Saturday, 24 November 2012

Well done, Ben!

Persephone was amazing, so I just want to say this:

Well done, Ben Rushton; you are truly a remarkable writer!

The set was awesome, the acting was awesome. Everything was awesome!

The play has been filmed, but I don't know if it's going on YouTube or anything. If it is, I will post a link so that you guys can watch it. I'm not promising anything though.

In the meantime, keep smiling.


Claire

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Educate. Employ. Empower.


“No ifs, no buts, no education cuts! No ifs, no buts, no education cuts!”

That was the voice of thousands of students as they took to the streets of London, banners galore, expressing their frustration concerning the eye-watering £9000 tuition fees and the crushing numbers of unemployed youths under the leadership of the National Union of Students (NUS).

Being one of the many first-year students who already have a £9000 debt looming over their heads, not to mention the fact that I have got nowhere in finding a job, I jumped at the choice to march, the words of the consultants in job centres I showed my CV to echoing in my brain:

“You don’t have enough experience.”

How am I supposed to gain any experience if nobody is going to hire me? And the hums of agreement I received at the march were not that much of a comfort. What with the retirement age being increased, and the constant undeniable discrimination against adolescents, youth unemployment is at a record high with over 1.4 million 16 to 24 year olds unable to find work. Meanwhile, funding for services such as the Job Centre and Connexions – facilities which provide young people with advice on getting into work – has been cut.

This, along with the tripled university fees, has left students feeling betrayed by the government. With proposals to abolish the education maintenance allowance (EMA) for the poorest students and to remove adult learning grant (ALG) for second-chance learners, the student financial support has been described as “a joke”. According to NUS, the gap between the potential government support students can receive and the actual cost of being a university student has grown to £8,566 per year for those studying outside of London, and £8,112 for those in London.


So on the 21st November of this year we, the students, provided a voice. We assembled at Temple tube station and marched to the Oval in Kennington, chanting and demanding change to the unfair dismissal of the needs of the younger generations.

The march started off well – the weather was cold but clear, extra banners were handed out and the chants were loud and unmistakable in their meaning:

“No ifs, no buts, no education cuts!”

“They say ‘cut back’. We say ‘fight back’!”

“Bring back EMA! Bring back EMA!”

It was amazing to see how many people had turned up for this event, and the amount of press about was even more encouraging since that’s what we needed: good publicity. A voice.

It was as the crowd neared the Houses of Parliament that things got a little out of hand. The route that the NUS had planned for us to take brought us just shy of the building before turning us towards the bridge instead. A small minority of the crowd were especially angered by the “spineless” demonstration plan, some even resulting to throwing eggs and fruit at the head of NUS, Liam Burns. Although I understand their frustration at this – after all we were marching to make the government take notice of us – I can also understand why we were directed away from the Houses of Parliament after what happened in 2010 on Whitehall. We needed this to be a peaceful, mature protest, to show the public as well as the government that we are serious about this, and that we do have the right to be heard.

We continued to walk the rest of the way in the wind and rain, voicing what we were marching for to the media and, of course, chanting. Although by the time we made it to the Oval we were wet through and shivering, we were satisfied overall. Now we have to hope that the government take notice and with time make the necessary changes to the legislation and policies. We know that this is not an overnight change, but it’s about setting the agenda for education, and saying as a united student body that the current state of play is not acceptable for students and for young people in general.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Very random but...

...today I had a Good Hair Day! Look at it y'all!


Sorry, I haven't got anything worth reading for you guys at the moment, but I've just finished my sketches for Engineering...



...so now I can concentrate on writing something for you guys! And I already have an idea!


Bear with me guys! BRB.

Procrastination is a jerk...

Procrastination is a jerk, plain and simple. You're supposed to be doing a piece of coursework, or revising for an exam, or drawing a 13 Amp plug (don't ask; last time I checked I was studying Engineering, not Fine Art), and before you've even got started you're on Facebook or the Xbox, or in my case watching a relative of Gollum dancing to electropop. Anyway, before you know it you've been messing about for four hours and you're just like...

Shit.

You haven't done your work, fool!

