Grief Carries Bluebells in his Pocket | Holly B

The snow falls like an afterthought.
Church shoes struggle for grip on frozen ground and
Crimson lips stand bold against ashen faces.
Grief has donned a thick black coat and a pair of red rimmed eyes.
He takes his place among the mourners,
Standing to attention in the slow procession.
The air around him tastes like ashes.
Chapped fingers curl inside thin gloves,
A memory falls loose from their grip.
The battered black box is a weight on grieving shoulders.
New hands will take this from them,
Pushing back the veil of winter
And seal with a summer’s kiss.
The bell will toll.
The casket carried, the burden buried.
Weak sun will wash the tear stains from their faces.
And soon,
There will be nothing left of the one they buried
‘Side the bluebells that grow at his feet.

Image Link: (03/04/21)

New Beginnings, An Interview with Mrs H-T | By Jess C-J and Lexy D

An interview with Mrs H-T on starting a new job in an new environment.

What made you first become interested in Chemistry?

I was quite good at it in secondary school and I found it quite easy. I also like Games, but when it came to A levels I didn’t have a choice for Games or PE or any of that. So I picked Chemistry, Biology and Maths and just stuck with it because I’ve always found it reasonably straight forward.

What is it like starting somewhere new where you don’t know anyone?

Pretty awful! I was at my previous school for 10 years, so I was the kind of person that people would come to when they were new. To answer questions like, “Where do you get your photocopying done?”’ or “Who does this?” and “What’s that?” I had moments of complete doubt of what I was doing, why was I starting somewhere new and it’s stupid little things, not how to teach or how to do the important bits of my job, but it’s how to get photocopying done or what do I do if this happens. It’s just really quite scary, but after about 3 weeks it didn’t matter. It was all perfect.

How easy is it to adapt when you come to a new school?

Schools are all the same. Well, there’s little intricacies that are different, but effectively schools are all the same: people come in, they learn, they go. So once you’ve got the basics of that, it’s quite straightforward and, yes, I would say within the first month I felt a lot more settled. When we had our first staff meeting we were asked for anecdotes about what made us feel happy and what made me feel happy was that it felt like I’d been here forever — in a good way. I was settled, I was happy. Every day is a learning day, so every day I find out something new, but I would say within a month it was quite easy to be settled.

‘I feel like I’ve been here forever – but in a good way’

Mrs H-T

Do you think it’s harder to contribute ideas when you are newer than other people?

It goes both ways, really. I am quite happy to contribute ideas, but that all comes from being comfortable in my environment. I think if I was having a different year and I was still wary about what was going on or who’s who, I probably wouldn’t contribute as many ideas and I definitely wouldn’t start an equestrian club! I think because the school has helped me settle so quickly it’s just been quite easy.

What is the best thing about the High School?

Well, there’s lots of best things. I think it’s the atmosphere because everybody wants to learn and it’s not just the girls that want to learn, the teachers want to learn how to be better teachers to make the girls learn better. I think it’s just that everybody works together as one big team. Even if you’ve had a little bit of a falling out with somebody, it’s fixed, you move on. It’s great. So I think the atmosphere is the best thing.

Do you have any advice for students that are about to start university or get a job next year?

This school is very good for preparing you for the future but not scaring you. I think my best piece of advice if I was going to leave and go off to university is to do everything that you want to do but challenge yourself at the same time. Don’t just sit back and do something because it’s easy; don’t sit back because it might be fun; do it as a challenge. Do it because you want to, but get it all done and dusted and out of the way so when you know what you want to do for the rest of your life you can get on and do it.

Finally, what is the best thing about chemistry?

The best thing about chemistry has to be that it’s a practical subject and it’s indoors where it’s warm. My other choice was teaching PE where it’s cold! So you can do lots of practicals and even if you don’t like it you’ll find an aspect about it that you do because it’s vast and clearly is the best science!

