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Issue 1412 Monday 7 December




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As voted for by you The Courier top tens of 2020 Albums that got us through the year, and movie moments that did not... Culture | pages 22-31

Festive gifts to make at home

The ‘war’ on Christmas Is its ‘true meaning’ under threat?

A third of students report uncomfortable interaction with Covid marshals, survey reveals


Ruby Story Dartford urther disputes with covid marshals have come to light after The Courier conducted a survey encouraging students to share their experiences with enforcement

officers. Participants were asked to describe the interactions they had had with authorities – including the police and private security workers – regarding COVID-19 restrictions. Of the people who had interacted with a Covid marshal, 75.9% said the interaction felt uncomfortable. Meanwhile, 55.5% of interactions with police officers felt uncomfortable. When asked about private security workers specifically, 65% of people who had had an interaction said it had made them uncomfortable. 55% said it had made them very uncomfortable. 45.9% of respondents had interacted with a Covid marshal, meaning 36% of students reported an uncomfortable interaction with a Covid marshal overall. 44.3% of respondents had interacted with a police officer. As such, 24.6% of students reported an uncomfortable interaction with a police officer overall. When approached for comment, a spokesman for Newcastle University stated “A meeting has been set up between the two universities [Newcastle and Northumbria], Newcastle City Council and Northumbria Police to look at how we can address some of these concerns before next term.” Currently, Newcastle City Council contracts Phoenix Security for SIA-licenced [Security Industry Authority] patrols, as part of Operation Oak, Northumbria Police’s initiative to patrol student areas. These private contractors are known less formally as covid mashals. Newcastle and Northumbria Universities put over £125 000 into Operation Oak, but do not directly contract private security firms or hire Covid marshals. Speaking to The Courier, Northumbria Police cited “unprecedented times” to explain its power to enter homes to verify compliance with restrictions. The Police explained that “it is not specific to our student communities”, and insisted that “all members of the public are treated the same”. Covid marshals, however, appear to be being hired specifically to patrol student areas.

The Police added that “Many student properties have large numbers of residents and this can be mistaken for a party by those who report breaches to police. Officers are duty bound to investigate those concerns and, as a result of those reports, we have disrupted a number of parties and issued a number of fines.” The Police thanked students for their “cooperation during the pandemic”, explaining that the majority had abided by COVID-19 restrictions. Covid marshals have targeted the suburb of Jesmond as a trouble spot for those breaking social distancing rules, particularly during the second lockdown. The suburb is a popular location for students, with 55.7% of all survey participants situated in the area. Many participants expressed concern at the increasing number of Covid marshals patrolling the streets. One participant commented “you’re made to feel as though you’ve committed a crime by simply living in Jesmond”, whilst another added “we don’t feel safe in

“Their behavior was extremely inappropriate” have found that the evidence does not corroborate the claims being made.” The Council added that “the work of the police and our teams have been well received with positive feedback”, but promised to “look into any issues highlighted to us”. Many of those who took part in the survey admitted that they had previously felt uncomfortable in the presence of the covid marshals. One student, who wishes to remain anonymous, spoke to The Courier separately, and stated that “two Covid marshals started walking with us, made inappropriate comments about our outfits… then asked if we had spare seats for them at our table for them to join us.”

The student stated “They were obviously trying to joke with us but their behaviour was out of order and extremely inappropriate as they are meant to be here for our safety.” Noise level appears to be a common denominator which prompts engagement with covid marshals. Anna Brooks, a resident at a property on Sunbury Avenue, reported her recent incident with the authorities. The Newcastle University student had been socialising with housemates in the living room when enforcement officers knocked on the door. Whilst there had been no complaints from any neighbours, the Covid marshals deemed the noise unacceptable. The authorities then demanded that Brooks show her ID and reassured her that no further action would be taken. However, the residents received an anti-social behaviour complaint letter from Newcastle City Council and met with an email from the property’s estate agent Walton Robinson, which had been informed of the incident.

Brooks told The Courier “Our university reputation could be in jeopardy because of this, because of noise, it’s not right.” Whilst this incident occurred at a student house, several Covid marshals have been known to challenge students on the street. One student, who wishes to remain anonymous, was stopped on the way to the Sainsbury’s by West Jesmond station whilst with her two flat mates. The student stated that after refusing to give her address, she was verbally abused by Covid marshals, in which they asked the group of girls “what have you got mental issues, are you down syndrome, are you mentally ill? [sic]” Another survey participant commented that they “watched two Covid marshals intimidate two young ladies in West Jesmond walking to Sainsbury’s… because they were dressed too nicely to go to Sainsbury’s.” Concerns and complaints about covid marshals can be emailed to psr@newcastle. gov.uk for investigation.

“We don’t feel safe in Jesmond anymore” Jesmond anymore”. 68.9% of those who completed the survey were women. One respondent stated “two marshals made derogatory comments about my breasts”. The same respondent also further reported that she had been followed home by the marshal. Due to these incidents, she said she feels “unsafe in a place I should call home”. Another respondent commented that enforcement officials had exhibited “creepy behaviour towards female flatmates”. Speaking to The Courier, Newcastle City Council insisted that “We aim to maintain the highest standards when interacting with the public”. The Council explained that “all of the security staff carry identification, are equipped with body worn cameras, and have vehicles that are tracked, so that should anyone contact us with any concerns we can immediately investigate.” Speaking on the allegations made by local universities, the Council said “investigations

Image: @GregLuckhurst on Twitter

Monday 7 December 2020 THE



2 Inside 7th December 2020 Current Affairs | News Charitable carrots Three Geography students take to the streets of Newcastle, donning bright orange suits and blasting music for a good cause. Page 3

Current Affairs | Comment The "war" on Christmas Our writers discuss: is saying "happy holidays" a threat to Christmas? And is santa real? Pages 8-9

Life & Style | Food Around the world in Christmas cuisine From Slokvakian Linzer cookies to Palastinian Burburas, our writers tell us about traditional festive food from their countries. Page 11

Life & Style | Lifestyle Festive horoscopes Krampus, a naughty child or the Virgin Mary: which Christmas character are you? Page 16

Life & Style | Beauty 5 DIY gift ideas that won't break the bank Learn how to make a soothing gold face mask or winter spiced sugar scrub. Page 19

Culture | Film The 2020 Snowballs and Snowglobes In traditional Courier style, we reveal the best films of 2020, and a sorry few that were almost as bad... Pages 26-27 Baby it's... spooky outside? Mix up your annual Christmas classics with some less conventional festive viewing. Page 26

Sport A year in review How 2020 went from scrappy goal-line scramble to one of the biggest in sporting history. Pages 38 - 39

Editor's Note Hello again! "I hope this issue finds you well." When lockdown two hit earlier this term, we had to shut the doors to our office once again. Once again, The Courier was not defeated! It was odd to forgo our weekly print issues, but we recognised this period as ever more important to keep the student voice loud. We’ve covered a term unlike any other at Newcastle, from summer's cyber attack and A level results fiasco, to rent strikes and student protests, every Tier change or new restriction, self-isolation, the experience of online learning and the tough impact on students’ mental health. What’s felt equally important, though, has been documenting all the ways we've carried on in between. We had sociallydistanced freshers' events in September, from stretch tent quizzes to Zoom yoga. In October the union celebrated

Black History Month with the Black History Matters campaign. Trans Awareness Week was marked with a series of online panels and events in November. Students have come together to raise money for food banks, as we saw with Jesmond’s running carrots (page 3). Hindu and Sikh students celebrated Diwali, taking to Zoom with take-home boxes filled with henna and sparklers. The Newcastle Christmas market and infamous Fenwicks window reveal went ahead online. Back in all our papery glory, this Courier festive special has not come about without hurdles. But we’ve made it for everyone, if you're in the Toon or elsewhere, to celebrate the end of 2020 for all Newcastle students, and to marvel at how we managed. Merry Couriermas, and a happy new Tier.

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Ella Williams



Life & Style

Ella Williams -- editor.union@newcastle.ac.uk

Senior editor: Ellie James -- e.james6@ncl.ac.uk

Deputy Editor Julia McGee Russell -- courier.deputy@ncl.ac.uk

Digital and Design George Boatfield -- g.boatfield@ncl.ac.uk

Current Affairs Senior editor: Joe Molander -- j.molander@ncl.ac.uk

News -- courier.news@ncl.ac.uk Alex Gervas Ella Mcaffrey Elsa Tarring Lucy Adams Kate Lovell Alex Downing

Comment -- courier.comment@ncl.ac.uk Muslim Taseer Lorcan Flahive Tom Leach

Science -- c2.science@ncl.ac.uk Lily Holbrook Lizzie Meade Polly Stevens

Food Cayla Viner Em Richardson

Relationships Lily Abery Phoebe Eyles

Lifestyle -- c2.lifestyle@ncl.ac.uk Meg Howe Victoria Osho Yasmine Bridge

Beauty -- c2.fashion@ncl.ac.uk Margarita Ivanova Chloe Buchan

Travel -- courier.travel@ncl.ac.uk Patrick Young Louise Cusine

Culture Senior Editors: Alex Darbyshire -- a.darbyshire@ncl.ac.uk Amy Brown -- a.brown16@ncl.ac.uk

Music -- c2.music@ncl.ac.uk

Dom Lee Finlay Holden Joe Smith

TV -- c2.TV@ncl.ac.uk Sophie Hicks George Bell Leo Dawson

Film -- c2.film@ncl.ac.uk Peter Lennon Geordie Rivett-Carnac Hattie Metcalfe

Arts -- c2.arts@ncl.ac.uk Peter Bath Maud Webster Evie Lake

Gaming -- courier.gaming@ncl.ac.uk Kaitlyn Maracle Jack Wallace-Hunter Shawn Khoo

Puzzles Joeseph Caddick

Sport -- courier.sport@ncl.ac.uk Senior Editor: Tom Moorcroft -- t.bmoorcroft@ncl.ac.uk Sam Slater Elana Shapiro Phil Etchells Andrew White



Monday 7 December 2020



Meet the carrots running for foodbanks Lucy Adams

— News sub-editor


nspired by Marcus Rashford's campaign, Newcastle Geography students Kate, Eleni and Tash made it their mission in late October to run 5km every day until Christmas dressed as giant carrots to raise money for Newcastle West End Foodbank. Since then, they have raised over £1700 of their £2000 goal, with the majority of donations totalling less than £10. Their expeditions around the city have been documented on the Instagram account @carrots_on_ the_run where 895 people now follow the daily updates. The trio have made appearances running through the Havannah Reserve, Jesmond Dene, Tynemouth, Newcastle University, Souter Lighthouse, over the Millenium Bridge and more. On their final day, Christmas Day, they will run first thing in the morning, “and then collapse”, says Kate.

“We walked away and we all just started crying” As they run, they blast music through a speaker and many of the locals are no longer surprised to see the carrots trooping through Jesmond. They’re met with a range of reactions: from children pointing and

shouting “carrot!” and walkers stopping to run alongside, to a man who yelled “losers!”. “To be fair, he’s got a point,” Tash concedes.

The foodbank has never seen food poverty rise as rapidly as it has in 2020 When asked about their biggest obstacles in the leadup to Christmas, the answer is immediate: injury or self-isolation. If someone in their house tests positive or comes into contact with someone with coronavirus then they will be forced to run up and down the stairs of their shared house. “Even if one of us has a broken leg, we’ll somehow get 5k in.” They spread the word at every possible opportunity; Kate discloses “At the end of every online lecture with 70 other people, I turn my mic on and go ‘Thank you! Follow @carrots_on_the_run!’” “We get so much support running that now it’s weird walking through town [dressed normally] and not having people, like, cheering us on and staring at us. We’re so used to people gawping.” But responses haven't always been fleeting. “We were running through Haymarket and a woman came up to us who told us how much she relied

on the foodbank in the past and wanted to donate… She was with her son and his pregnant girlfriend who needed to travel to Manchester for an operation but couldn’t afford it. We walked away and we all just started crying.” “It’s nearly a marathon a week; it really wears you down. So many people say ‘surely you could just have a rest

Kate Lovell

— News sub-editor


att Elder, Luke Parker and Brogan Hume work for Jesmond Parish Church (JPC), Christchurch Newcastle and St Thomas’ Newcastle respectively. JPC started the festive season with two socially distanced student carol services last week, with many more planned in the coming advent weeks. St Thomas’ started theirs on Sunday. Christchurch are focusing on building personal connections with people this Christmas. "This year we’re sending a book of Christmas devotions (daily short thoughts on different Bible passages) to everyone in our church, including the students," explains Luke. Carol services will take place after most students have gone home, with as many as possible planned for Sunday 20 December. When asked about the biggest challenges posed by COVID-19, a recurrent theme in all three interviews was

loneliness. "That’s always a problem at Christmas time," says Luke, "but Covid has amplified it". This has made the Christian message of Christmas, celebrating God being fully present with us in the person of Jesus, harder to transmit. "It’s really hard to communicate the gravity of his physical presence with us when everything is online," says Brogan. Nevertheless, all three churches have seen a surge of interest in the Christian faith over the last few months, with lots of people getting in touch and streaming the online services.

demand… the landscape is changing all the time.” Pre-cooked meals will be prepared by volunteers at the foodbank for Christmas day. McCorry responded to the campaign: “Hunger generally goes unseen, so this is great. How innovative, creative and funny, the fact they’re running as carrots. I think it’s rather novel, and I appreciate it.”

Image: Carrots_on_the_run on Instagram

How are Newcastle churches celebrating Christmas this year? Kate Lovell interviews representatives from three churches in central Newcastle about their celebrations

day’. But no. It’s on your conscience.” Established seven years ago, the foodbank has never seen food poverty rise as rapidly as it has in 2020. In April, demand increased by 200%, which led to volunteers and staff distributing 25 tonnes of food to 5000 people in the local area. Chief Executive John McCorry said, “Christmas is always a time of high

"We’re hoping that the whole covid sitatuion has caused people to ask bigger questions about where their hope lies at a time like this," says Luke. For these three churches, the priority this Christmas, as ever, is that people hear about Jesus. "It’s easy to make Christmas about parties and presents but it’s really about one person: Jesus Christ," says Matt. Similarly, when asked about the importance of Christmas for him, Brogan said: "Everyone agrees that Christmas is about light, so I think it’s a time to explore the one who claims to be the light."

Image: Aaron Burden on Unsplash

New rules mean return to university delayed for selected student groups Ella Williams


— Editor

ew government guidance asks students to return at staggered starting dates after Christmas to minimise the spread of coronavirus, with some not due back until 7 February. The plans, set out by the Department of Education (DfE), outline a five week period for students to return to campus. Those on more “practical” courses such as performing arts, medicine or sciences will return from 4 to 18 January. Others subjects such as English, History or Maths will be taught online at the start of term, with students not back until 25 January to 7 February. The announcement comes as students prepare to travel home over a six day travel window that started on 3 December, following a negative result from the new on-campus testing centre. Students will be offered two more lateral flow tests upon arrival back. Announcing the plans, universities minister Michelle Donelan said: “The health and wellbeing of students, staff and local communities is always our primary concern and this plan will enable a safer return for all

students.” “But we must do this in a way which minimises the risk of transmission. I know students have had to make sacrifices this year and have faced a number of challenges, but this staggered return will help to protect students, staff and communities.” Jo Grady, general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU), called the new guidance a “step forward” but said that the plans “still pose a risk to staff and student safety”. Grady continued: “Universities must work with the government to support students who decide the reality of life on campus during this pandemic isn’t for them, including releasing them from accommodation contracts.” The DfE also advises universities to prioritise students who may need access to campus earlier, such as those with mental health issues or without access to study space. A one-off fund of £20mn has been announced to help particularly disadvantaged students in need of extra support. It is not yet known how this guidance will apply to Newcastle University.


Monday 7 December 2020


Newcastle was named global ‘climate leader’ Sophie Wilson


he CDP, an international non-profit organisation that confronts environmental issues, has recognised Newcastle as a global “climate leader”. Newcastle has been given this title for its efforts to become carbon neutral by 2030, and is one of only four cities in the UK that have received the top ‘A’ grade for their action in addressing the climate crisis. Over 830 cities disclosed their climate data through CPD in 2020, and only 88 cities worldwide achieved an A rating. Those that did have a city wide emissions inventory, as well as an emissions reduction target. They have also published a climate action plan as well as having completed a climate adaptation plan. Nick Forbes, the Council Leader for Newcastle, has said: “tackling the environmental crisis is the great challenge of our age, and as a city we want to ensure that we are at the forefront of efforts to rapidly reduce emissions.” A spokesperson from CPD said that cities like Newcastle are showing that “impactful and urgent action is possible”, because they have increased their environmental action, setting ambitious emissions reduction targets. In charge of the goal to become carbon neutral in 10 years’ time is the city’s Net Zero Task Force, which is co-chaired by Newcastle University Professor Hayley Fowler. “Our Net Zero Newcastle: 2030 Action Plan sets out the steps we need to take to achieve this ambitious target, and we now need to take this forward into action,” says Fowler. Councillor Clare Penny-Evans of Newcastle City Council added: “we want to take the lead in reducing greenhouse gases, build resilience to the impacts of climate change and grasp the opportunities of the new green economy.”



‘Save Our Scene’

Newcastle and Sussex Universities to use to campaign for Lateral Flow Devices for COVID-19 testing NCL nightlife International students experience difficulties booking PCR tests through Newcastle University

Charlotte Airey


Dom Lee

— Music sub-editor


he University of Sussex have asked that staff help to operate COVID-19 testing for students, to allow students to travel home for the Christmas break. The tests, which will run between 30 November and 11 December, will require around 100 staff a day to administer to ensure that students are able to return home safely. The University will be administering the tests on campus using Lateral Flow Devices (LFDs), which return results within 30-45 minutes of the test being taken. Newcastle University has also announced that it will be administering COVID-19 testing using the same LFDs as the University of Sussex. The Courier reported that students would be able to book a COVID-19 test on campus, with tests being administered between 10am and 6pm from 1 to 7 December. Testing will take place at the Frederick Douglas Centre, free of charge, with the University advising that students limit their contact with others until getting their result. However, news of the universityadministered LFD tests will make little to no difference for international students, who may need to take a different test depending on the government advice for the country they are

Image: Paul Szomoru on Twitter

travelling to. Paula Hautvast, 20, will be travelling to Portugal over Christmas to visit her parents. She had this to say about the testing: “Every time so far that I have tried to book a test via the link they provided, either the link doesn’t function or I don’t get any confirmation.” “This makes me question whether the uni has organized it efficiently. The uni had plenty of time to get prepared for COVID-19 tests, but I think there was a lack of response from them.” Hautvast and other international students may also need to receive Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests, which detect the presence of an antigen rather than immunity or antibodies. Hautvast, a Computer Science student, went onto explain that “Since we international students will have had to book our way home well in

advance, and since a test needs to be taken as close to the travel date as possible, this negatively affects us.” “I will need to get a nonNHS coronavirus test, because the Portuguese government has deemed these inaccurate. I therefore will need to find a different health/medical practice that will give me a test that will be accepted by both the airline and the Portuguese government upon entering the country.” Students travelling home within the UK who receive a negative result from the LFD test are advised to travel home as soon as possible after the beginning of the travel window and continue their studies remotely. Students who test positive are advised to undergo a confirmatory PCR test to verify if they have contracted the virus.

espite the extension of furlough schemes, Newcastle's clubs and pubs are struggling in the midst of the COVID-19

pandemic. According to reporting from The Chronicle, Newcastle's night-life industry puts £340mn into the regional economy and supports around 6500 jobs. The pandemic has forced some nightclubs to close, and others to change their licenses. However, despite some businesses changing their licensing hours in a bid to make some profit, the 10pm curfew and second lockdown have limited the benefits of such changes. Save Our Scene was put forward as a way of connecting people in the North East to local businesses. In an open letter about organising ‘Save Our Scene’ the writers detailed: “[Nightlife] is one of the things that makes our lives worth living. We believe the world is better because it exists.” The campaign aims to use “newspapers, websites and social media channels to high-light business that are still open, even if in a limited way.” “We will also be encouraging companies to spend money that would have been used for staff Christmas parties with local pubs and restaurants”. At a national level, Save Our Scene promise to keep pressuring the government to continue providing financial support to cultural and hospitality businesses. Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North, echoed this concern, explaining: “If these businesses don’t survive the pandemic, we’ll be losing our city’s character, part of our history.” The campaign is expected to raise awareness of the situation to allow the industry to get back on track in these uncertain times.

£14 million cash lifeline for Newcastle businesses

The Council will issue a new grant to support small businesses that are affected by the pandemic Sara Nigohosyan


OVID-19 has negatively affected many businesses, particularly smaller ones, which has pushed Newcastle City Council to create a £14 million business support grant. This new initiative will allow businesses who apply for the grant to stay afloat. With the £14mn available, owners are urged to fight the negative financial impact that lockdown and Tier Two, and the now approaching Tier Three restrictions, have inflicted on the North East. Eligible businesses are expected to complete an online form, which will

determine which of the three different grants will be made available to them. With pubs, bars, and restaurants making Newcastle a famous city for its lively nightlife and social atmosphere, the city is now facing large difficulties.

Businesses forced to close can be eligible for £3000 grants Before this week’s announcement of the upcoming Tier Three rules, Councillor Ged Bell, Newcastle City Council cabinet member for employment and culture, pointed out: “This funding only covers up to 2 December, and we don’t yet know what further restrictions could be in place after that date but we’re committed to supporting our local economy, and will continue to lobby government for greater support for business to save jobs and keep Newcastle businesses trading.” Although the funds available will

most likely not cover the heavy losses that many businesses have suffered, Adrian Wadell, the Chief Executive of NE1 Ltd, said that he hopes that it is “enough to help businesses bridge the gap between now and when they can trade freely, safely and profitably”. “In the meantime, we will do all we can to sup-port businesses through these challenging times.”

"We’re committed to supporting our local economy" Businesses forced to close can be eligible to receive grants of up to £3000 for the period of the national lockdown. Smaller top-up grants are also made available for the nightclubs and dance venues which have been closed since March. Following the updates of the upcoming Tier Three restrictions, more is expected to be heard from the Newcastle City Council.

Image: Wikimedia Commons



Monday 7 December 2020


University of Manchester Vice Chancellor apologises for lying after racial incident A Manchester student was racially profiled during the rent protests

N Khanh Ngo

ancy Rothwell wrongly told BBC Newsnight last Thursday she had written to first year student Zac Adan, 19, to apologise after a racial incident at the University. Footage of the incident emerged on social media after Adan asked onlookers to film him being pinned to a wall by security guards who accused him of “looking like a drug dealer”.

During the Newsnight interview, the Vice Chancellor said she was “very, very concerned” by the incident and had “apologised to the student for the distress that he felt”. When directly asked if she had apologised to the stu-

“I am devastated that I made the wrong remark on national television” dent, she firmly said yes. However, that was not the case. When the interview came out, Rothwell was called out for claiming she had written to Adan while in fact he

Image: The University of Manchester on Twitter

had not received any correspondences from her directly. The next day, the University’s media team released a video apology, in which the Vice Chancellor stated: “This morning, I realised that one of the things I said in that interview, with good intention, was in fact incorrect.” “I said that I had written to the student that was involved in a serious incident on 13 November. I found out today that, in fact, that was not included in correspondence to him. I

Rothwell refused to speak to Adan personally

am devastated that I made the wrong remark on national television.” Also noteworthy in the interview was that on multiple occasions, Rothwell refused to speak to Adan personally for fear of “influencing the investigation” even though he had said that it would “very much improve his mental health and state of mind”. The interview and the apology were not well-received. Speaking to The Courier, UoMrentstrike called the video a “shambles” and correspondence by email only “a response lacking empathy and cooperation, and [leaving] students feeling completely abandoned under layers of bureaucracy”. If you experience discrimination at Newcastle University, you can make a formal report by contacting casework@ncl.ac.uk

Operation Sceptre sees over 100 arrests to tackle knife crime Operation Sceptre seized multiple weapons in November Alex Gervas

— News sub-editor


n 18 November, Northumbria police announced that 127 were arrested and 59 weapons were seized as part of an intensive week of raids. As part of Operation Sceptre, the Force made a series of morning inspections that resulted in the discovery of illegal weapons, including small firearms, and a cannabis farm. Operation Sceptre is a week-long joint effort between all police departments of Wales and England to raise awareness of knife crime in the UK. During the week commencing 9 November 2020, Northumbria Police dispatched agents throughout Newcastle and Gateshead.

done just that, which is great”. “We need to keep building on this and it’s not just about arrests and prosecution but prevention too. Along with our police force, my Violence Reduction Unit is committed to engaging with young people, and where possible, is getting out there working with schools, youth groups, charities.”

In April, The Chronicle reported an 18% drop in knife crimes due to the further founding of the Violent Reduction Unit (VRU). Assistant Chief Constable, Neil Hutchinson said: “Our stance on knife crime and serious violence is simple – it has absolutely no place in our region.”

Image: Flickr

Birmingham University lowers their 2021 entry requirements due to COVID-19 disruptions In a first for the UK, the entry requirements for the majority of courses at the University of Birmingham are set to be reduced by a single grade Immy Oliver-Beckett & Chloe Lewin


-level students have been put under increased pressure regarding the uncertainty of higher education admissions this year. This has included grade confusion, such as the A-level mark U-turn. Because of this uncertainty, Birmingham is reducing entry requirements across the majority of their undergraduate degree programmes by one grade.

“COVID-19’s longest impact may well be on the young”

“There's no question about it – knives ruin lives” Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “There’s no question about it –knives ruin lives. This operation has a clear goal of getting dangerous weapons off our streets and it’s


Image: Northumbria Police on Twitter

Birmingham is the first university to have taken this step. Medicine, dentistry and dental hygiene, physiotherapy, nursing, and social work are the only undergraduate degree programmes excluded from the new initiative. This is due to their different examination format. The University has issued a

statement explaining the decision to lower grade boundaries, stating that: “every part of society has been impacted by COVID-19, but its longest lasting effects may well be on the young, with those due to sit GCSEs and A-levels, or equivalent, this summer amongst those most affected.” Many students who were unable to

“We recognise the need to adapt” take their exams last summer have sat them this autumn, due to feeling let down by their assigned grades. Mia Lewin, a former pupil at a school in Dorset, has shared her thoughts on the effects of the pandemic regarding A-level examinations. The five month period away from education made it “incredibly difficult” to keep up with the workload required to achieve her desired grades, says Lewin. The initiative aims to alleviate the pressure put on students in a similar position to Lewin. The Vice Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, Professor Sir David Eastwood, has acknowledged these stresses and has said: “We recognise the need to adapt our admissions approach for this year given the extraordinary disruption affecting these students and their schools and the fact that many are likely to experience more than a year of interrupted learning by the time they sit their exams next summer.”


