go through it all together; they look after us, and we look after them. None of us want to lose our friends and in our bid to keep them we become influenced and even pressured by our friends.
The research company Adhealth surveyed over 90,000 teenagers and analysed the influence that their friends had over them. They found that most influence is positive. ‘Friend’s pressure can mobilize teenager’s energy, motivate for success and encourage teens to conform to healthy behaviour’ said Dr Ruth Gene, one of the researchers. Basically, It is our friends that prevent us turning into crazy people that smell like fish and mutter to themselves on buses. Our friends work in a similar way to our parents by making sure that we grow up to be healthy ‘normal’ people, although our friends don’t actually intend to do it!
As we get older we move away from our parents as we try to gain independence and our friends can make us feel independent as well as connected. We often feel like our friends understand us better than our parents do as we can relate to one another and accept and understand the frustrations, challenges and concerns that come with being a teenager. This is why teenagers with friends are also physically and emotionally healthier than those without friends and according to Dr Ruth, “close relationships appear to be much more important to girls than they are for boys.” Our friends are our support system as friends understand each other, can talk about their problems and figure out ways to solve them together.
Dr Ruth also says that ‘friends model behaviour for each other, create opportunities in which teenagers can engage in these behaviours and set norms that young people follow.’ This all sounds like complicated science lingo but it can all really be simplified into one example: high school.
In high school we are surrounded by the Cool, the Bad and the Geeky and we work to make sure that we fit into the category that benefits our social lives the most. There are many of us that accept who we are and don’t fit in with any stereotypes at all but still many of us wish we could be in the cool group, with the most popular girls in school. They seem to get all the boys, go to all the parties and have all the fun! We can’t help thinking this way, and according to the survey, it is completely natural.
The popularity side of high school plays a huge part on the friends that we have. Some teens choose friends to make themselves more popular and this means that they may change their behaviour and opinions to fit into a new crowd. Have you ever been friends with someone who has gotten a new friend and suddenly they completely change? Sometimes teenagers will change their entire personality just to keep their new friends. Most of us don’t change our personalities but we do change part of our identities: the way we dress, the music we listen to, give up values or create new ones, change our opinion, even give up old friends and it all depends on the people that we hang around with. This is why the most common question that teens ask themselves is “what will my friends think?”
Caring so much about what our friends think also makes many teenagers take risks that they normally wouldn’t. Some teens will risk being grounded, losing their parents trust or even facing prison, just to try and fit in or feel like they have a group of friends that they can identify with and who accept them. “Friends do help you, but sometimes they want you to do things you wouldn’t do if you were by yourself” said Rebecca, 14. “Or sometimes you feel pressured to do something because everyone is doing it and you want to be cool too.”
All this reshaping that we do of ourselves to fit in is the cause behind the breakdown of many teenage friendships. When you change yourself for a friend, this ‘new’ you does not last very long and eventually your real personality will come through. This is where the problems start because you suddenly find that the real you and your friend no longer have anything in common. As we get older we become more comfortable with our own identities and come to accept and like the way we are so the people we changed ourselves to be with fade away and the friends that we genuinely get along with stay.
If your friends don’t like you just the way you are, then they aren’t really your friends. Don’t be afraid that no one is going to like you because the chances of that are just about impossible! Often people become popular because they are just being themselves. In high school, just being yourself is one of the hardest things to do but when others see you are real, you earn their respect and friendship. You’re never going to get along with everyone and when you think about it, why would you want to? It’s better to have a few close friends that you can hang around with and be yourself than have hundreds of friends that don’t really know you at all. Grab your real friends and start having fun the way you want to!


The theme for December will be...

...Famous Poets and Poems!

Symone and I are resting our arms for the christmas period, and letting you guys delve into famous poems and mini biographies about our favourite poets. We find people today to be very anti-poems, so hopefully we can destroy that and make people see that not all poems are ridiculously dull, confusing and long! (i shan't deny that many boring ones exist, but the good outnumber the bad!)

"General Review Of The Sex Situation" by Dorothy Parker

Ronnie Barker - Father of the Bride

Tam Lyn (retold)

The Trial - The court scene (Orson Welles, 1962)

The court scene. The Trial is a film by Orson Welles. It is based on a book by Franz Kafka. The main role of Josef K. is played by Anthony Perkins.

