The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith | Florence G

Tom Ripley is far from a hero. In fact he’s probably more of a psychopath.

Thomas Ripley is struggling to stay one step ahead of his creditors and the law, when an unexpected acquaintance offers him a free trip to Europe and a chance to start over. Ripley wants money, success and the good life so much so he’s willing to kill for it. When his new-found happiness is threatened, his response is as swift as it is shocking.

His innate ability to charm, impersonate and subvert make him one of the most confusingly amazing and lovingly hated characters in modern writing. The constant threat and danger to everything he’s worked for make it near impossible not to root for him. Yet not to like him; not to want him to win, which is certainly unusual. Patricia Highsmith does an excellent job of ensuring he wheedles his way into our sympathies. It’s a classic story of someone who starts off with bad luck and is disregarded by society, but who, through force of personality, hard work and sheer determination, manages to make something of himself. He’s had a hard upbringing; he lost his parents and was brought up by an aunt who called him a “sissy”. And yet, he came out the other end polite, self-effacing and hard-working. He is endearingly shy in company and worried about the impression he makes on others. Not to mention always assessing himself, always trying to improve. In all aspects, Tom Ripley is a multi-faceted character that comes to life within the first few pages.

“He liked the fact that Venice had no cars. It made the city human. The streets were like veins, he thought, and the people were the blood, circulating everywhere.”

You can’t ever quite tell what’s going to happen. Patricia Highsmith balances the calm beauty of Italy with the violence of murder in such a way that you feel constantly on edge even though you’re enjoying yourself. It’s definitely one of the most interesting books you’ll ever read.

Thomas Ripley is struggling to stay one step ahead of his creditors and the law, when an unexpected acquaintance offers him a free trip to Europe and a chance to start over. Ripley wants money, success and the good life so much so he’s willing to kill for it. When his new-found happiness is threatened, his response is as swift as it is shocking. His innate ability to charm, impersonate and subvert make him one of the most confusingly amazing and lovingly hated characters in modern writing. The constant threat and danger to everything he’s worked for make it near impossible not to root for him. Yet not to like him; not to want him to win, which is certainly unusual. Patricia Highsmith does an excellent job of ensuring he wheedles his way into our sympathies. It’s a classic story of someone who starts off with bad luck and is disregarded by society, but who, through force of personality, hard work and sheer determination, manages to make something of himself. He’s had a hard upbringing; he lost his parents and was brought up by an aunt who called him a “sissy”. And yet, he came out the other end polite, self-effacing and hard-working. He is endearingly shy in company and worried about the impression he makes on others. Not to mention always assessing himself, always trying to improve. In all aspects, Tom Ripley is a multi-faceted character that comes to life within the first few pages.

You can’t ever quite tell what’s going to happen. Patricia Highsmith balances the calm beauty of Italy with the violence of murder in such a way that you feel constantly on edge even though you’re enjoying yourself. It’s definitely one of the most interesting books you’ll ever read.

Image Link: https://i.grassets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1540771547i/7853133.UY1520_SS1520.jpg (26/02/21)

The Crown Series 3 : A Review | Freya T

After discovering the recasting of the Crown on Netflix, many fans, including myself, were either delighted or anxious about how the brand new set of actors would portray the Royal Family. The answer: brilliantly. The fact that it now stars two GDST alumnae was a minor thought as I binged through 10 episodes, and became so engrossed I finished the series wondering what it would take to become a royal (for those interested: quite a lot), and became lost in the labyrinth that is YouTube, watching interviews with Olivia Coleman and Tobias Menzies, as well as Josh O’Connor and Erin Doherty, ending somehow with a five-minute crafts video (not so important for your viewing of the Crown).

One huge success of this season would be the likeness between Claire Foy and Olivia Coleman’s voice, when they portray Her Majesty. The similarity was incredible and for a split second I did wonder whether the recasting had been a very well executed reddit-ruse. Season 3 starts with Queen Elizabeth, now in the mid-sixties, looking at two stamps, one of herself as a young Queen (Foy) and as her current self (Coleman). I felt it was a nice bridge between the two casts and a quick, yet somehow in-depth scene, exploring new ideas of how the Queen had changed over the small amount of time that we had missed, other than, of course, physically.

