Writing a story – Make Sure That Your Characters Are Dirty Enough

Be whatever you want to be

Writing historical fiction is the closest encounter that you may get with time travel. Therefore, I would urge you to give it a go whether you see yourself as a writer or not.  Why? You may ask. The reason is simple – writing a story  is good for you. When you totally lose yourself in another world you forget outrageous bills; folks that you want to send to Mars and even the state of politics worldwide. It’s your world, you can control it and if you wish to be a gothic temptress or a swash buckling pirate you can be.  in other words, be whatever you want to be.

Fancy yourself as a gothic temptress? -Yes, you too could look like this.

Fancy yourself as a gothic temptress? -Yes, you too could look like this.

A word of warning however, don’t go overboard on cleanliness. To give you an idea of how dirty you need to get when you write your stories, we at Loony Literature, have given you some true examples that we have unearthed.

During the seventeenth century, folks did not favour a good wash all over.  In fact, baths were mostly public places and visited for health purposes as opposed to getting one’s body clean.  For some strange reason, if you did go to the baths to cleanse yourself there was superstition attached to it and it should only be done when the moon was in Libra or Pisces.

Although Samuel Pepys wrote his diary on a regular basis, he did not apply the same amount of drive to washing himself.  He boasted that he sometimes gave himself a vigorous rub down with a cloth which he believed made him clean.  Elizabeth, his wife, however, did visit a public bath house at least once because Samuel sniggered about that too in his diary.

Stay out of my bed, you filthy oaf

Although Elizabeth probably visited the public bath house for health purposes, it would surely have made her smell sweeter than Samuel.  This was what might have put her in a morally advantageous position when she banned him from their shared bed until he had at least ‘cleaned himself with warm water’.  Samuel also had an aversion to washing his feet but he did do it occasionally.  The reason for such behaviour was that flinging off one’s socks and wetting one’s feet could lead to all sorts of health disasters like getting a cold.

Would YOU kick him out of bed?

Would YOU kick him out of bed?

If you’d lived in 1909, you may have been tempted by a newspaper advertisement which suggested that you wash the ‘Witch’ way.  Housewives who had probably been tackling the household wash for years were staunchly advised that they should never rub clothes as that would make the dirt worse.  The secret behind proper clothes washing was simply to let clothes soak in Witch and all the dirt would be loosened out.  This promise was backed up by the boast that that was what clothes manufacturers did and, of course, they all used Witch.  No names were mentioned to back up this testimonial.

“Let your clothes soak overnight in the morning they’ll be white” was the sales slogan.  If you still were not convinced of Witches’ magical washing powers the manufacturers added that it was a hard soap dried by a secret scientific process and then powdered.  As an added gesture of selling to everyone who read the advertisement, whether scientifically minded or superstitious, there was a huge caricature of a ghastly looking witch on a broomstick on it.  It is really surprising that we are not still using that product today.

Washing clothes is obviously a lot more complicated than can be imagined.  In 1916, a meeting took place of the Camelford Board of Directors for the workhouse to determine if the number of staff could be reduced.  A Mr Boney suggested that they should do their own clothes washing during the war and this would save them the cost of paying a char lady to do it for them.

Me! Wash clothes! Are you insane?

Me! Wash clothes! Are you insane?

Mr Uglow, the Master, stated that he would not wash his own collars; neither would he go without wearing a collar.  When questioned why he would not consider washing his own clothes he wiped his brow and shuddered.  He informed the gathered party that it was out of the question as he had never undergone an apprenticeship to wash clothes.

For folks who lived during World War II, food rationing began in 1940 with clothes rationing closely followed in 1941.  Within just eight months, soap rationing meant that having a good soak became something to daydream about.  Even hair washing became a luxury.  Magazines at that time advised their readers to wash greasy hair every ten days but dry hair could go for three weeks before needing a shampoo.  No wonder Marlene Dietrich took three months’ supply of dry shampoo with her when entertaining the troops in Europe.

When you can't get your hands on a shampoo - wear a top hat.

When you can’t get your hands on a shampoo – wear a top hat.

No excuse now – writing a story will help you to get rid of stress and feeling glum because you will be in control. You don’t have to let anyone else read it either – so do yourself a favour, pick up a pen, open a new file or simply record yourself. Happy writing.

