THE HABS LITERARY JOURNAL
This edition of Scribe perfectly encapsulates the wide range of literary talent possessed by Habs students,
both in and out of the classroom. Our unique outlook on life provides for a literary journal the likes of
which could not be found in any other school, be it through the more “Habs banter-like” and humorous
articles represented by Will Thong’s Caffeine Dependencies at Habs or the rather more sinister musings of
Siddharth Sheth in Anger.
In addition to the omnipresent crime-related material, travel is a notable theme this spring, as we leave
a remarkably mild winter behind us and travel inexorably towards yet another examination season. In
Underground, Gordon Hao reminds us of the joys of busy train travel and contrasts sharply from the
loneliness and devastation often found on sea voyages, which is described beautifully in Arsalan Kamal’s
Sea-faring Poem. May this journal provide you with suitable entertainment and distraction from testing
times ahead and envelop you in its rich variety of thriving literature.
With Habs in all its glory looking in tip-top form, it is little wonder that the literature that Scribe has the
pleasure of publishing is so inspired. May the enthusiasm for literature at Habs serve as a reminder of how
fortunate we are to work in these splendid surroundings and amongst so many interesting people. As is so
vividly detailed by Daniel Lee in Premature Burial, this is not always the case.
What has pleased me most over the past term has been the number of submissions from the Junior end
of the school. It is vitally important that we continue to encourage the next generation of Habs literary
enthusiasts, and to see the quality of some of our Junior work is a truly heart-warming process for anyone
with the future interests of Habs literature at heart.
I must extend my most sincere thanks to our editorial team, who have worked so hard in helping this
edition to become a reality. Our outstanding Supervising Editor, Mr Li, deserves a special mention in this:
the final edition of his tenure. He has made an invaluable contribution to the development of Scribe over
the last four years and his work is deeply appreciated.
Without further ado, I invite you to plunge headfirst into this vast ocean of literary talent. May literature
at Habs continue to flourish over the course of 2011.
Ben Peacock, Editor
Scribe | Spring 2011
The Night of the New. Moon. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Omar Ali Mainstream Exposed . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Elliot Cohen The Tie . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Nobody is frightened. Nobody .is. depressed.. Nobody .is .awake.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Gordon Hao Underground. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Siddharth eccentric entrepreneur, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
There was the Sheth Anger . . . . . . . . . . the .busy .businessman,. the .poetic. playwright,. the .seductive .sales-. 7
woman, the unfamiliar usher, the solemn shopkeeper and the crafty criminal. Rest. Now, it seems there
Jordan Bernstein Feature of Features . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Rhys Jenkins Orange Overalls . . the .products. of .the. various. shops, .no .longer.busy .trying.to. pose. in .
The people are in bed, as are . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . a 10
that makes them presentable and . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
wayArsalan Kamal Sea-faring Poem . . attractive,.in. their. time. of .rest. .Everyone.and.everything. is. asleep. 12
Even the reels of red tape, the computers, the. cash-registers, .the. rakes. and. the.uncooked .foods. revel. in .
Jacob Rabinowitz 1974 - New Svetagrad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
the glorious time of slumber. The city is sleeping. The city is dead! Quick! Call for help! It is nowhere to
Chris Combemale A Glimpse of Reality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
be found. Is this not reason to be afraid?
Nobody answers. Lost . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Scott Gordon 17
Beware. Silence screams at its . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Oliver Anisfeld Walking on Death .highest.volume, .echoing .throughout.the city, .like .the. schoolmas- 19
desperunaware that they will rarely come true. Night . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . the . . . . . . . . . . .
ter, Andrew Djaba Are human beings inherently evil? . . . . . is.truly.just .a. blissful. day, . . . .day .everyone . . . 20
actually enjoys, and an escape from the torture of the next morning.
Jacob Gilbey I Told You Not To Look . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Jordan Bernstein A Second Shot (at Life) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
Ben Peacock Is “Harry Potter” really so bad for you? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Jacob Harris Lost Boy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Daniel Lee Premature Burial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
James Colenutt A Poem. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Ben Peacock Innocent to Guilty in One Minute . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
Ameya Tripathi What It Would Be Like . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Henryk Hadass A Very Short Story . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
Marcus Rapacioli A Monologue of the Strangled Lady . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
Salman Sheikh Brotherhood . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
Jordan Bernstein Social Etiquette . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
Adam Gozdanker Brothers’ Loyalty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
William Thong Caffeine Dependencies at Habs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
Haider Bashir Simplicity of Nature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
Gabriel Wheway Dusk’s Shadow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
Ben Peacock An interview with Mr Li on the occasion of his last edition of “Scribe” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
Cover designed by Tim Duschenes
Scribe | Spring 2011 1
Omar Ali L6R2 Winner of the £20 Prose Prize
A common utterance amongst those notorious
skinny jean-wearing “indie kids”, and no doubt
other “alternative” crowds, goes something like:
‘No, I don’t listen to them. They’re mainstream.’
There is no question of whether a song should be
given the chance to be heard or not, for, if it falls
under the abysmal category of ‘popular music’, it
may as well have been sung by Gordon Brown. The
mere sound of the word induces an odious, galling
sentiment. And why shouldn’t it?
Yes, there are indeed a myriad of justifiable reasons
why many people pour scorn on mainstream
melodies and regard the loathsome genre with
unreserved contempt. Let’s begin with the mere
principle behind pop music. ‘Talent’ is a somewhat meaningless word in this ghastly, commercial age.
You see, these days, achieving worldwide fame is a realistic goal for anyone lucky enough to have been
born with a pretty face and, quite frankly, a passable voice. And don’t be tempted to think that those
awful, pretentious ‘talent’ shows are the honourable scouts of genuine talent when they are quite clearly
not. No: they are in fact the producers of detestable one-hit wonders who may ephemerally thrive on the
music scene, but will, sooner or later, and without a shred of doubt, be shafted away into musical history,
the forgotten failure of future generations. It is quite frankly disturbing to witness how talentless one can
be and yet still feature in the next glorified platinum-selling single. Whatever happened to raw musical
talent, the truly remarkable vocal chords and the piano prodigies? Pop music has deemed these genuine
gifts superfluous – a mere bonus in the grim world of the music industry.
You no longer need a jaw-dropping voice or a truly remarkable vocal range to be considered a ‘singing
sensation’. Living proof of this comes in the dazzling form of Cheryl Cole, voted no.1 in FHM’s latest ‘100
Sexiest Women’ poll. OK, she is ‘fit’, as a whole slew of adolescents would agree. But frankly, if she looked
as dreadful as she sang, she wouldn’t get further than Boot Camp. The highly edited sound of her voice in
her hit single ‘Fight For This Love’ differed significantly from the raucous wails we endured in her live X
Factor performance of the song. As the nervous wreck lurched on-stage and began to bellow into the poor
microphone, the whole nation simultaneously witnessed the fact of the matter: she cannot sing. It just
shows the miraculous results which music software can produce. Evidently, beauty bears a much greater
importance than other, seemingly gratuitous assets, such as a half-decent voice.
Recently, on the reality TV show X Factor (on which Cheryl Cole rather ironically judges talent), there
was an outburst of rage from several thousand viewers, who were livid to discover that the producers of
the show had used ‘post-production effects’, such as auto-tune, to correct the ill-pitched notes of some of
2 Scribe | Spring 2011
the contestants. How pathetic is that? A singing competition, the supposed aim of which is to showcase
legitimate singing talent, covering up the mistakes of talentless buffoons… the horrendous irony baffles the
mind. This scandal easily made the front page of most respectable newspapers and even ten odd minutes
of debate during BBC Breakfast’s studio time. The blatant efforts to conceal musical blemishes on the
show evidently caused quite a stir. And so there it is - the appalling manipulation of singing the producers
of X-Factor ought to be ashamed of permitting. One incensed viewer tweeted on the matter, saying that
she felt that a particular contestant on the show, whose voice had been edited, sang her song ‘with a
spooky, computer-like precision.’ Not so charming after all, Mr Cowell. And by the by, I scowell at the ugly
sight of you.
Popular music is ruining authenticity, culture and countries’ sense of identity. It is gradually usurping what
is left of our world’s diversity, and I say, with the deepest concern and apprehension, that one dire day, our
vast world will have little beguiling and bona fide culture to offer us, if any at all. Oh how I detest you, pop
music, with your charming good looks and your fake grandeur. With the help of modern means of being
shared worldwide instantaneously, you are like an infectious disease which spreads and victimises the
vulnerable masses. They are blindingly oblivious to the long-term consequences of the manipulative tunes
they listen to. The public is therefore not to be faulted, for like infectious diseases, pop music is catchy and
its victims are helpless. We are disturbingly exposed to the mainstream rubbish everyday. There’s simply
no escaping it.
Forgive me for my pessimism and perhaps my rash generalisation. It’s just that mainstream infuriates
me. The mere concept of mainstream infuriates me. It’s disgusting and it boils my blood. Every single
popular music artist out there should hang their big, boastful head in shame. Every single one, bar the
few exceptions. Yes, there are exceptions. Not all popular music will lead societies to dire straits. No,
indeed, I am thrilled to unearth the occasional track which has proved sensational due to its unique and
authentic instrumentation, rather than due to the evil genius of studio engineers, who prepare them for
grand publication. Yes, you heard right. For once, the star of the show is justified in their position of fame
and not simply a pretty face, over whom adolescents obsess for various visual assets (Cheryl, with her
ample chesticles, springs to mind). In recent years, such traditional yet popular music has proved, dare I
say it, worthy of a mainstream title; it now seems that the newly fashionable reason to like music is due to
its honesty and genuineness. Fancy that. Nowadays, like the apple, pop music never falls too far from the
tree. Or at least some of it doesn’t. Chase & Status and JME exemplify the many artists today, whose music
stems from their own colourful origins. Surely that’s how it ought to be? Next to these phenomena are the
indie bands: Bloc Party, Arctic Monkeys, Mumford & Sons – the list is virtually endless, I am pleased to
say. These bands rely upon no such scrupulous studio editing to release a fine piece of music, and instead
stick to their much-loved vintage sound, complete with all the charming inaccuracies. They play their own
guitars, bang their own drums and blow their own trumpets. Oh, but how ironic – for such bands tend to
comprise the humblest of musicians, who require not fame, but merely acknowledgment and recognition.
The word “indie” itself does of course root from “independent”, and this is exactly how such bands go
about their compositions - no musical preservatives, no added effects, just 100% natural music. Is that
Scribe | Spring 2011 3
too much to ask? The dim-headed, ignorant fools, attracted solely by a large pay cheque and worldwide
recognition do not even compare to their praiseworthy, respectable superiors, the true scholars of music,
the people who actually know what a chord is, and perhaps how to sing in key as well. But I must ask, why
is it that some people, who have been brought up in the modern age of technology, still prefer the sound of
an old classic singsong on vinyl, rather than the perfected CD version? Presumably, it is because mistakes
are natural, so why hide them, or pretend they never existed? There’s just something rather attractive
about imperfection. Our friend Simon Cowell’s abnormally white teeth confirm his lack of understanding
of this concept.
I do not condemn all popular music - despite previous expressions of revulsion towards all pop culture, I
couldn’t possibly. The term “popular” is subjective; what might be fashionable in one society might not
be in another. That’s all very fine and dandy. But what I do condemn is the kind of popular music which
I believe to be popular for all the wrong reasons. It’s those good-for-nothing, lazy, idol peasants, who
literally have everything, from a record label to a perfume series, handed to them on a golden plate – those
are the ones that really get on my nerves. How undeserving a bunch of losers they really are. But if so many
people adore the sound of their thoroughly edited and unrealistically flawless music, featured in the ‘Top
10 hit singles’ week in, week out, then let them. I will continue to grit my teeth whenever I turn on the
radio to the sound of “music”, or, better still, I’ll pop in a CD.
Elliot Cohen 11R2 Winner of the £20 Poetry Prize
“And now the house ties.”
Ears pricked, eyes open,
The voice bellows, the words echo.
“Is on the rugby team,”
“Inter house hockey,”
Butterflies are out of control.
“Table Tennis and,”
4 Scribe | Spring 2011
Devastation. Desolation. Ruin.
“Now this next boy…”
“Is very academic,”
“Yet also good at sport,”
“32nd in cross country,”
Breathe in, breathe out.
“Housemaster merit for…”
Nothing else matters. Nothing.
It’s me, it is.
The room is getting hotter.
Please, oh please.
“Grade 2 viola,”
Everything makes sense.
Culmination. Celebration. Appreciation.
The long walk. Recognition at last.
Faces staring, smiling.
The shake of hand.
A rite of passage.
Scribe | Spring 2011 5
Gordon Hao 9R2 Winner of the £10 Prose Prize
Torrents of rain pelted down.
The glowing white on blue of ‘NORTHWOOD
STATION’ illuminated the opaque fog. I fervently munched
on a Snickers bar and a can of Coke which I had bought
from the off-licence neighbouring the station at extortionate
prices. Walking in, the freezing temperatures outside were
immediately negated by the bright lights and heating within.
The spark of hope was immediately put out, though, when the
information board jaw-droppingly read ‘Severe delays due to
man taken ill on train’.
I swore. Twice.
Hoping the delays would soon clear, I almost felt I was taking a leap of faith as I slithered through
the ticket barrier as it magically parted. I continued forward, faced by the familiar eroded brick wall,
before taking a right turn and jogging the steps two at a time. As I eagerly peeked my head under the roof
of the platform, I slowed to a mere trudge. As I looked on, I wanted to garrotte that ‘ill man’. The platform
was completely full. As the stairs ended, the annoying xylophone arpeggio bellowed out of the hidden
speakers, followed by an equally distressing voice.
