From The Fishbowl

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Archive for the category “Random”

Companionship

Hello.

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog, especially a blog about Doctor Who. Blogging about Doctor Who used to be one of my favourite things, and I feel like I want to blog about Doctor Who tonight, so I’m going to blog about Doctor Who. OK? For the record, this post will contain spoilers on episodes up to and including the most recent, Hide.

The quality of this series of DW has been pretty high, for the most part. Which is pleasing. Two episodes in particular have really stuck out to me, though. One was Hide, the other was The Rings of Akhaten. Both were written by the same man, Neil Cross, who, for the record, is a newcomer to DW. These two stories were his first for the show. And both, in my opinion, were bloody amazing.

Let me talk about ‘Rings’ first of all. It was Clara’s first ‘proper’ story as a companion. As in, it wasn’t an introduction, or a ‘different’ version of her. So it kind of had a lot of responsibility, in that sense. And Neil Cross made me fall in love with her. I think she’s going to be a great companion. She’s everything Amy wasn’t. Amy was way too intelligent, too chatty, too…abnormal to be the ‘everyman’ that a companion is supposed to be. (Rory was better, as I’ve said many times.) Clara, on the other hand, while still intelligent, is much more grounded. Her backstory is sweet, but detached: we won’t have to suffer through her extended family, like we did with Rose, and in general she has a very – ugh – girl-next-door type of charm to her.

(It also helps that Jenna-Louise Coleman isn’t incredibly difficult to look at. But that’s beside the point.)

Rings was an excellent story, too. It felt a lot like an Old Who story, in my opinion. The kind of tale you could see Tom Baker smiling his way through over four episodes in 1975. There was some excellent dialogue, too, some of the best in a DW episode for ages (until Hide, but I’ll come to that in a minute). There was a great baddie – AN ENTIRE PLANET 😀 – and the Star Wars Cantina feel of the marketplace was pretty great too. A monster that feeds off memories and sentimentality – with memories, of course, being a huge theme of Eleven’s stories – worked on a lot of levels, too. So yeah. Wonderful episode.

Last night, we had Hide. I was expecting a lot of Mr. Cross after Rings, and I wasn’t let down. There were a couple of scenes that were – dare I say – a little dull (generally when the professor was alone with his psychic assistant) but for the most part, the tension was excellent. One thing I absolutely love the story for is what I described on Twitter as ‘my favourite Doctor Who thing!’. In short: using time travel as an actual plot device, rather than just an excuse to send the Doctor to various different studios in BBC TV Centre (RIP). The idea of a woman trapped in a pocket universe – moving so incredibly slowly in ‘real time’ but moving when photographed throughout history – is just AHHHHHHHHHHH. I found that so cool. Plus we got to hear the Cloister Bell because of it, which is a rarity. And the TARDIS acted as a character briefly! This is never a bad thing.

My absolute favourite thing, though, was the dialogue. There are a couple of lines/scenes which are going to stay with me for quite some time. In particular, one of the last lines of the episode, “Every lonely monster needs a companion,” was gorgeous and brimming with vaguely meta subtext. My favourite scene, though – which literally made me bounce up and down on my sofa, it was so wonderfully written – was in the TARDIS and the Doctor and Clara were travelling through Earth’s lifecycle. Clara is disturbed by this, unable to believe that the Doctor can be ‘OK’ with experiencing so much life and death in a short space of relative time.

“To you I haven’t been born yet,” she says, “and to you I’ve been dead a hundred billion years.” She asks if her dead body is out there somewhere, amidst the heat-destroyed ruins of Earth. “Yes,” the Doctor replies. “I suppose it is.”

Then some truly wonderful words fall out of Clara’s mouth. “But here we are, talking, so I am a ghost. To you, I’m a ghost. We’re all ghosts to you, we must be nothing.” The Doctor stands alone, and smiles sadly to himself.

