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Canada  Berryman  
 
Writing  Portfolio  2014  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Various  examples  demonstrating  ability  and  
style,  including  both  formal  and  informal  texts  
such  as  articles,  essays,  blog  posts  and  
university  assignments.  
     
 
 
 
 
 
-­‐  An  online  version  of  this  portfolio  is  available    @    
www.diaryofamediagirl.wordpress.com

The  following  essay  is  a  submission  from  my  degree  course,  
specifically  the  ‘Horror’  Film  Unit.  The  essay  was  awarded  a  
first,  and  the  highest  mark  of  the  group.  
Discuss  how  the  monster  is  monstrous?  
How   evil   is   pure   evil?   What   differentiates   a   bad   guy,   a   villain   and   a   true  
monster?Monstrosity   within   horror   film   is   a   widely   discussed   topic;   this   essay   will  
investigate  the  monster  in  Creep  (2004)  and  what  it  is  that  makes  it  'monstrous'.  After  a  
definition   of   the   term,   and   a   brief   plot   summary,   the   essay   will   use   the   notion   of   Freud's  
'uncanny'  to  identify  how  the  film  firstly  fits  into  the  horror  genre,  and  why  this  monster  
is  in  fact  monstrous.  It  will  then  use  the  ideas  put  forward  by  Barbara  Creed  on  both  the  
male   as   a   monster,   particularly   a   'womb-­‐invader'   and   then   Judith   Halberstam's  
transformative   male.   The   film   includes   elements   of   cannibalism,   and   with   the   ideas   of  
David   J.   Skal,   the   essay   identifies   how   the   monster   associates   with   animals   and   has  
evolutionarily   regressed   to   survive.   It   will   then   identify   the   use   of   setting   to   create  
'monstrosity'   and   compare   Creep   with   a   similar   text.   Lastly   the   essay   will   identify   the  
ambiguity   created   around   this   particular   'monster';   the   differences   in   production  
between   'pre   and   post-­‐reveal'   and   how   certain   emotions   displayed   by   characters   can  
affect  or  change  exactly  how  'monstrous'  the  monster  within  this  text  can  be.    
Oxford   definitions   of   'monster'   and   'monstrosity'   vary   greatly;   evil,   ugly,  
unsightly  and  frightening  are  all  coined  together  for  a  word  that  can  be  either  adjective  
or  noun  –  overall,  it  is  not  a  pleasant  term.  Describing  anything  from  people,  to  buildings  
or   inanimate   objects,   within   horror   film   the   term   becomes   more   specific;   a   term   for  
other  worldly  beings  –  all  of  which  are  a  threat  to  humans,  something  to  be  feared.  To  
differentiate   between   your   average   villain   and   a   true   monster,   Peter   Hutchings  
identifies   that   although  both   are   dangerous,   monsters  must   be   'impure'   and  'unnatural'.  
Simply  being  'evil'  and  causing  harm  is  not  enough;  “Monsters  must  blur  or  undermine  
distinctions   between   categories   such   as   the   living   and   the   dead”   (2004,   35).   Whether  
these   lines   be   through   physical   abnormalities,   such   as   human   bodies   with   'monstrous'  
qualities:   the   undead,   witches/Werewolves,   vampires,   or   through   the   notion   of   the  
paranormal:   ghosts,   possessions,   hauntings;   a   monster   does   not   necessarily   have   a  
physical   'form'   to   pose   threa.   The   undead   and   zombies   are   a   fitting   example   of   this  
boundary   transgression;   they   defy   the   natural   categories   of   living   and   dead,   and   survive  
against   the   laws   of   humanity.   An   fitting   example   of   a     monster   with   a   part   'human'   form  
is  the  2004  release,  Creep.  
Set  in  modern  day  London,  Creep  is  the  story  of  a  glamorous  young  girl  named  
Kate,   who   after   a   party   falls   asleep   at   Charing   Cross   station;   she   is   locked   in   the  
Underground   for   the   duration   of   the   night.   After   boarding   an   empty   tube,   and   being  
harassed  by  a  co-­‐worker  who  had  followed  her,  Kate  is  saved  from  the  incident  as  he  is  
ripped  from  the  carriage  by  an  unseen  attacker.  She  flees  the  train  and  meets  a  homeless  
couple,  Jimmy  and  Mandy,  who  for  a  fee  agree  to  help  her  get  out  the  station.  The  three  
are  then  stalked  by  a  killer,  who  captures  or  kills  each  of  them  in  turn  as  they  negotiate  
the   dark   maze   of   underground   tunnels.   Kate,   having   ended   up   in   a   cage   submerged   in  
dirty   water,   breaks   free   and   discovers   an   abandoned   backstreet   abortion   clinic;  
complete   with   gynaecologists   chair,   shelves   of   surgical   equipment   and   jars   filled   with  
foetuses.   As   she   escapes,   the   killer   performs   a   procedure   on   a   dying   Mandy,   and  
eventually   chases   after   Kate.   The   killer   is   revealed   to   be   'Craig',   a   hideously   deformed  
survivor  of  this  clinic,  who  has  grown  up  and  'evolved'  to  live  under  the  stations,  living  
among   the   rats   and   feeding   on   human  flesh.  They  fight,  and  Kate  manages  to  stab  'Craig'  
in  the  neck,  killing  him.  The  film  reaches  a  sort  of  re-­‐equilibrium  with  her  curled  up  on  
the   station   platform,   filthy   and   bedraggled;   a   passerby   mistakes   her   for   a   homeless  
person  and  drops  change  into  her  lap.  

