English 10: Writing Portfolio

 

Catholic Memorial High School

 

2007-2008

   
   
   
   
   
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Creative Writing  
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The word, “Curling”, according to the Oxford English Dictionary most likely has its early roots
traced to the town of Flanders, England. The word that is used to identify the actual game of
curling most likely is derived from the Scottish word, “Quoiting”. This was the name for the early
developmental stages of Curling. Unorganized pickup games of Curling were first seen in narrow town
alleyways that were frozen over with ice or snow in the dead of winter. The objective was to master
a combination of accuracy and strength to push a rounded slab of rock into a designated target. The
name “Curling” was given to the game because of the trajectory that the rock sometimes took when
pushed at the correct angle and speed with certain spin. Over time, these “pickup games” grew in
popularity and saw more and more players compete. By the year 1838, these players and fans organized
themselves to form The Royal Caledonian Curling Club (located in Scotland) where rules and
regulations were recorded. “The Sports Fans Ultimate Book of Sports Comparisons” writes that the
player who pushes the stone to the target must be precisely 57 feet away from the target; this
player is named the Skip. Two “Vice Skips” walk or jog along side the stone slab and use league
approved brooms to brush the path that lay before the stone, increasing longevity and ensuring
accuracy. This was acquired via Funk & Wagnall’s New Encyclopedia Volume 6. The two teams of
four players (1 bench player) must push 16 stones as close to the center of the target as possible.
Similar to the game of darts, the players score is relative to the proximity between his rock and
the dead center of the target, the closer it has stopped the higher score the team will receive.
According to the frequency of the articles being published about Curling in the London Times London
Times, the Mirror, the Telegraph, the Metro, and the Evening Standard, it seems to be a moderate to
very popular sport in Britain. Recently, according to the London Times, a curling semi-final
championship game accumulated a crowd of more than two thousand people and was televised on more
than ten public stations. The London Mirror reports that it is believed that the recent spike in
interest of Curling can be attributed to the sports induction into the Olympics in 1998. In the
subsequent paragraphs, this essay will discuss the sport of Curling, the role it plays on the
British people and what it says about them.
The sport of Curling, to many people’s surprise, is not merely the Olympic sport that was introduced
in 1998. This sport has records tracing back 1500 years but was not fully organized and was
competitive until 1838. The objective of Curling is to push a puck shaped ball onto a target over
ice. The first league was named The Royal Caledonian Curling Club and still to this day is the
international leader for Curling. According to The Royal Caledonian Curling Club’s website, early
records indicate that curling was notoriously being played in Northern England at the end of the
18th century with a match being recorded in 1795 between England and the counties of Scotland. In
1811 a few Scots curled on the New River, a canal in North London this match was so popular amongst
the people and was so densely crowded, that the frozen river was on the brink of breaking, thus, the
participants agreed to discontinue the match. The sudden popularity increase in the 19th century
could be due to the increased availability of artificial ice. In the 20th century however, roughly
20 different English curling rinks opened, then were closed due to lack of business and popularity.
In 1997, the last curling rink in England was closed at Alexandra Palace and for the subsequent 7
years, there was no designated rink for curlers to consistently compete. Until in 2004 Ernest Fenton
