A Summer’s Tale

A Summer’s Tale

I have two things to discuss today. One: yes. Yes I am aware that the title is basically a rip off of Shakespeare’s play ‘A Winter’s Tale’ and unfortunately this piece will not exit in pursuit of any four-legged creature. Two, I am going to talk about my summer so far.

When I was younger, summer could not come quick enough. The spring breeze floated away as I would gingerly stare out of my classroom window, wishing for summer. Of course sunshine hardly came as I do not live in a Disney film, but in the not so sunny Suffolk in England. However, as a child as soon as the blossoms were ripe and the sun’s rays would dance across the classroom table’s, for me, summer was here. Engrossed in my own love for summer, I would spend the month of August running around in the untamed grass of the park near my house with my neighbours, and friends. Retrospectively, I can see that these were probably the best days of my life. Unburdened with stress and overdue coursework, my summers as a child were pretty special.

Now, my summer as an adult has been pretty interesting. I went to Rome which was fantastic. The Pantheon and Trevi Fountain were two personal favourites, as well as the vibrant nights out. You would walk from the Colosseum to a Roman forum in no time as you concentrated on the entertainers scattered across the boardwalk. I also went to Normandy with my family where I was able to step back through time to feel the pain and anguish felt by those fighting for our freedom on D-Day at Omaha and Sword Beach.

I completed the eighth story in the Harry Potter series. I thought it was wonderful; full of intrigue and emotion. It was a truly masterful ending to the Harry Potter Wizarding world as we know it. I also started a new book called Dissolution by C.J. Sansom. This is a murder-mystery based in 1537, just after King Henry VIII named himself Supreme Head of the Church in England, thus renouncing the Pope’s right over religion. So far it is fantastic, however I am only three chapters in so who knows. I have set up some volunteering work for myself in Norwich and become the co-founder of a brand new exciting website based on satire. As well as that, I found out my results from my university (UEA) which I was really pleased with.

My summer so far has been blissful. It has been full of fun, love, happiness and serenity. This is not to say, however, that it hasn’t been peppered with pain and heartache, but such is life. What we have to recognise is that however good things seem to be, bad things are just around the corner because our lives are chaotic and random. But let that not be a negative message because through chaos, the most wonderful and unexpected things tend to happen. You may fall in love, make a new friend, get a job or become a nomadic traveller. The point is that life is a wave, sometimes you are at the crest or in the trough and you can’t change that, just accept it and let life go on. However bad things are, goodness will come because life is random and run by chance. This is what my summer’s tale has been about. It has been random; awful and amazing.

Don’t let 2016 be a bad summer for you, try to reconnect to your childhood to find the bliss you once had. We don’t have much control over our lives really, but if you do this as I have tried to do then you can control your own special moment, afternoon, day, week or month.

 

We are not the same.

We are not the same.

I wake up everyday knowing that I am not superior to anyone else. I wake up knowing that I am a girl, and nothing else. I hold no divine authority. I hold no power. But one thing I do know, is that I will be judged on the colour of my skin.

The colour of my skin has always been a difficult one for me. I remember thinking as a child that I was no different. I ran as fast as the boys. I played ‘Mummy and Daddy’ with the girls. Of course I knew that the majority of people were white where I lived, but to me that was never a problem. I would be complimented on my skin tone, with adults wishing that they could tan like me when they go away to Spain. So for me, being brown was just another thing that made me, me.

I remember a few things as a child that would make me wonder if I was actually really different. When I was eight, I participated in the school play as a Hawaiian dancer. The girls were required to wear hula outfits and skin coloured tights. This was the first problem, the all tones bought for us to wear were way to light. I went on stage with tights that made me look like one half of me was brown, the other half white. This got me thinking, were these tights accurate representations of what your skin should be? But as an eight year old, I brushed off this quickly, not understanding its importance. When I was eleven, my mum sent me to the local shop to buy some milk. I remember distinctly walking past this Chinese restaurant to be whistled at. I turned around hastily wondering where that noise came from and before I could recognise these boys, they shouted out “hey brownie” and “go back to your own country”.

This hurt.

