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Introduction In this issue of The Submarine we re very pleased to publish Sophie Haslett s interview with Jennifer Johnston. It must have been daunting to approach one of Ireland s leading novelists, a Booker nominee (Shadows on our Skin, 1977) and Whitbread winner (The Old Jest, 1979), yet perceptive and probing questioning by our interviewer elicited thoughtful answers about writing as an art, about themes, methods, wellsprings and perspectives, about film and TV adaptations, about motivation and confidence and opinions on upcoming Irish authors overall a fascinating insight into the writer s life. Our congratulations to Sophie. And our thanks to Mr Coldrick. A casual inquiry from the librarian to this most modest of computer whizzes and Bardophiles among his many other talents about how we might transfer the Library s ageing and technologically suspect Shakespeare audiotapes into a more accessible format resulted in their almost instantaneous mass transfer to CD for use in laptop or MP3. What a resource these now are! I highly commend them to you, both as an invaluable study aid but also for the pure pleasure of hearing the marvellous words come to life. It s always instructive to see technology in support of art. Too often we see it as destructive of culture, a banal distraction at best and quite sinister at worst. This is because of the uses to which it is put, of course, and not due to the technology itself. This librarian, if he puts his future hat on, sees a twofold development: fiction (apropos of Sophie s interview) will remain in book form, for nothing technology can do will match the tactile supremacy of the book, nor the need we have as human beings to engage imaginatively with the experiences recorded within it. On the other hand, non-fiction information will continue to travel away from the book to its new residence in electronic formats, ever available, ever changing, a library as vast as the world. And in both cases the librarian will toil to mediate, as ever he did, between the dross and the gold Finally my grateful thanks to Michael Poulton, our retiring editor, whose last edition this is. It s not an easy station, being The Submarine editor. He did us proud, and departs to focus on the Leaving Cert. I hope he will permit himself a wry smile or two as he observes from the comparative , safety of that position the next editor s travails. TMcC, Librarian
Zip-zap-boing. Antigone cast members practise their Greek pronunciation before their final dress-rehearsal of this year s Junior Play, directed by Mr McCarthy.
Editor: Michael Poulton I N S I D E New Books in the Library.....2 Sophie Haslett: Interview with Jennifer Johnston .... .. .3 Mr Walker: Under the Frog by Tibor Fischer .. 5 Lewis Mathews: Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers. ...6 Mr Coldrick: Shakespeare on MP3 Project .. ..7 Mr Swift: My Bookcase 8 Donors .8 What s Reading Me .... ...9 Aoife Kenny: Atonement ....10 Poppy Vernon: Polly, Molly agus Labhran . .. ..10 Rebecca Feeney-Barry: What if 11 Dr Bannister: Shoot the Messenger .. 12
VOL. 3 NO. 1 Here are some of the new books we purchased for the Library last term JUNIOR FICTION
The Alchemyst: the secrets of the immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott Demon Apocalypse by Darren Shan A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, illustrated by P J Lynch Dancing in my nuddy pants by Louise Rennison Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer Eggs by Jerry Spinelli Fearless by Tim Lott Flyte: Septimus Heap book 2 by Angie Sage George s Secret key to the Universe by Lucy and Stephen Hawking Girl, 15, flirting for England by Sue Limb Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve Hunted by Chris Ryan Hurricane Gold by Charlie Higson Ivy by Julie Hearn Jimmy Coates: Sabotage by Joe Craig The Last of the High Kings by Kate Thompson The Lost Barkscrolls by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell Mad Dogs by Robert Muchamore The Magician s Guild by Trudi Canavan Mates, Dates and Chocolate Cheats by Cathy Hopkins Outcast by Michelle Paver The Road of Bones by Anne Fine Ruler of the Realm by Herbie Brennan Snakehead by Anthony Horowitz The Spook s Apprentice by Joseph Delaney Swallowdale by Arthur Ransome Vampirates: Blood Captain by Justin Somper The Waves by Sharon Dogar SENIOR FICTION
The Afghan by Frederick Forsythe Animal s People by Indra Sinha Before I die by Jenny Downham Captain Alatriste by Arturo Perez-Reverte Cheating at Canasta by William Trevor Close by Martina Cole The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer Falling Man by Don DeLillo Foolish Mortals by Jennifer Johnston The Gathering by Anne Enright Langrishe, go down by Aidan Higgins Life Class by Pat Barker The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld The Memory Keeper s Daughter by Kim Edwards Mr Pip by Lloyd Jones Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson The Rain before it Falls by Jonathan Coe
JANUARY 2008 Redemption Falls by Joseph O Connor The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday Slam by Nick Hornby Sovereign by C J Sansom The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney Tenderwire by Claire Kilroy This is all; the Pillowbook of Cordelia Kenn by Aidan Chambers A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini Tokyo Year Zero by David Peace Tomorrow by Graham Swift Under the frog by Tibor Fischer What I was by Meg Rosoff Wicked! By Jilly Cooper Zoli by Colum McCann Zugzwang by Ronan Bennett NON-FICTION
