21.10.14

A short story by my much younger self

The Tunnel

Once upon a time, in a magical village, there was a long tunnel. There were lots of families and two of the children were very famous. There was a little scaredy boy, and a tall brave girl. Everybody was taking the mick out of the boy. So he went into the tunnel. It was really dark in there, and whoever went in never came out.

 There are also lots of doors in there. And they each lead to something. One of them leads back to the village again. When the little boy opened the first door, he found a beautiful garden. And he played and played in it. But then he found a bomb! So he ran out of the garden as quickly as possible. Then, he found a unicorn in the tunnel, and it helped him find the door that led out of the tunnel. But the unicorn was quite slow.

Meanwhile, back in the village, everybody was getting worried about the little boy. So, the tall girl went into the tunnel to find him. She searched and searched - after a couple of hours she found him. And they both went looking for the door back to the village. The unicorn had forgotten which door it was. It took four days to find the right one. When he came out, everybody was really happy. They have the unicorn a rosette, and the boy and girl a medal each.

The End.


I found this when I was searching through some old school reports at the weekend. Rereading this alongside my reports was odd. They both present a version of myself which is acutely similar to the person I am now, yet seem to tell a different story to the one I remember, or at least perceived to have occurred. I wasn't an unhappy child, and certainly I had (and still do) a lovely home life. But I never had stable friendship groups during primary school - I always, as many of us do, felt like a constant outsider and never felt particularly (eurgh, to quote Willy Loman) well-liked. So it was weird to read that I was apparently a 'popular' child.

 Then there is all the psychoanalysis you can do on this story. On Sunday, the story struck me as a metaphor for depression. Typing it now, in some ways writing it alongside my former self, it still has that tone, I began to notice other things. Firstly, that the presentation of the girl as the savior means it's quite clearly feminist (woooo!). Secondly, that it centres on a sibling relationship. As much as I hate to admit it, my relationship with my older brother has been one of the biggest influences on me. Namely, it's made me into the slightly too competitive young woman that is writing this post. I wasn't imaginative enough as a child to not be writing this about me and him, and in that context it's interesting that our relationship to each other is completely reversed: I'm older and taller, and I'm the one who is brave and saves the day. Then depressingly at the end, it is not the actions of saving her brother that makes the story worth telling, but rather being given medals. It's this desire for award that I need to get out of my system, and this again ties into my competitiveness. But I am getting much better.

Gwendolen

5.10.14

August/September Disposables


The rather grim view from my room in Sidney Sussex

The time we found teapots in Fleur's sink



I got experimental with hairspray, toothpaste and disposable camera lenses to variable success







Gwendolen

PS I shall be haranguing Cecily to post

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

Procrastinate...

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