Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Upon stepping out of the Arts building after the Literature and Desire seminar we heard passionate but mournful singing echoing in the Square, for without considering the 11,000 signatures etched in the petition or consulting the Music School, UEA had announced that the department will be closed. That is the final decision.

It is painful to think that money is given precedence over the arts. It is more painful knowing that there were non-art students who added oil into the fire by commenting that music is not a "real" subject. How ironic that they do not realize music (and art in general) technically had prehistoric beginnings and that those who played music were highly regarded in Ancient Greece up until the discovery of science. And guess how long that was!

Perhaps it had not occurred to them that the university's ranking for the arts has been in the top ten for years. Mind you, the creative writing course just won a prestigious award presented by the Queen herself!

For sympathetic reasons (so you would not need to read too much reiteration), I will stop ranting about this melodic misfortune and move on to a different annoyance. I cannot get my head around the Hub, which is this bureaucratic system recently introduced to "maintain uniformity". While I admit it has its benefits, it isn't very friendly to the arts or liberal arts students. Just so you know, our essays aren't contained within themselves as would maths or science projects; they are subjective. We learn from the first essay before we can write the next essay.

Why it is taking so long to return our first essays to us is a question everyone has asked and frankly everyone already knows the answer to. Hopefully they are testing the waters and next term will be much better.

Lots of frustration this term, eh?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sushi and Cheesecake

Sushi followed by cheesecake - food is such bliss. Miki and I went to Yuuka's place to have dinner. Yuuka cooked the one below. It was delicious and I got a few little tips on Japanese cooking too. 

I joined the Baking Society in the university and our first baking activity was cheesecake. Seeing as I already have my mum's unbaked cheesecake recipe, I decided to try the baked cheesecake recipe. My first try was not too bad; it tasted great although the top had some burnt bits. 

The second try, as you can see from below, turned out to be much better. 

Fresh out of the Oven
The three of us ate till our tummies went into rest mode. Considering how well the day went, we were pleasantly surprised that time went by slowly and lazily too. Hopefully we can have another dinner like this soon; it was a really comfortable evening and I don't mind feeling as relaxed as that every other week. . 


The next day, I went to Nottingham, so you can probably tell how far back this was. Since then I have made scones in the Baking Society, booked a flight to Florence, had a not-too-good meal at the Library restaurant  that was made up with a lovely Millie's cookie cake, counted the number of should-have-been deaths in 'Home Alone 2' with my house mates (we counted that there should be 21), been in a Battlestar Galactica marathon with them too, cooked bak kut teh and had a great talk with Deidre.

Long, eventful week, don't you think?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Save UEA Music!

Perhaps you have heard. Perhaps you haven't. UEA's Music School is under the threat of closing down.

Understandably, financial dilemmas are difficult to solve and having it closed down would be an easy way out. What bothers most people is the fact that the Music Department of UEA has been quite successful in the past, and that the arts (including music) is a prominent cultural feature of the university. Imagine having the likes of Coldplay, Westlife and other independent bands performing on campus, having classical concerts at St. Andrews Hall in the city centre, gigs at the Waterfront, then scrapping the department entirely. Contradiction is in play here.

Needless to say, this is the hottest debate on campus today. There was a protest on the 9th of November, although it pretty much is still going on through the mini musical gigs held around campus. There are petitions with over 7000 signatures collected so far (as I am told) which were also backed by musicians such as Coldplay. You can get more information on how to make your stand here. The final decision will be made on the 23rd of November.

There should be other ways to go about the funding issue. Sure, they may be hard during these rough economic times, but at least it would not resort to the closure of an entire school. Not only would the university suffer from a major loss in terms of its artistic value (it's like losing a limb), it would only make it a lot more difficult to have it start up again one day and regain its reputation.

If life were a show, it'd be an episode of Glee.

On that note, I shall drop this subject in favour of sleep.

Late Street Music Pictures, Images and Photos
Leonid Afremov's Late Street Music

A painter paints pictures on canvas.  
But musicians paint their pictures on silence.  
~Leopold Stokowski

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Little Bit of Notts

Attending the Nottingham Malaysian Games for the second time felt different. I noticed new but familiar faces wandering about; I had to register UEA's contingent for the games; I realised that Scrabble is a game that depends on luck, skill and a great poker face. I got further than I did last year for Scrabble, although five games took a toll on me and frankly I have only ever played for fun, so certain rules were not too clear with me.

That aside, I thought the event was organized a lot better than the year before and hopefully our baby Malaysian Society will be able to send a bus next time.

Rachel and Adrienne brought me around Lace Market in the city centre, particularly the areas with vintage or independent stores. While they did remind me of Norwich, there was something unique about them, as would most vintage shops. 

Adrienne and I
We also went to Lee Rosy's for tea under the recommendation of my house mate. The cakes there were moist and delicious. Like some of Norwich's little tea houses and pubs, there are people reading and writing by the glass window as if being displayed for all to see. Definitely somewhere to go to if you lead a literary lifestyle.

Adrienne and Rachel Chiah

I enjoyed my trip up to Nottingham this time, thanks to these two wonderful ladies. Not only did I get a stress free weekend, my presentation for Literature and Desire the following day went well too.

That aside, creative juices are sporadically injecting themselves into my brain lately. I ought to milk them while they last.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Review: All the Fun of the Fair

All-The-Fun-Of-The-Fair-620x300 '
Disclaimer: I do not own this photo. Its original source can be found here.