This scene just…encompasses everything I love about the Doctor as a character and the show in general. This is a man – an alien – who has been alive for over a thousand years. He has been the architect of so much death, but also of so much life. He’s arguably destroyed as many lives as he’s saved. It’s a strange facet of his character. He’s described during Ten’s tenure as a Lonely God, and that theme has kind of fallen by the wayside a little since Matt Smith’s taken over. But for a brief second, we see it in him once again. And it made me so happy to see. It made me fall in love with Eleven a little more, too. He’s had angst before, Amy-related, Lonely God angst at that, but I prefer it when it’s kind of in the background, rather than overt. For instance , when he hid the TARDIS in the clouds during ‘The Snowmen’ just to get away from everyone and everything. He frustrated me in that episode, because I just wanted him to cheer the hell up. But seeing a few chinks in his jolly exterior from time to time? I can get behind that 100%.

The idea that all of us are ghosts is rather wonderful too, given that it perfectly encapsulates the story. Hide is a ghost tale without any ghosts. Or, arguably, with billions of them, depending on your point of view. Cool huh?! Mm.

You get all that from just a few lines of dialogue and a lingering expression. It doesn’t get much better than that, in my opinion. I hope Neil Cross writes some more Doctor Who next year. Frankly, on this evidence, he seems to understand the show enough to be a viable candidate for showrunner when Steven Moffat calls it a day (which I don’t think will happen for some time, but still). He does live in New Zealand though. Which could make things tricky… (Doctor Who/LOTR crossover, anyone?! :D)

Next week we get to see the depths of the TARDIS properly for the first time, which will be exciting. Unless it’s a bad episode. I don’t know who wrote it, but as long as it wasn’t Mark Gatiss and we don’t end up on a submarine with a 5000-year-old Martian who speaks fluent Russian, we should be OK. (I HATED THAT FUCKING EPISODE SO MUCH IT MADE ME WANT TO PUNCH SOMETHING.) It’ll no doubt be continuity-buggering either way.

I might write some more about Doctor Who again in future, because I do love it so. Thanks for reading this, though. Byeeee.

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Resolve

Blimey.

I didn’t realise that it’d been nearly two months since I last posted here. ‘My bad’. In case you’re unaware, my NaNoWriMo project failed, but I’m planning to carry on with the novel regardless because I think it could be quite good. Eventually. But that’s not really why I’m here today. I’m here because it’s nearly a new year, so I have a few resolutions to make. Whether I’ll keep them or not is another story, but there’s at least one that I wanted to put online for the world to see.

I’m currently trying to plan a list of twelve Books That I Probably Should Have Read But Have Never Gotten Around To Reading. These might either be ‘classics’ or maybe just a book series that I’ve read the first part of but not carried on with. Currently the list isn’t actually twelve books long because I need to think of more. If anyone has any suggestions, I would be most grateful. The list so far is comprised of, in no particular order:

1) Something by Kurt Vonnegut (probably Slaughterhouse-Five but I’ve also been recommended Cat’s Cradle)

2) Life of Pi by Yann Martel

3) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

4) Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

5) Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

6) To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

7) Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde

8) ?

9) ?

10) ?

11) ?

12) ?

I will hopefully read more than just these twelve this year, but I picked 12 because, y’know, there are 12 months. If anyone has any recommendations for the remaining five, please let me know either here or on Twitter or via that there Contact page (link at the top of the page).

I’m hopeful that 2013 will be a good year for me. Frankly, 2012 – with a couple of notable exceptions – has been pretty crappy. I don’t think 2013 could be altogether that much worse, I’ll put it that way. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Thanks for reading.

Circuses

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve finally done what I’ve been threatening to do for some time. I finally read The Hunger Games.

I’ve been meaning to for years now, I truly have, but there have always been other books to read, other things to do. And then I just bought it. And today, I finished Mockingjay, the third and final book in the series. I just fancied saying a few words about it. Very heavy spoilers follow, so tread lightly if you’re still planning to read them.

I’ll summarise my opinion first. Essentially, I really liked the trilogy. Really liked it. It’s well worthy of the praise it’s had heaped on it. It’s quite rare that something lives up to its hype, in my estimation, but The Hunger Games definitely does. For the most part, anyway.

