by Valeria Ivanova

My name is Brooke. My story began on December 24, 2020, when I was with my friends in a cozy restaurant in the center of Manhattan, drinking red wine and discussing plans and bright moments from the past. My friends told me about the upcoming holidays with their parents and numerous relatives, some stories about vacations at the sea and many other hilarious adventures, but I heard only fragments of their speech that made my heart ache from the inside.

– “My dad took up bowling, but most likely he just found a new girlfriend and …”

– “That’s crazy! Haha, babe, my father was against the dog all his life, but he bought it and now they even sleep together. Look at them! They are…”

– “Guys, my daddy taught me to play the guitar when we were in Hawaii…”

And so on and so forth. I left the restaurant without remembering a single specific story because I was only thinking about my dad.

According to my mother’s stories, he was the best husband and father in the world, but I was not destined to be convinced of this because he died on September 11, 2001, during the terrorist attack in the Twin Towers. I only saw him in photos where they were so happy with my mom that I imagined what my life would have been like if the tragedy had not happened 19 years ago. My main desire has always been to see him at least for a moment, alive, smiling  his charming smile.

I was walking home all broken and a little drunk, with obsessive thoughts about the past. Passing by beautiful Christmas trees and colorful billboards, I seemed to plunge into a trance, noticing nothing concrete, only a general mess. My attention was attracted by a discreet ad on the wall of some non-trendy cafe. As I got closer, I read that some scientists have developed an innovative machine that can transfer a person to the past without risking changing the time continuum and history. Something lit up inside me, it was hope. After looking through the lines about the possible consequences and risks of failure, I came to the main point. It was obvious that they needed volunteers. With trembling hands, I tore off a piece of paper with a phone number and address and, already sober from the cold, rushed home. It was vitally important for me to see him, my father, the person thanks to whom I am a part of this world. I didn’t say a word about the experiment to my mother, she had had enough worries lately, so I decided not to risk her mental health because of my impulsiveness.

The next day I called the number, but no one answered me. In the evening, I saw a missed call from this number and cursed myself for constantly putting the phone on silent mode. At six in the morning, tired of endlessly waiting for calls, I received a message from an unknown number: come at one o’clock in the afternoon to the laboratory of Mr. Digory Mcducken without delay. I looked at the address and of course I couldn’t sleep anymore.

At 12:40, having dressed in a flimsy  jumper, I was shivering from the cold in front of the huge gray door of the building where the chemical fiber processing plant used to be located. At exactly one o’clock, the door opened and a small man with a wrinkled face and a malicious grin asked me to follow him. I was walking as if spellbound, and around me there were huge containers with toxic waste, some boards, stairs, construction materials, as well as a lot of tools, some of which I had never seen in my life and did not know their purpose. We came to a small door that was closed, the guide brought his face to the indicator, and as if at the click of his fingers, the door swung open.

The room in which we found ourselves was like a look at  the future: huge machines, continuously working mechanisms, bright hospital light and the lack of any connection to the real world. People in white coats greeted us joyfully, they were scientists and their assistants.

– “We are glad to welcome you, Brooke! We know what brought you to us, but we want to make sure that you understand all the risks and unforeseen consequences that may occur during the experiment?”

I was completely at a loss because I didn’t tell anyone my name or what my goal was. I said one single phrase:

– “I know exactly what I want, and my motivation is stronger than fear.”

– “Well, then we can start the experiment.”

I didn’t doubt for a second, but when a little man looked at me with sadness in his eyes, I realized that I might not be able to return home. I opened my phone, wrote to my mom that I would be back late tonight so that she would fall asleep without me, and handed the gadget over to the storage room. White people with faces concealed by protective masks asked me to remove any metal objects, as well as shoes. Then we went to the compartment with a huge capsule, which was an innovative development. There was nothing inside it but air and a couple of buttons. After the briefing, I remembered that the purple button was a pause, it was under the right hand, the green one allowed to finish the experiment and go back, however, I was not given any guarantees that it really worked this way. I had to think about what I wanted to see in order to start the process, and I began to recall all the stories, photos and memorabilia related to dad. At one moment, I felt a push and closed my eyes more tightly, after a couple of seconds I lost consciousness.

