Welcome to the official website for Orlando Gibson

•28 October, 2008 • Comments Off on Welcome to the official website for Orlando Gibson

‘Orlando Gibson speaks’ is a weekly magazine website

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This site offers a sometimes humorous, but always thought provoking look at the news of today, and the issues of tomorrow, across the world

The magazine, like myself, has relocated to Australia, where I will to give you an insight into the flavour of a life ‘down under’. However contributors to the magazine are worldwide giving this site a broad international prospective.

So grab a drink, settle back into your chair and enjoy this regularly updated site.

If any of the topics are of particular interest to you, bookmark my site and call again.

Feel free to sign the guest book

If you have an article, an essay, a rant, or even if you want to respond to any of the articles published in this magazine, then send it to me and I will publish it

Contact me at the usual email address

Enjoy

All articles, editorials, and commentary on this site are the copyright of Orlando Gibson.

Reproduction of any part of the website must first have the permission of Orlando Gibson.

Copyright ©

DARK ARTEFACT

•26 September, 2020 • Leave a Comment

Genre: SCI-FI / ADVENTURE 

©  Orlando Gibson September 2020 

ACT 1 

  1. INT. TEMPLE CORRIDOR . DAY 

The harsh fluorescent lights of the Japanese styled corridor reflect off the polished black tiled floor.  

Five guards line one end of the corridor, and one stands in front of a heavy ancient Eastern wooden door at the end in view. 

The guards are vigilant and motionless, enacting their duties with a discipline akin to that of the Samurai warriors of old, from whom their order had descended. 

The corridor is not just silent, but devoid of noise. 

Suddenly the wooden door explodes, sending the three closest guard flying across the room. 

The two remaining, quick reacting guards, use their quarterstaffs to shield themselves from the blast, but then quickly find themselves using them to defend against the male figure bursting through the exploded door. 

The man is wearing similar attire as that of the guards but with enough variance to set him apart. 

The emerging man engages the guards in a mixture of martial arts and quarterstaff blasts. 

He defeats them and continues to run with purpose down the corridor. 

As the smoke clears from the explosion we see that these are not the only guards that he has encounter upon his hasty devastating path. 

  1. INT. TEMPLE CROSS CORRIDOR. DAY 

We follow the man as he enters a large circular crossroad of corridors, and is met by more guards keen on impeding his progress. 

The man and the guards pause for a moment in reverence for the battle to come, then the man proceeds to engage the guards in a stylised and technical battle. 

The man is superior in his fighting style and dispatched the guards before continuing to run down the corridor on his path. 

  1. INT. TEMPLE CORRIDOR. DAY 

The scene then cuts back to the shattered wooden door at the beginning of the scene, where we see a small five year old girl running  down the same corridors, taking no time to notice the carnage around her. 

Behind her we see a tall shadowed and hooded ominous figure walking with determination in pursuit of the girl. 

  1. INT/EXT. TEMPLE. DAY 

We then rejoin the fleeing man as he has dispatched two more guards and is facing another ancient eastern looking wooden door. 

He stands his quarterstaff by his side and we view him from behind as he takes a moment to catch his breath. 

The man then pushes the heavy doors open with both hands to reveal the inside levels of a busy and thriving space station. 

  1. EXT. SPACE STATION PLATFORM. NIGHT 

Unphased by the spectacular view, the fleeing man focuses on the ramp of a spaceship which is guarded three more guards, one of whom in the middle is wearing the same attire as that of the fleeing man. 

The fleeing man begins to run towards the guarded ship, spinning his quarterstaff in anticipation of the battle to come. 

  1. INT. TEMPLE CROSS CORRIDOR. DAY 

We cut back to the running little girl who has now reached the corridor junction, and is still being  pursued by the walking tall ominous man. 

  1. EXT. SPACE STATION PLATFORM. NIGHT 

We rejoin the fleeing man who has dispatch two of the guards, however the third guard with similar clothing to him is proving a more worthy opponent. 

The remaining guard gains advantage over the fleeing man and knocks his quarterstaff from his hand. 

Disadvantaged but still determined the fleeing man continues to fight the opponent until finally disarming him and knocking him out with the man’s own quarterstaff. 

The fleeing man looks back at his own quarterstaff but determines that it is too far out of reach, and continues to board the ship. 

  1. EXT. SPACE STATION PLATFORM. NIGHT 

The doors of the ship close just as the running girl enters the spaceport platform where the ship is preparing to launch. 

The little girl runs towards the ship, but is grabbed on the leg by one of the guards who is lying on the floor. 

The guard rises and grips the girl around the chest from behind, lifting her off the ground. We view this from the front, and in doing so we dee the distress of the girl as the ship begins to launch, and we also see the tall ominous hooded man approach the guard from behind and snap the guards neck. 

He drops the girl and they both fall to the floor. 

The girl stretches out her hand as if to try to stop the ship. 

RUNNING GIRL /DARLA 

(SHOUTING) 

WAIT!!! 

