The Morality of Adaptations

24 Jul

I went to lecture a few months ago. Optionally. Yes, I am that cool.

But honestly, it was good. As part of the celebrations for the bicentennial of the birth of Charles Dickens, the ESU (English Speaking Union) held a “Great Dickens Debate”, which involved 2 lectures and then 2 debates based on those lectures afterwards.

The one that stuck in my mind was the debate on adaptations-whether they’re morally right, what the “allowable” level of change to an original source is, etc. I was put on the side arguing for them-an argument which involved many references to Sherlock, and some mention of how Shakespeare took nearly all of his stories from somewhere.

The reason that I’m reflecting on this now is mainly that next year, for A Level English Literature Coursework, I’m doing Victorian Literature. I made a start on it in about May, and so far I’ve read Villette, and half of North and South (I love Victorian Literature, so I’ve already read a few on the book list, luckily). But it is taking me a long time. Really long; I always have about 5 books on the go but I feel as though I’ve had some of these on the burner for years already. It’s been my experience that you have to work your way into some of them (no jokes, please), and wait for them to bite you (that one you can have) but it’s getting ridiculous.

And so my mind, trained in technology to find a shortcut for everything, thought-why not just watch the adaptations? I mean, they’ll give you a good picture of the book, and be considerably quicker than reading it. At least, some, anyway-I’m not sure how many years I’d need for the 2005 Bleak House. But it won’t be the same. And I know it won’t be the same. For example, at Christmas I watched Great Expectations, the BBC adaptation. And it was brilliant-but it didn’t touch the brilliance of the book. I realise they had to cut it down for TV, but there were bits I would have loved to see in it. Mainly Biddy. And Pip was too handsome (if such a thing can be). It was fantastic-but I’m glad I read the book as well.

Anyone else ave an opinion on adaptations, Dickens or not? (Although having said that, a lot of them do seem to be Dickens…good thing?)


Personal Philosophies

23 Jul

I get told I’m strange a lot.

Or weird.

Or different.

Or told to be quiet.

And you know what? Sometimes it hurts, especially when those people are my friends. Sometimes, it makes me pretend not to care, pretend I don’t know, pretend I’m not me. Sometimes it makes me shut up.

And that’s a human reaction. It’s a teenage reaction especially. But deep down, I know that while on the surface it may affect me,  my heart stays the same. Whatever they throw at me, they can’t touch me really.

This I attribute to one small but powerful philosophy, that’s been brought to the forefront of my mind with news of the recent shootings in Denver, Colorado (RIP). I’m not Hindu, or Muslim, and the remnants of the Christian faith I once had vary in influence and strength. I don’t believe in reincarnation, and I find it hard (and occasionally unpalatable) to believe in an eternal afterlife.

But I do believe that we have to live every day. Not just let ourselves pass through it, not just let it happen, but live it. Forgive others, because there isn’t time to hold grudges. Let yourself love, because love causes more beauty in this life than anything else. Let others love, because you are not living their lives and you do not have their hearts. Read, write, watch, listen to, be with, do what you love. Don’t care when others criticise you. They will always criticise you. There will always be someone who doesn’t like what you’re doing, always someone who thinks you’re strange. Do it anyway. Be yourself anyway.

Because life is more than a gift. Life is a blessing. We can feel so much, be so much, yet we set limits on ourselves so we can fit in with what others feel we should be, or we let them limit us.

Well, let them limit themselves. I want to fly.

And if I was going to be the light-hearted person I sometimes pretend to be, I would finish this post with a jokey sentence like “Sorry about all the depth, but I was feeling it!”. But you know what, no.

Fly free, be yourself. Don’t ever let anyone clip your wings.

The Rise of the Internet Letter

22 Jul

So today I turned my hand to letter writing.

One of my friends is at a Camp in America, and as she emailed around her address, I thought I would take the bait and write to her.

And it turns out, letter writing is really hard. I am a little bit of a techno-phobe: I hate writing emails (they sound so impersonal, and there’s no way to convey sarcasm. Just brilliant), I am notoriously bad at replying to texts or phone calls (honestly, the last time I picked up my phone when it rang I was greeted by shocked silence and then cheering. That I’d picked up), and don’t get me started on Facebook.

But although I dislike it, that’s how people communicate now. But I’ve always felt that misguided sense that somehow, actually writing a letter would be easier.  Yet sitting down with a pen, some paper, and a goal was…difficult. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing (had you not spotted the poetry?). It’s my dream and my goal to be a writer one day. But a simple letter really stumped me.

So, this summer, I am going to send out letters to all of my friends, instead of facebook messages or long, apology ridden texts. I’m going to send them something special, with photos (if our printer is fixed), thought, and hand written sentiments. It’ll (hopefully) have the added benefit of helping me improve my letter writing skills as well.