I did not tell anybody about that for years as I stupidly put it to the back of my mind and told myself i was being an idiot and they probably thought i was somebody else. As a sixteen year old, I was faced with a hard decision. Knowing that schools like Mountview or Bird were interested in myself and my sister attending there schools, I had to decide whether or not I wanted to be a performer or an academic. One of the biggest reasons I didn’t follow my heart was because I knew that as well as being a twin, being a brown girl meant that less job offers or opportunities would be open for me. Less directors want to cast girls who look like me.

I know these are only little things and I should be grateful as nothing truly terrible has happened to me but I cannot help but wonder what if. What if I was born white. Now, this is not an article expressing negative views about white people because that, is well, just absurd. But I cannot help by think that if I was born white, I would have never felt isolated or lonely because of my skin colour. Those distinct moments have shaped me however. When I was eight I became more determined to be heard so I started to become more confident. As an eleven year old, I found my love for books and history throughout looking up what it meant to be in this country. At sixteen, I ensured a very happy and bright future for myself. I would not be carving a path to work for a prolific NGO when I’m older to ensure that thousands have not felt like I did for one second. I know I am privileged, so think about those who combat racism EVERYDAY. They carry around the “we are not the same” placard on their back.

WE are all the same.

Popularity over substantiality

Popularity over substantiality

After being back in England for a day, I’ve been doing the menial tasks requited of you post holiday. One of them was to look through my blog and try and think about another thing to write about. Yes, I could write about an array of subjects but something really annoyed me today, and I think I’d like to share that instead.

While looking through the statistics of these blog posts, I’ve been both happy and saddened. Over half of them have got hundreds of views, which is fantastic and I am forever grateful as this is such an amazing community to be a part of. However, the posts that were the most popular were my least favourite (Exam Time being the most viewed). Next, I looked through my stats for my FGM piece which was my favourite to write about because it is something I feel very passionate about. But, it got one of the lowest viewings out of all of my posts. This got me thinking, in order for my readership to grow I need to write posts that are really popular, right? However, the trend right now shows that the pieces I’m not that fussed about writing are the ones that people want to see…

This puts me into an awkward situation. Do I compromise my literary integrity for more views, or do I write about substantial and meaningful issues that will get less views and my blog could then crash and burn. On one hand I want to, but then again this blog should be about what I want to write about and put across. It’s taken me a while to think about what niche I wanted to be a part of, and now I know will that all have to change?

So, this is where I need your help. Do I write about bubble gum subjects that are nice to read on a commute, or about the hard hitting reality of our cruel and viscous world that will inevitably get less views because of a mix of not wanting to know and apathy.

Please comment on this post or on the social media post what I should do, I really am quite stuck.

27.11.2013

As part of my ‘Impossible list’ and summer challenges, I have started writing more. Needless to say that I enjoy writing, but writing in different styles scares me. Not scares me like someone jumping out of a cupboard after watching Carrie. I am more scared because it means that I am, in a sense, more vulnerable to criticism because I’m not used to this style.

In keeping with this theme, I have a short story about fear. The other day I was researching different styles of writing and this one follows the small detail concept. You centre the story around one item, may it be an emotion or a physical being. This isn’t about getting from point A to B, it’s about exploring a single dimension of A. From this, a springboard effect is created because if you wish to extend the story you can in so many ways.

Okay, so here is my first go at this kind of writing which is pretty far from my comfort zone. Enjoy.

The urge to dial the numbers that could unlock her happiness consumed her; enticed her. Just a stone’s throw away was the potential for everything she ever wanted- peace, love, freedom. Instead it was her own demons that cast away the light, burdened her with invisible shackles and sent her straight to the abyss.

It was John Steinbeck who wrote “maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other”. This quote, which resided in Amelia’s favourite copy of ‘Of Mice and Men’, made sense to her. The ideal that people were, in some way, the same. They were connected through the ability to fear, or be feared. The idea of this rang in her ears, never let her rest, and chained itself to her very being. This quote was to be the undoing of her character, but also her revival. It was to be more than a quote mindlessly read in an English class, to be robotically taken in to then be churned out by the institutionalisation of the education system. It would, in some ways, be the key to her freedom, but only if Amelia were to be fearless.