The In’s and Out’s of the human excrement system and what to do with yours

Here is something I wrote in the style of Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy

The diet of the human being is renowned for its sadistically agonizing treatment of the digestive system. Should you therefore drink too much of their colourless liquid or eat what humans refer to as “Indian food” then you are likely to find it passing through your intestines at an exceedingly alarming rate and will require an intimacy of their excrement system.
Humans tend to use a number system when describing these situations. Number one refers to the passing of liquid while number two is that of solids and noxious gas. The effect of this system is then determined by the gender of the human. If they are male, the number they require indicates whether they should sit or stand during the process while females prefer to sit no matter what they are doing.
If you are portraying the character of a male human being while on your expeditions then there are two essential instruments with which you must become accustomed. The first is referred to as a ‘urinal’ and appears to look like a large white circle, a similar material and shape to the bowls [see chapter 6] in which your food would be served. These two objects are not to be confused however as it is regarded a greatly discourteous and disparaging act to number one in the soup, no matter how insipid you regard its taste to be. The second is necessary for the act of number 2 and is technically termed a ‘toilet’, however the country on earth which you are visiting may have a variety of terms including, ‘the johnny’, ‘the tarts wardrobe’, ‘the shitter’ and ‘the loo’. Nevertheless, the term ‘toilet’ is understood in all English [see chapter 2] speaking countries so when in doubt, ask. This object resembles a large dish alos and has a handle which is pushed down to efficiently dispose of any and all substances. For all genders you are required to flush the toilet when finished and must watch the process to ensure that everything has gone down. Female humans make use of only the toilet as they have been proved physically incapable of performing in the same manner as men.
The urinals and toilets are usually kept hidden away and must be searched for using the aid of plaques and signs indicating ‘toilets’ and an arrow. Follow these arrows and you are likely to reach your destination. Men and women choose to perform these acts in separate quarters, shown by a stick drawing of a male or female human nailed to the door. For women these quarters are then further separated into cubicles so that each human may have the capacity to reveal their netheregions [see chapter 10] in private. Men, on the other hand, are far more of exhibitionists as urinals are nailed to one wall and all men showcase themselves in order to gain approval. Should you wish to make more human friends on your trip, it is advised that you buy an extra large penis as it has been proven to make you more friends, particularly female ones.



Glitter Graphics

Happy Birthday Glitter Pictures

"This Be The Verse" by Philip Larkin

The Two Ronnies - The Bore

Politics Essay: Political Parties

Why, and to what extent is there consensus between the major UK parties?

In post 1945 there was a lot of consensus between social democracy and one nation conservatism. This was contrasted by the arrival of Thatcherism in the 1970s which created adversary politics as Labour, went further left in an attempt to offset the new right of Thatcherism. Blairism created more consensus politics as he adopted some Thatcherite policies and ideas as well as post 1945 social democratic ideas. In the UK today there is still consensus politics.

There is more consensus politics as parties are becoming more of catch-all parties than pragmatic parties. This can be seen in the election of David Cameron as the leader of the conservative party. He has modernised the party in an attempt to attract homosexuals, ethnic minorities and the poor. This has meant that Cameron is a One Nation tory and has led to similar social policies between Labour and the Conservatives.

In terms of crime, the Conservatives want to empower communities by rebuilding the bond between the police and the public. They believe this will be done by cutting paperwork and reforming the regulation of investigatory powers act. Labour also want to build a better relationship between communities and the police by making it easy to contact the police working with them to agree on local priorities and deal with peoples concerns. Although there is a lot of consensus in this area, as they both want to better the relationship between police and communities, there is also a lot of adversary politics, which can be seen in the way that they would do this. While conservatives would change laws and regulations, the Labour party would just try to create more communication rather than changing laws. This means that Conservatives want to do something big to show change, where as Labour want to leave the law as it is but create the belief that things have changed.

There is more adversary policies when it comes to families and financial help than with anything else. This is because Cameron has stuck with the traditional Conservative family views whereas Labour believe that single parent families and couples need more support than married couples. This can be seen in Labours plans to increase child benefit, cut income tax, extend maternity leave and help businesses such as Sure Start. Conservatives, meanwhile, would change the laws, systems and rights for different types of families such as ending the couple penalty. This shows that Conservatives are more concerned with giving different families different rights to help them and then leaving them to it, whereas Labour gives money to help but doesn’t change any law, therefore help isn’t only for those who need it.

