About Me

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London, United Kingdom
Holly Searle is a writer who was born in Westminster in the middle of London. She shares her birthday with Jarvis Cocker and David Seaman and like Jarvis Cocker she wears glasses but has nothing whatsoever in common with David Seaman. She is fascinated by words, people and their stories, and regularly spends hours fantasising about being offered a weekly column. She has a degree in Film and Television which she gained from Brunel University in 1997. She has been blessed with two quite remarkable children whom she adores. She enjoys the company of her friends and the circus that is life. Long Walk to Forever by Kurt Vonnegut is her favourite short story. She is the author of the published children's tale The Story of Balan Singh, and is currently working on her first book.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

The Curse of The Text Message By Holly Searle




It's funny isn't it, the more technically savvy we are all becoming, the less actual interaction we appear to be having with one another.

The routes of communication are so varied these days, that it is hard to imagine that a man once jumped on a horse and rode for days in order to deliver a single message.

I bet our historical relatives would shake their heads and laugh out loud at how easy we now have it and how much time it could have saved them.

That my dear friends is just one of the benefits of technology. As swift as an arrow, it passes us all in the blink of an eye, leaving us all wondering to ourselves "What the hell was that?"

I can recall thinking my family very modern when we had a telephone installed in our house. It had a certain social status attached to it and we were able to lift the handset and dial a number and speak to another human being. It was quite remarkable.

Of course that was a simple pleasure, that was part of a bygone age, and one that I often yearn for.

Telephone boxes were our mobiles phones way back then. We couldn't slip them into our pockets, but we could locate one with great ease on most streets if we were out and needed to make a quick call.

After making sure that we had the right amount of change needed for the call and summoning the strength to pull open the red cast iron door. We would be met with that familiar dank smell that combined urine, fags and the musty old paper of those encyclopaedic telephone directories (that contained all the names and addresses of everyone).

And then, after you had dialled the number, you waited as the call was connected, and subsequently answered, before depositing some of that change into the slot. There were no free minutes in those days as we were reminded when the pips sounded out on the line. Those steady beeps informed us that our time was nearly up, and gave us the option to either deposit more money or simply let the person we had called know that it was time to say goodbye.

And what did we say during the course of those quick calls. Well, mostly we made simple arrangements to meet our mates at a designated time and place and stuck to them. There was no endless stream of mindless chit chat to use up those minutes. We were simply in like flint and out again and saved the chit chat for later.

And then it all got out of hand.

Life got far too technical (and unnecessary for some of us) as new forms of communicative mutations started to evolve. And just like a cult, some of these alternatives soon attracted devotees who misused them and in the process revealed the San Andreas faults in their personalities.

I must admit to owning a mobile phone, but I held off for quite a while before I actually did.

And when I did, being a child of the Star Trek generation, I was amazed that this little device was able to perform such wonders.

I was a little intimidated by it at first (as I always am with subsequent upgrades) but I soon got used to it and its lexicons of functionalities.

And now I have a handset that offers me an array of options that I would never have imagined possible whilst eating my tea and watching star Trek all of those years ago, when we just had a buck standard telephone that just rang off its cradled if someone called.

I must admit that I do not make use of a majority of my mobile phone's applications. They all just end up in that space that we all collectively refer to as over my head.

Some of them are pretty amazing though. And I feel as though I am quite savvy when I master the art of using one of them or accidentally stumble across something that I never knew existed.

But, there is one functionality that I have grown to detest as I find it says more about those that misuse it, and which has at times made me want to throw mine out of the window.

And that my friends is the cult of the text message and its devotees.

First and foremost, I will agree with you, that in some situations sending a text is acceptable.

A quick message to say that you are late, or on your way. You know that sort of thing. Not unlike those quick calls we all used to make form a telephone box.

But, and here's the thing. I cannot abide those whom use this method to send a continual stream of messages that could be mistaken for an attempted autobiography of their lives. Or those that use this method of communication to hide behind instead of just ringing you up.

And I am happy to share with you the fact that both of these cited social bĂȘte noires will be met with an unprintable set of reactions from me.

Yes, by all means get in touch and let me know your whereabouts. But if you wish to discuss anything more substantial with me, for goodness sake (and for the sake of my sanity), just call.

I have an ex whom I refer to as my stalker. Many years ago, he and I had a clandestine affair. He, I know, enjoyed this as it enabled him to satisfy his sense of one-upmanship over his wife, as she continued her thought to be secret affair with the village butcher.

