Harry’s envious million

The other night I found a folder saved on the shared area of my dad’s computer that I had completely forgotten about. The folder is called ‘Clare’s important stuff’, which contains a variety of things from my secondary school years, including poems, recipes I copied out of cook books in the school library and even work I completed for class. It was the folder containing school work which really interested me, as I found a story which I wrote, and I must admit, it’s a badly written story!

I laughed at my younger self, not maliciously though. I found it comical because it was not well written, such as the poor use of clichés and the not well articulated emotions of the characters. Since my secondary school years I’ve known that I will never pursue being a writer of short stories or fiction; this story definitely proves it! Even at university for my undergraduate degree when I had to write short stories for creative writing I didn’t enjoy it as much as writing poetry, and I find it difficult as well.

I have decided to leave the story as I found it the other night, so please excuse the grammatical errors and poor use of English. From what I remember, this story was written as an exercise for an English lesson. Be prepared for some evening cringe worthy entertainment! Here is the story of Harry’s envious million! *cues for dramatic music*

*

      “What does the letter say?”

Harry sat there crying in tears.

“Uncle John, Aunt Margaret has died in Venezuela. According to her will, I receive £1 million which is in my account. If I don’t spend it tomorrow, it goes to the Montevideo Llama Refuge.”

Uncle John took the letter and ran into to the kitchen to make tea. Harry was still crying in the lounge, confused in his mind. Harry then thought of something and skidded across to the kitchen.

“Uncle John. I don’t know if it’s selfish of me, but I hate llamas.”

Uncle John turned around with a teapot in his hand and stared at Harry.

His snare turned into a smile. “Of course not my boy.”

Harry looked at him confused, but he to smiled.

“Think about it Harry. Your Aunt loved you very much. I loved her to and I miss my darling wife very much. She went to Venezuela for a special conference whilst I stayed here in Surrey with you. She fell ill, but I couldn’t go over there to help her. It was very sad. The £1 million is to be spent by you how you wish. I’m sure Aunt Margaret would understand your dislike for llamas.”

Harry replied, “Yes, I want to give it to several charities.”

Uncle John wiped Harry’s tears with a cloth.

“Now, how about you go to the bank and withdraw the £1 million and we decide how the money will be spent.”

Harry stood there for a minute and then, he smiled with red rosy cheeks.

“Great idea! I’ll go now. I won’t be long.”

Harry ran out of the kitchen and grabbed his coat.

“Bye Uncle John!”

The front door slammed shut. Uncle John sat down on a stool by the kitchen table with a warm cup of tea.

“You can come out now!” he shouted.

At the other end of the kitchen, the attic door creaked open very slowly. A black figure slid across the floor to Uncle John.

“Ah, my servant. Now, you know what to do.”

“Yes Jonathon. I will be obedient to your command.”

“Good. Now go, lawful man of mine.”

The mysterious servant left and Uncle John had an evil smirk on his face.

“My plan is going to work after all. Harry was right; he won’t be long, long gone!” Uncle John sat there laughing, ripping up the will.

*

     “There you go. £1million pounds withdrawn. Please spend it wisely.”

“Thank you very much. I shall.”

Harry left the bank, excited with lots of wonderful ideas in his head.

“I am so looking forward to talking to my uncle. He’ll know what to do.”

Harry skipped back to Uncle John’s house and decided to take the quickest way back; through the graffiti littered alleyways.

“Why did I take this way? It’s good no gangs are down here.”

“Yes it is isn’t it?”

Harry stood there, frozen to the ground, his face as white as a ghost.

“Who’s there?”

Harry jumped and turned around, but no one was there.

“That’s strange. Maybe I was hearing things.”

Harry continued walking fairly quickly, and quite cautiously. Suddenly, a man wearing all black jumped out in front of Harry.

“Oh no. It’s one of the stalkers Uncle John told me about! I must run!”

Harry sprinted for his life through the smelly alley way. He could hear this mysterious man run after him. Harry ran as fast as his legs could take him. However, Harry ran so fast, he ended up at dead end.

“Oh no. A dead end! Now what am I going to do?”

Harry looked above him to see if he could find a way through.

“There you are, you brave soul. Do you think you could run away from me?”

*

     Harry turned around very slowly. The mysterious black clothed man was gripping onto a sharp kitchen knife in his right hand. There was a strange moment of silence as a plastic bag flew with the wind. Harry was looking closely at this strange man.

