AN OPEN LETTER TO NICKY MORGAN – A GUEST POST

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Dear Nicky,

I hear you have warned young people that choosing to study arts subjects could “hold them back for the rest of their lives.”

Just for clarity, ‘art’ is defined as: “expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, producing works to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power.”

The Education Secretary is telling children to shut down their imaginations- well isn’t that just dandy. Apparently “those who study maths to A-level will earn 10% more over their lifetime.” Realistically, people who study maths to A-level will probably earn more like 90% more than I will in my lifetime. And you know what? I honestly could not care less.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have a full appreciation for scientific and mathematical subjects- they have an incredibly high value within society. Each day, groundbreaking medical and technological advances are made that change people’s lives. Which is brilliant. But the arts are just as important.

People escape the pressure of their working life by losing themselves in creativity on a daily basis. They allow the literary meanderings of Faulks or McEwan or E L James, to transcend the cramped isolation of the underground. They place their headphones on and have the inane murmurings of Taylor Swift blare away their troubles. Millions upon millions of people escape in to the world of Westeros or Litchfield prison; they immerse themselves in stories of meth producers or singing high school kids, or even simply six chums, relaxing in their local coffeehouse. They see pieces of art and design, which are at the foundation of our cultural identity and make them feel something. The most famous Briton isn’t a mathematician or a scientist; sorry to burst that bubble, but the poor sod just wrote a few plays and some poems. Thankfully you weren’t around back then to try and stick a pin in his creative balloon.

And you’re not sticking one in mine, either.

So I have cobbled together the words of those who made the decision to pursue a passion that would “hold them back for the rest of their lives”, to present my point far more aptly than I can:

 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that

nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

We are told that one must be careful of books, and what’s inside them, for words have the power to change us.

History is a nightmare from which we are trying to awake.

Do I dare disturb the universe?

But I remember one thing: it wasn’t me that started acting deaf; it was people that first started acting like I was too dumb to hear or see or say anything at all.

Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in the face of certain defeat.

Nicky, my dear,

You cast a shadow on something wherever you stand, so choose a place where you won’t do very much harm, and stand in it for all you are worth.

The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.

We will not be led into the heart of an immense darkness;

Afterall, we are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams.

The curves of our lips rewrite history.

 We owe it to the young people of the future. Young people like

Matilda, whose strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.

They are not alone. You will not suppress the imaginations of future generations of Matildas and Harrys everywhere, because you view arts and humanities as ‘soft subjects’. So here I am setting up an artistic version of Dumbledore’s Army (couldn’t help myself), to ensure that the fire of creativity will continue to burn long in the imaginations of our young people and not be snuffed out by these dementorish measures.

I’m an actor, pursuing my creative ambition. So no, I am not going to go out and get a ‘real job’. I already have one.

Yours creatively,

Liam

Written by Liam Steward-George.

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Actor, writer, bold pant wearer.

THE BIRTHDAY

large (12)It’s that wonderful time of year again where I gain a wrinkle, four grey hairs and have a crisis of age.

I love birthdays.

Obviously the cards, presents and celebratory food cushion the blow, but why do I always panic when I realise that I’m another year older despite understanding – since the tender age of five – the simple concept of time?

Despite this blind, undying ignorance, birthdays aren’t all bad. Because mine happens to fall in the spring time – the season best known for new beginnings, bunny rabbits and general pinterest-worthy joyousness – I always treat them like a second New Year. I pledge vows to myself and set targets for the year ahead by reflecting on the things I’d have done differently, and of course, I rarely stick to my promises. So I thought, why break the habit of a life time?

Because I’m older, and a little wiser now. That’s why.

It’s essential to think about improvement, but it’s equally as important to realise how far you’ve come. So I will start by thinking about the things that I know now, that I wish I knew then.

Here goes:

One. Things take time. This includes everything from projects, to love.

Don’t. Rush. Anything.

Two. Most people deserve a second chance. Rarely do people deserve a third.

Three. Do not, under any circumstances, fad diet. Just maybe cut down on the Kit Kats.

Four. Yoga is a whole lot more than stretching in tight pants. The older you get, the more you’ll realise this.

And five. Having fewer good friends is better than having lots of shit ones.