After a certain amount of time, I woke up in my house, not in my room, but in my mother’s bedroom. I found myself lying on top of her and was afraid that I might harm her, however, she was sleeping peacefully, I saw that she was pregnant. My dad was lying nearby, with his blanket pulled over his head, I immediately wanted to look at his face. Realizing that I could not move objects, I began to wait for them to wake up to watch him. I looked around the room, everything was so unusual there, from the wallpaper and posters on the walls to the furniture and carpet. My thoughts were interrupted by the shrill ringing of the alarm clock, which was immediately turned off by dad’s hand sticking out of the blanket. Here it happened, the moment I was waiting for – I saw him for the first time.

The first thing that caught my eye was his height, he was tall, then his face, sleepy with a red stripe on his cheek from the pillow. He had the same nose as me, with a hump and I quickly noticed this feature, as well as the extraordinary beauty of his eyes that were the color of an autumn rainy sky. His body was pumped up and embossed, although I should not have paid attention to this, after all, he was my dad.

While I was looking at him from all sides, he was getting dressed and talking to my mother about plans for the day, he had an important meeting planned that was supposed to improve the company’s position in the market, he was a little shaken with excitement. Mom tried to make jokes, but she understood that he wasn’t listening to her. Dressed in a gray suit with a soft green tie, he gently kissed her, took orange juice from the fridge and went down the stairs to the street. I followed him, and when I went outside, I realized that we were in a completely different Manhattan. People dressed in a different type of business style clothing, running to work, not noticing anything around them, talking on strange mobile phones. They were not at all like us from 2020. Despite their busy schedule, they were more open and friendly, dad greeted some of them and exchanged polite phrases about health and plans for the weekend, while not stopping running to work. After looking at his watch, he decided to go to Starbucks and buy coffee, where he met his colleague. They were animatedly discussing the project, and I just wanted this moment not to end, I wanted to snuggle up to my father and never let him go.

As I got closer to them, I glanced at his colleague’s phone, I saw the date and time and the blood froze in my veins. 9/11 … 2001. The day of the tragedy. Why, why did I come to this day, what should I learn about my dad on the day of his death?

I almost lost sight of my dad when he and a colleague headed to the office from the  cafe. The time was 8:00. I walked next to him, unable to contain my emotions, it’s good that he couldn’t see me. He passed through the main entrance to the skyscraper, it was the north tower, beautiful, with huge windows illuminated by the autumn sun. The awareness of how many floors there were did not come immediately, then I felt goosebumps.  Nevertheless, it was worse to realize how many people were there. We went through the reception and found ourselves at the elevator that took us to the 64th floor. Time flew inexorably fast, my father went into the meeting room, where his colleagues and the company director were waiting for him. They began to discuss the project, and I remembered the expression of his face, the movements of his hands, his smile and how he nervously adjusted his tie. I saw how involved he was in the process of his work, how he was in love with what he was doing. I was admiring him and my hands were shaking with fear.

At 8:40, they started getting ready to leave for the conference room, it was on the 65th floor, which I found out when we were in the elevator again. I was counting the seconds until the crash, I couldn’t help, I couldn’t do anything, just watch. I wanted to run away from powerlessness, but I had to stay.

8:46, the plane crashed into the tower, a second, a frighteningly loud crack of glass, walls that began to shake and the ceiling that began to collapse. Panic in the eyes of people, complete misunderstanding of what was happening…I looked only at my father, who tried to remain calm, but was scared and immobilized from fear. Everyone ran to the exit and only my father and his colleague understood that people were dying on the floors above, they were covered with the debris of the building, everything was plunged into a dark smog, I lost sight of my father, but I ran to the stairs, he and his friend ran upstairs. Loud  screams could be heard on all floors, some people could not run away from the horror and just sat on the stairs, dad persuaded them to leave, his friend grabbed them and dragged them down.

It became difficult for them to breathe, to walk, but they tried to find survivors, realizing that it was impossible to help everyone, my father sat down on the stairs, took out his phone and started calling someone. I recognized the voice, it was my mother, he said to her these words: “Honey, dear bubu, I know you’re watching TV now, but I’m alive, I’ll try to get back to you, but there are a lot of people who need help, I have to do something, I love you madly, don’t cry, everything will be fine. Stop crying, please, I want you to call her Brooke, I know that you prefer the name Emily. I love her. I love you, Rachel, try to calm down, breathe, smile. I will keep my vow at the altar, and I will love you until my last breath. Goodbye.”