The station controller finished his lecture. I remarked at how an ‘ill man’ on the other side of
London could paralyse the transport system on the city’s outer suburbs. I tossed my hood over my head,
and politely barged my way through the incessant crowd of impatient passengers. I stood with the few
soldiers who braved the deluge of precipitation by not standing underneath the platform shelter. By now,
my Snickers bar was barely recognisable.
An eternity later, the tracks began to click. Everybody turned their heads towards the bridge
to their left, as if somebody had announced royalty was on its way. They all hurriedly picked up their
bags, slipped their phones back into their pockets and sauntered towards the platform edge. Two red
headlights, barely visible at first, grew in size and intensity as the clicking grew ever louder, before a huge
block suddenly appeared out of the immense fog. The first carriage passed, then the second, followed by
the third, whose front door stopped right in front of me. All three carriages had one rather irritating thing
in common - they were all full, packed liked sardines in a tin. I thought people would fall out of the train
when the doors opened. Some alighted, double the amount got on. I squeezed into the carriage as far as
I possibly could without headbutting anyone, but I unfortunately found myself smelling the sweating
armpits of three taller people.
The drumroll of the train’s wheels clattering against the track muffled any chatter. The rubbish
was widespread. The tradition of leaving all newspapers, drinks cans, food wrappers and maps on the floor
or window sill was honoured. I wrapped the remnants of my Snickers bar and popped it on the window
Anyone with any knowledge of British climate would understand that the fantastic blur of colour
of the view outside was hardly Fauvistic: khaki for the grass and trees, charcoal grey for roads and murky
grey for buildings. An occasional blackout from a bridge support or a tunnel obscured the panorama of
6 Scribe | Spring 2011
the dull London suburbs.
I felt the train slow, hearing the orchestra of various brakes play their ear-piercingly repetitive
tune. I had dreaded this moment. It was time for a game of human dominoes. Everyone would fall
forwards and step on each other’s feet. Some passengers alighted. More got on. The sudden sense of relief
flashed into the far distance like a Formula One car. The squeeze for space worsened. And just as the train
began to move again, the unthinkable happened. Somebody was insane enough to pass wind.
Siddharth Sheth 8M Winner of the £10 Poetry Prize
Tendrils of red shadow
Grip the sinews of the brain
Reason is banished from her throne
Small, impish creatures
Lie in wait within the red mist
Bamboozling the desperate traveller
Rationality is lost in twisting caves of the cerebrum
Powerful hands seize the thoughts
Hidden meanings are revealed
From the nicest of statements
Come the subtlest of insults to me
Common Sense is last to go
Falling prey to the demons
And he who now sits in the throne hall
Proclaims a new order
The fire relights in my eyes
A new ruler
Meet Reason’s successor
His lordship, Dictator Anger
The tyrant begins his destructive rule
Scribe | Spring 2011 7
The destructive impulses start
His minions hack away at the computers
Blindly following the leader’s command
In the absence of Rationality,
Prince Chaos reigns supreme
Nobody, friend or foe
Stands a chance
He cuts through relationships
Like a knife through butter
Basking in the rows
Wallowing in the pain he causes
Finally, a resistance is stirred up
The clash begins
The mind becomes a soup of emotion
As both sides fight for control
Finally, chaos is gone
But reason hasn’t returned
Instead, a pathetic little thing
Seats himself on the throne
He doesn’t seek to rule
He exudes pure sorrow
Hollowness follows him wherever he goes
His name is Remorse
8 Scribe | Spring 2011
Jordan Bernstein 8R
Feature of Features
Writing a feature is an action commonly viewed as being harder to fulfill when compared to poems or
short stories. Perhaps this is because a feature generally requires less creativity than writing in fiction or
verse. This taboo may also be caused by the fact that reading it is more like Marmite than any other style
of literature. Yes, when reading a feature, you either do love it or hate it.
Contrary to the reasons above, I feel features are wonderful tools that make this literary journal
what it is. Many contributions have been written for Scribe over the last year, but not as many as poetry
or short stories. And so one must ask the question: “How does one write this feature of which I speak?”
Well, if you have ever asked this question, you are in for a treat.
The common misconception is that features are just reviews. Since this is a view taken by many,
we shall start there. Reviews are incredible vessels; telling people what or what not to like, or what
and what not to do. However, in the interest of giving a rounded view of features, I have included a
quotation from our very own Junior Editor telling you what and what not to do: “DO: Write a Feature-
they are great fun to write, however, DO NOT limit your feature-writing experience to just reviews, however
magical they might be.”
Coincidentally, the quotation brings me on to my next dose of feature guidance. When straying
from the review tree in the feature forest, you really leave yourself with much leeway. You may write
about anything, from an inspirational article about how Megavideo can help you with your homework
(Scribe: Spring 2010), to a feature about features themselves, which is quite exhilarating. I don’t
exaggerate when I say that you truly can out yourself into a feature, in a way that cannot be replicated in
any other literary style.
People see features as a harder way; something with a title but no contents, or a review with no
substance. The truth is that often, whilst fun and exciting to be whisked off into fairytale lands by stories,
or be held rapt in verse, features can often be the simpler way.
It is common to want to express yourself in literature, but this cannot only be done in poetry.
If there is something that interests you, or makes you feel a certain way, features are the place to be. A
report of the football match last night, a travel log of your last holiday, or a report of the book you just
A feature is like the old-fashioned, longer, more formal status update on Facebook. Not too
sophisticated, not too casual. A feature is an oasis of calm and passion in a sea of literary genius.
Scribe | Spring 2011 9
Rhys Jenkins 11S1
The sound of footsteps spread into the cell. Immediately, the room’s one hanging light bulb went off; the
cell plunged into darkness. Abdul-Al Tariq lay hastily on the cold stone floor. It was his first night. His
body began to shiver as the night drew in and the vile wind cut through a tiny window above his head.
For covers, they had only given him a straw blanket and he was forced to rest his head on the floor. He was
surrounded by four imposing walls, all of which he could touch when he slept. It was like he was stuck in
a steel box. He shuffled a couple of times and shook as he heard shrills from the adjacent cell. Tomorrow,
he thought, that may be him.
No light entered Abdul’s cell that morning and he was awoken by the click of the light switch.
He raised his chin from his chest and slowly sat up against the wall. Throwing the straw blanket to one
side, he slowly opened his eyes and was startled by the single bright bulb above him. It had all happened
so quickly; he would protest his innocence and he hoped to be let out soon. Today would be the day he
found out. At this moment, Abdul felt a sharp pain in his left leg; he lifted up his orange trousers to find
that he had a large gaping hole in his skin. He studied the wound with dreary eyes. It was surrounded by
a range of blue and purple colours and there was a pale yellow stream of pus running out of it. Abdul was
in agony and he spent minutes discovering further wounds and injuries on his body. He recalled these
occurring at his brutal arrest and initial questioning. The image of the man striking him with a whip
flashed into his memory. A small mirror hung from the wall; he did not realise it when he first came in
but stood up to look. He stared at himself intensely. He was not the same young boy growing up in Qatar
with his aspirations of playing football. He no longer had his mother supporting him… he realised he was
alone. He stared at the image, as a tear rolled down his bruised cheek. It entered a cut in his lip and made
him cringe in pain. He thought of all the stories he had been told and realised this was only the beginning.
Suddenly, the door swung open and Abdul cowered into the corner. The figure of a broad, tall man filled
the doorway. A man, wearing camouflage, had entered with a gun slung over one shoulder, and towered
over the vulnerable Abdul. Abdul caught a glance of the man’s piercing eyes and immediately stared away in
terror. He pushed Abdul around as his colleague grabbed hold of Abdul’s legs and chained them together.
The first man then knocked Abdul over, taking the wind out of him and tightly applied handcuffs. Then
they left. Nothing had been said. They had been and gone in a few seconds. Those seconds for Abdul felt
like minutes as he was being shoved into the solid floor. Blood began to drip from his nose and he found
it painful to sit up. The blood stained his orange top and he laid waiting for the next stage to occur. This
was only day one.
Rays of sunshine entered through the barred window. Abdul was terrified, waiting to plead his
innocence. He had done nothing wrong. He had been misidentified. However, he had no power, no
control. The next moment, the door flung open again and the two guards returned. They strode proudly
and picked Abdul up from the floor and dragged him out. He was being led through a brightly lit corridor.
Looking around, Abdul could see thousands of doors similar to his, equally spaced out, and with numbers
written on them. On his, he could make out the writing: No: 2123. Abdul’s prisoner code, his only piece
of identity in this enclosed camp. In the glistening corridor, a scent of dampness and a musty smell struck
him. The only noises he could hear were the screams of agony. His feet were bare and scraped across the
ground, causing them to bleed as the two guards on either side threw him into another room.
10 Scribe | Spring 2011
This room was slightly bigger than his cell, but not by much. There were a couple of chairs on one side,
and a plastic one opposite. A table was set up between them, with a recording device rested upon it. On
one side of the room, there were three black leather chairs behind a table with a faded green cloth, on
which sat three separate microphones. Behind that, there was a one way mirror, much larger than the one
in Abdul’s cell. He lay on the floor for a few minutes, his body weary and tired from the brutality of his
experience. His leg felt numb and his nose bruised. There was no time to groan. He was innocent. He had
to convince the panel.
Within a few seconds, five men walked into the room, led by three guards in camouflage carrying
their guns. The men strolled to their places and sat at their relevant seats. The guards walked over to
Abdul. Once again, they picked him up from under his armpits and sat him down on the white plastic
chair. Shackled and handcuffed, Abdul had no chance of moving. However, the guards still tied Abdul
to the seat. He could not move. Abdul tried to move his head but it was strapped tightly. Surrounded
by eight men, he was on his own. The man in the middle of the leather chairs rose up and spoke into his
microphone: “Abdul-Al Tariq. Prisoner 2123. Qatar. Arrested at Yemen International Airport boarding a
plane to America. Suspected Terrorist. Arrested 30th October 2009.”
The tribunal lasted a couple of hours, with no breaks. Abdul was constantly questioned. Every
time he answered, he was interrogated about the reliability of his answers. Abdul had answered everything
honestly. He knew he was innocent so had nothing to hide. He was told at the end of the tribunal, “Your
sentence will come at a later date.” “How long must I wait?” Abdul questioned. No-one was able to reply
to his comment. Instead, as the five men walked out the room, the three guards threw Abdul to the ground
and dragged him back to his cell. This was not a place of words, only a place of action.
The sunlight was fading out of Abdul’s cell and the light bulb was switched on. He was pondering
if he would be allowed home again or if he would be sentenced for life. This place should not be here.
President Obama had promised to close the camp down and move the prisoners away. Abdul was shocked
by the treatment the prisoners were given. In the courtyard where he had been told to search for precious
stones with fellow prisoners, he had noticed they all had scars of torture and were very thin and weak.
Abdul was a great believer in Obama; he felt Obama could solve America’s problems. In Qatar, Abdul
hoped that Guantanamo Bay would be closed but never imagined that he would be one of the prisoners
inside. He hoped Obama would close it quickly to end his suffering and the suffering of hundreds. Abdul
had survived his first day but hoped that his ordeal would end tomorrow.
A week had passed with no news of his tribunal sentence or the future. He had been in a
continuous routine every day. Awoken by the flicker of the light bulb, he was led to collect breakfast.
Abdul was on a very restricted diet and had already lost weight. He would then have roughly half an hour
to sit around, in his dark, cold cell, and wait until he was led out into the exercise and working yard. He
was forced to do chores until lunch. The group of men in orange overalls queued again for a small bowl
of porridge and were led back to the yards after half an hour. They were always controlled by numerous
guards carrying guns and whips, who would torture them if they stopped working. One by one, the group
would disperse back into their cells where they would have some free time until dinner. It was pure torture.
Abdul had seen people faint and then be whipped for it. Every day, he realised that at least one prisoner
would not return back to the yard. The following day they had fresh scars and swelling. He guessed his day
of torture would be coming soon. The one aspect that Abdul feared most was the dead silence in the camp.
Scribe | Spring 2011 11
It was Abdul’s thirteenth day in his cell. It began to smell of sweat and flesh. Rats appeared now
and then from a couple of cracks in the walls. They brought a smell which stung Abdul’s nose. He could
hear the patter of their feet at night amongst the occasional gun shot. His eyes closed but he never slept
well. Footsteps of guards awoke him. A fist knocked on the door. Abdul pretended to sleep.
Abdul was guided forcefully downstairs and into a room of darkness. A lone chair was placed in
the middle of it and Abdul was strapped in. Sweat began to drip down Abdul’s forehead and into his eyes.
Was this an electric chair? Abdul could hear a high pitched whirling noise and a few clicks of some dials. A
fleshy aroma filled the room and Abdul wanted to get out. He tried to move but realised he was strapped
tightly in. A commanding voice advised, “This is the place you will face your torture. You will be: burnt…
whipped… boiled.” After each method the voice paused, leaving Abdul to shudder at the thought. The
process began. He was not able to see anybody. It was completely dark. There was not even a window in
the room. The scent of flesh struck Abdul and he realised that his hands were being burnt by the electric
straps. He passed out for a few minutes, only to be awoken by the sensation of a whip hitting his naked
body. The blood oozed from each strike and Abdul’s face grimaced. He screamed for help but there was
no pause in the torture. Throughout the torture, a voice echoed, “You have done wrong and you must be
punished.” It was relentless and ended with his feet being placed in boiling water. He yelled in agony. “I’ve
done wrong!” Abdul screamed, “I’ve done wrong!”