I could go on and on, as 25 years is actually quite a long time, but the gist is this: things will always be okay. Yes, I have had my heartbroken, but it’s fixed now. Of course, I have failed at things, but I’ve succeeded in so many others. And, much like you, I cut my own hair once. Badly. But it’s grown out now. What I’m trying to say is, despite living with these goddamn freckles and a butt the size of Narnia my entire life, there are plenty of people who would kill to be you or I. So instead of trying to better ourselves each year, why not give ourselves a pat on the back, just for making it this far? Because life isn’t always a lemon sorbet at the seaside, if you know what I mean? And we’re probably doing alright, considering.

Behind a haze of pollution and astonishing drink prices, it’s really rather easy to forget why you’re alive, but when your birthday swings round, and people come together just to celebrate the simple fact that you were born, it all, very suddenly, becomes oh so clear.

Always be thankful for what you have. And I’m not talking about that new camera.

Happy Birthday to me.

100

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No, my blog is not one hundred years old. I have, however, published one hundred posts since it all began back in December 2010. And that, I believe, is cause for celebration.

As I sat in my tiny – and very chilly – bedroom in Exeter in my third year at university, I wrote my first few posts. I think they were about tea, or lipstick, or chips; a little insight into what I thought was important at 21. As I threw words out there, somewhat naively, into the internet, I didn’t picture my blog lasting past the Christmas holidays, but here I am, four and a bit years later, writing my 100th post.

I started The London Ladybird as a way to write something other than chapters of my dissertation – which was centred around Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and therefore not wholly uninteresting – as well as to hopefully try and persuade people in the working world that I could string a couple of sentences together and that they should pay me to do so. But not even just that; I hoped that I could make people laugh, or feel a little more understood than they did already.

The feedback I get from people is why this site is still up and running. Those who have provided guest posts to me over the years always say how nerve-wracking they found the whole experience and a lot of people say they would never submit anything to me for fear of being ridiculed. I won’t lie, I still feel a little anxious each time I publish a post – not because I don’t want people to critique my work, in fact, I welcome constructive criticism – but I fear that people won’t enjoy the next as much as the last. However, the conversations that my posts inspire amongst friends and the comments I receive from strangers (be them agreeing with what I have to say or not) make it all worthwhile.

I’ve decided to celebrate all of this by choosing my top three posts since it all began, so here they are:

The Freckle – because it was my first ever.

The Fart – because I can’t believe I wrote about something so grim.

The Betrayal – because it was hard to write and even harder to post.

So, for as long as you are (hopefully) still enjoying this little space of mine on the internet, I’ll continue to write about everything from relationships to embarrassing bodily functions, because, why not? And if you’re contemplating starting one of your own, my advice to you would be to go for it; you really don’t have much to lose.

My one piece of advice? Always remember that:

‘The internet’s not written in pencil, Mark, it’s written in ink’

The Social Network. 

Only post what you really mean. Be honest, be smart, be open to other’s opinions.

Thank you for all of your support over the years. Here’s to the next one hundred posts!

The Month

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September. The academic benchmark of a new year.

A time which used to signify the prospect of a crisp, new uniform, an unreasonable level of concern over pencil cases and the feeling of dread surrounding homework.

This September, I’ve realised (like most), that there’ll be no more school ties to keep me looking smart, no new pens to improve my writing and no fresh teachers to do the job of inspiring me. All that I have leftover this month is a yearning for carnivals gone by and the summer holiday that I never had.

I feel like it’s time for change, or at the very most, a new year’s resolution. This is probably because I’ve somehow fallen out of sync with the rest of the post-education, adult, population and have refused to let go of this month as the beginning of a new year. I feel like it’s a time to be honest, to start learning again and to make promises; much like I’ve felt every Michaelmas since nursery school.

So, with the changing of seasons, as the leaves begin to drop, so does the tempo in the capital and the slog to save for Christmas begins. And moreso than ever, I have realised that hard work really does pay off. I’m not sure why after seventeen years of education, it has taken me one year of not being educated to realise this, but the penny has finally dropped. I have achieved what I have thus far by learning and that doesn’t have to change because I am no longer a student. I’ve rediscovered the importance of surrounding myself with people who I can learn from, finding books that entertain me and learning a language despite the slog.

So seeing as our parents have forever banged on about our schooldays being the best of our lives, we should probably head back to them and start a new year all of our own instead of dwelling over our post-summer slumps.

And why wait until January?

Happy New Year.