Cultural Appropriation – Am I Guilty?

Cultural appropriation – I’ll admit it, I’m confused.

This year, yes 2018, was the first time I came across these two words – cultural appropriation. I may have had my head buried in the sand, I may have not been reading the ‘right’ journals, or watching the ‘right’ shows, I may simply be an ignoramus.

But in the last few months, I seem to have found myself on a roller-coaster of confusion and bafflement as I watch Dear White People (Netflix), read The Root (online magazine), and try to get answers from people on social media who are black or POC (people of colour).

Lets say this right now – I am a white woman. I am a middle-aged, white working-class woman. (MAWW) I may, to some, have led a dull life, a mediocre life, a life of ‘white privilege’. I can’t argue with that. But I’m curious, I want to learn, I want to expand my horizons and discover the whys and wherefores of other people’s lives. I do not want to offend anyone due to my ignorance.

BUT

Am I doing more harm than good when I ask questions about the clothes I wear, the make-up I use, the words I say, and the songs I sing? I have an Indian salwar kameez (though the salwar don’t fit anymore) that I have not worn in years. I used to paint Egyptian style eye-liner on my lids when I went out in the evening, I call my girlfriends ‘bitch!’ and I listen to and sing Blues and Mo-Town – but only in my home. I love the minimalism and simplicity of Japanese design; interior and clothing.

BUT

Am I appropriating those cultures?

I attempted to learn Japanese some years ago, I have been interested in the history and culture of that country for a number of years, I watch animé and read manga. I once learnt calligraphy. I have taken an online course called Japanese Culture Through Rare Books. I have been interested in Egyptian history since a little girl. I have visited Egypt and stood looking in awe upon the art and architecture.

When did I, if I did, cross the line from appropriation to appreciation? Or vice-versa?

We may think imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but not to the person whom we think we are flattering – or so I have learnt. I think I first saw the term ‘cultural appropriation’ was on Twitter; I watched an awful slanging match that snowballed, the way these things do, into a ‘them and us’ scenario.

AND SO

I did some further reading. I recently read Kit de Waal’s piece in The Irish Times: Don’t dip your pen in someone else’s blood: writers and ‘the other’, in which she hi-lighted this conundrum. When is it okay to write in a voice that is not your own?

Similarly, When is it okay to wear something that does not come from your culture? When am I appropriating another person’s culture? From de Waal’s text I took this extract: The dictionary definition is this: “Cultural appropriation is the adoption of elements of a minority culture by members of the dominant culture. It is distinguished from equal cultural exchange due to the presence of a colonial element and imbalance of power.”

Then I saw something in de Waal’s piece that I hadn’t seen in any other article – There is no one person that can speak for the whole of Ireland. Nobody can give the definitive answer to how a culture behaves or what they believe or why.

THE IRELAND, WALES & SCOTLAND QUESTION

Every article, and I mean every article I have read, talks about cultural appropriation as a thing done by white people to non-white people. But here I was reading something I have, as a child of an Irish immigrant, felt for years to be lopsided. I am white and had felt ‘done to’. Don’t we all appropriate from other cultures? The Irish, Welsh and Scots have been suppressed and oppressed by the English for decades, and yet today English people can be heard boasting their Gaelic/Celtic heritage/ancestry.

Irish cultureThe combination of Corn Laws, the first Land Act, trade agreements and a succession of famines resulted in over a million people dying, another million leaving the homeland. Upon arriving in England and the USA, Irish people were often classified as peasants, thieves, feckless, smooth-tongued blaggers, the ‘drunken paddy‘.

In the 60’s and 70’s England, the Irish were the butt of every joke. TV was flooded with stand-up comedians who openly told anti-Irish jokes, daily, because the Irish were ‘thick’, and ironically at the same time mistrusted as con-men who would jam a foot in your door to get a job cleaning windows. If you were the child of Irish parent(s), then you had to be prepared to be teased, bullied, have things thrown at you and labelled the thick one in class.

No Irish

And yet – On St. Patrick’s Day, thousands of non- Irish use it as an excuse for a piss-up. Thousands claim Irish ancestry because they a)had a great-great-great-grandparent who came from Ireland during a potato famine, b)have an ‘Irish’ surname. (Citizens Information says: Unless at least one parent or an Irish-born grandparent was an Irish citizen at the time of your birth, you cannot claim Irish citizenship on the basis of extended previous ancestry (that is, ancestors other than your parents or grandparents)).” Lots of white English/British claim Irishness from some sort of romanticised idea of what it’s like to be Irish-born. Irishness has been commodified, in particular, by Hollywood, perpetuating stereotypes of Irishness in films– Finian’s Rainbow, The Quiet Man, Darby O’Gill and the Little People.

