A moments silence

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.” For the Fallen – Laurence Binyon, September 1914

On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, we as a country fall silent and still as we reflect and think of those who gave their lives for our freedom today. Not just for the First World War, from which came the symbol of the poppy, but for all who sacrificed themselves during times of war. The year 2020 marks 101 years since the first two minute silence that was asked of us by King George V a year after the end of the First World War so that “the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead”. And whilst glorifying the dead isn’t for everyone and understandably so, it is important that we remember, hence Remembrance Sunday.

A well known example of commemorating the remembrance is The Unknown Soldier. On the eleventh of November, 1920, an unknown English soldier who was killed on the battlefield during the First World War was buried at Westminster Abbey, with an unknown French soldier who died in similar circumstances being buried at the Arc de Triomphe at the same time, making both graves the first commemorations of unknown soldiers during World War One.

The idea of this was originally thought of in 1916, by the Reverend David Railton, who was serving as an Army Chaplain on The Western Front at the time. He once saw a grave that was marked out by a rough cross, upon which was etched in pencil “An Unknown British Soldier”. Touched by this, four years later, he proposed an idea to the Dean of Westminster in the form of a letter; a random soldier from the battlefields in France be picked and to be buried “amongst the kings” to represent the hundreds of thousands who died for king and country. This was strongly supported by the Dean and David Lloyd George, the Prime Minister of the time.

Arrangements got underway and were overseen by Lord Curzon of Kedleston, who in committee prepared the location and the service. Various battlefields were searched for suitable remains to exhume, and on the night of the seventh of November, they were brought to the chapel at Saint-Pol-sur-Tenoise, near Arras, France. The bodies were received by  Reverend George Kendall OBE. Brigadier L.J. Wyatt and Lieutenant Colonel E.A.S. Gell of the Directorate of Graves Registration and Enquiries, who went into the chapel alone. The bodies were then placed into four plain coffins, each with the Union Flag draped over it and the officers not knowing what specific battle the bodies came from. Tasked with choosing, Brigadier Wyatt closed his eyes and placed his hand on a coffin; The Unknown Soldier. The remaining bodies were taken away by Kendall for reburying and an overnight stay awaited the coffin, ready for its journey.

The following afternoon, under guard and escorted by Kendall, it travelled from the church to the castle within the ancient citadel of Boulogne with troops lining the route it took. The castle library was appropriately decked out for the occasion, being transformed into a chapelle ardante and company from the French 8th Infantry Regiment of whom were recently awarded the Légion d’Honneur stood in an overnight vigil. Two undertakers entered the library the next morning and the coffin was placed in a casket made from the oak timbers of trees from Hampton Court Palace and banded with iron. Affixed to the top was a medieval crusader’s sword that was chosen personally by King George V and came from the Royal Collection, this was also surmounted by an iron shield bearing the inscription “A British Warrior who fell in the Great War 1914–1918 for King and Country”.

The identity of this soldier remains still unknown to this day, which I personally see to be rather fitting. Not simply because of the name, but what it represents; that it could really be anyone. A father, a brother, a son, a best friend; there was that hope that the unknown soldier was known by them, a hope that many people had, that it was someone close to them. And it is this idea that truly embodies the unknown soldier – it could be anyone and through that, it represents everyone.

Unfortunately, for many soldiers, the battle didn’t end when they left the fields and into the comfort of home again; an unknown condition was wreaking havoc with up to 20,000 soldiers by the end of the war suffering from symptoms such as blindness, deafness, being mute and even paralysis. Doctors were baffled as to what this could be; there were no physical symptoms, so surely they must be fit and healthy. In the body, yes. In the mind, not so much. It wasn’t until 1917 when Medical Officer Charles Myers coined the term ‘shell shock’ or what we now know to be PTSD. And even then, it was thought to be physical as opposed to mental, with it initially being thought to be brought about by soldiers being exposed to exploding shells whilst in the trenches.Unsurprisingly, the horrors of war and what they had gone through changed soldiers considerably, however mental health was not treated the same way back then. Nowadays, there’s doctors, therapists, support groups, medication, you name it. Back in the twentieth century though and it was a different story entirely, with it generally being seen as emotional weakness or cowardice and many soldiers were wrongly charged of insubordination, cowardice and desertion; a crime that was punishable by death.  I understand that this may be hard to believe and read, but this was at a time where men were expected to be, well, men. Emotions and mental health were not given the sympathy and understanding like in today’s modern world, it was very much ‘stiff upper lip’ and getting on with the task at hand, even if that meant being sent back into battle; clearly anything but ideal. According to an article from the BBC, many of these victims came from the Battle of the Somme, one of the largest and bloodiest battles from the war, with an estimation of 16,000 men, though it is thought by military experts to be much higher. By 1916, over 40% of casualties reported were struck with the condition and the year before saw a shortage of hospital beds due to the rising numbers. Something had to be done. County lunatic asylums and disused spas were quickly taken over and converted into hospitals to treat those with war neurosis and mental diseases and by 1918, there were over 20 of these hospitals in the UK.