Another triumph from Season 3 would be the chemistry between the cast. Focusing less on the relationship between Prince Philip and the Queen as a married couple, we now see development of the connection between Princess Margaret and the Queen instead. Helena Bonham-Carter and Olivia Coleman’s chemistry was immense, and the tension between the two sisters was portrayed wonderfully. We see Princess Margaret feeling overlooked and neglected, as she lacks royal duties. A holiday to America quickly changes to a political mission (not a spoiler) and we see the relationship between the sisters develop.

Throughout the series as ever, we see how the Royal Family, and the Prime Minister, deal with issues that happened in that era. I found interest in Episode 3 in the disaster of a mining slag heap collapsing on the small,Welsh village of Aberfan. Personally, I have always found that this show enlightens the viewers to the feelings of the Queen and her family, and I enjoyed seeing her response to this disaster in particular, as well as learning more about Aberfan itself.

Fear not, however, as this season has a bit of everything in there: love triangles (or in some cases squares), but also a variety of drama, with an underlying sincerity as the audience see deeper into the functioning of the Royal Family, following them through the swinging sixties. It is probable that many people find it difficult to relate to the Royals as they are in such a unique position, but I think a mention to the actors playing the newer royals is very much needed, as they seemed to create a relatability to the Windsor family.

I first came across Josh O’Connor as Larry in ITV’s the Durrells and found his portrayal very funny and was desperate to see this up and coming actor in more films. As a result, I watched the Riot Club, another of O’Connor’s projects, and quickly became a fan, as I watched his appearance in the TV version of Les Misérables, as well. Upon hearing about his new role in Season 3 of the Crown, I became excited to see his acting skills flourish in the role of the Prince of Wales. Many a heartfelt scene in Season 3, the audience grow to sympathise with Charles, especially in his inauguration speech, and I think this is due to excellent writing but also O’Connor’s excellent portrayal, as he captures all the supposed traits of Prince Charles. Adding to this, another actress who deserves a mention would be Erin Doherty as Princess Anne. The last two seasons of the Crown had never properly focused on the Queen’s children, let alone the young princess, but Season 3 was the time for a change, which was executed perfectly. Doherty’s performance as the private and defiant princess was superb, and she quickly became my favourite character. The chemistry between her and O’Connor as siblings, but also friends, was terrific, and their combined roles have caused much anticipation among many families, especially mine, as we wait to see what will happen next between the two siblings.

If you take nothing from this review but a desire to watch the trailers for the show, my job will be done, as I think you will instantly be hooked. This brilliant show deserves many a positive review, but whilst watching it, it is important to remember that it is a dramatization, and not everything is quite as it seems, as with most docu-dramas. A quick disclaimer, if you’re in Upper Five and are wanting to start your viewing of all three seasons of the Crown, maybe wait until after mocks, because I can assure you it will be difficult to get any revision done.

Image Link: https://tommygirard.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/the-crown-season-3-poster.jpg (20/02/21)

Her Blank Canvas | Katie N

A painter creates her life upon her canvas  
she has no secrets, for they are all laid out  
in swirls of arching colours  
gracefully blossoming across the paper 
Untouchable beauty  
and scenes of happiness 
Preserved within paper  
That complete her 
Through paintbrush she feels  
Laughter and tears  
And all in-between  
Created, built and left to dry 
Each day she feels  
Filling her life with meaning 
Paint and memories 
A life fulfilled 
And she is finished  
Paintbrushes banished  
locked in their boxes  
For creating life- another day 
But the picture will stand there  
Years on untouched  
Fading at the corners  
alone gathering dust  
A painter leaves her life upon her canvas  
she has no secrets left to lay out-  
Turns her back on the colours  
Thoughtlessly floating back to her life
of grey

Image Link: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/1b/57/98/1b5798ab8dd89ac7883a3da10df1e3cb.png (20/02/21)

Musings of a Wide Open Space | Ruby H

These moments are now laced with a longing  
For more of the same old. And in these barren winds sway, 
The wild grasses of a month without sun. 
Over the moors lay your absence, 
Rolling under horizon after horizon. 
With these hands I could christen you, 
But the sunsets churn out shadows, 
And each one holds me and asks for a dance. 
Until my hands bear the mark 
Of arching waltzes dissolved in rain, 
Because I’m dancing around the sun rays, 
Chasing these soulful nights.
Over the hill stands a flower. 
Dropping hours through its hourglass.
And gently, the winds pluck it away, 
Slip away petal by petal. 
Sway through the sun. 
Dance into the grasses. 
Pull apart the seconds.