My heart was broken, tears were streaming down my cheeks, I saw his despair, his tears and his great desire to help others, he stood up and shouted in clouds of smoke to those who could still hear, women and men were walking towards his voice, wounded by shrapnel, covered in blood and with a monstrous cough. He inhaled smoke, lost consciousness, he fell, and I saw that he was barely breathing, I lay down on his body, trying to remember every detail, I sobbed desperately. He stopped breathing, there was no one who could help him. I went to the glass and saw how people were thrown from the windows. One of them looked straight into my eyes, I don’t think he was alive at that moment.

I understood that another plane had already rammed the south tower, after a while the buildings collapsed , but I had already left the tower, I could no longer look at the death of people, I saw the sun and clouds of smoke traveling before my eyes, toxic dust, dirt and blood.

I lost consciousness, and when I woke up, I found myself in a laboratory, in a capsule. I was disconnected from the device and asked what I saw, I was silent for a very long time, and then I said: “I saw the day when dad experienced the most love, the day that I was destined to see in order to understand who he was and who I am.”

Bill Cunningham New York

by Elizaveta Gorbunova

I recently watched a film about a happy and wonderful man who does what he loves. He is a
photographer. This film is called “Bill Cunningham: New York”. The film premiered in the United States on March 16, 2011, and immediately received many positive reviews. This documentary was produced in America and directed by Richard Press. The director may not be as well-known, but this film is really worth watching. A lot of famous personalities in the field of fashion took part in “Bill Cunningham: New York”: Bill Cunningham himself, Anna Wintour, Carmen Dell’Orefice, Iris Apfel, Michael Kors and other influential people in fashion. This film tells the story of the life of the photographer Bill Cunningham: it was interesting to know how fashion and the ordinary well-dressed people of New York affect him, how to arrange photos to make them look more beautiful, how he entered the world of fashion and photography and what famous people associated with these areas think of him.

The direction of this film is great because thanks to Richard Press, you really immerse yourself in this pleasant atmosphere of the world of fashion and photography. Sometimes the filming style made you feel like you were right next to the participants of the film. Interviews with various people and Bill’s stories are done in such an easy and enjoyable manner that you really appreciate their speeches and wonderful stories. I never got bored for an hour and 24 minutes. This is not the kind of documentary that immediately comes to mind when we hear this word. This film is like just an emotional story about the life of a fashion photographer Bill Cunningham. In addition to the stories about Bill’s life, many of his photographs were shown, which helped to understand how talented this man is. The stories themselves caused only positive emotions, a smile, and sometimes even laughter. The only time I felt sad was when Bill said that he had never had an affair. This suggests that he was so carried away by his occupation that he did not need a relationship.

After watching this film, I became even more interested in fashion and photography. I think that this documentary is worth watching for people who want to be real fashion photographers in order to understand what it is. And it is also suitable for those who love these themes. I really like the film “Bill Cunningham: New York”.

Bill Cunningham New York

by Anya Babochenko

A photography Genius or a Regular Guy on a Bike?

 An older photographer who looks at women’s legs with special trepidation and drinks coffee for 3 bucks in one of the New York cafes. This is how Bill Cunningham appears to the viewer in the movie by Richard Press. From the first seconds, you fall in love with the hero, who smiles broadly and sincerely, childishly happy as Larry with everything that happens to him.

 In an interview, he says that he was born into a simple family of hard workers who were never connected with fashion and did not understand his fad. Bill moved to New York in the 40s and at first was engaged in making hats. Soon his main activity was street photography, but it’s not just pictures of models, he cannot be called paparazzi. Bill is a photographer of ordinary people. Sometimes he doesn’t even take pictures of faces, because for him the foremost thing is clothes. He is interested not only in evening dresses but also in shirts and sneakers. And it’s not that Bill doesn’t understand anything about “high fashion” and doesn’t like celebrities, it’s that Bill loves everything that people wear, regardless of their status.

 His life is not like that of a fashion photographer. Bill’s apartment, if I can call it that, is full of cabinets, and he sleeps on a mattress. He literally does not need all these luxurious conditions. Gosh, he doesn’t even have a kitchen! But he’s happy, you know? He is genuinely happy for people when their clothes help them feel confident and good. But despite this predilection for clothes, Bill dresses very simply. He rides around the city on his bike in a blue shirt with plenty of pockets to fit all his equipment. He works almost every day and he doesn’t get tired of it. Bill sincerely believes that to create a good photo, you need a camera and practice.

