Yesterday, Friday 29 July ’16, I, along with some dear friends and my mum, went along to The Black Box to see my one act play ‘To Ten’ performed by the wonderful folks at LunchBox Theatre here in Belfast.
LunchBox aims to develop the work of emerging playwrights from the North of Ireland, and provide directing and performing opportunities to local artists.
I’ve been asked a lot over the last day about what it’s like to watch your work and not be involved in the production.
Well, in a way it’s great. I get to do my job and then hand it over to someone else to do theirs. As a writer my job is to write. As a director or an actor it’s their job to bring those words to life. So there is a sort of detachment that you need to have in order to be a professional writer. You can’t be precious about your words. You need to to understand that edits have to happen, sometimes changes have to be made, sometimes the tone is different, sometimes the characters aren’t how you imagined. AND THAT’S ALL FINE.
Seriously. As a writer I write. That’s my job. It’s not my job to police how other people interpret those characters or that situation. I can’t stand behind everyone reading my work and correct their interpretation of it.
And that’s one of the most exciting things about script writing. I get to see it for the first time, just like everyone else in the audience. And that is a wonderful pleasure.
But it’s also terrifying.
I was worried that it would be a disaster. That the actors would be awful. That the director had screwed it up. That no one would laugh.
So I sat, terrified, anxious and sweating like an ice cube in hell while I watched and waited.
And I had nothing to worry about.
There is nothing like that wonderful moment of the first audience laugh. That moment when the words and the direction and the acting all come together in one wonderful instant.
And they laughed. And laughed. Fuck, I laughed, and I knew what all the jokes were. But the delivery of them was all new to me, and it was like a whole new joke. And that, I think, is what it’s really like to watch your work performed. It’s like you are hearing it all for the first time.
Yesterday it all came together in a way I hadn’t expected. The audience enjoyed it, the actors were utterly amazing and absolutely hilarious with a wonderful sense of timing, physical presence and self awareness that enabled them to make the audience laugh and cringe in equal measure, and the director, who is still a student himself and has no bloody right to be so damn talented at that age, really pulled it all out of the bag and brought the whole thing to life.
Honestly, I was so proud to have those people speaking my words. I couldn’t have asked for better.
And so now, a rest. Until next week at least.
I’m very pleased to be able to tell you all that I’m directing a vignette as part of Bigger Than Us Productions ‘Seven Sins of Shakespeare’ event at the South Bank Playhouse in September. See here for more details: Bigger Than Us – Seven Sins
As most of you know I’ve been working away in a little bubble recently and haven’t had much of a chance to play with others, so to speak. So this was a great opportunity for me, and I’m really excited about getting to work on this.
It’s been wonderful to speak with the other directors involved and to see so many people getting excited about Shakespeare, looking at it in a fresh and exciting way. I admit I was very overwhelmed and came away from the first meeting thinking my idea was complete shit compared to some of the wonderfully creative takes on some of the plays chosen. I won’t give too much away, but let’s just say I’m glad I won’t be the one mopping up at the end of the night. 🙂
Each play focuses on one sin, and the variety of plays is wonderful – with some lesser performed plays getting the spotlight shone on them. An at just 15 minutes each the whole event is a wonderful opportunity to sample Shakespeare for newcomers and old fans alike.
I’m directing Gluttony (which my friends this is hilarious given my other food blog and obsession with cooking) and am focusing on Henry IV and in particular Falstaff and his preoccupation with food and wine and women. Hopefully it will be as amusing on stage as it is in my head.
The show is running from the 22-24 September and is set to be a great experience. Hope to see some of you there, and I’ll keep you all updated as we get nearer the time.
Pride kicked off in Dublin and London this week – Belfast doesn’t have theirs until late July – incidentally the parade is the day after my play debuts, so we’re all hanging around for the whole weekend. But it’s got me thinking about what being queer in Ireland really means.
For those who don’t know Ireland is actually two countries and one country all at once – blame the St Andrew’s agreement – which means that you can be Irish, British and Northern Irish ALL AT ONCE – including dual citizenship and holding two passports.
And while in some ways Northern Ireland is amazing, sometimes it is so fucking backward that it’s embarrassing. And when it comes to gay rights the backwardness is not only stifling, but embarrassing.
In 2015 we held a vote on gay marriage – a basic human right, yeah? – in which NI OVERWHELMINGLY voted FOR gay marriage (70%) but it was shot down because of the stupid power sharing executive we have here – who are more concerned with bitching with each other and trying to score argument points on ‘principle’ than any of them are with actual politics or the welfare of the people they represent. And so the DUP (rather ironically named the DEMOCRATIC Unionist Party) decided that nope, they weren’t having gay marriage because it would be an insult to the sanctity of marriage in the traditional Christian sense.
Let’s bear in mind that at the time of that decision Peter Robinson was First Minister – his wife Iris Robinson openly stated that homosexuality was an abomination and that abortion was against God’s will while she was banging a 19 year old and conducting a sting of dubious property deals. But hey, us queers in a committed monogamous relationship are the ones to be vilified. Hmmmm.
When Peter Robinson left government and was replaced by Arlene Foster I actually had high hopes. I had, in a previous life, worked as a mid level civil servant in Ms Foster’s Department and had generally found her to be a level headed, intelligent and kind person. So you can imagine how betrayed I felt when I realised that the person I had professionally admired was just another muppet who shouldn’t have power.