decided to dedicate a curling rink in Kent, England. Fenton’s Rink is now the home of the Province
of London Curling Club where most of the Curling leagues meet and compete. The organization,
according to The Royal Caledonian Curling Club’s website, the Province of London Curling Club is the
leading English amateur curling league where aspiring curlers can go to learn from experience and by
example. Professional Curling leagues in the United Kingdom range from an under 17 league to a
Wheelchair league. The more well-known curling leagues are the British Wheelchair Curling
Association, Fenton Rink League, Province of London Association, the English Curling Association,
the Welsh Curling Association, and the Scottish Institute of Sport all take part in professional and
amateur curling matches. These leagues names have been taken from the World Curling Federation
website. These leagues represent the best curlers in England and are all under the jurisdiction of
the Royal Caledonian Curling Club.
The World Junior Curling Championship is currently being held in England until late April, as of
now, the woman Canadians, Swedes, and the Americans are in a three way tie for the lead of the
Championship. The Scottish have plummeted to the bottom of the list at ninth place. To the contrary,
the Scottish men are tied with Sweden for the lead in their division. Anna Sloan who is only 16
years old and competing for the Scottish in the tournament has been commented as saying, “Even
though we are the youngest team in the competition, the experience we are gaining is invaluable,
even if the wins are not necessarily appearing on the board, yet.” (Taken from Curling Today
Magazine) Unlike some American youth, it is evident here that the Scottish and English youth are
raised with a positive and winning attitude as reflected here by Anna Sloan.
Curling in English literature nowadays is a rarity, although over 200 years ago, Curling was
commonly referenced in poems. In 1789, David Davidson, the Kirkcudbright poet, gives a description
of curling in his “Thoughts on the Seasons” this includes a passage in the style of an old Scots
ballad describing a legendary game on Carlingwark Loch, at Castle Douglas, "God prosper long
the hearty friends Of honest pleasure all; A mighty curling match once did at Carlingwark befal. To
hurl the channelstane wi’ skill, Lanfloddan took his way; The child that’s yet unborn will sing, The
curling of that day. "Another local poet, James Kennedy, of Sanquhar, a small Scottish village,
published an extended poem on curling in his “Poems and Songs” in 1823, "AN EPISTLE TO MR. M
--- Relating a Curling Match betwixt the parish of Crawfordjohn and the parish of Sanquhar." It
concludes with, "While circling seasons onward roll, And boisterous billows barks control;
While loadstone points unto the pole Or norland star, May Sanquhar’s sons attain the goal At icy
war."
Curling is to Scotland as Basketball is to America. This is the most fitting comparison that most
Americans would comprehend. Curling in the modern day United Kingdom is not overwhelmingly popular
nor is not a complete unknown to the English people. The players and spectators of the sport are now
trying to emerge themselves in a Renaissance. They need a rebirth of their sport, they took a
gargantuan step in that direction by making their sport a three medal Olympic competition in 1998.
Interest in the sport after the Olympics has skyrocketed in comparison to what it used to be.
Scotland, however, will always be in support of Curling in its development due to its origins being
traced all the way back there some 200 years ago. The sport’s face in and of itself shows that the
English who enjoy this sport also like to imagine a life of serenity which is reflective in this
sport. They also like to use precision and power to run their life, which is shown in their economy
through a strong military but also a very dignified arsenal of diplomats. Curling, if only it gained
television or radio exposure would be not only a more popular sport in Britain, but also in the
world today.

