The Problems with Classic Science Fiction — Classics of Science Fiction

The first problem I face with assembling my Top 100 Science Fiction Short Stories list is that I’m partial to crusty old SF stories that younger readers will feel are badly dated. Our discussion group read “Rescue Party” by Arthur C. Clarke for today. Here’s my comment: Some members of the group, and not always […]

The Problems with Classic Science Fiction — Classics of Science Fiction

An Inspector Calls Book Review — Zainab Chats

Hello everyone it’s Zainab here, welcome or welcome back to the blog! So, I used to do quite few book reviews, but over the summer I’ve had a bit of a reading slump and have not been reading much. In school, we’ve read an Inspector Calls and it’s kind of been easing me back into […]

An Inspector Calls Book Review — Zainab Chats

An Inspector Calls

Today I want to continue my little series on An Inspector Calls. I will be looking at Shiela Birling who is the daughter of Arthur Birling and engaged to be married to Gerald Croft. The relationship between Eva Smith and Shiela is a fascinating one.

First their lives are similar in that they are dependent upon Mr Birling. They are dependant upon Birling in different ways but one feels that if Shiela were to defy him as Eva does he would deal with her as harshly as he dealt with Eva. Indeed both are infantalised by Birling and treated less as people than people to need to fit into neat boxes.

Both Eva and Shiela are conquests of Gerald Croft. He has a love affair with the first and is engaged to be married to the second. This should bring unity between the two women who are reduced by Gerald into objects who depend on him for their status, their provender and their emotional well being.

There is no unity between the two women, which is the point of the play. There is no class solidarity but rather a battle of status between Shiela and Eva over looks which Eva can only lose with damaging results leading her into Geralds orbit and then into prostitution.

The Tolkien Toast

Today is the Tolkien Toast. Tolkien fans across the world will, at 9pm, raise a glass of their favourite tipple and proclaim “The Professor”.

Photo by Julia Kuzenkov on

I think it is pretty obvious that I am a Tolkien fan. I am listening to Lord of the Rings whilst I write this. I am dyslexic and struggled as a child to see the point of reading. In desperation my mother read me the Hobbit which woke in me two things. A love of reading, books and literature as well as a taste for adventure. I was about six when I decided to go on my first adventure. This involved walking from our village to the next village. Armed with home made bows and arrows we set off and made it to Lostock where a passing Police car decided that a six year old, a seven year old and a four year old shouldn’t really be over two miles from their home and drove us home to the mortification of our parents.

Thankyou Professor for giving me a taste for literature and adventure.

Happy New Years Eve

I hope you are all having an exciting and Happy New Year. In a few hours we will be in January which is named for the two faced god Janus. Just like Janus we can look forwards with confidence and backwards without fear.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on

But for some of us looking forwards can be a source of tribulation so I leave you this year with this poem repeated by the King at the end of his Christmas broadcast in the dark year of 1939. Its called “God Knows” or “The Man at the gate of the year”

I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year,
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied, “Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.”
May that Almighty hand guide and uphold us all.

Happy New Year!

An Inspector Calls – Titanic Metaphor

An Inspector Calls is set in 1912 long before its first performance at the end of the Second World War. It is in fact set in a different world, one that seemed so peaceful and secure. The period from around 1901 to 1914 has largely been seen as a English Golden Age and the setting for Wind in the Willows, The Magicians Nephew and Three men in a Boat.

At the start of the play Mr Birling wants to make a “little speech”, note how he emphasises his importance with his language. He plays at being the kind little father despite the turbulent relationship with his own son Eric. In reality Birling is “not the kind of father” Eric can go to when he is in trouble but this does not stop Birling pretending. Birling makes a number of predictions. He is being set up by JB because the audience know that war does come in 1914, the coming age is one of labour/industrial strife and the Titanic sinks on its first voyage.

I think that this is of crucial importance. The Birling family are tied to the metaphor of the luxury liner with Sybl as the figure head of the ship, proud and mighty, but the one who smashes headlong into the iceberg of social responsibility.

Writing later Joseph Conrad dismissed the surprise at the loss of the Titanic by arguing that people had confused size with greatness. This is exactly what the Birlings have done. They have confused their financial and social power with greatness and their titanic is no match for social responsibility.

Morning in Cornwall — Jonathan Wrote This

We left home a little after 10am yesterday morning, waving goodbye to our eldest daughter who is looking after the house, and set off towards the south west and my parents house. After stopping at a picnic area to stretch our legs, we finally arrived late in the afternoon. This morning the weather has arrived […]

Morning in Cornwall — Jonathan Wrote This

Writing Inspiration… Cornwall —

This magical photograph is of an actual place in Cornwall, called St. Nectan’s Glen. I know it well because I have been there. I have stood beneath it, getting soaked to the skin, and I have climbed up the rocks and stood looking down at the majesty of the thundering water. The sight and sound of […]

Writing Inspiration… Cornwall —

An Evening with Alfred Lord Tennyson — Lady Budd

Lady Godiva (1892) by Edmund Leighton (Public Domain) How do we experience poetry? This is the question I have been considering for several years. A poem can be read from a page while sitting on a comfy chair in front of a roaring fire, on a sandy beach, in a library or on public transit. […]

An Evening with Alfred Lord Tennyson — Lady Budd