What Will You Do This Summer?

By Sarah Lawrence, 3rd Year LiFTS Student

Welcome readers,

Do you remember the times when you would return to class at the end of the summer and, without fail, you would be asked to write a piece entitled; ‘what I did during the summer break’? Most of the time, mine read; ‘I watched TV’ and nothing else. My teachers were so unimpressed with this that they encouraged me to make something up – how depressing is that? In my eyes I had lived my best life, why change it?

Of course, now I realise how unhealthy and unproductive that was.

As, I approached this piece I realised I finally have something worth writing about and, most importantly, it is all true. Now, your life may be far more interesting than mine, but as we are hurtling towards the end of the academic year and the sand in my hourglass of University time is dwindling, I felt like I should share.

Last year I joined a social networking organisation called The Ladies Circle. The Ladies Circle is a club for women aged 18-45. It focuses on the making friends, having fun, encouraging each other to do new things and giving back to the community. There are 130 clubs nationally and several others spreading across 45 countries. Each circle has a chosen charity, elected by their chair – our local charity this year is the Alzheimer’s Society. We also have a national charity which, this year, is the Societi for Kawasaki Disease. We fundraise for both of these charities with events ranging from a bake sale to an abseil.

Two years ago, when I started to participate in events, my sister and I completed a 10k walk around Warwick, raising just over £1200 for The Brain Tumour Charity. Last summer we took part in a half marathon, raising just over £730. This year, we are hanging up our shoes and heading to the waters. Anyone who knows me is aware that I am severely lacking in the aquatic skills department. Yet, this summer our circle will be swimming the width of the Channel. This is what my summer will consist of, practising and promoting the event. We want to welcome everyone to come along and get involved; clap, wave a banner, do a Mexican wave. We haven’t set an official start date, but when we do we will post it on our Facebook page. So, to loosely quote the kids of today; watch that space.

It is said that girls compete with each other, while women empower each other. That’s what Ladies Circle is about. Empowerment doesn’t have to be encouraging you to tackle your fear of heights or water, but maybe going out and meeting strangers. This year my sister and I travelled to Rome, where we met two members of the Roma Ladies Circle. A few years ago, I didn’t know this group existed and here I was in another country meeting strangers who soon became friends. Whatever your weaknesses are, we can help face them.

Although I have listed only a few examples of our fundraising activities it is not our main focus, we do so much more, and it is a great way to make a difference. We want it to be a fun social group; whether we go for a meal out, go to the cinema or snowboarding.

It is great for those looking to make friends, find events near them and/or get involved in charity fundraising. Now, although I have solely spoke about the Ladies Circle, there’s also its sister – Tangent- a group for women aged 45+ and its brother -Roundtable- for men aged 18-45. There are groups in Clacton, Colchester, Chelmsford and Southend (to name a few). On our website there is a ‘Circle Finder’ where you can locate your nearest group.

So, if you want to be able to boast about ‘What I did with my summer’, then just email your local group, attend the events, like our Facebook pages, volunteer, etc. If writing is your passion you could be the Circle’s secretary, if digital marketing is your thing, you could be in charge of membership or making posters for your group’s events. We just like to get involved and  motivate others to do the same.

This year our motto is; #celebratingfriendships – so, why not start with yours?

Useful websites to get you started;

Ladies Circle:




Our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/clactonladiescircle/

Roundtable: http://www.roundtable.co.uk

Tangent: https://tangent-clubs.org

ladies circle (1)ladies circle (2)

IS THE INTERNET MAKING US ALL DYSLEXIC? (Or: why students don’t deep read anymore)

A post by Timothy Chante.

Imagine you’re a taxi driver, just outside London King’s Cross station, and someone gets in your cab.

“Where do you want to go?” you ask.


“We’re in London. Where exactly?”

“I’ll tell you when you get there,” the passenger replies.