Monday 7 Decembwer 2020




North East to benefit from shift in foreign investments The North East is predicted to see a rise in foreign direct investment (FDI), despite it falling elsewhere in the UK Elsa Tarring


— News sub-editor

he UK Attractiveness Survey from Ernst & Young (EY), a multinational professional services network, assesses the value of investing into the UK for foreign businesses. In this year’s survey, it was revealed that the UK “is well-placed to face the challenges presented by COVID-19” and that 32% of respondents intend to invest in the UK over the next year. Therefore, while there was a 30-45% reduction in FDI projects in the UK

compared with last year, the North East is likely to benefit from a rise in foreign investments. The survey shows that manufacturing, healthcare and digital are the main areas in the UK that appeal to foreign investors, all of which are growing industries in the North East.

“COVID-19 may actually have stimulated investment activity” Mike Scoular, EY’s managing partner for Newcastle, said: “This is a real opportunity for our region, which sees a significant proportion of its employment and [gross value added] come from manufacturing”. On the topic of the pandemic, he added: “COVID-19 may actually have stimulated investment activity in the manufacturing sector by accelerating technology adoption.”

Image: Piqsels

County Durham baby expected to live for minutes celebrates first birthday

Bristol Uni rent dispute continues The University has made a U-turn on their threat to take unpaid rent from bursaries Alex Walker


The baby was diagnosed with spina bifida and scoliosis when she was born


Alice Holmes eona-Grace was born via c-section on 18 November 2019, five and a half weeks ahead of her due date when her mother, Sarah Perryman, was only 24 weeks pregnant. Doctors told the mother-of-three that her daughter would only survive for a “matter of minutes”.

“She's so content, always smiling” Over a month later, they were able to take her home for the first time. Now, a year later, she is celebrating her first

Image: Samantha Perryman

birthday and defying the odds. Leona-Grace was diagnosed at a 20week scan with spina bifida, a rare type of neural tube defect.

She was told her baby would only survive for a “matter of minutes” The condition is caused by a lack of development between the baby’s spine and the spinal cord in the womb which ultimately results in a gap in the spine. A lack of folic acid during pregnancy is said to be a risk factor, though it is currently not known what causes this rare disease. Once diagnosed, doctors delivered the news that she would only live a few minutes. After being born, she was also diagnosed with scoliosis. She is

missing four ribs on the right side and has two fused together on the left. She also has patent ductur arteriosus, which is where the blood vessel between the pulmonary artery and the aorta remains open. This makes it harder for her to breathe, meaning she is completely oxygen dependent. The disease can also lead to heart failure and the possibility of pulmonary haemorrhage at any time. Regardless of these challenges, Leona-Grace has defied all expectations. She isn’t expected to crawl or walk, but her parents are grateful for the time they have spent with her and have retained hope during these challenging times. Her mother said “she's still fighting and you wouldn't think anything was wrong with her, she's so content, always smiling.” “Her birthday's supposed to be a happy day, but it's emotional at the same time [...] we just wish things were better for her and we didn't have this constant worry.”

ristol University has retreated on their decision to deduct unpaid rent from the bursaries given to first year students, only 24 hours after the verdict was emailed to students. The original decision received a great deal of criticism from both staff and students, as well as the Students’ Union (SU). A University spokesperson said: “In light of the current circumstances and following discussion with Bristol Students’ Union, we have decided we will not offset any bursary payments made in December against student debt.” “We apologise for the uncertainty this has caused and can confirm instalments will be paid in full to all bursary recipients.” The original decision had been criticised as “shameful” by rent strikers. James Fishwick, Chair of the Widening Participation Network, labelled it “disgusting”, and said “the fact they set out on their original course in the

first place is something I cannot comprehend.” The original decision was made after a group of over 1200 students had joined a rent strike, withholding more than £1 million in rent from the University. Three days earlier, they had offered students an extra 10 days in order to pay due rent, and despite apologising for the “uncertainty” caused, have not offered any apology for the decision itself or the anxieties it may have caused for students who depend upon bursaries. This is just one example of the unrest which is spreading around many university campuses at the moment, as coronavirus exacerbates both pre-exiting tensions, and puts strain upon systems not equipped to deal with the pandemic. Battle lines have been drawn up between students and the institutions to which they belong. Recently, these issues have come to a head in Manchester, where students have occupied buildings and torn down fences. While Bristol may have made a U-turn on this choice, it is unlikely to resolve a very strained situation, or to fix the damage made by the original verdict. It is also unlikely to be the last conflict we will see between students and universities this year.

Image: Wikimedia Commons



Monday 7 December 2020

Image: Joe Molander

Campus Comment

What I want men on campus to understand, as a woman Nadia Ashbridge

W The year in review

omen are constantly aware of their gender, as it is a permanent and unchangeable source of vulnerability for them. This is a fact that even the most naïve person on-campus can understand. “Don’t walk alone at night.” “Text me when you get home safe.” “Never leave your drink alone.” “Be aware of the people around you.” These are

A look back at Newcastle University's many trials and tribulations throughout 2020 Gemma Powell


In October, students found out they could have had the same experience at home October and November saw the advent of a local lockdown, a long-lived tier system and a national lockdown. Many students were left on edge about changes in teaching styles, and the safety of the University with such high virus rates among students. It also enraged those who had moved back to expensive university accommodation, when they could have had the same experience at home. Going into December, questions about Christmas and then January travel are being raised. The fault for this lies at the government’s feet and not the University’s. However, a very reassuring email was sent to all students that present in-person teaching (PiP) will either be “expected” or “required”. This comes at a time when there are 504 coronavirus deaths a day nationally (as of 4 December).

some of the things every young girl learns. However, I won’t bore you with the never-ending list of precautions that my female friends and I have heard. If you’re interested, google “women staying safe” for some insight. Instead, I would like to make a plea to men to be aware of the outward impact of their male presence. Men, you may be the kindest, most gentle person ever. However, it is important that you understand that your gender will likely put you in a position where you, unconsciously, intimidate a woman. Imagine that you are leaving the Robbo after a long day of work, heading back home to Jesmond. It is 10pm and dark as you’re walking under the underpass by Brandling Park. You haven’t, however, registered the woman who left the library 30 seconds before you did, who is walking just ahead of you. Nevertheless, I guarantee that she has noticed you. Maybe she will cross the road, or take out one of her earphones to ensure she’s alert, or hold particularly tight to her keys in her pocket, just in case. This is just one example of how

What I want white students to understand on campus, as a ‘BAME’ student Tiyanna Mistry


AME is a term used to describe Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, but it was not a term chosen by those that it applies to. The abbreviation is frustrating, to say the least. We are Black, we are Asian, and we are distinct. We are not just ‘other’, so why lump us all together and separate us as such? As individuals who are from ethnically diverse cultures, we may share a common cause, but that does not mean we have the same experiences. As a South Asian student, I want people to know that I am South Asian and respect that I come from a vibrant heritage of which I am proud. I want you to know more about me and my culture. However, please refrain from making assumptions, or force-feeding me stereotypes that you have heard about my race. On behalf of all students from ethnically diverse backgrounds, we want our voice to be heard! We want to feel seen, but it’s hard to do that when we aren’t recognised or represented in the curriculum or wider education system. That’s why it’s crucial for our fellow students on campus who are white to continue to show up and help us eradicate stereotypes. That’s why it’s crucial they advocate for diversity in the education system. At times, it can often

your presence could pose an unconscious threat to another person. Please know I am not blaming you: of course it isn’t your fault, it is just the way the world is. However, I will ask you to have self-awareness. Understand that 90% of sexual assaults against women are perpetrated by men, and unfortunately, you share physical features with those men. So if you are a kind and caring person, as I know most men to be, I beg you to please be aware of yourself. Cross the street first so she knows you’re not following her. Don’t appear from a side road with your hood up without realising how that could look to a woman. In understanding and acting on this, you’ll be contributing to alleviating this anxiety for us, and we could finally stop seeing you as a threat.

feel like our white peers don’t appreciate the importance of allyship with their fellow students who are ethnically diverse. As nice it is to see some fellow students advocating for equality, at times it can feel shortlived. It feels like performative allyship. We need you to know that the fight for equality and a diverse education system is not over, and it’s not an isolated event.

Our white peers have to recognise that change is not just up to ethnic minorities Our white peers and students must recognise that change is not just up to ethnic minorities. We need your help and advocacy so that we can remove the racial predispositions that are deeply embedded into the structure of our education system. We need you to speak up in the face of injustice alongside us.

Images: Joe Molander

o say that 2020 is not the best time to be a student would be an understatement. Newcastle University has failed to live up to students’ expectations, and has damaged its reputation as one of the best universities in the country. February turned the air a bit sour with a staff strike spanning over a month of term time. Of course, the strikers are not to blame for wanting a minimum living wage and a reasonable pension. However, the unwillingness of the University to come to an arrangement placed doubts in my mind about students being its main priority. In March, the whole world changed overnight. No-one expected the University to have back up plans for an unexpected global pandemic. That said, the University chose to remain open on Monday 16, whilst Northumbria announced its closure on the Friday. Newcastle’s decision reduced the time window for students to travel to a place of safety, before a well-anticipated lockdown was announced. In April and May, there was considerable variation in teaching across modules and courses. Information about exams and module changes came quite late, causing stress for students, many of whom had marks counting towards their degree classification. The safety net, campaigned for by students, was the only thing that eased anxieties. August and September just got worse. A lack of information about a return to university, alongside a cyber attack that compromised student data, caused more confusion and panic.


What I want straight students on campus to understand, as a gay student Patrick Young


am here for inclusivity, and shared spaces, but if you are going to enter LGBTQ+ spaces, I have something important to discuss with you. Everyone I know enjoys visiting Newcastle’s gay bars and clubs, both my LGBTQ+ friends, and our many heterosexual allies. However, I have one issue with heterosexual people in our space. If you come to our spaces without an LGBTQ+ friend with you, it can come across as if you are only there for touristic value.

This is, of course, not necessarily true, but I have been in Rusty’s many times and seen gaggles of straight men make lewd gestures towards each other. They’re usually gesturing about some random lesbian couple, who happen to be enjoying themselves and dancing together. This is clearly not okay. Heterosexual people have the entire world to exist and be themselves. Our spaces are open to all, but at the end of the day, it is a safe space for us to exist. It is not for heterosexuals to leer – and view us – as if we are entertainment for them. This is not just a cisgender, heterosexual male issue. I myself have been surrounded by straight girls going off like “yass queen”, “slay” and “werk”.

First of all, that is not their language to appropriate; it’s barely mine. It is the nonwhite community and the Harlem Ball scene’s language. Second, it doesn’t even apply to the situation. I was either awkwardly dancing with my friends, or at the bar getting drinks. We just want a space to feel safe. Please let us keep it that way. Of course, I am thrilled that heterosexual people feel comfortable in our spaces. However, that comfort cannot be at the expense of the comfort of the LGBTQ+ community, to whom these spaces belong. We just want a space to feel safe, and not like some sort of freak, or other. Please allow us to keep it this way.



Monday 7 December 2020


Free period products now in Scotland



Image: Wikimedia Commons Image: Pixabay


Victoria Osho

cotland has become the first country to make period products completely free. While this sounds like an amazing change of legislation, it seems like multiple groups of people have not taken very kindly to it. Why is that? It's simple: people have capitalist Stockholm syndrome. We are so used to having to struggle and pay for basic amenities such as food, clothing and water that when it gets offered to us for free, we are perplexed and feel the need to defend having to pay for such things. We simply cannot see ourselves having a better life.

Every person who bleeds deseves the best quality sanitary products I have seen many people say "well, a box of pads at Poundland is just a pound". Not only is this statement ignorant, considering the fact that many people might not have a Poundland near them, but it is also classist. Every person who bleeds deserves the best quality sanitary products going near their genitals, not pads that come off, rip, or do not hold much fluid at all. Comfortable living should not only be available to people with more money. I believe that at the very least, all basic needs should be met free of charge. It is worrying and very frustrating how this is even a topic that needs to be disputed. Nobody should be paying to exist. Now, will other countries follow suit? As much as I hate being pessimistic, it is unlikely that other countries will follow suit organically, and even if they do in the end, it will be an incredibly slow process. That is why the United Nations must step in and declare period products as a human right and enforce these policies in other countries. Or maybe we just have to wait until the inevitable revolution. Who knows? Image: Deposit photos

The coming privatisation

What does the encroachment of private corporations into medicine mean for healthcare? Humphrey Jordan


mid COVID-19 ‘shaking’ the world, two news items stand out: the spark of outrage over blatant Tory cronyism, and the more subtle unease present as multi-national e-commerce giant Amazon edges in on the pharmaceutical market. The two cases — one concerning our supposedly public healthcare system being marred by private interests, the other the groundwork for a significant funneling of consumers into privatized healthcare in the US — suggest the potential for an oncoming wave of privatization, and with it the very undermining of any collective agency over our healthcare. To excuse the former, we get the most blatant appeal to soft-authoritarian rhetoric possible: the famed ‘state of exception’, the ‘crisis’ at the opening of the pandemic. In the face of a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) — granted that the government had ample time and multiple chances to engage in EU bulk-buying initiatives — a

Legalise it: LSD


Max Bover

ocaine is a drug for bankers and cabinet ministers. Ketamine is a drug for horses and students. Marijuana seems to be a drug for just about anyone. Is LSD-25, more commonly ‘acid’ still a drug associated with Beatniks and Hippies scatting blank verse at Happenings? In comparison to other Class-A substances like cocaine and ecstasy, LSD use in the UK remains relatively small; according to the Home Office’s 2018-2019 Drug Misuse survey, only 0.4% of 1659 year olds declare using the substance in the past year. However, usage has increased heavily during the covid lockdowns, and one survey showed one in five young people micro-dosed acid to cope with lockdown. LSD remains one of the most culturally stigmatised substances in circulation. The drug itself is religiously linked with the counter-culture movement and figurehead artists and thinkers of the 50s and 60s. Over time, It became intrinsically associated with the radical left, a political synecdoche for the kickback against conservatism. The first-ever ‘trip’ was taken by the chemist who synthesised the substance. In 1943, Swiss Chemist Albert Hofmann accidentally absorbed an amount of the substance and experienced “a dreamlike state, … an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colours”. A few days later, on ‘Bicycle Day’, he purposefully took a controlled dose to further investigate the effects of the drug.

Over the next three decades, LSD exploded in popularity and endured an array of purposes: from early experimentation on the mentally ill during the 50s, to the CIA’s notorious Project MKUltra from 1953 to 1973 to its recreational use popularised by the hippies. The substance was eventually criminalised in 1966 but use for recreational and research purposes has never quite slid to a complete halt, and medical research on it has picked up this century. There are zero deaths linked directly to LSD overdose – this is a fact. In January 2017, the Drug Policy Alliance (a New Yorkbased non-profit whose aims are the legalisation of illicit drug use) published an “LSD Fact Sheet” that stated “Risk of fatal overdose is nonexistent with LSD, but risky behaviours sometimes occur”. Still, stories of psychedelicinduced mania and generally risky behaviour are commonly reported. The general consensus in communities of acid freaks is that careless usage w

relaxation of standard public procurement rules followed, allowing Direct Award Contracts to be issued. This means that, instead of the procurement of PPE being “subject to competition to ensure best value for money”, the contracts are “awarded to a contractor without a competition”. This has the natural advantage of sparing the time of bartering over contracts to arrive at the most competitive, yet the process in this case has produced several suspect contracts - the most significant for the purposes of this article being the £252mn contract with Ayanda Capital. This contract was of course originally awarded to Prospermill, a company founded by Andrew Mills, an advisor to the government Board of Trade. Conveniently Mills is also ‘Senior Board Advisor’ of Ayanda Capital, which took over the contract on Prospermill’s behalf because “it could arrange overseas payments quicker”: Prospermill lacked Ayanda’s “international payment infrastructure”. Beyond the obvious dubiousness of such an arrangement, 50 million of Ayanda’s masks have failed to meet government specifications. Concerning Amazon, we are offered the language of consumer choice to plaster a positive spin over the growing encroachment of algorithm. Naturally, the inexpensiveness (eligibility for discounts of up to 80% on generic medicines and 40% on brand-name drugs), and, for Americans in particular, the lack of insurance required, are definitive advantages for those of lower-income.

However, any benefits are won at the significant cost of further contributing to Amazon’s amassed data, and in this case our particularly sensitive health data.

The wisdom of trusting corporatations with health data is debatable Above all, it is this writer’s opinion that the wisdom of entrusting this data to corporate bodies, over which the populus can exercise no meaningful democratic control, is highly questionable - at best.

Our healthcare must be rendered properly political The threat of privatization lies at the vanishing point where these lines meet: a bizarre twining of the murky space of House of Commons corridors and the smooth plane of Bezoscoded cyberspace. In the face of these delegations, what is required is that we find a new mode of asserting democratic control over our health. Healthcare, the concern for our biological life, must be rendered properly political.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

of the drug combined with already existing mental health conditions can be dangerous, but as long as people are careful and smart with their usage, it is a force for unmitigated good. Regardless of your personal thoughts on this psychedelic substance that has rippled through generations of hippies, artists, and Silicon Valley micro-dosers, the scientific world is looking back to LSD and other psychotropic drugs as viable treatments for pain relief, anxiety, depression, and PTSD. These substances, like any other, are not devoid of risk; according to Statista, the number of UK deaths from drug poisoning by even paracetamol was 211 in 2019. We cannot deny that we are living through a mental health crisis: it is still thought that one in four people experience mental health issues each year. According to an NHS report on mental illness in children in July 2020, one in six children aged 5-16 were reported as having a probably mental health disorder. These figures are only increasing. The most common treat-

ment for depression in the UK remains SSRIs – the most common form of antidepressant – but SSRIs are effective for just one in five people, with severe side effects ranging from weight fluctuation, erectile dysfunction, and even hallucinations (although this is less common). The medical use of psychedelics seeks to redefine how we treat depression; instead of seeing depression as a lack of serotonin, the basis of psychedelic treatment is to reduce the sense of self. In practical terms, psychedelic treatments work by interrupting the negative thought spirals that often occur in people suffering from depression: removing you from yourself.

The medical use of psychedelics seeks to redefine how we treat depression It seems almost a certainty that psychotropic substances will eventually be integrated into medical practices. A country is only as strong as its allies; in a post-Brexit UK, one might hope that our closest friend will be Biden’s USA. If the recent decriminalisation of recreational marijuana, followed by the passing of the Drug Decriminalisation and Addiction Treatment Initiative in Oregon is any decent indicator of a Western swing to progressive drug politics, then perhaps we should anticipate the decriminalisation of substances like LSD sooner than anyone expected. Image: Wikimedia Commons



Monday 7 December 2020

Comment and attended by multiple left groups. A rent strike was suggested and since then attempts to organise have been made, with 9kforwhat and Newcastle Marxsoc leafletting for a meeting attended by 32 people on 29 November. Further leafletting and organising is planned, so keep an eye out!

Universities disregard the opinions held by students

Students strike back!


Faye Navesey cross the country, students from several universities have gone on a rent strike to protest the difficult circumstances in which students are forced to live, with little support from the universities. In Manchester, Bristol and Cambridge, students have all declared that they will refuse to pay the January instalment of rent unless the universities agree to their demands. These demands are reduced rent with the ability to cancel the contract, and improved support for students.

The strikes in Manchester have shown a degree of promise, resulting in a 30% reduction in rent The strikes have shown some promise, with Manchester agreeing to a 30% reduction in rent at the end of November, equivalent to £12 million pounds for all students. Manchester was one of the larger movements, earlier this month occupying the Owen Parks Tower and

pulling down a fence that the University had put up to keep them in their accommodation. The success of these movements will hopefully inspire other students to take action against unfair conditions at their university too, and make universities realise that the situation students are in is unconscionable and will not be tolerated. Despite the victories that students have achieved, their treatment has been despicable. Students in Bristol have reported receiving emails from the University threatening their place on their course if they refuse to pay rent. There have also been several reports of racial profiling amid the unrest with a student at Manchester, Zac Adan, pushed up against a wall by police who demanded to see his ID for no other reason than they thought he looked suspicious. Demands aside, this is a clear violation, and the fact that the University Vice Chancellor said she couldn’t commit to meeting with Adan to apologise, only writing him a letter, shows the universities are dealing with this situation with utter incompetence. Students will remember when they asked for fair treatment and received nothing but abuse and negligence. After the success in Manchester, the question of whether this could happen in Newcastle is now very prominent. On 31 October, a protest against student mistreatment was organised by 9kforwhat

The ‘war’ on Christmas

Is saying ‘Happy Holidays’ really that big of a deal?


Scarlett Welch

hilst most of us don’t care in the slightest, for some seeing a card that says “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” constitutes a ‘War on Christmas’; some say that Christmas is ‘under attack’ from other cultures, and its true meaning is being lost. However, whilst 91% of Brits say they celebrate Christmas, only 22% believe that the birth of Christ is what makes Christmas special. So what is the ‘true meaning’ of Christmas? 76% of people in a YouGov survey said that the most important part of Christmas was spending time with family, and most believed that giving presents was more important than receiving. These are very personal and genuine traditions and hardly warlike. They can be adopted by anyone, from any background. The Christmas period has always consisted of a mix of cultural traditions. For example, Christmas trees, mistletoe and Santa Claus all have pagan origins and were originally nothing to do with what we now consider Christmas, and were instead more general winter celebrations. Moreover, everyone celebrates Christmas in their own way. Do you open your presents first thing, or after your meal? Do you watch the Queen’s speech, or do you prefer the Eastenders Christmas special? Whatever your traditions, you wouldn’t say that another family was starting a

‘War on Christmas’ because they don’t have Yorkshire puddings with their Christmas Dinner. Whether you like it or not, Christmas is no longer about religion for most people. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Christmas has deteriorated, it’s just become more inclusive. So if people prefer to wish you happy holidays, don’t see it as an attack. The so-called ‘War on Christmas’ is simply the media’s way of trying to divide us, at a time where we should all come together to celebrate. Don’t let a media-manufactured outrage spoil your festive season, and celebrate it however you like.

Image: Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons


The universities disregarding students' opinions is appalling, and the strikes we’ve seen will continue and grow larger until the universities treat the students with dignity and respect. Over the past few years, we have seen universities transition to functioning like businesses, concentrating on profit at the students' expense. If they want to act like a business, then surely we are entitled to request a refund if they do not provide us with adequate services. In order for this movement to get off the ground though, students need to get vocal and get organised.

A few thoughts on Christmas adverts Kayleigh Fraser


he yearly Christmas adverts have managed to ingrain themselves as a cultural British symbol. They mark the end of the year and long awaited celebrations of the festive season. But for me, Christmas adverts symbolise more than just the holiday season. Here's why I think they shouldn't be celebrated. The cycle is always the same. Giant conglomerates produce so called ‘heart-warming’ presentations for print and television every year to try and capture the meaning of Christmas. Narratives vary - sometimes you see a child re-capturing the festive feeling, someone receiving a very apt gift that symbolises the year's events or in some cases, a clumsy dragon being invited over for tea (talking to you, 2019). On the surface these may seem like warm and cuddly stories. To a certain extent the narratives they create are lovely, but don't be fooled into thinking these companies care.

Find the rent strikers on social media at: @9k4what_newcastle/ @ncl_rentstrike

Image: Wikimedia Commons

linktr.ee/rentstrikencl @RentNcl

Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons

Is Santa real? Tom Leach


anta Claus - what a construction! You've really got to give it to Big Christmas on this one; they manufactured perhaps the most enduring myth in modern Western culture. The savvy among us, however, see through their lies. Do Big Christmas really expect us to believe this man is real? First off, nobody lives in Lapland. How can anyone live in Finland when it doesn't exist? And if it were real, and Santa based his operations there, then why do all his presents say 'made in China'? It would be out of character – and he is a character – for Santa Claus to lie. The Santa myth is simply a distraction from who we really should be celebrating on Christmas: the Catalonian Shitting Log. A log that shits out presents is much more believable. How many trees have you ever seen? And now tell me how many jolly fat men with beards and magical reindeer? Enjoy your silly legends. This festive season, I'm going to be beating a log with a stick until it shits out sweets and toys for me. Those who know, know.

Lorcan Flahive


n the United States, the roots of Santa-denial can be found in President Nixon’s 1968 ‘Law and Order’ Campaign. In this, Nixon attempted to win over Democrat voters by adopting a tougher stance on crime. Santa was one of the first casualties of this philosophy. Using McCarthyist rhetoric, Republicans highlighted Santa’s redness, and noted that he not only trespassed into private property, but freely distributed presents whilst there (“Who’s going to pay for it all?” they asked). They cried that he was simply “too good to be true” – a mere Soviet myth! The Santa-denial which survives today is undoubtedly a Cold War relic, maintained by a succession of power-hungry governments who see “being tough on Santa” as a sure-fire vote winner. But baffling inconsistencies remain. If Santa is indeed an imagined figure, then who does the Santa Tracker track? Where do the presents come from? Where do the letters go? These are all questions Santa-deniers cannot answer. Instead, they resort to trivial statistics. They focus on the speed of a sleigh, the lifespan of reindeer, or the weight of eight billion presents. Soon, the inevitable Santa debate will begin in earnest. When it does, remember the discourse around Santa is carefully distorted to benefit those it keeps in power.


Monday 7 December 2020




Word of Christmas: an environmental disaster? the week Hyperborean


Shreya Dube

o ho ho, ’tis the season for hyperborean hijinks! You might be wondering what is a hyperborean? Let us investigate. A hyperborean is an inhabitant of the Extreme North! Aside from Mr. Claus being our favourite hyperborean, let’s set our sights on his stalwart companion Rudolph. Rudolph is actually female, as male reindeers shed their antlers earlier in the winter whilst females retain theirs throughout the season – this is an example of sexual dimorphism. Santa really did say Girl Power! Reindeer are also adapted to their task in a myriad of ways, one such being their hooves, which are soft in the summer months but harden in the winter. This allows them to break through Arctic ice to access their herbivorous banquet under the frost. They also regulate their metabolism and have adapted haemoglobin. Reindeer are truly a streamlined species to spread Christmas cheer. No Christmas article would be complete without mention of our tundra patriarch Santa Claus! The cookies and mince pies truly do help him in his mission in the North; brown fat is a large proponent of thermogenesis, keeping him warm as he zips about the globe. So dear reader, I hope these quick and frosty facts entertain you this holiday season: stay warm!

