28.9.14

I tie my life to your balloon and let it go

Hey Readers

 Well I guess year 13 has really begun to kick in what with my absence. I would also like to note that Cecily is also letting the side down (your publishable drafts are running very low *hint hint*).

 The last three weeks have been pretty full on, but great. Minus a very horrendous Thursday and weird hormones. Suddenly the general outline for the next few years have fallen comfortably into place (gap year inc. some time in Deutschland, then off to University to study English or Liberal Arts). My UCAS application will be in by tomorrow evening (Final choices: Manchester, King's College London, Cambridge (Ha.), Edinburgh, Birmingham*) and then I can start my applying to the odd Dutch one. I am in a moment where how quickly the future and adult life is approaching is actually kind of ok.

The lightest weekend all term

 For the first time since year 10, I have one teacher I definitely don't like, and another I can't quite make an opinion on. I am also experiencing a desire to push back against authority, in a perfectly normal and healthy teenage way. All my experience of being an adolescent seems to have been pushed into this wonderful year of being 17. This one is just a bit odder than the rest because I guess in some strange way I am also now in a position of authority.
Chatting with Mum during my family's traditional first day at school photos

I have once again become aware of how emotionally ruthless I can have a tendency to be if I don't watch myself. Actually "emotionally ruthless" is the entirely wrong phrase. On one hand, it's plain old emotional constipation. On the other hand, it's not having the time or energy to actually push out said emotions and consider them properly.

I haven't written in my diary since I last wrote on here and I can feel the emotional build up from not being able to expel all my thoughts. Every now and then I will catch myself wishing I had a completely secret blog where I could be slightly too open, and before I start saying that little bit too much I am going to go and journal.

Amber Run - I Found. They are my brother's friend's band so it's nice to see them doing relatively well

Gwendolen

*Dat offer range**
** For non-UK teenagers, they all ask for A-level grades of A*AA or AAA

6.9.14

... As We Boarded the Greyhound in Pittsburg



Counting the cars
On the New Jersey Turnpike
The've all come
To look for America,
All come to look for America,
All come to look for America.



































































































Maybe it wasn't the Greyhound (although we did travel on it at one point). It also wasn't in Pittsburg, but still.


These are some pictures from Christmas-time last year and a trip through the Deep South, which, with retrospect, had the perfect Strange-Magic-y feel to all of it and has left me a nostalgic stepping-into-Rookie-like memory.

This was when we were boarding the Amtrak in Jackson. To Britain-inhabiting me, it was super exciting 'cause we don't really get two-story trains that have special dining cars you have to book and glass ceilings in an observation car. Just to explain, as I had no idea before I travelled by it, the Amtrak is the equivalent of, say, Southeastern Rail or First Capital Connect, only cooler, in my opinion. Greyhound is the company that runs coaches, like the ones you get for a school trip only open for everyone to buy tickets.

Here is the reason for the title reference, which I think it may have been a bit obscure but was also the soundtrack to my trip. The way it progresses from their dream and the countryside to riots and violence as they feel lost is quite clever, also useful if you are studying the American Dream, although I don't have as bad an outlook on it as Arthur Miller and John Steinbeck  seem to. 

I love the old video for the song below; thought-provoking, Simon & Garfunkel and 60s/70s imagery, what else could  you want?




Cecily 

3.9.14

You must prepare your bosom for his knife

Hey Readers!

 This is the end-of-summer-holidays evening I will ever experience.

 I'm going to miss the feelings that inevitably come with this night. When there seem to be an infinite number of events to occur, friendships to form and conversations to have, all wrapped up in the depressing yet comforting sense of predictability.

 September is going to be a stressful month. I have my Duke of Edinburgh practice expedition to Snowdonia next week - 6 nights of camping, which mean I shall be missing my friend's house party and the Birmingham open day. The internal application deadline for anyone applying for Oxbridge is the 30th September, so that's 27 days to get my UCAS up to scratch. Then there will also be head student stuff. And organising meetings for the Feminist Forum. Plus the Manchester open day. And 4 A2s. And my EPQ. And all of the other stuff I will inevitably end up doing.

 I can feel myself coming to the point where I will be ready to leave school. It's an odd thing to say, because school has always been such a safety blanket, the one thing that I know I can do. Part of me is worried it may turn out to be the only thing I can do. I am looking forward to University (Note to self: speak to teachers re gap year). I've spent most of this summer residing in the University of Kent's library pretending to be a student. I don't want to end up somewhere uninteresting. The best thing my sixth form has done is probably make me into a slightly more interesting person, and I want my future to do the same. I'm almost ready to move on from school, but I'm not ready to move onto a 9-5 office job and a house that looks like every other house ever.