Help me weave these moments, 
Into reeds by a lake. 
And watch me as I wade through shallows, 
Towards the emptiness of the sky’s flaws. 
Watch the petals cry into the water. 
Lean away from this echoed longing.  

Watch the grasses linger in sorrow.

Image Link: https://i.pinimg.com/474x/9e/f9/f1/9ef9f1dc4d56a15e398cef1804a779b8.jpg (13/02/21)

 

Eco Info | Charlotte F-S

The Amazon rainforest stretches over 7,000,000 km ² of land. It has unparalleled levels of biodiversity. One in 10 species on the planet can be found in the Amazon rainforest. To date, at least 40,000 plants, 2,200 fish, 1,294 birds, 427 mammals, 428 amphibians, and 378 reptile species have been specifically classified in the region. However, the Amazon is being destroyed at a rate of 150 acres a minute every minute every day. This is to make space for farm land, more specifically cattle farming, which not only decreases biodiversity due to loss of habitat, and potentially extinction, but increases methane emissions.

Ecologist Tip: Try to reduce eating red meat, more specifically beef. But if you are eating beef, make sure it comes from sustainably-run British beef farms.

Ecologist Tip: Have a go at making an eco brick. Fill a plastic water bottle with any plastic litter and use it for craft projects, or as a way of measuring how much litter you produce, or donate them to projects using eco bricks for construction.

Image Link: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/b1/48/f0/b148f049b24d142d5fa082771d74352e.jpg (13/02/21)

Scrapped | Lottie H

It could only have been a mere matter of hours before a human entered the area. Scanning them, they were scrawny and hunched, a teenager perhaps, loosely carrying an unidentifiable metal object in one hand, and absent-mindedly swinging a spanner in the other. They were kicking around in the rubble, looking for nothing in particular, when their foot connected with a head. The machine whirred on, emitting some concerning beeping noises before his eyes sprung to life. He jolted upright, and turned his head at an unnatural angle, looking at the intruder again. At the sudden movement, a screw slid out and his chest panel fell loose. The boy, as he’d guessed, was pretty young. There were fly-like goggles awkwardly strapped over his glasses with a grimy orange mane growing around them. His face was stained by a mixture of dirt, sweat and grease, and several strands of hair were plastered to his forehead. The thing he was carrying appeared to be a rusting tool box. The paint was chipping off and it seemed as unkempt as the boy holding it.

“That doesn’t look healthy,” the boy said, gesturing the machine’s front. A red light had been revealed through the crack the wonky panel had created, flashing furiously.

He tucked his spanner somewhere in his jacket and began to dig through his toolbox, shaking his shoulders and humming in time with the flashing.

“You’re a pretty new model, right? I don’t have much experience with the fancy-schmancy androids, but I’ll probably have a couple of parts that I could substitute. If you’re willing to try them, that is.”

He paused for a moment, waiting for a response. He moved on after a couple of seconds, realising he wasn’t going to get one, and approached with a screwdriver. As soon as he was close enough to do anything, he shrugged, threw the screwdriver over his shoulder, and tugged at the metal. That was all it took for the framework to fall off.

“Alright, let’s see what we’re working with here… You’re gonna need a little fixing up.” As he spoke, an important-looking something fell out. “A lot,” he corrected himself. “A lot of fixing up.” The boy clicked and held out a hand, and a small drone revealed itself from the tool box, carrying a few cogs. It placed them in his hand and immediately went back to its place, making a low grumbling as it did so.

“Sorry, she’s not much of a talker. Neither are you, really. I removed a couple of her more dangerous features a while back, and she’s still pretty mad at me.”

As he worked, the boy continued his pointless blabber for quite some time, periodically letting out a few frustrated groans and calling his drone out again, who seemed equally irritated. “You know, whoever made you really didn’t want anyone to be able to help you. I don’t even recognise your base design. I have a couple of things you might be compatible with.” He reached into one of his many pockets and grasped around a little, eventually pulling out a part that looked pretty similar to all the others. “I picked it up this morning. Pretty neat, right? I was gonna save it for a special occasion, but…” He trailed off, a mischievous look on his face. Without warning, he shoved it into place. And the world went dark.

Almost an entire minute later, the android woke up again, feeling absolutely nothing different. Everything was exactly the same.

