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Two Thousand and Tyranny

1000 word extract of a novel I began writing this year, based on the London riots,  Two Thousand and Tyranny.

6th August 2011

I flicked through my tattered notepad and tried to find her name. What was it? I had written it down yesterday and had painstakingly ensured her name was spelt correctly. There it was. Sumani Youlou Fransendger, age thirty-three and a protestor at Redham Court Flats last week. Pompous Paul had instructed me to find out all I could about her background as a protestor and find a creative way to angle “protester strapped to flats for three days, crumbles”. His eyebrows remained raised and pointed throughout the team meeting this morning.

For the past month of working at the paper, Paul had worn the exact same suit. His reliable grey pinstriped suit perfectly ironed with padded shoulders and no marks. He complemented this look with an off white shirt, black tie and impeccably shiny, grey snake-skin shoes. I imagined his wardrobe; identical outfits hung neatly from wooden hangers in chronological day order. Every day he manages to arrive ten minutes after everyone else: a Starbucks coffee in one hand, a briefcase in the other and always, without fail, a serious motionless face.

A distraught yell banished the images of my daunting news editor, snapping me back into reality and back within the walls of my red Fiesta. Outside Tottenham police station stood three figures in black surrounding a young, short male police officer. One of the trio, a girl easily identifiable by her curvaceous figure, was waving her arms frantically and her mouth was moving at an unimaginable speed. The other two were shifting from side to side and towering way above the police figure that now resembled a trembling mess.

In front of the station a huddle of protestors stood with banners offering support for Sumani. The older protestors in the group remained stationary clinging to their signs whilst the younger protestors reeled off numerous expletives and made disgruntled, animalistic noises.

The sound of screeching tyres came from a white Honda Civic that mounted the curb on the road opposite. Out of the front window a boy, no older than fourteen, stuck out his arm and chucked what seemed to look like a bright sparkler. I watched in horror as it fell in front of the young policeman and the trio scattered. An explosion of orange flames caught the officer’s trousers. Out of nowhere stones and bricks were being hurled at the front of the police station. Smashing of glass and cries of terror were the background noise to a high pitch alarm ringing indefinitely.

I froze. I was unsure whether to stay within the safety of my car or advance towards a scene of chaos and the unknown. Come on Joanna you need a good story after all. Breathe. I am a reporter, this is my job.

Read more…

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Five steps to surviving your dissertation

Having finished (and survived) my final year, I thought it the perfect opportunity to offer some words of advice for those approaching their dissertation. If you have typed dissertation into Google then you have begun the journey of your final undergraduate year.

Hopefully these steps will provide you with guidance and reassurance:

  1. Decide your topic: research a wide variety of topics/subjects that interest you. You will be spending a year on this, so make it count to you!
  2. Once you have chosen an area, narrow down to a more specific area or a couple of questions. Usually lecturers use the comparison to a funnel, heading for the detail and depth that a dissertation is aimed to produce.
  3. Set a timetable for the year (or however long your timescale is). Plan an approximate guide of when you want to have completed certain sections and as you progress through your dissertation these can be changed and/or altered accordingly. This helps you stick to deadlines and manage your other units alongside your final piece.
  4. Make sure you make time for yourself. Do not get too bogged down by your workload. Dedicate time for doing things that make you happy, whether it is going to a concert, cinema or night out every week; this is the best way to get good results.
  5. Have fun with it! As a Communication and Media student I decided to do something of interest and a discursive dissertation; religion within horror films. It certainly makes a good talking point for interviews and although the process was ‘horrific’, it was an enjoyable topic to investigate and analyse. Whether it is a social science, discursive or creative piece, make sure it appeals to you! As it is you, and not your supervisor whom will be working on it for months.

If these don’t help, then perhaps The Guardian can…

Creative writing in twenty minutes

During a seminar this week we had a creative activity to devise a short story out of the following three sentences:

  1. “Your mother used to come here”
  2. “Please don’t break it”
  3. “Here they come”

 

Repressed feelings

A shaky hand gently shook mine. Clasped and clammy it made me shudder. The damp smell of lavender filled my nostrils, it was strangely overwhelming yet comforting. Strange and unfamiliar but so close.

The white walls screamed clinical. I looked around in hesitation at the dark laminate flooring and contrast of white. Why on earth did I come here today? I felt static. Completely glued to the spot. Before I arrived here today I visited my local pub for two strong drinks just to settle the nerves and angst. Dutch courage. Ha.

I looked into the stranger’s eyes opposite me and they remained hollow and empty. Motionless and without feeling. As she sat staring out of the large bay window her eyes were transfixed on the exquisite flowers and trees. A salty tear ran down her cheek. I could feel my throat seizing up. I inhaled a deep breath.

