Do we & Should we have Freedom Of Speech?

Thoughts, Uncategorized

Scrolling through Twitter earlier this month I saw this tweet from Stig Abell which Comedian Ricky Gervais replied to, and after having seen the video of the ‘nazi’ comments being shouted at to one of our MP’s, It really got me thinking about freedom of speech. Gervais, in this scenario, seems to be an advocate for this freedom whereas Abell does not. And this situation with this MP certainly does add to the argument of the latter, as it is awful that someone can be bombarded with such insults on live TV or on Social media.

This is a topic which is widely debated, freedom of speech means that we are free to make any comments we like without there being any sort of punishment if we go against the consensus; in short, it allows us to openly share our opinions.

So do we have Freedom of Speech now?

I don’t think we do. Yes, we have this freedom to a certain extent, however, increasingly there are campaigns for certain topics or phrases to be banned. Such as talking about ‘Hitler’ as Abell mentioned or racist words, parts of history that we can reflect on and learn from the past.

Should we have freedom of Speech?

I think we should. Being able to express our own individual opinions is part of it and weather we think someones opinion is right or wrong it is completely subjective and so we can either have the freedom or not have the freedom. Personally, I cannot think of a world worse than one in which we cannot express what we think.

In my opinion, banning words and phrases – even if they have negative connotations should never be banned as otherwise we are banning certain aspects of history, it is a respect which we should be trying to cultivate so that this kind of bullying does not occur. For example with the Hitler comments, there will always be other ways to insult somebody – if talking about Hitler and Nazi regime is banned then there will only be another person that they will be compared to. In other words, it should not be freedom of speech which is restricted but freedom of individuality which needs to be accepted.

One of the campaigns I have seen recently is to get phrases like ‘Bringing home the bacon’ banned – a vegan perspective that meat should not be used in our language like this. But these kinds of phrases have been used for such a long time, they should not be simply banned with people needing to consciously remember which common phrases are not allowed to be used anymore. And this particular phrase is not hurting anybody. To me, when I hear of these kinds of campaigns, It makes me think of ‘Newspeak’ in Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-four’ which was used by ‘the party’ to constrict peoples thoughts by making it impossible for people to have the words to articulate their thoughts and feelings.

By banning parts of our language we are essentially restricting it, yes, many phrases are offensive to people – no matter who you are, we all often experience bullying, whether that is for your race, your gender, your hair colour or anything else, unless we are all identical bullying is likely to always exist – bullies pick the part of you that makes you unique and different and spin that quality on its head. Bullying is difficult to prevent, it has always been around and restricting our language will only make it worse.

People come up with new phrases all the time to express something they want to say, sometimes it’s a different meaning of a word, sometimes it’s a new word entirely – expanding language is an amazing thing, if Shakespeare never made up all those new words and phrases, imagine how different our world would be now, Restricting language is restricting our freedom.

What do you think? Should we have freedom of speech? Do you feel as though you have freedom of speech? Are the issues we are talking about with freedom of speech actually about bullying in general?

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A Chat About Shakespeare

Book Club

In the spirit of the new Shakespeare drama written by Ben Elton, starring Branagh, Judi Dench and Ian Mckellen (Also known as the epitome of thespians) called ‘All is true’ which is out today, here is a little chat about the famous bard himself. Shakespeare is a playwright and poet we all know about, some know of ‘Yorrick’s skull’ in Hamlet, or ‘to be or not to be’. Others know of his plays in more depth having studied them at school, and all English speakers use phrases from his plays in everyday life. But the question many ask is of the relevance of his plays today.

At the Globe!

I love Shakespeare’s plays, I revere his craft and the storytelling; the way in which the plays really capture human nature – the ways in which we think, our own hypocrisy, our flaws, our tendencies and the multifaceted sides of all of our personalities. I find that when I watch or read one of the plays, each time you get a new insight into what it means to be human. I think the quote that really sums it up is from Hamlet when Ophelia in her supposed madness says ‘we know who we are, but not what we may be.’

Shakespeare, in my opinion, is often a little bit like marmite – you either love it or you hate it. However, if you are currently one of the haters I urge you to give the plays another try. Go in with an open mind and if it’s a play done by great actors you will understand it.

My personal recommendation is Henry IV as part of The Hollow Crown series of Shakespeare’s histories with Tom Hiddleston as Prince Hal, Jeremy Irons as Henry IV and Simon Russel Beale who plays a brilliant Falstaff, or Branagh’s ‘Much ado about nothing’ with Emma Thompson is very funny and was the film that got me into loving Shakespeare’s plays. (You can find both of these on amazon)

Other favourite performances…

My favourite adaptation of ‘Hamlet’ is Andrew Scotts performance – if you get the chance to watch it, his performance is so clever with little actions really emphasising the themes of the play even if you don’t completely understand the language.