The boy was still there, satisfaction painted across his face.

“And now, you’re not flashing!” He exclaimed with triumph. “I’m not entirely sure what that actually means, but hopefully it’s positive.”

“I didn’t ask for your help, and you didn’t do anything. Nothing’s changed,” the robot spoke up for the first time, already irritated.

The boy looked up in surprise, which quickly faded into a matched annoyance. He let out an exasperated sigh before continuing. “Great, you too. Why does everything I fix have some kind of personality bug.” It was much more a statement than a question. “Did you want me to leave you to waste?”

“Yes,” the android deadpanned.

“You’ll get along with A347 just fine. Speaking of, where has she gotten to?”

The drone revealed herself once again, this time from a pocket on the outside of his coat. She let off an almost-grunt, and started hovering over the boy’s shoulder. “Much like you, she doesn’t know how to appreciate someone saving her.” He shot the drone a pointed look, before laughing it off and pulling his tool box under his arm.

“I’m headed back to the shed. Follow if you like, or if you don’t. There aren’t many options, no one except me comes this far out.”

And with that, he turned and started over the pile of junk from whence he came, resuming the tune he had started humming earlier.

Imitating a sigh, the newly-fixed robot hesitantly followed after. The boy, nuisance though he was, at least had some kind of hope in the world. A rare find in times like these.

If left ignored, neither of them would stand a chance.

Image link: https://i.pinimg.com/236x/d7/1f/23/d71f23e81ad53995632b33123c012e24–edward-scissorhands-aesthetic-inventor-aesthetic.jpg (05/02/21)

Femsock’s Personal Space Planets

Top Tips from the femsock team for meantal health and personal space:

  • If you go to hug a friend, check how well you know them… they may not feel comfortable.
  • Only put yourself in places and locations that you know to be safe or sensible for you
  • As soon as you feel uncomfortable, actively try to remove yourself from the situation​
  • Recognize signs that someone doesn’t want to talk e.g. headphones in or reading
  • A person may be happy with you in their personal space one day, but it may change. Be mindful their ideals may be different on a different occasion or day
  • Try not to invade someone’s personal space
  • Be confident enough to say ‘no’ or ‘please don’t touch me’​
  • Try and advocate for others and if someone looks uncomfortable ask them if they are okay

Image Link: https://wallpaperaccess.com/full/17927.jpg (05/02/21)

What’s inside a black hole? | by Lexy

Black holes were first theorised by John Michell in 1783. He named them ‘Dark Stars’. At that time, it was a common belief that light was made up of particles which reacted to gravity. Michell believed that these so called ‘dark stars’ were very large stars with a very strong gravitational field, so strong that no particles could leave, including light particles. This meant that ‘dark stars’ would be invisible to the human eye.

Progress was not made on the theory of black holes and dark stars until the 1900s, when Albert Einstein started work on his theory of general relativity. His theory stated that space and time were different directions in ‘space-time’. This was then bent, creating black holes.

The current theory of black holes came from John Wheeler in 1967. They originate as stars, formed when stars begin to die, cooling and shrinking, increasing in density, until it becomes a concentrated mass that bends space-time, punching a bottomless hole through it. The smaller and more dense the mass, the stronger it’s gravitational pull, eventually even light cannot escape. The Event Horizon is a point where the gravity is just strong enough to drag light backwards. Past this boundary, light can escape, meaning we can see up to, but not beyond, this point. Nothing can travel faster than light, so if light cannot escape the black hole, nothing else can. However, if you are beyond the event horizon, it is possible to resist the gravitational pull, albeit with great difficulty.

The stark lack of light is just as eye catching as a bright light. A black hole appears as a black void, in which nothing can be seen, not even a slight outline. Space is always lit up by stars, and so a sudden gap in light is noticeable.

The size of a black hole relates to how much matter is in it. A larger black hole contains more matter. Due to the uncertainty relation, a concept imagined by Werner Heisenberg in 1923, some particles are able to escape from a black hole, despite the fact that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. The uncertainty relation means that with sub-atomic, and atomic sized objects, such as the particles in black holes, it is impossible to tell more than one aspect of its movement accurately. If the exact location of a particle is known, the exact speed cannot be known and vice versa.