 If you still think that Bill works for money, then I will tell you that he does not even drink a glass of water at the event, arguing that it is necessary to keep a distance from what you do in order to be more objective. For Bill, “Liberty and freedom is the most expensive”

 At the very beginning, I already mentioned a smile and a laugh. Bill seems like a man who is always just elated and jolly. When he laughs, a pleasant shiver goes through the whole body, and the soul becomes warm and joyful. He does what he knows how to do better than anyone, and now, in his early 80s, he still continues to ride his bike in a blue shirt and take pictures of ordinary people in the centre of New York.

 It seems to me quite unimportant whether your profession or hobbies are related to fashion or photography. You need to watch this movie because it is about a happy and successful person who leads a very ordinary life. There will be no drama, intrigue and gossip, here will be a person who adores his work with absolute love and this brings happiness to this world. When I lose faith in a person or think that I don’t want to work with people anymore, I will review this film, because Bill makes me really overjoyed.

Bill Cunningham New York

by Sophie Kanakidi

If you’re looking for an inspiring and unique story from the life of a person, you’ve found it.

The documentary about Bill Cunningham, an American photographer, is essentially an example of the passion a person truly has when he is doing what he actually loves. What I really enjoyed was the way this documentary was shot because there were many vivid moments of Bill Cunningham, who used only his old bike to get from place to place, taking pictures of people’s outfits. To my mind, the director wanted to show us Bill from the most honest side he had, so that we would be able to see all intentions he worked for.

The film demonstrates how Bill turned fashion photography into his own cultural anthropology on the streets of New York. Nothing escaped his notice: not the fanny packs, not the Birkin bags, not the gingham shirts, not the fluorescent biker shorts. His friends and colleagues told him that the only thing Bill was focused on was his photography. Moreover, he never even shared about his private life, so he would not lose focus from his main goal. I noticed that he always was surrounded by diverse people, who had different styles, hair colours and social statuses. Bill gave attention mostly to clothes, not to persons, who owed them.

One of the moments that really reflects Bill’s personality was when he won an award, but couldn’t get comfortable with it, as he tried to shift the focus on other talented people. In other words, he wanted to find subjects, not be the subject. He wanted to observe, rather than be observed.

Personally, I rarely see this kind of people, who literally sacrifice their private life to devote themselves fully to the job they unconditionally love. Bill is the man who is completely free of pretension, a welcome and refreshing change of pace, a kind of throwback to a gentler, less harried era – and one of the most indelible characters to come from a documentary in a long time.

Bill Cunningham New York

by Anna Shornikova

A curios documentary about an 80-year-old street photographer shows the insides of his everyday life. Bill Cunningham New York is a 2010 American documentary film directed by Richard Press. The action revolves around a simple, unpretentious and ever-smiling Bill Cunningham, a person of outstanding talent, yet leading a modest life. 

The film illustrates the everyday routine of a street-fashion photographer as it is. Throughout the film, it becomes habitual to see Bill riding his bicycle and taking quick snaps of people on the crossroads. The plot doesn’t have an aim to tell the story of Bill Cunningham as a boring biography but reveals the life events through interviews with his models and Bill himself. There is no voiceover that narrates monotonously about the occurring events, but the dynamic music that complements the colourful life of the photographer. It unobtrusively shows the story of Bill, the significant and breaking points in his career through old photos and reminiscences. We follow Bill through his day in New York, see his interaction with his old friends, models and colleagues, see him working during formal events and fashion shows, chasing him down in Paris and accompany him while he chooses a new flat. The whole film is imbued with street-fashion photos, numerous old albums and memories of different people from the street that became famous because of Bill’s snapshots. An outgoing demeanour of Bill and an easy atmosphere wins one’s favour even if one is not interested in fashion shows and designer dresses. Whereas it is all about fashion, it goes beyond it and shows us a man that loves his work and sees no need for self-enrichment. The film caught a piece of New York’s life, showed the changes in trends and people’s tastes through Bill’s camera. And that is all about the ingenuity of Cunningham’s job, his precious talent to show and shape the street style.  

The documentary provides trustworthy historical information, supported by interviews and written records. The visual is also wisely chosen allowing the audience to see Bill as if in motion, without the stage effect. Interviews are very relaxed and sincere, always full of genuine smiles and affection for the starring photographer. It is evident that Bill is not a fan of attention, but is ready to share his outlook on life, his view on fashion and his work. And his humble opinion about himself is also proven by his behaviour during street photo sessions and work on formal parties and ceremonies. 

Watching this smiling gentleman, obsessed with his job, not wanting all the riches of the fashion world, you understand that it is one of the rare cases when a man is really happy in his work, lucky to find the path in life. It makes you cheerful and attached to Bill’s story. The whole film crew also couldn’t resist Bill’s charm as the documentary is filled with little jokes and humour, definitely not making the film tedious. 