There   are   many   elements   within   the   text   which   define   Creep   as   'monstrous'.  
Freud's   notion   of   'the   uncanny'   was   the   feeling   of   something   being   present,   when   one   is  
not   sure   something   is   actually   there;   feeling   familiar   and   foreign   at   the   same   time.   To  
what   arouses   'dread   and   horror',   yet   not   in   a   'clearly   definable   sense'   (1995,   339).  
Throughout  the  first  half  of  the  film,  leading  up  to  the  reveal,  the  emphasis  is  placed  on  
the   mystery;   what's   lurking   in   the   shadows,   flashes   and   quick   glances   of   some  
threatening   presence.     “In   order   to   generate   suspense   and   a   sense   of   the   uncanny,   an  
effective   horror   film   does   not   immediately   put   the   monster   on   full   display;   instead   it  
offers  a  fleeting  glimpse”  Creed  (2005,  ix).  Creep  lends  to  the  spectator  Kate's  feeling  of  
being   watched,   by   eyes   that   are   not   necessarily   there,   or   stalked   by   an   invisible  
'uncanny'   hunter.   Fred   Schelling   termed   the   uncanny   as   “the   name   for   everything   that  
ought  to  have  remained...  secret  and  hidden  but  has  come  to  light”  (Creed,  2005;  ix)  and,  
for   the   first   half   of   the   film,   this   is   very   apt.   Even   the   title   suggests   the   uncanny,   the   idea  
that  something  is  'creeping'  up  on  you.    
 
When   deconstructing   Creep   as   a   monster,   Barbara   Creed's   ideas   on   the  
monstrous   male   can   be   instructive   and   insightful;   “traditional   approaches   to   the   male  
monster  have  tended  to  focus  on  his  image  as  terrifying  because  of  it's  association  with  
castration,  dismemberment  and  death”  (Creed,  2005,  vii).  Within  the  film,  we  see  Creep  
don  surgical  clothing  and  carry  out  a  procedure  on  a  pregnant  Mandy.  Creep  can  be  seen  
as  a  'transformative'  monster,  moving  from  the  deformed,  undead  creature  to  the  mad-­‐
doctor;   he   eerily   holds   his   hands   under   a   disused   tap   and   'washes'   them   over   a   dry,  
filthy   sink.   Creed   stated   “We   see   a   number   of   transformative   monsters   attempt   to   usurp  
the  powers  of  the  womb.  The  male  monster's  association  with  the  womb  demonstrates  a  
powerful  instance  of  the  workings  of  the  primal  uncanny”  (2005,  xiii);  this  is  working  on  
both  a  literal  and  a  metaphorical  level,  Creep  is  a  threat  to  woman  and  child,  castrating  
and   killing   both   in   a   fatal   act   of   genital   mutilation.   This   particular   scene   is   a   fitting  
example   of   “the   mad   doctor   or   womb-­‐monster,   who   has   debased   the   ancient   ritual   of  
couvade”   (2005,   xii)   -­‐   instead   of   doing   nothing,   keeping   back   and   letting   nature   take   it's  
course,  Creep  has  done  the  exact  opposite,  and  in  doing  so,  become  a  monster.  It  is  also  a  
common   element   of   horror   films   to   juxtapose   dark   subject   matter,   such   as   abortion,  
genital   mutilation   and   castration,   with   tentative   topics   going   hand-­‐in-­‐hand.   “Horror  
promotes   emotional   catharsis   in   audiences”   (Schneider,   1999)   it   is   a   physical   genre,  
with   monsters   promoting   a   body   reaction,   crying,   adrenaline,   screaming;   a   purge   or  
release  of  these  emotions  through  a  mixture  of  disturbing  and  dark  topics.    
 