And don't worry, because I've been terrible this week for it! I've had Blackboard exams, and golly have I found it difficult to stay focused! There's only so long you can go locked up in your room trying to revise for these poopadoops, as I have been finding out. Every day I'm like, "Right. Today I'm going to finish that bitch of a drawing, that bitch of an article, do some bitchin' notes and start that bitch of a report!" and then three hours later I remember that I'm supposed to be doing work, not rocking it out to slow songs like a loonatic. Or taking pictures like this:
















Anyways, it's 9pm. I have 12 hours to finish two sketches for my Engineering Design assessment. Who knows, in about an hour another short story might be chilling on here, and then you'll be able to smile and say that jerkass word:

Procrastination.

Keep smiling, guys!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Just came across this while researching a magazine...

The story's called 'The Trickster's Bones' by Kenneth Kao and it kept me hooked from the very beginning. I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I did.

Here's an extract to make you go "Oooh!":


“Nothing,” Dad called back.  “Charlie just wants to talk.”  He closed their door.  “What’s going on, Tiny?”

“Would you come with me to the playground?”


Dad sighed.  “It’s two a.m.  Can’t it wait ’til tomorrow?”


“He died two years ago tonight, and I’d really like to go back.  Please?”  I hadn’t told them that I’d seen Darwin alive the year before.


“You’re going to have to let him go,” Dad said.  “I know it’s hard, but death is a part of life.  We all go through grief, but it’s how we move on that matters.”  He took my hand and held it between his fingers.  “Two years ago was the most frightening day of both our lives.”


“But I didn’t die,” I said.  “And…and Darwin did.”


Dad nodded.  “I know, and I celebrate every day that I didn’t lose you.”


“I just want to visit him, one last time–to help me get over him,” I added.


I noticed that my vision was blurry, and I was crying.  I didn’t want to lose my chance again.  Dad blinked and ran his fingers through his hair.  Then he hugged me.  He pecked me on the cheek.  “O.K., Tiny, let’s go.”


This time, I brought rope and extra flashlights and shovels.


“What’s with all that?” Dad asked.


“Just in case,” I said.


He looked at me curiously but didn’t argue as we walked back to the abandoned playground.  I kept moving so fast ahead that I had to wait for Dad to catch up several times.  Unlike last year, it was dark and cloudy, and the moonlight didn’t show much.  But right as we got there, I spotted Darwin with my flashlight.  I whooped and yelled.  “There’s Darwin!”  I ran toward Darwin, but Dad grabbed my arm just as I was about to pass the invisible border.


“Be careful,” Dad said.  “That’s not Darwin.”


“Yes it is!  I saw him last year just like this.  We played together all night.  That’s why I brought the rope, to bring him home, because last time I wasn’t big enough to drag him home, and then he disappeared the next day.  I think he’s got something wrong with his brain.”


Dad wasn’t listening.  He had a really big frown on his face and was staring hard.  “It looks like…can’t be…”  He twisted his flashlight to see better.


“It’s him!” I yelled.  I tore from Dad’s grip, running inside the playground.  Just like before, Darwin saw me, and his tail went wild as he ran for me.


Dad dashed in front.  “Get back!” he yelled.  He kicked Darwin across the head.


I cried out as Darwin yelped, his neck bending sideways.  Darwin shook his big head and snarled.  His hair bristled. His ears dropped flat.


“It’s not Darwin,” Dad said.  “It’s the biggest hyena I’ve ever seen.”


“He looks nothing like a hyena!  Hyenas don’t even exist here.”


“I don’t know what you’re seeing, Charlie, but get back NOW.”


Darwin lunged at Dad, and Dad swung his flashlight at my dog.  It struck and flashed and went out.  I whipped my own flashlight toward them.  Darwin had grabbed Dad’s hand like he did when he was playing.  Except that Dad was yelling in pain.


“Darwin!  Let go!” I screamed.


Dad kicked at Darwin over and over, and then he tripped.  Darwin dragged Dad across the earth.  My dog was big, but I never imagined he could pull someone like Dad.  I ran forward, but as soon as I came near, Darwin snapped at me.


