Page 1 Monday 8 July 2013 Issue 1273 Free


Newcastle University’s award-winning student newspaper

Est. 1948

Congratulations, Class of 2013

Photography: Zander Wilson

By George Sandeman Editor Elect This is the first day of the rest of your life. I suppose you could say that every morning when you wakeup and it would still be true... but the point here is that, as you read this special edition of The Courier which looks back at the highlights of this past year, today signifies the end of the student chapter of your life. No more raucous Wednesday sports socials, no more communal hangovers in the flat and no more proclamations that “you’ll never drink again” whilst knowing fully that you will be getting out your smoothest dance moves again at CCTV the following weekend. It’s now no longer acceptable to be fuelled only by caffeine and fast food or to pretend that surfing Facebook counts as actual work. It’s the end of waiting awkwardly outside seminars, rushing to the library for the best revision seats during exam period and hanging out endlessly on Osborne Road. You and 4,000 other students will be graduating in front of proud family and friends. This is the culmination of three years of your life, three years that will be forever distinct from any postgradu-

ate study or employment you go on to do. Never again will you experience the über-friendly first few weeks of freshers’ year, the fancy dress nights out where people actually put in loads of effort to look like a Smurf or the satisfaction that only comes after pulling a mammoth all-nighter in the Robinson Library.

it all together. You might be embarking upon your professional career as you start to compile your life’s work and make your mark on the society you live in. It’s clear from events such as the NCL+ Awards, an annual ceremony that recognises extra-curricular student achievement, that so many of our students

Graduates of Newcastle University are a special breed, bound by the unique bond of being shaped and formed as a young adult on the banks of the river Tyne in this glorious city But don’t worry, for generations of students have stood under the arches or on the quad feeling exactly the same. It’s easy to look back on the last three years and longingly reminisce about the times you’ve had, but in doing so you lose sight of all the prospects and possibilities the future has in store. By now you will have clicked with a few people who you know will be life-long friends, and only you know all those embarrassing stories just perfect to bust out at their wedding. Whether it be losing their dignity in dingy nightclubs, disgusting living habits or unbelievable moments of stupidity you thought weren’t possible, you’ve been through

get involved in worthwhile endeavours outside of academia, and that they are capable of magnificent feats. Graduates of Newcastle University are a special breed and, whilst they go on to do a vast array of different things once they walk out of Kings Hall, they are bound by the unique bond of being shaped and formed as a young adult on the banks of the River Tyne in this glorious city. Kings Hall is the grand setting in which you’ll receive your well-earned parchment from the Vice-Chancellor whilst your family watches on in a building that first opened its doors in 1888. Whether you’ve taken the trusty suit for a dry

clean or splashed out on a new dress you’ll be looking sharp alongside your fellow graduates, and all should work out perfectly as you go up on stage to collect your degree. That is, providing you’ve made the mandatory prayer to the graduation gods that you don’t trip as you walk up the always treacherous stage stairs. Although traditiaonally a graduation staple, don’t expect to see any mortar boards on show - legend has it that when Newcastle became an independent university in 1963, students celebrated by throwing the traditional headwear into the Tyne and the University has been conducting graduating ceremonies without them ever since. So as your proud parents think about whereabouts on the mantelpiece your beaming graduation picture is going to sit, take pride and take heart from your years at Newcastle University and remember: today is the first day of the rest of your life. A life uncharted and unmapped, with plenty of room for the twists and turns that will undoubtedly come your way. But remember you are, and always will be, a graduate of Newcastle University and you are armed with the friends and experiences only this place could give you. So, from everybody here at The Courier, we wish you all the very best of luck for the future and in all the things that you do.



Monday 8 July 2013

The Courier “And the winner is… The Courier!” Recovering from minor surgery, this was the news being fed back to me via countless texts and tweets – for the first time in almost two decades, The Courier had been named Student Publication of the Year at The Guardian Student Media Awards. It’s basically the Oscars of the student journalism world. “How glam!” you might be thinking. It was an amazing achievement, and a testament to the hard work and quality of team that Kat Bannon assembled for 2011/2012. And as exciting as it was for the paper to win, it brought with it a sudden realisation that the pressure was most definitely on for me. Could we live up to the legacy that that team had left behind? It’s a challenge that this year’s editorial team took on fantastically – I’m extremely proud of the efforts that have been put in by everyone. A huge amount of work goes in to producing

The Courier every week, and it simply wouldn’t happen without a team of dedicated students willing to spend day and night in the office putting everything together. To receive another nomination from The Guardian would be a wonderful validation of all of our efforts, but whether it happens or not, I know that we’ve put together some brilliant issues and created a paper that Newcastle University students really want to read. And that, after all, is why we do it. So, what’s been new this year? We’ve had some fantastic double-page features from Tom Nicholson, in the recently-revived position of Features Editor, one of which you can find further into this edition. Nothing says ‘throwing yourself in the line of fire’ quite like venturing down to the Bigg Market’s gypsy fortune-teller to try and work out what graduate life holds for you. His fantastic work was rightly recog-

nised at this year’s Newcastle Student Media Awards, with Features winning Section of the Year and Tom himself being awarded the Press Association Prize for Excellence. We also launched a brand new HTML5 website this year, courtesy of our extremely talented Online Editor Ben Brown. Rustling up a high quality, fully-functional design in a matter of weeks, he’s made it easier than ever before to access our content on smartphones and tablets. Whilst physical formats will always be something close to my heart (whether that’s in newspapers, LPs, books or DVDs), it’s an increasingly digital world out there and The Courier is moving with the times. This year’s Stan Calvert competition also saw a landmark moment for Newcastle University’s student media in a display of complete unity. At the rugby finale at Kingston Park, in the middle of a raging blizzard, our Sports Editors

were sat furiously typing updates for an online live blog through frozen fingers. Next to them was TCTV (The Courier Television) filming the match and catching every single try and streaker. And then there was NSR (Newcastle Student Radio) live broadcasting for the first time outside of the Students’ Union, providing a match commentary. All three arms of the student media excelled in their fields to bring the best Stan Calvert coverage ever. It’s a moment that I’m extremely proud of. NSR and TCTV have both greatly improved this year – NSR Station Managers David Bendall and Rachael Foster have done an incredible job of bringing in better equipment, more dedicated presenters and an ever-increasing presence on campus. The difference is remarkable, and they’ve left a real impact on the station. TCTV Station Manager Steph Booth worked hard to ensure funding from the Students’ Un-

BEN TRAVIS OUTGOING EDITOR ion which will allow the station to grow rapidly in the next few years. And so, it’s time to pass the torch on to George Sandeman – he’s been an indispensable member of the editorial team for two years as News Editor, and was recently awarded Student Journalist of the Year at the NUS Awards. The Courier is certain to have another fantastic year under his leadership. I wish him all the best for the year ahead, and thank everyone from this year’s team for not only their hard work, but for being an amazing team to work with.

Fundraising bungee jumpers defy gravity By Nathalie O’Donovan On Saturday 27 April, the COCO society was experiencing Newcastle’s quayside from a very different angle: upside down, 190ft in the air, attached at the feet by a cord. This bungee jump over the river Tyne was organised by Newcastle University in aid of COCO, Children of Comrades Overseas, a Newcastle-based charity aimed at providing education for children in countries suffering from pov-

One of many charity fundraising events this year saw daredevils bungee jumping over the Tyne erty and disease. COCO believes every child has the right to education, and organises community projects in countries such as Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to try and reduce the levels of poverty. Things like poor sanitation, a lack of infrastructure, nutrition and resources – all things that we enjoy on a daily basis and take for granted - are prevent-

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ing over 40 million children across Africa from gaining access to education. COCO’s main concern is “to meet the needs of the community so that they are equipped to develop on their own in the future without relying on hand outs”. On the morning of the 27 April, members of the society arrived at Newcastle’s Quayside to get kitted out for the jump. The organisers were professional and

friendly; they put everyone at ease and created a welcoming atmosphere. Aimee Vickers, Secretary of Newcastle University’s COCO society, told The Courier: “A huge thanks must go out to the Extreme Sensations bungee team who made the day extra special for everyone there”. On the day, the 31 COCO members who took on the challenge completed their bungee jump over the Tyne, having collectively raised over £6000. Jumpers threw fundraising dinner parties, did bake sales at their old

Editor Ben Travis Online Editor Ben Brown News Editors George Sandeman, Susie Beever and Anna Templeton Online News Editor Aine Stott Comment Editors Georgie Moule and Laura Wotton Online Comment Editor Jennifer Evans Features Editor Tom Nicholson Listings Editor Sally Priddle Lifestyle Editors Catherine Davison and Ellie Cropper Online Lifestyle Editors Rosie Devonshire and Colette Hunter Fashion Editors Elissa Hudson and Lizzie Hampson Online Fashion Editor Sally Greenwood Beauty Editor Amy Macauley Arts Editors Lisa Bernhardt and Millie Walton Online Arts Editor Grace Harvey Film Editors Hayley Hamilton and Sam Hopkins Online Film Editor Chris Binding TV Editor Chris Taylor Online TV Editor Ben Parkin Music Editors Chris Haywood and Sam Summers Online Music Editor Sophie Coletta Science Editor James Simpson Puzzle Editors Sally Priddle and Tom Nicholson Sports Editors Ralph Blackburn, Nick Gabriel and Lucy Williams Online Sports Editors Freddie Caldwell and Jack Gelsthorpe Copy Editors Rachel Horrocks, Charley Monteith, Leanne Penning, Chris Smith, Matty Aston, Sabine Kutcher

schools, sold Krispy Kreme doughnuts outside the Union, organised bag packing and of course created JustGiving pages. Further donations on fundraising pages further increased this total in the following weeks. “It was wonderful to see so many people out in support for COCO, the day was amazing and all of our volunteers showed huge dedication to the cause”, Vickers told The Courier. For any of you charitable daredevils out there another jump is planned for next year.

The Courier is printed by: Print and Digital Associates, Fernleigh House, 10 Uttoxeter Road, Derby, Derbyshire, United Kingdom, DE3 0DA. Established in 1948, The Courier is the fully independent student newspaper of the Students’ Union at Newcastle University. The Courier is published weekly during term time, and is free of charge. The design, text, photographs and graphics are copyright of The Courier and its individual contributors. No parts of this newspaper may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Editor. Any views expressed in this newspaper’s opinion pieces are those of the individual writing, and not of The Courier, the Students’ Union or Newcastle University.

