A letter to the authority COURSEWORK

To whom is concerned,

The further I venture into the monotonous journey that encapsulates my mock GCSEs, and eventually my full GCSE exams, I find myself weaseling every last smidgen of individuality that I can muster. This is a somewhat perilous journey that struggles to leave harbor, however it does provide my daily intake of eternal rebellion. There is only so much potentially factious behavior and thought that I can commit whilst still remaining in the boundaries of privilege.

One area of individuality that I have not yet traversed is the newfangled male fashion accessory of the line and/or design in the hair. I have not crossed this river, perhaps, on the grounds of stylistic and maintenance reasons. An unfortunate fact for those young London Nautical members who choose to embellish their outer skull with designs and waves, is that they are doing so at the stake of their education.

The London Nautical School pupil code condones no hairstyle that is not in keeping of the school ‘uniform’ which also demands hairstyles to be “above the ear, above the eyebrow and and above the collar” These are three parts of the uniform policy that are quite rightly no longer enforced, however this established line in the sand has not yet been drawn parallel with the line in the hair. These policies are snuggled tight between the reminder to bring your hymnbooks, and an order not to eat on the street, two more outdated and often overlooked parts of the pupil code. Sadly any reason for this strangling of individualism and creativity has never quite been communicated. The only two reasons I can fathom for this lack of even an attempt at justification of this policy are as follows;

a)  You in the leadership team simply have no reason to justify why you refuse to let young men, some only 2 years away from being a legal adult where they would live in a world where this rule applies to them no longer, have the haircut that they desire. Your team could just simply be following your own stylistic ideas, heck you could even be jealous that you don’t work the patterns as well as the students. These are both flawed and ridiculous sounding ideas but sadly are the most rational reasons for the no design in the hair rule to exist.

or the more likely:

b) There is a subtle, darker agenda that the school follows. This one needs some explaining and some slight mitigation. The London Nautical, as you will know being a devoted member of the Leadership Team, was founded as a result of the sinking of the Titanic. The school’s primary focus was to provide young men to the navy. This is clearly an outdated focus as technological advancements have insisted that any war that the United Kingdom potentially engage with will require nuclear weaponry, aircraft and bombs, not a slow silly war ship. The job of the young navy men these days is often patrolling the seas around a tropical island in the sun, hoping for the world to travel back in time to an era where the navy had any social or cultural relevance. The job is clearly less inviting as the amount of boys leaving LNS to join the navy has been majorly dwindling to the point where having one boy join the navy from a year group is a commodity. In the pre world war two era the majority of boys graduated the school and left for the sea. So for the year 1915, the strict parameters of hair code mimicking the navy were highly suitable.

However, as I have alluded to, the focus of this school now is not to produce seamen, it is simply a state comprehensive that puts passion into sport. The school has started priding itself on bringing an all round education to its students and strives to prepare them for the greater world, but its current policy on haircuts is lagging miles behind the ever changing and improving ethos of the school. LNS is a school that has become vastly multicultural and multiracial in the last century. The current ethnic and race proportions of the school are vastly different to the all white faces of the 1920s. In this all white era no boy would have thought about a decorative or individualistic hairstyle, but as the introduction of cultural fashion and the integration of colored people into LNS grew, the policies remained the same and began to morph into inconsiderate and currently subtle passive racism. Hairstyle designs that involve line(s) was a significant cultural feature of black Americans culture in the 1990s and throughout modern civil rights campaigns and is a fashion feature experiencing rejuvenation in England now. The lack of accommodation for this cultural change is an example of ignorance and oppression of black history and symbolism, and although most likely your leadership team do not endorse this ignorance and racism, and may not mean it, by keeping the no line in hair policy you are strangling the individualism and creativity that is involved in all the most important developments in the modern world.

I hope that you come to see that the no line in the hair policy is in no way beneficial to any student that comes to the ever improving London Nautical School, and is in fact holding back the development of the young men at the school. You must realize a haircut transcends school and I also hope you will see that me being an A* pupil in English or a C student in maths is in no way dependent on my hairstyle. If I were to shave a line in my head, you would take me out of education until I eradicate my “mistake.” This I can safely inform you, would affect my education.