Arsalan Kamal 8R
His hair was white, his gaze was deep,
His body was draped in chains;
Dark shadows from his robes did leap.
And with them came thundering rain,
Across the ship’s deck he advanced.
The wood cracked under his feet,
I risked a turn to take a glance,
And saw him concede defeat.
And now death came no more near me,
He stood silent and lifeless,
I saw the waves move on the sea.
The sweet wind against my face did press,
I steered my ship towards the port,
For this journey was over.
Although this voyage was quite short,
Time was slow with death that beast!
12 Scribe | Spring 2011
Jacob Rabinowitz 11S2
1974 - New Svetagrad
Charles shivered. New Svetagrad was once a sparkling metropolis, a haven of vice and guilty pleasures.
Now, Charles glanced out of the grimy window to see one growling stray dog wrestling another,
snapping at its face, locked in a deathly embrace for the measly pigeon wing lying on the floor, their
guttural growls emanating through the courtyard. Blood seeped insidiously into the snow. Across the
street stood the crumbling behemoth of Babushka’s Glorious Accommodation Block #4791, imposing
yet precarious, blocking his view of the rest of the city. Babushka’s stern eyes glared back at him, her face
emblazoned on every wall of the apartment block. He sighed, and turned back to the open diary on
his desk, stamping his feet rigorously to fight the frostbite that had already claimed three of his toes. A
commotion erupted outside the door of his grimy, dilapidated apartment. Charles whirled round to see
the hulking, distinctly Russian silhouette of Comrade Vasily.
“Long Live Eurasia!” Vasily barked, his muscle-bound figure tautening as he saluted Charles,
who shook his head in mock dismay.
“Don’t you ever knock, you Russian oaf ?” Charles scolded.
“Knocking, young Charles is for women. Women, and Europeans,” came the grinning reply.
Vasily was Charles’s Comrade Fraternal, the government-assigned supervisor forced upon every
European immigrant to Prime LandStrip, formerly known as Russia. They had been together for 13
years. Indeed, Charles had been under Vasily’s mischievous, not-so-watchful eye since his first day in
Integration Camp New Svetagrad following the 2nd Great Surge of 1961, in which troops from the
former ‘Russia’ had peacefully conglomerated ‘France’ into the Union of Eurasia - or so the history
books said. Charles remembered a different experience altogether - a blazing house; his town razed to
the ground; harsh Russian faces raping, pillaging; tears streaking down his mother’s face as his father’s
was slammed to the floor, a bullet unceremoniously penetrating his skull . Charles shut his eyes up tight
and breathed deeply.
Vasily glanced over his shoulder at the neat, spidery writing of the diary.
“What? More writing? You Europeans know nothing of revolution!” Vasily chuckled, an
element of scorn creeping into his voice. They argued about this regularly. Charles adhered to the belief
that the best, indeed the only way to fight Babushka was to survive, and to chronicle one’s pre-Eurasia
experiences as well as possible. That way, he argued, perhaps one day, an impressionable mind might read
his diary and facilitate the Revolution he longed for so much. Vasily, on the other hand, was a man of
action, believing that whilst it was impossible to truly defeat Babushka, every loyal Party member killed
was a victory, every AudioVis monitor vandalised a great act of defiance. Perhaps if Vasily had known of
any other life than that of the oppressed, his views would have been altogether different. But having lived
all his life in Russia, there was simply not much scope for a form of rebellion anything less than physical.
“Charles,” Vasily began, his trademark toothy grin etched on his broad Russian face, “I have a
proposition for you”.
They trudged through the snow, heading out of town. The snow was not like that Vasily had
known in his childhood in Siberia. There it was pristine, powdery, unspoilt by the world. Here, in
Svetagrad, it was ingrained with mud and dirt, trampled on and compacted by thousands of black,
Scribe | Spring 2011 13
uncompromising boots into a tough, grimy layer - a different substance altogether, he pondered. Vasily
heard a faint, ominous whirring sound in the distance, coming ever closer. He turned to Charles,
muttered an apology under his breath, and planted his fist squarely on Charles’ jaw, knocking him
instantly to the floor. Charles’ squeal of protest went unheard, drowned out by the crescendo of the
Party helicopter hovering above. Four black clad men leapt from the helicopter, clinging to ropes as they
descended to the floor. Seeing the Party insignia on Vasily’s shirt (for some inexplicable reason of macho
bravado, he refused to wear a coat, hat or gloves), they approached him and saluted.
“Comrade! What is your business out with this Franco-Integrated?” The man hissed the last
two words, as if the concept of a European was repugnant to him.
“Officer,” Vasily began, adopting an air of bureaucratic superiority that so poorly fitted him,
“this young ruffian failed to recite the 56 Principles of Glorious Eurasian Equality, Article 21! In my
opinion, this failing called for certain...” he gestured towards the bruise that was already forming on
Charles’ face, “...uh, measures to be undertaken”. The officer nodded, smiled coldly, swiped viciously at
Charles with his baton, and returned to his waiting helicopter without uttering another word. For the
next fifteen minutes, the pair walked in silence, an incensed Charles fuming with indignation, until
arriving at what was most probably once a casino. Vasily halted, mumbled to Charles to follow him, and
strode towards the double doors.
The neon lights spelling ‘SVETAGRAD No.1 Gambling Parlour’ flickered on and off, emitting
an alarming electrical buzz at intervals of a few seconds. The vast room in which Vasily and Charles
found themselves was still bathed in a sickly green neon glow, as the casino attempted, feebly, to
maintain the veneer of fun and excitement it had probably lacked for a quarter of a century. Rats scurried
around the room, darting between the smashed machines and squeaking incessantly. The metallic voice
of the AudioVis in the building across the street wafted almost forlornly towards the pair, extolling the
success of the most recent 5 Year Plan, and reciting scintillating accounts of a great victory against the
Oceanian scum which Charles was sure he had heard of but a week ago, and, come to think of it, many
times before that as well. A musty, sickening smell invaded the pair’s nostrils as they proceeded towards
a small room where, perhaps, exclusive poker tournaments had once occupied the time of wayward Party
members before one of the 17 Great Purges. They opened the creaking door, its hinges protesting loudly
at their first use in so many years, and were greeted with the sound of four guns being cocked, and the
sight of the barrels of four black market Kalashnikov rifles challenging them to protest, to flee, to scream
“Gentlemen,” Vasily murmured, “allow me to introduce my accomplice, Charles - he will be
joining us for tonight’s operation!”. The four men, clad from head to toe in heavy fur, their faces masked
by balaclavas, raised their glasses of Glorious Babushka Vodka slightly, in recognition of the two new
recruits, and then, without more, turned to a map on the table. Charles’ eyes swept the room, noting
with incredulity an AudioVis in the corner of the room. He gasped, and stammered a warning to the
assembled crew. To his amazement, their response was measured, even lethargic. They explained that
Nadiya (at the mention of this name, one of the masked figures raised a feminine hand and waved
flirtatiously at Charles), a technical expert, had hacked the AudioVis to display a constant loop of an
empty room and squeaking rats. Far more subtle, Charles mused, than Vasily’s method of preventing
government intrusion, involving nothing but a hammer, and resulting in a smashed AudioVis in their
14 Scribe | Spring 2011
The map illustrated the famous Glorious North-Eastern Provincial Railway, linking Svetagrad
with the myriad of small villages that had grown up around it, as vassals to its vibrant might, back in the
days of its relative splendour and extravagance as the ‘Sin City’ of former Russia. Various points on the
map were circled with red pen, annotated in a scrawling, untidy fashion. Whilst he could only glean a
limited degree of information from the map, the sense of danger that permeated the room combined, of
course, with his knowledge of Vasily and his attitude, left him in no doubt as to the nature of the night’s
‘operation’. No need to spot the concealed explosives lying inconspicuously in the corner of the room;
no need to notice the stumps three of the conspirators had in place of fingers; no need to see the train
timetables and surveillance photographs pinned up on the wall; no need, indeed, for Vasily to tell him of
the dreadful, wonderful deed they would commit that night - they would explode, decimate, annihilate
a whole rail convoy of Party coal and pig iron.
Forgetting himself, a tentative smile slowly spread across Charles’ face. Tonight, he thought;
tonight his dissidence would become tangible.
The darkness was thick, the air thin. Charles could just distinguish Vasily’s spread-eagled
figure lying next to him, and could just discern his characteristic heavy breathing. He watched as his
breath became steam, and wondered if, perhaps, writing a diary was a better means of rebellion. It was
certainly more comfortable. Lev, the leader of their hastily-formed resistance group, hissed something
unintelligible at them. Over Vasily’s breathing, and the faint swirling of the freezing winds, he heard
the rhythmic sound of a distant train, inexorably heading towards them. An involuntary shiver ran
down his spine. His fingers fidgeted excitedly with the detonator grasped tightly in his hand. Scattered,
disjointed thoughts occupied his consciousness. Whatever happened to his mother? Does Vasily have a
family? Why, he mused, formulating this thought more coherently than the others, did the Party never
investigate the smashed AudioVis in his flat? But there was no time to focus on such trivialities. The
train approached ever closer. The sound intensified, became a deafening roar. Then, another, savage,
primal sound, raw yet clear.
“NOW!” his finger tightened around the trigger: he squeezed.
Balls of flame spontaneously erupted all across the track. Mangled pieces of metal, distorted by
the explosion, careered through the air. One narrowly missed Vasily, showering the pair with sparks and
scalding their faces. Charles screwed his eyes up tight, and shielded his face from the inferno. The heat
was almost unbearable - he winced audibly. He looked up to see the wreck of the train, and on ensuring
that the whole party was safe and unhurt, rubbed his hands together in a grim, satisfied manner. The
smoke tickled his throat, and he was consumed by a coughing fit. Vasily hauled him to his feet, and all six
of them began to stagger away into the night.
A whimper - barely audible, but most definitely a whimper. The group halted, straining their
ears. Hearing nothing, assuming it to be simply the grinding of two shards of metal, perhaps, they
continued on their way. Another whimper. Charles tapped Vasily lightly on the shoulder, and they
turned and started towards the train. The rest of the group followed close behind. Something pale
gleamed softly in the moonlight. Leaning down to investigate, Vasily’s inquisitive eyes were met by the
dying eyes of a young girl, no older than six or seven. The smile that had ingrained itself on his face
at their successful sabotage froze, refused to disappear. He touched the face softly, as if to verify its
Scribe | Spring 2011 15
reality, his hands becoming slick with blood. A solitary tear of anger trickled forlornly down his cheeks,
plopping silently onto the dead girl’s face. He glanced across the wreck of the train, saw hundreds,
thousands, perhaps, of similar dead or dying faces, some moaning, some weeping, some crying for their
parents, and howled. This was no raw materials shipment. This, realised Charles, was the New Svetagrad
Night Shift Under 12 Work Party.
Charles collapsed to his knees, breathing heavily, and retched pitifully. He crawled from lifeless
body to lifeless body, searching, praying to find a live body. Lev muttered, perhaps in a futile attempt at
consolation, “They are the future- they are the enemy. They are lost to Babushka already, indoctrinated
completely. The lives... the lives we have ended tonight were no lives, but hollow shells filled with the
“You fool!” Charles looked up, smiling bitterly, “your source, whoever told you of this train...
We’ve been set up!”
Charles barely registered the sound of helicopters beating the air above them, or the spluttering
of Party motorbikes hurtling towards them. Vasily’s futile efforts to fight the black clad Officers of
Babushka descending on the conspirators bought Charles time. He knew what he had to do, his duty to
Charles retrieved a crumpled photo from his jacket pocket, faded and creased with age. His eyes
met those of his mother, his father and a young, bubbly Charles tugging at his mother’s skirt. Behind
them, their small, rustic cottage in Provence, the lavender perpetually swaying in the wind. On the back,
he scrawled a short, simple message:
‘To the untainted of the future- The Past before the Present. Resist Babushka.’
He scrabbled in the snow, burying his message to future generations. They would break him, physically,
mentally and even emotionally. He would even deserve it. But his legacy, the faded picture in the snow,
would live on. He turned around, and was met with a boot to the face. The world spun round, and
16 Scribe | Spring 2011
Chris Combemale 9J2
A Glimpse of Reality
To look upon a starry night,
To look upon a setting sun,
Is but to see a glimpse of things
And fall into the midst of things.
Entangled in the world of men,
Where freedom’s said and spoken of,
But really there is nought but pain
In a world of fire, ice and death.
They speak of freedom,
Those so called leaders,
With minds corrupt
And greed in their souls.
‘Tis but a glimpse of what is real,
But what is real and what is not.
The question of reality.
Scott Gordon 11S2
Being accepted sounds simple, it sounds natural, as if it were an automatic pass into a party. But
circumstances change when the situation does not involve a party, where one is already accepted by
friends and highly respected. Being accepted is retrospectively the most important feeling a human being
can have; however it is glossed over with very little significance or meaning. Those who do not realise the
struggles certain humans face, those who do not consider other people for who they are, remain blind in
regard to the human soul. It is those ‘other people’ who sense neglect, a feeling of deprivation, and who
face the fear of having to answer questions regarding their own purpose in today’s society. These ‘people’
feel forgotten in society, isolated and low in self-esteem, questioning their existence and ultimately…
Jemima Owens never fluttered out of habit. Habit was second nature to her, and she never
considered her daily life a habit, but it was. It was habit in that she never spoke, never made eye contact
with anyone else in the home, never expressed her feelings to anyone. This was crushing her, internally
and externally. Her face was bland, lacking in life, like the feeling of emptiness. Her cheekbones forced
her fragile skin to stretch as if clinging onto survival. The bones in her hand seemed like the claws of
death forcefully trying to pull away everything from Jemima, so that she would no longer feel pain.
