Shaken, Not Stirred

Some people, are born to be Bond.

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I give you, Mr Hiddleston and Mr Cumberbatch.

Some people are not…

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…such as the Galvally Gals.

Normally this character is played by a silent, moody and yet charming actor, who can make the most pansy martini sound like the Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnston’s, tipple of choice. However, heroes nowadays no longer conform to the stereotypical ‘type’ of Bond. Heroes are now flawed, with wounds exposing them and histories that would make Ian Flemming reach for the pansy martini.

That is because Hollywood has tapped into a growing realisation that, and get this, all humans have flaws, choices and self-responsibility. Shocking!

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This went through my mind as soon as I wrote that sentence. I apologise if the book-nerd factor has offended you. Please send your requests to Pemberly, Derbyshire, circa 1798.

This is what we in the west like to call ‘free-choice’.

Flemming’s villains always seem as if they are the worst people on the planet. Now we like to say that they were making their own free-will choices, and blow the rest of humanity. But I would say that the villains in Bond stories are the worst because they know there is evil in the world, take advantage and watch the cities burn and the people die, because let’s face it, we will all die at some point.

This is realism.

This is not an essay, promise.

But as there is no vlog for today, I thought that I would give you a post on something that happened to me this afternoon.

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A nice aesthetic picture to keep interest flowing.

Today isn’t a people day for me.

These days happen now and again. It’s sort of like scarring from an operation, or the ache of a bad sports injury; the pain has stopped but there will sometimes be a little twinge reminding you of what your body has been through. I am a melancholic, introspective person naturally, so depression and anxiety are my injury. The lack of people skills in general, coupled with the ability to hide from all social groups at short notice, is my scar [woe is me tirade over].

As a Christian, it sucks a bit whenever these days come over me. I love having fellowship with all my b’s and s’s in Christ, worshipping the only God I want to worship (having ruled out options such as myself, knowledge, celebrity, my boyfriend and the world in general) and generally having a bit of fun with people who love God and love others.

Normally on days like these, I would stick on a bit of Louie Giglio while doing something that completely relaxes me but Daddy recommended Tim Keller today. Usually, I would say ‘Ok Daddy’, then go on trying to find a Louie talk which I haven’t listened to before. Today, for some ‘strange reason’ I thought that I’d listen to my Dad.

I typed “Tim Keller sermons” into my search engine.

Oh.

My.

Days.

Who said that God doesn’t put things together in His perfect timing?

The first sermon came on. I didn’t even look at the title. Tim Keller is, well, Tim Keller. All of what he says is pretty good.

I needed to hear this talk, especially today.

The title of the sermon was ‘Does God Control Everything?’ and I will not lie to y’all, the inner Presbyterian whom I have been trying to suppress, really did leap out at this point – #predestinationdoctorinerighthererightnow.

Keller said that Western ideology is divided between these two states: free (unlimited) choice that will make your future, or realism.

But as Westerners we find it really hard to grasp the fact that we have both free-choice and a pre-determined future. How mind melting is that to think about, while making a gluten-free and dairy free sticky toffee pudding on a Sunday afternoon?

Romans 8 vs 28 says that ‘We know that for all those who love God [he makes] all things work together for those who are called according to His purpose.’

I will not give you his sermon (plagiarism and all that craic yeno) but I will try and give a summary of what he said:

1 – That we can be assured…

2 – Why we can be assured…

3 – How we can be assured…

by the message that God has given us both free-will/choice and pre-determined our steps because He loves us all. And I mean, all.

Please, bear with. I am getting my head around it too.

Culture says that it is one or the other, but God says that life is both. He has created us to have our own independent thought and already set us along paths that He has complete control over.

As to our own Western thought, we need no more example of our own free-choice than our world today. Our environment is not very healthy, our governments are not thriving, our culture says ‘Hey you! Yes you! You need to be thinner/curvier/healthier/cleverer/wittier/better/stronger/faster…’ All of this comes down to our own personal choice. Do we act on these messages that the world sends us, do we shut them down, do we even ‘revolt against’ them? Do we care about this or this? Shall we play x, y or z? Shall I blow my student finance in one week, or buy the occasional book from Waterstones [A very middle class problem in itself there]?

This is all exists because when we were designed, we were not made as robots, but as people. Humanity is complex and part of that is because we all make choices internally and externally that effect every single aspect of our lives.