Much as I generally don’t like Stephen Nolan (don’t know him personally, I’m sure he’d a nice bloke but his broadcasting style is not to my liking) I seriously respected him for the following interview: nolan vs alene re. same sex marriage
‘What is democratic about blocking that vote?’
And there we have it, Stephen Nolan asking the question we all asked.And the anser? Well… be prepared to be angry.
Arlene Foster (when asked why the DUP didn’t accept the majority vote from the people of Northern Ireland regarding gay marriage) : Because we have a mechanism to protect the institution of marriage.
Yeah. I’m gonna let you stew on that for a few seconds.
Now, I will hold my hands up as divorcee and say that yeah, my first marriage didn’t work out. But shit happens and we are all adults. That DOES NOT mean that I don’t take marriage seriously. And here’s the thing – I got a registry office marriage. No church, no religion involved, yet it was still a ‘marriage’ – so where does the religion come into things regarding gay marriage when about half of all NI marriages are registry office, non religious services? Not only that, but what about us queers who are religious? Like me? Might be a surprise, but yeah, I take my faith pretty seriously. And no, I don’t think God has an issue with who I am attracted to (made in his image, shall not judge etc) and neither do the 2 clergymen I know well.
Obviously this is a straw poll based I conducted in casual conversation over 20 minutes, but from experience it’s pretty indicative of the NI population in general – NO ONE CARES WHO YOU ARE FUCKING.
I’ll not even go into how Foster tries to justify her bigoted opinion by saying that basically it’s all fine because we have civil partnerships – while completely ignoring the fact that it takes away a basic human right from thousands of people to deny them a marriage.
Now, note the last minute or so of the interview where Arlene Foster very awkwardly avoids the question of whether she would attend a gay marriage of one of her kids – I think we can all tell the answer to that from her response.
And so, ladies, gents, others, you see the shit we put up with in NI on a daily basis regarding sexuality vs religion.
For some reason people seem to think I must not either understand or follow a religion because I’m queer – they are continually surprised to find otherwise. And even more so when they discover I know the texts just as well, and often better than they do.
So, while we are on religion (and sorry for the non religious folks, but bear with me here) let’s look at scripture:
James 4:12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
Hebrews 13:4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.
And is this assuming that queers aren’t faithful? Doubt it.
Here’s the thing, there is A LOT of bullshit bigotry surrounding homosexuality, but it basically comes down to this:
Galatians 5:14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Romans 13:9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
What those Christian Fascists like to spout are two passages of the bible – both from Leviticus, which, let’s be honest is a bit of a cunt of a book when it comes to basic human compassion. But hey-ho. there’s always Timothy to fall back on – have you shaved? cut your hair? eaten lobster/crab/prawns/clams? Got a tattoo? Have your ears pierced? Damn, desecrated your body. Do you wear mix fabric (all you polyester wearers are fucked) or do you wear expensive fabric? (silk? hahaha, you are fucked too). Is that a wedding ring I see? Is it gold? Silver? Platinum? Well HO.LI.SHIT. congrats, your token of matrimony and conformity has basically condemned to you hell according to the BIBLE you fucking preach at me every fucking day.
I have a serious issue with people telling telling others they are going to hell ‘because the Bible says so’ while all the time flaunting their own disregard of the ‘rules’ – if you are going to use religion as a reason to oppress then YOU CAN’T FUCKING CHERRY PICK.
And so, here we are. In 2016 where many members of the population are denied basic human rights because one small group of politicians disregarded a population poll on the issue because they fear for the sanctity of marriage (unless of course it’s there own, where spousal abuse and infidelity are just fine).
And so, while I have pride in myself and my loved ones and pride in my countrymen, I don’t have so much pride in our politics.
Wishing I had something more cheerful.
Today a blog post by a school principle has been gathering attention on the net, mostly because of the massive amounts of STUPID it contains. Seriously, my blood is boiling just reading it. Parents of the kids at his school should seriously be looking at whether he is up to the job – because I for one don’t think he is.
The whole post is about how children should basically have their reading choices policed by their parents because children can’t understand the difference between fact and fiction or some such shite. Basically it comes down to kids are stupid and need their parents to restrict their intellectual growth and development simply because this one guy lacked the mental ability to tell the fact that orcs aren’t real.
The guy in question is one Graeme Whiting who works at the private Acorn School in Gloucestershire. The school’s ‘about’ page has a few choice statements about the school’s policy:
designed to engage and cultivate the intellectual ability of each and every child. The school’s decision not to participate in state examinations means that pupils can continue to enjoy a diverse range of subjects throughout their time at school, and can discover their potential at their own pace
he school continues to place a great emphasis on subjects that help to develop students’ creativity and self-expression.
Which, you know, as a parent, I think sounds great. However, the blog post he made contradicts all of this.
You can read the blog post HERE for however long it stays up. I’ve copied it below because there are a few things I’d like to say about it.