Suddenly, it’s ‘cool’ to proclaim your Irish heritage, send in the Leprechaun hats, ‘based on’ Celtic jewellery and ‘Celtic’ tattoos.

JAPAN-IRELAND-FESTIVAL

Scottish CultureScotland according to some commentators, was ethnically cleansed by the English. The Highland Clearances had Gaelic peoples moved from their ancestral land to make way for – sheep. Scots were banned from wearing their traditional tartan. The English effectively eliminated a whole way of life from The Highlands.

Map of British Isles - Scotland

They were later subjected to anti-Scots jokes, labelling them as dour, penny-pinching, alcoholics who were always ready for a brawl. The weather map of the UK has, until very recently, portrayed our island on a tilt, thus ensuring that England looked bigger than Scotland – for English viewers it did not strike them as odd. The Union Flag/Jack has the Scottish white saltire in the background with St. George’s (English) red cross over the top. Golf, hurling and shinty originated in Scotland. Halloween comes from Gaelic Scotland (as well as Ireland and Wales). Bagpipes were deemed tools of war’, yet were adopted into the British Army later on. The Scottish accent a point of confusion and derision amongst the English.

Chinese man in Scottish tartan

And yetTartan in many forms, not just kilts, became utilised initially by English Royalty, filtering through history until becoming something for the masses; like Burberry attire, worn mainly by those with some dosh to spare. Paul McCartney, an Englishman, has utilised the sound of bagpipes in his music: Mull of Kintyre.

Black Guy in Kilt

Welsh Culture – The Welsh are the ‘original’ British, pushed to the margins of Britain both geographically and politically. Military, political, economic and cultural power was exercised by the much more populous English over the Welsh for many centuries. Many elements of the Welsh economy and society since then have been shaped by demands from England. They had their language suppressed. They had a whole village evacuated then flooded; to provide water for Liverpool. Portrayals of Welsh on TV in the 70s amounted to little more than hideous stereotypes with buck teeth, extreme accents and a clear message to the English that this was ‘the other’. Even today, the Welsh have to listen to insults such as their country being called a “little shit place” – Eddie Jones, Rugby Union coach. A.N.Wilson, newspaper columnist and writer, said: “The Welsh have never made a contribution to any branch of knowledge, culture or entertainment. They have no architecture, no gastronomic tradition, no literature worthy of the name.

Really? How about Dylan Thomas, R.S. Thomas, Roald Dahl, Sarah Waters, TE Lawrence? Or Doctor Who and spin-off Torchwood (both filmed in Wales with some Welsh actors)?

And yet The English, and the world at large, have the Welsh language to thank for words such as: Bard, Corgi, Crag, Flannel, Druid and Penguin(possibly). ‘Lush’ and ‘Cwtch’ (means cuddle) are recent additions from the TV comedy, Gavin and Stacey. I hear English people at work using ‘lush’ all the time.

I have never heard a Scottish, a Welsh or Irish person complain that their culture has been appropriated. I have never read an article in which a Dane, a Norwegian or Swede complained about the way others wear Viking horned helmets, thus perpetuating the myth of Viking attire.

Image result for welsh rugby supporters daffodil hat Related image

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Sports fans don’t seem to mind who wears what

 

 

It seems to me that it isn’t purely a black/white issue. The world is a huge place that we, the human race, cover and move like a tide; ebbing and flowing within a time-frame way too large for an individual to perceive, cultures, communities, empires rise and fall (what would the ancients think of the modern taste for ‘Roman sandals’?) It seems we all could do with a little more education and tolerance regarding this issue, that or we all just throw up our hands and have a free for all on everything.

Am I being insensitive? Am I missing something? 

Or maybe I have had my head in the sand?

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Phew Wot a Scorcher!

Due to current ‘heat-wave’ blogger offers shortest post.

Newspapers present information and ideas about topics – and must constantly battle with each other to gain customers – headings need to be attention-grabbing.

Of course, layout, headings, subheadings and pictures play a part in this, but as writers, we could learn something from journalistic lingo.

What types of papers? (UK)
Tabloids are papers such as The Sun, The Mirror and The Express. They are smaller in size containing, usually, light-weight stories or articles written in simpler style. Often have a lot of celebrity gossip and very local articles.

Broadsheets are papers such as The Times, The Guardian and The Independent. These are the larger papers containing more serious stories in depth articles. The broadsheets will also contain news from other countries.

