Last weekend I had a good time. At the Urban Room in Folkestone I attended two workshops organised by The Triennial, the art event that has put Folkestone on the international map again, and of which I talked about on a previous blog post; and I also enjoyed two performances.
The Saturday afternoon workshop was Punctuate your Life! with Philip Cowell author of This Is Me, Full Stop. We discussed our punctuation likes and dislikes (I love commas, because they divide and unite at the same time), and even invented our own signs. Mine is the double semicolon. It’s to be used in very long sentence. I have the feeling it won’t catch up but I love it.
On Sunday morning I took part in the discussion (with coffee and delicious French pastry) Accentuate the Positive with Susanne Howard, founder and artistic director of the charity Living Words. After introducing ourselves and therefore letting the other participants know where our accents came from, we shared our personal views and experiences. For example, does having a posh accent still help climb the social ladder?
In the early afternoon I enjoyed the live performance of Emily Peasgood’s contemporary choral work Halfway to Heaven, created for this year’s Folkestone Triennial. If you can make it to Folkestone before the 5th November you can hear it on the installation site, the Baptist burial ground. This piece is really moving and made me shed a few tears.
In the evening I went to Something to Declare, a performance poetry on cultural identity and heritage, organised by Susanne Howard. In the freezing wind outside the Urban House our love for poetry was severely tested.
Even I, not a poet, had the chance to read one of my pieces out loud. I’m pleased to say that it was well received and now you can judge it for yourself. I’d be delighted to know your thoughts on it.
Freedom of Speech
Freedom to think, say and write
Whatever I fancied
When I was young
That’s what I expected.
As I grew up I realised, aghast,
That freedom of speech usually is
Freedom to say only what
The powerful allow me to say.
More and more our freedom of speech is curtailed.
“To keep you safe,” Mrs May says
As she comes up with Chinese ways
To put us in a cage.
Don’t say this
Don’t say that
You must be Politically Correct.
Don’t say this
Don’t say that
Otherwise spineless people
You might offend.
So now in Canada
Using the wrong pronoun
To address a person
A crime has become.
That’s why I declare
That freedom of speech
Is more important
Than you and me.
Because to find win-win solutions
In a complex world
Critical thinkers we must go for.
And to think critically
To connect the dots
Freedom of speech
Is all we’ve got.
My favourite TV/film franchise is, without any doubt, Star Trek. For over 20 years, it has given me hope in a better future and inspired me in many ways.
For example, when I found myself in managerial positions without any training and nobody to turn to for advice, I learnt from business books and from the various Star Trek captains and number ones.
When I had to deal with serious health problems, I was inspired by counsellor Troi and Doctor Crusher. Their humanity and professionalism motivated me to study Counselling Skills, attend alternative and complementary medicine courses and use the techniques I had learnt on myself, friends and family.
As a karate black belt, I liked Tasha Yar, the security chief, and was upset when she was killed off in such a stupid way. I couldn’t believe it: a main character killed off like that?
I loved watching the gadgets invented by the Star Trek writers and seeing them entering our day to day life, like laptops and mobile phones.
I loved the philosophy that underlied Star Trek.
I was intrigued by its dealing with hot social topics.
And what about the fun I had at the Star Trek conventions in London in 2012 and 2014?
In the recent years though, the franchise has changed dramatically. I found the J. J. Abrams’s first two Star Trek films enjoyable but not inspiring, and the third one with a very week ending.
Maybe it’s early to judge Star Trek Discovery, however so far I don’t find it convincing.
What really bothers me though, it’s not the poorly written screenplays. What really bothers me is that influential people in the franchise, like author and editor Larry Nemecek and Jordan, the host of The Official Star Trek Podcast, have turned the franchise into a propaganda machine for the Democratic Party.
Now, I’m not saying that that they are not entitled to voice their views. I’m saying that one thing is to remind voters of the importance of choosing a candidate that incarnates Star Trek values, another is to promote a particular candidate, and one that has shown time and time again not to incarnate those values.
I was put off by this. So much so that I stopped listening to the podcast and stopped following Nemecek on Twitter. The civil tweets I exchanged with him, whom I had the pleasure to meet in person at a convention in London in 2014, didn’t change my mind about this being inappropriate .
What’s left for a hard-core fan like me? The magazines, the books, the old series and films, and the memories. The magic is fading away.
And you dear reader, do you think there's any hope for the Star Trek franchise?