It has recently been decided that money in the UK will be receiving a bit of a makeover and, in the habitual British manner of never welcoming change ever, it has predictably sparked a considerable amount of controversy.
A particularly noteworthy change to the currency will be Jane Austen’s replacement of our dear old Charles Darwin on the ten pound note. As the scientists among us raise their arms in anger, the literary snobs and feminists alike cannot wait to spend their ‘victory’.
This conflict, I feel, is perfect in mirroring my own personal conflict- being both a lover of science as well as literature in a world where these career paths couldn’t be more divided.
However, my concern with regards to this matter is not with what they’ve chosen but why.
On hearing the news that the five pound note was ditching the ‘only woman’ featured on British currency, feminists became outraged (because lets face it, at this point in time they really have nothing else to bitch about) and so Jane Austen secured her own place on our dosh.
But they seem to be forgetting a certain lady who has featured on every single penny and pound since 1953.
Her sparkling whites are not only on our money but on our stamps, mugs and even cushions!
(although the latter two are not exactly compulsory.)
So does this mean, as a nation, we have decided that the Queen does not represent a successful woman? That she, alone, is not good enough to represent the females of our country and satisfy feminists?
That she is worth little more than the money she is printed on?
As a British citizen, modesty has become almost a second language to me. Here, if you even find yourself wanting to share the news of your pet squirrel’s second place in a grooming competition, you will be labelled a snob and have your name removed from every scone-party guest list accordingly.
Well, it’s something like that.
This has proven to be a real issue lately as I am taking just another step into adulthood via the creation of my personal statement.
Basically a C.V., the personal statement is every egotist’s paradise as you’re expected to write around 500 words that should somehow convince another human being of your excellence.
This is the time when occasionally walking your grandma’s dog becomes ‘volunteering for the elderly’ and playing a game of cricket for your school when you were 12 becomes ‘having an active role in the school’s sports team’.
But just as I thought I was running out of things to write myself, I just happened to stumble upon this beauty…
… looks like I’ll be bouncing my way to university!
For those of you who have not become exclusively dedicated to news of the Royal baby, you may have heard the recent controversy regarding David Cameron’s plans to restrict pornography in the UK.
My Facebook and Twitter feed, for one, were certainly outraged over the decision which I certainly disagree with, however, it mainly strengthened my anger towards a different policy that the Conservative party are also introducing.
In 2015 it will be compulsory for schools to study a Shakespeare play and here lies the Conservative’s small, yet evident, contradiction.
Shakespeare is known for many things; his heartfelt poetry, being a magnificent playwright but also having a tendency to be a little raunchy here and there.
In fact, there’s a 300 paged book entirely dedicated to the scrupulous amount of sex that lingers amidst Shakespeare’s legendary lines.
So on the one hand we have to protect children from sex by forcing an entire country to become censored by default, but on the other hand we also have to force what is undeniably sexual down the same children’s throats in order to somehow protect their education?
I understand that I’m being a little pedantic here in comparing Shakespeare with porn (please note that’s not what I’m doing!), and you’re probably thinking that children won’t even understand the innuendos and questionable lines.
And that’s exactly where my frustration lies. Where is the logic behind forcing children to study Shakespeare when even students at university level can find it difficult to read let alone critically engage with?
By forcing the study of plays that my as well be composed of an entire different language, you are denying pupils their right to study literature.
I’m not for a moment denying Shakespeare’s importance, but when there is an entire world full of literary masterpieces it simply makes no sense for pupils to be constrained at all.
I think one of the greatest causes of the taboo which shrouds mental illness is how symptoms are often not visible, or at least not as obvious, as those from other illnesses such as meningitis for example. Consequently, yet perhaps understandably, it can be easy for people who are not affected by mental illness to not quite comprehend, or even fully believe in, what a sufferer is going through.
Here is a poem I wrote which attempts to revoke misconceptions and respond to those whose answer to mental illness is, ‘just try and cheer up and get over it’. As it has been famously stated, ‘you wouldn’t go up to a cancer patient and tell them to simply get over it’. Telling someone how they feel, or how they should feel, is as redundant as telling Grumpy Cat to smile.
My feelings are
You can’t quite believe.
My thoughts are
And, in fact, imaginary.
My actions are
Untrue of a body in tact.
But it mustn’t be forgotten;
I am the liar you named,
The dreamer you shamed,
And the life you claimed.
(A merrier post soon, I promise!)