Image Link: (03/04/21)

“The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern | By Florence G

The Circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it… It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

Two magicians of indefinite but certainly magically long lifespan – one a public performer named Prospero the Enchanter, aka Hector Bowen; the other known only as ‘the man in the grey suit’ or ‘Mr. A. H—’ – are engaged in a profound rivalry, played out over many generations by appointed pupils. In the late 19th century, Bowen elects his six-year-old daughter Celia, while his counterpart chooses a nameless nine-year-old orphan who will be called Marco Alisdair. These two are bound into a lifelong challenge, the rules and limits of which are never fully explained to them; and for years they do not know their opponents.

There is one thing the opponents do know: they must choose a venue for their part of the game to take place. And that is The Night Circus. Also known as ‘Le Cirque des Reves’ the Night Circus is a place of magic and imagination. All the tents are black and white, all the performers wear black and white and yet nothing is the same. Each tent transports you to somewhere else and each is more confounding than the last. It is as magical as its characters and will bind you to it’s world forever. All its performers have something to hide.

The Night Circus is a dazzling and enchanting novel that you will not easily forget and nor should because it is truly amazing.

The book was first published in 2011 by Erin Morgenstern. It was Erin Morgenstern’s first big hit as a writer and she herself describes her writing as ‘a fairy-tale in one way or another’.

The only response that really sums up the novel is ‘wow’. It is so rich in description and intrigue, making you hunger for every word and where the book will take you next. It is a breathtaking feat of imagination that creates a strikingly beautiful world, in spite of its occasional darkness.

I recommend this book for anyone over the age of 12. It is a book for everyone and anyone; it will leave you spellbound.

Image Link: (28/03/21)

Women in 1200-1900 | By Lexy D

In this essay, we will be looking at the way the role of women has changed between the 13th century and the 20th century. We will be looking at three areas: behaviour and expectations, work and money and leisure activities. In each section, we will first look at the 13th century and then compare it to the 18th-20th centuries. Finally, we will summarise whether things improved for women or not in the 700 years we will be looking at.

The behaviour and expectations held against women, in my opinion, have not changed all that much. For example: in both 1200 and 1900 women were expected to do all the tedious, unwanted and dangerous jobs in factories, fields or at home. They were expected to clean, look after the children and keep an eye on the servants. In 1200, they had to behave how their husbands wanted them to behave, and if they didn’t behave well their husband could sell them, beat them or even use a scold’s bridle. In 1900, it was slightly better, but not by much. Girls were finally allowed to go to school, but women’s jobs did not improve.

Money for women, as with all their other possessions, was actually owned by their husbands or fathers. They worked in very simple, repetitive jobs that men did not want to do. They were therefore required to have very little skill. Even if they managed to do jobs that the men would do, they would be paid substantially less than them. All the work was some kind of manual labour, such as farming. Once they were married, they would normally become a housewife. Here, they would have to look after children and their husbands, and they would also have to do all the cleaning in the house. If they managed to get a bit of spare time in amongst all the housework, they would be expected to either do spinning or sewing; still manual labour that was required to help them live.

Throughout the next few hundred years, things didn’t get much better for women in the workplace. In fact, the conditions of their jobs were actually getting worse and were gradually becoming more dangerous. They were still given the tedious jobs that men didn’t want to do and it was always manual labour. Even by the 1900s, they still had no financial control and all their hard earned money would automatically belong to their husband or father. The scenery had also changed too; instead of just being housewives, women could now get jobs as farm hands, although few chose this option as they still had to do most of the work a housewife would do anyway.

During the limited spare time of women in the 1200s, they were very restricted on how they could relax. They most wealthy of them would be allowed to go riding and most would be able to visit friends, mainly female, and if they were to visit male friends, it would never be unaccompanied. If their house contained a garden, then they would quite often be found relaxing there, sometimes reading a book, if they were literate. Everyone would have been religious, and therefore religious practices would be allowed, although, as it was something that was expected of all people, not just women, I cannot justly say that it was something done for leisure.