 

Amelia ran her delicate hands through her hair. The hair that she had inherited from her mother. It was a deep brown, darker than the richest oak. It fell casually around her shoulders, embracing the imperfections of her skin. Her slim figure was parallel to those of her looks, subtle and understated. Yet, she held a certain beauty. Only someone could understand this if they had experienced the world. She was so young, yet her face, her eyes, told a different story. But none of this mattered to Amelia. All she wanted was to be noticed, to not have to spend the minutes of her waking in this tempest of loneliness. She stood up from her desk chair and glided across her room, even her movements told a story; of a girl that wanted to be different. It was the book of ‘Of Mice and Men’ she picked up and surveyed. She turned over the page to read a few scribbled words and a number. As vaults are unlocked by codes, she could be unlocked by this number. This was the number given to her by a boy, James, in her class:

The light shone through he parted blinds, dancing across the blue tinted tables. Class had just started. Amelia walked in amidst the sea of students, clutching onto her notes. Just behind her was James, but he was running after Jessica, his girlfriend. The smile on his face was that similar to smile of a new born baby held in his mother’s arm. The innocence spread across his face shone light like the blinds did. It was only Amelia who noticed this, the subtle changes in his expression when he adorned Jessica with compliments, and the lack of from her. His hair fell neatly over his eyes that every so often had have to blow the blonde strands out of his way. Amelia sat down hastily, not wanting to appear as if she was staring. But this was too late, he’d caught her gaze and was not letting go. Getting the idea that Jessica was still annoyed at him from something that he probably did not even do a couple of days ago he gave up and slid over to Amelia’s desk. Without hesitation he said “Wow, you’re an ‘Of Mice and Men’ fan too? Most of my friends think it’s a waste of time, a book from a period not concerning us”. Amelia looked at him and said quietly

“Did they not live in 2008?” Surprisingly to her, he let out a laugh.

“Wow, the girl speaks. And she’s funny. Why have we never talked before, I swear we’ve been in the same class for around three years?” Amelia fluttered her eyelashes involuntarily and smiled inwardly.

“It’s been five. Maybe that’s because you’re so transfixed by your latest beauty?” She immediately regretted saying this, even though she has wanted to for half a decade.

“Ah yes! My undeniable attraction to the aesthetically pleasing. But if that is so, why have never exchanged words?” Before she could answer, he quickly put in “Hey! We’ve said, what, ten words and you’re already judging me”, her heart sank, “I like it”.

In this moment, however small to outside observers, she felt fearless. She felt dauntless. But that moment was whisked away as quickly as it came. “Jay, come and sit over here with me baby!” To this, James looked over his shoulder and adopted the previous look he gave his girlfriend, but to Amelia, it looked as if was less sincere.

“Of course, one sec’. I’ve always pipped you as a girl scared of everything, you don’t talk, you hide away in the shadows, why is that?” This question took Amelia by surprise, it felt to much, too personal for a first meeting. But because he made her feel so, well, alive, she looked at him in the eyes and whispered while the class was settling down: “maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other”. To this he looked taken aback and bowed his head.

It came to the end of class and Amelia had packed up her things and was ready to leave before she was stopped. The gentle touch of James’ hand was felt upon her shoulder. Her body shuddered, her breathing quickened, and she no longer felt fearless. James looked at her and said “Well that class was dull, but I was glad to have met you. If you ever want to go over the parallels of the current and past economic depressions, give this number a ring. I’ll be at the other end. Waiting”. And with that, he shone her a quick smile and clasped the hand of his, then, girlfriend.

 

It was that day that the character of Amelia had been released. Before then, she was merely a sketch, trying to colour herself in with books and quick exchanges with her parents. But now the time had come to not be scared of everyone, to not be frightened anymore. The time had come for Amelia to break the shackles that she burdened herself with. She picked up the weightless phone and stared at the keys. Her delicate fingers pressed each number in sequence, like she was following a melody. She looked over and held Steinbeck’s masterpiece up to her chest, as if to keep her heart from breaking out. The final number was dialled, all she had to do was press ‘call’. All she had to be was fearless.

