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									                                                     Kirsty Young
                                                A N        I N V A L U A B L E
                                                          R E S O U R C E

I could be your own Invaluable Resource for quality writing on a wide variety of subjects, in
my trademark informal yet informative style.

From touring across the UK to soaring above the Valley of the Kings, my travel pieces are
engaging, enjoyable and accessible. I also write short, snappy articles for UK and European
clients on the delights of London and travel in the UK and beyond. Web content for travel
sites is now a big part of my business, including associated audio guide scripts and video

I have written articles on such diverse topics as dog fashions at Crufts, and the best credit
cards deals in the UK, plus serious web copy on diverse subjects from fire protection to
cervical cancer, via selling copy for holiday homes in North Cyprus. My career also spans
writing and editing on IT issues and software, manuals for personal and corporate
development, and promoting "Using school grounds as an educational resource". (My book of
the same name was published by Learning Through Landscapes.)

Opera is my passion, but it's not a sacred cow. The more people can relate to any art form, the
more they will enjoy it. So my style is informed but informal, fascinating and fun. My
reviews have graced the pages of 'Time Out' magazine, and I regularly review both opera and
theatre for a London newspaper group. I have a regular column in 'Classical Music' magazine,
and also write in depth character analyses for www.operatalent.com. And I could write about
the world of classical music for you too.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have a specific project in mind - I am always
happy to learn and write about new people, projects and topics.

                                     Sample Articles • page 1
                              email: kirsty@invaluableresource.co.uk
                                            Kirsty Young
                                      A N         I N V A L U A B L E
                                                 R E S O U R C E

KIRSTY YOUNG: sample articles

Classical Music: No such thing as bad publicity
Time Out: Review of Aida at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden
The Dalesman: When opera gets back to the basics
Kwickees.com: Don‟t be a dunce at the opera
Balloon Life: Flying Over Tutankhamun

                            Sample Articles • page 2
                     email: kirsty@invaluableresource.co.uk
                                                         Kirsty Young
                                                    A N         I N V A L U A B L E
                                                               R E S O U R C E

Publication:    Classical Music magazine
Publisher:      Rhinegold.
Frequency:      Fortnightly
Format:         My regular column under pen name Mad Margaret
Column Title:   Opera on the Road: touring tales of a mobile mezzo

No such thing as bad publicity? Don't make me laugh.
I used to be a publicity junkie. Any opportunity for a photo shoot or radio talk show, I'd be there,
ready to shine, wit a-blazing. Problem was, word got out, and suddenly I became the person they
called when “No-one Else Would Do It.”

One festival in central London latched onto this. When the performers in their latest extravaganza
couldn't do the photo shoot hanging out of the sunroof of a Mini in the middle of Covent Garden
piazza, guess who did. In a balldress. In the blazing sun. Wedged alongside a young tenor who'd been
dragged from the chorus of a G&S operetta and hadn't a clue, let alone a costume. (I lent him a spare
17th century frockcoat I'd brought in my handbag just in case. You never know…)

An expectant crowd gathered in that “Er, Edna, something's happening over there” way that crowds
do. The photographer was hanging off a restaurant balcony to shoot the Mini from above, and
bellowed down the immortal words. “Just look as if you're singing a bit, can you?” So I mimed.
Several old ladies in the audience turned up their hearing aids with a deafening whistle. “Nah, doesn't
look right, can you really sing?” shouted the would-be David Bailey from above. So I sang a bit of
Carmen. The crowd were under-whelmed. So I changed the words mid aria and explained about the
photo shoot; “Here I am, stuck in a very very tiny car, Right in the dear old piazza.” That was more
like it; the crowd even laughed at bit (except the ever-smiling Japanese tourists, who still hadn't
worked out what was going on.)

Now the photographer was unimpressed; “Looks naff with just one of you with your mouth open, both
of you sing!” I turned to the tenor. “What opera duets do you know?” and realised from his terrified
expression he knew - nada. “What G&S are you in?” “Trial By Jury” he muttered. “OK, you sing the
chorus, I'll sing the rest.” So we did. By the time Mr Flash Harry had lined up the shots, changed
lenses and all but destroyed the restaurant's window boxes in his acrobatics, we'd sung “Trial” and
were heading resolutely through the entire Savoy opera canon, with increasingly tetchy lyrics. By now
the crowd was swelling fast, applauding each new song with vigour.