31 Songs by Nick Hornby Andres Segovia in portrait [DVD] by Christopher Nupen Ariel; the restored edition by Sylvia Plath Arthur Miller: a critical study by Christopher Bigsby Connemara: listening to the wind by Tim Robinson Cultural Amnesia: notes in the margin of my time by Clive James Darwin Retried by Norman Macbeth Eleven Houses: a memoir of childhood by Christopher FitzSimon Elizabeth Bishop: Collected Prose by Elizabeth Bishop From there to here: Irish rugby in the professional era by Brendan Fanning God is not great: the case against religion by Christopher Hitchens Gordon Ramsay s fast food: recipes from the f word by Gordon Ramsay The Great Big Glorious Book for Girls by Rosemary Davidson and Sarah Vine Great Irish Speeches by Richard Aldous (edit.) Head-On: Ian Botham-the autobiography by Ian Botham How to do magic Tricks by Nicholas Einhorn How to play rugby my way by Jonny Wilkinson In the poorer quarters by Aidan Mathews Judging Dev by Diarmuid Ferriter The Lives and Times of the Great Composers by Michael Steen The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda s road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright Michael O Leary: a life in full flight by Alan Ruddock Peeling the Onion by Gunther Grass A pocket guide to ethical issues by Andrew Goddard The Pursuit of History by John Tosh and Sean Lang Selling Olga: stories of human trafficking and resistance by Louisa Waugh Serious by John McEnroe Survivor: my story by Sharon Osbourne Shakespeare by Bill Bryson Shakespeare s Wife by Germaine Greer
VOL. 3 NO. 1 INTERVIEW WITH JENNIFER JOHNSTON
JANUARY 2008 SOPHIE HASLETT
On Monday 4th June 2007, I had the privilege to interview one of Ireland s most esteemed authors, Jennifer Johnston. Here s how we got on Could you please begin by telling me about your early life and influences? Well, I was born in Dublin. My father was a writer called Dennis Johnston who was very famous in the 20s and 30s, writing one particularly groundbreaking play The Old Lady Says No . My mother was an actress and a director in the Abbey theatre and they were married for about eight or nine years before getting divorced. My father then became a BBC war correspondent and wrote a novel based on his experiences called How Many Miles to Babylon? (I asked did this influence her title and she said perhaps). His novel wasn t just a diary of the war though, as it was faintly philosophical. After the war, my father moved to London and didn t come back to Ireland until the end of his life. He became a professor in America and eventually came back to Ireland in about 1970. My mother went on to start her own company which put on plays. Quite a literary background then. Were you always interested in writing? Well, I was at school. I used to write plays that we would act in school. I didn t write much after school because I was at Trinity, where I failed a terrible exam that has now Jennifer Johnston s new been abolished I am pleased to say and then I went on and got married and had children. book, Foolish Mortals, was After living in Paris for a year with my husband who was working in a film studio there, published in October 2007. we moved to London and eventually settled in Derry. I started writing at the age of thirtyA copy is available in the five as I just woke up one morning and thought I must do something with my life , and Library. after a few weeks of thinking, I decided on writing. I was very lucky because my first book, The Captains and the Kings won a prize. Do you find personal experience is important to your writing? Not necessarily. I find just strange little things that flash in and out of your mind that you remember one day and then forget can be important. And finally, after years, something might come into your head and you ll think ah, that s exactly what I need . And what about your characters, are they based on people you know? Yes and no. They may be based on the circumstances of people I know. Writers are thieves ~ they steal other people s lives and steal bits of their conversations and things. They re always stealing ~ I just hope we give it back in the books that we write. How do you approach your writing on a daily basis? Do you write everyday for example? Oh yes, you have to do that. You have to make some sort of pattern. I never set myself limits though. I can write three words in a day, or I can write two pages ~ it all depends. I m warning you though that very frequently it does become a chore. Is there a theme or a strand running through all of your novels? Ireland is the main theme, and Irish women and their plight if you like to call it. The mess that all make of our lives too, because I don t know anybody who hasn t made a mess of their lives one way or another. Human relationships is another and the relationships between the very old and the very young has always fascinated me. Then there are all the normal themes like love, violence and death. Another common one is the impossibility of so many things that we re told as children that we can do. But Ireland is the main one. I m very attached to it, it s my home. How much planning do you do before you start writing? I don t really plan. I will have a person who comes into my head and who may be there for six months or even a couple of years. They sort of come in and out and I don t really notice them except that it s like someone knocking on the door and then going away. They re the basis for a major character. It s difficult, you see I don t plan apart from knowing the complexities of the human mind. I do plan somewhere deep down inside because I always know the ending. You must know the end or else you could go on writing forever. Your early novels are often set in the vanished world of the Protestant ascendancy, in big, lonely Anglo-Irish homes, what attracted you to this small section of Irish society? When I started writing, it was what I knew. I wrote about the sorts of people I knew and had been brought up around and who I ve always had a great love for. But now, I ve changed, I write more about women and urban life. Yes, in your first novels, you often write from a male perspective. Do you find this easier? When I first started writing, I was teaching myself to write and so thought that male perspective would help me. I wrote three like that, How Many Miles to Babylon? being the last one, apart from Shadows on our Skins , and then moved onto female perspective which I ve pretty much stuck with.