The Courier


Monday 8 July 2013

Martin’s progress wows doctors

New ‘wonder drug’ has sparked a remarkable recovery back into remission

Third year biomedical sciences student was in critical need of a bone marrow transplant after relapsing due to his Stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma By George Sandeman News Editor Biomedical Sciences student Martin Solomon could be back on campus as early as next September. Over the last few months the Manchester-native has wowed doctors with his remarkable recovery thanks to a wonder drug. He is now back in remission and doctors have told him he could be well enough to resume his studies at the start of the next academic year. This is the second time the third year student has beaten back his blood cancer, after being diagnosed with Stage 4 Hogkin’s Lymphoma back in December 2007. He relapsed in August 2012 and since then his family, working with the blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, have been working tirelessly to find him a bone marrow match. Whilst a match still hasn’t been found, the wonder drug gives Martin stability for the foreseeable future. The work to find him a match will still continue as a bone marrow transplant provides a proven solution in the long term. Martin was being treated with Brentuximab Vedotin at The Christie in Withington. The drug works by targeting only the cancer-affected white blood cells,

meaning it has fewer and milder side effects compared to other treatments like chemotherapy. It is administered by an intravenous drip every three weeks after Martin’s white blood cells have been extracted and the drug has been added. Once the blood is returned to the body, the drug is carried to the canceraffected white blood cells by antibodies. The drug is currently not available on the NHS but trial results to date have show a positive reaction from patients in 74 percent of cases. The difficulty in finding Martin a bone marrow match can be attributed to his mixed race heritage. This effectively halved his chances of finding a match to 40% meaning Marrow - the arm of the Anthony Nolan charity working in university campuses to recruit donors - has had to increase its work in finding donors from ethnic minority backgrounds. Martin is turning 21 in July and plans on celebrating. He said: “I am hoping to go to Croatia for a holiday with all my friends this summer and I’d like to go back to university as well.” He added: “I can’t wait to get back to normal – I’m just so relieved.” All students interested in registering for Anthony Nolan can contact the university’s Marrow Society. Image credit: Instagram [@zeebee131] Over the Easter holiday the Marrow Society completed two cycling tours to raise money for blood cancer research. Racking up a total of around £21,000, two groups of students took on a coastto-coast ride from Whitehaven to Tynemouth and a mammoth journey from Land’s End to John o’ Groats. The 1,030 mile trip inspired a strong spirit of camaraderie amongst the 15 participants. Speaking to The Courier, medical student and organiser Matt Jones said: “By the end it was a bit like nobody really wanted to separate. “We did team huddles in the mornings and, I know it sounds cliché, but on the last day I read the speech from Henry V. The one that goes: ‘We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.’ “And another guy also did a bit from the film Cool Runnings where he goes: ‘I see pride! I see power!’ And we all chant that back and him. So it was lovely and emotional and also sad.” Describing how the cyclists kept themselves nourished, Matt said: “We were supposed to cook meals for our-

selves every night but there were quite a lot of parents who turned up to help. So there were big buckets of chilli and the like.” M. Steel CyThey racked up a cles of Goswho total of £21,000 forth, sponsored the over two rides cycling tops, including Land’s also helped out End to John o’ on both cycle rides as well as Groats the legal firm Irwin Mitchell who also sponsored the team. Paid for by the Students’ Union, a nine-seater minibus was used as a support vehicle and followed behind the riders with other members of the Marrow Society at the University volunteering to be the drivers. All 15 riders finished the trip despite having to cycle 90 miles into a headwind on the last day. “No one was going to give up, they were a tenacious bunch. “By the time we reached the finish we definitely felt like we’d earned it.”

Monday 8 July 2013

The Courier

Adventurous Alesha says ‘yes’ to life Taking cues from Danny Wallace’s book Yes Man, one student took it upon themselves to agree to new experiences for a whole month By George Sandeman News Editor For 30 days Alesha Sethia found herself in some rather more awkward spots than usual. From a rather uncomfortable blind date to “really fun” glass blowing, the 21-year-old didn’t have much choice but to go with the flow. Taking her cue from the Danny Wallace book Yes Man, and the film of the same name featuring Jim Carrey, the third year English Literature student decided to make things interesting for all of last November by not saying no. “It’s surprising, I was expecting more people to ask me to do bits and bobs.” Possessing a seemingly kind and compassionate group of friends, most felt “too bad” to make her do anything too embarrassing with the Worcestershire native’s initial task being to clean her flatmate’s room. “Nobody asked me to run around naked or anything and I would have done it if it was on a quiet street. But nobody asked me to so it was all fine.” In order to minimise the chance of

YES IT’S A BIG ISSUE Third year English Lit student Alesha Sethia became quite the avid reader of the famed publication Image: Alesha Sethia

being totally exploited by the rest of her friends, and strangers, the Guinness promotions girl kept her challenge largely under wraps. “Not that many people actually found out about it in the end but sometimes, when people were asking about certain things, I couldn’t really answer them without explaining that I was doing the ‘yes’ challenge.” She added: “I kept having to ask people to promise not to use the challenge to their advantage.” It wasn’t all plain sailing however as “the worst bits were definitely when I was out with sleazy guys around.” When not staving off creeping men, the Shortridge Terrace resident was helping the city’s most unfortunate. “I did have to buy The Big Issue quite a lot, that was like the stock task that people asked me to do.” After taking a leaflet from the wellknown white-bearded man outside of Campus Coffee last week, Alesha also experienced her first foray into the local jazz scene. Thanks to the persistent ‘charity muggers’ that crowd Northumberland

Street, Alesha is now also a member of Oxfam. A new piercing and several copies of The Big Issue later, Alesha was able to reflect on what had been a laugh, but also a life-affirming experience. “I started it as I kind of felt like life was too short and that you should really do everything that you can while you can. I wanted to look back and feel like I did everything I could. “I didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity because I felt I couldn’t be bothered.” She described how the experience had permanently changed the way she approached her everyday life. “I’ve genuinely started saying yes to more things, it snowballed from there. You meet so many different types of people by being more open to things and they are people who I wouldn’t otherwise have met or talked to. “They aren’t all good friends yet but there are definitely some people that I’ve met who I want to keep in contact with, it’s early days.” Addressing one of the odder activities she participated it: “I went glass blowing which was really fun and obviously something I wouldn’t ordinarily find myself doing. My friend suggested it and it ended up being really good. I made something cool through blood, sweat and tears. And blowing.”

The Courier claims coveted Guardian award By Ben Travis Editor The Courier was named Student Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards ceremony last November. The prestigious award was presented for issues of The Courier produced between September 2011 to June 2012 under the editorship of Kat Bannon, marking the first time The Courier has received the accolade in 18 years. Speaking on the newspaper’s success, Bannon stated: “This is such an incredible achievement. The commitment of last year’s team was faultless, dedicating countless hours and late nights that could have been spent in Sinners, or, god forbid, even on their degrees, ensuring The Courier was up to scratch every single week. “I’m so proud of them and grateful to all editors and sub[editor]s of times gone that have built the paper into what it is today. I’ve no doubt it can only get better.” Members of last year’s team have been quick to praise Bannon’s editorship. Former Sports Editor Colin Henrys, who was present at the awards ceremony, said: “Nobody deserves this more than Kat Bannon - though having her leaning over your shoulder at 4am when you’ve been in the office for almost 20 hours straight, telling you a line’s out of place on a page is incredibly frustrating - but I would definitely do it all again if I could.” Last year’s Deputy Editor and creator of The Courier Online, Elliot Bentley, added: “While the award belongs to everyone who worked on The Courier last year, Kat led the team with a bold vision for what a student paper could be. “She often worked seven day weeks to ensure that every aspect of the paper, from the biggest news stories to niche

sections, was up to the highest possible quality. “Winning this award is, I think, a testament to her hard work, dedication and general brilliance.” However, Henrys also recognised the quality of the paper was a team effort. “Anybody who knew us as a team least year knows how hard we worked, and how well we worked together. It set a really high standard for each other, and it’s fantastic we now have this award to show for it.” Bentley stated: “We worked hard on The Courier last year, but had loads of fun doing it, and hopefully that came across to the judges - and, more importantly, our readers.” The ceremony took place on Wednesday 7 October 2012 in London at The Guardian offices. “The awards ceremony was a great evening,” Colin Henrys recalled. “I was really surprised to find so many people knew of The Courier from outside Newcastle, and it was great to be able to meet professionals who still show a lot of interest in student media.” It was also a chance for recognised student journalists to rub shoulders with important industry professionals. “The awards ceremony itself flew by, but not without a touch of (journalistic) celebrity razzmatazz, including a speech from [The Guardian Editor] Alan Rusbridger and an appearance from the editor of NME,” said Bentley. “It was the closest I’ve felt to being some sort of media luvvie.” The last time The Courier received the award was in 1994 under the editorship of Simon Bird, now a sports writer for the Daily Mirror. Tweeting of the paper’s success, he posted: “Huge congrats to Newcastle Uni paper The Courier for winning Guardian Student Media best paper. @kat_bannon and team. Champs: 1994, 2012!” Further support from the industry flooded in on the social networking site, with congratulatory tweets from James

Lyons, the Daily Mirror’s Deputy Political Editor, and BBC Sport journalist Jamie Gavin. This is the second year in a row that The Courier has seen success at the Guardian Student Media Awards, with former News Editor and Editor Elect Simon Murphy claiming Reporter of the Year at the 2011 ceremony.

This year The Courier had the pleasure of being able to declare itself an award-winning student newspaper, after being named Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards for the first time in 18 years

The Courier


Monday 8 July 2013

‘Big Bang Theory meets Barbie’ in acclaimed student business By Emily Keen Newcastle science students and entrepreneurs, Brigitte West and Rose Brown, have received £2250 in funding to develop their hugely popular blog, Beauty by the Geeks. The funds were awarded as part of a Newcastle scheme to encourage new student businesses. Beauty By The Geeks was launched on the 2 March and aims to demystify the science behind beauty products. Within a week the page had over 7,000 views and now has 430 email subscribers. The blog also now features as a guest page on major online fashion directory fu“We’ve been Rose interested in the spoke to The about science behind Courier how the blog our beauty prod- got started: ucts for years, so “We’ve been interested in we decided to the science beput pen to paper hind our beauty and try to demys- products for so we detify this science years, cided to put pen for others too!” to paper and try to demystify

Two science student entrepreneurs devised an online business idea for a beauty blog with a scientific twist, gaining lots of hits and winning funding from the University business school this science for others too!” Brigitte adds that they make the science accessible by “putting it into laymen’s terms, not scientific jargon”. The blog has different sections to bust the myths beneath the bottle. ‘Beauty Bothers’ offers product advice on combatting problems like stretch marks, cellulite and damaged hair. ‘Meet the experts’, which includes interviews with scientists, dermatologists and beauticians, deconstructs the science behind popular products. It includes a recent interview with Professor Tom Kirkwood CBE, the Associate Dean for the Institute of Ageing and Health at Newcastle University, explaining the science behind ageing. Brigitte says: “It’s really interesting to look at the science behind beauty products. A lot of the time it’s there, but just not very accessible”. The blog also contains a DIY section, so followers can recreate their favourite products. “We take natural ingredients and mess about in the kitchen with them.”