Human beings have a conscious and unconscious brain. Stored in the latter, sometimes deeply entrenched in that mysterious, sensitive part of our brain, lie the secrets of our past, our inhibitions, our common habits and all the events that have formed each of our lives since we became conscious beings. Secrets of our emotions, our passions, and our hurt, can be lying there. In today’s world of transformational humans, millions of therapists worldwide make a living from trying to understand, and reveal, by various methods, what lies within the subconscious brain of those patients who come for help because of anxieties and fears, experiences and memories, often pictorial images of events that helped to shape their lives; predominantly bad memories, which is why they seek therapy.
Many of the current methods for trying to open up our subconscious brain are open to both praise and criticism, but my view is that we should strive, as human beings, to ensure that children are protected during their developmental years from negative experiences that linger within their subconscious and may prevent them from moving forward towards adulthood, unencumbered by such memories, particularly inappropriate images or text that confuses their imagination, as they do not have thinking brains until, at the earliest, fourteen years of age. The child can then move towards more conscious thought as adulthood looms. An eighteen-year-old doesn’t suddenly get a developed thinking as a right, or as a gift, just because in the eyes of the state they have reached adult age!
Ok, I’ll admit, none of us want to deliberately expose our kids to negative things, and it’s our instinct as parents to try and shield them and protect them.
This morning, I recalled the many memories that lie deep in my own subconscious; the deaths of my loving parents, my three brothers, my wife and perhaps even more deeply entrenched are the experiences I had as a young child growing up after the war in a very different England. I recalled vivid pictures of the school bullies, and of the grim-faced teachers as they beat me. I can remember their smelly clothes, and can recall those smells and facial grimaces when they carried out the barbaric punishment that was meted out to many young, poor children, in the nineteen-fifties. I have dealt with those images and memories without the help of a therapist and I feel I have put them away from my daily life, to be recalled if they need to be. Imagination is so rich and important that I cannot understand why any parent would not actively prevent exposure to modern-world electronic gadgets, screens, films and literature that will encumber the minds and especially the imagination of their children. Let beauty reign within the subconscious minds of our children, not fear and disturbing images cultivated by their amazing brains.
I love the first lines of ‘The Endymion’ by John Keats:
‘A thing of beauty is a joy for ever,
Its loveliness increases,
It will never pass into nothingness’……..
I am from a large family and my life as a child was not easy, but today I reflected on the care my parents showered on me, and indeed the care and understanding I received from specific times in my education; just one teacher actually, but it took until I had left school, and the army, to realise that that one teacher positively affected my life, and still does. Such a wise lady!
The more I reflect the more I believe that the concept of The Acorn School was hatched on a deeply unconscious level and it has taken most of my life to fully understand the reasons why I chose to create this beautiful school. Is it not a most unusual school? It may take the readers of this blog a lifetime to fully appraise what the school represents, and why I chose to give children an education based on moral values and individual teaching in each class of children, which enriches their imagination.
There’s nothing here that contributes to the discussion really, but I pasted it in the spirit of full disclosure.
At school I had a passion for literature; indeed I felt that by the age of thirty I had read all the books I wanted to read.
And THIS, this right here, is where the alarm bells started to ring. By the age of thirty I was in deep despair because I knew that in all my life I would never be able to read all the books I wanted to.
Those books were a strong influence and created in me feelings about what should be read by children, who cannot discern or understand, and these books helped to shape me as a human being.
Which basically comes down to how it was alright for him to read them but no one else. I find this view on children to be extremely patronising to be honest. My daughter is 9 and reads a lot so I know what she understands and what she doesn’t. And, and this is the important bit, SO DOES SHE. When she chooses books she chooses ones that fire her imagination, books that have something to say to HER. If she doesn’t grasp something she puts it aside. She’s not stupid.
Of course, there are many wonderful experiences that are also locked behind that door, but what concerns me with the modern world is that there seem to be no doors that cannot be opened by young children. Children can contrive, they can lie and they can get their own way; they can also be wonderful and beautiful if parents take the time to try to understand what childhood really is! Children are innocent and pure at the same time, and don’t need to be mistreated by cramming their imagination that lies deep within them, with inappropriate things.
Children have always been like this. Trust me – I used to be one. So did this guy, but he seems to have forgotten that. Sure, the internet etc makes things a little easier for kids, but honestly, think back to your own childhood – trading dirty magazines with your friends, watching 18 movies that your parents didn’t know about. Children will ALWAYS find a way. When I was a kid we had no internet and all the racy books in the library were in their own room – that didn’t stop a 13 year old managing to check out most of that stock before the year was out – where there is a will there is a way.
Parents walking around a modern shopping centre with their children are magnetised by the colourful and graphic attraction of the new book cover, and often, very little of the text is reflected in the beautiful and attractive cover. Such colourful covers attract children to the point of mesmerising them, and they make demands of their parents stating that they want one because every other child at school has one!
Wow. This is so incredibly insulting to parents. How dare this stupid man suggest that we parents (I’m choosing to ignore that I’m a writer because I really don’t think I could face attack this from both sides right now) are that stupid as to be lured by ‘colourful’ things like we are moronic lemmings. And personally, I would think that if every child at school is reading a book and that makes other kids want to read then SURELY that is a good thing? Why wouldn’t I want my kid to read more?
Sensationalism is the key for marketing literature in today’s world. Publishers and authors don’t really care who reads what, as long as they achieve high sales figures, and they go to great lengths to create those pictorial covers that hide the sometimes demonic, influential and unacceptable words that may lie within the text.
