Thursday 30 June 2011


‘Ridiculous’ is one of my favourite words. In fact it may be the most apt word to describe many aspects of my life. It is so versatile. I find myself using the word ‘ridiculous’ seriously, sarcastically, harshly and following up comments with a witty ‘ridiculous’. I use it as adjective, abverb and noun and relish in its usefulness throughout each ridiculous day. Perhaps I use it ridiculously but the point is, I can.

My dictionary, Collins English Dictionary and Thesaurus, describes the word ridiculous as ‘deserving to be laughed at, absurd’.

The word ridiculous is of Latin origins and was used as far back as the early 1500s to mean laughable, droll. I now have an image in my head of Caesar using the word ridiculous to rally his troops and call for his wine goblet. Did he perhaps ever wonder whether a toga is in fact ridiculous? Did he cry out ‘these Centurion helmets could possibly be ridiculous’?

I am in awe of words like ‘ridiculous’ that ingratiate themselves into our everyday language and are as strong a descriptive and as poignant as they were thousands of years ago. To me the word ridiculous embodies humour, power and accusation. It is more than just a word. It is a tool to express my every thought and condense it into a valid and appropriate method of communication. This blog is at times, ridiculous. See what I mean?

Embrace the ridiculous usefulness of this word. Weave it into a sentence and challenge yourself to find it as perfectly relevant as I do. Relish in the depth of its meaning and its ability to mould to and twist every situation to its advantage. What intelligence is contained within those 10 little letters? Ridiculous. Go on, use it just once and have a little sample of my daily glee. After all, what could be more ridiculous that ridiculous itself?

Elloise Hopkins.

Monday 27 June 2011

How to survive…

Hot days when you’re stuck inside working.

There is possibly little worse than being stuck in a stuffy office under glaring fluorescent lights when it is sunny outside. This has the same effect for me whether I am at work or working at home. In both locations I have a clear view of the sun outside taunting me with its warm glow.

So my survival guide is thus. At work I stare out of the window as much as possible and revel in the moments when the sun falls across my face. I close my eyes and imagine myself right out of the room, which is indeed where I would rather be.

My survival guide at home is a little easier. I am lucky enough to have floor-to-ceiling windows I can slide open, although the compromise is baking in a greenhouse-type environment in an “I’m melting” style.

But my tip for anyone who doesn’t have big windows – and I actually adopt this practice myself too – is to make the inside look like the outside. Line the place with plant pots and fill them with green leaves. I am actually munching my way through a rocket leaf as I write this. Tasty. Ok so maybe I am being plagued by irritating, indoor-dwelling fruit flies at the same time, and maybe my floor space is being swallowed by a salad jungle, but at least I feel like I am outside in the sun. That’s me: bringing the outside in with a smile.

Elloise Hopkins.

Thursday 23 June 2011

Design catch up...

It’s been a busy time for my author-self recently but the designer in me is catching up fast. I’ve re-worked my own website and expanded on my social networking portfolios so aside from a few issues of tidying up and making connections I’m pretty happy with my set up.

Next on the list is the re-working of Coruscate Theatre’s website. They are a theatre company that originated in the East Midlands but have now branched out and are taking a presence into Greater London.

A new branch of the business and a new city means a change is needed all round and we are now in prototype stages of the new website. The site aim is for it to be a one-stop shop for details of the company, their initiatives, directors, booking information, social networking and an archive gallery of their work.

We are using the idea of ‘clean and approachable’ as the basis for the design so it will be accessible and appealing to all levels of their clients and collaborators. Whilst preserving the original branding we will be launching a smart new version of the site later this year. Watch this space.

Elloise Hopkins

Monday 20 June 2011

The right way to protest?

Living and working in a busy city centre, I am constantly faced with people bearing clipboards, banners, brightly coloured tabards and t-shirts, all brandishing flyers and poised ready to jump in front of me at the most inopportune moment to sell, make demands, preach or otherwise disrupt my pavement journey. The protest is no exception.

I am all for having opinions but I am going to keep mine out of this blog, for as far as the topic of the protest goes anyway, but I feel the need to discuss the method used by protestors. I recently witnessed a protest that was surprisingly, for a company that usually keeps its online/media coverage very poignant, potentially the most unprofessional protest I have ever encountered (and being in the city centre there have been many).

First of all I witnessed protestors swearing and shouting abuse at people in the street for no other reason than walking past the building the company were protesting outside. As a hooded teenager screamed “bitches!” at two women, I couldn’t resist pointing out to said protestors that abusing the public was probably not the best way to drum up support. Sadly verbal abuse was not enough to satiate them. The protestors proceeded – with complete disregard for the other occupiers and staff that are wholly unconnected with the target company – to provoke the building managers resulting in a confrontation that necessitated police intervention and led to exaggerated accusations of physical threats and violence by both parties.

Without making any commentary on the cause, nor the rights and wrongs of the target company or the protestors, this behaviour is not what I would expect from a company that really believes in its moral standpoint and wants public support. Exhibiting arrogant and intimidating displays of power and directing abuse at the general public is surely not the right way to go about a protest and certainly in my eyes this performance has lessened the impact that this company will ever have in rallying my support. Have the days of memorable and effective protests, of chaining oneself to a fence and making a solid statement been left behind?