There are a lot of wise thoughts and peculiar themes brought up in the documentary, but the viewer can see a clear message from the photographer. And as a concluding point, here is the quote from Bill Cunningham that describes subtly the purpose of his job: “Fashion is an armour to survive the everyday life.” 

Bill Cunningham New York

by Victoria

“Bill Cunningham New York” is a documentary movie directed by Richard Press. Released in the USA in 2010, it tells the story about Bill Cunningham – a famous photographer who was obsessed with fashion and did the job that he enjoyed and loved – took pictures of the clothes that New Yorkers wore on the streets. As it is a documentary film, instead of actors, real people who knew Bill participated in the film and gave interviews: designer Iris Apfel, fashion model Carmen Dell’Orefice, Patrick McDonald, philanthropist Annette de la Renta and many others. After watching this movie, you will know about the personality and the career of Bill, how he worked, how he lived and why people loved him. 

Bill Cunningham was a photographer who rode his bicycle and took pictures of what people were wearing. He didn’t just take photos of everything he saw, but only clothes that he liked and that attracted his attention. At first he was known as a designer of women’s hats, but then he started to do what made him famous. Bill wrote about fashion in Women’s Wear Daily and the Chicago Tribune and had some columns in the New York Times. He managed to capture the history of street fashion and how it has changed over the years and made a huge contribution to fashion journalism. Comparing to other people who worked in his sphere, some of his views on life were different: he could earn a lot of money and become rich and wealthy, but he didn’t do that and lived in an old, small apartment. He thought that “money is the cheapest thing” and “if you don’t take money, they can’t tell you what to do”. He was a nice and friendly person with a big smile on his face, he called his friends and familiar people “kids”, and people adored him for who he was and what he did. However, they didn’t know anything about his personal life since Bill didn’t talk too much.

To introduce Bill to the viewers, the director includes interviews with Bill himself and people who know him personally in the movie, shows his photographs, newspaper pages and scenes which depict how the photographer works, lives and talks. Personally, the storytelling was a little bit chaotic for me, and it seems that the movie doesn’t have a strict structure like other documentaries always have. By these words I mean that the information isn’t given in a chronological order. But, it doesn’t make it boring or confusing at all; people learn everything steadily and in a specific way, so they can understand Bill’s career and personality better.

As I have already mentioned before, there are no actors in the movies, and real people appear on the screen. In the film there are scenes where Bill and these people interact, and we see their real emotions: how they smile and laugh, how famous fashionistas, models and others adore his personality, how they look at him in a friendly way, with admiration and respect in their eyes.

The film starts and ends with the soundtrack. At the beginning, when Bill takes photos, the melody is funky, jazzy and energetic like the morning street of New York. I would say that it suits the fast tempo in which Bill usually works: if he sees clothes that he likes and he feels that the snapshot will be good, he takes it. On the contrary, the music at the end of the movie is peaceful, which can symbolize calm daily life of a person who likes what he does in life.

In general, I could say that the movie is worth watching, and you won’t notice how quickly time flies by. I recommend this film to those who are interested in fashion history (in people who contributed to it in particular) and who want to spend time not only in an interesting, but also in an informative way. To my mind, people who don’t prefer documentary films or don’t like fashion and photography will like it because it’s easy to watch. As it is historically accurate, you can watch this film to write an essay or make a presentation about Bill Cunningham.

Bill Cunningham New York

by Elizaveta Dergacheva

“Find your love, and you won’t need anything more”- this is how a documentary about Bill Cunningham, a unique artist who gave the world the street-style genre, could be briefly described.

It’s not that hard to comprehend that the documentary was given such a name for a reason. You can’t separate Bill Cuningham and New York City, you can’t imagine them apart from each other. In the movie you won’t see typical biopic scenes: interviews taken in a cozy atmosphere at home, noisy family conversations at the plentiful table – Bill Cunningham is a man married to a city. Just like when you are head over heels in love with someone, you do not want to eat or sleep, but simply be near the object of your passion, neither does Mr Cunningham need food or rest, but to walk hand in hand with New York. Indeed, what we see throughout the film is Bill constantly cycling around the city, rarely taking a break for lunch, relentlessly photographing his spouse’s children – fashionable, ubiquitous New Yorkers (whom he calls “kids”). And at the end of the day, we watch him coming back to his tiny apartment at Carnegie Hall, furnished from top to bottom with file cabinets containing every negative of every shot he has ever taken in his 80-years life. It’s true, “a cottage is a castle for those in love”, except the fact that his place is probably 10 times smaller than a cottage.