Short Words
Headlines often use very short words to make an impact, this applies to broadsheets and tabloids alike, although the tabloids are more likely to employ eye-dialect – we’ll cover that in a mo’. The shorter headline has more impact – as does the shorter sentence in your novel/short-story writing. For example, Hitler Dead. Everyone knew who was being written about so no need for a full name. The sentence written fully could read, Adolf Hitler is Dead or German Chancellor Has Taken His Own Life, but it doesn’t have the same impact as two words.

Phew HitlerDeadApril1945USApaper
Hitler Dead. Newspaper April 1945

Newspapers have the advantage (or disadvantage in some instances!) of having a photograph accompany their text. As a writer, you don’t. So to pack more punch into an action scene. You might. Just might. Want to use shorter words. And shorter sentences.

Eye-Dialect

This is the use of non-standard spelling and pronunciation. What some refer to as ‘not speaking properly’. It’s not RP (Received Pronunciation). You will all be familiar with eye-dialect, and may even use it, without knowing what it is called. Innit?

(See what I did there?!) It is used to add impact to a headline, or add definition to your characters. Let’s imagine a conversation between two:

English Middle class friends –

Bill- Hello, Ben, How are you?

Ben – Hi, I’m pretty good, thanks for asking. How are things with the wife and kiddies?

Working class friends

Bill – Y’all right mate?

Ben – Sound, how’s the missus and sprogs?

As an opening conversation, this immediately allows the reader to know something about Bill and Ben, without telling. It also adds some realism to your characters.

Examples of eye-dialect you will have seen in newspapers include – Gov’t, Grab ’em, Libs, Wot, Cor, and so on.

Phew Iraq word play
He always was between a rock and a hard place.

Word Play
You find this is a big part of the language of many newspapers. Words with two different meanings in English can be used in an amusing and entertaining way. This is called a pun. The English language is littered with puns, innuendo and double entendres. TV shows and films like the Carry On series were built around this peculiarity (I’m not too sure about other countries/languages) For example, Be Leave in Britain. This headline, from The Sun, plays with the word believe. The Sun is renown for it’s patriotism; some would say nationalism, and urging it’s readers to believe in their country – however, they deliberately misspelt and divided the word (much like has happened to the UK and Europe ironically!), and now they ask their readers to believe in leaving the EU.

Phew - Jolie Pregnant By Pitt
Juxtaposition of text and image. 10/10!

Alliteration

Poets amongst you may be more familiar with this, (though all serious writers should be too). Alliteration is mostly used for humorous effect as well as grabbing the readers attention. It’s essential for the newspapers to stand out from it’s competitors, so you will see a variety of styles depending on the paper and it’s target audience.

Alliteration is the repeated use of the same letter or sound in a series of words. Tongue-twisters are alliterative. e.g. She sells sea shells on the sea shore. The poem of Beowulf has, Hot-hearted Beowulf was bent upon battle. In the second instance, we can almost feel the breathy quality as we say hot-hearted, we pant the words as Beowulf himself might have, then the hard ‘b’s add another quality, harder, punchy.

Phew Alliteration claptrap
Alliteration Excitation

Similarly the headlines might say – Pasties, Petrol and the Politics of Panic, or, Cannibal Cop Finds Killer’s Kit. I would say you couldn’t make this stuff up, but you can, they do! 

 

Okay, the laptop is pretty hot now. The temperature is 26º (that’s 78.8 Fahrenheit for old people and Americans). My brain is overheating. I’m done.

Blogger Bows Out as Heatwave Hits Head

Overwhelmed? Think Things Through…

 

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The patented Cat organiser!

Division of Labour

If you’re a writer, whether that be fiction, non-fiction, blogging, or similar, then you probably have a ‘real’ job too. By ‘real’ job, I mean one that you do on a day to day basis (or nightly if it’s shift work), the one that pays your bills, that (just about) keeps the wolf from the door, the boring one, the one you don’t want to do but are forced to.

So how do you find time to write (other creative/art forms are available)? When you have laboured at your regular employment, you need a break, you WANT a break, you have to shift gears mentally and often emotionally before you begin to scribble.

There is really only one answer –

Get Organised.

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Captain Eddie Rickenbacker

Edward Rickenbacker was an American Fighter Pilot in WWI. After surviving the war, he started an auto company, became involved in the aviation industry and wrote a comic strip (Ace Drummond), amongst other things. He is also known for this quote – “I can give you a six-word formula for success: Think things through – then follow through.”