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
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Certain characteristics that are undeniably unique to British Literature and not to World Literature
in general. Authors such as Mary Shelley and George Orwell thrive in the style of writing that
others from other countries would shrivel and not succeed. Certain settings, themes, resolutions,
form, and gender traits are indescribably similar in almost all of British Literature. Settings such
as a depressing atmosphere with bleak hopes of success, themes such as the great ocean all are
recurring traits in British Literature.
Settings that British authors use more than any others are the depressing or hopeless settings that
their main characters are inserted into. Mary Shelley for example puts her character, Victor
Frankenstein in dire straits midway through the novel, “With the love of my life now murdered, and
my father deceased, I swear my vengeance against the monster.” (178) William Shakespear in his
memorable play, Hamlet, writes of his main character, “We start with the ghost of a murdered king;
then there die the succeeding king, the Queen and then Hamlet.” (166) English writers take pleasure
in watching their character be put before an unfortunate situation and have the reader wanting
success, but being disappointed with failure. George Orwell in 1984 uses vivid descriptions of an
apocalyptic future with this quote, “Winston walked down the street with rundown buildings on both
sides and with the low hum of planes overhead”. Orwell creates a scary view of what he fears could
happen if human ignorance continued. Winston his character is put in this setting and he single
handedly attempts to right the wrong, yet fails. Jane Austen continues the trend of poor situations
in her work, Sense and Sensibility, in this book she makes the characters (the Dashwoods) endure the
death of their parents and are left with their oldest son with great responsibility. The most
unfortunate situation of all these novels takes place in Jane Eyre, as Charlotte Bronte writes, “she
was put in the small room and brutally beaten by her cruel aunt”. It is typical for an author to use
unfortunate setting to attack the sympathy of the reader to continue them to read.
A theme that separates British Literature from world literature is the theme of the ocean and its
surroundings. The ocean holds the key to life and death for the English people; it is their gateway
to the outside world as it gives them life and takes it away. Emily Bronte in her poem, “Lines”, “I
should weep to leave thee here/ On the dark Ocean sailing drear/ With storms around and fears
before/ And no kind light to point the shore” (1). Emily in this gothic poem elaborates on how the
ocean is a dark and depressing place whereas the shore is the haven for which sailors would
anticipate. John Keats writes in On the Sea, “It keeps eternal whisperings around/ Desolate shores,
and with its mighty swell” (1) Keats admires the sea as a beautiful beast with everlasting
whisperings with majestic waves, he recognizes the beauty of the sea as well as the danger that lies
within. Dylan Thomas’ short story Childs Christmas in Whales calls the waves as being “…fish
freezing waves…” and a refers to it as the “…carol singing sea” (2). Through alliteration, Thomas
duly notes that the sea can bring happiness and how even the simple crest of the freezing waves can
be beautiful thing. In James Joyce’s Ulysses- Episode 3, he vividly describes his fishing excursion
“There he is. Hook it quick. Sunk though he be beneath the watery floor. We have him. Easy now.”
(138) Joyce is consistent in his writing as he brings up the same argument, that the ocean is his
homelands most valuable natural resource. In Night and Day by Virginia Woolf, she writes, “some
elemental force, such as the waves upon the ocean of humanity” (178). The waves she is referring to
is yet another creative use of the myriad of analogies that are at the disposal of authors which
explains why they are seen so often.
Unsatisfying endings in quite unique to the British tradition because like no other, they give you
an underdog, no stranger to failure and they give you every reason in the world for their success,
and just when you expect the upset, they fail you. Take for example, Winston from George Orwell’s
novel 1984. Winston showed such a burning desire in 1984 for success and showed all signs of
awareness of the danger, yet in the end still failed. “Both of them knew in their minds that what
was happening now couldn’t happen much longer.” (151) For a brief time in the novel, the author
sheds a glimmer of fading hope on the reader, only to be crushed by failure in the following
chapter. One of the classic disappointing endings in British Literature history was when in Romeo
and Juliet the couple was torn apart by poison when the readers best expected success in their
relationship. In this next quote, Shakespeare portrays Romeo as giving hope for his relationship as
he sweet talks his love by saying, “May prove a beauteous flower when next we meet. Good night, good
night! as sweet repose and rest Come to thy heart as that within my breast!” John Keats in his
poetry cannot truly have an unsatisfying ending. Yet he can use the same components of a
disappointing ending by surprising the reader by changing which way he is going with his thesis.
Keats writes in Happy is England! I Would Be Content
“Happy is England, sweet her artless daughters; /Enough their simple loveliness for me /Enough their
whitest arms in silence clinging: /Yet do I often warmly burn to see /Beauties of deeper glance, and
hear their singing.”
In that quote one has to look deeper into what he is saying, this isn’t much of a disappointing
ending, but rather a surprise ending, one would not expect John Keats to go from preaching about
England’s glories and wonder, then say that he wants something more than what England has.
A form that most British authors seem to use more than others is the form of using an underdog
triumphing over overwhelming odds in an Industrial Society. One of the most famous known for these
kinds of stories would be Charles Dickens. In Oliver Twist, the child is born in a factory by a
drunk doctor and an intoxicated nurse, where his mother dies during birth. At the end of the story,
Oliver Twist is returned to his family something that Oliver never guessed as a child, and the
reader at that point in the story is entirely convinced that a family rescue would be the least
likely way for a storybook ending. Oliver Twist triumphs over poor workers rights on him and his
foster family, government oppression and low wages. He triumphs by never giving up hope that he is
loved by someone and that everything will be okay in the end despite the oppression by nearly
everyone.

   
   
   
   
   

 

 

 

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

 

   
   
   
   
   
   
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