May 12

Five Year Website anniversary

Happy anniversary!

Hello everyone. I wish we could celebrate this milestone under better circumstances.  Five years ago today I created and published my first post on this website. I won’t go into too much detail about that moment because I spoke about it not that long ago in February when I celebrated by one hundred and fiftieth post. I will say that when I started this website I didn’t realise that it would still be running five years later.

If you have been watching and reading at any point in the past (quickly checks Google) 1826 days, I thank you.

I don’t have any new content to share at the moment but I can provide you with a quick update from myself.

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Apr 23

Rants and Rambles: Who was the real Shakespeare?

Hello everyone,

I hope you are all doing your best to stay healthy during these trying times.

It is currently week five of the UK quarantine. The death-toll from the Coronavirus in the UK has surpassed 18,000 people and globally over two million people have been infected. I don’t wish to make light of the situation but it does sound like the start of a dystopian novel.

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Last week I was meant to be on a writing retreat in the South Coast but this was cancelled due to obvious reasons. It is a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things. Instead I have been plotting out website posts and while doing so I noticed that noted that today is the anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth.  As such I’ve decided to examine the Shakespeare Authorship Question. I hope you enjoy!

 

Today, four hundred and fifty six years ago, William Shakespeare was born. Or was he?

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I’ll admit that I never used to be a fan of the bard. I think the problem was I had been forced to study Shakespeare at school but when I choose which texts to read I found them more enjoyable. In particular I found Hamlet, Othello and Macbeth deliciously complicated. When you consider that the man we call Shakespeare wrote thirty seven plays and over one hundred and fifty sonnets that we know about, plus co-writing and contributing with various other writers, in an age where most of the population were illiterate, it is  remarkable. To capture such a wide range of human emotions perfectly, emotions that still resinate with the audience hundreds of years later. If the man existed, the man was a genius.

If. I’ll admit that I do believe that there once lived a man called William Shakespeare and that he did write all of his own work but I do find the Shakespeare Authorship Question fascinating. In this Rant and Rambles post I’ll be examining the question, who was the real William Shakespeare?

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Mar 22

Coronavirus Update

2020 is going well so far, isn’t it? World War Three was threatened at the start of the year, most of Australia was on fire and now the Coronavirus…

Microscopic view of Coronavirus, a pathogen that attacks the respiratory tract. Analysis and test, experimentation. Sars

Hello everyone, I hope you are keeping well in these difficult times. As you are no doubt aware, the world is currently in the middle of a health pandemic. The Coronavirus, also known as COVID 19, has at time of writing killed thirteen thousand people, over two hundred of which are in the UK.

The UK Government has taken drastic measure to slow down the spread of the virus.  Everyone is to either work at home or stop working for the foreseeable future, apart from key workers. All restaurants and businesses have shut aside from take out deliveries and supermarkets. Everyone is to practice social distancing, avoiding large gatherings and public transport. I think it is safe to say that everyone in the world has been effected in some way by the Coronavirus and everyone in the UK will know someone who has/will die from it.

I am working from home, for the foreseeable future. I am in good health as are my family and I have a good support network in my friends. The main impact on me at the moment is that I have canceled by writing retreat at Easter and that I currently have less time to write. I’ve also been less active on social media due to preparations for working at home. A small price to pay compared to others.

The purpose of this post is just to say that my future articles will be posted more sporadically. I have articles already written and many more planned but due to the on-going health crisis I don’t feel comfortable publishing them right now. When the Coronavirus has passed normal service shall resume.

I want to end this short post with a quick message. Listen to the Government and follow their guidelines. Don’t attend public gatherings. Don’t panic buy and keep an eye on each other. Although it seems like the world is a grim place when you read about people stealing toilet rolls, hoarding food for themselves and selling hand soaps for outrageous prices there is still light in it. Supermarkets in the UK have special shopping hours for key workers and the elderly. Businesses such as Netflix and Audible have made their shows and books free to help people in quarantine and self isolation. On our street the neighbours have started a traffic light system, giving us signs to place in your windows, to show if you need help or not.