Finally, I was liberated from standing on the Mini's handbrake, much to the disappointment of the
crowd, who disappeared faster than rabbits on roller skates when the publicity crew tried to move in
with festival flyers. I awaited the results to appear in a national newspaper with eager anticipation.
Was this to be the mezzo's great moment, even if I wasn't actually singing in the specially
commissioned opera to be performed in said Mini? The great day finally dawned. I snatched the
newspaper out of the paperboy's sweaty palm and tore it open. There it was; a picture of me singing -
to a bemused pigeon and two passers by. The photographer had completely ignored the 200-strong
audience I had royally entertained for thirty minutes and taken a shot of my backside, a bird and two
blokes. And I didn't even get paid.
Published in Classical Music 27 August 2005

                                         Sample Articles • page 3
                                 email: kirsty@invaluableresource.co.uk
                                                         Kirsty Young
                                                   A N         I N V A L U A B L E
                                                              R E S O U R C E

Publication:    Time Out magazine
Publisher:      Time Out London.
Frequency:      Weekly
Format:         Occasional reviews whilst depping for Classical Music Editor
Section:        Classical Music

Opera of Cruelty
Whilst nobody would say that bricking up people alive is exactly a nice thing to do, what Robert
Wilson did to Verdi‟s Aida was equally cruel.

Verdi‟s intense story of passion verses patriotism is all about grand gestures; being a hero, saving the
country, loving your enemy‟s offspring, the usual. Wilson‟s style of No theatre inspired hand gestures
and languid movements turned it into beginner‟s night at your local Thai Chi class.

Wilson‟s biggest gripe is with the „show-off‟ style of opera singing, yet he panders to every diva‟s
dream; centre stage, facing front, in a spotlight, singing flat out. Add chalky white make-up, and
emotive voices were pitched against facial blandness. Bland won.

Ildiko Komlosi‟s Amneris was every inch a woman scorned; jealous, spiteful, dangerous. Norma
Fantini‟s Aida, however, was shrill, tormented and unlovable, with some ear-jarring undersinging at
the top and unpleasant gargoyle facial expressions.

Best of all was Mark S Doss‟s vengeful Amonasro; powerful and imposing, a face you had to watch, a
voice of raw authority and whose hands paled into insignificance when he sung.

One audience member hated it so much he booed at the interval, but the rest of us did the British thing,
stuck it to the end to politely applaud some great playing, and some good singing. Wilson‟s directing
style certainly makes you think, but only for about ten minutes. The rest is just a long haul in the
gloom, like the entombed Radames and Aida. Rather them than me.

Review of Aida at The Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Tuesday 11 November 2003. Published in
Time Out London issue November 19-26 2003.

                                        Sample Articles • page 4
                                email: kirsty@invaluableresource.co.uk
                                                         Kirsty Young
                                                   A N          I N V A L U A B L E
                                                               R E S O U R C E

Publication:    The Dalesman
Publisher:      Country Publications Ltd.
Frequency:      Monthly
Format:         One-off article, follow-up to article in sister publication The Countryman
Title:          When opera gets back to the basics

When opera gets back to the basics
“You haven't been to Yorkshire in April?!” The rural touring organiser sounded incredulous. “You are
in for a real treat!”

Hatstand Opera had only been to Yorkshire a handful of times, but the visits were always memorable.
At the Northern Aldborough Festival, we performed an operatic wine tasting; the venue even had its
own Roman forum in the garden, very Bacchanalian! Resisting the urge to intone “Friends, Romans,
Countrymen!”, we and the audience sniffed, swirled and spat our way through an impressive amount
of vino. The demure and dignified Yorkshire ladies who had come in at 7.30pm left very merry
indeed, swaying and singing their way back down the elegant lawns.