But her cry is in vein, as the ship begins to move away from the dock. 

The sobbing girl drops her hand and it lands of the fleeing man’s quarterstaff. 

The tall ominous hooded figure looms over her but she does not seem to notice. 

She uses the staff to get to her feet, then uses button on the quarterstaff which collapses it to the size of a lightsabre hilt. Sher grips it tightly, understanding its significance. 

The ominous man quietly moves beside her, and rests his arm upon her shoulder in comfort. 

The two watch helpless as the ship flies away leaving them alone on the dock. 

[Fade to black] 

ACT 2 

  1. EXT/INT. MARKET PLACE. DAY 

Scene opens with a pair of boots walking on a sandy path. The camera pans up then around the walking boots to reveal a collapsed and holstered quarterstaff, spiralling around to finish on the grown face of the once five, now twenty six year old woman (Darla). 

She walks alone and unimpeded through the middle of a busy marketplace, before reaching a small doorway. She looks around and surveying the street, before entering the room. 

  1. INT. STONE ROOM. DARK 

She enters the room and quickly and closes the door. She stands to one side of the door waiting for her eyes to adjust. 

In the middle of the darkened room there is a table with a black carbon box. On the other side of the table is a heavy set, man sitting in silence at the table, flanked by two larger men. Although the box is on the table they appear to be in possession of the box. 

Darla slowly walks towards the table and stops in front of the box. 

She looks at the box, still standing and paying no attention the four men, she leans over and opens the box. 

She stares into the box for a few seconds, as if composing herself, before gently closing the box. 

She slowly looks up and addresses the two men seated opposite.    

DARLA 

(Calm, Emotionless, Controlled) 

You see, that was not the deal that we made. 

That was not to contract that you entered, and certainly not the one I agreed. 

Negotiation at this juncture is a futile endeavour, which belies your hidden intentions and reveals an aspect of your character that I find disturbing. 

Your attempts at renegotiation only highlight, a more serious issue, that you may not have the item that we agreed. 

In fact, this interaction has now shown your hand, and revealed that you are holding nothing. 

Holding nothing in a meeting like this, is not a position of strength. 

Or perhaps you are holding something. 

Perhaps you are holding the sort of thing that you would bring to a failed renegotiation. 

What weapon are you holding Mainarch? 

What weapon have you brought to this deal, that has now gone gravely wrong.  

The man looks up from the table, grimaces, slowly raises his hand, and clicks his fingers. 

  1. INT. STONE ROOM. DARK 

The two body guards spring into action and attack Darla with an unsophisticated, muscle driven fighting style, while the other man remains seated. 

Darla draws her quarterstaff, expands it, and dispatches the two goons with a fighting style similar to that of the stylised fighting displayed in act 1. 

Darla holsters her quarterstaff and returns to the table. 

DARLA 

I believe a person when they show me who they really are, and you have shown me who you really are. 

I completed the job and you broke our deal and did not bring the item, therefore I will cut my losses and collect the bounty on you instead 

Mainarch remains seated and unphased by the skirmish, leans back into his chai, crosses his legs and places both hands on one knee. 

MAINARCH 

Your reputation is well deserved, I needed to see it for myself 

Mainarch slowly reaches into his inside jacket pocket and pulls out a large satin bag. 

He leans forward and places the item on the table. 

Darla picks up the bag from the table, weighs it in her hand and then looks into the bag. 

MAINARCH 

I needed to be sure, before we continued our business 

DARLA 

Continued? Our business is done, unless you want me to continue to collect the bounty on you 

MAINARCH 

There is an artefact that I need retrieved and smuggled into this sector. 

The artefact will, be difficult to acquire and will require of your particular skill set to complete this task 

DARLA 

You have shown yourself to be without honourable. The facts do not lie 

MAINARCH 

Yes, but these facts belie a hidden truth, a truth that I believe will be of great interest to you.  

A truth about Braytack…your father. 

Darla remains emotionless, not betraying any underline feelings. 

Mainarch reaches into his other inside pocket and produces a transparent phone sized datapad, and placed it on the table. 

MAINARCH 

Everything that you need is here 

The solar system, plans to the complex, and your initial payment of two million credits. 

Mainarch slow stands and buttons his coat 

By now the two guards are rising to their feet and position themselves once again at Mainarch’s side. 

MAINARCH 

I am still the governor of this system, and where are there is a bounty on my head, you should know that to collect it you would have to get out of this system, and even then, I think you know that you will not be safe. 

Get me the artefact Darla, and do not challenge me again 

Mainarch walks out of the building with the two bodyguard fore and aft of him to provide adequate protection on the market streets ahead. 

Darla is left in the darkened room in from to the table with her back to a darkened corner of the room. 

DARLA 

Were you not going to jump in during that fight at all Orac, you saw the size of them? 

The tall dark hooded man from act 1 emerges from the shadows and unhoods himself to reveal a dark slender face and bald head. 