 I should go and get my bag packed and enjoy this evening. I have already done the necessary stationary organisation, and my entire life is now divided up into 7 folders. I shall try and do a post tomorrow in an effort to digitally preserve my last every first day back at school.


Gwendolen

24.8.14

I want to turn you inside out and lick you like a crisp packet

Hey Readers!

 I've been meaning to blog all summer, and when I went onto blogger today so what y'all we're up to, suddenly all these 'end of summer' blogs had appeared. So I shall do a quick review of the summer, which will probably be fairly sparse as the pictures are either on celluloid inside disposable cameras, and the stories are inside my head and probably won't make it onto the internet.



 The summer started in such a wonderfully teenage way. The last week of school fizzled out into nothing and pretty much everyone in sixth form handed in their work and went home early. I technically did finish early as well, but I still came in on the last day for a couple of hours to hand in a book, before heading off to my friend's farm for the end of year camp out. Only the tent space to attendees ratio was 4:15. While others decided to stay up all night, exploring the ruined abbey and sitting around the bonfire, I ended up sleeping under the stars (we were miles from any civilization so the sky was wonderfully clear) watching meteorites dart in and out of the atmosphere with two of the most important friends I shall probably ever have.

 My local theatre put on a series of performances by local writers, where I acted in one of the plays. It was a chill script-in-hand performance, with the quality of every aspect ranging in a beautifully am-dram way. It was also a melancholy experience as I knew that was probably the last bit of drama I would do before University (next year I need to reduce the amount of extra-curricular due to making what will almost certainly turn out to be one of the most stupid decisions of my life by choosing to do 4 A2s + EPQ* + Head Girl + Feminist Forum + Maybe attempting to continue a social life), and therefore probably the last time I would act in that specific theatre. I also met Orlando Bloom, which was so underwhelming that my Mum has to remind me about it every time I have to recount my summer to some family member.


 Fleur and I helped out on an archaeological dig in a nearby village. For a long time I wanted to study Archaeology and Anthropology at University, so it was good to be able to satisfy that part of myself. I spent a lot time cleaning the finds, which was far more enjoyable than it sounds as the other people helping out were mainly elderly ladies from the village so we had a good old natter.

 Cecily and Fleur came over to make flower crowns and cake to celebrate our blog's first birthday, which we manged to totally neglect when it actually happened back in May. Pictures below. Cecily and I also bought a red scrunchie in reference to the film Heathers.



 That all happened in the state of tense but blissful pre-results ignorance. I'm very happy with what I got, and I feel it reflects the work (or potentially lack of for a couple of the exams) I put in. It's very odd to find myself in the position where I have a month and a week to apply for University**, and to be able to apply for all the Universities that could have been out of reach academically. Overall, however, I can definitely feel the drop in results - many of the most talented and intelligent people I know seemed to have missed out the grades they deserved.



 The post-results party was odd. For the most part of it it was more underwhelming than meeting Orlando Bloom. But then there were two events in particular that will probably hold some significance when recounting the exploits of my adolescence in twenty years time.



 The beginning of my final year of school seems to be coming towards me at incredible speed. I spent yesterday evening watching the Arctic Monkey's headline set at Reading and researching leaver's hoodies. I'm looking forward to year 13. I feel more comfortable with myself then I think I ever have done, and I feel I have finally blossomed into an actual adolescent. Given the choice, I don't think I would decide to live anybodies life.



Gwendolen

 
*Most British teenagers will only be studying three subjects in their last year of school. Extended Project Qualification - 6000 word research-based essay on a subject of your choice. After spending the summer working on an essay about objectivity, I decided to change it and look at female sexuality in Sylvia Plath and Carol Ann Duffy two days ago. This is not the recommended procedure.

**Finally settled on English. Part of me feels guilty for choosing it over Physics, but I finally gave in to the lure of literature when I realised that the one day I didn't look forward to on my timetable was the one without English.

4.8.14

"Last Post" by Carol Ann Duffy

Hey Readers!

 Today marks 100 years since the beginning of the First World War. On reading Fleur's post I was reminded of one of my favorite poems by Carol Ann Duffy, which was written following the death of Henry Allington and Harry Patch, two of the last surviving soldiers of The Great War.