One thing that I really liked is how clear its subtext is. The bane of many a GCSE English student, a piece of literature’s subtext can still give me nightmares. I always make what I suppose could be called a ‘light’ reading of books. I read for the story, for the characters, not really for what the author’s trying to say. Of course, an author may not always be trying to say anything – speaking from experience, I only occasionally lace my stories with subtext, for instance – but in The Hunger Games, it’s really quite clear what Suzanne Collins is trying to tell the reader. Hell, if you have any familiarity with the concept behind the series, you can get the subtext. Desensitisation to violence, particularly with children. Media-obsessed culture. Children being forced to grow up too quickly. The effects of war. Plus much more. This stuff isn’t hidden, it’s right out in the open. It’s actually a little jarring at times, but it works incredibly well on the whole.

The plot’s the main way that this is brought across, of course, but the two main characters of Katniss and Peeta are also hugely important in getting the themes across. They fit together like a jigsaw. He can do what she can’t and vice versa. They are an almost perfect yin and yang.

Now, Katniss isn’t what you would call the most sympathetic lead character in the history of literature. To be frank, she can come across as a bitch quite a lot of the time, particularly when it comes to playing with Peeta and Gale’s hearts. This characteristic actually makes her a bit of an unreliable narrator (although that’s not really emphasised that much). One thing I noticed, for example, is that whenever Katniss kills, there is only minimal detail. “I shoot him in the neck” is about as much description as we get of her killing Marvel in the first book, whereas her description lingers when, say, Boggs has his legs blown off in Mockingjay. One thing that I found wonderful about Collins’ writing is that, although Katniss is not really a very nice person and gets progressively nastier as the pages turn, she remains likeable. A good character. I wouldn’t want her as a friend, but I’d listen to her telling stories all day.

Peeta, on the other hand, would be a much more traditional protagonist. Many authors would probably write him in that role, actually, especially if the viewpoint of the novel were third person. He’s just…’nice’. Which is a horrible word to use when describing anyone, but it fits him perfectly. No matter how Katniss acts towards him in the first two books, he remains firm with one objective – ‘I love her and I will protect her.’ Compare that to Katniss who, at numerous points, flat out says that she hates Peeta despite the fact that most of the problems he has to deal with are ultimately caused by her. She seems to want to protect him, says that numerous times, but I don’t think I ever really believed it. I always had the feeling that she’d off him if she really had to, but Peeta would never be able to do that to her. At least until he’s brainwashed, but that’s not really the same…

My favourite character, though, is Finnick. I see him as a mix of Peeta and Katniss – he has her combat skills, his eloquence and the determination of them both. He, if anything, has the opposite character arc to Katniss. He starts off, outwardly, as a bit of a prick, but gradually becomes more likeable as the books go on, particularly when he’s more than a bit deranged in much of Mockingjay. I won’t lie, his death upset me. More than any other character, I wanted him to be happy with Alice. He was just as much a pawn of the Capitol and Katniss and Peeta, moreso if anything, and if I were writing the story he’d have been in that meeting before the execution of Snow. I wonder if he’d say yes or no to a new Hunger Games…

Anyway, the series had to end eventually. The end of the first novel was a bit flat, in my reckoning. It was way too open-ended. Of course, that’s because there are two more books, but there wasn’t anything that would have particularly wanted to make me read on if I didn’t already have the other two thirds of the trilogy. I’ll put it this way: if I’d have bought it on publication, I may not have bothered with Catching Fire when it came out the next year.

Catching Fire, incidentally, is my favourite of the trilogy, an opinion I know is shared by many. It’s a very well plotted and suspenseful story, that doesn’t really let its foot off the gas all that much. Unfortunately, the beginning of both The Hunger Games and Mockingjay are a bit slow, a bit plodding (which doesn’t bode well, considering that Mockingjay is due to be split into two films for the adaptation – how’s that for a powerful media playing with audience expectations, eh?!) but pick up in the second and third acts. If anything, Catching Fire does the opposite: it hits the ground running, slows down a bit in act 2, then breaks the sound barrier on its way to a cliffhanger ending. It’s great.

