My Answer paper

6 06 2007

George Hook

 

Q1 A.

(i)  The unemployed Italian father in “Bicycle thieves” is frustrated at the theft of his son’s present and realises that this is not how society should be. Simon Cropper notes that the simple idea is the first stage in encouraging viewers to imagine what a better society would look like.

Group laughter he says, in a darkened movie-theatre is a comforting confidence-building mode of social bonding. Meanwhile the great positive movie moments take you out of yourself, lift your mood and raise your spirits.

A film not only makes laugh or cry or feel angry – but sometimes makes us want to change the world.

 

(ii)                Books have always been more appealing than movies for me. Every time I watch a movie based on a book I realise the weakness of the visual over the written.

James Bond never matched up to my imagination of the man. The great card games, the amazing alcoholic concoctions all made we want to live the life of a secret agent whereas the cinema version was about car chases, spills and thrills that I always knew had been rehearsed and endlessly prepared.

A writer has the opportunity to explain the mind-set of a character and explain how his past has impacted on his position. Movies with just two hours to make the point can never rival the vast breadth of the imagination of a writer.

There is no limit to where the story can go, no budgetary constraints on location and physical difficulties with the movie star. Invariably when I watch a movie based on a book I am disappointed. The examples are too numerous to mention but “The DaVinci Code” makes my point admirably.

 

(iii)               The key to the success of this piece is that the writer uses examples of films to make his point. Everybody will have seen at least on the films mentioned so can personally feel involved in the piece and have a view. Not everyone will have seen a foreign movie like “Bicycle Thieves? but everybody at some point has viewed “The Wizard of Oz” or “The Sound of Music|”

His use of language is good conjuring up visions the underdog yapping at the heels of political or corporate giants.

The last paragraph ends on a note of hope and shows his own conversion from a bookworm to a movie buff. The paragraph demonstrates his passion and love for film which encourage the reader to tread the same path to a love of film.

  

Q 2 B

 

Cork is my city. The city I grew up in, learned about life, played my sport and above all fills me with pride as I walk along the banks of the Lee and think of the city’s anthem – “The banks of my own lovely Lee.”

The song talks about sporting and playing beside the river in a bygone age when there was no development of the famous Marina, save the great factory of Henry Ford that employed a huge proportion of the population. My father talked of the thousands of men making their way on bicycles through the city as each shift ended. They were the lucky ones. Ten times their number stood in line at Labour Exchanges waiting for work that would never come, until in despair they took the emigrant ship, The Innisfallen to work, often at Ford plants in England. They would return twice a year at Christmas and in summer for holidays in cramped conditions on that steamer dressed in a uniform of a blue suit and brown shoes that gave them their nickname, “Dagenham Yanks”. It was a testament to their earnings in the UK and their generosity to their family and friends in poverty stricken Cork. Today we the young people of Cork emigrate by choice rather than force as we are given a wide choice of career options.

For those lucky enough to remain in Ireland there were two primary holiday destinations. Crosshaven 13 miles by bus from the city or Youghal 30 miles away by train. The great majority could only afford a day at the seaside and were christened “trippers” by the more affluent Corkonians who could afford to rent a holiday bungalow at those locations. There was little money to spare but the taste of a banana sandwich was my father’s treat as a child. A restaurant window was something he often enviously looked through in wonder at the people who eat there.

Today most of us have been in restaurants since early childhood and foreign holidays have been one of our earliest memories. It has given us a confidence denied our parents whose lives were full of dread of how bills could be met.

Our parents had in the main, three career choices, the bank, the civil service or the priesthood. Many of them changed careers in mid stream and the records of stage and media in Ireland are littered with Cork men and women who first took the train to the capital to take a mundane clerical job before finding the courage to branch out.

Noel Coward famously sang “never put your daughter on the stage Mrs Worthington”. Our parents would have been terrified of risk whereas we feel that risk and reward go hand in hand.

Patrick Street was dominated by cinemas and department stores for our parents who walked endlessly up and down the thoroughfare to pass the time after school. The street now offers us so much more. Coffee shops to chat and watch the world go by; shop windows full of clothes, technology and books; and no longer are we inhabitants of a tiny island divorced from Europe but part of a great new federal state. Different colours, races and creeds are no longer to be feared but embraced in a brave New Ireland that has cast off the shackles of its inward looking past.

Our parents learned of the outside world through the pages of a local newspaper, the Cork Examiner, known to one and all as the “De Paper” It was a provincial broadsheet full of local news and Dublin was seen a s a foreign place. Today the Irish Examiner is a national daily that can hold its own with the big guns of Middle Abbey Street and D’Olier Street.

We love Cork for its vibrant confidence in the future and we want to share in its success by staying at home and being part of its future rather than our forefathers who used their energy and imagination to build other cities.

However we will never the past. The Cork patois which sometimes can be incomprehensible to visitors is still our pride. As we talk of wearing a “badena” (swimsuit) or go for “bazzer” (haircut) we pay tribute to the old Cork that is part of our tradition. Only in Cork could they Christian a road connection with dreadful traffic congestion as “the magic roundabout”

 

Section ii

 

1.      “The idealism and tangled passions that raged in my teenage heart”

 

My older brother once said that when he was 18 he thought his father was ignorant but by the time he was 21 he was astonished how much his father seemed to have learned in the intervening three years. Youth is an amazing gift but I wonder should it be given to the young. We are full of ideas and passions yet do not have the experience to make the decision on how best to use those strengths.

