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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…

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.

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