We delve into the darker side of Christmas, and what we can do to help the planet this festive Alex Ventisei

shouldn’t mean we have to stop buying cards altogether, simply using your leftover cards from the year before to label your presents next year – rather than throwing them away and buying labels separately – would save enough energy to light up 340 Blackpool illuminations!


nvironmentalists argue Christmas to be the world’s greatest annual environmental disaster, due to excessive consumption alongside increasing levels of waste and pollution. While the forthcoming celebrations are likely to be a little different after a turbulent year, the precipice of festive luxuries and indulgence mean that the season is still likely to bring about significant environmental and ecological damage. However, there are five ‘environmental disasters’ associated with the season that are not only reducible, but avoidable altogether.

Wrapping paper with glitter might look great, but it can't be recycled. Although it may slightly reduce the visual impact of your present wrapping, the financial and environmental benefits of switching to glitter-less paper may tip the balance for you! If everyone switched to standard wrapping paper, an additional 1.5 billion presents’ worth of wrapping paper could be recycled. Present Buying

In Britain alone, £4 billion is wasted annually on unwanted Christmas gifts. Giving fewer presents, with more thought behind them, would allow you to save money, while showing that you really care. Simply removing unwanted gifts from Christmas would save 8kg of CO2 per person in unnecessary packaging and manufacturing. Ethical Products

“More is better” suits advertisers’ ends far better than it suits ours Food Waste Every year it is reported that 230 000 tonnes of Christmas food is disposed of rather than being eaten – the equivalent of 74 million mince pies! As a consequence, an average of £40 per household is wasted on uneaten Christmas Day food purchases. The solution? Simply to buy less food, saving money; alternatively, save your leftovers for some tasty boxing day turkey sandwiches! Christmas Cards

Paper Choices

Image: Pixabay

A significant amount of waste is produced annually by thrown-away Christmas cards. While this

It’s sometimes difficult to remember that everything we buy at Christmas carries its own chain of production, in which each link has its own environmental impact. Paying special attention to this and aiming to purchase ethicallymanufactured and transported products (like plastic-free Christmas cards and advent calendars, or giving gifts of sustainably-manufactured clothing) is a fantastic way to reduce not only your carbon footprint, but also to ensure that you’re not contributing to human-related ethical issues like sweatshops. In recent years, advertisers have pushed a message that “more is better”, but we should remember that this philosophy suits their ends far more than ours. Solving issues such as climate change is impossible individually, but if we all make small changes, as a collective we have incredible power. This Christmas, spare a moment to look through this list and consider how you can play your part.

Seven scientifically proven ways to keep warm this winter

The best solutions science has to offer for how best to stay toasty during the winter months Lily Holbrook


f you’re anything like me with freezing fingers as soon as they’re exposed to the cold, you’ll know that we’re heading into the chillier months. As Christmas approaches and we head into winter in the North East, it’s time to take a look at the best ways to keep warm, according to science. Heat loss happens primarily as a result of two processes: conduction and convection. Conduction occurs when your body comes into direct contact with a cold surface, while convection describes the loss of heat from your body as the wind carries it away. The key to staying warm is to keep these processes to a minimum. In addition to convection and conduction, your body also radiates heat, which is where the wellknown myth of losing the most heat from your head comes from. While your head does radiate heat and wearing a hat is a good idea, wrapping up the rest of your body is equally as important. In a bid to keep bills down, students regularly suffer from the cold. Taking inspiration from the science, here are seven (cost-effective) tips for keeping yourself warm this winter: 1. The more time you spend in the cold, the more able you are to deal with it It may seem counterintuitive, but if you spend a lot of time in the cold, your body has ways of adjusting. By producing more brown fat which generates heat as it consumes calories, body temperature can be regulated. Being at uni in the North East, we can probably count ourselves pretty lucky to have good

exposure to the cold!

Don't feel too guilty if you go a bit overboard with the mince pies and chocolate 2. Keep well-fuelled and hydrated With Christmas just around the corner, it’s no secret that food often forms a big part of this festive tradition. Eating well is an important element of staying warm by providing the energy we need to stave off the cold, giving us the fuel we need to function. With this in mind, don’t feel too guilty if you go a bit overboard with the mince pies and chocolate! Top tip: spices like ginger can help raise our metabolism to keep us warm. Ginger beer, ginger cake and ginger tea are all perfect options when you need that extra boost. 3. Dress for the weather By insulating our bodies properly, we have a much better chance of staying warm. Wear lots of layers to trap the heat, check the weather regularly so you don’t get caught out, and always have those blankets, hot drinks and calorie-dense foods on standby. Taking off your coat when you get inside also helps bring down your average skin temperature, meaning more heat is diverted to the core of the body and away from the skin’s surface. This helps retain warmth when you go back outside. 4. Exercise, but not too much Exercise can be a great way to get the blood cir-

culating to warm you up. Be careful though: the sweatier you get, the more quickly heat is evaporated from your skin. This cools your body down, potentially making you feel colder than before. 5. Be mindful of the mulled wine While a warm beverage can seem like the perfect way to warm up after being out in the cold, alcohol lowers core body temperature. For instant warmth, try a warm cup of tea or hot chocolate and save the spirits for later. 6. Be aware of your body Some of us are more prone to the cold than others, and it’s true that there are a lot of factors that determine how much we feel the cold. Certain medications (such as alpha and beta blockers), conditions (like Raynaud’s syndrome) and deficiencies (iron), can make our extremities extra sensitive to the surroundings.

Watching videos of actors in cold settings makes you colder than seeing those in warm environments 7. Imagine you’re warm Strange as it sounds, research has shown that people watching videos of actors in cold settings reported being colder than seeing those in warm environments. This highlights a psychological basis for temperature perception, in a phenomenon known as ‘cold contagion.’ So, next time you’re cold, why not try a summery film or fake fireplace to get yourself feeling toasty again?

Image: Pxfuel, Pixabay and Elizabeth Meade



Monday 7 December 2020



2020 breakthroughs: pain-detecting electronic skin and AI that can spot signs of breast cancer Our writers reflect on the better things to come out of this year Anna Green & Maud Webster


esearchers at Melbourne’s RMIT University have developed a new electronic form of artificial skin. The implications of this advance in technology are huge, paving the way for more sophisticated prosthetics as well as future alternatives to invasive skin grafting.

The prototype is said to mimic the feeling of pain RMIT University have used cutting edge technology to develop what they call ‘electronic somatosensors’, manmade detectors of pain, pressure, and temperature. This incredibly sensitive prototype is said to “realistically mimic the very human feeling of pain,” according to Professor Madhu Bhaskaran, co-leader of the functional materials and microsystems group. Bhaskaran claims that the fundamentals needed

for this technology to be applied biomedically, such as “biocompatibility, skin-like stretchability…are already there”. Using combinations of previously pioneered technologies, researchers were able to achieve stretchable, temperature-sensitive skin with the ability to store and recall ‘memory’ of previous sensation. This new skin has engineered memory cells that will send a signal, triggering a biological response if pressure, heat or pain surpasses a threshold. This allows for greater sensitivity than has ever been achieved before. Anna Green A remarkable breakthrough for medicine came right at the start of the year, when Google’s DeepMind AI proved itself superior to human doctors at screening for breast cancer. Researchers at Imperial College London ‘trained’ a computer, using the DeepMind algorithm, to spot signs of cancer on nearly 29 000 X-ray images of women. The rate of accuracy at spotting cancer was compared to the success of doctors. The experiment was also conducted using photos of women from the US; in both cases, it was concluded that the AI was more effective than the medical professionals at correctly identifying cases of breast cancer.

The study found that there was a 5.7% decline in false positives and a 9.4% reduction in false negatives The study found noticeable improvements, particularly in the US, namely a reduction of 5.7% in false positives (exam incorrectly diagnosed as abnormal) and 9.4% in false negatives, where a cancer hasn’t been identified but should have been. These margins are smaller in the UK study, though are still noticeable (1.2% and 2.7%).

The discovery could lead to a lower rate of missed cancers When implemented into hospitals, this discovery has the potential to provide an immediate second opinion, immensely aid doctors when conducting mammogram exams and reduce the rate of both false positives and missed cancers. Maud Webster

Image: Pixabay

Snow laughing matter: is this the tip of the iceberg? How salt can Arctic melt is at an all time high... ... and The Courier can reveal prevents ice Santa and his elves are not happy continues to melt at this rate. If more workhouses have to close, there’s a chance that Christmas might just cease to exist.”

The truth behind the familiar winter phenomenon

Polly Stevens


rctic sea ice shrank to its second lowest recorded extent in September 2020, measuring a mere 3.74 million square kilometres – just over half of the long-term average of 6.4 million square kilometres. Rapid retreat of Arctic sea ice has been apparent since the 1980s; the area is particularly sensitive to anthropogenically-induced climate change, as reductions in reflectivity caused by ice retreat and open ocean exposure leads to a 70% increase in solar radiation absorption.

Elizabeth Meade


uring the winter, it is common to put salt on icy roads in order to prevent the formation of ice. It would be reasonable to assume that salt has ice-melting properties, or that the reaction between ice and salt produces heat that melts the ice. However, the actual explanation requires a bit more chemistry. Salt is commonly known by the chemical formula NaCl, or sodium chloride. When NaCl is mixed with water (H2O), the Na cations (positive ions) and Cl anions (negative ions) mix with the H cations and OH anions of the H2O to form a new solution. This solution causes the freezing point of the water to lower – that is, any solution that is above that freezing point will not freeze.

Santa has expressed concern over what climate change means for the future of Christmas in the North Pole

Salt is able to alter the rate at which molecules of water attach to ice Therefore, it is harder for ice to form unless it is cold enough to be below the new freezing point. The salt lowers the freezing point by altering the rate at which water molecules attach to the ice, causing the point at which ice and water molecules are switching places at the same rate (the freezing point) to decrease. There are limitations: once enough salt has been added to lower the freezing point to zero degrees Celsius, the water will have reached its limit as to how much salt it can dissolve, and the freezing point can not be further lowered.

Image: Elizabeth Meade

The implications of these unprecedented levels of warming and ice loss, which are projected to continue into the future, are particularly severe for residents of the North Pole, including Santa Claus, who has expressed major concern at the rapidly vanishing ice cover. “We’ve tried to keep up a ‘business as usual’ attitude, but the fact of the matter is this simply isn’t business as usual,” said Claus in an official statement. “Climate change has meant that large areas of the Arctic – areas on which we were previously dependent for elf housing, present manufacturing, and and reindeer training – have vanished. Relocation may be a necessity in the forthcoming years.” Melting ice has meant that a downsizing of the Christmas Present Workhouses has also had to occur – and with downsizing comes skyrocketing levels of elf unemployment. “It’s really scary,” a Toy-Testing Elf told reporters recently. “We just don’t know what’s going to happen if the Arctic

An estimated 10 000 elves are facing unemployment, which is set to double in the next five years

An estimated 10 000 elves are now facing unemployment, a number predicted to double over the next five years. “I just hope people are aware of the crisis we’re facing,” stated a reindeer training elf in October. “A lot of the general public seem to think that just because global warming isn’t directly affecting them at the given moment in time, it’s not much of a problem. Unfortunately, we at the North Pole know differently.”

Image: Broelman on Pinterest

Disclaimer: Some of the information and sources in this article may be embellished to bring a little Christmas sparkle to our readers...but The Courier acknowledges the very real threat of climate change.



Monday 7 December 2020

And the best Christmas coffee of 2020 goes to... Meg Howe tells us about the Christmas drinks we all need to try in 2020


here is no better start to the festive season than seeing our favourite high street coffee shops bringing out their very own Christmas drink selection. Of course, it’s definitely a coffee lover's dream to have a much better selection of flavours to choose from, from so many different places! But, which of these famous flavours is the best? Let the battle of the beverages commence!


Bronze Medal: Starbucks Gingerbread Latte I’m normally a sucker for the Starbucks drink! The annual Pumpkin Spice latte sets the bar pretty high, and I always expect amazing things from their Christmas range. However, when compared to some of the others on the market, the Starbucks Gingerbread does just not compare.

Not only is the flavour pretty bland, but the coffee itself just does not taste as smooth. While I am someone who loves the taste of ginger, I am not too keen on its texture. The last mouthful of this Starbucks festive beverage contains huge lumps of ginger, and this just isn’t to my taste. However, I am a sucker for the Starbucks festive cups! Silver Medal: Caffe Nero Salted Caramel Latte Now, I don’t quite understand why this is considered a ‘festive’ special! I went into Caffe Nero in March (just before the lockdown) and grabbed myself a salted caramel hot chocolate – so surely they could use the same syrup in their coffee all year round? However, that’s not the point, and the Salted Caramel latte is pretty good. Not only is Nero’s coffee super smooth, the ratio of syrup to coffee is pretty good; the taste of the

My favorite Christmas breakfast has been a tradition in my family for a long time: potica. Not to be confused with “pizza” (as Melania Trump did in 2017 when Pope Francis referenced this specialty from her home country), this dessert is pronounced “po-TEETS-uh,” although “POT-ik-uh” is heard as well. It’s dry, crumbly, and messy, but paired with a glass of milk, this spiced, rolled Slovenian walnut bread is a deliciously sweet holiday breakfast. Traditionally served at both Easter and Christmas, potica remains a popular dessert among US families of Slovenian descent. My family hasn’t kept many European traditions– after all, my great-great-grandparents moved to the US over a hundred years ago–but I’m glad that we’ve kept this yummy one, which never fails to spark excitement during the holiday season. If you want to make one yourself, one official Slovenian recipe can be found here: Walnut Potica Be warned, though: rising the dough, spreading it out, filling, and rolling can take half a day, and the better part of your counter space! – Elizabeth Meade


coffee doesn’t fully disappear, yet you can taste the flavour of the syrup. I am quite disappointed with the festive cups from Caffe Nero this year, though. Gold Medal: Costa Gingerbread Latte The first place beverage of 2020 has to be awarded to the artistic creation that is the Costa Gingerbread Latte. Now, first of all, the festive Costa mugs are super sweet this year! The coffee used at Costa is smooth, and the Gingerbread flavoured syrup is velvety and doesn’t have a sickly after taste. Unlike the Starbucks version, there are no ginger bits in bottom of the drink! Something that I really love about this festive drink is the little gingerbread man that comes on top of your whipped cream! I think this adds such a cute touch and makes a commonly done drink a lot more unique. Image: @ghostrider1997_ on Instagram

In our family breakfast has never been the main meal of the day, but during the Christmas holidays we forget about how late for work we are and we indulged in a sugar-loaded ‘brekkie’ that powers us for the rest of the day. As always coffee cannot be spared, but for my uncles and I ‘Colacao’ is the way to go. This is the Spanish brand equal to ‘Nesquik’, but better, as it leaves chocolate bubbles at the top of the drink after you mix the powder. Once the drinks are served the next thing is to choose the ample select of pastries, including the magnificent Panettonne, an Italian bun with raisins or chocolate chips. My family and I have now mastered the art of dipping buns into our chocolate milk without it crumbling to pieces. Of course, I couldn’t leave out the Three King’s Cake. The ringed-shape delicacy is typically eaten during the morning of the 7th of January (after opening the Christmas presents). Within the bun there’s a bean, and whoever finds it, it’s forced to pay for the cake. All these chocolate-related foods are key to make the best family festive breakfast. – Alex Gervas

Images: Pixabay

Around the world in Christmas food...


et's be honest, we all know that the best thing about Christmas is the food! Whereever you're from, Christmas is a time for indulging in delicious treats so, without further ado, let our writers take you on a journey around the wonderful world of Christmas traditions...


In Slovakia, the most important day of the holiday is Christmas Eve and the main meal is dinner, as there’s a superstition saying that you shouldn’t eat anything until you see a star in the sky. The dinner starts with an appetizer which consists of Christmas wafer with honey and garlic, and fruits. According to another superstition, you’ll be healthy the following year if you cut an apple in such a way that there’s a star in the middle. The next dish is soup; which type mostly depends on the region of the country. There are many different variations, the most popular ones being mushroom, cabbage or lentil soup. As for the main dish, the Slovak people traditionally eat carp that they buy alive and keep in their bathtub until Christmas Eve. It’s served with mayonnaise potato salad, so-called Russian salad. As far as I know, there’s no dessert at the end of dinner, as it’s already filling. However, you can grab various biscuits, such as gingerbread or Linzer cookies anytime. –Lenka Minarovicova


When talking about Christmas traditions around the world, many people tend to forget the traditions and culture of the place where Christmas comes

from; that is of course Bethlehem, the actual birth place of Jesus. Bethlehem is a city in Palestine, located south of Jerusalem. The word Bethlehem originates from the Hebrew word meaning “house of bread”. So no wonder food is a big deal all year around and specifically during the festive season. Christmas food traditions and festivities usually start on the 4th of December with the celebration of the feast of St. Barbara; where Palestinians and most people in the middle east celebrate by making a dessert known as Burbara, named after St. Barbara, which is primarily made from whole spelt grain, water, sugar and spices like fennel, aniseeds, cinnamon and nutmeg cooked together until it has a custard/pudding like consistency. It could be served hot or cold and garnished with nuts, dried fruits and fresh pomegranate seeds. On to the main event, Palestinians start prepping for the Christmas feast days in advance. Usually we start with a number of different mezzes; these include the world famous hummus, mutabbal (aubergine with tahini), tabbouleh salad, some pickles and a selection of local cheeses. Then we move to the pièce de résistance, which can be stuffed lamb leg and neck, or sometimes stuffed chicken. There are a variety of different stuffings we can use; most commonly we do a spiced rice with mincemeat and nuts or sometimes we stuff the lamb with stuffed vine leaves aka dolma. For drinks, yes wine is always on the list, however a traditional drink native to the region is Arak which is an unsweetened spirit made from anise. Finally for desserts we often have kunafeh, a sweet cheesy delight with a crispy shredded kataifi pastry on top. -Marcel Shamshoum Image: Pixabay

Tanzania Christmas in Tanzania is a strange cultural phenomenon. It’s a tradition transplanted, culture without context. Christmas came to Tanzania as a primarily religious tradition, free from the winter traditions and yuletide that it has acquired in Europe. Tanzanians never had German trees or a Greek saint, so our traditions are a little different: great big church services, new clothes, singing, sermons, and food. Churches gather together, Pastors commute for hours, and people are brought together, across the country. With any celebration in Tanzania, food is key, and Christmas is time for the best food. What constitutes the ‘best food’ varies, as Tanzania stretches from coast to savannah to mountain to lake. It’s often delicious, fluffy pilau, beef, slaughtered for the occasion, and crates of sodas. Sometimes fish, sometimes salad. There are meterwide pots full of rice stirred over fires, kitchens full of laughter and smoke, young men washing hands and handing out plates heaped with food. Christmas in Tanzania is a time when people come together.. Come together and eat... A lot. - Charlie Pugh


A very vegan Christmas


o, you don’t eat meat. Christmas dinner has come around and you’re bracing yourself for the annual remarks. It is I, your resident dinnertable fusspot, here to give you some tips to impress with a banging festive feast: vegan-style. THE CENTREPIECE Believe me, I have tried: I simply can’t find it in me to get excited about a nut roast. There’s no festive thrill in nuts and breadcrumbs, no matter how much sage and onion you put in. Luckily there are now several veggie-vegan roast options on the market to buy straight off the shelf or online. I had a disaster involving a Tofurkey roast and a rubber shoe some years ago (it tasted like one). But I’ve had successes with options like Vivera chicken tenders, the Vegusto Special Vegan Roast, homemade “seitan” logs or even some good old fashioned Linda McCartney sausages. If faux-meat is not your game then mushroom wellington or a lentil loaf can make a lovely centrepiece!

I had a disaster once involving a Tofurkey roast and a rubber shoe (it tasted like one...) THE SPROUTS My dad used to pay 20p for every “fartball” my siblings and I ate on Christmas. I would shovel in the bitter balls and rack up one whole pound by the time the christmas pudding was out. Needless to say I was scarred by the spherical vegetable for a while after that; it only recently dawned on me that sprouts can actually be quite nice if they are done right. Traditionally they are roasted with bacon bits but I have found that adding some fried chestnuts or marinated flaked almonds or coconut flakes can add the same rich crunch. Marinate the flakes in soy sauce, maple syrup and liquid smoke for a bacony flavour and roast the sprouts in balsamic vinegar for a festive fartball dish you will want to eat for free! THE ROASTIES Every household has their way, so I don’t want to intrude here. Let me add this though: don’t let anyone tell you goose fat is necessary for maximum crispiness. Just don’t forget to use a starchy potato variety and fluff liberally with a fork before putting them in the oven. THE TRIMMINGS We’ve got the basics down, here’s where it gets fun. I personally think the dinner is not complete without some winter spiced red cabbage (use dairy-free butter for any otherwise vegan recipe). An underrated addition is bread sauce: that’s bread… as a sauce, flavoured with bay leaves and lots of black pepper and nutmeg. You’ll need to substitute the butter and milk in most recipes you will find – I recommend whole oat milk for recipes like this, and any non-dairy butter will do. If you want to do some pigs in blankets, I’ve had success with thinly sliced marinated aubergine to wrap the veggie sausages- or Sainsburys do some ready-made vegan ones. IF IN DOUBT: GRAVY You know, most roasts are just stuff and gravy anyway. If it all goes tits up get yourself some trusty gravy granules, go forth and douse. Most on the market are vegan, including beef or chicken flavoured ones. If you just keep pouring you might even manage to make a disappointing nut roast exciting! Ahhh, bisto. – Ella Williams

Monday 7 December 2020





Couples of Christmas: the best and worst Roxanna Watson shares her best and worst couples in Christmas films. Roxanna Watson


hristmas films are often an uplifting and romantic way to celebrate the season. Whether they're kissing under the mistletoe or not, here is a round up of the best and worst Christmas couples.

of times, most recently last week, I still had to google whether they were actually even a couple. They have zero chemistry and seem to only exist to offset the weirdness of Cameron Diaz and Jude Law’s romance. 2. Everett and Julie in The Family Stone I really cannot tell if I’m supposed to like this couple, but they are awful. Given that the entire premise of this film is that Meredith is incredibly insecure, it seems particularly cruel for her almost-fiancé to run off with her younger sister. 1. Harry and Karen (and Mia) in Love Actually This ranking really needs no explanation. Harry is terrible. Mia is terrible. Do not watch the Joni Mitchell scene if you’re feeling at all vulnerable.

I still had to google whether they were actually even a couple.

Best: 5. Brad and Kate in Four Christmases I hadn’t seen this film until last week and didn’t expect to be very convinced by Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn, especially after Google revealed that they apparently hated each other on set. However, I actually thought they had great chemistry.

2. Anna and Kristoff in Frozen This one needs no justification. They simply melt my heart. 1. Harry and Sally in When Harry Met Sally In my opinion, When Harry Met Sally is one of the best romances ever depicted on screen. Even in the beginning when they hate each other, their chemistry is electric, and after that it just gets better and better.

I also love that basically everyone else falls in love with her too 4. Lucy and Jack in While You Were Sleeping I partly just like this film because it feels like justice for Bill Pullman after his character is so poorly treated in Sleepless in Seattle, but Lucy and Jack are also extremely cute. There is a good amount of cats in this film too. 3. Georgia and Sean in Last Holiday This film is first and foremost about a woman falling in love with herself. I also love that basically everyone else falls in love with her too, and her crush showing up and declaring his love for her is basically just the icing on the cake.

Worst: 5. Bridget and Daniel in Bridget Jones’s Diary Okay so they should definitely be ranking higher than this BUT they have undeniable chemistry and also just provide a lot of entertainment. I also low key still fancy Daniel. 4. Sam and Annie in Sleepless in Seattle This is probably the most controversial entry on the list. I feel like they had to have Sam received thousands of letters just to make Annie seem less creepy. But stalking aside, there’s just nothing to them. They don’t even meet until the last ten minutes and when they do it actually feels quite uncomfortable. 3. Iris and Miles in The Holiday Despite having seen this film a bunch

Images : IMDB

Covid Christmas dates My 2021 self love resolutions Scarlett Welch discusses cute Winter walks Even if everything’s closed, you can still enjoy and christmass-y date ideas. Scarlett Welch


hristmas time lends itself perfectly to cute dates, but this year things will have to be different. Traditional winter dates like Christmas markets and ice skating aren’t viable in a pandemic, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still enjoy Christmas dates. Not everyone can see their partner or meet new people in person this Christmas. But not to worry, here is a list of date ideas both in-person and virtual for whatever stage your relationship is at.

Newcastle virtual market This year the Newcastle Gateshead council has launched a virtual Christmas market, where you can buy gift vouchers for a variety of Newcastle businesses. Why not curl up with a hot chocolate or mulled wine and browse the virtual market with your partner? It’s a great way to plan future dates for when things are more normal, or to buy some Christmas presents together.

Wrapping presents Speaking of presents, what gets you in the Christmas spirit more than gift wrapping? Gather all your Christmas presents (obviously not for each other!) and get wrapping together, either in person or over FaceTime if you and your partner don’t live together.

wintery dates outdoors. Wrap up warm and head to one of Newcastle’s scenic spots, such as Jesmond Dene, or through the City Centre at night to enjoy the lights. This is the perfect date if you’re on a budget and it can be socially distanced if you and your partner aren’t living together or in a bubble.

Putting up the decorations This is the ultimate Christmas activity if you and your partner live together, but it’s also easy to replicate virtually. FaceTime your partner and decorate your separate houses/rooms at the same time, all whilst having a sing-along to some Christmas music.

Christmas baking Pick your favourite festive treat and get baking! This would work really well even as a first date as a practical activity keeps the conversation flowing, and it can easily be done over FaceTime. Once it’s baked, why not grab a hot drink and enjoy your baked goods together to replicate a classic coffee shop date.

Movie night This is one you can’t go wrong with - get cosy, grab some snacks, and put on some classic Christmas films. If you can’t be with your date in person, why not try Netflix Party instead?

