The 1970s was a good era: Even though we lived it behind school walls

By Jennifer Valentine-Miller

My classmates will not be remembered for being celebrities or for surviving the 1970s. The class of 1978 made a name for themselves because they loved television, music, and sports as well as their school.  School-life was filled with fun and laughter. There was always a scandal around the corner.  I stand tall and commend the good times in my life. I will never forget how we overcame barriers, stigmas and years of pain and hard labour. We step forward in order to be celebrated and step out to celebrate all we have done.

1976 – present

Why must I go to the country?

by Journalist & TV Presenter Peaches Geldof

Last Easter weekend, record-breaking numbers of us flocked to the countryside. We went seeking “fresh air and peace”, according to the English Tourist Board; a chance to “de-stress from our working lives”.
I’m sorry, but I don’t understand this. At the prospect of spending time in the country, I shudder. This feeling hasn’t grown on me gradually – I’ve always hated it. Not only is it boring but, I also genuinely believe that it slowly drives people insane.
All over Britain, teenagers in families thought lucky enough to have a rural second home are dragged off to spend “quality time” with their nearest and dearest – which means sitting for hours on end playing Scrabble, or if you’re really lucky, going to the pub for the much-anticipated Bingo night with the locals.
I’m always being asked: “Why don’t you make any friends there?” The answer is because most of the people seem to be pensioners, who want to talk about the weather or hunting. The small section of children my age are wannabe rude boys whose only topic of conversation centres on: “Innit, man. Check out dat new Gilera 180 moped with golden alloys . . . it’s da bomb, bo Selecta.” This was amusing for some time. Then it got boring – like everything else in the country.
I can see the good aspects of rural life – if you’re getting on a bit and considering retirement. Peace and quiet, friendly locals, much-needed rest and relaxation to soothe your old bones. But for us young people, it’s hell. I love London because it’s noisy, crammed with humanity and there’s always something happening. I hate the country because the only noise there is the constant hooting of wood pigeons, and the only people there are dressed in tweed jackets and want to shoot them.
Sure, the country is beautiful, there’s no denying that. But so is the city. Look at the architecture, it’s incredible. Big Ben and Buckingham Palace are surely more stimulating than a couple of trees and some ducks in a pond.
I know this might sound awful, but I was almost relieved when the foot-and-mouth crisis started. For me, and for lots of my friends, it meant more time in London doing something exciting or productive, like meeting up with friends to go shopping or out clubbing. But now the countryside is crawling with visitors taking a healthy break, inexplicably enjoying doing, absolutely nothing.
There’s something so forced about the way people talk up the countryside; all that raving about the fresh air. I always feel really drained when I leave.
Here’s a typical, “de-stressing” day: enforced trudge for two miles to a pub for lunch. Arrive with clothes covered in mud. Eat awful fish and chips off pub menu (why do all country pubs serve fish and chips?) Alternatively, hang around while adults spend three hours cooking lunch, then two hours eating it. I hate those long lunches. Afternoon, play Scrabble for two hours. Sit in the kitchen staring at the clock for another hour and-a-half. Watch Bargain Hunt on the 60-year-old television. An hour later, it’s time to feed the ducks in the stinking bog. Look at the sheep – which are there for no reason. Sit in my room watching old Disney videos until it’s time for bed. At eight, mind you.
Another question we’re asked by well-meaning parents is: “Why don’t you bring a friend?” Because no one – no one – wants to come. I remember one terrible weekend when three of my girlfriends couldn’t even bear to stay the night and left four hours later. It really is that boring.
I asked one of them why she left so early. She said that she felt like she was going mad. Understandable, as all we did was read magazines. They left when I suggested the duck pond.
Peaches Geldof wrote several witty
and thoughtful teen columns for the Telegraph

Good Childrens’ Books are still around

Little Red Riding-Hood

Little Red Riding-Hood

by Jennifer  Valentine-Miller

The Golden age saw a shift to a modern genre of children’s literature occur in the mid-19th century, as the informative qualities of a previous age began to make way for more humorous, child-oriented books, more attuned to the child’s imagination.