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How To Succeed With Your Exercise Routine

Own up – is this you?

  • Joined a gym but only been six times and are still paying for it?
  • Spent too much on your credit card for that deluxe running machine?
  • Bought a jogging outfit that still doesn’t need washing a year later?

If any of that is even remotely like you – you’re in the right place. I’ve watched folks embark on exercise routines and fail so many times that I feel I’m not being nice if I don’t point out to succeed with your exercise routine.

Victorian exercises

Can't I get a servant to do this for me?

Can’t I get a servant to do this for me?

To get you into the swing of this and show you that you’re not the only one that has fallen into this trap, we need to look at a failure waiting to happen. During the first week of January, I was out on my daily power walk when I spotted what I thought was a pink flamingo in the distance. Getting quite excited, I got ready to take a photograph. However, on closer encounter I goggled at what it really was.

Before I knew what had happened a lady that obviously did not share her fairy buns out and would drive to the hairdressers even though it was only across the road was before me in all her glory gently bouncing along. She  cared a great deal about her appearance as she had an expensive blonde colour and cut, full makeup and brand new designer clothes on from head to foot. Being surrounded by fields and ditches, it was almost as exciting as spotting a flamingo.

The Pink Flamingo believes that dressing the part is the most important bit of her exercise routine.

The Pink Flamingo believes that dressing the part is the most important bit of her exercise routine.

Before you think that I am making judgement on my pink flamingo – I am not. She certainly gave me a lot to think about and I am simply describing what I saw. I know the heartache that excess weight causes with folks both with their health and their self-esteem. It’s something that I am deeply interested in and I want to help that is why I am writing this. As for the hair and make-up, anyone that knows me personally will vouch for the fact that I always urge everyone to make the most of their bods so that they will feel better.

The clothes, however, were one of the aspects that were causing her to fail in her quest to get fit and lose weight. It was a freezing cold day and moving at the speed that she was going meant that she would be cold and miserable. As her pink jazz pumps hit the ground, she grimaced – her feet were obviously freezing.

The sight of my boots made her shudder

As she passed me, her eyes widened as she eyed my heavy walking boots splattered with mud and my jeans that were also just as crusty. Her raised eyebrow suggested that I needed a pink makeover. However, the huge difference between us what that I was as warm a cat hiding in an airing cupboard and I adore walking in the countryside. It makes me feel fantastic. She, on the other hand, was trying to jog because she felt that she had to – it was patently obvious. Six weeks on and I haven’t seen my pink flamingo since. Perhaps she’s migrated but more likely she’s given up and made herself feel worse. I hope not.

I will enjoy myself whether I like it or not.

I will enjoy myself whether I like it or not.

  

The point that I’m making is that you should find a style of exercise that you enjoy. I would say that I am stating the obvious but I see too many people making the same mistakes over and over again. Don’t take up a form of exercise just because your friends or partner enjoys it. Only do so if you get the same excitement from it. Find out what you like – dance, swim or go rowing at the local park – but only do it if it gives you a buzz. There is a form of exercise for everyone; you simply need to find out what yours is and you will succeed with your exercise routine. When you do that, you will keep it up and naturally get fitter.

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Being Buoyant – Enrich Your Life – Love Your Body

If there is one simple step that you can take to enrich your life, it is to love your body. Before you say that you have wobbly buttocks or a rotund tum, hear me out. It may change the way you view your darling bod and once that happens other changes will also take place.

Well those cheeks aren't bad, it's the others that I'm worried about.

Well those cheeks aren’t bad, it’s the others that I’m worried about.

Over my years of people watching and listening, I have noticed folks’ weight going up and down like an elevator sniffing substances. I have seen people suffering from depression because of their bodies and then adding more weight because of the depression. You get the picture; basically, bodies can cause more misery than looking at David Cameron’s face when he is trying to look sincere. Yet other folks love keeping fit and healthy – how does this come to be?

Baby, you have buttocks to die for

It is all to do with loving your body. I don’t mean stripping off to your knickers and saying “baby, you have buttocks to die.” I mean taking a moment and thinking about what your body does for you. It works 24/7 without a rest. All right, you may sleep but your body is still keeping you alive and digesting all that fat, sugar, protein, alcohol or whatever it was that you stuffed into it. It puts up with being stuffed in a car for hours on end when it needs to be exercising and it gets sunburned too. The list is endless – think of some of your own.