A character in a Sean O’Casey play declares “we all may be in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars”. Youthful passion is a bit like that. It must be directed towards a goal and although all young people have ideals many are misdirected by people with ulterior motives.

Irish nationalism is a perfect example. History in school fuelled us all with an admiration for heroes of the past and a desire to see the country reunited. Yet on both sides of the religious and political divide young people were given a different version of history that led to a 30-year war of atrocity piled on atrocity.  

Youth organisations have always been crucial to the development of idealism in young people. Never in history have young people shown a greater interest in those disadvantaged by poverty, or starvation. However more importantly today’s young people do something about it by sleeping rough to draw attention to a cause, working with those less well-off or simply raising money by working in their spare time for a cause. It is a testament to the power of youth organisations that totalitarian regimes have always targeted them first in their push for power. Child soldiers armed by despots in Africa and the boy scouts changed to the Hitler Youth in World War 2.

I never wanted to change the world. For me comic book heroes were the stuff of my dreams. Sport was my passion and I wanted to lead the 1500 metres in the Olympic Games fro gun to tape, sink the winning putt in the Ryder Cup or kick the touchline conversion to win the Rugby World Cup. But the passion was tempered by the purity of idealism.

The great Australian runner John Landy was my hero not because he won races but rather in one competition he stopped to help a fallen opponent before taking off and chasing and overtaking the pack in front.

Golf gave me a true understand of the ideal of sportsmanship. Here is a game of man against the elements with no referee. I learned from the world’s best that calling a penalty on oneself even when no one was watching, was an integral part of the game.

And my beloved rugby taught me that the old cliché that ‘soccer was a game for gentlemen played by hooligans, while rugby was a game for hooligans played by gentlemen “still held true. Here was a game where the opportunity of maiming an opponent constantly existed yet it survived by the unwritten law of not kicking a body on the ground.

My teenage heart raged constantly with the need to succeed in sport and the knowledge that I was simply not good enough. I was saved by a French nobleman, Baron de Coubertin who in 1896 revived the Olympic Games of ancient Greece with the words that “the honour is not in winning, but in taking part.” Suddenly my failure to make the first team, win in the school sports and get up and down from a bunker seemed less important than proving that I had the right stuff to be a sportsman.

The British have believed that wars were ‘won on the playing fields of Eton”. It was confirmation that sport was a recipe for living life. Sport required courage, character and commitment in large order. What more did my passion and idealism need? I had a formula that could lead me through the minefield of all the other issues that plagued my conscience.

It made opposition to the Apartheid regime of South Africa simple. It was not about one man, one vote but why international sport was beyond some people not because of talent but because of the colour of their skin.

It made me understand anti-Semitism, when I learned that Irish golf clubs would not admit Jews however low their handicap.

And I did not need to burn my sister’s bra to favour Women’s Liberation when so-called “Gentlemen’s Clubs” had a single sex policy to membership.

Sport has been my template, my bible my almanac. It has been a route map for life. Team sports have taught me to depend on others, to realise that the team is only as strong as its weakest link, and that I could treat triumph and disaster equally.

Individual sports gave me an insight into my soul. Could I keep going when everything seemed lost; concentrate when outside factors fought for my attention; and discipline myself to practice under the most difficult of conditions.

Sport has helped to love my fellow man and care for those less fortunate than me. It has helped to understand the value of women as friends, confidants and lovers. However, above all it has remained my lightening rod for all the other passions and ideals that challenge my being. It helps me decide on the validity, worthiness and difficulty of each.

   

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5 responses

7 06 2007
Hugh

“The idealism and tangled passions that raged in my teenage heart”
Excellent work, George!
I would have given you more than 88% for that – although I’m not an English teacher.

7 06 2007
Patrick

Great stuff George!

I wouldn’t envy anyone trying to do that paper.

7 06 2007
Benny the Bridgebuilder

Full marks, George.

Never mind the exam, it makes for great reading in itself.

Congrats on the mark, though. I don’t think I’d have the nerve to expose myself to that risk at this stage.

Re participation vs winning: Chesterton used to say “If a thing is worth doing it’s worth doing badly”. Took me a while to get a handle on that one as a positive statement. But he meant the same thing. Ask any brain surgeon.

Re clubs: Anyone remember the men’s room downstairs in Bewley’s in Grafton St. in the 1960s. And I don’t mean the loo. Noboday seems to mention it and I’ve never figured out why.

8 06 2007
Penny

Hey George,

Nicely done on the paper, I think this highlights very well that if an accomplised journalist like yourself can only get a B1, what chance do all us 17 year olds have of getting an A? WITHOUT laptops and years of experience! Thanks for all your work! 🙂

Penny

9 09 2007
zaerw

that was good although i think the reason you were marked down is because you focused too much on the topic of sport and not enough on the passion you had for it.

it was a good read but you would have got an a if you had stay on topic.

nice work

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