The Upright Revolution: Or Why Humans Walk Upright

What a lovely little story!


The Upright Revolution 4


Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

A long time ago humans used to walk on legs and arms, just like all the other four limbed creatures. Humans were faster than hare, leopard or rhino. Legs and arms were closer than any other organs: they had similar corresponding joints: shoulders and hips; elbows and knees; ankles and wrists; feet and hands, each ending with five toes and fingers, with nails on each toe and finger. Hands and feet had similar arrangements of their five toes and finger from the big toe and thumb to the smallest toes and pinkies. In those days the thumb was close to the other fingers, the same as the big toe. Legs and arms called each other first cousins.

They helped each other carry the body wherever it wanted to go; the market, the shops, up and down trees and mountains, anywhere that called for movement. Even in…

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WHS – We need it more now than ever

Okay so to my absolute shame I have been shockingly inactive as a Digital Advocate for the World Humanitarian Summit. However, I have been shockingly inactive at digital anything so I’m going to try to redeem myself right now.

Having just watched a video called Do Americans Know Enough About ISIS? I read a few of the comments and they were very presumptuous and generalising. The assumption was that, because said Americans didn’t know much about ISIS, they clearly didn’t care about the issues surrounding them. It’s undeniable that this is a topic subject to a lot of miscommunication, misunderstanding and stigmas but it really got me thinking. Does my knowledge on a subject validate how much I care about it? And my conclusion was absolutely not! I can’t read/watch/hear anything about wars, present or past, and not get wrapped up in a cloud of misery thinking about all the young women like me, their mothers, brothers, grandmothers, fathers, grandfathers etc and not get a little teary. I do care, I just don’t know how to help. And even if I had known what ISIS stood for (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria by the way, in case you didn’t know) would it change my opinion of them? No! If I had known the name of the leader of ISIS before watching the video would it make it any easier for me to empathise with people and help the cause? Of course not.

That fact is, this video was made in order to make Americans in general look ignorant to the cause but the fact is that these people, like me, have probably watched/read/heard news stories about ISIS/terrorism (no I am not offering that as a synonym, don’t worry) for the past 5 years or more and have become numb. It’s a human coping mechanism to shut off unpleasant information – if we all sat and thought about every horrific thing the world has gone through every single minute of every day we would all fall to pieces. Also, when were we ever told these facts? Never, because they’re not really useful when discussing ISIS’s actions unless they are directly relevant.

I am a complete over thinker. I do find it quite easy to empathise as much as I can but it’s not a skill, it’s debilitating. I take information about genocide, or even ‘just’ homicide, and I let it eat away at my mind and I have quite often broken down at the thought of that happening to me, my family or my friends. And that’s just how I react thinking about it, not actually living it. I don’t have to know facts about a school bully to know that I want them to stop hurting people and I don’t need to know facts about ISIS to care about the millions of people they are affecting daily.

I recently watched Front Line Doctors (on the BBC) and it really shook me. The refugee crisis caused by ISIS’s actions against its own people is unbelievable. The boats they travel on are an absolute joke and the people on them have paid at least 1000€ to be on it. If they’re willing to leave their lives, homes and family behind just to feel safe away from ISIS’s power and destruction then something has to be done to protect them once they’re here. Why are undocumented people not given the same rights as those who have a passport or a driver’s licence? I watched an old woman struggle through the ice and the snow just to travel to a check point where she would have to stand in a queue for hours on end, waiting to be accepted, waiting to be safe. There was a car present she could have been transported in if it weren’t for the fact that that would be considered to be people trafficking. This situation is awful and the laws surrounding it are unnecessarily tenuous. I know that it’s not as simple as “hey, come in, you’ll be safe here” but it has to be easier than this. And if it can’t be easier, it has to become more efficient and much safer for those involved.  There is no doubt that this WHS will discuss these topics in the coming months because something has to be done.

After expressing similar views in the comments section to what you have just read I received an email about WHS (I know, what a coincidence!!) And this is what it said:

Dear Digital Advocate Team,

This week we are doing a special social media campaign to spread information about Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Agenda for Humanity – his vision to overcome the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis.

The Agenda for Humanity contains 5 Core Responsibilities, 5 areas where global leaders need to take action to stop human suffering.

Every day this week we will strive to give a human face to these responsibilities and show why they are important principles in rethinking humanitarian action. 