ORAC 

You dropped your guard on the eighth parry, and your left side defense is still weak. 

I will add that you your training plan when we get back to the ship. 

I presume that we are taking the assignment. 

DARLA 

It does not look like I have a choice 

ORAC 

We always have choices. Our choices are what define us 

DARLA 

Like the choice my father took to leave me alone on a space station in enemy hands 

ORAC 

You were not alone, I was there, and you were not in enemy hands as the enemy was either dead or incapacitated. 

DARLA 

I am sorry Orac, you are right, you were there. 

I forget that you are there, because you always have been. 

You, as an automaton, have done a better job raising me than any human. 

And I guess that brings us back to the task at hand. 

This artefact is somehow linked to my father. 

Looks like our fate is to be written in the stars and the sand. 

In order to expedite events for this summary script, the following scenes are a montage of death defining scenes including: 

  1. EXT. MONTAGE MARKET. DAY 

Darla and Orac running through the streets with goons in pursuit. Darla evade being capture on a number of occasions using her wit, athletic skill and quarterstaff. 

This is a leapfrog scene switching between Darla and Orac dispatching the goons which allows the other to progress. 

Street pursuit should have comic relief eg Indian Jones, Aladdin, Jackie Chan chases.  

This running battle continues until they reach the doorway to their space port, which opens up to a big reveal of what their spaceship looks like. 

  1. EXT.MONTAGE SPACE. DARK 

 A space chase with Darla and Orac’s ship being pursued through an asteroid field rings of a planet. 

  1. EXT. MONTAGE. MARKET. DUSK 

 Darla negotiating for a digital map in a marketplace, while a goon looks on from the shadows. 

  1. INT. MONTAGE TEMPLE. DARK 

Darla and Orac are completing a number of challenges leading them from one chamber to another, each puzzle more complex than the last. 

  1. INT.TEMPLE. DARK 

 Top down crane shot of Darla hanging from a precipice with one hand as a Mainarch looms over her grimacing 

MAINARCH 

You never knew did you,  

You never understood. 

You never knew why I sent you here, to this place. 

I did not send you here to retrieve the artefact, I sent you here to make sure that the artefact was destroyed, here in this place, where it will unlock the all destructive power of the Wu Clan. 

Your father’s clan 

With the Artefact destroyed there will be nothing to stop Braytack from becoming the most destructive power the universe has ever seen. 

And I will harness that power 

I will control that power 

Braytack will no longer have a conscience, he will no longer have the restraints that keep him in hiding and smother his potential. 

A love for his daughter is the only thing keeping him leached. 

Yes, now, now you understand 

Darla, you are the artefact. 

And now, you must die. 

Mainarch lifts his blaster 

Camera zooms with an impending doom 

Then from the shadows Orac appears, a quick fight ensues and Orac throws Mainarch over the cliff. 

Darla is pulling herself up during the fight 

As Orac moves to help Darla a grapple claw pierces his leg and he is dragged over the side 

Darla dives and grabs Orac’s arm and is pulled to the edge of the precipice.  

A crane shot reveals Darla holding an extended quarterstaff, Orac holding the other end of the quarterstaff, and Mainarch climbing the grapple rope approaching Orac’s leg 

We see the weight of the two men causing Darla to be slowly pulled over 

DARLA 

Hold on Orac, hold on,  

ORAC 

Not this time Darla, there is too much at stake 

Your fate is in the stars, my fate is in the sand. 

DARLA 

No, I can not do this without you, I can not do any of this without you 

ORAC 

Find Braytack, and live 

(First display of emotion) 

I will miss you, as I have always missed you 

Orac lets go of the quarterstaff.  

Orac and Mainarch fall into the abyss. 

Darla watches her guardian fall, helpless to save him   

We see the rage of her loss building inside her as she stands and staggers away from the precipice edge. 

She uses he quarterstaff to steady herself, and then for the first time since her father’s departure in act one we see her display emotion 

Darla begins to shake with rage before extending both arms by her side as she shouts 

DARLA 

(first display of uncontrolled emotion) 

NOOOOO 

As she shouts her veins begin to glow before an explosion of power emanates from her. 

The power flattens everything within 40 feet. 

Darla drops to her knees and sobs uncontrollably 

Over her shoulder we suddenly see a darkened figure appear from the shadows 

SHADOWED FIGURE 

I wish it had not come to this Darla 

Darla looks up and we see a look or recognition in her eyes 

DARLA 

(Whisper) 

Father 

Act 3 

  1. INT. BRAYTACK’S SHIP. DARK 

Darla sits on a chair infront of a table on Braytack’s ship 

Braytack enters the room with a hot drink, he pauses for a moment watching his now calm daughter, who is looking down at the table, contemplating the loss of only father she has truly know. 