Must say, I am really impressed by how much exercise my index finger is getting.

Must say, I am really impressed by how much exercise my index finger is getting.

Okay, we’ve agreed that your bod is a good friend and worker and that it’s amazing that it didn’t quit years ago. However, you may still scowl at the thought of your stomach, thighs or big toes. You have to get over this by working on your relationship with your body. This is going to sound really whacky but tell your body ‘thank you’ for everything that it does for you. You can go further and massage yourself with lotion or perfumed cream too – your body will love that.

Hey! You! Stop peeking.

Hey! You! Stop peeking.

In essence, what I’m really getting at is that until you love and respect your body, you will continue to abuse it. If you love your body, you will think before you stuff it full of junk, alcohol or drugs. You will give it the exercise that it needs and you will feel happier too. The reason for this is that when you love your body, it responds tenfold. You will feel better and you will look better too. That’s the deal – love your body and it will love you back.

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Scrooge or Sensible? True Thrifty Happenings

Illustrated by John Leech in 1843.

Illustrated by John Leech in 1843.

How do you view the thrifty? Sensible or like one of Dickens’ most famous characters, Scrooge. Perhaps this will help you to make up your mind.


Thrift For Thought

I first became interested in thrift when my late uncle sagely announced that he never let a grocer weigh the tomatoes until he insisted that the stalks be removed.  If that seems extreme, it soon becomes obvious that it is nothing to what has gone on in the past.

Thrift in the nineteenth century was a well-rehearsed skill from the highest seat of society down to the lowest.  One of the perks of being a ladies’ maid was getting the mistresses’ gowns whilst other unused pieces of cloth would be collected together in a ‘rag-bag’ and household servants would often be allowed to keep these.  They would be passed on to a street buyer, rag and bone man or rag and bottle shop.  Linen would be separated to be sold to a paper manufacturer as paper was made from linen and rag well into the nineteenth century.

Bring out your rags.

Bring out your rags.

Used tea leaves would be utilised to clean carpets and then passed onto cleaning ladies who sold them to dealers.  With a bit of artificial colour thrown in, the dealer would then put the tea leaves (which had been on the carpet) on sale as fresh tea.

Who claims the fat

Each servant appeared to have their own expectations of the booty they could claim and the fat from the roasted animals was earmarked by the cook.  The dripping, as the fat was called, would be used like butter by the poor.

Even bones were sold onto the rag and bone man for fertilizer and household ashes and dust were marketed to help make bricks.  It seems that nothing was thrown away, as soot from chimneys was vended for manure and insect killer.

As people were not aware of how germs were transmitted, it was a regular practise for the very poor to collect dog manure or ‘pure’ as it was politely called.  This was sold to tan yards for the processing of leather for the soft kid gloves so beloved by the rich.

Where there is muck there is brass.

Where there is muck there is brass.

Mrs Child, an American housewife, advised in 1828 that after old coats and pantaloons for boys had been cut up and were no longer capable of being converted into other garments, the housewife should slice them into strips and use the leisure moments of children or domestics in sewing and braiding them into door mats.

Waste is an act of treason

By 1915, thrift in the home was the order of the day.  “Waste is an act of treason when every penny saved helps to save your country.”  This reminder was on the bill announcing the opening of the Patriotic Thrift Exhibition at Hamilton Rooms, Park Street, Bristol 25 – 30th November 1915.  The exhibition was organised by the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies who offered a range of lectures on domestic subjects which represent war service in the home.

A familiar theme concerning thrift is that of the wealthy preaching to those less well off.  At the Exeter Society in 1923, the president, Lady Rosalind spoke on women’s extravagance.  She warned of the ‘melancholy spectacle’ of cheap pianos, cheap jewellery and cheap furs bought by women who could not afford them.

During World War II, women found it difficult to get hold of stockings.  Stockings were made of silk as nylon wasn’t invented until 1938 and initially only on sale in America from 1940.  As silk was used to make parachutes for the wartime effort, silk stockings became a rare commodity as both manufacturers and retailers charged high prices and asked for too many clothing coupons for them.