In smaller black holes, the location is known, so the speed can only be estimated, and varies to a certain degree. This then makes it possible for particles to move just over the speed of light, despite what anyone’s ever been told about light being that fastest thing to ever move. Anything moving over the speed of light has the ability to ‘outrun’ the gravity that is pulling it back into the hole, meaning it can escape past the event horizon. Inside a black hole, the most popular theory is of a singularity. The remains of the dead star, once it has finally stopped shrinking. Atoms, in their common state, are mainly empty space.The gravity in a dying star becomes so strong that it causes these atoms to collapse on themselves, leaving no space, either between that atoms and within the atoms. This is the densest an object can ever become, and since the atoms no longer exist as atoms due to them losing their atomic structure, the singularity has no specific material or chemical elements.

It has been theorised, that in seeing the singularity, it would be possible to avoid hitting it and being compressed to become part of it. In simpler words, it would be possible to avoid being squashed to death. Instead, one could almost swim past it, falling through a wormhole. These are disturbances in the fabric of space-time. By falling through one, you would end up in another area of space-time; a different place, a different time, or both.

Some original uses of black holes appeared in fiction writing long before the idea had been properly investigated by scientists. To start with, they were imagined as ‘monsters’, the villains in a story that would consume anything near it. They may also travel through space, eating anything in it’s way. They were ‘vacuum cleaners for the universe’, often sucking up nearby stars and planets, and the occasional unlucky astronaut or space-explorer.

Later, they were adapted into wormholes, used as portals for people to travel between different places, galaxies and sometimes even universes. Being able to travel faster than light became a common occurrence, with both dystopian and utopian novels using wormholes as the futuristic method of transport. Sometimes, characters would appear in unpredicted places, however star-gates were also made, where each wormhole had a partner that linked to each other, much like a doorway between different sides of the universe.

They were also used as a method for people to travel in time, being able to see the future and travel to the past. This attribute could be used for both good and bad characters, used to fix the future or to change the past.

Featured image: By Event Horizon Telescope – https://www.eso.org/public/images/eso1907a/ (image link) The highest-quality image (7416×4320 pixels, TIF, 16-bit, 180 Mb), ESO Article, ESO TIF, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=77925953

Too Much Space | by Jodie

With no one to turn to as I wake and only my own coffee to make, I make begrudging steps around the cabin towards the table. I glance up at the calendar. Two more months. Almost there. Six months is a tremendously long time and although I know that I should be enjoying my stay, it’s proving to be far more difficult than I could have imagined. A once in a lifetime opportunity, for which I have been preparing and aspiring towards since I can remember, one which has taken a lifetime of training and something that I am unlikely to ever experience again. But the distance is too great, too far and there is too much space.

I rub my eyes ferociously as I attempt to gather motivation for the day ahead. The importance of each and every task which I complete here cannot be understated. Each one crucial and so easily ruined. My brain desperately tries to shift my focus on to the tasks at hand but my heart wriggles, writhes and despairs to be reunited with those whom it misses. The photos and memories which I bear may try to fill the space, but my heart yearns for reunion. The people who surround me unknowingly comfort me daily, but they feel the space. They know that there is simply too much space.

Work has to be an escape, otherwise I remain consumed. Fitness must be maintained and monitored; research must be carried out. The application of what I have spent so long discovering is phenomenal. We work, day and night, yet we seem to have made menial amounts of progress. I am constantly reporting this back home, yet the team seem nothing but satisfied, even insisting we are marginally ahead of schedule, encouraging us to take more frequent breaks. Relax. Have fun. But my mind must stay at task as I bury myself in discovery, experiments and research. Experiencing what is out there and frantically attempting to find more, is what keeps me going. Supporting those around me and inspiring one another to strive for success. However, even when success is mounting, I am hit by the realisation that there is so much we don’t know, so much we will never know. There is just too much space.

I lie down, numb. This evening, the building longing sense within me has overpowered my logical and hopeful conscience. Overcome by what feels like grief, shaken by what feels like fear and defeated by what I know has to be heartbreak. No matter my willing, it will be two more months before the space is reduced. So, what is the point of wasting it? Determination will have to carry me through, else there is nothing. Because despite my constant neglectful thoughts and attempts to bury my sadness within me, I know that this distance, this space will soon close. My arrival will incur an emotional uproar but as for now, this is the time. The time to prove myself and succeed for the good of so many. There may be too much space for now, but I must continue to prove that space itself is not too much.