Often, these sound-bites are nothing more than that, snippets of chat to gain attention, look at how newspapers, and blogs, title pages, it’s intentional, to draw the reader in. But Rickenbacker’s is more than that, it is practical: Think things through – then follow through.

It’s another way of saying – Get organised.

But if you’re anything like me, getting organised is harder than we all think. I understand we all have other things to do, the problem, I have found, is other people. Colleagues probably think that, like them, when the weekend comes, or when you finish work for the day, or have a day off, that it is just that – a day off. Hah! Creative types rarely, if ever, get a day off. Once the paying job ends, that’s when the real work begins for us.

So how do we get organised?

By thinking things through -then following through.

Does your week go something like this?

Regular job – housework – research – family – shopping – writing – regular job – social media – laundry – planning – fix printer – regular job – family – writingmaintaining writers profileregular job – stressing – editingpaid writing job search – regular job – correspondence – job search – regular work – visitors – exercise – elderly parents…

Can you see that there are only 2 slots when actual writing is being done? There is so much more that you could add to this, depending on your personal life, family size, days you work in paid job, other hobbies you try to maintain.

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“I bet Mister Rickenbacker didn’t have all this ironing to fit in.”

So when do you write? And don’t forget, writing is not just the act of setting down words – just like painting is not just the act of laying down colours. For me, a huge amount of the work is done in my head; thinking of ideas, plots, characters, events, moral issues, inventions, possibilities, to misquote Jarvis Cocker, It may look to the untrained eye like I’m sitting on my arse all day.”

Get organised.

  • Get a piece of paper and pen – coloured pens if that’s your thang.

I recommend handwriting this for two reasons – 1.It’s easier to think without feeling rushed when you hand-write, and 2.You probably spend enough time on a computer as it is.

  • Sketch a table of your week; Monday to Sunday. And write in the hours you ‘go to work’ – that’s your paid work in the ‘grown-ups’ world, not your writing.
  • Now look for the empty spaces. You may only have Saturday and Sunday free, and even then you have to spend some of that with the kids. Into these empty spaces jot down what you want and or need to be doing in regards to your creativity.
  • Arrange your empty spaces so you have a balance of work and play, as much as possible given the time you have remaining. Remember, you need time to sleep and play and do nothing – unless you’re really a robot, in which case, meh.
  • After days/hours/minutes have been allocated as you want, break these down into smaller sections. For example, if you’re a blogger it might say, Monday 4pm to 6pm – writing/Friday 1pm to 4pm writing.
  • Break this down to, Monday 4pm to 6pm – research/planning/generating ideas. Friday 1pm to 4pm – write blog post.
  • Try it for a while and stick with it if it works, otherwise, re-jiggle your week. If you have trouble organising yourself, then don’t just read this – do it! Otherwise, you’re wasting time.

 

Think things through – then follow through.

Before you even do the organising activity, Think things through – do you want to carry on the way you have been? If you like your way of working, then who am I to tell you otherwise?! Are you lucky enough to be financially independent so as to not have to go to work? Or, like me, are you stuck in low-paid work with no option of advancement? Does it suit you, does it give you time to write/paint/sculpt/blog?

Then follow through – If you don’t like your working week try a change. If you hate your job, can you move, or find a different one? No-one is going to make the changes for you.

Bloggers

Whip it up in a couple of hours (or so some clients believe!) and hey presto, there’s a witty post. We wish. Bloggers must allocate time for generating ideas – researching – learning about new stuff (that may be technical or other) – deciding what you are going to write in advance. There is tons of advice on the internet to help Bloggers, you might want to spend a little on one of the numerous pre-made Blog Planners out there to help you get organised. Bloggers work to deadlines – whether their own or someone else’s.

Fiction Writers

Just float through life collecting ideas by some sort of osmosis which then transfers itself to the page by another kind of osmosis – Right? – Wrong! Writing the story, whether short, novella, trilogy, is the easy and fun bit. Don’t forget, you need to edit, and this can take as long as writing the bloody thing in the first place! If you are submitting work for an open competition, then you’re working to a deadline. If you’re submitting a MS to a publishing company, you’re working to their guidelines. Do read all the rules. Do make time for your Author Bio and Plot Summary.

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Dear Diary, today I fired my teacher as she gave us too much homework. Time for tea and cake.

Non-Fiction Writers

Probably the most organised of the creative bunch. This lot typically arrive here from an academic background and so are used to working to deadlines and briefs. But if you’re a free-lancer who also hold down a day job, you will need to arrange times that suit you as well as enough time to complete the brief. A diary, actual or E will be your friend.

Think things through – then follow through.