The end of Mockingjay is…hmm. Earlier, I described it to a friend as ‘shit’ but that’s a bit harsh. It’s arguably flatter than the original’s ending. Basically, my main problem with it is that it’s incredibly depressing for the last fifty-odd pages and then, magically, in the space of four pages, it becomes a ‘happy ever after’ ending. I wouldn’t have had a problem with a depressing ending. Equally, I wouldn’t have had a problem with a happy ending. But the ‘best of both worlds’ approach doesn’t fit at all. Incidentally, I have exactly the same problem with the ending of Harry Potter. I’m known by some for my ferocious hatred of ‘Nineteen Years Later’, and The Hunger Games pulls the exact same cop-out. It’s disappointing.

But, taken as a whole, I did really enjoy The Hunger Games and I’d genuinely recommend it to anyone. The film’s good too, incidentally – it might actually be even better at getting some of the themes across, to be honest.

And they all lived happily ever after…

FILDI

Hello.

The next post on this blog – which will be up later tonight – will contain the first part of a story I’ve had brewing in my mind for nearly two years. This story is called The Galaxy and it’s the most ambitious project I’ve ever attempted. It’s only since the release of Not Quite Normal that I’ve had the confidence to put it into motion. So allow me to set the scene.

The Galaxy is set in a distant future where humanity has expanded into the stars and settled on three extra-solar planets, named Barrington, Barrington II and Eden. But even with this brave new dawn, old problems have not gone away. Drugs, gangs and piracy rule the skies and the planets below. Amidst this, a galactic police force attempts to maintain order, while those who seek only profit fight against imprisonment. And in an age of technological revolution, the next step in human evolution is always just around the corner…

The story is, in essence, a combination of science fiction and crime drama, filled with a cast of good, evil, and grey. To say much more would be to spoil it. I would be lying if I said I had every single intricate detail of the fictional universe planned out, but I have enough to get going. If I do not start now, I never will.

The next post contains a short prologue. That’ll be the first and only part of the story you’ll be seeing for a while – think of it as a trailer. But soon – hopefully in a month or so – I will be serialising the story. Hopefully I’ll have some sort of routine. The aim is to, eventually, have enough content in both The Galaxy and This Immortal Coil to be able to produce a piece of each story on Plastic Castle Magic each week. But I’m not going to promise anything right now. All I will say is that more is coming, and soon. And hopefully it’ll be good. But I guess that’s up to you to decide.

So then. Here goes nothing. Enjoy.

I Done

I done a good thing? I done a bad thing?

I done a ‘I don’t know’ thing. But it felt right. And feels right still. But it could be wrong. I worry too much. But I set out to make myself happy this year. I haven’t been.

It’s early days.

But my happy is coming back.

Pronouns

I’ve learnt a lot about myself this year, both good and bad. Hopefully, by the time the year is out, I’ll be able to look back on all this and work out if/how I’ve improved as a person.

I’ve learnt that I’m a lot more emotional, and emotionally sensitive, than I thought I could ever be. I’m a big softy, basically. I think that’s good. But it can turn bad.

I’ve learnt that I can get obsessed with things quickly. I knew that, but not to this extent. It sort of frightens me.

I’ve learnt that I enjoy listening to people and helping them. I enjoy it a lot. So much that I’m considering volunteering for the Samaritans.

I’ve learnt that there are some important pieces of my life that are missing, and while the holes are slowly being filled, I sometimes fear that if I leave them empty too long they’ll warp out of shape and nothing will ever fit there again.

I’ve learnt that I was more miserable than I thought I was, and now I’ve realised that it’s made me even more miserable. A downward spiral of sadness.

I’ve learnt that being an adult isn’t the same thing as being mature, but that neither one should be the be all and end all.