Monday, March 21 – Core Responsibility 1: Prevent and end conflict

Tuesday, March 22 – Core Responsibility 2: Respect rules of war

Wednesday, March 23  – Core Responsibility 3: Leave no one behind

Thursday, March 24 – Core Responsibility 4: Working differently to end need

Friday, March 25 – Core Responsibility 5: Invest in humanity


Can you help us spread the word about the Agenda for Humanity and the 5 Core Responsibilities?


It should be easy! There are graphics and blog posts explaining each of the responsibilities are available here: YnuESBuF/agenda-for-humanity  and here:http://blog.worldhumanita We are trying to focus on one responsibility per day, but please feel free to adapt this schedule to your followers. And feel free to add your own thoughts about these responsibilities to your posts too!


If you follow the WHS on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram, you can also retweet/repost the information too! Thank you so much for helping us with this special campaign.


Best wishes,

The World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) Team

If, like me, you would like to have a few faces to associate with these causes then do some research! I will try to do my own research on the matter and find some case studies for each Core Responsibility. They could be activists, victims, survivors – anybody who represents that Core Responsibility.

If I manage to stick to this schedule I will have done myself proud and will also have done Ban Ki-moon proud in the process. And who doesn’t want to make that man smile?

I hope you can help me, and the WHS, to make these world-wide Core Responsibilities a little more personal. And let me know in the comments what assumptions you would like to challenge or what world problems you would like to see solved. Maybe look at the UN’s Global Goals for inspiration? Also, check out the links from the email too, reposted here for your convenience:

http://blog.worldhumanita YnuESBuF/agenda-for-humanity

Active reading,


The Little Paris Bookshop – Nina George

As one would suspect from a French novel The Little Paris Bookshop is all about love (of people and of books), sex, food, regret, adventure and gorgeous French scenery. Written mainly in the third person, but focussing on one man’s life, this novel shares the story of Jean Perdu who is going through life as a broken man with the ambition to fix everyone but himself. On his waterborne boat-cum-bookshop, Perdu uses books as a means of medicating the soul but is unable to treat himself in the same way.

Nina George’s writing in this novel is exquisite. Every sentence rolls around in the mind and soothes, touches, pains or stimulates the senses. It’s both erotically sensual and romantically sad.

We are transported back and forth between a time when Perdu indulged in the company of a married woman, whose thoughts are also documented in the occasional excerpt from her travel diary, and his present life of simply getting through each day trying to feel as few emotions as possible. Their time together appears to be exciting, bittersweet, and ultimately traumatic. If you pardon the cliché, it would only be right to deem this novel as one of the most enticing emotional rollercoasters a writer has ever taken me on and I loved every moment of it. This was one of those books that I read casually for a while (for the first few chapters) and then I suddenly found that I could not put it down as an early turn of events ensured I was hooked; I was transported on a whistle-stop tour of the French coastline upon which I encountered writer’s block, new-found friendship, the hope of big love following the loss of little love and many other lost souls who refused to lose hope.

Even as someone in a happy, long term – although long distance…sigh – relationship, I could feel the pang of Perdu’s loss. Each word expressed his emotions so vividly that I was truly affected. However, despite all this heartache, the misery Jean feels is in no way aggressive: it is an ever present force, but not impeding. It isn’t upsetting, merely moving (and I don’t mean “merely” in a negative ‘this is just about adequate’ sense, more like ‘it should be heartbreaking but it’s actually much more bearable than you would expect’). It is all very well crafted, as any book dealing with such raw emotion should be.

I would also like to point out that amid the turmoil of regret, the pang of lovesickness and erotic flashbacks there are also many funny moments. One special piece of information I have taken from this book as words of wisdom, comfort and utter joy are these: “pasta makes women bellissima“. Thank you Cuneo, thank you! May you never feel guilty again. You want that big bowl of penne? Well now you can, safe in the knowledge you will only become more beautiful the more carbs you eat. (Not that I need to change my habits now – as I buy my pasta 3kg at a time – but it’s nice to hear somebody say it’s not only okay but good feels great.)

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves fiction, food, indulgence, cats, music, and sun, or is experiencing grief, loss or writer’s block – or somebody who simply wants to be transported away from their own troubles with the hope that things can improve, no matter how long it takes.  This is one of those books I will cherish for a long, long time.