Scribe | Spring 2011 17
Her eyes seemed as if they had been gouged out
by a grizzly bear tearing its prey to shreds. The
horrific look on Jemima’s face suggested that
internally her memory had been distorted; there
was no connection between her and the outside
world. Even if you caught a glimpse of eye contact,
it was like staring into shattered glass; nothing.
All the other children in the home had formed a
sense of unity in their twelve years at Pinewood
Lodge. Jemima was the forgotten child once again.
The carers had given up hope of trying to restore
some sense of life into her enclosed private world.
Hopeful parents would turn a blind eye to the
delicate, spindle-legged girl who sat on the chair lifeless and transparent.
Jemima had arrived at the point in her life where she constantly questioned her purpose. “Why
me? Why am I the one who never smiles? What effect am I having on other people? I mean, it can only
be negative, look at me… I’m a monster, a savage little weirdo that nobody has ever wanted. Nobody
ever acknowledges me, so I don’t think it will make much difference if I was to… you know… go.” This
was Jemima’s strangled frame of mind, struggling for that glimpse of hope that was slowly fading away,
like a bubble that pops before being caught. All hope had vanished a long time ago, so for Jemima life
has constantly been a struggle to accept herself. Her mind was a butterfly trapped in hell; she had been
such a beautiful baby, but growing up she had in a way reversed the process and hibernated back into her
protective cocoon, away from the torments of her looks. This had made her problems more severe, for
now she was trapped in her destructive mind: something as tangled and twisted as a bowl of spaghetti.
Every thought she processed had a gate to freedom, but she never dwelled long enough to open it, and
therefore the barrage of pain was a continuous process that was draining every inch of life out of Jemima,
like sap trickling down a dying tree trunk.
Her habit continued and as new children replaced old children, Jemima never left her solitary
little chair in the corner of the room. She was fed up of somehow feeling deprived in a sea of other
unwanted kids. There were never any celebrations, and Jemima didn’t even know when her birthday
was: her own day of birth, the day that the earth disregarded another lonely soul. She wasn’t fussed; why
should she be when in her opinion it was the worst day of her life? She wished she had never been born,
at least then she thought the world would be a little bit brighter without her. So her time had come. The
carer walked into the communal bathrooms, walls covered in faeces because some kids were incapable
of the basic skills. The other children had all returned to the main hall drying off their weak, nutrition-
craving bodies. But Jemima had not. She had successfully navigated her way out of her habit stricken
routine; sitting in the chair and pondering. However, she had done so by ending her life, no longer
feeling lost in a world of materialistic creatures too busy in society to care about those suffering. She
seemed the same, her face was drained and her body as lifeless as usual. So what was wrong? Nothing,
her body seemed relieved, and she no longer appeared melancholy. She had been accepted into a place
much more welcoming.
18 Scribe | Spring 2011
Oliver Anisfeld L6R2
Walking on Death
I crossed the river shore that day
To be or not to be; I posed
The cry of the angel bent-
- it bent down
And back to the shore with daylight
If Kings and Queens could see
If I knew I could be that
- that – that very untouchable truth
But surely not, if happiness prevails.
When wandering alone in the midst of sea
Two fish. Two fish. But one paper bag
And had I not said to her, why
Not today? I would have walked
To be or not to ever be
A more pertinent frame of mind
But alas, I shall never be a part
Of what shall be in the rain’s descent
Oh Lord of the light
Come to my masterful hole
A pit of desire, wanting.
I turned that night, and in
the morning too I felt
The headless feathers of the cool
And I, I shall not surrender
Can we choose the last
Scribe | Spring 2011 19
Andrew Djaba 10S1
Are human beings inherently evil?
It is a fact that, of all the various different living species on this Earth, the human race has the greatest
capacity to harm. After all, we were originally simple, barbaric cavemen that have evolved into conscious,
intellectual beings capable of performing simply astonishing feats. However, after observing the pain
that we are capable of inflicting on each other, and the devastating effect this can have, the question of
whether we are inherently evil has haunted minds for years. This question was famously addressed in
William Golding’s novel, Lord of the Flies, in which a group of boys are deserted on an island and it is
not long before their inner savages are exposed. Why is it so easy for us to bring out our natural savagery
when we have tried so hard to suppress it?
We all know what anger feels like. For whatever reason, whether it is that we feel we’ve been
treated unjustly, we feel offended or we are unhappy with something, a flame of ire is ignited within us.
We carry on going over the matter in our heads and we are passionate about seeing justice being served.
Meanwhile, the flame continues to burn, increasing in size and stature. We stop thinking clearly, as we
are gradually taken over by our feelings. The anger becomes a fiery inferno within us, the pressure builds
and the heat rises, until it simply cannot be contained any longer and a volatile, volcanic release of anger
ensues as we lose control of our emotions and do something that we will inevitably regret. We literally
explode with rage. People deal with anger in different ways, such as by sulking, reacting violently, or by
suppressing it and letting it eat away at us. How each person deals with anger is not the issue though, the
alarming issue is how rapidly we lose the ability to think calmly and rationally and begin to allow our
emotions to take over and cloud our sound judgement. The original caveman would have been a being
fuelled by emotions and he would have done things based on these feelings. Throughout our evolution,
we have been led to believe that we are sophisticated, intelligent and special animals and, therefore,
we have tried to shun any of the characteristics that we share with the barbarians. But are we actually
much different from the cavemen? Have we been under the illusion that we are sophisticated when, in
actual fact, we are just hiding our true nature from others? Is our sense of self-worth just a hoax and,
underneath all of our layers of false superiority, are we just the same animalistic savages?
In this day and age, the media constantly bombards us with tales of horrendous crimes that
have been committed. The majority of us sit at home on our comfortable sofas, looking down our noses
at these depraved villains. We look into the eyes of the villain behind the screen and we wonder how a
human being can be so cruel that they can rape, how someone can be so evil that they can maliciously
take the life of another. We see the mug shots of the seemingly unremorseful fiend and we are led to
believe that the villain is pure evil. We immediately judge the offender based on what we are told about
them. We never consider the villain to be anything like us. A lot of us have a certain narcissistic, self-
righteous view of ourselves and we deem ourselves morally above these villains. We think, ‘There’s no
way I could be capable of doing something so wrong. I’m a good person with a set of moral values that
I will never disobey.’ However, we all know that when we aren’t in full control of our emotions, we are
capable of nearly anything. We all know that we have the capacity to be cruel and cause pain to others,
and to pretend otherwise is simply fooling ourselves. The question that we should be asking should not
be whether we are capable of such a crime. We all are. The questions should be why is it so easy for us to
20 Scribe | Spring 2011
disregard the values that we have been taught and descend into savagery when we have tried so hard to
suppress this side of ourselves, and why is it easier for some to be so cruel and not as easy for others?
It is a fact that certain aspects of human nature mean that we are able to be mercilessly evil to each other.
The Jamie Bulger case is proof of this evil within us. In this case, a two year old child was lured away
from his parents by two murderers. He was led to an abandoned railway station, where he was tortured
and eventually murdered. The crime was clearly pre-meditated and it was discovered that the murderers
were both ten years old. Their young age is what makes the crime even more revolting and makes me
question the morality of human beings. The fact that at such a young age, someone is able to inflict such
pain, and perform such vile acts upon someone else is horrific and, quite frankly, it terrifies me to think
of what else we could be capable of. However, we are not all walking around attacking each other and, in
general, we display a certain courtesy towards one another. So why do some members of society do these
things? I believe it is a mixture of nature and nurture. Most of us Habs boys are extremely fortunate.
We have loving parents who cater to our every need and we have grown up in a positive environment in
which people want to see us succeed. However, some people aren’t this lucky. The nature of their living is
terrible in comparison to ours. They have a low standard of living and they are surrounded by evil. Many
people either don’t have parents / guardians, or their parents / guardians simply don’t care about them.
These people are not nurtured in any way and are influenced by this negative environment that they’ve
become accustomed to and, due to a lack of opportunities, they are forced into a life of crime where they
do cruel acts on a regular basis. A wise man once said we learn 90% of all our knowledge from others
and, as they have not been taught otherwise, these people do not know how to suppress their inner
savage and they become the ‘evil’ people that we look down upon.
In my opinion, human beings are not inherently evil, but we all have a ‘mean streak’ inside
us. On numerous occasions, after hearing about yet another horrific crime, my belief that we are not
inherently evil has been tested. I think of the wildlife and the creatures that we call animals. None of
these species have been known to act so cruelly to their own kind. There have been no rabbit genocides.
No pigeons have manufactured nuclear bombs. There have been no fox world wars. Obviously this is
because these creatures don’t have the intellect to do so, but this makes me wonder. If our intellect has
allowed us to cause such devastation throughout the world, such as global warming, the countless wars
and the senseless violence, are we better off without this ‘intelligence’?
Perhaps it is, in fact, we humans that are the animals.
Scribe | Spring 2011 21
Jake Gilbey 8S
I Told You Not To Look
Arnold Craft was a man who was easily pleased.
He was quite happy in his own company, or in
the company of others. One person who he was
particularly fond of was his old grandfather. His
grandfather was called Sydney Craft and he lived
on the outskirts of London. Sydney had a long grey
beard and a receding hairline that had wispy grey
hairs all combed down into a neat pattern.
Although it was a long drive for Arnold to
reach his grandfather he still visited about once a
week and always brought with him a good bottle of
port and a roast chicken. He would often visit on a
Friday evening when his grandfather would be in a good, stress-free mood, unwinding from the week.
Every time he went to his grandfather’s house he would always wait until just the right time to
ask his grandfather a question that he knew would not be easily answered. He always waited until after
his grandfather was full up and had a good deal of port in his belly. His grandfather would be sitting on
the recliner, rubbing his chest and occasionally dosing off. At this point Arnold would ask in a discreet
manner what was in the wooden box that stood on his grandfather’s shelf; every week his grandfather
would quickly jump and sharply say, ‘You never look in this box, Arnold, never’.
This box was a fine piece of mahogany, crafted beautifully with a bespoke handle and detailed
patterns. The mahogany was always glinting in the sun, and looked truly magnificent. It was a very old
box that he suspected was very delicate; however he had always wanted to know what was inside this
box. At first it was curiosity, but over the years it grew to be an obsession. He had taken photographs and
measurements of the box and tried to find what objects could fit inside the box.
One evening he went over to his grandfather’s house as usual, and did the usual things. His
grandfather still refused to tell him what was inside the box, and everything seemed normal. Up until
his grandfather’s fourth glass of port. At this point his grandfather lit a cigar and lay back, staring at
Arnold. After about ten minutes of the staring his grandfather began to speak, ‘Arnold I’m not going to
be around for much longer anymore. I’m old and frail and will be long gone from this world very soon,’
(his grandfather was a devout Christian), ‘so when I die I want to tell you this. Despite the urges I know
you have, don’t open the box. If you do, very bad things will happen. Do you understand me? ’Arnold
nodded. And that was the way the evening ended: on a slightly less than cheery note.
About a year later as predicted, Arnold’s grandfather passed away. He had a failing heart and
died peacefully in his bed. Arnold was heart-broken. When it came to go to his grandfather’s house to
collect the mementos he wanted, he picked up the box.
When he got home he had to fight himself to stay away from the box. After a week, he hid the
box from himself. The next he suspended it where he could not reach. Next he put it in a ring of knives.
It was driving him mad.
One lonely evening he had had enough. He tore into the shed where he kept the box and
22 Scribe | Spring 2011
grabbed it, getting cut five times by the knives. He rushed into his living room and set the box down on
the coffee table. As he thought of what his grandfather had said, he thought that whatever was in that
box, good or bad, he wanted to know what it was.
Cautiously he opened the box to reveal an old leather diary. He had only opened the box a
fraction of the way. He stared at the leather diary and suddenly remembered what it was. In school when
he was in Year 3 he had kept a diary through all of his school life. He had poured his heart into the pages
and had given the finished thing to his grandfather for safe-keeping. It was the most precious thing he
owned. Eager to read it again, he swung the lid fully open.
Suddenly a spark of fire hit the book and it burned to a cinder. He stared, watching his most
precious belonging fry. As he looked around the insides of the box he noticed a lit match. It had been the
lid. As he had opened it he had struck the match, thus lighting the book. Then he saw a note on the side
of the box. He picked it up and it said, ‘I told you not to look!’
Scribe | Spring 2011 23
Jordan Bernstein 8R
A Second Shot (at Life)
The house was normal, set in the normality of Hertfordshire. A
large house, but used only by one couple. It would be unfair to say
that the house was the root of all of their marital problems; you
could blame those on alcohol and general mistrust. No, all the
house did was bring out the worst in them. Right from the start
she knew they could not afford it, but of course, he had insisted,
flashing that boyish smile that had turned her heart to putty when
the marriage was young. Devoting all of his time to renovation
upon renovation, losing his job was not a shock to her.
Not all of the problems lay with money, it was not that simple.
After he lost his job, his days of common sense were numbered.