I’ve learnt that the things I like most in life aren’t necessarily the ones that are going to make me happiest.

I’ve learnt that I’m not as intelligent as I thought I was.

I’ve learnt a lot.

857

There are some things in life that I don’t understand.

The unfairness of it all, for a start. I don’t get why bad things happen to good people. It’s a cliché, I know, but clichés are normally clichés because they hold more than an ounce of truth. Let me give you some examples.

First, my uncle. If you’re reading this blog as a friend of mine, you’ll already know parts of this. One of my mum’s brothers was born with Cerebral Palsy, quite a severe form of it. It means that he’s high tone deaf, can’t speak properly, can’t walk well and has the mental age of a child. He did nothing to deserve such a curse, but he’s been vindicated and victimised for it his entire life. Like the time he got arrested for being in the wrong place at the wrong time and couldn’t explain his innocence. Or the time the Department for Work and Pensions tried to take away his disability benefit because he couldn’t talk over the phone.

Another example is my best friend. If you’re reading this, I hope you don’t mind me talking about you – text me if you do mind and I’ll take it down. A little over a decade ago, when we were 12 and didn’t know each other too well, he suffered a stroke. Doctors still don’t know what caused it. But he’s had to go through years of physio and other treatments, and still can’t walk long distances. Plus, there are a multitude of related issues he has to cope with every day, and probably will for the rest of his life. But he is my best friend for a reason. He’s the best bloke I know, a true individual and he doesn’t let his illness get in the way of having a good life. He inspires me every day. Again, he doesn’t deserve the cards he was dealt.

There are other examples I could give about people I know and the hardships they’ve suffered. Some people very close to me, others more distant but still forever on my mind. I neglect to mention them not because I don’t care – I love all of my friends and family, old and new, more than they will ever know – but because of privacy.

The flipside of the coin makes me angry.

All the time, you see in the newspapers, on the television, anywhere you care to look, people who have been given it all but just throw it away. The countless awful parents on the Jeremy Kyle Show who neglect their kids in favour of drink and drugs, while there are people out there who want nothing more than a child of their own to love. The wife-beaters who are somehow irresistable to almost every woman in the world. The ‘celebrities’ with stacks of cash who blow the lot on hookers and bling. These are morally corrupt, vacuous excuses for human beings who I hate having to share the planet with sometimes, quite honestly.

What about myself? In comparison to many, I have had a good life. And so I get cross with myself when I get upset. Because I know so many people who have had much worse things happen to them, and yet the selfishness of depression means I feel my problems are the biggest in the world. I’m a bad friend and a worse relation. I hope that I can be forgiven for my selfishness, but I suppose it’s just a quirk of my character. I’m trying to be better, to evolve as a human, but it’s hard.

I’ve spoken a little on this blog before about a vlogger called Ze Frank. Yesterday, I watched this video of his about ten times. Every single line of this invocation is beautiful in its own way. Something about it really strikes a chord with me. One line in particular really resonates:

“Let me think about the people who I care about the most. And how when they fail, or disappoint me, I still love them, I still give them chances, and I still see the best in them. Let me extend that generosity to myself.”

That line, right there, is the secret to life on this planet. What it says to me is that, even if the world is unfair, even if all this bad stuff happens to good people, you can’t let it get in the way. We’re on this planet with 7 BILLION others, and there are only a handful of them that we can possibly hold close to us. They are too precious to let go of. Everyone has hard times, everyone makes mistakes, everyone can sometimes piss everyone else off, but we have to see past that. Because the people we care about the most define who we are. Without them, we are nothing. I guess you have to just try your best to help define them, too.

Some things in life may not be understandable, and a lot of it is not there to be understood. But what is there, we have to make the best of, whatever our situations. Find happiness. Find love. Find life.

Psychowriting

Hello.

Earlier today, I sat down and started freewriting. That being the process of jotting down whatever comes to mind without a second thought and just seeing what happens. Ordinarily, the process turns out utter crap, but at least helps the creative juices get flowing. Today, my freewriting session turned out something that I actually quite like for some reason. I don’t really know why. I thought I’d show you. Have fun.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

WBW – FILDI.