Both the director and the cinematographer (along with Tony Cenicola), Richard Press, managed to convey the atmosphere of this vibrant metropolis life, as vibrant as the outfits of its residents in Bill’s snapshots. And just like little kids in a large family try to grab the attention of their parents, New Yorkers strive to stand out and be in the spotlight. However, if New York does single someone out more than the others, Bill Cunningham absolutely doesn’t care who is in front of him: whether it’s a hurrying passer-by on the street or a worldwide celebrity at a pretentious event. He is not interested in who you are – your clothes speak more than your status. Maybe that is why his entourage says that it is on the pages of his column in The New York Times that global trends are born. He searches here and there: at a pedestrian crossing, on a street corner, on the veranda of a cafe, in a queue at an ATM – and shoots everything that catches his eye.

This documentary is not exactly about the dynamic life and oeuvre of Bill Cunningham, but mainly about a human for whom his occupation is not just work, but the love of his life.

In honour of Bill Cunningham

Last week, June 25, 2021, marked the 5th anniversary of Bill Cunningham’s passing. In case you haven’t heard about him yet, he was an American photographer for the New York Times for almost 40 years. His style of work and philosophy was truly unprecedented and a turning point for the New York Times. Such an outstanding person as Bill Cunningham will never be gone or forgotten because of the legacy he left behind. Fortunately, filmmaker Richard Press and writer Philip Gefter of The New York Times produced a documentary ‘Bill Cunningham New York’ in 2010, telling Bill’s story. Recently, we watched this documentary and were inspired to write our reviews and impressions as a tribute to Bill. We invite you to read our takes on this documentary and watch it unless you haven’t already.

Industrial Revolution

It is always difficult to talk about yourself, and especially to tell the story of your whole life. In the current circumstances, this is especially difficult to do, my mind is clouded with hunger, and the pain from the beatings makes it difficult to concentrate. But I will try because I am part of a unique generation and my voice must be heard.

I remember my childhood very badly, my first childhood memory is how I heard that my mother was screaming and crying, and when I entered the room that she shared with my father, I saw her huddled in a corner from fear and a drunken father with a palm clenched into a fist. Noticing me, my mother immediately changed her face, she tried to smile and said: “Cassie, baby, go to bed, everything is fine.”

My parents and I lived on our farm in England, not far from a small town. My family survived thanks to our farm, my father sold meat, milk, eggs, and wool, and my mother worked with him on the farm, sometimes mending clothes for other workers, having very little income from this. My father has always been a gloomy and strict person, if not cruel, my mother is his complete opposite, gentle, affectionate, and truly loving. She cared about me, tried to protect me from my father’s cruelty. Looking at their relationship with my father, I could not come to terms with the fact that such a life awaits me too because from childhood I was prepared for the fact that one day I would marry and become a good housewife and loving wife, then I will have a strong family and I will find real female happiness. Is it a woman’s happiness to be beaten and live in fear of her husband? I could not ask my mother this question, so I pretended that I dreamed of marriage, and in my soul, I was shaking with horror from just the thought of marriage.

While we lived on a farm, like beetles in amber, fenced off from the whole world by our tiny town, the world around us was changing, and soon these changes took us by surprise. One day, Tony, our farmworker, brought my father a newspaper with the news that new factories were opening in England for the production of fabrics, clothes, and even food. “What nonsense!” – answered my father, spitting at his feet. – “Who will sell all this? Who should buy it? ” But buyers and sellers were found. Soon the first shop with factory clothes was opened in the town next to our farm. People were delighted, a huge assortment, and even very cheap. And over time, fewer and fewer people from the city started coming to the farm for food. My father could not find an explanation for this and decided to go to the city, find out what was happening there, and when he returned, he was so angry that I decided to get out and spent the whole night in the barn. In the morning I found out that a new store had opened in the city, cheap factory products were sold there, so there was no need for people to come to the farm anymore. Our farm no longer brought in income, my father did not know what to do with himself, because this was the business of his entire family, the farm was passed down from generation to generation, and apart from working on it, my father did not know how to do anything else. Out of anger and resentment, my father began to drink even more, literally every day, and the drunk beat my mother, and sometimes I got it too. A few months later, my mother fell seriously ill and died, because we no longer had the money for doctors and medicines, and we could not live by subsistence farming. The father dismissed all the workers, buried his mother, sold the farm for a pittance to some entrepreneur who planned to build a holiday home in its place. Together with me, my father decided to move to Birmingham. The money from the sale of the farm was enough only for a small apartment in the slums of the city. Somehow my father managed to get a job at a factory, one of those that took away his earnings and his usual way of life.