If you ever get the opportunity to go to The Globe, there really is nothing quite like seeing the plays in a replica of what it would have been like watching his plays in the Elizabethan / Jacobean era.

I saw Almeida Theatres Richard II starring Simon Russel Beale a couple of weeks ago, The national theatre often record many of the live performances which makes it so much easier to see theatre in your home town.

Shakespeare with all its old English and metaphor can make it seem completely inaccessible but I urge you to watch some of these adaptations focusing on all the incredible themes focusing on the human capacity to be multiple beings and how he captures human nature. So many scholars have taken Shakespeare over but his plays are something everybody can enjoy.

This new film focuses on Shakespeares later life in his final years and I can’t wait to watch it, I have heard it is quite emotional.

What are your favourite adaptations?

January 2019 Favourites

Favourites

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I hope everyone has had a good start to the New Year (even if you have had a few cheat days on your resolutions!), I can’t believe January is over already, I always find that January is such a sad month, Christmas decorations have come down (Bournemouth gardens almost looks like a war zone!) and everyone is either really motivated to start afresh or a little saddened because the new year isn’t as they had hoped. Its all just a bit cold and wet really. Anyway, despite some January blues, here are a few of my favourites from film and books to clothes and beauty from this month…

Lets start with movies as due the cold and wetness mentioned above there have been quite a few cosy days snuggled up watching a movie whenever I can get the chance…

  1. I watched ‘The Favourite’. Overall it was a cleverly done film, a very alternative take on the period drama – certainly not something I had ever seen before! Some people will love it and others will hate it – it was a bit weird and wacky so if thats your thing I would definitely urge you to go and watch it. Emma Stone and Olivia Coleman were superb in it; definitely worth all the nominations.
  2. NT Live: The Tragedy of King Richard II – this really is theatre rather than a movie but I saw it in the cinema as I couldn’t get up to London to see it. I am a huge fan of Shakespeare’s plays – particularly the histories- and so it may not be to everyones tastes but I loved it. Simon Russell Beale gave a sublime performance as Richard, I thought he was also incredible as Falstaff in The Hollow Crown. It was a different, more modern take on Richard II, really emphasising the timeless themes of the play.
  3. Mary Queen of Scots – I actually really enjoyed it although it has not had the best reviews from critics (scoring 63% on RottenTomatoes), I thought Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie were excellent as Mary and Elizabeth, respectively,  playing the roles as ambitious women who were torn between their heads and their hearts. I have not yet seen such an action packed period movie with female leads in it and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

When I was not quite in the mood for a movie, these were the books I read…

  1. The Song Of Achilles by Madeline Miller – I cannot rave about this book enough. I read it in just over two days, it was incredibly captivating and a really fascinating take on the Iliad story telling the tale of love between Achilles and Patroclus. (For a full review see my last blog post)
  2. I finished The Handmaid’s Tale; I would recommend it for what it is about but not really for it as an enjoyable or captivating read. It’s dystopian so it is supposed to make you feel a bit uncomfortable and make you question where society is heading.

I have now started reading Millers second book ‘Circe’ which I am really enjoying so far.

I have also had the opportunity to go to the theatre this month and saw Hamilton! Everyone has been raving about this musical from its debut on broadway and the musical was amazing in London – I learnt so much about American history that I might otherwise never had known whilst listening to rather catchy songs.

Talking about songs, here are the new music releases that my ears have been loving…

  1. Florence + the machine, Moderation.
  2. I’ll come to, James Blake
  3. By the way I forgive you, Brandi Carlisle

On to what I have been wearing…

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I LOVE these Office Boots, they add a bit of ‘rock & roll’ to what my sister likes to call my ‘Victorian ghost’ outfit.  They are relatively comfortable but certainly not a shoe I would like to be walking around all day in (they have a pointy toe and have a slight high heel after all!)

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Beauty…

I haven’t really tried out anything new in beauty this month, I am, however, continuing to love the Origins Face mask I mentioned in my 2018 favourites.

Food:

Had a delicious lunch whilst in London at Tom Kerridge’s restaurant – my family didn’t love it so much, they say you can judge any restaurant by the taste of their chips and they weren’t up to their standards! However I really enjoyed my fancy English breakfast style dinner – if breakfast is on the dinner menu, then it is a great restaurant in my eyes!

