Posts Tagged ‘speech’

The time I made a speech

A few months ago, I got an email from my old tutor at the university where I did my undergraduate degree. It was an invitation to an end-of-year event for the current students studying at the school of social sciences, where I also studied.

After seeing it was an invite, I skim-read the rest then scrolled down to the details about where and when. I booked the day off work and made a mental note to figure out how to make my post-university life seem way interesting to my old tutor, who had had such high hopes for me.

On the day, I turned up a little bit late, thanks to public transport, so everyone was already inside the lecture hall sitting down. I sneaked in at the back and just leaned against a table. In the first tea break, I found my way over to my tutor and said hi.

“O! Hi, Laura. Have you seen Jenny yet?” he asked.

Puzzled at this, I mumbled that I hadn’t and wondered who ‘Jenny’ was.

“Come on, let’s go and find her,” he said, signalling that I should follow. I did, slightly confused.

We found Jenny and my tutor said, “Jenny, this is Laura.”

“O, hi Laura,” she said. “Come with me.”

Again, I followed, wondering what all this was about. We went down to the front row of seats as everyone started to file back in after their tea break. Jenny briefly introduced me to another girl but things were getting going again and I had barely said hi before we had to be quiet. I still wasn’t sure why I was sitting at the front.

Some students got up and did a little talk about their dissertation subjects and a few were really interesting. As I listened, Jenny turned towards me and said, “You two will be up after this one finishes.”

Oops! This is what comes of not reading emails properly! I quickly got Facebook up on my phone and found the message and sure enough, there was the request for me to give a 10 minute talk about life since graduation!

Ha! I thought, cynically. You do degrees upon degrees then come out and realise everyone else has loads of them as well and so you all end up waiting tables and making coffee!

But I did not say this. Instead, when we got up, I stood behind the other girl, waiting to see what she said and planning to take my lead from her. But she had forward planned, hadn’t she? She had made a PowerPoint presentation. O yes, she had. And the computer was having problems. So she said to me, “Do you want to go first while I sort this out?”

And there I was, no excuses, no way out, no preparation, looking at a lecture hall full of faces, all silent and waiting. And I gave the most shambles speech ever. It went roughly like this.

“While I was at university, I did my dissertation about how the quality of your lawyer at a capital trial affects the likelihood of you getting the death penalty. I interviewed two men on death row and one of them has an execution date next month. I volunteered with a legal charity for a few years and graduated from law school last year. There’s still a long way to go but I’m getting there.”

And then I just walked off and sat down. I didn’t mention the coffee, nor the long years of working in menial task jobs for companies who don’t care about me. I didn’t mention how much I love cooking and that I’m thinking of a career in food. I didn’t mention how I secretly want to be a farmer and have even considered becoming a lady of leisure (with what financial backing, I don’t know). I didn’t say that I often feel I’ll never use my degrees and that I think, unfortunately, we have become an overeducated generation without the job opportunities to use the education we have accumulated. No, I didn’t say that.

I stood up, said three sentences in a panic then sat back down! And of course, of course the other girl gave a well thought-out, PowerPoint assisted, interesting speech. She made a pack up about job opportunities in the charity sector. And she was fab.

I was a shambles.

And that’s what happens when you don’t read emails properly.

Freedom rules!

It’s Rambler5319 again today, the regular guest blogger.


Another possible oxymoron? How can there be freedom and rules together? Surely freedom means not having rules? Or might it just mean freedom is the best thing? Obviously it won’t be possible to do in a few blogs what philosophers and the rest of mankind have pondered over for thousands of years but let’s see if we can discover anything of interest. I’m going to do a quick general overview for this opener. Next time I hope to do something on the concept of freedom as found in popular music, then literature/films and for part 4 maybe tackle, in more detail, the awkward bit about the rules and their interpretation.

On 6th Jan 1941, Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke about looking forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms:
1. The freedom of speech and expression – everywhere in the world
2. The freedom of every individual to worship God in his own way – everywhere in the world.
3. The freedom from want – everywhere in the world.
4. The freedom from fear – anywhere in the world.