He began to drink heavily, at home and in public, to her utter
embarrassment. Whether out of spite for her or love for the house,
she knew not, but he refused to sell, wouldn’t hear of it. He turned
violent when she mentioned the subject, or anything to do with the
mortgage or banks, or money.
There was always divorce: she had looked into it. She was
afraid though. They had married at nineteen and she had never worked a day in her life. She would not
make it. Besides, he would find her and take her down for taking half of everything. He would not give up
and she often laughed at herself for finding his persistence one of his endearing qualities in teenage years.
It was too late for other options. There was nothing she could do to escape her own personal hell
and no other options for her. She had nothing to lose. Perhaps that was the reason why she had done it,
bought it in the first place and used it no less than an hour later. Perhaps that was what she told herself
when she did the deed and what she was telling herself in the final seconds of her life. Perhaps that was why
he now lay dead on the floor.
After she had done it she felt no guilt, but began to look at her life: not a particularly good one.
Curse this house! She hated it, a symbol of everything wrong! It was sad to think that the last thing she
would think about would be an eternal curse, but that was what she was thinking as she drew the gun to
her head, and pushed it with all her might just above her right ear.
She looked down at him. He and this house, it was like they were having an affair. In fact, she
would have probably preferred an affair, that way she would not have to live and spend each day in a home
A short life yes, but this was how it was. She shifted her feet so that she would land next to him,
so they would be side by side.
A second shot was fired.
24 Scribe | Spring 2011
Ben Peacock L6R1
Is Harry Potter really so bad for you?
There will almost certainly be plenty of Scribe readers who have,
at some point in their secondary school education, reached a
point where they are afraid of admitting that the Harry Potter
series contains their favourite books. Whether this is through
fear of being reprimanded by an English teacher who thinks
they should be reading something a tad more advanced, or
scoffed at by perhaps more advanced literary friends, or most
probably a combination of the two, this is a feeling shared by
Everybody knows that if you are hoping to develop
your skills of critical analysis for GCSE or A-level English
Literature, the reading of Harry Potter is unlikely to be the
most helpful thing that you could possibly do. What I aim
to do in this brief but undoubtedly controversial feature is to
challenge the stereotypical view that Harry Potter is simply a children’s story with little value or meaning
to any sensible human-being above the age of eleven.
Harry Potter does not only contain a multitude of important life lessons for us all, but
surprisingly, we are able to identify and truly empathise with a number of characters in the plot. This
is because Harry Potter differs from your average magical fantasy in that the characters are very much
human, with very human characteristics. Children attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and
Wizardry may be studying magic, but they are still faced with the problems of homework, examinations,
demanding teachers and adolescent love affairs. Given that we operate in a school-based environment
too (albeit different from Hogwarts in many ways), we are often able to put ourselves in the shoes of
Harry, in particular in the many difficult school-related situations in which he finds himself. This means
that we can find ourselves becoming surprisingly involved in the events of the books.
Harry Potter demonstrates the value of loyalty in life, both in the form of friends (primarily
through Ron and Hermione) and family (through Sirius Black’s sincere god-fatherly feelings towards
Harry and Mr and Mrs Weasley’s parental affections). It also provides regular evidence of the power of
emotions over physical injury (in particular during Harry’s harrowing encounters with the dementors).
I could provide further thoughts and evidence by going through each section of each book in
the series, but would rather leave you with more of a sharp taste of my views so that you can investigate
them further… or disregard them, at your peril.
Ultimately, Harry Potter provides that balance between an exciting fantasy world and one with
which we can strongly identify. Reading about the human-like struggles of Harry can often help us to
put our own troubles into perspective, as well as to escape into a different world during times of great
strife in our own lives. It is this above almost all else that makes Harry Potter a valid read not just for
primary school children, but for teenagers and adults alike.
Scribe | Spring 2011 25
Jacob Harris 10J1
The boy with the mulberry coloured birthmark arose from his
untimely sleep with the scorching sun beaming down on his unique
face. He smiled to show his simple satisfaction for the rest he had
so desperately needed. Unaware that he had been deserted by the
people he thought of as the ‘strange big ones’, he leapt to his feet
rapidly. The seven-year-old boy had just had a revelation – he
realised where he was. A surge of panic scurried through his veins,
his knees grew numb and he was short of breath. His eyes frantically
scanned the non-existent scene of utter chaos which still had the
resemblance of excited children bursting with energy. The vivid
yellow sand had been hectically kicked up, the assembly log had
been swerved round hastily and all the powers the boy had seen in
the conch were now just a dazed fantasy hidden in his imagination.
The boy with the mark on his face collapsed onto the floor,
closed his innocent young eyes and took a deep breath to relax
himself. When he stood up it was clear that he was now able
to compose himself in a surprisingly mature fashion for a boy of his age. Now serene, the boy knew
he only had one choice. He had to find the others. He walked forward cautiously and came across a
distorted path surrounded by tropical trees. It was at this moment of uncertainty that the boy thought
of his parents and his eyes welled up. He missed them so much that even the thought of seeing them
again instilled a frightening determination in the boy to leave the island. The emphatic soldier marched
through the pain purposefully.
A certain noise was distressing the warrior. He tried to ignore the disturbing sounds and
focussed his attention on the ground. However, his curiosity got the better of him and he looked around
for the noise. But then nothing. Suddenly, a bewildering rustling sound sent shivers down his spine. He
began to hear the trees conspiring against him and the crackling of their firm, stretched out branches,
mocking his weak young bones. Adrenaline coursed through his diminutive body, alerting his senses
to shelter his vulnerability. The now paralysed boy saw an obscure, intimidating figure hiding in the
enchanted trees. It had terrorised the other inferior creatures from living there and the petrified boy
could see no other signs of life.
A glimpse of a bright flash of light caught the corner of his eye. Unfazed by this he focussed
all his attention back onto the dark mysterious figure hidden by the twisted and tangled barks. By this
point the boy was on edge. He slowly stepped forward not knowing what to expect. Conscious of his
surroundings the boy turned swiftly. To his astonishment an enormous fire was engulfing the other side
of the island. His instincts took over. He leapt up into the air and scampered down the path. Questions
swirled around the young boy’s mind but one stood out: who started the fire?
Disorientated, the boy sprinted straight through the captivating forest like a sharp bullet shot
from a gun. He made sure that his eyes did not wander from the path ahead and his legs did not stop
from powering on. Fixated on fleeing the ferocious furnace he lost control of his body. A gust of wind
26 Scribe | Spring 2011
blew his thick hazel coloured hair into his eyes yet his hands could not escape from the rhythmic motion
forced upon them by his awkward limbs.
When his hair was flicked out of his eyes it revealed a shimmering indigo profusion of water.
The tranquil scene sent the boy’s body into a soothing state. His heart rate slowed from a violent thump
of blood to a gentle pulse. His heavy, tense, contracted muscles relaxed into a light, tender cushion
loosening the strain on his frail bones. Catching his breath he sat down on a distorted rock. Staring into
the vast open space the boy, now exhausted, fell into a deep trance. He began to dream about his old life
and said a plea to G-d to send him back to his loving parents.
After the boy had caught his breath he spontaneously decided to walk into the clear green sea.
Although he was not a good swimmer and usually had to wear armbands, he still loved swimming,
especially when he went with his boisterous cousins. Slowly walking into the ocean a wave of tranquillity
swept over him. He felt at peace with the world again. The water was cold and nipped at his young
thighs. Unable to muster the courage to go any deeper into the calm sea he dashed out and sat on the
warm soft sand. He felt his eyelids start to grow heavy and dozed off to sleep.
A large raindrop landed on the boy’s marked face. This woke him almost instantaneously. He
rushed to his feet and knew that he had to get to shelter. Wildly scanning his surroundings, he noticed
an enormous cracked rock near the end of the beach. Soaking wet and now freezing cold, he scurried
to where the rock was. When he reached it he soon realized that it was in fact a dark, damp cave. With
difficulty the dripping wet boy lifted himself into the natural shelter. He curled his body up into a ball
to save some of his precious body warmth. Still tired from the stressful day, the young child went back to
Morning came with the piercing sun gleaming down from above. The boy with the mulberry
coloured birthmark slowly opened his sleepy eyes and stretched his arms and legs to wake his worn out
body. He was starving and instinctively knew that he needed to eat. Jumping out of the cave he noticed
a tree-bearing fruit. The fruit was a burning red colour and to any human with more experience in life
they could have realised that it was poisonous. However, the youngster was only seven and did not know
any better. He contemplated how he would attempt to get the fruit off the tree and came up with the
best solution he could think of. He would use the long crooked stick that was next to the tree of ‘life’
and try to nudge the precious fruit off. The boy’s endeavours were dismissed by the very tall branches
of the tree. The irritated boy kept trying, but could not find a way to balance the extended branch.
Growing frustrated, he hit the side of the tree with his miniscule foot and then held it in pain facing the
sea. When the pain had ceased he saw a boat gracefully gliding through the flat ocean. Overwhelmed
with excitement, the exhilarated boy launched himself forward and did not halt until he reached the
water. Without thinking he started to paddle towards the boat. Unaware of how far out to sea he was the
oblivious boy kept on striding forward.
Roger had just been hunting from behind his dark cryptic mask of intertwining leaves and
contorted branches. He had headed down the side of the island and was now observing the boy with the
mulberry coloured birthmark splashing around dramatically in the sea.
The boy with the mark on his face ran out of energy and tried to stand up. However, when he
did so, he could not reach the bottom of the sea. The seven-year-old boy had dug himself into a large
hole. Frantically splashing and kicking the water he tried to keep himself afloat but the task was turning
Scribe | Spring 2011 27
out to be too difficult for the boy to complete. His head was not above the water for long.
Meanwhile Roger, much older than the drowning boy and a strong swimmer, was observing
the struggling child fight for his life in the sea. It suddenly hit him. He could save the young boy’s life.
However, an invincible barrier was holding Roger back. It bound Roger down and prevented his dark
skin from entering into the sunlight. He just spectated the suffering of the young child with a frightening
The boy with the mulberry coloured birthmark struggled to gasp one last breath of fresh air, and
within seconds the child was gone, as was the last of Roger’s humanity.
Daniel Lee 9R2
There is no mother or a father without a child. Until the magic
of childbirth, they are mere men and women. The birth of
their baby bestows upon a man and woman the most joyous
feeling known to the human race. The vicissitudes of the nine-
month long process of suffering and happiness culminate in a
unique human being. The mother and her offspring possess an
unbreakable bond where one without the other experiences
deep suffering and pain. Nobody can explain the feeling
of a mother without her child, for it is too horrendous to
In the year 1813, Britannia suffered a piercingly icy
winter, felt most profoundly in London’s East End. Many
a man had been reduced to begging in rags for the tiniest slither of bread. Begging vagabonds were
commonplace in London, but this was not the only source of unlawful income. Theft, Murder, Assault,
Kidnappings and Prostitution were rife. It seemed the law had no authority in the East End.
Mary Tyler was about to roam the streets to provide food for her eight hungry children. She
loved her eight children dearly and swore to G-d that she would look after them until the very day she
died and marched through the gates of heaven. She was a religious woman and believed that G-d would
eventually provide, and therefore swore never to steal.
It was a bitingly cold night, and after Ms. Tyler told her children The Story of The Three Bears,
she wrapped every last rag in her one bedroom tenement as tight as she could around her and stepped
outside. The wind forced the doors to rattle like beating snare drums and as she stepped out into the
cruel night, the wind hissed and roared like a dragon.
As she embarked on her scavenging hunt, the cold tore against her thin rags and her feet started
to numb. She tried to hum her fear away as she bent down over a rubbish bin, with rust clinging like her
children unto her. She sighed with disappointment as she saw more of the usual: emptiness.
28 Scribe | Spring 2011
As she stood and turned away to continue her endeavours, her nightmare began. She saw a
hooded man, with eyes as black as coal, his face covered in dirt and grime and each of the bristles on his
chin like tar. Ms. Taylor noticed the miniscule details in an instant. She tried to scream, but to no avail as
his dirty hand covered her mouth. She knew her fate. There was nothing she could do.
Nine months later, with eight starving children and suffering from major trauma, Ms. Taylor
started to have her contractions. She had to endure the pain of walking the half-mile to the hospital.
Upon her eventual arrival she collapsed immediately with feet peppered with blisters and sweat upon her
brow. Upon waking, she had a beautiful baby cradled in her arms. Upon seeing her baby’s petite fingers
and nose Mary felt a strange sense of pride. She instantly forgot her awful circumstances and despite
encountering this experience eight times previously it still felt perfect. She then noticed the baby’s face
being as pale as a ghost and its eyes similar to that of its father, wide open and as black as coals. Except
these eyes were not blinking or moving at all. Ms. Taylor let out a scream and the nurse rushed over.
Dr. Jameson pronounced the baby dead the following evening.
The death of baby Taylor worsened Ms. Taylor’s trauma and at the nearby graveyard the funeral
had only eight guests as Ms. Taylor’s eldest ran away to the city without even a farewell. Her heart sank
as the small and simple coffin was lowered into the ground. She wanted to wail but suppressed the urge
so as not to disturb her baby’s eternal sleep.
Three days later, as Father Edwards was strolling through his graveyard, he suddenly heard a
noise. He thought nothing of it; perhaps a bird or even a stray cat. He was struck with terror as he heard
the cry again. He cautiously paced towards the voice. Louder, louder, louder! He stood over the grave.