Monty Python - Court Scene

My Favourite Actor: Heath Ledger

This January marks the two year anniversary of Heath Ledgers death. The actor was found dead in his Manhattan apartment by a masseuse and housekeeper on January 22nd 2008. Autopsy tests showed that he died of an accidental overdose of anti-anxiety and sleeping pills.
At the time of his death, Ledger had just finished filming the Dark Knight where he was the first non-American actor to play the joker and was in the process of filming The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. The day after he died, he was supposed to meet with Stephen Spielberg to explore the idea of him playing Tom Hayden in a film about the Chicago 7. In an interview with the New York Times, Ledger said he ‘stressed out a little too much’ while filming his role as Bob Dylan in I’m Not There and had trouble sleeping while portraying the Joker: ‘Last week I probably slept on average 2 hours a night. I couldn’t stop thinking. My body was exhausted but my mind was still going.’ Did the pressures of these demanding roles combine with the pressures of fatherhood and stardom to push Ledger over the edge and into an early grave?
Ledger’s first major role came as Patrick in the 1999 teen flick 10 Things I Hate About You which raked in $55,500,000 worldwide and ten times as many female fans for Heath. While the average actor would have taken this as success, Ledger feared of being typecast as a teen hunk and accepted a role in the war drama The Patriot alongside Mel Gibson. This reluctance to be potholed into the category of Hollywood Hunk cropped up frequently throughout Ledger’s career. After The Patriot came a striking inconsistency of roles as Ledger accepted virtually every role sent his way in a bid against being typecast. Some were met with praise, such as his role in Monsters Ball, while other flopped. Ned Kelly was such a disaster that distributors were hesitant to release it outside of Australia. ‘I feel like I’m wasting my time if I repeat myself’ Ledger explained, ‘I can’t say I’m proud of my work. It’s the same with everything I do: the day I say it’s good is the day I should start doing something else.’
Heath was finally met with deserved acclaim in 2005 as Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback Mountain, a film which won 78 awards and 64 nominations including 7 wins and 15 nominations for Ledger’s performance. After a series of failed attempts it seemed that Ledger had hit the mother lode. Ledger admitted ‘I started to get bored; not with the choices I was making, because I didn’t really have a choice. The choices were being made for me – I was being thrown into projects. So I kind of put the brakes on that. In a sense I destroyed my career to rebuild it again.’
Nevertheless, things didn’t get any easier for Ledger as the success of Brokeback Mountain created as many torments as it had triumphs. On the one hand, he was now a household name and had gotten engaged to co-star Michelle Williams, with whom he had a daughter Matilda. On the other, Ledger was now a Hollywood star who faced a constant battle with the limelight and finding new roles that would continue to challenge him and still be a hit at the box office.
Ledger was always frank about the high anxiety and self-doubt he suffered due to his career. ‘When I get cast in something, I always believe I shouldn’t have been cast. I fooled them again. I can’t do it. I don’t know how to do it. There’s a huge amount of anxiety that drowns out any excitement I have towards the projects.’
While his career pushed him to his limits, Ledger looked to his 2 year old daughter Matilda, his engagement to Williams having broken down in 2007. An employee at a children’s store in Ledger’s neighbourhood said she had frequently seen Ledger with his daughter – carrying the toddler on his shoulders, or having an ice cream with her. ‘They were really close. He’s a very down to earth guy and an amazing father.’
Although the joys and normality of fatherhood relaxed him and gave him a sense of freedom, Ledger could never escape his new A-List title and the horde of Paparazzi and red carpets that came with it. Notoriously shy, Ledger described walking down the red carpet as ‘diving into an Olympic pool, swimming the length underwater then emerging gasping for breath.’
It is these pressures of fame that some blame for Ledger’s death. Others say that his never ending stream of difficult roles overworked him. What proves most interesting about Ledger’s death, however, is that the majority blame no-one. Instead of pointing the finger, people celebrated his life and career. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said ‘Heath Ledger’s diverse and challenging roles will be remembered as some of the greatest performances by an Australian actor.’ It appears that in his death, Ledger achieved all that he had wanted from life: for people to not to fascinate over his appearance or personal life or Hollywood status, but to appreciate and, above all, enjoy his performances as an actor. As Ledger himself put it, ‘when I die, my money’s not going to come with me. My movies will live on for people to watch and judge what I was as a person.’