Marta Grabowska


et's face it - 2020 was tough, no doubt about it, especially for our mental health. But honestly, we have no idea if 2021 will be any better (that's a bit harsh, I know). So, instead of making grand plans on how you are going to travel the world in 2021, focus on your mental health and practicing selflove. Did you know that 60% of people make New Year's resolutions each year, but only about 8% achieve them? When you are writing down your new year's resolutions keep a few things in mind: If you want to grow as a person your goals should be outside your comfort zone. They should be challenging, not overwhelming, so don't go overboard Be specific! Don't write down "read more books", "learn a new language". Instead, set out a clear goal like: "read 10 pages a day" or "practise Spanish with Duolingo for 15 minutes, daily" Don't write down too much - focus on a few things you would like to accomplish. Do you have a goal that you are writing down for the fifth year in a

row? Well, maybe you should let it go. It may be difficult, but it will make you feel better at the end of the year. Now, you are ready to write down your resolutions. Here are some of my suggestions, with a focus on self-love and mental health: Stop saying yes to the things you hate, start saying yes to the things you love. Plan self-care days. Make it a goal to dedicate a few hours a week to yourself, just as you would plan your work or meeting with friends (put it in your calendar!) Practise a skill you always wanted to but thought "it's not for you." Get rid of your clutter! A clear space = clear mind. Write a love letter to yourself - this may sound silly, but it will make you feel wonderful! What do you like about yourself? What do other people compliment you on? Don't focus just on your appearance! Learn to recognize your emotions. When you are feeling sad, anxious, angry, stop and think why am I feeling like this? Reach out to an old friend you lost contact with. If you ever feel bad about taking some time off for yourself, remember, taking care of yourself is productive. As Katie Reed said: "Selfcare is giving the world what's best of you, instead of what's left of you". Image : Instagram: @the_lazydoodler



Monday 7 December 2020


Hi Jack, what is your usual type? Okay so my normal type is a girl who's active and outgoing, a big thing for me is a girl who I can have intellectual conversationswith, with some banter for good measure! Looks wise I normally go for blondes with petite bodies. What were your first impressions of Siobhan? Well the date started off with a few tech issues leading to us emailing each other trying to get Zoom working! However when she joined her bubbly personalty shone through. And I also found her really attractive What did you talk about on the date? We talked a lot about each other and childhood and what we did on our placement years. Did you enjoy going on a Zoom date? It was good as I was doing it from my sofa and was just relaxed, however would have deffo prefered doing it in person. If you could have gone on a Christmas date with Siobhan, what would you have wanted to do? Hm, would have probably been a trip to the Christmas markets to get some food then onto some venues in the city. Have you been in contact since the date? Yes, we added each othre on Facebook and have been chatting a bit, we also have our second date on Monday.



Hi Siobhan, why did you sign up for blind date? Honestly just for the laughs really! What is your usual type? Hm, I wouldn't say I have a proper particular type? But they usually like to go out and have a good drink. What were your first impressions of Jack? Well I thought he was nice and easy to speak to. Did you have lots in common with Jack? There was a few things we spoke about that we had in common, like we both like hiking and voted the same in referendums and general elections. What was the best and worst thing about going on a Zoom date? Well the best was that I didn't feel like I had to dress up too much, but obviously it's always nicer to go out really! If Jack was a Christmas food, which food would he be and why? He'd be a pig in blanket because I'm sure he's liked by everyone, haha cringe! Hard to answer that question though... Would you want to meet up in person when restrictions allow it? I would have to see!


Monday 7 December 2020





My love for the Christmas routine Sophie Wilson tells us why the Christmas routine us important to her and her family Sophie Wilson


hen I wake up on Christmas Day, I look forward to a routine that we have carved together as a family. On a normal day, we wake up around 8pm and go to find our stockings. My brother and I then wait downstairs for my mum and dad, and we all share a morning coffee. After opening some presents, we then have croissants and bucks fizz- a firm favourite for the Wilson celebratory breakfast choice! After getting all lovely and dressed up, my Grandma then comes to our house. As we get caught up in a flurry of alcohol, present opening and just general love for spending time together we also see my other grandparents and my cousins.

We get caught up in the flurry of alcohol, present opening and just general love for spending time together As we move on to the afternoon, we have the Christmas dinner (I challenge you to a pigs in blanket eating competition) and Christmas pudding (someone please teach me how to set it

alight)! One of the cosiest elements of the day comes at almost the end: between playing board games and charades, I sit at my piano and play carols, as my whole family sing along. We really come together at this part in the day, and the warmth and love fills the air.

We really come together at this part of the day. and the warmth and love fills the air But, why do I love routine so much? Christmas, for me at least, is not about receiving ‘new’ gifts, like a new phone or a new make up palette. For me, the excitement lies in the familiarity of the day. As I spend time with my family, and we share some well cooked food, it is just purely lovely to all be together. The world is busy for many of us, and we can get caught up in the commercial side of life, where money dominates our choices. But, at Christmas it is important to take a step back from this commerciality, and to value what is really special to us: family, friends, love. And, that is why a routine is really so dear to me.

At Christmas it is important to take a step back, and value what is really special to us

Illustration: Tabby Edwards, student artist via Courier Creative Contributors

Horoscopes: which Christmas character is you Aries (21 Mar - 19 Apr): Rudolph

Gemini (21 May - 21 Jun): The Nisse

Leo (23 Jul - 22 Aug): Santa

Libra (23 Sept - 22 Oct): Baby Jesus

Illustration: Phoebe Young, student artist

Illustration: Kate McLaughlin, student artist

Illustration: Phoebe Young, student artist

Illustration: Kate McLaughlin, student artist


Gemini individual is characterised by a playful and curious nature, this lends itself to the trickster gnomes of Iceland, known as the Nisse, or the Yule Lads. These eclectic brothers are known for their trickery and their love for pulling pranks on others during the Christmas period. Geminis are known to enjoy lighthearted pranks at others expense, so it makes sense that the cosmic Twins are aligned with these playful pranksters.

eos are the rulers of the zodiac, and Leonine people are quick to become the life-and-soul of the party in any group they find themselves i n . These theatrical people make the prime people to become jolly saint Nick himself. These lovers of drama would relish the spotlight the is shone upon Santa Claus each year over the Christmas period. My advice for Leos would be to start working on that Santa bod!

ibrans strive for balance, and out of every Christmas figure, baby Jesus is most associated with balance and harmony. Relationships with others are the most important thing for Librans, and baby Jesus' first moments are characterised by the relationship between God and humanity, and that his life is spent forming relationships with the twelve apostles and those that would become the first Christians.

Taurus (20 Apr - 20 May): Jack Frost

Cancer (22 Jun - 22 Jul): The Star of Bethlehem

Virgo (23 Aug - 22 Sep): Archangel Gabriel

Scorpio (23 Oct - 21 Nov): Krampus

Illustration: Kate McLaughlin, student artist

Illustration: Phoebe Young, student artist

ries individuals love to be 'number one', so it makes sense that they are the most wellknown of Santa's reindeer. As an Aries person, you are bold and ambitious, as is Rudolph, in his aspiration to lead Santa's sleigh. With a passionate disposition you feel very strongly about what you believe in and will work tirelessly to achieve the results you want.


aureans are known to enjoy the expanse of nature and the countryside. As such, being paired with the wintery figure of Jack Frost makes perfect sense. Jack Frost makes his appearance known throughout much of the rural countryside in winter, with beautiful frost patterns over plants. This is both mesmerising and enchanting to Taureans, who enjoy being in the open air, surrounded by the natural world.


ancrians are known to be the most empathetic of the zodiac, and it makes to synchronise them with the Star of Bethlehem that lead the Wise Men to baby Jesus. The star, whilst not personified, is seen to be emotionally intuitive, and helpful, in leading the Wise Men to the goal that they seek. Many Cancrians are selfsacrificing to the point of selfdestruction, in order to help their friends, and those they care about. This innocent self-sacrifice makes Cancrians the most deserving of this important role.



Illustration: Kate McLaughlin, student artist

he meticulous perfectionists that are Virgoans make the most sense to be Archangel Gabriel. Their diligence and hard-work is echoed in God's messenger to humanity. His steadfast loyalty to God and helpful nature, are also seen in those born under Virgo. Virgo deals with information like a computer, in the same no nonsense way in which Gabriel speaks to Mary.



Illustration: Kate McLaughlin, student artist

his passionate, volatile water sign is perfectly suited for the Christmas Demon known as Krampus. This calculating and exacting sign strikes only after analysing their opponents and their weaknesses. The Krampus also waits for Santa to arrive, before he stalks the naughty children to teach them a lesson. Scorpios have an innate desire for control, be it of a situation or of others' behaviour, so are suited to Krampus' desire to right the wrongs of naughty children.

Patrick You



Monday 7 Decemeber 2020

Please, a little peace and diet!

Anna Robson discusses the obsession society has with weight gain during the holidays Anna Robson


Content warning: calorie counts, weight loss hristmas. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? Then why do we fret over weight gain and food so much during the Holiday break? Imagine a world where Keto diets and weight loss pills did not exists. Where we put all the mental energy of how to have a ‘healthy’ Christmas instead into buying the perfect gift for a loved one or how we can help the less fortunate. We all have heard the NHS talk about an ‘Obesity Epidemic’ and remember the government policies that swept the food industry. Nobody is denying the importance of keeping your body healthy on the inside, but unfortunately the Diet Industry leeches onto this obsession with weight-control especially over Christmastime The diet industry is worth a whopping £2 billion a year. They feed off our insecurities for sales; and with article sites and social media talking of the same, it only makes our personal insecurities worsen. The Healthline published an article back in 2019 titled “20 Tips to Avoid Weight Gain During the Holidays”, and the Guardian saying “doesn’t result in speedier or more effective action to undo the effects of over-eating”. This effects how

Christmas, and more specifically Christmas food, is advertised. We hear words such as gluttonous, unhealthy or “a treat”. Companies offer a “lowcalorie” or “cleaner” option. You may have heard the phrase “It’s Christmas! I’ll just work it off in the new year!”. There is an obsession with January = Fitness, and working off all the calories you consumed. The NHS estimates the average person consumes 6,000 calories on Christmas Day. However, one day of eating this number of calories does not cause long-term effects. Society makes us believe that weight is the most important thing... news flash, it isn’t! Our mental health, our family, relationships, our happiness, our self-fulfilment is the most important thing in life. The holidays are about more than food; they are about family and friends, giving to those in need, religion for some people, and making memories. Obviously, this is a different story if you are on your own weight loss journey and you are doing that to make you (and only you) happy. Some nutritionists have seen over-eating, under-eating or the potential to develop an eating disorder in preparation of the holiday season. The last thing you want to do is have a sense of guilt or shame at your diet over Christmas. Negativity at Christmas, or any time of the year, can often lead to a bad relationship with food. Instead at Christmas time, why don’t we focus on having a lovely time with our family. This year has been moved especially difficult, and one thing we have all took away from it is that we need to do what makes us happy, not what society dictates we should do.

ur zodiac sign most like?


Sagitarrius (22 Nov - 21 Dec): The three Wise Men

Aquarius (20 Jan - 19 Feb): A Naughty Child

Illustration: Phoebe Young, student artist

Illustration: Kate McLaughlin, student artist

ver on a quest for knowledge, Sagittarians make the perfect Three Wise Men. Fuelled by wanderlust, these daring, inquisitive souls would be the first to embark on a journey, simply following a star. These individuals place so much emphasis on their knowledge that they have a tendency to come across to others as arrogant. My advice for Sagittarians would be, if you're buying presents for someone, for the love of God, don't give them Myrrh!

n the surface this seems like a major cop-out for Aquarians. But their innate rebellious nature makes them perfectly suited for this role: they despise authority, and want to live life by their own rules. Aquarians are seen as stubborn and obstinate, which stems from their strong convictions. In a similar sense to how a misbehaving child won't stop because they are told to, Aquarians will not stop believing in their convictions,, even if they are told that they are wrong. The best way to keep an Aquarian calm is to just let them get their ideas out, and reflect upon their actions.

Capricorn (22 Dec - 19 Jan): The Snow Queen

Pisces (19 Feb - 20 Mar): The Virgin Mary

Illustration: Phoebe Young, student artist

Illustration: Kate McLaughlin, student artist



his sign is dominated by an unwavering focus that comes off to others as cold and unempathetic. This makes them the perfect sign to be associated with the Snow Queen. Capricorns' inner fortitude is a blessing and a curse, it allows them to focus on their goals without distraction, but in the process it can isolate them from their loved ones. It is this inner fortitude that can make the Capricorn individual like the Ice Queen, an ephemeral person, who keeps those they care about at a distance.



isceans are symbolised by their nature of absorbing the joys and pains of those around them and tending to their emotional wounds. This is why I have placed them as the Virgin Mary: they are selfless and want to help all those around them; they are deeply spiritually intuitive; and sympathetic towards those they see are hurting. The Virgin Mary, is the person who applies to this zodiac sign because of her tender portrayal in the Bible, as well as her acceptance of carrying the son of God, who would heal the spiritual wounds

17 Lifestyle They said it would be over by Christmas... Max Bover explains how Christmas will be a little different this year, especially for those staying at university

T Max Bover

hey said it would be over by Christmas, but they said a lot of things, didn’t they? Despite what we tell ourselves as we rock back and forth in the corners of our grimy student rooms, this year, Christmas will be like no other. After weeks of government deferral, students across the country have an answer to the big seasonal question: Can I (legally) go home for Christmas? Clear your calendars, as the news of the “student travel corridor” passes through the multi-media motions, echoed by the ever-reliable news outlet of anxious parents over the phone. Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan MP, has confirmed that “from the 3rd to the 9th [December], in that window, we will create a student travel corridor in which they [students] can go back home”. This slim window offers a slither of hope for the countless students that have been left in the dark from the outset of the term and, arguably, from the beginning of the pandemic. Reflective of the government’s handling of the pandemic, a plan outlining students’ return to university is yet to be proposed. This lack of clarity has been condemned by Jo Grady, general secretary of the UCU, as a plan which is “riddled with holes”. Serena, a Romanian film student here in Newcastle, will not be returning home for Christmas due

This slim window offers a slither of hope for the countless students that have been left in the dark

When asked what is important to her this Christmas compared to previous years, after a long pause, she responded “I don’t want to think about that right now … to be honest I just want Christmas to be over and wake up in 2021 and go back to my studies, it’s obvious that Christmas will be very different this year”. This, unfortunately, will be the struggle for many international students over the Christmas period, facing the uneasy decision of long periods of isolation, or spending

Regardless of whether or not you choose to go home this year, lockdown limitations will prevent the standard festivities of yesteryear Christmas alone. It is vital that we recognise this Christmas will not be like any other we have celebrated, but that does not mean that Christmas cannot be enjoyed. To avoid disappointment this Christmas, expectations must be adjusted, and with that, the pressure we often place on ourselves each year must be limited. Regardless of whether or not you choose to go home this Christmas, lockdown limitations will prevent the standard festivities of yesteryear. As things stand, the big family Christmas will be substituted for WiFi-dependant Zoom festivities, Christmas crackers digitally pulled, webcams adjusted to fit snowman jumpers within the frame. Forget the gifts, forget the stress of a monstrous Christmas dinner that would normally leave us deep in a food-coma. Let’s make Christmas about cherishing those whom we hold dearest!

to the isolation periods she would face upon leaving and returning to the country; she said “it’s not worth it if I have to isolate myself for one month”. Illustrations: Tabby Edwards Image: Pixabay

Monday 7 December 2020



Pyjamas on Christmas: to match, or not to match? Patrick Young is choosing comfort over style on Christmas Day Patrick Young –Travel sub-editor


s an adult, I love getting new pyjamas. Even more than that, I love wearing pyjamas whenever I am not doing much... which is very often. Christmas is the perfect time to lounge around in pyjamas, and relax.

ble. Besides, isn't Christmas all about relaxing, and spending time with those you love? Who needs to look set for the red carpet on Christmas? Just throw on a comfy pair of pyjama pants, and a soft sweater; its a day to chill and eat copious amounts of turkey (and cocktails, if you're naughty). Social media has created this false sense of needing to look immaculate 24/7, regardless of holiday, or event. This is such an exhausting mindset. We just need one day, just one day, to wear something comfortable, and breathe. Just breathe, and exist. So, spend some time with your loved ones. Wear those hideous-looking, yet super soft mismatched pyjamas... you deserve it after this god-awful year! Photo: @goldengirls on Instagram

Who needs to look set for the red carpet on Christmas?

I'm no fashionista, my favourite pyjamas are mismatched and pretty worn - though I doubt I'm alone there. Some people may argue that Christmas is a special occasion, and that, even if I am in pyjamas, I should still put some effort into looking respectable for the holiday. But it's Christmas, and I'll wear the tackiest pyjamas on the planet, and dance through the streets in them. In fact, just last year, I got the most tacky set of Golden Girls lounge pants, and I love them more than life itself! They are comfortable, and stretchy, and breatha-



Why we hate to love Christmas jumpers Keira Carr


hristmas jumpers are a uniquely terrible item of clothing. Shapeless, gaudy markers of the winter holiday, redeemable only in the warmth they provide to every poor soul who is roped into the tradition. And yet, the tradition persists. Every December brings a new mass of brightly coloured, glittery monstrosities, and with it another week of people merrily setting off for work and school knowing how ridiculous they look. And loving it. There’s something wonderful about the specific kind of bonding two friends can only experience through laughing at each other, and at themselves. Every so often, you come across a fairly tasteful Christmas jumper, and you wonder: will I really look good this year for the office Christmas Jumper Day? But that’s hardly in the spirit of things, so you opt instead for the post box red, knee-length knitted garment, frayed pompoms and all, that clings to your body in all the wrong places. It’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen. You need it. I am a firm believer that nobody in their right

mind would consider a Christmas jumper the height of fashion, but even I can't deny that they’re a statement. By choosing to wear something so universally unflattering, and in public at that, you tell everyone who sees you that you don’t need to dress “well”, or in a way that “suits your figure”. You are confident, comfortable in yourself and your body, and sometimes, just sometimes, you are over the top and loud. You're fun. You feel good no matter what you wear and those lumps and bumps that you could swear didn’t even exist until you put on your Christmas jumper are just proof of that. You look silly. But so does everyone else. If your questionable jumper choices need any more validation, just take a look at the featured pieces at any recent Fashion Week or Met Gala. You don’t see jeans and t-shirts on the runways of Milan. You see avant-garde designs on unexpected silhouettes. You see bold patterns, block colours, architectural details sticking out at angles they really shouldn’t. You see ruffles. Fashion has never been about playing things safe. Fashion is reckless and chaotic and frankly insane. So maybe Christmas jumpers are awful, but that doesn’t exclude them from fashion, and it certainly doesn’t mean we should stop wearing them. Photo: Image: Wikimedia commons

Makeup looks: a Christmassy edition!

Sub-editors Meg and Margo create festive looks to rock this festive season Meg Howe & Margarita Ivanova


am not one to branch out of my comfort zone when it comes to make-up. I don't usually do a bold eye and a bold lip, but since we're getting in the festive season, I thought I'd do a bit of both! Dark, deep shades of purple and red are in the

forefront of my winter wardrobe, and so I created a look that would go with pretty much anything I wear. Since I have bright blue eyes, these warm tone shades match perfectly (I actually feel it makes it

Though it looks simple from afar, the eyeliner adds an intricate detail that makes the eye-makeup appear more complex and interesting. It is definitely a little "out there", but I've never been one to shy away from a bold look!

The eyeshadow is the star of the show... Of course, I had to use a bit of glitter!

look as though my eyes are made of glass - almost doll like!). I don't tend to wear a lot of base makeup, so this look has no foundation; just a couple of dots of concealer (and my good skin genes), as well as bronzer to add warmth to my very pale face, and highlighter on my cupid's bow and brow bone. While the artificial lighting in the full-face picture makes the lipgloss look a little light, I added a darker shade than I would usually go for. This browny-purple shade screams festive to me! The eyeshadow is the star of the show. The blend of purple and red shades is complemented by the gold, glittery shadow. Of course, I had to use a bit of glitter! – Meg

Border: Clker.com Photos: Meg Howe

– Margo

Border: Clker.com Photos: Margarita Ivanova

I’m no stranger to browsing Pinterest for inspiration, but this look kind of just came to me. While I knew that I wanted to incorporate all of the jolly, traditional colours associated with the holiday into my look, I didn’t really know how it would turn out. In the end, I just let my imagination take over the artistic process. The result is as follows: Christmastree-inspired eye-makeup and a classic red lip. The fir-branch eyeliner was a test of my skills, and, to be honest, I didn’t think I could pull it off (requirements: a steady hand and about 20 minutes). After perfecting the branchwings, I added a bit of blush to my cheekbones, and some highlighter just about everywhere for some colour and (a lot of) glow. To complement the colours of my green and gold eyeshadow, I opted for my all-time-favourite red lipstick to complete the look. The false lashes were my final step; after what seems like years of practice, they're still a challenge to put on.



Monday 7 December 2020



Five festive gifts to make at home Isobel Coombs gives some suggestions for home-made Christmas gifts that won't break the bank.

Isobel Coombs


fter a year of lockdowns, furloughs and face masks we are all in need of a pamper this festive season. Over this Christmas period, we all have a little more time at home so why not try making your Christmas presents this year? If you want to give a loved one something personal this year, these five DIY beauty and wellness gifts would be perfect and won’t break the bank.

Winter-spiced sugar scrub This is the perfect gift for the avid fake-tanner that we all know or just for someone that enjoys a good self-care session. The oil, coffee and sugar work together to remove fake tan residue and prep the skin by leaving it smooth and free of any dead skin cells. As well as increasing the blood flow to the skin, coffee has antioxidant qualities which

protects the skin from sun damage. The added spices make this gift extra festive, not failing to leave you smelling like a PSL! 1 1 cup olive/ almond oil (add until you reach desired consistency) 1 tsp vanilla extract 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1/4 brown sugar 1/2 ground coffee 1 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp nutmeg 1 tsp cocoa powder

be said for our skin. They are the culprits for the dreaded ‘Mask-ne’ can leave our skin feeling dry and irritated. Enter: this DIY face mask. This pot of golden goodness would be the perfect gift using ingredients you will probably already have in your cupboard! 3 tbsp turmeric 3 tbsp honey 2 or 3 tbsp yoghurt (or until the desired consistency) 1 tbsp blended oats Squeeze of lemon juice

For this spicy scrub you simply need to add all the dry ingredients together and mix in until they are all combined. Then add your oil and stir until a paste forms. Add more or less oil depending on the consistency that you want. Once made, pour into an old jam jar or something similar and customise with some festive ribbon and a little tag to add a personal touch.

Mix all the dry ingredients together and then add the honey and lemon juice. Then add the yoghurt until you have reached the right consistency and add to your pot of choice! The turmeric in the mask has great antioxidant benefits and the yoghurt works to hydrate the skin leaving it refreshed and soothed.

All-natural hairspray

Dullness-destoyer hair mask

I was definitely skeptical about this recipe at first, however after some trying and testing I was pleasantly surprised. This natural hairspray is so much kinder to your hair and costs just pence to make- there really is no downside to giving this a go. Here’s how: 1/2 cup of boiled water 2 tsp sugar 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract Simply dissolve the sugar in the boiled water and add the vanilla extract. Leave to cool and then pour into a spray bottle or an old hairspray bottle. And that’s it! Decorate your spray bottle or design your own label to complete the gift.

Golden soothing face mask In this ‘new norm’, face coverings are part of our daily lives and whilst they keep us safe and healthy on the inside, the same can’t

Campus Fashion: Chloe


n winter I always navigate towards darker colours- gone are the pastels of spring and the neons of summer and the festival season, with a transition to burgundies, forest- green and of course black. This year I was determined to broaden my scope in terms of winter dressing, and yet when I heard about the trend of brown clothing, I was sceptical. How could such a nondescript colour possibly look good, let alone in a monochrome setting? Oh how wrong I was! This faux crocodile bag I pinched from my mum- she used to wear it in the early noughties and since then it has sat redundant in her wardrobe, waiting for a new lease of life. The flared jeans are from Bershka and were an accidental purchase; my housemate ordered a pair which were too long for her, and it would’ve been rude not to take them off her hands. My jumper is from Stradivarius- such a flattering cut for the winter, offering warmth without being overly bulky, and my boots are my classic favourites, the platform Doc Martens. I always wear an abundance of silver jewellery, with my rings from various craft markets and my favourite padlock necklace from ASOS. Needless to say, I will be continuing to wear brown clothes for the foreseeable and will most likely be purloining more preloved items from my mum’s wardrobe.

Image: Chloe Buchan

For hair that has lost its shine and volume, this DIY hair mask is the answer! The key ingredient here is the apple cider vinegar, it enhances glossiness in the hair so when combined with the rich goodness of the coconut oil your hair will be thriving. 6 tbsp raw, unrefined coconut oil 6 tsp apple cider vinegar 6 tsp honey 3 tbsp cinnmon Combine all these together and add to an old jar or pot. Perhaps make a label with directions of use to make your gift look extra professional! To get optimum results, this mask should

be applied on damp hair from roots to ends and left on for 30 mins before shampooing out.

DIY sleep saver pack Sleep is your body’s time to heal, rejuvenate and energise. A good sleep routine is one of the best ways to keep your mental health in check and your motivation high, hence why this DIY sleep enhancing gift set would be such a thoughtful gift. This may take a few more ingredients and a little more time than the previous recipes but would be perfect for anyone with a busy lifestyle who finds it hard to switch off. The pack includes: A card of yoga poses to try and a homemade oil diffuser.

The yoga card: There are hundreds of images of yoga poses and stretches online which would be perfect for this at-home yoga card. Select around 5-8 images of positions and paste them onto a document. This will be a useful guide for anyone who wants to try yoga and will also be excellent at helping them wind down before bed.

The oil diffuser: You will need; A small vase or bottle (preferably with a thin neck) Bamboo skewers or diffuser reeds 1/4 cup baby oil 20 drops of essential oils of your choice (lavender and chamomile are proven to aid sleep and relaxation) 3 tbsp vodka Add all of these ingredients into your vase and gift it with the reeds. Add the reeds to the oil to diffuse the scent.

Looking for a stylish, sustainable gift? Fear Knot! Knots by Fox is a small independent business, supplying handmade macramé by Newcastle University student Amber Fox

realm. Introducing the macramé clutch! How could I possibly resist it when it was so tastefully fashioned by Miss Fox herself!