Okay, and NOW it gets personal. Who the FUCK does this man think he is? Is he an author? No. So how the FUCK would he know what we think about what we do? Does he know how little money we make? Does he know how many writers out there have written for years and years before being published simply because they LOVE to write. We are doing a job we love. Just like, I would say, he is doing a job he loves. I assume he gets paid for it. Because he gets paid am I to therefore assume that he doesn’t CARE about it? No. So what gives him the right to think that about me / us?
Gone are the classics, and when I asked my wife to write a reading list for the children of my school, many of the books she recommended were hard to find. A trip to the Amazon website revealed that thousands of great books for children can be bought for less than the cost of postage! Indeed, sets of classical literature, the stories that I read as a young buy, could be purchased and delivered to my door for less than the cost of driving to a bookshop.
The classics are not gone and are still a massive part of the entire education curriculum from primary school to PhD level so this comment is ridiculous coming from a teacher. He knows damn rightly which books are studied. Or he should. And if he doesn’t then there is something seriously wrong.
And here’s the thing. The classics are great. But so are many, many wonderful books that have come since. Am I supposed to disregard everything written in the last 100 years? How limiting would that be for both literature and development?
Last week I saw a mother sitting on a bench in a shopping mall with her young baby, sampling the milk from its bottle, to make sure it was the right temperature and flowed freely. It was a beautiful and very serene scene of motherly care. Will that same mother, in thirteen years time, when that baby becomes an opinionated young teenager, be able to offer the same care? Will the mother sample the literature that it reads like it did the baby’s bottle, check out the screen pictures, the Internet, or will she be usurped by her child who by then will certainly not be seeking sensible literature, but will almost certainly follow the masses, the modern trends, for whom reading will have become a thing of the past. This is the age of the mentally ill child, the obsessive age, the age where celebrities affect the lives of those who have been encouraged to adore them and who wish to be like them, but never can. This is a trap of falsehood for children.
On one hand I see where he is coming from and I’ve complained about a lot of these things myself. But I don’t think that censoring READING is really the problem here – do you?
I stand for the old-fashioned values of traditional literature,
I want to draw attention to this line in particular and I want you to remember it. He said
I stand for the old-fashioned values of traditional literature,
So let’s talk about those values shall we:
classical poetry, Wordsworth,
A hippy who thought everyone should roam the country and that living in towns and cities and general industrial development was evil and immoral.
Writes shallow work that equates physical beauty with worth and life.
Many of his works, such as Hymn to Intellectual Beauty are concerned with the supernatural (which I thought we were against?)
Racist who wrote about ghosts and death.
Rape, murder, incest, misogyny. Great ‘values’ there.
and the great writers who will still be read in future years by those children whose parents adopt a protective attitude towards ensuring that dark, demonic literature, carefully sprinkled with ideas of magic, of control and of ghostly and frightening stories that will cause the children who read them to seek for ever more sensational things to add to those they have already been exposed to.
Such as all the works you have just suggested? Hmm.
What then of their subconscious minds? What then of the minds of children whose parents couldn’t give the time to look closely at childhood; the sensitive period of the development of every human being? Where will this addiction to unacceptable literature lead?
Those children grew up happy because they weren’t hampered by some adult trying to prevent them developing and growing by dictating to them what they were old enough or mature enough to handle and instead treated them with enough respect to allow them to grow at THEIR OWN PACE and not the pace we adults dictate for them.
I want children to read literature that is conducive to their age and leave those mystical and frightening texts for when they can discern reality, and when they have first learned to love beauty.
Except….look at what you just recommended?
Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games, and Terry Pratchett, to mention only a few of the modern world’s ‘must-haves’, contain deeply insensitive and addictive material which I am certain encourages difficult behaviour in children;
And you have a psychology PhD that will back up that assumption? No? Oh dear. Well, have you READ any of those books? No? You just pulled a couple of names of popular books from the shelves of Waterstones and tried to shoehorn them into your argument to make you seem up to date, didn’t you? Hmmm….well then. Maybe you shouldn’t talk about what you don’t know.
Here’s the thing. I’ve read all the books listed and have my own thoughts on them. I the Lord of the Rings at a very young age and I can say that all I learned from it was bravery, loyalty and lots of songs about leaves.
Game of Thrones REALLY isn’t a children’s books, and including it on this list makes me think you really have no idea.
Harry Potter I adore. As a reader and a writer. It was a series that got so, so many children passionate about reading, and the magical elements in the story pale in comparison to what is essentially a tale about friendship and love and honesty and courage and doing the right thing even when the whole world is against you. Kids learn a lot from Harry Potter.
Terry Pratchett I started reading very young and continued reading right up until his death. As regular readers know my love of his work is very deep and impacted so much of not only my own work, but my development as a person. His work is deeply thoughtful, intelligent, visionary. It taught me about love and politics and religion and war and poverty and kindness and cruelty and the reality that is life. Good ‘values’ to have, right? I honestly think that his work made me a better person. And I think you would be hard pushed to find a reader of his books who doesn’t feel the same way, at least in part. So including him on this list is both wrong and hugely disrespectful of the wonderful body of social commentary that he left behind.
yet they can be bought without a special licence, and can damage the sensitive subconscious brains of young children, many of whom may be added to the current statistics of mentally ill young children. For young adults, this literature, when it can be understood for what it is, is the choice of many!