Happy reading,

Uni Life: The things you really miss, and those you learn to hate

Although this might seem rather heartless, I’ve never been one of those people to get get “homesick” and I didn’t think that would change even at University. I just tend to keep myself really busy and almost forget that I’m missing home. I’d be lying if I said I’m totally fine but I’m not as bad as I perhaps should be. However, although I have no particular attatchment to my home town or even my house I do, of course miss my family…and my cat. I absolutely miss my cat. So, I just thought I would make a list of things that I do miss, even the little things.

Things I miss the most:

  • My cat running towards me when I open a packet of tablets or go into the kitchen. Seriously, I still expect her to be there under my feet;
  • Not having the basic ingredients that have lived in the cupboard since I was like five (not the exact same packet but you get me);
  • TV: as a massive fiction fiend I desperately miss finding new films and/or shows to watch, record and play back over and over. Of course, there’s iPlayer and Netflix but it just ain’t the same;
  • The dishwasher;
  • Fridge space;
  • Freezer space;
  • Film nights with my mum;
  • Coffee trips with my dad;
  • Dad’s radom urges to go to White Rose or Meadowhall (shopping centres);
  • Not having to pay for my clothes washing;
  • The constant sarcasm from my brother;
  • My brother shouting into the Xbox at 3am;
  • My nerd cave full of books, DVDs and crafting gear;
  • Having a livingroom…or just somewhere to be other than my bedroom;
  • My family;
  • My neighbours;
  • My local bkery and its incredible blueberry muffins and egg sandwiches.

Yes there’s a lot, and maybe they’re not what you expected. However, there are also things I have learned to really hate or things that I’m just fed up with.

Things I have learned to hate:

  • Washing up. Well, to be specific, washing cutlery;
  • Deciding what to eat;
  • Absolutley any wastage of food;
  • Having to eat an entire lettuce to myself before it goes brown;
  • Opening my curtains and seeing a herse roll up the drive…or worse, a body van (I live next to a morgue now! Woo!);
  • Not having a toaster;
  • Buying my expensive lactose-free cheese;
  • Not being able to talk to my family or my boyfriend as often as I would normally;
  • Missing out on seeing extended family;
  • Having to carry a tonne of food home when I’m too small to let the bag just hand by my side…even when I’m in heels;
  • Having to pay for my own food;
  • Buying food that costs over £1 from Lidl (that one may seem weird but I’m not the only one);
  • Not knowing how to use a storage heater and melting each time I walk in the door;
  • Having only people of my own age arounf me (I don’t hate this but it’s becoming quite strange);
  • Having an irregular timetable;
  • The amount of homeless people in Edinburgh. 😦

Some things on these lists are specific to my own experience but there are others to which you could relate, I’m sure. I thought I would share this with you guys because I personally wasn’t sure what to expect. My new friends and I have all come to realise that University is most weird due to the living conditions: you end up spending as much time with people you have never met as you would do with your own family…if not, more because you spend the day together as well; not just after school and weekends. It’s really odd, but it’s growing on me.

Just rememeber, there’s no right way to do this Uni stuff. You are much more likely to miss the little things than the things you would expect to miss. There’s a learning curve which is different for everyone. Just enjoy it! That’s what I’m doing!!

As ever, happy reading,

Carenza x

Posts to expect in the (hopefully) near future:

Halloween in Edinburgh, Going Back Home for the First Time, Jane Eyre and Why I Waited So Long, York Christmas Market, Edinburgh Christmas, Christmas in Edinburgh and a few reviews along the way!

Cloud Nine – Caryl Churchil

I would just like to begin by apologising for my recent absence and lack of posts but there is a very good reason: I MADE IT TO UNI!! That’s right, I made it to The University of Edinburgh to Study Scandinavian Studies and English Literature. I’ve just been so busy with packing, moving, seeing family, studying and (if I’m perfectly honest) drinking and, thus, I have neglected my blog. However, that is all about to change right now:

One of the texts I am going to study this year is a play by Caryl Churchill called Cloud Nine and, honestly, I am  obsessed. It is so, so clever, so vulgar, so brilliant that I am sad it wasn’t in my life before hand. If you’re a fan of  the Glorious Oscar Wilde you will certainly love a bit of Churchill. Think The Importance of Being Earnest amplified freely by the loose boundaries of the 1970’s and you have yourself one fine play.