What you have to do.

What you have to do.

Snatched the stockings

In 1944, a bus conductress from Truro found herself in court after being thrifty over silk stockings.  On June 28th, she acquired two pairs from a bus driver without surrendering coupons.  Captain Craze for The Board of Trade snatched the stockings for disposal but they were later seized by the Customs and Excise Department.  Craze opposed this measure saying that he would have to take further instructions from The Board of Trade.  The case was adjourned for a fortnight; thrift can end up causing a lot of expense.

It seems that thrift is here to stay.

 

 

 

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Being Buoyant – Enrich Your Life – Don’t Forget Yourself

Don't give yourself a dog's life.

Don’t give yourself a dog’s life. Enrich your life.

If you’re feeling fed up or that life isn’t great, has it occurred to you that you might be neglecting yourself? You may praise your cat, your children or your partner and go that extra mile to provide all sorts of little treats for them but when it comes to you – zilch. Now be honest about this and I don’t mean that you have just bought yourself a lovely bottle of bubble bath – I’m not talking about shopping. We need to go much deeper.

Think back to being a child – what did you love doing? Really try hard to remember. Perhaps it was being in the woods or drawing. It could be anything but dig deep into those memories. Do you still do it? I can see you shaking your head. Next, you will start explaining that you don’t have time to do that anymore; it’s just for kids; you’re not fit enough or any number of other reasons. Lots of people say they don’t know why they don’t do the things that they enjoy anymore too. Yes, I do go about asking lots of questions.

Whoopee! We're having a great time.

Whoopee! We’re having a great time.

I could list more excuses because I’ve heard more of them than there are signatures on a popular petition both from other folks and from myself also. I won’t list them because I don’t want to fuel your reasons not to do the things you love.

The point is that doing the things that you enjoy will enrich your life. There is nothing like stating the obvious but it’s amazing how when we are battling through the jungle of life, we can’t see anything for all the trees and bushes that get in our way. For trees and bushes think bills to pay and time commitments to the day job, picking up kids from school and the dreaded dusting. It’s enough to make us all collapse in a heap.

if I could just get this washing done, I could go on Facebook for half an hour.

If I could just get this washing done, I could go on Facebook for half an hour.

This is not about collapsing in a heap though; this about you questioning why you don’t do the things that you love anymore. Let me give you an example. I love walking in the countryside. I am not talking 10 mile hikes; I am talking about a reasonably paced stroll that might take in between 30 minutes to an hour. When I home educated my son, I fitted these walks in between doing my  job and educating him because I wanted him to get fresh air and exercise.

When I finished home educating him and he was no longer at home all day, I stopped doing what I love because I felt guilty about taking the time from my desk. In essence, I made myself a self-imposed prison because it did nothing whatsoever for my physical or mental state of health. Since I have given myself the gift of going for a walk every day, I feel like a different person both physically and mentally.

A muddy but glorious walk.

A muddy but glorious walk.

Basically, what I am saying to you is to give yourself a daily gift doing something that you love. If other folks like family and friends start demanding your time while you are doing it, you simply have to tell them this is your gift to yourself – enjoy.

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BEING BUOYANT – BEGIN TO BEAT THE BULGE

Being Buoyant is my stab at helping you to keep your spirits up by taking control of your life.

One of the easiest ways to begin to take control of your life is to do it with your body. Okay if you feel bloated or flabby, you may not agree with me. However, let me tell you – the cost of living may go up and you can do nothing to stop it; politicians may do things that make you want to pull your hair out or maybe theirs; your boss might make you redundant and your partner may have mood swings quicker than politicians back paddle and there is not a lot you can do to stop it. HOWEVER –

Feeling like this is no good.

Feeling like this is no good.

YOUR BODY WILL ALWAYS RESPOND TO YOU.

Your body wants to work better – that is a rule of nature. This means that if you take little steps to help it, you will feel better and look good too. The secret here is not to make grandiose threats to your personage – you are willing yourself to fail. Take tiny steps that are manageable or else you will give up.

This seems somewhat complicated.

This seems somewhat complicated.

GIVE YOURSELF THE DESIRE

Okay, first of all you have to push yourself into action. The first step is get naked in front of a full length mirror and bounce. By that I mean jump up and down. Have a good look at the result and keep that picture in your mind’s eye. This is what is going to keep you going. You should do this at least once a week so that you don’t conveniently lose what is at stake here.