A couple of years later, I also got a job at a factory, my father’s aggression grew every day, he regularly drank and beat me. A plan was needed to get away from him, to get out of these slums. The factory paid little, an average of 10 shillings a week. This money was sorely lacking. Many women did not like this, because men received much more for the same job. However, everyone was silent because they were afraid to lose even these tiny crumbs of income. Once walking near one of the factories, I saw a woman shouting “A woman has the right to climb the scaffold; she should also have the right to enter the podium. ” A few minutes later, the police came up to her, took her by the arms, and took her away. Subsequently, more and more often I began to notice disgruntled women around, they shouted in the streets, smashed shop windows, came out with posters. Quite by chance, I met one of these women. Ellen proudly called herself a suffragist and belonged to the movement of women trying to achieve their rights, including economic ones. By that time, I had nothing to lose, so I joined them. Initially, I thought that this was a bunch of desperate women who did not achieve anything and now walk, scream, resentful to the whole world because of their failures. But the more I talked to them, the more I realized what brave and smart people they were. Especially, Ellen, she spoke so captivatingly and convincingly that it was impossible not to believe her. In the end, she convinced me to run away from my father’s apartment and live with her, as well as become a full-fledged member of the suffragette movement. Ellen called me to one of the marches, I agreed. So, I became a real suffragette, went to marches, painted posters, helped rejected and unhappy women. I finally saw a different future. A future without fears about mandatory marriage, a future that I will build myself. Once I blamed industrialization for taking my ordinary life, my native farm, and all my plans from me, later I realized that it gave me freedom from family traditions and foundations, only this freedom was limited by our world, the world where men rule. The fight against the social order, the fight against the male world gave me strength, gave me faith in a better future. I imagined how I could earn decent money by doing honest work, acquire a small apartment in a good area and never again depend on anyone: neither my father nor my husband. One way or another, my dreams were not destined to come true.

On one of the marches, the police detained me, like Ellen and many others. The authorities are tired of our attacks, and they decided to stop our small movement before it grew to a large scale. And here I am, I and the other suffragettes are being held here as political prisoners, but nobody cares. As soon as I got here, I immediately went on a hunger strike, I have not eaten for three days. In response to this morning, the police came to the cell, there were two of them: one put his hands behind my back, breaking my fingers in parallel, and the second hit me in the stomach, legs, and face. The feeling that I had broken ribs and twisted knees, no one called the doctor, and was not going to. Strength is less and less, writing with broken fingers is real torture. On this, I will end my confession, dear reader. (Will this message reach someone or will it remain in this cell, I’m afraid I will never know.


Cassie died from the beatings at the police station and was found dead the next morning.

A huge number of suffragettes were repressed and imprisoned as political prisoners. Many of them went on hunger strikes and were also harassed by the police. All these women sacrificed themselves for the future of other women, for their right to choose and build their lives in a world free from discrimination and prejudice. And although the suffragettes fought for their country, their movement had an impact on other countries, including the USSR. Thus, Alexandra Kollontai, a member of the interim government, relying on the experience of Western colleagues, achieved for Soviet women the rights to work, property, abortion, and the opportunity to participate in the political life of the country. The contribution of suffragettes to modern progressive society will never be forgotten.

A Day In a Life

-Time is up! Submit your papers!

What?? I’ve barely started.

-Time.  Is. Up.

I’m looking through my assignment. My paper is like a white sheet just after washing and only my name is written down in the corner.


I look around, trying to find support from the rest of the students in the classroom, but everyone is staring at me like I’m nonsense.

-You’re on a state exam! Submit your work or I’ll cancel it!

My hands are shaking, and I can’t say a word against it as if there’s stone in my throat.

-Are you stupid or something?

I’m looking through the classroom once again. It’s a zoo now. Students are going crazy, some of them are standing on the tables, others scratching their faces. And everyone is yelling at me.