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Thanks for reading! What were your favourites from January?

Book Club: The Song of Achilles

Book Club

I think I am off to a good start with my resolutions; of reading the books on my ever growing list. This was one of them –

“The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller.

The story was so captivating I couldn’t wait to pick it back up again and I finished it in just over two days! I know very little of Greek mythology and had no idea about this love story perhaps overlooked by the tales of war in Troy. It is such a tragic but beautiful love story between Achilles and Patroclus, all written in the perspective of the latter. Of the little I knew in Greek mythology, I had heard that Achilles was arrogant and selfish, Miller’s story tells a very different, sensitive side to this legend really examining the ways of human nature, about our motivations, fears and hopes and how they drive us to our fates. It is almost paralleled with Shakespeare, following a similar course to Romeo and Juliet and examining the complexities of human nature.

Overall I would highly recommend this book whether you are a Greek mythology newbie like me, or have a passion and are well read in it, I think that you would enjoy this book if you want a story of love, of pride, of fate, of what it means to be a ‘man’ and of war, this is for you. I have, however, come away with a renewed interest in wanting to learn more about Greek mythology and this part of history.

I am now about to read her second book ‘Circe’ which so many people have been raving about recently – apparently it’s a feminist take on this Greek myth. Have you read it? What did you think?

Join my #bookclub on Instagram and let me know what you are currently reading on instagram 👇

UCAS: What I wish I had known

Advice

The UCAS deadline was last Tuesday, and a week on from that deadline I thought I would share my journey applying to university – from choosing the course, choosing the uni’s, the revision and other things to look out for, but before I begin the biggest thing I wish I had known before applying is to look around universities much sooner. I started looking at the end of year 12 but doing this made me realise that perhaps the course wasn’t for me and I had to frantically look around uni’s in the autumn. I would really recommend going to an open day, you really get to sense the ‘vibe’ of the place and see if you could see yourself there. Having in mind where you want to go to university well in advance gives you motivation in your studies too, particularly if you want to do a competitive course or get into a prestigious university. I know some people who had in mind where they wanted to go from year 10, and universities really encourage you visiting from this year too as you can get involved with events they hold or apply to a summer school (which may help make the uni offer you a place).

The courses I have applied for is English Literature and English with politics, the latter is probably my preferred choice as it gives me the flexibility to follow two of my passions but I could only find one university which offered it (Surrey). The other universities I have applied for are…

  • Kings Collage, University of London (I really loved the course and their involvement with The Globe as Shakespeare is the module I love most)
  • Royal Holloway, University of London (Like Surrey, it is just half an hour from London which is close to all the galleries, theatres and buzz – the best of both worlds)
  • Oxford Brookes University (in the heart of a university city, it is easy for me to get home or visit London, the entry requirements are also based on UCAS tariff so there is not as much pressure on me to get a high grade in Biology!)
  • University of Birmingham (I absolutely love the course and they are involved with the RSC, however I have never been to Birmingham and it is much further away)

Initially, in year 12, I aspired to go to the RVC and study Veterinary medicine, however I realised that English was the subject I most loved and enjoyed and that biology and chemistry were subjects that although I enjoyed were not ones I was naturally gifted in.

I don’t know where I will go after (hopefully) completing my degree as there is no obvious route so I’m just going to see where life takes me and continue to do what I love.

My top 5 tips for choosing the right uni:

  • Start looking around as soon as possible
  • go to a summer school
  • Check out the area, this is where you are going to be spending 3 or more years of your life.
  • check the ‘value for money’, check the costs compared to what you are going to get out of your course (for example; whether they offer placements, the number of teaching hours etc)
  • Make sure the course is right for you.

My top 5 tips if you can’t decide what to study:

  • Make an inspiration board / jot down all your passions, interests, what you would like to learn more about, where you want to be in the future, who you want to be etc. (there is a great post about this on lifemoreectrodinary.com)
  • try out MOOC’S and other online courses relating to some areas of interest (future learn is really good or there are a few courses available on the open university website)
  • Try work experience – If there are a couple of career paths you are interested in, try them out and see which one you enjoy most.
  • Talk to friends and family to see if they can give you any ideas about what they can see you doing in the future.
  • Look around universities and talk to subject lecturers, they may enthuse you to want to do a particular course or dissuade you from doing it.

Different universities are looking for different things from you to offer you a place; some are all about the grades only, some are more than happy to except you if you show a real enthusiasm, passion and commitment to your chosen field of study – if the universities you are looking at look for the later then I would recommend really reading around your subject – reading magazines / newspapers, listening to podcasts, watching documentaries, visiting museums, watching plays etc. These are all things you can include in your personal statement to impress your chosen universities.