He cried for help. Nothing. He cried again. Silence. He ran for a shovel and dug like never before. He
then summoned almost supernatural strength as he wedged open the thin coffin. He gasped as the baby’s
coal black eyes adjusted to the light.
Shortly thereafter, as the light faded, Ms. Taylor arrived at the graveyard, along with two
policemen. Upon seeing her beloved child, she immediately broke down into tears. She clutched her
baby and let out a tortured scream.
Despite being reunited with her baby, the mental pain became unbearable. Her trauma and
depression substantially worsened. She could not suffer the pain any longer. She had to kill or kill herself.
Ms. Taylor decided to use every last penny of her and her children’s money to buy a murderous tool.
Ms. Taylor wore a black hooded rag, similar to that of the unknown man of ten months
previous. She clutched her dagger and ran as fast as her skinny legs could carry her into the night.
Thunder roared across the sky and lightning momentarily illuminated all. She saw the house.
With a possessed look in her eyes and soaked to the skin, she approached the house. Frantically and as
her heart pounded, she read the words ‘Jameson family household’ on the plaque above the door. She
knocked six times, for the number of the condemned. The door opened. He was there, the man that had
caused everything, the man who had proclaimed her baby dead!
She pulled her deathly tool from her rags, a razor-sharp knife. The knife had the sole purpose of
annihilating Dr. Jameson. In another flash of lightning, each of the jagged blades glistened as if it were
the Angel of Death’s sign of approval. With a vicious movement, Ms. Taylor raised her hand and thrust
Scribe | Spring 2011 29
the knife into the doomed surgeon’s gut. Blood spat out of his stomach like a cobra spitting venom. The
dying man desperately called for his mother, but she never came to his aid. Ms. Taylor uncontrollably
screamed that her baby had called for its mother. As she shouted, she ripped the knife through the side
of his stomach like a knife through butter. It was the closest Ms. Taylor ever came to having a red dress.
The man fell to the ground with his eyes wide open.
Ms. Taylor felt the most insane sense of relief as her eyes widened; she felt free as she let out a
sickly grin and a prayer. Then, she raised the knife once more and pointed it at herself.
Ms. Mary Taylor was never seen again.
James Colenutt L6M1
This is a poem.
It’s not very good,
It doesn’t really rhyme,
Although it probably should.
This is a poem.
About nature and stuff,
But there’s not much to write,
It’s really quite tough.
This is a poem.
Is it deliberately bad?
An ironic post-modernist approach mocking the absurdity of the human psyche?
No. It’s just a poem.
30 Scribe | Spring 2011
Ben Peacock L6R1
Innocent to Guilty in One Minute
I had always loved going to the theatre. For me, it was always preferable to see actors in the flesh as
opposed to prancing around on a screen. It somehow seemed more realistic and thought-provoking.
It was therefore with mounting excitement that I stepped lightly off the stiflingly hot and crowded
Underground train in central London one Saturday evening and headed towards the busy escalator.
As was normal, the advertisements jostling for attention on either side of the escalator failed to
hold my attention for long. I therefore resolved to listen to the argument of the couple behind me before
realising that it was in a tongue that I had never even heard before.
By this point, I had reached the teeming ticket hall at street level, which was bordered with the
customary half a dozen security officials standing in yellow jackets and looking like spare parts. I took a
cursory glance at my brand new Swatch watch – enough to ascertain that I was a couple of minutes early.
I therefore positioned myself with my back to the sweet shop and fixed a beady eye on the tops of the
escalator for my friend, John, to appear.
Seven o’clock came and went in a flourish, however. Trust John to be late. By five past seven,
I became increasingly aware that I was the only unaccompanied person in the room. Excitable young
couples walked past, hand in hand, only sparing a fleeting glance for the odd man standing on his
own. Ten past seven. Even that morose looking bloke struggling to fit through the ticket barrier was
surrounded by a horde of five or six friends. A quarter past seven. I was beginning to get seriously
frustrated now – the performance started in just fifteen minutes and John with his abominable
timekeeping was going to ruin it.
By twenty past seven, I began to worry that something was wrong. Had John perhaps mistaken
the date? Had there been an accident? I started to pace up and down in front of the sweet shop, my
stride lengthening all the time. I took out my old mobile phone to call John, but realised that it was out
Not really knowing what good it would do, I descended the escalator. It felt better to be moving
rather than standing by the ticket barrier looking awkward.
It was when I was almost halfway down the escalator that I heard the first signs of a commotion.
It came in the form of a muffled yell, followed by the sound of a body hitting the hard stone floor at the
bottom of the escalator. I stood on tiptoe to see over the head of the rather tall man in front of me, and
realised with a jolt of panic that the man on the floor was John. A broad man wearing a tracksuit and
hood appeared to be bearing down upon him.
“Say that again! Go on, say it!” was all that I could hear the man say. Even as I watched, the man
aimed a kick at John, who howled in pain as he shuffled backwards towards the damp wall.
A small group of people had already stopped in their tracks to watch the scene with open
mouths, but no one seemed brave enough to step in. It was as the attacker aimed a second kick at John
that I broke. I was not going to let this man hurt my friend like that. Pushing people roughly aside, I
bounded down the left-hand side of the escalator and took the last six steps at a jump, landing slightly
ungainly at the bottom. Within seconds, I had recovered myself, charged past the ever-growing crowd of
onlookers and entered the fray.
Scribe | Spring 2011 31
Adrenalin is a strange thing and can have all sorts of effects on the human body. In this instance,
the mixture of anger and panic strengthened me as I swung my fist upwards ferociously, just as John’s
attacker turned to face the newcomer. I felt my fist make contact with his face and heard his nose break.
Blood came pouring out from both his nostrils as I recoiled, horrified at what I had done, my hand
dripping in blood.
I staggered backwards against the wall and slumped at its foot, just as the first police officer
hurtled into sight. Before I knew what had happened, I had been pulled to my feet and was standing
upright with my arms pinioned to my sides. John’s attacker was nowhere to be seen.
I was for it now… and all for one minute of madness. How things can go wrong.
32 Scribe | Spring 2011
Ameya Tripathi U6H2
What It Would Be Like
In our busy lives there is less and less time to think creatively about the world and its problems. This past
week, a week off for me, has been spent either doing lots of things or doing nothing whatsoever. The
problem that I have, and that many people have, is that the periods of doing nothing are too short, and
the periods of trying to do everything are too short to actually accomplish everything.
The creative artist, obsessed with his work, manages to do both nothing and everything at the
same time. They will sit in their studio or in front of their laptop, in silent contemplation, and then
suddenly thousands of words or colours will emerge. The human treated like a mechanical part on a
conveyor belt cannot so readily do this. Five hundred words, let alone three thousand, is a strain, and
so productivity rates drop dramatically. While the artist may spend days or even weeks producing very
little, overall he produces a significant amount.
Why does productivity matter? To a wedding planner or any other type of organiser, it matters
a great deal. As you sit in front of your computer with a great vision in your head, you think about the
reification process, and begin to realise just how difficult it will be. It is a great struggle to reify anything;
to take anything from your own private mental space and share it with the world, build a fortress
out of it, encamp on it, and invite others into it. One of the reasons why philosophers in a branch
of philosophy called metaphysics have so much trouble is that they spend much of their time asking
questions like ‘If God doesn’t exist, from where does our concept of Him derive?’ and ‘in what space, in
what construct, do words like ‘God’, and ‘unicorn’ and ‘dragon’ exist?’.
For the artist it is obvious; they exist in the imagination, and that is no bad thing, but for those
who connect the imagination with practical, public action, a huge and vicious struggle commences.
We need only look at the last few thousand years of religion, where the moral imaginations of various
prophets and teachers took millennia to be reified. There are disputes over whether their private
mental spaces have been adequately reified - reified in the right way, or distorted out of shape. Religion
constructed a great number of tools to allow us to get to another’s mind. Like all great literatures, it
realised that the key to making something in one’s mind arrive in another’s mind is to possess the mind
of another, and that is why religion is taught or inculcated at an early age. Religion uses terms like ‘the
flock’ to describe the passive acceptance of ideas that its disciples should undertake, with the intention
of possessing the flock with one, overarching idea. The reason why we take solace in religion, why it
remains so pervasive, why it appears ineliminable for better or worse, is because it has gone the furthest
in solving what is conventionally known as the problem of other minds. All great literatures attempt to
solve the problem of other minds: by evocative writing, winning arguments, or whispering metre. But
religion is the one mode of literature which has a hermetically sealed power structure, a hierarchy, where
one man has an authority to pronounce an interpretation of the text. If an idea is diffuse, it will not
possess a subject as readily as if it were concentrated, and so the ideas found on a page are concentrated
into sharp messages so that we are more readily possess-able - then weaved into lilting hymns and
lullabies, until the possession is complete.
This analysis is perhaps most striking because of its unoriginality. At the same time, I hope it is
striking because of its ostensible effort to be morally neutral - indeed, there is even a sense of admiration.
Scribe | Spring 2011 33
Religion is so potent - so pervasive! As Philip Sidney once said, there is little use in teaching virtue if the
method of instruction is c**p. (He didn’t quite say that).
Where does this leave us? The problem of other minds is an epistemological one i.e. how do
we know that other minds exist? If all we are aware of is our own mind, how can we assume there are
others? Are we not just imagining the minds of others? It is most serious because it appears to suggest
that communication would be quite difficult - if you do not know whether other minds are there, how
are you able to communicate? (This is why Wittgenstein’s private language argument ‘dissolves’ the
problem). But the underlying notion within this problem is a problem in general about how to reach
‘the other’ when we are seemingly so self-contained.
It sounds difficult. Philosophers often appear to create insuperable obstacles, only to dissolve
them with a fillip. But a matter of observation, it is not so difficult.
Imagine a child, a four year old child. They are on a road on a sweltering day, in a bright white
polo shirt and khaki shorts. Their hair is fluttering in the wind. The trees are swaying, but they’re not
asking for attention, like a quiet drunk that lingers in the corner. The infant has big eyes - let’s say they
are blue eyes, watery eyes, because those eyes are always the most compelling. Their big blue watery
eyes are fixed up above, as if into the heavens. And they seem alone. Their parents are actually right by
them, huge six foot monsters talking to each other, with glasses of beer in their hands, blocking out the
midday sun with their shadows. They know their son is right by them, but in their own stratosphere
they enjoy a conversation instead about something else, something immeasurably trivial yet spoken of
as if immeasurably important. Their eyes are large too as they look at each other, but darker, and full of
love, not longing like the infant’s eyes. The infant is not looking up longingly at them - that will come
next - instead the little boy is looking up at the counter of an ice-cream van. There is a fading poster, with
a choco-ice, for ninety nine pennies. The child looks up in wonderment. Nothing can take his attention
away from the choco-ice. He begins to dribble but the two beer glasses take little notice. Suddenly, the
child himself is a choco-ice, and his parents are beer glasses, clinking away, while his dribble has turned
into the creamy white vanilla inside a choco ice, and his little white polo shirt has become the little
white stick that props the choco-ice up. The creamy fizz at the top of the pints of beer is like the speckled
white in the father’s hair; the speckled white in the mother’s hair; the speckled white in the hair of the
man who sold it to them; the speckled white of the hair of the man who made it and the speckled white
of the hair of the main who paid him to do so.
This is what the world would look like were we able to see in each other’s private mental spaces. Big
chocolate ice creams and pints of cold beer. These are the things that possess us; not partially in our
thoughts, but one hundred percent of our thoughts. Religion aims to make us all bars of choco-ice and
pints of beer.
That is what it is like to be possessed. Often, when we ask questions such as ‘how do we know
whether there are others who have minds, and what is going on in their minds?’ we believe we are asking
evaluative, mechanistic questions, but come away unsatisfied with evaluative, mechanistic answers.
Often, I suspect, what we are really asking, is for a mere description. What we are asking for is ‘what
it would be like were I in another’s mind’. We are asking what it would be like? What would it be like
if we lived like this? What would it be like if we intervened in Libya? What would it be like if we all
34 Scribe | Spring 2011
invested in solar power? What would it be like if McCain was President? What would it be like if this
hadn’t happened, and that had happened instead? What would it be like; these are questions of the
imagination? They are not questions for social science students and philosophy students to atomise,
evaluate. They are not questions even for linguists to dissolve. They are questions for the imagination. If
the medium of instruction is c**p; if we don’t get through to that imagination, then we will struggle to
be convinced. We continue, too often, to think that there is some one rational faculty operating in one
corner of the brain, and some creative off-the-wall faculty operating in another. What we fail to do, often
and readily, is concede that sometimes convincing people isn’t about answering the why questions, or
the how questions, but the what questions. When a young child is transfixed, possessed, by the choco-
ice, he is not asking why questions or how questions. He is asking what questions. What is it? What it
is, or what it is not? It is an ice cream. A big chocolate covered ice cream, crunchy, with creamy vanilla
inside. It continues to be religion which best answers the what questions, and it is for this reason that it,
unsurprisingly, with effects sometimes over-determined and good but largely underdetermined and bad,
remains such a pervasive force in our minds, and in the minds of others.
Scribe | Spring 2011 35
Henryk Hadass 10R2
A Very Short Story
Across the arid plain of the Arizona desert the sun rose slowly over the flat horizon, suffusing it in golden
light. Boulders and trees threw long, thin shadows across the fine sand and the still air began to fill with
the tentative sounds of waking animals. Somewhere in the distance coyotes howled over their first kill.
The tarmac of the interstate cut across the desert like a black scar, smooth yet slightly raised.