Sophia Ayub


hat started off as a pass time hobby over lockdown, Miss Fox found herself amidst a potential business venture, fashioning bespoke macramé hangings and marketing them via her social media. After accumulating some attention as well as interest, Fox got to work and began creating her mini-empire. Macramé has recently weaved its way back into mainstream home interior trends, especially integrating amongst the dorms of students. And why the hell not? From plant holders to wall hangings, macramé provides a neutral yet statement piece to a room. Not to mention, hanging plant holders are idealistic for featuring plants in a small space, saving floor space. So tiny rented rooms are no excuse to not feature a bit of greenery in your room. You can’t go wrong! Plants not really your thing? No biggie, as Miss Fox has expanded her business into the fashion

Image: Sophia Ayub

Monday 7 December 2020




How is travel different this season? Maud Webster writes on the unique issues travel faces at Christmas this year Maud Webster –Arts sub-editor


ven in the midst of the pandemic, the month of December will still see plenty of people shuttling around the country (and world), returning home or visiting family and friends. What’s different about travelling at this festive time, by comparison to the rest of the year?

Price Train companies (like Eurostar) worldwide are less likely to offer discounts during December as they anticipate high ticket-sales anyway – so you can expect prices to be highest during this time by comparison to the rest of the year. However, price fluctuates little within the actual month itself: time of day is more imp or-

tant when you’re considering your ticket price. It’s a bit of a myth that you can fly for cheap on Christmas Day. Jetting off on this day will cost you more than if you fly the day before, but is remarkably cheaper than days earlier in the week when, presumably, there’s more demand as people want to spend more days with their family. Skyscanner found the most expensive day to fly to China, Italy, Thailand, India, UAE, Australia and the USA was the 20th, out of the 20th – 31st December period (though this was in 2015).

Covid-19 It’s predicted that the pandemic will slow travel trade down massively this festive season, irregardless of if we’re still in lockdown or not. The government unveiled extensive (yet precarious) plans to deposit students back at their family homes for Christmas, but whether or not this will be u-turned or work in practice is to be discovered. Fewer families are anticipated to take (international) holidays. Travel operators in all forms have been financially hit hard this year, and the 2020 festive season will prove no different.


Image: Pixabay and Me Pixels

Travel operators have been hit hard this year and the 2020 festive season will prove no different

Holidays? Whilst many families and individuals traditionally choose to spend the Christmas period away from home, this year we can expect the aviation industry to be hard-hit (no change from the rest of 2020) as numerous travel restrictions and uncertainty halt the appeal of international appeal. Perhaps, more people will choose to still stay away from home this year but chose breaks in England instead?

Can you travel on Christmas Day? It depends on your mode of transport: coaches are still running, perhaps with slightly increased fares; at the time of writing, you can hoss on down to London (from Newcastle) from £38 on the 25th December. Trains, on the other hand, don’t offer a service on Christmas Day. If you’re looking to fly, many plane operators still hold flights, but there’s a reduced quantity of routes running, and you’ll probably spend more money on your ticket. Travel has completely changed during the chaos of 2020. But wherever you spend Christmas, we hope you have a great time and here’s to wishing for a more normal 2021!

The best UK Christmas markets Christmas Christmas markets are not just Bath Christmas market Birmingham: Frankfurt European! We have listed some Located amongst the historic Georgian streets, Christmas market this Christmas market is the ideal place to pick up The largest authentic German Christmas market of the best ones closer to home some handcrafted gifts or try some fresh delicacies, (outside of Germany and Austria) does not disapAlice Holmes


rguably one of the most festive, quintessential aspects of this time of year is a traditional Christmas market, and there are hundred spread across the UK. It’s the perfect excuse to indulge in some Christmas festivities, get yourself into the spirit and buy some gifts.

London: Winter Wonderland Possibly the most well-known and popular of all UK Christmas markets is Hyde Park’s winter wonderland. Perfect for all ages, this market is packed with over 100 attractions as well as plenty of opportunities to enjoy mulled wine and other festive traditions.

York: St Nicholas Fair Deemed the most festive city in the UK, the York Christmas market doesn’t fail to surpass expectations. With intricately adorned chalets lining the cobblestone streets, the setting is perfect for a wander around the stalls.

Edinburgh Christmas market This historic city hosts one of the most highly anticipated Christmas markets of the year. A key highlight being the oval ice rink, situated in St Andrews Square, winding itself around Melville Monument, creating the perfect location to hire some skates.

from churros and crepes to the more savoury option – a roast dinner served in an enormous Yorkshire pudding.

point. Situated in Victoria Square there is plenty to see, do, eat and buy whilst soaking up the festive atmosphere. Image: Pixabay

in China

Julia McGee-Russell tells us all about her adventures in China during the festive period Julia McGee-Russell –Deputy editor


hristmas on my year abroad in China, 8 356 kilometres away from family, with exams starting on December 28th – surely the worst Christmas ever, right? Wrong. Although admittedly revising for said exams on Christmas Eve isn’t exactly the pinnacle of Christmas spirit, I managed to have myself a merry little Christmas anyway. In my experience, Christmas is not truly an event in China. Companies and shops will use it as a marketing tool, and you might find some ‘expat’ Christmas events or a few Christmas trees in shopping centres, but it feels very disconnected – like a dusty abandoned Halloween aisle in a discount supermarket. There were little pockets of Christmas that I made for myself: buying a handmade crochet Santa decoration from my regular breakfast spot, drinking a saucepan of homemade mulled wine with friends while singing Mariah Carey songs, making shoddy paper stars for my friend’s cheap plastic Christmas tree. If you are spending Christmas at university, unable to return home, or you’re worried about a lonely year abroad Christmas, here’s my advice to you: hold on to the small traditions. Maybe you can’t have a proper Christmas tree, but you can make homemade decorations, listen to Christmas music, or wear Christmassy makeup. (to read the full article, visit our website)

Monday 7 December 2020





As voted for by you! The Courier's top ten albums of 2020 With the end of 2020 in sight, our writers round up their top ten albums in what has been an extroardinary year for music. 1- Rina Sawayama- SAWAYAMA


Oren Brown AWAYAMA feels as if everything that is cool about pop music for the last forty years has been thrown in a blender – accompanied by a dash of rock, dance and R&B. Somehow, it all works fantastically. While it is hard to designate the album to any single sound, it is, at it’s core; high-quality, danceable pop music. Unrelentingly catchy hooks and incredibly crisp production are a mainstay from front to back. It’s not only the production that dares to explore, as Rina traverses a plethora of topics across the LP. On some tracks, Rina opts for nostalgic selfreflection, on others, she offers scathing criticism to racism and capitalism. Charismatic playfulness ‘STFU’, bittersweet recollection ‘Bad Friend’ and effortless coolness ‘Comme des garçons’ are all found in abundance. In short, SAWAYAMA feels like if you took prime 00s pop, dialed the production quality up to eleven, and switched trajectory to far more compelling lyrical themes. It feels like one of the most complete pop albums in recent memory, keeping things varied without sacrificing any consistency in the tracklist. SAWAYAMA carves an identity of its own by pulling on nostaglic influences and amalgamating them into something new – and brilliant.

2- Phoebe Bridgers- Punisher


Rebecca Alexander hoebe Bridgers’ debut Stranger in the Alps was always going to be hard to beat, yet her sophomore album Punisher took up the challenge and emerged undefeated. Released in June, Punisher serves us the soft alt-folk, acoustic sound that we expected, but infused with heavy-drumming and brass-intervals in tracks like ‘Kyoto’, her prolific multidimensionality is more apparent than ever.

The album feels as if it's been woven together to form an almost coming-of-age project Even on its darkest and most vulnerable moments, Punisher is a symbol of assertiveness and resilience – reflective of the Bridgers who, amidst a global pandemic and wide-scale US riots, released the album early, declaring she won’t wait until “things go back to ‘normal’ because I don’t think they should”. Aided by the featuring of musicians Bridgers has long sought inspiration from – Julien Baker, Conor Oberst etc – the album feels as if it has been meticulously woven together to form an almost coming-of-age project. The candid and unfiltered lyrics see Bridgers mobilise her songs as if they were short-stories in an edited volume, ultimately unrelated yet thematically unified in their shared painful emotion; telling of everything from strained father-daughter relationships to arguments about John Lennon. “The doctor put her hands over my liver / she told me my resentment’s getting smaller” in ‘Garden Song’ shows the 26-year-old address her anguish whilst recognising recovery – a message underpinning the entire record. It’s those same frequent stings of raw emotion that evoke winces upon listening that make it sit comfortably as one of this year’s best albums. Punisher is one of those records that after each listen you take something new away with you – like spotting those hidden easter eggs in your favourite films, it’s a process that’ll never quite tire.

3- Taylor Swift- folklore Louise Cusine


— Travel sub-editor

n the midst of the pandemic, Taylor Swift’s concoction of whimsical love and wonder which was beautifully infused into her album folklore swiftly became my muse. Due to lockdown, I have been more prone than ever to pensiveness; in this context, ‘folklore’ is such a comforting album to listen to as its the epitome of profound thought during uncertain times. Swift successfully mimics my thoughts, particularly with her song ‘epiphany’ given that it’s a melancholic track that’s instilled with gratitude for health care workers. With the lives of millions of coronavirus patients resting on their shoulders, they deserve a resounding level of support and appreciation. The bridge is especially poignant: "Only twenty minutes to sleep but you dream of some epiphany. Just one single glimpse of relief to make some sense of what you’ve seen"; here, Swift emotionally writes that making sense of all the trauma is not much more than a dream. Imagery and storytelling are how folklore blossoms and is distinguishable from other albums. Whenever folklore is even mentioned, I feel as though the Tardis has transported me to Windermere, which actually inspired the track ‘the lakes’. Hopefully Swift reschedules Grunewald; just imagine a concert in the forest with this soundtrack!

4- Dua Lipa- Future Nostalgia

Jon Deery Did a full 180, baby,” Dua Lipa announces on the biggest single from her album Future Nostalgia. These words are about more than the breakup that the track, ‘Don’t Start Now’, refers to. Lipa’s sonic transformation is the real ‘180’ here. Ditching the generic pop aesthetic she had on her debut album, Lipa develops a rich, funky sound that draws from Prince, Outkast, and Giorgio Moroder. Her passion for the project shines through, filling every song with diverse, catchy hooks. The synth flutes in the background of ‘Physical’, the thick bassline beneath ‘Pretty Please’, the White Town sample that forms the backbone of ‘Love Again’, would all have made this album inescapable to partygoers, had clubs been open this year. Lipa’s first foray into future funk is not without its failings – the final track ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ is rather heavy-handed with its (incredibly important) message, and the really bad bad bad bad bad chorus of ‘Good in Bed’ prevents it from reaching the heights of the rest of the album. Ultimately, though, the bold new direction of this album, and the (near) flawless execution of its production, make its release an event we’ll all be nostalgic about for years to come.

9- Fontaines D.C.- A Hero's Death Joe Smith


— Music sub-editor

hey’ve done it again, baby. After gracing our albums of the year list in 2019, Dublin’s newest punk-poets return once more, with the fiery yet diluted A Hero’s Death. Opting for a different style to their critically acclaimed 2019 debut Dogrel, Fontaines show that they can’t just shout in style, they’re pretty good at singing as well. Opener ‘I Don’t Belong’, is only a small shift in style, with frontman Grian Chattens vocals being more subdued, whilst the bands signature gritty, post-punk instrumentation provides the much needed kick of D.C. As for the rest of the LP, we’re treated to soft reflections(‘Oh Such A Spring’), Beach Boy-esque rhythms (‘A Hero’s Death’) and, in classic Fontaines style, a closing track fit for the last call at the pub (‘No’). A Hero’s Death is an album of grace and magnitude. Fontaines didn’t fall into the trap of “It worked before, lets do it again.” Instead they opted for a different sound, one which not only captured the ears of existing fans, but also created many more.

5- Hayley Williams- Petals for Armour


Arthur Brown ayley Williams is the musical gift that keeps on giving. Not content with her role as one of emo’s most iconic frontpeople in Paramore, this year in quarantine she blessed us with her first solo album, Petals for Armor. From the fierce hums and seething rage of opener ‘Simmer’ to the rousing dreaminess of final song ‘Crystal Clear’, over fifteen tracks Williams is vulnerable, hurting, and healing, detailing her struggles with mental illness and processing the breakdown of her marriage. The experimental altpop veers from downbeat ruminations to full-on groovy funk, building on the tropical foundations of 2017’s After Laughter with a more sombre overtone. Standout track ‘Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris’ features the soothing lull of boygenius’ vocals, a meditative and compelling tale of recovery; “I will not become a thorn in my own side/And I will not return to where I once was”. In classic Paramore style, oftremixed ‘Dead Horse’ masks dark lyrics with foottapping dance riffs and a glossy buoyance. Despite the pain it tackles headfirst, the overarching mood is hopeful, finding catharsis in articulating hurt and working through it. An album simultaneously danceable and cryable, Petals for Armor is 2020’s perfect tonic.

6- King Krule- Man Alive!

A Jon Deery

fter his excellent and boundarycrossing debut 6 Feet Beneath the Moon and 2017s The Ooz, Archy Marshall returned in February with his 3rd album under the King Krule moniker – Man Alive! The album represents a change in Marshall’s life, with his child arriving in March 2019, this is evident in his music too. The opening track ‘Cellular’ feels upbeat and immediately drags the listener in, this is then followed by the usual melancholic and gloomy sound we associate with Marshall o n ‘Supermarché‘ and ‘Stoned Again’, the former possibly one of his best songs ever with its booming bass and desperate lyrics. Whilst still enjoyable, Man Alive! Feels like what The Ooz was supposed to be, it comes across as a more compact, well-chiselled project and is 42 minutes of extremely enjoyable listening. ‘Perfecto Miserable’ is a downbeat love-ballad that catches the heart of listeners, and another of the albums highlights ‘Energy Fleets’ is dominated by warping guitars and grand symbols. On Man Alive!, King Krule never strays to far from his usual bleak sound, balancing his instantly recognisable deep bellowing voice with at times gorgeous instrumentals, and whilst this album feels depressing and empty of hope, Marshall lets us

Image: Kate McLoughlin

7- Glass Animals- Dreamland


Arthur Brown n a year of worldly chaos and confusion, it’s fitting that Glass Animals released an album conceived from a time of their own uncertainty, Dreamland. The nostalgia the album evokes is a feeling many can relate to as they relive the past instead of making new memories. The album juxtaposes melancholy songs and energetic hip hop beats, creating an auditory experience that both encapsulates and distracts from the heavy atmosphere 2020 has caused. ‘Dreamland’ portrays Bayley’s childhood escapes into his imagination, and of “slipping through dreamland like a tourist” – feelings which I’m sure many can relate to, given the current state of the world. ‘It’s All So Incredibly Loud’ is a track which narrates how “whispers would deafen me now”, a powerful phrase that describes the gut-wrenching silence that follows bad news. However, songs such as ‘Tokyo Drifting’ and ‘Your Love’ are upbeat tunes that will get you tapping your feet at the very least while increasing the range of genres the album includes. Dreamland is ultimately an album of nostalgia, imagination, and vulnerability, which highlights the severity of the situations we’ve faced so far this year while serving as a reminder that we’re not alone in dealing with them.

8- Declan McKenna- Zeroes

Tom Moorcroft


— Head of Sport

he fact that this album only finished 8th is the final nail-in-the-coffin that 2020 had for me. This album is perfect, and that isn’t a term I like to throw around often. This ultimate icon of the 21st century youth revival has cemented a world-class album for his discography, with Zeroes rejoicing in many a certified banger. ‘Beautiful Faces’ was one of the more popular songs that did the rounds on social media leading up to the album’s release, and why not? His lyricism is on full display, with a power-pop ballad which will have you singing along after the first chorus. With a fun and engaging music video for this powerful and thought-provoking track, ‘The Key To Life On Earth’ is perhaps my favourite of the lot. I can’t describe the emotions that come to mind when listening. Simply Fantastic. ‘Daniel You’re Still A Child’ is a quiet yet equally enjoyable track, this one just goes to show his diversity in creating extremely engaging music. I especially love the groove to this one, with the bass and guitar working in tandem to make some sweet vibes. I’m adamant that Declan McKenna will be the David Bowie of our generation. The fashion, the music, everything about that man screams talent, and I can’t wait to see what 2021 holds. Image: Instagram (@ dualipa)



Monday 7 December 2020


10- Chloe x Halle- Ungodly Hour


Christmas Rocking Fillers

Leo Dawson — TV sub-editor


Music sub-editor Joe Smith tells you what records you should be asking Santa for

he protégées of Beyoncé came back this year with a kick-ass record about romance and revenge, doubling down on their constantly stunning vocals with some amazing self-produced tracks. After originally pushing back the release of Ungodly Hour to show respect to the Black Lives Matter movement, Chloe and Halle Bailey gave us one of the best albums of the year and one of the best R&B records in recent music history. Bringing in veteran producer Scott Storch for tracks like ‘Do It’ and Halle’s Solange-inspired production on ‘Baby Girl’ gives the album a nostalgic 90s tone, one of the best showcases of the duo’s vocals to date. This makes Ungodly Hour more akin to Lauryn Hill’s sole solo record from 1998 than any recent R&B album, with kick-ass lyrics about troubled relationships and self-reflection. Stand-out tracks include ‘Lonely’, ‘Tipsy’ and ‘Busy Boy’ – all of which are reflective of the sisters’ growth as artists, with haunting vocals and amazing self-production. Even the album’s one interlude ‘Overwhelmed’, which is only 52 seconds long, is very easy listening with minimalist instrumentation and perfect harmonies.

Joe Smith


— Music sub-editor

hristmas, a time for giving, a time for sharing, and most importantly, a time to stick some records on your prezzie list because you’ve got no fucking clue what else to ask for. I’ve gathered together the three albums I think you should wack on your Christmas list so that you don’t have to scroll through the endless pages of discogs for a cracking soundtrack this festive season.

What better time to have an existential crisis than Christmas?

Image: Instagram (@ firstladyofsong)

What better time to have an existential crisis than Christmas? It’s the start of a new year and those resolutions you set yourself four years ago still havent been resolved. On Untrue, the album that established him as one of the greatest ambient-house producers of all time, forget about your worries and find solace from noisy cousins and snoring grandparents in a vast soundscape of ambient imagination. Although no sleighbells are sampled, you can find the lonely echoes of R&B numbers long gone and the subtle vibrations of a nokia 3310 litterend the complex and delicate mu-

sical void that is Untrue. Despite being massive, i still feel that my beloved Talk Talk doesn’t get as much appreciation as they deserve, hence why I’ve stuck them on this list. On It's My Life, their 1984 pop masterclass, Talk Talk delivered all you could want to listen to on Christmas. Its highs and lows, its loud and its quiet, and most importantly it provides an altogether fantastic mood, perfect for sitting around the table enjoying your meat substitute and potatoes. It’d be such a shame if you didn’t get this one for crimbo. This ones for all you crooners out there, the ones who love a traditional Christmas and refuse to give up your traditions. If this is you then you can at least spice up your xmas day with an essential dose

Her voice oozes festivity and between me and you, she's far, far better than the Buble of the fantastic Ella Fitzgerald. On Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas she brings together all the Christmas classics you could ask for, with a bit of quite frankly perfect jazz thrown in. Her voice oozes festivity and be- tween me and you, she’s far, far better than the Bublé, so stick her on instead.

Jukebox jumpers: wh0 will you wear this Christmas?

Image: Instagram

Our writers discuss which unconventional musical faces they'd like to see adorning their festive knitwear this Christmas.

Finlay Holden


— Music sub-editor

hen I think of celebrity musicians to feature on your chest throughout the festive period, the number one name that springs to mind has to be Noel Gallagher. I mean, he’s literally got “Noël” in his bloody name!


Elizabeth Meade

W — Science sub-editor

It has to be Noel Gallagher. I mean he's literally got "Noel" in his bloody name!

hen I received a beautiful blue jumper with red-and-white stripes on it from my dad for Christmas 2013, I was overjoyed. Not because it was extra warm and would be great for our upcoming winter vacations, but because it resembled, however vaguely, Gerard Way’s famous jacket from the music videos for My Chemical Romance’s 2010 Danger Days album.

A range of jokes apply, from the French greeting of “Joyeux Noël” to jokes about the cold and being ‘made up North’ (does Manchester really count?), but perhaps the biggest laugh of all comes from the fact that the Britpop superstar despises the holiday with a passion. In fact, the only gift he gives at Christmas is his songwriting credits to various department stores in exchange for a few extra zeros in his bank account.

If Way made a similar jumper an official piece of merch that would be truly awesome

Image: Instagram (@ themightyi), PIxabay

If Way made a similar, more screen-accurate jumper an official piece of merchandise, that would be truly awesome. Given the temporary MCR reunion, the fact that the original album’s storyline was supposed to take place in 2019 and the grim concept behind the album, it would actually be fitting for Christmas 2020. That being said, it’s tough to decide–Neil Cicierega, commonly known by the stage name Lemon Demon, would probably come up with something quirky and creative as well–perhaps the talking mongoose from his hit ‘Eighth Wonder,’ or an arcade-game scene as a nod to ‘Cabinet Man,’ often thought to be a Polybius tribute. He’d be the runner-up in this imaginary contest.

The Grinch image is what he likes to project to audiences

Image: WIkimedia Commons (Dikson), Pixabay

This Scrooge-esque attitude is somewhat contradicted by his bell-chiming tune ‘Wandering Star’ from last year but the Grinch image is what he likes to project, so placing his gloomy face on a bright sweater is the ultimate irony for the Oasis head honcho. Plus, you just know that any bootleg merchandise made without his approval would piss him off, so buying such apparel only becomes ever more appealing.

Monday 7 December 2020

24 TV Secret Santa gifts for your TV favourites


Maja Mazur have always loved the idea of Secret Santa – the prospect of giving someone presents anonymously seems to be thrilling and it’s even more exciting if they are fictional characters.

Geralt of Rivia (The Wticher)- Earplugs Even though we all love “Toss a Coin to Your Witcher” Geralt doesn’t seem to share our enthusiasm about Jaskier’s passion for singing. I confess that at first I was quite hesitant to give Geralt a present, since he tends to be nasty toward his companion. In the end, however, I decided that earplugs would do good for their friendship. Jaskier will be able to pursue his music career while traveling with the witcher without fearing Geralt’s outbursts of anger. Earplugs might make it more difficult for Geralt to hear approaching monsters but I’m sure that as skillful witcher as him will succeed anyway.

Connell (Normal People)- Wristwatch

Marianne. The watch on his wrist would be clearly visible - I’m certain people would rave about the way the leather strap bangs into his delicate skin. After some time, watch brands will beg Connell to wear their products – truly, the influencer we all deserve.

Tommy Shelby (Peaky Blinders) – Tracksuit Set Yes, it is a controversial one. After all, everyone wants to copy Tommy’s style – well tailored coats, perfectly fitted suits, beautifully crafted waistcoats, but can you actually imagine sitting in the office all day long in an outfit like this, instead of, let’s say, casual tracksuit or at least jeans? I deeply believe that many of Tommy’s struggles are results of fashion. Thanks to the lockdown many of us found out that doing work in pyjamas is as effective as in uniform and far more pleasant. Tommy, you might lose status of a fashion icon, but I promise that tracksuit will solve many of your problems.

With 180 thousand people following Connell’s chain on Instagram, I believe that he should continue pursuing the career in social media. Wristwatch is a good idea for a new artefact since Connell aims to be a writer – I’m sure you can imagine an aesthetic image of his hand holding a quill or a photo Image: IMDb of him writing an email to

John Lewis adverts are always a staple, but which is the best?

Ella Williams

10th place: The Journey (2012)

It's not bad, just overly saccherine and forgettable. John Lewis’ 2012 offering depicts Mr. Snowman traversing snowy plains to go to John Lewis and get a gift for his misses. Gabrielle Aplin’s “Power of Love” cover is a pleasant accompaniment to some fancy drone-filmed scenery. But for me that didn’t exonerate the bland storyline and materialistic message. Good laptop screensaver material, but I am not crying.

9th place: The Boy and the Piano (2018)

This ad goes through Elton John’s career to a nice rendition of “Your Song” a little too quickly, but it does end on an emotional note (quite literally). That said, the fact that the whole thing ended up being a PR stunt for the musician's subsequent world tour and biopic film "Rocketman" felt less festive. Next...

8th place: Moz the Monster (2017)

Review: Deck the halls with Dash and Lily The newest Netflix Original fills viewers with festive cheer Hattie Metcalfe — Film sub-editor


ike any fellow hopeless romantic, those Christmas Hallmark films and TV shows are one of my specialities. In recent years, Netflix have taken over the mantle of the so-bad-they’re-good Christmas content with films like The Princess Switch and A Christmas

The plot is predictable but doesn't make Dash and Lily any less wholesome to watch Dash not Dasher though, since Prancer, Cupid, Comet and Vixen unfortunately don’t make an appearance in the series. Sorry. He’s bookish and brave enough to follow Lily’s dares in The Strand, but it’ll be the wild

Image: IMDb


John Lewis vs John Lewis: Wh

This one just didn’t land for me. It seems I’m not the only one: the #MozTheMonster campaign was John Lewis’ least successful in five years. Set to an

Prince. But honestly? I was excited for this. Dash hates Christmas (bah humbug). Lily, on the other hand, loves it. The only thing she doesn’t love is that she’s alone for the festive season. So with the help of her brother, she devises a plan to meet the perfect person by making a treasure hunt around The Strand bookstore. And then (in case you haven’t guessed already), along comes Dash.


goose chase round New York that might prove to be a problem for the pair. Whilst he has to cope with the majority of Lily’s family questioning whether he’s the right guy for her, she faces people from her past she’d much rather forget. Whilst the plot is predictable, and the dialogue occasionally faltering, it doesn’t make Dash and Lily any less wholesome. The build-up to their meeting covers the majority of the episodes, so I would strongly suggest a binge-watch over a night or two. It’s also worth mentioning the diversity of the show; like the fact that Lily and her brother Langston are half Japanese and half white. Troy Iwata (who plays Lily’s brother Langston), described the series as “doing a really great job of portraying this mixed family that sort of embraces both of their ethnic backgrounds equally.” Iwata’s character is gay, but as he goes on to expand, Langston’s “main arc isn’t them accepting their queerness or overcoming outside hate from their family or community… Because Langston is just this really fun, quirky, snarky human who happens to be gay and it’s never really questioned ." Austin Abrams is brilliant as the cynical but amusing Dash, but it’s Midori Francis that really stands out as Lily. She doesn’t send the message across to girls that you should be ashamed of who you really are and try your best to fit in, but completely lets Lily embrace herself, Christmas-tree dress and all. Netflix did a good job on this, and I would happily watch it again. It’s bookish, more diverse than many other ‘Hallmark’-like films and shows, and made me cry far more than we should even mention. Except now I really want another season. So, Netflix, the only question left is… Do you dare?