If I am the only one to ever think, with my free-mind, that we all have an allocated ‘lot’ that will fall on you no matter what choices you make, then this is just a thought put onto the void: If, like God says, we do have a path that is fixed, then I can just sit back, drink my soya-milk cortado and watch everyone else panic from the sidelines. Right?

If however, the two ideas here, free-choice and realism, are symbiotic what does this look like?

Keller turns here to Acts 27 where Paul & co. were on their way to Rome, to stand before Caesar, charged with preaching the gospel, when a big storm came along and put the ship in great danger of being sunk. In vs21 Paul told the crew God had sent him a message, no one would die or even become harmed on this ship. Now, in the Old Testament, there was a law that if a prophet’s prophecy was inaccurate or unfulfilled, then said prophet was to be killed – sound familiar? Paul would have been 400% assured in God’s word/plan/love in order to prophesy like that in a life and death situation.

This is an example of predetermination of man’s steps by God. Following? Brilliant! Because I am proof reading this and I am having to concentrate, greatly.

But, as Keller points out, in vs30-31 Luke records that there were some of the crew that wanted to let the lifeboat down into the water. Paul told them ‘Unless [you] stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.’

What? But you said…

Tim,

Tim: ‘This doesn’t make sense to us does it? If God has already told Paul the plan, then who cares if they get off the boat or not? Who cares if they get into the lifeboat? They could go snorkelling, right? But because we think that if the moment is fixed, it’s fixed despite choices. Paul here has a biblical understanding here that our do choices matter but they don’t determine our future. He is not passive because he knows what is going to happen, but he is also not paralysed because the choices don’t determine the future.’

Paul is not passive or paralysed. He is dynamic in his faith.

He is dynamic because God has a love so big that we are constantly moving around in it, trying to acquaint ourselves with the surroundings.

God doesn’t love you because you have a,b,c or d. He loves us because he loves us.

Paul is shaken, moved into action by his faith in God while in the world.

He is however not stirred into worrying and fretting about the future.

So many times I find myself thinking about what will be next; job to save for post-grads, get married, do post-grads, get a job, have some money, live a good life, have kids,dogs,cats,animals,kitchen,clothes…

It’s all self-worship anyway, making myself the centre of my world, but why do I worry about the next step, when I know that God has my path laid out?

Is it because I want to do English post-grads that may take me down a secular job route, away from good-little-Christian primary teaching [not being mean or anything because all teachers have my utmost respect — they deserve OBE’s and high salaries because they teach kids to reach for the stars, to hope, to plan and to dream]?

Why have we got a problem with saying to our Father, who gives no bad gifts (James 1vs17), ‘Dad, can I have this? Is that OK with you?’

We just have to ask our Father for anything and He will either give it to us, if the object is good, or say ‘No, sorry that will not do you any good. Trust me on this’ if what we want will harm us in the end.

***

There are some people who are meant to be friends.

Here we have the Galvally Gals to the right and a slightly embarrassing picture to the left of myself and big cuz Antonia in matching pinafores. We have been friends all of our lives and despite the small problem that she lives in Abergavenny, Wales, conversation has always had a good flow and goodbyes are never easy. I will embarrass her here – not that I think she will be reading this or anything – and say that she is the first best friend I ever had and will always be up near the top in my eyes.

Whereas in Galvally, well, the banter never stops and as you may have guessed from the vlogs, we laugh almost every minute of everyday. I will steadfastly say that the reason that we are such good friends is because of the sistership we have in Christ. This is special for a whole heap of reasons, but I will single out one that is relevant now. The Spirit stirs each of us up, to shake each other. Constant reminders of God’s love pour through the flat from it being week 11 and there have been zero arguments (huzzah), to the little encouraging verses that are littered around the coffee table written in v hipster calligraphy, to the graceful treatment we have for each other…

Point is, we have no reason to be nice to each other, apart from the love of God that unites us as sisters in Christ.

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If God is love and sent His Son as atonement for our inherent cancer of evil (sin) to prove His love for us, then what’s the catch? If He is going to look after us and keep us from harm, why do we run away from the idea of God having total control of our lives?

Christmas marks Christ’s arrival as a baby, from a virgin’s womb, to a world being torn apart by this cancer. If God came to the earth in the form of a baby, to live and die, both as equally man and God, then why do Westerners think that the concept of free-will means that the future is unset and completely changeable? Or that the future is set and man’s will means nothing?