Campus embraces inner child to help combat exam stress


Students take part in the Students’ Union’s Inner Child Day, designed to provide some light relief from the pressures of exams. A petting zoo, bouncy castle, school disco and Pilates session featured in the day, alongside the distribution of party bags.

Brigitte says that “once we know the science behind them, we make our own recipes”. Following the popularity of their DIY kitchen cosmetics, the girls will be running workshops over the summer in association with Scientista - a STEM foundation. Rose explains; “We’re really interested in educating young girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) related subjects”. The ‘geeks’ intend to use beauty as a vehicle to draw in potential scientists. Brigitte says: “We want to prove that science can be cool and challenge the stigma that science isn’t for girls”. Rose adds that they want to “revamp the stereotypical anorak female scientist”. With the funding, the girls will be refurbishing the website to make it “less clinical and more colourful and interactive”. They hope that this will increase the appeal to a younger audience. As Brigitte says: “It’s about getting everyone into science!”

The Courier


Monday 8 July 2013

Locusts watch Star Wars to help collision study As Newcastle continues pioneering scientific research, this study proved a particular favourite By James Simpson This year, Newcastle University’s own Dr Claire Rind published a paper in the International Journal of Advanced Mechatronic systems. The paper entitled ‘Visually stimulated motor control for a robot with a pair

systems with cars Dr Rind found that “could be applied to cars but technology has to be simplified” which in turn takes away the functionality of this. Taking what they learnt from previous research they applied this to form new ideas about the way the biological technology could be used. They decided to look more at the optic

Research involved sitting locusts in front of a camera watching the scene where Luke Skywalker is flying through the small tunnels of the Death Star as well as showing them scenes of Darth Vader of LGMD visual neural networks’ has expanded on research which Dr Rind has performed over the last 25 years of her career. The previous research involved sitting locusts in front of a camera watching the final scene from Star Wars, in which Luke Skywalker is flying through the small tunnels of the Death Star, as well as showing them scenes of Darth Vader. Dr Rind then “looked at the large neurons which fired up when the locust thought it was on a collision course” and used the data they collected to look at how we the system could be transferred for human use. When looking at collision avoidance

pathways and inputs and then Dr Rind designed a computer programme to study these. This then assisted in building an artificial sensor, which they then applied to a small robot (pictured). The eye was a hemispherical mirror that relayed video images from light input to the researchers. The input was then converted to images and painted a picture for the robot so it was able to see what was in front of it. The sensors used put in control the sensors in a ‘graded way’, enabling images. The systems mimicked those seen in a locust, even down to how the robot processed the information much like


The insects are being used by researchers to develop anticollision technology Image: Simon Fraser

a locusts brain by recording from two halves of the eye (left side and right side). The researchers placed different objects in front of the robot, including Lego bricks and a hand. The system coped well with all the systems and managed to avoid collisions. The collaborations with researchers in China and Hamburg will continue to “build vision sensor to tune for higher

speeds”. It is then a possibility that it could again be applied to cars if the technology advances enough. The important thing here is the speed of transduction of the initial stimulus to the action been carried out. Once removing such things as pressure and human delays, the technology can hopefully advance. The biological mechanism is thanks to

evolution that has adapted the locusts to “exquisitely adapt for collisions”. The systems being studied are those which are used by locusts as a last ditch attempt to avoid predators or lose height quickly. The research will continue from funding from the European Union and Dr Claire Rind here at Newcastle University will remain at the centre of it.

Comedy cast cater for freshers in aid of Comic Relief Fundraising efforts continued this year, with RAG teaming up with Comic Relief to bring the cast of Channel 4’s Fresh Meat on campus

A Friday morning in March saw the arrival of the Channel 4’s Fresh Meat cast in Newcastle. The visit was part of a series of sketches filmed at the UK’s top Universities with the purpose of raising money and awareness for Comic Relief.

the time of morning, comically shouting: “What do you want! Get on with your day!’” to a dressing gown-clad boy and advising students to “stop ignoring the fruit”. Laura Dilnot of the Comic Relief Media Team reiterated their motto ‘Funny for Money’, yet was also careful to remind students that: “It’s not necessarily about how much money is made, but

Set up by Newcastle’s RAG committee, the stars served breakfast to excited Castle Leazes students alongside the full time catering staff to encourage donations to add to the Red Nose Day collections. Above the bustle of service, Zawe Ashton, who plays the character Vod, could be heard promoting extra hash browns in return for donations and Jack Whitehall, playing JP, munched on sausages whilst serving star-struck students. Greg McHugh, the show’s Howard, was particularly energetic considering

rather to inspire the student population by raising awareness of the charity”. Dilnot proceeded to detail the rest of the day’s activities including a tricycle race in Durham, a series of lectures at Leeds and “the potential for rap battles and DJ sets”. Dilnot voiced her mock concern that Jack had threatened to take off his trousers in the heat, and minutes later her predictions were proved correct as Jack served sausages to queuing students in his boxers. Speaking to The Courier, Kimberley Nixon, who plays dentistry student Jo-

By Laura Wotton

Set up by Newcastle’s RAG committee, the stars served breakfast to excited Castle Leazes students alongside the full time catering staff to encourage donations to add to the Red Nose Day collections

DONATE NOW Zawe Ashton, who plays the imperious Vod in Fresh Meat, dons the famous red nose during breakfast at Leazes Image: Laura Wotton

sie, said: “The Fresh Meat challenge was a very different kind of challenge” and lamented that “although it was really fun, it was also very cruel as none of us had had breakfast and we were starving!” Surprisingly Jack Whitehall was already familiar with this particular halls of residence and revealed that, “Last time I was here I was doing a gig.” Head of Hospitality and Commercial service, Kay Jones, thanked manager Gaurav Kaushick, supervisor Alex Mitchell and chef Craig Pendlington for managing the morning and explained the “logistical challenge” of having an extra volume of people to cater for with the arrival of students from both Richardson Road and Marris House. A larger cooked breakfast was laid on especially to encourage as many students as possible to attend the fundraising event. Other fundraising initiatives included a raffle organized by RAG that promised a free breakfast with the cast. Raffle winners Natasha and Dom of Richardson Road, said: “It was amazing to actually talk to them in the flesh beyond what you see on screen” and described themselves as “speechless” upon their introduction with the stars. Newcastle was the first visit of their day trip aboard the ‘banter bus’ with Durham as the next port of call. All proceeds collected by RAG during their fleeting visit went towards Comic Relief in the build up to Red Nose Day on Friday 15 March.

The Courier


Monday 8 July 2013

O’Donovan takes two at ncl+ awards The ncl+ awards continued to recognise nonacademic student achievements, celebrating some truly incredible feats by the student body By George Sandeman News Editor James O’Donovan was awarded the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Personal Achievement at April’s ncl+ Awards. The fourth year medic also won the award for Entrepreneurial Spirit as the University and Students’ Union formally recognised his extra-curricular contributions. One of the businesses he has founded is ‘Higher Standards’, a non-profit fair trade organisation that has helped to fund a hospital in Uganda and school tuition for over 100 children. In addition, he started ‘USS Medical’ which seeks to widen access to medicine and ‘Diapet’ which provides blood glucose monitors for children. However, he is also the founder of ‘The Golden Games Organisation’, a sporting festival aimed at the over-60s which seeks to give them a competitive platform, and was singled out for being particularly beneficial to the local, national and international community. Speaking to The Courier, he said: “I’m really surprised, I didn’t expect to win anything at all. I need to say a massive thank you to my friends and tutors for providing me with an amazing support network.”

first ever Disability Awareness Week. Events included the ‘Not all disabilities are visible’ campaign and the inaugural awareness-raising Wheeliators event. Sidney Parker took home the ‘Community Spirit’ award after setting up the non-profit ‘Medics2Mongolia’ organisation that saw him drive a donated ambulance 10,000 miles to the country before then undertaking voluntary medical work there. He also organized a 193 mile coastto-coast walk as well as raising money for charities ‘Go Help’ and ‘Wish Upon a Star’. Matthew Hughes bagged the ‘Environmental Champion’ award for his work in Rwanda where he developed a new method of composting for a subsistence-farming cooperative. His new method has allowed the community, of 50 farmers and 116 children, to have better quality food and more sellable crops as well as saving them money to spend on education and HIV medicines. The ‘Contribution to Sport Development’ award was won by Hamish Adams-Cairns for his tireless work on behalf of the Rwandan Cricket Foundation in their quest to build the first cricket stadium in Rwanda. His fundraising activities include charity events with big names like Brian

Sidney Parker drove a donated ambulance 10,000 miles to Mongolia before then undertaking voluntary medical work in the country Revealing what his plans were for next year, he said: “I’m going to be spending some time at Harvard as a Kennedy scholar and will be giving some health and business management lectures.” He has also just set up a fair trade fashion company called Elimu with One Direction’s Harry Styles on board who will be wearing their clothing during the band’s world tour. O’Donovan added: “I’m really excited about it and all the profits are going back to Uganda.” James Pringle was chosen as the runner-up in the ‘Entrepreneurial Spirit’ category for his promotion of grassroots comedy via an app he created called ‘Laugh Louder.’ Having secured £10,000 worth of seed capital, he developed and launched the product in July 2012. The app allows users to find and book tickets for live comedy across the country. The prize for ‘Best Society of the Year’ was awarded to the Islamic Society, the largest society on campus, for their engagement and outreach programmes with the local and university community. Their ‘Discover Islam’ week helped to promote religious and cultural understanding on campus as well as holding several fundraisers for charitable causes. Marrow Society won ‘Most Improved Society’ of the year after their fundraising and recruiting activities for Anthony Nolan. Part of their work includes the ‘match4martin’ campaign, which this newspaper helped launch, and extensive cycling activities including a 24-hour cycle and a coast-to-coast trip which featured a mammoth effort from Land’s End to John o’ Groats. Students with Disabilities Officers Martina Dietrich and Caroline Shorthouse took home the prize for ‘Academic & Peer Representation’ for their work in the Students’ Union which included organising the University’s

Lara, a 100km group night bike ride around London and running a marathon. The stadium aims to be open sometime in the next year to coincide with the twentieth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. Fellwalking Society President James Dodd was awarded ‘Society Officer of the Year’ in recognition of his work that included organising weekly trips of up to 50 people. In addition, he was in charge of ensuring their safety throughout the trips that took place in some of the country’s most remote areas by utilising his extensive mountain experience. The ‘Arts & Culture’ award was given to Hollie Johnson for her work in circus performances and community projects. She was an assistant director and performer in the Olympic Torch relay event at Newcastle Quayside and has been a dedicated advocate of the ‘Five Ring Circus’; a network of circuses for young people across the North East. Barbara Phillips-Kerr was also given special recognition as she enters retirement at the end of the year. An assistant director at the Careers Service, she was responsible for the inception of the event and as an organiser over the last five years. Speaking to The Courier, Emily Porter, Activities Development Coordinator at the Students’ Union, paid tribute to her: “The success and development of the ncl+ extra-curricular achievement awards is just one of her contributions in her amazing 25 year career at the University. “Her passion and drive for recognising and celebrating students’ accomplishments, as well as her brilliant sense of humour, have made her an absolute joy to work alongside and she will be missed very much! Everyone at the Students’ Union would like to wish her a long and happy retirement.”