 

Four white Beatles, walking ‘cross the road.

Four white Beatles, walking ‘cross the road.

And if one white Beatle, should accidentally something

There’d be three white Beatles, walking ‘cross the road.

 

RANDOM WORKS OF FICTION MAKE THE WORLD TURN

OUTSTANDING WORKS OF FICTION MAKE THE WORLD BURN

 

Never before have I thought I’d be doing this at random, making silly words into silly sentences that barely make sense except for the fact that they run in formation and use a level of syntax synonymous with the creation of English Language sentences. One could almost call it poetry, were it not for the fact that poetry is dull and boring and leaves more to the imagination than a piece of writing should. But then again, there can be some beauty in that, in the not knowing, in the reading between the lines and the flow of letters and syllables up and down a page.

I don’t know if this is supposed to be some sort of healing process, or perhaps is just my fried creative juices crying out in pain and shouting WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME?!?!?!? and this is the only way that I can control them. Maybe I’m finally realising there’s more to writing than prose and poetry and there can be something inbetween. Something with flow, that is beauty epitomised, but also something that I can do.

It could just be me rambling. I am sat staring into glass onto ‘ink’ formed of 1s and 0s that doesn’t even exist. I am focussed for the first time in God knows how long, and I am not even doing anything but writing. Just writing. The words flow from finger to page without second thought, or even first thought, and all that exists in my mind are words and fingers and the joyful despair of everything around me.

I do not know if this feeling will last, or even if it exists at all, for I am focussed and nothing will stop me until I stop myself.

And I have.

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Top Ten Games

…because why not? Here’s a list of my top ten video games of all time and why.

1: Mass Effect 2 – Because this game is basically perfect. They trimmed every ounce of fat from the original game, but kept in all the good stuff. They tightened up the combat mechanics so much that the shooting is more satisfying than in a lot of games designed just for shooting. Combine that with an awesome story, amazing characters and a campaign that lasts over 40 hours and boy, it’s a doozy.

2: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – Because it pretty much set the bar for every adventure game that came after it. Emotional, complex and stuffed with ten times as many great moments as most other games.

3: Burnout 3: Takedown – Because it’s the most fun it is possible to have while playing a video game. Especially with friends, but even alone. It’s just FUN. It’s impossible not to smile while playing it.

4: Portal 2 – Because, although it’s not as original as the, uh, original, it took everything that made that game so classy – the humour, the tricky but immensely satisfying puzzles – and made a proper game out of it, rather than an experiment. Also features the funniest dialogue you’re probably ever going to hear in a game. It’s all just so clever.

5: Grand Theft Auto IV – Because although no-one else in the world likes this game, I love it. It takes all of the core tenants that made the series a success, and in doing so created probably the most ‘mature’ game the medium has ever produced.

6: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time – Because it’s got bags of class. It successfully implemented the narrative structure of something like Half-Life into a platforming game and mixed it with a great combat system (although many would disagree…) and a perfect Arabian Nights setting.

7: Rock Band 3 – Because it’s rhythm-action perfection. An amazing soundtrack that’s still being updated years after launch, and a ridiculous amount of fun with a couple of friends.

8: Gitaroo Man – Because it’s so damn crazy. You probably haven’t heard of it. Look it up on YouTube. You still won’t understand it, but it might just make you want to check it out. Sequel, please?

9: SSX 3 – Because it’s the pinnacle of the extreme sports genre. A big mountain, bigger tricks, huge levels of customisation, tonnes of stuff to do…it just doesn’t get boring.

10: Halo Reach – Because I wanted to select a Halo game, and this is probably the best one. But the whole series is fantastic – FPS perfection.

Done! 🙂

It’s A Mystery

Hello.