Elloise Hopkins

Wednesday 15 June 2011

The Modern Mobile…

I am not the most technologically advanced person I know but I do love new gadgets, especially when they make life easier. I never cease to be impressed by the leaps made in handheld gadgets over the last decade. If someone had told me, as I clutched my very first giant-sized mobile phone in the ‘90s, that I would be using touch screen technology to update social networking accounts and be making digital videos from my mobile within ten years, I would not have believed it.

My apartment is cluttered with technology – laptops, hard drives, graphic tablets, ereaders and a multitude of leads and transmitters among other things – but I have resisted mobile phone advances… until now. I still hang onto a little escapism from work when I am away from it.

But, yes world, I am now the proud owner of a touch-screen, fully networked, camera, music player, fm radio, wireless messaging device, oh yes and it is a phone too. I have set aside my old ‘does exactly what it says i.e. makes phone calls’ phone and delved into something a little more modern.

So far I have been outsmarted by my smart phone and am in a ‘wow you can really do all this from a phone’ daze. Suddenly travelling will be less stressful and life will be far smoother with a universe of information at my fingertips. Now if I can just work out how to keep the screen fingerprint-free I’ll be happy.

Elloise Hopkins.

Monday 13 June 2011

Rabbit or the headlights?

I heard a snippet of Marilyn Manson this morning, the lyric asking “are you the rabbit or the headlights?” For some reason, perhaps because I was at work today, this line made me think of assertiveness and it was a topic on my mind throughout the day.

It seems, broadly speaking, that whatever office environment you find yourself in there are two types of assertiveness on display. The first personality is naturally assertive. You know who I mean. They accept no-nonsense, no delay, no excuses and command a natural respect and admiration because of their ability to solve problems and lead teams stress-free through crises expending little effort.

The second personality is, unfortunately, rather more common and rather less effective. These are the people who are naturally shy, introverted or in some way lacking in self-confidence. They attend courses on assertiveness as though such things as the above can be learned. The resultant behaviour is over-eager, forced, and rather than achieving an effective working practice, has the opposite effect repelling colleagues with its falsity.

So next time you find yourself in a work-related crisis, ask yourself are you the rabbit or the headlights and charge!

Elloise Hopkins.

Thursday 9 June 2011

Horses for courses…

I heard this phrase today for the first time in ages and it got me thinking. Originally this related to horses being raced on courses that were appropriate to their build/running style etc. It is now more widely used in everyday conversation, and dare I say has become a cliché, to say that what is suitable for one may not be suitable for all.

It got me thinking about how many such phrases there must be in our everyday vocabulary. I wonder whether somewhere there exists a list of all the specialised phrases that have been adopted along the way to apply to general conversation. Who would have the patience to compile such a list? Or the time in fact?

Business writing in particular, I find, is completely littered with sayings like this. They must have been relevant, specific and exceedingly useful in their conception, but today they are ‘old hat’ and ‘at the end of the day’ have we completely lost all sense of originality?

I say bring on some new phrases. Invent them. Pluck them from obscure practices around the world. The art of extreme ironing, for example, must surely have some jargon from which we can extract the next cliché of the future.

Elloise Hopkins

Tuesday 7 June 2011

Writing Update…

Well May was a busy and really exciting month. I finished my portfolios for the first block of my MA and submitted those for marking. The portfolio pieces are a mixture of genre fiction and memoir along with a critical analysis. They use a variety of narrative techniques, structure, point of view and tense, the idea being that they will display a range of my writing.

I also submitted a couple of competition entries for short stories and novel openings and they are already generating some great feedback. More information about these and my current writing project is on my website.

I also completed the final phase of my website construction and social networking profiles and they are now all live. The aim is that the site is now more accessible on a variety of platforms so people can access information about me through whatever medium they want to and can follow my blogs, tweets and wordbytes to keep up-to-date on what I’m working on.

I have also just started the re-working of Coruscate Theatre’s website. We went live with the original last year but the business has now branched out into London as well as maintaining its original presence in the East Midlands so I am re-structuring the website accordingly. On top of this my MA continues and I am writing some book reviews too (genre fiction of course) so I’m juggling many tasks throughout June. I knew I should have been born in the circus.

Elloise Hopkins.

Thursday 2 June 2011

Running and getting nowhere…

I saw a great picture of the Flintstones recently. It was this one with the legs clearly visible under the car. Memories of the cartoon came flooding back to me and I relished in the nostalgia until I was struck by a darker thought.

‘Cartoon legs’ has always been an expression in my vocabulary from the young age, courtesy of my father. The Flintstones are a great example. Their legs move so quickly but the car drifts merrily along at whatever pace it pleases.

Sometimes writing feels like cartoon legs. I type and type away as quickly as my mind can think and my fingers can move, but the page is filled at a very leisurely pace, black text slowly filling the bleak canvas from left to right, top to bottom. None of my sense of urgency is reflected in the screen.

Sometimes life feels like cartoon legs. Ever find yourself moving as fast as you can but getting nowhere?

Elloise Hopkins.