He would send me an unlimited amount of text messages on a daily basis about it all, and about us. Initially I found it all quite exciting. But then it grew tiresome as did I as the flame of passion started to diminish, but not for him and his mobile.

Eventually his wife owned up and moved in with the butcher and divorced the stalker.

But even though she was gone, he still carried on sending me text messages when in reality, he was free to call me whenever he wished to do so.

Safe to say it was a hurdle that he couldn't quite get over in his mind. And to this very day, several years later, when my mobile alerts me to the fact that I have a text message late in the evening, I know it is him.

He is harmless enough. But the messages are incoherent and make no sense. If I respond to them, he pays no attention to my reply, and will continues to send through further meaningless grammatically incorrect texts.

I do not respond. And eventually they stop.

I draw two conclusions from this; one is that he may as well be texting anyone and two, that he has stopped because he has fallen asleep with his mobile, no doubt resting on his pillow.

Once I sent him a rhetorical text saying "Why don't you just ring me up?"

When he did, he didn't know what to say.

Still, it's nice to know that someone is thinking about you, I suppose.

Then there are the manic insistent textees whom paradoxically will use this form of communication as their means of contacting you because they don't actually want to speak to you.

Usually, they adopt this method because they are really trying to avoid you. I know. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, especially as they have contacted you first.

When you do not respond to them, they will become quite affronted with you because they know, that you know, exactly what they are up to. And because you have watched far too many episodes of The Killing not be able to recognise their modus operandi.

The more you ignore them, they more inventive, dramatic and draining they will became.

Again, I just think to myself whilst reading these messages, if you had only called, we could have spoken.

Ahhhh, well, there you go.

In the end, I have to conclude that it isn't really the fault of technology, but rather those whom misappropriate its wonders. After all, if the people you know, know you well enough, they will just call.

And strangely enough, those are the very same people that you would have once found on a horse delivering a message or in a small red cast iron box with a pocket full of loose change.

And those my friends, are my kind of people.



Tuesday, 15 January 2013

I Dreamed A Dream By Holly Searle





I always sleep well.

I sleep especially well if I am reading a good book. Probably I should imagine, because it always helps too settle me, and see me off to the Land of Nod with a woodpile of wonders that alight my mind palace during the course of the night.

It's a wonderful thing, to be able to sleep well and dream a dream.

I don't always remember the dreams I dream. More often than not, I just recall a sense of their presence. A echo of their essence and their very being, and the warmth of what they have bestowed upon me.

It's nice, and I wake refreshed after resting my mind in that fickle floatation tank of my sleeping hours.

And this morning I snoozed awhile and dreamed a dream that I did recall.

In my dream I was placed upon a pedestal of love by a man (and no, that isn't a euphemism).

I felt it, that love. And it wasn't an inappropriate or misguided sort of feeling. It was a like a beacon (I think), to reignite a spark of remembrance in my very soul.

Now, now. I know that I am loved. I know this to infinity and beyond.

No, this was that missing piece of my own personal jigsaw puzzle of love. Man love. Missing man love. Putting a poster on a tree missing man love. A mirage in the desert sort of thing. I saw it shimmering in front of me and then I woke up.


In the dream I dreamed, I was wanted and held and loved. It felt right and rewarding. And the funny thing was, that once I woke, I didn't feel sad, I just felt happy.

Maybe my unconscious mind was giving me a nudge like a pinball machine. It was awarding me an extra ball and extra long flippers, to prevent my letting the future chance of this love fall well and truly down the drain.


Maybe, it was telling me that this love game, isn't Game Over, just yet.

I scratched my head, and adopted the fixed expression of one that who is vexed by the very notion of the possibility and got up.


And then, in the afternoon, I went to see Les Miserables with Child One.


It is a scrumptious stellar smorgasbord of woe and loss. A dalliance of desperadoes doomed due to circumstances beyond their control, who find eventual unmitigated redemption before the titles roll.

My advice. Take a tissue or two for a shifty snifter in the dark.

As I sat there in the dark, it suddenly dawn on me that I had expected to be more emotionally moved by its content than I actually was.

Again, I pulled that face. But I drew the conclusion that I wasn't any less emotionless, I was just being objective about it all, rather than subjective.

I thought that that was a new one on me.

But of course, there is that song. The Les Britain's Got Talent Susan Boyle Miserables I dreamed a dream song.