 

This is one of my favourite quotes and it is now more apt than ever.

“At times the world may seem an unfriendly and sinister place, but believe that there is much more good in it than bad. All you have to do is look hard enough…”

– Lemony Snicket.

Mar 08

Spitfire Review: Doctor Who series 12

Last week Doctor Who series 12 finished broadcasting and the internet is riddled with reviews, fan theories and opinions. It was certainly a decisive series and I thought I’d add my voice to the mix.

Doctor Who

Generally I think that this series was more enjoyable than the previous one and I think a large part of this was to do with expectations. Series eleven had a lot of objectives. It had to introduce a new Doctor, new companions, a new TARDIS and a new dynamic and feel to the show. While series eleven met some of these goals (if you want to read my in depth review of series eleven click here) series twelve was not bound by restraints, the groundwork had already been set. You could also argue that series eleven left the bar low for series twelve to succeed.

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Mar 01

Spitfire Review: Moments by Courtney Visser

Hello everyone. This Spitfire Review will be breaking from the norm. This is the first time I have interviewed a musician on my website.

I am a fan of the buskers on the Southbank of the Thames and through them I attend several music gigs in and around London. I first encountered Courtney busking in Camden Market several years ago. I took one of her business cards, watched several of her live streams and the promotion for her latest EP Moments over social media. Moments was released on Thursday 20th February to critical acclaim. I knew that Courtney would have a very interesting story to tell and the story behind Moments is explained below.

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Feb 23

Spitfire Review: Shakespeare’s Globe

I am relentlessly curious about theatres in particular backstage. What is is like back there? Is it as glamorous as the rest of the theatre (that depends on the theatre in question) or it is basic? My only experience of working in the theatre was in my first year of university during my Writing for Stage module in 2012 and the production of my play Captured in the Chelsea Theatre in the same year. I’ve been a Friend of the Globe for several years but I have only just managed attend the the Heaven and Hell tour where you are led into the attic, the basement and backstage of the iconic building.  Here are my thoughts on the experience.

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Feb 09

150th post!

This post is my 150th website post.

I can clearly recall the moment I started this website. I was sitting in a computer lab at London South Bank University. The rest of the class were publishing The South Bank Review, an online magazine created by Creative Writing students in their Third Year. I had finished my contribution, a short story titled Urban Exploration and a review of John Green’s Looking for Alaska (links can be found under my publications tab) and was putting the finishing touches on this website. Then I hit publish. This was back in May of 2015. Although the type of content, the regularity of uploads and the look of the website itself has evolved over the past five years I like to think that the style and essence has remained.

Looking back at my first couple of posts (which you can read here and here) it is interesting to see how much as I have grown as a writer. Although I’ve been writing since I was about ten I didn’t take it seriously until I was sixteen. I think younger Jack would be proud of current Jack. I’ve published a novel, Empty Nights, and read the opening chapter to a live audience at the Brixton book Jam in 2018 (it was also around this time that I celebrated my 100th website post), I’ve maintained this website for five years and I’ve had a series of publications.

Here’s is a quick writing update from me.

I’m still editing the manuscript for my next two novels, The Truth About Nicole and The White Wasteland. I’ve also prepared my website posts in advance so I have a month’s worth of content prepared. I’ve submitted fifteen short stories to competitions and I’ve booked my writing retreat for later in the year. I’m still on track with my 2020 goals and I’m currently happy both with my writing career and my job.

Once again, thank you for reading my work. Without you, this website would not be possible.

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Feb 09

Spitfire Review: Troy: Myth and Reality

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The British Museum’s front entrance.

Despite it’s controversies (click here to hear more about them) I find the British Museum a wonderful and fascinating  building and could wander around its many halls and galleries for days. In particular I love their Ancient Greece exhibition. I find the ancient Greek culture fascinating, their pantheon beautifully flawed and their stories and legends captivating, especially in the retellings. I have visited the Greek wing of the museum countless time to gaze at the pantheon marbles and the remains of temples. When I heard that Troy: Myth and Reality was opening, the fact I would be attending was inevitable.