Elbow cover of the Beatles song “Golden Slumber”, the 2017 advert depicts a boy befriending the monster under his bed. But with a distinct shortage of festive cheer and an ending that lacks the emotional oomph of its predecessors, this feels like a tired reiteration of a formula that has worked before.

7th place: Buster the Boxer (2016)

Dog on a trampoline! You can’t go wildly wrong. John Lewis went a different route in 2016, with a semi-spoof of their classic format. The little foxes, hedgehog, and the darling badger were all wonderfully animated. A bit of fun, but it didn’t fill the John Lewis Christmas Advert void that starts to bubble up come November. Keep the dog on a trampoline, but make it make me cry.

6th place: Give a Little Love (2020)

This year's advert improved exponentially when I heard about the initiative behind it: John Lewis partnered with several small creatives struggling in light of the pandemic to create the different animation styles that run throughout. I’m glad the “2020 has been a rough year” messaging wasn’t too on the nose, but was there in subtle ways like the NHS fob key round the boy in the bus’s neck and the wholesome mes- Images: Y saging about the power of a good deed. Pikrepo, P

Bow down to Meg Howe


he Crown season 4 premiered on Netflix on November 15 2020, and was number one in the UK by the following morning. With 10 hours of Olivia Colman’s toothy smile to binge, many views would have watched the whole season in one go! Netflix did not disappoint with this season; and they were not afraid to delve into much of the royal family’s narrative that many hadn’t heard of before. It definitely isn’t surprising that the Royal family were unimpressed with this season – it didn’t really present them well at all! With the same main cast as season 3, we saw nothing less of perfection from Colman’s perfect depiction of Elizabeth. However, with the addition of two crucial characters, it was obvious that things were going to be shaken a little this season. The images bedded deep into everyone’s mind are Emma Corrin in Princess Diana’s iconic clothing! Corrin has definitely made a name for herself in this season of The Crown, despite having only a small acting portfolio, and it seems quite upsetting that we only get to see her portrayal of Diana this season, with the role being taken over by Elizabeth Debicki for the final two seasons. Corrin certainly did a smashing job, with this role and it is obvious that she seemed to have worked hard on perfecting both the facial expressions and the elegant voice of the iconic Diana. The second major cast addition that we saw this season, was Gillian Anderson; who played an Image: IMDb



Monday 7 December 2020



hich advert reigns supreme? Oh spirit, please speak to my TV!

Youtube, Pixabay

5th place: Excitable Edgar (2019)

I would die for Edgar. John Lewis created the most loveable and expressive little dragon- eyes brimming with innocence- would not hurt a fly but damned by the fiery outbursts caused by his own good-willed enthusiasm for Christmas. Poof, there goes the Christmas tree! Whoops, melted ice rink! Gut-wrenching stuff. The Bastille cover made for an untacky backing track, the medieval scenery was sufficiently festive, and the ending landed the same way Christmas dinner does: with a Christmas pud. This hits the spot.

4th place: The Man on the Moon (2015)

An impressively powerful telescope and very robust helium balloon make for a surprisingly touching advert about loneliness at Christmas time. According to Age UK, almost a million old people feel more lonely over Christmas, nearly half of whom have been widowed. This one shows the power of a simple concept, an important message and some well done acting.

3rd place: The Long Wait (2011)

There’s something distinctly truthful about the way they portray that lingering stretch of December as a child: the little brother looking concerned in his Gruffolo costume, the boy speed-eating his peas, running past the mince pie and milk and leaping into bed on Christmas eve. And then WHAM, our

hearts! the emotional crux! It was all about a scruffily-wrapped present for his Mum and Dad. Just lovely.

2nd place: Monty the Penguin (2014)

John Lewis’s creative team spent months researching Adelie penguins and their distinctive waddles before the creation of Monty. Each movement was based on a reference shot from real footage: the penguin rummaging around for lego is based on how the penguins gather rocks! The result is a hyperreal depiction of a little boy’s imaginary friend, a penguin called Monty who just wants a penguin pal. Tom Odell's cover of "Real Love" is shmaltzy in the best way, and the fading choral whirls of "it's real love" swell to an emotional peak at the reveal of a new friend for what was a scruffy, over-loved stuffed toy all along.

1st place: The Bear and the Hare (2013)

Set in a snowy forest with a giant Christmas treesurrounded by woodland creatures and set to a Lily Allen cover of “Somewhere Only We Know”, this Christmas advert has it all. The storyline packs a punch: the bear has never seen Christmas (!), and the distress of his best friend, the hare, whose ears drop as he retreats for his annual hibernation, is every bit as expressive as the 2D animations we watched growing up. But this year he is awoken to the simple gift of an alarm clock, and his eyes widen at the sight of a glowing Christmas tree for the first time. Take my money, JL, I sob every time.


Arnojya Shree ollowing the classic format of A Christmas Carol, we asked the question: What’s a show from the past that you miss, a show you are watching now and a show you are looking forward to watching in the future.

A Ghost of TV past:

If I had to name a show I miss binging to my heart’s content, it would have to be The OA. The originality, the enigma, the absolutely perplexing and enthralled state of mind every time the Netflix sign went ‘bing’ on my screen. With two parallel dimensions in two seasons, the show had limitations on its casting but not upon its characters. Brit Marling isn’t just the program creator, alongside Zal Batmanglij, but also the show’s protagonist Prarie Johnson. Jason Isaacs is the antagonist, whose equation with Marling’s character forms the basis of the narrative. Marling is one of the most versatile and intelligent people we have in the film/television scene. Initially intended for a five-season run, Netflix announced the cancellation of the show last year.

A Ghost of TV present: Oh you know, just what everyone else has been binging on. The Crown season 4, but I’m taking it slow, trying to savour it for as long as I can. The direction of the show seems to have improved a lot this season—scene to scene, place to place, storyline to storyline, everything moves at a fascinating pace. The current season mostly revolves around Diana and her relationship with Prince Charles and the royal family. It is interesting to see the relationships grow with time.

A Ghost of TV future: I don’t know about you but all this waiting since last December for season 2 of The Witcher has my anticipation at an all-time high. But due to covid cases, the show has stopped shooting twice now meaning that the release date in 2021 might get pushed. The show’s first season felt like a prologue par its last episode which ended at a rather exciting cliffhanger. With the actual storyline just starting, it’s hard to wait for what is to unfold in the upcoming season. Images: IMDb, Wikimedia Commons, thenounproject

o The Crown I'm streaming of a white Christmas astonishing portrayal of British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. While Thatcher is an icon, similar to Marmite in the way that her historic time at Number 10 divides the nation, I think it’s safe to say that Anderson’s performance of her was also iconic! Many were left confused by Anderson’s performance; saying that they never believed they could enjoy Thatcher (well, really they are just enjoying Anderson in a wig and with a posh accent!).

Selfish, arrogant and misogynistic are just some of the words to describe Charles Something that did surprise me, was the limited story line when it came to Thatcher and her policies. The writers her definitely focused a lot more on her personal life; including her relationship with her children, than on the direct impact of her policies. I was shocked to see no mention of the Miners Strike that took place in 1984, as this historic moment showed that many were dissatisfied with society as a whole. It would be silly not to mention how this season made the royal family look. Selfish, arrogant and misogynistic just name a few of the words that come to mind when I think of the way Charles was presented this season. And, to find out The Queen did not know how to hold her own children; again, I’m not shocked! Overall, life doesn’t work the same way we see things on the screen. And when you watch The Crown, it is important to remember that there is no way we can tell if all this is real. I say, take it with a pinch of salt. But the performance of those in this season: outstanding! Background: Pxfuel

All I want for Christmas is...a festive episode of Sex Education


Alex Gervas

he Christmas period is a time full of many things, with stress and pressure usually finding their way in. There’s pressure to buy gifts, to make a delicious dinner, to make good impressions and the inevitable pressure to keep up with family get-togethers. If you survive all that Christmas has to throw at you, don’t you dare rest – New Year is right around the corner. The question of “Which party should I go to?”, followed by “Have I even been invited to one?” plague the minds of those fatigued with festivities. And then, there comes the inevitable thought: “Who do I kiss at midnight?”

The show could explore the peer pressure to share the festive season with a lover Enter Sex Education. What show out there is better suited to exploring the social pressures of Christmas and New Year? The show could explore the awkwardness of family dinners and the peer pressure to share t h e s e occasions with lovers. The different backgrounds of the main characters – Eric, Otis and Maeve – are prime material for showing how family gettogethers can make for uncomfortable situations. I imagine Eric’s story could be particularly poignant here, as some of his family may well be unsupportive of his life decisions, Image: IMDb potentially reaching boiling

point over the festive season. In the case of Otis, I’d be curious as to who would he and his mum would have a Christmas dinner with; would Otis’ dad come home to spend quality family time with him? Similarly, I’d like to see what Maeve’s Christmas traditions are and whether she ever had family traditions that she has adopted as her own.

while remaining true to their narrative style and the usual content of the show. Besides, what better setup is there for another season of sex therapy classes at Moorfield High than student after student struggling to fulfil ill-advised New Year’s resolutions?

'The Untouchables' could tackle the stress of kissing someone at midnight on NYE Moving onto the show’s potential commentary on New Year’s Eve, a party held by ‘The Untouchables’ could be an interesting setup for tackling the stresses of kissing someone at the stroke of midnight. If one of ‘The Untouchables’ themselves was the subject of this, using an event to maintain a popular, pretty and desirable image could make for an interesting take on the societal pressures that come to the forefront on occasions like these. Sex Education has great themes to explore during a Christmas special

Santa hat: Needpix Holly garland: Pixy

Monday 7 December 2020





The Snowglobes: the (few) best films of this year

Our writers look back on the best films of the year... despite James Bond not being released (we're still bitter). Best Director: Rose Glass

Best Actor: Robert Pattinson

George Bell

— TV sub-editor


Images: Pixabay

breath of fresh air into the horror genre, making for a film that despite its short run time, has left a lasting impression on me. In an industry and genre dominated by men, Rose Glass is the next best step in horror and is sure to be a household name in the not so distant future. If Saint Maud shows what Glass can make on a minimal budget and just starting out in the industry, just imagine the level of quality we will be getting in 5-10 years.

ose Glass might not be the name you are expecting to see in this section. “Who is she?” I hear you all cry and to be honest, I wouldn’t blame you if you weren’t sure who she was, so far she only has one film to her name – her directorial debut Saint Maud (2020). Yet despite this only being Glass’ first feature film, she has shown talent and vision greater than most directors with several films under their belt. The quality of Saint Maud is astounding, from its unnerving cinematography and tone to its amazing p er for mances from Morfydd Clark and Jennifer Ehle. In just a single film Glass has been able Image: IMDb to bring a

Sophie Hicks

— TV sub-editor, cat sniffer



saw Tenet (2020) twice in the cinema, and whilst I do not remember the plot at all (except funky floor dances), I do remember a beacon of light in the film: Robert Pattinson. Every time he was on screen, was either smiling or laughing. Partially as a Robert Pattinson fangirl who is proud that he is finally getting the recognition he deserves as a good actor, but also because Neil was just such a likeable character in a film where no one else had many defining personality

Review: Jingle Jangle An instant Christmas classic that celebrates diversity. Arnojya Shree


etflix’s new holiday original Jingle Jangle instantly sets itself apart as a Christmas classic, which should remain in everyone’s watch list for a while to come. The musical is emotionally rich with a mix of funny, sentimental, silly and genuine. Much like a tide, the film follows a pattern of highs and lows. However, with a stable sense of “symmetry and synchronization“, it manages to retain ‘the mystery of what’s next’ throughout its course.

Image: IMDb

Once upon a time inside a storybook, we meet Jeronicus Jangle, “the greatest inventor” who makes brilliant toys for children around the world. Jangle’s latest invention, The Don Juan Diego doll, has snatched away all the attention he could afford, and it is making his apprentice Gustafson suffer much. In a moment of persuasion, Jangle ends up getting betrayed by his creation and his apprentice. This devastation snatches away everything from Jangle, from his belief in magic to his family. However, years later, he is granted an opportunity to mend things and meet his granddaughter, Journey, who is about to bring life back to good ol’ Jangle. The Jingle Jangle musical comes with a strong story, convincing actors, energetic dance and song sequences, and a beautiful film design. From puppets to animation, the film design deserves a special shout-out for genuinely making this Christmas special appear like an enchanting land. With bright colours and sweet sentiments, it is easy to get carried away into the 17th Century fantasy world, where family, love and belief create the real magic. The entire POC cast pulls the representation standard to an all-time high, charmingly proving the magic of an apt casting decision. The lead, as well as supporting characters, deliver a moving performance which is bound to bring tears of tenderness to the eyes. The song and dance bits are overwhelmingly powerful, and the screen does absolutely no justice to it. In a way, the film serves as a constant reminder that the compelling spirit of an excellent musical can never fit inside our screens. Jingle Jangle is a masterpiece which would revel in a stage act allowing the audience to experience and participate in it rather than numbingly observe.

traits. Sure, John David Washington was great, but did he wear a scarf and suit combo? I think not. I particularly enjoyed that Neil was essentially there so that important information could be reiterated for the very confused audience of Tenet. Didn't understand the last five minutes? Don't worry, Neil's got your back. Boosted with the information that Pattinson himself had no idea what was happening whilst filming, this just makes Neil all the more likeable. Pattinson's natural charisma and smug charm really shone through, and I think he deserves to be the best actor for 2020 purely for his execution of the line "Well, not from the air. Don't be so dramatic", which I have ingrained into my mind.

Best Actress: Elizabeth Moss

ever feeling that the performance hasn’t been meticulously designed. What I particularly loved were Moss’ facial expressions, each one more revealing and iconic than the last. In a tale of a woman’s psychological descent at the hands of an abusive patriarch, Moss takes control and steers the audience’s own psychoanalysis of Cecilia Kass. It’s rare that the performance takes such a strong hold of this aspect, especially over cinematography and lighting, in psychological thrillers and horror – and that’s what makes it so commendable. The Invisible Man and, by association, Elizabeth Moss almost certainly won’t receive the awards recognition it deserves – not with the Academy Awards’ relationship with horror and certainly not with Oscar-bait films, such as David Fincher’s Mank, fitting awards convention. But that’s exactly why I’m giving Best Actress to Elizabeth Moss!

Best Score: The Devil All the Time

Peter Lennon


— Film sub-editor


Arnojya Shree

ast year, if you were to tell me that The Invisible Man remake was going to be one of the best films from 2020, well, I’d be skeptical at best. I wasn’t ready for a lot of what the film had to offer, but boy oh boy was Elizabeth Moss’ performance a standout. Playing Cecilia Kass, a woman who flees her rich, abusive husband and is subsequently terrorised by his invisible figure after faking his death, Moss delivers the performance of her career. Moss doesn’t just capture lightning in the bottle; there’s a whole whirlwind of emotions in there too. Frailty to determination, paranoia to cunning, kindness to rage, Moss delivers an entire expose without

have a few movies lined up for the best score in 2020, but let's start with the most recent one: The Devil All the Time. As people I know concede, the film could be quickly reviewed as weird. But it's more than that to me. The themes are dark and cult-based yet, somehow, its seamless mix into the daily lives of the late 1960s and 1980s America is petrifying. The events which unfold in the film come as a shock and turn into deeper, darker secrets as the story progresses. However, the contrasting upbeat soundtrack of the film ranges from being comical to downright tragic. It's almost as if the visuals and soundtrack were to be seperated - it would become a whole different thing on

Baby, it's spooky outside...

The unconventional side of Christmas films. Elizabeth Meade — Science sub-editor


fter years of seeing the typical Christmas classics such as Frosty Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and A Charlie Brown Christmas, it’s time to mix it up a bit! There are a host of films that, whilst not explicitly associated with a certain holiday, are fun to watch during the winter with family and friends. My family is a big fan of these types of films, going beyond the typical “unconventional” films like Die Hard (1988) and Gremlins (1984) that actually take place on Christmas, to films that take a bit of imagination to frame as winter classics. If this sounds like your family as well, then you might all enjoy The Ritual (2017), a film about some hikers who walk into the woods of Sweden (though the film was actually filmed in Romania), finding a cozy

t h e

cabin and a happy deer friend. Or something like that. Yes, it’s a horror film (content warning for death, blood, violence, and body horror), but the forested atmosphere makes it the perfect film to watch in front of a fire with hot chocolate. Sadly it does not take place in winter, but you can’t have everything! Trollhunter (2011) is similar in its focus on Scandinavian hiking trips, but is notably more authentic in that it was directed by a Norwegian director and filmed in Norway. With English subtitles, a found-footage conceit that will be familiar to fans of Cloverfield (2008) and plenty of snow, this horror-fantasy-comedy is accessible to English speakers and has a quirky sense of humour that makes it a winter classic. Although “college students searching for mythological creatures” doesn’t sound like the plot of a great holiday film, its well-trodden tropes and atmosphere (and not-too-scary special effects) make it a good family film that older kids and teens can enjoy, while not being too childish for adults. There is nothing wrong with a classic, explicitly Christmassy film – Hallmark’s Christmas specials are popular for a reason – but if you are looking for something a bit different, you may be interested in giving one of these more chilly, adventurous films a try this holiday season. Image: IMDb, Pixabay



Monday 7 December 2020

its own. The film's music has been said to belong to the ountry genre, but its innocence rests far beyond anything good in nature. The one silver lining in no way takes away from the grim reality of the over-romanticised theme of "quaint country life." With the music of the songs giving away cheerful and easy vibes, the lyrics of the song portray the shadows of living in an insane world, where fear must make itself evident when coming across a stranger. So, I think The Devil All the Time should be recognised for its musical genius as it is for the terrific cast.

Best Film: Trial of the Chicago 7 Muslim Taseer

— Comment sub-editor

The few films that did manage to get released this year this year didn’t disappoint. Like Nolan’s Tenet and Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm, the long-awaited sequel to Borat (2006). I didn’t watch either of them: I’ve heard Tenet made no sense and Borat 2 wasn’t as good as the first one. Because I can say whatever I want here, that’s enough reason for me to pick Netflix’s historical drama The Trial of the Chicago 7, as film of the year. Jokes aside, Trial of the Chicago 7 is a deserving pick for film of the year. It’s got a gripping and interesting story, made even better by the fact it’s a fairly accurate representation of the facts, albeit with some creative liberties. Yes, Bobby Seale did get tied down to his chair and gagged during court. (Although he wriggled out, and wasn’t effectively silenced, as the movie shows). The story it tells is also one of much significance, and there’s a good number of parallels to the modern political situation and lessons to be taken from it, (even if they are tinged with naïve American patriotism) The ensemble cast is overflowing with talent, the editing is beyond amazing, and the cinematography, costumes, set design, are all perfect and true to the era portrayed. A lot of hard work and talent went into the movie, and the people portrayed are those worth remembering, which is why I think it was a high note for 2020 cinema.



Review: The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special

Star Wars is still missing a few pieces in their latest Disney+ festive offering. Im

Sophie Hicks


— TV sub-editor







f there’s one thing in life that is guaranteed to make me smile, it’s LEGO. From going in the shops and seeing all of the creations, to making my own, and finally- seeing the glorious LEGO films. When it was announced that there was a LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special, I was excited to see what they could do. Until I realised that it isn’t made by the same people who did the films that I love so much, and the overall design looks like play-dough rather than LEGO because everything is eerily shiny

and rubber-looking. I was hoping for a few jokes, a bit of whit and festive spirit, and instead, I was left with a forgettable 47 minutes of blandness. As bad as the original Star Wars Holiday Special was, at least it was memorable. Not in the way that LucasFilm ever wanted, but still. To be honest, Disney probably made this so that people hopefully forget about the 70s disaster- but not me. Never. Just like the original Star Wars Holiday Special, the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special also follows the celebration of Life Day, which is the Wookie equivalent of Christmas. And yes, there are LEGO versions of Chewbacca’s family. No, they do not get enough screen time. Someone who does get too much screen time, however, is the terribly designed Yoda, who sounds like he is doing a very bad impression of Yoda. I don’t know how they managed to make him more like a cheap Halloween costume than a LEGO figure, but they did it. I think the LEGO version of Rose in this short 47-minute special got

more screen time than in The Last Jedi (2017) and The Rise of Skywalker (2019) combined, which is pretty sad to say too. But anyway, back

We get a weird collection of moments from Star Wars film and TV history, reminding us of the better and worse days

to the plot. Rey is trying to teach Finn how to be a Jedi in an attempt to please the aggressive Star Wars fanboys who needed confirmation that Finn was force sensitive. She struggles to do so, goes to an ancient Jedi temple to get a key which allows her to travel back into Star Wars history to see how other Jedi Masters trained their students. Through this, we get a weird collection of moments from Star Wars film and TV history, reminding us of better and worse days of Star Wars past. We get Rey helping Luke destroy the Death Star, we get podracing and we even get The Mandalorian. It also dips its toes into meme culture such as the Ben Swolo scene and Luke dribbling alien milk, which I would prefer not to be reminded of, thank you very much. Oh, and f**king Babu Frik. Where’s the festive element to this Holiday Special, you may ask. In the subplot where Poe (dressed in an excellent BB-8 Christmas jumper) is trying to make the perfect meal for Life Day. Overall, the LEGO Star Wars Special doesn’t seem to have much of its own plot, it prefers to dip into other films to remind you of what Star Wars once was. If you have a little sibling, they would probably like it. If you are in your twenties upwards, the lack of a soul might put you off. If you are expecting the same quality as the LEGO Movie (2014), you will end up diImage: IMDb sappointed.

The Snowballs: films almost as bad as 2020

The 2020 films that hit us when we were down... Worst Director Stephen Gaghan Geordie Rivett-Carnac


— Film sub-editor

hoosing the worst director of the year is deceptively difficult, as the quality of a film is governed by a multitude of variables, and at times enhanced by singular moments of brilliance that have very little to do with anything except individual talent. In light of this, one must establish criteria in which to decide who deserves this ominous Snowball. The factors taken into consideration were financial, artistic, and whether their work represented a significant decline from their earlier portfolio. After weighing up these different elements, I have decided that Stephen Gaghan, the director of Dolittle will take home this accolade. The picture was, in the words of the critic Matt Singer, a “dire incoherent mess” and felt like a wasted opportunity at every turn. With the likes of Robert Downey Jr, Jim Broadbent, Michael Sheen, Emma Thompson, and Ralph Fiennes, to name just a few of the all-star ensemble cast, it’s almost inconceivable that the finished product was a lacklustre, gimmicky rehash of an old-classic

that burned every bridge early on its muddled existence. Perhaps what was most disappointing though, is that Stephen Gaghan is an accomplished writer and director in the industry. He won an Oscar for writing Steven Soderbergh’s acclaimed Traffic (2000), and then went on to direct the George Clooney helmed Syriana (2005), which also received numerous accolades. This departure of form and fall from grace rightly earns Stephen Gaghan the Snowball for worst director - let's just hope he bounces back next year.

Worst actor: Jim Carrey Joe Molander

— Forehead of Current Affairs


here can be no doubt that the worst performance from any actor – male or female – is Jim Carrey as Doctor Robotnik in Sonic the Hedgehog. It’s easy to say that what Jim Carrey did in (or perhaps to) Sonic is nothing new. It’s what he’s done in every film he’s been in for the past

thirty years, which is exactly the issue. Where most bad performances come from actors not giving it their all, it’s difficult to imagine Jim Carrey trying any harder than he already is. Whenever he allows himself to stop being Jim Carrey, and to just act, we get a Truman Show (1998), or an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). What we get in Sonic, though, is familiar turbo-charged obnoxiousness. Opposite Carrey, the hedgehog looks like he’s performing Chekhov. The performance is so bad that it taints everything it touches. By sheer Midas touch, it deserves to be considered the worst in every category. Think Tenet had the worst sound design? Nope, it was Jim Carrey’s acting in Sonic the Hedgehog, which is an otherwise flawless film. This year’s Razzies had no ceremony. It should have gone ahead solely to recognise noone and nothing except Jim Carrey. Carrey would never have attended, of course, but he’d have known. He’d have read the Hollywood tabloids the next day, and immediately gotten onto his agent about doing an Ace Ventura 4. That’s right: 4.

Worst actress: Amy Adams

nothing pinpoints this sentiment quite like this year’s Hillbilly Elegy – a film that makes me sorry Amy Adams decided to be a part of. Unlike Howard, Amy Adams has had an exceptional streak this decade, giving wonderful performances in films such as the critically acclaimed Arrival (2016). Hillbilly Elegy, however, has brought this rampage to an abrupt end – but what else can you expect in 2020? Playing mother Bev Vance in the adaptation of J.D. Vance’s bestselling memoir, Adams’ performance falls flat and gives the audience little reason to to engage with her. With under-developed characters and dubious direction – as well as the source material itself providing one-dimensional insight into the lives of and tensions of the Southern states – it’s impossible to place blame squarely on Adams. Like many actors and actresses featured in our annual Snowball awards, Amy Adams will almost certainly bounce back – this just wasn’t her moment. Nothing personal.

Worst film: The Hunt Hattie Metcalfe — Film sub-editor


Peter Lennon — Film sub-editor

on Howard’s filmography is nothing short of a bumpy road - it's hard to form any sort of consistency in his conversation. And

'll keep it short and sweet (because that's what I wish this film was). The Hunt was a dire, inconclusive attempt at satire that left me feeling like the prey whose being 'caught' meant somehow 'convinced' to go see this. No matter how bored you are - don't watch this. Award illustration: Robin Nina Kaur Images: IMDb, Pixabay




Monday 7 December 2020


In which fictional Winter Wonderland...


ooks can present some pretty idyllic festive scenes, so we asked our arts writers: in which novel would you most like to spend Christmas?

Little Women's Massachusetts


Abby Sammons

here is little as charming as a Christmas at Louisa May Alcott’s March household (Little Women, 1868). The energy of Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy permeates the pages of Little Women, particularly on Christmas day when the charitable donation of their breakfast to a poorer family is rewarded with Mr Lawrence’s gift of a decadent dinner. The girls’ hand-made presents for their mother and imaginative performances to the community illustrate the importance of kindness and family, which is of course what Christmas is all about!