And if they still don’t forgive me for accidentally ignoring their facebook message, I can’t be blamed.

PS. The friend’s letter that started this train of thought off? Eventually answered by being written in haikus. Oh Yeah.

Becoming British

19 Jul

I am really not a sporty person.

From my previous posts, that probably comes as no surprise. But it is becoming a problem.

For you see, I am British. And that means that for the next month or so, the only item on the news, the only story in the newspapers, the only think that would appear to be happening in the world right now…is the Olympics. Don’t get me wrong, I am excited. But more in the kind of “Ooh, London looks nice! Ooh, have we won something?” way than either the fiercely patriotic or sports obsessed ways that seem to be the only “acceptable” ways to be interested in the Olympics.

But then, seeing as I am British (had you got that yet?), the fact the Olympics are here means that I don’t have the chance of seeing another country (not that I would have gone anyway, but it’s the idea…). However, most people aren’t British (I know, I am just too good at Geography), and so don’t know our quirks. They can have the pleasure of seeing Britain (or more precisely, England. Sorry Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) for the first time. So, here today for those of you who are not yet indoctrinated into the cult, I have compiled a list of…how to pretend you’re (part) English (again…sorry).
1. Tea.
This is somewhat over-exaggerated in stereotypes of the English-but they aren’t far off. Honestly, tea addiction is reckoned to be at something like 12 cups per day. When my grandparents came over to stay a while ago, I was making at least 15 cups a day. Tea matters. But don’t go to fancy lengths like you see in those Pinterest graphics, which feature chic cartoon characters brewing their tea for exactly 3.5 minutes. No one does that. Plonk the tea bag in the cup, pour water over, add milk (or switch the last two round if you must), squeeze tea bag, remove and drink. Done.
2. Cakes.
This one covers Afternoon tea as well. Again, an over-exaggeration…but then we do have a cake named after one of our Queens (Victoria Sponge. If you don’t know what I’m talking about-and I pity you if you don’t-go and make one. Now). Other biscuits of choice include the Hob-Nob (oaty magnificence, sounds a bit strange), Chocolate Digestive (now you can get Cadbury ones as well. Two birds, one stone), and…well, quite a lot of others (Shortbread!), but if you’re going for the full stereotype, try a Rich Tea. The name sets you up for a huge disappointment; these are dry and nearly flavourless. Until you dunk them in tea. Then they taste like…well, more tea actually. But it’s the idea.
3. The Accent
To me, American/Australian/Any other country’s accents sound wrong. As I’m sure the English accent (see my earlier post) does to you. But if you want to pass yourself off, it’s the only way. Watch a lot of BBC drama and try not to use expressions you’ve heard. People do say “Bloody Hell!”, but if you even try “Guv’nor”, you will be stared at in a horrified manner.
4. Queuing
No, we don’t love queuing. But we do it anyway. Sometimes you just have to stand in a line for half an hour to get anywhere. It’s how things work. And there are a lot. So bite your lip and prepare to frown disapprovingly at queue-jumpers for the next 30 minutes. Bet you’re looking forward to it already.
So that was your first quick-stop guide into fooling people that you’re English. And if it isn’t fully accurate, at least you can now explain to others the wonder that is a Hob Nob.
Me? I’ll be crunching my way through them for the next month. Happy July!

Poetry in Progress

18 Jul

I’m not sure how many people read the “About” section of this blog (lie: I check the Site Stats page more regularly than is healthy), but I’m fairly certain that I mention in that my love of poetry. This is actually quite a recent thing; I wrote my first poems around a year ago but decided they were rubbish and left it for short story writing. But in March this year I wanted to start writing more again (I fell out of practice with school work and the internet), and I didn’t have time for short stories (although I did start a screenplay and a script-explain the logic of that decision to me please?). So, I started writing poems. And as of today I’ve written 25-of which about three are acceptable for eyes not genetically linked to mine.

Anyway, to cut what could otherwise be a very, very long post short, here is one of my poems. It’s a more recent one, and I know it’s not perfect, but it was one of my first attempts at getting a structured rhyme scheme (it’s so tempting to write poems stream of conciousness, even when you know it doesn’t fit right). And you know what, I am quite proud of it.

It’s also appropriate for the setting (you’ll see).

Living on the Internet

Living in a technical generation

No time for talking, or a toast and tea,

Only for digital stimulation

Which won’t fulfil you nor please me.


The clinical coldness of LCD,

The scraped bare virtual inbox.

Not a bone left, emotionally clean

And no warmth in pixel crosses.


Beeping beeping everywhere, but no voice.

Buttons to accept everywhere, but no choice.

Pay be cash, by credit, by card-

Never mind that you’ve already paid with your heart.