Miranda Hart’s The Girl With The Lost Smile- a lovely surprise!

Girl with the Lost Smile Miranda Hart

Miranda Hart’s The Girl with the Lost Smile, hit me like a train, initially at least. I was expecting something silly, more fool me.

Soon though I realised that this book wasn’t a train, but a massive hug.

I read most of the book in less than twenty-four hours. Most of this reading was done in one sitting. There is so much to learn from this book, and there’s no way I can’t do it justice here!

Young or older, go and read this book!


Five Facts about Free-Ebooks you didn’t know.

Here are some facts about access to free-ebooks.

  1. You can read for free!
  2. You can access these books from anyplace, anywhere.
  3. You can access these books at any time.
  4. You already know your phone/ iPad/ Amazon Kindle SO WELL- you got ‘dis
  5. Everyone can learn how to do it.

All you need to do is dig out your library card and ask them about their e-books.

Library ebooks 1


Slobodan Praljak: BBC News Coverage. A case in their Convenience > Education

Those who do not learn history

This article in no way condones the actions of Slobodan Praljak or his co-defendants in any shape or form,

This is only a partial answer to my quest for ‘the truth’ or, at best, research, of these events, something the BBC has only helped in what I can question of their coverage!

The suicide of Slobodan Praljak has caused a tirade of more media coverage than we could not have anticipated. Without his suicide, it is possible that the ICTY would have closed with a small puff, instead, it’s been a huge gulp, and I’ve been biting my lip.

I understand I am in a unique position in that I witnessed the suicide live on television. It drove so many questions that I can’t yet comprehend, but one immediacy is the coverage by the BBC News website that has deeply angered me. It has angered me not because it is a political discussion, for that is legitimate and fair on the most part, but ‘tip-of-the-ice-berg’ and ‘digestible news’ equation makes for poor journalism for two reasons I can pinpoint now.

  1. Praljak’s suicide was not, at first, understood. Judge Agius did not initially understand the few lines of Praljak’s speech and it took quite a few seconds for the convicted’s words to be translated. Therefore, he was unable to stop the proceedings “immediately” as is claimed in The BBC News article published on 29th November 2017 In this video, you can actually see Judge Agius shaking his head at the end, no idea what has happened, what Praljak has said, or what he’s drunk.
  2. Several weeks after the event, the BBC are cementing inaccuracies, at the expense of telling the true, more gruesome story. In his video, Jeremy Bowen gives the destruction of the Mostar Bridge as an example of wartime criminal activity. This is an inaccuracy, which should have been informed by the court appeal judgement made 29th November 2017, and made avaliable to press. 

The Appeals Chamber reverses, Judge Pocar dissenting, the Trial Chamber’s findings that the destruction of the Old Bridge constituted persecution and the unlawful infliction of terror on civilians, and acquits the Defence appellants of these crimes in relation to the Old Bridge – p. 6

Jeremy Bowen tries to pave over this because it complicates the nature of the conviction somewhat, something I don’t have space for here.

Why isn’t Jeremy Bowen taking the chance to speak up for the victims of Praljak’s illegal actions, rather than cementing miss-truths.

So far, the result of the investigation into Praljak’s death has confused me, I’m not entirely sure how the suicide couldn’t have been prevented, but I am yet to look into this in more depth.

Further yet, the BBC News article talks of a recommendation in which these types of court proceedings will not be seen live on television. This is a worrying censorship of what claims to be an incredibly important legal process, yet our sense of that will not be  transparent, once filtered by the pragmatic news coverage we see, such as that on BBC News.

Wolf stuff, oh my!

Personally I can’t do Saturdays, since I work then, but I wholeheartedly recommend anything run by this lovely lot!!! GO GO GO.

There are about 25 free tickets left for this fab event bookable online atRedeeming the wolf: A Story of Persecution, Loss and Rediscovery If you can’t make it in person please join us on Twitter #redeemthewolf @OGOMProject Bring Grandma and get ready to wolf down those last free tickets! Related BBC News Story: Red Riding…

via Redeeming the Wolf at the Being Human Festival — Open Graves, Open Minds

Some advice for results day 2017

So, your mates are getting ready to go boozing and you’re sat with your papers still in your hand figuring out the next steps. There’s countless websites out there that tell you what to do. There’s countless options, and decisions, to be made. However, whilst I want to point to these resources and emphasise that this is the best way forward, I would like to add the personal somewhat to proceedings, in case anyone stumbles across this post.
There will be many people who tell you “it’s not the end of the world.” That’s very easy to say and I can only reflect on my experience five years ago, when the bottom of my heart fell and I realised I had missed my predicted grades by a few marks! Looking back, I want to chuckle at myself. I guess this is little advice/some thoughts on A-Level results, where we can go from here….
The first thing, and that’s paramount. Go and get yourself a cup of tea and sit down in the garden! The chances are you’ve had a crazy morning and just want to chill. Please do this. Bookmark your tabs for later, and sign out for a bit!

Now, hopefully you’ve had a chance to put your feet up, watch something and breathe! Here’s some more specific advice about the moves forward now. Some are specific to university application processes, some focus particularly on the results and where to move forward in terms of your own personal development.

Take a chance to analyse your results. What went better than expected? What skills have you mastered without necessarily realising what they are? Stick with the positives first and note them down.
An example of this might be a biology essay in an exam. Take that forward, consider if you enjoy it, and give yourself a pat on the back. Something will have gone better than expected so focus on this first.