This post is going to be about something that I’ve always had a mild interest in. Because it is late, I am not tired, and I have nothing better to do. Well, I probably do have better things to do, but I can’t be arsed to do them. That topic is…

History! Random, I know. But the more I’ve been looking back on my life recently, the more I realised that I should have done a history degree. Too late to do anything about it now. I guess I could start another degree but I’m already 10 grand in debt. Don’t really need any more.

I wish I’d come to that realisation earlier. As it was I sort of fell into a degree in creative writing and media studies (2:1, thanks for asking). I wanted to do media because it was the thing I was best at during my A Levels. Turns out studying it at degree level is about a billion times more complex, much less fun and I was a bit rubbish at it. I only took creative writing because I needed another class to fill the timetable, but it soon became my de facto ‘number one’ (although I was equally weighted between it and media). I even did my dissertation in it. A Perfect Endeavour, which you can find in Not Quite Normal (incidentally 50% off this week, check my Twitter for details because I can’t be bothered to repeat myself).

So why didn’t I do history? I mean, it would have been a perfect second option to media. Well not perfect, it’s not like they go together like peanut butter and jelly (although I can only assume they go together because I dislike peanut butter and am not American…), but it would’ve plugged the gap I needed. Although then I never would have written so much. Weird how things work out.

I didn’t do history because I got bored of it at college.

Now, I’ve always found it to be incredibly interesting and I still do, of course. But we have a pre-occupation in the UK when it comes to learning history. Because you learn a lot about World War II.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, it’s almost certainly the event that has had the most impact on the shape of the world since 1945. But when you learn about it every year for the best part of 10 years? Yeah, I kind of got bored.

The best example is how my History A Level panned out. There were three modules each year, across two years of course, each weighted equally.

First year: The Russian Revolution(s) – not directly related to WW2 since the module covered approximately from 1890-1917, but undoubtedly had a huge impact on the War and acted as a precursor to another module. Fascist Italy – Hitler picked up a lot of ideas from Mussolini and, obviously, was a major ally to Nazi Germany in the War (point of disclosure: I really loved this module, to be fair – Mussolini, despite being a clearly evil man, is my favourite ‘character’ from history). And German Foreign Policy from 1930-1939 – if you need me to tell you how this is related to World War II well, God help you.

Second year: Life in Nazi Germany – see my last point. Russia Under Stalin – Stalin, of course, being a major player in WW2 and beyond (it still fascinates me that the Soviets had a pact with the Nazis pre-war. That was always going to work…). And finally, The British Empire, from 1850-1950(ish) – Again, the link is pretty obvious.

So basically, I spent two years learning about World War II. And I had had enough. I didn’t even look at history courses because I’d been put off so much. I want to just make clear that there was nothing wrong with the education. In fact, I had one particularly fantastic history teacher at college – one of those teachers that leaves such an impact on you that I’m unlikely to forget him – but the topics just really turned me off.

But there’s so much more to history than the War. I’ve personally always had a huge interest in American history. I guess I find it fascinating that one of this planet’s youngest countries has grown into undoubtedly the most important in the world. The Romans have always interested me too – although Roman history is something of an obsession in the British curriculum as well, especially at Primary level – but there’s quite a lot that I’m interested in that I barely know anything about. Like Japan. Why I find that interesting is because in terms of its location, size and nature as an island, has a lot of similarities to Britain. But whereas Britain took onboard a lot of influences from the continent and beyond (not least in our language), Japan has traditionally always been very isolationist and solitary. I have no real idea why that is, although I’d love to find out.

There’s so much to learn about this world and so little time to learn it. I guess I just wish I’d spent a few more of my years doing that, rather than faffing around writing essays on postmodernism and stories that no-one reads. I guess I wish I’d realised this passion in myself sooner.

I don’t want to end on a downer – it was fun writing that. Maybe I should do a bit more amateur history work. It’s not like there aren’t enough books and websites. Yes. Yes, I will do that. Thank you, random midnight blog post.

And thanks, as ever for reading.

(Aside: if anyone has read any particularly fascinating history books – but preferably not about World War II, please – do get in touch. Any and all ideas greatly appreciated.)

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