Arguably, the most revolutionary of these hospitals was Newton Abbott’s Seale Hayne hospital in Devon, and this was thanks to the work of one man; Arthur Hurst, an army major who brushed away any controversy and opposition he faced with a miracle treatment that cured 90% of cases in just one session. He made the only film in existence that showcased his methods and how victims were treated in Britain, one of which was Percy Meek, a soldier almost driven mad due to a massive bombardment along the Western Front. Before being guided under Hurst’s wing, Meek was a shell of his former self; regressing to a baby like state and sitting in a wheelchair. Gradually, he recovered, gaining the physical abilities he had lost and eventually returning to normality.

Whilst we have come on in leaps and bounds with understanding and treating mental health in the past hundred years, there unfortunately is still a stigma attached, particularly with the military. People forget that whilst it’s more inclusive than ever, the military is still very much a man’s world and unfortunately, society has dictated that men should behave and act a certain way in order to fit in. Men don’t show emotion, they don’t cry, don’t show weakness, they have to be tough all the time. I do have my own opinion on this but it would literally be a page full of expletives and the higher power that is Rachel states I have to make this ‘user friendly’ if I want any chance of this appearing online. I will say this though; military or not, we are all human. And we as humans do struggle, and that’s okay. Admitting you’re struggling is a big thing, believe me, I know, I’ve been there. You’re not going to be judged for it, I can promise you, this is not how it was a hundred years ago. I understand we still have a long way to go, but if it wasn’t for these soldiers, we wouldn’t even have a future to plan.

Be good, be nice, behave and be kind,


We’re going through changes

Big Mouth said it, Bowie said it, we’re all going through changes and whilst time may change people, we can’t trace time. Yes, today’s topic is all about change and rightfully so given all that has happened in the world as well as within myself. Being autistic, change is somewhat of a bugbear of mine – I do not like it. You don’t know the plan, everything is in upheaval and your routine is changed entirely, which in itself opens up a whole new can of worms as the uncertainty creates anxiety, which turns into panic/depression and before I know it, I’m in meltdown mode and end up sleeping it off; thus throwing that day’s plans out the window and leaves me feeling no better off. That is why I rely on my bubble of comfort.

Bubble of comfort? I hear you question. What in the h-e double hockey sticks is that? It’s simple; everyone has their own bubble; an invisible one at that, but still a bubble. The personal bubble protects us from negative energy, harm and general stresses and anxiety. This can be made up of anything; friends, family, whatever you find comfort in. What’s great about it is that it’s entirely portable and can be picked and mixed up. So for me, if change does occur or I’m feeling stressed or upset, I rely on my teddies, as they’re part of my bubble. If however, I do not have access to them, I’ll find something  familiar to distract me, typically in the form of a women’s magazine and talking in a group chat I’m part of.

Whilst change isn’t for me, I still recognise its value and how important it can be. Take Pokemon for example; that is all about change. Yes, you can just keep on adding xp to your Magikarp, but if you do that all the time, then granted, you have a strong Magikarp, but at the end of the day, it’s still Magikarp, a Pokemon that’s notorious for being a bit, well…lame.  Its evolution on the other hand, Gyrados, is one of the meanest and coolest mothers in the Alolan region. Note the term ‘evolution’ and think about the comparisons with change. At the end of the day, it’s just a fancier way of saying it, but the metaphorical ideas are still there; without change and evolving, we’re just going to be stuck with Magikarp instead of Gyrados. And whilst that’s fine and if it works for you, great, but bear in mind that it may not work for everyone, myself included.

