Author: bereccaryan

About bereccaryan

PhD Student in X-ray Physics, interested in film, literature and popular culture

Ian McEwan’s Sweet Tooth: my first ebook

I just finished reading Ian McEwan’s latest novel, published in September 2012, Sweet Tooth.

Having devoured several of his previous novels, Atonement, On Chesil Beach, Enduring Love, Solar, I was eager to read this latest one.

I’ve read that McEwan shadows different personality types (e.g.followed around physicists to glean their character traits – inspiration for his lead character in Solar). Reading Solar two years ago, I was particularly delighted by the accuracy which sums up the intellectual arrogance and power playing displayed by Professor Michael Beard.

As with his previous books, I also expected the delights of plot twist that elevate you from sullen expectation.  And so, with my newly acquired Ipad, and desire to try out an ebook, I bought McEwan’s latest.

Serena Frome (rhymes with plume) is yet another lead character whose mind we delight in walking around with.  A reluctant Cambridge mathematics major (whose real passion is English Literature) is led into the secret intelligence service after graduating with a ‘third’ (third class in maths). The novel captures the era of young women forging careers in the cold war in Britain era prior to the mega feminist movement – I guess quite well (having not lived through it myself).

After acquainting us with her experiences at university to securing her job with the secret service, Serena’s first major project as a spy leads her into a complicated relationship with a writer.

Without giving away too much more I will say that the portrayal of Serena was brilliant.  Having raced through this as an ebook though, I didn’t have a good sense of how much more of the book I had to go.  Based on McEwan’s previous work, I expected more ‘meat’ from the plot (to which this novel was a little bereft).

The ‘surprise’ twist ending, was not so much of a surprise (as I expected a surprise based on prior novels) and a little disappointingly obvious – perhaps this was mingled with the lack of physical sense I got from the length of the book on my reading device.


Another Earth (2011): One of those Sci-Fi’s that ain’t quite a sci-fi?

Another Earth (2011) is described as a science fiction/drama, directed by Mike Cahill.

Rhoda (played by Brit Marling who also co-wrote the film), a young astro-physicist wannabe, is about to embark on her college journey at MIT.  She dreams of the stars.  After celebrating with friends and drinking, she drives home slightly intoxicated.  There is a newsflash on the radio : an earth-like planet has appeared in the sky – she looks out the window whilst driving to gaze up at this other planet earth, and before you know it , bang – crashes into another car, killing two of its three passengers – father/husband John (William Mapother) survives.
We next meet Rhoda when she is released from her four year jail term (imprisoned for manslaughter).  She is a woman now living on the edge – having caused the death of two, and destroying John’s life, she feels utter remorse.  Instead of going back to pursue her college dreams the only job she can bring herself to perform to pass the days is as a cleaner – wearing the kind of attire which reflects her desolate mood.

ugly clothes

Several theories about ‘Earth 2’ begin to arise as the plot unfolds: startlingly, that this second Earth is a mirror image of Earth, with beings who are leading their lives in parallel to those here at home.  Rhoda clings to this hope – perhaps her mirror image did not commit this life altering accident of a crime – she enters a competition to travel over to the planet.

Rhoda’s appearance is deliberately played down (- this is a low-budget indie film after all), you can see that she is a beautiful woman – considerate and intelligent – and desperately want to see her pulled out of this miserable mess, and get back on the path to following some part of her dream.  You want her to make amends with John, whose family she had destroyed.

There are some insightful voice-over monologues in the film: reflecting on space exploration – exploration of the unknown and the curiosity we would all have about confronting a mirror version of ourselves.

I think this film had a great story – that wasn’t quite fully realised to the extent that it could have been.  The ‘small’ elements of science fiction driving the plot mainly drove the drama played out by Rhoda and John which seemed to be the focus of the film.

That being said – I wish there were more films being made like this one!


The Skin I Live In (2011)

Shocking. Disgusting? Compelling. Humourous?

These are just some of the words you might use to describe The Skin I Live In, directed by Pedro Aldmovar.

The skin i live in

The film is centres around Robert Ledgard (played by Antonio Banderas), a plastic surgeon (with an in-home private practice), who is developing new methods for growing and attaching artificial skin to patients who have suffered severe burns, or who require face transplants.