“Your mother used to come here, a long, long time ago.” Her white hair wispy and frail clung to her face effortlessly whilst her rigid jaw protruded as she spat those vile words. It was so hard to imagine someone so frail, was so, so evil. All that time ago.

Her small hands gripped her wheelchair tightly and she span round to face me. “Why did you come here? To laugh? To ridicule? I am an old woman.”

I slowly approached the crippling old figure, taking each step with caution. Out of the corner of my eye a photo frame glistened in the warm sun. It was me. I was barely four or five in a shimmering lilac summer dress with clear sparkly jelly shoes. I could feel myself burning up. The hairs on my neck stood on edge and I grabbed the picture with disgust. What a sick and twisted old woman. “No! Please, don’t break it!” She shrieked almost falling out of her metal frame. “It is my only photograph of you.” She pleaded like a filthy beggar.

I couldn’t speak. I knew I shouldn’t have come here. To offer forgiveness. Forgive and forget. Forget I could not. She had stolen my childhood. My normality. My relationships. My life. A glass ashtray sparkled invitingly on the table. One swipe and I…

“I’m. I’m sorry.” She wheeled towards my frozen figure and snatched the frame out of my hands. “It was different back then, there was nothing I could do. I couldn’t stop him.” Her lubricated eyes were filled with regret and sorrow. The red veins polluted the whites of her eyes. Her face was indifferent and not at all how I had pictured or remembered her. The menace. The terror. The anger. It didn’t matter now. It couldn’t. She was feeble and weak. In a child like state.

“I was six years old.” My voice remained neutral. Cold. My body moved without thought or hesitation towards the door. Closing it ever so quietly, the door neatly ‘clicked’. I turned to face the woman who had never put an end to the misery and pain I had endured.

“He used to whisper here they come and pull me under the duvet.” I grabbed a pillow that lay on the perfectly made bed.

Unrequited love

Carelessly, she danced around the shabby grey building offering light and energy to every room she explored. The sides of her plump lips were glistening as she salivated whilst eagerly explaining my timetable, routes I could take to save time in the school and the profile of each teacher she came across in the endless corridors. I felt in complete awe. I wasn’t listening to her induction anymore and I blushed discreetly as I felt my eyes undressing her. Looking couldn’t hurt. Her soft curly chestnut brown hair bounced innocently upon her curvaceous body. A size twelve I estimated. The nape of her neck directed me further down her body, that I urgently wanted to reach out and touch. The tight white blouse that clung obediently to her, gaped ever so slightly , just so, encouraging the eye to glance momentarily upon a plump bosom being hidden in a black laced polka dot blue bra. The colour combination of clinical white with boisterous blue underneath was electrifying and almost erotic.

I settled into Finsbury Catholic High School almost instantly. Within four weeks I vaguely knew everyone in the year. My peers demonstrated the kind of manners, wit and charm that I had always desperately wanted to acquire. From day one I realised why Jennifer was perfect for Head Girl, the ambassador of Finsbury. She excelled her duties and as for showing me round, she was courteous in every sense of the manner. Her kind nature never failed to find ways to console and comfort me, ensuring I was settling into the sixth form and for once I had a friend. She was amazing. I was incredibly grateful that our timetables coincided as much as they did. It seemed an enjoyment sitting next to her in Maths and Physics. However, I reluctantly opted to study Law as well and had to sit in a room with dimwit blondes hoping to be the next Legally Blonde with peroxide, Coco Chanel and Gucci handbags at their legal side. “Dimtits” was Jennifer’s term for those breed of girls. The phonetic effect of that phrase made Jennifer shiver instantly as soon as the lexis rolled off her delicate tongue. Her whole frame shook and those moments made me want to wrap my arms securely around her. I realised after only two months that this strong heroine character who possessed intelligence, wit and a glowing manner was admired by the entire school. There was no way she had it within her to inflict pain upon another. Well, that’s what I thought.

My friendship with Jennifer ended on Friday 13th October, the night she came for a culinary feast at my house. My single, pathetic excuse for a mother persuaded me to invite her round. At twenty years old the slag of a mother had me. She has never been quite sure who my father is, or how she would diplomatically address every child’s question of a missing parent, “Your father’s out there somewhere. A hero undeniably. Fighting undoubtedly for this country or representing us within the law system.” I later learnt from snooping through mums’ photographs and letters he was a heroin drug dealer from South East London that she picked up one cold drunken evening when working her trade on the streets. Yet again she called it parlour work. Now she works for social services liaising with the police force and dealing with the outcasts of society. Irony slaps us all in the face. She was desperate for me to stop causing chaos at schools and to settle down. After only a few months she was astounded to see my change of behaviour since attending Finsbury, and frankly, so was I.