He places the cup down within her reach and sits infront of her on the opposite sides of table 

BRAYTACK 

You will have questions… 

DARLA 

You could have saved him…You were there…you did not just come out of nowhere…you could have saved him 

BRAYTACK 

I… 

DARLA (interrupts) 

Choose you next words carefully…I appear to be…unstable 

BRAYTACK 

You are not unstable, you are feeling emotion. You and have great power. This power is driven by our emotions. We require stable environments to keep us in check. Mine was a temple protected by guardians, the temple where I left you.  

Yours, was Orac who was designed to counterbalance your emotions and keep you stable. If you did not know feeling, your power would not become volatile.  I could not raise you without feeling, Orac did. 

DARLA 

You are wrong. Orac did not openly display feeling, but he showed me care every day when he looked after me; compassion when I fell over and he was there to pick me up; pride every time I achieved; determination every time he drove me forward; and love, every time I looked at his face. 

BRAYTACK 

I am comforted that he exceeded his programming and became more to you. 

DARLA 

You were never able to achieve your programming as a father. 

BRAYTACK 

Then I have much to learn…will you help me? 

As your mother would say “Our fate is to be written in the stars and the sand”. 

Darla lifts her head slowly at the familiarity of the phrase. 

The realisation that a phrase that she had learned from her automaton guardian, was a statement with a family legacy. 

END

Gamer

•24 May, 2020 • Leave a Comment

Introduction

This paper will look at an aspect of digital life for young people in the context an “illustration of digital youth culture” as dictated in the Assignment 2 instructions.

The aspect I will explore is ‘Gaming’, in particular on the Xbox platform, where I will look at the motivations, social drivers and addictive qualities around gaming.

I will explore how the youth have built a social structure around the platform and the pitfalls and dangers of this virtual playground.

I will touch upon the guidelines and safeguards young people need to learn  in order to engage with this environment in a safe manner.

Xbox One X

The Xbox is created and owned by Microsoft and is said to be the most powerful console in the world at the time of writing this paper, which over 40% more power than other consoles and 4K gaming (Xbox.com, 2020). As such it is very attractive the youth of today, with a massive uptake in the gaming community.

Youth are attracted by its real world, life-like detail. According to Xbox.com, (2020), it is also a powerful machine with a 6 teraflop GPU, 8 core AMD 2.3Hz CPU and 12GB GDDR5 memory card. This power means that the console had longevity in the gaming marketplace, and because there are hundreds of developer building games for the Xbox, it sets a level playing field.

The advantage of the Xbox over the PC is that as new PC games come out, there is normally a hardware upgrade that is required for the PC to play the new game. This increases the financial burden on youth to constantly upgrade their PC which creates its own social problems that are discussed later in the paper.

The Xbox platform removes the financial burden of upgrading the hardware, by forcing all developer to create content withing the game hardware parameters, making the console more financially viable for the youth.

Gamer for life

Grossberg L, (1983) explored the rise of a youth culture and of the young finding a sense of place, but did not fully explore how this identity would carry into adulthood.

I consider myself to be a life long gamer and I am of an age where I was there at the dawn of gaming. This puts me in a position where I can talk about how gaming affected me as a youth, and combine this experience with that of modern day gaming and the impact it has on the youth of today.

Gaming helped me find “the community that emerges as a result of the intersection of people, technology, and practice”. Boyd D (2014), but this community has grown and evolved with me into adulthood and now incorporates the present day youth culture, not as a sub-genre, but as the main body of the gaming culture.

Gaming is life

My gaming started with a black and white pseudo tennis game called ‘Pong’ back in the 1970s. As technology evolved, so did gaming, as I would invite my friends over to play the Mortal Combat or Street fighter. In this sense as a youth, gaming provided be with the backdrop to my social circle. Social acceptance depended on the ability to socialise with ones peers at the “cool” place as Boyd, D (2014) would later pronounce.

Now the social aspect of gaming reaches beyond the living room as gamers are able to join online communities that span the world. The global fellowship of gaming is one that still attracts the youth of today, and I often find myself in a ‘boss’ battle against demons, monsters, or hoard of orcs, side by side a twelve year old from Hong Kong or a fifteen year old from Kenya.

One of the additional benefits is the social currency attached to gaming. Youth are able to build social networks by talking about their gaming activity. They are also able to embellish their language with in-game references and even in-game language itself as indicated by Martino J (2015).

The youth can also find financial independence in gaming through ‘mining’. This is where youth spend hours killing smaller game fauna, destroying minor structures, or completing minor quests in order to achieve in-game rewards such as new weapons or rare artefacts. These virtual in-game rewards are then sold in online markets for real money, to those who do not have the time or inclination to mine for themselves.

The gaming market is no small place and one can achieve riches and notoriety by being good at gaming, all of which feed into a youth validation mindset, and therefore a youth culture.

In fact, a star of the game ‘Fortnite’ called Ninja (Tyler Blevin) made more than US $5000,000 a month streaming 300 hours a month of live gaming to 10 million subscribers. Paumgarten N(2018)

Getting bloody

Modern games are created to be addictive and are designed to generate a chemical response to virtual danger seen on screen.