We first get the hint that Ledgard has been un-ethically experimenting with his ideas on humans when we encounter Vera, dressed in a full skin coloured body suit, designed to encourage secure attachment of new skin to the body of burn victims.  Her skin is surprisingly smooth, yet extremely tough (like pig skin – Ledgar uses pig DNA to create artificial skin).

We soon find out that something is all very wrong with this situation.  Without giving away too much, we learn about the tragedies that have befallen Ledgard regarding the death of his wife and daughter.

Then an act of revenge takes place, the full extent of which unfolds in a compellingly unusual way.  The perpetrator and the sufferer seem to be confused in their roles.

If you’ve read or seen film versions of  Wuthering Heights or The Count of Monte Cristo, (where epic acts of revenge take result after years of careful planning and execution) you’ll think Robert Ledgard puts Heathcliff and Edmond Dantes to shame!

Love, and having it viciously taken away from us, can lead us to do crazy things.  What Ledgard does is pure madness!

I highly recommend seeing this film.  The pace of the plot is perfectly timed with the unravelling of the twists and turns that unfold.  You need not fear gore (a la The Human Centipede).  You can expect to laugh.  You will be shocked, but also compelled to see what happens in the end.  A very unusual, but good film.

Review: The Elephant Man (1980)

‘The Elephant Man’ is a biopic of the life of John Merrick (played by John Hurt), who had severe facial (and other) deformities due to the disease Elephentiasis.  Filmed in black and white, we first encounter Merrick as the Elephant Man on display at a freak show in Victorian era London.

Regarded as an imbecile, Dr Treves (played by a young Anthony Hopkins) encounters Merrick at the freak show and pays a sum to Merrick’s brutal keeper to examine him at a London Hospital.

Treated initially as an imbecile, Merrick has the chance to prove otherwise to Dr. Treves by reciting Psalm 23 by heart.  Initially we don’t know either way, whether  Merrick can speak at all, and feel sheer sympathy to the brutality and judgement that he has suffered up to this moment of triumph.

Merrick is granted permission to stay in the hospital in comfortable accomodation and is met by a flurry of people interested in the fact that this ‘freak’ is a man of culture and intelligence underneath.

Dr. Treves, at first excited by the fact that ‘discovering’ Merrick marks an important step forward in his career,  soon realises the erroneousness even of his own treatment of Merrick: that placing him in the hospital with advertisement to the public, is pretty much just another freak show for Merrick.

The film boats no ostentation in its presentation and almost feels a bit ‘B-grade’ .  However, in its simplicity of directly telling the story, it really implores  us not to judge a book by its cover.

Being shot in black and white, the few moments of elation conveyed by Merrick are well contrasted by an overall feeling of deep sadness.

Overall, a beautiful story and movie.

Charles Dickens’ House: Closed for refurbishment during the year of his 200th anniversary!

This year marks the 200th year of the birthday of Charles Dickens.  Though I don’t claim to have read ALL of Dickens’ novels, I have read many.  I am a fan.  I am also a literary tourist: i.e. if I should be in a city or place that has been graced with the birthplace of a famous writer, or scene from a famous novel, I make the effort to visit the landmarks and museums and what not.  I’ve been to the Bronte Parsonage, I’ve done the Bronte Walk, the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, the Writer’s Museum in Edinburgh (which features the writers Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott).  I lived in Dorset long ago (Weymouth), and next time I visit will go and see Thomas Hardy’s house.
When I lived in London in 2005, I lived quite close to Charles Dicken’s house, which is now the  Charles Dickins Museum.  It is located at 48 Doughty St London, near Russel Square Station.  Not far from 343 Euston Road (where I lived).  But I didn’t make it there during that time.  There is so much to do in London, its easy to neglect seeing things you want to see, and experiencing things you want to experience, because you have it in the back of your mind that you’ll do it eventually.

I saw the film ‘Hereafter‘ (2010), starring Matt Damon, which featured three interwoven stories of characters who experience glimpses of the ‘after-life’ .  The film was set in 2005;  it follows a tsunami survivor (from the 2004 Boxing day tsunami disaster), the London bombings (one of the characters ‘just’ misses catching an underground train whilst scuttling about on the platform  for a hat blown off his head by the force of his brother’s deathly spirit) and Matt Damon’s character – who has come to London to take a break from the difficulty of life back in America where he feels cursed by his ability to communicate with those who have passed away from life.