Last Post

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning. 

If poetry could tell it backwards, true, begin
that moment shrapnel scythed you to the stinking mud ...
but you get up, amazed, watch bled bad blood
run upwards from the slime into its wounds;
see lines and lines of British boys rewind
back to their trenches, kiss the photographs from home -
mothers, sweethearts, sisters, younger brothers
not entering the story now
to die and die and die.
Dulce - No - Decorum - No - Pro patria mori.
You walk away. 

You walk away; drop your gun (fixed bayonet)
like all your mates do too -
Harry, Tommy, Wilfred, Edward, Bert -
and light a cigarette.
There's coffee in the square,
warm French bread
and all those thousands dead
are shaking dried mud from their hair
and queuing up for home. Freshly alive,
a lad plays Tipperary to the crowd, released
from History; the glistening, healthy horses fit for heroes, kings.
You lean against a wall,
your several million lives still possible
and crammed with love, work, children, talent, English beer, good food.
You see the poet tuck away his pocket-book and smile. 

If poetry could truly tell it backwards,
then it would.

Gwendolen

31.7.14

Museums, Minimalism, Changing Aesthetics

Recently, my tastes have changed quite dramatically and I've been left feeling rather lost. It's a surprise. I'm suddenly sick of my long-haired self, and I don't know what to do. I hadn't realised how much of my identity had gotten tied up with my love of ribbons, lace, and things that made me feel like I should enjoyably flounce everywhere, like a fairy.

At the start of the summer I was suddenly, for some unforeseen reason, really into minimalistic, graphical plant things. It was probably to with my only looking at a few fashion blogs I really admire, and thinking more about proportion, colour, patterns, textures, shapes, composition, etc, than overall connotations and imagery or specific inspiration.

Best summed up by this image. Source.
I sort of still am into it, but I've increasingly seen it seep into highstreet shops. Things I like have a habit of doing that and I hate it. I suppose I could be flattered at my knack for noticing things before they become "fashionable,"* but it is actually a source of endless anguish. This would be a topic for a whole essay, but I suppose there's little point in me hiding that I hold a deep contempt for things that are "fashionable." It is not an "UGH THAT'S SO MAINSTREAM" thing, although I do hate the whole indie/hipster/mainstream concept. I suppose it has to do with the fact that the whole concept of "that is so last season" is for the capitalist consumerist drive to get people to buy more, imitate their favourite celebrities and other things I think are bullshit. It doesn't really say much in the way of or encourage a person's personal taste or preferences. Also to do with the following quote, massively. My copy of the book is with a friend in Norway so I've had to go from memory, meaning it might be imperfect. It is why fury sweeps over me when I see flower crowns in River Island:

"Mass media takes real life and turns it into spectacle, selling it back to you as a meaningless, glammed-up, depoliticised version of your own existence."

— Sarah Marcus, Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution



 Three above are relevant screenshots form my Tumblr.
Either way, I like it, but am at the same time sadly put-off by it. It also makes me feel quite alone and isolated, like the inside of my head, charisma, confidence, intelligence, or lack of thereof are suddenly under scrutiny. I feel like what I remember Nowhere Man was like from watching Yellow Submarine as a child (not quite what he seems now that I watch it).

Last weekend I went to the Tate Modern. I'd been to see the temporary ones of Roy Lichtenstein and Damien Hirst before, but never the permanent exhibitions.
Annoyingly, it was raining so loads of people sought refuge in the museum and it was really loud and everyone was bunched up in front of Dali (surprisingly, not many by Picasso) and it is surprising how un-enjoyable it was while so crowded. It really was so bad that we ended up leaving the surrealist rooms. .

However, I then went up to Level 4 (further up the stairs so emptier of people hiding form the rain) to another exhibition I really wanted to see. It was the Structure and Clarity exhibition, focusing on minimalism, constructivism and abstraction, and it was wonderful.
Frank Stella
Victor Pasmore, my favourite
Ellsworth Kelly. Plain as it may seem, you have no idea how wonderful this was to look at.
Larry Bell
Donald Judd (also, incidentally, an artist that influenced my set for a feminist play Gwendolen and I did in our drama GCSE, somewhat responsible for commencing our interest in feminism)
Derek Jarman still from Blue on display at Tate Modern
Blue, by Derek Jarman
"In Derek Jarman’s last film Blue, the monochrome glow of the projected frame echoes the artist’s fading eyesight, as the soundtrack evokes powerful images of the mental, physical and emotional strain caused by his terminal illness."
Grace Jones painted on by Keith Haring, photographed by Robert Mapplethrope (interestingly enough, we have a family friend who went out with her)
It looks like the kind of thing people would say "I could do that," but 1) you didn't, and 2) just no. You can actually see the development, intention and so on behind it (especially if the gallery is laid out well and has good information), and there was something wonderfully soothing about looking at it all. Also, the scale you see it at is a massive factor. I cannot emphasise how much of a difference it makes.