The game character is something in which the youth are encouraged invest, by customizing the character to either look like the player or providing the ability to unlock changes in wardrobe. This coupled with the ‘near miss phenomenon’ where players are not made to feel like they have lost, but that they have almost won. Clark L (2009). The gaming strategy has proven to be particularly effective amongst the youth.

As part of a stress response the cortisol levels increase in our blood. Wand GS (2007) explains that cortisol increases dopamine release in a manner that we would expect if using alcohol or cannabis. Our reward to this online addiction to virtual danger, this our in-game survival, and for the youth, this addiction can be all consuming.

The cost of the hardware, the games, and the in-game content can also be prohibitive to youth in lower socio-economic groups, which creates a class structure within the gaming world.

Lower socio-economic youth may only be able to afford older hardware which do not support the latest games. This only serves to reinforce their barrier to entry and creates a gaming subclass, which may cause them to be ridiculed and bullied.

Gaming platforms such as Xbox may also provide a portal for cyber bulling. Youth who may be bullied at school will then find little relief as their attacks continue through the Xbox chat or in-games communications.

It is not unknown for the victims bullying to be reported to the Xbox platforms by the bully, in order to put the victim through the inconvenience of having their account suspended. A uniquely gamers type of bullying.

Government guidelines have been created by the eSaftey commissioner which cover all platforms including Xbox live https://www.esafety.gov.au/key-issues/esafety-guide/xbox-live (esafely.gov.au 2020),  however these guidelines are difficult to enforce and by the time they are enforced, the damage is already done.

Although providing youth with a space and community of their own, it is also important for parents to play their part in policing their children’s activity on this worldwide online platform. This sometimes is in direct conflict with Muggleton (2005) and later Heenfler (2010) and their ideas of youth and their approach to their own space and adolescent identity, but when that space is part of a larger world occupied by all, parental guidance is only prudent.

In the same way that children are taught to protect themselves from the physical dangers of the world, they must also be taught to protect themselves from the dangers of the cyber world.

In the same way that children are taught to present themselves appropriately in the physical world, they must also be taught to curate their online profiles and manage their cyber ‘brand’ visible to the world. Gaming may be the first place that children are exposed to a digital profile.

End game

Games have been held responsible for making young gamers violent and have been cited as the catalyst behind a number of violent acts, but none of this is new. Everything from heavy metal to hip hop has been held responsible for inciting the youth to violence. This “strong undercurrent of negativity” was argued by Zuckerman M (2011).

Martino, J (2015) discusses that this harsh treatment of young people has not diminished, but then goes not to counter this point by exploring the cultural formation of the militarised video game, in particular the ‘First Person Shooter’ (FPS).

The realism of modern gaming has also been held responsible for desensitising the modern youth to emulate the acts of violence portrayed in the game by a number of news outlets, and the accuracy of the military tactics is also said by Martino J (2015) to provide some youth with the simulation platform for warlike behaviour.

However this danger, though not to be taken lightly, has to be put into context. The youth will always carve out a space for themselves and the Xbox provides them with a platform with almost limitless possibilities for a developing mind.

The success of the Xbox platform is a reflection of its success amongst the youth as an environment that they are comfortable to inhabit.

This youth culture has proven itself to be sustainable into adulthood.

Game Over

To conclude: I have explored the Xbox as a gaming console and how it continues to play a large part of youth culture. I have looked at the pros and cons of the Xbox and its social, cultural and physical influence on the mind of today’s youth. I have explored the policies and guidelines around the use of the Xbox in relation to young people and touched upon how these should be used in conjunction with active parenting and youth development.

The Londoner

•24 May, 2020 • Leave a Comment

Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner

That I love London so

Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner

That I think of her, wherever I go

I get a funny feeling inside of me

Just walking up and down

Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner

That love London town.

(Have a banana)

Song: ‘Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner’ Written by Hubert Gregg

The Thames stands as more than just a river that runs from the chattering classes of Oxford into the heartbeat of London. It is an identifier, used by everyone to define their tribe.

In the past these identities were reinforced through the waterway activities up and down the Thames; the houseboats and barges transporting food and supplies to the cities, towns and villages along its banks.

Traditionally north London has had a better transport infrastructure than south London, so south has long been considered the poor cousin of the north of the river, and by association, its people. This is illustrated by the evolution of the London underground system, whose tentacles reach deep across north London, whilst the south has to manage with old overground trains and traditional buses.

Tube access to southeast London has only opened up in my lifetime, and even to this day there are parts of southeast London that are only accessible by bus.

The Thames used to be a working river that reflected an industrial London. Although it was unclean, Londoners still used to flock to the riverbank, and use the river as others might use the beaches on the coast.

The Thames also determined the culinary identity of Londoners.

Eastenders like myself would stagger from the pubs, to be warmly met by the cart, and later van, selling cockles and whelks caught fresh that day.

Our lunchtimes would be spent devouring jellied eels or fish pie with chips, all caught from the Thames, its estuary, or the bogs of Hackney Marshes.