Monday 8 July 2013

The Courier

In 2006, Max O’Connell, a Modern Languages and Film Studies student here at Newcastle, tragically lost his life as the result of an accident during his stay as an Erasmus student at the University of Cádiz, Spain. In his memory the Year Abroad Prize was established. Here we showcase the work of the winners, Jacob Weber and Amy Wright

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Max O’Connell travel writing competition

Las Fallas - the festival of fire By Jacob Weber Every year at midnight on the 19th of March, the third-largest city in Spain is set ablaze. Over 500 bonfires, some five storeys high, burn on street corners and in the squares throughout the town. The air hangs thick with the smells and sounds of gunpowder and firecrackers. And curiously, no one is doing a thing about it. In fact, the entire city has come to watch. This is exactly why they’re here. Las Fallas is a two-week traditional festival commemorating Saint Joseph held in the coastal city of Valencia. It is the epicentre of the region’s cultural calendar and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year to what Lonely Planet describes as “Europe’s wildest spring party”. The roots of the tradition are not fully known – fallas derives from the Latin fax (torch) - but are reported to date back to the Middle Ages when artisans would burn any pieces of wood left over from winter labour to celebrate the ar-

rival of the spring equinox. Over time, and as the Church began to intervene, this began to coincide with the festival of Saint Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. This celebration of woodwork and construction is ever more evident in the modern age, as skilled and dedicated labourers have added polystyrene, paper and waxworks to their builder’s armoury to spend months (and at the top end of the scale, hundreds of thousands of euros) building elaborate, gravity-defying statues – to be burned down in a matter of minutes. These caricatures line the streets of Valencia – each neighbourhood has an organised council known as the casal faller that works all year long and eventually produces a huge wooden construction called a ninot (puppet or doll) which is set alight at the end of the festival upon a cardboard and papiermâché monument, the falla itself. These are all built according to a very satirical theme, poking fun at whichever figures or events in popular culture have come under the critical eye of the falleros – the participants. Many of the ninots remain

traditional representations, but characters such as George Bush and Lady Gaga have been joyously set ablaze in recent years! There are more than 500 fallas in Valencia, including those of other towns in the wider community, and each and every one is unique. The neighbourhoods all aim to attract the best artists to create the most outrageous and grotesque displays, competing for first

the harmony of cosmopolitan and traditional Valencian culture. The most breath-taking firework displays light up the skies above the magnificent City of Arts and Sciences, a triumph of modern architecture and the city’s most important tourist destination. Elegant medieval costumes and religious parades meet Erasmus fancy-dress parties in the streets. Disney characters sit side-by-

Many of the ninots remain traditional representations, but characters such as George Bush and Lady Gaga have been joyously set ablaze in recent years place in the Sección Especial – the most prestigious prize a falla can win. Winning this title also ensures that the fruits of their labour will not be quite literally turned to ash, as every winner of the Sección Especial since 1942 has been preserved in the Museo Fallero. They are the only fallas to be spared the flames each year. Las Fallas in modern times represents

side Spanish fairy-tale creatures towering over the Plaza Ayuntamiento – the epicentre of the festivities and home to the loudest, most unpredictably terrifying firecracker displays on earth. These are called mascletàs, coordinated displays held at 2 p.m. each day starting on March 15th, becoming progressively more thunderous and aggressive as the end of Las Fallas approaches. This is the

battleground of the pyrotechnics, who are vying for the honour of providing the final mascletà of the festival on the 19th of March. These displays are held at every fallas in the city as the clock in the Plaza chimes 2, at the behest of the Fallera Mayor calling from the balcony of the city hall. The central mascletà quite literally shakes the ground, and the deafening noises are so intense that pregnant women are strongly advised not to attend. The narrow streets surrounding the square are packed tightly backwards for over one hundred metres – grabbing a spot near the front requires arriving at least two hours early and a strong bladder. However loud, this remarkable display is really just an extension of the rest of the daily chaos that the Fallas celebrations inspire. Each day of the festival is started with la despertà (‘the wake-up call’). At 8 a.m. the brass bands pick up their lively tunes and march through the streets of the city. Behind them, the fallers throw firecrackers for good measure, ensuring that this is quite unlike any wake-up call you’ve ever had. Once you’ve accepted that there aren’t pillows in the world thick enough to drown it out, you have to admit, however grudgingly, it works. Valencians start as they mean to continue, and the despertà quite literally sets the tone for the rest of the day. The screeches and

The Courier


Monday 8 July 2013

dull explosions of fireworks echo relentlessly around the city – visitors might be surprised to see the elderly residents throwing cheap firecrackers around the streets with as much gusto as the children, who run giddily through the streets waving sparklers and getting as close as they dare to the loudest bangs. Sweeping burnt fuses and debris off one’s balcony becomes part of the daily routine. The acrid smell of gunpowder is unmistakeable. Impromptu band performances strike up throughout the afternoon, playing rhythmic folk tunes for performers and spectators alike to sway and jig along to. Whistles and drums from members of the crowd eagerly provide backing support. The local expression for all this is quite accurately follón de ruido (insane noise). Visitors should stick to open spaces and remain vigilant, as rounding a dark corner to face twenty schoolchildren armed with explosives and itching to play with them is not an experience for the faint-hearted. A strong bladder is advised in this instance as well. For the students – and there are many of them, the two universities in Valencia occupy second and third positions for incoming Erasmus students alone among European institutions – Las Fallas is their ‘spring break’. An extra week of holidays is added to the university calendars, and the numerous public holidays in March combined with the novel concept of ‘puente’ (literally, bridge; students skip the day after a public holiday as well to enjoy a fourday weekend) ensure that no potential drinking hours in the sun are wasted in a sweltering and uncomfortable lecture hall. The five days and nights of Fallas are simply one continuous party, with the implicit aim to kick off the first event of each afternoon, be it a parade or even a flower offering – these students aren’t fussy – with a drink in each hand and make it through the night in time to dance along with the despertà on your doorstep the following morning. Some of the spectacles, particularly the cabalgata del fuego – the Fire Parade – are simply too good to miss, and the collective energy and buzz from the endless crowds is more than enough to keep you out of bed. Las Fallas brings the very best out of Valencia and her citizens, and the overwhelmingly positive impact that tourism has brought to the area is plain to see – so much so that there have been discussions held over bringing some dates in line with the weekend, to maximise the number of potential visitors. The local climate certainly plays a part in attracting them; Valencia enjoys on average 300 days of sunshine a year, and the four days of the festival are blessed with them. Recently, the festival has created a dedicated local industry, which has grown to the point that an entire neighbourhood area has been designated the Cuitat Fallera – City of Fallas. Here the most intricate and outrageous ninots are designed and crafted in full view of the public in specially cordoned areas. The mix of colours, sights and smells – you rarely find yourself more than five feet from a cart selling fried churros, bunyols and pores as well as the all-familiar chestnuts – is something truly unique. Even the multitudes of colourful t-shirts with outrageous puns across the front (‘I’m on Falla’ was a popular choice) add to the canvas. Should you be fortunate enough to find a view, the skyline across Valencia just after midnight on the 19th of March is a sight quite unlike any other, as the city is truly engulfed by fire and billowing smoke. Beyond the buildings, towards the hills, fallas flicker in the distance as every town in the Community of Valencia (almost 9000 sq. miles) put their own beloved creations to the torch. And in the heart of Valencia itself, in the Plaza Ayuntamiento, the wry smiles of the casal falleres are illuminated in them – already looking forward to the next one.

Ya’an Jia you: Responding to Sichuan’s earthquake By Amy Wright On May 12th 2008, Wenchuan in Sichuan province, China, suffered a devastating earthquake which measured 8.0 on the Richter scale and killed over 69,000 members of the public. The magnitude of this earthquake was so great that it was felt all over this vast country, causing skyscrapers to sway even 1600km away in Beijing. This year, on 20th April, history repeated itself; another earthquake struck Sichuan. The epicentre of this year’s earthquake was situated in Ya’an, only 116km south-west of the city of Chengdu, where I have been living for the past nine months. The quake measured at around 7.0 on the Richter scale, and thankfully resulted in only 196 deaths, a fraction of the death toll of the 2008 earthquake. This is not to say, however, that this tragedy was not taken to heart by the Chinese population. It is evident that the painful memory of the 2008 earthquake is still fresh in the minds of Chengdu’s residents. During the days following the Ya’an earthquake, many Chengdu citizens could be seen camping in parks and playing fields, preferring to stay in the safety of the outdoors for fear of another tremor. It has even been reported that although in the city itself there were no casualties directly resulting from the recent earthquake, several people flung themselves out of high windows in a panic, tragically resulting in serious injury and even, in some cases, death. Considering that Chengdu city suffered very little damage from this particular tremor, it is certain that none of this would have occurred if it were not for the disastrous events of the Wenchuan earthquake 5 years ago. On the day of the earthquake, I myself was out of town visiting a tourist attraction only 50km from the epicentre, and, as I was surrounded by normal citizens

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

of Sichuan who remember the events of the 2008 earthquake vividly, the effect it had had upon them soon became apparent. Upon feeling each of the numerous aftershock tremors, which occurred throughout the day, my local friends would run through the exit to the safety of the outdoors, while I nervously remained seated, feeling a little confused as to why everybody was making such a fuss over a tremor not even strong enough to knock over a glass. Eventually everybody was evacuated from the building and told not to reenter, while some construction workers appeared to be investigating the structural safety of the building itself. This was in sharp contrast to the daytrippers taking the events in their stride, wandering around the park in a seemingly relaxed manner; apparently some had made the conscious decision to spend the day in the countryside away from tall buildings to avoid any risk. Upon returning to Chengdu, everything appeared to be business as usual, with the majority of people carrying on with their daily life. Having absolutely no experience of a natural disaster of this calibre myself, I am grateful to have had the guidance of local people, who fully understood the gravity of the situation, and seemed to know exactly what to do straight away throughout the day of the earthquake. Although I was not adversely affected, evacuating the building was obviously the sensible thing to do, especially considering that China’s building regulations are nowhere near as strict as at home. Furthermore, collapsing buildings are by no means the only cause of concern during an earthquake such as we experienced; objects such as light fixtures could easily come loose and fall, injuring whoever may be standing below. My friends from Newcastle, who were in in the middle of Chengdu city when the earthquake occurred, were, in contrast, at a loss as to what to do.