If this seems like a harsh step to follow, particularly if you look more cherubic than you would wish to, you must tell yourself that this is the worst that it will get. From now on you are taking of control of your body.

And Tigger said "Bounce!"

And Tigger said “Bounce!”

TINY STEPS

The areas that folks tend to be most concerned about are their buttocks, their stomach and their chin so this is where you should start.

Buttocks

Remember, we are doing this so that it will not impinge on your life so that you can keep it up. All you have to do is clench your buttocks ten times, three times a day. So you need to work it into your daily routine. For instance, when your clean your teeth, you could be a buttock clencher then. This means that if you clean your teeth twice a day, you only have to find one other time to clench. Perhaps if you write a daily list organising your day, you could incorporate clenching and listing together.

A Victorian buttock clencher.

A Victorian buttock clencher.

If you hold your tummy muscles in for the count of ten, three times a day then you will also start to see an improvement without having to go mad. This will also help you to relax as we tend to do deep breaths when doing the grand tummy drag.

Your chin line can be improved enormously by simply lifting your chin up to the sky and feeling the pull around your neck. Do this ten times, three times a day and it will take years off your appearance.

Taking these simple steps all add up and when you keep doing them you will start to see a difference. This difference will not just be about the physical you but it will also be about the you that feels better about yourself. The reason for this is that you are doing something that puts you in control.

REMEMBER YOUR BODY WILL RESPOND

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Being Buoyant – How to keep taking daily exercise

If you start an exercise regime, whether it is simply a 15 minute walk a day or a yoga session, and find that after a short while, you give it up, you need to change the way you think about your exercise time.

Looking good.

Looking good.

Most people start exercising because:

  • It will help them to lose weight
  • It will lower their blood pressure and cholesterol
  • It will give them a sexier shape
  • Other people do it
  • It will make them fit.
  • You too can look as sexy as me.

    You too can look as sexy as me.

I think that most of us have been there and, after a while, the regular exercise has fallen by the wayside because:

  • We are too busy
  • We are exhausted
  • The weather is awful
  • We hate it and it stinks

I know about these excuses because I have used them trillions of times. However, when I changed my thoughts about my daily power walk across muddy fields in all weather, my attitude to it changed too.

Instead of doing the walk to help lift my depression and get rid of my back pain, I did it for another reason. I do it because sometimes I feel as if I have no control over my life. I may get rejections for my writing, contracts may end prematurely, editors may ask for changes, the cost of living frightens me to death as my bills go up again and I worry about all the dreadful things that go on in the world but there is not really a lot that I can do about most of it.

When all of these things snowball me, I have to make myself feel that I have some control in my life and that is where the daily power walk comes in. It is up to me whether I do it or not. It’s a simple as that. It’s all about me feeling in control of something.

When you actually tell your subconscious this, it suddenly looks different. It is not about something that you feel that you have to do because it is entirely up to you. So go for it.

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6 Great Ways To Cheer Yourself Up This Hallowe’en.

On October 19th, my lovely friend Ross Mountney wrote a post about keeping ourselves cheery during the darker months.  She then asked if anyone had any other ideas for keeping the dark weather grumps at bay. Of course we do. However, they are our own special brand. We hope they raise a smile, if not, please complain to the government, not us, as they are to blame for a lot.

Beauty treatments are a must

It's imperative that you keep your hands looking good during the colder months.

It’s imperative that you keep your hands looking good during the colder months.

Always dress your best

People visit more during the dark nights so make sure that you are always ready to receive visitors and make an impression.

People visit more during the dark nights so make sure that you are always ready to receive visitors and make an impression.

Keep your home looking cheery and welcoming

A well thought out display can transform a room.

A well thought out display can transform a room.

Read some uplifting literature

A light read will help you to sleep.

A light read will help you to sleep.

Get out to new and interesting places

 

Graveyards offer stimulating finds like this tree stump bursting with toadstools.

Graveyards offer stimulating finds like this tree stump bursting with toadstools.

Have a hound of a time

Find a suitable friend to keep you happy.

Find a suitable friend to keep you happy.

