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.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Pretty Vacant By Holly Searle




In 1977, I became a teenager.

I was a pretty shy and retiring one at that. I was painfully self-conscious about all the changes that were taking place to my body and the transition between being a child and those years crossing the bridge, on my way to becoming an adult, were scary with no clear signposting to assist me on my journey.

This year, my son will hit the same marker in his life.

This got me to thinking about how different the culture he abides in is, and how much more demanding and unrelenting it appears to be in relation to the one that my rite of passage into adulthood evolved within.

It almost seems as if the culture we all live in now, combines an unapologetic helping of trash with a dollop of sophisticated technology, but, that it is devoid of the milk of human kindness. One that might offer a much needed cuddle every now and then, to those whom may find it all a little stressful to deal with and adhere too.

I feel both impressed with his good fortune to be a child of modernity, whilst incredibly sadden, that there appears to be something missing, something lost. An innocence and a creativity, that would be more suited to his personality, but one that he will somehow never know ever existed in the same way it did for me.

When I was a child, I was very much one. I spent my days, riding my bike, hanging out with my friends, still playing with my dolls (and was quite ashamed of doing so), listening and taping the top twenty off of the radio on a Sunday evening, and watching one of only three television channels.

I invented things and used my initiative to occupy my mind. It wasn't a necessity, it was a pleasure.

Times were simple, but then again, they were far more advanced than they had been for my parent's generation, or for my grandparent's before them.

Seems odd to think about that now, in these racy modern times that we live in.

We didn't have labels that made us who we were, we crafted who we were out of what we had. We created ourselves, and we weren't invented by the shallow ideals of ad men, whose didactic boardroom concepts, would soon start to dominate our identity of who they thought we should be, and of whom they thought we should be like.

I had grown up on a diet of a weekly subscription to The Bunty, Marvel and Whizzer and Chips comics. A cocktail of girly garb, mixed with a healthy dash of fantasy, combined with a smidgen of cheeky comic humour.

Pop stars were older than they are now. It was a rarity to see some singing poppet reach the top of the charts and claim an army of followers the way they do today. If they did, they were usually the product of Opportunity Knocks or New Faces, that soon faded into obscurity, rather than checking in to The Priory or The Betty Ford Clinic to purge themselves of some addiction that was brought about by their life in the spotlight.

My only sin of idolatry for these pop stars, were the one or two posters that I may have discovered within the pages of the odd copy of Jackie that I bought.

I soon discovered that I was not a magazine type of girl, and ditch them as an option for things that I felt worthy of spending my pocket money on.

Then in the summer of 1977, The Sex Pistols delivered punk into our lives and we all boarded a bus to an alternative destination that shook the very foundation of society.

They weren't the by product of a Hughie Green hosted show, but rather a backlash against the prime time produced popularity and the safe choices of his viewers.

I was terrified of their anger, but refreshed by it, as they heralded a new wave of music, bands and performers that were real, by the same token that Bob Dylan must have been for my parents.

Out of that culture of new wave music came the affirmation of individualism, and that was so good and inspirational. And freed us from mediocrity and underlined our lone creativity of ourselves, by ourselves.

But something has happened to all that, and this is one of the issues I worry about for all of those that will turn 13 this year.

Mediocrity it appears is king.

And I frown and scratch my head in wonder and dismay of how this could possibly have happened given the popular cultural gems that we have produced, but that have sadly been drown in a shallow puddle of the celebrity and reality culture that has taken over our society today.

And it is everywhere, like a mind altering virus without a cure.

The shallow unashamed and marketed to the hilt, label wearing, surgically enhanced, entourage accompanied soulless pack of beings, that have replaced the necessity of the mother of inventiveness that my generation proudly produced.

Kids today are identified by what they have, and sadly, not because of who they choose to be.

They are consumed by and idolise those that live in an unattainable reality to theirs. They are encouraged to objectify these idols of trash via weekly reality television shows, and then given the option to ridicule them via the covers of magazines.

It is truly horrible and ironically pretty vacant on so many levels of comprehension that it makes me want to weep.