The solidarity displayed by the Chinese population in the wake of this tragedy has been astounding. There have been countless videos posted on Chinese video website of members of the public as well as celebrities sending their support to the citizens of Ya’an. Posters and banners can be seen everywhere bearing slogans loosely translating to: “Ya’an, don’t give up, we are with you”. Especially notable is a disabled beggar in Urumqi, Xinjiang province, who donated 1003 yuan (£106), his entire takings from the last two months, to the earthquake relief effort, keeping for himself just 50 yuan (£5.30) for food. The beggar, originally from Xichang, Sichuan province, wanted to help the people of his native home in any way that he could, and news of his generosity quickly went viral among Chinese internet users. This poignant act of selflessness is made all the more valuable by the current distrust of and reluctance to give money to the state-run Red Cross Society of China, due to recent scandals over possible corruption and mismanagement of donations. It is also for this reason that many Hong Kong residents are refusing to donate to the earthquake relief effort; they are worried about whether or not their money will indeed reach those suffering rather than line the pockets of executives. This controversy has resulted in the majority of donations to the relief effort being made to NGOs rather than to governmental organisations. Another internet sensation has emerged in the form of Chen Ying, a Ya’an news anchor who reported on the earthquake wearing a bridal gown. At the time of the disaster, Ms Chen was just minutes away from getting married, but instead rushed to the disaster area to cover the story, claiming that she did not have enough time to change her clothes, before returning to her wedding ceremony after she had finished

broadcasting. The majority of the Chinese online community have applauded her professionalism, putting the news before her personal commitments on such an important day in her life. However, others have accused her of exploiting this tragic event, using it as a publicity stunt to become famous overnight, and criticised her coverage, saying that her smiling was disrespectful of those suffering in the wake of a huge disaster. The internet has also played a much more direct role in the aftermath of the earthquake, with Sichuanese users of the social network Sina Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter, posting practical advice on how to deal with the disaster, based on personal experience from the 2008 earthquake. These suggestions, aimed both at those affected and at relief volunteers, were consequently forwarded on by hundreds of thousands of netizens in an attempt to inform those involved on how best to handle the situation. It also worked in reverse; those residing in areas severely affected by the earthquake made use of Sina Weibo by posting updates on exactly what and where help was needed. To take a case in point, many well-meaning volunteers quickly started to drive out to quakestricken areas, intending to lend a helping hand, but this was soon discouraged by posts by the victims on the website, saying that traffic on the roads was preventing ambulances and police rescue teams from reaching the victims. These kinds of posts from people in earthquake stricken areas have also served the double purpose of providing extra coverage of the story. During the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, updates were provided via bulletin board services, which proved to be a slow method of relaying news, as well as often providing inaccurate information. This time, the public has been kept informed in a much more timely manner by this amateur journalism, as well as in a more personal way, evoking concern en masse for those suffering. The Ya’an earthquake has definitely opened up some mental wounds for those that experienced the 2008 earthquake. However, the public response to this calamity has been overwhelming, particularly over the internet, which has become an invaluable tool to helping and expressing support for those affected. As the Wenchuan earthquake occurred in 2008, before the dawn of social networking sites such as Sina Weibo in China, it is abundantly clear quite how important the use of social networking, as well as the internet as a whole, has been in responding to this year’s earthquake. The assistance provided by normal citizens has been indispensible, and without the internet playing the key role that it did in informing the online community of the needs of the earthquake victims, this quick response would never have been possible. The internet has also provided a medium for people everywhere to express their sympathy and support to those affected by the earthquake, which has been incredibly touching, as well as raising awareness of the plight of the victims. At the time of writing, almost a month after the initial earthquake, we in Chengdu are still experiencing the occasional mild aftershock, so it is reassuring to think that members of the public have taken it upon themselves to spread the word of this on-going catastrophe.


Monday 8 July 2013

The Courier

You can go Ward or you can go home

Feeling jealous of all your mates who have plans for after they graduate? Since finishing his English degree last summer, Tom Ward has won a prestigious writer’s award, met Muhammad Ali and is about to release his debut novel A Departure. Chris Binding spoke to him about his first year post-uni


or many individuals, a trip to university can be a life-changing experience - a chance to re-invent yourself, experiment and prepare for life in an ever-changing world. But imagine if that world was characterised not by opportunity, but by immediate anarchy, death and violence. Would you have what it takes to survive? This is the question Newcastle English graduate Tom Ward asks in his debut novel A Departure, a dark methodical human drama described as ‘28 Days Later meets Lord Of The Flies minus zombies’. The story follows teenage protagonist Michael setting off on a journey to escape a post–apocalyptic England recovering from devastating human loss at the hands of an unknown disease. As a novel defined by discovery and exploration, the theme of ‘the journey’ is one that resonates with Tom’s personal experiences, writing the novel across over five years between solo globe-trotting and studying at Newcastle. “I certainly think university fed into the narrative,” he explains. “I wrote the majority whilst at university and really, the whole novel centres around Michael leaving home and finding his way in the world, which many of us come to do when we leave for uni.” Although most people’s gap years end up as another stale notch on a CV, it appears Tom’s experiences travelling alone through India and Mexico fed directly into the imagery of isolation sprinkled throughout the prose. He elaborates: “Travel is absolutely necessary and should be part of any young person’s experiences. The more you know of the world, the more you’ll be able to write about. In terms of my own trips, I took some long journeys, hitchhiking through Northern Mexico and feeling like a tiny speck of dust in a huge country, or seeing a Hindi funeral service in India Varnassi where they burn human bodies in front of you. Seeing a human body burning is not something you’ll quickly forget.” Viewing the world with a literary eye is certainly something that fuelled the social criticism of A Departure; from a terrifying set piece in a refugee camp led by a corrupt MP and violent soldiers, to small town bigotry and racial hate crimes, no–one is spared the author’s critique. “I can’t claim I know enough about politics to be able to speak about MPs with authority, but they do seem like a slimy bunch. I think a lot of MPs are so patronising that it’s hard to really connect with them and feel like they’re speaking to you, or have your best interests at heart.”

With the scathing metaphor of a politician running a prison camp and small town mobs beckoning shambling hordes of undead, the imagery of freedom and imprisonment also feeds into biographical elements of the horrors of provincial town stagnancy. “I’m from a small town and a lot of people here seem to think the sun rises on one side of the town and sets on the other. No-one should want to spend their life in a small town. The first two or three chapters are pretty close, geographically even, but I purposefully didn’t name the town as I think the feeling of wanting to escape is something a lot of young people can relate to, and then when uni comes, it’s a breath of fresh air.” As character Michael’s dreams of escaping to pastures new become a reality though the literal apocalypse, Tom sees a strong identification with his protagonist Michael that has grown and developed along with his own university experience. “I was 18 when I started writing and put myself in the protagonist’s shoes. Although Michael is 18, he quickly meets older people and the novel broadens out to society as a whole. But I think 18 is a natural age for people to start looking beyond their garden fences and wanting to know what’s out there. Also, none of us feel young or incapable at 18, it’s an age when you think you can handle anything.” Yet despite starting the novel with rough ideas pre-university, it was an arduous journey getting the novel from concept to publishing quality. “I started when I was 18 and wrote maybe four chapters, then it sat on the back burner until uni. I wrote a little bit in second year, but didn’t really knuckle down until third year. I finished it in February 2012, tried to get an agent, but couldn’t - thankfully I have one for my second book - and then I sent it to some indie publishers. I was actually in Norman Mailer’s house last November (as part of the GQ award) when Crooked Cat sent me an offer. I wasn’t sure at first, but I emailed Tony Parsons and he said I should do it. Then it took a good few rounds of edits to really make it the best it could be, then we had to pick artwork and sort a few formatting issues. It took just over a year all in all. In terms of research, I had to find out about how a human body decays, and what would happen with things like the loss of water and power in such a scenario.” With a very blatant, cheeky reference to classic horror Dawn of the Dead within the novel, Tom was adamant when writing to avoid both the dreaded ‘Z’ word and clichéd set pieces, in-

“It was tempting, but I didn’t want to write a zombie book. It would restrict it to ‘horror’, rather than just a book about people.”

“You have to write what you enjoy first and foremost”

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Monday 8 July 2013

“It was an honour to meet Muhammad Ali, he’s a true icon”

Photo: James Mullinger

stead grounding his novel in human emotions and providing a strong pallet of character types to accompany Michael on his odyssey. “It was tempting, but I didn’t want to write a zombie book. Although shows like The Walking Dead are great on making it about the characters, I thought making the threat zombies would take away from that too much. Also, it would restrict the book to ‘horror’, rather than just a book about people, or however you want to classify it.”

While the term “book about people” may seem a little self–depricating, A Departure is a lot more complex, filtering observational critique through scenes where Michael’s nerves, patience and humanity are pushed to the limit by the potential atrocities humans can commit given the right circumstances. Yet despite this, the novel is surprisingly positive for a genre normally characterised by nihilism, offering potential solutions in even the most harrowing of situations. “I think my outlook is generally positive. You see horrible things happening on the news, like the recent events in Boston, but the way people rally together has to be uplifting. I think society might fall apart though, at least for a while, until some sort of ruling body could be established.” While the horrific sequences are handled with genuine skill and foresight, the slow–burning scenes often come from the freedom of a world without rules. Tom acknowledges filmmakers George A. Romero and Danny Boyle as storytell-

ers that “turn normal places into fantastic environments just by offering their characters that much more freedom and free reign over the places we all live in.” He also calls Cormac McCarthy - the “greatest living writer today” - his idol, drawing from a literary tapestry cultivated at Newcastle University. “The course at uni was fantastic, because it introduced me to writers I never would have read of my own accord and massively expanded my horizons. I’ve thanked a few people in my book, but James Proctor was a great lecturer who I had a few classes with. I’m sure I borrowed parts from a lot of the novels he introduced me to.” Yet modest literary references cannot stand on their own without raw talent, which was officially recognised last year with Tom winning the prestigious GQ Norman Mailer Student Writing Award. The achievement undoubtedly opened many doors, including a publishing deal with Crooked Cat Books and the opportunity to mingle with influential industry names. Tom reflects: “It felt insane. I received the email when I was in Berlin, so I felt a bit disconnected and didn’t really think it was real. But it was an honour to meet Muhammad Ali, he’s a true icon. I was also lucky enough to meet director Oliver Stone and he was fantastic. I’ve e-mailed him a few times and he always replies, as does Tony Parsons, they’re so grounded for such big names.”