Ask two experts what dyslexia is, and you may get two different replies. If either of them is the honest kind, you’ll get more than two and the comment that we don’t truly know. After all, it is a spectrum, and to do with how the brain is wired, still largely unknown territory. But what is generally agreed is that the dyslexic brain has connections that take the road less travelled: language processing either goes through both sides of the brain before getting to the communication part (as has previously been put forth), or simply has generally longer connections (as is the current thinking). In either case, it means the dyslexic brain comes up with what appears (to a neuro-typical person) as rather random and disorganised ideas and thought. Continue reading


by Tim Chante, 2nd year Creative Writing student

When I first signed up to a creative writing degree, I fully expected to be surrounded by lots of people who were busy writing all sorts of things. So it really surprised me, last year, that whenever I asked people what they were writing, they often said they hadn’t really done anything yet. Why is that? What’s going on? Is this a case of ‘Word (Not Responding)’, like some kind of humanised application fail, or is everybody just ‘buffering’?

Don’t worry, this isn’t a criticism, or even a rant. It’s a plea. You see, what a lot of ‘less-aged’ folk don’t know is that the voice they have now is going to change, and the way they see things, think about them and feel about them, will become very hard to remember. So please, if this is you, write it down! It doesn’t have to be special and it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to not be forgotten. You are the only person living the life you’re living; only you can make that record. And you’ll need it.

I know there may be some crazy chance that you don’t think you have anything to write about, but if so, that’s only because you’re standing too close to whatever’s happened to you. Try backing off a bit – as if you are looking at your life from the outside, and you’ll see all sorts of strange and wonderful things – and then you’ll hear a voice start to talk about them. You’ll probably find you even had a few midlife crises and didn’t realise it. Because they come at all ages. I had my first at nine, when I started watching Last of the Summer Wine, thought it was the most poignant thing I’d ever seen, and was filled with an overwhelming desire to run off in to the distance of life to find out why. Since then I’ve had lots. Some have been the stereotypical ones: the motorbike life, the running off to California, even running off to join a circus (if you can accept a Safari Park as a substitute), a few near deaths, going bankrupt, getting divorced, doing the age-gap relationship (although to be fair, that one stuck), and not to forget of course, starting a degree at the age of 52. And while some have been some of the more serious kind, like getting completely burnt out with a thing called Secondary Trauma, falling into depression and contemplating suicide, there have also been lots of silly little ones along the way too, and those are the ones you can miss and forget. The tiny breakthroughs and changes in perspective — the personality doors that open, and the ones that close. The ones that close!

So, if you are still young enough to look at 50 and think that’s a long way away, then that’s because it is – and a hell of a lot is going to happen which will take up your attention and make who you are now into a distant and largely lost memory. Which is more than just a shame, because not only does the world truly need who you are now, but so will you. You’re going to need his or her passion, faith, and intensity. Not because you won’t be all right, for that future you will have quite a sense of humour about things, and not take itself so seriously, but what you won’t have, unless you write it down, is the person who starts it all, the ‘you’ that knows the ‘whys’. The ones that, right now, you erroneously think you’ll never forget.

This is not intended to be an advice post, by the way. I gave that up years ago when I realised in discussion with a ex social worker who was now living on the streets, that the death of his wife had left him with nothing but alcohol, that largely we have nothing to say that is of any use to anyone else. But, in the same way that I was able to write my way out of my own existential crisis, I know that writing about your own life is not just healing in the moment, it is important to the future you too. So, if you feel this might apply to you, then please – stop buffering!


Top Tips on Thriving in Your First Year at Uni

By Ioana Bonaparte, 2nd Year LiFTS Student & Peer Mentor

This new stage in our lives often comes as frightening and challenging. It may not be like that for everybody, but it was for me, and it is likely to be like that for many of you. As nobody in my family had been to university, I was terrified. But Essex has offered me people that were there for me and gave their best to help me settle in. They even convinced me not to withdraw in my first three weeks. Leaving my story behind, I want you to know that I became a peer mentor exactly for YOU. I was afraid to ask for help, but you need not be. I am here for you and more than happy to share my knowledge and experience with you. But until you do ask for help, I thought this might give you some motivation and reassurance. Continue reading



Creative Writing MA


Now I know.

Will always suffer

for betrayals that left us

trying to move on,


A prey left to be drained.

And now it’s ready.

There’s no need to feel the pain

just let my hands touch the skin

and electrify it

and oh, I kiss the book,

my fingers will write about it

about that energy left swelled  in the air.

My mouth will tell those stories

about bodies that chafe each other

and lips that rub a shared sexuality.