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How do you feel about How Many Miles to Babylon? being on the Leaving Certificate course? Do you like the idea that students are studying it? Well, it s okay is so far as it means I m recognised as an author and put with other great ones. I don t like the idea of quotes and things being learned but it does mean that possibly when everyone leaves school and becomes a human being, that my name will be in their heads and that they might read another of my books. I have heard that you never meant to make the character Alicia in How Many Miles to Babylon? an evil person. Does she have any redeeming features in your opinion? No, absolutely none. She didn t have any redeeming features ~ she was sort of like the wicked witch of the north wasn t she? The only things that she had were that she was very beautiful and she was able to play the piano very well. Had she lived thirty or forty years later, she might have been a concert pianist. And all of that built up in her as a character This is where I went wrong with her because I knew in my own head what she was like. She was just a woman who d never had a chance and so she turned into this bitter twisted creature. Even if she d ever thought of saying that she wanted to be a concert pianist, she had nobody as a role model. I was lucky because my mother worked when I was in school; she was the only mother in my class who worked. And so it didn t feel strange to me, that I would have to work. She was very much a 20th century woman, my mother. How Many Miles to Babylon? is based on a diary, is that true? Why did this extract strike such a note with you? Mainly because I don t do things like research. I m very lazy. I was writing a novel about the very same regiment as it and it was written by a major. It told me all about the trenches and things and troubles between the men in there. When I set out to write it, I wanted to avoid writing things that weren t true and so it seemed perfect. The moment a lack of truth comes into your writing, nobody believes anything you write. Why do you think that World War 1 holds so much attraction to both authors and readers? It came at a strange point in Irish history. Enormous numbers of men signed up for it and Ireland was put on hold. Many men died, or were horribly wounded. It s very poignant and there are so many extraordinary stories. My uncle, Billy, was killed in Gallipoli and my grandfather less than six weeks later in Flanders. It s one of those things, no one was left untouched by it. You don t divide the novel into chapters but sections, why? Why should I? I don t like chapters, they bore me. It s just another way of punctuating my novels. Class is very important in your novels. You seem to capture the culture of the working class very well. How do you do so? And were there any aspects of the novel that you found difficult? About capturing the culture, my best advice is to watch and listen. You have to get into your head the rhythms of people s speech. Reading is very important as well. When you write, you have to read it aloud to yourself every so often because if it doesn t sound right in your head, it s not likely to in anyone else s. There are always bits that are difficult in every novel, I don t remember exactly what in How Many Miles to Babylon? but I imagine it was a bridging section. You know, how do I get from here all the way to over there? How do I tell people about it? You ve diversified into drama in your writing. Do you find this more difficult? Oh definitely. It s far too hard, that s why I didn t stick with it. I m a novelist, there s no question about that. In drama, you can t say what s in people s heads. Sam Beckett s the only one I think does so effectively. He s the greatest playwright of the twentieth century. I read that you have been dubbed the quiet woman of Irish literature . Why do you think this is so? Ah, they re always pulling my leg because I don t live in Dublin and I don t have the internet and I don t use email. I don t mind talking about my work, just not too often. Writing is a lonely job, you see, but I don t mind being alone. It doesn t bother me. How long does it take you to write a novel generally? Too long about two years I suppose. And I write short novels. It s all I can do. Even at school, the teacher was always writing EXPAND in huge capital letters down the sides of my essays. I have a new book coming out in October, you ll have to look out for it. It s about a very dysfunctional family Who are your favourite contemporary authors? That s a hard question. Well, in Irish authors I like John McGahern, God rest his soul. He was wonderful. There s also a man called Colum McCann who is brilliant, lives in New York but is from Dublin. There are two very good young women, Clare Kilroy who writes magical books and then a younger one, who, to date has only written short stories which are phenomenally good. She s called Claire Keegan. There are some particularly good women writers in Australia and Canada at the moment.