I implore you to ask other students about this policy, I can assure you their view will be no different to mine. Your best course of action would be to remove this ignorant and binding policy immediately.

Yours Sincerely

Henry Howeld- Year 11 Student.



Shakespeare and Literary Heritage IGCSE Controlled Assessment COMPLETE

The Shakespearian play ‘Hamlet’ and the poems ‘On My First Sonne’ written by Ben Jonson, ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’ written by Dylan Thomas and ‘A Song in a Storm’ written by Rudyard Kipling are all layered with the same brickwork. They are all constructed by men that have had the agony of death piled upon them. These men live under a dark cloud. All of the studied texts contain a menagerie of literary devices that are used to explore the themes of fate, death, social position and predisposition. The narrator, antagonist or main characters of all studied texts embody various stages of deliriousness and have been twisted by the agony of the aftermath of death. Shakespeare’s son and Ben Jonson’s son both died in real life and the latter even makes a direct reference to his son as “his best piece of poetry”.

Hamlet, the main character in the play ‘Hamlet’ feels that life is holding him back, and to die quicker is good fortune. “When we have shuffled off this mortal coil” is a metaphor that suggests that he wants to rid himself of the strangling chain that fate has placed upon him. The degree of Hamlets despair is demonstrated by his feeling that he had no choice to be born, he feels life has been forced upon him. Hamlet believes life to be a burden, which perhaps means that he holds no value for life. Using the theme of fate, Shakespeare presents Hamlet as having no choice in life and suggests he is becoming a toy figure for a higher force to play with. Hamlet feels like an actor because he is always being controlled or is bound to do things. Shakespeare uses a semantic field to show this because Hamlet puts on a play to show how his father was killed by the King. The reason Shakespeare used a play to interpret the events was because he wanted to give Hamlet control of the actors to make him the director of fate. This was in stark contrast with reality wherein Hamlet felt controlled by fate.

The idea of fate is a connecting theme ripe among Shakespeare’s literary works. Fate is the idea that sometimes you are born under a bad sign and life is about learning to play with the hand you were dealt. Fate is a very useful literary technique because it allows authors to foreshadow in order to create a semantic field to surround a text. Hamlets fate has decreed him to a position of constant social judgement because of his royalty. ‘On My First Sonne’ holds a slightly more accepting view of fate. Ben Jonson believes that his child was lent to him “seven years tho’ wert lent to me…Exacted by thy fate on the just day” The literary device being used here by Jonson is personification. He is personifying fate by saying that it physically extracted his son.

This suggests Ben Jonson knew that there was a supernatural plan to take his son from the world at an exact time and that even through all his misery he can do nothing but accept it. Ben Jonson believes that his child was lent to him, thus believing that he never truly owned his heir. These believes correlate with those of a devoutly religious person. People who believe in God are told that God owns everyone and therefore has the power to take life away and God is omni-benevolent so loves everybody, and if he takes life away then it was for the best. Ben Jonson agrees with this by stating relief that his son “scap’d worlds and flesh’s rage” Ben Jonson is accepting that life does not belong to him, and he is just a mere actor in a supernatural entity’s play set. Due to the time that these texts were written, both men would have to some extent believed in God, however the contrast was Hamlet did not accept this deity’s doing, whereas Ben Jonson felt helpless.

One line from Rudyard Kipling’s ‘A song in a storm’ that suggests fate cannot be tamed is “Be well assured, though wave and wind, Have mightier blows in store” This imagery depicts fate to be a kind of cackling death monger. Traditionally sailors are very proud of their heritage and it is with acceptance that they operate under fate’s eye. A song in storm often presents fate more as an obstacle than a binding clause in life’s constitution. “Then welcome fate’s discourtesy”. The literary device used here is foreshadowing, and it once again emphasises that fate can embody evil, however as sailors of the seas, they are subject to work in accordance with this.

The studied texts all tack with death. Hamlet often expresses death using euphemisms. The least subtle example of this is “to be, or not to be” this is a euphemism because ‘not to be’ is substituted for death. A very common factor of all of the studied texts is to shy away from using the words ‘dying’ and ‘death’ and merely expressing life as not existing any more. This perhaps correlates with a fear of death from either the characters/narrators or indeed the poets themselves.