Why can’t we do both?

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“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.’

That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.

He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell.

You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

– C.S. Lewis

See you tomorrow!

Lots of love,

Nesta

 

2 [ d e c e m b e r ] 2 0 1 6

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Hello world!

It is the 2nd of December and our Galvally Gals first vlogmas up on YouTube (huzzah!!!)

It may seem a little frivolous to make a video about heading down to see some fairy lights in Ballymena, and even worse to have it put together by someone who doesn’t know what they are doing, but hey, we deserved a flat road trip. Running away from essays and deadlines and exam prep is something we all can relate to at some point in all our lives.

I want to leave you, before the video goes up for 24 hours only, with a little thought.

Christmas is about Christ coming to earth and the celebration around this joyous occurrence. In today’s culture we all hurry around, telling each other that Christmas is a time for joy, love, the coming together of family and giving each other presents.

In other words, fellowship.

So, no matter what background you come from, or how you see Christmas, I hope that you see that it was not born out of a materialist culture, nor did it come from a sudden need for human company in the middle of winter. Christmas is a celebration and whether you like it or not, the reason for celebrating is God’s answered promise throughout the Old Testament.

Hope you all enjoy the bants from the vlog and we will see you tomorrow!

Love,

The Galvally Gals

 

Galvally Gals’ Vlogmas 2016

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Good morning one and all!

Today is a very exciting day in Number 4 Galvally Avenue, for it is December 1st! That means that it is only 24 days until Christmas Day, the closest that it has been for an entire year.

Now, because we are all very busy with exams and assignments, we thought that some distraction was needed to help us.

Therefore we will be doing our own form of vlogmas this year. Not only will this help manage the stress levels, we thought, but would give us some time toimg_6376 think about why we celebrate Christmas in the first place.

The vlogs will be spread over this site and YouTube, as we can’t always be walking around with a camera in our face… do you think our lecturers would approve?

Over the next 16 days we are going to be capturing some of the banter that occurs whenever we are all together. Therefore, to save us from the shame of revealing just how bonkers we are, the vlogs on YouTube will be put up for only 24 hours. After that, well you will have missed some middle-class banter my friend.

See you tomorrow!

The Galvally Gals

 

 

Bookish: North and South

As you may be aware, I love a good book. Or at least, a good story.

What better feeling is there than cuddling up on the sofa for an afternoon, knowing that these sheets of paper in your hands will influence your emotions, thoughts and coffee intake?

The short answer; there is no nicer feeling.

On a recent trip to London, I was deprived of these trusty home comforts during an afternoon’s reading. Nevertheless, it was an experience, however modest, that I will always treasure as special.

After a beautiful afternoon spent in the midst of Covent Garden, I decided to call into Waterstones, pick up a book and then find a park or coffee shop to sit in and loose myself for a few hours.

If, for some unfortunate reason, you have never set foot in a bookshop, then you are missing out.

Traditionally there is a higgle-de-piggildy type of organised chaos. Walls are lined with yards and yards of books, with titles ranging from books discussing the fall of the Roman Empire, to the proper way to reorganise bookshelves in your new apartment, to the black backed Penguin Classics.

Stepping amidst this oasis of book-lovers, I immediately started to scan the shelves, looking for a story to spend the afternoon revelling in.

Dragging myself out ten minutes later, I had in my hands one novel and one play; North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell and (oh joy of joys!) Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling and Jack Thorne.

I picked up North and South because over the past few months I had become increasingly interested in 18th and 19th century literature in my own university work. Despite the fact that I would love to tell you that the plight of the working class and their everyday struggle was my main motive in purchasing this book, I would be too precocious for words.

In reality it was this story’s central relationship between protagonist Margret Hale and the tall, dark and broody Mr. Thornton, that made this book an absolute need on my wish list.

Not going to lie to you either, I also had my interest peaked by Richard Ermitage’s beautifully detailed portrayal of Mr Thornton in the BBC’s production of this drama.

As for The Cursed Child, does one really need an excuse to delve into the world of Harry Potter?

Wandering around for somewhere to read, I found myself walking past the British Museum, around the back of Bedford Square and eventually found myself on the edge of Camden, in Russell Square Park. It was here then, that I settled down on a park bench to immerse myself in Gaskell’s imagination.

Until it started raining.