With a second novel City of Arsonists - a ganglaced ‘punk’ book with echoes of Fahrenheit 451 - in editing, a literary agent and an abundance of ideas, Tom remains down-to-earth despite his recent success. “I think you have to write what you enjoy first and foremost… The more you read and the more you write, the more you’ll pick up. Good films are great for thinking about how a scene is set up. In terms of publishing, it’s a subjective business, so if one agent doesn’t like it, it doesn’t mean another won’t love it.” With an un–pretentious style, poignant characters and a great take on the contagion narrative, A Departure believably explores the human heart nestled within darkness, and is a memorable debut from a confident and original literary voice. As a writer at the cusp of his own departure into the industry, open to script–writing and film adaptations of his work, Tom’s personal summation of his novels message is a pertinent reminder of his own journey and a message for aspiring writers. “I think it’d be nice if people read it and knew that even if things are tough, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I think things happen in cycles, so just keep going and it won’t be long before you’re back on top.” A Departure is available in paperback and as an eBook via Amazon. You can follow Tom on Twitter @RenegadeViper.


Monday 8 July 2013

Celebratory convocation cuisine

For many of you, graduation will mark your last proper night in Newcastle, and while this may mean a trip out to all the old haunts is on the cards, you should also take the chance to treat yourself to some amazing food from the city’s nicest restaurants - you know, the ones you’ve gazed longingly at for years but never really been able to afford. And if you’re lucky, your parents might be willing to settle the bill at the end of the night. With many to choose from, we took it upon ourselves to do the hard work and find the ideal place for you to celebrate finishing University...

Blackfriars Where? Friars Street How much? Set menu, £15-£18 Cuisine: Hearty British cuisine in a unique, rustic venue


t the end of at least three years of study in Newcastle, there’s a decent chance you’ve already been to Blackfriars when treating to yourself to something a bit classier than Nandos. With an excellent reputation for being one of the best restaurants in the city, it’s certainly special enough to warrant a trip for a celebratory post-graduation meal. The restaurant, a former friary, is set off in a little courtyard on Friars Street – though you’ll more likely know it as that little alleyway between The Gate and Tiger Tiger that you’ve accidentally stumbled down on a night out. It’s nicely set away from the main roads of the city centre, but you won’t have trouble getting yourself down there, as long as you can handle cobbled streets if you choose to wear heels (this has proved a struggle for a few friends on previous visits). As you might expect from a historical venue which dates back to 1239, Blackfriars is renowned for serving a menu of hearty British food, full of classic rustic dishes. The décor also fits this theme – wooden chairs and tables, dim-but-notdingy lighting and the original stone exteriors retain a unique atmosphere that you won’t find replicated elsewhere in the city. For starters, the ham hock terrine with home-made piccalilli was delicious – the meat was sumptuous, nicely seasoned and generously portioned. There was no dodgy jelly in sight, just

tasty pink ham with a welcome dollop of spicy relish, served on a wooden chopping board for an extra pastoral feel. My friend opted for potted smoked North Sea mackerel, with gin pickled cucumber and toasted sourdough. The mackerel went down quickly – always a sign of approval - but there was a bit of confusion over a layer of waxy preservative on top; to eat it or not? The sourdough was a particular favourite, although the ratio of toast to mackerel was reportedly lower than would have been ideal. Generally though, each dish received a thumbs up. One of the things Blackfriars pride themselves on are locally sourced ingredients – just see the illustrated placemats for an idea of where all the food on your plate has come from. With that in mind, I couldn’t turn down the prospect of North Sea fish and hand-cut chips – a different setting, but just as tasty as the stuff you get at Marshall’s on the Tynemouth coast. The batter was light and crispy and the fish was nicely crumbly, a squeeze of lemon adding to the flavour. The minted peas weren’t my sort of thing, but added nicely to the wide range of tastes in the dish. As a British staple, fish and chips is the sort of thing you expect Blackfriars to do very well, and they didn’t disappoint. On the other side of the table, my friend was apparently looking for the stodgiest-sounding dish he could

find (after all, students usually just want something comforting and filling), opting for home-made pork sausages, mashed potato and onion gravy. Against expectations, the sausages were surprisingly spicy but this was a welcome development and they were munched down in a matter of minutes. The spice of the sausage was complemented by the sweet, rich onion gravy. Mash potato always has the unfortunate task of inevitably being compared to your mum’s mash, and Jack decided that it was a little bit lumpy for his tastes. He did, however, declare that “lumpy is the style at the moment”. So, if you want hip, contemporary mash, Blackfriars is the place to be. There was an extensive drinks menu, but the house white was the right choice to go alongside the fish and chips – however, someone with a bit more of an in-depth wine knowledge might find a lot to like in the pages and pages of whites, reds and rosés on offer. Jack chose a beer that he decided would go better with his bangers and mash. Blackfriars is still one of the best places at doing what they do – hearty, filling British food that has a real taste of home and using locally-sourced ingredients. Just watch out if you’re heading out in a restrictive dress – you may leave your table at the end of you meal feeling a little more like a fat friar. Ben Travis

The Courier

The Courier


Monday 8 July 2013

Pasqualino’s Where? Theatre Royal How much? £20-30 Cuisine: Forget pizza/pasta - this is fancy Italian


hen it comes to Italian restaurants, it’s hard to know what you’re going to get – something that does an admittedly great happy hour on pizza/pasta, or something a bit more authentic. Walking into Pasqualino’s, you’re immediately reassured that these guys are professionals doing ‘proper’ Italian. The ambience is sophisticated but comfortable, and the staff were perfectly attentive and welcoming. Decked out in stylish 1920s art deco-type posters and a rich, luxurious colour scheme, there’s an immediate and unmistakable atmosphere to Pasqualino’s that sets it apart from many other Italian restaurants in the city. I started with cod croquettes, which were served with a caper berry salad and aioli. It was presented beautifully and the flavours were well-balanced – it’s always a healthy sign when you feel you could have devoured another plateful, and I easily could have eaten this dish twice. My friend had a tomato garlic bread - despite being on the starter menu, it was a massive portion, but totally worth it. As a good friend, I helped her finish it. For our main courses, I went for a pizza; a proper Italian thin-based sour dough pizza, with a gorgeous tomato sauce, just the right amount of mozza-

rella, and the combination of roast pepper and rocket pesto meant that it was not too rich but irresistibly moreish. Although Pasqualino’s is a restaurant that doesn’t need to rely on the tried-andtested ‘pizza/pasta’ staples to call itself an Italian, that doesn’t mean they don’t do that excellently too. That said, as good as the pizza was, my friend went for the daily special which was lamb shank with parsnip puree and green lentils. It was the star of the show. The lamb fell off the bone effortlessly and the sauce was lovely and rich but when combined with the light parsnip puree led to a completely perfect dish full of flavour, nicely filling but always pulling you back in for just one more bite. By this point, we both felt thoroughly stuffed but thought it might be rude not to partake in puddings – we ended up sharing a dish from the specials board; crème brulee with plum sauce at the bottom. Thank goodness we were sharing – the portion was massive but was absolutely delicious. It was definitely the best crème brulee I’ve ever had (a big claim) – I would have loved to have finished it, and I likely would have done had I not already eaten my entire body weight in food. Pasqualino’s is truly Italian and a thoroughly classy meal out. The food was

exquisite, with a mix of traditional dishes as well as the more expected (but still entirely welcome) pizzas and pastas. I would recommend it to anyone look-

Electric East Where? St. James Boulevard How much? À la carte, £11-£18 mains Cuisine: Dishes from Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, as they should be


think I could eat a whole cow’s worth of this,” said Mark, my friend and flatmate of three years, as he polished off his dish of seven spiced rubbed sirloin steaks. This tender beef bonanza was accompanied by a suitably scrumptious serving of Bombay chips with a tomato and coriander fondue which the rest of us eyed up rather enviously. “No seriously, I really want more.” And that rather neatly drew the bottom line of our foursomes’ experience at the splendid Electric East restaurant. Exquisite flavouring, taste bud-smashing food that left you wanting much more. That said, perhaps the portion size can be forgiven considering Mark is an outand-out carnivore. Whilst the food is certainly top-notch, so is the decor, with traditional noodle house-style benches. Most impressive was the unique Southeast Asian furniture that inhabited the near end of the restaurant. As comfortable as it was artistic, it helped form what felt like a very unique fusion of Asian artwork and decoration. Noticeable were the paintings and prints depicting various aspects and statements of Vietnamese communism as well as rolling countryside and paddy fields ubiquitous in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. There were also nods to Buddhism and its influence on regional culture, but what really piqued my interest was the totally awesome tuk-tuk sat outside on the restaurant’s

terrace where you could picture yourself sipping a Bintang had the weather been better. For starters, we ordered the tempura king prawns, salt and chilli squid strips and Thai crispy rice balls which all went down a treat - the tempura prawns being a particular highlight. Crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, it represented something akin to the seafood equivalent of a Ferrero Rocher, except instead of the smooth chocolatey centre you have a drizzle of soy sauce that provides a hint of zing to accompany the soft prawns. Aside from Mark’s aforementioned assortment of sirloin steak, Lyle ordered a vegetarian dish that consisted of a trio of hearty samosas that were dressed with a vindaloo and tomato sauce, whilst Melissa chose a delicious Pad Thai - surely a staple of every selfrespecting Southeast Asian restaurant - and I a delightful lamb rump Massaman curry. The latter tasted so good it evoked memories of once living in Thailand in a way shockingly similar to the scene in Ratatouille involving Peter O’Toole as food critic Anton Ego. (On a slight aside, it’s a classic Pixar film you need to watch if you want to understand the concept of gastronomic contentment. Seriously.) The cinnamon, cloves and cardamom in the Massaman waft around the plate and only serve to make your mouth water even more as you wait for your friend’s dishes to be brought to the ta-

ble. The rice was also a pleasant surprise as it had the mostly dry but sticky-ish consistency that you strive for but rarely achieve, if you’re me at least, when cooking at home. The result was the delicious curry sauce being soaked up. Aside from the portion size feeling as though it wasn’t quite big enough, the service was too slow for what seemed a relatively standard Thursday night. Whilst we filled the void with plenty of chatter about the last three years of uni, it would have been nice if the food came a little quicker that it did. But it did prove to be worth the wait and even the desserts were top notch with a Vietnamese coffee a particular highlight. Using a nifty coffee glass plus mini cafetiere, the result was a regional favourite that consisted of a rich and strong coffee aroma with a creamy chocolate flavour due to the signature use of condensed milk. The roasted banana and salted caramel cheesecake provided a sensory feast for all sugar lovers whilst the iced trio featured truly creamy ice cream and a tangy fruity sorbet. However, the dessert that everyone else was bargaining for a spoonful of was the chocolate and peanut butter tart with a dollop of ice cream and white chocolate sauce. As well as being a carnivore, Mark isn’t really a sharer so we sat enviously as he made sounds denoting his pleasure. Electric East your Asian flavour was glorious, thank you. George Sandeman

ing for a really nice meal in a stylish but slightly less formal environment, with food that feels special without impacting too hard on your wallet. And con-

sidering the high quality that Pasqualino’s provides, it’s all very reasonable. Sally Priddle