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Would you ever consider having your films adapted for the cinema? How Many Miles to Babylon? was adapted for the television which was excellent. One of the novels is being optioned for cinema at the moment. I think it s sort of a mixed blessing really. Sometimes they do them so badly but the TV production of How Many Miles to Babylon? is brilliant. Alicia Moore is played absolutely beautifully by Sian Phillips and Daniel Day Lewis is also very good as Alexander. The only thing that really grated at me was that in the first twenty minutes the boy Alexander was so wrong. So, so wrong. What are the rewards and frustrations of being a writer? There are lots of rewards. Firstly, you get to sort out the insides of your own head. The material rewards are brilliant. I have stayed all over the world and met lots of good writers. That means more than money. I don t make a lot of money from my books, but I get by. The frustrations are all just the frustrations of one s own personality. What ambitions do you still hold in life and what advice could you give to aspiring novelists? Well, I ve always said that I want to write the great Irish novel and I don t have very long left so I better hurry up. Advice to novelists You must have self-confidence. Writers have to, not all do but it s rising. And read, of course. Oh, and one last thing. Finish the thing, do not keep scrapping attempts. Reread it afterwards, just finish it first.
Website: sccenglish.ie -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------REVIEW
UNDER THE FROG BY TIBOR FISCHER
MR. MATTHEW WALKER
"Under the Frog" is an allusion to the Hungarian expression of the worst place on earth one can be: under a frog's arse down a coal mine.' The full expression captures the unlikely teaming of hopelessness and comedy in Tibor Fischer's debut novel, where the dire reality of post-World War II Hungary is trying to break through the comic veneer Fischer utilises to recount events during the turbulent decade culminating in the bloody revolution of 1956. Against the backdrop of a corrupt and collapsing Communist regime, the narrative follows two members of the perpetually touring Nation Railways basketball team, "The Locomotive", Gyuri Fischer, the central character and his friend and mentor Pataki, star of Locomotive, inveterate prankster and relentless womanizer. Their adventures are hilarious and often farcical - ridiculous basketball matches in odd parts of the country, the team always travelling naked from town to town; and their constant scheming about how to abscond from their hopeless existence. Gyuri and Pataki find themselves in a country ravaged by the squabbling between Nazi Germany and Communist Russia. Both have come in and stripped the people of everything. Fischer recounts stories of rape and murder with stoic detachment, thanking God that he wasn't a woman in these times, but far from being callous, it is an obvious mechanism to preserve his own sanity. In a way, one wishes the horror of the reality could have stayed smothered by Fischer's style of narration. One of my favourite moments is during the revolution in 1956 when Gyuri finds himself and a few others tightly packed behind the iron bust of the recently fallen statue of Stalin. A profound and philosophical debate ensues on being prepared for every situation between the strangers, whilst the Russian tank on the other side of the statue sprays the street with bullets. One cannot help but feel Fischer's deeply ironic voice, describing the absurd political climate, is teetering on the precipice of pure nihilism. In a country where suicide is described as the national pastime, it is a wonder there were any survivors. This is a wonderfully crafted book: the writing creates the illusion of familiarity and yet it is relentless in expanding the reader s imagination as it moves effortlessly through the decade. I would recommend this novel to anyone.
VOL. 3 NO. 1 REVIEW - THE RIDDLE OF THE SANDS BY ERSKINE CHILDERS
JANUARY 2008 LEWIS MATHEWS
The Riddle of the Sands isn t the sort of book that you just pick up from the bookshelf, especially not the tatty old copy in the library (brand new edition ordered--Ed.), but I have a special interest in this book as its author, Erskine Childers, is my great great grandfather and so I m blatantly going to be very biased and tell you all what a great book it is. In 1903, Erskine Childers did something profound: he wrote the world s first great seagoing spy thriller. But The Riddle of the Sands opens so quietly that a reader might think that Childers himself didn t know what he was creating. As the novel begins, it is late September, and its protagonist who goes by the name Carruthers is stuck in London. It s an especially lonely season, he tells us. His friends (for what they re worth) are on holiday, and due to a caprice on the part of a remote and mighty personage, he is left at his desk in the Foreign Office to do work that consisted chiefly in smoking cigarettes, in saying that Mr. So-and-So was away and would be back October 1st. Unfortunately, while he is slated to take a holiday, he has nowhere to go. He is, he tells us, at the extremity of depression. Frankly, Carruthers is very comically moody at the beginning of the book. Soon, though, a letter arrives that changes his plans and the expected course of the book profoundly. A university friend, Davies, has invited him on a yachting holiday in the Baltic. Of course, Carruthers finds many things to criticize in the offer, but as he tells himself, There was certainly no alternative at hand. And to bury myself in the Baltic at this unearthly time of year had at least a smack of tragic thoroughness about it. Naturally, the yacht turns