Then, Starbucks.

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The story of North and South follows a young woman, Miss Margret Hale, from her happily situated life, divided between her Father’s parish in picturesque Helstone, to the residence of her Aunt Shaw in Harley Street. Margret, who despite growing up beside her far prettier cousin, Edith, is the heroine who is accessible to all level-headed female readers; clever, practical, striking in her manner and equipped with a keen sense of wit. For this Margret becomes the much easier person to like of the two. Edith gets all she wants, including a marriage based on love, but Margret’s good sense makes her much easier to like.

Over the course of the story, Margret’s circumstances change with Edith’s marriage to a young and attractive Colonel Lennox and her own father’s decision to move his small family of three up from the southern hamlet of Helstone, to the cold, northern industrial town of Milltown.

It is from here that we really see what Margret’s character is full of. She shoulders responsibility of the household whenever her mother’s health deteriorates, meeting every new person and challenge with the same poise and ladylike ability that epitomises the ‘new woman’ heroine.

Unfortunately this ‘new woman’ status was not always well sought by wider society in the Victorian era. Gaskell therefore, had to introduce a plot line to sell her work.

Enter John Thornton.

It could be argued the whole narrative is about Margret and her relationship with Mr. Thornton. However, in saying this, some readers may be encouraged to think that this book is just a repeat of Pride and Prejudice’s love-hate relationship between Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy.

This is not the case in any shape of form.

While Margret’s friendship with Thornton was rocky at the best of times, the key fact was that they remained friendly towards each other. There was not a massive emotional upheaval at the first proposal, at least on Margret’s side, and neither was there a major excuse for her to reject Thornton’s advances, there rules out the George Wickham of the story.

Her father was even Mr Thornton’s tutor in the Classics, spending evenings talking about Ovid, Homer’s Iliad and Aristotle’s Poetics. This is a far cry from Darcy’s own education at Cambridge.

Thornton’s depth of character and utterly honest nature is so refreshing. This coupled with glimpses into his internal monologue creates a dimension to his character, which I had rarely come across in Victorian literature before. The feelings, which he holds for Margret, the friendship between himself and his friend Mr Hale, the relationship between even his own mother and sister, were shown through small intersections of Thornton’s internal monologue.

By creating Margret and Mr Thornton’s dynamic, Gaskell developed them into such colourful characters, which make this novel a delight to read. Not only do they depict the archetypal educated middle class of the Victorian era, but the relationship between the two allow the surrounding social issues to be given an appropriate platform to discuss these issues on.

If this is one of Gaskell’s novels that has been pushed out of the limelight, in favour of The Cranfield Chronicles, then this in my attempt at bringing it to the centre stage.

Gaskell, who was great friends with Charlotte Brontë, managed to move away from the gothic romanticism that Jane Eyre drips with. Maybe she avoided this style in North and South because she was a happily married woman who saw more in the world than her friend did. Yet despite the social awareness that permeates throughout Gaskell’s work, the relationships are often at the centre of her work. Ultimately, relationships between different people will always provide a relational subject that the novel’s audience can relate to.

This book is a dream to read. It is not always easy to read, this I grant you. The language can trip you up sometimes and yes, now and again you need to go back over certain paragraphs.

But that is just in the beginning five, ten chapters at most.

After that, you’ll just want to read the book over and over again once you finish. The plot lines are thick, the suspense is rife, the descriptions unimportant in the vast scale of character descriptions.

On a scale of one to ten, I would put North and South at a high eight.

 

I hope you enjoyed this new type of post. Yet again I will try and write more frequently, despite being back into uni and all of my reading lists.

Nesta xx

 

 

 

 

Lest Old Acquaintance Be Forgot

Hello friends,

This is pretty self explanatory really. I am setting up a new section to this already eccletric little corner of the internet, just because I can. And because I love talking about books. And reading them. And writing about them…

Basically I love books.

So, over the next while, as uni kicks off and life changes into a faster gear again, I have decided to help myself by doing a weekly post about books.

If you like these posts, I’ll contain my blog to book reviews and all things bookish, sallying away from the random and the politics.

See you soon then,

Love,

Nesta xx

Tick Tock

There is a famous line in the history of American television drama; ‘Decisions are made by those who show up’. This show talks about freedom of speech, how we as a people in a democracy have a responsibility to take actions that determine how our country functions and especially, how we are privileged that no matter what our gender, colour, beliefs, ways-of-life and education are, we are each given the use of our voice and a vote.