Mind you, it almost didn't happen. The organiser had thought of everything; wine chilled, tables laid
with cloths, baskets of crackers, spittoons, piano tuned… Glasses, we enquired? A scream of panic
later, and a quick dash to use the estate office phone, and thanks to the power of the local grapevine
(sorry), someone knew where the local wine merchant was currently delivering, and twenty minutes
later several cases of Paris goblets arrived.

That's the thing about rural communities, someone always has what you need. Ten years of rural
touring across the UK has taught us that. Under innovative schemes funded by local and district
councils, local communities can book top quality acts for their churches, halls and schools. Across the
country, country venues are full to bursting with artistic excellence, from African drumming to jazz,
flamenco to opera. Which is where we come in, and inevitably find the one piece of equipment we left
behind is the one we need most! Since we pack ourselves into an estate car most of the time, there isn't
always room for the unexpected. Like wine glasses. Or togas. Or pedals for the digital piano (OK, that
was our fault, but again no problem, we just raided the community college music room).

Until our 2004 tour, my knowledge of Yorkshire countryside was limited to All Creatures Great and
Small. Images of Siegfried and Tristan belting down country lanes in tiny cars remained indelibly
printed on my brain. So, arriving in Thirsk, I naturally was prepared for steep climbs along narrow
lanes into tiny market squares. Instead, Thirsk was flat. I made a pilgrimage to Alf Wight's front door.
Again, a flat street. Where were the hills?

I needn't have worried. Over the next few days, the car saw its fair share of inclines, including a
fabulous trip to Terrington. Tucked in the Howardian Hills east of Thirsk, this remarkable village hall
was alive with activity, and not all human. Come 7pm, the hall was soon packed with locals who had
turned the venue from a bare hall to cabaret hot spot in under two hours. This had, however, somewhat
disturbed the resident wildlife, including a suspiciously large beetle (which made a rapid exit stage left
with a quick flip of a Mozartian cane) and a large arachnid. Despite having been brought up in a
country where spiders are the size of dinner plates and can do serious damage to your health, our
British tiddlers still scare the willies out of our Australian soprano. She stood rooted, whimpering
gently, until it was safely detained under a beer glass and ejected out of the door!
                                        Sample Articles • page 5
                                 email: kirsty@invaluableresource.co.uk
                                                         Kirsty Young
                                                   A N         I N V A L U A B L E
                                                              R E S O U R C E

Having come via the back route in splendid sunshine, I decided to take a main route back - via Sutton
Bank. Now probably to Dalesfolk this is a mere slope-ette, a hillock, but to a townie with a loaded car
full of piano, soprano and pianist, in the pouring rain, this was a ski slope. We gingerly made our way
down, the locals behind me almost audibly muttering “Townies” under their breath. Thank goodness
we weren't trying to go up…

Rural venues are not just halls; our Yorkshire collection includes schools, churches, and community
centres. One school was also the local adult education centre; a confusion over room bookings meant
that halfway through the boys changing into their dinner suits, the local garden design tutor came in to
her normal classroom to encounter two grown men in their undies. She was completely nonplussed
and would have set down her briefcase and started had we not hastily informed her of her correct
classroom. What do Yorkshire folk wear in adult education classes, we wondered?

Another community centre was a lovely house set in the heart of the village, with a large lounge area.
Not an ideal performing space, but that would have been fine, except the previous night it had hosted a
ladies' darts championship. “Heavy night” said the bar manageress, “We emptied 32 ashtrays at the
end, piled high!” Now whilst that might help darts players, day old stale smoke is a killer on the voice.

A quick trot to the local shop produced (much to my surprise) a smoke-eliminating air freshener,
which once plugged in, proved even more catastrophic than the smoke smell to the voices. However,
God was smiling on His own country. The venue was balmy, we threw open every door and window,
and by the time the audience arrived, the atmosphere was much clearer, despite the fact that we now
reeked of air freshener…

What rural touring really is about is finding hidden gems. After braving the crowds in Harrogate (and
spending a fortune in Betty's) we found ourselves on a rat run of a main road, rushing headlong
towards the southern Dales. “Turn right”, yelled the soprano, as another truck tried to see what we had
in our boot from close range. So down we went, and within two twists of the road, came across the
most wonderful view. A village hall, newly built, perched on a hillside, overlooking a valley that
seemed untouched by time. Whoever the architect was, they loved nature, since the whole side of the
main hall were glass doors that opened out onto this wonderful view. No need for scenery with a
backdrop like this, it was all done for us. We were astounded; any further south and developers would
have snatched this site from the community years ago.

