Original piece: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/17/this-picture-of-a-wounded-syrian-boy-captures-just-a-fragment-of/
Above is a picture that I became familiar with the night before A-Level results day. This was a big day for me, because I needed to get certain grades to get into university. Except seeing this picture and seeing the story behind it, made me put things into perspective. I’m well aware of how lucky I am to be born into the western world but I’ve always liked the notion that you put your problems into perspective. The stresses of the western life should not be compared with those in the East who are in turmoil. Though that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be thought of, or create worry. Since the major Israel/Palestine conflict, and the vote to bomb Syria, I have become slight numb to the issues in the Middle East right now. Or I’ve become fed up of being a minority in my sadness. I don’t particularly want to get into the story or begin a geopolitical debate with myself, so I’ll just leave this unfinished. However leaving it on a note that my results are important to me but that this story shattered me gives me no peace of mind. Though I guess that’s the point.
In all honesty I had real trouble writing this, and it possibly took me about 4 hours to write just that small paragraph. I realise how vague it all is, and the stress of results day and sorting out university has actually got to me, which I guess is ironic looking back at this. The main goal was to write a full thing on this, though I think laziness and a rise of other controversial pieces coming from the ‘boy in the ambulance story’ has halted me. This is all very much like talking to myself very slowly.
You know, I’ve discovered recently that people actually review comedy. I haven’t quite got my head around this yet, because it fits into two categories in my opinion: funny or not funny. Therefore I write this with hesitation, or a caution to the reader, as my thoughts come very similarly to Mark Kermode reviewing a comedy. If it makes you laugh, it’s pretty good.
The 3rd of August 2016 saw me going to Leadmill comedy club. First of, Leadmill is one of my favourite places on earth. It’s a place that swapped a bag of skips for free entry to a club night, and it gives out Red Stripe for 30p every now and again. Not to mention the great music, free tacos and top atmosphere. Before this turns into a really awkward ‘clubs to go to’ piece, just know that it’s a really cool venue. The headliner was Paul Tonkinson, who I was slightly familiar with and yes he was funny. Incredibly so, and he’s got this weird mix of smart comedy with that Yorkshire style. Essentially you get all the cliche’s (hilarious ones) of a working class northern comedian, blended in with some charming satire. A particular bit where he played Brexit through an impersonation of Europe (just French) was notably comical.
With this semi-famous headliner you get three other acts, who are either touring comics or paving there way through the scene. One of those being the compere, who basically just did his job without really creasing you. Then there is the other two, where a real divide happened. The first of the two (David Whitney) really made me laugh. His style is described as political satire and ‘proper filth’. All I can say is that he was equally both and I was not surprised to see that he’s got a strong reputation on the circuit. Next was a guy with a great name but not a great set, Winter Foenander. This is about as near death as you could get and it was almost at that point when you feel desperately sorry for the guy. The thing is is that he did have some humorous lines but by then it was kind of awkward to laugh, or move, or make a noise. Overall though, the stem and meat of the whole comedy was really enjoyable, whilst mostly sober.
I wanted to write this without talking about the actual comedy, but it’s ended up with me saying ‘funny’ a lot. There’s just no other way to look at it. The Leadmill have had people like Sara Pascoe and Mark Watson to the event, so you get the sense that it’s quite prestigious. And the highlight of the evening has to be the Copacabana tables.
A real comedy website that makes far more sense than this, where writes is: http://www.beyondthejoke.co.uk/
I have called this a review just because of the semantics/titling. It’s more like a ‘I’ve actually got through a book and fucking loved it’ kind of thing.
You wouldn’t believe the amount of time I spend in charity shops looking at books thinking I could buy and read every single one of them. ‘The Beach’ is one that I actually bought; think for 70p. And to say I’m late to the party with this one would be an understatement, considering it was published 20 years ago and the author (Alex Garland) has gone on to write and now direct many massive films (28 days later, Ex Machina etc). Though I guess a book is for the time that you read it and not the time everyone else did, if that makes sense? I mean I read Emily Dickinson poems in school 150 years after she penned those bad-boys and thought they were as sexual as the Victorians did.
Anyway I picked it up because I saw Garland’s name, being a fan of his work in film. And I’ve got to say I’m pretty much in love with the guy after I conquered this book just last night. It’s a story for the backpackers, which I’m totally not and I profess that any travelling I do is nowhere near Eastern Asia, where the story is set. To be honest the plot is quite difficult to describe because about half way through the book I was convinced it was about nothing; simply a meandering tale about some gap year tossers looking for a lovely patch of sand.
The events of the narrative crept up on me and the dark characterisation of the voice of the book (Richard) is slowly unravelled before being thrown in your face by the final third. Minor spoilers here but the imaginary friend plot played a bigger role than I thought it would and becomes the main arc with about 100 pages to go. And for me these were the weakest points of the novel but it’s honestly brilliant when it picks up the pace towards the end.
Essentially I found that this book was a series of escapism writing, but the sort of escapism I don’t really want. This is probably why I liked it, a nicely paced travel book suddenly became a real blood and anguish thriller at any moment. It had the ability to shock me and interest me, though most importantly engage me. I banged out about 420 pages in a week and it’s inspired me enough to write this, so I must have enjoyed it.
To give it a score would be cheap, but I would definitely recommend it to anyone and now I’m eager to see the film adaptation, that I’ve heard is shit.