This unique aspect of East London lifestyle was made possible by the location of Billingsgate Fish market in the East of London, and the service industries that grew up around a thriving fish market.

Billingsgate fish market was located in the East End and was later relocated to the Docklands, also in the East End, maintaining its traditional and industrial links with the east of London.

The West End of London was where the rich tended to live: Paddington, Maida Vale, Earls Court, before heading into London’s west for Hammersmith, Shepherd’s Bush and Notting Hill.

In contrast to the relatively fresh fish produce of the East End, the west gorged themselves on the meat from the then surrounding farms, and fruit from the fields of Ealing and Acton.

The fresh fish of the East End would become the fried fish of the west, as they traditionally needed to be packed in salt in order to make it across town.

These days the culinary identifiers have broken down, but it is still not unusual to see an old ‘Pie and Mash’ sign, tiled into the brickwork of an artisan bookshop, or notice the black and white tiled floor of what is now a hipster shop selling nothing but breakfast cereal.

 Have you seen the old dear who walks the streets of London

Dirt in her hair and her clothes in rags

She’s no time for talking, she just keeps right on walking

Carrying her home in two carrier bags

So how can you tell me you’re lonely

And say for you that the sun don’t shine

Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London

I’ll show you something to make you change your mind

Song: ‘Streets of London’ Written by Ralph McTell

 

London has the inner city problems of most inner cities.

Rising house prices and unaffordable rents mean that the homeless numbers are high and, due to the overinflated housing market, there is no solution in sight.

But for a commoner, owning your own home is something that appeared, and now disappeared, in my lifetime.

Before the 1950’s the majority of working class Londoners rented accommodation and generally did not aspire to owning one. Londoners were prepared to rent until they died, as all the domestic accommodation was bought by the aristocrats and the wealthy.

England had gained a reputation as a country of shopkeepers, and London was a reflection of this idea. Londoners aspired to rent, then own a shop, and from this place of business would come their accommodation, whether in the barrel cellars, or the storage spaces above the shops.

This working-class attitude of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is common in other cities, but was better expedited by the Thames, which acted to facilitate the meeting of the rich and poor through commerce, transport and opportunity by proximity.

London is not a ‘melting pot’ but a ‘tossed salad’ of cultures and classes that provides opportunities not found anywhere else in the world.

“For a man’s house is his castle, et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium [and each man’s home is his safest refuge].”

Sir Edward Coke in The Institutes of the Laws of England, 1628.

Owning a house became a realistic opportunity in the 1970s when prime minister Margaret Thatcher implemented a financial scheme that made every government- and council-owned flat or house available for purchase. This meant that every commoner who traditionally expected to rent for the rest of their life, could now realise the lofty aspirations of owning a home. This homeowner dream was felt nowhere more than in London, which is still awash with old worker tenements and council flats, that have been sold to Londoners, resold to outsiders, and are now expensive holiday listings on AirBnB.

Alright my son, Leave it out

As it ‘appens it’s your shout

Straight up, Pull the other

In a right 2 and 8

What’s the damage Chief?

Who’s your mate?

The geezer with the bunny in the trilby ‘at

Reckons he’s legit but he ain’t all that

Arthur Daley, little dodgy maybe, but underneath,

‘E’s alright.

Song: Arthur Daley (E’s Alright) by The Firm

The Thames defines the way that you will speak and the accent that you will carry with you for the rest of your life, albeit buried beneath hours of expensive elocution lessons, or defiantly sung from the vocal chords of those who proudly recognise their tribe.

“Oi Oi” is the call of a Londoner that is unique to those brought up in the city. Other regions of England have their own versions of the greeting, but it can be used to quickly identify someone how grew up in London.

The cockney accent, in particular ‘rhyming slang’, the language of the East End markets, is all but dead, replaced by a generic ‘Urban’ accent that has permeated the inner cities of Britain, and rounded accents into a modern day homogeneous incoherent eloquence.

However, the working class accent is not the only one affected by the urban drawl. Even the Sloane (posh) accents of Chelsea and Kensington have fallen at the feet of the musical influence exerted by Garage and UK Grime.

Now “Brov” and “Fam” can be heard from the mouths of rich and poor alike.

The London accent, once defined by where you lived, is now defined by what music dominates your social circle.

Walking round walk everywhere

Thru regions park down

Thru Trafalgar square

If you thinking this is my

Home ground yes I’m telling you

I’m London Town

Summer time is in the air

Those pretty girls are everywhere

In the morning under ground

It Takes you everywhere

On London Town

Under ground in London Town

I’m in love with what I see the

Scenes of London always

Anew to me.

See the children playing in the

Park… older couples making it

After dark

This could be your reality

In London Town

You could be what you you to be

Under ground in…

Song: London Town by Light of the World

 

London as a city has long been a backdrop for films and TV shows. The camera lingers on the familiar sights and sound that pulsate a rhythm that becomes a heartbeat, a heartbeat to a city that never sleeps.