Either way, that was wonderful and I really recommend it.
In the meantime, my taste is changing more to dark, rich colours and patchwork, baroque and stereotypically Turkish/Middle-Eastern patterns. See also William Morris. However, I still really like heavy black/gray drapery and have particularly interested in the work of Yohji Yamamoto.


Source
Source
I believe the "ethnic" patterns (like, gah, what sort of thing to call it is that??? I hate you fashion industry) are being incorporated into current corporate youth identity bullshit already, but maybe the rest will stay free?

Much love,



Cecily

*resulting in my being The Pop Culture Prophet in a joke with Gwendolen

PS. I'm not as bitter about this all as I sound. I just get frustrated and wrote it late at night, when my editing filter warps everything, as demonstrated by the embarrassing yearbook comments I wrote at 2 am...

22.7.14

Book Review: 'A Dead Man in Deptford' by Anthony Burgess

Hey Readers!

 I guess I am now on my summer holidays. But I won't do my end of year post just yet due to the way school ended: it kind of dissolved into nothing. Technically the last day of school is tomorrow, so I shall do that post at the weekend. For now, I shall do a quick book review (my laptop has 17% battery).

Source
 As none of my friends (or indeed anyone who has mentioned anything to do with books near me) have been able to escape my gushing speeches of love for Burgess, it doesn't seem right that you, my Fair or Foul Readers (but where's the difference?), should either. However I must admit I have only read two of his books - A Clockwork Orange and A Dead Man in Deptford - but I shall be doing a Burgess Binge (dat alliteration) this summer. And when he titles his books like "Mozart and the Wolf Gang" or "1985" (which is a tribute to Orwell's 1984) I feel I can be pretty sure the rest of his writing shall live up to wonders I have already read.

 A Dead Man in Deptford is an re-imagining of Christopher Marlowe's life. Marlowe was a playwright who grew up in Canterbury and studied at Chorpus Christi College, Cambridge before becoming a playwright, who many critics feel would have outshone Shakespeare, had he not died in a pub brawl with a dagger to eye (don't cha just hate it when that happens???). The image of the eye recurs throughout the book and often sparks musings on solipsism. However Burgess' real point of interest in regards to Marlowe is the more dubious aspects to his life: his addiction to sex and potentially working as a spy for Queen Elizabeth I. 

 Although the book is about Marlowe, it is told through the eyes of an unnamed narrator who didn't witness many of the events in the book. The way Marlowe drifts in and out of his life is sometimes unclear, but I quite like the tone of confused memory this gives the book. The narrator is one of the most interesting aspects of the book, and I feel it places the role of the author as one of the central questions of the book (Barthes would not be happy), especially in terms of how historical fiction influences our understanding of past events. And then there is the last paragraph, but I don't want to give away the ending because you are all going to go and read this book.

 As always the Burgess, his use of language is simply divine. He writes in a way that forces the words off of the page and into your imagination. You have to sit up and take notice. The opening paragraph is more opaque than the majority of the book, so don't be put off. Instead, spend some time just admiring how he mingles poetic techniques with prose. Burgess also presents speech in a different style to that which we may be used to: speech always begins on a new line, is indicated by a '–' and it is not clear when the speaker finishes. This was alienating at first, but in true Burgess style, this alienation makes you part of the book's world, by clearly differentiating it from our own.

 In short, this is a truly fabulous book by a truly fabulous writer. Probably not that great if you're a raging homophobic as a lot of the sex takes place between Marlowe and other men (sometimes in Latin which led to a fun hour of translation). However you do have to pay attention when you read it, there are a lot of characters and the relationships between them are not entirely clear if you zone out for a moment. But if you are zoned in, as you should be you diligent reader you, then I promise you will have a most pleasurable reading experience when reading this book. 

Rating: *****

Gwendolen

Procrastinate...

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