I don't believe illusions
'cos too much is real
So stop your cheap comment
'cos we know what we feel

I'll definitely be giving my son a Clash album and an introduction to The Sex Pistols this year, as well as explaining that the only Kardashians he need ever know about, are the ones that feature in episodes of Star Trek.


Thursday, 23 May 2013

The Evil That Men Do By Holly Searle




Let's face it, it's a given isn't it, that we live, and probably always will do, in a society, and sadly a world, that is, and always will be, dominated by a patriarchal ideology.

Whilst I do not accept this, I have at times, had no choice in the matter, other than to admit, that it is probably true, and despite the attempted changes, the accepted norm that we all adhere too.

And whilst, I would not consider myself to be a feminist, as I dislike monikers that group individuals and mark them, with all due respect, as belonging to a single minded collective consciousness. I would have to admit, that I find that I am one by default, simply due to the fact that I was born a woman.

And as such, there is no escaping the fact, that as a woman, I am one, that lives and functions in this ideology as best I can, regardless of the man made walls and attitudes that I have encountered and have come in to contact with all throughout my life.

Having said that, I used to feel a bit sorry for all the men that grew up in a post feminist ideology, as I felt that it had messed with what their concept of what their generic social role model was, and who they were meant to be and how they were meant to behaviour. Especially as I will admit that I quite like a man who will adopt an air of masculine social etiquette and as such, will still open a door for you, or give up his seat.

However, I am of the opinion that now more than ever, that as these generic lines have became so blurred, that they are now lost forever in a torrid sea of Hemingway angst. And I realise that all of factors that have contributed to and have influenced modern man's social behaviour, the one that is most to blame is in all probability derived from, and due to his bringing.

Of course it is, I hear you all scream.

It's that old nature versus nurture chestnut, isn't it?

But is it?

And one of the aspects about man's behaviour that intrigues me more than any other, is his capacity to be evil, and to be able to consistency carry out such horrific crimes that demonstrate the heart of this very nature, or nurture. Whilst women on the other hand, do not seem to be that way inclined, or as affected. And regardless of her social limitations, she appears to have held fast and remained steadfast in her role, without exhibiting the same nasty traits.

It is an unacceptable pattern of behaviour that I find most unforgiving.

Everyday it seems, we had bombarded with stories, news reports, footage and images of pure unremitting acts of evil by men.

Why is that I wonder?

Why are men capable of being evil, when women are not?

Personally I think this all may have started with the oldest tale that was ever told, the story of creation.

In the Bible (which I hold no allegiance with, or belief in), it is Adam who is created first in his maker's image. Then old Eve is fashioned as a by product out of one of his ribs, as an afterthought, to keep him company.

Charming.

So there they both were naked with no conscious thoughts between them in the Garden of Eden, when a snake arrives and happens to mention that there is a tree with quite nice fruit on it.

Eve tells the snake that they aren't allowed to eat from this tree, but the snake plants the notion in her mind that he thought that they were allowed to eat whatever they wanted, Adam then duly helps himself.

Before you know it, they realise they are naked, cover themselves up, and are in big trouble with their creator.

This is what is more commonly know as Original Sin and man's rebellion against his maker's house rules, which in turn lead to all of humanity being cursed thereafter because of his actions.

One apple from the Tree of Life, and they were banished to the wilderness forever, where they produced two sons; Cain and then Abel. Cain kills his brother and became the first human ever born to commit murder and the very first act of evil.

Although this is an apocryphal story, it is one that has established an inherent genealogy of an immoral code of practice and wicked deeds attributed to men and not women.

And I wonder if this creationist take on mankind’s evolution, was responsible for some sort of inbred social stain, as throughout history, and well on into modernity, we have witnessed many evil acts, a majority of which have been propagated by men.

Then again, if that doesn't answer the question as to why men are more capable of committing evil acts, maybe the new train of thought with regards to trying to determine the existence of an evil gene is.

Is that possible?

Some geneticists believe that it is, and that there may be a mutation or abnormality in some men, that may explain why they are more predisposed to aggressive behaviour than others.