“It’s you. Solicitor Rodrigo. What the hell are you doing threatening me with a kitchen knife? And why are you wearing all black at 4pm in the afternoon when it’s still light?”

“B-because,” Rodrigo stuttered, “I-I-I.”

Harry examined Rodrigo. Rodrigo looked up at the flats high above him. Sweat was dripping from his forehead and he was shaking, struggling to keep hold of the knife.

“Rodrigo.” Harry said, “What is the matter? Tell me please!”

Rodrigo turned the knife towards his heart and held it with both his hands.

“Rodrigo!” Harry shouted. “What are you doing? Stop!”

But before Harry could shout anything else, Rodrigo stabbed the knife right into his chest, to the left of his heart.

“Rodrigo!” Harry screamed.

Rodrigo collapsed to the floor whilst looking up at the sky. Blood drained all over the concrete floor. Harry ran up to Rodrigo and turned him over carefully.

“I’m so sorry Harry,” whispered Rodrigo. “I must tell you the truth.”

Tear drops from Harry’s dark brown eyes fell onto Rodrigo’s cheek. He couldn’t speak.

“My parents hated me because I stole £2000. They chucked me out. Your Uncle John cared for me. I trained to be a solicitor and have done many things. However, it got to when your Uncle was short of money.”

Rodrigo started coughing and was struggling to breathe. Harry tried to stop the bleeding.

“He hired me to… to.”

“To what?” Harry asked, still crying.

“Your Uncle wanted the £1 million. The truth is… I…”

“Yes.”

“I killed your Aunt.”

Rodrigo’s head slid to Harry’s shoulder. Rodrigo had painfully passed away. Harry decided to leave Rodrigo there and ran as fast as he could back to the bank.

*

     “I am so glad I put the £1 million back into my account,” sighed Harry, whilst sitting in his bed. “My uncle seems to be unsafe. I must return to my family in Leicester. It’s a long way, but it’s not safe to stay here with my Uncle John, especially after what I found out.”

Harry’s bags were downstairs at his front door.

“I don’t dare go back to my uncle. I’m glad I have my own house.”

Harry switched off his lamp and tried to fall asleep. His face had a complexion of fear.

*

     “Thank you for picking me up.”

Harry chucked his bags into a taxi and slid a small note under the mat in front of the door.

“Leicester, Leicester. Here I come.”

The taxi drove off through the housing estate on its way to the midlands, by a beautiful sunrise.

“Good afternoon. I would like to check Harry Chackerby’s account. I’m a family member.”

“Of course you can. There is £6000 in there.”

“WHAT!” shouted Uncle John.

“Didn’t you know about the will,” said the manager calmly. “At noon today, the £1 million pounds is sent to the Llama refuge if it wasn’t spent.”

“But, but, but. That’s impossible.”

“I’m sorry. That is what happened. Is there anything else you need to know?”

Uncle John ran out of the bank and sprinted across the streets to Harry’s house.

“I knew I couldn’t trust that solicitor. Where is he anyway?”

Uncle John eventually reached Harry’s front door and knocked as hard as he could. There was no answer. Uncle John looked through the windows but couldn’t see anyone.

“Maybe Harry is gone,” Uncle John thought.

Suddenly, a strong gust blew up the mat and Uncle John caught a piece of paper that flew in front of him.

 

Jonathon

Do not find me. I know what’s happened and what you wanted.

I’ve done what I thought was right. I’ll never trust you again.

P.S. Go to the alleyway and you’ll find Rodrigo.

 

Uncle John scrunched up the paper in his fist and ripped it up into millions of tiny pieces.

An empty taxi was randomly driving up the road. Uncle John stopped the taxi.

“Yes sir,” said the taxi driver.

“Leicester. Immediately!”

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Dissertation time

I mentioned when I first started blogging that I wanted to write about other topics, not just about my quest to improve my fitness for the upcoming Race for Life and posting homemade vegetarian recipes. Alongside all of the lifestyle stuff, I am a full-time student studying a Masters in English Studies, and the time has come where I need to seriously consider my dissertation.

For my undergraduate dissertation I looked at how British female war poets represent the position and engagement of women during the First World War. So to me, it makes sense to move onto the Second World War. I really enjoyed studying war poetry last year for my dissertation, and I have a passion for history. I want to see how different female poetry is from World War II in comparison to World War I.