And oh, I swear, those lines

are destined to feel no pain inside,

nor envy for lost loves and tears,

nothing will compare to them

nor even a full of fantasy past.

And now the casualty finally transforms

into a fair piece of art.

The Greatest Showman Review

By Anastasia Papadopoulou

What would you risk in order to make your dreams come true?



If you can’t find the answer, take the example of  P.T. Barnum, the new role that the ex-Wolverine actor Hugh Jackman plays in the The Greatest Showman. After losing his job, Barnum decides to sell everything, buy the place of his dreams, find the people with whom he can create a yet unprecedented show and take the stage with his cunning mind and talent. An alternative musical, a fantastic show with special people, abilities and skills, The Greatest Showman will nail you to your seat. Though prominent in the film, Hugh Jackman is not the only one chasing his dreams in the movie. Michelle Williams and Zac Efron (Ch. Barnum, Ph. Carlyle), by opposing to their families and the recognition they have based on their wealth –  as well as Zendaya with her incredible voice and dance moves, are able to leave the audience brimming with excitement. Love, the American Dream, recognition and downfall are the main themes that one will see in The Greatest Showman. The movie unfolds during the 19th century and the birth of the modern form of show biz, as we know it even today. The movie has 3 Golden Globe nominations: Best movie, Best male actor in the Comedy–Musical category, and “This is me” (the incredible song that you’ll keep singing even after leaving the cinema) nominated for Best Song. If you like to sing, dance and take risks (or you just like to watch others making the steps and bring changes), The Greatest Showman is the movie-musical for you!

Why does not the soul sleep?

By Ioana Bonaparte

Rest appears as necessary everywhere,

but when does the soul sleep?

Or is it relentless and forever eager of feeling?

I catch a sight of it and it looks lazy;

it’s worthy of pity,

it’s degrading and detaching,

tears and pains it pours,

but not a thought of sleeping.

Tiring sentiments…


Why does not my soul sleep?

Or maybe I don’t even have a soul,

maybe it’s gone…

So eager

of living,

of knowing,

it may have disappeared so far away

that it forgot the path that leads back.


What if my soul betrays me?

Maybe… that is why some people lose themselves in the world,

being devoid of their souls,

while others, much more prudent,

get to have two or three or four…

or maybe a thousand of souls in one man.

And maybe that way can be explained

why intermittently great characters arise,

apparently impossible human wonders.


I would call it, but fear restrains my voice;

the fear that,

after shouting,

I’ll remain all my life waiting for my chimera to respond.

Orford Ness: A Guide to Memory Mapping

by Tracy Lee-Newman

MA Creative Writing Student

January 2018, and let’s start with layers.  Socks, vests, t-shirts, jumpers, fleeces, raincoats, gloves and hats.  Orford Ness is what’s known as a ‘storm beach’, and none of us are taking any chances.

Orford Ness trip 4

Curving round the Suffolk coast, the Ness is the site of our class’s first field trip; a promontory of shingle, marsh and mud approximately ten miles long, accessible only by ferry.  Now owned by the National Trust and recognised as an internationally important area for nature conservation, for most of the 20th century it was a place the public were excluded from because of the secret research undertaken on site by the military; research conducted in the now abandoned buildings we are taken to explore.

Continue reading

On Coming Out as Bisexual

By Dr Sean Seeger

One afternoon in December of last year I went to a café in town and sat for about an hour thinking about things. Whilst I was there I made an important life choice: I decided to come out as bisexual.

I had gone over the topic many times in my mind throughout the previous months, and now at last I’d come to the conclusion that this was the right thing for me to do at this moment in my life.

When I finally resolved to go through with it, coming out proved to be the most terrifying thing I had ever done. This wasn’t because I was expecting to encounter prejudice or because I was ashamed of who I was. It was because I knew this was the most significant thing I’d shared with anyone about myself and I had no idea what effect it would have on my relationships with people. Would they think I was confused or just going through a phase? Would they think I’d been unable to trust them? Would they think I’d been in denial about my sexuality until now? Would they think less of me for these and similar reasons? To say I approached coming out with some trepidation would be a serious understatement.

As soon as I’d done it, I knew I’d made the right choice.

Continue reading