And if there was a test that could determine it's existence what next? Will we all be tested pre birth and tattooed with a barcode to prevent further evil acts being committed?

Of course, not all men are evil, but it is a given that the most heinous acts are or have been monopolised by men who are evil.

Ask yourself this question. How many women have been responsible for acts of pure unremitting evil?

A handful, that is how many.

Now ask yourself how many men there have been?

Makes you think doesn't it?

All I know is this.

The difference between men and women, is that although women have the capacity to be spiteful, it appears, and is accepted, that men are the gender most capable and predisposed to commit acts of evil.

And I doubt that this will ever change. And I have no idea why that is or how or if that will ever change.

And although as a woman, I may have been affected in my life due to my gender, I am glad that I am not a man.

For the evil that men do, makes women weep with both deep sadness, and joy.

And probably always will.

Bring your sons up well, and teach them all to be better men.


Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The Murphy Effect By Holly Searle




After my parents had split up, my two brothers and I had quite a few adjustments to make. Mostly emotional ones as it was a pretty big deal for us, having to sort that all out at such impressionable ages.

We had all of the usual growing up angsty type stuff of deal with like school, establishing friendships, and well, just growing up really to contend with, when into our lives he came.

From the very start we adopted the stance of nasty horrible children in our attitude towards him. He was from Northern Ireland, and our only small minded response to this was to call him Kerrygold behind his back.

What rebels we were.

Of course in retrospect, if he arrived now, I doubt he would be welcomed by such an innocent retort, judging by the sort of language I hear sprouted from the mouths of contemporary babes on a daily basis these days.

But we meant business.

Who was he anyway?

He wasn't our Dad, he was just some young fella who had arrived in our lives and our home.

He wasn't even that much older than me. He was only nine years my senior and 16 years younger than our Mum.

Good God, what would our friends say?

Those early years were pretty tough for us all after Dessie Murphy arrived in our lives.

It wasn't our fault or his. We all just happened to catch the same high speed train from the same station at the same time.

During those early years, it was a pretty high speed train ride that clanked about on its rails, and more often than not, overshot a few of its designated stops.

He was trying to settle in and we were trying to form our own characters in the wake of our parent's divorce.

But after the dust began to settle, and we all started to get use to each other, something rather nice started to grow.

I can't speak for my brothers, but I can speak for myself, and I know that if it hadn't been for Dessie, I would never have read the books that I did, be interested in the films that I was and am, or listened to the type of music that I did, and still do.

He might not have been our Dad, but he was a pretty damn good substitute, who became my own personal ambassador of popular culture, and, well, a sort of Guru really.

He was a tad eccentric as well as being full of whimsical notions. He knew about stuff that your Mum and Dad would have never have known, and more importantly, knew how to share it with you so that it sounded cool and interesting.

He knew about films that no one else knew about and suggested we watch them. He knew all about music and could play several instruments.

We used to enjoy a good sing song he and I. Early Beatles numbers mostly.

He once sound proofed a cupboard in our home, in which he would disappear with his saxophone, then out of which jazzy tunes would leak and fill the void.

He wasn't particular serious, but he had a good point of view of the world.

And he was great at offering advice and offering encouragement and praise.

And most importantly of all, he meant it.

And, he was funny, and had a hilarious take on the world and this was always captured perfectly within the sound of his laughter.

None of our friends had a Step Dad like ours. He made us cool.

And I can honestly say, that my life is much richer for having him in it.

He is a decent human being with a heart of pure gold.

Some people you meet in your life are just special like that aren't they, and I don't know what my brothers and I would have done without him in ours.

And yes, he wasn't perfect, and has had his own issues to deal with over the years since he was part of our formative ones, but I doubt that there are that many humans that actually are, or who haven't.

He is one of the best people I know and I love him dearly.

His most recent thing is his fascination with The Killing and his desire to own a Norwegian styled sweater in its honour.

But most of all, and the best bit about him, was and is, that he was partly responsible for creating my both immense in stature, and blessed youngest brother Tom.

They say that ever cloud has a silver lining and Kerrygold was and remains ours.