Nothing changed at all in the years before 1900, the only freedom that was given was that women were now allowed to play games of cards, although everything they did, they could only do with fellow women. Things may have got a bit better, but not a lot had changed and women were still greatly underprivileged.

I don’t think that any progress had been made for women between 1200-1900. In fact, in certain areas, I think that the status of women had decreased, although only slightly. By 1900, women were still greatly inferior to men and they were still basically owned by men. Everything they did was controlled by men and they were hardly ever allowed to do anything without a man watching over them. I think this was greatly unfair and I would have expected more progress to have been made in the way of a woman’s rights and status over a period of 700 years.

“L’Intouchables” (2011) dir. Olivier Nakache & Éric Toldeano | Ezri M

An irreverent, uplifting comedy about friendship, trust and human possibility, L’Intouchables has broken box office records in its native France and across Europe. Based on a true story of friendship between a handicap millionaire (Francois Cluzet) and his street-smart ex-con caretaker (Omar Sy), L’Intouchables depicts an unlikely camaraderie rooted in honesty and humour between two individuals who, on the surface, would seem to have nothing in common.

‘The movie is overflowing with wonderful moments’

The screenplay cleverly uses the structure of a romantic comedy to frame the (platonic) friendship between the two very different men, fueled by mutual respect, a love of fast cars, and musical diversity.

L’Intouchables is full of little inspirational moments – the kinds of scenes that remind us how much joy can be found on a screen. Whether it’s Driss and Philippe speeding down the highway while “September” is blaring on the stereo, Driss dancing up a storm at Philippe’s stodgy birthday party, Driss acting as Philippe’s barber, or Driss’ reaction to his first opera, the movie is overflowing with wonderful moments. Humour and drama are well-balanced, things never get too maudlin, but, although there are laughs, this is not a straight-forward comedy. It respects the characters and their situations.

A part I really enjoy is that the film also avoids cluttering up the narrative with too many subplots. There are other things going on beyond the development of the central relationship, but they are kept in the background. This was a good choice by the director, Olivier Nakache. Additionally, the use of a flashback was well chosen and gave a very nostalgic feel to the film.

‘This is not a straight forward comedy’

As is always the case with buddy films/romantic comedies, the actors and their chemistry represent the foundation upon which all else is built. In this case, both leads are winners. They “get” their characters, inhabit them fully, and interact with each other with genuine warmth. These actors deserve praise and recognition for what they accomplish: they are the heart, soul, and funny bone of L’Intouchables. L’Intouchables was a huge hit when it opened in France in November 2011. Not only did it do well at the box office, but it was nominated for nine César Awards, winning one: Omar Sy for Best Actor.

Image Link: (20/03/21)

‘A Place Called Winter’ by Patrick Gale | Florence G

A privileged elder son, and stammeringly shy, Harry Cane has followed convention at every step. Even the beginnings of an illicit, dangerous affair do little to shake the foundations of his muted existence – until the shock of discovery and the threat of arrest cost him everything. Forced to abandon his wife and child, Harry signs up for emigration to the newly colonised Canadian prairies. Remote and unforgiving, his allotted homestead in a place called Winter is a world away from the golden suburbs of turn-of-the-century Edwardian England. And yet it is here, isolated in a seemingly harsh landscape, under the threat of war, madness and an evil man of undeniable magnetism that the fight for survival will reveal in Harry an inner strength and capacity for love beyond anything he has ever known before.

In this exquisite journey of self-discovery, loosely based on a real life family mystery, Patrick Gale has created an epic, intimate human drama, both brutal and breathtaking. It is a novel of secrets, sexuality and, ultimately, of great love.

Throughout this novel Harry’s story is told simply, without embellishment, yet with beautifully descriptive writing, detailing the wilderness both surrounding Harry and within him as he searches to belong somewhere and with someone.

‘To find yourself sometimes you must lose everything’

This book is a frank look at sexuality and the battle of self-acceptance in a less enlightened time. It is a story that is both harsh and soft-edged, a bittersweet mixture, a story that doesn’t flinch from the truth.