The time of year can also be attributed to change and how it can go about with it. I’m not talking seven minutes to two in the afternoon on the ninth of September 2020 exactly, but who knows. I’m more on about the season and month itself. Think about it; September is very much an evolutionary month. Students are going back to school, many for  the first time, shops are confusing us with both Halloween and Christmas stuff making us realise just how far into the year we are and the weather is both warm and cool at the same time, making it too warm for coats but too chilly for shorts and shirts. It’s an odd time to say the least. Yet saying that, it’s also exciting. Yes, the shops are way too confusing at the moment, but it reminds me that Christmas and Halloween aren’t too far off, which means my favourite time of year isn’t either. Schools are back open, albeit with a lot of adjustments, meaning we’re back on the road to normality (types the author as meet up restrictions are tightened again). As for the weather, it’s England, we’re notorious for having it be slightly off. But look on the brightside! At least Starbucks will soon have their iconic pumpkin spice lattes back. Despite there being changes, take joy and comfort in the constants; the weird unease of being both Christmas and Halloween, the relief of it finally being jumper weather, fireworks, the fact it’s getting darker more early again. This year may have changed everyone and everything, but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost.

Be good, be nice, be kind, behave,

Charlotte J

So you’re missing the cinema…

reviewer: Charlotte

Ah, the cinema. The overpriced popcorn, the slightly sticky flooring that somewhat resembles a nightclub, the hiss of pain as your eyes adjust to the harsh sunlight after being in a dark room for the best part of that afternoon, you can’t beat it. And if you’re like me, then chances are you’re typically there on the first day of new releases and are even known as a regular to the staff. That a good thing? I dunno. Back on track! Anyway, now that we’re on week four of lockdown and with little sign of it being lifted anytime soon, I’m really beginning to miss the cinema. Like, really miss it. The cinema for me, is an escape. If the bigger picture is out of my control, then I relish in what I can control, and for me, more often than not, it’s going to Odeon, flashing a card and heading on through. It’s fun, it’s easy and most of all, simple.

Does that sound like your cup of tea? If not, then I suggest finding another article, but if so, then read no further, for I will be sharing my hints, my tricks and even what films are worth watching.


World Tour is arguably the film at the moment, with it being the first in movie history to be released on demand on the same day it was meant for a theatrical release. That in itself is an achievement. With a little help from my sister, I managed to watch the film last night, with it being one of my most anticipated movies of this year, seeing how I love the first one. And I gotta say personally, I loved it. Even more than the first one. Whilst I can say the first Trolls movie is arguably better and has funnier moments, this has a more defined story, more characters and the visuals are something else completely. I have no idea what the creators were on when making this film, but I’d gladly take some in a heartbeat. Just make sure to keep two metres apart when handing it over 😉

 Another aspect I found to be enjoyable, like the last film, is its soundtrack. This time, having a range of different styles as opposed to primarily pop songs and ballads, which fits in with what the movie is trying to do. Yes, there’s some truly cheesy songs in there, but that’s part of the fun and leads to a pretty clever joke in my opinion. Though they couldn’t have done ‘Old Town Road’? Honestly, a song like that was waiting to be recorded by these guys!

 Now, it’s not perfect, but hardly any films are, but where this one falls is in the message. The message and the way it comes across, I like. What makes us different brings us together and what we’ve been taught about our history may not be what truly happened. The last one in particular I found to be mature and challenging, particularly for a kids film. But that said, it doesn’t go all the way with it, not tonally at least. The movie is way too happy and bright for a message like that to work. I admire it for sure on what it was trying to do, but it just fell a little flat in my opinion. I’d still highly recommend it though and chances are if you have kids, they’ll like it for sure. Just remember to provide them with sunglasses to protect their eyes.

Jumanji: The Next Level

Another popular film that is making the rounds at the moment is Jumanji: The Next Level. A sequel to the ‘sequel’ of the original that honestly, had no right in being as good as it is, this one follows the characters of the last film as they are once again, sucked into the video game world, albeit with a few twists…

Unlike Trolls: World Tour, this is aimed less towards younger kids and more towards families and as far as family films go, it’s decent. Is it as good as the first film? No, but it has a self-awareness about itself that honestly, comes across as refreshing. The characters (for the most part) know what to expect and watching them explain it to others who are less experienced, is rather funny. I would also argue that the humour is more for adults this time round as well. Granted, there were a few jokes like that in the first one, but these hit a whole other level for me. One in particular when Kevin Hart’s and Jack Black’s characters were being questioned made me laugh out loud when I saw it for the first time.

What I find odd about Jumanji: The Next Level though, is it’s visually more action oriented, with bigger threats and set pieces, but it doesn’t feel as big. It’s almost like a ‘been there, done that, got the shirt’ scenario. And that’s a shame, as the action scenes are really well done. I think it’s because it’s been done before and the pacing is a bit slow between them that it does get old rather quickly. That said, it is still something I’d recommend checking out, even if it’s out of curiosity or boredom.