On each of my days off, I go through a similar process.

Write a To-Do list, this will include writing, research, mail, laundry, check for potential submissions, blog, editing.

Work through this list – in any order – do laundry first as it’s like eating your greens before your meat.

Take a break in-between each activity – especially between writing and everything else: this allows my brain to shift gears into the realms of fantasy.

It looks on the To-Do list like I do the same thing over and over, but because I write, then it doesn’t feel like that at all. I write my blog, I write stories; variety of genres, and I am NEVER, ever bored.

Now my monkeys, “Fly, fly!”

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I’m cogitating

Book Review: Secrets From The Lost Bible by Kenneth Hanson

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Secrets From The Lost Bible

Secrets From The Lost Bible by Kenneth Hanson, PH.D.

Genre: Non-Fiction
Pub Date: 2004
Publisher: Council Oak Books
Length: 221 pages
Paperback : Local Library (£7.39)

‘Hidden away for centuries, these rediscovered ancient texts reveal vital knowledge to empower humankind.’ Back cover blurb.

 

Wow, a pretty bold claim – ‘knowledge to empower humankind’.

Dr. Kenneth Hanson presents us with a number of texts; some which may be partially familiar – Adam and Eve and the Tree of Knowledge, and the less familiar (to myself) Bel and the Dragon, along with previously unknown stories about familiar Biblical figures. I say partially because, as Hanson reveals, even the Biblical texts we may be familiar with have sections missing.

The Dead Sea Scrolls, for those who have never heard of them are, briefly, scrolls – or fragments of scrolls, that have been discovered/uncovered in caves near The Dead Sea. Some date back to the 8th century BCE (Before Common Era), and are written in Hebrew, Aramaic and some in Greek; the initial discovery being made in 1947 by a Bedouin shepherd. Since then around 8oo plus scrolls have been found; mostly fragmented. They are divided into Biblical and non-Biblical, with for example, 25 copies of Deuteronomy, texts on law, psalms and more.

Now, I have to make a confession here – I have not yet completed reading Secrets From The Lost Bible – It is, to be honest, taking me forever, but I do only read a bit at a time, plus, I keep re-reading sections (I also have a habit of having two or three books on the go at once). This is one of those books that you read a little at a time and absorb before progressing. It is to be sipped, not gulped – mulled over, not galloped through.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are essentially suppressed writings. Historically, Religious leaders, and possibly political leaders, have excluded them from Judeo-Christian teachings, as they do not conform to what they want society to conform to, namely, their own leadership. The texts have been called heretical by some, revelatory to others. They fit into the bracket – if one must be used – of mystical writings. Take this extract for example, sub-titled Eden’s Children,

‘This book of The Lost Bible (which I present here in paraphrase) teaches that the soul, far from being corrupt, is pure, eternal, and birthed in Paradise:

Happy is the one who came into being…In Paradise there are five trees which no one disturbs year round; and their leaves never fall. If you come to know them, you will never know spiritual death.’

Essentially, the Gospel of Thomas is telling us that we, each individual, is not only born innocent (as opposed to the church’s teaching on Original Sin), but that we can each find Knowledge ourselves – without the need of a Religious Leader. That alone is enough to set many conservative/mainstream Christian’s/Jewish teeth on edge, goodness knows what the Creationists make of it.The Gospel of Thomas was declared Gnostic heresy, and promptly filtered from their system –  Gnosticism and the Kabbalah have been criticised by those wishing to keep their sheep on the straight and narrow – as they perceive it.

Hanson guides us through selected texts with explanations, he examines what lessons may have been lost when those who decided which books to include in the Bible and Torah made their decision to exclude these. He is non-judgemental, he does not lay blame, he simply offers us the works and a way to understand them, and why they may have been excluded. Hanson offers everyone, not just people who follow a religion, a way of understanding the hidden way to find harmony with…. well, if you do not believe in a god, it would be yourself and the universe.

I am finding the book a very interesting read. Hanson provides insights and fills in holes found in the traditional Bible. If you are a theology scholar, I recommend you add this to your reading list. His writing style is very easy and he provides us with short anecdotes of his own personal moments of realisation, and he is joyous in his writing, which can be a rarity in academic circles, certainly not stuffy.

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Section of Dead Sea scroll 

Just because you are a ‘good’ Christian/Jew/Methodist/ETC, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t question what’s in the bible, it has flaws, why does it have flaws? Because it was written by men, and moreover, men who have decided to withhold information from us.