Of course, I am talking about The West Wing.

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As I am home from uni and with some time on my hands, I am reacquainting myself with Josh, Toby, Leo, C.J. and President Bartlett, along with John le Carré’s exquisite work, The Night Manager. Nothing like a bit of light reading and entertainment to get you into a summery mood. Yet, they both have been excellent food for thought during this never ending, voyeuristic experience of the lead up to the EU referendum.

Don’t worry, I am not here to scare monger, nor am I here to reveal to you my vote, thanks to the 1872 Secret Ballot Act. This is for two reasons: frankly it is no-one’s business to pry or poke anyone into revealing their voting tendencies. Feel free by all means to shout your allegiances from the roof tops if you’re comfortable with that, but there is no longer any legal requirement to do so. Secondly, I love having an impartial debate and forum to discuss ideas, so let’s just bear this in mind as we continue on from this preamble.

The line ‘decisions are made…’ has several roots, Truman being one.

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Harry S. Truman – 33rd President of the Unites States of America

I however am not going to get into the particulars of it’s source. As far as this is concerned, Jed Bartlett, a fringement of Aaron Sorkin’s brilliant mind, said it. It is one of the most relevant points that was ever made regarding voting, not only in The West Wing but in the whole of democratic politics, in the west, over the past twenty years.

In my notes for this post, I ended up comparing the function of the quote in a democracy, with going to the local deli to choose a sandwich. Bathos? Yes. Relevant? Of course.

Bearing in mind they were written around 11pm last night and I was rambling to myself, this next bit may not make much sense. Bear with me though.

If you are in the middle of a hard day’s work and you fancy some food, do you go to the deli and choose what you want or ask someone who is already going to pick you up something. The chances are that you will go, pick, choose and eat the sandwich you decide upon, if you’re anything like me, because sending someone else to pick out my food is a big risk. What if they get you a sandwich with white bread instead of brown? Or instead of mayonnaise they use margarine to compliment your salad sandwich? Would you be happy enough if the order you placed, or the food you wanted, came differently to what you had imagined? I know that I wouldn’t.  As my mum has always mentioned whenever I didn’t do a job she needed done to the standard which she expected, ‘if you want the job done, do it yourself.’

Now, I am not blaming anyone for getting me the wrong sandwich, neither is my mum after I didn’t do the job correctly. Sandwiches and odd jobs can be remade or done over. This EU referendum cannot be ‘fixed’ in three weeks, three months or thirty years time.

What get’s my goat with elections, especially in good old Northern Ireland, is that there are so many people who think that we, the electorate, are never heard. Until recently there was no opposition in Stormont and this complaint was (and can still be) relevant, as there is hardly any major news about the daily goings on in the NI assembly due to a lack of debate, oppositions and frankly, arguments within the chamber. However this is different in the case of June 23rd, 2016.

In this referendum, all of our votes matter.

Every.

Single.

One.

Whether you’re black, white, Christian, Muslim, man or woman, what you have as a British citizen is a right and an obligation to get down to the polling station, make a decision and then cast your vote.

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This is the biggest political decision that all of us will ever make and especially us ‘millennials’ who were born from the 1980’s up to 2000. We are the generation that will be most affected economically, politically and socially from this vote. Whether we remain in the EU or leave, our jobs will be affected, for better and for worse on both sides of remain and leave. Our children will be affected, our healthcare will be affected, our education will be affected, our student loans, our bursaries, our social lives and our pensions will all be changed whether we remain or leave the EU. How do I know this? Because we live in a democracy  and this is what it does.

Evolving. Changing. Growing, shrinking, emerging, surging and so much more.

Our country, the whole UK is crying out for involvement from all of her citizens. Not just the Young Democrats or the Labour Youth movements, with their selfie sticks and internet savviness. Not just the local representatives, who frankly have no idea about what they stand for part of the time because their constituents only kick up a fracas whenever there is something that they don’t agree about happening in government.

This is why the referendum is good for the country. It has generated debate among all social positions, races, genders, ages and many more. Maybe it is because there is a Presidential race happening over the pond from us, or maybe it is because this is an issue that people genuinely have an interest in. It doesn’t really matter why we are talking: what matters is that people are talking.