Another   element   of   the   'monstrous'   identified   by   scholars,   is   cannibalism.   Again,  
defying  nature  and  social  laws,  David  J.  Skal  stated  “The  cannibal  violently  asserts  itself  
as   a   dysfunctional   image   of   human   connectedness”   (1993,   372).   It   is   revealed   to   Kate  
when   trapped   in   a   partially   submerged   cage,   that   she   is   being   stored   as   food.   Having  
developed   underground,   alone   and   deformed,   Creep   has   evolved   to   survive   on   human  
flesh,  feeding  both  himself  and  the  rats  he  lives  with.  “Cannibalism  represents  the  most  
primal   kind   of   assimilation   and   inclusion   imaginable”   (1993,   372),   Creep's   only  
contact/connection  with  humans  are  the  vulnerable  bodies:  homeless  persons,  drunks,  
which  he  has  snatched  from  platforms  late  at  night  to  feed  (or  operate!)  upon.  Creep  is  
again,   blurring   the   lines,   disturbing   and   transgressing   categories   and   boundaries  
between  human  and  non-­‐human;  it  appears  he  is  more  connected  to  the  rats  around  him  
that  his  victims  begging  for  mercy.    
This   is   the   next   factor   which   makes   Creep   even   more   monstrous:   his  
identification   with   the   rats   of   the   underground.   We   see   them   follow   him   around   in   a  
dark,   Pied-­‐Piper-­‐esque   fashion;   repulsing   the   other   characters   and   signifying   his  
presence   to   the   spectator.   He   feeds   them,   and   communicates   with   them   through   high  
pitched  screeches;  he  does  not  speak  English  and  appears  unable  to  communicate  with  
humans.   In   the   final   scenes,   he   begs   with   Kate   to   spare   his   life   and   she   softens,   letting  
him   go   once   more,   however   Creep   is   simply   echoing   the   words   of   Mandy,   his   earlier  
victim,   in   a   clever,   copy-­‐cat   mechanism   to   appeal   to   Kate's   'humane'   nature.   It   is   this  

scene  that  Creep  is  at  his  most  'creepy';  a  hideously  deformed,  pale  human  face  begging  
for   mercy   and   manipulating   the   English   language   for   his   benefit.   Linnie   Black   stated  
“Creep   would   illustrate   how   closely   related   we   all   are   to   blind,   cannibalistic   and  
evolutionally  regressive  subterraneans”  (Allmer,  Brick  &  Huxley,  2012:  80);  it  is  the  
notion   that   Creep   has   'regressed'   in   order   to   survive   which   differentiates   him   as   a  
species.   However   we   see   him   outsmart   all   the   humans   (bar   survivor   Kate)   he  
encounters  throughout  the  film,  plus  countless  more  throughout  his  lifetime;  aiding  his  
survival,  and  that  of  the  rats,  a  species  considered  the  lowest  of  the  low,  at  the  expense  
of  the  human  race.    
This  element  of  monstrosity,  this  evolutionary  'regression,  is  interesting  as  it  can  
be   likened   with   monsters   in   other   texts.   Creep   is   monstrous   because   he   has   defied  
biological   norms   and   survived   against   nature;   similar   to   the   monsters   depicted   in   The  
Descent   (2005).   The   Descent   features   a   group   of   monsters   that   have   flourished  
underground;  similar  to  Creep  they  are  pale,  subterranean  creatures  feeding  on  humans  
that   wander   into   their   path.   Unlike   Creep,   they   appear   to   be   much   developed,   having  
bred   and   formed   their   own   horrific   species,   dwelling   in   a   cave   in   the   US   wilderness   –  
they  are  more  animalistic,  more  creature  rather  than  human.  “The  same  source  material  
may   be   reinterpreted   for   different   national   cultures   and   contexts”   (Hand   and   McRoy,  
2007:   1);   in   these   two   films   the   spectator   is   exposed   to,   physically,   a   very   similar  
monster,   and   it   is   the   context   and   setting   which   varies.   Judith   Halberstam   argues   that  
“the  representation  of  the  monstrous  body...  'that  scares  and  appals,  changes  over  time,  
as   do   the   individual   characteristics   that   add   up   to   monstrosity,   as   do   the   preferred  
interpretations   of   monstrosity”   (Creed,   2005:   8).   Creep   uses   the   setting   of   the   London  
Underground  in  an  effective  way;  the  juxtaposition  between  the  mundane  setting  of  the  
tube  platforms,  the  flickering  fluorescent  lights  and  sparse  white  tiles,  next  to  the  dank,  
filthy,  sewer  systems  and  disused  chambers  and  tunnels  that  Creep  negotiates  with  such  
ease.   The   realism   put   into   the   mise-­‐en-­‐scene,   much   of   the   film   was   shot   on   location  
overnight,   has   great   effect   in   making   Creep   all   the   more   monstrous;   the   average  
commuter   would   have   no   idea   what   truly   lies   below   their   feet   when   standing   in   Charing  
Cross  Station.    
The  recognisable  settings,  such  as  each  of  the  stations,  and  the  familiarity  of  the  
situations  such  as  taking  the  tube,  lend  to  the  film  in  that  it  needs  less  explanation.  David  
Pirie   identifies   “...just   how   little   exposition   and   explanation   horror   seems   to   want   or  
need   these   days”   (2009,   218);   in   a   genre   where   the   spectator   is   exposed   to   just   about  
every   horrific   or   murderous   possibility   imaginable,   a   deformed,   sub-­‐human   killer  
lurking  underground  is  feasible  to  an  audience  constantly  in  want  of  shocking.  It  is  the  
climax   of   the   film   which   leaves   a   fair   amount   of   unanswered   questions,   with   a   few   hints  
of   a   deeper   back   story   being   introduced   yet   not   fully   explained,   and   it   here   where  
Creeps'  monstrosity  becomes  questionable.    
During   the   last   few   scenes,   and   after   Kate   discovers   the   underground   hospital  
area,   the   spectator   is   introduced   to   Creep   as   Craig.   After   finding   a   labelled   cot,   and  
several  old  photographs  of  a  young  deformed  boy  named  Craig,  in  the  final  showdown  
between   the   two   protagonists,   Kate   spots   a   hospital   band   around   his   wrist   reading  
'Craig'.   After   shouting   his   name,   and   receiving   a   wounded,   bewildered   look   from   her  
killer,   Kate   seems   to   feel   some   sort   of   apathy   to   this   disfigured,   sewer   dwelling   mad-­‐
doctor   and   releases   him.   However,   after   another   attempt   to   kill   her,   she   spears   him  
through  the  neck  with  a  meathook,  and  in  a  final  twist  of  irony,  uses  his  home,  the  live  
tube-­‐rail,   to   kill   him.   This   sparing   act   lends   doubt   to   the   monstrosity   of   Craig,  
humanising   him   with   feelings   and   emotional,   as   opposed   to   a   cold   blooded,   cannibal  
killer.  However  the  back  story  is  left  unexplained,  and  a  sense  of  ambiguity  is  raised  due  
to  the  plot  holes,  and  the  spectator  is  left  with  unanswered  questions.    
In   conclusion,   Craig   was   much   more   effective,   and   essentially   monstrous,   as  
Creep.   Despite   the   lack   of   conviction   post-­‐reveal,   the   notion   of   the   'creepy   uncanny'   is  
still  extremely  effective;  and  perhaps  it  is  actually  not  the  monster  which  is  monstrous  