Bridget Jones' London

Evie Lake


hristmas is a time for family, sure. However, in a year in which I have spent nine uninterrupted months with my family, this festive season I’m in need of something a little different. I know Bridget Jones’ Diary is by no means christmassy to most of you but the mental image I have of Bridget and Darcy in those awful 90s Christmas jumpers (in the adaptation) begs to differ. In fact, it is the first image I conjure when the ‘c’ word is mentioned. So please forgive me when I say that I would like to spend this Christmas in a novelty sweater, drinking copious amounts of cheap wine and gossiping with dear Bridget. Please, it’s all my soul needs. '

The Chronicles of Narnia's Narnia

Lord of the Rings' The Shire

Maja Mazur

Claire Maggie Downes

ince the White Witch was defeated, Christmas in Narnia can be celebrated once again. And I can’t imagine a better way to spend this time of year than sitting by a fireplace, drinking hot chocolate with Beavers and Tumnus while observing snowflakes dancing in the subtle light of the lamp post. Knowing Narnian kindness I can expect truly magical gifts that will always remind me of these marvellous moments. And since I was very good this year and stuck to the covid rules, I hope to be honoured by the visit of the king Caspian himself – I can’t dream up a better compensation for the hardships of this year.

ith its beautiful scenic views of flowing rivers, open woodlands and charming hobbit houses buried in the hollow hills of lush greenery, I can’t imagine a more tranquil and magical world to spend Christmas than in The Shire; home to the hobbits of Middleearth from J.R.R Tolkien’s epic masterpiece, The Lord of The Rings.



Get set to welcome in the new year with some cracking celebrations, as you "kick off your shoes, and unburden yourself with song." By embracing a hobbits’ traditional way of life, you’ll rekindle a love for the earth, a newfound value of community and your heart will be free to capture the true spirit of the festive season. In the words of Noble Smith, get set to welcome in the new year with some cracking celebrations, as you “kick off your shoes, unburden yourself with song”, dance on table-tops and gaze at the night stars – a much-needed release from the never-ending despair of 2020!

Image: Little Women, 1994, Columbia Pictures

Amazon alternatives for this Christmas: the bookish edition Imogen Davies


Image: Isabel Santos Pilot on Flickr

ifting books can be difficult. There are several pitfalls when it comes to curating perfect recommendations for loved ones as they can fall anywhere on a scale from intensely intimate to somewhat impersonal. And yet this is not the greatest challenge that book-buying poses this year. In a post-lockdown world, where should we spend our money? Where should we purchase our Christmas books from? With the ongoing pandemic, insidious social issues and looming climate disaster, our spending habits are more crucial than ever. It goes without saying that 2020 has been a year in which more and more people have been pushing for accountability and for positive change. As such c o r p o r a t i o n s like Amazon who continue to exploit their workers and commit tax evasion should be avoided if at all possible. 2020 has been a year in which more and more people have been pushing for accountability and for positive change Not only does Amazon harm their workers, they

actively harm the publishing industry by selling books at a loss to attract customers. While it’s tempting to make up a wish list of cheap books to be sent to the doorstep, it is also important to remember that this is to the detriment of authors and smaller bookshops. Fortunately, there are many alternatives.

This year saw the launch of Bookshop.org, a company that allows buyers to support independent booksellers Amazon is incredibly hard to boycott completely and its influence seems to be everywhere. Luckily, however, books are one of the easiest and most accessible items to source from other companies. Whether you want to get your books from run of the mill high street shops such as Waterstones or fancy buying secondhand from sites such as Ebay or Depop, there are so many opportunities to buy books more ethically. In fact, recent shifts in the world of bookselling have made this even more possible. This year saw the launch of Bookshop.org, a company that allows

buyers to support independent booksellers. The site does this by providing them with their own virtual shop front on the site and allows them to receive the full profit margin from each sale. This new kid on the block has been described by some as revolutionary and could prove to be a real competitor to Amazon and it’s monopoly over the book industry. Although still a relatively new conception, Bookshop.org has received a lot of attention and could just be the best way to treat loved ones to an interesting read this festive season.

Image: RawPixel on Flickr



Monday 7 December 2020

Exhibitions and epidemics: the art of 2020 in retrospect


should they keep this elite work by the Italian sculptor? On TV we see Grayson Perry motoring along and into the modern world, running a series on Channel 4 for all the creatives out there trapped in

their home – definitely worth a watch. Hopes are high for 2021, both socially and culturally. The Baltic sees the re-opening of a new collection by artist Huma Bhabha – the first one to take place in Europe. Filled with sculptures based around the body, Huma also investigated political issues such as colonialism. A definite one to watch out for. Another one from the Baltic – a mixture of artists take on the issue of the female body (very much in line with the Baltic’s previous exhibition this year by American feminist artist Judy Chicago) – exploring the oppression of the corset and clothes that women have had to endure. There is also a range of interesting exhibitions at both the Laing and the Hatton gallery, as well as the end of year display of young artists’ work from those graduating the university, an event which was not able to take place last year. In the wider world we see exhibitions by Tracy Emin, Michael Armitage and a Francis Bacon exhibition. Any would be recommended should you be headed down to London. For the rest of the market, there is a hope for a slow return to live auctions and art fairs. A Florentine trip may also prove rather enlightening – British artist Jenny Saville works on an exhibition out in the heart of Italian art heritage. However, if we are to take one silver lining from the corona cloud – the art world has realised their impact on the environment. The realisation that online catalogues, exhibitions and auctions are eligible has resulted in a jubilant planet. Hopefully they can keep this up in 2021. Image: @elnmotif on Instagram

'Lockdown': Collins English Dictionary word of the year Oren Brown


f you could think of a single word to sum up the last year, what would it be? Could it possibly be anything unrelated to COVID-19? If not, are there any positives to take from the situation?

Image: Tabby Edwards


A Covid-Free Christmas by Meg Howe It was the night before Christmas, but all was not lost;

Iona Lowe

s with most industries, for the majority of the year the art world has been ground to a halt. Galleries closing doors and postponing exhibitions leads to much of 2020 taking place in 2021. The local art scene has seen an exhibition by Newcastle University’s own Joy Labinjo. An enlightening exhibition taking place at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, and one which was particularly moving as the roots of Labinjo lie so close to home. Students also managed to exhibit their work in an exclusive, one night only exhibition on Lime Street, as well as the Laing Gallery displaying a wonderful exhibition focusing on William and Evelyn De Morgan, a mixture of pre-Raphaelite and early renaissance paintings and ceramic work produced by the talented couple. These are just a few of the highlights we have seen down here in the North, with the limited time that has been available. The rest of the art world has also seen many a change, both international and national. The movement has not only affected the economic development of the galleries, but has changed the entire art market. Bidding rooms set up online result in the art market becoming more transparent about pricing and the worth of each individual piece, allowing a reduction in the exclusivity which can often take place in the art world. Controversy has also built over the dilemma seen in the royal academy, should they sell the Michelangelo to sustain paying employees? Or


Each year, Collins English Dictionary takes on the unfathomable task of distilling the annual zeitgeist into a single word. Whilst this may seem impossible, this year’s attempt may be the closest to success yet, with ‘lockdown’ feeling nearsynonymous with 2020. Other words proposed by Collins included ‘coronavirus’, ‘furlough’ and ‘self-isolate’. All things

considered, a fairly pessimistic mood hangs over the shortlist. Can these terms be ignored? Should they? Is it all just one big mess that simply can’t be avoided, or are there silver linings to take from this? Collins certainly strays towards the latter conclusion – that there are positives to be found in these words. They consider lockdown “a unifying experience for billions of people across the world.” Perhaps they are right. Overcoming unparalleled obstacles, the people of the world have stood together against a common threat. The fact that all this discourse can arise from a single word is indicative of why such an award is important. Considered arbitrary to some, a word of the year is a precious time capsule. It can be looked back upon in generations to come as a reminder of what life was at the time. So much power in so few letters. Lockdown may be a disheartening choice for 2020’s word of the year, but it’s an accurate one. We must accept it and move on. All we can hope for is a better word of the year 2021 – as it will likely embody the spirit and mood of the people. For all we know, it could be ‘cure’, or ‘peace’. Here’s hoping.

There was quiet in the air; the year was ending with frost. There was food on the table and love in the air; Covid was a distant thought; they had not a care. The masks were hung up; the sanitiser gone; The lockdown had ended; and the carols were on. – It was the night before Christmas; there was fun to be had, Covid was gone, and they were all ever so glad. Music was playing, and they all shout and declare; “It’s time for the gifts that we’ll happily share.” The fire was hot, and burning so bright; Like a Covid-free Christmas, it lit up their night!

Arts & Cats


Leanna Thompson t the end of October, I had the pleasure of attending Catpawcino’s ‘Drawing with Cats’ evening for the Courier Arts. As a self-proclaimed crazy cat lady and art addict, I felt that this event was made for me. It was the perfect wellness activity to end a long week of returning to the whirlwind of student life. I was apprehensive upon arrival; it had been a while since I last picked up the pencil. However, the relaxing atmosphere meant that I eased right into the drawing, and remembered why I had enjoyed it so much in the past. My caricature of Hugo, a grumpy, emerald-eyed exotic shorthair with apricot fur, received many giggles, and even made it onto their Instagram! The Cat Cafe has a beautiful range of breeds and adorable characters. The stand-out performances include Flora, the sad-eyed silver shorthair in my second drawing, Alfie, the alpha-male with aqua eyes and Ebby, the curly-eared queen of the castle. At £6, it’s also kind to a student budget. CatPawCino are hosting more drawing events soon, and has recently welcomed a brand new kitten. So if you’re a creative catlover, and miss your furry felines at home as much as me, don’t miss out! Image: Leanna Thompson

Monday 7 December 2020





Christmas gaming gift guide Kaitlyn Maracle shares all in her top picks for gaming gifts this festive season

With Christmas looming yet again, and infamously finicky gamers telling you to get them "nothing" for a present, we're here to help you decide what great gifts you can buy the gamer in your life. Kaitlyn Maracle — Gaming sub-editor


hristmas is upon us and if you’re organised, you might be thinking about what gifts you can buy for your gamer best friend, partner or colleague. Gamers are notorious for being difficult to buy for, since we think we already have everything we need (well, apart from the PlayStation 5 of course…) and most gifts you might think of can easily break the bank. Games can cost over £50 each, hardware is incredibly expensive and it can be hard to know which accessories are the right ones. But don’t worry, The Courier Gaming section is here to help.



Amiibo are fun little figures harking from across the Nintendo cast of characters and also have different functions for different games. By scanning an Amiibo figure or card on your Switch, you can unlock lots of fun bonuses for different games, including Mario Kart 8, Animal Crossing and Breath of the Wild. They can be a great collectible and aren’t too expensive (unless you’re after limited editions that can cost upwards of £100). The Amiibo collection ranges from classic characters like Mario and Peach, to the Fire Emblem series, to Animal Crossing.

Thumb grips for controllers Thumb grips are a practical and versatile option, with so many design choices that you’d be guaranteed to find one to match your recipient’s personality. You can get grips for the Switch, Xbox and Playstation controllers fairly cheap on Amazon, and designs can vary from cute flowers and paw prints to sleek, plain ones. They are a great way of decorating and personalising a gaming setup, and for some they can improve performance too. A huge array of thumb grips are available online.

Image: Nintendo Amiibo Page Image: Amazon

Ubisoft and AbleGamers to launch new partnership After a year full of doom and gloom, it seems that Ubisoft has embraced the christmas spirit this year by partnering with the AbleGamers charity who provide better access to gaming to people living with disabilities. Shawn Khoo

— Gaming sub-editor


bisoft has decided to partake in festivities in true Christmas spirit: their Sixth Guardian programme for Rainbow Six Siege launched on 24 November, giving all the proceeds from the Sixth Guardian bundle to the AbleGamers Charity. The AbleGamers Charity aims to bring inclusivity and enjoyment for people with disabilities through video games. This is conducted in granting personalised access per individual requirements, catering to as many gaming needs as possible with the funds provided. “[AbleGamers Charity has] done a lot to open up discussions about accessibility in gaming and had a positive impact in that

space and on a lot of individuals,” stated Karen Lee, the creator of the Sixth Guardian programme and Rainbow Six Siege’s lead community developer. “We’re very behind what they do and really happy to be working with them on this bundle.” The currently available Sixth Guardian bundle includes cosmetic options for Doc, headgears, a uniform, a weapon skin and charm, and will be thematically similar to AbleGamers’ logo and colours. More Sixth Guardian bundles will be launched together with following seasons as part of Ubisoft’s partnership with the AbleGamers Charity. The programme and bundle have been launched alongside Year 5 Season 4’s Operation Neon Dawn for Rainbow Six Siege. This season also includes a new operator, Aruni, who is the first operator equipped with prosthetics.

Image: YouTube (Ubisoft)

Now, whilst some find Funko Pop Vinyls to be cringey and cheap, they can actually be a really great smaller gift, especially if you aren’t familiar with the various pop culture references your giftee makes. Pop Vinyls are usually around £10 each and are available at a number of retailers such as Amazon, Forbidden Planet and HMV. There is pretty much a Pop Vinyl for every game, TV show, band, film, book and even adverts. If you’re looking for something more expensive and detailed, Travelling Man in Newcastle often stocks more detailed figurines from various games and anime series at decent prices, and they even sell the famous and adorable Japanese Nendoroids for cheaper than RRP, as well as cheaper Bandai figures. Depop and Ebay are also great places to search, and you can usually find rarer figurines for cheaper than the average high street store. Some games also sell their own figures, such as Blizzard and Riot Games.

In-Game Purchases If you’re the type of person who doesn’t mind buying non physical gifts, nearly every online (and some offline, looking at you Ubisoft) game contains in-game purchases and microtransactions. Maybe your partner has been eyeing some nice looking Valorant skins, or maybe they want the unicorn and rainbows themed Viking ship in Assassin's

Creed: Valhalla. There are so many options, all you'd have to do is ask about what they've been playing lately. This could be a great opportunity for you to spend within your budget and get something you know the gamer in your life will love and use, without too much hassle. Another slighly safer option for in-game purchases, in the situation where you aren't too sure what they like, most game launchers and developers have gift cards, such as Steam, where the recipient can spend the money on whatever they want on that platform.

T-shirts and Christmas Jumpers Who doesn't love a Christmas jumper? Gamers are no exception here! Many retailers such as GAME and HMV will be selling gaming attire including jumpers and t-shirts featuring their favourite characters and designs. If you're looking to buy online, QWERTEE is one of the best sites for nerdy tshirts featuring art drawn by different artists in a multitude of different styles. There really is something for everyone on that website. You can often get deals there, and limited designs, and shipping is fairly quick too.

LED's Every gamer in the world, especially PC gamers will know about the RGB addiction. Whether the lights are in the PC or on their desk, lights are always going to be appreciated, and we'll find a way to include them somewhere in our set ups. Whether this is strip lights, fairy lights or LED stands of our favourite characters or game logos, this would be a great way to brighten up your gamer friends life. There are hundreds of options available on Amazon.

Xbox Series X to have "biggest launch in history" With the console wars officially beginning, it appears that the Xbox Series X/S has been selling better than projected, with 2020 being the biggest ever launch for Xbox. Elizabeth Meade — Science sub-editor


he newest Xbox consoles, the Series X and the Series S, debuted on 10 November, 2020 selling over 1 million copies across 13 of the 37 total markets in which they were launched, marking the biggest ever launch in Xbox history. They were also sold in more countries than ever before, partially due to the use of a simultaneous--rather than the more common staggered--launch. On top of the sales record, a record number of games were played by console buyers who purchased on the first day--3594 games total in one day. Additionally, 70% of new console buyers have Game Pass, a popular subscription which allows players to access a large library of games

for a monthly fee. Lastly, the Series S console is responsible for drawing in "the highest percentage of new players for any Xbox console at launch," according to the company's recent post.

The Series S console is responsible for drawing in "the highest percentage of new players for any Xbox console at launch. Alongside the release of this new platform, the PS5 was released two days later, and Xbox's development partners released a number of games for players to play with the new consoles. New games of note include Assassin's Creed: Valhalla, Dirt 5, and Tetris Effect: Connected, among others, many of which are continuations of established popular franchises. The release of so many highlyanticipated games at once--on top of three brandnew consoles (including the PS5)--is certainly exciting for the gaming community, particularly during a pandemic when many are looking to gaming to make the most of staying inside.



Monday 7 December 2020

31 Gaming Games of Christmas Past: Christmas memoriess Joseph Caddick reminisces on his favourite festive, frosty locations in gaming

Playing games is one of the main ways I unwind during the holidays. Here are some locations in certain games that capture that Christmas magic. Joseph Caddick — Puzzles sub-editor

Dendemille Town


Freezy Flake Galaxy

mood perfectly.

Super Mario Galaxy 2

Snowy Los Santos

Making a snowman is something we all do during at least one Christmas when we’re growing up, but this galaxy outshines anything we could ever create. The place is full of amazing snowy sculptures of Mario characters, like Goombas and Bowser himself. And if that’s not enough, there’s an ice skating challenge you can find later in the game. The Galaxy games have some of the best ice skating physics out there alongside great music, with Freezy Flake’s topping it off with its Christmas charm.

Pokémon X and Y

very Pokémon game has a perpetually snowy town, but Dendemille town is special because it feels so homely. It’s tucked away in the mountains and you need to ride on Mamoswine to get there, but it’s worth the hassle of travelling there. Combine that with a great theme song and this place exudes a Christmassy vibe you just don’t get from the other snowy cities.

Planet Freon Ristar

Sonic Team is known for making games with great music, and the forgotten gem, Ristar, is no exception. Ristar’s Freon is one of my absolute favourites, fitting in with the holiday season so well. This place is an ice world which we expect to see in a platformer, but it’s so vibrant and whimsical that it completely embodies the joy of Christmas. The first couple of levels in particular do this: you enter the level by skiing and exit after a snowball fight what more could you want?

The Mario Galaxy games have some of the best iceskating physics out there, alongside some truly stellar music!

Frozen Factory Sonic Lost World

Even though Lost World is a controversial Sonic game, it’s not without its redeeming qualities. Sonic gets a lot of fun movement options in this game: he’s able to skate on ice and do elegant jumps which are great little details. The levels are also really bright and colourful, even when they’re covered in snow. As you’d expect from a Sonic game, the soundtrack absolutely delivers, with a really uplifting set of tracks that fit the Christmas

Grand Theft Auto V

For the past few years now, my friends and I have made it a tradition to hop on our PlayStations after we’ve all had our Christmas dinners to explore Los Santos, which during the festive period gets covered in snow. Driving is a bit more of a hassle with the slippery physics, but fun in its own way, and you can throw snowballs at people so hard you kill them. It’s a blast! These are games I think about every Christmas, and really get me in the mood to celebrate. There are some games I remember clear as day as I received them as Christmas presents. I’ll never forget getting my GameBoy Advance with

There are some games I remember clear as day as I received them as Christmas presents.

Image: Kaitlyn Maracle

Pokémon Emerald for Christmas, which started my obsession with the franchise. Similarly, I will never forget the Wii, which I guessed I would receive a day ahead of Christmas because a family member dropped off Super Mario Galaxy on Christmas Eve. My parents apparently got the last one in the shop. These memories shaped my childhood and the games I play today, which is one of the reasons why I love Christmas so much.

Most Anticipated Games for Xmas

As the Christmas period draws closer, here are some impressive recommendations for games that have been the most anticipated throughout the year. Daniel Collins

Spider-Man, we see the loveable character of Miles Morales don his own spidey-suit and join the fray in fighting the ever-growing crime circles of New York. Bringing a new technological flair to the his suit, Miles looks to deliver a growing and sincere story of how a young boy can cope with taking over one the most dangerous characters known to the superhero world.

Sony is promising to harness the power of the PlayStation 5 to deliver an unrivalled experience

Cyberpunk 2077


Platforms: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC

rom the studio that brought us The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, CD Projekt RED promises to bring their open world and rich story telling skills to a new IP. Set in Night City, a post-apocalyptic, neofuturistic California, Cyberpunk throws you into this world and sees how you will perform in it. It features a fully customisable character, a multilevelled and detailed storyline which changes as the drop of a hat, and a gameplay system that is catered and adapts to how the player wishes to use it. Night City truly looks like a place that someone could lose themselves in for hours and hours… plus it has Keanu Reeves featuring as a main character, who could say no to that?WW

Spider-Man: Miles Morales Platform: PS5, PS4

Continuing the fantastic storyline of last year's

Sony is promising to harness the power of the next-gen consoles to bring an open-world superhero experience that rivals anything that has come before it – no one can refuse a good bit of HD web slinging.

Assassin's Creed: Valhalla Platform: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, XB1, PC

Ubisoft’s track record with the Assassin's Creed franchise has often been nothing short of suspicious. But with a few impressive entries in the past few years, Valhalla seems to be looking to take what works and add a little Nordic flair to the mix. Finally giving in to the years of begging by fans, Ubisoft has brought the assassins into the world of Vikings. From raids with your crew to stealth missions with Eivor, this instalment of the series is looking to be one of the better ones we have seen in the last few years.

Image: IGDB

Monday 7 December 2020






There are 15 differences. Try to find them all!

Illustrations: Tabitha Edwards via Creative Contributors

Courier-mas trivia

How well do you know your student newspaper?

2. Which 2020 candidate for the Labour leadership has contributed to The Courier in the past?

3. The Courier once used to set students back a grand total of 25p! In what year was the newspaper made free? 4. The paper used to be known as King's Courier. In what year did it become The Courier? 5. In what year did the paper switch to full colour printing?

7. In which years in The Courier's history did it have this masthead?

8. In which years in The Courier's history did it have this (questionable) masthead?

6. In what year did The Courier change from a fortnightly to a weekly paper? Answers: 1. 64 pages, 2. Lisa Nandy, 3. 2002, 4. 1959, 5. 2004, 6. 1960, 7. 2008-2011, 8.2005-2007

1. The Courier's largest ever issue was publiushed on 6 March 2012, and included both a Stan Calvert pullout and an election pullout. How many pages long was it?

WIN A PRIZE! Upload your puzzle solutions to Instagram and tag @thecourieronline to enter the prize draw!


Monday 7 December 2020


A BIG festive crossword




1. _ Christmas, Elvis song. (4) 2. Left for Santa on Christmas Eve alongside milk. (7) 4. Language with many words to describe snow. (9) 5. Number of geese-a-laying. (3) 7. The _, released Fairtytale of New York. (6) 8. Birthplace of Jesus. (9) 9. Released Last Christmas in 1986. (4) 11. The First _, Christmas carol from 1823. (4) 12. Hung on the fireplace and filled with small gifts. (9) 14. Singer of Santa Baby. (6,4) 16. Ballet associated with Christmas. (10) 18. 2003 Christmas comedy. (3) 19. Snowman brought to life. (6) 21. Used to wrap bows for presents. (6) 24. Night before Christmas. (3) 25. Punishes children who've misbehaved in folklore. (7) 28. Relatives. (6) 29. A usually alcoholic drink made with beaten eggs. (3) 31. ____'(g) Around the Christmas Tree, song by Brenda Lee. (6) 33. Type of tree used for Christmas trees. (3) 34. Another word for the cold temperatures of the festive season. (4) 35. What the Three Wise Men followed to find Jesus. (4)


3. The saint that inspired Santa Claus. (8) 6. Red-nosed reindeer. (7) 10. Scrooge's first name. (9) 13. Highest grossing Christmas film. (4,5) 15. Finnish region associated with Santa. (7) 17. Kiss when under this. (9) 20. One of the presents given by the Three Wise Men. (5) 22. Pagan festival which shares traditions with Christmas. (10) 23. Round object used to decorate Christmas trees. (6) 26. Cryophobe’s fear. (3) 27. Nipping at your nose. (4,5) 28. Disney film starring Elsa and Olaf. (6) 30. Meat usually eaten at Christmas Dinner. (6) 32. A present. (4) 34. The Grinch is as cuddly as a _. (6) 36. Biscuits made with this are especially popular during winter. (6) 37. Reindeer's favourite snack. (7) 38. Video game character apparently born on Christmas Island. (5) 39. _ log, traditional Christmas dessert. (4)


Word Wheel


Sudoku 7 December 2020



Create as many words as you can of 3 letters or more from the wheel. Each letter can only be used once and you must use the one in the middle of the wheel. Try to find the 9 letter word that uses all the letters. Goal: 49 words

Monday 7 December 2020

Puzzles Advent Angel Bauble Bells Blitzen Bauble Christmas Comet Cupid Dancer Dasher Dinner Donner Elf Frosty Frozen Grinch Holiday Holly Jolly Joy Lapland Mistletoe





Nativity Pogues Prancer Presents Pudding Reindeer Rudolph Santa Scrooge Slade Sleigh Snowman Star Tinsel Together Tree Vixen Wham Winter Wonderful Wreath Yuletide

Nonogram Colour the squares of the the grid to make a festive image! Each number is the number of consecutive coloured squares in that row/column. Two adjoining consecutive squares blocks are separated by more than one white square.

Carol anagrams Linen Tights Len Begs Jill Nay Aware I'm Nag The Greeks Win Ted Hacks Hell Lovely Hand They Hit Honest Filter Watch Festive Dames Shortly



Monday 7th December 2020




A love letter to sport in the dire time of quarantine 2020 has been riddled with uncertainty, but one thing is for certain, our undying love for sport.


Sophie McNally h, 2020, the era of motivation in the face of chaos. Empty pitches, masked players, and what feels like a great deal more than 6 degrees of separation. With the succession of lockdowns and tier systems, this year has been a bumpy one, to say the least, and for any sportsperson, casual or competitive, it’s been one massive blow after another. One of the vital organs of the sports world is the connection it brings us. I want to be on that track, floodlights pounding down, ears hushed, but eyes and mind racing all before the gun blasts us off more than anything. But I also can’t wait to be in that crowd of supporters yelling for my team, and on the sidelines ready with the pep talks and back-pats, knowing full well my teammates got this one in the bag. I even miss the semi-hostile chats with the opposition before it was game on. I’m one of the lucky ones who doesn’t rely on a team per se to carry out my training sessions, so I can’t fully picture the loss any team sport player is feeling right now. But that doesn’t mean I don’t miss it, with my whole heart. That moment of a good training session and laughing afterward feels like the inevitable finish to this whole mess for me; once I can get back to that, these nightmarish few months

will be completely erased. Up and down the country, one of the most volatile responses was over the footy being cancelled – and you don’t even get to play in that one. Sport is a much wider community, and in many ways, a support network too, and the socially distanced framework has forced us to realise this more than ever before.

stayed at home, locked away from it all.