Kenneth Hanson, Ph. D. is an associate professor in the University of Central Florida Judaic studies program and scholar of Hebrew language and literature. He is the author of Blood Kin of Jesus, Dead Sea Scrolls: The Untold Story and Kabbalah: Three Thousand Years of Mystic Tradition.

 

I’m giving Secrets From The Lost Bible, 5 stars

Little StarLittle StarLittle StarLittle StarLittle Star

World Environment Day 2018

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Rant time!

Today. One day. There are 365 days in the year and we are dedicating 1, one, ONE! to raising awareness of our environment.

I find it completely and utterly mind-blowingly stupefying that we can treat our planet the way we do.

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The captivating South Pacific

If you were given a lovely cottage, on a green plot of land that provided you with EVERYTHING YOU WILL NEED FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, would you scatter your rubbish across it? Would you get rid of all the flowers and grass to be replaced with tarmac or concrete? Would you systematically kill off all the pollinators like bees? Would you – to put it bluntly – shit in your own bed!?

And yet, that is exactly what we are all doing. We are all complicit in the plastic-poisoning-deluge-traffic-jamming-exhaust-choking-animal-suffering-I-couldn’t-care-less attitude that embodies humanity today. Our view of ourselves is so ego-centric, so utterly selfish, that we allow our children to die in the thousands because of chemical pollution, we crave money and ‘stuff’ so much, that the consequences of our actions do not even register in our reptilian brains.

WEDblogspermwhale
Sperm whale that recently died from plastic consumption

I know, I know, you and me, the ‘little people’, can’t make huge changes, and I so want a mobile phone to keep in touch with people, even though it’s made of plastic and tiny pieces of metal that will never decay when it is eventually disposed of. And I really, really need my plastic laptop so that I can write this nonsense. And I need paper to write on, for work and home – and I do like soft white loo roll to wipe my backside on. And on. And on it goes.

I know people who have said things like, “Well, what can I do? And besides, everyone else is doing it.” ! What a stupid comment! Didn’t you mum say to you when you were a kid, and you copied something daft a friend had done, “If he stuck his finger in the fire, would you?”! ‘Course you bloody wouldn’t – and if you answered yes, then you need your head feeling!

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Hong Kong in the Summertime

My old mum always wonders why we spend so much on sending ships to explore space, when we don’t even know, for sure, what is in our seas. We get medicines from the rain-forest, and so we’re busy hacking it down, for what? We have things we haven’t even discovered in our own back yards. What’s that saying, ‘The grass is always greener’? Well at this rate, children of the future will be saying, ‘The soil is always redder.’ as we speed off to populate another globe, so we can simply shit all over that.

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Was the five pence charge worth it?

There are things we ‘little people’ can do. We have something that the governments and corporations don’t have – voices in numbers. If we all shout out together, we can deafen the fuckers. I’m not expecting you to go plastic-free-stop-using-your-car-sow-seeds-everywhere-recycle-everything-and-share-your-shower-with-the-neighbours, BUT, you can do your bit.

You can make a change. You can clean up and thus save the ONLY PLACE YOU HAVE TO LIVE. And if we all don’t stick our finger in the fire at the same time, then maybe there’s hope for us yet.

WEDblogReduce Reuse Recycle

Visit the World Environment Day web-page –                          http://worldenvironmentday.global/

Learn how to make your own household cleaners (and much more) –https://www.goingzerowaste.com/

Recycle your old bras (yep, someone can use them) at some places around your community, or visit –                                                                            http://moralfibres.co.uk/bra-recycling/

Next time you go shopping, don’t use plastic bags for you fruit and veg, and, at the till, unwrap these items and ask them to dispose of the wrapping (I have started doing this, the staff are surprisingly compliant). And sign this petition – https://www.change.org/p/uk-parliament-stop-supermarkets-from-selling-raw-fruit-and-veg-in-plastic-packaging

Get your children to walk to school, instead of packing them into your fumy car – https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/12/children-risk-air-pollution-cars-former-uk-chief-scientist-warns

Read Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, about the appalling effects that pesticides have and continue to have on our land and our selves – because of corporate greed.

Be like David Sedaris, American humourist, writer, Radio 4 infiltrator; who regularly picks up litter from his local area, for nothing other than keeping the landscape beautiful.

To steal from actor Michael Sheen’s 2015 speech on the NHS:-

“…what sort of society do we want to be? What is our vision for ourselves? What are the qualities and the principles that we aspire towards, and choose to defend?”

and to misquote from the same speech:-

“There is never an excuse to not speak up for what you think is right. You must stand up for what you believe. But first of all – by God, do something.”