A Summer of Opportunity

A Summer of Opportunity

In light of my recent exams finishing, I have found that I now have an unprecedented amount of free time. To revision mode me, this was the dream. Now, like most summers I am posed with two options: to do, or not to do. What I mean by this is I could spend the whole of my summer completing small tasks, doing small productive things which would potentially culminate in a “successfully” spent summer holidays. However, personally, this is not a great use of time. Yes it is true that anyone can spend the time they have however they want. But to me, an unprecedented amount of time calls on an unprecedented array of opportunities. I want to spend this summer completely different to any one of them before and I have one solution: YOLO.

Okay, please do not stop reading, I mean I want to stop writing at the thought of using the abbreviation YOLO as the crux to this piece, but hear me out. From how I have been raised, I have accepted that we only live once. So, for this summer (as I can afford the time) I will be adopting a new mentality. This is not to say I am not usually aware of my very own mortality, but in the least creepy and sadistic way possible, it will be at the forefront of my mind almost all the time. I want this summer to be one of opportunities and a way I’m going to assess this will be by making blog posts more regularly so I can keep you updated. As well as providing you with some pretty SICK content (lol), it will be a way of assuring that I complete this summer the way I want to.

New opportunities and experiences I want to try out:

  1. Learn how to cook (yes, university is not an avenue for this)
  2. Read 5 new books, that do not include fantasy.
  3. Run
  4. Become vegan (DO NOT RED ALERT THIS)
  5. Understand another cultures history (Have that one in the bag with trips to Italy, and France)
  6. Try different types of alcohol
  7. Finish short story
  8. Write on blog more
  9. Sing more

All of these new things will hopefully allow me to say at the end of this summer that I have been productive as well as active. This is a tailored list for my needs and wants, but I strongly urge you to write your self a list like this at the beginning of your summer, if you have one. Even if you do not have a summer holiday, then maybe instead of making this a ‘Summer of Opportunity’, make this a ‘Year of Opportunity’. Allow this mentality to trickle into your everyday life because trust me, you will feel better for it. And if not, there is always a great new series on Netflix instead.

 

The rite of passage we’ve all unfortunately endured…

The rite of passage we’ve all unfortunately endured…

So, the morning of the 13th of August had arrived. Sweat started to drip from my brow, my hands were clammy and my eyes were bloodshot and puffy. This was my aesthetic that morning. Why? Exam results. This was the day the “education system” was going to tell me whether or not I was good enough to go to an institution that at the end of the day will except you if you have enough money and/ or are a genius. I think you can see why I was nervous. Up to this point, the most intellectually taxing thing I had ever had to do were my GCSE’s. Therefore, I could feel the heat for these results. Plus what made things worse was that I am a twin.

That’s right. A twin. For all you twins out there, even those with any siblings, you know how it feels to be bettered by your brother/sister. This is not a nice feeling. You pretend to be “happy” for them, when really inside you’re plotting a scheme that will ensure this will never happen again. Pepper spray and rope come to mind. Therefore a certain drive pushes you on to ensure that you will not endure that level of humiliation again. Good grades or being a generally nice human being does not fuel your day, it is beating your sibling, or in my case, my twin. If they open the door for someone, you lay down your coat so the recipient doesn’t muddy their shoes. If they get 25/30 on a test, you get 26/30. If they start to write a short story, you write a collection of novels. You see what I mean. So, this day suddenly became even more excruciating at the thought of her beating me.

The time was 08:03, results were on-line. They had been for a whole three minutes. The clocks seemed to slow down as entered the college website, then to our VLE, then to my page. On the right hand side lay the tab Exam Results (GRADES). MY heart nearly fell out of my body. I kid you not, I could have died. Right there, It would have been a mess. But nevertheless, I opened up the window and…….

Closed my eyes.

I couldn’t bear to look. The mere thought that my whole future had already been determined by some letters struck fear into my heart. How could this be possible? All of these foreboding thoughts came rushing into my head, they were like demons, entering my body without consent. It all felt very painfully real, like my life was just an elapse, and the picture was to be taken here. This moment.

I opened them.

I now study at the University of East Anglia and couldn’t be happier.