I only lived in London for six months in 2005 , and unfortunately Dickens’  house is something I missed out on (one of the things I would get round to … eventually!).  Seeing ‘Hereafter’  re-invoked the shock of the day that the London bombings happened ( my experiences is written about here).  And Matt Damon’s character goes to visit Charles Dickens’ house –  and so I have promised myself, I will eventually do the same.

Here in Australia, I was surprised that the ABC (broadcast station that schedules BBC adaptations of everything!), did not schedule anything ‘Dickens’ on the date of his birthday (February 7th).  About two months later the latest adaptation of ‘Great Expectations’ was aired.  At the Melbourne International Film Festival, a handful of Dickens themed evens will be on, and the Melbourne Writers Festival, happening over the next two weeks, will include a keynote opening address by Simon Callow about Dickens (Callow published a book this year celebrating the life of Charles Dickens).

I was lucky enough to visit London again this year (2012) in May, and was determined to go and see Dickens’  house.  I made it to the door.  But the place was being refurbished, no entry!  I couldn’t believe that of the possible sights to go and see that morning, I went all the way up to Russel Square, walked to Doughty St, and the museum was closed!  Fortunately there are plenty of other things to see and do, but I haven’t been able to cross this one off my list.    I almost went to The Old Curiosity Shop when I found out that such a place actually existed, but wasn’t sure what would be there.

Next time I’m in London I will go to Dicken’s house!  Such a pity that with so much happening in the year of the celebrations of his 200th Anniversary, the museum dedicated to him should be closed!

Haruki Murakami, 1Q84 : may finish reading before I finish PhD.

In conclusion, the book is very long.

If you are a PhD student, or someone blessed with the opportunity to work on a long term, ALL-TIME-CONSUMING project, that you don’t get paid much for, you may find that you have somehow re-prioritized activities that you did daily or weekly down to the bottom of the pile.  For me one of the biggest things I have ‘given up’ is reading fiction.   I didn’t mean for it to happen; somehow each time I sat down to a book in the evening when I got home, I felt that I shouldn’t do it.

I felt like I should be reading papers (related to my research).  Or brushing up on my lack of programming skills.  Or working on some other aspect of my PhD project.

Yet I managed to fit in a good fitness regimen – training for soccer twice a week, playing up to two games each week, going to the gym, running.  Your physical health must not suffer during such a stressful time as a PhD!  And a social life – I kept that going too.  But for some reason, in the hours on my own, I had replaced reading fiction time, with wasted time online and procrastination.

At the end of 2011 I decided enough is enough (had barely read anything since the start of 2009, when I started as a PhD student)!  I read the latest book reviews in the weekend paper and one title caught my eye: 1Q84, Haruki Murakami.  Not 1984, George Orwell.  My interest was piqued immediately.  I had read and reread and absolutely loved 1984.  I had also recently seen the film ‘Norwegian Wood’,adapted to screen from the book written by Haruki Murakami.

I was intrigued by the outline of the plot.  The book is long.  About 1000 pages.  It has several interesting elements: an oppressive spiritual cult, disparity of the perception of time, a parallel time (the year 1Q84 as opposed to 1984), a female heroin who is a stealth assassin, the yearning for a long lost unrequited love, a world where the narrator suddenly notices that there are now two moons up in the sky.  Is it science fiction? Is it fantasy? Is it a thriller? It is certainly high concept, but fits into neither genre.

You will probably find it in the ‘Literature’ section of your bookstore.  Why? The way it is written: Murakami pains over every small detail – the music playing in the background and its significance to the character, the taste of the food at the table, the smell of the air about you, the feeling of the clothes you wear, the innuendos and subtexts of a conversation with another character: each is described in minute detail.  It would have been enough to have been written as a Thriller.  But that is not Murukami’s style.   And that is also what makes it so sumptuous.

Two moons: this conjures up an image from the film ‘Melancholia’ (released 2011), where another planet is hurtling towards the earth, but appears harmlessly and beautifully in  the sky.

Anyway, back to my point.  The book is long – but not frustratingly so, it is a pleasure to read.  But six months has passed and I am only 650 out of 1000 pages through!  At this rate I am not sure what will take longer – finishing my PhD, or finishing the book.  In a way, I thought that buy buying and reading the book, I would take up an activity I did on a daily basis once again.