 

Writing is like…#2

gardening Shakespeare-quote

Update to – Writing is like…Keeping an Allotment – Jul 31, 2017

 

Spring has been late in arriving this year; especially in the North of England. Although there are some things you can shove in early, like potatoes and Early Onions, the rest has been waiting for the ground to warm up.

 

Seasonal Writer

Writing, believe it or not, can be delayed if you are subject to ‘climate’ change. I find that during the winter months, I am more inclined to write multiple short stories – much like keeping the plot (both kinds) ticking over – keeping your hand in for the coming summer months. This is not to say writing short stories is not serious writing – it is, and it’s bloody hard work, especially for those of us who are inclined towards filmic, script-like scenarios.

If you are habitually a writer of novels, this ‘slow’ period might be good for trying new styles (I’m having a go at radishes this year! And historical writing!). Looking for Short Story Competitions is a great way to keep the brain in gear; the ink flowing, so to speak.

Short story writers may want to reverse this and give novel writing a go. Expanding the length of your story pushes your creativity to new levels. Take a look at the latest thing you have written, or are writing, does it really have to be under 5,000 words? Take us on a whirlwind tour of your characters world, create side-stories and let your characters get under the skin of your readers.

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Preparation Done

You’ve sown the seeds – on the allotment and of creativity. Don’t stand back and admire the clean rows of earth and words. Wasn’t there something else you had to do? Did you leave something out? Have you proofread the whole thing? Simply put – does it work?

Yeah, you know what I’m talking about here – Editing – it’s a bitch, but it has to be done. Weed out the obvious nonsense first. Remember, prune back hard, next year it comes back stronger!

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Save. Save Again. And Back It Up

Which brings me to the main point of this update.

I ran out of space on my allotment plot this year. I was offered an unused raised bed, and this morning spent 2 hours clearing it. It was hard, itchy, skin-raking work; and raining to-boot. But my spare seeds have somewhere to go now.

Remember when I told you about losing 3 years of my work? (May 18, 2018 ) I have since learnt my lesson and now have the equivalent of a spare bed on the allotment – an external hard drive!!! When writing, save your piece, next time save it with a #2 after the title and so on and so forth. You might, by the end of writing, have anything from 20 to 50 saves of the same story. Only when you are satisfied that the thing is finalised can you get rid of the earlier saves – then download it onto an external drive. These are incredibly easy to buy, put together in it’s case and use.(Amazon) If you use Windows, then it will be simple, if like me you have Linux, you may have to do a little work to get your system to allow access, but I did it, so can you.

Another way to ensure you do not lose work was recommended to me by a member of Wirral Writers; Amy’s tip is this – e-mail your stories to yourself. This means that, if you don’t use something like Google Drive, wherever you are, you will always have access to your work!

Now spades,  pens at the ready – write, write, write!

 

 

 

Review: Safe (Netflix UK)

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Currently – On Netflix (UK)

Starring – Michael C. Hall, Amanda Abbington, Audrey Fleurot, Marc Warren

Genre – Drama. Thriller

Writer Harlan Coben

Premièred10th May 2018

 

*Spoilers Ahead*

Widowed surgeon Tom has struggled to raise his two daughters alone following his wife’s death a year ago. Things seem to be on the right track for the family, who live in a gated community, because they have close friends nearby and Tom is in the early stages of a new relationship. But the situation takes a turn for the worse when Jenny, Tom’s oldest daughter, goes missing along with her boyfriend.

 

So here’s an interesting collaboration – American crime writer; Harlan Coben, American lead; Michael C. Hall. British locations; Liverpool, Manchester, Cheshire. Primarily English cast; Amanda Abbington, Marc Warren, etc. French ‘suspect’; Audrey Fleurot. Networks,English, French, International.

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Det. Sergeant Sophie Mason and Tom Delaney 

I have a number of issues with this show:

Problem #1 – England: Tom Delaney and his children; and the rest of the cast; apart from Pete (Marc Warren) and ‘Bobby’ (Milo Twomey), live in a gated community – so far so good. However, the reason we are given that it is a gated community is an event that occurred many years earlier – when the current adults were teenagers – at the local school, resulting in the deaths of a number of children. So to ‘protect’ themselves from outside danger, they walled themselves off – this suggests that the school itself is within the gated community. I do not know if such communities even exist in the UK, sure, there are small gated estates, but that’s just residential. Smacks of America.