I don’t know how much the British education system has changed since I was at secondary school and college, but when studying war, only the great soldier poets of the First World War are considered. Ask any British person to name a World War One poet, and you’ll get Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Rupert Brooke and many more males who fought as soldiers. At a stretch, you might hear Jessie Pope and Charlotte Mew, but generally female poets of both wars are greatly underrepresented.

The reason for this underrepresentation is that both world wars are viewed as gendered experiences. Women were not allowed to become soldiers; they were forbidden from participating as combatants on the front line in the British forces. So war is seen as a male experience, hence some have used this to argue that women surely have nothing worth writing about, because they could not fight.

This is completely false. British women had experiences just as worthy of recognition as men did. In fact, the boundary between the Home Front and the Front Line was entirely diminished in the Second World War, as civilians in Britain experienced similar horrors to soldiers, such as the Blitz when Germany repeatedly bombed London and other UK cities.

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A woman drinking tea among rubble from the Blitz

In addition, the distinction between the sexes also became blurred during both world wars as women took on traditionally masculine roles, including munitions, agriculture and ambulance drivers.

Interesting fact: female conscription was introduced for the first time in British history through the National Service Act of 1941. Young unmarried women or childless widows were called up for war work, to help with the national effort.

Despite women working in masculine jobs, gender roles were greatly maintained, particularly by the British government and propaganda. Men serving as soldiers were constantly reminded that they were fighting to protect the women and children at home, and women’s magazines reminded women to upkeep their beauty and appearance, as well as the household, even while working in difficult and tiring jobs. Women, ideally, were expected to represent social stability by remaining at and maintaining their home, ready for the soldier’s return.

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An example of propaganda representing women and children needing protection

Of course women did venture abroad to serve as nurses and other non-combatant wartime roles, but even there they were expected to adhere to the ideals of femininity. Forbidding women from physical combat was the main method of retaining femininity, as male soldiers were associated with killing, while women were life-givers.

Catherine Reilly (1925-2005) conducted a lot of research into war poetry, and she was the first person to publish anthologies dedicated solely to British female war poets. I used Scars Upon My Heart (1981), an anthology of First World War female poetry for my undergraduate dissertation, and for my masters dissertation, I will be using the companion anthology Chaos of the Night (1984), which contains female poetry of the Second World War. I also recently discovered Anne Powell’s Shadows of War (1999), which contains additional women who wrote poetry. Both books are great reads, highlighting the fact that women were greatly involved in the war and had their own experiences worthy of recognition.

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Catherine Reilly, ‘Chaos of the Night’

When I did my undergraduate dissertation, I found out that there is a gradual growing recognition for female war poets. Their poetry is representative of the experiences women went through during wartime Britain, including mourning, loss and working in gender reversed roles. If women had not been willing to work during both world wars, they would have been elongated, or possibly not won by Britain and its allies.

While there is more recognition for female war poets, anthologies still tend to veer towards the male gendered experience, only including a few poems by women. Some critics argue the reason for this is the genre of war poetry needs to be redefined, since the war experience of women is different to men’s.

The genre of war poetry was established by the soldier war poets of the First World War, representing the experiences of fighting in combat and trench warfare. World War One was the first war of modern technological warfare, which greatly influenced soldiers in writing their poetry. In fact, Second World War poetry is not as critically acclaimed as the First World War, most likely due to this.

I’m currently doing research at the moment, having read over twenty sources so far, a mixture of literary criticism and historical accounts. One of my favourite parts of writing essays and dissertations is research and reading. I learn something new each time I read a different source and, quite often, it helps to shape how I write my assignments.

The process of writing this dissertation is going to be very different compared to my experiences as an undergraduate. My undergraduate dissertation started in the summer before I started third year, when I did lots of reading and research, and writing up the project worked alongside all of my other assignments. This proved challenging for many students, but I coped with it rather well, making sure that I aimed to write a bit of my dissertation every week and meeting regularly with my supervisor. My hard work and effort meant that I achieved a first for my undergraduate dissertation!

I had to do a presentation recently in front of my course mates and some lecturers from the university. Overall it went really well; I received constructive feedback and was asked questions which will help me for my Masters dissertation.