You really feel like you are there with Harry during all he goes through and with those he meets along the way.

A Place Called Winter was first published in early 2015 by acclaimed author, Patrick Gale. This novel was Patrick’s sixteenth book. The character of Harry Cane is loosely based on Patrick’s grandfather, who, for some unknown reason, fled to Canada. Partick has referenced many books that inspired him to write A Place Called Winter but the book that has always stood out to him when thinking about influences is the classical love story Maurice by E.M.Forster. A Place Called Winter was also shortlisted for the Costa Prize in 2015.

I recommend this book to people that are above the age of fourteen because of some upsetting scenes.

“He was not a scholar – his brain seemed too sluggish or too dreamy to grasp the things demanded of it – but he was never happier than when left alone among books, and would spend hours turning the pages of atlases, novels or tales from history, alive to the alternative versions of himself they seemed to proffer.”

“Bad men you want to kiss are the worst; he had only to use the right tone of voice and you offered your throat to the knife.”

Both taken from A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale

Image Link: (20/03/21)

Paperbacks Vs EBooks | Lexy D

In 2011, it was feared paperback books would die out forever. However, in early 2017, the paperback made a comeback, outselling ebooks and e-readers. The sale of paperbacks grew by 4%, while ebook sales shrank by the same amount. This is believed to be down to an increase in price for ebooks, making them less affordable compared to paper books than they were when they first came out. In 2011, ebook downloads overtook paper book sales on Amazon, which developers had hoped would happen eventually, but never expected to happen so quickly.

Studies have shown that the paperback revival has been fuelled by the younger generations. Many children’s books, the kind that would typically be read to a toddler by their parent, just don’t have the same reading experience while on an e-reader as they do in physical form. 16 – 24 year olds have also said they prefer physical books to ebooks, saying they “like to hold the product”. It is also believed that, since teenagers live in a digitally dominated world, the opportunity to read a book in print instead of on a phone or e-reader gives them a chance to escape from the digital world. When a student’s eyes get tired, whether from revising or using social media, it is a lot more appealing to pick up a paperback instead of another screen. Paperback books provide downtime when people, and their eyes, get tired.

Books make an easy present for anyone. A book can be found and packaged up easily while staying a surprise to the recipient. A physical gift is much more satisfying to receive than a digital download code, saying that someone has bought you a book. Physical books also offer the ability for the reader to easily see how far through they are. Physically seeing how far through you are instead of just reading a percentage written in the corner of a screen appears to be much more satisfying to read. It gives a quick and easy idea of how much is left.

Reading comes with a whole experience, from going along the bookshelves to choose the book, sitting on the floor of a bookstore reading the first few pages, and then tearing a page as you turn it too quickly. You don’t get all of this with ebooks. And I may be alone in this, but books have a very special smell, which again just isn’t the same with ebooks.

So it would appear that paperback books are on the rise yet again. You‘ll be much more likely to see a paper book instead of an e-reader. However, fast readers and travellers may still prefer the ease of carrying many books at once in the form of an e-reader. So this won‘t be the end of e-readers, but it is definitely the resurrection of paperbacks.

Image Link: (12/03/21)

Little Women TV Show Review | Lottie T

On the 26th, 27th and 28th December 2017, the BBC put on a TV series of the classic book Little Women. The television series was shown in three episodes based on the book by Louisa May Alcott. It is a tale about the March family, consisting of the March sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, their father, who is away at war, and the mother who keeps control of the household. It shows the happy and difficult times of the family, the challenges of growing, that love is no silly game any more and the reality of life beyond the safe family house. Although sisters, the girls follow very different pathways, but will always be a close loving family, despite the sisterly arguments along the way.

The characters were all portrayed very well by actors sticking closely to the characters in the book. Aunt March (played by Angela Lansbury) definitely came across as the fearsome, strict Aunt that she came across as in the book. Beth (Annes Elwy) came across as the quiet, uncertain sister as portrayed in the book. The setting and costumes definitely brought the book to life, filling in all the gaps, and making it seem more realistic. In the final episode a large chunk of the book was missed out, skipping out quite a bit, although this was not a large drawback, as the storyline still made sense.