However, beauty comes at a price; the only place to change was the chair store. So, chairs came out,
floor was hovered, heaters installed, and Hatstand Opera moved in. Which would have been fine if all
the chairs had come out at once. As the ticket sales boomed, more and more people were being shoe-
horned into the hall. Once again, the collection of extra chairs was perfectly synchronised with the
maximum removal of clothing by us.

Next tour we're bringing a sign with us for the door: what's Yorkshire speak for “Knock and wait”?!
The Dalesman, October 2004

                                        Sample Articles • page 6
                                email: kirsty@invaluableresource.co.uk
                                                        Kirsty Young
                                                  A N         I N V A L U A B L E
                                                             R E S O U R C E

Publication:    Kwickees.com
Publisher:      Kwickees
Frequency:      paid for mobile phone content available via phone and web
Format:         Designed to be read on mobile phone screen, under 5000 characters total
Series Title:   Opera Dunce series

Don’t be a dunce at the opera!
Want to try opera but don‟t know where to start? Here‟s the top six weepies and comedies to make a
beeline for. Real-life opera singer MezzoDiva gives you the insider‟s low-down.

Take some tissue and be prepared to weep buckets. And that‟s just the chaps.

1. la Traviata – Verdi
Plot: Think Pretty Woman without the saccharine ending. Hooker with a heart meets society boy,
hooker loses boy, boy comes back, girl dies.
Reason to see it: This is classic operatic weepy territory, with the most gut-wrenching, soul-tearing
music imaginable. Anyone who has even fancied someone at a party will recognise that the girly-flirty
stuff at the beginning means the relationship is doomed. Alfredo (the handsome hero) is just too
smooth and Violetta (the tart with a heart) coughs too much to be healthy. From then on, it‟s all angst
and heartache.
Tissue rating: two family-sized boxes and spare mascara
Things to say at the interval: “She‟s such a tragic figure, a symbol of doomed devotion in a corrupt
and heartless society.”
Do not say: “I wonder how much she charges?”

2. La bohème - Puccini
Plot: Think Moulin Rouge meets Men Behaving Badly. Handsome boy Rodolfo meets pretty girl
Mimi, they get together, girl leaves boy for rich older man, girl comes back very ill and promptly dies.
Reason to see it: A fantastic love story, where sentiment is shoved on the back burner by the sheer
necessity of surviving with no cash. Great supporting roles too for the other couple (think Lesley Ash
and Neil Morrissey) as the couple who are more on and off than a light switch. Romantic setting Paris
make it great date/anniversary entertainment, if you can afford the Eurostar trip afterwards.
Tissue rating: man-sized box with soothing balm
Things to say at the interval: “Where has that bohemian idyll gone in today‟s over-commercialised
arts world?”
Do not say: “Which one‟s Ewan McGregor?”

3. Tosca – Puccini
Plot: Think cult French film Diva with a dash of Sopranos (tv, not voice). Mega diva Tosca‟s
boyfriend is arrested and tortured, she swaps his freedom for nooky with evil police chief Scarpia, but
instead stabs said bad cop, boyfriend is shot, and the diva takes a dive off a monument in Rome.
Reasons to see it: It‟s short, shabby and shocking, passionate and powerful, and in places, ghoulish.
The music is amazing; big powerful crunching chords, with soaring vocals and a stage-dive to end
them all. The Darkness, eat your heart out.
                                        Sample Articles • page 7
                                email: kirsty@invaluableresource.co.uk
                                                         Kirsty Young
                                                   A N         I N V A L U A B L E
                                                              R E S O U R C E

Tissue rating: bring a real handkerchief; mere tissues won‟t stand the pace.
Things to say at the interval: “Such a classic example of verismo.”
Do not say: “Which poor sod catches her at the end?”