out to be a tiny, bedraggled affair, and the neat yachtsman s outfit that Carruthers has brought is absurdly out of place. Looking around his quarters, Carruthers reflects back on earlier yacht outings: Hazily there floated through my mind my last embarkation on a yacht; my faultless attire, the trim gig and obsequious sailors, the accommodation ladder flashing with varnish and brass in the August sun; the orderly, snowy decks and basket chairs under the awning aft. What a contrast with this sordid midnight scramble, over damp meat and littered packing-cases! The bitterest touch of all was a growing sense of inferiority and ignorance which I had never before been allowed to feel in my experience of yachts. Despite our natural tendency to project a novelist s perspective onto his protagonist, it s actually Davies that Childers more closely resembles, at least when it comes to seafaring skills. And the reading experience gains immeasurably by it because Childers draws on his own seagoing experiences to construct a yachting adventure that convinces even sea-hardened readers that they re reading the real thing. Here, for example, he describes a particularly bumpy passage through storms: Every loose article in the boat became audibly restless. Cans clinked, cupboards rattled, lockers uttered hollow groans. Small things sidled out of dark hiding-places, and danced grotesque drunken figures on the floor, like goblins in a haunted glade. The mast whined dolorously at every heel, and the centre-board hiccoughed and choked. In time, Carruthers discovers Davies isn t as carefree as he seems, and in the process of sizing up a yachtsman Davies swears is a spy, the two stumble onto a German plot to invade England s coastline. While Childers approaches this discovery slowly, the story quickly picks up speed once it s revealed. And the German plot proved so convincing that the British government took note. As realistic as the German plot is, though, at least some of the novel s believability lies in Childers s understated approach to the genre and cannot have been particularly easy to create. The Riddle of the Sands was to be Childers s only novel. He served as a clerk in the House of Commons until 1910, and nine years later, he moved to Dublin, where he avidly supported the Irish Home Rule movement. The involvement proved to be short-lived, though. In 1922, Childers was court-martialed by the Irish Provisional Government for carrying a pistol given to him by Michael Collins, and he was executed by firing squad a week later. The political pamphlets he wrote may have been long since forgotten, but The Riddle of the Sands remains a superbly compelling read.
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SHAKESPEARE ON MP3 PROJECT
There has been a long tradition of Shakespeare in College. Since the early 1960 s the library has been purchasing recordings of plays and has amassed over the years a large collection on tape and CD. To preserve these recordings, particularly the older, more fragile tapes, a joint project was set up between the library and the SCC Shakespeare Society to transfer the material to MP3 CDs. By moving to MP3 format we also make the recordings more accessible to pupils who can now listen to plays they are studying on their iPods. The new MP3 collection has over 60 MP3 CDs covering over 200 hours of recordings and, in addition to the plays, contains the Sonnets and the Narrative poems, Pearson s Life of Shakespeare, various compilations of famous scenes and soliloquies and old archive recordings. We colour coded the MP3 CDs to separate the material into the standard categories of Tragedies (Green), Comedies (Light Blue), Histories & Compilations (Red), Romances & Poetry (Yellow) and Archive recordings (Purple). The Archive category contains some very special recordings including Richard Burton s Hamlet recorded live on Broadway in 1962, The Taming of the Shrew with Trevor Howard and Margaret Leighton from 1962, the young John Gielgud s Hamlet from 1948 and wonderful productions by the Marlow Dramatic Society and the Old Vic Company from the 60s and 70s of King Lear, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, Much Ado about Nothing, A Midsummer Night s Dream and The Comedy of Errors. The collection contains multiple productions of the more popular plays with for example six of Hamlet, four of King Lear, three of Romeo & Juliet, etc. This will allow pupils to compare different interpretations by directors and actors of the plays and key roles. While recordings of the more popular plays on the Junior and Leaving Certificate syllabus will complement and support classroom studies, we hope that pupils will explore plays they are less familiar with. The library has a number of books summarising the plays (including the excellent Essential Shakespeare Handbook and The Rough Guide to Shakespeare) which can be used to familiarise oneself with a play before listening to a recording. Listening to Shakespeare is a wonderful way to enjoy and explore this timeless and extraordinary literature. Through the talents of great actors the plays come alive and you get a real sense of the essence of Shakespeare which is to put a mirror up to ourselves, to explore the full range of human nature with all its joys and sorrows, its complexities and contradictions, its hopes and ambitions, its good and evil. In 400 years we have not changed our nature that much. We are the people Shakespeare writes about and his great genius is that he does this with profound insight into human nature and in language which is both beautiful and compelling.
Is this an iPod I see before me?
VOL. 3 NO. 1 MY BOOKCASE
JANUARY 2008 MR SWIFT
Mr Swift wrote this song for his presentation in Chapel, where he also sang it.