There are debates outside of the TV studios and debate societies, people are reading about the short and long term impacts of the leave and remain campaigns. For the first time in years, people are taking an interest on what makes the patchwork unions between the countries in the UK work. Well, not really the first time, Scotland started the debates last year with their vote to leave or remain in the UK – thanks for getting the ball of democracy rolling on that one guys! Not even a peep for major calls of violence and bloodshed from over here in Norn Iron along with the debates, proof that we all must be growing on from hitting the nearest person to us, when they knock us over or tell us off. Good job humanity.

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The Telegraph has just released a poll this afternoon with the remain camp up two points on the leave camp. They’re predicting that there is a 51% remain vote tomorrow with a 49% leave vote. However, I have not sat here for the past day and a half thinking about what to write in this post about who you should, or should not, be voting for. There are really more pressing matters that I need to deal with, like doing the laundry, vacuuming the house or getting up to my meeting in Ballymena that is starting in twenty five minutes. This lecture, that sounds like a poli-sci talk from someone who has only read about such matters, is to encourage not to preach.

Your vote matters.

Your vote counts.

You have to make a choice about what you think is right and if you decide that not voting tomorrow is right then you cannot, will not and shall not be allowed to complain about how the election turns out.

Going back to my sandwich analogy, if you get the wrong sandwich because you didn’t want to get up, then what is the point of going over to your mate who made the call with the bread and mayo, to demand why on earth they got the two things that you didn’t want? You may as well walk into a factory, go to the manager and say ‘Hey! Excuse me! Yeah this product, it doesn’t work for me, can you just go to customer service and they can fix it for me,’ instead of picking up the phone to call the number, be put on hold for most of the day and finally get your problem sorted out.

It’s nuts! This country, no sorry, this culture in the west of throwing your hands up and complaining as soon as the going gets tough with calls of ‘I didn’t even vote because it’s nothing to do with me’ does not make up a useful democracy.

imgWinston Churchill once said that democracy was the best of a bad lot. It’s the only one that works, unless you think that the Soviet’s hit is bang on with communism and that Terrorists who rule with religious zealous tendencies, that are as far removed from their actual religion as the KKK were from ‘real’ Christians in America, set a brilliant example of living in terror and fear of what their government will do next, you’re disagreeing with quite a clever man who helped the UK through two world wars. That was diplomacy in itself.

Another poll was run in The Guardian in April, asking how likely would you be likely to vote on a scale of 1 to 10 and they answered as follows:

52% of 18-34 would vote,

66% of 35-54 would vote,

81% of 55+ would vote.

No harm to everyone over a certain age, but the changes will impact the next thirty, forty, fifty, sixty years. I am pretty sure that of that 81% they are thinking about what we will be facing when they are our age. You can’t even argue that the 66% and the 81% are larger numbers of electorates because they have free time, what with retirement and days off. Last time I checked unemployment between 16-24 year olds is up 16% and there are a good lot of students out there will beautiful summers like mine, reaching from May to September. There is literally no excuse not to vote because anyone is ‘too busy’ (I apologise to anyone who actually is too busy, but you had a chance to postal vote so I take that back.)

Everything will change. You have to go with what you think is right. It’s your decision, make it count. Read, listen, watch, hear, talk and discuss to help evaluate your stance. Don’t just go with who your family is voting for. They don’t have to know. Look up the Leave and Remain websites and look at their arguments. Become an active voice in the country because whether we remain in or leave, tomorrow your voice will join history.

Do you really want to be left out of it because you couldn’t be bothered.

‘Decisions are made by those who who up.’

 

Nesta

‘Written out loud’

11 – 02 – ’63

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***

Hello there! I hope that you have had a lovely two weeks and that you are appreciating the warmer weather that has been gracing us with it’s presence. Indeed the positively balmy temperatures of around twelve degrees up here on the North Coast have encouraged me to don the flip-flops, which means that spring is well and truly advancing.

I don’t know about you, but with spring there is always an air of hope stuck onto the coat-tails of even the fiercest of storms. Not only do the howling winds loiter less frequently around the corners of rain-sheets, but their vigour in their task seems redoubled, as though they know that for some months they will be put away with the heavy winter coats and exchanged for cotton dresses and summer breezes.