I think one of the most interesting things about this play is the complete reversal of gender and racial roles. The first act is based in a section of Victorian ruled Africa which is where we meet one family, of high standing and wealth, going  about their normal, Empire-driven lives full of misogyny, racism and colonialisation. I think one of the most striking and refreshing things about this play is the casting. In the first scene Clive, the man of the household, introduces his family. First of all, he introduces his wife, Betty, who is played by a man (much like Lady Bracknell in some renditions of The Importance of being Earnest). He then goes on to introduce his son Edward, who is played by a girl, and his servant, Joshua, who is played by a white man, even though he is black. Don’t worry, these points are not brushed over in the play at all as these three characters really struggle with their identities. However, the struggle is not so much self-inflicted as it is enforced by Clive, who represents Society, as a labyrinth of social expectations, stereotypes and contradictions. There are many, many issues addressed about sexuality, gender, stereotypes, the Empire and acceptance. Caryl Churchill expresses in her preface that their goal was to highlight the parallels between the oppression of women with the oppression of Africans during the Victorian era and beyond.

The second act, bizarrely, is set 100 years afterwards, but only 25 years have passed for the characters. In this act the relationships amongst the family grow to become very strange. I shan’t ruin it for you but just prepare yourself for some incest. It starts with a monologue by a man named Gerry (normally played by the same man who plays Joshua in act 1) about his experiences with other men  trains and how little he wants them to talk. This character is very interesting as he speaks about being gay as a way of avoiding all the “annoyances” wives have to offer. He sees women as a border and sees men in the same way if they become to loving. It turns out that the man he is speaking about (one he talks about who doesn’t really say much) happens to be Edward. This act also introduces Victoria, Edwars sister and Betty’s daughter, who was played by a doll in the first act. In the second act she is shown to be very well-read, very intelligent and rather bad at marriage in a modern world. Her husband, whom she is divorcing, is far too understanding of her wanting a new life with a job in Manchester and seizes it as an opportunity to talk and talk and talk about all the casual sex he’s been having with his lady friends. My theory about Martin (her husband) is that he is the man Gerry complains about speaking too much because, seriously, his speeches are looooong! Unfortunately, this is never confirmed but I just thought I’d throw it in there.

I would totally recomend this play to anyone who’s into Wilde or literature in general because it is spledidly dripping in things to analyse and apreciate and I cannot wait to study it properly!

Anyway, I’m definitely going to try to get back into blogging as I think I had just about got the hang of it and then BOOM life changing event occurred. So yeah, expect more from me in the coming months…if I’m not inundated with essays and more socialising than my introverted teen years prepared me for.

Happy reading,

Carenza x

The ABC Murders – Agatha Christie

If anybody read my previous Christie review of And The There Were None, then you know that this one will also be absolutely glowing!

As expected, The ABC Murders was not only gripping but intensely clever. Christie’s mind was a cave full to the brim with dastardly plots, I tell you. I think what I’ve found, though, is that she didn’t come up with many ways of killing people…just how to hide that you did it at all! Which, to be honest, is much more entertaining than some kind of extravagant method of murder – in my opinion anyway. So, this mysterious “ABC” has written a letter to the famous H. Poirot to inform him of a murder which is about to take place in Andover on a specific date. At first it is written off as a silly prank but then, on the selected date in the selected place, a Mrs. Alice A- (I would check the name but I lent the book to a friend) is murdered in her own shop! Suddenly, the letter doesn’t seem so silly. The only issue then is that they have no way of knowing where the next strike will be…Bath, Buxton, Belfast, Brighton…nobody knows but Mr. ABC himself. They will only know where to look once the next letter arrives.

As ever, this book is wonderfully written. Some of the more old-fashioned turns of phrase throw me a bit and I have to read them like two or three times but that’s okay, it’s not exactly a problem. It’s just a little difficult when all the words are basically backwards in comparison to how they would be written nowadays. It’s very Latin! Like, sometimes the adjective will come after the noun, and not just when Poirot is speaking! That would make much more sense.

If you like crime novels then Christie, the Queen of Crime, is the lady for you. Next on my reading list (whilst I’m on holiday in France) are The Orient Express, The Mystery of the Blue Train and, if I’m a really speedy book-worm, The Clocks. 

I may have to join an AAA meeting for Agatha Addicts Anonymous or something…it’s a true addiction, I just can’t get enough of them! As you’re reading this I’m probably in a French swimming pool or cafe where I will be reading more than my brain can take. Then, I’ll come home and get my A Level results and I’ll probably cry and get hammered and lose all possible reading ability…so, I better get reading while I still can and so should you! Oh, and prepare for lots of photies of France.

Happy reading and happy holidays, wherever you may be,

Carenza x