1. Barber of Seville - Rossini
Plot: Think Harry Enfield‟s Tim Nice but Dim meets Jenny Éclair in I’m a Celebrity. Girl trapped in
boring life falls for serenading student, and with Baldrick-style cunning plans from master fixer
Figaro, fools bumbling old man and lives happily ever after.
Reasons to see it: A fast, funny, fizzing comedy that is more Benny Hill than Beverley Hills. Enjoy
the silly antics and giggling music, with words delivered at such speeds that a rapper sounds like a
snail on crutches.
Chuckle rating: A good, honest comedy. Carry on chuckling.
Things to say at the interval: “Rossini wrote this in six days, allegedly.”
Do not say: “Why doesn‟t she just climb off the balcony?”

2. Cosi fan tutte - Mozart
Plot: Think Coupling meets Friends with a dash of Frasier. Two lads make bet with old friend that
their girlfriends are faithful, rest of opera proves they are/are not.
Reasons to see it: It‟s one of the great unsolved endings in opera; do the couples get back together
after swapping partners? Do they still fancy the other one? And how can the girls be so stupid as to
not recognise their thinly disguised boyfriends for over an hour? The music is elegant and poignant.
Chuckle-rating: Like all good comedy, it‟s sweet and sour. Go with a long-term partner or a bunch of
cynical single friends.
Things to say at the interval: “Cosi fan tutte is tricky to translate, but it sort of means „All women do
Do not say: “All women do it.”

3. The Marriage of Figaro – Mozart
Plot: Think The Sun headlines, 24‟s timescale and a touch of Big Brother claustrophobia. In large
house, randy aristo fancies wife‟s maid, maid plots with wife to get revenge, resident randy pageboy
goes transvestite, maid‟s boyfriend almost sold to old bag but saved by biological father shock
revelation, and aristo is humiliated.
Reasons to see it: It‟s a classic, the daddy of them all for confusions, confessions and suppressed
emotions. Mozart takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions, intrigues and comic chaos.
Chuckle-rating: Bitter-sweet comedy of manners that deserves to be savoured.
Things to say at the interval: “I love the juxtaposition of the mezzo soprano playing a boy, who is
playing a girl.”
Do not say: “Who‟s the babe in the trousers?”

                                        Sample Articles • page 8
                                email: kirsty@invaluableresource.co.uk
                                                           Kirsty Young
                                                     A N          I N V A L U A B L E
                                                                 R E S O U R C E

Publication:     Balloon Life
Publisher:       Balloon Life.
Frequency:       Bi-monthly
Format:          One-off article

Flying Over Tutankhamun *
Do you remember your first balloon flight? Kirsty Young tells how her maiden flight laid the history of
an ancient culture at her feet…

“There is no way you are getting me up hundreds of feet up in the air in a large picnic hamper at
5.30am in the morning!” I had firmly told my travelling companion as we sipped our drinks that night.
“I get vertigo on a ski lift; what hope did I have in a hot air balloon?” My companion, however, knew
what I was missing. “You‟ll love it,” she said, “Don‟t be such a wet blanket. When will we be back in
Luxor again?”

So, that‟s how I found myself chugging across the Nile before dawn one morning, in a little boat
packed with twenty intrepid adventurers of assorted ages and sizes. It was an inauspicious start, as we
had to scrabble up the West Bank‟s muddy sides to a ramshackle minibus that smelt decidedly of goat.
Then, a white knuckle-drive past the immense Colossi of Memnon, a squeal of tyres at the junction,
and right towards the Valley of the Kings. Suddenly, we veered off and bumped onto the rocky desert
by the roadside. There, glowing red in the darkness, was our balloon, reassuringly large, and plenty of
eager Egyptian hands ready to haul us into the basket. No-one ever tells you that the basket has four
compartments; I felt like a podgy bottle wedged into a wine crate.