Problem #2 – Idiot family: So you’re having a party for your mates whilst the parents are away for the night. You discover someone either unconscious or dead aaaaand… you don’t call an ambulance! REALLY?! You have to be kidding. Then dad decides not to get help and ‘hides’ the body! REALLY?! You are fucking joking. Mum colludes (‘cos basically she’s an airhead). They then send texts to the ‘missing’ boy’s family thus ensuring they think he is still alive! WTF?! The reason given for their sorry excuse for not alerting the authorities is… their reputation!!!

Problem #3 – No-one works: Tom; the lead dad, is a surgeon, but spends more time running around the estate and all the haunts he thinks his daughter may be. Pete; also a doctor (anaesthetist?) also doesn’t go to work much. Mr and Mrs Chahal seem to live a luxurious life with no mention of how a teacher (she) and her hubby; who never seems to go to work, can afford it. Helen Crowthorne lives in another large house; albeit extremely neglected, and she doesn’t even seem to have a job. At least the police are doing their jobs properly…or are they?!

Problem #4 – “I did it.” What, you hate your wife so much that you would implicate her as a paedophile?! Wow, this family needs some counselling.

Problem #5 – Same school: Most of the main characters/suspects seem to have attended the same school, then remained in the area; apparently able to afford to stay. And now the kids go to the same school. I don’t know about you, but I do not know a single person who’s children have attended the same school as their parents; especially when you live in a suburb or town where there are many to choose from.

Problem #5 – Archetypes? Check: Smacks of formulaic to me.

The Hero – that would be Tom, the dad.

The Mentor – most definitely Pete, he guides Tom through the lumps and bumps of how to behave; like he’s a grown man and still doesn’t know, in pubs, with neighbours etc. etc. And rolls his eyes at his friends impulsivity.

The Ally – well this can be Pete too, he’s the one who causes distractions to aid The Hero and accompanies him on his journey.

The Herald – Isn’t a character here – it’s an empty bed, time for a life-changing event Tom Delaney.

The Trickster – Jojo Marshall, provides a light break from the gloom of Tom’s storyline. Maybe this archetype fits him very loosely as he’s more of a fool.

The Shapeshifter – Detective Emma Castle. Why is she spying on one of the others. She’s a cop, so she’s a good guy isn’t she? Seems to hover on the borderline – until all is made clear of course.

The Guardian – ‘Bobby’, the owner of the Heaven Lounge. He tries to block Tom, practically telling him to go home and leave off his search. A big flag also waves over this character saying ‘this way lies danger’.

The Shadow – Also Bobby, as he creates a threat and further conflict for Tom.

Problem #6 – Teenage angst. Jenny Delaney can’t confront her father about a tracker he’s had installed on her phone. She has a secret from her mother – that she can’t share with her father. So, instead of having a hissy fit (like most teens), and going mardy in her bedroom because she can’t talk to dad – she ups and disappears!!!!

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Amy James-Kelly as Jenny Delaney

BUT, despite the spiralling lack of believability in this show, I watched it all. All the way through and, well, I kind of enjoyed it. How does that work?

I know many people have gone on about Michael C. Hall’s accent, but there isn’t anything wrong with it. Americans are notorious for getting British accents so very wrong, but if you aren’t London-centric, then it sounds okay to my Northerner ears.

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Marc Warren as Pete Mayfield

The acting is superb; especially, I have to say, Marc Warren( who for my money is not seen on TV or in films enough). People are entitled to their secrets,” he says, thus ensuring the viewer wonders, what kind of secret is Pete keeping? Hall is excellent in a constant state of high alert, panic and fear. Audrey Fleurot is also worth the money with her edgy, slightly neurotic, wide-eyed teacher accused of something teacher’s don’t ever want to be accused of.

The intro theme music is ‘Glitter and Gold’ by Barnes Courtney, love it. An English singer/songwriter, however, the song sounds American to me – imagine opening credits with some sweaty blokes harvesting in the ‘Deep South’, a lovely lass wiping the sweat from her brow as she peers; in her flimsy floral frock, yonder across the fields to a lone tree against a bleeding sunset. Well it’s not that. ‘Safe’, is all big houses, red brick, mock Tudor, green and ‘not so pleasant England’. So a little at odds with the theme.

It feels as though the producers were trying to appeal to as many cross-continent viewers as possible. The story moves at speed, but that’s because there are side stories, red herrings, so many individual secrets that it makes Pretty Little Liars look like a primary school squabble.

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Audrey Fleurot as Zoe Chahal

It was a great idea, and despite kind of enjoying it, I can’t help but feel that Mr. Coben should have edited his story before submitting it. It didn’t ring true. Hubby and I kept looking at each other and going, “What the…? Really? C’mon.”

I’m giving Safe 3 stars

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