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Why we need to develop creative intelligence in education

Ross Mountney's Notebook

I had a surprise visit from friend and artist Bob and Roberta Smith the other day.

The artwork of Bob and Roberta Smith

We were connected in our childhoods but rarely get to meet these days living in different places.

It’s a shame because we have a common quest; our desire to get people to understand the importance of creativity in education.

People often respond to that idea with the question ‘What use is painting pictures in the world of employment?’ as if that were the only interpretation of creativity. It also misses the point; creativity isn’t restricted to painting and drawing, for goodness sake!

Creativity is primarily about thinkingcreative thinking. Intelligent creative thinking.

Intelligent creative thinking is what enables us to lead our lives on a day to day basis.

Intelligent creative thinking enables us to find solutions, solve problems, rise to challenges and develop as people.

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Why we need to get kids into Shakespeare in Primary School

We at Loony Literature headed up to Hull Truck Theatre last week to see the RSC perform The Famous Victories of Henry V – this is a play, for kids, that brings together all the exciting moments of three plays – Henry IV parts I and II and Henry V.

We need more of this

Basically, we need more of this – it is that simple. We have mentioned before that some teenagers can spend more than three years getting a GSCE grade C in English Language which includes a Shakespeare play. This is because they study it for two years at school but if do not get a C or above, they have to do it again.

We have also said to anyone who will listen that kids need to be introduced in a fun manner to Shakespeare in primary school not in secondary school. By the time they study a play at secondary school they need to be relaxed about The Bard. The Famous Victories of Henry V by the RSC was everything and more than we could have wished for.

Simon Yadoo as Sir John Falstaff in The Famous Victories of Henry V. Photo by Richard Lakos.

Simon Yadoo as Sir John Falstaff in The Famous Victories of Henry V. Photo by Richard Lakos.

The cast was made up of young actors apart from the extra talented  Simon Yadoo who played Falstaff/Henry V. The energy of the players was electric as the young actors went among the audience before the play started making sure that they knew what the plot was.

The name of the game at this event was audience participation – those actors worked that audience as if they were back in Elizabethan England. There were props handed out to some of the children and they had to give them to certain characters during the play.

The audience were taught a song about Falstaff’s wine which everyone sang with vigour while waving their arms about. This was obviously a winner as a group of girls sang it loudly in the lavatory after the performance.

A young boy of about eight sat behind us and he had to stand up and shout. He was truly earnest and we were certain that that little boy would never forget that moment all his life. His eyes showed that.

We want them to laugh until their sides ache

The RSC have also taken this production into some schools and we need more of this for our country’s children. Shakespeare is meant to be performed; this is the second item that we need for kids. We need them to experience crafted actors, like Martin Bassindale who played Henry V, bringing the characters to life. We want them to laugh until their sides ache like they did at this production when Mistress Quickly, played by Daniel Abbott, shook his bosom at them.

Dale Mathurin as John, Martin Bassindale as Prince Hall, Daniel Abbott as Mistress Quickly and Nicholas Gerard-Martin as Dericke in The Famous Victories of Henry V. Photo by Richard Lakos.

Dale Mathurin as John, Martin Bassindale as Prince Hall, Daniel Abbott as Mistress Quickly and Nicholas Gerard-Martin as Dericke in The Famous Victories of Henry V. Photo by Richard Lakos.

When kids have experienced this they will begin to understand what the Bard is all about. One teacher said that before the RSC visited their school, they used to have the ‘collective groan’ when Shakespeare was mentioned but now there was excitement in the air.

Schools need to go to more theatre trips and more theatre companies need to be working with them, hand in hand. We don’t only want the kids of our country being introduced to Shakespeare in this manner, we want them to see Frankenstein making his monster and Dr Jekyll transforming into Mr Hyde.

We have a world famous literary heritage

As with everything, a major problem is budget. We are not experts on these matters but surely putting money into the problem when kids are in primary school would balance out all those English GSCEs that teenagers are resitting around the country. We are talking hundreds of thousands of resits here, not a mere few.

We have a world famous literary heritage and it is only when we make our kids proud of it will the level of GCSE resits drop.

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Filed under Education, Exciting Excursions, Help Your Child To Be Sucessful, Inspiration and Us, Shakespeare Diary, theatre in education