After the safety talk, and the obligatory bracing practice, I was just mentally preparing for a gusty,
buffering lift-off when I noticed we were already feet off the ground, the crew cheering us up, up and
away. The lights of the village below us diminished as we rose into the sky, as what seemed like
incredible speed, yet I felt no sensation of movement. Hang on, wasn‟t I supposed to feel rushing
wind, basket swaying, have to clutch on for dear life? Nothing, just a gentle hiss, the bray of donkeys
from below, and the roar of the burner. I suddenly realised my hat, brought for the desert chill, would
have quite the opposite use; my head was decidedly warmer than my feet.

After a cautionary shuffle of said feet to reassure myself that this picnic hamper really could hold us
all, despite its creaking, I looked up and out for the first time. I nearly had to sit down (but I couldn‟t,
of course). Laid out before me was a vast landscape, the Nile a ribbon of silver tied at its middle,
flanked by verdant green our side, and the concrete of Luxor the other. It was breathtaking.

A quick burn later, and our pilot had swung the basket round to face the Valley of the Kings. In fact,
we were heading away from King Tutankhamun‟s resting place and the amazing tombs we had
explored the previous day, flying south west, almost parallel with the Nile. Of course, you know that

                                          Sample Articles • page 9
                                   email: kirsty@invaluableresource.co.uk
                                                           Kirsty Young
                                                     A N         I N V A L U A B L E
                                                                R E S O U R C E

any valley must be set in hills, but nothing prepares you for these dramatic yellow mini mountains
rising out of the horizon, nor the range of tombs that pockmark their cliffs and languish at their feet.

There, in the distance was the Temple of Hatshepsut, its famous terraces set against a cliff that looked
enormous from the ground, now revealed as simply one sheer rock face of many. Then, past the
workers‟ village of Deir El Medina, where the skilled craftsmen needed to create these marvels lived. I
actually laughed out loud at the sheer thrill of flying over the Colossi we had passed only minutes
before in the goat-van; how often do you get to see the top of a statue‟s head, especially one 60 feet

We crossed vast temple complexes, towering walls when visited on foot, now laid out below as perfect
plans, just like in my guidebook. I could see just how vast the Ramesseum was, appreciate the rows of
mudbrick stores that gave the site the look of a ridged tile, and appreciate the first pylon not as a vast
wall, but the gateway to an extraordinary complex. Then the Temple of Ramses II, another huge site
but this time seemingly the size of kid‟s building blocks; you felt you could have reached out and
rearranged them.

With an impish Egyptian grin that we had already learned meant, “OK, tourists, here‟s something you
didn‟t expect”, our pilot dropped the balloon down, and down, until the basket skimmed the tops of the
corn plants in the fields. As trees approached, we popped over them with the ease of a giant on a space
hopper. We flew over houses without roofs; the canny Egyptians build their new houses with all the
walls and steel required to build a new floor for their son‟s family when he marries. Until then, it‟s
open to the rain, except, of course, there isn‟t any. All that greenery exists because of Nile water, and

As we drifted further westwards, it became clear just where that irrigation ceased. Lush fields became
separated from the encroaching desert by a single tarmac road. Keen to capture a rare church nestling
in an oasis, I raised my camera, but the pilot suddenly barked; “Cameras down!” We were
approaching a military camp, a lone enclosure at the side of the desert, little more than huts, lorries
and a not-quite-straight football pitch, but it was still illegal to take pictures of it. Beyond its wire it
was the open desert, miles of stony ground, and our sister balloon ahead of us, hanging like a ripe
cherry in the sky ahead.

Time has seemingly stood still during our flight, and I suddenly realised we were gently descending
towards the desert. Below us, a moving dust ball turned out to be the ground crew, following the
balloon‟s progress in their truck, across dirt tracks that wound amongst the undulating desert.