I wonder if you remember when you were younger words or phrases that were used to extol the perceived virtues of say footballers, singers or other heroes from the past and present.
Many who passed through the student ranks of tertiary education will remember the ubiquitous and iconic red & black “Che” poster which adorned the walls of theirs, or their friends’, rooms or the T-shirt which adorned the budding Marxist chest. Ernesto (Che) Guevara (1928-67) was a Cuban Marxist revolutionary – a ‘hero’ to many; he represented the way to fight for freedom from an oppressive regime. The Bolivians didn’t agree. Their armed forces captured and killed him in 1967. (He had been trying to stir up the Bolivian people up to rebel against their government.) On 9th Oct 1967, in La Higuera, Bolivia I wonder if Che realised that, co-incidentally & quite bizarrely, Engelbert Humperdinck was at the end of a 5-week run at No.1 in the UK Charts, with the song The Last Waltz? (Its first line reads “Should I go or should I stay?”) Probably he didn’t! Dodging bullets was definitely a higher, but unachievable, priority.
As I grew up, I remember seeing instances of graffiti, on walls, bridges and flyovers with the words “Liverpool or LFC Rules, ok!” or “Everton or EFC rules, ok!” or “Kenny (as in Dalgleish) rules, ok” and a number of others. They all wanted the viewer to know that their team or hero is the best.
Another type was painted by people who felt injustices had been done to an individual or group of people through a court sentence: for example in the UK, “Free the Birmingham Six” (given life in 1975 but freed after an appeal in 1991) and “Free the Guildford Four” (life sentences in 1975, freed after appeal in 1989). In these two examples the freedom is clearly from a prison cell; for Che & Fidel Castro it was freedom from the rule of a government they did not agree with.
Perhaps you hanker after a freedom closer to home: freedom from parents, parental control or from a bossy sibling. Would you like there to be more freedom in your school or place of work because you feel too restricted the way things are? We’ve seen in the press over many years cases where a pupil in a school wants the freedom to wear something or follow a fashion trend which flouts the school uniform rules. Should they be allowed to? Shouldn’t they? They want to break the rules, often in the name of freedom?
There are also cases of religious objections. For example, here in the UK, a Sikh can by law, wear a turban whilst riding a motorcycle instead of a crash helmet. A number of Christians have been in the news because of clashes with their employers about wanting to wear a crucifix (cross), as a symbol of their faith, in the workplace. And so it goes on with many different cases on our TV screens and in the press. Does this mean religious freedom trumps the law of the land? Sometimes, it does! Is it right to do so? I’ll leave that one with you.
Suppose you own your own house. Do you have the freedom to do whatever you want either with the building or in terms of the activities that take place there? Clearly not. For instance, you cannot play your music at full volume. Why? Because it causes a nuisance to neighbours. In other words there are rules! You cannot use it for business unless it has been authorised. Why? Because the rules say you can’t. What about your neighbour’s freedom to have peace and quiet? Do you see the problem? The use of your freedom may infringe someone else’s. Maybe that’s where the rules come in but who enforces them?
Think of those early pioneers in the 1960s Hippie movement. Freedom from society and its restraints was at the top of their list. However it doesn’t take long to figure out that this is an impossible lifestyle without money. If they work they follow the rules of their employers, if they don’t work they get benefits but either way they need and obtain money to fund their alternative lifestyle. Freedom costs!
Remember the bravado in words of the chorus to the song, “Society” about being free to go it alone, from the biopic, of Christopher McCandless’s life (1968-1992), Into The Wild:
“Society you’re a crazy breed
Hope you’re not lonely without me.”

Are you beginning to see the problem? Freedom does not, and cannot, mean freedom to do anything you want; and it cannot be achieved without monetary resources of some kind. Now what sort of freedom do you really want for yourself and others? What types of freedom are actually possible across the world? More importantly what are you, and others, willing to give up in order for more freedom to exist?