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Jan 26

Rants and Rambles: Trigger warnings.

Hello everyone. Welcome to my first rant and rambles post. In these articles I’ll be talking about a topic that is somewhat writing related. Sometimes I’m complaining, sometimes I’m making an argument. Sometimes I’m ranting and rambling. Enjoy.

The first topic of rants of rambles is Trigger Warnings.

A trigger warning, also known as a content warning, is a message given at the start of something to warn that the following content may be upsetting. Although trigger warnings are more popular online than in novels, they are becoming more common, with some universities even applying trigger warnings to required reading texts. These include academic essays and classic novels such as Tess of the D’Urbervilles.  The rise in popularity of trigger warnings has sparked a debate on their necessity and their usefulness.

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Here’s an example of a Trigger Warning from the BBC, taken from my iPhone. Note the trigger warning at the bottom.

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Jan 12

Spitfire Review: JoJo Rabbit

The first film I watched in 2020 was JoJo Rabbit, a comedy film based around a boy in the Hitler Youth at the tail end of Second World War. Johannes is a social outcast after an accident at his summer camp and has imaginary chats with Adolf Hitler to help him manoeuvre through his day. As the allies advance on Berlin, Johannes’ mother harbours a jewish girl whom Johannes falls in love with.

Although Nazi Germany is a strange  setting of a comedy (particularly in today’s climate and the rise of Neo nazis in America) I’m glad to say that the comedy lands. I was sat between a teenager and a pensioner and was pleasantly surprised to see them both laughing throughout the film. It should be clearly stated that the film criticised and lampoons the Nazis. At one point the phrase Heil Hitler is said thirty one times in sixty seconds to illustrate how ridiculous and unnecessary Nazi protocols were.

I’m always hesitant of child actors and I’m going to take this opportunity to state an unpopular opinion. I think that the main trio from the Harry Potter films Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson were terrible child actors. Daniel Radcliffe has gone on record as saying his performance in the first Harry Potter film was cringeworthy and I agree with him. Home Alone is another prime example but I really liked the lead actor Roman Griffin Davis as Johannes Betzler or “Jojo Rabbit”. He reminded me of conversations I was having at the age of ten and his naivety of what the war really means and the concept of death is truly heartbreaking. All of the cast’s performance was brilliant including Thomasin McKenzie who played Elsa the Jewish girl.

I thought the film would be a straight comedy film with a loose plot, similar to the Austin Powers film or Tenacious D. I was surprised that although it was a comedy there was a solid plot. It is very rare in England (or at least any cinema I have been in) for the audience to gasp or burst out talking in the middle of the film. There is a plot twist half way through, that I won’t spoil for you here, that made everyone in my screen gasp. Maybe that for that moment alone, this film is worth watching.

It was also interesting to see World War Two portrayed by the Axis powers. Most World War films made in the western culture focus on the efforts of the British and American soldiers. As such, the western public have a black and white view of Nazi Germany, picturing the citizens living in poverty amid crumbling buildings. Taika Waititi’s Germany is colourful and optimistic, even in the face of defeat. It is important to acknowledge that Germany citizens also lost their lives in the Second World War, some in efforts to stop the Nazi party, and that these people are often overlooked.

With such a sensitive topic, it was inevitable that this film would not please everyone. Although the audience I was with enjoyed the film, critics and viewers alike have called it disrespectful, meaningless and offensive. I can understand where some of these complaints are coming from. If your family has a history in the holocaust, you may not like the way the Nazis or the citizens of Nazi Germany are humanised. The film has also angered extremist groups such as the Nazis (yes, they are still around) or the Neo nazis but their complaints do not seem to have harmed the film’s ratings.

I’ll award JoJo Rabbit eight rabbits out of ten.

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