A song now not only synonymous with the grief and the bewilderment of life, but also, the misconception of humanity that is now and forever entwined with the belief that anything is possible (and probable) if we never give up giving up.

It's a lovely song. A heartfelt lyric that would haunt even those that do not believe in wearing their hearts on their sleeves.

And of course those that keep on keeping on.

You'll be humming it for a while after viewing that film, as well as thinking about the strength of its intent.

And here is what I think.

I think I dreamed that dream. I lamented a smidgen in those previous chapters of my life.

And then I dreamed that dream and I felt good about it all.

And then I heard I Dreamed a Dream and it all suddenly made sense.

And now, I am up for a game of pinball, extra long flippers and all.

Sleep well and dream a dream.






Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Institutions Of Shame By Holly Searle






A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I had a well paid job.


I was great at it, that job, but then I lost it.


During the years that I held this position, I paid an awful lot of tax. So when I lost it, that job, through no fault of my own, I had no other alternative other than to seek the assistance of The Welfare State.


That all sounds very Orwellian doesn't it, The Welfare State.


Well, guess what, it is.


Being the primary carer of one child (Child Two), I have always prided myself on the fact that I was able to provide a good level of sustainability for both of my children throughout their formative years.


Nothing fancy, I might add. That is impossible if you are a single parent. But you know the sort of thing I mean, a home with warmth, food, running water and a regular supply of clean clothes. You know the basics that we all need and take for granted, and do not dwell too much upon, until they are at risk.


As there is a marked gap in their ages with Child One now being all grown-up and married, and Child Two still being young and impressionable enough too require the care and input of a nominated responsible adult (me).


I sought this assistance with no level of pride, but rather one of necessity, with I might add, a scarlet letter of shame emblazoned upon my chest.


And to be honest with you, I found it all very depressing.


And if, I had had another quick fix solution, I would have chosen that option over having to cohort and communicate with people who treated me like I was asking them if I could have their kidney, instead of this form of assistance while trying to find a new job.

It was at the at the best of times educational and at the worst of times testing.

And here is why.


When you claim benefits, you enter the Dark Side and your jobbing Jedi mindset is overcome with the enormity of it all, and the amount of separate agencies that you have to contact in order to gain the assistance that you are both entitled to and qualify for.

But this isn't sign posted or communicated to you as you flag about blindly in the dark, as your Lightsaber goes out.

No, you waste a lot of time calling government bodies on premium rate telephone numbers, repeating your situation again and again, until you actually get to speak to a human being (still part Jedi) who imparts the correct information to you that you are after.

It is an exhausting process.


Then once you have pinpointed all the correct departments, you then endure an interview at your local Job Centre Plus (distinctly Dark Side and non Jedi, and definitely run by Stormtroopers), where a lesser mortal who has lost the will to live or even try to show a modicum of interest in you, taps your details into a computer.


You are then informed that you will have to visit a private employment work program initiative, who the government have installed to assist you in finding work.


When you arrive there, you are assigned an advisor (more Boba Fett than Jedi in attitude).


They tell you that they are there to help you find a job. But they don't.


They put your name down to attend courses in their offices to give you pointers.

But they don't.

You attend these holding your tongue and nodding your head like one of those dogs on the parcel shelf in the back of a car (Boba Dog).

You know everything that they are telling you as you are a skilled employable adult, who just wants to find work rather than spend their day in a classroom sucking eggs.


Throughout all of these processes, you long for someone to rescue you (Yoda).


This doesn't happen as there are far too many lost budding Jedis in the work program.


Eventually you realise that the force is still strong within you and that you must, must, keep on believing that one day you will break free and rejoin the Rebel Alliance and eventually be part of The New Republic.


This only happens after you have submitted thousands of job applications and have attended countless interviews.


You also realise after meeting recruitment personnel, that the work program employees (those Fetts) are not assisting you at all on your journey into work.


You realise, as the Force gathers strength within you, that in fact you have been misinformed. And that all the positive feedback you have received or further assistance that you have gained, has been derived from those with a genuine knowledge of the job market (small droids with great recall), and that this isn't the same as the information you have been given from the work program employees.


In the end, as the Rebel Alliance battles on, you find a gap in a fence that allows you to slip from the Dark Side back into a more familiar world that you recognise.


You have escaped the Stormtroopers and can breath a sign of relief as your Lightsaber at last starts to glow.


You feel like you did before and you burn that scarlet letter and smile with pride.


I just hope that it lasts.


May the force be with you all.