Archive for November, 2011
Beano, Dandy, Topper, Beezer; Bunty, Judy, Jackie; Roy of the Rovers,Commando. If that delicious string of titles hasn’t warmed the cockles of your heart, then either you did not grow up in the UK or your parents kept you wrapped in a paper bag.
Comics were – and still are – an integral part of our nation’s childhood and, increasingly, adulthood. In British Comics: A Cultural History, Professor James Chapman sets out to explore this “valuable but neglected source of social history” and discover what comics tell us about ourselves.
Traditionally, British comics have received nothing like the approbation of their French and American cousins. While France, Chapman tells us, subsidises her comics industry “to the tune of €4.5million a year”, and while the Americans regard their comics as “a vibrant form of mass popular culture, comparable to motion pictures”, we British traditionally see them as disposable at best, childish at worst.
Indeed, Chapman points out, we even passed legislation against them. The 1955 Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publication) Act forbade the creation of any children’s book that “consists wholly or mainly of stories told in pictures” and portrays “incidents of a repulsive or horrible nature”. Only two people have been prosecuted so far (none since 1970), but the law remains on the statute books. Continue reading on the Telegraph website
Until 31 December, the brand new audiobook of The English German Girl will be available with a 20% discount! Claim your discount today by visiting www.wholestoryaudiobook.co.uk and entering the following code at the foot of the Order Summary Page: JAKE-WALL-ISSI-MONS.
Bedales School – a progressive, co-educational public school in the heart of Hampshire – is well-known for its famous alumni. Lily Allen, Sophie Dahl and Minnie Driver were all educated there, and celebrity parents include Mick Jagger, Jude Law, Jeremy Paxman and Boris Johnson.
Such an institution, and such a clientele, will inevitably attract media attention. It is no surprise, therefore, that the school frequently has to endure the ignominy of having its dirty laundry made public. When six students were thrown out for drugs offences last year, the story made the national headlines; when two more were expelled last summer for “having sex in a sandpit,” it caused even more of a furore.
The novelist Amanda Craig – who herself went to Bedales forty years ago – was among the most vociferous critics of her former school. Writing in the Daily Mail, she recounted how she was sexually assaulted by a gang of boys while walking back from an evening assembly. From then on, she writes, she was “relentlessly bullied,” and became “tense, white-faced and desperately lonely.”
Last week, as Bedales’ writer-in-residence, I had the opportunity to assess it from the inside. I spent five days leading workshops, speaking to the literary societies, meeting children of all ages for one-to-one tutorials, lecturing and advising staff. And although I concede that my time there was limited, what I saw had little in common with the Bedales of Amanda Craig four decades ago. Continue reading on the Independent website
Media speculation ended today with the announcement that in early 2012, Apple will launch a new device called “iPen.” The face of the campaign will be the British writer Jake Wallis Simons (32), the company confirmed.
Details of the new product are sketchy. According to Apple sources, the device will be “any size and scale between a regular biro and a felt-tip,” and will “come fully charged with iInk, giving users 134 hours writing time right out the box.” iPen will also have an extraordinary idling time of at least two years. It will be compatible with any sort of paper or card, although the internet is buzzing with rumours that Apple will also launch an “iPaper” and “iCard.”
“Just think,” said Jake Wallis Simons, speaking for the first time in his role as an ambassador for Apple. “Within two years we could be writting an iLetter on iPaper with our iPens, putting it in an iEnvelope, and dropping it into an iPostbox. The possibilities are endless. This really is the new frontier.”
But the device is not without its detractors. The American technology website CNET released a statement yesterday welcoming the iPen to the marketplace, but voicing concerns about Apple’s strategy to ship it “only with black iInk for the first six months.” This makes the produce “unnecessarily limited,” and could lead to “user dissatisfaction,” it said. The issue could particularly affect teachers, who “would wait to purchase iPen until red iInk is introduced.” CNET also expressed concerns about “compatibility issues,” shedding new doubts about how well iPen may synch with other Apple products. As for PC users, CNET said, they are “totally in the dark.”
For Apple fans, however, this development marks the next step in Apple’s extraordinary story of innovation. “I can’t wait to get my hands on iPen,” said a chap called Steve, a self-confessed Apple fanatic, from his tent outside the Apple Store in Covent Garden last night. “iPen’s instant-on feature will enable me to make notes instantaneously, without having to boot up my Macbook or unlock my iPhone. iPen is 100% wireless, and can work on anything – even the back of my hand.” He also expressed enthusiasm about the new range of iPen cases which will soon be available online.
“This has come at the right time for me,” said Jake Wallis Simons, the new face of the iPen campaign. “I have long used Apple products in the hope that I will one day regain the usability I previously enjoyed with old-skool paper and pens. Now with iPen and iPaper, Apple has scratched that itch. Thank you, Apple!”