Monday 8 July 2013

The Courier

The Courier


Monday 8 July 2013

Jesmond Dene House Where? Jesmond Dene Road How much? From £65 per person Style: High class rooms and high quality dining


hether you’re stuck for somewhere to stay once your house contract has run out or you need a nice place to ditch the parents while you nip off to celebrate in the trebles bars, graduation is the perfect excuse to treat yourself to something a few pegs above your standard Travelodge fare. By far your best option is Jesmond Dene House, located… you guessed it. Just a five minute walk away from Ilford Road Metro station, Jesmond Dene House is a wonderfully picturesque 19th century mansion-turned-hotel, treating its visitors to a location that’s easily accessible but away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre and its suburbs. Nestled in the lush greens of the Dene, it makes for a wonderfully calming retreat. Upon arrival, we were given a brief tour of the facilities on offer – reception, a leisure room, bar and restaurant (we’ll come back to that) – before being shown up to our room; generously-sized and nicely furnished with everything you’d expect from such an established hotel. A radio/iPod dock meant you could set any musical mood you liked (whether

you fancied a bit of Daft Punk or something more Barry White), and if a lovely view across the Dene wasn’t enough eye candy, there was a TV and DVD player ready to use. It wouldn’t be a proper hotel visit without making the use of the complimentary slippers, dressing gowns and… a bath! I use this term speculatively – it was more the size of a jacuzzi. Never one to miss the opportunity to upgrade from a tepid student-house shower, a relaxing dip amongst a ludicrous amount of bubbles was the perfect way to feel refreshed for a trip down to the restaurant. After ordering drinks, we were shown through to our table in the conservatory area of the restaurant. For a sophisticated eatery, the atmosphere was more comfortable and casual than expected, though with impeccable service. The starter of broccoli soup with stilton and walnut tortellini was absolutely delicious – rich, full of flavour, and wonderfully presented. Who knew greens could taste that good? Across the table, the garden pea soup gained another thumbs up from my partner who confidently declared it “the best soup

ever”. For mains, I couldn’t help but order the flat iron steak with béarnaise sauce and heritage potato chips – needless to say, it was a decision I didn’t regret. Ordered medium-rare, it was beautifully cooked with a nice pinkness in the middle, complemented wonderfully by the creamy sauce. As for the chips? That perfect roast potato crispiness on the outside, and fluffy in the middle. My vegetarian other half chose the Farfalle pasta with spring vegetables. The pasta, she concluded, was “perfectly al dente” - high praise coming from somebody with Italian family. The vegetables were crunchy and fresh, causing my partner to proclaim that she “didn’t know vegetables could even taste this good”. Having filled up on bread, soup, steak and chips, the prospect of having anything for pudding but a bit of light ice cream seemed impossible – and even that seemed like a task. But in the name of investigative journalism, we ploughed on – a range of flavours were offered, but chocolate came out on top. After a quick espresso and even more complementary mini desserts includ-

ing macaroons, fudge and chocolate mousse, it was time for the great effort to peel ourselves away from the table and crawl back towards our room. The bed, which had looked so comfortable and impressive earlier, was the perfect place to crash. After what can only be described as one of the best nights sleep ever, we were feeling refreshed and with great excitement once again headed down to the restaurant for breakfast. Still feeling full from dinner the night before, we immediately headed for the large range of continental breakfast foods available, including; fresh fruit, yoghurt, cereal, chilled meats, cheese, bread and pastries. However for those after something heartier, the cooked breakfast menu had numerous options from a local full English to freshly made waffles. Overall, if you’re deep into your overdraft you may want to look for cheaper options, but if you’re treating yourself after years of (mostly) hard work for your degree then the quality, luxury and ideal location of Jesmond Dene House make it the perfect place to stay. Ben Travis


Monday 8 July 2013

The Courier

Divine and conquer Don’t know what your post-Uni future holds? Nor did Features Editor Tom Nicholson - until he met Newcastle’s most illustrious soothsayer, that is...

With graduation lumbering ominously into view, I’ve been thinking about the future more and more. I’m sure I’m not alone in contracting the Third Year Fear: the encroaching, horrifying realisation that there will be no more loan day and I might have to – gulp – get a job very, very soon. The future looks more than a bit scary from where I’m sat, so any pointers as to what the road ahead will look like – whether it’ll be a primrose path or the dodgy alleyway behind Sinners, complete with urinating vagrants – are of immense interest to all of us leaving University this year. Handily, there’s a ready solution to this uncertainty camped in Bigg Market three days a week: step forward Angeline Lee, a third-generation Seer, second-rate matchmaker, and first-class wagon-painter from deepest Wales

Pre-gypsy prep: Who is this future-head?

Angeline Lee’s gaily painted caravan has visited Newcastle since 2001 and enjoys a steady stream of visitors every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Most patrons are, like me, just idly curious as to what lay behind the rippling curtain at the entrance of her caravan, and in the half hour or so I hung around Bigg Market about six or seven different groups of people went through the same motions upon seeing the caravan: first, glancing at the caravan; then, looking intently at the signs; then laughing with their friends about the idea of fortunetelling; then, finally, pulling a ‘what the heck, carpe diem’ expression and creeping on in. This is exactly what I did too. The board outside proclaims that she is “a real Welsh gypsy”, and gets her gift of foresight from her grandmother. Further research informs me that Angeline lives in Durham, and commutes in from there with her caravan in tow. However, there was a time about five years ago when her charming caravan/office had to be repainted, and for a week or so was replaced by the kind of white plastic monstrosity normally seen clogging up motorways and Devonshire country lanes of a bank holiday weekend. Fortunately, the caravan in which Angeline’s parents and grandparents once lived has been restored to its former glory, and it was into this abode which I stepped to find out my future. The interior of the caravan is very cosy indeed, with a roaring stove by the door, a child at Angeline’s knee doodling intently on a pad of paper and three Chihuahuas tumbling about on a bunk bed behind her head. Before I’d

even sat down, Angeline had fixed me with a riveting stare and starting rattling through my options at two hundred miles an hour in her clipped Welsh accent. I decide to settle for a single-palm reading rather than a “full-body reading”, mainly because I didn’t think the bunk bed would be able to take it. Then, as I started to realise that there was a fair chance the stove at my shins might set me on fire, Angeline said, “Open your left palm, and I’ll see what I can See for you”, and we delved into my future...

The fog is lifted: What Angeline told me “You like music and entertainment.” This was astute, though maybe aided by my I <3 MUSIC t-shirt and ENTERTAINMENTS 4 LYF woolly hat. “You’re optimistic. You worry too much about little things before they happen.” I’m not sure quite how one could both maintain a sunny disposition and quietly suspect that everything was about to come crashing down around their ears without having an aneurysm. Nice basecovering there, Ange. “You don’t need drugs to make you happy...” At this point I decided it might be tactful to not ask if I could start racking up lines of coke on her stove. “…but a little drink, it won’t hurt you.” Is this a prediction or is this general ad-

vice? Either way, it’s nice to know that the Fates are on my side come Saturday evening. “You’ve got a bad habit you need to quit.” I do bake a lot of bagels. Sometimes it feels like I live on a gluten-only diet. I also eat a heck of a lot of cheese. The cheese shop in Grainger Market are probably going to send in the bailiffs fairly soon if I don’t clear my tab. “There’s a man called Kevin you mustn’t trust, also a man called Tony.” I bloody knew there was something dodgy about Kevin Costner, not least the fact that in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves he and Morgan Freeman manage to whizz from Dover to Hadrian’s Wall and then back down to Sherwood Forest. Why, Kevin? IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE, KEVIN. I lent Tony Robinson my Die Hard boxset the other day too. Never going to see that again. “Two women are in love with you, you don’t mind me saying that…” Not at all Ange, that’s cracking news. “…but one of them, she’s a cheating get. You’re better off staying away from her.” Oh. Thanks for the heads-up. I’ll say one thing for fortune tellers: they’re extraordinarily adept at identifying a buzz and then stamping all over it. They make less than ideal din-

ner guests. Just as you’re preparing the cheese course, they’re apt to “You’re going to be a lawyer. Go for it, you won’t regret it. You’re going to be a great lawyer.” This is a bit of a surprise. I’ve never considered going into law in any capacity, though I’ve watched enough Ally McBeal to know the basics. The only way my lawyerly instincts are going to be called into action is if I end up having to defend myself in court though at least I’ll manage to get myself acquitted, which is

a relief. “You’ll have a trip to London. You’ll also go to America.” My older brother has just moved to Greenwich, so a trip to London is most certainly on the cards (if you’ll excuse the pun) and I’ve wanted to go to New York for ages. In print, the America prediction does look a bit more threatening than it was perhaps intended. I can’t help thinking I’m going to be extradited. Although, of course, being a super-lawyer I’ll spring myself out almost immediately and probably get some sort of medal as an apology for wasting my time. “Someone has got strong feelings for you…”

The Courier


Monday 8 July 2013

An Alternative Geordie Palm-Reading

Newcastle has more lay-lines than fake tan lines you know 1 As we can see, this person has a shorter than average index finger (1), suggesting that they have a habit of being late for Metros and frequently gets their hand trapped in the door while diving, desperately, across platform one at Haymarket.

The prominent fame line (5) augers that the subject will recover from their near-death experience and become a local hero by taming the wild cows of Leazes Park and giving almighty high fives aided by his massive middle finger (6).




The life line (2) and head line (3) both look truncated, which tells me that the subject will become addicted to Greggs steak bakes within twenty-four cycles of the moon, and end up bankrupted by their obsession.

