Friday, 30 December 2011

Animal Farm - A Book Review

Before I start I would just like to point out that this is my first “book review” or sorts and so bare with me and any constructive criticism would be greatly appreciated. So Animal Farm by George Orwell was published in 1945 and written to reflect the events of the Russian communist Joseph Stalin and his time in office. Orwell, who was a firm believer in democracy, heavily criticised Stalinism and the “anti-revolutionary” approach affects he imposed on Russian society. Orwell’s opposition to communism is very apparent in Animal Farm and has shook me thoroughly to the core.

It has taken me just under a year to complete the book because every time I picked it up and attempted to progress through it, I felt disheartened by the book’s dark themes and it has only been through the determination to finish it that I actually have. From the very beginning, a dark scene is set where the animals at Manor Farm were oppressed and cruelly treated by a drunk and unjust farmer by the name of Jones. From the very offset a feeling of great resentment is present and it is the so-called “wisdom” of an ancient pig prophesying a world ruled by animals that causes the resentment to be put into action.

At the death of The Major, the name the pig went by, fellow pigs decided that it was time to take draw up a set of commandments by which to abide by in a new spirit of “Animalism”. However, as the pigs naturally took leadership as a result of a higher intelligence than the other animals and began to embrace this new unfounded power, one by one the commandments were twisted. This occurred to the point that the way in which the rest of the animals were “led” by the pigs became indistinguishable from the way in which they were cruelly treated back in the days of farmer Jones and his men. 

It seems to me that the main setback of Animal Farm as it came to be called was a lack of democracy. The other animals failed to complain or argue with the pigs due to their lack of intelligence and the later threat of being executed through clever manipulation by the pigs from which they had adopted from their once human nemeses. I found the description of the way in which the convicted animals were executed to be very graphic and cruel - having their throats ripped out by pig-trained dogs and torn limb from limb. There was very little solace for the dead because the “lesser” animals were led to believe they were traitors of the Animal Republic. 

I know very little about Stalinism in itself but if it was anything like the events described in Animal Farm, I shudder at the thought and am very grateful to be living in a democratic, if not slightly too right-wing for my tastes, society. I mourn for both the victims and the animal characters of the book that suffered under a prosthetic government that tricked good people into thinking that they were being led to progress but were instead being led to their deaths.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

The Ghost of Relationship's Past

   Christmas is always a reflective time for me as I largely spend in solitude, something for which I am actually grateful for. I have been thinking about who I am as a person and how much the past influences my actions and it concerns me how much I am dominated by events that I have not been able to let go. For the most part, I constantly blame my father for kicking me out at 16  and the way he treated me when things go wrong but when I think about it I have no right to do so. I spent most of the time at my parent's house in complete isolation anyway and felt greatly oppressed, all I wanted was to be free and lo and behold I am, yet I complain about it. The grass would indeed appear to be greener on the other side of the fence.

   The majority of the time I am a strong, independent person and passionate and sociable around people but when it comes to relationships I become pathetic and apologetic and lose all sense of who I am as a person. I believe this is because of holding on to the failings of other relationships and I countlessly forget that I am in a relationship with a completely different individual and so it would be foolish to base the principles of present relationships with past ones. In October, I split from a guy who was moving on to university and had found it hard to handle me on top of all of his new responsibilities which I only now see in its true perspective. From then until now, I have pressurised mutual friends not to mention him in front of me and not invite me to events to which he will also be attending and I feel incredibly guilty for this. Had I of seen this from another perspective I would have found how pathetic it was to reprimand my friends for including someone else who is also their friend, who do I think I am? At what liberty am I to control who my friends talk to? I have let the whole situation get out of control and I could not be more sorry to those it affected.

   So, what have I learnt? Well, the need to breathe more  is imperative for starters because not thinking something through that could affect the future, especially concerning relationships and could land you getting really drunk and confessing your love to someone you barely know. Secondly, the past is in the past and dwelling in it will only dwindle your future - turn the page and move on with your life, you're missing it! Finally, you have to forgive, people may have hurt you but they are people too and so trying make their lives hell will not help either party. Resentment breeds resentment and nobody will get anywhere trying to kill ghosts and shoving skeletons into closets. You are fine, or you will be with a big deep breath and fire in your belly, good luck!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Merry Christmas

Hello fellow bloggers and readers!