Dad rolled and almost got his feet underneath him, but Darwin bit an ankle, yanking Dad across the playground.  I threw the rope at Dad.  Darwin somehow intercepted; he caught it between his teeth, and I was thrown to the ground.  By the time I got back up, Darwin had dragged Dad to the playground’s boundary.  Dad screamed at me to run, his fingers clawing at the dirt.  They crossed the border, and like mist, both disappeared.


I still heard Dad’s screams, though, and a hyena’s maniacal laughter.


I ran forward, tracking the ground with my flashlight.  Paw prints evaporated past the invisible line.


The screams abruptly stopped and with it, the laughter.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Short Story: Horror Movies with Franklin

A person's sanity is a very delicate thing. Look at me for example - I am trapped in a manic fear that makes no sense whatsoever. Fear used to give me an adrenaline rush. Now it keeps me locked in my room with the lights on, the curtains shut, and unable to close my eyes. I know I've lost the plot. I know I need help. But I can't leave. The shadows will get me. I will die, either by something physical, something supernatural, or my own damned fear.

It's 4.38am. I haven't slept in four days. My hair is greasy and clings to my baggy sallow face. My phone lies shattered at the foot of one of the four walls I live on the inside of. The wash basin reeks of excretion despite my efforts to scrub it clean. Or maybe it's my imagination and the basin does smell fresh. Maybe I'm getting close to ending my life like Lady Macbeth. No. Lady Macbeth threw herself off a cliff. Cliffs are outside. I can't go outside.

I've missed so many of my lectures. My parents thought that university would do me the world of good. I wonder how many missed calls I've got from them. I wonder if they're going frantic with worry yet. I can't find out - the phone is broken.

I'm trying to study but I imagine long demonic fingers curling around the hem of my curtains and a face to match the finger opening its maw of a mouth and screeching at me. It's a scary image. That's why the window is locked and my desk is now propped on the windowsill.

Crazy is perfect word to describe me right now. Psychiatric ward is probably the perfect place for me right now. But I can't leave. He'll get me.

I called him Franklin, which doesn't make him sound so scary, but it's merely a deception of sorts. He lingers everywhere. Before I resorted to staying locked in my room, he would follow me wherever I went. I would watch at night as he murdered my shadows with his bare hands, and I would run up to my room, being chased by him. He can't get into my room if the lights are on and I stay awake. I have to stay awake. Or else he'll get me.

I remember nights curled up in bed, trembling as he pressed his cold skinless cheek to mine, feeling the sticky wet flesh and muscle leave a bloody print there for me to remember him by when he eventually left. I would get up in the morning and scrub my skin red raw in the shower, trying to remove him from my skin, from my mind. It never worked.

He burned my clothes once. I wedged some in the crack underneath the door so that he couldn't get in. He retorted with a match.

It's ironic. I used to love horror movies. I was able to eat without batting an eyelid while watching characters being tortured in the Saw movies, or curl up in the middle of an empty cinema and watch psychopaths or supernatural spirits prey on innocent families. I'd read books about rapists and serial killers before I went to bed, and I would write poems and stories with the darkest story-line I could muster up. Horrors, and being scared. They were once my favourite things in life. Ironic.


-


I beat Franklin. I went outside and imagined shooting him with a M20B1. I watched with my jaw clenched as his rotten body exploded into a flurry of flames and screeching, and the stench of burning flesh reached my nostrils. It smelt good, like freedom.

My parents drove the five hours to the university campus to check on me, and I cried into their chests and told them of Franklin. I told them that he was keeping me prisoner, and that I couldn't escape. That's when my dear father thought up the clever idea as to how I could kill Franklin. After all, Franklin is a figment of my imagination, so I should be the only one able to destroy him.

I kept a firm grip on my father's hand as he led me outside. I could feel eyes on me as the odd puzzled person watched through their window trying to figure out why a nineteen-year-old university student was clinging to her daddy like her life depended on it. They didn't realise that my life really did depend on holding on.