The availability of children’s literature greatly increased as well, as paper and printing became widely available and affordable, the population grew and literacy rates improved. Today, many parents seem to be in a huge rush for their kids to read J. K. ROWLING and Harry Potter. As soon as most children get beyond the Junie B Jones and Magic Treehouse books some parents run out and buy Harry Potter forgetting the true foundation behind the series. Even Barnes & Noble and as well, Amazon, list the Harry Potter collection as suitable for nine to twelve olds.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

When elementary school readers are given Harry Potter to read, they start the book, perhaps even making it through the second in the series and stop, deciding that they don’t like Harry Potter and generally don’t pick the rest of the series. Having seen the colourful screen adaptation, many parents seem to be in a huge rush for their children to read Harry Potter, after having decided that their young child has outgrown the colour and splendour of WALT DISNEY’S wizardry and dragons. Or is it because of the multi-million commercial aspect, parents who are confounded because every child likes Harry Potter and it is the ultimate chapter book, so why not their child? Harry Potter is much harder than most children’s and young adult (and adult) books. Not only are they very difficult to read but the books are very long and there are seven of them which is a lot for a young reader. Not only are they very difficult to read but the books are very long and there are seven of them which is a lot for a young reader. Professor Jack Zipes from the University of Minnesota asked the question, are we a childist society? – and – what role does literature play in dealing with child neglect and abandonment?

In 1883 the first Italian fantasy novel, The Adventures of Pinocchio was written, and it has since been translated many times.

Another important book of that decade was The Water-Babies, A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby, (1862), which became extremely popular in England, and has remained a classic of British children’s literature.

In Britain, The Princess and the Goblin (1872) and its sequel The Princess and Curdie, followed in 1883.

Hans Christian Anderson was a Danish author and poet who travelled through Europe and gathered in the early 19th century, many well-known Fairy Tales. He was followed by the Brothers Grimm, who preserved the traditional tales told in Germany. They were so popular in their home country that modern, realistic children’s literature began to be looked down on there. This dislike of non-traditional stories continued there until the beginning of the next century. The Grimm’s contribution to children’s literature goes beyond their collection of stories, as great as that is. As professors, they had a scholarly interest in all their stories, striving to preserve them and their variations accurately.

In 1911 the world was presented with the story of Peter Pan in the novel Peter and Wendy.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778 who argued that children should be allowed to develop naturally and joyously. His idea of appealing to children’s natural interests took hold among writers for children. His theories urged children to teach themselves. While John Locke (1693) argued children were the tabula rasa (blank slate) upon which ideas could be impressed, Rousseau countered by saying children developed at their own pace and on their own terms. Though Locke’s and Rousseau’s philosophies seem opposed, they both highlight the role of children’s books in the creation of child development.

In 1880-1881 Spyri published the two-part novel Heidi was published in Switzerland.

The Little Pretty Pocket-Book and The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes began the origins of the modern era in literature. These were Newbery’s most popular books with Good Two-Shoes widely considered as the first modern children’s book, published in 1744. It was a landmark as the first children’s publication aimed at giving enjoyment to children, containing a mixture of rhymes, picture stories and games for pleasure. Newbery believed that the play was a better enticement to children’s good behavior than physical discipline, and the child was to record his or her behavior daily. The modern children’s book emerged in mid-18th century England. The book was child–sized with a brightly coloured cover that appealed to children—something new in the publishing industry. Known as gift books, these early books became the precursors to the toy books popular in the 19th century. Newbery was also skilled at marketing this new genre.

This popular family novel, The Swiss Family Robinson in 1812, with the aim of teaching children about family values, good husbandry, the uses of the natural world and self-reliance. The book became popular across Europe after it was translated into French by Isabelle de Montolieu.