1. Looking at the stack of books That rest in peace upon my bookcase Whispering their messages back to me. Bible stories, magic legends, fables of auld Aesop, Fairy tales with intrigue and mystery for me. 2. The mighty lord Jehovah Put auld Abraham to the test He made him sacrifice his one & only son. Broken hearted Abraham put wee Isaac on the plinth & through his tears moaned God s will must be done. The dagger glistened, God had mercy & stayed his servant s hand. I hope I ve got the faith it takes to face the tricky tests Life throws upon my way & beat them day-to-day. 3. Then in school the greats The heavyweights of English letters Found their way to life upon my shelf. The greatest expectations of a lad named Philip Pirrip Changed the way I looked upon myself. Soon we learnt that manners & not money make the man. I hope I ve got the grace it takes to place these lessons In my life & if I can, to be some sort of gentleman. Scott Fitzgerald, Percy Shelley never saw old age I hope that I live long enough to read the stuff You scribbled down there word by word, line by line, page by page.
4. When Laurie Lee walked out One midsummer morning With a fiddle & a bow upon his back; He walked to London, sailed to Spain, Fell in love with being young & free & with life upon the dusty track. Sickly civil war came stealing Ending Laurie s trek. I hope I ve got the guts to drop the books & venture off Towards some foreign land with just my ukulele in my hand. 5. When Primo Levi wandered home He set about the task of Writing down everything he d seen. With scientific beauty his words describe Life within the walls Of the Nazi party death machine. He wonders why some folk drowned When some, like him, are saved. I hope I ve got the trust from dawn to dusk to keep Henry James words in mind: be kind, be kind and be kind. Dylan Thomas, Brendan Behan never saw old age I hope that I live long enough to read the stuff You scribbled down there word by word, line by line, page by page.
HILARY AND TRINITY TERMS 2007 - 2008
The Library is very grateful to those who donate books to us. Donations widen the range of resources we have on our shelves, often in the most surprising and interesting ways. This term we would particularly like to thank APCK (the Association for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge) who, through a very generous grant, enabled us to substantially update our books on all religions. To individuals who supported us, we are especially grateful: Dr G. Bannister, Mr J. R. Brett, Mr N. Coldrick, Mr J. Fanagan, Mr J. Girdham, Mr P. McCarthy, Mr F. Morris, Dr J. Stone, Mr R. Swift, William Trevor, the Warden.
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WHAT S READING ME? Neil Dalrymple, Magyk by Angie Sage (Septimus Heap, book 1) My sister gave me book 3, so I had to go and get the first one. I like it because it s mystical and strange. The title is right because the storyline s all about magic. It s a good book, I d really recommend it. Mr Watts, Perfume by Patrick Suskind I never got around to it before. I m a late starter
.I saw the film. The book is wonderful.
Lily Guinness, Ross O Carroll Kelly: The Teenage Dirtbag Years by Paul Howard Yes, it s really funny. It s about going to university and he plays rugby, and that s all he lives for. That s basically all he does. Kezia Wright, Dior by Dior It s a biography of Christian Dior. I really like it I don t know, it tells me a lot about his life, a lot about what he does. I ve learnt a lot from it. I d recommend it yeah. It gets a bit boring in the middle bits. Mr Swift, The Classical World, an archaic history by ? I can t remember, I think it s a double-barrelled name. Um. It s a survey of ancient history from earliest Greek times to Hadrian. It s very good. (Bites lip). And I m halfway through Alan Alda s memoir, Don t have your dog stuffed it s really readable, and funny in parts a funny take on showbiz childhood. [Much later ] Robin Lane-Fox, that s him! Louisa Scott, Mum, can you lend me twenty quid? by Elizabeth Burton-Phillips It s a really good book. It s written by a woman whose two sons became drug addicts and it s all about their lives, and how she tries to help them, and how her life disintegrates, how difficult her life becomes. It s gripping, so brutal. Really, really shocking. Mr Jameson, Stoner by John Williams, and Birds of America by Lorrie Moore I m reading Stoner Mr Fanagan did that already? it s about a man whose life takes an unexpected turn, inspired by an English professor. And Birds of America by Lorrie Moore. Brilliantly realised characters, wonderful dialogue, hilarious, miserable slices of life. Daniel Roden, The Stuff of Nightmares by Malorie Blackman It s very good lots of short stories, quite gripping, quite descriptive. No, I got it for Christmas. They re a bit strange, actually they go into people s worst fears. Hal Downer, Jamie s Italy, Jamie at Home Basically I ve read every book there (in the Cookery section). I d say Jamie s pretty brilliant. He s relevant, the recipes are. I m not sure if it s a male chef/female chef thing could be. I really like his stuff. Ms Hallahan, Cultural Amnesia: notes in the margin of my time by Clive James, and Voyage round the Shipping Forecast by Charlie Connelly I saw Clive James do his New Year s Eve thing and started reading his novels and discovered to my surprise he s an intellectual, lucid and incredibly well-read he must have a library the size of the Bodleian. Cultural Amnesia is a survey of thinking and ideas over the past century and more he goes into individual writers and thinkers, and musicians, artists. Fabulous. Charlie Connelly s Voyage round the Shipping Forecast is where he takes the places mentioned in the forecast and then does a tour of all of them within a year, Faeroes, and Cromarty and Forth and so on. Interesting and informative in a low-key way. Mr Girdham, Night Music by Christopher Campbell-Howes Okay a moving story told in a prep school in the 1950s, and later in wartime. St Columba s?...Well, I suppose. It s boarding school fiction.