Franklin was waiting for me. He grinned like a bloodthirsty monster (wasn't he just that?) and stretched out his arms towards me. I felt the force of his pull and held even tighter to my daddy's hand, and pushed Franklin away. I caught him off guard with that one - he did not expect it. That's when I imagined the bazooka to materialize in my hands, and I rested it on my shoulder and fired. He's dead. I'm free. My friends are relieved and quite frankly so am I. I have caught up in my lectures and I have a new phone. My parents have decided to stay nearby for a few weeks in case I need them.

I'm gonna be okay. I won.


-


Franklin is imaginary so he can't just die. He is therefore immortal - an immortal part of me. He knows this, and he knows that he has power over me that way.

He was mad that I shot him. He wanted me to pay.

I'd been enjoying being free of Franklin for about three months. See, he's patient, cunning; he bides his time. My desk in my room was back in the corner where it belonged, and the window from time to time was wide open, letting the cool breeze ventilate the small area. I'd go outside and smile as the wind whipped my hair behind me, and I would laugh - actually laugh - with friends.

And then he tapped me on the shoulder one day.

I froze. He grinned.

Remember me?

He turned me towards the waves.

Jump off that cliff. Like Lady Macbeth.

I stuttered out a no. He silently dragged me to the edge as I kicked and screamed. I could hear my friends shouting and running after us, but he's too fast, too strong.

I didn't beat Franklin. Franklin beat me.


Sunday, 11 November 2012


Somebody rise
I plead, I beg
Sense my fear
Break down the door
I am trapped
Save me, please
Hush me, tell me it’s okay
Think me not as a child
Or do, I don’t care
I still am, sort of


My eyes are shut
But behind the eyelids
He creeps
His face is in mine
Visible even in the dark
Even when closed
His grip on my wrist
It hurts
He wants me to look
Open my eyes
He’s scaring me
He knows it
He likes it
That’s why he’s here
He’s here to make me tremble
I try not to
I do
He wins
He stays

It’s cold
And dark
And I need more
Than just a cushion
I need arms
Warm arms
Holding me
For I am alone
(So alone)
I need to feel secure
I need a friend
A close friend
A friend who can hold me
Hold me tight
At night
Who can scare away
The creatures in my head
Who threaten me
I need a friend
To snuggle up to
To feel close to
To feel warmth from
That is all

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Check out some backstage action from Persephone!

Get a glimpse of the LUTheatre production, Persephone, written by our very own Ben Rushton!



Monday, 5 November 2012

24-Hour Play: Done!

And boy was it awesome! I was going to write a post about it as soon as I got back to my Halls at 9 on the Saturday night, but I needed to recover, and then I needed to do some work for Engineering (yeah, no fun and games there!), but here we are now!

Seriously, I couldn't have asked for a better group of people to work with - they were all amazing, all so fantastic in their own way. The talent...wow! The 24-hour play was the perfect way for me to get to know some of these people, and now they are chilling in my friends list on Facebook. Boo-yah: more friends!

We had so much fun planning and writing the play (though we had a tough time sticking to deadlines). The idea we all decided upon was the idea of 'Theatre Through The Years' - a group of LUTheatre students would travel in time and experience theatre in different times: Greek, Shakespearean, Victorian, and Modern.

And *insert chicken noise* this was the outcome:





















Seriously, it was immense!

Thank you to those who came to watch, and thank you to everyone who was in it - you guys are already beginning to feel like a second family to me.

Anyway, now I need to do some work for Proteus. Golly I'm a busy bee! If you want to read more about my experience during the 24-hour play, feel free to check out my hub about it here! <--- click it click it!

Keep smiling guys!


Claire x

Short Story: Stupid Things



"Christie! You're back!"

I grinned and opened my arms for a hug which she happily and readily obliged to. Behind her the others were starting to come over to greet me, except for one. He knew I would come to him in my own time.

"It's so good to see you again!" Katie beamed. "How's Uni?"

"Good! Good. It's much better than I expected it to be."

"Have you settled in now? Made friends? How are you finding your course?"

"Katie, enough of the questions!" I laughed. "I'm much more settled in than before, yes. I've made plenty of friends, although I'm only one of two girls in our little friendship crew. And the course is good, but by golly is it confusing sometimes!"