Reading fantasy makes children mentally ill.
You heard it here first folks.
I actually don’t have the words to voice how angry this sweeping, unjustified and frankly STUPID statement is.
Buying sensational books is like feeding your child with spoons of added sugar, heaps of it, and when the child becomes addicted it will seek more and more, which if related to books, fills the bank vaults of those who write un-sensitive books for young children!
So…kids reading is a bad thing? Because that’s what I’m getting out of this ridiculous statement. Honestly, if a kid reads something of mine and loves it so much they go and read someone else’s book then I’m cheering them on. Because kids SHOULD read. And we should be encouraging them to.
And I’m not buying all this ‘sensational’ crap either – have you ever listened to the games that children make up when playing among themselves. I mean, REALLY listened. They are full of magic and princesses and witches and balls and talking animals – just like they have ALWAYS been and probably always will be. Kids have a far bigger imagination that we can ever comprehend as adults. If they chose to read about those things they ALREADY have created in their imagination then so what? Let them. Let them read as much and as widely and as passionately as they want to.
I just don’t understand why an educator would EVER suggest that a child shouldn’t be encouraged to read. Honestly. This man and his view are truly frightening when coming from someone who is responsible for the education and development of children on a daily basis. I sure as hell wouldn’t want him teaching my child with this opinion.
It is the duty of parents to spend time to study such matters and form their own conclusions, not to think that because the world is filled with such sensational literature they have to have it for their children, because everyone else does! Beware the devil in the text! Choose beauty for your young children!
Jesus Christ. The way he talks you’d think we were all handing our kids copies of Fifty Shades. I operate a basic screening in our house – if you can reach it you can read it. Really OBVIOUSLY inappropriate books are on the top shelf and the kids respect that. But in all honesty kids are smart – they aren’t interested in my Val McDermid’s, and they lost interest in the Terry Pratchett’s as soon as they realised that it was one long chapter (hehe).
Book covers are carefully designed to appeal to a certain audience – a quick look at ANY bookshop will tell you this – again another sign that this guy hasn’t bothered to do any sort of research into this at all. Kids books all look similar – bright colours, cartoonish. If a child has read a book with that sort of cover and liked it then it will be attracted to a different book with a similar cover. For instance, you don’t see many books in the childrens section with black covers, do you? But the YA section is full of them.
Honestly. This guy is talking through his hole and I’m actually embarrassed for him and seriously worried about the kids in his care. If I were a parent with kids at that school I would be asking some serious questions right about now.
I’m off to calm down.
Malia Obama is going to Harvard.
Awesome. Good for her. An intelligent young woman has been accepted to one of the most prestigious schools in the world and she should be proud of that achievement.
Unfortunately the internet has proven, once again, to be a horrible place full of bitter, disillusions and cruel people so dissatisfied by their own small lives that they use every excuse to tear someone else down. When this news broke the Fox website was more or less immediately filled with derogatory racist comments (okay, so all racism is derogatory, but trust me, this was sad reading). Some saying that she only got the place because she was black, some bitching about black privilege, some about her parents, others making snide comments about how Obama’s presidency is coming to an end (yeah, because what have all those ignorant dickheads laughing about that in the comments section ever done with their lives) and even some comments stating that they hoped she get’s ‘cancer/aids or one of those colored diseases’ – I really wish I had made that last comment up. But I didn’t.
Seeing those articles was actually sort of heartbreaking – and I can only imagine how Ms Obama feels right now after such a high from acceptance to having complete strangers try to rip it all away from her. It’s awful. Is this what out world has come to now? At what point did human beings reach the stage where we think it’s okay to treat other people like this?
What also angered me was the complete lack of grammar and spelling – I mean, come on, if you are going to go on a civil rights spiel and cite Malcolm X then the very least you can do is spell his name correctly (Her’s a hint dickhead, it’s not ‘Malkim’ ‘kay?).
So, aside from the obvious racial slurs targeted at, and let’s not forget this, a SEVENTEEN year old student (a child. She’s only a couple of years older than my daughter, and the thought that someone could say such awful things…sickening) it raises several issues that really aren’t addressed enough.
Firstly, is it ever really okay to say things like that? Well, short answer is, HELL NO. It’s NOT okay. I know that I personally am sick to the back teeth of keyboard warriors hiding behind anonymity to spout their vitriol. What the fuck has it got to do with ANY of them where this young lady is going to college? I mean, reading the comments they all sound pretty bitter and one could almost think that they were coming from applicants who were rejected. And perhaps that is the case for some of them. I can understand being angry when you have worked for something, but honestly, I really doubt this was the case here. It was just a bunch of assholes attacking a young woman because they thought that she was getting something they weren’t.
And in a minor way I can sort of relate. Last week I got an offer of a place at a university here in the UK. A good university. Oxford, actually.
And instead of being excited and anxious to share the news, I actually kept it to myself. I was scared of telling people. I was actually terrified of other people’s reactions and I didn’t want to give anyone the opportunity to tarnish that event for me. Which, on reflection, is sad. You see, people like me don’t get into places like Oxford. That’s what has always been the suggestion during our school years. Those select few students that teacher thought might have a chance at and Oxbridge education were separated and given extra support and help when filling out applications and preparing for interviews. The rest of us were left to muddle along. And so I never thought that I would even have the chance to apply. This changed this year when, aged 33, I finally screwed up the courage to do it. And, somehow, I got accepted.