A low rumbling could be heard in the distance, faint at first, yet gradually increasing until the
noise of a six-litre engine could be heard distinctly going at full throttle. As if in response, the animals
fell silent and cowered behind rocks, whiskers and ears quivering, staring with their curious eyes at the
approaching open-topped car. It was a vintage dark blue 1972 Corvette, with cream leather upholstery
and white-rimmed Good-Year tyres. The sun glinted off the polished chassis as the car thundered past,
leaving a trail of orange dust in its wake.
The single occupant of the car was a man, dressed in a black cashmere suit with a turtleneck
sweater underneath. His pale skin seemed almost translucent under the fierce sun and his light blonde
hair, which quivered in the wind, gave him the appearance of a ghost.
It wasn’t often that he had a whole weekend to himself; work, inevitably, made sure of that.
It was at times like this when he felt at peace driving through the Arizonian desert, that he played his
collection of old blues and jazz tapes which he had brought on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. He let
the music wash over him, calm him, make him forget about what he had to do tomorrow, softening his
frown lines. The hands on the wheel loosened their white-knuckled grip.
The interstate took a right, causing him to reach out and lower the visor to shield him from the
sun. Which was why he didn’t see the cougar in the middle of the interstate, nor the tree by the side of
the road into which he swerved to avoid it. ‘Wonderful World’ by Sam Cooke could be heard playing
from the speakers.
It wouldn’t be long before the coyotes got to him.
36 Scribe | Spring 2011
Marcus Rapacioli 9J1
A Monologue of the Strangled Lady
(inspired by Brueghel’s ‘Children’s Games’)
It was upon this conventional day,
That I stopped and saw a sight to remember.
The vicar, good lord,
Was chasing Veronica!
We had just been in church,
Deep in prayer and thought.
Now here he is,
Betraying his Lord!
I saw him snatch at the purse,
And kick her down.
Then slowly, but slowly, he spun around.
His eyes fell on mine and what I had seen.
Gayly he skipped, like a new born lamb.
He said “Good day, Mrs. Peacock,”
Before jumping onto my back.
My bag it seemed he had no need to snatch.
Witnesses? Not, for his rebellious crime.
He wished it so and began to strangle.
Good heavens, the priest of all people, not he.
What could I do but pray for help, and wish to be free?
There were hundreds, more, people around, yet all were blind.
“Oh!” they thought,” another playground game, no panic, no crime.”
It was lucky, of course,
That the Lord was on my side.
He enlightened a man with wisdom inside.
It stood in the corner; a hat and turquoise robe,
The man who bore them simply gazing at me.
He could see it! My distressful pain.
The priest had gone rogue, he saw it clear!
At last I was saved,
God bless him for the kindness he showed.
Scribe | Spring 2011 37
Salman Sheikh L6S1
Being the first holiday abroad that we could afford to go on, the family trip to Kos was certainly an
unforgettable experience; the busy markets, the vast mountains and the exotic beaches excited the
senses and thrilled my young mind. To this day I still remember the trip with remarkable accuracy and
vivid detail; the beautiful, golden sand, the clear azure skies. Most memorably, however, was the epic
structure that was the Nisyros Volcano, enveloped by a divine aura that left you awestruck with every
glance. When I close my eyes I can still transport myself back to that site and feel the cool breeze passing
over me as I stand in the middle of the tepid ocean, looking back over my shoulder past the trees to the
volcano itself. The events that I experienced within that paradise will remain with me always and have
irreversibly altered my person and shaped my character.
The clock struck ten as the coach, filled to the rim with excited tourists, had finally reached its
destination. I jumped off the aged vehicle enthusiastically and immediately felt the sun beating down as
if attempting to warn me of the dangers ahead. Turning back towards the coach I was instantly struck by
the awesome Nisyros. Its giant shaft reached to the heavens almost in recognition of its creator, forcing
the surrounding environment to bow down in respect. The ambivalence that I was feeling seemed to be
shared with the rest of my company: I was not sure whether to fear it or respect its divinity as the natives
did, almost in an act of worship. Our anxieties soon started to show as we became more and more
nervous with every moment we spent staring at God’s most prominent creation. I attempted to regain
control of my shaking legs and clumsily stumbled towards my family who had left me behind once my
muscles locked up in fear of this giant.
Approaching the entrance to the great Nisyros I felt the heat build as the sun persisted in its
warnings. Foolishly ignoring its silent alarms we continued to the raging, ravenous surface that once
more filled me with terror. The deep red rock resembled the glowing coals of hell and the divinity
with which I originally viewed this wonder suddenly vanished as this volcano adopted a hellish charm,
implanting fear deep into our hearts. As the tour guide advanced I realised I was about to start the
journey through the volcano; I was not ready, neither physically nor mentally.
As I staggered along the first few steps, I began to relax, feeling more confident with each
stride. I had not been walking for thirty seconds before my feet failed me and I slipped. Suddenly it
felt like Nisyros was a black hole, ready to engulf anything that dared approach it. I had grazed my
knee, cut my arm and torn the thin, cotton shorts. All of a sudden, I regressed to that childish fear that
I secretly embraced upon approaching the volcano. I was grappling my demons, attempting to regain
control of my muscles once more. My inadequacies became the subject of yet more taunts from my
elder brother. This motivated me to complete the task ahead and I pushed further, closing the distance
to my destination.The unyielding veneer of control and balance managed to fool my family; however I
could not fool my mind. My legs were still shaking, my brow was still sweating and my heart still beat
quicker than I had ever felt it beat before. Nevertheless, I persevered and managed to build a false sense
of confidence once more. Each beat of my heart motivated me further like the beating of a drum pushing
its soldiers to war. As adrenaline pumped through my veins, aiding me control of my muscles, I began
my descent to the bottom of the crater. As I stomped down the first quarter of the journey, my silent
38 Scribe | Spring 2011
drum kept me marching behind my leader, the guide, whose bravery was an inspiration. The finish line
was a constant image in my mind; from now on it was a battle against the gremlins that haunted me
with childish fears. If I could finally overcome those demons I would finally be accepted by my kin as a
man, and I could finally leave my childhood behind on the island.
With my confidence on a high I ventured further into the depths of hell. I soon became
complacent however, and fell flat on my face due on the naked retribution of a trailing shoelace. As I
gratefully received another bout of adrenaline my senses sharpened once more and I began to realise
an intense, repulsive smell coming from the very heart of Nisyros. Its vile discharge, I was told by our
fearless leader, was due to the increased heat from overhead; the sun, the only beacon of hope in a dark
world, was sending yet more warnings our way. Furthermore, when tying my laces, I noticed the path
becoming narrower, until it was barely wide enough for a single man. With each challenge Nisyros threw
my way, I became more determined to finish and marched on, falling back in time with the beat only I
This new found confidence was not universally well received however, as I matched my brother’s
next taunt with a short, simple cry, “Shut up and keep walking!” It was an empowering moment as I
knew he could do nothing but listen as no-one would dare turn around with the treacherous rocks that
lay below us. My concentration could not afford to be broken now; I had to focus on each part of the
journey if I was ever to cross the finish line. This battle I needed to win. There was no other alternative.
My confidence had consistently fluctuated between opposing extremes throughout the journey
and now it had climbed higher than it had ever been as my brother turned to me and whispered, “You
can do this. I believe in you.” His words swept over me like a cool breeze bringing the ocean’s freshness
to the dry, arid environment I was now totally enveloped in. A smile spread across my face for a brief
moment as the thought of returning back to the paradise outside crossed my mind. The finish was
surely close now. The pace of my march quickened with the image of freedom now stuck in my mind.
The harder rocks were not helpful to my cause; my shoes slipped off the surface of the rocks, my elbow
hit the unforgiving boulder below, sending a sharp pain through my hand and into my shoulder. The
pain was excruciating, unlike anything I had experienced before. My company received news of this
almost instantly as I screamed in anguish. My cries seemed to fill the vast cavity inside the dormant
beast and further aggravated the hot coals that lined the floors of this hell. My brother picked me up
and dusted me off in the same way he had been doing for the last fifteen years. He took my shirt off,
fashioned a makeshift sling for the arm, which was now numb with pain and reluctant to move. His
belief, as shocked as I was to feel that I could trust in it, was a reminder of my goal, my battle. I could not
abandon my mission, not after all the effort I had already put in. I had fallen down in the pits of hell and
now, I was stronger. Ready for another bout, another round with the devil. I persisted, marching towards
the light, the now western hope.
The end was now in sight, the middle of the crater, the very heart of hell itself. We all scurried
towards the finish, excited by the prospect of finally ending the ordeal. The guide sprinted the flat
track towards a large stone wall and climbed over it expertly. We stopped, shocked by the feat he had
achieved; the feat that we would have to accomplish now, the final hurdle. We approached the hurdle
apprehensively, stopping at its foot. The guide helped my parents and my sister over with great effort.
Scribe | Spring 2011 39
They had finished and left us behind. My brother, after twenty-three years of jumping park fences had
somehow found his way over the wall too. This left me alone. A broken shoulder, shattered elbow and
an eight foot wall stood between me and glory. I threw my bag over the bulwark, lodged my foot in
the only hole in the wall and jumped as high as my muscles would let me. I clung to the top, wrapping
my hand around the sharp stones that penetrated my bruised skin. I was about to fall when I felt my
brothers hand grip my forearm and pull me up so that we were at the same height either side of the
wall, smiling he simply said, “You didn’t think that I’d leave you behind now did you?” I smiled broadly,
gratefully accepting his aid and finally jumping the final hurdle with my brother by my side. I had finally
reached the centre of Nisyros. I had faced the devil and his lair and come out the other side the victor.
My brother had put aside fifteen years of friction and embraced me as an equal for the first time. We
screamed in delight, shaking the core of the mountain in fear.
We embraced our leader, our guide, thanking him for his troubles. He led us out of the Volcano
through the trees that surrounded it, and back to the beach. The soft sand was a welcome change to the
hard rock that we had felt for the last three hours. The sun shone down on us in acknowledgement of
our feat, granting us with the pleasure of the cool, refreshing breeze. I turned back and gazed upon the
beast that I had tamed, and realised that my ordeal had far more significance than I had first thought.
We visited our paradise and found our worst fears lurking there. For each of us Nisyros represented a
different demon, a different fear that we faced and conquered. We faced them with each other’s help,
as equals, as brothers. We all have our beasts lurking within us, but I have tamed mine. The holiday was
more than just an adventure to the Kos islands and its legacy is more than a few cuts and bruises. Its
legacy is the sense pride, sense of equality, sense of acceptance I feel every time I look at my brother. Was
it worth a few broken bones? Any day.
40 Scribe | Spring 2011
Jordan Bernstein 8R
How I hate the rules of good behaviour
Manners restrict my fun
I pray for a change in the unwritten law,
To correct the rule of thumb
Why, oh why, I ask dear reader
Why do people police my acts?
Life would be more interesting
If society faced the facts:
It’s fun to slurp my drinks remainder
To write without good grammar
I’d even speak in cockney slang
But I’d get thrown in the slammer
If nothing dictated the way I write
No laws to our literature
Perhaps more vulgar phrases would come in
But that just might be the cure
Etiquette is all around us
Not just in our English
But what’s wrong with how I hold my fork?
Or the way I cut my fish?
Yes, table manners are the absolute worst
Like people will really care
If I use my fingers for my dauphinoise
I promise that I’ll still share
Oh, and about the way I talk
And my sloppy enunciation
Really society, you’ve gone too far
Why bother with tongue formation?
Then again perhaps the reason why
It’s fun to do these things
Is because there are rules against them
Scribe | Spring 2011 41
Made by behavioural kings
Just think “even if I didn’t have to
Make a good impression.
I think I would still want to
Have I just learned a lesson?”
You’ve won this round society
Mark my words though, I’ll be back
With more rules that there are no need to enforce
About what civilisation supposedly lacks
42 Scribe | Spring 2011
Adam Gozdanker 7C
The sun, reflecting off the silver raindrop had started to rise. Happily I started up the path. Long ago had
the path gone wild, but the track was still faintly visible. The grass swaying to and fro by the howl of the
wind. The trees around me, firmly standing up straight as if proud to be part of nature. Tears filled up
inside me, as this was my favourite path before World War II began. Birds chirped and twittered as they
sang their morning song. I sighed for I knew I had returned.
I marched up the path, joyfully examining everything that I had left behind so long ago. Rabbits
hopped around me with their funny little twitching noses curiously looking at me with their eyes. No
one was scared here. Everyone is friendly, even the animals. The more I walked up the bigger the trees
got, shadowing me beautifully from the sun. Suddenly the grass got shorter, as if someone had been
neatly cutting it. My heart was thumping loudly. Suddenly all the noise around me stopped. I knew I had
reached the top. There before me was a cottage.
My heart rejoiced. I gazed awestruck at the cottage that I had spent so many years of my
childhood in. Suddenly the door swung open and a little old woman stepped out. I went up to her
and hugged her. She said in a stern voice, “Get off me, young man!”. Then, when I straightened up, she
recognised me for she was my mother. For a minute we stood still and then we embraced. “My sons have
returned,” my mother whispered with tears of joy in her eyes. She looked around for my elder brother
but she couldn’t find him. We both looked at each other grimly but knowingly.
“Didn’t you get my letter?” I asked.
“All the post was intercepted by the Germans,” my mother answered.
My mind wandered off to that vivid day, the day my brother suffered his painless death.
