Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." - Ernest Hemingway.

Music is everywhere around us. We hear it thudding from cars as we walk down the street, or playing softly in the background when we walk into a store. An endless number of teenagers with headphones pressed soundly to their ears, oblivious of their surroundings and ignorant to the world. Radio stations and music channels that play the latest hits twenty-four hours a day; the music never stops. It can influence very thoughts and feelings, make us feel anger or wallow in anguish. See, whether its Beethoven’s Symphony Number 9, or Rihanna’s newest hit single, a diverse and seemingly infinite selection of genres, gives music a special power. Every day it speaks to millions of people across the globe.

The rain seems never-ending outside your window; the wind shakes the trees and whistles through the afternoon sky. It’s a typical English summer’s day in other words, and with the outside world not looking particularly appealing, so begins the inevitable search for something to pass the time. Or perhaps it’s just a tactical escape from the Olympics that is required; an excuse to shut yourself in your room for the few weeks. If you long to immerse yourself in another tantalisingly good television series, the choices are seemingly endless. Still, before you close your eyes, leave it up to fate, and point a finger at a randomly constructed list, read on. Dexter delivers entertaining television in more ways than one.

When we think of things that are quintessentially British, ingrained in our culture; as well as tea-drinking, rainy summers and The Queen, there is a name that one cannot fail to recognise: William Shakespeare; the marvellous poet and playwright that was most prominent in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Often named The Bard of Avon and considered England’s national poet, he is a man that some call the greatest writer to have ever lived. Yet still the question remains. In a world dominated by social media and reality television - teenagers too busy being enthusiastic about what their friends are having for tea – does Shakespeare still remain relevant in modern society?


When it comes to hip-hop music, there are two distinctive groups: those that dismiss it as just nonsensical noise, self-proclaimed ‘gangsters’ strutting stupidly around in ridiculous gold chains, rapping about violence and women; and those that recognise the potential for something more. Lyricism that can be creative and clever and metaphors that show an intelligence that some would never deem possible from this particular genre of music. It is evident to even the staunchest supporters of hip-hop music that it will never be everyone’s cup of tea – in the same vein that classical music will rarely appeal to teenagers – but there is more to hip-hop than meets the eye. If you look close enough, it’s entirely possible to find something that suits your tastes.

25 June to 8 July: the All England Club in London. With England’s Euro 2012 campaign having come to a stuttering, disappointing halt, the eyes of the sporting world are on the tennis. Immaculate green lawns shine in the summer sunshine, the groundsmen and tennis lovers alike praying that the rain will stay away for the thirteen days of play – hope rather than expectation, knowing our temperamental English summers. Thousands queue from the early hours of the morning with excited smiles spread across their faces, eager to get the best seats for the action. It is Wimbledon of course; the most anticipated and prestigious tennis event of the year, and the trophy they all want to get their name on.

At some stage in our lives, we have all heard someone utter the words: ‘I’m depressed!’ It may have even been something you have murmured yourself, discontentment strewn across your frowning face. More often than not, it is something said out of momentary frustration, anger or sadness. A teenage girl that has recently broken up with her boyfriend; school children just weeks into their holidays, all methods of entertaining themselves already exhausted. It is a phrase that is naively thrown around without consideration, losing meaning with each ignorant repetition. The result: the genuine seriousness and dangers of depression remain hidden in the shadows, and we remain blissfully ignorant of them.

As the international football scene swings into its second week of games at Euro 2012, England fans remain confident that their team can progress to the next round. It’s proclamations that seems much more reasonable after a spirited 1-1 draw with an in-form French side, but for the most part, the idea that the English national team can surprise the critics and defy expectations, seems to be constantly ingrained in the minds of the fans. A domestic pride unrivalled by all perhaps except the Irish, even when the statistics of history condemn us to an early national embarrassment.


In some ways the Queen’s Diamond’s Jubilee and the jubilant celebrations that have accompanied it, have for me arrived from nowhere. I wasn't excited, I didn't climb on the rooftops and sing God Save Our Queen, and I didn't feel the need to dress up in all things red, white and blue in an effort to show my appreciation for our dear Liz. I refused to join the multitude of people that held small street parties, or picnics in the park, and no flags of Great Britain flew from the windows of my home. I know, I can hear you now as you protest at my apparent antipatriotic attitudes and scoff in outrage at my obviously boring nature, but bear with me a moment.

As the sunshine streams through the curtains and my eyes flicker open, I am aware of the nauseating feeling building from the depths of my stomach. I become mindful of the fact that this could be the last time for months that I awake to familiar surroundings. Today I move away from the comfort of my home. A faraway city whose name feels unfamiliar on my tongue; one that in my tense, terrified thoughts seems alienating and lonely: a dark abyss in which I have no choice but to venture towards.


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