I waited almost a week before I told anyone. Somehow I knew that as soon as other people knew, there would be negative comments.
And I was right.
My friends and family were, for the most part, super supportive, in particular a small group of close friends who I’d honestly be lost without. And eventually I made it known to others. And that’s when the negative comments started.
At first it was ‘joking’ along the lines of ‘how’d you get in there?’ but this quickly escalated to ‘sure, they’ll let anyone in now’ through to ‘my friend went there and it’s really hard going, you’ll not cope’.
I had barely had time to process events before other people were trying to put them down. It reminded me of a quote from a Michael Crichton novel:
All your life other people will try to take your achievements away from you. Don’t take them away from yourself.
So I won’t. I refuse to listen to the negative comments. Those people who want to tear me down. And I really hope Malia Obama can do the same.
And for the rest – all those assholes who feel the need to attack and insult – put it back in the box. It’s horrible. It’s cruel. And it has no place in civilized society.
Some great news – starting Monday I will be the new morning presenter on iLoveRadio Northern Ireland.
Assuming I can figure out what all the buttons do and break anything.
I’ll be easing into it slowly – so don’t be expecting too much from me at first. iLoveRadio Northern Ireland is a brand new music intensive internet radio station based in Newtownards and broadcast all over the world (so no pressure, Claire).
But I expect everyone of you lovely folks out there to tune in.
*******SPOILERS ON THE HORIZON*************
(My lovely friend Emma and I getting our Watson on at the special screening at the Odeon, Belfast)
Okay, so last night was The Night – the Sherlock special. And I was lucky enough to have tickets to see it screened at the Odeon in Belfast along with my lovely friend Emma, and before I launch into what I thought about it – can I just say that the atmosphere was lovely. We got randomly chatting to other people who were as giggly and into fandom as we are, and there mustaches, fan teeshirts and a couple of deerstalkers scattered around.
The lights go down and for the next ninety minutes we sat and giggled and nudged each other like small children.
But the special got a lot of mixed reactions and I can fully understand why.
Firstly – this morning there was a lot of ‘WTF?’ going on – and I’ll admit that for a second there was that feeling last night too. But then we just all rolled with it and it was cool.
I’ll be honest, the whole episode was complete fan service, and it was wonderful in that respect. But if you take it as a character study it suddenly becomes much more interesting.
Let’s take the whole ‘it was happening in my mind palace thing.’ Initially it was a bit to Dallas for my liking, but it actually made quite a lot of sense. What we have to remember is that in this dream sequence we are seeing everyone as Sherlock sees them, not as we the viewer see them, or not (as in the novels) how Watson sees them – which made for an interesting insight into how the great mind works.
Irene Adler – Irene Adler intrigued Sherlock, as Conan Doyle wrote about her –
‘To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex.’
(The opening line of A Scandal in Bohemia)
But what was interesting in this special was the interaction between John and Sherlock over the fact that Sherlock kept her photo. John tells him he once saw it, and Sherlock corrects him that John went looking while Sherlock slept. John didn’t apologise and Sherlock didn’t say anything more on it. We’ve already seen in the past how Sherlock reacts when John looks through his things – he just accepts it. And Sherlock clearly knew that John had seen it – possibly some time before hand, and accepted that, and didn’t mention it. He doesn’t just let anyone touch his things – look at how he reacted to the fake drugs bust back in season one – yelling at Donovan to put things back where she found them. So the fact that he allows John this access to him, and certainly more access to how he feels or thinks about Irene Adler says a lot about how much he trusts John. Through Irene Adler we can see the strength of Sherlock’s trust in his best friend.
Molly Hooper – Molly has already proven her mettle in the past when she belted Sherlock across the face repeatedly. And if we look back to then and see how Sherlock just stood there and let her, and how Sherlock apologised to her at Christmas, and then that lovely scene where she’s spent the day with him and then turns down his offer to buy her chips. Sherlock clearly cares about Molly as we have seen in the past, but the special showed us another side to that. Molly as a man, and Sherlock not noticing. Now, this could be taken two ways, firstly, Sherlock probably doesn’t notice that she’s a woman in canon – after all ‘not really his area’ – but secondly, it can seen that, taken in the context of the time and the field, that Sherlock sees Molly as every bit capable of her job – the boss, and doesn’t see any of the things that would indicate ‘weakness.’
Mrs Hudson – Mrs Hudson as we know her is caring and motherly, but can hold her own and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. This Mrs Hudson took that a little step further. Now, we already know that Sherlock adores his landlady – he is one of the few people he is openly affectionate with, and one of the only people he tolerates in his personal space – much as he complains about it. Remember when he told Mycroft off for being rude to her? Or when he pushed a guy out of a window because he’d laid a hand on her. Bloody hell, she was one of the people he jumped off a roof for. So to see that Mrs Hudson isn’t all that different from what we see is nice, but she is a bit more pointed about things, and I loved Lestrade’s confusion over her silence – it was a wonderfully pointed gesture on her behalf – and she didn’t even have to be on screen to make it.