Then I remembered; we had to land. Safely. Certainly there weren‟t any obstacles in the way, but my
mind flashed back to that brace position for landing. Back in England, my travelling companion had
ended her flight somewhat ungracefully in a farmer‟s field in Hampshire, and our pilot seemed to
sense this unease. The impish expression, however, should have told me that he had a trick up his
sleeve. “You are ready to brace?” he grinned, “You want a British landing or nice Egyptian landing,
eh?” We opted for the latter. Then I looked down; big mistake. Only fifty feet below us was – a storm
drain. Well, it looked like a large storm drain, big enough to drive down, but with steep sides, and next
to it, mounds of rocks. As we got closed, I realised these rocks was just the surplus desert dug out to
create the storm drain thing, but everywhere was littered with rubbish. The crew had parked the lorry

                                         Sample Articles • page 10
                                  email: kirsty@invaluableresource.co.uk
                                                         Kirsty Young
                                                   A N         I N V A L U A B L E
                                                              R E S O U R C E

smack in the middle of this lot, so they obviously expected us to touch down in dump central. I have to
admit, for a moment, I shut my eyes.

An almost imperceptible tug, and a cheery shout told me the crew had grabbed the ropes hanging from
the basket and were guiding us down to terra firma. They literally pulled the basket down onto the
desert with less of a bump that I make shutting my car door. It was incredibly gentle, and once again,
willing hands lifted us out from the basket. We stood, slightly stunned, on a clear patch of earth in
between two heaps of earth and a well-dead goat.

“We will probably all have to help get the balloon down,” my companion had warned, but not here in
labour-cheap Egypt. If their style of throwing themselves at various parts of the canopy whilst yelling
loudly at each other looked chaotic, it was certainly effective. Within minutes the balloon was bundled
into its bag, and then the basket was lifted, bodily, onto the back of the truck. We gave them a round
of applause. Big mistake, because out came the drum.

Every time a drum appears in Egypt, you know it means singing – and dancing. The singing is
fabulous, the rhythms as ancient as the sites we had seen, as basic and natural to the crew as they were
exotic and wonderful to us. I can clap along with the best of them. The problem is, the obligatory
dancing, and soon I found myself in the middle of a ring of hysterically laughing crew, as I tried to
keep up with their fancy footwork, with limited success. My fellow adventurers were crying with
laughter by this point, and lent their support by taking as many embarrassing photos as possible.

By the time we had taken a coach back to our boat (a more sedate trip this time, no goat aroma and the
less romantic but quicker road route back across the new bridge), we were just in time for the start of
breakfast. By the end of the meal, all the boat seemed to know about my desert dancing, and I never
lived it down the entire trip.

I can‟t wait to get up in a balloon again, and the next plan is to fly over a game reserve in Kenya,
(once the bank balance has recovered from Egypt). However, any sign of a drum at the end of that
flight and I‟ll take my chances with the lions…

*Editor‟s Notes:
For most of us who queued for hours to see the famous death mask in the 1970‟s, this Pharaoh is
Tutankamen, but nowadays he is known by the more accurate name of Tutankhamun.

Published in October/November 2005 edition

                                       Sample Articles • page 11
                                email: kirsty@invaluableresource.co.uk
                                                         Kirsty Young
                                                    A N         I N V A L U A B L E
                                                               R E S O U R C E

Various web site writing samples:

Fortnum and Mason
From the minute you pass through its elegant doors, you know this is no ordinary grocery store. By the
time Charles Fortnum left the service of the mad King George in 1788 to join the family firm, the store
was already established in London society. It provided foodstuffs for British expeditions, supplied
Royalty with tea and even bought the first batch of tinned baked beans in 1886 – from Mr Heinz

Nowadays you have to battle through hordes of Japanese tourists to even get in, who all giggle in
delight over an entire four shelf display of different types of shortbread. The deep plush carpets and
staff in tailcoats impose a gentile hush, and you can be heard as you sniff appreciatively at the fresh

Prices here are not for the faint-hearted. The quintessential English afternoon tea (served between 3pm
and 5.30pm) includes fresh cut sandwiches, scones, and pastries served with a Classic tea, and will set
you back a whopping £22. Upgrade to champagne, and it‟s an eye-watering £30.

The floors above are a delight of elegant goods. Buy a greeting card from the third floor; they are
beautiful and reasonably priced, and you get it in a natty Fortnum‟s bag. Result.

(200 words, written for www.gusto.com, a US travel web site. 90% of London tourist sight reviews on
Gusto are mine.)


The Animals - House of the Rising Sun
British band The Animals released their LP in two different formats, one for the US market and one
for the UK. The US version features their first two singles and two songs written by Fats Domino,
'I‟ve Been Around' and 'I'm in Love Again'.