If you are reading this and thinking about going to uni, feel free to ask about the application process and If you would like to keep updated with more things Uni and study related please sign up to my email list.

Thanks so much for reading :))

Book Club: 2018 in review and 2019 goals

Book Club

At the beginning of this year I set myself the goal to read 7 books (you can read the post here)

I know it is not very many books but In reality when setting this goal I knew it was going to be a little unrealistic as school work does end up getting in the way.

This year I read:

  1. The da Vinci Code
  2. Origin
  3. A Dolls House
  4. A streetcar Named Desire
  5. A Handmaids Tale
  6. Kane and Abel

However half of those books are ones that are compulsory for me to read for my English literature A level so I am a little disappointed I hadn’t read more in my own time (particularly as only one of these were on that list I set myself). Nevertheless I will continue my ambition to read more.

I loved all the books I read, my favourite however was probably either Origin or Kane and Abel as they are both fantastic thrillers and overall much more enjoyable reading. I am a little unsure about The Handmaid’s Tale to be honest, I actually much prefer Nineteen eighty-four.

Here are the books I plan on reading next year (I will set myself the goal of 5, although I imagine I will have more time for reading as I have a longer summer after I have done my A level exams).

  1. Frankenstein By Mary Shelley
  2. To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee
  3. Weathering Heights by Emily Bronte
  4. The prodigal daughter by Jeffrey Archer (sequel to Kane and Abel)

Then the 5th one I am unsure about because there are some more classics that I would love to read however there are some really great new books I’d love to read to – particularly maybe the A Discovery Of Witches books as I watched the first series of the adaptation and I was hooked. I would also love to read ‘Circe’ or ‘Song of Achilles’ by Madeline Miller as I have heard they are amazing.

A Chat about Resolutions…

Thoughts

To make or not to make resolutions, that is the question!

I believe that it is good to set goals and why not make new ones each year? You can set out your calendar for the new year and plan how you are going to achieve the goals you want to accomplish and how you can better yourself. I don’t, however, believe in the saying New Year, New You. I used to because I used to think it was useful to think of each year like turning over a new leaf, a fresh start but now I have realised that you are the same you – just like when your grandma asked you how it felt to be a new age, there was no immediate difference, no change but as the year began to go on and you got tasked with new responsibilities you began to feel older. That is how I think of the New Year, setting goals and plans in place to better myself because I am still ‘me’ even though the year has changed. I also believe reflection of the past year is good, the end of a year makes sense to use as a way to judge your own personal success on how much you have worked on being the ‘you’ you want to become.

So what are my ‘resolutions’?

  • To learn how to cook (I kinda know the basics but if I am going to university next year, I think I need to live on more than tomato pasta or beans on toast alone)
  • To be more consistent with my blogging – I love that I have got the opportunity to post my opinions on this platform and I would love to make the time to fit writing into my schedule.
  • To revise! I have got A levels this year and I really would love to get the best grades I can to get into the university of my choice.

As a student, and no ‘real’ career plan I’m really just basing my goals on my studies and doing what I love and hoping that that might bring me to where I want to be. I also have my yearly ‘reading goals’ to read more books outside of my lessons.

My top tips when making your goals / resolutions (whatever we are calling them!)

  1. Make a plan of how you are going to stick to it. If you are thinking of giving up smoking, begin by saying, ‘I’ll have 1 cigarette a day for a week’ then the week after that by saying, ‘i’ll have one every other day’, then ‘one a week’ etc. If you make a plan you are more likely to achieve your goal.
  2. Be realistic about what you can achieve in that year – if you have never really read for pleasure before and set yourself the goal of reading 20 books you are unlikely to achieve it (but set long term, so called ‘unrealistic’, plans too as Walt Disney once said, ‘If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough!’)
  3. Reward yourself. Every time you reach a milestone, no matter how small, be proud of yourself and give yourself a reward – perhaps your favourite food, or a break somewhere.

I asked some friends and family about what they thought about resolutions…

They consensus was that it is stupid to think that that a new year is the only time that you can change things in your life, if you can’t achieve them any other time of the year why will you now? Many feel fed up of making resolutions only to give them all up mid January.

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you have an amazing new year and that you achieve all your goals! Spend New Year’s Eve happy about what you have achieved thus far, be proud of yourself!

See you for my 2018 review and what I am looking forward to next year up at midnight tonight!