JOURNALISM & PUBLISHING BA (HONS) MAGAZINE PUBLISHING BA (HONS) JOURNALISM BA (HONS) SPORTS JOURNALISM
The Class of 2016 Issue
“Picked up a copy of Artefact magazine...massively impressed” Will Gore, Evening Standard and Independent
“A brilliant piece of student publishing” Stack
“The mixture of news, features, reviews and digital is super high quality, and contains a variety of different voices and views” The Londonist
The magazine that you hold in your hands is the work of undergraduate students on the BA Journalism and Publishing programme at London College of Communication over the past year.
04 IN BRIEF
The articles are taken from the four issues of Artefact produced by BA Journalism students and the issue of Elephant Sport produced by students on the BA Sports Journalism course. You can also see examples of work by students on BA Magazine Publishing. There is a huge range of topics covered: the plight of refugees at the Grand-Synth camp in Dunkirk and in Sicily, reindeer racing in Finland, an interview with Glenn Greenwald, the journalist behind the Edward Snowden revelations, a look at the arrival of Albania on the European football scene. Our journalists travelled to Belgium to find the truth about Molenbeeck, the Brussels suburb dubbed ‘Jihadi Central’ and to to Thailand to expose the cruelty involved in the popular tourist activity of elephant trekking. There were also reports on the destruction of an important archaeological site in Afghanistan and the proud Canadian sporting tradition of shinny.
Cover image Thanks to Christian Granados, and the LCC Letterpress department, for their assistance with the cover.
Closer to home, we took to the streets of London to compare Uber taxis with the black cab, interviewed the Maccabees about their film charting the history and redevelopment of Elephant & Castle, talked to a promising young footballer whose career was ruined by gambling and looked at the reaction of Londoners to the death of David Bowie.
LIVING WITH ALZHEIMER’S
12 PROTECTING AFHANISTAN’S BUDDHIST HERITAGE 14
WATCHING THE WATCHERS
WHY TRANS RIGHTS MATTER
THE TRUTH OF JIHADI CENTRAL
CULTURE IN A CAN
26 DON’T BE A CUNT ALL YOUR LIFE 28 MIGRANTS IN ITALY 32
Both Artefact and Elephant Sport have attracted plaudits from readers industry professionals. Artefact was shortlisted twice in the prestigious Stack magazine awards (the only student publication to achieve this) and several of our journalists were singled out by Huffington Post for producing the best student journalism of 2015.
BLACK CABS VS UBER
34 INSIDE THE REFUGEE CRISIS 38 THE MISERY OF ELEPHANT TOURISM IN THAILAND
Within these pages is only a fraction of the great multimedia work produced by our student journalists over the last few months. If you’d like to see more of it, take a look at our websites www.artefactmagazine.com and www.elephantsport.myblog.arts.ac.uk We’d love to hear your views, too—you can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
42 CHANGES AT THE ELEPHANT 46 DAVID BOWIE’S LEGACY
Simon Hinde Programme Director, Journalism and Publishing London College of Communication
48 BLACK YOGA 49 A STUDENT’S STRUGGLE 50 LIVING ROUGH IN LONDON 51
WOMEN IN FOOTWORK
STRATFORD’S SECRET SKATERS
ON THE ROAD WITH THE NFL
54 WALES—ZOMBIE NO MORE 55 WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN FOR PICKERING 56 NXT TAKES OVER LONDON 57
Website: artefactmagazine.com Facebook: artefactmagazine Twitter: @artefactlcc Instagram: @artefactmag Feedback to: email@example.com
THE PAIN OF FABIO PAIM
58 REINDEER RACING
Published by London College of Communication, London SE1 6SB
59 GAMBLING RUINED MY CAREER 60 SPORT SHORTS 68 BA MAGAZINE PUBLISHING 70 REVIEWS Design & Art Direction: Oswin Tickler/Smallfury
LAST WORD 3
Q&A VIVIAN CHERUIYOT Vivian Cheruiyot will be chasing the only major medal missing from her collection in Rio this summer—Olympic gold. Before taking time off to start a family, her last last race was at London 2012 where she was disappointed to only win bronze in the 10,000m. The Kenyan distance running star reclaimed her 10,000m title at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing, having previously won both the 10k and 5,000m in Deagu 2011. She missed out on defending her titles in Moscow in 2o13 because of her pregnancy. She took time off her preparations for the 2016 Olympics to talk to Elephant Sport about her comeback and goals for 2016. How did you get into long-distance running? I started running at school when I was very young. Kenya is famous for long-distance runners and I was able to win against people my own age and older. How did your first competitive race feel after coming back from maternity leave? I took my time getting back into competition. I knew I was not in my top shape so I raced conservatively at first. Normally, I was used to pushing the pace from the start, but in my first few races I started conservatively and tried to finish strong. What is your training regime and have you made any changes? It is the same as it was before I had my child. I train six days per week
SOUTH LONDON ART TRAIL Around 100 Wandsworth artists opened up their homes as temporary galleries to create an Arts Trail across part of south London in October. We visited part of the trail on the second weekend, having just recovered from Tooting Foodival and Tootopia which both took place in September. With slightly sore feet and a close eye on Google maps, we managed to find three out of the four intended locations before closing time. At our final stop, we met Jane Armstrong, an alumna of Chelsea College of Art who was tutored by Peter Fleming; her painting career of two years has been preceded by a lifetime of sketching, but she told us that she has practiced oil painting for only five years. Armstrong is in her sixties and the best advice she had to give to any aspiring artist is “to keep going”. 4
As the local landscape is a recurring theme in her art, we took the opportunity to ask her for the best place for inspiration in London; without hesitation, she told us it was Wandsworth Common. Although she paints regularly and has begun finding her way into making it a business, she has no intention of giving up her current career as a recruiter of creative directors; her current project, alongside painting, is to get a website up-and-running in order to present her work on an accessible platform. The only unfortunate thing during our tour is that we didn’t allow enough time to sit down and have a cup of tea with this talented local artist, although if we had, we most likely would have spent all day doing so. Words: Klara Eldstal Damlin
and rest on Sunday. I combine track sessions, long runs, hill work , tempo runs and gym. What motivated you to get back to your best after your maternity leave? I missed the World Championships in 2013 as I was heavily pregnant, so wanted to try to get back for the 2015 World Championships. Did you ever consider putting your career on hold to focus all your attention on being a full-time mother? No, I knew I would get back into competition. How do you manage to balance your career as an athlete around your home and family life? I have a very supportive husband and family who help me. What are your goals for 2016? I have won the World Championships five times and have Olympic silver and bronze medals but not the gold. I want a gold in 2016. What do you prefer—track or cross country, and why? I prefer track. Cross country can be unpredictable with the weather and surface underfoot. What do you do to stay focused during a race? I train hard to make sure that I can finish the race strong. Normally, I am just thinking about the pace and the other competitors. Words: Abubakar Mohamed Image: Laura Morgan via Flickr.com
KSW’S WEMBLEY PLAN PAYS OFF KSW is the Polish version of UFC, and it chose London’s Wembley Arena to host its first promotion outside of its native land. This made sense, with around 688,000 Poles living in the U, and a sizeable number of them were present in the famous old 12,500-seat venue for a card that was highly anticipated among the mixed martial arts community. KSW co-owner Martin Lewandowski told FightExpert.pl there were sound business reasons for bringing the brand to the UK. “We know where and how we build up the interest. We know what fights and especially what fighters bring that interest,” he said. This being KSW (Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki), the decision to top the bill with homegrown star Mariusz Pudzianowski againsgt Australia’s Peter Graham was understandable. Pudzianowski is an ex-weightlifter who has progressed from being known as a ‘freak fighter’ because of his size and non-MMA background, to a proven star attraction. Dramatic KSW knows how to put on a show, and this one began with a welcome from the Polish rapper and MMA fighter Popek, and some suitably spooky lighting given it was October 31st. The support bouts proved to be varied and dramatic, from knockouts to a submission and even a disqualification, and the vibe was one where you believed any outcome was possible. Placing recognised names such as Oli Thompson, Jimmy Walhead, Andre Winner and James McSweeney on the bill showed KSW was determined to deliver a quality promotion. It would have been almost foolish not to include British fighters on the card, and KSW knows that to grow its fan-base outside of Poland it needs to embrace non-Polish talent. The only disappointment for Poles present and watching on PPV came when Pudzianowski took centre stage. In Graham he was facing an experienced and dangerous opponent. Sure enough, despite the chants for ‘Pudzian’, it was all Graham as the 40-year-old demolished the Pole with a flurry of punches and elbows. Despite his defeat, the London show was judged to have been a big success, setting the bar even higher for KSW’s next move on the European MMA map. Time will tell how quickly it happens, but knowing the organisers’ eye for business and passion for the sport it will be sooner rather than later. Words: Damian Teodorczak
NEW PSYCHEDELIA If someone mentioned psychedelia, what would you think of ? Probably flowers, LSD, and The Beatles. Those were the fashions of the 1960s when revolution was in the air and music was booming. People who had been constrained by an austere society and were finally free to be themselves through the new music that was coming from America and Europe. Like many scenes at the time, psychedelia had its own fashion trends, sound and political input. The one thing that really coined the phrase was the widesprad usage of psychedelic drugs at the time. People wanted to escape reality, and “break on through to the other side”. Psychedelia was named because of drug culture at the time, but since then, it’s gone from being a “scene” to becoming a way of artistic representation, the same way being a “punk” can mean an attitude towards life as opposed to just having a Mohawk and piercings. In London alone, we have so much choice as there are gigs on every night of the week. For a music industry that’s always been very American and European-centric, psychedelia has a widely international community. International festivals like Austin Pysch Fest and Liverpool Psych Fest see bands from across the globe like Goat from Sweden or Acid Mothers Temple from Japan. Festivals showcase artists that sound completely different, but all fall under the umbrella of creative guitar music. In 2015 the fashion is for a return to retro. Sub-genres like Neo-psychedelia are introduced into our musical vocabularies, but have
no real meaning. Like a new fashion trend, musical genres are rebranded to sound cooler, but the reality is they’re not doing anything 'neo’. In 2009 bands like The Horrors and Pond dominated the scene. Although they reintroduced psychedelia into the charts, it was still music that heavily emulated the 60’s. It was good then and it’s good now but there was no “breaking through” to the other side. Tail Feather has wider musical influences—their dynamic labels them psychedelic because they break with traditional values. “We have no frontman. We’re always pushing on harmonies, trying to get personalities to merge.” If there’s one common factor you can see in psychedelic bands now, it’s that they’re more technical. The music has to be clever. Frontman of Swedish Death Candy, Louis, explains, “Music that’s too spacey runs the risk of being monotonous. Bands need to be more mathematical in their approach in order to escape the risk of being generic. “We try and make the music interesting by being loud. I have big amps and I think that over-stimulates your senses. It’s a physical experience.”. Psychedelia isn’t protest anymore. It’s freedom to entertain, and what’s happening now is so exciting because artists are more pro-active and driven than ever. Today’s psychedelia is unpredictable and relevant. Words: Katrina Mirpuri Image: Carlos Lowry / flickr.com 5
A HOMETOWN AWAY DAY The first football ground I ever visited was Roots Hall in Southend, where I spent the early years of my childhood. When I say ‘visited’, me and my older brother (who was clearly leading me astray) actually climbed up one of the floodlight pylons outside the stadium.
Adele’s New Single In the prime-time ad break of X Factor, Adele turned up out of the blue uninvited and presented the world with the first preview of her long awaited new single, ‘Hello.’ After four years out of the spotlight, only an artist with the staying power of Adele could be identified by the public from nothing but white lyrics on a black screen and the sound of her voice. The thirty second preview featured the lyrics “Hello, it’s me. I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet, to go over everything. They say that time’s supposed to heal ya but I ain’t done much healing.” After a week of frenzied excitement building across the internet, the single was released along with a full length video. They say if something isn’t broken, don’t fix it, and that statement couldn’t be truer of Adele’s formula for a heart-wrenching ballad. Soaring, haunting piano notes? Check. Heartfelt, universally relatable lyrics? Check. Powerful and unmistakeable vocals? Check. The only change this time around is the message behind it. In Adele’s own words, posted on her official Facebook the evening before ‘Hello’ was released, “my last record was a break up record and if I had to label this one I would call it a make-up record.” This is Adele accepting the past, attempting to make amends, and moving forward. It’s a different mood from Adele than we’re used to; the broken hearted, pillow crying days are gone, and yet it still manages to be unmistakably and unapologetically Adele. The video for ‘Hello’ quickly broke the Vevo record, previously held by Taylor Swift, for the most amount of views in one day, racking up 27.7 million views within twenty four hours. So that’s over a million views per hour. The single is a strong comeback after the success of her second album, ‘21’, which became the first UK album to reach sales of three million copies in a year. ‘Hello’ has already comfortably settled at the top of the iTunes singles charts worldwide, and is a notion of what’s to come when her third studio album, ‘25’, is released next month. Welcome back, Adele. Words: Jessica Clifton Image: Tammy Breece / flickr.com 6
We didn’t go that high but the view from up there was amazing, and I made a vow to come back and attend a match properly one day. Two years later, however, my family left Southend for pastures new in south-east London so I never went to see the Shrimpers play. So when a footballer friend, Hayden White, offered me a ticket to come and watch him play for Blackpool at Roots Hall, I jumped at the chance. Not only did I want to see him in action (he was on loan at Blackpool from Bolton Wanderers), I was also keen to experience the atmosphere of a League One game. Sitting in the Blackpool section, I soon realised that the fans at this level are every bit as passionate as those in the Premier League— maybe even more so considering the visiting supporters had travelled 270 miles to cheer on their relegation-threatened team. Family atmosphere It must be hard to support your club when they let you down almost every game, while problems off the pitch at Bloomfield Road rumble on. But this dedicated bunch of Blackpool fans always seem to pick themselves up and follow their team all over the country. There was also a real family atmosphere among them, which was great to see, and it felt like everyone knew one another. They also made plenty of noise in an attendance of 6,290, which is roughly half the capacity at Roots Hall. The Blackpool fans lived every
kick and every decision which—surprisingly— Southend boss Phil Brown did not. When he managed Hull City in the Premier League, he was always very lively on the touchline. Here, he was much less animated, even though it took Southend until the 76th minute to break the deadlock with a debut goal from Adam Thompson. That consigned Blackpool to a sixth straight defeat, but I was impressed how the fans never stop chanting for their team. Fresh perspective The only blemish on a great day out came at half-time when one of my friends, who was wearing a Bolton jacket borrowed from Hayden on a cold day, was approached by an older lady who was a clearly lifelong Blackpool fan. She made a comment about his choice of attire, and I guess turning up in a Bolton-branded jacket in the Blackpool section couldn’t exactly be classed as a great move. But it transpired she was referring to the fatal stabbing of a Blackpool fan in August 1974 when troubled flared during a match against Wanderers. I was apologetic as I could be, but whatever dark events had taken place 41 years ago, it was long before our time and something we wouldn’t have been aware of. Nevertheless, I enjoyed my experience—even though the result wasn’t what I would’ve hoped for my friend out on the pitch. As an Arsenal fan, it made me realise you can go down a couple leagues down from the top flight and still see a good match played in a lively atmosphere. I’m glad I finally made it to a game at Southend after all these years... Words: Ashleigh Chirwa Image: Mark Freeman
ARE ALL DEATHS EQUAL? Reports of the Paris terror attack left me confused. Although it may be an inappropriate and unjustified time to highlight the disparities in people’s reaction, I asked myself why are we so sensitive towards the West compared to tragedies taking place across the world. There are noticeable differences in society’s reactions when similar events occur somewhere that would be considered ‘developing’ or ‘third world’ – for example, the Kenya university shooting where 147 people were killed in April 2015. It would be fair to say that the majority of the world did not bat an eyelid, myself included. Facebook did not invite me to change my profile picture and there was most certainly not a minute of silence to reflect on the tragic events. To me this is a telling indicator of our (European) attitudes towards the third world; an example of the inequality in reporting, lack of social media attention and sympathy. It made me question my ethical compass. I knew about Kenya earlier in the year, and read about Beirut just a day before I heard of news in Paris. Why didn’t they register the same and why was my degree of empathy different? As we try to understand the relationship between the disparities in reaction which derive from the tacit understanding that tragedy in the third world is almost the norm. As a result we are less shocked by horrific events that unfold in the third world, as we ‘expect it to happen there’. We see Europe as civilised, fair and just compared with countries often left torn by colonialism which in our eyes are uncivilised, unfair and unjust. Even as someone from the third world, with brown skin and an African name, I myself am in no way immune from such expectations. Seeing white European blood spilt shocks me more than seeing the blood spilt of people who bear a greater genetic resemblance to me. This might be an awkward idea to get around, but to deny these thoughts and tendencies within myself would be to deny them in society. And until we see Kenyan, Lebanese, Syrian, Somali or other flags featured across people’s Facebook profile pictures, we have to ask ourselves whether we really do, honestly, value all life equally. Words: Zandile Lungah
THE DANGERS OF OVERPACKING It’s Monday and Heathrow Airport is buzzing with people – some were rushing towards the departure gate while the working staff were welcoming passengers and directing them towards their check-in desk. As I queued with my sister I noticed an African woman with a number of massive suitcases. I asked my sister to allow her to move in frontWe followed her patiently until one of the staff showed her which desk to go to. She went with a broad smile as if she knew what was about to happen. As she placed the suitcases on the scale, it came up to 120 kilograms for all three. The staff politely told her that her suitcases were too heavy, that she had to reduce each one to 23 kilograms, and pay for any excess. It was at this point her smile faded to anger and in a rage she retorted: “That is impossible. How do you expect me to leave my bag or reduce some of the contents in it when all I have in there cost me so much money?” It was at this point I garnered the courage to task her where was she traveling to, to which she replied: “Nigeria.” I asked her if she ever weighed her luggage before coming to the airport. “I do not see the need to do that”.Finally she was asked to move her luggage and allow other passengers to check-in. She did as she was told with anger and aggression. I was shocked to see this woman with such a broad smile be so rude to another individual. She moved her cases and contemplated what to do next, her head bowed as if the weight of the bags were pulling her down. The anger on her face made her look twice her age. I felt bad and tried to think of a way to help her. I started by checking the British Airways’ website about excess luggage policies but the site indicates that “you can take up to a total
of ten checked bags per person, excluding infants (children under two years). This total includes any free allowance you may have. So if your flight includes one free checked bag, you can pay to take up to nine additional bags” I emailed a specialist travel agency which suggested that shipping goods may sometimes be cheaper and easier. I tried to explain to the woman that her only choice is to pay and travel to her destination or leave her luggage at the airport for someone to come and collect on her behalf, though I could see for myself that she was not really considering any of my suggestions. A good number of Africans are seasonal travellers; with a packing check-list as long as their arm. However, there is a safety issue. I have seen passengers get their heads cracked because some didn’t want to check their luggage, break overhead bins and even try to check 40” TVs as “Personal Items". Seasonal travelling comes at a price, because there is an earnest expectation from relatives back home that their relative living in UK for example will bring gifts. Passenger flights to African countries have strict weight limits. This includes fuel weight, passenger weight, and cargo (passenger bags). Instead of asking every passenger to step on a scale (which would cause even more complaining), they use an average male and average female weights. This weight includes a fixed weight for carry on. Depending on the airline, the number changes, but let’s says its 20 Kilograms. If every passenger on a 200 person flight is 5 kilograms over, it’s 1000 kilograms heavier than calculated. That’s a lot. Words: Fatima Jabbe Image: Herry Lawford via Flickr.com 7
ON YOUR MARKS GET SET GOAL! Like many young boys, Michael Ohioze dreamt of becoming a professional soccer player while growing up.
something else. “The love I have for track now is almost on par with football,” he explained. “I just love doing it.”
So when was offered the chance in 2013 to leave his family home in Mill Hill and take up a soccer scholarship at St Ambrose University in Iowa, it looked like his dream was potentially on course to come true. It didn’t take long for Ohioze, now 21, to settle in, and he made an immediate impact, scoring four goals in his first three matches.
Motivation He also began to appear on the radar of British Athletics selectors back home in the UK. “I understand if I run a certain time this year, I qualify to compete against the top UK runners, and if I do well enough, I could potentially compete for the UK for my age group,” said Ohioze. “But I have to work hard and go for it.”
With the soccer season lasting just half the academic year, that left him with no competitive action for the second semester—so team-mate Shaquille Jones suggested that Ohioze try out for the university athletics team.
Leaving home at 18 to move to a new country would be daunting enough for even most youngsters. In Ohioze’s case, it was even more challenging as his mother was ill at the time.
Expensive It turned out to be an inspired decision as Ohioze was offered a chance to earn another scholarship, which would help him pay his fees. “Times do get hard because it’s expensive,” he said. “Everything has to be paid upfront and I don’t get any loans, so financially it takes a lot out of my parents.” The thought of playing competitively in two sports across the year might exhausting for some players, but not. Ohioze. “Essentially, training for track helps me towards soccer as I become faster and more of a threat,” he said. Ohioze finished top scorer in his league in his first season, with 13 goals in 19 games, contributing to his side finishing in seventh place out of 13 teams in the Chicagoland Conference He also broke college record in the 60m, 100m, 200m, as well helping to set new marks in the 4x100m and 4x400m relays. These successes gave him a national ranking within the UK top 50. Ohioze’s time on the track also gave him
Tough choice “She had some health issues, and I wanted to be there for her, so it was tough,” he said. “But coming here and doing her proud helped—it helps her fight every day.” Ohioze has 18 months left until he finishes his course at St Ambrose. The big question is what is he going to pursue afterwards—football or athletics? “l can’t say I’d pick one over the other because I just want to be successful and and I love both,” he said. “I think I may pick football if it came down to it—mainly because I’ve done it for longer and because it pays better too. “I may not make it as a professional athlete. I’m studying Physical Education along with my scholarships so if I get a degree in that I would be able to coach either track or football instead. I came here to play one sport and now I’ve got two options, so whatever happens it’s been a hugely worthwhile experience.” Words: Sharif Said; Image: SAU Iowa
JESSICA JONES If you are thinking “not another superhero series” never fear—Netflix new series Jessica Jones is not. It is, however, about a woman who tried the life of a superhero but gave up on saving the world. Now she works as a private investigator, but the job she thought would get her away from her past turns out to be the very thing that brings her back to it. Krysten Ritter, who you may know from Breaking Bad, is the perfect choice for the main character Jessica Jones, with her dark and mysterious look. Not only does this series concentrate on Jones’s narrative, but seems to be leading the way for more Marvel story lines to grow from it, with rumours of a new series focusing on two of the characters from the first one: Luke Cage and Iron fist. With Dare Devil, the first series to hit Netflix, seeming to share the same backdrop as Jessica Jones, it looks as though Netflix is recruiting its very own team of elite superheroes. Potentially even more exciting is that Marvel could be beginning to introduce the characters of a new Defenders series. Look out for David Tennant, who you may better know as Dr. Who, in the series. Whether you are a fan or not, one thing to be said is that David takes on the role and really makes it his own. Stan Lee does not disappoint with his appearance in Jessica Jones’s police department for all those Marvel fans who look out for him during any movie or series. Disappointingly however the release date for season two has not been decided, and it does not look as though it will be any time soon. Words: Nicole Lester Image: Mitchell Weinstock via flickr.com
CARTE—A FUTURE STAR? We interviewed Davina aka Carte, a second year fashion student and singer songwriter, about her musical success and her plans for the year ahead. She expresses herself through her clothing, often coming up with new ideas for her hair and makeup and designing her own outfits, shopping around at local East London thrift shops as well as local charity shops to create her unique eye catching look, Did you always know you would be a singer? “I started recording songs and writing when I was about sixteen-seventeen but I didn’t actually think I could make it, as it takes a long time finding yourself, seeing your limits seeing your strengths until you can actually say ok I can do this and it’s actually a reality and at 21 years of age I can say I can do this.” How would you describe your sound? “I call it new wave pop, it’s redefining what pop music sounds like, so that’s it really it is futuristic, it’s innovative, it’s exciting”
DAY IN THE LIFE: DINA ASHER-SMITH Dina Asher-Smith, 20, was named British Young Sports Woman of the Year in 2015, and with very good reason. The Team GB sprinter is the fastest British woman ever. The 2014 Junior World 100m and 2013 Junior European 200m champion now holds the UK records at both distances. She is currently combining athletics with studying at Kings College London and runs for Blackheath and Bromley Harriers. Her focus for 2016 is the Rio Olympics. She shares her daily routine... What time do you wake up? Normally it’s between 7 and 8am depending on my lectures, but I don’t normally stay in bed for too long. So many things to do! What’s for breakfast? Normally either yoghurt, granola and a banana, or scrambled eggs and maybe some chorizo or spinach. They’re relatively healthy and provide me with the energy I need for the rest of the morning. What’s your morning training regime? I have lectures most mornings, so I only do morning sessions on Wednesday and Saturday. I prefer them as it’s then ticked off the list and you can get on with the rest of the day. What is your motivation when training is tough? It comes from my training partners. I’m fortunate to be in a friendly and amazingly talented group, so we have loads of fun and bounce off each other. We’re all quite resilient; we understand training gets difficult but also
know that you have to push through the hard bits if you really want to improve. What do you do for the rest of the day? If it’s a uni morning, I will spend a few hours in the library, then go home, have a snack, nap and then train! If I’ve already trained, I usually spend most of the afternoon in the library. What do you have for lunch? I’m in central London nine times out of 10, so I’m buying food there. I’m grateful so many healthy food chains have popped up recently. I’m spoilt for choice! I just eat whatever I fancy—as long as its healthy and high protein. How tired are you at the end of the day? Funnily enough I’m normally not that tired, so I tend to do some more work or chat to friends. I think it’s because I nap during the day and I’ve been busy like this for many years, so I’m used to running around. What’s for dinner? Whatever my parents make, or I nose around in the fridge! Dinners are, again, always healthy and often focused on high protein and vegetables. My mum and dad are really good at making dinners healthy. If you can’t fall asleep, what do you do? I listen to some soft music or I start thinking about all the stuff I have to do the next day. That’s more than enough to put me to sleep! Words: Tawanda Musonza Image: Mark Robinson
How you you describe your sense of style? “So I dress how ever I feel, so this top I made today because I felt like making it, I felt like being a bit edgy, this is basically the inside of my mind on my clothes.” What’s your opinion on UK music? “A lot of repetition a lot of cloning, I feel like people are not trying to be themselves they’re trying to be an idea of themselves, of what they think a superstar is, of what they think popular culture should be, I always think popular culture is what people love, what people are paying attention to and that’s not repeated, the 80’s are not the same as the 90’s and the nineties are not the same as the 2000’s it’s meant to change by more individuals coming into the scene Where do you see yourself in five years time? “Well ideally I’d like to be performing, touring in different countries and to at least have an album out working on my second album, I just want to still be creating and pushing myself further than where I am now, I want to be working with lots of different artists and producers, I just want to be up there and having fun and living my dreams.” Will you still be designing clothes? “Yes! My idea for my fashion and how I’ll link it to my music is I want to design all my own clothes, so for my tours i’ll design all my tour outfits and I’d eventually like to set up merchandise that goes with my tours but it’s all my own designs, so it’s like a label that goes with my music, so maybe in five years that might be up and running.” Words: Ebun Hargrave and Paige Mavuala 9
Originally published in Artefact #9 The Space issue, March 2016
Words: Erzana Ramadani
Kosovo refugees: a lesson from the past In 1999 tens of thousands of people fleeing a war zone were welcomed into Britain and Europe
Before the recent influx of migrants from Syria, the last major refugee crisis in Europe was in 1998 and 1999 when an armed conflict between Kosovo and Serbia broke out in ex-Yugoslavia. According to the United Nations (UN), it is estimated that Britain took in 75,000 Albanian refugees from Kosovo, a response which is in stark contrast to the way the Syrian situation is being dealt with. Many countries are reluctant to consider migrants, and the chances of their asylum application being rejected remain high. ** The year 1999 saw the largest movement of a population in Europe since 1945, with an estimated 800,000 ethnic Albanians forced to leave Kosovo. Exiled from their own country, citizens fled their homeland as the war broke out, with many finding shelter in neighbouring countries. As a result of the war and events that followed, Kosovo continues to have one of the largest migration flows worldwide with many still seeking to leave in order to better their lives abroad. Some returned, some settled in new countries, but wherever they went, the one thing many Kosovan Albanians have in common is that they speak about their upbringing with pride, despite the struggles they went through when they were forced to leave their home country. Egzona Hashani, who still lives in Kosovo, escaped to Macedonia for five months before returning says: “Everyone in our neighbourhood had escaped. We were told to leave our village if we wanted to survive as it was almost certain to be a target for the Serb forces”. She and her family lived in a small village close to Mitrovica in Northern Kosovo, where there was a large Serbian population. “Even though most of our extended family decided to leave Kosovo and go to Germany, my Dad insisted we stayed in Macedonia with relatives for a few months until the situation calmed down. We never had any intention of leaving Kosovo forever,” she told Artefact. She recalls how her family had numerous options to move abroad to countries such as Norway, Denmark and Sweden but rejected them because they would have left too much behind, including their family business, which most likely would have been destroyed by the armed forces. 10
“We ran a small local wheat business and grew other crops which was of high importance to my father. He did not want to leave that behind, as there was no guarantee that a life elsewhere would have been much improved as we were already living a good life in Kosovo. Luckily, our business remained intact and our village was not attacked, but of course the damage elsewhere was extensive.”
we had no choice but to leave our home and it was something that we did with a heavy heart.” Albanians from Kosovo have a massive sense of pride about their upbringing and their culture, and Mimoza’s family were no different. “In England, my Dad worked in a kitchen and earned just about enough to keep us going for the
If you can transform the life of one family, it is enough ** Egzona recalls crossing the border and seeing thousands of distressed faces of families who didn’t know what to expect or where they were even going: “I remember seeing Serbian military forces shouting and having no idea what they were saying. It was most probably done just to assert some authority as there were thousands of people rushing to leave and cross the border”.
two years we were there. Surprisingly, we lived a better life, even though the conflict in Yugoslavia began way before the war in Kosovo,” she said. “We just never felt at home and after two years we returned to our homeland. As a family, we do not regret that decision.”
Despite the concerns over the number of refugees, many of them returned to Kosovo after the war—some were not granted permanent asylum and others returned by choice because of their love of their home country.
Mimoza now works for Kosovo’s largest radio company and her family own a chain of successful boutiques. “Our return was always on the cards and if we had stayed in England I probably would not have got the job I wanted or would have worked in a lower-skilled field, which definitely would have been the case for my parents.” Life away from Kosovo was never on the agenda for them, apart from when they had to escape a war-torn country through no choice of their own.
Mimoza Krasniqi and her family moved to England in 1998, along with 75,000 others, but returned after two years. “We never intended to stay in England for a sustained period of time,” she told us. “The situation in Kosovo meant that
How was the crisis in Kosovo different? There’s more uproar against refugees now than before, and this is mainly because there are more platforms on which people can air their views. According to the BBC, Kosovo saw the second larg-
est movement of migrants applying for asylum in Europe. Some people had anti-immigration views 20 years ago but had less opportunity to air those views, and there’s no doubt that attitudes have changed over time. “We feared for our lives and seeing thousands of people fleeing with us made it real,” explains Sadete Berisha, who crossed the border and stayed in Kukes with an Albanian family who were happy to help migrants coming into Albania. Thousands of Kosovan migrants took shelter in Kukes, with the residents living there happy to welcome anyone who needed shelter. ** “As a 23-year-old at the time, everything was clear to me, the hundreds of Serbian police and forces fighting in the streets of Kosovo was not something I can forget. Being old enough, every image still sticks in my mind.” Sadete and her family have now settled in Norway and live a relatively comfortable life. “When I realise what Norway did for me and my family, we will be grateful forever. A lot of our family who live in Kosovo are struggling and would love the chance to live a better life elsewhere, which is why I would always be pro-immigration. “If you can transform the life of one family, it is enough. What people don’t realise is that we all want peace because the sole reason why we left our country was due to conflict. We did not move to cause trouble but instead the complete opposite.” These are words that are still relevant today, as those fleeing just wanted peace and harmony. Nothing else was on the agenda. “Kosovo” and “war” go hand in hand but it seems many people today are unaware of what happened in the former Yugoslavian countries, especially compared to their knowledge of other wars. During the war, very few, if any, journalists were granted entry into Kosovo to investigate exactly what was happening. Journalists stood on border crossings interviewing Albanians and that was the only way of gathering information about what was really happening. Kosovo gained independence in February 2008, and today it is globally recognised by 112 countries. However, the world remains divided on whether Kosovo really should have its independence, with Russia and China both still failing to recognise it as a state.
Originally published in Artefact #7 The Renewal issue, December 2015
Words: Elizabeth Smith
Living with Alzheimer’s
The tough realities of caring for a family member with dementia
“What’s for lunch?” I hear my 85-yearold grandfather call to me as I walk past his sitting room. I must hear this same question at least 20 times a day. In the morning, before lunch, after lunch, in the evening, before he goes to bed… you get the idea.
planning your lives around them, never once thinking of it as a chore, but it ultimately becomes one. Who will be around to give granddad his tablets? Who will be around to fix his TV for him? Who will be around to settle him down when he forgets where he is and asks to go home?
“Can you fix the television?” is another common question. How does someone press the wrong button on such frequent occasions? My granddad shuffles tirelessly around the house when the rest of us are asleep, often waking me up when he comes into my room.
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s is a full-time role. Twenty-four hours a day,
He suffers from dementia. It’s a cruel, heartless disease, leaving just a shell of a person you once shared so much love and happiness with. The Alzheimer’s Society’s defines dementia as “a set of symptoms that may include memory loss, mood changes and problems with communicating and reasoning. These symptoms occur when certain diseases damage the brain. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. Dementia affects people in different ways, depending on the disease as well as the person. It is one of the main causes of disability in later life, ahead of cancer, cardiovascular disease and stroke.” ** Living with someone with dementia is hard. It is tiring; constantly answering repetitive questions, thinking up activities to keep your loved one entertained and busy. But thousands of people do it, and personally I would never dream of moaning or getting frustrated. After all, we owe it to our elders. It is imperative that we, as people that are more than likely to know a close relative with the disease, understand it as well as we can. But is dementia something that young people need to worry about? Or is it something far too distant from us our tech-savvy lives, something our parents have to deal with? The Alzheimer’s Society slogan is ‘Leading the fight against Dementia’. They are the leading UK charity for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, their families and carers. My grandfather came to live with my mother and me five years after the sudden death of his wife. She had often mentioned how he was becoming forgetful. but we failed to take her seriously,. Ten years later and it is now clear that what she had been experiencing was the onset of his dementia. Living with someone with this disease is tough. Constantly
Jess explained: “despite the identified need of 18-24 year olds wanting to know further information about dementia, we are aware that younger people have often been under-represented in the number of clientele accessing our services”. So why is this? Is the society aiming help at the wrong age bracket? Or are us young people simply not taking it upon
Caring for a loved one who has dementia is not something you expect to have to deal with at the age of 21 seven days a week. It’s something you do not expect to have to deal with at the age of 21. Although, I believe dealing with it has made me a much more patient person, and much more appreciative of the smaller things in life. ** Jess Howard-Armitage, from the Alzheimer’s Society, specialises in youth engagement, “There are many young people who support or care for a grandparent or parent with a diagnosis of dementia who need support”, she said. Actress Carey Mulligan is an ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society and has often discussed supporting her gran. “This has helped to raise the profile of dementia and also how it impacts on younger family members such as grandchildren,” added Jess. In a YouGov Alzheimer’s Society survey published in 2012 it was 18-24-year-olds that were most keen to learn more about Alzheimer’s (25%), compared to only 15 per cent of over-55-year-olds. However
ourselves to use the initiatives provided? It appears to be the latter. The Alzheimer’s Society is certainly trying. Jess told me about the charity’s attempts to reach the younger generation. “The helpline is keen to increase awareness of our services and to positively engage younger people with our organisation and the services that we offer.” She added: “In the last year we have developed our helpline services and now offer a live online advice web chat service and also support through social media, this has led to an increase in the number of younger clients contacting the helpline team. To try and accommodate contact from younger people the helpline has now extended the Live Online Advice service opening hours to some weekday evenings and weekend afternoons”. For me, the indestructible, intelligent, witty, authoritative grandfather I once knew is reduced to a shadow of his former self. From my experience with the disease it makes people slowly lose their confidence. They become almost afraid
to talk, worried they will say something wrong and be shot down. It is hard to watch when it is someone so dear to you. Hard to watch and hard to know what to say or do. This is why I believe we must keep stimulating people suffering with dementia and understand how best to deal with this change. A new initiative has begun to try and encourage arts venues to become dementia friendly. I think this is a great idea and one that cannot come soon enough. Stimulation is vital for the health and happiness of a person with Alzheimer’s. Taking a loved one with Alzheimer’s on a day out can be stressful and fill you with worry, causing some people to refrain from taking loved ones out to many places. As a former director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, my grandfather was a great supporter of the arts, and he loved frequenting the opera on a Friday night. Being able to take him now, without any stress, to a musical or concert would be an amazing experience, and just to know the staff had an understanding would be of great comfort. Nikki Crowther, Head of Community Engagement at Alzheimer’s Society, added: “Everyone has the right to participate in the arts, and for people with dementia, we know that there are many benefits. It can improve quality of life and well-being by stimulating emotions and creativity”. ** Leading figures from the arts world including Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chair of Arts Council England, and actresses Gemma Jones and Lesley Manville have joined forces with the Alzheimer’s Society to make the appeal. This follows the launch of a new guide, “Becoming a dementia friendly arts venue: A Practical Guide”. The launch of the guide coincided with a special fundraising evening in association with Elf the Musical at London’s Dominion Theatre on November 5, where all ticket sales were donated to the Alzheimer’s Society. “The television has stopped working!” —I hear the call from across the hallway. So I had better go and fix it. But I urge you all to keep stimulating those you know who are suffering from the disease. For those of you that are young and caring for a loved one; make use of the support provided for you, and for those who know carers; give them your support. 11
Words: Nora Asad Images: Brent E Huffman
PROTECTING AFGHANISTAN’S ANCIENT BUDDHIST HERITAGE
Afghanistan is a country with an incredible wealth measured in oils and minerals, having left countries fighting for its resources over the past decades. With a rich history of Buddhist tribes and Buddhism being one of the major religions during the pre-Islamic era in Afghanistan, it is expected the country has a substantially large percentage of yet-to-be-discovered Buddhist monuments. But what was uncovered years ago, no one had ever expected. Buried in the copper-rich mountains above a village in Logar province lays Mes Aynak, an enormous 500,000 square foot (100 football fields) archaeological site located in Eastern Afghanistan. The site was first discovered in 1963 by a French geologist drilling for samples of copper, when he made the unexpected but astonishing discovery of an ancient Buddhist city containing over 2,000 years worth of history. A small team of international archaeologists risk their lives on a daily basis and began excavations in 2009. They have thus far uncovered around ten per cent of the site, with findings of a monastery containing domed shrines known as stupas, golden Buddhist sculptures, temples and the oldest Buddhist manuscripts and oil paintings ever discovered. The site finds itself along the notorious Silk Road, in the heart of Asia, having the great ability of connecting Asia with the Middle East. It is believed to have been a great Buddhist settlement and a big temple for Buddhists on the way to Bamiyan. Archaeologists believe this to be a great historical heritage site, hailing the discovery as a milestone in developing a greater understanding of the early science of metallurgy. In addition, exploring the site’s treasures is believed to allow for a greater understanding of the Buddhist world dating from the early centuries AD. Over the years Mes Aynak has received international coverage. The world doesn’t seem to want to lose this site of ancient world heritage and are on a journey to save the archaeological site. Brent Huffman, an American film director and assistant professor at Northwestern University, followed proceedings closely and developed strong feelings for the monastery. He produced and directed the internationally acclaimed 12
and award-winning documentary Save Mes Aynak, endangering his own life every day of the three years he spent documenting developments on the site. With help of a translator, his camera kit and his skills, Brent Huffman set out on his journey to save Mes Aynak. He spent a couple of years recording the riches of the archaeological riches anddeveloping a true insight into the world of Mes Aynak. Having seen the once thriving Buddhist city with his own eyes and witnessing the grandeur of the site proved to him the potential Mes Aynak could have in the establishment of the nation’s heritage. Mes Aynak is a site of priceless world heritage, says Huffman. “Under this Buddhist city lies an older 5,000-year-old Bronze age site. There are so many incredible ancient sites in Afghanistan; destruction at Mes Aynak puts them all at risk. The ancient city at Mes Aynak is awe-inspiring – a massive site comparable to Machu Picchu and Pompeii. I fell in love with Mes Aynak and was deeply inspired by the Afghan archaeologists risking their lives to try to save it. Saving Mes Aynak is their story.” The fight to save Buddhist treasures has been a long battle fought by the Afghans. It kicked off 18 years ago when the Taliban blew up Afghanistan’s ancient 8,200 foot Buddha of Bamiyan, provoking large-scale public outrage. While the country’s battle to rise out of a dark pit after years of war is still ongoing, it seems there’s already another threat looming around the corner that’s waiting to hit this war-torn country. The site, appropriately named ‘Mes Aynak’, meaning “little copper well” in the Dari language, is home to the world’s largest untapped copper deposits worth more than $100 billion, paving the way for a prosperous investment opportunity for potential mining companies. A Chinese mining venture set its sights on the archaeological site of Mes Aynak in the year 2009. State owned China Metallurgical Group Corporation won the right to start its mining project at the site with a $3 billion price tag. With publicly known corruption taking place in the Afghan government, it is worrying to learn that the government sold a site for $3 billion, when it’s got an estimated worth of over $100 billion. These figures
affirm the desperation Afghanistan is in as a country: to sell such a valuable site for much less than its worth.
the only ones seeing any benefit from this investment will be the Chinese and some corrupt Afghan officials”.
Brent has had an interest in Afghanistan and has been working in the country since 2004. His personal connection with Mes Aynak was awakened when he learned that the US military was providing security for the Chinese government-owned company, which struck him as strange as he grew concerned at the lack of transparency by the Afghan government and the intentions of the Chinese.
Meanwhile during all turmoil surrounding this site, archaeologists under the direction of Qadir Temori have been swiftly uncovering and preserving as many treasures as possible in a desperate excavation attempt before the Chinese take over the site. With little support from the government and small to no pay at all, the Afghan archaeologists find themselves in a dubious position. Police guard the site and archaeological ruins, but there is currently no coherent plan of action.
He says: ‘The Chinese mining company is just like any other company – they are solely interested in making money and they see the archaeological site as an obstacle to reaching that goal. This deal represents a quick cash grab for a small number of people without any long-term thinking”. “Mes Aynak preserved as a tourist destination could bring in far more money over many years in a sustainable way that would benefit Afghans. Erasing Afghanistan’s history via this destructive mine will only further harm Afghanistan’s ability to reclaim its own history and heritage and rebuild the country.” The state-owned Chinese mining company would be set for an incredible profit once they start mining; they are getting $100 billion worth of copper for less than three billion. The open site is subject to regular art looting by professionals and is thus extremely vulnerable to losing its treasures. The ruins are likely to be destroyed once work at the mine begins, with greater repercussions than sole economic loss; it is said to affect the environment permanently. Brent says: “Open-pit mining will not only destroy the archaeological site, it will also devastate the environment. An underground water reservoir that feeds into Kabul and Pakistan will be poisoned with mining waste. The Chinese company will be bringing in their own workers from China, meaning that
There are many threats to the site now, says Brent. These range from the Chinese open-pit copper mine that is set to start at any time, to looting happening at the site at night, and daily threats on the lives of the archaeologists from the Taliban. There are Kabul police guarding the MCC mining camp and these guards are also protecting the archaeological ruins, but there is no structure, oversight or accountability at the site. “Artefacts are being stolen from on site and from storage. Most of the foreign archaeologists have left and funding has dried up. The Afghan archaeologists go months without pay regularly. It is a very bad situation at the moment with threats coming from all sides”.
hands of the Afghan government, as Brent says: “the Afghan government is the only entity that can halt this impeding tragedy and save this world heritage and the environment for future generations. Tourism could bring world travellers to Afghanistan and could eventually make Afghanistan far more money than this deal with MCC”. The former location of the Buddhas of Bamiyan attests to this statement as it is now a UNESCO world heritage site and being restored for tourism. Brent Huffman says that the destruction of Mes Aynak may only be the start of something much worse: “Destruction of a site like this sets the precedent about future mining and development in Afghanistan, that quick rescue archaeology is paid off by corruption then total destruction of world heritage”. He continues: ‘The Afghan government must intervene and make the company stop mining altogether, mine in another location or in another less destructive way.” Afghanistan is looking at a brighter future but to ensure its success, the Afghan government should ensure security in the country as a whole. Beyond that, they should do all they can to preserve the nation’s heritage and protect future tourist attractions.
With the small number of workers on location and the tenuous set of tools they own, the archaeologists are facing great challenges in achieving their goal. They are left with insubstantial equipment, facing daily threats by the Taliban – who are not at all keen on preserving cultural heritage – while receiving intense pressure from the Chinese mining company. The conservators have so far managed to save 10% of the site in three years’ time, and it seems time is running out for them.
Everything possible should be done to preserve some of the oldest Buddhist findings in the world, if only to preserve world history. Ruining this priceless national heritage for investment purposes will not only be a huge loss to Afghanistan, it will also be a loss to the world’s heritage. Hoffman took the challenge of documenting this site to share the archaeologists’ story of Mes Aynak; so let us save Afghanistan’s version of Pompeii, let’s save Mes Aynak.
Preserving this site allows Afghans to have a sense of national identity and it is a testament to what a prominent history Afghanistan has had. Now it’s all in the
You can sign the official petition at www.savingmesaynak.com to help save Mes Aynak and spread the word to raise awareness about the ancient site. 13
Words: Hani Richter Image: RADIUS-TWC
Originally published in Artefact #7 The Renewal issue, December 2015
THE WATCHERS Investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald revealed the extent of government surveillance of the public. He talks exclusively to Artefact.
Once he picks up the phone, I can’t help but think that there is a possibility our phone call is being monitored. It would make perfect sense for them to keep an eye on him, as in their eyes he’s a hindrance to national security organisations. The next leak he chooses to write about could disrupt a country and send its safekeeping operations into turmoil. I am interviewing Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who was approached by whistleblower Edward Snowden to leak thousands of classified documents, revealing information about the National Security Agency (NSA) and its global surveillance operations. The NSA is an American, government-run institution, which focuses on preventing terrorism by securing confidential electronic information through counter intelligence. Snowden worked as a government contractor for the NSA in 2013, which led to his revelations. Like many other high-profile journalists Greenwald would receive tips daily from people claiming to have interesting stories he would want to write about – Ed14
ward Snowden was one of them. Snowden would constantly ask Greenwald to use encryption keys, sending links to tutorial videos that explained how to use secure software – with the pseudo name Cincinnatus – which Glenn shrugged off as he was focusing on his work. Snowden then turned to Laura Poitras, a documentary filmmaker who also takes a keen interest in national security. Laura already knew Glenn and asked him to take a look at Snowden’s work. Greenwald agreed and this resulted in Snowden sending over the files. Three major documents revealed that, firstly, the NSA collected data from phone company, Verizon to spy on millions of people’s phone calls. This garnered a large amount of attention. A second document was published; this one revealed how President Obama ordered a list to be created of countries likely to carry out a cyber attack on the U.S. Lastly, the third document reported that sites like Facebook and Google were providing personal information from its users to the NSA. Before Greenwald broke one of the biggest leaks since Watergate, he used to run his own litigation company; practising as a lawyer. He did this for the next ten years. After realising that he wanted to pursue something different, Greenwald started a blog called Unclaimed Territory. Greenwald reported and investigated the Plame affair, which involved journalist Robert Novak of the Washington Post. When Novak revealed that Valerie Plame was an undercover CIA agent, this led to immense media coverage. Ultimately Greenwald’s blog proved to be widely popular and this resulted in Salon, an online magazine, noticing and making him a contributing writer. After several years working for the Salon Greenwald joined The Guardian in 2012. After a brief introduction we start to discuss Snowden. I ask about the reaction he expected before he published the files with The Guardian. He said: “We kind of expected that a significant obstacle that we were going to have to overcome would be that a large part of the U.S government’s media would side with the government, and view the journalism we were doing as something bad or threatening, and of course that did happen to some extent but there was also a lot of support for the journalism we were doing among other journalists.” For instance, Fox News analyst Ralph Peters argued that Snowden was a traitor who wanted to emulate the fame of reality stars the Kardashians. He also called for the death penalty to be brought back for Snowden. On the other hand, a journalist for The Huffington Post wrote about the positive effect of Snowden’s leaks such as President Obama admitting that “there would be no surveillance debate without Snowden”. A study by The British Security Industry Authority revealed that there’s one surveillance camera for every 11 people in the UK. Mass surveillance is used as a tool to prevent crime, especially terrorism. Greenwald believes the British take an unusually positive view of surveillance, claiming that we have an “authoritarian political culture”. He says the British media was the most hostile to the Snowden revelations (even though the Guardian took a leading role in publishing them). He says: “The British public seems to be far more excited about being spied on by their own government, than pretty much any other population of the world.” Recently, in the UK the issue of privacy was reignited when the police service tweeted an overhead picture, taken from a helicopter, capturing comedian Michael McIntyre walking down a London street in the summer. It was deleted shortly after. Greenwald continues to express his dissatisfaction with the British media and the way they dealt with
the Snowden controversy claiming that they were the “most hostile to the reporting” and that the government was the “most extreme in their attacks” on the journalism he carried out. The Snowden leak thrust the issue of surveillance to the forefront of daily conversation; this was called the ‘Snowden effect’. Understandably Glenn was triggered
“Greenwald claims that Britain has an “authoritarian political culture” about surveillance” by this and found a new outlet in his investigative journalism career, one that he’d been devoted to for a long time – focusing on scrutiny and institutional deviance committed by the government. This gave an avenue for “original, independent journalism” explained Pierre Omiydar who is the founder of Ebay and First Look Media (FLM), a company that aims to bring “citizenry” news to the forefront. One of the first creations of FLM was The Intercept – a new online media platform reporting aggressively on social matters and highlighting the importance of journalism acting as the fourth estate. “One of the things we [The Intercept] set out to do, was to be a little bit more aggressive about challenging the government and being adversarial with the government – rather than just going to government sources and printing what they say”, Greenwald says. However, the formation of The Intercept didn’t come without criticism. Ed Pilkington, of The Guardian, stated that Omidyar’s involvement in the new venture might be a problem, as Omidyar was solely funding the project with $250 million of his own money. This brought suspicion; such as would The Intercept team really have journalistic freedom? Greenwald stressed The Intercept’s vital role in the current medium, telling Artefact: “we’re trying to innovate ways to make it so that sources can leak to us without detection – with more confidentiality, given how aggressive the U.S government has been in punishing people who disclose information.” We then went on to talk about unofficial sources, as The Intercept uses them heavily, receiving news leaks from anonymous senders. Many journalists are suspicious of this reliance on anonymous sources but Greenwald argues that it’s the only way to ensure that essential information comes to light, claiming that “they are critical.” He went on to say that without unofficial sources we’d only know what our government would want us to, implying that all the public would want to hear is “propaganda” from the government. Greenwald added that using unofficial sources created an informed citizenry and healthy democracy.
On that morning the latest story on the front page of The Intercept was that the United Nations released a statement, which supported whistleblowers and stated that they should be protected. I asked Greenwald his thoughts on this. He said: “The UN is just used as a weapon by the most powerful countries against smaller, less powerful countries they want to try and manipulate and control.” Greenwald argues that even though the UN is trying to fulfil its role as a peacekeeper, “the US is certainly not going to be limited or restricted by what the UN says.” Hilary Clinton said that the documents Snowden leaked helped terrorists. Greenwald disagrees and says that “there’s absolutely no evidence, whatsoever” and that the government was trying to scare people creating this false idea that Snowden was helping the “bad people try and kill.” However, the CIA recently said that Snowden’s revelations made it easier for Isis members to plot the recent Paris terror attacks that killed 132 people. The CIA said the government could not detect any suspicious activity leading to the attacks, which took months of planning, and could’ve been stopped. In June this year The Sunday Times published an article stating that Russia and China benefitted from the leaks, resulting in MI6 having to retreat from high security operations. He says: “The Sunday Times was told by British government officials that both Russia and China had obtained access to the Snowden archive and The Sunday Times just mindlessly went and printed it, and as it turned out even they then admitted they didn’t have any idea whether it was true. They just wrote down what the government told them to say and printed it and in fact not only was there no evidence for it, it was clearly not the case.” When Greenwald is not writing about national security issues, he has turned his hand to producing short films and taking care of dogs. He says he currently has, 16 and goes on to say: “We count two of them as foster dogs – but yeah, sixteen – currently.” Many people might consider this to be too much of a responsibility, but for Greenwald, an avid animal rights activist, it’s a joy. Greenwald has now explored his other passion – filmmaking. Birdie and Karollyne are two films that follow the lives of Anderson Bernardes Carneiro, also called Birdie, and a transgender woman called Karollyne, who both live on the bustling streets of Rio de Janeiro. The film follows the idea of companionship, exploring human and dog interaction. Greenwald said, “I think [the films] give a huge amount of insight into the human capacity for empathy and self-sacrifice, generosity and kindness – that even people in the most severe stage of deprivation will sacrifice for another being that they love.” It is sometimes thought that homeless people’s dogs are hungry and burdened by the unfortunate circumstance of their owner. However, Birdie and Karollyne showcase that the dog always comes first, highlighting the devotion and care these dogs receive from owners who have very little. In an interview with The Intercept Heloisa Passos who directed the films said Birdie and Karollyne are members of a community who are “invisible”; people that nobody listens to. Greenwald added “I think it tells us a lot about how dogs are and why that relationship with dogs and humans are mutually fulfilling and this is something which affected how I think about things. So it was an opportunity to share with the world things that I’d been seeing that I thought were really profound.” 15
Originally published in Artefact #7 The Renewal issue, December 2015
Words: Anisa Easterbrook Images: Tania Mundell & Georgia Nelson
WHY TRANS RIGHTS MATTER There is no excuse for ignorance. We need to move forward as a society and change our outdated attitudes to gender identity
As I stood outside the Ministry of Justice in central London, among 20 angry people protesting and chanting “trans rights now!” in the name of Tara Hudson, it suddenly struck me at how ridiculous the entire situation was: why would anyone in their right mind allow a woman to be put in a male prison? Hudson is a 26-year-old transgender woman who, though assigned male at birth, has lived nearly her entire life as a woman. Yet after being found guilty of assault in a bar, she was placed in Bristol’s male prison. Any decent human being would agree it was insanity for her to be in a prison with hundreds of men and the inevitable dangers of harassment and physical abuse. I asked one young and rather quiet protester who was standing on the sidelines– why did you come here today? To which she responded: “No woman should be sent to 16
an all-male prison, especially not one as violent as the one she has been put in.” At the demonstration a change.org petition to move Hudson to a female prison with over 150,000 signatures was presented to the Ministry of Justice. Eventually Tara was thankfully moved to a female prison but I can’t help but have a sour taste in my mouth. This was not a one off case. A month after Hudson was moved, 21 year old Vicky Thompson, a transgender woman, was found dead in an all-male prison. Before sentencing she had expressed deep concern about where she would be placed and told friends she’d rather be dead than in a men’s prison. We need to question how in the 21st Century, in a country that prides itself on being tolerant, we still have situations where people are put at risk because of archaic understandings of gender?
The Metropolitan Police has revealed that hate crimes against transgender people has increased 25 per cent this year in London. On Trans Remembrance Day (November 20) it was also revealed that 271 transgender men and women have been killed this year across the world, and 27 in the US alone, the highest number of murders in years. This bleak number is a stark reminder of just how far the trans community have still to travel in their journey to acceptance. Being gay and coming from a mixed Middle Eastern background, I sympathise with anyone who has ever felt rejected by society. At the same time I am very much aware that I could not ever fully empathise with transgender men and women who, in some countries, fear even walking the streets without the chance of being hurt or killed. After Tara Hudson’s story and seeing the increase in the number of hate crimes, I wanted to understand further the horrors that the transgender community is still facing today.
might feel like a girl and the next month I might feel like a boy”. This is known as being ‘gender fluid’.
I met up with my friend Jade: we used to work together in a gay bar in Soho. Jade is a 20-year-old transgender girl, still in the process of transitioning. We met up in Brixton for some Jamaican food with a side order of rum n’ ting. I asked her when she first realised that, though she was assigned male at birth, she was actually a girl. She responded: “You know it all of your life, it can be a subconscious thing that you don’t fully understand. Thing is with gender – we aren’t even educated about it. We don’t know that your genitals don’t define your gender. I had no idea about any of this stuff.
Love of my life – Australian Orange Is The New Black actress – Ruby Rose has always been vocal about identifying as gender fluid and has previously criticised society’s rigidity over gender identities. In an interview with Elle magazine she said: “Gender fluidity is not really feeling like you’re at one end of the spectrum or the other. For the most part, I definitely don’t identify as any gender. I’m not a guy; I don’t really feel like a woman, but obviously I was born one. So I’m somewhere in the middle, which – in my perfect imagination – is like having the best of both sexes. I have a lot of characteristics that would normally be present in a guy and then less that would be present in a woman. But sometimes I’ll put on a skirt – like today.”
She continued: “But then I saw someone posting online about gender dysphoria and I clicked on it and started to try and understand transgender people out of sympathy. I started reading about it and suddenly it just hit me, I started crying and realised ‘Shit. This explains my whole life’. I have gender dysphoria.”
This got me thinking, I’ve never felt comfortable in a dress and anyone who knows me will know I’m a bit of a ‘tomboy’ in personality. As a child, much to my mother’s dismay, I lived in khaki, baggy trousers. I can even remember at 16 asking organisers of my prom at college if I could wear a suit instead of a dress (and being told a dress was compulsory). The idea of wearing a dress totally stresses me out. To me, they’re just impractical and make me feel awkward. I guess this gave me a slightly better understanding of my personal take on gender fluidity. Children should be allowed to wear and play with whatever they want.
For those of you who don’t know, gender dysphoria is when a person feels distressed or uncomfortable because their biological sex and gender identity do not match. Jade carried on to explain: “It’s not the defining thing for being trans but this is what made me realise I was born a girl. I was 18 at the time. I wish I had been educated on it before because I didn’t know this was even possible – I had all these confusing feelings and had been depressed since I hit puberty, really depressed and having no idea why. I had a lot of things I felt uncomfortable with and then suddenly knowing what it was to be transgender and that it was possible for someone with the ‘male anatomy’ to be a girl, it really helped me understand who I was.” Singer Lily Allen recently posted a meme for Trans Awareness Week showing a picture of a brain with an arrow pointing toward it saying ‘gender is up here’ and a picture of underwear with an arrow pointing down to it with the caption ‘not down there’. In school we are taught that gender is solely linked to genitals but there is more than enough evidence and experts to show that gender is a lot more complex than that and is mental, not physical. Let me put it this way, once upon a time we were taught that the world was flat. Christ, people even believed that if you swam far enough you’d fall off the edge of earth. That sounds ridiculous now doesn’t it? Well, that’s how ridiculous transphobic people are going to sound if they carry on believing the human mind is as straightforward and black and white as their own. As much as people love to say: “Omg, I wish I was born a guy: no pregnancy or periods” or “I wish I was a girl: get drinks bought for me and skip club queues”, the reality of it is, if your brain wasn’t programmed to the body you were born in, you’d probably feel trapped, scared and confused. Not only do transgender people have to deal with that aspect of it, they also have to deal with cisgender (a person who identifies with the gender they were born with) people showing hatred and prejudice toward them because they don’t understand and feel they are somehow being ‘deceived’. On this Jade says: “People just don’t understand it – people have no idea what it is. People still think it’s just wanting to be another gender. I think a lot of people just see transgender people as these kind of freaks. They just don’t understand it. So with ignorance comes hate and discrimination”. Hate crime is a product of ignorance. But in an age where we have information readily available to us at the touch of a finger on our smartphones, is there an excuse for it any more? I attended a panel discussion at UAL on trans visibility in the 21st century. It was here that I learnt that everyone has a different idea on what gender is. It seems to be a unique and personal thing differentiating for each person. After the panellists were asked how to define gender – one person replied: “I’ve been trying to define gender my whole life. I change all the time, sometimes I
“In school we are told gender is solely linked to genitals but there is more than enough evidence to show it is more complex than that”
At the panel talk I spoke to 23-year-old trans activist Charlie Craggs who has just appeared on the BBC speaking about transphobia. We had a long chat, spoke about everything from the LGBT* community not doing enough to support transgender men and women to transphobia in universities and a campaign she has launched called Nail Transphobia. We also spoke about the importance of having gender-neutral toilets in learning spaces (there’s currently a campaign running by the students union at UAL to get them put in place). Charlie explained that she felt uncomfortable and even scared at times to use gender-specific toilets all through secondary school, college and uni before she was trans. She went on to say: “I went to the same school for seven years and went through my entire time there without using the school toilets out of fear for my safety. I remember holding a wee in from first period to when I got home at 4.30 once. I was in agony for seven hours. Then on my last day of school I was about to sit my final A-level exam but really needed a wee and knew I wouldn’t fulfil my potential in the exam if I was in pain for three hours but was too scared to use the toliets, so I had to walk twenty minutes to the nearest tube station to use the toilets there. Luckily I got back just in time for the exam and still got 100 per cent but I shouldn’t have to walk twenty minutes to feel safe.” I’ve never really understood the arguments against gender-neutral toilets. The main ones seem to be “I don’t want to wait in line for a long time” and “I don’t want to have to use a toilet with piss on it”. These arguments seem pretty invalid to me because the majority of us have all been to house parties and festivals. House parties and festivals are full of big groups of intoxicated people – do you stop and think “actually I’m not going to use this toilet because – God forbid – the other sex has used it”? Or do you think, this is a toilet. I need to use this toilet. Some of you may feel campaigning for gender-neutral toilets is petty, but making small changes like this or not giving children gender-specific pink or blue toys, changing the language we use, attending protests, allowing people to wear whatever they want and so on will eventually soften society’s rigid attitudes toward gender. Once attitudes change, we will all have a better understanding of one another, move forward as a society and hopefully more lives will be saved. 17
Originally published in Artefact #9 The Space issue, March 2016
Words: Sara Gharsalli Images: Ulysse Navaro
THE TRUTH ABOUT
JIHADI CENTRAL Residents of Molenbeek have been implicated in numerous terror attacks. We visited the Brussels suburb to find out what’s going on
Three months after the Paris attacks, international headlines and televised debates caused anger in Molenbeek. Police made arrests in the Brussels district after it was revealed four of the jihadis involved in the November Paris attacks lived in the area. In May 2014, four people were shot at the Jewish Museum in Brussels by Mehdi Nemmouche, a 29-year-old French national of Algerian origin who had travelled to Syria to join ISIS and had spent time in Molenbeek. In August an attempt was overpowered on the express train near the French-Belgian border. The gunman also lived in the district and spent time in the local mosques. “Almost every time there’s a link with Molenbeek,” Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said. “Now we’ll have to get repressive. It’s been a form of laissez-faire and laxity. Now we’re paying the bill.” Police raids were made in Molenbeek and 16 people were arrested in connection with the Paris attackers, after it emerged that the Abdeslam brothers and the suspected ring leader, who took part in the Bataclan shootings, were on a terrorist watch list given by Belgian secret service to Francoise Schepmans, the mayor of Molenbeek. The fact hat the jihadists had close links to the neighbourhood in Europe’s capital didn’t surprise the locals in Molenbeek. Many gathered at the Grand Place in the centre of Molenbeek after the attacks in Paris to light up candles with Mohamed Abdeslam, brother of the two jihadi, who condemned the killings. At the Grand Place there were more cameras and journalists than residents, the media presence angered some locals. Intellectuals and social workers denounced the media ghettoisation of Molenbeek, and the blame heaped on the families and locals of the neighbourhood. In Belgian radio stations and newspapers, there’s a fierce debate about governmental failures to acknowledge the deeper misery the district faced for decades. What does Molenbeek and the strong links it has with jihadi tells us about the Belgian state? Molenbeek is only a 15-minute walk from the European institutions in the centre of Brussels, close to the canal which splits the city in half. It’s one of the city’s 19 boroughs but feels very different from central Brussels. While walking down the narrow commercial streets of the district on a late Friday afternoon, I saw a boubou-dressed Christian black man speaking Camerounese on his cell phone; an elderly Algerian woman in a hijab who answered in Arabic when I asked her for help to find my way. Muslim men in djellabahs’ walked 18
“In Belgium the political class is out of touch with the lives of the disadvantaged, let alone its young generation” briskly to arrive in time for the second last prayer and two Turkish girls walked me to the community centre Le Foyer, which is run by Johan Leman, a long-time resident of Molenbeek. The people I met through my investigation were charming and helpful, yet for a time I felt uneasy walking past some cafes with no or little female presence. Maghrebi cafes are part of the metropolitan culture in France and Belgium, where African and North-African men meet up to socialise. As in most Arab countries, men consume large amount of coffee and cigarettes sitting out on the pavement terrace watching passersby. My friend Jade, who lives in the area, tells me that she often quickens her pace when we are walking past these cafes. “You know how we kind of feel watched,” she tells me. “I just don’t want to be annoyed, so I speed up.” Social housing stands next door to private homes, interspersed with refurbished factories and warehouses dating from the industrial revolution. Molenbeek was once the most thriving industrial neighbourhood of Brussels but social, industrial and economic decline have left it in a poor state. Some areas resemble slums, uncollected bins and graffiti-covered walls exacerbate the wretched landscape. In some parts of Molenbeek 80 per cent of Belgian citizens are of Moroccan origin. The
district is home to generations of immigrants, from the first Italians and Spanish migrants in the 1940s to the recent waves of Arabs, Turkish and Africans. One of the key features of Molenbeek is its large young population, with 28 per cent of the population aged under 18. A demographic explosion had spread across the neighbourhood over the last decade, with a 36 per cent increase of children aged three to five. Many of these youngsters are the children or grandchildren of those who came to work after the 1964 labour treaty between Turkey, Morocco and Belgium. Lowskilled workers were needed for construction work, such as the Brussels underground train; jobs that the Belgians didn’t want. The recent media portrayal of Molenbeek as a “breeding ground of terrorism” and “Europe’s jihadi central” echoes the moral panic international broadcasters spread following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January 2015, with Fox News in the USA claiming that Birmingham was a “Muslim city and no-go area for non-Muslims”. At the same time in January a well-known war photographer living in the Brussels-district published a scathing piece in the Politico Europe website. “I finally left Molenbeek in 2014. It was not out of fear. The tipping point, I remember, was an encounter with a Salafist, who tried to convert me on my street. It boiled down to this: I could no longer stand to live in this despondent, destitute, fatalistic neighbourhood.” Photographer Teun Voeten isn’t the only one who publicly announced his departure from Molenbeek. Professional footballer Romelu Lukaku said he wanted to sell his house due to fear of terrorism, a statement in stark contrast with colleague Vincent Kompany who defended the neighbourhood against media demonisation. Hélène Detroz works with young professional mothers in need of day care. She came from Liège in the 1990s with her husband Thierry and their two young daughters. The couple enjoy living in Molenbeek, the “multiculturalism and cheap rent” were incentives for them to move in the area. When I ask Hélène about the family’s social life, she tells me her two young daughters don’t want to live in Molenbeek anymore. “My girls don’t hang out in the area, nor do they invite friends at home,” Hélène says. Many corner shops and cafés in Molenbeek are just fronts for drug dealing, Hélène Detroz tells me, adding that most of these clandestine businesses have been known by the local authorities for some time. Brahim Abdeslam, one of those involved in the November at
tacks in Paris, was the owner of the Café des Béguines in Molenbeek, which closed after the police found the venue was used for illegal drug dealing. The majority of the mosques in the district are religiously pluralists within Islam, combining Tariq Ramadan followers and more radical imams such as Rachid Abou Houdeyfa. There are few official mosques which the Belgian government finance—budget deficit and imams’ wages are covered- as the biggest mosques “don’t want to be held accountable,” says Johan Leman of Le Foyer community centre, adding: “They receive black finance from Qatar and Saudi Arabia with ‘volunteers’ paid off the books.” For the Brussels minister Rachid Madrane: “The original sin in Belgium was to give the keys of Islam to Saudi Arabia in 1973.” In 1969 King Faycal of Saudi Arabia offered generous donations for the victims of a deadly fire in Brussels. To thank him and to facilitate oil contracts, the King of Belgians decided to hand over the keys of the Oriental Pavillon in the capital’s Cinquantenaire park. The Belgium Islamic and Cultural Centre (ICC) and the European headquarters for the Worldwide Islamic league were built in, both NGOs that played key roles in the spread of Saudi Wahhabism in Belgium. There’s another branch of mosque less transparent with its religious teaching and practices. Prayer halls, which can be placed anywhere, from small community buildings to upstairs rooms in cafés. “That is where radicalisation can start,” says Leman. “Belgians have known for years where it [radicalisation] happens, but they turn a blind eye to the problem.” In Brussels-West, a poverty crescent has spread, from Saint-Josse to Shaerbeek through Molenbeek. These districts have one thing in common; the proportion of young people in the global population is substantially bigger than in the rest of Brussels. The booming birth rate in the area led to a shortage of places in nurseries and primary schools in Molenbeek. Johan Leman says the schooling system is discriminatory, with little cohesive structure to integrate those who just arrived to Belgium. Classroom overcrowding and lack of integration in the education system leaves many young people behind. In Molenbeek 52 per cent of young people aged between 18 and 24 leave secondary school without any qualifications. Having no diplomas makes it harder for young people to enter the job market. There is proportionally more unemployment in Molenbeek when compared to the regional average. 45 per cent of those aged between 18 and 24 are unemployed, a figure that has been rocketing since the 1980s. On January 10, the Brussels government launched a new work scheme to bring employers near the canal, where the poorest districts, from Anderlecht to Shaerbeek through Molenbeek, are located. Local governments allowed businesses to pay less council tax on condition they settle near the canal to give young people work and contacts. There are few jobs remain in the lower-skilled sector with German food company Lidl and call-centres. For those who manage to climb up the social ladder, moving out of Molenbeek is often an indication of success. “It has to do with the psychology of upward mobility,” Johan Leman says: “No one wants to write in their CV that they come from Molenbeek.” In 2010 former mayor Philippe Moureaux set up a regeneration scheme to attract the middle class to Mo20
lenbeek. However those who moved to the area aren’t taking part in local life, as politician Sarah Turine explains. “The problem is that the newcomers don’t want to put their kids in the local schools, nor do they want to shop here. They’d rather cross the canal.” Discrimination from employers due to race or location in Belgium echoes the bias against Muslims in France. When I met Aussama, a law student at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), he tells me having an Arabic name and living in Molenbeek were double barriers preventing him getting a job. “At one point I thought I’d change my name to one that sounds more western,” he tells me. According to the latest report from the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), 37.5 per cent of discrimination complaints when applying for a job are racial, leading to an “ethnic stratification” in the labour market. To have a better chance to get a job interview, Aussama decided to take his friend’s address in Schuman, close to the European Parliament.
Johan Leman is in his 40s in the film and already a vocal campaigner for change in the district. He warns of the explosive rebellion young people might turn to, at a time when politicians have turned their back on them. Thirty years on and Leman has never had more work in his community centre, with journalists from around the world all wanting to know where the jihadists had come from. If the problem was known for more than three decades, why has so little been done? After the Paris attacks, the Interior Minister Jan Jambon, member of the Flemish nationalist party Nieuvw-Vlaamse Alliantie (N-VA), said he will “personally take care of Molenbeek”. In a bid to “clean up the district”, Jambon set up plans to search in every single house, a strategy seen as ridiculous by Leman, who works with families of those who have been radicalised. “He should’ve simply asked where extremism hides and he’ll get a straight answer,” Johan tells me, seemingly irritated of Jambon’s aggressive stance towards the Molenbeek population.
For the youngest of Brussels, getting out of Molenbeek is more difficult. In May 2008, a study at the ULB
On February 5, the Plan Canal, the new anti-terrorism strategy, was unveiled to the public. Reinforcement of police presence in Molenbeek and seven other districts was the main highlight of the plan, with 21.8 million euros (£17.01 billion) and 485 more police in the area.
“Molenbeek’s failures have shown the world how divided Brussels is, despite being one of the richest cities in Europe”
A “system of apartheid” has formed in Brussels, as Paul Yacob, a police complaints’ officer, told the BBC at a police training academy in January. He denounced the governmental response as out of touch from the reality in Molenbeek. According to Yacob, new recruits have little understanding of the youth culture or Islam. Few of the security staff come from Molenbeek or speak Arabic, a problem for the Muslim community which represents 25 per cent of the population in the district.
showed that those with poor socio-economic backgrounds hardly left their neighbourhoods to use new urban spaces, when social codes and language constitute barriers for the disaffected youth. “There are really rich ‘closed areas’ in Brussels,” Jade tells me, after visiting one of her classmate in Uccle, who she described as a bobo. The pejorative term is used for the upper middle-class children of the 1960s generation, meaning bourgeois bohemian.
What will happen to Molenbeek in the following months, and years to come? Molenbeek’s failures have shown the world how divided Brussels is, despite being one of the richest cities in Europe. What struck me most was the immense fracture between the cleanliness and spacious avenues of central Brussels and the narrow and grim corners of Molenbeek, just a few train stops away. The machinery of Belgian burueacracy creates Kafkaesque nightmares. Because of the complex Brussels-Flanders divide, which makes financial funds for services and infrastructures harder to distribute effectively, taking Molenbeek out of its misery is a challenge for local politicians and social workers. The Flemish government has cut all funding for Le Foyer, which has been central to the social cohesion of minorities and young people. On February 8, 29 police staff out the 50 hired by the Interior minister Jan Jambon arrived in Molenbeek to fight radicalisation and criminality with the help of local security agencies. If Jan Jambon wishes to “clean up” Molenbeek, he is going to have a hard time gathering support in Brussels, where his repressive strategy is perceived as a political stunt.
51 per cent of people living of Molenbeek do not pay council taxes and 57 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line. The growing number of people who aren’t paying council taxes, combined with harsh economic contraction, left the district close to bankruptcy last April. Lack of schools, little public or private investments and feeling of insecurity are all agents in the emergence of radicalisation.
In Belgium the political class is out of touch with the lives of the disadvantaged, let alone its young generation. The anger and despair felt by those living in Molenbeek long before the rise of radicalisation reveals another side of Europe’s capital. For too long the Belgium state has ignored the social and economic problems its poorest citizens face.
In 1987 Flemish TV VRT broadcasted interviews with social workers warning of the dangers of neglect in Molenbeek, leaving the ground fertile for religious radicalisation and petty criminality.
Today Molenbeek is paying a high price for the nation’s neglect and laissez-faire and its most vulnerable young people are trying to fill the void the dysfunctional state left behind, at huge cost to the whole of Europe.
Originally published in Artefact #7 The Renewal issue, December 2015
Words: Josh Potter Images: Josh Potter & Tania Beck
CULTURE IN A CAN From 80s graffiti to the contemporary London street art scene, we delve into a thriving underground culture 22
Back in the 80s the break-dancing scene from New York had moved across the ocean to Britain, bringing with it a new and exciting subculture for much of Britain’s young to immerse themselves in. These break-dancers carried around linos (made from linoleum) that were used as floor covering while dancing. Each break-dancer would have his or her own lino, which they would tag with their name to claim ownership. Many of these break-dancers would then go out at night, tagging the same name that was on their linos on to trains, bus stops, and alley walls – pretty much any spare wall they could find, the riskier the better. This is how graffiti – also known as tagging – started in London. But it’s more complicated than that. The taggers got better at what they did and began to experiment with style and abilities, and to write things other than just their name: crew names, political messages, defiance statements. It was from here that graffiti artists in London began to emerge. Known as writers, these artists were getting better and the art was getting bigger. One of the areas in London that became notorious for graffiti in the 80s and became one of its central hubs was Westbourne Park, in the borough of Kensington
and Chelsea. In this area, graffiti gangs would patrol their artwork, making sure nobody was taking any pictures and trying to steal their style. Steam156, a graffiti artist since the mid-80s, has been documenting graffiti in London by taking those pictures since he started. “Back then [the writers involved with gangs] didn’t like people taking photos of their work because everybody had this idea that if someone’s taking photos of your work they’re going to bite your style. So they would hang around and they would wait and as soon as they caught you taking photos of their work, that’s it, they would take your camera, your trainers, your money, your wallet, absolutely everything.” Steam156 got robbed three times while trying to take photos of the artwork. He admits that this were out of his own naivety, such as when a group of guys approached him telling him there was even cooler artwork in one of the alleys. He followed and was confronted with knives and bats and asked to hand over all he had. It didn’t take long for Steam156 to get smart though. “I would leave my house around six o’clock in morning in Croydon to get up to Westbourne Park for maybe about eight/nine o’clock. I would get my photos and then get out of there as quick as I can.” 23
This was how he documented what nobody outside the scene seemed to care about at the time. About 20 new pieces of artwork were being painted a week and it seemed he was the only one photographing them. These were the days before the internet and, he says, things were significantly harder. Nowadays the scene is far less hostile and if you visit Westbourne Park you don’t need to be afraid of getting your phone stolen if you decide you do want to take some photos.
“you look at what [graffiti artists] were doing in 198586, it beats anything they are doing today.” Street art, it seems, is currently experiencing that heyday. “I think we’re in the golden age,” says Gary. “I think that street art is going to struggle [in the future] because the reason it’s in areas like Shoreditch is because it’s taken years for the area to get to the point where it can be a canvas for artists and it has become what it is.” Part of this struggle is due to what Gary calls, ironically, Boris Johnson’s “literal wholesale vandalism of the East End,” where old buildings perfect for graffiti and street art are being knocked down to make way for new skyscrapers. As this occurs, street art in London “becomes less about the community [and] purely about going on to the social media platform”. It’s now, Gary says, about getting the most likes and having the most popular images. “It’s a tricky one. If an artist can get paid to sell art then that is an amazing thing. There have been companies around for years doing advertisements with street art and graffiti because companies have always wanted to buy into cool. [But] now what we’re starting to see is an advert that doesn’t look like an advert. Everyone realises that artists have to live and make money but [now] it comes to the detriment of the scene and all the hard work that everyone’s put in.”
Battles among graffiti crews began as soon as graffiti did. Everybody wanted to challenge everyone else to see who was best. In 1987, six members from Nonstop art and NO LIMITZ crew got together to create the biggest battle that London had ever seen. They wanted to challenge every artist in London to see who was best. So they chose a wall called Earth’s Edge in Westbourne Park and they took their ladders and spray cans and painted the entire wall. The goal was to keep it as quiet as possible to begin with but the work was so big and so impressive that everybody soon knew about it. And the moment everybody knew about, nobody challenged them. They had won the battle with no question and no competition; a few years later several of them had stopped painting altogether. “They decided ‘there’s nobody better than us, we’re just going to stop’. If they carried on I couldn’t imagine the standard they would be painting these days, they were incredible,” says Steam156. Although the standard of graffiti in London is still better, Steam156 argues, than anywhere else in the world, it isn’t the same as it used to be. With gangs like Nonstop arts leaving the scene and the difficulty of painting on such a grand scale, nowadays the scene, he feels, isn’t as exciting. Despite the skills of some of the artists, much of the public remained hostile towards graffiti, viewing it as nothing more than vandalism. Partly because of this and partly because of a desire to explore other styles of art, many graffiti artists started dabbling in other forms and different artists began to emerge, experimenting with different styles of art. Banksy appeared on the scene as one of the first artists to use stencils and focus on art outside of writing. Other artists began to experiment with block letters. Suddenly the public began to be interested in art that was popping up on the street. More artists came out of the woodwork and pushed the boundaries for what defined art on the streets. C215 started using stencils to add multiple layers and created intricately detailed pieces. To make them, while also hiding from the watchful eye of the law, he would carry around all his stencils, quickly paint one layer on the wall of his choosing, walk around the block while it dried, and then come back. He would do this as many times as needed, sometimes working on multiple pieces at the same time. Gregos, who started as a graffiti artist, began experimenting with moulds and, if you look carefully, brightly painted moulds of his face can be seen around London and particularly in the East End. Each is different; some are just for fun while others have a political angle. Space Invader decided to experiment and use bathroom tiles in his art, in some cases abseiling down in the middle of the night to put up a retro image that looked strikingly like a creature from Galaga; Jonesy, who works in the bronze industry, melts down the metal in his spare time, creates small sculptures, and stands them on sign posts for anyone aware enough to notice. With the emergence of artists like these, what was happening on the street didn’t seem to fit into the definition of graffiti. Street art seemed a far more appropriate title. Unfortunately, the line between street art and graffiti isn’t as clear cut as many would like. Tagging a bus stop is definitely graffiti and sticking a mushroom on top of a building (Christiaan Nagel) is definitely
“The only way that real street art is going to survive is if people keep going out and doing it illegally” street art; but what about writing in block letters? Gary from Alternative London has a pretty good way of distinguishing between the two. “If you like it, it’s probably street art. If you don’t, it’s probably graffiti,” he jokes as he sends us around the tour of street art in London’s East End. Gary has been running street art tours for several years now and he says: “What’s happened over the last few years is I think it’s actually split up. When record companies started to sell music [they] branched out into different genres and that’s what we’re getting [with street art].” Several artists now hold gallery openings, where customers can check out and buy their work; Christiaan Nagel recently put up a new mushroom on Brick Lane that stands about three to four foot tall and would have sold for about £1500; and David Cameron even gave Barack Obama a painting by the street artist Ben Eine, saying he was one of his wife’s favourite artists. Street art stems from and is closely connected to graffiti and, unless the artist is given permission, it is still illegal. This, Gary mentions during one of his tours, raises a few questions. Someone caught painting on a wall can not only be fined but face jail time as well. Very often, he tells us, the street artists caught are either given a warning or ignored completely, and the graffiti artists are given far less leniency. Graffiti had its heyday in the 80s and early 90s, with graffiti artist Steam156 saying:
Ultimately, it is about making a living as an artist but Gary believes there is something else more important than that to keeping the scene ‘organic’ and real. Gary sees the importance for artists to go out and tag their name or their views on a wall, believing it to be a crucial form of self-expression that many people, especially teenagers, in some of London’s East End don’t have. In fact, he thinks “that graffiti is more important than street art at the minute,” and not only that but also “the only way that real street art is going to survive is if people still go out and do stuff illegally.” Street art and graffiti, for Gary, are ways of giving voices to those who currently don’t have them. In a coffee shop on the edge of Old Spitalfields Market, he speaks with passion and caution about the changing East End. “I think what would be really beneficial for the scene at the minute is to get a lot more young local people to use their creativity as a platform to talk about problems that they have within their own communities.” The borough of Tower Hamlets, where the East End is situated, has the second highest unemployment rate in London according to the London Poverty Profile and, though this figure has fallen in the last few years, nearly a third of all young people live in families that claim tax credits. The cost of housing is unaffordable for many who call it home. Gary believes that graffiti and street art can play a big role in turning the lives of these young people around, and Alternative London run workshops in the East End for that reason. People have been writing on walls for thousands of years and buildings made of glass and steel, it seems, aren’t going to change that. Citizen Kane, another prominent street artist, puts up elaborate sculptures on the sides of walls, calling them 3D street art. Initially these were pulled off the wall and thrown away but over the years he has become somewhat of a glue expert, developing stronger and stronger adhesive and better moulds so that these sculptures prove very difficult to remove. In a similar way, the artists of the street will evolve to continue painting, moulding, and shaping the streets near which they live. Whether it’s a mushroom on a rooftop, a big painting on the wooden wall surrounding a building sight, or a strangely written name tagged on the corner of a newly painted wall, it’s all connected. Some of it may not look as pretty as other parts of it, but it all plays a key role in society and comes from a history of rebellion, community, and self-expression. 25
Originally published in Artefact #6 The Change issue, November 2015
Words: Maya Ladwa Images: Ian Anderson/The Designers Republic™
DON’T BE A CUNT ALL YOUR LIFE The philosophy of Ian Anderson, who wanted to be a writer but started as a musician and became one of the most influential designers of his era.
“I’d be obsessively looking through every single album in every single rack checking for new releases I knew wouldn’t be there, discussing the finer points of obscure progressive rock and the finer details of every triple gatefold pre- sub- and post- Roger Dean, Barney Bubbles and/ or Hipgnosis record sleeve”, he says, citing some of the influential sleeve designers of the era.
For aspiring designers looking for that ace up their sleeves in order to move into the realm of success, the advice, “don’t be a cunt all your life” is one that graphic designer and founder of the highly successful ‘brain aided design’ company—The Designers Republic™, Ian Anderson, believes you should follow. Having attracted many notable clients such as record label Warp Records, Psygnosis, Nickelodeon and Coca Cola to name a few, Anderson and his company have left an indelible impression on the British design scene. The company is famous for an anti-establishment approach exemplified by defiant sloganeering such as ‘Work, Buy, Consume, Die’ and ‘Design Will Eat Itself.’ Initially they started out designing sleeves for bands and albums; Age of Chance’s 1987 One Thousand Years of Trouble, artists such as Pop Will Eat Itself, Orb and electronic music duo Autechre. The artwork is a combination of pop culture fused with a futuristic style and elements of Japanese anime. However the creative powerhouse behind the artwork never actually studied design. Instead Anderson was a philosophy student at the University of Sheffield, hugely involved in the local music scene so becoming a designer wasn’t even a fleeting thought. His aspirations entailed living life and promoting bands but nothing set in stone, “I didn’t aspire to anything in particular, I was just enjoying what life put in front of me.” Becoming a designer was something Anderson fell into after he started producing covers for a band he was managing called Person to Person but he feels his calling should have been a writer. “I understand the semantics of visual communication and understand people in and out of the context of the bigger picture. But I should have been a writer.” Being an ardent music lover from the tender age of 10, and an only child who was, by his own description, full of self importance, Anderson was more interested in spending his pocket money on music albums rather than sweets and toys. “From an early age, maybe 10 or 11, circa 1971-72, I’ve been a music obsessive, going to all sorts of amazing gigs with the ‘big boys’ who lived next door, spending all my pocket money on 7” singles, and then on albums when I could afford more.
Aphex Twin, Syro 2014, Warp Records, London
“I’m an only child— way too full of selfimportance to follow someone else’s lead.”
Primarily the motivation and inspiration behind many of Anderson’s designs stem from pop culture. “I’m interested in people, primarily. What winds us up and what makes us tick... and why. I’m interested in art as an expression of who we are and who we want to be and in how we see, even consume art, as indicators of who we are and who we want to be seen to be. Pop culture is a way of measuring this.” However, when asked about any influential designers that impacted his career, he modestly answers “for me there’s genuinely no hierarchy of influence. I’m an only child — way too full of self importance to follow someone else’s lead... of course I’m inspired by a lot of stuff but I’m rarely truly interested in who’s done it. The reason I’m inspired is relative to my response not to the author’s creation”. Perhaps he is better as someone that influences others with his unique and untraditional spirit which sets him apart from many designers of today. The best thing an artist can feel about his work which Anderson is in agreement with, is that he can make a difference. Anderson lived with a trade unionist father during the seventies at the time of the ‘three-day-week’ when businesses were only allowed to open part time in order to save electricity. Home use of electricity was rationed too, with planned power cuts across the country, during which time the public got used to living by candlelight. This was against a background of strikes, industrial unrest and mass unemployment which formed the context to the rise of the punk movement. There are many different descriptions of Anderson’s work but anti establishment seems to be a recurring theme which could be due to the influence of punk ideologies to which he was exposed. Yet Anderson objects to this and says, “I don’t know that we are anti-establishment, I just don’t accept other people’s versions of a truth. Given the ever increasing degrees by which we are right royally fucked over by what you might perceive to be the establishment, I’m fucking gobsmacked that being anti-establishment isn’t the norm.”
While his friends were off playing with cars, balls and having tennis lessons, Anderson proved at a young age that he was different from the rest, a sign that he was developing into a person who does not conform to norms. This is something which reflects in his insouciant communication and subversive designs. His dedication to put creativity first rather than business, went against the tide of the design industry and comes from his passion and strong belief in what he does. The young Ian Anderson used to spend his afternoon in David’s Records in Bracknell, just east from his place of birth, South Croydon. He gained impressive comprehensive knowledge of genres pertaining to seventies rock without listening to the music itself.
Subsequently this set the tracks for him to follow and lead to the formation of his audacious punk band The Infra Red Helicopters whilst he was still at school. He had designed his first EP cover using his ‘mum’s Remmington typewriter and bingo pens’ that were spread out across the dining table. When asked whether there was a link between this and the decision to form TDR™, he feels it wasn’t a direct one, “although with the passage of time the connection between the two becomes more tangible.
Autechre, Oversteps 2009, Warp Records London, Limited edition double sided poster, part of Oversteps vinyl box-set
Artists put a lot of work into their designs since it is also a representation of their personalities or a meaning they are trying to convey to the world but many people cannot see past the visual styling of a design. “I find it disap-
Atoms Vectors Pixels Ghosts™, TDR™ Sequential Graphics Supernova 2012 — 2014, Art Intervention S1 Artspace, Sheffield
pointing that people don’t bother to think, to consider that there is, or even may be a concept behind what we do — that there is a lazy assumption that good design is actually just visual styling.” Having his feet firmly set in the industry for over 25 years, it can be difficult to separate oneself from the role that is constantly played out on a daily basis. Many designers and artists seem to wind up submerging themselves into their careers and forget who they were before it all started. The Designers Republic™ has always been synonymous with Anderson; however in 2009 the company went into voluntary liquidation which was the first time he was separated from the clutches of the brand that he had created. “Being Ian Anderson allowed me to start working as a consultant for other agencies in a way that being Ian Anderson from The Designers Republic™ obviously wouldn’t / couldn’t allow, and in some ways it felt good to shake off the shackles of thinking and doing something relative to peoples pre-conceptions.”
“It felt good to shake off the shackles”
In terms of whether Ian Anderson the designer is different to Ian Anderson the person, Anderson naturally claims that “the designer isn’t different to Ian Anderson the person, he’s just one facet of the whole, in the same way Ian Anderson the dad is too.” With tDR™ back in full force after Anderson bought back the company he has countless exciting upcoming projects such as designing “music-related interference” for Autechre, Aphex Twin, Eivind Aarset, Olsson, The Orb, Ambiq, New Atlantis, Originator Sound and Warp. There are also a few new magazines such as Transformat and 50 years of British Road Signs. This load of projects represents his commitment and enthusiasm for the industry and his passion. Becoming a successful designer “isn’t drawing, it’s thinking. If you don’t understand your client, you can’t solve their problem. And if you don’t understand their audience you can’t communicate the solution. Ian Anderson practices what he preaches; he’s a successful designer because he hasn’t been a cunt all his life. 27
Originally published in Artefact #6 The Change issue, November 2015
Words: Natalia Carcame Photos: Sara Furlanetto
MIGRANTS IN ITALY The number of refugees arriving and living in Sicily is increasing rapidly – it’s a real emergency, and this became clear when I returned to my hometown, Messina, at the start of the summer.
Sicily is a coin with two faces: Italians are running away from their own disastrous economic situation while there are currently 78,000 migrants in the whole of Italy, 39,000 of them in temporary centres in Sicily. Until a few months ago, the main destination ports were Lampedusa, now famous worldwide and its name linked with the image of the 366 dead bodies floating off its coast in 2013, and the second largest city on the island, Catania, where this year a boat rescued off Libya’s northern coast by a Swedish vessel was found to contain the bodies of 46 people asphyxiated in the cargo hold. Since then, several other cities have become involved, Messina being one of them. It’s the meeting point between Sicily and the rest of the country, separated by a narrow strip of sea, right there where Odysseus almost gave up to the Sirens’ mellow voices. Since the beginning of 2015, 8,625 migrants have landed in my hometown. The Coast Guard Captain, Massimiliano Gatti, gives us a different figure when we paid him a visit, but so far the number has nearly doubled. It is a demonstration of how history repeats itself in an endless cycle. Sicily has been dominated since ancient times: first 28
Greece, then the Ottoman Empire and the Bourbon Dynasty. All of them wanted a piece of the island, attracted by its strategic position in the Mediterranean. Modern Sicilians are the descendants of different cultures and it’s ironic to think that some fear the idea of integration so much. Immigration opens old wounds of a history they would rather put in the drawer of memory; we’ve been migrants so many times, but we pretend we don’t know what it feels like. Gatti explained to us how the rescue process works: Most of the boats come from Libya, where smugglers have created an empire of human trafficking. The number of migrants they can fit into one boat usually ranges between 200 and 800. There are also many unaccompanied children. Gatti points to the data, which shows that out of all the minors that arrived in Sicily since January, one third of them was travelling alone. The boats usually call for help when they are still within Libyan waters; the request goes to Italy’s National Coast Guard in Rome, who locates them and chooses the most suitable port for the disembarkment. Nationalities are various. Most of them come from Nigeria, Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea. But there are also Egyptians, Moroccans, Syrians and Palestinians. I ask
Lines need tidying up
Gatti what happens to them once they arrive here, but he won’t give me an answer. He tells us to go to the Military Police Department, not before taking our numbers and giving us his, promising he will let us know when the next disembarkment will be. We go to “Questura”, the Italian Central Police Department – they send us to the Prefecture but the offices are closed and they can’t give us any further help. My friend Tania, who runs external activities for migrants, tells me that whoever wants to volunteer inside the temporary centres needs to submit an application form, which takes ages to even be considered and is often rejected. She thinks there is a reason behind it: social workers who are called to work with migrants all come from specific organisations and their compensation is high. It’s like a closed business, hence their reluctance to let other people get involved, although the need for additional help is high and urgent. I leave the bureaucracy behind me for the moment, and decide to visit a reception centre. There is one located only a ten-minute walk from my house. We go there in the evening. Despite it only being a stone’s throw away from the urban area, the place is known for being one of the poorest.I know that most of the citizens aren’t too happy
about this arrangement: they are not against migrants, they tell me, but against the Mayor’s decision to open up the centre right here. “It’s like he wants to hide them from the rich,” one man tells me. “I don’t hate migrants, but the Government should help us first”. “Don’t forget we’ve been migrants too,” an old man jumps in. He’s sitting right in front of his shop. “We went to New York and they used to hold us in detention like caged animals for months.” “We went there to work though” the guy replies. “We worked hard. Look at us there now”. That’s definitely a common argument, the whole idea that we’ve been migrants too, but better. Investment At the centre we have a conversation with Andrea, one of the social workers, who debunks other people’s idea that migrants are living off our money. He says that they receive a minimum amount of money, just €2.50, out of the funds allocated by the EU for the centres. The rest goes to local cooperatives and other private companies. It’s a big investment on the territory. Last year a recorded phone call between Salvatore Buzzi, who runs a cooperative called “29 Giugno” and one of his co-workers made the news. “Do you have any idea how much money migrants can make us?” he can be heard saying. “It’s better than drug trafficking. “There are so many volunteers coming here and wanting to help,” a language mediator, Aziz, says. “Those people would do that for free, but they are not allowed to because it’s not worth it.” He also thinks that it’s all business. For instance, a local brand of bottled water supplies water for every single centre existing on the island. Same goes for food, which is provided by certain well-known restaurants and definitely not for free, and clothes. Responsibility We ask him what happens to migrants once they arrive in Italy and he explains that, contrary to popular belief, nobody forces them to live at the centre or have their fingerprints taken. If they do give their fingerprints, they are not allowed to leave the country. If they don’t, they are free to go wherever they wish. And for most of them, Italy is not a definitive choice. “The Government doesn’t really want to take the responsibility for all of them” he adds. “That’s why they don’t insist”. Some of the migrants have been living in the centre for days, despite the fact that the structure should be an emergency option for no more than three nights after their arrival. There’s too many of them, and not enough facilities. We’re taken to the dining hall. It’s dinner time, and a group of people introduce themselves and invite us to sit at their table. I meet Uyi, from Nigeria, who is curious and asks me why we are here. When I tell him that I study journalism in London his eyes shine. He tells me he graduated in mass communication studies in Benin City, and that he used to work at a news agency. He also tells me about the corruption of the local press, and how the issues his country is facing are never covered in the news: between the economic crisis, Boko Haram’s attacks and a Government too weak to react, life has become dangerous. The migrants are not really keen on the food provided: a stereotypical pasta dish and bread. “This one is always complaining,” Andrea jokes in broken English. “Always saying I don’t like this, I don’t like that,” but it’s just good banter and the man takes it.
Lines need tidying up
He doesn’t want to tell me his name, but he says they all know him as Lucky.
Emergency and Save the Children, other than local health facilities and the PS (State Police). The rescue vessel is coming and there are 387 people expected to be on board: 258 men, 75 women and 54 children. The police are there to find any traffickers. I try to approach them but they just shake their heads: they can’t talk to me. Instead, I end up talking with Giovanni, a young social worker. I find him inside a green stand with other colleagues, and he tells me they are part of an organisation called “Ahmed” which takes care of minors with no family. Giovanni explains that traffickers don’t want to take the risk anymore.
We leave the dining hall to have a cigarette, and end up all together in the courtyard. The social workers stare at us but don’t say anything. Everyone asks us for a smoke and my pack finishes quite soon. The presence of the camera excites them, and we end up taking pictures for the next two hours. At some point, a Syrian family approaches us: a boy introduces himself as Baraa, and tells me he wants a group picture with me and his three siblings.
“They used to pretend they were migrants too and managed get away with it, but the police is [sic] more prepared now,” he says. He lowers his voice. “The last four, five disembarks, none of the boats were commanded. Traffickers know they will get arrested. They just board the migrants and leave them with no directions.” He tells me that sometimes the wrong people get arrested. “It happened before that people were held in custody and it turned out they were just refugees,” Giovanni says.
He speaks neither English nor Italian, and we have to resort to Google translate. I learn that Baraa is 21 and his father had died five days ago at a local hospital after arriving here in extreme conditions and falling in the water during the navigation. The rest of the family is here at the centre: his mother, his older brother with his wife and their three children. He asks me to add him on Facebook and we decide to meet again the day after. Baraa is really shy. We have some breakfast in the morning and I make him try typical Sicilian pastries. He tells us that he never goes out in the city because he’s scared of getting lost and nobody has ever shown him around before. Migrants are left to themselves. They have nowhere to go, nothing to do. I draw him a rough map of the city, so he can at least find a park not too far from the centre. In exchange, he tells me his story. He was a law student in Damascus, but the war led him and his family to flee to Tripoli, where he was working as a waiter. After Gaddafi’s fall, Libya imploded into chaos, and the civil war forced them to cross the sea to Europe. He has three other sisters in Syria who are married and didn’t want to leave the country. He fears for their safety. He tells me he used to play football in the Syrian second division, and I realise he must a really good player then. Football, like everything else, has been totally destroyed by war. While we go back to the centre, I think that this is what I find most difficult in doing journalism: there’s a line between objectivity and feelings, and it’s hard to balance them both. I feel sympathetic to the point I forget to take notes sometimes. At the centre we meet again with Aziz. He doesn’t let us inside this time, but he seems even more curious than the day before about our intentions. I tell him I just want to collect stories, and he says we should definitely meet “the artist”. “His name is Oseme and he’s a cartoonist,” he tells me. “A really good one. He drew everything he saw throughout his journey.” Oseme lives in another camp, on the opposite side of the city, so Aziz and I plan to meet the next day. He also mentions a new disembarkment in a couple of hours. We call the Coast Guard Captain and he assures us he will keep the promise and let us inside. Usually disembarkments are not open to the general public, and there are policemen at every entrance.
“It hits me how quickly their life is going by: there’s no time to process the grief.”
I remember a volunteer telling us that many migrants have reported cases of Italian officers talking with Libyans during the rescue operations, and that the possibility of them trying to find an agreement is not to be excluded. “It’s probably just speculation,” Giovanni comments and then excuses himself from the conversation as a huge cruise ship arrives just a few hundreds meters away from us. The rescue vessel approaching seems tiny in comparison. Once they get their feet on the ground, the migrants are provided with a small bag with a sandwich, water and a box of juice. They’re all given an identification number. Some of them lay on the ground, dehydrated and in need of medical assistance. We sit down with a group of Somali women. There are six of them, aged between 21 and 29; they are all friends and came here alone, except for one, Sameera, who brought her 15-year-old cousin with her. Amran, 28, is the only one who speaks English. She tells me they got lost as soon as they left Libya. They’ve been travelling for a week before arriving, with little food and water. There is a number of unaccompanied minors, 15 in all, put together in a group, and each is given a form to fill in. Unlike others, they will have to give their fingerprints. As a language mediator explains to me, the system will take care of them until they are adults, unless they are reunited with a relative who can provide for them. What happens after that is the synthesis of an unmanageable situation where they are all left on their own. The relations between local mafia and migrants is not really a mystery to anyone, and the chances of them running away and being sold to local crime organisations is high.
When we arrive at the port, I get the feeling that everyone here is used to seeing these scenes: so many people outside pass by but don’t stop and there’s no trace of local press beside a photographer and a cameraman.
There is a man seated on the floor who looks visibly drained of energy, with empty eyes. He senses that we’re just witnesses and asks us if he can have a cigarette. He introduces himself as Amir from Egypt; he’s only 19, but has been living in Libya for four years, working as a carpenter under extreme conditions. He hasn’t heard of his parents since he left home. Someone notices him and prompts him to stand up and follow the others, but he’s weak and he collapses.
There are different organisations around: The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR),
At this point a police officer questions our presence, and makes us leave. From outside, I can still see the
migrants waiting to get on the bus that will take them to the centres. It goes on for hours. The following day, we meet “the artist”, Oseme. He’s 33, from Nigeria, and he was studying Art and Design in Benin City before deciding to leave. He tells us he didn’t feel safe in his country any more, and that some of his attempts at satire have caused him problems. He talks slowly and weighs his words carefully, struggling to find the right ones. He admits he had no idea there were so many people trying to reach Europe. “Some of my friends left too,” he says, “but I didn’t know there were so many of us, from all around Africa. When I arrived here I realised to what extent Nigeria and other African states are cut off from the rest of the world”. Then, he asks for a piece of paper and a pen. He says he would like to tell us his story, but he feels more confident in writing. He stops after two pages and tells us he will get it done later, so we can have it the next day. There is no next day though, because other migrants are coming soon and the ones already at the centre are being moved to make new space. Oseme calls us from a public phone later in the evening to let us know, and we go to the camp to meet him. He comes out with his drawings under his arm, and his eyes shine and he lowers his voice when he talks about them, explaining how he felt the need to illustrate everything that happened to him during his journey. There is one that shows a Nigerian woman being raped in the desert; another one testifies how they were tortured by traffickers and held in tiny rooms for days while waiting for the next boat available. He is sharing something very personal with us and it’s hard to find the right words to say. It’s the last time we see him. A couple of days later Baraa, the Syrian boy, texts me to let me know that his father’s funeral will be held the next day. He timidly asks me to come, and gives me the number of a member of the local mosque who can explain to me where it is exactly located. The mosque is a big old building in the suburbs, one of the few living traces of Islamic architecture in the city. We remain in a room with the women while the function is held; his mother prays for a long time. They share their food with us, while Baraa’s brother is at the station accompanied with other members of the mosque to book train tickets to Munich. It hits me how quickly their life is going by: there’s no time to process the grief. I see a woman who is leaving behind her dead husband’s casket in an unknown land to which they probably will never return. It is clear that her pain is unbelievable. As winter approaches, the attempts by migrants to reach our coasts will be less frequent and the media coverage will eventually reduce to occasional updates. This island is left with the scars of another tragic summer where too many people have died in its waters. Sicily is not the anarchic Calais: It’s a place that has the potential to make things work, but its attempts clash with the internal issues of the territory, a corrupted bureaucracy and the maladministration of public money. Migrants end up in a bizarre world that it’s difficult to escape. Baraa and his family, despite the tragedy, are among the lucky ones. He gives me one of his bracelets before they leave. I hope that they will find their way, wherever they are headed. 31
Words: Elliot Haworth, Luke Barber Images: Arvi Domee
Our cross-London taxi races reveal which is the faster and cheaper way to get around town
There’s a picturesque romanticism to this city and the Black Cab is the epitome of this: the expectation of a cockney driven tour through the side-streets of the capital, orated in rhyming slang and arriving just in the nick of time evokes a nostalgia of simpler times. And yet, in my two years of living in London, I’ve only ever ridden in one, albeit reluctantly, and only because at 4:00am my battery-less phone left me without Uber. It’s become apparent that old-school cabbies, unlike me, aren’t the biggest fans of Uber. The app is generally cheaper and more efficient than Black Cabs, resulting in the shrinking and disruption of a livelihood and industry regulated since the times of Oliver Cromwell. In London and elsewhere cabbies have protested against the firm, bringing cities to their knees with ‘drive-slow’ traffic blockades that haven’t invoked much sympathy from anyone apart from other drivers. Their disdain is an unrivalled case of old vs new—it’s VHS vs DVD; Myspace vs Facebook or whatever might come next. The point being, that as technology 32
advances, so do the requirements of us; the consumer. And in a free market— shouldn’t we always come first? The latest furore over Uber comes from Transport for London (TfL) and isn’t short of a conspiracy against consumers. According to Boris Johnson, Mayor of London and Chair of TfL, the Uber app ‘circumvents the laws’ that apply to Black Cabs, so the answer is to create a ‘level’ playing field, that seems so far, to favour cabbies.
very crux of Uber’s success. It means a ban on drivers working for more than one taxi company—putting part time Uber drivers trying to make ends meet, out of a second job. The award for the most bizarre, anti-consumerist proposal from TFL, however, stipulates that passengers must wait a minimum of five minutes before getting in a car – meaning vulnerable people will be forced to stand around on street corners in the middle of the night.
He refers to laws exclusive to hackney carriages such as the ability to be hailed in the street. As it stands, any other cab must be booked through a third party, which arguably, the Uber app is.
A petition calling for TFL’s obstinate proposals to be dropped has reached over 130,000 signatures, citing ‘an end to the Uber you know and love today’ as their reason.
Presently cabbies have to pass CRB checks, whereas Uber drivers do not. Cabbies need to know London like the ‘back of their hand’ and pass a test called “The Knowledge”; Uber drivers, like everyone else, simply use GPS.
The petition suggests that instead of regulating a modern service to act in the same way as an outmoded one, a true level playing field could be created ‘by reducing today’s burdensome Black Cab regulations’ and replacing them with more accommodative, consumer friendly ones. So instead of bowing down to the old, embrace and assimilate the new.
The proposals from TFL are essentially a leap backwards to the 1970s, when Black Cabs were last regulated. This means banning the ability to show available cars on a map-based app—the
The question remains though: is Uber really as good as we think it is? Is it worth deregulating and accommodating?
As consumers—does it give us the best deal? I decided to enlist my friend Luke Barber and settle the score once and for all in the only way we knew how: a race across London. It’s Black cabs vs Uber. Old vs New. Analogue vs Digital. On your marks... RACE ONE—The Tourist Trap: Buckingham Palace to Tower Bridge. BLACK CAB: Luke PRICE: £29—reduced to £20 TIME TO ENTER CAB: Seconds TIME TAKEN TO DESTINATION: 46 minutes. The first thing to mention about taking a Black Cab to anywhere is the absence of cash points when you are in dire need of one. On the days when I am not desperate for hard currency, there are ATMs everywhere I look, but wandering around in the pouring rain there are none in sight. That said, with cash in hand, finding a taxi was a fantastically swift task. Stand by the side of any road in central London, doing your best hitchhikers grin and it isn’t long before a yellow taxi’s light screeches to a halt. The start is slow, roadworks and traffic lights leave
traffic trudging along at an amoeba’s pace and by the time we reach Westminster the journey has already cost me £9. I find myself wondering whether my £30 will cover the costs. My driver is Irish and before long I have heard his autobiography and his opinions on the current political classes. He takes enormous pride in his car and seems to enjoy roaming the streets looking for his next fare, but something is very clearly at the back of his mind. “This job won’t last,” he tells me with an air of grave foreboding. “There are too many drivers on the road now, I’m just glad I’m not one of the ones that need to earn £300 a day!” This said, when we arrive at our destination, no matter how much I plead, he knocks 9 quid off the meter to make it a round £20. “The traffic,” he says, “is no more my fault than it is yours.” UBER: Elliott PRICE: £12.46—reduced to £2.46 TIME TO ENTER CAB: 3 minutes TIME TAKEN TO DESTINATION: 33 Minutes I hate to think how many tourist’s snaps of Tower Bridge I managed to photobomb while standing in the rain, waiting for Luke to arrive. My driver, Shabbir, didn’t speak the best English I have to say. He did however, offer me a chewing gum and my choice of radio stations before I’d told him he was in a race across London; lovely chap, but the conversation wasn’t exactly riveting. If I was paying for conversation however, I’d book a psychiatrist. I wanted consumer value and speed, and on both those counts, Uber won—hands down. It’s worth noting that although my journey was only £12.46, in reality I only paid £2.46 because I got a ‘£10 off’ voucher for previously recommending a friend—so in the end, my fare was around 10 times cheaper than Luke’s.
“As far as value for the consumer goes, I’m convinced that Uber is a far superior service to the black cab.” not having to go back to an office for his next job and the sheer volume of pickups Uber provides him with means he makes more money. He picks his own hours; sees himself as being self employed and subsequently has more time to spend with his children while his wife works evenings. Uber smashed it on this occasion: it was faster, cheaper, took barely a moment to arrive and was a pleasant enough journey. As far as value for the consumer goes: I’m still convinced it’s a far superior service. RACE TWO: The Drunken Student: Dalston to Camden BLACK CAB: Elliott PRICE: £21.60 TIME TO GET IN CAB: Seconds TIME TAKEN TO DESTINATION: 18 minutes
We were both convinced before the race that the Black Cab driver with his ‘knowledge’ would prevail—but in reality Sat-Nav was king; Shabbir’s GPS told us where the traffic was, Luke’s cabbie could only guess.
“UBER DRIVERS DON’T KNOW ANYTHING” cried Ahmed, my cab driver, as we pulled away from Dalston. Luke and I had chips, a beer and got on our way at 12:30am—it was going to be tight: there were cabs and Ubers aplenty roaming the dark streets of East London. ‘They don’t pay TAX!’ he deplored: ‘the money they make goes abroad!’.
From the limited conversation I had with my Uber driver, he sung nothing but praises for the company he has only worked 6 months for. He earns slightly less per journey than his previous job as a minicab driver but the combination of
Clearly Ahmed, was not a fan of Uber. And to an extent, despite my insistence on the brilliance of the app, I can understand why. He, like my Uber driver from earlier, had also worked as a minicab driver, but instead of picking up a GPS,
studied for 3 years to pass ‘The Knowledge’. “You could buy car and GPS and be Uber driver tomorrow init!” he insisted, in broken Bangladeshi—English. And I suppose he’s right, really. I asked him about the star rating offered to Uber drivers and customers, which he deemed unnecessary because ‘government licence is better than all stars!’. It took me seconds to find a cab with its light on, and I was pleased to find a cabbie who, although didn’t partake in the ‘drive slow’ protest, was clearly vehemently against Uber. The journey was fun, he was chatty (although using his phone while driving on occasion) and we arrived in Camden in 18 minutes. As I got out of the cab to write down the cost of my journey however: Luke arrived, seconds behind me. Did the knowledge give me an upper hand? No. Was my ride more expensive than his? Considerably. Over double in fact. UBER: Luke PRICE: £9.54 TIME TO GET IN CAB: 5 minutes TIME TAKEN TO DESTINATION: 19 minutes Dalston is not the kind of place that I enjoy being at 12:30 on a cold Thursday morning. By now, the drinking holes, nightclubs, and off licences have shut their doors, leaving the streets bathed in the fluorescent light of the countless kebab shops that line Kingsland Road. There seems to be one last option for those who don’t feel ready for bed: the dreaded Camden High Street.
I set my pick up point to the corner of Dalston Lane and the app tells me my driver, Nuri, will be with me shortly. The car on my phone screen tells me his Toyota Prius is cruising past me. When I look up, he is nowhere to be seen. It takes five minutes before a call comes through from distressed-sounding Nuri who tells me he is double parked and that I need to find him quickly before he gets a ticket. Slightly miffed, and wondering if this defeats the purpose of a car-on-request service, I set off, finding him about 30 yards away on the other side of the road. After a close—and slightly ironic—brush with a black cab as I sprint across the road, I’m in the back of the car and we’re off. The man at the wheel is from Istanbul and has been working for Uber for two weeks. He claims to have done ‘the knowledge’ and tells me he is taking the quick way but when I look up, the Sat-Nav seems to be doing most of the work. When I ask him which he thinks is better, phone or mind? He takes a moment before pointing at his phone and exclaiming “THIS. IS. KNOWLEDGE!” As he does, the headlights swing on to my opponent, stood at the finish line, a smug grin adorning his illuminated face. Our conclusion I may be starting to sound like I want Black Cabs off the streets, replaced by a fleet of GPS-laden Toyota Prius’, doomed to history books and classical films: I do not. From the perspective of city tourism, the death of the Hackney Carriage would be tantamount to knocking down Big Ben. I do however believe that Boris is misled in trying to ban technology that saves the inhabitants of his city money. It makes him sound like a luddite. Uber is clearly better value for us Londoners, most of whom are skint already. Our Mayor seems to forget it was his party that privatised the railways and utilities to break up statutory monopolies and introduce competition. Well, competition is exactly what we have here—and it’s good for the consumer. He’s trying to ‘level the playing field’ with a burst bubble. It’s adapt or die, and if the cab drivers continue to charge as much as they do, die they shall. Deregulate them, adapt them to suit the modern world and our present needs. Not the other way round Boris, mate. 33
Originally published in Artefact #8 The Unrest issue, February 2016
Words: Daisy Forrester and Esmee Ashforth Images: Max Gayler
INSIDE THE REFUGEE CRISIS Artefact went to Calais to see the true state refugees are living in while waiting for a home
The victims of the refugee crisis have been branded “economic migrants”, “rapists” and “thieves” by media and governments across Europe. However, when we travelled to the Grande-Synthe refugee camp in Dunkirk, France recently, we found life there to be quite the opposite. Whilst the conditions in the camp are abysmal, with widespread illness and disease, there’s a unique sense of community spirit inside the barbed wire fences that surround the camp. The camp is located just few miles from the coast that represents the end of their journey to safety. It isn’t large; spanning around a kilometre each way, but the extreme and stark juxtaposition of the camp next to immaculate rows of housing that line the streets opposite is remarkable. It is a haunting contrast between the haves and the have not’s. We heard from one man, the father of two little boys, how he and his family were awoken in the middle of the night by the Gendarmerie (the French police) shining torches into their tent. According to the volunteers, the police have been one of the largest problems they 34
have faced in ensuring the survival of some of the most vulnerable of the refugees. They’ve been prevented by the police from moving essential items such as tents and tools inside the camp: “They think that if we make it any safer then it will be appealing for them. That they won’t want to leave…” said Maddie Harris, one of the permanent volunteers at Dunkirk. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. One refugee told us “The French people and their police do not want to help us. We do not want to stay in this place or this country anymore”. Previous to becoming a camp, the Grande-Synthe was a football ground and green area that was planned to be converted into an eco-housing estate. In the summer of 2015, when refugees were initially travelling through France, the Grande-Synthe camp was merely a pit stop to their intended destinations, housing around 20 to 100 people. When two of the permanent aid workers Phoenix Clough and Maddie Harris arrived at the camp in September, it was home to around 300 refugees, but over the course of a few months the number exploded
to around 3,000 inhabitants. Maddie described to us the alarming rate in which the camp has grown as the crisis in Syria and across the Middle East has got worse. When the key group of volunteers arrived, they were the first to help the camp and the situation was desolate. “Men were walking in women’s sandals, five sizes too small, through ankle deep mud…” said Maddie, “… we didn’t know where to begin.” Whilst the camp was initially overwhelmed, the growth witnessed last year has had the positive effect of bringing more help, aid and publicity to the desolate circumstances in which the inhabitants now find themselves. They now have volunteers entering the camp throughout the week, whereas before the refugees were left with only a handful of aid workers, who were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work to be done there for the majority of the time. A landmark ruling made last week is the first glimmer of change and hope for many of the refugees who have been separated from their families after months of despair. UK courts made a the decision last week allowing four young refugees
living in the Jungle camp in Calais, a short journey from Grande-Synthe, to join their respective families in the UK after being torn apart by war and tragedy. This unanimous ruling paves the way for more minors, and perhaps even adults, to find the freedom they are seeking in the UK. While the ruling is effective immediately for the four young Syrians fortunate enough to be reunited with their families, it is too late for some, 15-year-old Masud from Afghanistan who suffocated to death after boarding a truck in Dunkirk attempting to reach his sister who is living in England. On the day we visited, the UK Border Force had sent representatives to the camp for the first time. After months of waiting, they were finally being given information. “Nobody knows what is going to happen to them, so this is positive,” says Phoenix “even if it is bad news, it is still positive because at least they know something more.” On this occasion they were here to explain a ruling to change French asylum laws, moving from a minimum three-year wait to process an application to a maximum of nine months. While this change is positive for those who wish to stay in France, whose numbers remain few, it seems like the British government are sending another message to the refugees here. A message telling them they aren’t getting past our border. In a bid to prevent the camp from growing even further, French authorities have blocked aid to the camp, meaning that the necessities the camp so desperately need are restricted. The French Police that patrol the entrance to the camp will not allow anyone in without monitoring the contents of their bags, for fear the camp will grow. When we arrived, men in white boiler suits heaved piles of ash from burnt down tents into abandoned corners of the camp; damage from fires caused by gas explosions. Piles of rubble and burnt remains from tents, shoes and clothes are scattered throughout the paths of the camp, leaving hollow spaces where people once were settled. With gas, tents and general necessities being blocked by the authorities, these empty spaces are likely to never be filled again, putting yet more strain on those who have lost everything. Maddie told us about how the blocking of aid means they are unable to replace any tents lost to fires. “We’re not supposed to, but we’re having to sneak tents in, as the situation is too desperate not to”. With temperatures plummeting to less than -1°C, families have to share already over-crowded tents with others, just to ensure everyone has a fighting chance of making it through the winter. The aid provided at the camp by the stationed aid workers is a far cry from enough despite their best efforts. With an excess of around 3,000 people currently living at Grande-Synthe, aid workers and volunteers are working tirelessly in order to provide help and sanitation in an already dire environment. Although Aid Box Convoy, a Bristol-based charity, is constantly sending over volunteers, the worsening conditions provoked by cold and rainy weather means that the cleanliness of the camp cannot be a priority. Empty takeaway boxes, wrappers, bottles and food-waste litter the floor of the camp, meaning that vermin control is a seemingly impossible task. The most harrowing story we heard in our time there was that of Ahmad Aziz. He fled Syria after receiving threats from Daesh. Ahmad had aided the British Army as an interpreter, and he told us of his dreams of joining the Royal Air Force (RAF) when he reached England. This however, marked him as a traitor in the eyes of ISIS. Fearing for his life and for the lives of his family, he ran. Despite owning a British passport, he was separated from his wife and 9-month-old son, Oscar. 36
The UK Government informed him that without proof he could support his young family, they were unable to join him. So he travelled back to Syria to bring his family to safety. Their journey to make it to Dunkirk was not easy, with Oscar contracting hypothermia from living in the impossible conditions that they were faced with.
“To prevent the camp from growing, French authorities have blocked incoming aid” “Oscar was in a coma for two days” Ahmad told us, after inviting us into his tent to share tea and fruit, the generosity and kindness of him and his neighbours when they have so little never failed to leave us speechless. “He didn’t cry or open his eyes, he just slept.” It is hard to imagine that the playful, smiling baby sat with us was ever that close to death. Oscar is still not well; he suffers from asthma and has a cough that goes bone deep. The same as most of the children living here, whose fragile little bodies are less able to cope with the cold and damp, but he is getting better. We asked Ahmad what he hopes for the future, what kind of life he dreams of for his son. He told us, lighting up with passion and hope: “I have lived in a war for my whole life… the civil war, Saddam, ISIS… This is not the life I want for my son. I want my son to be free, to not worry. I do not want Oscar to follow in my footsteps, I do not want him to be like me, because I have never felt happiness ever in my life”. We spoke to Abdullah Ttahsin, who has lived at the Grand-Synthe camp with his family for six weeks, about the wellbeing of his two daughters, Havin and Hana ages six and four: “Every night they wake up scared because of the rats crawling into our tent. I found one crawling over Hana’s face whilst she was asleep. They also get into our food supplies and there’s no way of keeping them out”.
We met one of the most vulnerable families living at the camp. Father of four Bihar Barakat told of us of the horrors that forced him and and his family out of Kurdistan: “I couldn’t take my kids to school, I was scared ISIS would take my daughter. They told us they would take her away, and they made us cover our children with scarves. My wife’s brother had a bomb put in his car, they blew him up. So we had to run”. Slightly out of the centre of the camp, there is a tent specifically providing aid to women and children. As the camp is predominantly formed of men, the volunteers saw an opportunity to give women a place in which they can acquire blankets and clothing without feeling threatened to compete with men for necessities. With only ten porta-loos provided for the entirety of the camp, signs posted on the doors appeal to volunteers and refugees to help dig trenches in order to divert excess water away from the centre of the camp. Shower blocks located near the entrance of the camp are able to provide clean water for a limited time of around eight minutes per shower per person, with many people resorting to washing in one of the two water points housed under corrugated iron shelters in order to avoid the water being cut off. Although food parcels are delivered daily, the supplies are meagre in comparison to population of the camp. Salad bags, vegetables, rice and pasta are placed in crates, with vast crowds of people running to gather food as quickly as it is passed out. A father of four who has been living at the camp with his family for two months told us that the quality of the food is questionable: “The food is always expired and it makes us sick”. An onsite kitchen based in the centre of the camp is open throughout the day serving warm meals and drinks, but rations are still incredibly low, despite these meals being separate from the daily food parcels provided for camp. When lunchtime hits, a van serving hot soup is overwhelmed with hungry people when sadly, there are simply not enough supplies to go around. Around 15 small children are gathered in a tent on the edge of the camp. They are each clutching a brightly coloured balloon and you can see glimmers of happiness and laughter in their eyes as they sing the letters of the alphabet and play. You could easily forget that we are stood in knee-deep mud in a refugee camp, but that is the point of this school, set up to give these children a fighting chance of a future. This recent development has seen a small group of English teachers group together in order to provide a basic education for the children of the camp. With around three hundred children living at Grande-Synthe, this school is a saving grace for children who want to learn English and provides them with a place in which they can feel as free as any other child in education.
Due to the circumstances under which people have been forced out of their homes and countries, the camp plays host to a lot of incredibly vulnerable families. Aid worker Phoenix Clough told us about a woman, whose husband was hospitalised after an attack made my ISIS, and in fear, told her to run with their four children.
A teacher at the school told us that “The key principles of any school are applied here”, despite it being little more than a small tent on the edge of the camp, with a spray-painted alphabet around the outside. “We ran out of paint when we got to the letter ‘U’ so that’s all our alphabet comes to for now.” The school is a sanctuary in which the children may feel safe, following the traumatising journey so many of them have made in order to make it this far. Like any other school, these volunteers seek to provide each child with an opportunity to learn and be listened to, a regrettably far cry from what our government are willing to do for them.
“After arriving at the camp, she found it intensely hard to trust anyone because she was so frightened and we made a decision to place all of the vulnerable families close to one another in the hope of forming a small, supportive community”.
Many of the children in the camp have witnessed horrors in their short lives that would traumatise an adult. They have seen their homes blown apart by bombs sent by Daesh, and by governments such as our own. They have watched helplessly as family members and friends
disappeared without a trace around them. It is imperative that these children are not held at a disadvantage due to their current situation, something that every person who sets foot into this camp is fighting for. Medecins Sans Frontieres provides basic medical aid for the camp around three times a week, but due to a lack of volunteers, they are unable to increase the number of visits. With weather conditions worsening, and sanitation issues rising, the people in the camp are unable to get the medical attention they need regularly. With aid workers unqualified to dish out medical advice, the situation is getting increasingly desperate, with all inhabitants fearing for the health of their families. We heard the story of one woman who was taken to hospital following a miscarriage, with her two young children in tow, only to be discharged without warning in the middle of the night, leaving her to travel back to the camp scared and distraught. The lack of care from those outside of the camp speaks volumes about the current refugee crisis as we see people in need of help being cast aside to prevent dependency on public services such as hospitals and doctors. Jeremy Corbyn visited the camp just two days after we had left, bringing valuable media coverage and shedding light on the appalling conditions within the camp. In an interview with Sky News, Corbyn said the “Conditions [in Dunkirk] were disgusting beyond belief, amongst
the worst I’ve ever seen; a health hazard for everyone… [there are] unaccompanied children in them, people with health problems living in them, people who have fled from wars, and human rights disasters, who are seeking safety in modern Europe. He went on to express disgust at the lack of help from many of the wealthiest countries in the European Union, saying: “We can, should, and must do something a bit better about it.” Despite David Cameron’s pledge to grant 20,000 refugees asylum following the public outcry sparked by the tragic death of Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi. In the last year figures released by the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) show that the UK has granted asylum or another form of protection to just 1,868. The UK also has the fewest refugees per 100,000 people in Europe, something which as one of the richest and most able countries in the world is frankly disgusting. Many of the wealthiest countries in Europe are providing the least help for people who are desperately in need of aid and have had their lives destroyed. Homes ravaged by war and families torn apart in unimaginable ways are now living in purgatory, coexisting just metres from middle class suburbia. No matter class, culture or creed, we are all humans and each of us deserves the chance of a future. 37
Originally published in Artefact #8 The Unrest issue, February 2016
Words: Tommy Hibbitts Images: Michaela Loheit, Matthieu Schoutteten, Kmo139 and Kevin Cure, all via Flickr.com
THE MISERY BEHIND ELEPHANT TOURISM IN THAILAND An ‘ultimate elephant experience’ is a highlight for many tourists but at what cost to the animals themselves? 38
Driving through the striking scenery of Koh Lanta, Thailand, it’s difficult to not fall in love with its beauty; the sun setting over the stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters reminiscent of a warm bath and the seemingly endless lush-green jungles covering most of this large island. On the surface it’s the ultimate Paradise, offering travellers plenty to do in terms of tourism, with one of its most popular attractions being the ultimate elephant experience, which for Western visitors seems alluringly cheap. But who really pays the price? I followed a sign that advertised elephant trekking. I’d heard horrific stories from lots of travellers when I first set my sights on the East, stories that weren’t common knowledge to people outside of the travelling circuit. From hearing these, I vowed never to ride an elephant. However, my curiosity got the better of me and I decided I was going to enter the camp in an unconventional manner. I was going to break in. I wanted to see the conditions the elephants are subjected to. I thought that being mid-afternoon it was likely they’d be out on a trek or being used for some sort of tourist activity. Whether I was going to see elephants in the flesh or going to go behind the scenes and see where they’re kept, I didn’t know – but in an investigative sense I got lucky. What I saw was heartbreaking. There were two of these magnificent creatures, out of sight of each other, about 25 metres apart. They weren’t roaming freely like you’d expect, they were chained by their legs to the tree behind them, unable to move more than a couple of metres. Not only were these poor creatures imprisoned, they were imprisoned alone. Elephants are herd animals – they’re social and supposed to stick together. I had brought along some bananas and a pineapple in case I was able to witness one first hand, and seeing these, she knelt down. I fed her, angered by the action she
had been conditioned into. Looking into the eyes of the elephants, they seemed empty, almost lifeless. As I stroked one I’d noticed the eyes were filled with tears. A heart wrenching scene to witness. The other elephant, seemingly older, had a slightly bigger, sandier space compared to the other. She seemed to have a bit more personality left in her. I managed to take photos of them both chained up. Both elephants had deep marks in front of their ears which I later learned were from the use of bull-hooks. It’s horrible to know that there were more elephants out that day who are also subjected to the abuse. They’re not treated in an ethically acceptable way and are just moneymaking machines to these companies offering rides through their home, the jungle. After spending around 25 minutes with both elephants, I felt powerless. There wasn’t anything I could do. I couldn’t free them, although that thought was crossing my mind. It wasn’t until I heard the sound of shouting behind me I remembered I had trespassed on Thai property. I had seen a part of tourism which they of course don’t want to be public knowledge. I anxiously made a run for it, praying I wasn’t going to be caught and probably arrested. Luckily, I’d hired a bike from the ferry port of Koh Lanta. The two men chasing me continued right up until I got on the bike, whilst shouting remarks I can only imagine to be Thai expletives. Since the banning of logging, which was one of Thailand’s biggest moneymakers, the exploitation of elephants for tourism has seen a massive rise. It wasn’t until travelling to Asia I learned more about the mistreatment of these animals, and it disgusted me. Not in my wildest dreams had I imagined such scenes existed. Elephants are an extremely endangered species, with the Asian elephants being the most threatened. Considering Thailand is a predominantly Buddhist country, practising ways of peace and preaching love, the treatment of the elephants is a surprise. Another is the 39
“As I stroked the elephants I noticed tears in their eyes” use of elephants as a national, political and religious symbol. Everywhere you go, from temples to monasteries, most of these places have elephants depicted as a treasure and shops use them in their iconography. So why are elephants endangered? And why are they exploited them in such a horrific way? At the birth of the 20th-century, Thailand boasted around 100,000 elephants. As of today, that number is around 3,0004,000, with none of this number living in the wild, a telling statistic on the human attitude towards the Asian elephant. After seeing the chains the elephant’s were kept in, I wanted to find out a bit more about the process of capturing them. I spoke with Ashley Fruno, a senior campaigner at PETA Asia and asked her what she knew about the conditions the elephants are subjected to? “Behind the exotic façade of elephant tourism is a world of merciless beatings, broken spirits, and lifelong deprivation. Once revered, elephants in Thailand today are treated like slaves. Tourists flock to Thailand and snap pictures with cute baby elephants or take an elephant ride. Some facilities make elephants paint pictures or perform circus-style tricks. “What many people aren’t aware of—and what the industry tries hard to hide—is the dark and ugly existences that these elephants endure in order to provide them with such an experience. Contrary to misleading and false claims made by those who exploit them, elephants used in the tourist trade are not domesticated and very few have been ‘rescued’. Elephants exploited by the tourism industry are captive wild animals who have been beaten into submission and controlled through domination and fear.” I had heard of the process of crushing the elephant’s spirit, known as ‘phajaan’. During this process, some elephant’s commit suicide by standing on their own trunks. Ashley reveals further disturbing details of the 40
process of ‘phajaan’: “most elephants captured in the wild are taken from Myanmar, where traffickers use elephants who have been previously broken to corral herds of free elephants into pit traps. Mothers and aunts, who desperately try to protect their youngsters may be shot and the more profitable babies are taken to clandestine locations”. She continues, “whether stolen from the wild or born into captivity, elephants endure unimaginable abuse for the lucrative Thai tourism trade. Baby elephants have their minds, bodies, and spirits systematically ‘broken’ through a barbaric process called phajaan. Still-nursing baby elephants are dragged from their mothers, kicking and screaming. They are immobilised, beaten mercilessly, and gouged with nails for days at a time. These ritualised ‘training’ sessions leave the elephants badly injured and traumatised. Some don’t survive.” Ashley then explained that “once their spirits have been crushed, these elephants spend the rest of their lives in servitude and chains. They spend their days lugging loads of tourists on their backs, often in sweltering temperatures. They are routinely beaten with bullhooks—metal rods with a sharp hook on one end—and often denied adequate food and water. The elephants are often worked to the point of exhaustion and many develop pressure sores and suffer from painful problems with their sensitive feet.” How can people subject these animals to such misery? One factor is that many pseudo-sanctuaries exist which mislead tourists into thinking they can ride supposedly rescued elephants and buy pictures they’ve painted. In reality, these camps are profit-driven ventures operating under the guise of eco-tourism. The bottom line is that tourists’ money drives this cruel trade. Many of the elephants imprisoned in these camps are worked for 15 hours a day with little or no rest and barely any time to eat or drink. They end up with
broken limbs, some end up blind or have abscesses due to the wounds inflicted from trekking Elephants are not designed to carry extra weight on their backs. The elephants often carry two or three tourists on an elephant at a time, which could weigh up to 200kg. With the added weight of the iron chair, the elephants will be carrying almost half a tonne of additional weight. Thankfully, there are some places in Thailand you can visit and have an experience that doesn’t involve riding the elephant but just connecting with them on a mutual level. I spoke to Rebecca Gray from the Save the Elephant Foundation which is involved in the Elephant Nature Park; a legitimate rescue centre that dedicates it’s time to giving elephants a second chance. She told me about the Elephant Nature Park and how they support elephants, past and present. “The Elephant Nature Park actively educates mahouts, which is the name given to people who work and ride with elephants, across Thailand to our method of care. We encourage the camps to remove the saddle and cast aside the bull-hook and treat their elephants with respect, love and offer food rather than punishment. By educating the camp owners and mahouts to this alternative method of employment, the elephants are able to roam freely without carrying heavy loads and mahout are able to make the money they require to feed their families. “We continuously help camps wishing to convert to walking tours, where their elephants live freely, by promoting their tours and showing them our method. We’re dedicated to improving the lives of captive elephants in Thailand. We have 67 elephants who have been rescued from a number of situations, many of whom have mental issues, broken limbs, dislocations or suffer from blindness. It is our mission to change the future for captive elephants and introduce a life of freedom to the captive elephants of Thailand.” Although there are people actively helping the elephants in Thailand, this problem exists throughout
south-east Asia. Countries like Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam all have the same inhumane tourism when it comes to elephants. As more people become aware of the treatment of elephants – the hope grows that camps will find a way of treating these animals in a humane and loving way. Elisa Allen, the Associate Director at PETA UK spoke about what they’ve done to help the elephants: “Through undercover investigations, public demonstrations, celebrity support, and more, PETA and our affiliates are raising awareness of industries that exploit animals. PETA recently convinced STA Travel, the world’s largest student travel company, to stop promoting elephant rides as well as Sea World. Not everyone knows how cruelly elephants used for tourist attractions are treated, so we must encourage them to stay away from these abusive industries. Sharing the documentary An Elephant Never Forgets with your family and friends is also a great way to get people interested in this issue.” Delving further into what can be done to help, Sophia Lyaskazenco, an activist and fundraiser for Greenpeace and spoke about what to do to stop animals being treated in such a horrible way: “We need to grab media attention, speak to tourism websites, put adverts on forums. Bombard the elephant camps website comments lists. Post your opinion on relevant Facebook groups. Organise protests outside the Thai embassy. There is a lot you can do to help. Raising awareness with travellers is important to lessen the demand but also challenging the government to improve the law. We desperately need a shift in consciousness about how we treat all animals and their importance to ecology.” Next time you make a trip to the island paradise of Thailand, be aware that while the ‘perfect Facebook profile photo’ may gain you countless likes, the animals themselves have endured horrendous suffering for the picture to be taken. 41
Words: Lauren Sharp Images: Jordan Hughes, David Dawson
MACCABEES: THE CHANGING FACE OF THE ELEPHANT The band talk about their film documentary looking at the regeneration of Elephant and Castle
Elephant and Castle is undergoing a major transformation. Yet among the unfamiliar sky scrapers, luxury modern apartments and recent pop-up coffee shops, The Maccabees are staying put in their small SE1 studio and using their musical brains to create a new album. Following their fourth album release Marks To Prove It this summer, The Maccabees have teamed up with film directors James Caddick and James Cronin to create the documentary Elephant Days. Marks to Prove it (2015) was released in July after two and a half years of struggle, songwriting and recording in their Elephant and Castle studio. Orlando Weeks, the lead singer of the band, explains how they commissioned the directors. “The reason we asked James was because we felt we shared such abilities, we were both in similar minds and we knew we were to have him and the other James in our studio for such a large amount of time, so it was important that we could get along. So that was a good starting point, and then the story and the theme would emerge, like something would just come out of it.” The two and a half year struggle of recording and re-writing for The Maccabees in making Marks To Prove It is just one segment of the film. Footage of the band giving up, remaining focused, searching for lyric inspiration and producing music are seen throughout the piece. 42
At the heart of Elephant and Castle the band found inspiration for their album. Orlando says Marks To Prove It was influenced by the area. “We were going to be there everyday, we were going to be writing and recording everything in Elephant and Castle so we were conscious of the feeling that it had a sense of place.” Since the band’s arrival in their studio in 2012, they have seen a £3-billion redevelopment change which is to be completed over the next 15 years as part of the Elephant and Castle regeneration scheme. According to Southwark council the regeneration will include the creation of a new pedestrianised town centre, a market square, 5,000 new and replacement homes, up to 450,000 square feet of retail space, and integrated public transport hub along with five green spaces. We are already witnessing the rapid and continuing changes that are taking place to the roundabout, which is just the beginning of the gentrification in the area. During the struggle to find new material for the fourth album, the band came across David Busfield’s photography of the Michael Faraday Memorial at the heart of the Elephant and Castle. The memorial is a stainless steel box built on the roundabout formed in 1961, filling the area with light at night in memory of the late Victorian scientist. This photograph formed the basis for the album’s artwork.
Originally published in Artefact #6 The Change issue, November 2015
“The directors fear that Elephant and Castle is losing its identity” For the band it was “an extension to the album’s association with the area.” Speaking to journalist Jenny Stevens in The Guardian back in July, Orlando says that the recording of endless demos and lists of various destinations to travel in order to find ideas forced the band to come very close to giving up. They realised instead of travelling to find music they used the area they have spent the past five years recording in. At first the band didn’t intend to make music in Elephant and Castle until they got their studio in the area. “I think the point was more to try and see that wherever you are or wherever we have ended up, which happened to be Elephant and Castle, would be enough inspiration and enough going on to make an album [and] make a documentary.” He speaks about the concept behind the theme they had when making the album “I think the record’s theme is more about, in the same way that the film is really. It’s kind of filled with different short stories. Gentrification is just something that is going on around it.” Listening to Marks To Prove It you will not be directly taken to the Elephant and Castle shopping centre but Weeks mentions that the sounds from the area were used as part of the album making. For example you hear sounds from the market on one of the tracks. “A lot of the time I start writing a song based on a line that I have read in a paper or overheard and that was definitely true vision. I try to build a song from something that I have heard like an echo, or something on the bus, or in a queue when I’m waiting at a cashpoint.”
“We did try and do some recording at the platform of Elephant and Castle train station to get the sound of a commute but we were a bit worried that we were looking suspicious sat on the platform with this 70s mic, so we didn’t use it. The song on the record—Slow Sun— has some recording of the East Street Market.” Silence, the fifth track on the album, uses a voicemail received by the band’s guitarist Hugo White after the the death of his mum. According to NME, River Song stems from the band “hearing a couple have a really sad argument heading towards Newington Causeway.” Elephant & Castle is also the theme for two upcoming music videos taken from the album, using combined footage of different faces of the area. Marks To Prove It shows shots of the Elephant and Castle roundabout, followed by scenes of chaotic traffic, whilst their second track release Something Like Happiness present a more quiet environment with architectural shots and plants growing in deserted alleyways. “We wanted to show its kind of manicness with the commute aspect of the Elephant and Castle and I also wanted to try and make it look like there is some kind of London architecture coffee table book style to it too.” Produced by 2AM Films, Elephant Days premiered on October 12th at the Odeon Cinema in Haymarket. It documents the lives of six residents, highlighting the passion and motivation they have, inspired by the creativity in the area of what had been described in the film as “the forgotten area of zone one.” It also shows the struggles with the rapid changes which comes with being in an area undergoimg gentrification. 43
The 83-minute film consists of short stories, including that of Arments Pie and Mash shop, the traditional restaurant established in 1914, battling against the new pop-up coffee shops, whilst maintaining a sense of the tradition of the old Elephant. Also featured is the Peckham Prides basketball team and their constant battle for success. Residents Richard and Layla are on a mission to add colour to the area by creating gardens in derelict spaces, especially the late Heygate Estate. The vibrancy of the area is seen through Natty, a local musician who regularly uses the local small business to tailor his wacky suits, and of course, The Maccabees themselves, enclosed in the four walls of their studio, using Elephant and Castle as a source of inspiration to make their album. It shows the sense of community and love the residents have for the area. Inspired by British experimental film artists such as Patrick Keiller, the director’s aim was to capture the essential life and character of the Elephant and Castle, which, the directors fear, is at its tipping point of losing its identity due to the gentrification that is so common in London today. James Caddick says: “I think the more problem for the area is that it is becoming generic, like putting all big buildings that all look the same and which cost a lot of money, I suppose that is more of the problem, as said in the film there is no meeting point, not even a big Tesco’s so its a incredibly diverse area, which is very interesting I think.” With Elephant and Castle undergoing changes, new communities are moving in. “I don’t think there is a connection, but there is an acceptance I guess and the respect they have for these different communities, I guess, there seems to be a harmonious fashion of inspiration and that is something to be commended isn’t it?” “As James Cronin says, if you lose that and if everything does become generic then it will be a less 44
colourful place. As an artist I think it is probably an incredibly inspirational play to work and very useful in terms of being so central.” Expanding the Elephant’s greenery in the derelict Heygate estate is one of the characters in the film. Richard Reynolds who, with his partner, uses the empty buildings as a place to add colour and life by filling the area with trees and plants. Reynolds describes in the film how Elephant and Castle is seen as the “underdog”. The film directors use this suggestion to show the other side to the area. James Caddick is clear about the message he wanted the audience to leave with after they have watched the film. “I wanted it to be a film about people who are passionate about things and I wanted people to relate and make people think about that and care about that in our society, especially in an area that is going to be completely brought out with huge amounts of money- but not force that down people’s throats. It’s about individuals and people who are passionate about what they do.” The band knows that when they will return to Elephant and Castle, they will already see distinct changes since they last packed their suitcase in their SE1 studio. Orlando has captured the energy of the Elephant from being a past resident close to East Street Market. He describes the best parts of living in the area. “I lived above East Street Market and so I enjoyed that and when I got the time I would be in the Elephant and Castle shopping centre, that’s still there and I like that. I hope that with all the changes going on, the kind of eccentricities that the area has are preserved somehow. I don’t know how that will happen.” The Maccabees begin their three months tour around Europe next month, starting at London’s O2 and ending their tour in Madrid.
Originally published in Artefact #8 The Unrest issue, February 2016
Words: Desislava Todorova and Lauren Sharp Images: Oswin Tickler, David Bowie Archive / Victoria and Albert Museum
DAVID BOWIE’S STARDUST
SHINES ON OUR GENERATION How the young, old and fashionable across London grieved the loss of the British legend
Almost 50 years after the release of his album David Bowie and with more than 140 million records sold worldwide – musical giant David Bowie passed away at the start of January 2016 leaving legions of fans mourning the loss of a culturally revolutionary leader. Fans were shocked to learn of his 18-month battle with liver cancer, something the star kept to himself. Many now believe he was referencing his deathbed in his most recent album, Blackstar that contains the lyrics: “Look up here I’m in heaven” and “I’ve got scars that can’t be seen”. The response was immediate; 46
millions of people across the globe took part in memorial services in celebration of his life and career. The day after his death, fans gathered in his hometown Brixton where they sang and celebrated his legendary work. Artists and musicians paid tribute to the enormous influence Bowie had on their work and young people in their 20s and 30s also feel his strong impact on their lives. Being a pioneering champion in expressing sub-culture, Bowie continues to inspire many young people – from mod, hippie and 70’s glam, to post-punk, avant-garde and neo-romanticism. Bowie
was the living cultural reflection of more than four decades of transformation. Seeing Ziggy Stardust live or even hearing Heroes and Fashion for the first time in 1977, and 1980 respectively, was extraordinary. Heroes reached number six in the overall artist rankings. What has been striking is the fact that nearly a decade since Bowie’s last tour, people in their 20’s find his work and career powerful, and young people shared grief with their parents who witnessed Bowie’s rise. In light of his death, actor and comedian Simon Pegg reflected on the musician’s death: “If you’re sad
as a gay man, which has given me that example to stand up for who I was, not giving a fuck about anyone else.”
today, just remember the world is over four billion years old and you somehow managed to exist at the same time as David Bowie.”
Artists and musicians from all over the world took part in their own ways of sharing the grief. Arcade Fire announced a collaboration with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band to organise a Bowie memorial parade’ Pretty Things: A second life for Bowie’ which took place on January 16 in New Orleans.
Fans made a pilgrimage to Brixton after his death, and the streets glittered with flowers and stardust. Thousands of fans from all ages came together along with guitars and speakers to play his music. In Pop Brixton, a local DJ who owns Bowie’s entire discography, organised a Bowie-themed night while one of London’s newest cocktail bars, Machine No3, and O’Neill’s in Beckenham organised DJ nights with best-outfit prizes. Attending the Brixton party was 25-yearold Rebecca Brown, daughter of Bowie’s Spanish interpreter, who considers herself a life-long fan: “My mother was his interpreter when he visited Spain on the Glass Spiders tour in 1987. She describes him as very well spoken, kind and a true English gentleman. I don’t know who fancied him more, my mum or my dad. He had a profound effect on everybody, every artistic genre you can imagine, but he kept his life very private which is sadly why now we know he is no longer here.” Many of those in their 20’s flooded outside the Ritzy cinema in Brixton, discussing how Bowie’s music had been passed down through their parents’ record collection when growing up. A 25 year-old student from Kingston said: “I admire the fact that he would be everything he wanted to be, he is one of the best people that Britain has ever produced. The whole Ziggy Stardust outlines on that you can be whoever you want to be. He made it cool to be weird, Let’s Dance was what properly got me into Bowie”. A City University student from the U.S described David Bowie in one sentence: “He was avant-garde, he saw the world differently and it gives you a different perspective on things, constantly revolutionising himself.” His 1950’s tailored sharp suits and snappy striped ties were just the starting point of his fashion and cultural journey. A cornerstone in his career was his meeting with British choreographer and mime artist Lindsay Kemp; it was thanks to him that the stage persona Ziggy Stardust was born. His influence on Bowie’s work had some liberation note which educated the young Bowie to “free his body”, according to Kemp. An essential extension to Kemp’s pantomime was the art of kabuki, which led Bowie to spend a few years in Japan where he would work on “the inner beauty through gestures” and would eventually come back to England. Thanks to this thorough inner self-experimentation and research, Bowie’s androgyny was reflected in his ‘onnagata’ which consists of male actors playing female roles wearing exotic costumes. Another key style moment was Bowie’s
Lines need tidying up
The fashion world also saw an immediate reaction. The musician’s death coincided with the last day of London Collections Men (Men’s Fashion Week), and in his honour many visitors paid tribute by wearing Ziggy Stardust t-shirts.
Installation Shot of David Bowie is at the V&A, 2013, courtesy David Bowie Archive © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
introduction to Japanese avant-garde designer Kansai Yamamoto, who created the Edo playsuit. 27-year-old Dave Rudd from Camden has been a follower of Bowie from the age of four, when he first watched the film Labyrinth in which Bowie starred. He was introduced to Bowie at 17 when he listening to the 1971 album Hunky Dory, after which he became an influence in all aspects of his life: “His eclectic style introduced me to fashion. His kooky characters in films introduced me to cinema. Bowie has creatively educated me and shaped my taste into the man I am today.”
while.” He added: “I think he stands for everything that’s weird and wonderful in the world, and that it’s okay to not be okay. Being different is cool, you just have to own it”.
One such character is Ziggy Stardust, a colourful androgynous alien from Mars. This was the most popular alter ego of Bowie amongst the younger generation. For his album Aladdin Sane in 1973, Pierre Laroche created the famous lightning bolt make-up and the new Bowie persona was styled by Celia Philo. The stylist also happens to be the mother of Phoebe Philo, now main designer at French fashion house CÉLINE.
Bulgarian student Alexandra Marinova said that she didn’t remember the first time when she heard his songs but she clearly remembered the first video she saw. It was Life on Mars and she was shocked. She somehow related her main hobby, astronomy to Space Oddity and thought that it was cool hunting for asteroids and listening to Starman. She also shared that there were times where she would just light up a cigarette and sit quiet and listen to his poetry because she didn’t care so much about his physical appearance or how people looked at him. “He’s a damn poet. His music needs to be listened to.
Many of David Bowie’s songs are based around timeless issues like mental health, due to his late brother committing suicide in 1985. He used his music to express emotions and the plight of mental health. His song All The Mad Men says: “a nation hides its organic minds in a cellar dark and grim”, Bowie is saying how mental health is hidden away in society and we should take more time to notice the issue, something unheard of in the 1970’s. 18 year-old Adam Farrell said listening to Bowie’s music helped him overcome his mental health disorder, which first occurred in his early teenage years, when he suffered with low self-esteem and bouts of depression: “It was by coincidence really but I was watching an old Top of the Pops episode on BBC Three and he came on singing Jean Genie. It was very nostalgic and it made me smile when not many things had done in a
Ashley Sharkey, aged 21, who is a David Bowie memorabilia collector, said: “Ziggy Stardust taught me to always be yourself, it’s okay to be that weird girl with the bright blue and pink hair. Visual expression is a wonderful, beautiful thing that I found instils a lot of confidence in you. Never fall into the black and white and fade into the crowd”.
“There is nobody else quite like him. It has been ages since he appeared as Ziggy Stardust and people keep copying him. I’m saying copying because you’ve probably seen Madonna, Lady Gaga or a bunch of X-Factor stars, so you know how they look like. He was a genius in everything he was doing. Consider his last video and his last album.” Perhaps, in the age of X-Factor, Bowie spoke to a generation bored with sanitised pop commercialism. In Brixton another young couple said that Moonage Daydream was a particular favourite: “I love the colour of the music, I’m more confident in my weirdness because of him. I love the fact that he was willing to stand up as a bisexual,
Multiple shows made last-minute changes to their models’ make-up, adding glitter as a reference to Bowie’s stage persona. Model Hayett McCarthy paid her tribute to the musical icon by writing ‘Bowie’ on her palms at Kensington Gardens during Burberry’s Autumn/ Winter 2016 show. Two of Bowie’s cult hits, Changes and Oh You Pretty Things, were played. Sir Paul Smith also expressed his huge influence by recreating his original shop from the 1970’s as a setting for his presentation and Bowie’s images were present throughout the whole display. Smith also created the infamous t-shirt for David Bowie’s last album Blackstar. For her latest collection, British designer Katie Eary drew inspiration from the 1960’s and 1970’s era of Ziggy Stardust. Her models wore velvet brightly coloured jackets, tights, patent trousers, silver and silk shirts. Bowie’s impact continued to be strongly distinguished in the following week, at Pitti Uomo, men’s fashion week in Florence. During Monday’s Gucci catwalk show, Alessando Michele paid homage to Bowie by presenting a sequinned jacket with a heart and Bowie’s name written on the back. The legend’s impact on the brand could be defined by the 1970’s influence that Michele used in order to rebrand Gucci. In 2012, the Italian house sponsored the V&A’s Bowie Is exhibition, which put focus on David Bowie’s style influence on modern culture. In an interview for Vogue, Belgian designer Dries Van Noten said Bowie: “opened the great, big gates to our future and sparked in us that creativity that proves vital even tot his day”. The designer chose the 1977 cult hit Heroes for the closing of his Autumn/Winter 2011 womenswear show. Whether it’s fashion, culture, timeless personal issues or social outcast, Bowie has opened a window to each universal theme. So, David Bowie, we thank you for your make-up, high-heeled boots, alter-egos, stardust and self-expression. You have taken us on your incredible spaceship journey and are still doing it after leaving us with Blackstar. 47
Originally published in Artefact #9 The Space issue, March 2016
Words: Ben Cullimore Image: Paul Werkmeister
Black yoga: finding light in the darkness An unlikely pairing of metal music and Eastern spirituality
At the dawn of Black Yoga, Scott and Kimee, alongside their friend Chad Hammitt, created tailor-made mixes of music to accompany each session, but the growth in popularity of the group has resulted in them composing their own music in an attempt to further realise their ideas. Asanas Ritual, Vol. 1 is an 80-minute journey through dark and brooding soundscapes that seamlessly merge together to create an intense and meditative experience.
Since enjoying a boom in popularity during the Swinging Sixties, yoga has become an important part of modern life in the West, with people from all sections of society turning to the ancient practice in an attempt to achieve spiritual, mental and physical wellbeing. ** New forms continue to spring up, each one trying to adapt to the particular community in which they are operating. A largely newfound interest in Hindu spirituality was what first kicked-off the West’s 1960s yoga revolution. The penetration of New Age ideals into the heart of Western culture in the following two decades resulted in an increase in the number of adherents to the discipline. From hip-hop yoga to Madonna-inspired “voga”, there’s now something for each and every one of us, and the latest to join this long line of interesting variations on the 2,500-year-old practice is Black Yoga, a group that aim to discover the light using the darkness of heavy metal music. On the surface, the idea of doing yoga to the chaotic and relentless pounding of metal sounds oxymoronic. However, delve beneath the surface and you realise that the pairing isn’t quite as odd as it first seems. Over the decades, metal has undergone a transformation just as radical as yoga, resulting in a plethora of sub-genres and communities that are centred around creating meditative, trance-inducing music that has as much in common with the ambient sounds of Brian Eno as it does with Metallica. Occult and New Age ideas have also filtered into the genre, so it’s no wonder that the next step was to couple it with yoga in an attempt to lift both to new heights of consciousness. Run by husband and wife Scott and Kimee Massie since 2012, Pennsylvania-based Black Yoga came to be on a road trip as the duo listened to an album by the doom-jazz quartet Bohren & der Club of Gore. Interested by the idea of combining vinyasa yoga with ambient metal and doom-laden drone (Kimee is a trained yoga instructor whilst Scott used to play in a band called Storm King), they quickly set about creating mixes of meditation music whilst searching for a place to house their new vision. What was initially created as, in the words of Scott: “a new class for ourselves that had music we liked” quickly 48
** Created by an eclectic ensemble of likeminded musicians, the song-writing process for the album started in 2014, when Scott and Kimee decided that their classes could benefit from specifically crafted music that had their brand of yoga in mind. “We started talking about making our own music for this soon after it got started,” Scott explained.
We aren’t sacrificing goats or doing drugs snowballed into something bigger. As time went on an increasing number of people began to find a home for themselves in the Monroeville-based group’s weekly meetings. Scott believes the similarities between what they do and more traditional classes are greater than many realise. “It’s not such an odd pairing, really,” he told Artefact. “A lot of the music that we use shares the same properties as more traditional meditation music; we just swap out droning sitars for droning guitars. “I mean, it’s more than that, but I think a lot of people who first hear of it have a knee-jerk reaction because they hear anything related to ‘metal’ and just assume it’s us trying to use Ride the Lightning or something.” For Scott, Kimee, and those who attend their classes, the choice of music is all about being able to attain spiritual, mental, and physical wellbeing whilst feeling relaxed and secure in an environmental that fits their tastes. “I don’t think what we listen to in class is any different for
us as listening to an Enya record is for other people,” Scott explained. “The class Kimee teaches is essentially the same one as she might teach at a regular studio, it just makes us and our demographic feel more comfortable.” As has been the case with almost every modern variation of yoga—not to mention what some see as an increasing Westernisation or even cultural appropriation of Eastern disciplines and spiritual practices—there were always going to be people who don’t like Black Yoga’s direction, but Scott says that people’s reactions have never played a role in what they do. “The reaction has been split the entire time. It’s resonated with some people on a very deep and meaningful level right away, whilst others were going to hate it no matter what,” he said. “That’s just the way the world works, and we’re okay with it. There’s been a number of skeptical people over the last few years who have tried our class and ended up getting into it once they realised we weren’t sacrificing goats or doing drugs.”
“We didn’t totally realise it at first, because we didn’t know what it was yet, but we were essentially making blueprints with our mixtapes before, learning how to make the soundtracks flow with the classes that Kimee teaches. The music fits a certain structure, but it wanders in its own direction depending on the particular mix. “We definitely have more control over it when we’re writing. That was the impetus. But then the music took on its own, yoga-like properties. The songs began to stretch out and flow on their own, creating a whole new process where our artistic selves met with our practice. The two became one.” Fast-forward to October 2015 and Asanas Ritual, Vol. 1 finally saw the light of day, with the increasing popularity of Black Yoga resulting in them releasing the CD to the world via their online store. Also released alongside the CD was a DVD by the same name, which includes a one-hour class led by Kimee that students can follow in the comfort of their own homes. Well-received and in high demand across the globe, the success of Asanas Ritual, Vol. 1 indicates that there’s a hunger for Black Yoga outside Pennsylvania. Scott says that they plan to branch out to other countries in the future, so it may not be long before the Black Yoga revolution finally reaches the shores of the United Kingdom.
Words: Liping Luo Image: Pierre Guinoiseau / flickr.com
An international student’s struggle Depression is common among those studying abroad but it can be overcome
problems to contact us. If you do think you may be depressed, the best choice is to seek help from your GP. The sooner you see a doctor, the sooner you can be on the way to get solutions.”
About two months ago, I found out that I have light depression. I don’t even know when exactly it started – I just remember most of time I felt unhappy and cried a lot, and at the end I desperately wanted to see a psychologist. I did see the doctor – in my homeland, China. Having a kind of 30-minute conversation with the doctor isn’t a common thing in Chinese hospitals as there’re too many patients waiting and the staff try to work as efficiently as possible.
Joan Elumelu, a practice nurse from Princess Surgery Group Practice, also spoke about the affect moving to another country can have on students: “cultural shock is a normal and expected reason for international students to get depression... But there are ways to assist international students to prevent them being depressed.” She offers two tips to overcome it while studying abroad.
Depression is the second leading cause of disability. It’s understood to be a problem of internalisation which causes a wide variety of symptoms such as excessive sadness and hopelessness, loss of interest in activities and feeling very tearful. It’s not a sign of weakness or something you can “snap out of” by “pulling yourself together”, according to the National Health Service (NHS).
** Firstly, sign up to activities and get more exercise. Regardless of whether you’re in a different country for three months or three years, you need to adjust to the new life you’re creating for yourself.
** I always felt very stressed and depressed from the time I came to UK for my undergraduate study. International students are a group easily overlooked but are particularly likely to experience depression – whether this is noticed by others or not. A study by Carroll J and Ryan J in 2005, Teaching International Students Improving Learning for all, shows that there’re high proportions of students who become depressed while they’re studying abroad. This group faces lots of difficulties; for instance, loneliness, language problems, cultural shock, accommodation issues, or even adapting to a new weather. “Studying in the west is absolutely a big challenge for me at this age and it’s hard to understand and adjust to a new culture. There’s such a big cultural shock – we think differently, we speak differently, and we behave differently,” says Noriko Yoshida, a international student of Japanese background who’s studying at the University of Westminster. “In Japan, students normally don’t disagree with tutors. But in here, teachers are happy to see students have different opinions.” She mentions that when she writes essays, she couldn’t always reach the standard that western tutors expect. “Our thinking mode is different. In Japanese culture, we always think in a ‘because...so...’ way, rather than ‘I am telling you this’.” “Language is another issue for me,” Noriko continues. “When my tutor is telling a joke in the class, every class-
Loneliness is one of the major causes of depression mate is laughing, but I don’t understand what the laughing point is! It’s an uncomfortable feeling, and at that moment, when everyone is laughing, I feel lonely.” ** Language is one of big issues that international students are likely to face when they come to study in Britain. It can be a very big challenge for them from very first moment they arrive. Even though a lot of international students have learnt English at their home country, and have passed the academic English tests (ILETS or TOFEL for example) before going abroad, there’s still a a considerable gap for them to adapt to. However, it’s not only students from Asia who experience cultural shock, even European students feel it too. Agata Palomo, who came from Spain to the UK two years ago for her foundation study, explains how she experiences the cultural differences between her home
country and the UK. “Spain is a hospitable country – friends always hug and kiss each other when meeting. However, Britain seems like a ‘colder’ country. They keep their distance with you, which is the feeling that’s difficult to get used to.” As more international students come to Britain, this is an issue that universities are learning to cope with. The International Student Support (ISS) service of University College London (UCL) receives hundreds of emails and calls every year from international students. Victoria Young, who is currently working at ISS department of UCL, told Artefact: “we do understand that moving to a new country to commence studies can be both an exciting and challenging experience. Nearly all the universities have a student service department which assists international students as much as possible with settling into the campus community. We highly recommend students who think they may have
Secondly, be around friendly faces. Loneliness is one of the major causes of depression. If you’re having problems navigating the language or culture then try to break out and seize new experiences in front of you. There are many people at your university or accommodation looking for friends too. Invite them to have dinner, go see a movie, or explore the new city together. Having more friends is a good way to cheer yourself up, and also a good way to practise English. Recently I’ve been reading The Road Less Traveled by Morgan Scott Peck, which is a great book from an international student’s perspective. A quote from the book which helped me says: “Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.” We’re all prone to feeling down in new environments and new challenges – it’s okay to be upset, but limit the time you allow yourself to give in to it. Making it through the rough times, while more difficult, is absolutely more rewarding. There must be one day in the near future when I will treat London as my other home. On that day, when I step back and look at what I’ve gone through, I can be very proud by myself. 49
Originally published in Artefact #7 The Renewal issue, December 2015
Words: Annabelle Baka, Milena Paraschiv Image: Milena Paraschiv
Living rough beneath Marble Arch Ignoring EU rules to deport those not looking for work, Romanians still sleep rough on London’s streets
Vladimir, a middle-aged man, tells us he arrived in London two days ago. He left his family in Romania in search for a job and better life but instead he is jobless, begging in Marble Arch. He says: “I arrived two days ago and I’m searching for a job. We’ve tried several times at the Job Centre and been told to wait.”
already returned. In July 2013, immigration enforcement officers took part in a Metropolitan Police operation targeting a number of rough sleepers living in and around Marble Arch in London. They questioned 63 Romanian nationals, many of whom indicated that they will return to their home country voluntarily.
Vladimir is trying to find work in other ways: “Even on the black market, I will be very happy to find something there. I’m just trying to live until I find a job. It’s hard as we don’t have many possibilities because none of us speak English.”
In July 2015 officers from Westminster Police have joined forces with neighbouring boroughs Kensington and Chelsea and Camden to combat anti-social behaviour (ASB) and crime associated with rough sleepers under the banner of Operation Unite.
** The number of Romanians looking to work in the UK has risen since the work restrictions were lifted. Many of them leave their country due to the difficulties of finding a job with the minimum wage of £1 an hour (£6.70 in the UK). The Roma gypsies tell us they chose Marble Arch because they believe they’re more likely to find a job here due to the high number of businesses and shops. So how long have they been here? One man shouts out: “I’ve been here for two months”, while another says: “two days from my side”. However, none of them have managed to find a job. Corina, one of the two ladies in the group asks us if we could possibly help her with a pair of shoes because her feet are soaking wet. After talking about the weather outside and their lack of food, the group of seven men and two young women moved on to their struggles with the residents and police that regularly chase them away. There have also been issues of misrepresentation in the media, which has led to a mistrust of journalists. For this reason they don’t want to be filmed by us as they say the British media has defamed their image. ** Gheorghe tells us: “the reason why we aren’t letting you record is because a lot of people have come and took interviews and photographed us and use it as false stories. They were saying that all gypsies here, including myself, drink, dance, beg and don’t do anything else. I was ashamed to go back home and see my face on TV with such a horrible story.” Another man named Radu approaches us with a piece of paper. He was arrested for begging and sent for a trial in Highbury Corner Magistrates Court. 50
He asks for directions and we offered to help him by writing down how to get there. Radu and the others admit that they’re not very educated. This is also one of the reasons why they struggle to find jobs in Romania. According to UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Romania’s literacy rate is 99% among the youth population; which is higher than the average youth literacy rate in other upper middle-income countries. Despite the struggle of finding a job in London, they still have hope in a city that they believe is the dreamland. We cross the street to speak with another group who are begging; they tell us the same thing: “Please do not film us”. We started by asking them if they’re Romanians. One of the ladies expresses her pride about being of Roma descent. “I’m a gypsy!” she shouts in poor English while beating her chest. There are currently around 11 million Roma travellers in Europe. Everywhere around the continent these people are disadvantaged and unemployed and most of us know next to nothing about them or where they’re coming from. New genetic studies show that their ancestors migrated from northwest India 1,500 years ago and not Egypt as previously believed. The gypsies explain that they’ve been kicked out of Romania and have come here for a better life. At this point they get frustrated with the questions. They say to our Romanian reporter: “Why must you record us? That’s not going to help. You Romanians are the reason why we’re here. No one wants us, not here or
in Romania. We have no options but to beg. If you want to help us, help us with a job or some food, not a story.” ** Elena Desde, Manager of Pret a Manger in Marble Arch, tells us about the problems she encounters: “In the morning we open at six o’clock and find them sleeping outside. They don’t want to leave. Even though we asked them several times, it’s quite hard to make them leave. During the day they sit outside the shop, eating and making a mess and it puts our customers off.” Desde also fears for her safety: “In the morning I arrive at 4am and I’m scared to open up. Sometimes there are more than 20 sleeping outside.”
Romanian General Police Inspectorate, the Centre for Information and Public Relations told Artefact that their officers have been working on the problem in London: “As requested by British authorities, Romanian police officers are currently participating in an activity organized by the British Transport Police. It comes following the important part a Romanian officer played in obtaining a significant decrease in crime during the period in which he was seconded to the British Transport Police in 2014. The Embassy of Romania said: “The issue of Romanian citizens who illegally occupy public spaces in central London is in the constant attention of the Embassy. At the request of British authorities, our institution provides support to identify possible criminal networks (begging, pick-pocketing, etc.). Socially, the Embassy seeks to ensure that Romanian citizens’ rights are respected and that social assistance services are given through various charities.”
So what has been the response from the British media and the authorities?Local residents and businesses have previously complained that members of these groups wash in fountains, dump rubbish and defecate in public, says the Daily Mail. According to the Evening Standard, Westminster has held a summit with agencies including the Foreign Office and the Romanian Embassy. In May, police and UK Border Agency held a joint operation after Scotland Yard said some travellers were impersonating police and targeting tourists.
Also according to Metropolitan Police, Westminster councillor Nickie Aiken said: “Anyone sleeping on the streets is at risk. We know that rough sleeping is detrimental to physical and mental health as well as the risk to safety. Throughout the borough we work hard to ensure that those found rough sleeping are quickly assessed and offered a route away from the street and those in genuine need are offered the support required to move away from rough sleeping through a large range of holistic services.”
Westminster Council has a team that works with the Metropolitan Police and Home Office Immigration Enforcement to assess whether people have a right to be here. More than 50 rough sleepers have been repatriated to Romania in the summer of 2012 but some have
Aiken also told the Evening Standard that working with the police to remove these people from the area is like a revolving door: “It is like putting a plaster on a gaping hole in our borders. Unless we stop these people coming in this will not be resolved.”
Originally published in Artefact #9 The Space issue, March 2016
Words: Jay Duncan Image: Marcus Scott
Where are the women in Footwork? A female pioneer reflects on gender in dance music
Hailing from Chicago, Footwork encompasses body movement and distinct city sounds. A growth and development in house music that has culturally influenced multiple figureheads from the city, has brought the movement to global recognition. The ‘Juke’ genre, classed as the root of footwork gained commercial credit, leading the townies to something better to skiffle their feet too. Footwork emerged from the energy of hip-hop and house, reaching 160bpm; the genre’s altered beat pattern makes you appreciate the pace differently. Hi-hat twinkles and fast paced rhythms add the perfect accompaniment for funky foot action. ** Reflecting on Footwork's innovators, legends and late greats leads to consideration of attitudes in a genre overflowing with male purveyors. A female face in Footwork is considered somewhat rare. Reckoning with the ongoing debates over female figures in dance music, 2015 was the year of change and 2016 brings promise. The passing of DJ Rashad left the scene bereft at such a loss, with TEKLIFE striving to spread the sounds of Rashad. The legacy left of the genre lies with men, very talented men, but it leads me to ask, where are the women? A genre centred around dancing lacks a distinct female presence. Often when browsing the web on websites featuring ‘top ten acts you need to know in Footwork’, legends such as DJ Rashad, RP BOO, Dj Spinn and Traxman make appearances with one site honouring Jlin on their list. Jerilyn Patton graced the scene with her debut Dark Energy on Planet Mu, prior to this her track Erotic Heat was featured on Planet Mu’s compilation Bangs & Works Vol.2. Dark Energy brings corrupted baselines, weightless beats and a sense of tribal intensity that differs from the linear format of the genre’s history. Artefact caught up with Jerilyn to dig deeper. Sampling acts is very common in footwork music: “When it comes to other artists, you kinda know what to expect,” Patton differentiates from the crowd by avoiding sampling at all costs. “When I started getting good at making Footwork music, I was sampling and one day I had asked my mom to listen to the sample of Teena Marie—Portuguese Love. I asked her what she thought about it and she said: ‘It’s ok, but what do you sound like?’ And that’s the question that
changed everything, after Portuguese Love, Erotic Heat came. It’s been going ever since.” ** As a native of Gary, Indiana, just 20 minutes from Chicago, Patton currently works in a steel mill and this leads many to imagine that inspiration would stem from her work. “I like ballet. I was very inspired by Alvin Ailey Dance school, Black Ballet started from that, that was actually the last song that completed the album. I knew I wanted something ballet related; I started watching Alvin Ailey dancers on YouTube and it just popped out right at me. I said: “Oh my goodness, there it is.” The irony; footwork encompasses DJ’s and dancing, yet Jlin seeks inspiration from ballet. “People don’t go past certain parallels in Footwork you know, it’s like you get locked into ‘The Dancer’, ‘The Footworker’ and ‘The DJ’, and it doesn’t go past that, I’ve noticed that. I pull from so many places, like my Infrared track was completely inspired from a fight scene in the movie The Grandmaster. I love movement and it can be any movement, I like the way water moves. I’m actually working on a track right now which is based on the way water moves and the different variations. Not
to mention that the human body is 70/80 per cent water. So I mean I find that quite fascinating, we as human beings are related to water so I have no surprise that most people get their ideas in the shower.” Talent isn’t integral to gender, for Patton the waves between her identity and gender seems to bare a recurring problem in the midst of her success. “When people tell me that I’m in the position I’m in because I’m a woman, 98 per cent of the people who address me who didn’t know me until now always assumed I was a man. So many cases on Soundcloud I’d get ‘HEY BRO THIS SHIT IS CRAZY’ or ‘BRO I WANNA MEET YOU’.” ** On the subject of Footwork dancing Jlin shares her top dancers to watch: “Cristal James, Lil Bit and Jasmine Applewhite is another one, they are there! These people need to be showcased; it has to be strategically planned. They’re excellent and I’m very proud of them. I actually made a track on my EP Freefall. I have a track called I am the Queen and it was dedicated to Cristal.” "When I was making tracks and putting stuff on Soundcloud, she said: ‘Hey sis can you make me a track for women,
cause we don’t have a lot of them’. So I did this track called I am The Queen, that’s where that came from, I don’t want any misconceptions that the track is about me”. ** Assumptions in the music industry are something most women are used to and have to learn to address. “It’s something you brace yourself for, y’know? I know the root of what it is, but I don’t have time to address the egos from either side. Whether it be a women’s or a man’s. I don’t create to tender to your ego. I don’t create for headliners. I had to tell a guy that I don’t create to be on billboards, I don’t create to be as one of the names to drop at a show. When I create I’m in a very vulnerable state, I’m basically showcasing you naked in front of my work, I don’t do that for accolades.” Forward-thinking actions within a genre lavished with male talent are just the beginning, Jlin shattered stereotypes in 2015, leaving the new year for emerging footwork fanatics to take the stage where male or female figureheads can be recognised. Breaking away from constrictions from a genre tied to tradition leaves us waiting for the next hot female figure in Footwork to emerge. 51
Originally published in Artefact #9 The Space issue, March 2016
Words & image: Sean Littlewood
Stratford’s Secret Skaters B-boys, b-girls, skaters and freestyle bladers showcase their skills
says around midnight. “To be fair they probably do hate us,” one of the skaters explains. “There’s rarely any trouble though. The police do kinda patrol the place, especially on weekends, but they just sort of walk around a bit and leave us to do our thing.”
The word gentrification gets thrown around a lot at the moment. All you really need is a Twitter account and a small dose of romanticism to get onboard with the crusade against our ‘shitty, rich-landlord infected city that's becoming like an overly yuppified scene from American Psycho’.
Nights at the centre can also act as a social gathering for the group. Many of whom are too young to go to the pub, and too passionate about skating to really want to spend their nights doing anything else.Among the people who come here are the skaters, freestyle bladers, breakdancers, a few of their friends— some of whom have been playing hackssack for most of the night.
** Super-modern, high rent, Youtuber friendly apartments hang above derelict 1980s council estates, where local residents have been forced from their homes to make way for more profitable social projects, like Elephant and Castle’s proposed Elephant Park. It’s Benefits Street meets Blade Runner— two very different worlds existing within the confines of their own very different realities. And nowhere is this contrast more visible than in Stratford. Just two walls away from the utopian madness of Westfield a small community of skaters, breakdancers and freestyle bladers are gathering after-hours to showcase their talents in an older, more harshly-lit shopping centre. Historically, skating has always been something that has existed away from the mainstream. Southbank has long battled to rid itself of any sign of subculture being created by the seminal skatepark that sits just by the river Thames, and it’s become almost an inside joke among the skateboarding community that they will eventually face hassle from both the law and the council for their passion. Apart from Victoria Park, Bay Sixty Six and Southbank, which somehow still remains, major skateparks have been consistently scarce in the capital. So it’s hardly surprising that skaters would eventually just start their own. The Stratford Centre was built in the 1970’s, and sits awkwardly about 100 yards away from its newer, more significant cousin. According to the skaters themselves, it has been occupied at night by the community for more than ten years, after it started staying open to serve as a public walkway. Natalie, from East London, who is one of the many people of different ages, genders and backgrounds who use the area, comes to Stratford for a place to hang out with her friends whilst practicing her biggest passion, freestyle skating. “I’ve been coming here for roughly four years now, but the history of skating in 52
Stratford goes way back. More than ten years, I’ve been told.” The first thing you notice when you walk through Stratford Centre after around 8pm is the number of people who have stopped to appreciate the things going on inside. Some people film on their phones, while others simply stand and applaud from a distance some of the more impressive tricks the different communities manage to pull off. ** The skaters certainly aren’t shy of the attention that inevitably comes with being in such a public area either. “You get people stopping to watch or film us all the time, especially if they’re drunk,” one of the other skaters explains. “It’s cool though because it is quite a unique thing, I guess. People just don’t expect to see it.” Being situated right in the heart of Stratford, between the main underground and bus station stations, means a huge amount of people pass through during the night, but it’s rare that the group face any real trouble or threat either. “I think sometimes people may even feel a little bit intimidated by us, but again, that’s because it’s something you just don’t normally expect see happening in places like this,” says CJ, one of the main freestyle skaters who comes here almost every night to skate. It’s clear that skating is something everyone who occupies the centre at night is extremely passionate about too,
and without anywhere else to go during the evening in the area something like this was always going to happen. Young people who are passionate always just seem to make the best of a situation, which is what the skaters of Stratford have done by turning the shopping centre into their nighttime hangout. ** When the Olympics came to London four years ago, Stratford was promised huge changes to the facilities available to its hugely diverse, young population. But aside from West Ham moving into the Olympic Stadium and the council almost making a slide out of the Olympic sculpture, those plans have practically been forgotten by Newham Council. “I do wish that there was somewhere proper to skate, especially for the skateboarders,” a freestyle skater says. “It’s obviously all just flat ground in here, which is really nice to skate on, but it would be cool if they built something with ramps and stuff so the we could practice more proper tricks.” “There really isn’t anywhere else to go either,” CJ also says of the lack of facilities in the area, “so we do appreciate that we’re able to come here and not get hassled to move on.” Security, for the most part, have left the skaters alone. That doesn’t mean the night passes without a few security cautions blasting from the shopping centre speakers though. “You’re on camera, we can see what you’re doing,” one message
The atmosphere almost feels like that of an actual skate park during the daytime, or on a weekend. Each of the different groups have their own space, sometimes all merging together to take interest in what the other is doing. The backgrounds of everyone that comes here also varies drastically. Some are students, some are unemployed, and some are even teachers or work serving coffee or fitting shoes in the Westfield opposite during the daytime. Some are just 15, while others are in their late thirties. What they all seem to share is a huge passion for what they do, and the 24 hour opening of the Stratford Centre has allowed them somewhere to gather and practice something that has become a huge part of their lives. What the skaters, b-boys, b-girls, freestyle bladers represent is a will to carry on against the grain of very real gentrification that is happening in their lives. And they’ve done it in the graceful way of quietly continuing to create their own culture and community right in plain sight of a council that seems intent on placing their focus on pricing them out of the area. Whether it’s due to some kind of happy accident, or anarchistic occupation, however you look at it this is exactly the sort of thing that London was promised in the wake of the 2012 Olympics. And barely half a mile away from the Olympic Stadium itself, there is a subculture and a group of young people who are finding solace in extreme sports and a community that they’ve created for themselves which continues to thrive against the odds.
Originally published in Elephant Sport #1, March 2016
Words & image: Stephen Kilbey
On the road with my NFL team Going on the road to watch your team in the NFL is a strange thing.
As with all the major sports in the USA, the distance between each team can be anything from sharing the same stadium, to travelling almost 3,000 miles across a single country and multiple states. But the main difference is that the NFL is king in America, and travelling to see your team play away from home is more like a pilgrimage; it’s taken very seriously. And I didn’t realise that fully, until I flew from London to Charlotte to see my NFL team—the Green Bay Packers— play the Carolina Panthers away from their home field. The Panthers aren’t the most storied team in the NFL, having formed as part of the League’s expansion in 1995, but their fan base are as passionate as the rest, despite needing a bit of growth. Bank of America Stadium is also a cool place to catch a game, if a little generic for a downtown stadium. It seems to suit the team, the structure is new, and exciting, but lacks any character gained from a lengthy history. None of that mattered though, as joining the thousands of Packers fans outside— who had also travelled an incredible distance to see the team play—made Charlotte feel like the streets surrounding Lambeau Field back in Wisconsin, proving that Pack fans really know how to make anywhere in the USA feel like a home from home. Small market, big support “Oh yeah, if the Packers come to town it’s always the biggest game for us,” said Adrian Green, a sales assistant at a sports retail store local to Bank of America Stadium. “They just come in droves and it’s actually a real positive for our business round here. I mean, even the Panthers’ rivalry games don’t attract the same sort of support as the Packers, wherever they play, it seems like the entire fanbase converges on the city.” And he really wasn’t joking, as the tailgating scene surrounding the stadium was littered with people of all ages donning ‘Green and Gold’. “Oh, it was only a 14 hour drive down,” said one Wisconsinite in a worn-out Packers jersey, while grilling a bratwurst beside his truck. “We try and do one game a year outside of Green Bay, it’s really fun to see new places and cheer on the team as a road warrior.”
American sport sets itself apart when it comes to fan culture The pre-game festivities have become an essential part of every NFL gameday now, as everyone meets up and parties in the huge parking lots or bars near the stadium. Back in Green Bay, Lambeau Field is quite segregated from the rest of Wisconsin and its major cities Madison and Milwaukee. It’s a small town, in the middle of an agrarian part of America; so gameday is a day which, eight times a year, brings everyone together in celebration of the smallest market in the league. Tailgating in the middle of a city is so different. Charlotte is very much cosmopolitan, and densely populated, so the areas where fans party are tightly packed and spread out. Warm welcomes It didn’t detract from the experience though, as per usual, I was constantly offered all manner of food and drinks when walking around, between the various set ups soaking it all in. “Has the game started yet?” one fan asked me. “No, there’s still an hour until kick-off,” I replied. “Brilliant,” he said. “More time for beer!”
The atmosphere in the stadium was also a friendly one. Whether it’s just a ‘Southern Hospitality’ thing or not, it was really encouraging to see both Panther and Packer fans alike cheering, chatting and sharing the game experience together. There’s no segregation in America, which to a UK fan may seem very alien, but out in the US it’s normal. I didn’t have to be quiet when the Packers scored – partly because there were so many of our fans, and partly because Panthers fans were very accommodating. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever shouted louder during a game, despite being surrounded by fans wearing black and blue jerseys. The Pack started strongly, but played awfully after leading at the end of the first quarter. Until the final 15 minutes, Carolina were firmly in control, leading by three scores, but the Packers battled back and made for one of the more exciting finishes to a football game I’d ever seen. Down just one score with two minutes to go, Green Bay’s Demerious Randall intercepted Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton to give the Packers extremely favourable field position for one
last shot at victory. The section I was in erupted, with a unique mixture of groans and jubilation. I’ll never forget jumping up and down, screaming and high fiving all the fellow fans around me. What seemed like a foregone conclusion at halftime was suddenly turned on its head; I guess that’s the sort of drama which gets so many people make the trips to opposing teams’ stadiums. In the end it wasn’t meant to be though, as the Packers turned the ball over just a few yards from the score. My team, our team, Wisconsin’s team, had lost; and it was gut-wrenching, despite all of us having accepted defeat ages before the game’s conclusion. Incredible experience Those of us wearing green were left with long journeys home, including an eighthour flight back to London for me. But it was worth it. Seeing the NFL for what it really is behind the TV screen, and in its native country is always an incredible experience. American sport sets itself apart from other countries when it comes to fan culture, because it’s always such a great experience for families, as much as diehard fans; it’s closer to Bundesliga, than it is Premier League. “Better luck next time,” said one Panther fans on the way out of the stadium. “You guys are good, and we’re just riding high. See you in the playoffs hopefully. It’ll be a great game! “Oh, and thanks for making the trip,” he added before turning an opposite way to us onto the street outside. “You guys made the atmosphere special today.”
Lines need tidying up
Originally published in Elephant Sport #1, March 2016
Words: John Pownall
Wales—Zombie Nation no more Standfirst needed xxxxxx
“He was making rapid strides in improving the infrastructure, modernising the preparation and enthusing the players.
Unless you’ve been living underneath a rock this past year, you’ll know that Wales have qualified for their first major football tournament since the 1958 World Cup.
“The last campaign offered a great opportunity because of the expanded Euros format, but he might have done it sooner.
It’s a privilege some teams and their fans might take for granted, but the Welsh are rejoicing after such an impressive qualifying campaign under manager Chris Coleman.
“I was in touch with him as the draw for the Brazil World Cup was taking place, he was out there for it, and we both agreed there was a chance of getting there from that group.
Now, for the first time in the majority of their fans lives, transport and accommodation are being booked for this summer’s Euro 2016 party in France.
“Gary’s death threw everything to the winds for a while and it’s taken a time to get everything set again.”
Among those travelling will be Sky Sports reporter and proud Wales supporter Bryn Law, whose book Zombie Nation Awakes documents the Dragons’ long-awaited qualification. “It has sunk in, planning has started for everyone, including me, so it is now ‘real’,” he told me. Concern Had he ever began thinking that Wales would never make it to either the European Championship or World Cup Finals again? “I’m not sure about ‘never’, I always had hope, as did many others. Without that, you’d just give up wouldn’t you?” he said. “I’ll be heading to France and the ferry is booked, as are the hotels. I’ll be going as a fan. “Sky Sports have no rights to cover the tournament, and Sky Sports News get very limited access so, having been right in the thick of it for all the qualifiers, I’d rather do it completely differently. “That means pottering around France for a couple of weeks as a fan—something I’ve always wanted to do.” Of course, two of the home nations ended up in the same group, with Wales meeting England in Lens on June 16th—a clash that’s causing Law some concern. Security “The game I’m least looking forward to of the three is England,” he admitted. “Given Lens’ relative proximity, I think it could attract people from both sides who may be more interested in confrontation.
Diehards Here we are though, on the verge of Wales’ first major tournament in more than half a century, with excitement building and confidence is high for a reason. “After the events in Paris last November, France doesn’t need any added security concerns at the moment, and Wales doesn’t want any negative coverage from what should be a hugely positive experience.” Law is adamant, however, that a loss against England wouldn’t take the wind out of Welsh sails. “The full focus of the English-based media will fall on that one game, as if it were the be-all-and-end-all. It isn’t. Wales can lose to England and still qualify, and I’ll be very happy.” After seeing his beloved national side fall short of reaching major tournaments time and again, Law is happy to see the book he was so desperate to write— about Wales actually making it—published. For the fans “I wrote it to be enjoyed by Wales fans, if anyone else likes it that’s a bonus,” he explained. “I’ve one guy having a bit of a pop on Twitter because we were all getting so excited about actually qualifying, that we felt the need to write books about it. “I get that to an extent, it must seem strange if you’re used to seeing your country qualify for everything, but that’s actually the point of the book—for us it’s literally a dream come true. “Plus, I’ve always enjoyed writing so having a book to my name is another
dream I’ve had come true.” For Wales as a nation, Euro 2016 qualification has been uplifting and uniting, a chance to finally be able to step up alongside some of the best national teams in the world. Recognition “I think the qualification could be very important,” said Law. “Wales suffers from stereotyping, it’s all coal mines, choirs and rugby. But, of course, it isn’t. “The football team’s success helps to debunk at least one of those three. “Wales as a nation suffers from lack of recognition, so to be seen on what is a world stage could be very beneficial. “Gareth Bale is one of the world’s most recognisable and popular sports stars, and he plays for Wales. If he tears it up in France, the country derives tremendous benefit. “But all the Welsh players are potential stars, and they’re the sort of people a nation can properly be proud of.” Groundwork Law’s late friend Gary Speed, who died aged 42 during his tenure as Wales manager, laid the majority of the groundwork that Coleman built upon. “I’m sure Gary would have done it [qualifying for a major tournament],” Law insisted.
Lines need tidying up
Law predicted: “I think Wales have a good chance of going through to the knockout stage. I’m not getting carried away, but it’s actually easier to go through than go out this time. “Of the 24 teams, 16 advance, and we don’t appear to have the worst group. If we could get through round one, I’d be delighted but I think being there is enough for most of the diehards. “But we do have players who can win tight games with something out of the ordinary, and that might be a factor in knockout football.” Enjoyable With sights set on France now, we will be seeing a follow-up book on Wales at Euro 2016 itself ? “A few people have asked if I’m planning a book on the tournament in the summer and it is a possibility, from a fan’s perspective this time. “If someone wants to publish it, I’ll probably do one. Beyond that, I am looking at writing more [books]. “You don’t make much money from writing them, by the way—unless you’re JK Rowling—but it is an enjoyable exercise and it’s nice to see your name on the cover.” Zombie Nation Awakes by Bryn Law is published by St David’s Press.
Originally published in Elephant Sport #1, March 2016
Words: Elliott Tugwell Image: Paul Foot via Flickr.com
Tales of what might have been for Pickering GB sprinter on how an Olympic medal slipped through his fingers
Not very often does one athlete earn the chance to represent their nation at two Olympic sports. Craig Pickering came very close to doing so.
“Bobsleigh offered me a trial, I was quite good, and they took me on board. From that point, I was focused on qualifying for Sochi in 2014."
Now 29 and living in Australia, the former Team GB sprint star also nearly made it to the 2014 Winter Games as part of Britain’s bobsleigh squad.
Bad timing However, as the Winter Games approached, Pickering picked up another injury, ruling him out of yet another major event. He’s now philosophical about these setbacks.
Injury prevented him from making the trip to Sochi, however, and such setbacks are a recurring theme in a sporting career that could have—but never quite—hit the heights.
“Genetically, I am at risk of suffering from a lower back injury – I had my first one aged 14. Then the daily training and competing takes it out of you too. The timing of it all is unlucky – I’d rather my big injuries had not happened in 2012 and 2014, but 2011 and 2013 instead, but that’s the way it goes sadly.”
Crawley-born Pickering bursting onto the athletics scene at the age of 18 with victory in a race in which he beat Sydney Olympics 4x100m relay gold medallist Darren Campbell. Looking back, he’s not too sure that win really deserved the hype it generated around him. “When I beat Darren, he was coming to the end of his career,” Pickering told me. “Three other people beat him in that race, so it wasn’t only me. I think it was made into more of a big deal than the performance warranted.” Sacrifices It’s 13 years prior to the ‘breakthrough’ race in 2005 that his sprint memories start. “Sprinting was probably the first sport I did, but more as a play-based activity. I have strong memories aged five of winning my first sports day by a long way, and also beating kids a few years older than me. But I never pursued athletics outside of sports day, really. One of the problems was that I genuinely didn’t know how to.” Dreaming of becoming a professional footballer, Pickering’s then-PE teacher Adam Izzard pointed him towards rugby. However, success in athletics seemed more likely for the 16-year-old, and as the chances of succeeding became more realistic, other sports were sacrificed. Yet it took Pickering a while to realise his potential. “I was by no means a serious athlete aged 14 or 15, even though I was winning national championships. "I think the turning point for me came in 2003, I was 16; I came third in the World Under-18 Championships, and I thought that if I took it seriously, I might be able to get somewhere with my sprinting."
Transition Two years after his realisation, he found himself crossing the line ahead of Campbell. By now, Pickering had goals in his mind. Everything was geared up for the 18-year-old to burst onto the global scene, but a great 2005 was followed by an anti-climactic 2006. “It was my first year at university with a new coach, and a big transition period,” he explained. “It’s important in athletics to take it each year at a time." So 2006 rolled into 2007, and Pickering won the 60m at the European Indoor Trials and UK Championships in February. “My goal for 2007 was to get myself back to a decent level. I did not expect to run so fast over 60m, that was a shock, but once I had it wasn’t that surprising that I had a bit more success over the 100m that year.” Blunder By the time the Beijing Olympics came around in 2008, Pickering and the rest of the GB men’s sprint relay squad were seen as nailed on for a medal. But history repeated itself as, yet again, a bad year followed a good one for Pickering. In the 4x100m final, his illegal baton exchange Marlon Devonish led to Great Britain being disqualified. It was a blunder that Pickering takes full responsibility for. “It wasn’t ideal,
Since moving to Australia, Pickering has found himself becoming more detached from the GB athletics scene. Offering his services as a coach online and being head of sport science at DNAFit, he is hoping his current job will lead him to secure a more hands-on coaching role. but mistakes happen and the important thing is to learn from them. From then my relay performances were much better. “After Beijing my focus was on 2009, then 2010, then 2011—2012 was a long way away at that point. It’s only now that I think that the relay was an important opportunity missed. I should have an Olympic medal, but I don’t and that’s my fault.” Surgery The years following 2008 were all geared towards London 2012 for Pickering, but early in Olympic year came the devastating news that he was to miss the Games on home soil. “I had to have back surgery,” he explained. “I knew for about seven months before the Olympics that I’d have to, so it wasn’t a last minute disappointment or anything, but I would have liked more than anything to have competed in London." The bad news didn’t stop there. Due to not being able to compete in London, Pickering dropped out of UK Athletics’ lottery funding system, meaning at 21 he find another source of income. Luckily (for once), a new one wasn’t hard to locate as his talent was seen to be potentially useful in another Olympic event, the bobsleigh.
Rumours An avid user of Twitter, Pickering is vocal on eradicating drugs within athletics. With world governing body the IAAF currently mired in a corruption scandal involving the alleged covering up of positive tests, it’s a hot topic. “Rumours will never stop,” he said. “Things that have happened will taint athletics pretty much forever, and there is a belief in the general public that pretty much every athlete is on drugs." At least, says Pickering, the sport has Usain Bolt to counter the negative news. With Rio 2016 possibly signalling the end of the Jamaican sprint king’s career, Pickering believes that as much as his retirement would be a sad day, it will also help the sport progress as a whole. “After he retires, the sport will just move on an unearth new stars and big names. I doubt any will have the same impact as Bolt, however. He is a one-in-a-million athlete that only comes around every 100 years or so.” Amongst the up-and-coming stars of sprinting, Pickering thinks highly of GB hopefuls Chijindu Ujah and James Dasaolu. If they can both stay injury free I would expect them to have really solid careers, and potentially challenge for 100m medals in the future. Adam Gemili too is a big hope.” 55
Words: Sami Berhane
Hyped to the max as NXT takes over London Standfirst needed xxxxxx
Enthralling action, gripping plotlines, larger-than-life performances and personalities—I’ve seen all of this and more on my TV as a wrestling fan.
Corbin went on to win and afterwards endured more profane abuse before, in typically British fashion, we clapped him off all the way.
But actually being at a big-time live show turns all of those qualities up by 1,000, and for three hours you are removed from reality and immersed in the crazy, captivating world of pro wrestling.
As we got further into the card, I could really sense the anticipation building for the last two matches—the championship contests were most likely the ones that people had really paid to see.
When WWE NXT scheduled a network special event at the SSE Arena in Wembley for the finale of its UK tour, I knew I had to move fast.
As Bayley made her memorable entrance and wrestled Nia Jax for the NXT Divas Championship, we Londoners started the now famous Bayley chant based on Hey Baby, the former UK no 1 song made famous by DJ Otzi.
Tickets sold out in less than five minutes, but luckily I secured mine and so became one of the privileged 10,000-plus fans in attendance on the night.
Since the Wembley show, the chant has taken off and is now sung in Bayley’s honour at all the events she appear at back in the USA and elsewhere around the world. We were not only just there to witness and admire, but we were making history.
As somebody who had only ever watched wrestling on television, you could say I was than a little excited. The moment I walked into the arena and saw the ring and the crowd, a massive grin spread across my face and pretty much stayed there for the whole evening. As I located my seat, it was refreshing to see all types of people at the event. The young, the old, families, friends, people on their own—and none of those categories mattered. We were all in one category, wrestling fans.
The main event was finally upon us and one word comes to mind—brutality
Hyped up Whatever you think of pro wrestling, it knows how to put on a show that makes fans feel it’s worth paying their hardearned money to attend.
nese star Asuka and Emma. These women really left it all in the ring, delivering intensity in every move.
The party-like atmosphere at this one was in evidence even outside the arena, with the gathering hordes of WWE aficionados in high spirits, chanting all the way as they moved up the queue to get in.
Asuka showcased her submission expertise and hard-hitting style to claim the victory. It was the perfect match to get the crowd up and gave the show a sense of momentum that never flagged as the night went on.
The televised show started with a special appearance by probably the most recognisable face on the night, former superstar and now executive vice-president of talent relations/live events of WWE, Triple H.
Death defying If I was to tell you what came next blew the roof off the place and produced the largest reaction of the night, you’d imagine it must have been a really intense back-and-forth contest with an array of exciting moves and death-defying leaps -but it was simply an entrance to the ring!
It was like the Triple H of old. He had the crowd in the palm of his hand and hyped things up to the max as the first rendition of the NXT chant echoed around the cavernous venue. The first match on the card was actually one of the night’s best, between Japa56
When Enzo Amore and Colin Cassidy’s music was pumped out, it really did feel like England had scored at the nearby national stadium. The crowd roared and sang along with every word of their
famed opening entrance skit, complete with their native New York accent. This segment really brought home why I originally became a pro wrestling fan. It’s an art that elevates audience participation to a level that leaves other forms of entertainment trailing in its wake. A lot of the time, the wrestling isn’t what garners the loudest reaction but rather it’s the entrances, promos and catchphrases in which the crowd really feel most deeply involved. Egged on A fairly rudimentary match followed between crowd favourite Apollo Crews and the villainous Baron Corbin. Some viewed this as the right time to get more drinks and food. Others aimed some vulgar chants at the evil Baron, who egged on the crowd, embraced their bile and basked in the hatred.
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Hype The main event was finally upon us and one word comes to mind when looking back—brutality. Reigning NXT heavyweight champion Finn Balor and challenger Samoa Joe really put it all on the line. The promise of blood, sweat and tears has become a cliché in the fight world, but this match lived up to it. It truly had everything. Drama, emotion, violence, technical wrestling and no little amount of brawling. It truly did live up to its hype and delivered on all fronts, so much so that after Balor retained his belt to the delight of the crowd, he had to be carried out by medics. That’s what steel chairs, a table and a 300lb Samoan monster will do to you... The event drew to a close and I truly felt like I’d got my £60 worth, and left with a new-found respect for all the performers who had put their bodies through so much for our entertainment. Wrestlers are on the road 300 days a year, fighting in a new city every night, and to experience it live was truly special—one hell of an emotional rollercoaster ride. I recommend anybody to go next time WWE rolls into your town. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Even if you aren’t a wrestling fan, by the time you come out of the arena at the end of the show, you will be.
Originally published in Elephant Sport #1, March 2016
Words: Alessandro Schiavone
The pain of Fabio Paim
Fabio Paim’s story is a cautionary tale for any talented young footballer
“I didn’t listen to anybody. I chose the wrong path and the wrong friends. Today all I want is to help young talented players to avoid making the same mistakes as I did.”
me inexplicably.” Since 2007, he has made just 52 senior appearances, with lacklustre loan spells at seven clubs. However, at one of those he thought his childhood dreams had finally come true.
So says Fabio Paim, a boyhood friend of Cristiano Ronaldo whose career could have followed a similar route to trophies, acclaim and all the trappings of fame and fortune.
Chelsea, then managed by Felipe Scolari, signed him in 2008 but in a four-month spell he failed to impress the Brazilian, who he describes as “single-minded, hard, demanding but very lovely off the pitch”.
In fact, Ronaldo is quoted as having once said in his younger days: “If you think I’m good, just wait until you see Fabio Paim.” But as his old companheiro de equipe laments: “I didn’t listen to people who wanted to help me when I was younger. I was so successful that I didn’t care about the tips my mother, my uncle and my agent Jorge Mendes gave me.” Once heralded as the golden boy of Portuguese football, Paim is a classic case of a gifted player who wasn’t comfortable in the spotlight and struggled to come to terms with the expectations placed on him. He had talent in abundance as a skilful, pacy winger but wasn’t strong-willed and disciplined enough to go the extra mile and make the most of it. ‘Fake friends’ A succession of injuries, poor form and a lack of faith shown in him by managers at a long list of clubs all contributed, but the 27-year-old mostly blames himself. “All I want to say to young players is: don’t make the same mistakes I did. Being talented is not enough. Regardless of your skills you always have to work and always be hungry. “I was also surrounded by many fake friends who only wanted to be around me because of my money and fame and not because they cared about me. This spoiled my career.” A graduate of Sporting Lisbon’s world-renowned academy, Paim admits that while his team-mates concentrated on football , his mind was on what he would do after training, which car he was thinking of buying and what girl he was going to meet up with. Despite being two years his senior, Ronaldo looked up to the younger man at Sporting, but had the appetite for hard
All I want to say to young players is: don’t make the same mistakes I did work and desire to improve that his compatriot lacked. That laid the foundations for his glorious career at Manchester United and Real Madrid, but Paim has no feelings of envy or resentment towards him. “Ronaldo? I am happy for him. He was such a great lad, and what a great player he has become. Unlike me, he was very disciplined, ambitious and a hard worker. “He really grafted and always tuned out complacency. Day by day, he worked his socks off. I didn’t. I didn’t work hard enough to shine. “People said that I was better than him, even Ronaldo pointed this out one day. The fact that I could have had a similar great career makesme proud.” Rebel Paim, who played for all of Portugal’s international age group teams from under-16 through to under-21 level, was the driving force of a breathtaking Sporting Lisbon U21 side which also featured Nani, Joao Moutinho, Ricardo Quaresma
and, of course the fledgling Ronaldo. And yet he left Sporting in 2010 without having made a senior appearance. “Do you want to know why? Paulo Bento, the manager at the time, never showed faith in me, he didn’t like me as a person. He thought I was a rebel. Injuries? I wasn’t injured. “I trained with the first team and despite my talent I never played, whereas less gifted players were handed the chance to impress.” In total, he has turned out for 16 clubs, including ones in Angola, Malta and Qatar. Most recently, he found himself playing in Luxembourg’s second tier. “I might not have been disciplined enough, but honestly I didn’t make the right choices to join some clubs. In many, the managers didn’t trust me and often underestimated me. “When I played at Torreense [in the second tier in Portugal], I was the best player and had an influential role in helping them seal promotion. But once in the top-flight, the manager discarded
Resurrect Maybe that experience at Chelsea is something he will tell his grandkids about one day. Not many people can say they have trained with world-class talents such as Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack and Petr Cech. Paim reveals how compatriots Ricardo Carvalho, Paulo Ferreira and Jose Bosingwa tried to nurture him on and off the pitch. “They were always there for me. They helped me to settle down a lot, and I’m still in contact with them.” Four years earlier, Scolari had been in charge of the Portugal team when he called up Paim to his 30-man squad for Euro 2004. “I was so honoured!” he exclaims. “I was only 17 years old, and being considered as one of your country’s 30 best players was incredible. I am so proud, even if didn’t make the Euros [as part of the final 23-man squad]. When we spoke, Paim was hoping to resurrect his fading career at Union 05 Kayl-Tétange in Luxembourg. “Helping Kayl to promotion is what I am here for. I know the expectations of me are many, but I know how to deal with it. I really love being here, unlike some other clubs I played for. Some were a real disgrace. At least I get paid and people have faith in my abilities. In Malta, for example, they didn’t pay me for six months… which was a real shock as I had to feed my family. "Here so far, everything is going according to plan and I am really happy.” Sadly, since our interview, Paim has parted company with Union 05 and added yet another chapter to his long tale of what might have been...
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Originally published in Elephant Sport #1, March 2016
Words: Minea Laporcherie Image: Ronal Reyes via Flickr.com
Move over, Rudolph—these reindeer really know how to get a shift on
The sky is clear above the snowy Mäntyvaara racetrack. The track has been cleared, and men in heavy winter jackets rush around with excitement. The Arctic sun rises on the second day of 2016 Reindeer Cup. The temperature is around -10 celsius in Rovaniemi, Finland, but the amount of people and happy faces banish thoughts of how cold it is. Reindeer racing is popular sport in Nordic countries, and Finns enjoy turning out in their thousands for this event which is organised by local charity the Lions Club of Rovaniemi, a town of 58,000 inhabitants just south of the Arctic Circle. The first races are just about to start and the reindeer are being fetched from a holding pen built specially for them in the middle of the track. The drivers are already waiting near the start line wearing colourful uniforms and huge protective goggles. Even among this vibrant spectacle, one man bathes in curious gazes shot in his direction. All geared up in bright fox furs and a pair of furry lapish boots, he is hard to miss. Erkki Orre has been into reindeer sports for 28 years and now hosts one of the Reindeer Cup races in Rovaniemi. Pulsing Like everyone else, Orre is excited and promises to talk to me right after his reindeer has competed. He waves me to come near the start line where the reindeer are directed into starting boxes. “See how the animals have a strong urge to run,” he says, pointing at the reindeer being walked to the track. These are not the cute looking caribous one sees in nature documentaries. Every animal seems alert, muscles pulsing they move around restlessly. The drivers are pulled on skis behind their reindeer, and when the signal to start is shouted, the doors spring open and a snow storm rises from the thundering hooves. A reindeer’s gallop has a cat-like grace to it, and they cover the race distance in a minute or so. Once they have have finished, they are freed from their harnesses and gather together again. The Reindeer Cup has been held annual58
ly for more than 40 years. Orre explains its importance for the reindeer men: “So-called Lapish people, Sami, have an opportunity to meet here. Social gathering “This is a social event, taking place during spring after the separations (an event in which reindeer are marked, some of them castrated or slaughtered) have been done and the autumn’s workload is finished. “People come here to have a good time and to spend time together. Although, this is a social gathering, the reindeer men are competing. Among the people, the question arises: whose reindeer is the fastest?” Orre explains: “A reindeer is coached just like humans or horses. First, in a gentle way and then a little harder. It is the same with any other being. Muscle maintenance and stretching, the animal
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doesn’t go to a gym but it can drag some weights behind it. “A reindeer is a wild animal, but it must to be used to having people around it. It doesn’t seek human attention, but the animal must tolerate to be walked around on a leash. It begins from there. It must be easy to handle. It is a big deal.” Storm in However, not every reindeer will see a racetrack. A racing specimen has to be proportionate of built and possess long, slender legs. Orre said: “It is in the eye of the beholder which reindeer is good and beautiful. Then it is ‘coached’, made to do a test run, for example 500 metres against a clock. The clock never lies. “If it shows something close to 39 seconds for half a kilometre, it is a
good reindeer. A fast reindeer can go 37 seconds, but if the clock shows 45 the animal won’t be a racer. This is how it goes. You need to watch the clock and believe it.” Orre is about to explain more about reindeer training methods when we are told to watch out as one of the reindeer is getting agitated by standing alone at the starting line. The other racers storm in to calm it down, but Orre has time to ask for a selfie. The Cup is divided into five races, and the fastest reindeer go forward to compete at a Championship meeting in Inari at the beginning of April. The Rovaneimi event attracts tourists from around the world and, as one of the officials pointed out, a BBC camera crew were covering it as well.
Originally published in Elephant Sport #1, March 2016
Words: Calvin Morgan
Gambling ruined my football career How betting derailed one young player’s career before it really began
Promising young footballer Victor Ayisi knew he had to seek help for a gambling addiction that was spiralling out of control when he lost £1,000 on a single bet.
awareness out there amongst young footballers who have the money, spare time and might find themselves in a similar situation to him.
He poured his heart out to his shocked mother, who was completely unaware of his problem. She got him the help and counselling he so desperately needed, but by then it was too late—betting had derailed his professional career.
“Betting in football is massive and easily accessible for anyone,” he said. “I think it shouldn’t be advertised as much. People don’t take it seriously enough. There should be more help for young sportspeople out there. I couldn’t really seek help myself because I didn’t know where to turn.”
What had started out as “a bit of fun” to stave off boredom gradually became an all-consuming obsession for the striker, who had been on the books of his local football league club since the age of eight.
Ayisi, 22, was quick to offer advice to any up-and-coming young footballers who may get involved in betting. “There’s no point in gambling. Keep your head in the game and focus on your football,” he said. “If you ever do find yourself in a position where you are beginning to bet regularly, seek help early to avoid ruining your life.”
Ayisi’s name has been changed in this article because he is still hopeful of earning a second chance to make it as a professional. He fears clubs will not risk signing him if his gambling past is made public.
It has been well documented that gambling is a big issue for professional footballers. Michael Chopra who is still playing for Alloa Athletic as well as former players Keith Gillespie, Paul Merson and Matthew Etherington have all admitted to having serious betting problems.
“When I was on the pitch I wasn’t thinking about the result,” he admits. All I could think about was what bet I was going to put on next. “I was touted to be in the first team and was regarded as a future star, but when I turned 18, gambling became a habit and it went downhill from there,” he told me. Ayisi described his gambling addiction as a vicious cycle and revealed that it was a friend who introduced him to betting. “My friend used to go a lot and he used to win big,” he said. “He encouraged me to try it out so I did and I won first time, so I started going again and again and eventually it became an addiction. “My biggest regret is being introduced to gambling in the first place. I think that really changed my career a lot,” he explained. “I lost control of myself and of my limits, and I think it did really ruin my chances of having a career as a professional.” In 2010, Ayisi was offered a two-year scholarship where he was paid £250 a week. He would use the majority of his wages betting on a variety of sports. “It got to a point where I was gambling everyday on anything really,” he said. “Football, tennis, volleyball, anything. It was really bad at this point. I was gambling £200 a week,” he continued.
If you look at me now would you say I used to be an international heavyweight champion fighting in arenas across Germany? Chasing losses “I was a footballer, I was on decent money for someone my age at the time, I don’t like losing so I kept trying to chase my losses and wanted to get my money back. It became a habit something I craved. “It wasn’t all about me winning money” he said. “Some of it was just boredom I only trained twice a week so I had a lot of down time.” Ayisi claimed that losing £1,000 was when he realised that his gambling was a real problem and he seeked for help. “I went and spoke to my mum,” he said. “She didn’t know I went to the book-
ies I was brought up in a strict African household, so when I told her she was disappointed but got me the help that I needed.” One of Ayisi’s close friends at the club who is now an England international told him to stop and warned him of the dangers of gambling. “I stopped going to training, my performances were affected. One of my close friends at the academy was telling me to stop—he said I had a bright future, but I didn’t think it was that serious just a bit of fun I wasn’t aware of how serious it could get.”
High-profile names In August 2014 the Football Association introduced a betting ban on football players and club staff. Any player in the top eight tiers of the English game is covered by the new rule meaning they will be unable to bet, either directly or indirectly, on any football match or competition. It was brought in after high-profile names such as Andros Townsend, Cameron Jerome and Dan Gosling all received big fines for breaching betting regulations between June 2013 and March 2014. Ayisi’s story just goes to show that it’s not just at the top level where players need help but at academy level as well. Football clubs all over England, as well as the Professional Footballers Association, should be looking to raise awareness and warn young players of the dangers at an early stage in their careers. ‘Victor Ayisi’ is used as a false identity in this article; it doesn’t refer to any real person of that name.
Ayisi believes that there is not enough
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Originally published in Elephant Sport #1, March 2016
Wyatt thriving on skeleton's adrenaline rush
RIP the Bull of the Bosporus
Adrenaline-fuelled Marcus Wyatt describes hurtling headfirst down an ice run on a thin metal sled as “breath-taking”.
Boxer Sinan Samil Sam’s death went almost unnoticed, but he deserves better
With his keen interest in motorsports and skiing, it’s not surprising that Wyatt has opted to try and make a name for himself at elite level in the dardevil winter sports pursuit of skeleton bob. “It’s like being inches from the ice on a rollercoaster that sends you into hard walls at 70mph,” said the 23-year-old. “The first ever run I did was just a blur of speed, adrenaline, ice, hitting walls, concentration, G-force, fear and many more emotions and feelings that were just too much to comprehend at the time.” The Devon-born athlete is in the midst of his first full winter season, after being first selected to train with Team GB in December 2014. British skeleton has achieved great success since its formation in 1989, winning four Olympic medals, including golds for Amy Williams and Lizzy Yarnold. Wyatt and the his fellow Team GB competitors are based at Bath University, which the British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association (BSSA) opted to make the team’s permanent home in 2011 due its excellent facilities and sports science specialism. His main motive for getting into skeleton was the chance to represent his country, and his sights and ambitions are rising higher all the time. “I’d seen skeleton at the Olympics before and was also drawn to the fact that it involved a lot of speed and risk, so that also made it a sport I wanted to try,” he told me. “I’m also someone who is driven by the desire to win.” That desire proved vital when the selection processes began, and continues to fuel his ongoing hunger for Olympic success. “During the selection phases, it was made clear that they were not just taking athletes on to be good, they wanted 60
athletes who had the potential to win Olympic gold,” said Wyatt. “The chance to go to the Olympics and win gold motivated me more than anything and still does.” Crashing For Wyatt, the appeal of skeleton lies partly in its dangers. However, as well as providing the thrill factor, there is the obvious threat of things going badly awry at high speed. “When it starts to go wrong and you are fighting to correct what could turn into a big crash, the adrenaline rush comes back as you know you are possibly over the edge,” he explained. Motorsport is one of the few sports which can rival skeleton in terms of ever-present danger, and where timing is so important. One of the world’s most infamous tracks is in Germany, at Nurburgring—and not far away lies skeleton’s own equivalent. “The track I’m currently at—Konigssee—is notoriously difficult and has a 360-degree corner where the difference between flipping and crashing and a fast line could be a few inches or the timing of a steer to the 10th or 100th of a second,” said Wyatt. As with any sport, the harder you work, the bigger the potential rewards, and Wyatt is making plenty of sacrifices in order to pursue his dreams. “Training is tough,” he said. “Often when away, we will have 12-plus hour days, six days a week—you have to push yourself every day as you know everyone else in the world is doing the same. I like to think that if I outwork everyone in the sport that day, then slowly I am catching them up. Mindset “We have great coaches that definitely give us an edge, but it is up to us to act on what they say and actually do it. If
you aren’t fully invested in the sport, then you will never make it to the top. The actual gym training is very hard on top of the other sessions we do each day. The mindset I have now is not ‘should I go to the gym today?’ I just wake up and go to the gym.” Although Wyatt is developing his skeleton skills, he is still very much a newcomer to the sport, so is picking his events carefully to ensure he gains the most valuable experience. “This season started in October and finishes in mid-March after our first-ever race in Lake Placid, USA, as a warm-up to hopefully competing in the eight-race Europa Cup circuit next winter season.” The BSSA boast some of the best coaches in the sport, with results consistently improving over the last 10 years. Wyatt says he is thrilled to be part of the programme. “As of May, I will be living in Bath so that I can train there full-time. To keep working my way up will be difficult as GB has a lot of talented and more experienced athletes who’ve been on the programme longer than I have— and that’s before you count the rest of the world where some athletes my age have already been sliding for 10 years. It’ll be tough but I’m willing to give it everything I’ve got.” Huge honour Wyatt’s main goal is Olympic success. “Although [representing GB] is still a huge honour and something I take very seriously, I now realise that it’s not enough,” he said. “My main aim is to win a gold medal at the 2022 Beijing Olympics. World Championships would also be a big aim as well as being overall World Cup champion—but the main one is the Olympics.” Words: Will Mowbray Images: Thomas Wensing via Flickr.com
The untimely death of certain sportsmen and women makes headlines around the world and prompts a flood of generous and heart-felt tributes. All Blacks rugby union legend Jonah Lomu’s sudden demise at the age of 40 last November left the sports world shaken and generated a huge amount of global media coverage. But a couple of weeks before Lomu’s departure, another sportsman’s death at just a year older went virtually unnoticed in comparison. Turkish boxer Sinan Samil Sam never hit the heights of greatness like the New Zealander experienced, but his life and career in the ring deserve to be remembered nonetheless. He died after losing his final fight, against liver and kidney failure, but left great memories in the hearts and minds of sports fans in Turkey and Germany, where he was actually born and fought many times. Medals Sam won the EBU, WBC international and Mediterranean heavyweight titles, winning 31 of his 35 professional bouts, 16 by knockout. As an amateur, he finally claimed the world super-heavyweight crown in Houston, Texas, in 1999, after a succession of silvers and bronzes at other major championships. A nine-time amateur champion of Turkey, Sam’s opponents as a professional included—amongst others—Oleg Maskaev, Oliver McCall and Britain’s Danny Williams (who famously beat Mike Tyson). His loss against McCall in 2007 came in an eliminator to challenge for the WBC belt. After that he fought only four more times, winning them all but retiring in late 2008 aged 34—not old by today’s
Where have all the cricketers gone? Amateur players are deserting their clubs up and down the country
heavyweight standards, with David Haye recently returning to the ring at 35, and Wladimir Klitschko taking on Tyson Fury again this summer at the age of 40. Sam spent the last years of his life in his family’s small village in Turkey, all but forgotten as he succumbed to his terminal illness. Alparslan Sam, the younger brother of Sinan, told me: “We have lost someone who represented our country in the best way. Glory days “It is a shame people forgot about Sinan after he left boxing. We are very upset. Not have I only lost a brother but Turkey has lost a true champion.” His early exploits, including those nine Turkish amateur heavyweight crowns, gave Sam national fame. But, given the humble circumstances he was living in when he passed away, his boxing career clearly never translated into great fortune. Long after his glory days were over, a news channel in Turkey managed to track Sam down and made a short documentary about him. “Life is very tough,” he admitted. “If you look at me now would you say I use to be an international heavyweight champion fighting in arenas across Germany?” He added “It isn’t a problem for me to live here with the people in my village. Everyone sees me as a hero here, and I am like the face of the village.Although I don’t earn any money at all, I am happy and peaceful.” Pala Koc, who lived in the same village and was a close family friend of Sam, told me: “I watched him grow up to be such a respectful man who did everything for his family.
“He went and fought in Germany and we all cheered and prayed for him to overcome his opponents. He faced some hardships in his career but nevertheless we were all proud of him, watching him represent our village as he fought.” Support Koc added: “Once Samil returned to the village I knew there was something wrong, he didn’t look as fit and strong as he did before. He had liver failure which changed his whole life. “It was speculated in the Turkish media that he had started drinking alcohol, which is why his liver got damaged, but that is all false. I know him and his family inside out and they haven’t touched alcohol once in their life. “It’s coming up to four months since Samil passed away and it’s difficult to accept. I believe we as a nation didn’t support him and give him the credit he deserved when he was alive. “However, we have got a new school built in his memory and named it after him. I hope we meet once again on the other side.” After Sam’s death, I’m told that some of the coverage by the Turkish media left his family fuming and upset. So let’s remember his amateur success as junior world light-heavyweight champion and then as the world super-heavyweight title holder. Let’s recall his respectable record as decent professional, and the fact that he was a brave, durable fighter who was never once stopped or knocked out in 35 fights across eight years. Boxing has more than it’s fair share of careers and lives ending in sadness, but let’s remember Sinan Samil Sam, the Bull of the Bosporus. Words: Mert Altay
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“We have lost two teams in the last few seasons—if it carries on the reality is that we may longer have a club in a few years time.”
me just because they want to stay with their friends. But it’s when the kids get separated [from their friends] that they start to lose passion for the game.”
Upminster Cricket Club’s youth chair Paul Middlemiss echoes the crisis many cricket clubs across England are facing, with participation dwindling.
Ex-member Alex Ward explained: “I gave up because it got boring, I enjoyed playing with all the lads I’ve grown up with, but when we got separated it wasn’t a joy to play anymore. The men didn’t welcome me into their banter, and it didn’t feel like I was part of a team.”
England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) figures show numbers are falling—a 7% decrease at the amateur level from 2013 to 2014. As BBC Sport reported: “A total of 844,000 players might still sound healthy, but only 247,000 of those play 12 or more matches a year.” As a cricketer myself, I’ve witnessed the decline first-hand—postponed matches due to lack of players, teams dropping out of leagues and players’ dads having to turn out so the team can field a side. Middlemiss continued: “We struggled a lot last season. We were relying on parents who have never played cricket to make the numbers up in our lower sides, and it wasn’t just the odd weekend; it happened on a regular basis.” In 2013, Upminster fielded a total of eight teams on Saturdays and three on a Sundays with ease. Two seasons later, the club struggled to field six Saturday XIs and two Sunday sides. Former Upminster 8th XI captain Glen Ashby said: “Being the lowest team in the club, the vast majority of the side were kids. Now the majority are adult playing members. It wasn’t about winning, it was about having fun and getting the kids experience playing with adults.” Ashby suggested reason for the lack of youngsters wanting to play is that they are not picked by age group but on ability. “They love playing with their friends, and in adult cricket it’s not always viable. It wouldn’t make sense to keep a promising youngster with a lot of talent playing in the same team as the likes of
However, according to Middlemiss it’s not only youngsters that are quitting. “There are a number of reasons we have lost members. As a parent myself, I understand it can be hard to play a sport, especially when you’re working 9-5. “Weekends might be the only time you get to see the kids and that obviously clashes with cricket. Also more jobs are requiring people to work weekends. We’ve had a number of members leave because of this.” Poor weather may also have contributed to the decline. Based on 37,500 responses to its National Playing Survey and other data, the ECB found that only 15 Saturdays were rated ‘dry’ in 2014, compared to 20 in 2013, with 70 per cent of amateur cricket played on that day. But cricket isn’t the only sport suffering at amateur level: grassroots football and swimming continues to do the same, as the BBC reported. “More than 2m regular [football] players in 2006 to closer to 1.8m today. There were 245,000 fewer people swimming at least once a week for 30 minutes by the end of 2014 than the year before.” Perhaps England’s recent successes in cricket and football may boost participation at amateur level. But for clubs such as Upminister, the struggle to retain players will continue this summer. Words: Casey Adams Image: imagedb/iStock 61
Ferdinand champions young Talent
Walton intent on making a splash
Why ‘Sir Les’ is keen to bring academy players through the system
The British swimmer who has his sights set on 2020 Olympic glory
With the current success of Tottenham Hotspur, the calls for more top clubs to give players from their youth systems a chance has never been louder.
young players now is about sending them out on loan so they’ve played ‘men’s football’ and can then judge them from that."
Rio 2016 might be on the horizon, but swimmer Martyn Walton has already embarked on the road to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
But is it as simple as doing exactly that? Giving them ‘a chance’. According to former Spurs coach, Premier League legend and current QPR technical director Les Ferdinand, it should be no great surprise that so few English talents are given regular opportunities.
Opportunity It is a concept that makes a lot of sense yet it so rarely acted on. To give the youngsters a chance, the manager must be given a chance. Was Ferdinand sure then, having worked with the academy at Tottenham Hotspur, that when given a chance, these players would flourish?
He began his sporting life as a keen young footballer, but after taking the plunge with his school’s swimming programme he hasn’t looked back.
Ferdinand, who was part of the coaching set-up at Spurs which saw current golden boy Harry Kane become a regular, believes that for these youngsters to get a chance, managers must be afforded more time at their club. “When a manager takes over, unless you’re an Arsene Wenger or a Sir Alex Ferguson you know your tenure is going to be somewhere between a year and two years, and that’s being generous,” Ferdinand told me. “In that time you’re going to play your most experienced players, not take a chance on an under-21 when you don’t know what his capabilities are.” Involved So why then, when Ferdinand was afforded a first-team role in the coaching staff alongside manager Tim Sherwood after the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas, were players like Harry Kane and Nabil Bentaleb given an opportunity? “The reason we were able to give these youngsters a chance was because we worked with them for five years at the academy, prior to Tim Sherwood. So with myself and Chris Ramsay becoming more involved with the first team, we knew what we were getting. “A lot of first team managers at clubs don’t work with the under 21s so they don’t see the progress or what they’re getting. They don’t know them well enough. How managers view these 62
“When I was at Spurs the young boys we had, we felt if we gave an opportunity to, they would do well. Old-school managers go with old-school players. Their though process is to go with the most experienced players because I know they’ve been there and done it.” ‘Sir Les’ as he is popularly known, is determined to see academy players given a chance at his current club. Bugbear Of course, QPR have long been looking for stability, both on and off the pitch. Constant changes in managers and first-team players have seen the West Londoners yo-yo from Premier League to Championship in recent seasons. However, it is one telling statistic in particular that sticks out like a sore thumb for Ferdinand, 49, a renowned striker for Tottenham, Newcastle, QPR, Leicester, Besiktas and, of course, England. “For 16 years now, QPR have not had anyone come through the academy system and play for the first team on a consistent basis,” he said. “This is one of my bugbears and one of the things I want to get right. For a club of QPR’s size, we need to have a steady stream of players coming through the system. I am hell-bent on getting the academy structure right.” Words: Harry Brooks
“It was at my local pool in Stevenage, and the instructors there asked if I would join the swimming team. I played football like most boys at that age, around seven, but since I was terrible at it, the decision of what sport to choose was easy,” he told me. At the age of 10 that Walton started to think about whether he could have a future in the sport after exceeding expectations at county level. “I moved to Hatfield Swimming Club as, at the time and to this day, they are one of the best in the country. The following year, I won the two golds at the British national championships in the 11-yearold category. The transition to Hatfield and that success is when I began to take my swimming seriously.” Excelled Since then, Walton’s progress in the pool has seen him become part of a talented Great Britain team. “I've been on the podium for GB numerous times at junior level, and it’s a great honour to represent your country in a sport you love,” he said. “It’s also a very humbling experience as I know not many people get to experience what I have, so it’s an extra incentive to perform. I feel extremely privileged, but a senior podium place at a major meet is the goal.” Last year, Walton competed at the inaugural European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan, where he excelled, picking up five medals. “I was very confident. I had my
eyes on medals and I didn’t want just the one. Four came in relays and one individually, so it was great to be on the podium with team-mates and also get my first individual international medal.” Pressure Despite that first individual international honour, Walton thrives in relay races. "There's something about the atmosphere and pressure to perform which is surreal. I've been on the top of the podium the last three times I have competed, and I’ve shared them with my current flatmate in Stirling, Duncan Scott.” Walton emphasises the importance of team chemistry in relays. “It’s massive, and the fact that I know my team-mates and that we can trust each other to do the job required is huge to our success.” As well as Baku, he was also involved in the British Swimming Summer Championships winning 200m individual medley gold and 200m backstroke silver. Exposure But, at the tender age of 17, it was on that big stage in Baku where he took his chance. “The experience was great and the exposure to the media was a lot more than I expected. Sharing the athlete’s village with Nicola Adams and other successful senior athletes was a real insight into what it takes to make it.” With qualification for this summer’s Olympics yet to happen, is competing in Rio out of the question? “I’m not counting it out but it will be extremely difficult to qualify as my peak four-year Olympic cycle will come round for 2020. “This is what I work for every day and I know what I need to do and where I need to develop, but patience is the key.” Words: George Thomas Image: British Swimming
No 'Plan B' for ambitious Washington
Shinny, a proud Canadian tradition
English teenager hopes US college soccer is her first step to stardom
Get your skates on to sample the icy delights of ‘pond hockey’
Women’s football in England is in a much healthier place than it was just a few years ago.
following in her footsteps should search on the web for US community colleges and get in touch.
Huge attendances at the 2012 London Olympics, the success of the England team and growing popularity of the Women's Super League have all created more interest in the sport.
"Let them know you’re interested and most importantly send video footage of you playing."
But for many young British female footballers, America remains the mecca of the ladies game. But what is it that tempts them to try and make it in the US college system and the National Women's Soccer League?
What are the benefits of playing stateside? "You get a lot more publicity as well as support from the public and your community. "There's also more intensity about the game. Out here, we train every day except Sundays, whereas when I was in England we only trained twice a week.
One of those who has crossed the Atlantic is Eden Washington. Originally from Bedford, she is currently on a soccer scholarship at Western Nebraska Community College.
"It's hard, but the more we are pushed, the better athletes we become. I don’t think we are pushed hard enough in the UK to be the best we can be.
The midfielder, 19, was a late bloomer and attended her first football training session aged 16.
"Working hard in training is a must, which I think some players in England lack.”
"I’ve never looked back since then,” she told me. “From that point on I started to take everything that involved soccer seriously.
It's early days, but Washington aims to forge a successful college career and then turn pro.
"Whenever I had the ball at my feet I didn't worry about anything else. It's almost as if all of the negativity in my life just vanished, and that's what connected me to the game. "It's the fun I get out of it that makes me want to pursue a profession career." Washington found out about the possibility of playing football in the States when a friend asked her to come to a scholarship trial in Wales. The trip paid off, and Washington was offered a full scholarship at Western Nebraska. She says that young girls interested in
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"I would never decide that soccer isn't for me until my body gives up on,” she said. “I've always said my 'Plan B' is always going to make my 'Plan A' work." She has, though, thought about her life after football, and would like to be a motivational speaker, helping young people or those who need an extra push to get them on the right path. Washington knows there will be times when she's homesick and missing her family, and others when she might be injured or out of the team, but she describes her American adventure as the best experience of her life so far. Words: Magno Diogo Image: WNCC
'Shinny' is a word that Canadians grow up using from a very young age. It's something that's part of the sporting landscape in every community. Its definition is a pick-up game of ice hockey—a contest on the slippery stuff that anybody can be part of. The UK equivalent is going to your local park and being welcomed into a game of football that's already being played. Although it's ice hockey, Shinny participants wear little protective clothing and play without a goalie. The puck is not allowed to rise off the ice for safety reasons. It's a game which is the epitome of the Canadian childhood in sport. Shinny, or pond hockey, was originally played on frozen lakes with branches used as sticks and a lump of frozen animal manure for a puck. Although real hockey sticks and pucks are used these days, it remains a free-for-all with no formal positions or rules. Born into hockey I was lucky enough to have a go at playing Shinny on a bitterly cold night in the city of Markham, near Toronto. After we arrived by car at the local outdoor rink, the boot was opened to reveal a collection of ice hockey equipment. Kids in Canada are born into this sport. They learn to skate almost as soon as they can walk, and having a boot-full of hockey gear is the norm for most Canadian families. This is where the analogy with a kickabout in the park breaks down—all you need for that is a ball. The equipment we'd brought with us to Shinny must have cost a fortune. As we walked down to the public rink with bags of skates, helmets, sticks and pucks, I could hear music belting out from speakers surrounding the ice. Although it was already 9.30pm on a Tuesday night and the rink officially
closed at 10pm, it was still packed with skaters. Tantalised As we got nearer, I was tantalised by the lights reflecting off the ice. Floodlights were positioned all around the rink and impressively lit the whole area. On one side there was a changing room for getting into your skates. On the other was a portakabin, which rented skates and had a security guard who laid down the law about respecting other skaters. I skated for around half an hour to find my feet and while I'm the first to admit I'm no Wayne Gretzky, the ice was teeming with people who made skating brilliantly look as simple as walking. Different groups of locals walked down from the car park with their hockey gear. The rink was closing, and the security guard made it obvious that he did not care what everyone did on the ice when he turned off the lights and went home. Night vision Darkness fell, and the magic I had been waiting for was coming to life. With the floodlights off and the music stopped, all you could hear was the slap of sticks hitting pucks on the ice. Shinny had begun without even picking teams, with goals made up of either hockey gloves or boots on either side. I hit the puck maybe twice. Everybody else was far too good for me to keep up. Night vision must be hereditary for Canadians, because even with a dark rink they all could clearly see the black puck. It was a privilege to play Shinny. It's a sacred sporting tradition still being upheld by generation after generation. For as long as there is ice and snow in Canada, there will always be Shinny. Words: Christopher Monti Image: Kevin Walsh via Flickr.com 63
Albanian football's Euro odyssey
Sorry, Spurs — I’m cursed
A sporting minnow on the march
Am I a jinx on my team?
The announcement of an expanded format for the 2016 European Championship was received with eager anticipation by the continent's footballing minnows, improving their chances of reaching the tournament proper. On the southern side of the Balkan region, Albania finished second in a group containing Portugal, Serbia and Denmark to astound the status quo and reach their maiden major tournament. Managing a measly 10 goals in their eight games, their efficient, defensive displays carried them to France. Excitement Albania is home to a mere 2.8 million people, although they are a significant diaspora across much of the Balkans, Greece and sundry central European countries. It gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912, later becoming a satellite state of the USSR, eventually regaining full national autonomy after the implosion of the Soviet regime in the early 90s. Suffice to say, Albania are minnows on the global sporting scene, and excitement amongst the nation's avid football followers about reaching Euro 2016 is off the scale. I spoke to a number of Albanians living in London, learning about their hopes for the approaching tournament and hearing their thoughts on Albanian football. Edi, 21, has been in the capital since the age of 12, is now a keen Arsenal fan and says he has no real interest in the Albanian Superliga. Yet he regularly returns to his homeland and takes immense pride in his nation's recent exploits. Pride "I never saw it happening, we were excited with the qualifying group because we had some good games to look forward to, but even with the expanded tournament I never thought we would get to France,” he said. 64
"I won't ask for much more from this team, but I expect a really solid performance from Lorik Cana. He's a model captain and his pride to wear the shirt can't be matched. I think the whole of Albania would be happy just to see us get one result there." In the homely confines of a snooker club in Dalston, Karim a 46-year-old lifelong KF Tirana fan, has sought solace in the national team's triumphs to soften the blow of his own side's struggles. "Every year I had to watch Albania finish last or second-bottom, now we have actually qualified! The credit goes to De Biasi [Gianni De Biasi, national team coach], he is a genius. We have become so tough to beat, you can see how he has worked on defence, defence and defence. "I don't care about my team anymore, I think most of Albania has stopped caring about the league, we have room for only one side in our hearts this year." Miserly Karim is correct in citing Albania's defence as the catalyst. Remarkably, they kept a clean sheet in every away game during qualification, the first side ever to do so. They conceded a miserly five goals en route to Euro 2016. "Overall 2015 was probably the best year in Albanian football history,” beams Jak, 39. “My team KF Skënderbeu Korçë became the first team from the Albanian league to reach Europe. To me this is even bigger than league titles, we are the first to this, so I'm massively proud." The mood amongst Albanian fans in this corner of East London is one of jubilation and respectful appreciation. Not one person I spoke to sees their team going far in the tournament. Yet, with a mean defence and a heavy dose of the surprise element, it is plausible that Albania can muster a shock or two. Words: Jake O’Donovan Cudsi
As any Spurs fan will tell you, it’s a rollercoaster ride supporting our club. Over the years, I’ve witnessed superb comeback wins at the Emirates one week followed by the agony of dreary home defeats to Newcastle the next. In my lifetime, Tottenham have always been seen as a team that just falls short, flattering to deceive and mixing good moments with some very bad ones. My first-hand experience supporting the team over the last two years has been filled with the latter. In fact, the last time I saw Tottenham win a game live was back in December 2013. It was a cold, wet and windy Wednesday night at Fulham. The game started with Spurs dominant but struggling to break down the opposition’s deep-lying defence—typical under Andre Villas Boas. Surprise Even more typical was when we went behind against the run of play. However, thanks to long-range efforts from Vlad Chiriches and Lewis Holtby, I left Craven Cottage filled with joy—a feeling I haven’t felt since (well, when leaving a football stadium, anyway). Since then I’ve been to watch my side 11 times, spending over £600 in the process, and I am yet to see them win. I have witnessed nine defeats, ranging from a 1-0 smash-and-grab by West Brom to a 3-0 thrashing by Liverpool. The two draws consisted of a dull 0-0 against Palace and a late recovery to 2-2 against West Ham to salvage a point— the only flicker of a highlight I can boast. My most recent visit to White Hart Lane was against the surprise title challengers Leicester City, and it didn’t end well for me or Spurs. Before that, my only other visit to White Hart Lane this term was our first game there, against Stoke City—yet another ride on the N17 rollercoaster that ended on a very disappoint-
ing drop as the away side came from two goals down to snatch a draw late on. Optimism However that result kickstarted a fine unbeaten run. I enjoyed it so much that I stopped going to any more games, out of fear that I’d end it myself—against the wishes of my Arsenal-supporting uncle, who offered to buy me a season ticket upon hearing about my curse. Once the run came to end, I felt it was safe to return to the Lane and, hoping that wheels would finally come off of their unlikely title challenge, chose the Leicester City game. But after the 2-2 home draw against them in the FA Cup just three days earlier, I was aware of what a tough ask it would be. Like my last taste of victory from the stands, it was a very cold, wet and windy Wednesday night at White Hart Lane, which gave me at least a slight sense of optimism heading into the match. It grew as for the first time in ages, I was seeing an impressive performance first-hand. After 70 minutes, we seemed to have done everything but score, testing Foxes keeper Kasper Schmeichel on numerous occasions—but even when Harry Kane got the ball past the great Dane, the bar stood in his way. As the game wore on my nerves began to grow. When we conceded a corner late on, I knew what was coming and when the ball hit the back of the net (Robert Huth unmarked, header) I was left with that same old feeling. The more games that rack up, the more I wonder how long it will be until I see my side win again when I’m there. Crystal Palace fans will be happy to know that my next live match will be at Selhurst Park. To all Tottenham fans, I can only apologise in advance... Words: Tom Cox Image: Simon Moores via Flickr.com
Kaikai’s star on the rise in SE25
Joshua on course for great things
Talented winger has what it takes to make it at the highest level
British heavyweight gains revenge on an electric night at the O2 Arenat
When analysing at Crystal Palace’s rise from Championship strugglers to established mid-table Premier League team, it’s hard to look much further than their superb wing play. Blessed with academy graduate Wilfred Zaha and transfer coup Yannick Bolasie, the Eagles have a way of making football look fun down the flanks. Zaha was signed in 2013 by Manchester United, but eventually returned to Selhurst Park.. DR Congo international Bolasie could easily be the next Palace star who’s the subject of transfer talk. Eagles fans should worry not, however—they have a ready-made replacement eager to step in. Introducing 20-year-old winger-striker Sulley Kaikai. Hailing from Southwark, he has been on Palace’s books since 2010. .Following the path trodden by the Ivory Coast-born, Thorton Heath-raised Zaha, Kaikai looks to be next in line for stardom in SE25. Dilemma A ‘big’ winger, standing at just under 6ft, with an impressive physique, Kaikai appears capable of translating his skills from the U21 ranks to the top division. While on loan at Shrewsbury Town from September until January, he grabbed five goals in 10 League One starts. The right-footed left-winger is about more than just goals, though. His pace backs up defences, allowing him to drift inside and dictate play, and he presents a real dilemma for opponents—get tight and he’s going to drop a shoulder, or pull a trick out of a bag full of them, hit the byline and deliver a quality ball into the box. Speaking about the prospect of going on loan again, he told me: “Obviously my main goal is to break into the Palace first team, but if I do go back out on loan my aim is to score at least 15 goals.”
When asked who he models his style on, he claimed: “I wouldn’t say there was someone [in particular]. There’s a few I watch a lot on YouTube—Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar, Robben. All those goalscoring wingers.” Growing Kaikai said going to Shrewsbury was great for his development. “Going on loan was the best thing for me. It added a few things to my game. Sometimes you really have to grind it out, and you get to see different styles of play.” I watched him in a Palace U21 game versus Bolton in which he got an assist and won three penalties. As one Palace fan told me: “It’s just exciting—he’s got their left-back running all over the show.” Kaikai was also on loan at Cambridge United last season, starring in their 3rd round FA Cup third-round tie against Manchester United — a game he describes as “one I won’t forget”. Intelligent He scored five in 20 games, returning to south London to win Palace’s 2014-15 Development Player of the Season. October’s League One Player of the Month after just 11 appearances for Shrewsbury, he is clearly too good for that level. For me, the most impressive part of his game is the cerebral—he’s an intelligent player, and that’s not something that can always be said of British prospects. A humble young man — which he puts down his “background and family, they keep me grounded” — he added: “I’ve seen a lot of people get big-headed and it just goes downhill from there.” With bags of talent and good people around him, Kaikai seems destined for a big future for club and possibly country, with a choice between England and Sierre Leone from where his family hail. Words: Joel McArdle
We’ve known for some time that Anthony Joshua has got what it takes to become Britain’s new heavyweight boxing hero. The Olympic gold medallist has made a smooth switch to the professional ranks. But how would he fare against a man who beat him in the amateur ranks, Dillian Whyte? I was among a 20,000 capacity crowd at London’s O2 Arena to find out as his clash with Whyte—also unbeaten in 16 fights as a pro—for the British and Commonwealth titles topped the bill. It’s an understatement to say there’s no love lost between the pair, but Watford’s Joshua had remain composed in the build-up as he sought to avenge that early defeat by Jamaican-born Whyte.. Aggressor After an evening of good bouts on the undercard, the electric atmosphere as the main event arrived was something like I had never witnessed. Joshua made his entrance to the ring to the backing of music from UK grime act Stormzy, the title of his song ’Shut Up’ acting as a repost to Whyte’s trash talk in the run-up to their meeting. The first round started evenly. Whyte was aiming to be the aggressor with unpredictable round-house hits but he wasn’t a match for Joshua’s defensive skills and quickly became frustrated. The bell sounded but a late punch by Joshua caused Whyte, 27, to retaliate while he was being held back by the referee, and this lead to both entourages and security invading the ring. The ugly scenes super-charged the atmosphere, and perhaps caused Joshua’s most tricky moment at the start of the second round. As it began, he continued to taunt Whyte and paid the price as he was caught by a huge left hook. But al-
though the 26-year-old was clearly hurt, Whyte was unable capitalise. Although written off as a contender by many pundits and experts, it was clear by the end of the third round that Whyte had earned the respect of Joshua who now found himself in the unfamiliar territory of an even-looking contest. In the fourth, Joshua gained the initiative backing Whyte up and creating space with his quick, direct jabs, only for his rival to counter. Whyte was able to land some grazing hits but it wasn’t enough to upset Joshua’s gathering momentum. Whyte was starting to tire — he was taking in huge gulps of air by the end of the sixth round—and when he offered to touch gloves at the beginning of the seventh round, defeat seemed imminent. Retreat Whyte, however, was still carving out opportunities and managed to land a shot to Joshua’s temple, but by this stage it was clear that his classy rival was not to be denied. Whyte retreated to the ropes several times until he was finally caught flush by an huge uppercut, triggering a massive roar from the crowd. He gamely fought on but it was effectively all over as another big Joshua blow sent him to the canvas, delivering the victory, the belts and revenge. It was clear that Whyte’s plan had been to pile on the pressure in the first round, but even at that point the flaws in his gameplan—and Joshua’s superior fitness and conditioning—were obvious. Credit to him for landing some good shots which tested Joshua’s resilience, but he didn’t have enough to dominate an opponent destined for great things. Words: Chris Abraham Image: DCMS via Flickr.com 65
Magic of the Cup remains intact
Wheelchair rugby’s ‘heavy metal’ drama deserves more fans
The heavy metal version of Paralympic sport was on show as the BT World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge rolled into East London’s Olympic Park. It’s an awe-inspiring spectacle, not to mention a mixed sport, with men and women playing alongside each other. Some of the athletes were born without limbs, others have been victims of accidents, yet the strength they find to play at a top-class level is extraordinary. This is a full-on contest, with players from both sides crashing in to each other as they put their bodies on the line for team and country. It’s known as ‘murderball’ for good reason. It’s a regular occurrence to see chairs on their side with the players needing team staff to run on and hoist them back up. The match is a four-a-side game, with a maximum of 12 athletes in the squad and as many substitutions as the teams see fit when there is a stoppage in play, except for a try. It’s a fast-paced, exciting and creative attacking sport. The WWRC was played at the Copper Box Arena, home to the London Lions basketball team. It’s a venue that really holds its own in terms of the 2012 Olympic legacy, where perhaps others haven’t. Hosting the event was a huge boost for Great Britain who had just won the European Championships in Finland, making them the 5th best in the World. But it’s outside of Europe where the top talents of the world perform. The promotion factor Australia came to London as current world and Olympic champions; there was the USA ranked 3rd in the world and the sport’s most successful-ever team. Also competing were the founders of the game, Canada, ranked second and silver winners in 2012. Not to mention Japan, the 2019 World Cup hosts, ranked 4th and seen as dark horses. 66
There was a sense that this tournament was bringing the most talented sides to London as well as teams such as South Africa and France whom wanted to make sure they could push for qualification for Rio 2016. But there was also the promotion factor; it was a stage where the sport had the opportunity to reach a new audience. It’s hard to judge if it actually did. The vast amounts of empty seats was not a pretty sight. But the match times meant that the majority of potential spectators would be working, or coming home from work when the evening sessions commenced at 5.30pm. However, for the players competing in a arena such as the Copper Box, it was a tremendous experience, and fantastic preparation for future Paralympics and World Championships. Cameron Carr, the Australian captain, said: “Everyone’s really excited, it’s great to be back [in London], we have very fond memories of 2012. I think everyone that was here, and the new guys, are excited to be back.” But the crowd aspect was missing; the atmosphere was like a school sports day, with a small turnout of friends and family rather than fans that had a real interest in a new sport, or supporters that have followed one for a long time. A primary school from Bristol tried their best to create an atmosphere, singing, shouting and even dancing when a song was played over the PA system, but all in all there must have been some disappointment about the low crowds. Great Britain’s matches were broadcast live on ITV4, and trying to reach out to the whole country with a major broadcaster is fantastic for the sport. However, this could also be seen as a contributing factor to the low attendances. With tickets for a morning ses-
sion at £13, the same as for the evening, the cost might not seem too high. But if the sport is trying to entice people to become interested in not only watching but playing, then an even lower price may well have put more bums on the arena’s multi-coloured seats. US franchise theme In the Copper Box, the event had a quality venue which would have had interested people in coming to watch, so the platform was there—it just needed a little more of a push to get them through the door. If people are not sure about something, they won’t risk wasting their money. Walking in to the arena and being courtside, the American franchise theme just smacked you in the face. The set-up was very NBA. Flashing lights, a running commentary throughout the game, and a huge screen hanging down from the ceiling in the middle of the court, made you feel like that this could have been Great Britain’s opportunity to showcase how they wanted to project the sport, rather than what it’s like in the USA and Canada. The WWRC was won by Canada, who beat the USA 54-50 in the final. Great Britain finished 5th which shows that they have work to do if they are going to make an impact outside of Europe come Rio 2016. It was a tournament that had the opportunity to gather far more support, especially in the venue that was hosting it. Unfortunately, it seemed to go largely unnoticed by the general public. More disappointing for the sport than damaging. Next time, it will hope—and hopefully plan—to do better. Words: Dan Pellegrini Image: Ashley Buttle via flickr.com
As a fan of both Crystal Palace and the FA Cup, nothing would be sweeter in my eyes than to see the Eagles lift the famous old trophy on May 21st at Wembley. Yet following this season’s third round, an impassioned debate continues to rage around the country as questions are raised about the status of football’s oldest knockout competition. Teams fielding weakened line-ups and fans staying away support the rhetoric that the FA Cup is some way down the list of priorities at elite level. With the financial gain of winning the trophy a drop in the ocean compared to the vast riches of the Premier League, it’s hardly surprising that staying in the top flight, or striving to join it, is seen as more important by many clubs. Among fans of my own club, Twitter polls posing the question ‘Finishing 8th vs. Winning the Cup’ are asking us to choose financial gain and top-flight consolidation over making history. It’s a sad endictment of the nation’s changing attitudes towards the game, when fans are prepared to put business strategies before the chance to create folklore for future generations. Essence of the Cup Almost six years ago, debt-ridden Palace took on Premier League side Wolves in a fourth-round FA Cup tie that truly captured what the competition has been about in its long history. Palace, recently put into administration, could have been forgiven for focusing on keeping their heads above water in the Championship after a 10-point deduction left them close to the drop. On the night, however, then-manager Neil Warnock fielded the best available team possible to him, although squad was considerably depleted with injuries.
Football needs a lesson in respect from rugby
The night will live long in the memory of Eagles fans as their team came away with an impressive 3-1 victory, with a seven-minute hat-trick from makeshift Striker Danny Butterfield—a right back who hadn’t scored in over two years. Those fans can, in some ways, be forgiven for losing that same devotion to the Cup that brought some much-needed respite in a time of peril. Allure It’s unlikely that with their new-found status among the giants, any Palace fan could enjoy the same ecstasy of a club on its knees, fighting against the odds. The globalisation and growth of the Premier League has created a division so exhilarating and competitive, the FA Cup’s allure and drama is being matched by its fixtures week-in week-out. And yet... The 5,000 strong, raucous support provided by Palace at Southampton shows the appetite for Cup success remains strong among the fans. Twitter polls are obsolete in comparison to a sold-out away end on third round weekend between competitors in the same division. The spectators that day needed no respite from the league, where Palace sit prettily in seventh, and provided a ferocious backing. Manager Alan Pardew, remembered for a 1990 FA Cup goal by the Palace faithful, named a full-strength side, something he says he will continue to do. Legacy His desire to win the Cup may come from a career that ties him to the competition in Palace legend, or even pressure from the top. Fan-turned-chairman Steve Parish is as much concerned about the financial well-being of the club as creating a legacy for him to leave behind—and FA Cup success is very much in synch with his
vision. The hunger of the players was apparent at St Mary’s as Palace showed the determination and character that has brought them so far in recent years. It was the fourth time this season they have been pegged back after being 1-0 up and gone on to win the match 2-1. The celebrations did not speak of a team who have fallen out of love with the FA Cup—this was only the third round, yet the passion demonstrated showed what this meant to them. Euphoria It’s not just Palace where this magic is still strong. Arsenal’s exploits in the last two seasons have provided unbridled euphoria for a club who, so used to winning, had failed to attain any silverware for the previous nine years. It would have been the first time some young supporters saw their club lift a trophy. In fact, you don’t even have to look farther back than the previous weekend to see that the FA Cup is alive and kicking. Wycombe held Aston Villa to a draw, bringing about a replay that will ease their financial worries. Exeter played superbly against a young Liverpool side in a 2-2 draw, non-league Eastleigh’s fairytale continued as they held Championship strugglers Bolton 1-1. And Oxford United stole the headlines with a performance good enough to grace any ground, turning over Premier League Swansea City 3-2. That is where the magic lies. In many walks of life, those lower down the pyramid do not get the opportunity to rub shoulders with the best of their industry. It’s like seeing a local rock band grace the same stage as the Guns N’ Roses. From Arsenal to Palace to Oxford, the magic of the Cup is still there for all to see. Words: Connor Winks Image: Dave Gunn via Flickr.com
“I’ll wait for you after the game.” That was the threat made to me when I was 18 by a parent on the touchline as I refereed an under-14s football match. Everything was going against his son’s side and he blamed me. After those chilling words, I lost concentration as I worried about what might happen when I blew the final whistle. Luckily, nothing came of it, but the incident left me shaken. It was my first season as a ref, and I no longer officiate. Sadly, similar occurrences — and much worse — are common. A survey carried out by Loughborough, Portsmouth and Edge Hill Universities found that two thirds of referees at grassroots level say they experience verbal abuse on a regular basis. More than 2,000 referees gave feedback, with a fifth saying that had been victims of physical abuse According to BBC 5 Live, researchers logged 100 assaults on match officials and 374 incidents of improper conduct including physical contact and threatening and/or abusive language during the 2014-15 season. It’s clear from these figures that football has a problem in terms of respect for its officials. Swearing Some would argue we only have to look at elite footballers for the ‘inspiration’ for poor behaviour at grassroots level. Players surrounding and intimidating referees to give decisions their way has become a depressingly common sight. Matt Ogilvie, a UEFA B qualified coach, teaches kids from five to 13 years old. He told me that even in that age group, it is clear that children copy their idols. “Bad behaviour at the elite level will be passed down to kids at grassroots level. To counteract any bad behaviour, Matt promotes a strict sense of discipline and fair play among his youngsters. “You need to be firm but relaxed for rules to
be obeyed. When swearing does occur they will be punished or end up missing out on upcoming matches." Rapport Last year’s Rugby World Cup showed how referees in union are treated with a level of respect by the players denied to their football counterparts. At that level, refs wear microphones which allow their instructions and admonishments to be heard by TV viewers. Nigel Owens, who refereed the 2015 final, is famous for laying down the law with a healthy dose of irreverence.But can you imagine an elite football ref telling players “You’ll be treated like adults if you act like it"? A ref’s job can also be made harder by a lack of consistency over rules from one league to another. Michael Collins, who plays for Frontiers FC in the Harlow and District Football League, said: “In our league, any swearing results in a yellow card, and if you abuse the ref, it’s red." On the other hand, George Clarke, a defender for Stansted FC in the Essex Senior League, said: “It depends on what you say and how you say it. If you swear because you disagree then the ref just has a word. But if you abuse them directly, a red card is given." Whatever the league, the survey carried out among grassroots officials showed that 54% of them felt the FA’s Respect campaign has had a positive impact on standards of behaviour among players, coaches and spectators. Of course, that still means nearly half think it hasn’t made much difference, but it’s a step in the right direction. In the professional game, however, it appears it will take more than just a campaign to eradicate a deep-rooted lack of respect towards match officials. Words: Oliver Warburton Image: Kim Brookes via Flickr.com 67
BA Magazine Publishing
Final year students on BA Magazine Publishing have traditionally enjoyed producing magazine artefacts for their major project. Over the last few years these have included a wealth of independent print magazine ideas through to more conceptual and digital publications and websites. Students approach this task in lots of different ways, from looking at markets, experimenting with content and design, through to asking more socio-cultural questions about what a magazine really is in the modern context.
Andrina Hutter Although the idea of a ‘magazine in a box’ seems unusual, conceptual magazines have had a long tradition in publishing, playing with format, style, periodicity and place. The artefact being made explores the physicality a print magazine can take on and the characteristics this experimental format needs in order to still be classified as a magazine. Asking ‘what should be in a box’ is an attempt to further explore and push the possibilities of interactivity and sensual experience in print magazine publishing that cannot be reproduced digitally. Boxes will have a number of interactive elements such as postcards, booklets, card-decks and posters.
Evelyn Sklivas Beautitude is an online magazine that brings empowering stories, tips and guidance on emotional well-being for young women. Inspirational articles will give readers the confidence and encouragement to pursue their goals and lead happy and fulfilling lives. Ultimately the magazine aims to break the stigma surrounding mental health.
Violeta Uzanova “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games, 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” This uplifting quote from Michael Jordan sums up the philosophy of Inspire Me Daily, a print and online magazine that aims to motivate young adults with a dash of wit and whimsy.
Isabella Aquilina La Linda is the online magazine of the La Linda bakery based in Uruguay. It was conceived as a space for readers to learn more about how to cook and bake in a healthy and nutritious way. La Linda is also about how to take care of oneself as a whole—body, mind, and spirit. The magazine website, to be developed as an artefact in this project, will feature all kinds of recipes, from lemonades and jams, to main courses and deserts. It will also include a ‘thoughts’ section filled with lifestyle tips; and a blog where the La Linda bakery team will document their journey to a healthy and sustainable existence.
Bobby Saunders Dawn is an independent adventure and exploration magazine that is designed to be universally accessible for the visually impaired. It is conceived as a 120-page bi-monthly publication that combines high-quality written journalism with beautiful imagery. Alongside the text, every article is printed in braille for the visually impaired. The goal is a magazine that is accessible and pleasurable to an audience that is neglected by mainstream and independent publishers.
D A W N
Adventure & Exploration - Volume 1
Adventure & Exploration - Volume 1
in some ways still refreshing and clear. When I reached up top, I took a moment, to digest what I could see. When I looked up at the sky, I felt this openness. The clouds laying low above me. There were dark clouds, orange, pink and yellow clouds from the sunset which I could see at eye level from where I was standing. The sun’s reflection on the dead sea created a sense of stillness. You’re encapsulated by rocks and desert – you’re within a cliff encased desert, this feels enclosing, but the vast waters create a sense of I felt sleepy, but being in this open space, surrounded by nature, I was able to think about the treasures in life, it made me think about the struggle of everyday life, we’ve heard the stories of Israel/Palestine, but being in this environment creates you to think deeply about the issues present here. What gives the Judean Desert it’s character is that it’s so intimately tied to history… Masada is a rugged natural fortress, of majestic beauty, in the Judaean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. It is a symbol of the
Soon enough my eyes behold an ethereal image where heaven meets earth. The sky was mirrored on the reflection of the water, the reflection so flawless it had abolished all signs of a horizon, eliminating all sense of gravity with it. It was as if we were floating. I’m struggling to grasp the beauty that unravels before me; I am standing on the world’s largest mirror. The magnificent aqua blue of the sky was patterned with tiger-like stripes of clouds. Our driver points into the distance- “notice the wooden crosses over there”. 50 metres away from us 5 wooden crosses surface from the water in perfect alignment. “A few years ago a car transporting a family of five Bolivians broke down right there. They were left with no choice but to walk to the nearest village.” He informs us. “The crosses mark where
ancient kingdom of Israel, its violent destruction and the last stand of Jewish patriots in the face of the Roman army, in 73 A.D. It was built as a palace complex, in the classic style of the early Roman Empire, by Herod the Great, King of Judaea, (reigned 37 – 4 B.C.). The camps, fortifications and attack ramp that encircle the monument constitute the most complete Roman siege works surviving to the present day. Masada’s ties to history created me to reflect. The silence made me think clearly, and I was able to reflect. That’s what was going on in my head in Masada. It was a place of reflection. There was silence, you don’t hear anything. When you arrive down at the fortress before going up the mountain, there’s one road. There’s stillness in Masada – a stillness which connects you to your thoughts. As the sun comes up you feel the heat reflect off your face and your body, but you still feel refreshed. When I touched the rocks, I felt somewhat renewed, this radiating energy from expelling from the sun touching the rocks. You feel and can see the heat on the rocks, radiating. The sun’s reflection
on the rocks, created the rocks to reflect In Masada there is one road, and one hostel, at the bottom of the mountain, so there’s this isolation you feel. You want to enjoy the silence. It’s the air you breathe and the place, was so inspiring. Even when you touch things, you feel great. You feel like you’re in communion with yourself, and you don’t want to break this. I wanted to feel connected to the nature, so I just went my own way. They build the houses and the fortress are built with rock from the mountains. it’s a dry place. it has this immense space, but it’s silence. If you were to scream, no one would hear you.
they started their journey by foot?” I ask. “No” he replies. “The crosses mark where each of their bodies was found, having frozen to death, the youngest only three years of age.” I look around in disbelief; the horizon draws an immaculate 360-degree perimeter around us, clearly confirming that the plains unfold into infinity. The destructive power of nature makes it’s presence felt.
approached, leaving us with a few lingering moments to enjoy blushing skies drooping over the plains. The crisp air carried weightless specks of salt that would land on our skin to form a crystallised layer over the epidermis.
Our driver stops on an island of cactuses. Giant green hostile totem poles provide shelter momentarily whilst we enjoy a picnic lunch. A few groups of trekkers slide over the salt plains like small ant like figures beneath us. The dwarfed tracks draw lines resembling those that mark the surface of an ice skating rink. The temperature dropped to sub zero as dusk
We spend the night in a hotel built entirely of salt bricks; a ground-level circular edifice held together by clay made from salt. The guide’s family run this hotel. We are led to our room, the size of a cargo container. In the right-hand corner of the room, a three meter-long block of solid white salt sits on the ground, on it a thick stack of blankets makes up for a mattress. The log fire at the heart of the hotel spreads its heat throughout the handful of rooms. After warming up we are called to sit down at the communal eating table where the food is now our main source of warmth and contentment. The table
is yet another block of salt, this time 15 metres in length, large enough to accommodate all the guests at once. We feast on warm lentil soup and share our views on the overwhelming experience we have all just witnessed. Friendly smiles soften the harsh weathered faces of our hosts as they sip on their third glass of Pisco. As dawn surfaces we travel further afield before reaching la Laguna Colorada; a shallow salt lake turned oxblood red due to the abundance of the minerals seeping through the ancient rock strata’s. The bloody waters are streaked with fluorescent pink. Its not until we get closer that we can properly make out the shape of the flamingos. The flock of hundreds seek refuge from the soaring temperatures and wallow in this blood bath, preening their bubblegum pink plumage under the scorching Bolivian sun.
I started in Jerusalem, located in a plateau in the Judean mountains between the mediterranean and the dead sea. I went in mid January, and I wanted to explore Masada for what it’s known for – serenity. The day I was going to leave the city, to Masada, I missed the last bus, there was only 2 buses a day to and from Jerusalem and Masada, so I had to hitch hike my way there, which meant I had to stop twice, in order to reach Masada. The drive to Masada from Jerusalem took about 1 hour and 40 minutes, I remember that it was a Tuesday sometime in January, so it was extremely cold, the cold air against my face felt raw. When I arrived in Masada, I felt the difference in the air, from Jerusalem, one of the biggest cities in what we now call the state of Israel to a sense of serenity in Masada. When I breathed in the air, I felt refreshed, I was in a natural, open space, in a way, exposed. Masada, metzadá “fortress”, is isolated, so in a way this open space and isolation, creates a feeling of freedom. There was no sound – just silence. The silence, in a way, created me to take notice in particular movements and sounds that surrounded me. The movement of the wind, the way the air felt on my face, the sound of my feet embedding into the rocks, being able to feel the coarseness of the rocks. I was emerged into a moment of tranquility. In a way, this silence creates you to create silence in your mind, and reflect… it was almost refreshing to hear nothing.
I arrived there late at night, and I had this strange feeling…I realised I was open, I was in this space, connected to nature – a sense of purity. I was going to walk up towards the fortress of Masada, and hike into the sunrise. I arrived there at around midnight, and I woke up at around 4 AM. As I went up, I couldn’t see anything, the darkness created a feeling of uncertainty, I kept hitting into rocks which were coarse, and sharp, I felt the cold air against my face and I was breathing in this purified air, as I took a breathe in and a breathe out my body was being revived. It took me an hour, or an hour and a half to get up there. As I walked up, the air changed, I felt the air becoming warmer, and radiating off my face, as the sun was rising in front of me. The sun was just starting to rise by the time I got to the top, but it was behind the mountain, which was in front of me, and the mountain was right behind the dead sea. “The Sea of Death”, is a salt lake bordering Jordan, Israel and the West Bank. The dead sea is known for being the Earth’s lowest election on land, being 1,388 ft below sea level. When I reached the top, the air was no longer cold, it
An Italian favourite a new burger chain and a gastropub
If you’re an Italian food fanatic like myself, then this place is for you. Vapiano (or Vaps) is an upmarket, fast, authentic Italian restaurant with food ranging from pizzas (the thin crust kind), pastas and calzones, to salads and deserts.
In the heart of London's Covent Garden there are any number of restaurants you can go to, but if you fancied a change of scenery and were feeling particularly healthy, Jamie Oliver’s restaurant, Union Jacks, might be the place for you.
There are only three in London: in Southwark, Great Portland Street and Soho. Vapiano’s definitely has the most unusual concept I’ve come across. You’re greeted by a staff member who hands you a card, which is swiped at the counter each time you order. This perfectly avoids the awkwardness of splitting the bill, as everybody gets their own card.
Jamie Oliver describes this restaurant as “All about bringing back nostalgic British classics using the best artisanal ingredients” and when stepping into the restaurant you can feel that the rustic, outdoor decor adds to the British feeling.
There are counters for pizzas/calzones, salads and pasta, as well as a bar area that serves dessert; which avoids long queues. The food can be tailor made; it’s all about personalised tastes – essentially, bespoke pizzas and pastas, without the price tag. Everything is made right in front of you, allowing you to customise your dish to your particular taste. You choose what you want and how much so there are no nasty surprises. If you want to add or remove something, just ask. With the pizzas, you’re given a buzzer to let you know when it comes out of the oven. As well as traditional Italian dishes, Vapiano also has international dishes. I had the special, a mind-blowingly cheap Salsicca Con Fichi – spicy Italian sausage, onions, fresh figs, and tomato sauce served with penne pasta and loads of cheese. At the end of your meal, you go to the front of the restaurant, simply hand over your card to the front desk, and they will tell you your bill. A bonus is that the Southwark branch offers 10 per cent student discount. Plus free gummy bears as you leave. Words: Marie-Lois Syrimis Image: Hilma Sassa
You are greeted by polite waiters as you walk in and are seated, plus the booths are equipped with seat warmers which are ideal in the colder months. When looking at the menu I was intrigued to see there was not as much choice as I first thought, although it was understandable for it being such a small joint. It was the sort of menu that wouldn’t be out of place in a pub. There are 'British tapas plates' such as potted prawns, chicken livers on London bloomer, garlic mushcrooms and mayonnaise and prawn and Morecambe Bay shrimp cocktail. Main courses feature British classics such as steak, chips, lamb and chicken, a range of wood-fired pizzas and some salad options. The restaurant added its own little twist to each dish—examples included a fish pie pizza and a cabbage and mustard salad. Pizzas range in price from £8 to £13.50, while the grills are around £11 0r £12 each. The British tapas plates, which also double as starters, range from £4.25 to £6.50. I opted for a margarita pizza (called ‘Margaret’ in the menu) and a side of chips. The drinks menu was very limited and apart from the alcoholic choices (which included some interesting 'night cap' options such as cherry brandy and hot chocolate) there were
The Adam & Eve only a few options; fresh fruit juice, iced tea or water. I asked the waiter if there were any alternatives and they did in fact have coke – which they served with a paper straw; not the best thing to drink out of as it became soggy! The food didn’t take too long to come and as the restaurant was in the Covent Garden food court we could see everything that was happening outside. There was a musician on the stage playing acoustic versions of classic songs such as Cannonball by Damien Rice – which provided a nice atmosphere while I waited for the food. When the food finally arrived, I looked down to see a very large pizza. I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat it all by myself. The chips arrived and I asked for some mayonnaise, which to my surprise they did not have, and instead gave me some garlic butter. I found it weird that they did not have mayonnaise, it’s a must with chips, in my opinion. None the less, the chips looked rustic and homemade, with some skin on them. The only downfall was they tasted very vinegary, as if they had been cooked in it, and as someone who does not like vinegar, was slightly off putting. Despite this, the pizza was very tasty. Italian base, very thin, which is what I like, with a delicious crust. A few bits were burnt however that added to the rustic feel to the place. Overall, the atmosphere was nice and cosy and the pizza was very tasty – however, I can’t see myself eating here again anytime soon. Words: Rachel Fineman Image: Garry Knight via Flickr.com
The Adam & Eve is a small gastropub set in an Edwardian building, buried five minutes away from Finchley central station in north London, and it’s most definitely worth the slight detour. Recently refurbished to an exceptionally high standard, this traditional meets modern pub stands proud in the panoramic sleepy village of Mill Hill. It’s a lovely rustic pub with character and the support of a close community: you wouldn’t believe you’re in London. Modern pubs can all too often be pretentious, over priced, and overwhelming. Not here. Upon speaking to other diners, it seemed that a lot of people had chosen the restaurant primarily through word of mouth. Merit to the effort and work gone into forming this excellent, but raw reputation In our evolving society, it offers an original option for vegetarians too. The vegetarian options haven't been thrown together and stuck in the menu like an awkward guest at an uninvited dinner party. There is a variety of appealing dishes on offer. The waitress was attentive, pointing out bestsellers and personal favourites. I went with the homemade sticky pork ribs with fresh chilli, spring onion and sesame seeds served with sweet potato fries and salad garnish. It didn’t disappoint. The pork seemed to melt in the mouth: it was so tender due to the way that it had been slowly cooked. You know the feeling that you get when you’re waiting to meet someone at the airport and their plane is delayed and you start to wonder if they will ever show up. Well, I felt as if I had been waiting for this dish my whole life. The waiting made it taste that much better. Words: and image: Jack Allen
A comedy superstar and a free night of improv
Shoot from the hip
After having had a long and stressful Monday morning making my way to university, I came across a small café named Venezia.
From the man that brought you ‘Laugh at my Pain’, ‘I’m a grown little man’ and ‘Let Me Explain’, everyone’s favourite little funny man is back. Actor and comedian Kevin Hart brings you his biggest tour yet; the What Now Tour’, with sold out tickets for Manchester, Dublin, London, Antwerp, Singapore and Perth.
Free entertainment, did you say? We’re all over that! With very high ticket prices for West End shows, and a minimum of £11.90 for a 3D viewing of a movie in a Cineworld in central London (that is with a student discount of course), entertainment in the capital is pricy for most students. Therefore, free entertainment is a real luxury. Angel comedy provides Londoners with free entertainment, every night. Mondays are improvisational comedy nights with the guys from Shoot From The Hip!: Luke Manning, Paul Raymond, Thomas Mayo, Sam Russell, and Josh Mills.
On the list of top ten things you should be experiencing when in London is a breakfast at this small but authentic eatery. I was instantly drawn to the café with its interesting décor, it looked clean and well looked after. The location of Venezia is in a unique and multi-cultural area. Venezia has a North African theme to it and as I entered I was really intrigued by the cultural diversity. For example they offered a full English breakfast but their special was a traditional Moroccan dish, Couscous. I also realised all types of people were coming in, from tourists to office types to manual workers. Venezia instantly made me feel welcome and at home, I decided to order an omelette with beans and sausages, and a glass of fresh orange juice to wash it all down. Whilst I waited I got speaking to one of the regulars named George, he told me: “I have been coming to Venezia since it first opened, and I have to say it’s an extremely family-orientated café with a super atmosphere, vast variety of food and drink, with excellent menu choices, efficient service and good value for money. My favourite is the steak and kidney pie.Compare it to the pies I’ve eaten at up-market pubs which seem to have puff pastry and little meat, this pie is full of lean meat.” I have to say I agree with George, the service was quick and friendly and the food was very tasty. It made me feel like I was having a proper British breakfast. There's no fuss and no exclusivity, just devilishly fine café food to see you through the day. Words & image: Doruntina Neziri
Having attended his show at the O2 arena on the 17th of January, it was an amazing experience to see the man himself and hearing his humorous jokes and witty banter firsthand, all whilst witnessing his hilarious facial expressions and gestures. The atmosphere was light and exciting and full of anticipation of what surprises the evening had in store. Drinks and snacks in hand, toilet runs made, phones put away and discussion over, the crowd cheered for what was about to come. Once Hart graced the stage there were jokes based on encounters he had in his life, his friends, family, house, as well as an evil racoon. The only thing that could have put a dampener on things were the masses of people being escorted out of the arena for using their mobile phones, despite many warnings about the consequences. At the end of the performance Hart explained that phones were banned because the event was being filmed and encouraged everybody to grab their phones and take as many pictures and photos as they wanted to their heart’s content, with him striking poses and and taking a big arena selfie.
I heard a girl in the queue say, “I come here all the time, they’re super funny and they’ve got something on every night, which is awesome.” So that was a convincing start. Once we got inside, there was already music playing and a line of people dancing and singing to it. When the show started, three comedians came on stage and introduced themselves. There was a lot of audience involvement throughout the night and they based most of their acts on our suggestions. None of their acts were scripted, so they really relied on what the audience had to say to perform. The first half was about 45 minutes long and one of their acts required books from the audience.
So ‘what now’ after his What Now tour? Only Hart will know once he finishes this tour but rest assured, as for a man who prides himself on hard work plans for his next tour can’t be too far away.
The idea of the game was that the two comedians with the books are only allowed to say lines written in the books while the other can speak freely. They asked for a place and an audience member shouted out the answers, so this is where they started. One of the books they got was in Spanish, which made it more difficult but also even more amusing for the audience to watch. Another act they did involved yoga poses.
Words: Roseline Awoyale Image: MSC Texas A&M Uni via Flickr.com
They had to act out yoga poses in different genres, going from drama to
thriller. It started with change of genres to change of language. One of the guys would stop the scene and ask the audience to suggest a different language for them to continue in. Italian, Japanese, and ‘Somalian’ were some of the languages or accents that they had to speak in. That’s where the first half ended. “For those of you who have never been here before, the drunker you are, the funnier we are!” This was what Sam Russell said at the beginning of the intermission. A lot of the audience members went down to the pub to buy a pint or two and came back ready for the second half of the show. During the intermission, I got to talk to an audience member that was really enjoying the show. Sanjay told me “Yeah, this is our second time here. We came here a fortnight ago and we really enjoyed it.” The second half started with a gangster story, which took over most of the half. There were a lot of pasta jokes with the names of the different characters and they also added jokes about young 10-year-old boys who came to the States looking for jobs. They improvised their way through the story and it was absolutely brilliant! The evening ended with a guessing game. One of the comedians had to leave the room and come back being late for his job, while the other two worked out with the audience the reason why he was late, how he got to work, what his job was, and who he was. Words: Tania Beck Image: Tripp / flickr.com 71
A fashion magazine’s retrospective
Two London and gigs and two new album releases
Vogue 100: A Century of Style
The NME awards show with Alex G
The avant-garde of fashion and beauty celebrates its centennial this year, along with an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery; Vogue 100: A Century of Style. The exhibition epitomises British Vogue’s standing as ‘the fashion bible’ and recognises the cultural and historical significance of the magazine.
The Philadelphian DIY pioneer Alex G made an appearance at the Lexington in east London as part of NME‘s string of award shows.
Upon entering the exhibition, you are confronted by some of the most famous faces of the past century; magazine covers from different eras in glass cases, whilst others are seemingly plastered across the wall. The layout of the exhibition is in reverse chronological order, beginning with the current decade, leading all the way back to the birth of the magazine, 1916. The exhibition features Norman Parkinson’s cover of ‘exotic’ glamour; model Anne Gunning posing alongside a bejewelled elephant in Jaipur in the 1950s; Peter Lindbergh’s famous 1990 cover celebrating the era of the ‘supermodels’ and original vintage photographs of Horst P. Horst’s 1939 Mainbocher Corset. The diversity of work that has been commissioned over the years has captured the essence of each era. Portraits of a young Kate Moss, especially Corinne Day’s 1993 shoot of her, juxtaposed alongside Christy Turlington highlight the emergence of a slender, waif-like frame against the dominating figures of the 90s supermodels.
Following a signing to Domino Records in 2015 and the release of his second label album Beach Music, the nervously raw sounds of Alex Giannascoli are gathering momentum and this sold-out show is a testament to exactly that. Support came from trip-hop artist Claudia Kane and soulful and ambient Stevie Parker. Claudia opens the evening, playing to a slowly filling room with every intention of bringing the evening to life. Her natural charm and on-stage honesty are a real asset to her but sadly the music didn’t carry as much weight. Backed by a quiet cellist and an unnecessarily heavy backing track, Claudia’s take on modern pop and 1920s vaudeville came off as seemingly under-rehearsed and disappointingly amateur in comparison to what was to come later. In comparison, Stevie Parker and her full backing band pulled off what seemed an expertly drilled and audibly impressive spectacle. Accompanied by an air of mystery, Stevie is a woman of very few words and prefers to let people focus on the music.
National Portrait Gallery until 22 May
Alex G has been recording since the age of 13 and was once labelled “the internet’s best secret songwriter” by The Fader magazine. His sixth album DSU brought his to a wider audience and was nominated as a Best Album of 2014 by Noisey, Consequence of Sound, The Washington Post, Vogue, CMJ, and Time Out. He isn’t an artist who believes too much in showmanship or being a contemporary ‘frontman’; such is the nature of lo-fi music.
Words: Genta Dushi Image: vogue.com
When the multi-instrumentalist and his band come on stage at the Lexington,
The visual appeal of Vogue lies in the magazine’s continued innovation, demonstrated through its digital evolution, as seen in moving images on display. The exhibition also features magazine covers that highlight the importance of art direction and visuals and embody the success of the magazine.
they do a line check and the house lights go down. Playing through the intro to his most recent release, Beach Music, the iconic dreary vocals and dreamy guitar lines are ever-present. As they move through new songs Bug and Salt there’s a bit more of an aggression to Alex G’s live sound. On record he refuses to involve himself in the complexities of a large studio and his sound has stayed true since Race, his first release in 2010. Never trying to sell himself as an incendiary live act or a true showman, he sticks to his core honesty and plays a very human set. His casual nature on stage brings an intimacy to a live setting, the kind you crave for when you’re listening to tunes like Mud and Snot on your own. Despite focussing heavily on his new album, Alex occasionally plays songs from previous releases. Ice Head and Wicked Boy receive the largest amount of audience participation although even this only extends to a standstill singalong. As much as the humble nature of Alex’s performance is appreciated, the spectacle is reduced slightly. The crowd craves some kind of interaction to spur them into an emotional rage. As his set comes to a close it’s a bittersweet feeling hearing that last note. This is only his third appearance in the UK and he seems set set for growing popularity with big support slots with Basement later this month. Alex G could soon see his sound take off and find a place in teenage hearts. Alternatively, his nonchalant persona could be his downfall. I know it’s hard to feel too invigorated by his humorous and spacey sound, but there’s still space for improvement. Words & image: Max Gayler
I like it when you Sleep, For you are so Beautiful yet so Unaware of it Apart from having a 16 word album title, The 1975 have mastered a new sound, slightly more pop than the first album, and almost like being in a time warp. Back to the eighties we go! The first track, is an intro of some sort, although it’s a little over-dramatic and ends abruptly. Unnecessary of course but The 1975 have been known to be on the self-indulgent side of life. Love me, possibly catered for the fans in their early teens, is full of simple guitar riffs and simple lyrics, making it quite a catchy tune. Though it may be catchy, it is still one of the weaker and more “uncool” tracks on the album. Synth pop beats are found in nearly every track which suggests the band aren’t all about the cool vibes anymore. This sounds like a new band altogether! She’s American has a fuller sound than those at the start of the album. Could this be an album of progression? The instrumental Please Be Naked, as lovely and soothing as it is, may be is more of a bedroom chilling listen. Somebody Else completely changes the album and the direction it was going. This track is made up of fabulous eighties beats. Imagine slow dancing and disco lights. The 1975 have definitely decided to experiment with different sounds throughout the album and although this can be confusing at times, it’s nice to see a second album that doesn’t completely mirror the first. This album will take time and effort to get through, rather like the album’s title. Maybe you should save it for a long drive, or a rainy day. 17 tracks that can sometimes go over the five minute mark make it a lengthy listen, but a good listen nonetheless. Words: Georgia-May Ivey Image: Chuff Media.
The Who at Wembley The Who at Wembley Stadium could be considered more than just your average gig during ordinary circumstances, much more so with Pete Townshend’s recent announcement that The Who will be “going their separate ways,” after the end of this, their 50th Anniversary tour. The corridors of the SSE Arena were crammed with greying mods wearing tour t-shirts, including many people from The Who’s last appearance here during the final stop of their “Quadrophenia and More” tour, on July 8, 2013. Other die-hards went the full hog with classic parka jackets, emblazoned on the back with “WHO” or the iconic circle logo. London and Estuary English were the predominant accents shooting across the hallways although I also heard a few other British accents, alongside a smattering of Europeans. Finally, the lights dimmed and the immortal words “Keep Calm, Here Comes The Who” faded onto the screen. The crowd, not for the last time that evening, roared a chorus of approval. The rockers appeared on stage and launched right into “Who Are You?” to the glee of everyone. Afterwards, Roger Daltrey remarked that it was “good to be back", and you could tell he meant it. What immediately struck me as they fired through the hits was how good their drummer was. Zak Starkey, son of Beatles Drummer Ringo Starr, was 50 last year, yet maintained the vitality and passion of someone half his age. He delivered an astonishing performance, seemingly unfazed at the end of the set as he walked off with a grin and a wave. What was also noteworthy was the professionalism of the visuals and lighting. Wembley is notorious for its poor quality acoustics and, possibly in anticipation of this, the visual elements of the show were pushed to the forefront.
Porridge Radio There was plenty of nostalgic mod and 1960’ s video, alongside some more psychedelic visuals that teamed well with the spectacular lighting, particularly on the last song, “Baba O’Reilly". In contrast to shows with a younger demographic where the order of the day is frenzied screaming or sexual longing, the atmosphere was like more a religious experience, fists raised in the air, with many simply nodding and smiling. Seeing a lot of older men, many of whom you can imagine being otherwise quite grumpy old geezers, showing such youthful enthusiasm for something that so obviously, and genuinely, means a lot to them, warmed my heart. In addition to this, hearing punters conversing outside about when they first and last saw the band with such exuberance also brought a smile to my face. Pete Townshend may now be 70, but he was as sharp and witty as ever when he bantered with both Daltrey and the crowd. “I hope I die before I get old; what cunt wrote that,” he remarked after My Generation to howls of laughter before launching into a tirade about being unable to see the set list at his feet, remarking that he needed to lean forwards to see it and being unsure whether he would be able to get back up if he did. Despite this, Townshend strutted around the stage with aplomb, frequently employing his signature “windmill” technique with vigour, alongside Daltrey’s iconic microphone swing. Throughout the night he paid tribute to his former bandmates, dedicating The Kids Are Alright to Keith Moon, who he remarked “lived about 500 yards down the road from here", with a show reel at the start of the show to commemorate both Moon and John Entwhistle. I found it strange that Daltrey, whilst still in command of such a tremendous
voice, visibly struggled towards the end of the show, seemingly slightly dazed, despite physically looking in much better shape than Townshend. Daltrey then reminded the audience that he had contracted viral meningitis last year, forcing the band to postpone the US dates of their farewell tour. They now begin on February 27 in Detroit, playing 27 dates over three months before finishing aptly in Las Vegas on May 29, at the aptly named Home of the Greatest Entertainers in the World, The Colosseum at Caesars Palace. After a blinding performance of Baba O’Reilly to finish, with the iconic scream being the only time during the show where I felt my eardrums under serious physical pressure, Daltrey thanked the audience for their support during his illness, remarking that he wouldn’t have got through it without everyone. This felt bittersweet due to its timeliness. Whilst he was up there performing his heart out, the deaths of many of Daltrey’s luminaries these past few months in Bowie, Lemmy and Glenn Frey can’t help but leave you feeling concerned. Daltrey didn’t live the rock and roll lifestyle, having never knowingly taken hard drugs. It’s a testament to much of life being luck of the draw when you look at him and Townshend side by side up there. While this year may be their curtain call as a live band, holding the crown of best live band of all time isn’t a bad legacy to look back on. The Who works live, whether that’s at Leeds in 1970 or Wembley in 2016, because the tunes are undeniable. Anthemic rock tailor made for stadiums, bursting with anger and angst, yet possessing a life affirming quality, with themes that resonate for every generation. The old boys are alright. Words & image: Sam Skinner
So many things can be said about Porridge Radio & The Cosmic Sadness, a beautiful Brighton-based mash of sound and feeling. After months of hearing whispers of “The best band in Brighton”, I got a train and decided to see what all the fuss was about. Held in a bare-bricked two room bar located directly under Brighton train station called The Green Door Store, the gig was in celebration of release of a split-tape by Porridge Radio and The Cosmic Sadness Any attempt to describe in simple words why Porridge Radio & The Cosmic Sadness is such a wonderful and important band is doomed from the start. It is a band that has to be experienced to be understood. But, before I get into the meat of the review, it’s important to note that Porridge Radio is the solo project of singer-songwriter Dana Margolin—The Cosmic Sadness is the backing band that was put together for live shows. In the interests of convenience, I will refer to the band as a whole as Porridge Radio. Over the all-too-brief half hour that the band was on stage there’s feeling and anger and ennui and noise and fire and love and isolation and the rain and wooziness and, oh my god, I can’t believe this. I want to move to Brighton and write about them for the rest of my life. I want to start a band and be their support act. It’s imperfect and gorgeous. It’s music stretched out and left to dry in the sun. Glory glory Porridge Radio. If you ever get a chance to see this truly extraordinary band live I suggest you grab that chance with both hands and throttle the life out of it. Words and image: Conal Yarwood Frost 73
Words: Caitlin Mayhew Image: Danielle Scott via Flickr.com (remixed)
The modern day chain gangs Working for a nationwide pub group is a joyless existence
When I got the call saying I’d got the job in a central London pub, part of a large nationwide chain, I couldn’t believe it. Finally, months of filling in application forms, staring at my CV and thinking: “What’s wrong with me? Why does nobody want me?” seemed worth it. The location alone made me believe the pay would be a bit of all right compared to the £5 an hour I got at the garden centre back home. In reality, wages don’t change due to location when you’re working for a national company. I worked with a very angry Scouse girl who’d just moved to London, transferring between pubs within the company. She also expected a little more money to pay for the ridiculous rent that we’re charged here. Outside of term time we both worked up to 50 hours a week (more than our managers) on just above minimum wage, meaning that even if we saved up enough for a few extortionate pints, we simply didn’t have the time. While my boss sat drinking at the end of the bar, I was encouraged to finish pouring the half-poured pints that had sat for hours to give to customers if they weren’t looking. “Stock, stock, stock!” I was constantly reminded by my manager. Wasted stock is wasted money. I never did it and I’m pretty sure I only ever actually saw my manager do it. Imagine seeing the bartender hand you the manky pint that probably has two different ales in it. A few regulars made it a little bit easier to work there. There was Dave with his white wine spritzers. He didn’t even have to ask, we just knew when he wanted one, and he’d have the exact change in his hand ready. His mates Mr Guinness, Magners man, and Nice Stella Guy, were the same and all somehow spent more time at the bar than I did, and brightened it up a little bit. My favourite customer was a cheeky cockney chap who worked in insurance, but a lot funnier than you’d expect. There were a couple of very nice blokes that were very interested in my writing, and always encouraged me to write about the pub. On the other hand there were the total bastards that the nice ones frequently apologised for. Horrible Stella Guy was plain nasty to everyone and made me cry during a particularly stressful shift. “Incompetent little girl,” he said to 74
“He’s a dick to the staff but he brings in the money” me at the end of a rant over me giving him small change to make up a pound instead of a £1 coin. I never served him again, nor did I pick up his glasses, much to the annoyance of my manager. After this I was told by management: “We can’t do anything about it, he’s a dick to every member of staff, but he comes here too often—he brings us too much money.” The last straw came on Saturdays. These were normally pretty dead, but occasionally got incredibly busy and yet no more staff were put on. I worked every Saturday and at this time, one other person and I ran the whole pub which included serving food and manning the bar. The understaffing resulted in people leaving without getting served, a hell of a lot of refunds, and the dreaded bad reviews on TripAdvisor, but even that didn’t make my manager think to put more staff on.
After four or five weeks of this I asked for a Saturday off. Not an unreasonable request I thought: however it was the middle of October and I was told I couldn’t have a Friday or Saturday off until the new year. I found it really tough considering each of my shifts lasted twelve hours, consuming my whole weekend, and most of my time outside of uni. The next day I handed my notice in. When I mentioned this to my supervisor who’d worked those Saturdays with me, she told me to my surprise that she had done the same. Looking at the pub now they still haven’t changed their ways even though they lost two people on the same day for the same reasons. Now I’m in an enjoyable job, working in a pub that is run as an independent business, rather than part of a big chain. Working for an independent business
has made me realise how shitty these big companies are; my bosses appreciate me where I work now, and in return I’m loyal to them. Here I can voice my opinion, I’m listened to, and if a customer is rude, even if they are a regular, I’m not forced to fake a smile, but I choose to out of respect for the owners. The staff and the bosses are friendly with each other and, as a result I am much more concerned about things like stock and the success of the business. In a major company you’re putting in the hours for no one. I’ve been here almost a year, and I thought about leaving once, saying I had no loyalties to them and I should be paid more. However I’ve recently discovered that I love the people I work with, and even though I get paid slightly more than minimum wage, our tips are OUR tips instead of going to the big boss.
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