Of course the track that sticks in everyone‟s head is 'The House of the Rising Sun', a haunting tale of a
boy lost to the temptations of vice. The original blues song was first recorded in 1928, but it‟s the
croaking vocals of despair from Eric Burdon, “And God, I know, I‟m one” that sealed its fate as an
anthem for lost opportunity. British Prime Minister Tony Blair claimed it was the first tune he ever
learned to play on guitar.

However, it‟s the organ playing of Alan Price that sets the seal on the doomed boy‟s fate, his Vox
Continental giving a quasi-revivalist twist to the sad and sorry tale. Price‟s roots in rhythm and blues
gave his dramatic arrangement of the song added depth and pathos, ensuring it is his arrangement that
most people recognise as the definitive version. Pity he moved on to the cheesy embarrassment of
tracks such as 'Simon Smith And His Amazing Dancing Bear'.

(204 words, written for a US site selling musical kit used on famous album tracks.
The Land Gate or Ravalin, Famagusta, North Cyprus
When the Ottomans laid siege to the walled city of Famagusta in North Cyprus, there were only two
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ways in, the Sea Gate and the Land Gate. The Land Gate was protected by the Rivettina Bastion, or
Ravelin, and this impressive tower was not going to topple easily. The Land Gate was the original
entrance to the medieval city of Famagusta, which the Venetians remodeled to suit artillery fire and
cannon. Protected by a double moat, there was no way into Famagusta‟s walled city except over the
wooden drawbridge. (Entry to the city was originally via a cannon emplacement at the side of the

The Ravalin under siege at Famagusta, Northern Cyprus
After weeks of battling and digging under the walls during June 1571, the Ottoman Turks finally
managed to gain access to the walls of the Ravalin. The Venetians, determined to hold fast, blew up
their own secret tunnel under the walls, burying a thousand Ottoman soldiers in the rubble, not to
mention one hundred of their own men. Although this destruction halted the enemy advance for a
while, the Venetians defending Famagusta were quick to built more barricades behind the fallen tower,
using sandbags and earth-filled carts. However, by 1 August, the Venetians surrendered, weakened by
hunger, fatigue and plague. The surrendering citizens waved a white flag from the top of the tower, so
the victorious Ottomans named it the "Akkule" or "White Tower".

The Ravelin today at Famagusta, North Cyprus
Today, the Ravelin houses the Tourist Information Office for Famagusta, and next to it, the sloping
ramp to the walls still remains, originally used to wheel in the cannons. The stone bridge seen today
over the main moat was built in the 19th century, although its elegant arches seem almost insubstantial
next to the vast walls. You can still see the grooves above the gateway into the city that guided the
chains of the portcullis and drawbridge.

Inside, the Ravelin is a labyrinth of guard houses and rooms, converted into the Akkule ören Yeri
attraction. It takes a full fifteen minutes to wind through the Ravelin's complex of rooms, ramps, steps
and dungeons. Look up and you can still see the holes where the acrid smoke from cannon fire
escaped. The recesses in the walls were used for storing gunpowder barrels and cannon balls. Despite
artillery and cannon being relatively new technology, those used by both the Venetians and the
Ottomans during the siege were the most powerful in existence at the time.

Cannons and Gunpowder at the Ravelin, North Cyprus
Little more than large iron tubes on wheels, these cannons fired iron or stone cannon balls, which were
simply dropped into the cannon mouth. The gunpowder would be ignited with a red hot poker, and the
resulting explosion would fill the room with choking smoke. Furthermore, iron was so expensive, that
the Venetians soldiers would creep out from the city at night to retrieve any cannon balls within reach,
ready to reuse the next day!

It is humbling to stand in this tower and realise that as little as 5000 Venetians managed to hold back
over 100,00 Ottoman Turks for eight months during the siege, before finally accepting that disease and
hunger would cut them down before the Turks would ever reach them.
(556 words, written for www.cyprus44.com, a North Cyprus information web site. Almost all the
words on this site are mine, including the ‘Kathy’ blogs!)

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