Mary Watson – I’ll admit. I’m not a Mary fan, but the special showed her as Sherlock sees her, or wants to see her. Now, think about this for a moment – John leaves her behind, patronises her and takes off with Sherlock, that was after not recognizing her. When we bear in mind this is from Sherlock’s POV that get’s interesting. it could be taken that Sherlock is as sick with the change in dynamic as the rest of us are and just wants John to himself and Mary to leave them alone. The fact that he thinks she is working for Mycroft, and then the fact that she mentions being involved in a movement for votes, combined with the secret organisation hints at a more sinister side to Mary that Sherlock still doesn’t trust at all – which will make season 4 interesting. Now, when we look at how Sherlock sees Mary – stay at home out of the way, and how he sees Molly, then this takes on a new light. It’s like he really just doesn’t want Mary about. He doesn’t trust her – in the same way he doesn’t really trust Mycroft either – something else that came out in this episode. What was really telling, and perhaps foreshadowing for next season, was John’s line at the Falls : ‘There will always be two of us.’ If we compare that to what Sherlock said at the end of TSOT then we can see how Sherlock wants it to still be him and John, despite his previous words.
Lestrade – I will say that I love Lestrade (and that’s not just because of my Rupert Graves fixation). As a character he is a lot more complex that we initially give him credit for. He clearly cares about Sherlock, and he cares about his job too – to the point where he bends the rules for Sherlock all the time, but will also haul him back into step when he crosses the line. He’s quite fatherly in that exasperated ‘I really want to punch this kid in the face’ sort of way, and he certainly takes a lot more from Sherlock than many people – but also occasionally seems to get amusement out of it. Of course, what sent fans off on one was the amount of screen time Lestrade got with Mycroft – that gravedigging scene was important for several reasons that I’ll talk about more in a bit. But the looks that passed between Mycroft and Lestrade were clearly indicative of their own interactions – Sherlock knows that Mycroft talks to Lestrade – we already know this from HOTB and HLV where we saw Lestrade on the phone with Mycroft and in his office. This scene highlights Sherlock’s knowledge that they talk about him, but also that they are both men in positions of power and responsibility and they are both helping him break the rules. Again. But also, much as I adore Lestrade, he does have his little moments of stupidity which are endearing – like when Mary was proudly telling him that she’d joined a movement for votes for women, and Lestrade asks her if she’s for or against them – this shows that Sherlock tends to see Lestrade as being a bit dim – something that really could have been played up more, but the fact that Lestrade wasn’t overly stupid in this special showed that Sherlock doesn’t really think he is any more or less intelligent as he is normally shown to us, and also with the gravedigging scene it shows that he is someone Sherlock can rely on.
Moriarty – Dear lord how wonderful was Moriarty in that special. For a while it seemed like Sherlock was trying to work out how Moriarty faked his own death, but as always the truth was a lot more complicated than that. Moriarty has clearly been playing on his mind – which explains his obsession with the Ricoletti case. This whole special was about Sherlock learning to let go of what was holding him back – learning that he can’t live inside his mind that’s it’s eating him up and slowly destroying him. He’ll not survive if he carries on like that, and he knows it. But the interaction between John and Sherlock and Moriarty at the Fall was one of the most powerful moments in the special. It showed not only Sherlock letting go of the demons, but also that he needed and allowed John to help him do it. John was the one who kicked Moriarty off the cliff and Sherlock made a glib joke about it – reminiscent of the death of the taxi driver Study in Pink. Moriarty, as Sherlock sees him – and bear in mind we have seen the inside of Sherlock’s mind before – Moriarty has come to represent all of the things that Sherlock can’t control – including himself. Remember what Sherlock said to Moriarty at the end of TRF?
I am you. Prepared to do anything. Prepared to burn. Prepared to do what ordinary people won’t do. You want me to shake hands with you in hell, I shall not disappoint you.
I. AM. YOU. And that’s how Sherlock sees himself, which is why he is still tortured by Moriarty. When we was dying in HLV it was Moriarty he saw, but it was John he was trying to save, trying to get back to – Moriarty taunted him about John. Now consider this as a mirror of that situation. In the special they were standing at the Falls and Sherlock is fighting with Moriarty, and suddenly there is John. Because Sherlock needs John. Within hours of meeting Sherlock John killed someone to save his life. And here we see them, years after meeting, and once again John kills someone to save Sherlock. Interesting that both times Sherlock has been trapped inside his mind with Moriarty it has been thoughts of John that have helped him to overcome his inner demons and brought him back. Without John would Sherlock have been able to ‘beat’ Moriarty? I don’t think so.