The city not only has its own character, it has become a character in everything from cheap BBC Three comedy specials to the classic high production Bond movies.

London is as recognisable as Idris Elba or Chiwetel Ejiofor and as distinctive in her voice as Beverly Knight or Mica Paris.

We recognise the iconic skyscrapers of the City of London, the inner-city council estates, and the landmarks that adorn the Thames as it winds its way through the city as the lifeblood of the town, becoming the backdrop to our lives.

Now the river flows mainly silent, enclosed by tower blocks and spanned by elaborate bridges, hosting an evolved working city, where the air once thick with smog is now heavy with old white male privileged corruption.

However, the Thames is more than just an historic landmark, it is an identity which all Londoners absorb, and a status that all those along its estuary clamber to assume.

It is the unconscious source of your London pride and has often been responsible for violence most bloody and romance so forbidden.

My river is the Thames, which runs through my veins like it runs through my city.

My city.

The city of London.

Why I write

•1 April, 2020 • Leave a Comment

I have been a writer since I was a child at school, in particular a journalist. This is in the days where being a journalist still had the honour and integrity that has since been lost in the 24 hour news cycle, and the bias journalism of the modern day.

Writing exposed my vocabulary limitations which, in turn, inspired me to read more, in order to write with more eloquence.

Journalism also allowed me to wear other voices, as well as to discover my own, in a way that may be easily dismissed in fiction.

Orwell in his essay ‘Why I write’ believes that a writer’s narrative is born out of four motivations:

(i) Sheer egoism

(ii) Aesthetic enthusiasm

(iii) Historical impulse

(iv) Political purpose

I disagree with Orwell when he says that these impulses war against each other. In fact, the historic impulse and political purpose motivations often complement each other. The need to create an historical record in order to make a political statement.

I will confess to also enjoying the Aesthetic enthusiasm. I appreciate the beauty of a well constructed prose, and as a writer, I enjoy flexing my vocabulary and exploring the Synonyms and Antonyms, Metaphors and other descriptive exercises that may draw my reader into my narrative web, and envelope them in the soft cocoon of literary comfort.

The aesthetics are also a useful tool, a silk cloth used to disguise an often brutal hammer of truth.

I agree with Orwell when he implies that Ones experiences help to enrich the palette from which we paint our story.

I do not write to draw attention to myself, but often to reflect the injustice of the world around me.

There have been occasions where I write because if I do not, I might explode in violent rage, and there have been times where I write in order to stoke that very fire.

I have never had problems writing, but I often have problems writing well. The narrative often spills onto the page in an uncontrolled tsunami of words, only to require the mop of grammar, and the broom of spell-checker.

I do not agree with the final analysis of writes being vain, selfish, and lazy as I believe that people are also motivated to write by injustice, passion, and sheer delight. In fact, writing is far from being lazy as it requires a mental agility that could also be sated by a good video game, only unlike a video game, it is often less rewarding.

I am doing this writing block to develop and grow as a writer, and this is why I am trying to accept every challenge within the course in order to stretch my abilities. It is with this in mind, that I decided to elaborate on the Classroom exercise called ‘My River’.

I am going to extrapolate the theme and explore what it means to be a Londoner.

I will look at the history of London and why it makes those who were born there, and those that later call it home, Londoners.

An essay like this would be easier to write from the ‘Personal’ position where I discuss what being a Londoner means to me, however I want to try and explore the topic more and develop the ‘Universal’ voice. This does not mean that there will not be an element to the personal, but the focus will be what London means to Londoners and beyond what it means to me.

I will be writing about a historic city and exploring my interpretation of it character, so the piece will have both a Historic and Political status.

In order for my ramblings to be palatable I will attempt to make the piece aesthetically pleasing to the ear, a spoon full of sugar to make the medicine go down, if your will.

The essay will not be a critique, or at least certainly not in a Sontag manner, as I hold a deep affection for the city. I will not see it critiqued with the brutality and almost psychotic joy that is Sontag’s style, unless of course, by another Londoner.

I expect that the essay will contain areas of free association, where I compare the town to objects, items both tangible and intangible. However, in great disappointment to Freud, I will only be using this technique as a tool to paint a more colourful picture to my reader, rather than as a vehicle of self discovery.

In terms of structure:

I will start with a brief history of how London is divided, both physically, and in attitude from not only the rest of England by even within itself

I will then explore what it is that gives Londoners their pride and give example of how these manifest.

I will also explore the things about London of which I am not proud and have a duty to rectify as a Londoner.

And from there…I do not know. I believe that an essay/article needs room to grow. Plan 80% and leave 20% to the whim and mood of the writer.

It has been 15 years since I left London. I return regularly, but I expect that upon each visit my glasses get an extra generous coating of rose tinting. I expect that writing this essay, will provide me with an opportunity, should I wish to take it, to see my city more clearly.