Overall Little Women was great viewing and I would definitely recommend for all to watch.

Image Link:×675/p05r3gt8.jpg (12/03/21)

Religious Changes | Anonymous

With new beginnings often comes change. Whether the change is good or bad, well, that’s up to you to decide. But in one particular part of society over the last few years change has been inevitable. I’m talking about religion. Christianity, Sikhism, Hinduism, nearly all religions have experienced some sort of change. Not only have individual religions changed, but religion in Britain as a whole has changed. Studies from British Religion In Numbers (a website that keeps tabs on Britain’s religions) found that since 1950 British religions have become more diverse, less formal, fewer attend a place of worship, fewer people are in a marriage and more say they don’t believe in a religion. This is a huge difference from the 18th and 19th centuries, when discrimination against atheists was common.

Christianity in Britain dominated from the Middle Ages and although it is still classed as a Christian country, change in the late 20th and 21st century mean that Britain now has a wonderful variety of all different religions.

A major change in the religious world is how women are viewed. Women used to be under the control of their husband or father because of the rules of society and religion. In the Christian community women are now allowed to have religious roles within the church. The first female priest was ordained in 1994, first consecration of female bishops permitted was in 2014 and the first female bishop in 2015.

In Hinduism, it was traditionally believed by some that women should never be independent. However, Hindu groups such as ISKCON and The Swaminarayan Hindu Mission treat both genders equally in religious and secular life.

In Buddhism, religious leaders made women eligible for admission into the Bhikkhuni Sangha – the Order of Nuns. “This opened new paths of culture, social services and opportunities for public life to women. It led implicitly to the credit of their importance to society, and in doing so enhanced the status of women.” Although not all religions have had major change, change can happen whenever. Hopefully, all religions change to become fairer, safer and happier.

Image Link: (12/03/21)

The Waves of Feminism (So far) | Kate J

Feminism, a theory revolving around the concept of equality for everyone, is constantly shifting and developing within our modern world, where feminism in the Western world can be categorised into three, or arguably four, waves: suffrage, liberation, and sexual and gender equality, with each moving to a more global scale. Since the term ‘feminism’ was created in 1837 by Charles Fourier, a socialist philosopher, feminism has shaped humanity all over the world, and will continue to do so in the future.

The longest period of feminism to date is the campaign for female suffrage and the right to vote, which although beginning in the 19th century, took place over nearly a hundred years. The only country where women are unable to vote is the Vatican City, after Saudi Arabia changed its law in 2011 to allow the vote by 2015. In the United Kingdom, the emergence of the Pankhurst family spurred the suffragette movement, and began to be recognised in wider society at the beginning of the 20th century. Worldwide, the first country to ever grant the right to vote universally was modern-day Finland in 1906, with the United Kingdom following over twenty years later in 1928.

The second wave for women was the movement out of the traditional role of home-maker and into the workplace, started in the United States by Betty Freidan’s Feminine Mystique which took the opinion that women in their current place were not fulfilling their potential. This moved across to the United Kingdom during the 1960s and 1970s, and as a result more women began to work, both before and after having children. Although this was met with much resistance, today the United Kingdom workforce is 47% female, with increasingly more women in higher positions. However, there are more men named David as CEOs of FTSE 100 companies than there are women, reported in 2016.

During the 1990s and continuing to the present, the third and fourth waves of protest concern the specifics of gender inequality and bringing these issues to all people, on a global scale, aware that previous movements had a focus on white, often middle class, women. A recent focus of this have been #MeToo and #TimesUp to bring attention to sexual assault, especially in the media industry. The empowering of women and girls through protesting body-shaming, harassment, racism and other issues that women all over the world face daily.

In 2018, feminism still has so much to achieve. As Caitlin Moran said recently in a Saturday Times column, ‘millions of women are being feminist everyday – whether they admit it or not’.

Image Link: (05/03/21)