Oh sport I truly can’t seem to live without you. Please, come back to us soon x Image: Instagram @JHenderson

"Oh sport, I truly can't seem to live without you. Please come back to us soon"

Sophie McNally pleads for live sport to return

"One of the vital organs of the sporting world is the connection it brings us" To touch back on my initial point, motivation really has been key to coping with this entire charade. As any athlete knows not being able to train and engage with sports is a major stress-reliever for all life has to throw at us, so it seems a little more than off balance when the worries of global ruin are on your mind without this avenue of release. Lack of sport in any capacity has a profound impact on your schedule: sleep, work, and socialising all seem to merge and not fit together so well anymore. I find it much harder to go about my day, and training by myself suddenly feels genuinely lonely instead of some needed me time. When I finally get the motivation to go out and run, the streets are invaded with mask after mask as I weave in and out between the road and path to maintain social distance. Everything feels off-kilter, and a small part of you would rather have

Image: Instagram @ Usopen

The best way to re-live old memories: Sports stocking fillers Andrew White and Tom Moorcroft reminisce on their favourite sporting items Northern Spurs fun

Northern Spurs Fun


tocking filler could be anything football related, from my visits in Berlin to BFC Dynamo and Hertha Berlin, to the programme from my first ever game (Aldershot Town vs Watford 19th July 2003), but I have chosen to keep it to the team closest to my heart – Spurs.

It's an area in SPurs history I hold close to my heart My stocking filler is my ticket and programme to Spurs v Chelsea at Wembley, in 2018. The match is one that I hold close to my heart, I travelled to London on an eight hour Megabus, with my then-girlfriend and two of my closest friends from home- Oliver being a Chelsea fan. The match occurred during the first weekend of Christmas markets in London. London was thriving and as beautiful as I’ve ever seen it. The ticket reminds me of my frustration during the coach journey; my Pret Mint Hot Chocolate before the game, and more importantly – a Tottenham

win. Spurs dominated the game, goals from Dele Alli, Harry Kane, and a goal of the season contender from Son Heung-Min led Spurs to a 3-1 victory as Giroud scored a late consolation for Chelsea.It was 3-1 but should have been 6,7,8. Other than Amsterdam, it was the last game of the peak of the Poch era, an era in Spurs history I hold close to my heart. The eight-hour coach back to Newcastle was much less frustrating than the trip down to London. A Spurs victory, and the opportunity to wind Oliver up for 8 hours, sounds like a perfect day to me. - Andrew White

A Tough Mudder


he Tough Mudder headband, a little something which I like to take a look at every now and then, bringing back a load of memories. For me, that’s what a sporty stocking filler is all about. The alert fans of the Courier know that I like to talk about Tough Mudder at any possible opportunity, but I’m not ashamed of that. It was an event that completely shaped who I am, how I approach any barriers I find in my life

The toughest part of those 8-10 miles was breaking through that mental blockade

now and then, and something I can look on for guidance down the road. The toughest part of those 8-10 miles was facing against that mental blockade. The ‘will I’ and ‘can I’, not the ‘I can’t physically do it’. As tough as those miles were on my body, the mental exhaustion was something I’ve never experienced before. And as much as looking back on it, I can’t help but think: I’ll never put myself through that again, I know damn well that I will. I’ve done it one time, why wouldn’t I test myself and do it all over again? The perfect little reminder which helps all those memories come flooding right back, that Tough Mudder headband sits in high esteem as a lovely little desk tidy. I should never be able to say I can’t do something ever again, with a will and a way I can do anything I put my mind to. - Tom Moorcroft Ticket: Andrew White Muddy Tom : Joanne Moorcroft oorcroft Stocking: Pixabay



Monday 7th December 2020



If footballers were part of a Christmas dinner... It's Christmas! So we naturally had a think what part of the festive meal Roy Keane and Jimmy Bullard would play


Ethan Todd

s this festive period approaches, I become inevitably excited to pretend calories do not exist and proceed to eat a Christmas dinner which could most likely feed a family of four. My favourite footballer without doubt is Roy Keane, given his history with my beloved Sunderland and given the way he tells things how they are without masquerading his thoughts in virtue signalling politically correct nonsense, in a time which this is rare within public discourse. Therefore, I would say that when compared to an item from a Christmas dinner, Keane is the roast potatoes because everybody loves him for being unapologetically brilliant and always steals the limelight when featured. Keane is infamous for his straight-

Keane is the roast potatoes, because everybody loves him for being unapologetically brilliant

shooting style and brash comments which make him extremely entertaining as a pundit; a welcome change from someone like Michael Owen who has all the personality of wallpaper paste. Recently, he has come under fire for labelling Kyle Walker ‘an idiot’, however considering his defensive lapses in high profile games this level of criticism is probably justified. Last season he stated that the Spurs fullbacks were ‘dumb and dumber’ and regarding poor performances from De Gea and Maguire in big games he stated that ‘he wouldn’t even let them on the bus after the game, get a taxi back’. This is what makes Keane such a fantastic pundit, his brazen and veracious personality makes Roy the star of the show when giving his verdict on Sky Sports, of which all fans of the game should love him for and appreciate his bountiful honesty. However, he is not without fault,

He is not without fault, considering his memorably awful tackle on Alf-Inge Haaland considering his memorably awful tackle on Alf-Inge Haaland, receiving a straight red for what should probably be considered assault rather than a challenge on a football pitch. Keane is unreserved and exuberant much like a cherished roastie on a Christmas dinner, with only one problem being the tackle on Haaland, that of which is the calorific nature of a good roast potato.

Tom Moorcroft


player who’s pranks on and off the pitch have gifted him a legendary status in the Premier League, Jimmy Bullard has been something of folklore for fans past and present. Many will be familiar with that infamous celebration he had whilst at Hull, perfectly mocking his new manager’s ‘on-the-pitch’ team talk in an act of comedy gold. In a Christmas dinner, he is the cracker. For me, The Bulldog’s antics have always been better suited to Soccer AM, or even his brief stint in the jungle on ITV’s Im A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!. In both cases he’s been able to completely flourish, having some great pranks with motor-cyclist Foggy on Im A Celeb and pulling off top notch banter with many guests on Soccer AM. However, some of the most hysterical moments of his career have sadly been lost, often happening behind the scenes or not being picked up by the cameras. When asked what the worst prank he pulled was, he responded “I had a weewee in an aftershave bottle once… he used it all year”. When asked who it was, he said “He still doesn’t know… but he stinks!”.

Ths list goes on, with rumours of Jimmy replacing toothpaste with deep heat in the England training camp, two-footing a Teletubby mascot whilst at MK Dons or leap-frogging over Tim Cahill in a game against Everton. If his antics at the dinner table are anything like his antics on the pitch, I’d love to have him over for Christmas.

Image: Twitter @SoccerAM Image: Pixabay Image: Wikimedia Commons and Twitter @ODDSbible

Some of the most hysterical moments of his career have sadly been lost

How I didn't stay down during a national lockdown Emily Oakshott discusses how she reacted to a global pandemic Emily Oakshot


n the morning of the 29th February 2020, I rolled out of my hostel bunk bed, laced up my trainers and set off for my pre-

race jog. I was in Paris and due to take part in the Harmonie Mutuelle Semi De Paris, a half marathon that had attracted over 30,000 competitors to the French capital. Having trained hard leading up to the race, I was excited to see what time I could run. It was only my second ever half marathon and, although nervous, I couldn’t wait to get on the start line. However, less than 24 hours before the race, the French government made the decision to cancel all gatherings of more than 5,000 people. This decision came after the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country rose to 100. And so, I returned to England, my unused race number folded neatly in my suitcase. I didn’t know it yet, but I would not get to race again in-person in 2020. The covid-19 pandemic has seen the cancellation and postponement of countless sporting events; we have seen gyms and leisure centres close their doors, group training cancelled and the shutting of tracks and sports grounds.

Therefore, we as a sporting community have adapted. In the place of in-person races, we have turned to virtual racing. Thankfully, my wonderful crosscountry captains at NUAXC organised a brilliant and highly competitive virtual race league to keep the team motivated over summer. Since our return to university, Jack (the new male XC captain) and myself have taken on their role and have kept the virtual racing momentum going. Since September, NUAXC athletes have raced a virtual 3km, a mile and a 5km against universities from

I didn't know it yet, but I would not get to race again in-person across the UK. In the place of gyms, we have turned to our home workouts. With the nationwide closure of gym facilities, England has turned to online alternatives. Personally, I have discovered yoga during lockdown. My morning routine has been modified to include at least half an hour of stretching with my flat mates, something that I will certainly continue post-lockdown. In the place of group training, we have learnt to train alone. It is very difficult to be positive about solo training. Exercising as a group is great for motivation and encourages a healthy competitiveness. However, in

Personally I still hate training alone. I miss my teammates and I find it harder to push myself during my runs

light of the suspension of all in-person training, athletes have been forced to reckon with the daunting prospect of solo sessions. Personally, I still hate training alone. I miss m y teammates and I find it harder to push myself during my runs. Following a regimented training plan and keeping up to date with others' training via Strava has got me through the lock-

down. However, I can’t wait to get back to in-person training. Lockdown has been hard for everyone, but we should all be proud that we have managed to adapt and to continue exercising in spite of all the uncertainty. Image: Newcastle University Athletics and Cross Country


Monday 7 December 2020




COVID - 19, 20 - 20: how this year went from scrappy goal-line Ready to put the final nail in the coffin for 2020? Well before we do, let's take a look at some of the biggest sporting moments of the year January: Kobe Bryant passes away I’ve never been a massive fan of basketball, but I’m certain that people across the world were shook when we heard the news that NBA legend Kobe Bryant had passed away on January 26th, accompanied by 8 others. One of those others was Bryant’s daughter, Gianna. At age 41, Bryant had made quite an impact on the NBA, with five NBA championships, 18 times being made an All-Star and making the All-NBA star team 15 times. His number, 24, had become synonymous with the tenacity, grit and success which shadowed his career. His empire wasn’t built in a day. It took him years of hard work and dedication to become the biggest star in the NBA, and he’s obtained a status which will remain unmoved for many years to come. - Tom Moorcroft

February: Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury

aggressor, landing a powerful right hand flush halfway through the first round. Wilder found himself on the back foot and was unable to find his range to land his lethal right hand. Fury’s onslaught of jabs continued and had Wilder hurt with a right hand at the beginning of the third round. Minutes later, Fury scored the first knockdown of the fight as a devastating one-two dropped Wilder. After landing another series of crushing right hands in the fifth round, a left hook to the body sent Wilder to the canvas again. Fury was in his element, goading Wilder and in total control of the fight. Midway into the seventh round, Fury backed an unsteady and exhausted Wilder up against the ropes and landed another two clean right hands. “The towels in, the towels in, they’ve thrown the towel in, the fights all over” cried the commentators as referee Kenny Bayless stopped the fight. Fury cemented his legacy as a British boxing great, as he won the WBC World Heavyweight Championship and the Ring Magazine Belt. Fury’s performance epitomized the saying, ‘the best form of defence is attack’ as he was able to neutralise Wilder with ease and convincingly made him look like a novice. The win meant that all of the belts in the heavyweight division are held by Fury and Anthony Joshua, which sets up arguably the biggest fight in British boxing history next year. - Euan Morris

March: F1 postponed

The Australian GP is usually the first race of the Formula 1 season with 10 teams from all over the world meeting On February 22, Tyson Fury asserted in Melbourne with a sense of possibility. himself as the best heavyweight in the Aside from pre-season testing, no world, as he obliterated Deontay Wilder one knows who will do the best, the in a thrilling, one-sided rematch. Javan teams and drivers lower down in the ‘Sugar Hill’ Steward was employed as standings are yet to have their world Fury’s new trainer for the rematch, as the championship dreams crushed. On the 13th of March, however, it adjustments m a d e was announced that the Australian GP from the would be canceled, despite everyone first fight being there and set up ready to race. were clear Mclaren Racing Team had announced to see. they had a member of the team with In the COVID, and subsequently decided to opening drop out of the race. Yet this did not stages encourage the FIA (the F1 governing of the body) to cancel the race. fight, Fury It was most likely the comments c o nt r o l l e d made by Lewis Hamilton that the centre encouraged this cancellation. of the ring Hamilton said three simple words and was when asked why he thought t h e the race was set to go on despite the World Health Organisation officially declaring Coronavirus a pandemic and many countries across the world closing their borders. He said: “Cash is king.” It seemed as though as soon as Hamilton made those comments the race was considered being canceled. With it eventually being cancelled just 4 hours before the first practice was due to begin. This hghlights the power Hamilton holds within his sport. Perhaps his comments were slightly hypocritical considering his suspected £30 Image: Twitter @SportingLife million a year

salary, but we can all agree the largescale, international circus that is Formula 1 most definitely needed to be halted in light of the pandemic. - Lucy Rimmer

April: the NFL Draft 2020 was an unorthodox year for sport in that a lot happened and no one was there to see it. That narrative was no different across the pond, as arguably the second biggest single event in the American sports calendar, the NFL Draft, came, not from the Las Vegas strip as originally planned but from the home of the Commissioner Roger Goodell. This year’s instalment was easily the strangest Draft in the history of the league. The Draft is a major worldwide media event, which is essentially created for the benefit of the media. As such it’s difficult to get the exact same atmosphere when you’re essentially watching one of the biggest events in all of sports through a camera in someone’s

This year's Draft was perhaps the strangest in the history of the league living room. However, the draft did not disappoint. We got a glimpse into what goes on in the background, seeing the prospects and head coaches in their home environments. It was certainly strange but the draft was as eventful as ever. The Green Bay Packers unexpectedly took Quarterback Jordan Love against all odds in the first round. Joe Burrow went first to the Cincinnati Bengals and Twitter lit up with comments about how nice Arizona Cardinals Head Coach Kliff Kingsberry’s house was. The 2020 NFL Draft may have been unorthodox but it was far from boring. - Dominic Lee

May: fans find ways to support their clubs from home A rather brief but sweet highlight from May, fans saw ways of supporting their teams from home with some innovative cardboard cut-outs in the stands. Borussia Mönchengladbach was amongst some of the first teams in Football to instigate the cardboard cut-outs, which while looks quite dystopian, was a fun and creative way of immotating a

Image: Twitter @THR

crowd atmosphere during those empty weekend games. - Tom Moorcroft

June: Livepool win the Premier league Not to everyone’s astonishment, Liverpool won the Premier League title; however, not under the circumstances that everyone thought they would. I think we can all agree that with COVID-19 around none of us expected to be watching the Premier League Title being won. When your club wins, it’s always amazing when you watch your own team secure their victory; however, Liverpool fans, on June 25th, tuned in to watch Chelsea vs. Manchester City. Chelsea won 2-1 over Man City, securing the title for Liverpool, who on the previous night won 4-0 against Crystal Palace. The scenes at Anfield were unbelievable as England was slowly coming out of lockdown. Many fans gathered to celebrate – nothing will stop the English celebrating football coming home to your local. As much as these celebrations were condemned, Liverpool winning the Premier League was the lift that England needed. Fans, whether they support or hate Liverpool, enjoyed the fact that football was back! And after years of trying and coming close to the title in previous seasons – all football fans can agree Liverpool deserved the title. -

Katie Siddall

July: Leeds promoted to the Premier League after 16 years The majority of students at Newcastle were under the age of 8 the last time a Leeds team appeared in the Premier League, losing 1-0 at Stamford Bridge on the final day of the 03/04 season, their relegation and financial ruin already confirmed. A frantic post-lockdown nine fixture mini-season was all that stood between Leeds and a legendary return. Many Leeds fan won’t admit to superstition, but after 16 years in the wilderness, losses to the likes of Histon, Sutton, and Gillingham and four playoff defeats, it started to feel like the club was cursed. The ‘lost generation’ of Leeds children who chose to support a high flying Premier League team rather than watch Leeds lose 5-0 to Blackpool in the shell of a once proud Elland Road, was set to continue. The dodgy owners, seemingly destined to destroy the club,

Another 24hrs and Leeds United would be crowned Champions was set to continue. Andrea Radrizzani, Victor Orta, and the man they hired as manager, Marcelo Bielsa, finally lifted the curse and turned the club around on and off the pitch. On July 16th, Leeds scraped a 1-0 win versus league strugglers Barnsley at home and promotion was closer than it had ever been. Within 24 hours, it would be confirmed as West Brom lost to Huddersfield. Another 24 hours later, they would be champions. Celebrations occurred continuously all week across the city as the people of Leeds took advantage of a bright spark in a terrible year. Years of mismanagement and poor results on the pitch, a trip to League One and back, had finally been overcome and relief was all that remained. Leeds are finally back. - Sam Slater

August: Suncorp Super Netball introduce new rule for the 2020 season On August 1st, 2020, Australia brought in the Super Shot for its Netball Super League. What is the Super Shot? It is a two-point shot that has to be taken within a 1.9 metre zone inside the circle. This zone only becomes ‘active’ in the final five minutes of each quarter. This rule has been controversial for many, especially



Monday 7 December 2020



e scramble to one of the biggest years in sporting history considering that all 8 league teams only found out for themselves a few weeks before the rule came into play. This means that they had limited time for practice of drills and tactics; however, all players embraced the new rule. Vixens and Australia shooter Caitlin Thwaites said at the time she had been putting in “lots of extra shooting practice.” Whilst, England and GIANTS Goal Shooter and Goal Attack, Jo Harten, has welcomed this new rule as she has scored 78 Super Shots from 125 attempts. This makes Harten the highest scoring and attempted scoring of the 2020 season. With many thinking that this rule is controversial – it certainly has turned some heads, bringing the game of Netball to life. Imagine being 6 points behind the opposing team and only needing three goals to score for that draw your team probably needs. It definitely has brought caught Netball viewers and side-line players and coaches’ breaths. - Katie Siddall

September: Saint-Etienne are top of the league I am really happy to share my big moment in sport this year talking about my hometown team in the Ligue 1, Saint-Etienne. Even though after September they dug into the table -16th as I am writing this- they made us, fans, dream for a good month and this is all we could have asked for. Saint-Etienne was on top of the league for the most part of September with 3 wins in 4 games, 10 points, 2 goal conceded and 8 goals scored. We were rolling. The younger and newer players played fearlessly with a will to attack and score. This was brilliant to see. We won the away at Marseille which stopped a 30-year drought at the Vélodrome, and what a game. An easy two nil victory over a team that played really well last season finishing third and qualifying for the Champions league. Even after losing our pair of starting centre-backs, our emblematic captain retired after 17 seasons at the club and our promising young star, William Saliba, was transferred to Arsenal we didn’t look fragile on defence. Which was obviously

surprising. But the coaching staff did a great job keeping the team hungry for victory after the very unfortunate final loss against Paris in August. It seemed like the players hated the taste of defeat after this cup final and were ready and motivated to win. Nonetheless we got bring back to reality since then and the struggle and problems are obvious now, only 5 goals scored since this game in Marseille… But at least it brought joy to every fan for a solid month during this very tough year and September was great for every Verts (nickname of the team and fans). - Gauthier Meley

October: Manchester United 1 - 6 Tottenham Hotspur

United's defence were stretched far too thin by the direct and pacey Spurs On October 4th, 2020, Mourinho’s Spurs side managed to secure one of the most bizarre and encapsulating victories in recent Premier League history, putting Ole’s United to the sword in a brutal 6-1 win at Old Trafford. A satisfying result for Mourinho setting out for revenge against his former club, whom he was controversially sacked from despite silverware and a better win rate than previous United managers, amidst serious criticism from the red devils fans due to his defensive style. Spurs were resurgent under the special one’s guidance, and with a dangerous yet untamed Man United side this game was set up for fireworks and it definitely lived up to expectations. Within the opening two minutes, an amateur foul by Sanchez on Martial gifted United a penalty which Bruno Fernandes took calmly with his signature run up, granting them a dream start to the

fixture. Then two minutes later, after defending from United which a Sunday league side would be embarrassed of, Tanguy Ndombele slotted home his first goal of the season to go 1-1 in the first five minutes. 3 minutes further, Kane buys a silly foul from Maguire just past the halfway line in which he takes quickly in an inspired way, through to Son which he lofts deftly past an outstretched De Gea; pointing the finger sternly at the capability of Harry Maguire and the United backline. Uniteds defence were stretched far too thin by the direct and pacey Spurs attack piling more pressure upon the United goal. Just before the half hour mark, prior to a Tottenham corner, Martial was ludicrously dismissed after a pathetic tussle with Lamela highlighting the embarrassing and deceitful tactics employed by the Argentine forward in an attempt to force the referee’s hand. Shortly after, following a comical error from Bailly, with Spurs smelling blood pounced as Kane slots past De Gea due to another unforced defensive error from United. Following two frivolous goals, any side you’d think would ride the storm and see a poor start out until half time and regroup at the interval. Yet not even ten minutes later, through sheer negligent marking from Luke Shaw, Son found space again and slotted a beautiful finish through De Gea’s legs to make it 4-1 to Tottenham with only 37 minutes played, dumbfounding Solskjaer and his feeble side. The half-time break provided salvation from the Spurs onslaught, yet it was clear that Ole failed to inspire a heroic comeback from United, as Serge Aurier finished into the bottom corner following a stunningly weighted through ball from Spurs new signing Emile Hojgberg. However, the space for the venturing right back was created through the sheer delinquency of Pogba and Shaw, leaving a gaping hole on the left side of United. Kane put the final nail in United’s coffin, dispatching a penalty from Pogba’s foolish foul in the box, rounding off an absolutely miserable afternoon for Manchester United. This ludicrous fixture showcased the awful defensive ability of United, the tactical knowledge of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is clearly inept and that of Mourinho is far superior. Mourinho was practically licking his lips after the Spurs victory; defeating his former team in the most satisfying manner in one of the most extraordinary games the Premier League has ever seen. - Ethan Todd

Image: Twitter @HKane Image: Twitter @ESPNF1

November: Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones Jr. One of the biggest events of the year in terms of pure fan anticipation was Mike Tyson’s return to the boxing ring. Tyson, to this day, is probably the biggest name in boxing alive. Roy Jones Jr., another legend of the sport, was no foe to be disrespected. On 28th November, the two met eachother in the ring. With both fighters in their 50s, there were some doubts to the authenticity of the fight. Regardless, an exciting energy surrounded the monumental event in a year somewhat lacking big sporting moments. The bought ended in a draw, leaving some underwhelmed – with Snoop Dog comparing the match-up to watching “two of my uncles fighting at a barbecue”. Nonetheless, the return of two greats was a moment for the history books, and, more than anything, felt like a warm-up. Although question

Snoop Dog compared the fight to "watching two of [his] uncles fight at a barbecue marks surround a possible rematch, one thing is clear: Mike isn’t done. He’s already stated he would “absolutely” fight again, and that he’ll be “better the next exhibition.” While the event was a bit of a novelty, it is hard not to get swept up in the excitement. While far from a technical masterclass, it is hard to argue Tyson vs. Jones Jr. wasn’t at least entertaining. - Oren Brown

December: the Courier releases their Christmas paper! It’s been a funny old year at The Courier. From early postponement in February when we were told we’d have to shut up shop indefinitely due to COVID, to our timid restart in September which saw us, inevitably, close up shop again in November. Student journalism has been challenged in ways we couldn’t have anticipated. However, through the passion and creativity of so many gifted writers and editors, we’ve managed to produce one final paper for the year. An amazing collection of some of the greatest stories of the year, some of the most engaging and creative article ideas all packed into 40 pages of what makes T h e Courier magic. Who knows what the next year will hold, but I’m sure that with the tenacity shown by many an editor and writer over this last month we definitely won’t be saying goodbye any time soon. And of course, The Courier is nothing without it’s readership. So, to you, the reader who’s made it towards the back end of our fantastic Christmas special. Thank you. You’ve made the blood, sweat and tears of the last month all worthwhile. See you next year… Tom Moorcroft



Monday 7 December 2020



With sport being threatened around the globe, will nonleague football survive the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic?

With Covid-19 hitting Non-League Football hard, some clubs are turning to savvy schemes to stay afloat. Ben Harris It is certainly true to say that nonleague football has felt the brunt of the consequences, following the COVID-19 pandemic. As the second bout of local lockdowns came into place, we saw a number of local FAs having to close their doors to the return of non-league football, not least the Northumberland FA, and all non-league football below the National League. Being involved in one of our nonleague clubs up here in Newcastle in Newcastle Benfield, I got to see first-

hand the financial pressure that was being put on clubs in our league and clubs around the same level. For the case of Benfield, good financial management and constant wariness of the possibility of not being able to play games at some point in the season due to COVID allowed the club to not fall too foul of the financial strains, however certain clubs who have spent a lot on their playing staff have later felt the real financial problem from the pandemic. There are definitely ways to combat this, and to make sure that the club can survive the winter period, where some clubs would have busy periods with games, that would help to improve club revenue. Benfield for instance have opened their ‘Benfield Snack Attack’ three days a week, offering takeaway food between 9am and 1pm to all local residents. Savvy initiatives like offering half season tickets and Christmas merchandise ensure that fans are pledging some sort of financial commitment to the club,

Savvy initiatives like offering half season tickets and Christmas merchandise ensure that fans are pledging some sort of financial commitment to the club that can ensure basic upkeep of the stadium, pitch and facilities to get through this difficult period. At Benfield, free giveaways for one or two half season tickets have ensured that fans continue to commit to the club, as the busy period post lockdown poses a serious opportunity for clubs to regain financial stability. Some clubs have had fantastic success in the FA competitions, most notably

Marine and Havant and Waterlooville. The income of reaching the 2nd or even 3rd round proper draw will sort a club out financially for potentially a number of seasons, however with such a vast amount of clubs in the pyramid, not every club can have this boost. Clubs have to not rely on competitions like these at the best of times, but when the monetary outlay is reduced further by a pandemic, a good cup run can help club officials breathe a lot more easily. The final point is simply the fans

The income of reaching the 2nd or even 3rd round proper draw will sort a club out financially for potentially a number of seasons

Image: Twitter @BBCSport Image: Twitter @SportingLife

themselves. The clubs need the fans to commit to supporting their local football clubs, that ultimately support the football period at all levels. Regardless of how many fans are allowed in the Premier League grounds, fans need to make time to pledge just a couple of pounds to going to watch some really great quality football in the lower leagues, ensuring that the amazing football pyramid that exists in this country is retained.


A love letter to Sport Sophie McNally takes a look at how her year was affected by a lack of sport Page 36

Roastie Keane

A Year in Review

What would your favourite athletes be on a Christmas Dinner plate? Page 37

Despite it’s ups and downs 2020 has been an extremely exciting year for sport. Here’s our run down of the year’s biggest events Pages 38+39

Profile for The Courier Online

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