within   this   particular   text,   but   rather   the   idea   of   something   monstrous   lurking   in   the  
shadows   of   somewhere   as   benign   as   the   London   Underground.   The   unseen   threat   to  
Kate   and   the   others,   that   for   the   majority   of   the   text   the   spectator   buys   into;   the   film  
holds  most  leverage  with  that  distinct  'creepy'  feeling,  that  on  the  tube  at  night,  maybe  
you're  not  alone.    

 
The  following  is  a  post  from  my  personal  blog,  
diaryofamediagirl.wordpress.com  
 
There isn't much worse than a nightmare. Bad dreams come in all shapes and sizes, you
name, I've had it. Whether it be dying, your teeth falling out, your boyfriend cheating, falling,
your family disowning you, suffocating, chances are it's woken you up in the middle of the
night, drenched in cold sweat, thrashing around in the covers until you blearily blink away the
sleep from your eyes and ughhh... It was all a dream.
My dreams have been known to ruin my mood, and I'm not just talking over the breakfast
table. Waves of dream-induced anxiety will wash over me days later when I remember a
specific detail, and these moods have been known to cause arguments and tension from the
utterly fictitious goings on in dreamland. Just a few weeks ago, a friend of mine was fuming as
her husband had committed the unforgivable - sleeping with one of the girls from Coronation
Street in their marital bed, while my friend looked on (and did the hoovering). His infidelity had
caused a huge row, despite being completely dreamt up, and fortunately he was able to laugh
it off. My poor friend however, not so much, and as she glowered at him from across the pub,
it occurred to me the emotional impact that dreams can actually have.
During sleep your senses are altered; your 'primary visual cortex' or your eyes, to you and
me, is closed. However, your 'secondary visual cortex', the part of the brain which interprets
outside visual stimuli, is still very much awake, trying in vain to decode the images you are
dreaming up. During all of this, the 'dorsolateral prefrontal cortex', which controls logic and
rationality, is fast asleep with you, which explains the totally insane situations we dream
ourselves into. On the other hand, a particularly active area of our brains during sleep is the
'limbic system' (the purple/grey tangled mess right in the middle) which is the primary control
centre for emotion; this explains why dreams are so emotionally charged and often deal with
extreme feelings of love, sorrow and fear.
Studies have shown that "daytime mood and social interactions" have been found to correlate
with dream details; so if they clearly have an effect on us, what is the point in dreaming? I
know I would love nothing more than my head to hit the pillow and darkness wash over me
into a blissfully blank 8 hours, only to rise feeling fresh and free from my psychotic inner
storyboard. Harvard neuroscience professor and memory expert Robert Stickgold has
conducted studies on dreaming, memory and social interaction, and his findings prove
interesting. These experiments have demonstrated that during sleep we are able to learn,
with the brain teaching itself via a variety of patterns and processes. With the stresses of daily
life, and the brain consistently under pressure, coping with everything might not always be an
option. Dreaming about things that are bothering you, particularly emotional turmoil, can help
the brain process what might be too much for you during the day.