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ATONEMENT BY IAN MCEWAN
The story of Atonement is, in short (so as not to ruin both the novel and film for you) about a young girl named Briony who witnesses events that she does not fully understand. Due to her misunderstanding of these events she commits a dreadful crime. This crime then has an impact not only on her for the rest of her life in dealing with the guilt of what she has done but also on the lives of the victims of this crime and the other onlookers involved. I have read the novel Atonement by Ian McEwan, and watched the film adaptation directed by Joe Wright. The film is very well adapted from the book, with a good portrayal of the novel, keeping the same strong themes of romance, war, guilt, justice and, of course, atonement. If you are planning to read both the book and watch the film I would advise that you read the book first. I watched the film first and this I felt spoiled the novel a bit. Both the novel and the film are well worth looking into, but if you don t have the time or simply don t want to read the novel I would advise seeing the film; it is superb with the actors really bringing the story to life, as well as including an amazing scene of Dunkirk. Both film and novel are excellent, and both leave you with aMOLLY, lingering senseAGUS of what might have- POPPY been. VERNON POLLY AN LABHRAN -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------POLLY, MOLLY AGUS LABHRAN
VOL. 3 NO. 1 ST COLUMBA S WHAT IF
JANUARY 2008 REBECCA FEENEY-BARRY
An occasional series where we look at life in Columba s from a rather
different point of view.
For this article, I was asked to write about anything I wanted- Just make it opinionated , was my order. When I got to it, however, I found that I had no idea what to write. Some boys, of course, told me to write about feminism and how a woman s place isn t in the kitchen. Well, unless you re a complete idiot like (name quickly withheld Ed.), you can t actually believe that women aren t able to do anything but cook and look after their husband s babies. Just look around you. I therefore didn t see any reason to argue that point. I wondered a while longer and then made a decision; I m going to give an opinion on babies. Babies in Columba s. This idea came from a conversation Celeste Weatherhead and I had one evening. It involved imagining just what you would do if you got pregnant while at this school. We saw it would be pretty inevitable that you d have to leave "Gwynn would probably be OK, Columba s if you wanted to look after your baby yourself. But say you did manthough you would worry about age to keep it in school. Could you? You d have to have a nanny for while you them being too maternal. were in class and you probably couldn t breastfeed. That s pretty clear. Everything else would be difficult even with that- a costly and stressful operation. All the everyday little things would probably be the most difficult. Sleeping especially. If there is one thing we value here, it s sleep. I ve never heard any teenager in any other school say, Oh, I ve got the afternoon off; I think I ll hit the sack for a while . Here though, it s just a normal thing to do. Combine that with the fact that sleep is scarce with a newborn child anyway and, well, let s just say that it might be a bad mix. Plus, your whole dorm would be lying there, just wishing that you would shut your damn baby up. Group-living wouldn t be all bad, though, as the child would have so many mother figures; it would be like the dorm s baby. Just think and imagine for second, having a baby sitting on your bed and being there all the time. Having a cot beside your bed. Coming back after class to your tiny daughter or son. Having a baby s cry wake you up in the middle of the night and having to get up and feed it or walk around with it or something. Changing nappies on your bedside table, sterilizing bottles, bringing it for walks how weird would all that be? What would our strict, seemingly inflexible daily routine be like with a baby? So, you d bring the little one to breakfast, fine. Leave it with the nanny for the day, fine. Come back at break and lunchtime to see it, reassure it that you are actually its parent, feed it and all that kind of thing, fine. You d have to be motivated to do games- the most you could manage with the baby would be a jog or a half hour in the gym. Your options would be to leave it with someone or jog around school with a baby strapped to your tummy. Does that appeal to anyone? Then you d take it to dinner and feed it there at the table. How would you even carry your tray? I wonder whether you d be able to get the school to provide food, or even heat up food for baba so you could feed it while you re eating. Then you would have to do prep in dorm and hope to God that the baby would sleep. Taking it to hot drink with you wouldn t be too bad. Just think of sitting in hot drink holding a baby. Always having a baby around you. Then, at the end of the day, you could sleep. Or not sleep, as the case may be. Sounds like a fun old life doesn t it? Of course, I suppose most guys think that all this would only apply to girls (here s a bit of feminism now) but that wouldn t necessarily be true. Suppose if, as could happen, the mum and dad were both in here in Columba s. You could have an every other night system going. I don t know though, and most other girls whether I doften. let my into extra one storage of the space boysforhouses. Gwynn would probably be all OK, wouldagree, come on a bit more You baby d havego to have all the accessoriestoys, clothes, food and thethough other stuff that