Mum was attending a works do when I invited Jennifer round. We watched chick flicks all night and laughed in unison together at the cringe worthy love making scenes. I am glad she concurred with my view on those distasteful scenes. Penises shoved in your faces. I popped to the local Londis and when I returned my friendship was destroyed. Jennifer’s coat and bag were gone and my laptop still balancing on the side of the table displayed a young fresh faced brunette on her back with her fingers slipped ever so poetically between her vaginal lips. You could clearly see she was aroused as she was lying there in a teasing position. Suggestive and saucy. This picture was by far my favourite.

The weeks leading up to Christmas saw the distance increase between me and Jennifer. Lessons weren’t the same. I sat at the back feeling cold, alone and had the empty pit feeling whenever I even glimpsed at the back of her hair, her shiny locks hanging over the back of the rigid plastic chair. Conversations between us two had ceased since that night, until the last day of the winter term.

I waited against the wall. My body was frozen stiff; the temperature must have been below zero. She had stayed late working with Jane on their IT assignment for next year and as I watched the two of them hug ever so tightly I cringed and crumpled my stomach. Luckily for me they both start walking in opposite directions. Jennifer took the alleyway; only a five minute shortcut to her house. I had followed her many a time.

The blood flow to my hands was restricted by the latex, almost unbearable, but the pleasure about to follow seemed to reassure my frozen digits. With one blow she fell to the floor graciously. The brick had knocked her instantly out. I unzipped my bag ever so carefully. What a contrast to my previous action. I could hear a faint murmur from her precious lips. I knew I had to hurry up. I lined up my weapons in front of me and smiled proudly.

I bound her wrists and ankles so tight I could see the marking being imprinted before my very own eyes. The pattern looked so harsh upon soft supple skin. She coughed and spluttered. Blood trickled down her neck staining her tarnished J necklace. I picked up the bottle and poured vigorously whilst retaining the feeling of laughter deep inside me.

The pain was excruciating. I could see it as her eyes opened widely for what seemed an eternity. The heat basked at my face and I could feel her beauty burning. The sizzling and cracking of her precious locks. Her quiet scream was shrill yet comforting. The body stopped twitching and the crispy ice air whistled silently. I picked up my bag triumphantly, flinging the latex gloves inside and pulling out an electric blue pair of woolly gloves. It was a chilly night. I whispered as I briskly walked past the disfigured body, “I only wanted a girlfriend.”

28 rhyming couplets on ‘A lesson in life’

It happens to all of us, one of these days,

You think it’s nothing, ‘You’re going through a phase’.

Here have one, he says, as he hands it across,

She says don’t do it, pst, it’s your loss.

Pop in the pill and it’s all forgotten,

My heads dizzy, I’m feeling so rotten.

Bile creeps into my throat and I start to heave,

I’m thinking in my head, I really must leave.

Blocked out faces and murmurs of sound,

Suddenly a thump and I’m kissing the ground.

Lights sparkle fast and I feel eight years old,

I’m losing heat and it’s getting so cold.

My fingernails claw at the carpet in sheer need,

My heads gushing and I can see myself bleed.

I can’t move a muscle or bear to speak,

I’m losing control and feeling so weak.

Trying to impress and look super cool,

When in fact, I’m sixteen, and head boy at school.

My eyes peel open, and to my shock,

It’s a bright white room with a noisy clock.

I look down but can’t let out a scream,

My body’s disfigured and covered in cream.

My eyes shut tight and I can hear them talk,

“I’m sorry Mrs Smith” and they start to walk.

A voice grumbles in front of my face,

I can feel my heart pounding and picking up pace.

Drugs, drink and driving all ends here,

He switches off the monitor and out runs a tear.

28 rhyming couplets on ‘Life’

The stages of life are set in stone,

Each person feels independent and the need to Roam

But I’ll let you into the greatest secret of all,

We all cross paths, starting in school.

Milk cartons and cow biscuits taste so good,

Playing hop scotch and conkers all day if we could,

Then big school where mum says your be fine,

And the first day, crikey, you’re not even on time.

Timetabled lessons and different floors

And after a while it all starts to bore,

Get your GCSE’s done and you feel so old,

Reaching college, your strutting and bold.

Taking law, maths and art

Then the social life falls apart.

Revising and working, partying and more

Life feels like such as chore.

The summer comes and your fate lies there,

Looking at the paper you continue to stare,

Brookes, Bournemouth, Bristol or Bath,

Oh my, University, it sounds so daft.

Back up your belongings and off you go,

Striving for a career or that’s what they told you so,

Revising and working, partying and more

Life feels like such as chore.

Three years later down the line

Your chucking that hat and feeling on top of your prime

A year later and still no luck

You’ve been working on a farm and clearing out muck!

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