So, the roller-coaster mechanism failing and my harness coming loose while Carmen Electra
blows my boyfriend in front of my friends and family, is simply my poor tired brain processing
my shit while my logic and reasoning system is sleeping. Thanks Brain. Fortunately, I'm
normally too embarrassed to go into true detail, with just a glossed over edit if I feel I have to
get it out. I'm normally over it by Elevenses. Which is more than can be said for my
Coronation Street friend. The last time we saw her husband, he'd been having a pretty good
week, things were on the mend and he'd been keeping it in his dream-pants apparently. Until
the omnibus came on, then he was straight back in the dreamland doghouse.

 

The  following  is  a  journalism  report  submitted  for  university.  
This  piece  was  awarded  the  highest  mark  out  of  the  whole  year  
group,  at  85%.  It  exemplifies  a  variety  of  different  writing  styles  
for  a  number  of  different  publications.    
 
 

Journalism  Portfolio.  
1.  Album  Review  for  online  music  Website  Sound  Revolution.  
The  ‘Closer’  EP  by  Playless  is  the  first  release  from  Highlight  Records  and  a  new  project  from  DJ  
and  producer  Alex  Ferrer.  The  Razzmatazz  Club  resident  from  Barcelona,  also  known  as  
Sidechains,  has  previously  released  on  some  well  established  labels  such  as  Ministry  of  Sound,  
Hed  Kandi  and  Southern  Fried  to  name  but  a  few.  The  EP  is  out  on  the  14th  of  February  –  
Valentine’s  Day  –  and  it’s  filled  with  plenty  of  deep,  soulful  vibes  and  warm,  sexy  grooves  to  set  
the  mood.  
First  track  ‘Changes’  opens  with  bubbling  synths,  skipping  hats  and  prominent  claps.  A  thudding  
kick  track  drops  and  is  soon  accompanied  by  a  fat  garage  bassline.  Sweet  vocal  samples  and  
jumping  piano  hooks  produce  a  vibrant,  booty-­‐shiftin’,  old  school  vibe,  perfect  for  shaking  off  the  
January  blues.  
‘Waiting’  keeps  the  feel-­‐good  house  ball  rolling.  Kicking  beats  and  vocal  loops  bop  and  groove  
along  while  staccato  riffs  and  swaying  synths  compliment  each  other.  The  track  builds  
effortlessly  into  some  seriously  funky,  dance-­‐inducing  drops.  
Title  track  ‘Closer’  is  jam-­‐packed  full  of  deep,  foot  shuffling  basslines  and  head  jacking  beats.  Neat  
vocal  sampling  and  well-­‐placed  percussion  accompany  atmospheric  piano  that  swells  and  
swoons.  Uplifting  strings  and  emotional  lyrics  produce  a  powerful  build  and  the  drops  are  
funkier  than  Bob  Marley’s  tobacco  box.  A  well-­‐produced  offering  of  deep,  soulful  yet  energetic  
house  music.  
‘Good  Times’  does  what  it  says  on  the  tin,  as  it  bumps,  jumps  and  swings  along.  Punchy,  bright,  
synths  and  pitched-­‐up  sampling  gives  a  nod  to  classic  ‘90s  Detroit  house.  Another  slice  of  high-­‐
energy  house  music,  perfect  for  some  serious  shape  cutting.  
The  EP  is  a  fine  example  of  modern  house  music  at  its  best.  It  crosses  deep  house  territory  
without  going  ‘too  deep’  and  references  classic,  old  school  sounds  while  retaining  a  fresh,  current  
approach.  It  doesn’t  break  too  many  rules  but  puts  modern  twists  on  classic  formulas  and  is  
certain  to  kick-­‐start  any  dance  floor,  from  the  big  system  clubs  to  living-­‐room  parties.  
 
 