goes along withabout havingthem a baby. Finally, that theAll main problem would guys be thattogether you simply wouldn al- of a you would worry being tooI think maternal. those Gwynn could bet abebit lowed to stay. YouGlen d have a hellbe of aall lotrightto do ifIyou the different it throws scary andwould pretty amuscatastrophe. could m did. not Imagining sure whether they dscenarios know what to up do.is Ipretty d say they do a ing too. Just think of what you d do if someone in your dorm had a baby. Just imagine it. good job if you told them exactly what to do, when to do it, everything. Then there s Stack. Well, my first reaction was absolutely no way. Thinking about it a bit more though, they d be quite, I don t know, is cuddly the right word? All the same, it would be quite strange to see two people in your year have a baby in school. You d see the transfers from one parent to another at different times of day. You d go and play with the baby, see it grow and take its first steps around the school and you d see the parents reaction to it. They d probably change a lot when the responsibility of a baby came along. There would be so many little things you d have to do that I can t think of now but that I know would pop up. You d have to make sure, 11
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particularly if you re in Iona, that the heating would come on a bit more often. You d have to have extra storage space for all the accessories- toys, clothes, food and all the other stuff that goes along with having a baby. Finally, I think that the main problem would be that you simply wouldn t be allowed to stay. You d have a hell of a lot to do if you did. Imagining the different scenarios it throws up is pretty scary and pretty amusing too. Just think of what you d do if someone in your dorm had a baby. Just imagine it. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
SHOOT THE MESSENGER Our occasional column where eminent men and women throw a spanner in the works and then cut for the border. Here Dr Bannister considers a hot topic
Global Warming is not The Problem This may be an uncomfortable truth but even if we do cut down on all our carbon emissions and manage to recycle like we have never done before, we cannot and will not prevent the inevitability of Global Warming and even if we had realised this away back in the 1970s, when scientists were then predicting the coming of a second ice-age, even then, it would have been far too late to solve the Global Warming issue with any boyscoutish or girls brigadary power of one policies. All we can do, at the very best it seems, is to delay the inevitable process. And so, are we then all doomed to die on planet earth, the home we have polluted because of our evil and selfish human behaviour? The simple answer is that it could happen but not necessarily so. Why? Because there is only one thing we need or indeed, ever did need, to prevent the demise of human life or the earth itself and that is the correct know-how. When the apple fell on Newton s head, Newton apparently had an instantaneous realization. Apples were, however, falling long before Newton s epiphany and have been falling ever since. But it was Sir Isaac s mind that gleaned valuable understanding and new knowledge from what he saw or experienced on that historic day. It was a human mind interacting with its immediate environment that procured the valuable know-how about gravity; its properties, nature and consequently its potential value to humanity. All the information in how to find a solution to any problem, including Global Warming is right in front of our very eyes all we need to do is to open our minds and to see what it is, to understand what the universe is telling us. Are we running out of natural fuels? no, indeed we are not! There is plenty of fuel to be obtained all around us here on planet earth and in the remotest part of our immense universe. In the darkest regions of the universe where there are no stars or planets, where everything is pitch black yes, even in such remote regions as these, with the right knowledge, incredible solutions can be found to sustain life and create excitingly beautiful environments for human beings. We only require the necessary know-how not the necessary raw materials potential solutions are in abundance. My argument is, therefore, a very simple one. There isn t any lack of means or natural resources to provide simple and effective solutions to all our material needs and problems, merely a lack of the appropriate knowledge and understanding to utilise what we already have. I therefore would argue that we should consider reallocating the majority of our resources to those areas of scientific research that are involved in discovering new approaches to old problems and not to those areas that continue relying on yesterdays technologies to solve tomorrow s concerns. Let s forget about our carbon footprints and Kyoto Agreements that no one wans to keep anyway and let s get focussed on what we as human beings do best - discovering new ways and better ways of doing what we do so well problem-solving innovatively. The human race has survived many powerful predators, not because we are physically stronger or faster, but because we have tamed our natural environment to suit our growing requirements by means of an exponentially emergent intellect. We have made nature work for us rather than us continuously struggling with it in order to survive. Is it not the human intellect that has made this world so much more user-friendly? Three cheers for the scientists.. hip, hip!...
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