 

 

My River: The Thames

•1 April, 2020 • Leave a Comment

The Thames stands as more than just a river that runs from the chattering classes of the of Oxford, into the heart beat of London. It is a identifier, used by everyone to define their tribe.

Traditionally North London has had a better transport infrastructure that South London, so South has been considered the poor cousins of those living North of the river. This is illustrated by the evolution of the London underground system.

The Thames used to be a working river that reflected an industrial London. Although unclean, Londoner still used to flock to the river bank, and use the river as others might use the beaches on the coast.

Now the river flows mainly silent, enclosed by tower blocks and spanned by elaborate bridges, that hosts evolved working city, where the air once thick with smog, is now heavy with old white male privileged corruption.

However, the Thames is more than just a historic landmark, it is an identity which all Londoner absorb, and a status that all those along its estray clamber to assume.

The Thames defines the way that you will speak and the accent that you will carry with you for the rest of your life, albeit buried beneath hours of expensive elocution lessons, or sung proudly from the vocal chords of those who proudly recognise their tribe.

It is the unconscious source of your London pride and has often been responsible for violence most bloody and romance so forbidden.

My river is the Thames, which runs through my veins like it runs through my city.

 

Chewie’s thoughts

•18 March, 2020 • Leave a Comment

Han always does this, he uses me as the butt of he jokes.

“I could arrange for you to kiss a Wookie”, what is wrong with my kissing? And why would I rip the arms off a Gundar, does he think that I am a psycho?

Critical of Facebook

•18 March, 2020 • Leave a Comment

….and then, like there is not enough going on in our world, someone has to post a pointless picture of their food, be it breakfast, lunch or something, like this meal is the main adventure in their lives, like this the life halting event that they though that I should take time out of my day to observe. Do these people have so little going on in their lives that they though that seeing what they put in their mouth would be top of the things that I wanted to know about their day?

Is this home?

•18 March, 2020 • Leave a Comment

I walk out of the heavy wooden door onto the bright sun lite balcony.

The cold white marble tiles under foot is in stark contrast to the heat of the sun and the humidity of the warn tropical air pressed against my skin.

I place my hands on the stone balcony warming in the sun

“Is this home?” I ask myself for the first time today, the same question I have asked myself for the last 50 years.

Whose line is it anyway?

•18 March, 2020 • Leave a Comment

I materialised in the 1930s, it was midnight and I was in my latest incarnation, which was an ostentatious 12 year old with an interest in Basketball, so it was unlikely that anyone was going to recognise me from this past life, unless they too had travelled back in time from the academic halls of Gallifrey to carry out this drug deal, a drug deal that would wipe my debts and help pay for those gold and latenam Air Jordan’s that I had my eye on back in 2025.

The Tardis materialised in the dimly lit halls of the Academy of Gallifrey.

He had hit is mark perfectly, arriving at midnight as expected, in time for the deal that was going to make him rich.

Nobody would expect a 12 year old boy dress ostentatiously dressed in his favourite basketball top and gold Jordans, to pull off the drug deal of the century.

Patrick

•18 March, 2020 • Leave a Comment

Perspective 1

My heart was pounding, as my legs moved faster and faster.

I was feeling fear, but yet I found myself smiling, as if I knew that this was going to be a story that I would retell throughout my lifetime.

I was good at running, Patrick knew it, and now the dog that was chasing us both down the street with its chain audibly scrapping along the pavement as it got closer to us, was about to know it too.

I was fast, but at this point I knew, I only needed to be faster than Patrick.

And that is when it hit me, the idea that was to come to me in a flash, and stay with me for a lifetime.

I looked to my right and saw the cars parked on the side of the road. Their headlight looked like eyes, surveying the unfolding situation, and consenting to my next unspoken move.

With the first jump, my right foot was firmly in the bonet of a car, and with the next leap, my left foot was on the roof.

I instantly knelt down into a crouched position, as if I was at the starting line of a 100m race, but this action was designed to stop me dead in my tracks on top of the green, nondescript car.

I looked down and to my left, just in time to see Patrick sail past me.

He looked up at me with a look on his face that was resigned to his fate. A look that screamed “You bastard”.

He knew that my move had set him up as bait, and as the dog sailed past the car upon which I was perched, I knew that the bait had been taken.

I do not know if I ever actually saw the dog take a bite out of Patrick’s arse, but in my mind’s eye it is the story that I tell to this day.

 

Perspective 2

“I can’t believe this is happening to me, I can’t believe we are being chased by that dog.

It is normally chained up.

That bastard garage owner must have known that we tease it on our way home from school, and left it unchained to teach ups a lesson.

Well, I definitely learning a few lessons here:

  1. Orlando is a lot quicker that I thought he was
  2. The dog really wants its revenge for all the times we have poked it with a stick.

All I need to do is catch Orlando and then…wait…what the…SON OF A BITCH, what is he doing on the top of a car.

But if he is on a car that means I am the only one running, the only one for the dog to chase

I am the bait, YOU BASTARD

This is not going to end well for me, this is not going to end well at all.