2.  Feature  –  real  life  article  for  That’s  Life  magazine.  
 
Sitting  back  from  the  computer,  I  smiled.  Signing  up  to  Match.com  hadn’t  been  my  first  choice,  
but  after  hearing  some  success  stories,  and  with  some  gentle  persuasion  from  friends,  my  profile  
was  complete  and  ready  to  go.    
Jo,  59,  from  sunny  Sussex,  I  was  in  good  shape,  with  honey  blonde  hair  and  a  shy  smiling  profile  
photo.  I  had  worked  hard  all  my  life  and  owned  a  string  of  nursing  homes,  and  was  looking  
forward  to  retiring  with  a  fair  sized  nest  egg  –  but  with  no  husband  or  children,  and  at  my  age,  I  
was  starting  to  fret  about  feeling  alone.    
Romance  had  never  been  my  priority,  being  a  workaholic  had  kept  me  busy,  but  now  all  my  free  
time  was  filling  me  with  dread.    
“It  doesn’t  have  to  be  love,  just  some  companionship!”  Assured  my  friend  Sue,  an  idea  that  
appealed  to  me,  so  she  helped  me  log  on.    
A  few  days  passed  and  the  messages  began  trickling  in  -­‐  a  single  head-­‐teacher,  a  quiet  divorcee,  a  
widowed  musician.  All  perfectly  sweet  and  charming,  but  not  one  caught  my  interest.  And  then  I  
saw  Steve.    
Strapping,  dark  and  handsome,  Steve’s  profile  stopped  me  in  my  online  tracks.  I  scanned  the  page  
before  clicking  his  message,  he  said  I  seemed  interesting  and  would  like  to  get  to  know  me.  I  
punched  out  a  quick  reply  saying  thank  you  and  we  exchanged  details,  I  learned  he  was  52,  
owned  a  successful  company  building  and  renting  motor  yachts,  and  lived  in  a  flat  near  to  Hyde  
Park,  London.    
Steve  was  the  full  package  –  he  was  charming,  exciting  and  confident,  with  plans  to  travel  the  
world.  He  seemed  adventurous  and  friendly,  and  his  deep  voice  made  me  weak  at  the  knees.  
After  our  first  meeting,  we  were  inseparable,  and  one  night  without  him  seemed  an  age.    
It  was  a  fairytale  –  Steve  rode  in  and  swept  me  off  my  feet,  and  after  only  three  months  of  dating  
we  were  married.    
After  a  year  of  marital  bliss,  things  were  perfect.  Steve  was  well  connected,  and  a  respected  
member  of  our  local  community.  He  attended  Lawyer’s  Council  dinners  and  Masonic  balls,  and  
even  received  an  invitation  to  the  Royal  engagement  party!  The  chance  to  see  Kate  and  Wills  in  
the  flesh,  what  grandeur!    
But  unfortunately  he  was  called  into  work  at  the  last  minute,  and  despite  him  assuring  me  to  go  
alone,  I  waited  patiently  at  home.    
After  the  wedding  Steve  had  moved  in  with  me,  and  had  been  trying  for  a  year  to  sell  the  London  
apartment.  There  were  a  few  admin  problems  along  the  way,  and  he  was  borrowing  more  and  
more  money  off  of  me  –  as  most  of  his  was  tied  up  in  the  sale.    
Then  one  day,  I  had  a  phonecall.  There  had  been  a  fire  at  the  boat  yard  and  Steve  needed  help  –  
the  insurance  had  been  cancelled  weeks  before,  without  his  knowing.  I  hesitated.  I  had  been  
growing  more  wary  of  the  amounts  of  cash  I  was  pouring  into  Steve  and  his  various  accounts.  
Deep  down  I  knew  he  was  fleecing  me,  but  I  had  grown  attached  to  him,  I  loved  him.    
Gone  was  the  strong,  independent  businesswoman  I  once  was,  and  here  I  was  a  needy,  pathetic,  
mess.  I  confided  in  my  friend  Sue,  who  supported  me,  and  told  me  to  stand  up  to  him  –  just  say  
no,  she  said.    
So  I  did.  
“But  you’re  my  wife,  you  OWE  me!”  Steve  bellowed.  “It’s  your  responsibility!”  I  was  shell-­‐
shocked,  I’d  had  no  idea  he  was  only  in  it  for  the  money.  I  told  him  if  he  felt  that  way  he  should  
leave,  and  he  did,  but  not  before  calling  me  a  desperate  old  cow  and  threatening  to  set  the  house  
alight.  That  night,  I  lay  in  bed  in  fear.    
In  the  morning,  I  awoke  with  a  feeling  of  sadness.  No  matter  if  he  had  used  me,  Steve  was  still  my  
husband  and  he  needed  my  help.  So  I  called  the  insurance  company  to  argue  his  case,  however  
they  had  never  heard  of  a  Steve  Campbell.  Confused,  I  made  some  calls,  and  searching  the  house  
found  ‘the  address’  of  the  boat  yard.  Over  40  miles  away,  I  had  never  been  –  I  set  off  in  the  car  
only  to  find  a  large  NCP  car  park,  which  the  attendant  assured  me,  had  been  there  for  15  years.  
When  I  arrived  home,  Steve  had  gone.  With  a  large  amount  of  our  jewelry,  designer  clothes  and  
the  Porsche,  along  with  my  purse.  I  felt  empty.    
The  company  was  a  lie.  Steve  was  a  conman,  and  the  glamorous  lifestyle  was  all  an  act.  I  
wondered  if  I  would  ever  hear  from  him  again  –  when  just  a  few  weeks  later  a  letter  came  
through  my  door.  Steve  was  filing  for  divorce.    
With  no  prenuptial  agreement,  what  is  mine  is  his.  He  is  requesting  I  pay  his  legal  fees,  of  £58,000  
and  pay  him  maintenance  of  £5,000  a  month  –  as  he  has  ‘grown  accustomed  to  the  lifestyle  I  

provided’.  These  claims  are  absurd  and  I  am  not  that  well  off  –  if  he  succeeds,  the  divorce  will  
cripple  me.  And  I  have  been  told  with  his  ‘connections’,  Steve  has  a  good  case.    
He  lied  to  me  from  day  one.  The  company,  the  London  apartment.  I  doubt  he  was  even  invited  to  
the  Royal  celebrations.  I  am  not  after  sympathy,  I  have  been  a  wealthy  old  fool,  guilty  of  listening  
to  her  heart  and  forgetting  her  head.  I’m  serving  as  a  warning  to  others  -­‐  that  no  matter  how  
perfect  your  fairytale,  remember  they  could  be  a  wolf  in  sheep’s  clothing.    
   