I sincerely apologise for my lack of content recently as I have been snowed under with college coursework and have plenty of work to be getting on with over Christmas. Most of my focus however, will lie in my report on the British Film Industry and I have all the material I need for it now so it's just a matter of cracking on. Other college-related things to be getting on with include a radio drama script about a girl who has just lost her parents, I have to write up a "careers guide" on the radio and print industry and a few pre-production elements to work on for factual programme production and project management.

Outside of college, I continue to go to BCB Radio on fridays to broadcast the feel-good factor at 1pm, work on my solo show on space and general intern bits and bobs. In terms of reading, I have now completely finished the Harry Potter series and was moved beyond belief, J.K. Rowling is who I aspire to be! Although, as a result of reading the books I cannot watch a single Harry Potter film without grimacing due to the sheer lack of detail featured in the books, however I cannot blame them for not being able to match the impeccable quality of J.K. Rowling's imagination.

 I am currently working through Beginning theory by Peter Barry and I have learnt such an awful lot from him, I can't decide which kind of literary criticism I like the best although the concept of post-structuralism very eye-opening as I have always been pretty content going about my life with my own personal perspective of reality. Other reading I have done recently was The Crucible by Arthur Miller and despite already reading it in Secondary school, was pleasantly surprised with its political and religious references which I hadn't previously appreciated. I am now re-reading Animal Farm by George Orwell which I imagine I will get through quite quickly when I have a spare moment but I find it very hard to get through on a day-to-day basis due to its mercilessly bleak outlook on life and the human race. Once I have read both Beginning Theory and Animal Farm I will then go on to re-read To Kill a Mockingbird and Edgar Allan Poe's works - I feel that I need to refresh my memory on these classics that I loved so much at one point or another. Before I start uni, I would like to get through all the books in my house that I haven't yet finished including The Time Travellers Wife, Pride and Prejudice, War of the Worlds and The Hobbit. I know for a fact that my mum's got me 1001 books to read before you die so after all said books are read, that is the challenge I will uphold.

In my next entry, I will formally discuss the New Year and the resolutions that come with it but for now I just wanted to keep you all updated with what I've been doing until something more interesting happens. From now until the 31st I just plan to get my work done so I doubt I will be able to appreciate much in the way of media, but if there are any good Christmas films on I might sneak a cheeky film review in. In the mean time I wish you all a very happy Christmas/Hanukkah/Quansa and a happy new year!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

I do believe in Harry Potter, I do, I do!

First of all, apologies for not writing in so long, I have been snowed under masses of homework and various bit and bobs for college and then there's my place at BCB Radio which takes up a lot of brain space. Also, as I don't have a computer at home, I can only really get everything I need to do from Monday to Friday which is a near impossible task and I nearly always stay till closing time. Anyway, today I'm going to write about my first love and I made a promise on my UCAS application that I would begin to talk about books that I've read and films that I've watched so here goes!

I don't care what anybody says about the Harry Potter franchise, there is definitely something magic about it. J.K. Rowling is of complete literary genius and she has affected my life in a really big way. I've just about got three-quarters of the way through Order of the Phoenix after reading the previous four books and I am totally smitten. It has become routine for me to unwind with a chapter as soon as I get home from college and then another in the bath and then maybe another in bed; it pains me to put it down.

I swear that by reading the Harry Potter series, the coursework I have produced for college has improved. The way in which Harry, Ron and Hermione tackle their homework as soon as they get back to the common room has encouraged me to do the same, of course I don't live in a dormitory but the principle remains. I also feel real emotion towards each of the characters and even though it hasn't been mentioned explicitly, I know Ron and Hermione have got something going on, subtle though it may be.

Every night my dreams are somehow influenced by the magical world, either in a good way or a bad way but it's usually bad. For example, the night before last I dreamt that a rogue Hippogriff was trying to attack me - it somehow managed to get through the window of my bedroom (I was living at my parents house in the dream) and it really didn't look healthy, as if it had rabies or something similar.