Spring for me brings so many joys, for who would not become light-hearted at the sight of a lamb bouncing along for the sheer and utter pleasure in it. There is a Psalm that says ‘Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning’. The nights of winter, the dreary darkness shadowing our trudge in and out of the office and the short days closing in around us, sapping all our energy, are opening up into the light of spring days, garnished with torrents of multi-coloured tulips and the sense that we have muddled through the darkest months and into the light. All that symbolism from on psalm? Well, I am an English literature student after all.

Now that you have waded through the pretentious swathes of the art student and are hopefully settled somewhere with a massive mug of the brew used to build a thousand ships – tea – I will move onto the lady pictured above, Sylvia Plath.

Appropriately enough, my Plath lecture this week was held on International Women’s Day. Despite being picked up as a ‘feminist’ throughout her work, my personal readings show her as a far more complex person that this first indicates (too all feminists out there, don’t get angry please, this is not personal, just an opinion). Plath was undoubtedly a very complex woman but aren’t we all? And then men all say to that, ‘Amen’.

Despite the darker shades of imagery and tone throughout her work, there is always a touch of hope, as though she knew that there would be something beyond ‘this veil’ (‘A Birthday Present’, Ariel). After her death, the work she was compiling was gathered together by husband and fellow poet, Ted Hughes. I unfortunately do not have the time nor the expertise to tell you all about the controversies over their relationship depicted through her poems, but in the meantime I will be content with telling you that as the editor of the volume Ariel, Ted Hughes did not always have the same views that his late wife had.

However their daughter, Frieda, took this stance when she helped to publish a restored edition of Ariel in 2004. This edition, which included a few poems and transcripts that had been little seen in the public’s eye before then, showed both the dark and light sides in Plath’s persona. In fact the last poem in the restored collection, entitled ‘Wintering’ showed a hope at the end of tunnel, with the bringing of spring.

tumblr_lddwenlbG31qdjgboo1_1280‘They taste the spring’.

These words from a woman who’s ‘hopeful’ filter was not often applied to her point of view.

Spring is the joy in the morning, the coming of hope, the dawning of dreams and all of this can be shown through the festival, now fast approaching, which has become a pastel coloured block in the calendar in many a kitchen. Easter.

It is the epoch of the springtime and the climax before the coming sun and relative heat of the summer. Yet what does it symbolise today? For many it is the time whenever lent is over and that ‘one thing’ given up faithfully (or unfaithfully) on Ash Wednesday, can be restored to daily life, may it be chocolate, Facebook or being nice to that very annoying co-worker.

Easter is constantly associated for kids of all ages, around the ultimate confection – chocolate. Thus causing parents to tear around Tesco for Cadbury’s eggs, hoping that the great-aunts don’t give out too many from Marks and Spencer, the sizes of which can be bigger than the child’s head.

Easter egg hunts, bunnies, parties, bank-holidays, all these things are good things and it is a joy to watch little toddlers and big kids (hi Dad!) go through the festival with chocolate-smeared grins and glittering eyes. However, when we strip Easter back, do we realise what we are actually celebrating? Do we realise that it revolves around one man who was beaten to Roman torture standards, laughed at, abandoned and rejected by his friends and Father, all to save a race of people who were doomed to death?

All too often we take Jesus out of Easter and as we go into this time and I urge you to think about the Easter story. If you don’t believe a word of the bible, then why celebrate this festival? Why even celebrate Christmas for that matter?

If you do believe that Jesus is both fully God and fully man, then why do you celebrate Easter? Is it just because everyone else is getting hyped, or that the hipster-cool worship leaders are writing new songs on Jesus’s sacrifice, death and resurrection, or even you are just doing it because it’s the ‘done thing’ and you’ve never really thought about it?

The eye-witness accounts of Jesus’s arrest, trial, death, burial and resurrection can be found in all the latter chapters of the gospel, but I would recommend either John’s chapters seventeen to twenty-one or Luke’s chapters twenty-two to twenty-four. Maybe even think about some of these questions: Who was this man? Why would he and why did he come? Is he just self-richeous or living for someone greater than whom he is? What does this mean for me in my life? What even is that??

This post was meant to be an ode to Sylvia and has become something that was not planned, showing that words really do open up door you never would think to push open.

I will leave you with my thought for the day, that is if we are meant to be here and want to be saved, then who would put us here and not want to save us?

Spring is all new beginnings and new life.

At least that’s what Easter is.

 

I’ll write as soon as I can soon everybody,

Love,

Nesta xx