Kipling was an English short-story writer, poet, and novelist. He was born in Bombay, in the Bombay Presidency of British India, and was taken by his family to England when he was five years old. Kipling is best known for his works of fiction, including:
*The Jungle Book (1894) we read how Bagheera the Panther and Baloo the Bear had difficulty trying to convince a boy to leave the jungle for human civilization.
*Just So Stories (1902)
*Kim (1901, a tale of adventure)
*The Man Who Would Be King (1888)

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was first published in 1865 in England that signaled the change in writing style for children to an imaginative and empathetic one. Regarded as the first “English masterpiece written for children” and as a founding book in the development of fantasy literature, its publication opened the “First Golden Age” of children’s literature in Britain and Europe that continued until the early 1900s.

The “historic book” Little Women was produced in, 1868, this book was based along the fictionalized autobiography of Louisa May Alcott.

This “coming of age” story established the genre of realistic family books in the United States. Mark Twain released Tom Sawyer in 1876, and in 1880 another bestseller Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings, based on African American folk tales special adapted and compiled for a wider global audience by Joel Chandler Harris.

In 1865 the United States’ children’s publishing era entered a period of growth after the American Civil War in 1865 when boys’ – books were produced. Oliver Optic published over 100 books.

Referred to as “one of the greatest storytellers for children of the 20th century”. Among his awards are for contribution to literature, he received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 1983, and Children’s Author of the Year from the British Book Awards in 1990.
His works include James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Matilda.

Treasure Island and Kidnapped were extremely popular in the 1880s.

Tom Brown’s School Days appeared in 1857, and is considered to be the founding book in the school story tradition.

Words Pressed: A Short Biography

“Many say that words cannot express all things – Words Pressed tries to say it all with dignity. With meticulous attention and creativity I can only believe that my presentation will make a leaf become a tree and petals take the shape of a mountain.”

Currently available on Amazon

Words pressed

Words Pressed: A Short Biography “Completely one of the best publication I have actually read. Indeed, it is perform, nonetheless an interesting and amazing literature. Your lifestyle span will likely transform when you complete reading this book.” (Mrs. Agustina Kemmer V)

Words Pressed!

Picture from:

Words that are pressed vary from a message to useful information that is said in fewer words as opposed to the format laid down by its mother; the novel.  No one will be left short because Words Pressed will get to the point, after they have been ironed out and left to dry.  That way it becomes unflappable, not swaying from left to right. Compressing a subject and keeping it compact can be very gratifying in itself.  This adds to the enjoyment of creating more projects as opposed to leaving them in suspended animation. Words Pressed starts off as black and white then to my surprise after having followed the guidance that was carefully laid down, they can appear dramatically different. I named this book “Words Pressed” because my writings are for those who have the time to accept words that last forever. Words that are pressed are nothing more than the original flower  reserved and constantly watered. Words that are pressed express how I feel artistically. Many people have said that words cannot express how one feels – Words Pressed says it all. With meticulous attention and creativity I can only believe that my presentation will make a leaf become a tree and petals take the shape of a mountain.

© Jennifer Valentine (2012)

Neighbouring Essex


My post code is confusing. However, it does inform me that I live between the border of East London and Essex which is between Brentwood and Greater London. Havering for example has an Essex postcode; it is still part of London and has been since 1965. The London boroughs of Barking and Dagenham and parts of Redbridge have Essex postcodes because they would be in North East London and the reason why these areas do not have the NE postcode is because it belongs to the northern city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.  Essex is one of the Home Counties located north-east of the city of London. The reason why I am saying this is because of the jealousy and sadness I harbour.  Unlike the Greater London area Essex is a largely rural county with small market towns, traditional villages and tiny hamlets linked by quiet country lanes. The Essex countryside is a walking paradise, whether you want to cross the country from south-west to north-east using the well-known Essex Way or other smaller countryside trails or coastal walks. By road, the gateway for me would be the A12 (surely that locality is near enough to call us neighbours). It appears that in just 15 minutes I will be there in the midst of woodland trails, old historic parkland and even the occasional modern working farm. But how far do I really want to go in order to be convinced that this neighbourly county has undulating farmland interspersed with small woodlands, views that are constantly interrupted by mighty oaks and ashes presided over by (according to the encyclopaedia)  “hurrying skies”?  More so, do I need to be reminded any further  that Essex covers a density 1,230 square miles!  If I have got my purse with me then there is the large swathe of the county which is closer to London and is part of the Metropolitan Green Belt urban development; and that is Lakeside Shopping Centre.