Mycroft – The brother’s relationship has never been what we could call loving. That said, they do appear to, despite all evidence to the contrary, be quite close. After all, who else understands them. We already know that Mycroft cares about his brother a great deal – kidnapping John, telling John he worries about Sherlock, then later when he tells John to tell Sherlock he’s sorry, and when he tells Sherlock that losing him would break Mycroft’s heart. Neither brother is good at expressing emotion, but they both try occasionally. Sherlock, in true sibling fashion, doesn’t see Mycroft that way. When we are seeing Mycroft through Sherlock’s eyes in the Mind Palace, we see him as grossly overweight, indulgent, sneaking around employing Mary and not caring about his own life. It’s a skewed view, but not entirely inaccurate. Sherlock, however, is dwelling on the negative aspects of all of that, and not the reasons behind Mycroft’s actions – he is a man who gambles every day not just with his own life, but with the lifes of millions of other people. His job requires secrecy at all times and so he does sneak around and be overbearing, and so Sherlock sees it all as negative and repressive. The Fatcroft (which I totally called weeks ago when we were discussing the fact that there was no Mycroft publicity stills and I bet that we’d see Gatiss in a fat suit – and I WAS RIGHT.) What was a wonderfully telling and touching scene were the last ones between Mycroft and Sherlock – with the list of drugs and the flashback to a high Sherlock and Mycroft sitting with him. It showed that Mycroft has always been there for Sherlock, and that Sherlock has kept his promise to him. Mycroft is a good brother, and I think Sherlock knows that, but just doesn’t want to see it. We already know the lengths that Mycroft will go to for his brother – but what was touching and very sad was how Mycroft blamed himself for Sherlock being high – taking all the responsiblity away from Sherlock – which, if this is something Mycroft has always done, probably explains part of the reason why Sherlock never sees anything as his fault. And again, with the gravedigging scene it shows how aware Sherlock is that Mycroft is there for him and how willing he is to break the rules for him. Another aspect of their relationship is about intelligence. It’s a recurring theme between the two brothers – the competition to outdo each other – from simple games to ‘deductions’ (and here I can tell you that it doesn’t matter who is more intelligent because neither of them know the difference between deduction and induction so :P) to Mycroft and Sherlock bickering over who is the smart one.
Mycroft: Don’t be smart.
Sherlock: That takes me back. “Don’t be smart, Sherlock. I’m the smart one.”
Mycroft: I am the smart one.
Sherlock: I used to think I was an idiot.
Mycroft: Both of us thought you were an idiot, Sherlock.
(from TEH, 301)
And in the special it’s mentioned when Sherlock is cramming knowledge before he goes to see Mycroft. It’s very telling that, despite how he feels about everyone else on the planet and sees them all as idiots, he’s well aware that Mycroft is more intelligent than he is, and that actually seems to worry him – he is not a man who wants to be be less intelligent than anyone, especially his own brother.
John Watson – John and Sherlock have a very complicated relationship at times. It’s a very deep friendship, and John certainly puts up with a lot from Sherlock that no one else did. And it was Sherlock he went to when his marriage was on the rocks (admittedly because his wife had shot Sherlock). John seen through Sherlock’s eyes is a man who is loyal, a bit prone to irritation, but who would do anything for Sherlock. Such as kicking Moriarty off a cliff, and escorting Sherlock home to Baker street after an adventure before he even told his wife he was back. This is how Sherlock sees John, or wants to see John, as someone who will put John first. I think it’s rather telling how dismissive of Mary John is and how Mary sulks about it. It’s like Sherlock just wants John to himself again, and by making it be John that leaves her behind, he is making it John choosing him over Mary. I also thought the absence of the pregnancy was very telling. Bear in mind this is Sherlock’s mind we are, and in it John leaves Mary out of things, and there is no baby getting in the way and changing the dynamic, and it can be just the two of them again. In fact, John’s words at the Fall were really quite sad when we take them as Sherlock’s thoughts. TWO. Not three. TWO. Now, back in TEH when Sherlock returns, he says to John that John has missed the excitement, missed it being:
Just the two of us against the rest of the world.
And I think that’s how Sherlock wants it. Just him and John, back the way it used to be. These are the sort of things he can’t express, so they are coming out in his mind palace but because John is showing that their friendship is important, that he’ll be there for Sherlock. And it’s at this point that we realise how important John is to him, and how much Sherlock needs and relies on him, but how much he wants to John to want to be there. The fact that John once again killed a man for him without a second thought, killed Sherlock’s nemesis, and the fact that Sherlock ALLOWED John to do it, shows how important John is to Sherlock – he wouldn’t have let just anyone kill Moriarty, so allowing John to do it was very symbolic.
In all, as an insight into Sherlock’s mind, this was exceptional, and if you can get past the time travel thing then it’s a great viewing, but to be honest, if you are just a casual view you’ll probably dislike it. Fans will love the references and fanservice (especially if the reaction last night was anything to go by) it’s fun and clever with some brilliant lines and wonderful moments.
And it also gave a lot of fan fiction fodder – that gravedigging scene had so many shared looks that it’ll be fuelling Mystrade fodder for months. 🙂 Can’t wait.
And one of the best things about it is that if you don’t have to have seen the special to watch season 4 – the end of the special basically picks up moments after the end of season three, so if you want to pretend it never happened then it won’t make a difference.
Maybe I’m just reading too much into this. Maybe we were all sharing one massive collective trip.
Either way, I hope you all enjoyed it.
Okay. It’s official. Coming soon is the NEW podcast on all things fanfiction brought to you by myself and the lovely niamh
We’re covering every topic imaginable from omegaverse to OCs.
No official release date but if you’ve been good boys and girls you might find it in your christmas stocking…
Yeah, okay. That sounded creepy.
okay so lots of stuff has been happening. I have two, ye two, books coming, fan fiction has taken over my life and we’ve started pre production on the new film- because weirdly people seem to actually want to cast me in stuff- something I’m not sure I’ll ever get my head around.
still. I know my absence here had been a long one bit pleaSr know I’m still here- even if all the activity is going on behind the scenes.