"Christie! How's it going, bro?"

"Hey, I didn't know you were coming home this weekend!"

"Surprise!"

"Christie! Wow, deja vu! Last time I saw you was in this house, specifically in the bathroom while you-"

"Yes, yes, I know, Jake. And it's not going to happen again, I can assure you." I could feel myself going red due to the memories.

"Good," he smiled before hugging me. My gaze wandered over his shoulder and locked with the eyes of the lone figure in the corner by the docking station that Radiohead was blaring out of. His smile was awkward, though I would be very surprised if it hadn't been after last time he saw me - a sobbing drunken mess, telling him things he really needn't know about me.

I braved it, walked up to him. "Hey, Ben," I said; my fingers danced with each other.

"Hey." Yeah, this was awkward. "I, ah, I didn't know you were coming today," he said in a matter-of-fact manner.

"Yeah, well, surprise!" I chuckled. The hug we shared said everything we wanted to say:

I haven't mentioned it to anyone - I promise.

Thank you.

"You having a drink, Christie?" one of the lads joked.

"Actually, I've quit drinking," I grinned. "Completely."

"Completely?"

"Yep - tee-total!" I chanced a side-glance at Ben. He seemed impressed.

"Good on you, man," Jake nodded, giving me a hi-5. Other hums of admiration followed along with hi-5s and fist bumps after that before everyone got back to their drinking games without me. Except for Ben. Ben kept me company.

"So how's uni?" he asked eventually.

"It's good, not as bad as I thought," I shrug.

"Yeah, you really didn't want to go, did you."

I willed the slight blush away. "No, I didn't. I thought I didn't belong there."

"Do you?"

"Maybe." A thought suddenly came into my head. "At least I'm not one of the dumbest in my lectures like I thought I'd be," I chuckled. "There's this guy who is constantly asking stupid questions, like REALLY stupid questions!"

"Yeah?"

"Yeah! Like the other day we were looking at stress and strain - simple stress and strain that you would've done in Maths and Physics at A level - and he asked something like, 'Is this to do with string?' I nearly fell off my seat laughing!"

"No!"

"Yes! At first I thought he was just trying to wind the professor up, but now he's really starting to piss us off. Everyone knows who he is - you mention 'the guy who asks stupid questions' to anyone in our lectures and they're like, 'Oh, you mean the guy with glasses and a stupid hat?' That's what you call a bad reputation!"

Ben talked about his course at college as well, and upon realising we were both learning the same modules, we were instantly engaging in an elaborate conversation, confusing anyone who came by with complex numbers and the diffraction of bending beams. To feel smart and intellectual was a feeling I hadn't experienced in a long time. It felt good to be back.

I went to see Katie and Laura later, only to watch them fall over and giggle hysterically in their drunken states. At one point I was dragged to the hallway to dance with some of the lads and later I was covering Jake with a blanket - he'd passed out in the bathroom. The party was dying down, the kitchen completely deserted. I decided to take full advantage of this and started flicking through the different tracks that were on the iPod in the docking station.

"Put that one on."

I jumped a mile. "Ben!" I scolded, slapping his arm. "You scared me to death!" He allowed only the smallest of smiles to grace his lips. That's what I liked about him: preserved. So unlike me. Mysterious. Interesting. "I'm thinking of going to sleep in a bit seeing as nearly everyone's passed out now," I noted. "But then again it's 03.10 and I'll be getting the bus with Emma at about 07.30, so I don't know if there's any point."

"Probably no point," he shrugged. We sat on the worktop for what felt like forever, talking about random things that really didn't matter, and then the next thing I knew we'd been cuddled up together for about ten minutes. It was nice to feel close and secure with someone; it was hard to explain what I was feeling, but it was nice. Very nice.