I want to scream from the top of my lungs, try to take a deep breath and … I wake up. It was just a terrible nightmare. Tears run wild down my cheeks; my body is shaking as if I had a cold. It’s 6 a.m., which means I could’ve slept peacefully for several more hours but I’m too nervous. Today is my first state exam and that’s why the world became my gas chamber this morning. My family, my tutors – everyone relies on me as if I’m the Tower of Pisa. The whole year I’ve been preparing for this first battle’s day, but I don’t feel like a potential winner, on the contrary, I feel like a criminal on the day of execution. Fear spills over my body and the cat is the best sedative for me in such situations, so I’m on my way to catch it and boost my serotonin level. What’s the point of taking medicine when you literally have a wool antidepressant in your house? Anyway, I’m not Leo Tolstoy to describe my day in many details, so let’s move to a couple of hours later. I’m standing in the living room fully dressed like I’m going on a parade: white blouse and a nice skirt, this one is my favourite because it has hidden pockets, where I put my word stress cheat sheet – the only thing I haven’t been able to learn this year. My mom is having a videocall with my granny, who is reading prayers for me like I’m going on a crusade, not an exam in Russian. At the same time, my dad is a calm monument, he believes in my success silently. Finally, I leave my house and go straight to the execution. Some of my classmates have already reached the school. When I enter the hall the first association is asylum: everyone is anxious – some of the students are trying to catch the last ride and learn at least something, some are just shacking and panicking, others joking silly about not passing the exam. I don’t want to communicate with anyone right know, so I just occupy the corner of the hall and take the position of spectator in the colosseum. Time is passing slowly; I feel like a beetle stuck in resin. Finally, our headmaster appears with the speech, she’s telling us that we’re the hope of the school and that she believes in us. She looks like a politician at a rally, but unlike them, she doesn’t know how to lie persuasively, so every single soul in the hall notices falsity in her speech. Long story short, my class and I arrive at the exam location, more like courthouse. The registration goes as ordinary as any other day. Finally, I’m in the class, waiting for the tutor to give us an assignment. However, she starts from the speech, which was prepared to comfort us, but the eyes of the tutor are ice as she is looking at our class. time is passing slowly again and while our assignments are being printed, I think about my school life, the images of these 11 years are changing in my mind like pages in a photo album. Seems like I just graduated from primary school, but now I’m sitting on the most important school exam. The fact that time is slipping through my fingers terrifies more than any nightmare. Speaking of nightmares, it’s time to begin the exam. First, I look through all the papers, skim the tasks. Most of them are a piece of cake for me, but some are as challenging as having lunch in a school cafeteria during the 20-minute break. However, the task with word stresses is quite debatable, I choose one option, but I want to check  myself, so it’s time to go to the bathroom and use my cheat sheets. Like a 007 agent I take them  out of my pocket carefully, having to act quickly, I catch a glimpse on the paper like I have a crush on it. I’m shaking again, but I don’t have time, so I have to return to the classroom quicky and change my answer. The rest of the exam is as smooth as Michael Jackson’s criminal. Unlike my nightmare, I submit my papers on time and leave the school in a nice mood. On the way home, I catch up with the tribe of my classmates and start discussing our assignments with them. As usual, the topic of word stresses is a hot potato, so we’re arguing like on a political debate. Everyone says that my answer is incorrect, so I show them my cheat paper as proof. But it only proves me wrong. It seems that I looked at it so quickly, that I mixed the words up and, as a result, changed the right option in the test to the wrong one. The failure of the year: have a joker in your sleeve and use it against yourself. I blame myself so much and it feels like I betrayed everyone like Judas. With that mood I return home, being ready to upset my mom and dad. Luckily, my parents want to cheer me up and ask me to go out to the mall with them. Shopping is the best therapy, so I forget about my failure as soon as I see the candy shop. I get as many sweets as if I haven’t eaten for a year. And right after the payment I lash out at candies like a Mowgli, who has never eaten human food. My mood thermometer shows some happiness, so it’s time to continue our shopping mall adventure and buy a couple of outfits for this summer. I really enjoy spending time with my parents that way, we’re real chatterboxes, so we’re constantly talking with each other, joking, and gossiping. Late evening creeps up like a cat and it’s time to go back home to my exam routine. Sitting in the car, I listen to my favourite song and think about that day and life in general. It’s just like a roller-coaster: in the morning I was a criminal before the execution, during the exam my inner 007 agent woke up and now I’m just a teenager, who enjoys simple things like sweets and new clothes. The adult life will strike like lightning very soon, but for now I can relax and catch the last moments of my childhood. We reach our home, but I don’t know about it as I’ve already fallen into Morpheus’ arms.