   

3.  

News  report  -­‐  for  The  Mirror.    

Medical  experts  have  called  for  David  Cameron  to  make  urgent  changes  to  the  UK’s  food  and  
hunger  crisis.    
In  a  damning  letter  to  the  PM,  doctors  have  called  for  an  overhaul  to  the  system  and  better  
monitoring  of  the  countries  nutrition  as  increasing  costs  and  lower  wages  are  resulting  in  food  
poverty.    
Officials  have  claimed  the  rise  of  this  food  poverty  is  a  direct  reversal  of  the  huge  improvement  in  
food  availability  and  affordability  since  World  War  2.    
With  UK  food  prices  rising  by  12%  since  2007,  when  in  the  same  6  year  period  workers  have  
suffered  an  almost  8%  fall  in  wages.  These  losses  are  directly  affecting  our  diet,  lifestyle  and  
health.  Where  the  nation  isn’t  going  hungry,  our  diets  are  suffering  –  losing  out  on  basic  
nutritional  needs.    
Swapping  fresh  fruit  and  veg  for  ready  meals  and  takeout,  diets  are  missing  fundamental  
vitamins  and  are  high  in  fat,  sugar  and  salt  –  but  low  in  cost.  The  healthy  fresh  option,  like  salads,  
fish  and  poultry  and  replaced  with  cheaper,  long-­‐lasting,  cost  effective  alternatives,  such  as  
crisps,  biscuits  and  pastries.    
And  when  the  money  runs  out,  families  are  forced  to  resort  to  emergency  food  aid  in  the  form  of  
food  banks  –  with  more  and  more  households  unable  to  afford  a  decent  diet,  these  numbers  are  
rising.    
However,  officials  stress  that  these  numbers  cannot  truly  indicate  the  amount  of  people  in  need,  
because  many  only  ask  for  help  as  an  absolute  last  resort.  The  numbers  on  record  are  just  the  tip  
of  the  (unaffordable)  Iceberg.    
The  letter,  signed  by  170  officials,  calls  for  the  Government’s  help  in  helping  the  public  and  the  
food  industry  to  take  the  healthier  route.  
“Our  role  is  to  improve  the  health  and  wellbeing  of  the  people  we  serve,  and  failure  to  do  so  will  
come  with  immense  costs  the  individuals,  families,  communities,  employers,  and  the  NHS”.  With  
all  of  these  under  threat,  is  it  only  a  question  of  time  –  when  will  officials  face  up  to  the  issues  
surrounding  food,  poverty  and  health.    
 
 

   
 

 

4.  

Creative  non-­‐fiction  for  the  Metro’s  ‘Escape:  travel’  section.    