Host your own themed night

When I was younger, whenever we had takeaway, we’d watch a film that went along with that. Mulan for Chinese, Finding Nemo for fish and chips, etc. The point I’m getting at is theming is fun and can add a whole new layer of interactivity to your evening. Instead of just watching The Greatest Showman, why not learn some circus skills to go alongside it? I’m not saying reach for the lighter fluid and burn the house down with your new found fire breathing skills, but I’m more thinking along the lines of plate spinning, juggling and even sleight of hand. Something to impress, but not endanger. For snacks, reach for the roasted peanuts, popcorn and candyfloss. Proper old circus food. And for a real good time, switch on the singalong and belt out your best ‘This is me’.

Turn your living room into a proper cinema! Popcorn, drinks, snacks and tickets can be done in the kitchen, a willing participant to stand outside and wish you a good movie watching experience, even a ‘projectionist’ to sort out the movie and any technical difficulties. You don’t need a lot to have the same outcome, just some props, some films and a whole lot of creativity!

As the saying goes, less is more, and that is certainly the case when it comes to horror. Why go all out and create a large haunted set piece with fake monsters and blood when really, a simple red balloon will send the chills down the spine even more? If it’s a horror film you want to watch, dress up, turn the lights off and remember, kiss (keep it simple, stupid).

Should the viewing party be made up of adults and if they are willing, a drinking game may be the way to go. Decide on a film together, find up a drinking game online and away you go! Perhaps make new rules, like ‘sip every time someone gets shot’ or ‘finish your drink if the dog survives’. There is endless possibility when it comes to this type of game and that is the beauty of it. If you don’t drink, substitute the beer for something else of your choosing. It doesn’t have to be alcohol, though based on my own experiences, it may make the film either more baffling or more bearable (I’m looking at you, Cats!)

I hope thistle cheer you up!

Are you lost for things to do during this covid lockdown? Well you’re in luck! Our fantastic volunteers are going out (well, technically staying in) and trialling different activities to give you the lowdown on what’s worth giving a go and what’s a colossal waste of time!                 

I reviewed: Gardening!

Writer: Charlotte
Age: 23

How much time in your day did it take up approximately?

About two hours

On a scale of 1-10 how interesting did you find it?

1= Magnolia paint drying on a particularly cold and damp day

5=Meh, not bad actually

10=Oh my goodness, what a dream, what a delight

My number score for how interesting the activity was: 6

Can you tell us why you gave this answer?

Was it just not your cup of tea, or was it really just so incredibly dull? If it was amazing, what made it so good? I’m lucky in that the days I did gardening were nice. Cos if they weren’t, I would have given a lower score. It’s not the most fun of activities for sure, but getting mud on your skin, marvelling at the worms and having an excuse to go nuts with tools (within reason of course) along with some decent listening on YouTube and it ain’t half bad. A job is done, it looks nice and you have a sense of accomplishment. 

Which of these phrases did you feel while you completed the task?
  • Why did I agree to this?
  • OK, so that kept me entertained for like 5 minutes so that’s fine
  • Better than doing nothing I guess
  • Actually, I’m warming up to this
  • It made me feel productive, so that’s a plus
  • OK, this is kind of fascinating and interesting
  • Alright, this is kinda fun!
  • I feel like I’m learning something
  • I feel really chilled out and calm right now, it’s kinda nice
Please feel free to add anything else you felt, potentially using the above as prompts:
  • *Sees ants’ nest* NOPE! NOPE, NOPE, NOPE, NOPE!
  • I am legitimately worried the ants will uprise and avenge their fallen brethren.
  • Yes, I know you see the flowers Mr Bee, but I am not finished planting yet! I’ll let you know when I am.
Would you do it again/can you do it again?


Why is this?

For example, it’s unlikely you would repeat the same e-learning course, but you may do more courses from the same provider. Alternatively, it could have been a really bad course, so you wouldn’t go back to the provider OR do the course again.

I would do it again, but perhaps take a different approach to it. I’m not the most delicate of people and unfortunately, the gardening that I took part in required a rather gentle touch. That said, anytime it requires more muscle, I’m more than happy to get stuck in! Long as there aren’t any ants’ nests involved.

Who do you think would enjoy this activity and why?

Anyone can enjoy gardening, it really doesn’t require that much thought, depending on what it is you’re doing. It truly is a relaxing hobby that can even be done if you don’t have a garden! A cactus from Wilkos, a plant pot, some soil and seeds, it can be done virtually anywhere nowadays. If it has sunlight and it’s warm, you’re good to go.