This was not the right book for ‘getting back into reading’.  The book is too bulky to carry about in my handbag, or in my backpack (amongst my laptop and other items), to make it worthy of carrying in the chance that I’ll be caught waiting somewhere with dead-time (i.e. at a bus stop, before an appointment, etc).  I guess this is where I should almost give in to purchasing an e-book reader.   I’m at a loss.  I can’t just start another book, because I’m too far in.
So here I am, six months later, I still haven’t quite been able to take on the habit of reading fiction.  But if anyone asks, I tell them I’m reading a book by Haruki Murakami called 1Q84.

Time Travelling Fiction

To describe in detail the full scope of special (and general) relativity requires careful and extensive mathematical examination, none of which I’m prepared to give here. You could really gain full appreciation the delights of relativity some by sitting in on some kooky physics lectures (or enrolling in them); you may even be able to string together some of the basics as explained in important movies and TV shows such as Back to the Future stringing together some of the basics as explained in some important films, like Back to the Future. Relativity is important because it suggests the exciting possibility of time travel (and perhaps the boring realities of it-sigh).

Relativity involve using frames of reference to describe motion of objects and the constancy of the speed of light. A frame of reference describes some position that encompasses a particular object or event we wish to measure – the frame may be the space I am sitting in now or it may describe me moving through a space described as a separate frame. Note that depending on whether I observe myself as I move, or whether I observe the frame I move through changes the viewpoint of what is moving and how it can be measured.

In my own frame, from my own observation, I am stationary and the frame moves relative to myself. From the point of view of the frame that I am moving through, the frame sees itself as stationary and sees me moving relative to it. Motion is observed between relative frames. This is relativity, and its consequences are grand. Getting your head around the idea of observation by relative viewpoints you are on the way to understanding the connections between space and time.

Oh and the other important thing is the speed of light – that is 300 000 000 metres per second (approximately) a reference point/number/ constant that seems to govern our universe as we learn in the study of physics. Relative observation lead to the notions of length contraction and time dilation, (in no way relating to pregnancy and giving birth) and provides us with the framework to consider ‘time travelling’.

In your frame of motion the time you experience moving relative to another frame is more than the time experienced in the frame that you are moving relative to (because you consider yourself stationary inside your own frame). This is time dilation. There is always that universal experience that time seems to pass us by when we are busy or enjoying ourselves and seems painfully slow when we are bored and idle. Having nothing to do equates to having more time to think about how time is passing.

Also moving faster than the speed of light (going through the maths) leads to the possibility of traveling forwards through time – by experiencing less time in your moving frame compared to everything around you. Generating speeds that exceed the speed of light is where the problem lies – Doctor Emmet Brown managed this with a plutonium fuel source in a Delorean traveling at 88 miles per hour.

The idea of traveling backwards through time as in the Back to the Future movies is rendered paradoxical – the paradox being explored in depth as follows:

if you go backwards in time and change one small thing it leads to a set of consequences, chain reactions that evolve into a different time that you seemingly traveled from. Marty Mcfly stops his dad getting hit by a car in 1956, incidentally it was getting hit by a car that led him to meet Lorraine, his mother who instead of falling for Marty’s father, falls for Marty…this alteration of chain of events means that in turn Marty will not exist because his parents never hooked up because of his mother’s newfound incestuous attraction to her own son.

If he doesn’t exist anymore in 1985, how did he travel from there to the situation he is in now? ‘Causality’ is this idea that everything that occurs follows some cause and effect relation – an event occurring results from some cause that occurred at an earlier time. Backwards time travel violates causality as explored in these movies.

The concept of time travel in fiction would have to be my favorite plot device. I think what makes it so successful is partly its ability to create pertinent social commentary by juxtaposing past and present. A comparatively quaint past reveals the grim outlook that a particular society is bound for some kind of downward spiral. The future may hold improvement and hope. It may also simply reveal that humanity does not change regardless of the moment in history in which people are placed.

We think about traveling backwards in time and changing things in our past and imagining what the memory of a different life experience would mean for the way we think in the present. Unfortunately, the feeling of REGRET about things you experienced in your past is fact of life for us all, an inevitable part of the human condition- part and parcel of cause and effect, and the laws of the universe as referred to earlier.

In the recent TV show, Life on Mars’s protagonist, Sam Tyler, thinks he has gone back in time to 1973 from 2007 and somehow resumes his job as a detective inspector for local policing authority. He is able to interact with his family and events that occurred in the past without having effect on himself (arriving from the future). The brilliance in this series was the concept of bringing policing techniques and technologies of the present (2006-2007) including forensics, education in psychology and very bureaucratic methods via Sam to a team of detectives in 1973 who use instinct, whims and brutal force to put the baddies behind bars.