Ever  fancied  hurling  yourself  out  of  a  moving  aircraft?  Sounds  absurd,  but  skydiving  is  rapidly  
becoming  one  of  the  UK’s  most  popular  day-­‐out  activities,  with  over  320  centers  dotted  around  
the  country.  We  sent  reporter  Canada  Berryman  to  find  out  what  all  the  fuss  is  about.  
I  wake  up  on  the  morning  of  the  dive  with  the  taste  of  bile  in  my  mouth;  the  taste  of  rusty  metal,  
like  I’ve  been  sleeping  whilst  sucking  on  an  old  spoon.  My  back  and  forehead  are  clammy  with  
sweat  already  and  I’ve  barely  roused  yet;  I  can  hear  birds  singing  outside  my  window  as  dread  
washes  over  me.  It’s  today.    
Heaven  knows  why  I  signed  myself  up  for  this.  Petrified  of  heights  since  I  was  a  child,  a  skydive  
has  always  been  my  worst  nightmare,  but  after  hundreds  spent  on  self-­‐help  books,  therapy  
sessions  and  even,  I’m  ashamed  to  admit,  hypnosis,  there  was  only  one  thing  left  to  do.  Face  my  
fear.    
I  drew  back  the  curtains  to  a  crisp,  clear  February  day.  One  of  those  where  the  sky  is  a  rich  royal  
blue,  and  there  are  cotton-­‐wool  clouds  sprinkled  along  the  horizon;  one  of  those  skies  you  see  on  
the  back  of  a  British  Airways  mag  when  you’re  seated  on  a  plane.  A  Boeing  747,  with  locked  
doors  and  a  smiling  cabin  crew  to  take  care  of  you,  right  until  landing,  as  you  sit-­‐back  with  a  
vodka  slimline  and  some  peanuts.  
After  a  quick  shower  I  shuffle  downstairs  for  some  breakfast,  although  not  entirely  sure  my  
gurgling  tummy  will  agree.  Skip  the  make-­‐up  today,  my  mascara  might  claim  to  be  waterproof  
but  I  highly  doubt  it  will  cope  with  plummeting  to  the  ground  face  first;  besides,  I’m  expecting  a  
few  tears  today.    
My  mobile  bleeps  and  the  doorbell  rings  at  the  same  time,  are  they  here  already?  I  check  my  
watch  and  realize  45  minutes  have  slipped  by  whilst  I’m  munching  tasteless,  cardboard  toast,  
and  sipping  lurid  yellow  orange  juice.  My  friends  are  pleased  to  see  me,  and  excited  for  the  day  
ahead;  two  others  are  jumping  with  me,  but  neither  have  a  crippling  phobia  like  mine.    
I  sit  in  the  back  of  the  car,  staring  out  the  window  at  the  grey  tarmac  of  the  road.  Scenic  Salisbury,  
the  setting  of  our  experience  today,  is  a  good  hour’s  drive  away  but  as  with  breakfast,  the  hour  
melts  into  minutes  and  I  realize  my  morning  has  been  robbed;  like  a  thief  in  the  night  my  fear  has  
sped  up  time.  It’s  midday,  and  we  are  here.    
We  are  taken  into  a  small  room  where  I  sit  with  my  hands  clasped  in  my  lap.  The  lights  dim  down  
and  a  short  film  tells  us  about  the  centre,  their  professional  divers,  and  their  safety  record.  We  
are  told  the  technique  behind  the  diving,  the  position  you  will  be  in  when  you  jump,  when  you  
are  freefalling,  and  when  you  land.  We  are  told  that  when  the  force  from  the  speed  of  you  falling  
becomes  equal  with  the  force  of  gravity,  your  falling  speed  will  not  accelerate  anymore;  this  is  
known  as  ‘terminal  velocity’.  Terminal?  I  gulp.  Who  on  earth  thought  that  one  up?  
After  our  ‘diving  induction’,  we  are  set  free.  I  step  outside  into  the  sunlight,  as  my  eyes  adjust  I  
watch  the  many  small  prop  planes  taking  off  and  whizzing  around.  We  are  told  the  wait  may  be  a  
while;  wind  conditions  and  runway  slots  and  other  aero-­‐trivia  I  didn’t  take  in.  As  I  settle  on  a  
picnic  bench  with  a  warm  coffee  clutched  in  front  of  me,  I  relax  a  little.  There  are  a  fair  few  
people  here  now,  friends  and  family  of  the  jumpers,  a  small  group  of  volunteers  for  one  of  the  
charity  jumps.  I  can’t  make  out  what  their  t-­‐shirts  say,  but  I  give  one  a  friendly  smile.  She  flicks  
me  an  encouraging  thumbs-­‐up,  and  a  grin  from  ear  to  ear.  Maybe  I  can  do  this?  
I  sit  up  a  little  straighter  and  let  out  a  big  sigh.  As  I  do,  a  firm  hairy  hand  clamps  down  on  my  
shoulder.    
“Canada?  You  guys  are  up  next.  You’re  jumping  with  me?”    
My  stomach  drops.  My  heart  is  pounding  in  between  my  eyeballs  and  my  breathing  ragging.  The  
strapping  gentleman  introduces  himself  as  Bill,  and  helps  me  into  a  padded  navy  jumpsuit,  as  he  
shunts  me  into  the  smallest  plane  I  have  ever  seen.  I  count  quickly  –  5  people.  There  are  5  people  
in  this  plane.  These  could  be  the  last  5  people  I  ever  see.    
The  plan  rattles  along  the  ground,  jostling  me  around  in  the  back.  I  almost  forget  I’m  sat  on  the  
lap  of  a  15  stone  giant,  and  if  my  mind  weren’t  whirring  faster  than  the  props  on  the  wings,  I  
would  have  hoped  to  land  on  top  of  him.    
Bill  points  out  the  dials,  a  few  feet  away  in  front  of  the  captain.  He  shouts  about  us  climbing,  I  see  
the  dial  jolt  round,  7,8,9,10,000  feet!    
I  stare  out  the  window  and  the  view  is  astounding.  Picturesque,  quintessential  English  
countryside,  I  can  see  sprawling  green  fields,  and  forests;  it’s  like  a  John  Constable  landscape,  a  
beautiful  painting  hanging  on  a  wall.  Bill’s  huge  arm  extends  out  in  front  and  he  points  out  Stone  
Henge,  and  in  the  distance  I  can  see  the  boats  and  the  coast  of  Southampton.  My  heart  is  racing,  


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