You know when you have entered Essex because everyone has a sign. Houses haves plagued signs near to their business with a sign, there road safety signs and quality signs and if the Cat’s Eyes on the road are bright enough there are also “way out” signs. Thankfully, I am able to make my journey back in time to find that my own local town market is still opened for a bargain hunt. My intention is of course to  emulate the Asparagus and “Little Scarlet” strawberries I left behind.

An extract from the book “Words Pressed: A Short Biography” (Available on Amazon)

Copyright © Jennifer Valentine 2012

Pictures : Essex Steam Trains (1920 -1971)   Essex Market Day (2011)

Jennifer Valentine – Finding Love at that Perfect Place

by Jennifer Valentine-Miller

I am a woman (not a girl), God made me human (a living being) not a toy. I say this because as a person who has been looking for love for all the right reasons I have had my fair share of heartaches.

At school I was an ordinary child with extraordinary talents; especially when I reflect upon my sporting attributes and performing arts. I loved being at home as well as pursing my interests.  That love was developed in an environment that had loving and understanding parents. However the turning point  for me came when friends were not around to share my interests because they were developing relationships and a love life with their boyfriends.  I have always felt at the back of my mind that my time for love will come when I am at that perfect place.  So where is that place? I know a few cynics who always say don’t let your hear rule your head.  If my heart are my feelings and emotions, then why should it not rule my head? If I am at that place where I display love, affection and loyalty I believe that should be shared with approval of level headed friends. Love is one of those perfect gifts that can be can be bestowed onto anyone.  And because I am a woman, yes, I am entitled to it.  I have put aside my childish ways despite my soft spot for jelly babies. When I look up to the blues skies, is that the perfect place?  Or is it the green country place or financial stability? That perfect place has to be  where I am able to support my love.

Love is unconditional and not just based around Eros (erotica). As one of those who has experienced several failed relations am I trying to say that this perfect place is a place where there is no divorce?  If I am, then I may have to be divided because on one hand the Jewish law (Old Testament) only allows divorce if a man wants it and Christianity (New Testament) says “what God has joined together, man most not separate.”  If I am to be a bride in that perfect place then I will need to seek the groom who will nourish and cherish me as though he was nourishing and cherishing his own body.  I am told that being at that place of “love” is a wonderful experience.  There you will find no confusion over identity, and also there will be no experiences of being misunderstood!  Why do I need a groom within covenant when we all know that men and women are so different?  Hark! From the book of Hosea I hear the perfect groom say “I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, any you will acknowledge
” Although the Jewish festival Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) is a solemn day, it is also a happy day to cleanse oneself (wear white) and a day to also reach a spiritual high (celebrate).  That is why this time of the year brings out my religious side which allows my actions to sit parallel with the spiritual me.  When I am up there in the heavenly thrones feeling most royal, who do I give thanks to? Where do I go? I do hope that when I am in that eminent place I do not as in the book of Ezekiel “make for myself a high place in every street, with a beauty to be abhorred.”  The correct condition is to see myself as the low person promoted to priestess of high thinking.  Therefore, no one else needs to change their inward projection, but me.

Love is one of the strongest forces in existence.  It can move a woman to rescue her children from a burning building or man to raise a vehicle that has a crushed passenger underneath.  If I am finding it difficult finding love in that perfect place then I need to learn to appreciate God’s blessings. Why? Because he loves me.

An extract from the book “Words Pressed: A Short Biography” (Available on Amazon)