What didn’t go as well? Now, I wish I didn’t have to consider this one, but chances are, there was an exam paper you felt organised and confident in, and you didn’t get the grade reflected. The first thing to do is to consider speaking to your college tutor, to see if there are others who fell below the expected (follow the steps in #1).
Now reflect on the skills needed, and list what you feel you could have improved. This is a difficult process without the exam paper to analyse. This is why you might want to consider asking the college if they are prepared to go through a paper with you and see what happened.
If there is a skill that you need to focus on then start now!
Look at work experience placements you could consider to help develop the skills identified by your A- Level results. Consider the option to re-sit, but also think about it this way: the exam system does generalise to a large degree. It’s the nature of the beast and is not personal. There are many very intelligent people who “flunked” their A-Levels. There are some very famous people who don’t even have them, and in the ‘real-world’ are successes! This is not the end of your journey, but consider first if you want to re-sit and this will depend on factors only you know. If you can move forward, do so, but take the advice from examiners and tutors forward and work on it as a matter of priority. Most of all remember:
“Success is not about being the best, it’s about always getting better.” – 99U, Adobe magazine.

Enjoy filling the knowledge gaps. Remember that book the tutor mentioned? Or that theory you still didn’t quite crack after all those hours studying? Well now’s the chance to chill and learn it anyway. Knowledge is an asset to be celebrated in all its degrees and expressions. Now you don’t have to prove yourself in that gruesome exam hall, why not chill and fill in the gaps? Watch a documentary about how one of your topics relates to the out-side world. Remember how big “knowledge” is, and remember that in any case, the A-Level was only a tiny sample of the field. Jump in and explore! You don’t need a piece of paper to tell you you aced your favourite bit of the course- you know that already, because you enjoyed it and that’s the main thing. What you enjoyed should inform your choices going forward more than what you didn’t enjoy as much.
Consider your options in terms of the exam papers. If there is an exam you know you were well studied for, organised in your answers and calm throughout, ask your college department to retrieve your paper from the exam board or even ask for a re-mark. In some cases, where grades have fallen below expected, the college will themselves seek re-marks for their cohort. However, any possible changes, (and I want to emphasise this as much as possible) will take at least a few months to process. At this stage, the grades on that piece of paper or on the screen are what we must work with.

Whatever has happened today, try not to be too bitter about it. This is your journey, so tune out what others are doing. Within weeks you’ll be off on your own adventures, so follow your heart on clearing open days. Ask the university how they can support you in issues brought up by your A-Levels. Talk about what you enjoyed at A-Level and any aspirations you have in your Degree and discuss things with your tutors. This is as much about what you have to bring to the table as it is about finding you a uni place. Remember that everyone has something to offer so consider this relationship going forward.

Look at the research goals of the academics you’ll be working with.
All universities will have a department website, and an off-shoot of this should be their academic research interests and goals. The reasons I am saying this are numerous; you get a feel for the work being done within the university across disciplines and how this works in the outside world; how university modules will be informed by academic fields; what events you could get involved in; how your work will fit into this going forward… Seriously, make the academic research of your department a key part of your clearing or application research process!
I’m just going to show you how this worked during my undergraduate degree at the University of Hertfordshire.

You can view a talk-through here



Wolf by Wolf and Blood for Blood Ryan Graudin

Graudin (2016) addresses identity in the addictive Wolf by Wolf series.

Contains spoilers.

I love the young adult genre. I love that contemporary political issues are being dealt with one way or another in the literature of young people, who are old enough to know what surrounds them, but are still dismissed as having any impact on these events. These books are artifacts of rebellion that goes way beyond the last page.

Wolf by Wolf is a great stand-alone novel. Until I reached the end, I didn’t even realise there was a sequel. I was not concerned with the love interest between Yael and Luka, but I did want to find out what happened.

Whilst the plot is gripping, the literary symbols in these two novels are complex and extremely well written. The most striking was the matryoshka doll, which disappears for a large portion of the plot, but reunited at the end of the text. The doll is a powerful symbol because it trangresses racial boundaries. These concrete details (along with one other), anchor Yael in her new adventure of self-discovery. Above anything else, the doll reminds Yael that she can and has “changed things”.

The were-wolf myth is addressed in this novel in complex, gritty, C20th ways. Graudin adopts the notion of morphology through the use of physical doppelgangers. By the end of the first book, we realise that many of the characters we encounter are not who they say there are. Instead, the are subjects of scientific experiments, used to protect Hitler, who plays a prominant role in all events. His reach permeates every scene, where the reader experiences paranoia alongside the characters.

A lot of Young Adult novels which deal with identity to this extent would be written in first person. However, this journey is not all about Yael. There are many young people whose stories we see in the narrative, and experience their fears with them. Although the omnipotent narration tells us different, we understand Felix’s fear of Yael throughout the first and second books, perhaps we even understand his movements in the last twenty pages of Blood for Blood. 

The use of the were-wolf myth in these novels is a clever way of addressing identity. In extension the image of the wolf gives Yael considerable strength, and the title of the first novel is a reference to the tattoos that Yael gets to remember loved and lost ones. In the meantime, these tattoos do not disappear, and reveal Yael’s true identity should anyone care to look. Therefore, the morphological changes, which play with the were-wolf myth, is both empowering and inhabilitating Yael’s course.

Wolf by Wolf and Blood for Blood are important explorations of an alternative history, and the power of young people to change their history. I was gripped by the plot, but I also very much enjoyed all of the characters who were relatable through the third person narration.

Overall, if you get the chance, this will be one of the best Young Adult book(s) you read this year.