Whose phrase of sorrow conjures the wand’ring stars and makes them stand” is the most potent quote about death in Hamlets soliloquy “To be or not to be”. Hamlet is expressing his love for Ophelia and his lust for her death. He describes the stars (the planets) as standing up in respect for Ophelia’s death, as she is that important for him. This is another metaphor used by Hamlet that example his obsession with death. Death is littered in Hamlet’s life.

Shakespeare typically uses the idea of fate to make death prominent in his plays. This is similar to the “shuffle off this mortal coil” quote because it gives death respect, releases the feeling that the “calamity of so long life” will always end in death, death will always win. This is a sense of real hopelessness, that Hamlet demonstrates by expressing his need to survive through life. The difference between the connotations of the language used by a depressed person and a sane person are quite drastic. Hamlet is feeling the need to survive, to get through it. Whereas more sane and positive people view life as an experience and focus on the positive things in Hamlets life. For instance, he is king to be, he has a high social position and therefore is more fortunate than many of the civilians soon to be under his rule.

‘Do not go gentle into that good night’ tackles death by using a delicious euphemism “Good men, their last wave by,” This euphemism is layered by sacrificial context as well as its more subtle euphemism of the last wave. The last wave means quite bluntly, that it was their last before death, however the thought that the soldiers could know that it is their last wave is quite harrowing. This poem draws comparisons with ‘A song in storm’ because the roles of a soldier and a sailor are similar, they both symbolize the peak of selfless loyalty. The soldiers and sailors know they are at risk of death, but operate purely out of kindness and hold an affinity with their fellow countrymen or with their job.

Do not go gentle into that good night also possess the beautiful line “Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight” The wordplay used in this phrase is centered around the word “grave”, indicating two things, one being that the men are feeling fraught with danger, the other being that they are moving towards their grave by continuing to fight in the good night. “Near death” reinforces the soldier’s knowledge that they are very likely to die doing their job and characterizes their willingness to fight anyway. Dylan Thomas proceeds to say that the soldiers now see with blinding light, thus recognizing and addressing the notion that before death men become enlightened and see things with more knowledge than they did before. This idea suggests that forces out of our control can be compromised with knowledge and experience.

“Though wise men at their end know dark is right” reinforces the idea that the soldiers know that they would be dying for a good cause, this suggests that violence can be justified and the right thing to do, this is a surprisingly common theme among all four literary works. In the modern world death is not longed for and very often feared, however the antagonist Hamlet wishes for death to be cast upon him. ‘A song in storm’ and ‘do not go genteel in the good night’ both accept death as an eminent and necessary part of life. Ben Jonson is the only author that shows regret that death has happened. “Will man lament the state he should envy?” inquires Jonson, querying why he is feeling grief, when he knows that his child has escaped life’s harsh reality. Jonson addresses the circumstances with more than a heavy heart, whereas all other characters/antagonists in the studied texts do not concede they could feel any grief or regret about death. This contrast is perhaps because Ben Jonson did not die, his son did. This difference suggests the effect that death has upon loved ones is worse than the effect death has on its’ recipient.

 “On my first sonne” also infers that death is more of a punishment for the people close to the person that was evicted from existence. “As what he loves may never like too much” is a sombre reference to the harsh reality that his love was vanquished by death, furthermore he expresses the notion that death was aware of his love and punished him for it, as a retribution for dependency. The idea that Ben Jonson was dependent on his son is an abstract concept, as usually it is the child who is dependent on their father, this standard relationship is portrayed in Hamlet. The whole premise of the play is Hamlet showing his loyalty to his father by trying to and eventually succeeding in avenging him.

Do not go gentle into that good night uses rhythm to show the significance and sudden impact that death has. The entirety of the poem is in Iambic pentameter barring one crucial repeated line. This means that each line has 5 beats in it and is read in line with these parameters. So when the line “rage rage against the dying of the light” is not in this meter, it propels itself to the forefront of the stanza, it is quite clearly the ugly duckling of the verse. The rhythm actually sharpens the content of the line by the use of a beautiful metaphor. The dying of the light symbolizes the dying of the iambic pentameter. The dying of the light also suggests that the end is nigh for the verse by using foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is, in this case, used to create an atmosphere when being preformed. The iambic pentameter also adds an element of atmosphere when being read.