My main research questions for this dissertation are:

  • How do British female poets represent the position and engagement of women during the Second World War?
  • What attitudes towards women are conveyed through female war poetry?
  • Why is Second World War poetry not as critically acclaimed as the poetry of the First World War
  • What ideals of ‘Britishness’ and opposition to Nazism/fascism conveyed through female war poetry?
  • How is a sense of the war as a ‘people’s’ one, and a sense of a nation united, portrayed through female war poetry
  • Is the divide between sex/gender maintained or blurred in female war poetry? What attitudes are held towards sex/gender by women poets?

So I have 15,000 words due on the 15th September 2015. Once I’ve handed in my dissertation, that’s it. I will have finished my masters! A scary prospect really, as I don’t know what my future holds. But as I wrote in a recent blog, I’m not worrying too much about my future, and just taking life and opportunities as they come.

 

Happy reading and blogging!

 

Many thanks,

Clare Bear

Lost Potential

Infinite innocent cries are

proclaimed around the world.

New life in the chaotic cosmopolitans

And depriving deserts.

 

Unnecessary necessities in their thousands

swarm the safely deprived bearer.

Flowers in their realms of glory

cast white light upon a deceased life-giver.

 

A boisterous babe cuddled in

robes of royalty and spite and

a compassionate child tightly grasped in

drapes and shards of misfortune and gratitude.

 

Gluttony engulfs a fortunate infant,

who avoids their small daily deprivation of freedom

that education unwillingly takes away;

their potential for development evaporating.

 

Starvation smothers a bone dry midget,

yearning to engrave their voice on the fortunate infants

who could never be grateful and eager to discover;

that potential of knowledge pouring down the drains.

 

This unjust world bears no safe sanctuary;

not for anyone.

 

© Clare Abbott (2010)

Free Style Writing Challenge

I have been nominated by Controversial Cook to do a free style writing challenge.

So here are Rules I had to follow (copied from AdiC’s) :

  1. Open an MS Word document
  2. Set a stop watch or your mobile to 5 minutes or 10 minutes whichever challenge you think you can beat.
  3. You topic is at the foot of this post BUT DO NOT SCROLL DOWN TO SEE IT UNTIL YOU ARE READY WITH A TIMER.
  4. Fill the word doc with as much words as you want. once you began writing do not stop even to turn.
  5. Do not cheat by going back and correcting spellings and grammar with spell check in MS WORD (it is only meant for you to reflect on your own control of sensible thought flow and for you to reflect on your ability to write the right spelling and stick to grammar rules)
  6. You may or may not pay attention to punctuation and capitals. However if you do, it would be best.
  7. At the end of your post write down ‘No. Of words =_____’ so that we would have an idea of how much you can write within the time frame.
  8. Do not forget to copy paste the entire passage on your blog post with a new Topic for your nominees and copy paste these rules with your nominations (at least 5 bloggers).

I was given 5 minutes to write an answer to this intriguing question asked by Controversial Cook: If women came from Venus and men from Mars why didn’t they stay where they were instead of coming to Earth to bother sweet creatures such as little butterflies and similar peaceful native earthly beasts?

So this is what I wrote in 5 minutes:

In answer to this question, I think it’s because humans are inquisitive beings, both men and women. We love to explore and discover new places. Anyway both planets, as far as scientists know, are inhabitable and cannot sustain human life. However, humans have lived for god knows how many years on planet Earth, and had evolved and adapted to new environments and conditions. That’s pretty amazing really.

Maybe the women from Venus and men from Mars saw the beauty of the Earth and were bored by the unsustainable environments they lived in somehow (I don’t know where this is going!)

Moving on, humans have adapted to the conditions on Earth, unfortunately at the expense of beautiful creatures, which has led to the extinction of thousands of species with many more to come in the near future.

I guess as a human race, we are taught to fend for ourselves, which animals do as well I suppose. But humans are greedy, and always look for more than they really need. We have fat cats who are just constantly looking for more ways to make money, and make themselves feel more than comfortable for the rest of their lives.

No. of words = 197 words

I now nominate the following five bloggers to write for 5 minutes (or 10 if they wish) about Fat Cats.

cloudmercury

amirascribbles

Running While Fat

Bluechickenninja

Only Coffee is Real

 

Good luck!

Happy reading and blogging,

 

Many thanks,
Clare Bear