Everyday I had tried to shed myself of this terrible memory that stuck to my brain like a hook stuck to
the roof a fish’s mouth. One terrible thought stung me and terrified me the most: it was because of me
that my brother had died.
It was a normal day like any other, just another day that, at its end, would result in hundreds,
maybe thousands of people falling heavily and breathing their last. And one of the many corpses would
be my brother’s.
At the time it seemed strange that my brother grabbed hold of me and said, “No matter what
happens I shall always be with you. Remember that.” And then the enemy ambushed us. All of our army
was taken by surprise. Bombs fell from German planes and bullets were fired relentlessly. Dying men
on both sides shouted their last words. My brother and I rounded up the remaining army and fought
back. We slaughtered man after man, shot bullet after bullet and ending life after life. I thought we could
actually win this battle... but then the reinforcements came. Such a huge number of enemy tanks and
soldiers I was yet to see again. We brave Polish tried to stand our ground but we were simply crushed.
Soon we were surrounded. A German soldier took aim at me. I remember a little panicky voice in my
head saying “He is going to shoot me!”. There was a big bang and I was sure he had shot me. I looked
at myself and saw no fresh blood. I quickly turned with my rifle and fired. I had killed him on the spot.
Then I looked down.
I saw my brother lying in a pool of blood. Then I understood. He had jumped in front of me
when the shot was fired.
“No!” I screamed. But in vain. I remember his last words were: “Remember me.”
Scribe | Spring 2011 43
William Thong L6S1
Caffeine Dependencies at Habs
In the penultimate week before the half term of Spring 2011, a catastrophe hit the Haberdashers’
community: the staff room, that impenetrable fortress of mystery and untold luxuries, had lost its
engine. Horror of unspeakable horrors: the coffee machine had broken down.
It was around this time that this sombre truth, although unknown to most students, became
indistinguishable from far less reliable rumours, connected to the School’s Great Power Cut of 16th
February, of teaching staff powering down in corridors due to lack of charge in their batteries. Of
course, it is folly to suggest that any of Habs’ fine teaching staff are robotic, but the effect which
Haberdashers noticed was indeed based on fact. As the American dramatist David Mamet put it: “they
... kind of imperceptibly slumped”. The reason behind it was the failure of just one coffee machine, serving
stimulant-laced beverages in unassuming polystyrene cups to hundreds of teachers requiring a boost.
Across campus, it seemed to many that somebody has deflated the staff; many a face sported hideously-
applied make-up, even among the male teachers, and Russells’ teachers were quite obviously sporting an
attitude of ‘We rather like it...’ as opposed to ‘We love it!’
Yet, much like the proverbial opium den in the zombie invasion, one area of the school
remained remarkably indifferent to the exhausted chaos which surrounded them: the History
Department. Essays were being marked as quickly as ever, the staff looked as sprightly as ever and, most
importantly, cups of coffee were being downed with the same characteristic efficiency as ever. Indeed,
the History Department’s aroma, a unique blend of fresh photocopying and hot coffee, proved to be a
backdrop to this island in a sea of trance. The reason? The History Department possesses its own coffee
machine. It may not be pretty, and luxuries beyond the most basic, such as spoons, are sacrificed for the
sake of a consistent stream of caffeine, but, whilst the rest of the teaching staff looked as if they had just
survived an alien invasion, the History Department were able to continue as if nothing had happened.
One member of that department compared the situation to Ramadan in Muslim countries. During
this period, no coffee or cigarettes can be consumed, and so city centres across the Muslim world at this
time often resemble the 1990s horror shooters of countless arcades, except without the plastic shotguns
and disembowelment. What cannot be denied is the sheer volume of the History Department’s epic
consumptions. For many a student, four cups downed in a double period is not unusual for some of its
teachers, and some have connected the development of the South American economies to the increase
in demand caused by the installation of a coffee machine in the History Office.
Yet it was the aforementioned Great Power Cut of 16th February which showed the lengths
to which the historians would go to obtain their fix. With even their coffee machine out of action,
fuel canisters were transported from the CCF block to the History Department in order to heat water
for coffee. Whilst the rest of the staff were bemoaning the loss of their re-discovered coffee supply,
a privilege afforded by their brand new yet, alas, worthless coffee machine, members of the History
Department were still able to pour that elusive ‘brown gold’ down their throats.
In conclusion, we must ask ourselves what it is that makes coffee such an integral part of Habs
life. Is it really that teachers drink coffee because they “need the energy to drag them through teaching at
Haberdashers?” Or is the reason more elusive? It seems that Habs staff may have developed an addiction
of sorts, so the natural question is whether the consumption of gallons upon gallons of Colombia’s finest
44 Scribe | Spring 2011
is a result of conscious choice or an unconscious urge to conquer a permanent exhaustion derived from
trying to impart knowledge to such an extraordinarily arrogant group of boys. Perhaps the answer is
more literary; it was the wildly influential poet T.S. Eliot who claimed: “I have measured out my life
with coffee spoons”; perhaps Habs teachers are subconsciously trying to emulate this genius by leaving a
trail of coffee spoons of their own.
Haider Bashir L6M2
Simplicity of Nature
The Wildebeest journeys conspicuously between the collage of gorse bush;
Quest for food constrains the boundaries of time.
Linear movements of haze drift lazily, maladroit in motion,
Never ceasing to exist, the threat to engulf space but not quite,
Tangled with the cyclical addendum of nature.
Predator lies in commendable anticipation;
A nonchalant blink of the eye clarifies all that is concerned.
Pigmented foliage exerts motherly protection for the aggressor,
Reaching for the early morning appetiser, not quite.
Meanwhile, the Woodpecker, abundant
In magnanimous pleasure, chisels away.
Labour plans to encompass fruition,
But for now, Woodpecker is content to chisel, not quite.
Trees sway in irregular predicaments;
Perhaps preoccupied with pressing issues.
Dignity is impossible to falter, bodies stand regimental.
Discrepancies are minimal, achievement is accentuated.
Poignancy is, however, not exact, not quite yet.
In the meadow, waking surfaces
Expertly spread a trembling mirage.
The Dew of yesteryears absently migrate,
Colluding in strenuous effort to hold position, but not quite.
The architects of the cavernous wasteland
Submissively part, for the globule of tainted glow transcends.
The precipice of the world forcefully collides with Sun;
For a tentative moment, everything seems to be seen in intrinsic value,
The style is impetuous, the experience unique.
So nearly perfect, not quite.
Scribe | Spring 2011 45
Gabriel Wheway 7R
Dark shadowy beasts feast on the remains of sunlight,
A raven black figure creeps around,
Stars blink out as he roams by, fading the night sky,
He slicks back his charcoal hair with the ghost’s silver blood,
Night has come again.
His secretive eyes watch every step people take,
Whispering trees let out their secrets to the master of dark,
Ear piercing cries come from the bats above,
His jet black cloak trails throughout our kingdom,
Darkening our world.
A twisted mouth smirks as he enters the darkened forest,
Mice scurry across the moist grass, avoiding the great master,
Owls hoot overhead as he strolls through the sleeping trees,
An ebony cat stops him in his path,
He smiles cruelly as it scampers off into the darkeness.
Scarecrows wink as he strolls past a ruined farmhouse,
Blackbirds squeal as he passes by,
At last his palace of shadows is in sight,
He drifts up to his lonely home,
Night has gone again.
46 Scribe | Spring 2011
Ben Peacock L6R1
An interview with Mr Li on the occasion of his last edition
Hello Mr Li and thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for this, your final edition of “Scribe”. It is safe to
say that the Journal has flourished under your guidance over the past few years, but what is the appeal of
literature to you?
There’s a much quoted set of lines in The History Boys, from the scene in which Hector is discussing
Thomas Hardy’s poem, ‘Drummer Hodge’, with one of his pupils, Posner. It’s a particularly poignant
scene, not least because of Hector’s sentiment, ‘The best moments in reading are when you come across
something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and
particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even
who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours’. Hector’s point sums up, for me,
what is so attractive about literature and the discipline of exploring literature. J.D. Salinger has Holden
Caulfield express something quite similar in The Catcher in the Rye: ‘What really knocks me out is a
book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours
and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.’ As much as reading can be classed as
an individual experience, it is also a communal experience in terms of the relationship between you and
the author and how you respond to him or her, as well as the relationship between yourself and other
readers and how they respond to the text. The way in which literature opens up narrative and dialogue
about those narratives is, unfailingly, illuminating. Literature, for me, has always been about sustaining
that discourse. It really has been a privilege to be an English teacher at Habs, where the boys are always
keen to engage in such dialogue about the texts we teach – for better or worse!
In what way do you think that “Scribe” has improved the most since you initially took up the reins as
Not that I want to take any credit for this, but obviously the production values have increased
enormously over the last few years, and particularly in the last year, when we had a budget increase.
I am genuinely proud of where Scribe is at the moment: it is an extremely professional and attractive
publication of which the team and the contributors can be proud and I hope that they are. There have
been other related improvements: I think the editorial teams I’ve worked with over the years have been
especially effective. It helps when we have boys who are passionate about literature! The fact that we
have made efforts to increase the range of contributions we receive from across the school, with the
appointment of Junior and Middle School Editors, has been very helpful too in enforcing the message
that Scribe is not exclusive to the Sixth Form, which I think has been the impression in the past. It is
wonderful that we receive such high quality writing from year groups lower down in the school as well
Scribe | Spring 2011 47
If you could single out one “Scribe” short story, poem or feature as the best you have ever read, which would it
be and why?
I don’t think I can answer this question, as it would be a blatant case of favouritism! I’ll try and be
diplomatic about this… there have been some notable pieces over the years, including all those that have
won Scribe prizes. Ameya Tripathi (2010 Editor) has written some incredible pieces for Scribe – his
George Orwell critique, which spanned two editions, is probably the equal of anything you’d read in The
Times Literary Supplement! Ameya has also written some superb satirical pieces, including Obamadiary
in 2008. Arnie Birss’ short story, Soar, from 2009, sticks in my memory as a particularly well-crafted
narrative, as does some of Will Missen’s superb poetry from 2010. As I said, I risk offending many other
contributors here who I’ve not mentioned so I’ll shut up!
What would you say was the funniest thing that has happened during your tenure as Supervising Editor?
If anyone remembers the Autumn 2008 edition of Scribe – the one that featured Barack Obama and some
penguins on the cover (we were in a rather surreal frame of mind, I recall) – there is a photograph of the
editorial team on the back cover dressed in black tie. I recall the “photoshoot” well. It was a lunchtime and,
for some reason or another, I was being quite petulant with the team (another one of Mr Li’s moods!). All
of a sudden, Oscar Hausman strips… there is probably photographic evidence of this somewhere – NOT, I
hasten to add, taken by me, before anyone reading this picks up the telephone and decides to report me to
the police! It was absolutely hysterical. The other amusing thing, I suppose, are all the times I veto anything
proposed at an editorial meeting that I consider ill-suited for Scribe. There have been some outrageous
suggestions, believe me, so the cries of “No!” from me have been quite frequent.
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?
I’m not sure I can be classed as an authority on this one! There’s a column in Private Eye called ‘Pseud’s
Corner’ where people who have been particularly pretentious are pilloried, and so the following could
probably be submitted! I guess that the best creative writing I’ve come across over the last four years has
been well balanced in terms of strong content and an imaginative style. That said, it’s not a “formula” to
be followed: in a way, you can always tell when someone has tried too hard or if a piece feels forced. The
most effective pieces are those that have a natural readability and sense of heart or personal investment…
I’m not sure if that makes sense!
Is there anything else you would like to share with “Scribe” before you leave? There must be one or two exciting secrets!
Not really… although come to think of it, there was an anonymous poem entitled ‘Lowly Calf ’ which
was published in one of the 2008 editions, which, if you were to read it as an acrostic, would be quite
disturbing! Needless to say, this was not pointed out to me until post-publication. My other thoughts
here are a little less exciting… just to say that it’s been fantastic working with the editorial teams over
the last four years and in particular the five editors – Scott MacDonald, Sam Rabinowitz, Ben Jacobs,
Ameya Tripathi and yourself – all of whom have put in a great deal of time in making Scribe what it is.
48 Scribe | Spring 2011
Scribe 2011 Editorial Team
Ben Peacock L6R1
Rufus Bart-Koranteng L6S2
Deputy Editor Poetry
Shaneil Shah L6J2
Deputy Editor Short Stories
William Thong L6S1
Deputy Editor Features
Khalil Osman 11R2
Copy Editor Poetry
Vincent Lim L6H2
Copy Editor Short Stories
Corey Lewis L6M1
Copy Editor Features
Jordan Bernstein 8R
Junior School Editor
Andrew Djaba 10S1
Middle School Editor
Zak Kay L6R1
Joseph Salem 11S2
Tim Duschenes 11J1
Josh Zietcer 10M2
Mr T-S. Li
Email submissions for the Autumn 2011 edition of Scribe to email@example.com
Scribe | Spring 2011 49
Go, litel bok, go, litel myn tragedye,
Ther God thy makere, er that he dye,
So sende might to make in som comedye!
But litel book, no making thow n’envie,
But subgit be to alle poesye:
And kis the steppes, wher-as thou seest pace
Virgile, Ovyde, Omer, Lucan, and Stace.
And for ther is so gret diversite
In Englissh and in writing of oure tonge.
So preye I God that non miswrite the,
Ne the mysmetre for defaute of tonge
And red wherso thow be, or elles songe,
That thow be understonde, God I biseche!
Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde