December 2005 TheCheeseGrater 1
No. 7 December 2005
UCL MANAGEMENT have taken the astonishing step of aligning themselves with a Guardian columnist. Simon Jenkins’ column ‘The Battle of Bloomsbury’ can be read on the UCL website. In the column,Jenkins gives the world his view of how to smarten up Bloomsbury and dismantle the University of London at the same time ‘if I were UCL’. His desire for UCL to buy up the university and part privatise it appears (who knows why?) to have curried favour with the Provost. Mr Chatterbox of The
Cheese Grater has just written back to Jenkins: ‘This “academic Soviet Union” does more than act as an administrator and landlord, it acts as a unifying force for the colleges of the UoL, in sharing resources (such as libraries) and specialisms from college to college, which has proved to be invaluable especially (though not just) for medical students in the past. The quality of many degrees will suffer if the UoL is allowed to break up. It is also slightly unedifying at a time when UCL is making 15% cuts to academic staff to suggest that UCL is in any state
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UCL plc, part 2 The second instalment of Mr Chatterbox’s revealing look at the brave new UCL p.3
UCL employs arms supremo Meet the lecturer who makes money from the military-industrial complex in his spare time p.5
Your New Favourite Band They’re, woah!
to launch a “takeover” of the University of London which by your own estimate will cost £85 million. Previous attempts by previous provosts of UCL to usurp the the University of London have been met with scorn by other UoL colleges and institutes; Professor Grant would be advised to bear that in mind. Instead of crowing over the “start of the end” of the University he should roll up his sleeves and try to revive the University of London brand. Hopefully with more success than he re-launched UCL’s own brand last summer. I have every confidence that he will play
a positive role despite what you foolishly describe as his “best interests”. UCL has already expanded and taken under its wings several of the smaller schools and colleges of the UoL, which have all despite early protestations lost their identities to the all-consuming UCL brand. How happily would SOAS become part of UCL? Not very, I suspect. Moreover I find it hard to be lectured by someone who supported the biggest waste of public funds in the name of regeneration - the Millennium Dome in case you had forgotten...’ (etc) Now see page 3
NEW SPORTS AT ULU One resigned president and sacked council chair later, get the inside story p.2
SHOOTING FISH IN A SARDINE TIN: POCKETSIZED PI Another summary of UCLU’s Worst Student Magazine, with a preview of next issue’s, er, content pp. 6-8
2 TheCheeseGrater December 2005
Down Your Union
Dex Torricke-Barton ON 14 November 2005, student politicians gathered from across London to meet and debate a no-confidence motion against Luca Manfredi, the chair of ULU Council. After three hours of furious claim and counter-claim, the result became clear. By 27 votes to 5, Luca was history. The result marked the culmination of weeks of internal plotting, frenzied rumours and a consistent show of defiance by the man himself. But whilst the dear leader may have thought that reports of his own imminent demise were exaggerated, it was always clear which way this was going to turn out. A slow-motion death by hackery, Luca’s deposal was almost as neat as the downfall of Khrushchev in 1964 (Look it up - Ed.). Both Luca and the Soviet leader headed ostensibly ideological organisations, sought to wield a monopoly on power, and were hindered by their own personal and policy weaknesses. But above all, both proved incapable of comprehending and controlling a political environment characterised by secrecy, factionalism and brutality. Luca’s fall was masterminded by the LGBT interests in ULU. Luca stood accused of homophobia and discrimination against minority groups in the student body, based on remarks he made on the UCL Union online messageboards during 2004. With his comments so grossly misinformed and incredibly offensive to the entire student community, Luca clearly left himself open to attack. A no-confidence document was drawn up by Alex Coles and Oli Usher in October 2004, cataloguing some of Luca’s most extreme comments. But nothing came of this, nor
even attempts to have Luca dealt with under College harassment proceedings. ULU and UCLU officials wilfully ignored breaches of protocol being perpetrated by a senior student politician. There was no storm of reaction from the LGBT community, only an indifferent silence – punctuated by a few angry rebuttals on the messageboards (see CG 5). The original rumours of a no-confidence began to circulate just weeks into term, immediately following claims of a spat between ULU President Stewart Halforty and the council chair. Halforty, Luca claims, disclosed this to him at a meeting of the two. But after casually revealing this information and being pressed for more by an alarmed Luca, Halforty denied any further knowledge or involvement in the creation of a motion. This was just some friendly advice, proffered as a gesture of goodwill between the two colleagues. Or perhaps not. Halforty and Luca never saw eye to eye from the very start of their terms in August. Leaked documents acquired back then show how frosty relations had become even whilst London baked in the summer sun. Halforty’s belief in emphasising support towards Muslim students in the aftermath of the 7/7 bombings was vigorously opposed by Luca – who suggested that the Islamic community at the University of London ought to be making greater efforts to condemn extremism on campuses, and opposing groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir. Halforty denied the link between extremism and campuses, and then opined that HUT was a non-violent organisation which was no more offensive than Catholic groups campaigning for recognition of Vatican authority in Brit-
From Soumaya Mauthoor Sir: Thanks for mentioning the Climate Change Motion and the fact the first point got crossed off. I was really annoyed about it too, especially since I had less than 24 hours notice. In fact, if Louise Broadbent had not rewritten the motion (I have never done this kind of thing before, so didn’t know about the whole Student for Student thing) the whole motion would have been crossed off because that was the only point of action I included! I would like to point out, though, that the Nestle Ban met
much more resistance than claimed. In fact, Lucy said if this was a new motion they would not have even allowed it to be discussed in the WGM because it was too political. Personally I’m for the ban, claimants that boycotting goods doesn’t work should see Nestle leaflets trying to salvage its public image amongst students. If students can’t be bothered to use the stairs but use the lifts I think it’s plausible they’re not likely to walk to Tottenham Court Road. Finally did the writer actually attend the WGM? The whiner who put the motion of no confidence in Luca is not a hero. As another student put it “Is he taking the p***?” The motion was unanimously rejected. SOUMAYA MAUTHOOR
ain. “I will remain speechless,” replied Luca. “I am glad to hear [it],” shot back the president. Halforty is not responsible for Luca’s removal. But the implication is clear – without the public support of the president, Luca was a legitimate target. The first ULU Council of term was a clarion call for the elites to begin the campaign against the chair. Within days of that first council, the first draft of the noconfidence began to fly (CG 6). So why is Luca being dealt with now, an entire year later and at an separate organisation? Why did none of these complaints arise during the election campaign, or when his candidature was endorsed by some of the people who voted against him on November 14? It is quite simple really – Luca no longer meets their needs. He proved neither to be as silent and spineless as he seemed during his stint last year on ULU Council, nor as enthusiastic an advocate of the rotten policies as the entrenched political factions could have mustered. There are plenty of
people lined up to replace Luca - Jason Peachey from QM is apparently the heir to the throne. Luca was nominally sacked to uphold diversity at ULU. But just like Iraq, it’s probably not being done for the stated reasons. Don’t feel sorry for Luca. But don’t feel proud of his opponents. Halforty says farewell But hang on. If this was a coherent ploy by entrenched political elites, then why did ULU President Stewart Halforty decide to resign in the days before the vote on Luca? Simple really. The man couldn’t get anything done. An entirely separate bunch of elites opposed his policy priorities – staff. In the stodgy world of the U of L’s management culture, ambition is always met with disappointment. The aspirations of one are trumped by the machinations of a mediocre committee culture that rules supreme over our unions and universities. So one unlovable elite beat another. It’s the law of the jungle in student politics. And I’m a tourist on safari.
Send your letters to our email address (p.2). Letters may be edited for space or clarity.
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December 2005 TheCheeseGrater 3
Strategy for Disaster?
In the second part of our exposé on UCL’s future: the problem with staff cuts, the open hostility of staff, and does anyone know the Provost’s plans? Mr Chatterbox “WELL, the Provost has done well in his mission to rebrand UCL,” said a friend of Mr Chatterbox’s, who is a senior academic in an academic institution across the herring-pond, “if he wants the old place to look like a cheap, third-rate polytechnic.” Before going on to point out that he doubted very much whether the logo would appeal to our foreign brethren. But I am not a man to harp on about former arguments and as my friend pointed out, what is interesting about the scum on a pond is not the scum itself but the life that teems beneath it. It is the same with UCL plc. Alongside Provost Professor Malcolm Grant’s revised corporate plan for UCL, published during the summer, lies the divisive issue of jobs cuts amongst academic staff. The figure of 15% in staff cuts has been bandied about as a necessity to reduce UCL’s £7 million deficit. However, the only thing that seems to be clear about that figure is that the fact that the Provost has been unclear on the issues. Academic staff and academic support staff, even now, after two months of debate and attempts at clarification, are unsure as to whether this means a cut in just academic or in academic and administative staff. The Provost, however, told The Cheese Grater that “it applies to all so-called HEFCE-funded staff ”, i.e. all staff not employed under research grants, “and those employed in
the central administration, to which a parallel efficiencies programme is being applied.” But it is notable that no staff interviewed knew this. Either way they are unhappy. Indeed I myself was shocked at the level of mistrust, uncertainty and anger directed towards the Provost and his senior management team that now exists, with one member of staff com-
plaining that the Provost had been “even less clear on this issue that he normally is.” Furthermore the Provost’s prevarication has led to a considerable loss in morale amongst staff One academic alleged that, even after prodding, the Provost was unaware as to whether the figure of fifteen percent was accurate. At one point, he said, the Provost had said that the cuts would be 5% of the to-
tal pay bill per annum for three years, which he estimated to be “twenty-odd percent”. The Provost denied this: “The programme has always been based on staffing numbers. The simple financial reality is that UCL is overstaffed in terms of its budget.” He repeated that the current financial situation is untenable, and stated that “the object of the programme is to turn the budget around and allow us to invest for the future in infrastructure”. While staff question the need for such cuts as out of “proportion to the problem” – the deficit being less than 1.5% of UCL’s total turnover - they also question whether it should be they who pay for a deficit that is not their fault but, they say, the fault of the senior management. But, as one pointed out, when was the last time a member of that august body was ever sacked? Instead a “terror campaign” by the senior management has allegedly been launched to force individual academics into voluntary redunancy or early retirement. What lies at the heart of this issue is the fact that academic staff see this cut as an affront to basic academic freedom by the university itself. Heads of department, they complian, are being forced to comply with across-theboard cuts regardless of research or student needs and departmental situations. In response, the Provost told us that “implementation is for the Deans, in consultation with heads of departments.” But what of research? continued on next page
Contributors: Dex Torricke-Barton, Scary Boots, Hannah Hudson, Mr Chatterbox, Mark Ravinet, David Hing, Eva von Datta and Claude McNab UCL Union Cheese Grater Magazine Society www.cheesegratermagazine.uclu.org Pr esident and Editor: René Lavanchy Treasur er: Nick Cowen President easurer: Assistant Editor: Richard Bridger Union Affairs Editor: Dex Torricke-Barton E-mail : email@example.com Humour Desk: firstname.lastname@example.org UCL Union Cheese Grater Magazine Society, UCL Union, 25 Gordon Street, London WC1H 0AY The views expressed herein are not necessarily those of UCL Union or the editor.
4 TheCheeseGrater December 2005 continued from page 4 The Provost’s top-down, target-driven, corporate-style strategy, as displayed in his recent White Paper, would strangle long-term research projects in the hunt for research marks given by the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), which are based upon the number of papers published per year. Sean Wallis, a researcher within the English department and senior member of the AUT union, which is fighting the proposed cuts, asserted that long-term research projects would undoubtedly suffer because of the Provost’s emphasis on “unfeasible research imperatives” from on high. The Provost told us that his plans are to prevent “second-rate research”. “We are a world-class university, and we have large numbers of academics whose research is
internationally renowned....If we let that slip, and fail to sort out the budget, I fear a gradual but steady drift to mediocrity. Outstanding academics will go elsewhere: there is no shortage of job offers for them.” Meanwhile the Provost is is left facing several questions. Can he guarantee the quality of courses? Can he guarantee that UCL will maintain its variety of courses? Of course not, claim senior academics, who are worried that the job cuts have already lead to an increase in teaching from both postgraduate students and external researchers, who have little knowledge of teaching methods and students’ needs, while other academic staff are forced to teach outside their specialism to cover lost staff. Grasping the nettle once again, the Provost informs us he took a
straw poll at a meeting of Academic Board last week, “which showed that in a few departments PhD students were being invited to offer lectures, but the phenomenon did not seem widespread. It’s a matter of balance and safeguard I think. We should be providing opportunities for PhD students to undertake teaching...But UCL policy is that they should have proper training.” But the concerns remain. Many staff do not disagree with the need to trim down the academic budget but believe that Professor Grant has gone about the issue in the wrong way that has led to “intolerable working conditions”. They also question the manner in which staff have been managed and the appraisal system they have been subjected to. Furthermore, they complain, because of the unique nature of
a university, a corporate hierarchial structure, which the Provost favours, is not suitable for University College or any university. Meanwhile a senior member of UCL Union described themselves as “flabbergasted” that the Provost’s recent strategy document made no mention of students’ needs and questioned whether the Provost had got the balance right between the need for research and the teaching of undergraduates. Sean Wallis agrees: “UCL students will lose unless they do something. UCL Union has a constitutional obligation to protect and maintain the integrity of teaching standards within UCL.” He went onto to say that he encouraged every student to fight the proposed cuts in a spirit of enlightened self-interest.
College management and builders are under fire over troublesome project... UCL’S BUILDING works are as old as UCL itself; there may well turn out to be a stuffed skeleton of UCL’s first building contractor with a wax head in a Regency Portakabin somewhere on site. But despite the experience of so many building projects in such a small area, recent works have seen problem after unnecessary problem dog the lives of staff and students. The noise, delays and obstacles to teaching at SSEES have been noted recently in London Student. Further down the road, the construction of the new Anthropology building has proved a headache for those around it, and for some, far worse. Despite planning going back to 2003, construction of the building under project managers Turner & Townsend has bristled with problems. The trouble is, the building has been thrown up back-to-back with the Greek and Latin, Chemistry and Archaeology departments. Had this been a residential development, Camden Council would undoubtedly have struck it down for destroying natural light access. For UCL, no such restrictions apply. Although the building occupies the former site of a car park, it sits atop the basement of
the Institute of Archaeology (IoA), containing laboratories and students’ research rooms. Did the Estates and Facilities Division (EFD) realise this when they decided to site the building there? One member of staff believes they did not. Indeed, Angela Clemo, who oversaw the project for UCL’s Capital Projects Management department, told The Cheese Grater that the initial feasibility study (undertaken by the same person as problem-ridden SSEES) was “from the ground up”. In any case, it soon became clear that neither College nor the contractors knew what to do with the awkward presence of the IoA. The students were moved into a temporary space and told they would be there for one year, while the basement became a building site. It ended up being two years. But that wasn’t known at the outset. Instead, as one person involved recalls, “as the project developed we were given extensions, another 3 months, and another 3 weeks, and yet another 3 months and at the end of the day it was two years”. Forward planning became a fond memory. “It’s affected teaching,” one student complained. “I’m annoyed for the research stu-
dents”. Angela Clemo said that students were kept out of the building for as long as possible to avoid making them work in difficult conditions. A member of the Institute of Archaeology also blames the contractor, Mansells, for damage to facilities. An air extraction system was ruined, allowing damaging dust into the electron microscope room and forcing the contractors to make an insurance claim for hundreds of thousands of pounds, and research rooms were flooded, destroying countless photocopies of field notes, leading to even more delays. Mansells are to be invoiced for the lost paperwork and books. The noise, on the other hand, was something all departments had to put up with. Apart from incessant drilling, there was the builders’ irrepressible banter. No-one expects builders to speak like Jane Austen, but when they are working immediately outside classrooms and central administration refuse to pay for double glazing despite the noise, they should keep instances of shouting “Suck my fucking nob” vel sim. to a minimum. Nor, when asked to stop singing, should they continue to do so, only louder. Complaints about the workmen
had no effect; this, Clemo said, was due to the layers of subcontractors and their elusiveness of responsibility. The noise continues to this day, including noise emanating from the Archaeology basement, although students were told at the beginning of term that it would last 2-3 weeks. By a twist of fate, although anthropology students have yet to move into their new building the noise already affects those who attend lectures taught in an Archaeology lecture theatre. Opinion varies on how well College management have handled the project. While Angela Clemo insists that her depertment kept meeting with Mansells and they repeatedly ignored the results of the meetings, staff question whether much useful communication with and management of the contractors was had. The next time EFD wish to send in builders, they should choose a team with at least a fig leaf of social responsibility; they should help departments to fit double glazing (thus helping both heating bills and the environment) and they should make departments feel like their opinions matter. The Cheese Grater advises you not to hold your breath.
December 2005 TheCheeseGrater 5
UCL Employs Arms Supremo Mark Ravinet AFTER RECENT reports in London Student on the University of London’s shares in the arms trade, it has emerged that a UCL professor was once managing director for a major arms company and is now director of a consultancy firm with Ministry of Defence contacts. Keith Robinson, Professor of Integrated Systems in the Civil Engineering department, worked as a UK MD at Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defence contractor, between 1995 and 2001. Lockheed Martin is currently the biggest arms manufacturer in the world and has been the main contractor on some of the most well-known and controversial weapons developments, including the Joint Strike Fighter and the Trident nuclear missile system. Professor Robinson was involved in the UK government systems division of Lockheed
Martin UK, an area of the company which oversaw the development of the Royal Navy’s Merlin helicopter program. The Merlin Mk1 saw its first deployment in the second Gulf War in
Keith Robinson 2002 and has been used widely by the Navy ever since. Most alarming, however, is Lockheed Martin’s involvement in weapons of mass destruction, viz, the Trident II missile system.
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Having successfully negotiated a contract with the Ministry of Defence, Lockheed Martin became the primary contractor for the maintenance of Trident in 2000, a time when Professor Robinson was still working with the company. Although Lockheed Martin has had no major role in developing the actual warhead components of Trident, the company is responsible for maintaining the ballistics and guidance systems at the Aldermaston nuclear research installation. The controversy surrounding Trident II has once again been stirred with recent speculation as to whether the British government will upgrade the system once it becomes outdated. If so, missiles each carrying up to twelve warheads that are five times as powerful as that dropped upon Hiroshima will remain the standard on British nuclear submarines. Having worked previously for GEC Marconi, a company
with several links to the arms trade, as well as currently heading his own consultancy business, Integrated Systems and Strategies Ltd, Professor Robinson has a prolific career within the defence industry. The news that UCL has even closer ties to the arms trade than most other universities has alarmed activists campaigning against the arms trade. Ippy of the Aldermaston Women’s Peace Campaign told The Cheese Grater: “Educational establishments should avoid connections with arms companies - either through their investments, their grant funding, or staffing. It is a question of ethics and principles - we should be educating for peace, not war. Lockheed Martin is the biggest arms company in the world and is at the centre of the British nuclear weapons programme; they should be avoided like the plague.”
6 TheCheeseGrater December 2005
UCL...The L stands for London darling! by Claude McNab
A fabulously mediocre column by Miranda Swift Someone asked me recently, what UCL is really about. What is it that makes it one of the finest establishments in the country, with such dedication to fabulous excellence and its commitment to wonderful greatness? Is it you, the students, with your fanatical societies, dedicated student union, ability to combat adversity, strive for excellence, fight crime and save babies from burning buildings? I didn’t think so. You people really aren’t all that interesting. When someone suggested that this column be turned over to you, I disagreed. Then I had the bastard shot. So this column is not about you. It’s all about me.
UCL darling! Imagine my surprise and joy when, upon taking up my place at this educational establishment, I discovered that the L stands for London! Could it get any better? No it couldn’t, because Ken Livingstone said so. Writing in The Londoner, he informed a delighted readership that London is now The World’s Leading City. Ever since I arrived here last week, I really feel like I belong. I have therefore set out to help readers of Pi get to the
Personally, I have always wanted to be a princess. However, getting to write about myself is surely the next best thing. I hope you enjoy this new honest style. Well to be perfectly honest it doesn’t really matter if you don’t, does it? I know that you want me anyway. I’m your dirty little secret. Some people comfort eat things that will make them sick (like pies) but you get your fix from me – my overuse of clichés and similes burning your retinas like bleach… How can someone in such an esteemed position be this selfabsorbed? Well it’s easy really, but that would take another few columns… Anyway, you say that top of your worry list is world peace. Well, not me. I don’t worry. Not when I look like this in a sparkly top and eyeshadow. Peace is out and arty photographic angles are most definitely in. Someone famous once said something about someone, and that’s the thought I’d like to leave you with. Don’t forget, the answer to everything is not to be found in a one-line conclusion to a magazine column…
bottom of what it is that makes London tick and what it is that makes it so good, so here is an enthralling and original article on that very subject. London’s streets bustle with all sorts of people, many of which are poor, brown, or most likely both. But I don’t mind that because poor brown people make me multicultural. The wonderful thing about this is that it reminds me of the holiday I took in Lagos the summer before last. These people make our city more colourful, both literally and figuratively. They also make our city more exciting, and thus by association they make me more exciting. I also know some of them. Take Abdul for example. Abdul runs a takeaway near my flat in Islington, and I often buy a kebab from him. He’s teaching me Arabic words like “£3.50 boss.” Thus Abdul and I share a mutually beneficial crosscultural experience which you can’t
get anywhere else in the world. Londoners have a wonderful capacity for in depth and biting self analysis. They are not content to simply drift along, going about their daily business. Instead they must constantly ask themselves “what is London,” “what makes us all so brilliant,” “why am I still holding this copy of Pi?” Thus the brave spirit of Londoners in the Nazi blitz is recreated every day. The really great thing though is that all of London’s citizens live in a spirit of tolerance and friendship. So multiracial is London that it wasn’t just white middle class people who died in the 7/7 bombings, but a satisfying multi-ethnic blend (thanks for that genius comment, Holly!). Londoners note with righteous pleasure that the racist murder of black teenager Anthony Walker in Liverpool could never have happened in Greater London, let alone in Eltham.
C’est vrai, je suis Streathamienne! Diamonds, glitter and gold…Streatham has none of these!
By Vladimir Alanis-Morrisette
most famous for being…je ne sais quoi…well, shit!
Is it over-protected, posh and pretentious or convivial, charming and full of history? Alas, neither. But would south London attract as many visitors without the fragrant reputation of Streatham?
Growing Up Streathamienne!
From ‘the outside’ “Wow! How lovely!” are words which never pass the lips of someone when I tell them, “Je vive dans Streatham, au London Borough de Lambeth”. Many people seem to have misconceptions about my homeland. They say, “Oh, you’re from Shit Alley”. Actually, Shit Alley in SW16 is just one part of Streatham, but perhaps the
It is so cosy to go out here, and always see faces you know pulling knives on you! Streatham has a fantastic nightlife, with lots of star studded nightclubs and restaurants, such as ‘Greggs’, (Streatham High Road) and ‘Jimmy’s’, (Thornton Avenue).
Travel Brief Currency: Can of Sainsbury’s Value Beer Bus: 59 from Russell Square. Bring can of mace Check out: www.chavscum.co.uk Watch: your back/children/wallet
Streatham is certainly dynamic, that is for sure! The big annual event though is the Tooting Bec Common Swimming Pool Drowning, an occasion which combines tradition, excitement, passion and celebrity. Streatham is simply the place to be!
December 2005 TheCheeseGrater 7
by Mark Ravinet Blasting the cobwebs from the great Pandora’s Box of rock music, flinging open the lid and drunkenly pissing over its contents come the hottest new, next big thing, greatest band of all time, The Jeffrey Archer Nuance. Hailing from some wet, miserable hamlet near Cumbria, the JANs are a ‘don’t give a shit’ group of four working class lads who all went to private school using their drug addled, sexually deviant mischief as a spectacular muse to create a positive cacophony of post grunge, electro-crash, sex-sleaze, ‘waking up in the bed of a stranger after a night of posing at an NME sponsored student night and having to mop vomit off your favourite drainpipe jeans’ style sound. “It’s been wicked, I’m off the dole, on the dope and I’ve got a debut album to my name!” enthuses JAN singer Arbitrary Dan, lifting his feet so that the maid can finish vacuuming the drawing room. Indeed JAN have already pushed back the boundaries of music by doing everything only slightly different to Franz Ferdinand. The first album, Blue Pill/Red Pill was recorded using one of those little Casio Dictaphone watches. “Yeah, we wanted to do something really profound, all these other bands they’re referencing some balls French movies and stuff?” snorts Dan in between drags on a crack pipe, “So I was watching the Matrix trilogy with Jon (Trouble, bassist) and we’d injected some Dettol, it blew our minds, I mean Neo actually flies at the end! Anyway, we thought the sound you get from a Casio would really portray our
Your New Favourite Band
sound in the best possible light. It did mean we had to make every song 30 seconds though ‘cos it wouldn’t tape stuff for any longer.”
Abusing household cleaners and mainstream movies aside, JAN have yet to find a label to put out Blue Pill/Red Pill; preferring selfpromotion they reject the methods used by recently tipped next big things but now bottom of the pile, the Arctic Monkeys. “Nah, the internet just isn’t cool enough anymore,” sneers Dean Scene the stick thin, identikit androgynous JAN drummer. “We had to do something really cutting edge, so we held some fucking proper guerrilla gigs!” Rather than following past, great, wicked and now sadly defunct amazing bands like the Libertines, JAN made sure their impromptu performances would single them from the crowd. “That’s right,” chuckles Dean, “We got on the tube all kitted up in camo gear and we took a party of Dutch tourists hostage. We really wanted to highlight our cause so we made them plead for help from their government into a video camera; it was cool because we played our new single whilst they cried and stuff.”
released by dried out ‘has beens’ like Babyshambles. Yet the guerrilla stunt did not pass without drama, glockenspiel player Davey Borell was shot by armed officers in the chaos as the band escaped with their captives. “Yes that was really unfortunate, he wasn’t even running, he was just wearing a large coat,” murmurs Arbitrary Dan. “We were going to dedicate the album to him, but then we got an offer from Bob Geldof to play Live8, so we thought it would be better if we remembered all them starving kids and the horror of this modern capitalist world,” elaborates Dean Scene on JAN’s reaction to the loss of their band mate and close friend whilst lacing up his Nike-owned Converse trainers.
The ploy clearly worked as Red Pill/ Blue Pill quickly became the hot underground sound of this year, literally defecating upon the ‘pap’
JAN’s success appears then completely unstoppable, even in the face of such tragedy and heartache. Although Red Pill/Blue
The Student Magazine of UCL Union
Pill has yet to have been heard properly by anyone, it is sure to be the greatest rock album of the last 30 years. Few other bands today embodied the passion of this deprived generation with the flair of JAN, the Nuances would have been the voice of the nation’s youth, if Dan and Dean hadn’t had an argument over who had necked the most Finish dishwasher tablets during the course of this interview and subsequently split up. This article is reprinted by kind permission of Kerplunk! magazine
‘Tragedy at Campbell House’, October 2005 issue Our October issue featured an article entitled ‘Tragedy at Campbell House’, in which it was stated that, when the dead body of Steven MacDonald was found in his room at Campbell House East, it was half eaten by rats. Although Campbell House East was then, and probably is now, frequented by rats, mice and squirrels, it has now emerged that we did not know the condition of the body, and so it was wrong to state that the body was half eaten. We are now reliably informed that it was not and we entirely retract the statement. I should have checked this more closely, and apologise to all concerned - Ed. The Time Out Student Guide in last issue was contributed to by Hannah Hudson, and not Mark Ravinet.
8 TheCheeseGrater December 2005
male model that looked not unlike Pi music reviewer, Nick Barnard. Thankfully, the moment passed, he did his stuff and exited left of the catwalk. Phew.
I loathe Camden. It’s full of über-cool girls who have the brains and balls to leave the high street behind them and not wear massproduced, homogenised tat. And by this, I feel threatened.
Flashes of skin and revealing cuts were a prevalent theme although it worried me to see that Punkyfish were still creating those bottom-skimming, 80s ra-ra skirts that screamed “EASY ACCESS!” Especially when these skirts seemed to be constructed from the Transformers duvet from my bedroom- I guess it reminded me of all the times as a child, trembling beneath the blankets, listening to my parents having sex.
However, imagine my joy at the recent Camden Fashion Show, to see that this was not entirely the case. Camden Lock is a beautiful part of the borough, just tucked away from all the Rastas trying to sell you drugs. It is here, in an elegant cocktail bar on the waterfront, that I found the essence of submissive femininity still alive. I could hardly control myself as one gorgeous model after another paraded down the catwalk. For one stomach-churning second, I felt my masculinity threatened once again, by a luscious, pouting
A fantastic photo Alan found on the Vogue website five minutes ago
Underpants: the new must-have accessory by Alistair Pentonville
With winter fast approaching, it took one short gust of wind to convince me that the latest fashion revelation from mainland Europe was going to be a major hit. The icy blast had shot up my miniskirt and made my bits shrink faster than a chiffon scarf in a tumble dryer. “Alistair,” my personal shopper at Selfridges had told me, “Underpants are in.” Indeed with my own pair of exclusive underpants on I have discovered a whole new realm of fashion possibilities. One no longer need worry about inadvertent exposure on the tube or the lengthy and embarrassing legal proceedings that follow. Zips, buttons and flies are a dilemma no more for the unprotected package. For girls pants provide an unlikely solution to a sticky problem. When that 28 day cycle draws to an end, the fear of the dreaded “Red Creep” can be consigned to history. These things are comfortable, functional and most importantly, they are cool. We asked some boring, unfashionable Maths student in the Union to try them on, “These are great, it feels so strange though!” Quite, but then what else would you expect? I’m used to my pair now and they’re not coming off anytime yet. So be daring this winter and try out some underwear, not just the fodder of the rich and famous you can pick up some Y-fronts at the usual outlets including Matalan, QD and Wilkinson.
But anyhow, the most important thing about this show was
Someone came up to us on all fours and made a curious grunting noise about having a book section. So we made them books editor! Here’s their list of Christmas books. Enjoy! 1984 – George Orwell A rundown of hit singles from 1984. Great section on Bananarama; weaker on Nena Hagen. Paradise Lost – John Milton Unexceptional. Has been done before in Alex Garland’s The Beach. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Postmodern satire on the ultimately futile pursuit of beauty, and, by extension the physical and spiritual desire for sex. It is more an allusion to negative space than an illusion of it. The Sea – John Banville Blue. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen Why your flatulence is fine but other people’s isn’t. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown Historical masterpiece. Thoroughly researched. The Lord of the Rings – J. R. R. Tolkein Blatant attempt to cash in on the successful film trilogy. Being Jordan – Katie Price So, so, so inspiring, I was just so inspired. She’s such an inspiration.
by Alistair Baskerville Fashion Übersupremo to highlight the importance of fair and ethically traded fashion. Some of my best friends (like Robert Kilroy-Silk) wear fair and ethically traded fashion, and after tonight, I am soon to be a convert. It is notable to mention the inspired uses of colour- lots of browns and plums that reminded me so much of autumn. I thank my editor, God and my mother (who had dressed me earlier that evening) for what proved to be an eye-opening and stimulating night.
You Are What You Eat Cookbook – Gillian McKeith A practical guide on eating yourself. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck What happens when boredom and Huntingdon Life Sciences collide. Makes Pinky and The Brain seem like child’s play. The Bible Highbrow James Bond with lead character that just won’t die. Irritating omniescent narrator. Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy A doorman at the Underworld Camden seeks a holiday. An Ideal Husband – Oscar Wilde Literary companion to “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”. Mein Kampf - Adolf Hitler Heartwarming tale of one man’s struggle with his moustache. Das Kapital - Karl Marx A useful guide to the must-see hot-spots of Berlin. The English Patient - Michael Ondaatje Michael Ondaatje drives a Ford Focus up the A272, asking people he meets why the English are patient. Birds without Wings - Louis de Bernieres The author remembers his childhood mutilating pigeons. Oxford English Dictionary Hampered by a lack of coherent narrative.