The only thing I can fault about J.K. Rowling's creation is the constant re-iteration of certain scenes such as Privet Drive, the Gryffindor common room, the Divination classroom etc. However, I think this just adds to her genius as she does it less and less and the books progress, implying an element of maturing not only amongst all the characters but the book's audience itself. As a child, I read The Philosopher's Stone which I reread in later life and have grown up ready to take on the cement block that is The Order of the Phoenix. To be honest, I don't know what I'll do when I've finished reading the series, I'm worried I won't find a comparison and a Hogwarts-shaped hole will be left in my heart. Nevertheless, all good things must end if we are to truly appreciate them and J.K. Rowling, I salute you, I aspire to have talent like your and I want to have the power to make others share my imagination through their dreams.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Slop Music

I am madly passionate about music but I am concerned about what is becoming of popular music, most worryingly of all the messages they send to their audiences. Music is everywhere - public spaces, within the privacy of the home, the internet, television, radio. There's no avoiding it and you'd probably encounter surprise if you weren't to come across any musical material. Therefore, as music is so unavoidable, people of all ages have access to its content including the young and impressionable.

From simply browsing on BBC Radio 1's top 40 chart I can see that right now Pixie Lott is right at the top with smash hit "All About Tonight". Try as I might, I find it extremely difficult not to slag off its content. It promotes reckless nights out on the town as the result of a girl being messed around by a guy for the last time. On the surface there's nothing wrong being "so over you" and it's good that you're taking those steps to get over him, the problem I have is that the song suggests you "grab someone if you're single, grab someone if you're not" which is obviously not okay. Instantly rebounding with someone you just met at a club is not good advice for someone who's had a hard time and is probably up for anything including risking their safety. On the note of safety, the song also ushers its listeners to "climb onto tables" simply because its all about tonight. Any person with common sense knows that after a few drinks, most likely in heels you can barely walk in never mind climb in, it is not advisable to clamber onto a predictably wet surface just to emphasise how over him you are. Such a stunt would either break your neck or at least get you kicked out of the club.

I'm not trying to target Pixie Lott specifically but the whole of modern pop and club culture in general. People may be unwilling to accept it but music subliminally affects us and influences our actions. Consequently, if our idea of good music is urging us to go out, get wasted and risk our safety then people are going to get hurt. Music is a public service and in my opinion its lyrics and musical content should reflect the atmosphere in a positive, non-lethal way.

Image courtesy of the Daily Mail

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Treat 'em mean, keep em' keen?

   I've had a really hard time trying to see sense in the phrase, to me there is no logic behind it. The definition of which being that if you treat your partner in a non-romantic way, they will be drawn to your arrogance and "power". I am sorry but what girl out there doesn't want to be swept off their feet, I would have a few things to say to the pigs that invented the phrase.

  I am in a relationship at the moment and I absolutely adore my partner, would do just about anything for him and I would like to think that I treated him thus - reminding him of my affections towards him. To deliberately do the opposite is not only deceitful but unkind and I don't understand how it would get a relationship anywhere. I've read guys that wouldn't buy women drinks in bars because if the girl's interested then she's interested, drink or no drink and yes I would agree with you on that but surely to offer the girl a drink is the more thoughtful and noble thing to do?

  I'm not trying to drag morals back to the middle ages where it would be impolite not to put your jacket down on the wet ground just so your ladies tootsies wouldn't get wet. I'm just imploring men to look into their hearts and ask themselves, where has the gentlemen era gone? There are too many black and white movies out there reassuring us that there is a prince charming in even the smarmiest of men to not find the "age of the dickhead" concerning.

  On the other hand, no one person in a relationship should be put on a pedestal and doted upon. That is  unless you don't mind an one ego-inflating nightmare floating upon your horizon. Obviously, there should be equality between two people and that is the principle I'm fully supportive of. The problem I have (and I tried not to make this particularly gender-biased, I'm talking as a woman) is when men feel emasculated by offering attention, affection and frankly goodies and so just don't. In conclusion, I just wish that before people go out of their way to be inattentive on purpose towards their partner, they tried a little empathy. If someone loves you, surely you'd want them to show it?

His Girl Friday (1940)

Friday, 5 August 2011

I want hide away for a bit

I really enjoy being on my own sometimes, especially when made acutely aware of how scary everything is. Just being able to hide under the duvet for a short while with a doughnut and a cup of tea whilst doing the gardening on Animal Crossing is just the ultimate luxury for me. I wouldn't let anyone in, I'd turn my phone off and lock the door, block the letter box and disconnect the aerial. Alienation is the most pleasant sensation when pretty much everything frightens you. From Thursday the 18th of August right up until Sunday the 28th, I'm going away, I'll only be at my house, but I might as well not exist during that period of time. Just me, my teddy bear and my tea!

Really poor picture of T.D. (Teddy) and I