There is also the observation that when poems are read in rhythm, the words seem to slip off though tongue. This can sometimes conflict with the words in the poem, however when a poem is in free rondo, the words can sound spiky and angular. The meanings of words in poems in free rondo become more potent too. ‘On my first sonne’ for example is afforded a more sombre phonetic sound because its free-flowing nature is supposed to mimic life’s nature. This leads me to believe that death of the poet’s son was supposed to happen and therefore part of the nature of life.

All of the studied texts place significant importance and emphasis on death. This respect for death can only be carried out by the living which makes me, as the reader, feel that it the fear of death that underlines society. Shakespeare, Jonson, Kipling and Thomas believe fate to be an obstacle that cannot be overcome. The characters chosen by the authors to believe this feel varying degrees of anger and despair about it. The characters all in one way or another, reflect the society of the time they were written.

By Henry Howeld.


IGCSE Coursework “East Finchley Tube Station” COMPLETE


Beads of sweat surf their way down my forehead. Finally, the doors open, I am swamped by a huge wave of commuters flooding the narrow platform. My initial relief of exiting the 8 carriage transporter is quickly replaced by the realisation that I can see no hint of the tiled platform floor that I am standing on. An array of leather, suede, and velvet footwear surrounds me, reminding me of when I always used to get lost in the local market. This time all I can smell is a nasty concoction of sweat, musk and the odd waft of cheap cologne, juxtaposing the delicious wafts of jerk chicken from “Brixton’s Finest” and fresh plantain from the fruit stalls at both entrances of the market.

My fellow commuters are divided upon their exit strategies, the early birds power through the crowds and down the stairs never to be seen again, reminiscent of the older kids at primary school hustling to the lunch canteen, empty stomachs guiding their owners to the sounds of ovens roaring and knifes and forks clanking together. The rest of us stragglers reach the stairs to freedom at the same time causing a traffic jam so long, if I were tuned in to the radio, I would have heard a news alert about it. Slowly, I am shuffling forward, matching every movement that the TM Lewin suit and briefcase in front of me makes. I pass a sign that tells me when the last southbound train departs the station, 23:18, leaving me wondering if the ever growing jam of people would have disintegrated by then.

I am descending downwards, one grotty stair covered in smatterings of chewing gum to the next stair, this time splattered with dried lumps of bird excrement. I place my hand on the handrail only to discover that a sticky substance has decided to start permanently residing on it, furthermore it is clear this substance welcomes visitors, as I cannot release my hand from the sticky situation that has been thrust upon me. Finally, my passport is processed through the reader and with a newly found spring in my step I hustle through the moving gates. I bound past the “East Finchley Tube Station” sign that guards the exit. I am away.


Tapping my pockets, I breath a huge sigh of relief as I discover my Oyster card has not escaped from captivity. My breath leaves a warm lingering fog around me. Languidly, I pull my Oyster card out of my jean pocket and press it down against the fluorescent yellow reader, subsequently the machine beeps and triggers the gates to tear apart. I trundle up the discoloured stairwell, I’m sure it was white at some point during its dismal existence.

Now that I’ve reached the platform, I look up and notice the roof over my head is in fact the night sky, only made less scenic by the glare of the station road street lamps that just reach the elevated platforms. This is the first time I have noticed that this station is open top, I have never looked directly up here before, usually I am just staring  straight in front of me.

Glancing left, I am greeted with the sight of a man stumbling around the edge of the platform with a can of Fosters in his hand. Slowly, he lowers himself to the ground and positions himself on the yellow line of the platform floor, with his legs hanging over the rails. Come to think of it…I also haven’t seen that yellow line before, what with all the people occupying all the space in rush hour. I glance left again, the man has disappeared.

After 3 minutes, the rail rattles into life.  The headlights of the 23:18 illuminate the darkness as the train rattles into the station and the slowing wheels grind against the rails. The doors glide open. I’m greeted with a blast of hot air and a pig sty of beer cans, empty chicken’n’chips boxes and metro newspapers, all in a crumpled heap over the carriage’s seats. I decide to sit on the floor. After all, it’s 23:18, nobody’s watching…