In the recent bestseller, The Time Traveller’s Wife, the time traveler of the book- Henry, travels back and forth through time uncontrollably due to some pseudo scientific description of a disorder (‘chromo-genetic disorder’ they call it). Like the terminator, time travel is only possible in his birthday suit so for survival when entering a new ‘present’, Henry must run, steal, pick locks, i.e. become some sort of petty criminal to survive. Henry discovers somewhere along the way that the only activity allowing him to stay in the present for prolonged periods of time is with the comfort of romantic time spent with his wife.

It does sometimes disappoints me to see some bogus methods of time travel –like that time traveling scene in the 1978 Superman movie – we are encouraged to believe that Superman can reverse time by using his superhuman strength by flying around the earth with enough force to reverse the direction of spin on its axis.

There is so much time travel in books and films- the idea of time travelers existing way before the physical possibilities of it were considered. I think there is enough fodder in that for some PhD’s in literary studies (don’t steal my idea!). Forward and backward time travel unfortunately is incorrectly represented as though time were some linear chain you could pick any point along to go visit and observe.

I haven’t provided thorough reason as to why backwards time travel is impossible but offer the following ‘thought experiment’ – if there are backwards time travelers why do we know of none? Surely if there were time travelers from the future, somebody would know about them. Perhaps they simply don’t present themselves because of that whole paradox of stuffing up something in the past causing disastrous consequences in their own future. On May 7th, 2005, MIT held a ‘time travelers convention’ – time travelers were invited along to present themselves publicly. No time travelers however were confirmed in attendance- but may have attended incognito.

Youtube has some awesome stuff on time travel that I highly recommend you check out!

Ciaran Hinds and the audience get spooked in The Eclipse (2009)

Despite the title of this film, it is in NO way associated with anything Stephanie Meyer -and that Twilight series – although it does contain the element of the supernatural.  Its one of those movies that is released only briefly in Melbourne (~three weeks or less) and only at art-housy cinemas such as the Nova on Lygon St, Carlton.  After finding out that the film is an Irish film, taking place over the course of a literary festival – and had ghosts – I quickly decided that I had to see it, but missed my opportunity with its short release.

In the space of a mere month I have now watched it three times – there is something hauntingly beautiful about it.  Set in the small town of Cobh, County Cork, Ireland, Michael Farr (Ciaran Hinds) is an annual volunteer at the International Literary Festival in the town.  Recently widowed, Farr begins having dreams and hallucinations infused with the presence of his wife’s spirit and others who are close to him.  He meets Lina Morrel (Iben Hjejle), a supernatural fiction writer at the festival.  The festival takes place over a few days.  Farr and Morrel form a friendship during the festival over their experiences of contact with ghosts – when you encounter one for the first time, ” your brain splits in two –  one side of you is rejecting what you’re seeing because it doesn’t tally with the ordinary side of reality, and the other side is screaming ‘but this is real!”.  And so the viewer is reminded to deduce whether what Michael has experienced so far are real hauntings.

Notable elements of the movie include the visual setting and the musical score.  Cobh is a picturesque seaport town – quaint and pretty and typical of any image you see in the usual tourist guide brochures for Ireland.  We visit the small cemetary, see sunshine briefly, experience the rain (it is Ireland after all)  in limited but adequate measure to note that this is a film set in Ireland without showing off the usual cultural display.  The setting is breathtakingly picturesque – but the subtle control over imagery saves our breath for ghostly encounters.  Choral hymns – kyrie eleison interject at poignant moments of the film, and the melodic piano theme playing throughout many scenes works to evoke feelings of sadness and calm.  The performance of Ciaran Hinds is brilliant – we empathise with him through every moment of the film.

Part romance, part ghost-story and thriller – the film gently captivates  and haunts.

The Winner is ‘London’, London wins the Olympic Bid, followed by terrorist bombings

With the opening ceremony of the London Olympics merely a week away, I remember back to the year 2005 when I lived in London and the host city for the 2012 games was announced.  I purchased a copy of ‘The Guardian’ on the 7th July, the day after the announcement took place, the front page story .a great contrast to what would be shown on the cover of the 8th July edition.