We decided to make a bed on the kitchen floor out of spare blankets we found in cupboards upstairs. It was cold to say the least, and so we snuggled together, Ben trying to soothe away the shivers that ran through my body. We slept consciously, unable to properly fall asleep due to the cold that every so often bit at us and the tell tale sounds of people walking into the kitchen for a glass of water. It was maybe about 5 when the house stood still, everybody settled. And that's when it happened. I don't know why - maybe the closeness overwhelmed me - but I inched close enough to kiss Ben's lips. We came alive in a world of hungry kisses and roaming hands. I felt high, like I was on a drug; I wanted more, but I felt Ben's advances slow.

No, I tried to plead with him silently. Don't treat me differently because of that.

He was ignoring me. I forced him to look me in the eyes.

Don't think about that. Please.

He did though. He rolled off me and instead held me close again. I rested my head on his chest with a sigh. I should never have told him, but I had been drunk and sobbing into his shirt about every little thing that had caused me pain. It was something I could now only regret and try to forget.

Later that morning Emma woke me up and I left Ben asleep on the kitchen floor while we slipped out of the house to go home. I haven't been able to figure out what to say to Ben, though I feel I should say something, even if we haven't had to bump into one another since. I wonder if he also sometimes stands, phone in hand, typing and deleting a message to me, unsure of what to really say to me.

One day we will bump into one another - when I next come home - and we will have to address that night. But for now we seem to stay in a confused silence about the matter.

It's ironic - I stopped drinking so that I would stop doing stupid things. Is this not just another stupid thing that I have done?

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Trick or Treat alright!

Well I had a good Halloween






NOT!

I am gutted! I'm so gutted! I've been excited for ages because I designed this really awesome outfit which I really wish I had a picture of but I really don't, and I had made these awesome black ribs to attach around my own ribcage (hmm...could possibly have done with a spine though...) AND a top hat...only for me to fall really ill and just be too dizzy and bleh to do anything. I have been waiting a little under two years to wear that damned outfit.

What a loser!

Yes I mean me- NO! I mean the whole thing is a loser. And then the next day? I feel fine as long as I'm drugged to the eyeballs with Paracetamol and Migraleve! I still have a sore throat, but whatever - the point is that I'm fine now! Why wasn't I yesterdayyyy?! If I'd been fine yesterday, I wouldn't have wasted the £5 I spent on my ticket for the Halloween Bar Crawl, and when I got back I would've been able to write the first lot of my story for NaNoWriMo! But no, wasted fiver, no story...this sucks...

So that was the trick, and what an awfully evil trick it was!

The treat was a splendid one of kinds - I went home during the weekend. I got to see my beloved mum, brother and grannyma, and also see a few of my friends as well, which is always heartwarming. Not to mention my dog has missed me so much - he basically jumped in my arms the first time he saw me!

Cute.

I also got to go see Lawson, Amelia Lily and The Wanted in concert, which was awesome (even met Amelia Lily in person...NEXT TIME IT'S LAWSON!!!!!).


I also got to see my favourite club again for a friend's 19th birthday party - The Warehouse. Oh Warehouse, how I've missed you! In Leicester there's a place called Mosh that's supposed to be like Warehouse, but I haven't been yet - I've actually been really tied up with uni work. Anyway, I saw even more of my delightful fwiendies there, so I was thrrrrilled.









And then on the Monday after lectures, I took the train again to see Michael McIntyre with Mother, Brother and Rachel (Lady In Red...that song is just beautiful...I meant the one in red in the pictures). We weren't allowed to take pictures, but I have his book signed:


But yeah, I'm still complaining about missing Halloween due to illness. At least I had 'The Shining' to cheer me up.

Oh well.

It was Proteus today, and my play was performed. I was going to record it for you guys, but alas I left my camera in the Halls. I was quite impressed by how well the director and the actors portrayed what had started off as just a tiny little idea in my head, and I am very grateful to them for putting so much in for such a short play. So if you three read this, thank you.

And tomorrow is the 24-hour play: a famous thing for LUTheatre where they have 24 hours to choose/write a play and then cast, direct and rehearse it to perform to an audience! Oh my God, I'm gonna die all over again!

Anyway, I'm gonna stop rabbiting on now. I have another story coming up. It's nearly done, so I'll hopefully have it up before I start this 24-hour business!


Keep smiling!


Claire x