Who do you think wouldn’t enjoy this activity and why?

I would say those who are prone to being impatient, as it’s not an activity that happens right away, particularly with the growing aspect. On the other hand though, it may actually prove useful in teaching patience, or at the very least, introducing the concept of it.

Animal crossing

Are you lost for things to do during this covid lockdown? Well you’re in luck! Our fantastic volunteers are going out (well, technically staying in) and trialling different activities to give you the lowdown on what’s worth giving a go and what’s a colossal waste of time!  

I reviewed: Animal Crossing New Horizons

Writer: Charlotte
Age: 23

How much time in your day did it take up approximately?

It took: TOO MUCH TIME. But on average, I’d say around three and a half hours?

On a scale of 1-10 how interesting did you find it?

1= Magnolia paint drying on a particularly cold and damp day

5=Meh, not bad actually

10=Oh my goodness, what a dream, what a delight

My number score for how interesting the activity was: 7.5

Can you tell us why you gave this answer?

I didn’t find it all that engaging at first; you’re stuck with a tent that barely has any room and a seemingly impossible debt of 48,000 bells to a bell hungry tyrannical tanuki who may or may not be aware that he is promoting slave labour and forcing you to cough up for the luxury of working for him. However, as the days went on, I got into the swing of things and whilst yes, I am still in a rather large bell debt and am not the biggest fan of my boss, I find it’s actually enjoyable. Seeing the fish in the museum, interacting with neighbours and helping those on the island; it’s everything that can’t be done at this moment in time from the comfort of your own home.

Which of these phrases did you feel while you completed the task?

Actually, I’m warming up to this

It made me feel productive, so that’s a plus

OK, this is kind of fascinating and interesting

Alright, this is kinda fun!

Definitely nerding-out over this

This is worth my time

I’m actually having a nice time

I may have just found a new hobby

I’m actually enjoying communicating with people right now

I feel like I’m fully distracted from the whole pandemic thing (until Gabby reminded you with this prompt, sorry)

I feel safe and warm and fuzzy now

I feel really chilled out and calm right now, it’s kinda nice

I didn’t even realise how much time had passed, I enjoyed this so much

This is going to probably become part of my social distancing routine

This is probably going to be something I do in my normal life now

Please feel free to add anything else you felt, potentially using the above as prompts:

• I may or may not have seen a butterfly and wanted to catch it. Then I remember this is not a game and even if it was, that butterfly would only be worth 400 bells at the most.

  • Aaand it’s another egg.
  • Back, bunny demon! Back from whence you came!
  • *Insert expletives here*
  • Aaand it’s another carp.
  • *Hitting the rock* Why *hit* won’t *hit* you *hit* get me *hit* some clay? *hit*
Would you do it again/can you do it again?


Why is this?

It’s fun. And with how things are, this may be my only getaway this year.

Who do you think would enjoy this activity and why?

Those looking for a relaxing game that doesn’t require a whole lot of skill and stealth, or those wanting to socialise but are unable to do so. With there being less of an emphasis on skill and stealth, it’s very hard to actually go wrong or mess up in this game. Granted, things can happen that affect you, but even then, it’s done in such a way that it’s sort of okay. Got on the wrong side of some wasps? Take some medicine and you’re fine again. Rotten turnips? Least they’re not real.

Corona Virus aside, this is an excellent game for those who wish to socialise as well, but may find it hard to do so in person. Instead of talking with speech, there is the option to talk through words instead, which puts a lot of pressure off those who prefer doing their interacting through the internet and gaming. You can visit others ‘ islands or have people come visit yours, however, there is a slight catch to this. You need friends on the Switch in  order for it to work and for best results, it’s easier to choose the online option rather than the local play one.

Who do you think wouldn’t enjoy this activity and why?

For those who get easily bored and prefer more action based games, this ain’t the one for you, I’m afraid. I’ll admit I get bored as well rather easily, but I didn’t have too much of a problem with it as there’s still plenty to do on the island. That said as well, if you’re not a patient person (such as myself) then this won’t do you any favours. The whole game plays out in real time, so if a character says that something will be completed tomorrow, they mean tomorrow. Not in game mode, where tomorrow may only be an hour, but you have to wait until the next physical day. Now, there is the option of ‘time travel’ where you can adjust the console accordingly, but that is met with controversy, as some say it ruins the whole point of the game.