I worked in (and lived in) a pub, The Greenman, 243 Euston Road, NW1  ( the centre of zone 1 London).  The news was announced and the city of London revelled in joy.  I rung the bell at closing time on the 6th July, and tried to kick out the remaining stragglers at the pub, a group of which were some Aussies, who picked up on my accent and attempted to appeal to my ‘shared homeland’ sympathy and give them some more time to finish their pints and carry on.   Being tired from my twelve hour shift, I wouldn’t have any of it, then one of them said “c’mon, let us stay, have a drink with us, we won the Olympics!”.  I acknowledged and agreed with this statement – ‘We won the Olympics!’, for about two seconds before I had to again politely ask them to finish their drinks and leave at last.

We’ claimed London as our home, because we fleetingly lived there on working holiday visas and gap years.  We worked in pubs and hotels, as Au pairs, and signed up to temping agencies when we were sick of the hospitality industry.    We met Brazilians, Italians, Spanish, French, Polish and Lithuanians – who were here in search of a better life or to learn English and improve their chances of a better life back home upon return.  We met Irish, and then hundreds of other Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans here doing the same things.  We took it for granted what we had back home.  The London we found was not the London we read about in Dickens or Sherlock Holmes; it was not just Piccadilly Circus, Hyde Park, the Thames, Hamleys, St Paul’s Cathedral.   It was this thriving international epicentre, where people from all over the world came to try to make a life for themselves, to pursue their dreams, to party, and to drink their nights away.

The morning of the 7th July 2012, I went for a walk down to Oxford St, bought the newspaper along the way and had been planning to walk up to Kings Cross St Pancras to purchase some National Rail tickets for a trip to Edinburgh, but first stopped back at the Greenman – where the bar staff immediately accosted me with ‘Where have you been? We were worried about you!  Stay in the building and do not leave!!’.

The London Underground had been bombed.  Three major locations were attacked: Kings Cross St. Pancras, Aldgate and Liverpool St Station.  A bomb was set off in a bus at Tavistock Square.

The pub was flooded with passers by the rest of the morning.  We watched the news on the small TV that we had in the pub, it was as crowded as the pub got when a football match was on. Public transport was suspended until 4 pm.  We waited for more news.  We were worried about more bombs.  The city was in shutdown.

I went out to Tesco’s next door later in the day, at about 4:30 pm but found a hand written sign saying ‘Due to the events of today we are closed’.   I wandered further to a Sainsbury’s in hope of finding something to eat and found the same sign.  As the end of the business day approached, workers began leaving their offices for the journey home, with rampant fear of public transport.

I walked up Tottenham Court Road at around 5:30 pm, pedestrian peak hour.  The people walked  in worry and fear.  It was a mass exodus from the city on foot, in silence.  What a day.  The next morning I purchased the Guardian, the front page news in great contrast to the excitement of winning the Olympic bid.

Two weeks after the incident, there were more attempts at bombing attacks.  Along Euston Road, bus stops were covered in missing person signs – I presume, of people whose whereabouts were unknown since that day, the unidentified injured or dead.  Fifty-two people were killed and over 700 injured on the 7th July.

I have read some chilling recollections from survivors of the blasts, and how everyone in London who was there that day recounts their choices about which tube train they were ‘meant to catch’ that morning but didn’t.  One of the survivors from the blasts lost her legs (her story is here).  She looks forward to the London Olympics, and will be competing as a paralympian.

I absolutely dread going through customs in the USA.  After September 11, the London Bombings and other terrorist incidents, those of us who journey across continents will all be treated indiscriminately as a security risk until rigorous body screening and inquisition has shown otherwise.

It saddens and angers me that our collective anticipation of international sporting events such as the Olympics and the World Cup now also come hand in hand with increased security, and a heightened fear of terrorist threats.  After coming home from London later in 2005, I immediately felt safe and secure back in Australia: World Wars have not been fought on our soil, multiculturalism is increasingly embraced, we are seemingly devoid of class tensions and are generally a tolerant lot.  I admit that these notions I hold are simply ideals – problems are brewing in our society.  The future is a global future.  Ideology will be attacked by those who vehemently disagree – history shows that this has always been the case through the millenia.  The threat of terrorism abounds, we can live on with awareness of terrorist threats but we can’t live on with fear.  Just as the people of London have lived on with awareness of terrorism and have moved on with their lives, they have now got the Olympic games in their home city to celebrate.