Funfairs are not all about bright lights and exotic thrills, as presented by Jon Conway’s All the Fun of the Fair. The musical production strips away its glamorous front and tells a heartwarming tale of a fairground owner, Levi (played by 1970’s pop star David Essex), who tries to balance between finding closure following his wife’s death and maintaining his relationship with his son, Jack (Rob Compton). 

In the meantime, they have a travelling funfair to run and love affairs to handle. Jack becomes romantically involved with the daughter of a gang leader, which causes much trouble to their funfair family. The touching storyline explores what it means to be stigmatized as an ‘outsider’ and the realization that such ‘outsiders’ share the same everyday problems that people have beyond the colourful tents. 

Essex may not be the smooth crooner he used to be, but there is now a rasp in his voice that fits rather perfectly with Levi’s weary character. Despite his shaky start during All the Fun of the Fair (the song in which the musical is named after), Essex’s overall delivery is emotional and nostalgic. 

Adding to the nostalgia are some of Essex’s old hits, such as A Winter’s Tale, Gonna Make You a Star, Me and My Girl (Nightclubbing) and Rock On. There are also other soundtracks that are written for the play, some of which are commendable especially Dangerous and Here We Are All Together

Louise English, who plays the gifted gypsy Rosa, steals the limelight with her captivating rendition of A Winter’s Tale. Tim Newman and Susan Hallam-Wright, on the other hand, deserve recognition for their refreshing takes on the doe-eyed Jonny and the heartbroken Mary respectively.  

One of the most alluring features of the musical is undoubtedly the set design. A desolate street bursts into the beautiful funfair in a matter of seconds, carousel horses descend from the ceiling during the song He Noticed Me, cable cars race onto the stage and a motorcycle levitates in Silver Dream Machine. The detailed props and creative stage settings capture the vibrant nature of the fair, the spectacle of which leaves the audience constantly in awe. 

Throughout the musical, Essex alludes to his younger days as well as both past and contemporary cultural references. While some of these jokes may be lost to the younger crowd, they are definitely treats for die-hard Essex fans. 

 In other words, All the Fun of the Fair can be described using one word: entertaining. Sad moments exist but they do not last long. More often than not, it is a feel-good ride that brings you to that surreal fairground of your imagination. 

Rachael Lum

Published in Concrete, UEA's Independent Student Newspaper (Issue 260, Tuesday 8th of November 2011)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I'm Going to be Published in an Anthology!

Guess what? I'm going to have six pages of my work published in the Creative Writing Society anthology! There is nothing as exciting as this for aspiring writers. Okay, unless it is a novel or poetry collection we're talking about. Or a movie. You know what I mean.

I have submitted one short story and two poems for my section. There will be a queer but quaint tale called 'The Girl Who Cries Glass Tears', which follows the psychological journey of a perceptive girl with a strange talent. I have a knack for writing about fantastical characters, which seems to be fuelled further by the modules I picked this year. There will also be two poems entitled 'Elegy for Life' and 'Dandelion Storm'.

It costs 7 pounds for a copy, and along with my submission there will be prose and poetry by other amazing writers as well (aka my friends).

If you'd like to buy one, let me know latest by this Friday (11/11/11) and I'll place the order (initially I mentioned Wednesday but circumstances changed). I won't be able to get any more copies after this Friday, so this would be the only chance! I accept international exchange rates. *coughs* *winks*

Thursday, November 3, 2011

'Halloween' Weekend on the Sunny Side of London

Now, let's see. Where shall I start? If you did notice my panicked posts on Facebook, then you would know that I had quite an eventful weekend at London, and not necessarily in good ways. It's difficult to say- they cancelled each other out and balanced the scale- I'll leave that for you to decide.

On the day I left for London, I booked a cab in advance to take me to the train station. It didn't come, so Jess brought me there. I almost missed the train by a minute; thank goodness I didn't.

I got off at London Liverpool Station and proceeded to the Underground, where I realized to my uttermost horror that my phone was not on me. Chances was that I dropped it somewhere in the station, although I couldn't rule out the possibility that someone has taken it.

Never mind about that at the time, I didn't have Pei Pei's number written down in black and white, or anyone else's for that matter! I had Charlene's name card at the time. She was at a different location in London, but I did call her using a guard's phone just in case I wouldn't be meeting someone as nice again. I found a McDonald and my first thought was- Wifi! And hence the odd capitalized messages or posts that you might have encountered on Friday. I appreciate the concerned replies, even from those who were not in the UK.

Chiah got my distress signal and Pei Pei got to me in the end.

I also lost a few other things along the way, leaving a trail of items tailing behind me all around London. As you can probably tell, I was in a pensive mood at the time.

And then something happened. Or more accurately, many things happened. A very lovely person called Adrian found my phone and decided to call a few of my contacts to get hold of me. I got the phone back the next day.

The nice guard I mentioned earlier found a book (on Freud too; is there a connection? Maybe not) I had accidentally left behind in panic when I had to leave.

On two separate occasions, two girls were so kind as to let me borrow their phones.

And something left behind in a restaurant had been kept very securely in a safe until it was claimed.

What are the odds that I can lose so many things and find them all again? In London? In reality? I don't know about you, but now I've been convinced that there are a lot of good people in the world and my faith in mankind has been restored.

My trip was okay overall. I had a relatively good time at the UKEC meeting too (the main reason I went to London). And although that weekend seemed to be some Halloween sequence for me at first, things worked out in the end.

As they should. Ordinary miracles of today.

I hope you had a good weekend.

PS. Handed in two essays today. Currently tired but satisfied.