I think this must be about the lollipop man outside West Jesmond primary school. He resents the fact I use his services despite being 21. “…but you’re afraid of commitment.” Well, I’m afraid of the lollipop man committing GBH with his childherding stick one of these days, so this is sort of true. “You’re very close to one of your parents, but the other one you don’t really get along with.” Happily, this isn’t true. “You won’t turn out gay.” An oblique prediction that I’ll never

meet Ryan Gosling. Alas. “You’ll settle down and be married between the ages of 21 and 26 and you’ll have three kids.” Rather earlier than I was hoping for, but beggars can’t be choosers. “March will be a very lucky month for you.” Eighty lottery tickets a week it is, then. “You’ll drive a black sports car.” Seeing as the last time I drove a car I ended up getting shunted and my Mum got lumped with a £1700 bill, this prediction might



not come true until Aston Martin start making dodgems.

Looking back at the future So, there it is; my future in a nutshell. I don’t mean for this article to be an attack on Angeline Lee’s abilities, or otherwise a mean-spirited exposé of a charlatan who makes a living ripping off gullible members of the public. Having your palm read by a very pleasant and courteous Welshwoman is just a bit of fun, and Angeline is undoubtedly a very gifted cold reader. I’ll admit that at the time I was a little piqued at having to pay £5 for her to tell me that I enjoy entertainment.

Horrendously overweight and temporarily crackers, they will suffer a heart attack (indicated by the lackadaisical heart line (4)) while attempting to clamber into Sinners’ cage, under the impression that it is the only place to hide from Metro ticket inspectors.

However, on reflection I’ve realised that I would happily pay anyone upwards of fifty quid to tell me that two women are in love with me, if only for the sake of my ego. In fact, I’ll probably go back, bung Angeline another fiver and see if she can spirit up their phone numbers and a brief biography for each. In the meantime, I’m going to go and hang around outside Newcastle Crown Court handing out business cards. I think the most apposite ending to this experience is to repeat what Angeline called after me as I walked away from her caravan: “There’s no magic. Life’s what you make it, yeah?” I realise that it sounds like a cliché I’ve lifted from the end of a sub-standard ‘80s teen movie, but it is true. Looks like I’ll have to sit my exams after all. Thanks for nowt, Ange.


Monday 8 July 2013

The Courier

The Courier’s Intra Mural season review

Division One 1. Medics 2nds

Even though the Medics 2nds were newly promoted, there was always a good chance of winning the title with their strong squad. Over the past few seasons they’ve been building towards a Division One title bid, so whilst the success was not unsurprising, it certainly wasn’t expected. A few big names will be leaving at the end of the year, so they’ll be looking to build on the squad for next season. Neil Dalton

Player of the Season Dave Gardiner

2. Barca-Law-Na

Barca’s season started slowly but has picked up pace towards the end with a run of impressive results. With a strong finish in the Wednesday league Barca pulled themselves up to the runnerup spot which many would not have predicted before Christmas. They also found themselves in the semis of the Wednesday cup and going into the Saturday cup final with optimism. Hoctor and Hurwoth’s goals were invaluable. Olly Ingram

Player of the Season Jamie Hurworth 3. Medics 1sts The early stages of the season saw Medics 1st net 17 goals in 4 games and take a comfortable 3-0 win over the ‘noisy neighbours’. However, things capitulated for the league favourites as a string of poor results ended in defeat at the hands of the 2nds to lose both the title and any remnants of pride. After strong protests from fans outside the Medical School, the Medics 1st have undergone a management reshuffle. Ben Emmerson

Player of the Season Joel English

4. Henderson Hall This season has already provided the team with its first bit of silverware in the form of the Wednesday cup. Hendo finished runners-up to the Medics 2s in the Saturday league, although Wednesday league form took a dip towards the end of the season as other competitions became the focus. A fair few of their lads are in their final year at Newcastle, so the team will need to bring in some fresh faces next year to build on this year’s success. Adam Kaznowski

Player of the Season Jimmy Taylor 5. Dyslexic Untied A season of two halves; Dyslexic were as poor before Christmas as they were outstanding after it. A talented young squad should provide a platform on which to build next year, although cup success is still the most likely source by which the team can end their barren six-year spell without a trophy. Chris Smith

Player of the Season Dom Robson 6. Crayola

Despite Crayola being relegated from the top tier of Intra Mural football, it has been a campaign of great success. Completing the double over Henderson Hall has to be the highlight of the season, traditionally a strong team Crayola put in sterling performances to ensure they don’t end the season without reason to be proud. Sam Turner

Player of the Season Theo Strong

7. Borussia Forsyth They didn’t expect anything at all from the season so to come away with probably the worst record in history means we’ve achieved something. So, good season then. Hugo Tapp

Player of the Season Alex Blofield

Division Two 1. Ecosoccer A decent, yet undeniably disappointing season. With this year being the last for half the squad, Eco set about instilling the structural discipline, composure, playing style and dynamism necessary for the ever evolving challenges faced by a Wednesday Div 2 Intra Mural team. With some fantastic new additions brought in as a result of pre-season trials, and a reformed weekly training schedule on the 3G, their efforts soon reaped rewards. Eco have ended the season as champions, despite teams pushing them all the way. Tom Warren

Player of the Season James Homer

2. The Hurricanes This year has been the Hurricanes’ most successful season coming a close runners up in the Wednesday cup - seeing off opponents such as Barca-Law-Na along the way, and gaining promotion from the Division 2 to the Intra Mural top tier. Adam Duckworth

Player of the Season James Ripley

3. Boca Seniors Season’s gone well although I genuinely feel we were the best team in the two cup matches we lost this season and

could have gone on to win them so that was a little disappointing but that’s just sport for you. Sadly I am leaving this year but if I had to stake my money on who was going to be winning it all next year I would say Boca as the youth we had this year are insane. Charlie Rowley

Player of the Season Ben Hunter 4. Aftermath Started off very strongly winning all of their games, but inconsistency later on in the season cost them possible promotion, ending up mid table. Adam Shelton

Player of the Season Adam Jones

6. Castle Leazes Leazes had a disappointing season on Wednesdays but a largely promising season on Saturdays, just missing out on promotion. Unfortunately Leazes were relegated in the Wednesday due to sheer inconsistency. Leazes had a great start to 2013 winning five games on the bounce in the Saturday and Wednesday leagues combined. Sad to see Matthew Ellams Oliver Cook and Kyle Hyndman leave after three or more years of playing for Leazes comes to an end. Alexander Jones

Player of the Season Alexander Jones

7. Lokomotiv

Newly promoted Villa have had a respectable first season in Division 2. After picking up good results early in the season with wins over Boca Seniors and Castle Leazes, they secured their status with one game spare. Ralph Blackburn

Despite being tipped as one of the favourites for promotion, with a much touted midfield, points deductions late in the season saw the team relegated to the third tier. A good season apart from this, a fine victory against promotion chasing the Hurricanes was a highlight. Sadly the team is now folding after terrific four years, with some players leaving to join Division One newcomers the Hurricanes. Sam Turnock

Player of the Season Nathaniel Wilcock

Player of the Season Tom Clark

5. Roman Villa

The Courier


Monday 8 July 2013

Division Three 1. Jesmondino Jesmondino football club, captained by James Rumball, lived up to their huge potential by remaining unbeaten throughout the season, storming to the Division 3 championship. Alex Smith’s contribution of 16 goals led the vicious attack while the presence of Jonathan Webb at the back held the team together. James Rumball

Player of the Season Alex Smith

2. Brown Magic Brown Magic successfully achieved a surprise promotion from division 3 on the final day of the season, keeping their nerve on the last day of the season to beat Newist 3-1 and finish runners up in the league. This will be the first time in Brown Magic’s history that they are playing in Division 2. The season started brightly for Brown Magic, yet a mid season slump losing to Politic Thistle and Jesmondino put promotion in doubt. However the key turning point came when playing in the snow Brown Magic beat Politic Thistle 3-2 with a late winner from top scorer Phil Leddington-Hill. Promotion was achieved on an emotional final day of the season with Phil Leddington-Hill grabbing another goal. Matthew Brown

Player of the Season Phil Leddington-Hill 3. Dynamos

The politicians underachieved after an excellent start saw them challenging for the top 2 at the beginning of the season.. Good individuals but never gelled as a team all year. Missed their key player, defender Nick Ramsey for most of the season, which was disappointing. Owen Elias

Player of the Season Tris Benson

5. Scorgasms Despite eyeing promotion at the start of the season, a poor start left the Scorgasms floundering in the relegation zone. Veteran captain Declan Ferry pulled his troops together, and a late season surge saw the Scorgasms hit that much vaunted 12 point total. Ralph Blackburn

Player of the Season Max Shirley 6. Newhist

It was a season of two halves for Newhist. Some good performances at the beginning of the season had them in contention for promotion but a disappointing series of results after Christmas saw Newhist slide town the table. Still plenty of positives to take and the experience from this season will undoubtedly help a young squad in the future. James Thornton

Player of the Season Michael Minto 7. Bio Neverlosen

The season went very well for the Newcastle Dynamos, who missed out on promotion on the final day.. The squad really pulled themselves together after a tough first season and the Dynamos have been unlucky not to be in the top two. Consistency has lacked a bit but hopefully next season’s gaffer Liam Kirrane can build on a solid season and challenge for a league title. Joe Osman in particular has had a flawless season in the centre of midfield after signing last summer. Neal Lees

Player of the Season Joe Osman

4. Politic Thistle

Bio Neverlosen got off to a pretty slow start and continued to bring irony to the name until a 2-0 victory over Newhist. Neverlosen have a woeful defensive record and an even worse goal scoring record, however having they managed a 1-0 victory against Politic Thistle for our final game after all celebrating handing in our dissertations the night before. This was a proud moment and made up for poor season. John Nash has frequently solid performances in defence. Luke Smith

Player of the Season John Nash

Division Four 1. Bayern Toonich It has been a remarkable season for FC Bayern Toonich, one that only went from strength to strength in the wednesday league. After ironing out tensions between certain bench and starting players, we were all singing of the same hymn sheet. The final two games of the season were by far the most nail biting and hard fought by Toonich, drawing twice against a very impressive runners up team Thundercats. Every single player deserves a mention for loyalties on and off the pitch, particularly Henry Page having broken his jaw and missed two months of the season he retuned to play crucial part in our closing games of the season. Will Whiteaway and Sam Heward were unsung heroes in the centre of midfield constantly stopping opponent fluency. A season never to be forgotten in Toonich history, the players of 2012/2013 can certainly be labelled the invincibles or the next golden generation, similar to La Masia in Barcelona. Bring on the bigger challenges of 2013/2014. Johnny Armour

Player of the Season Jack Mesquita

2. Thundercats Thundercats had a decent season which ended in promotion (2nd) and a cup quarter-final which was tragically lost on penalties. Next season they are aiming for back to back promotions but this time finishing top. Top goal scorer was Tom Prichard with 23. Stevie Gould

Player of the Season Edwin Eshun

3. S-S Liege Sub Standard Liege had a great start to the season but as injuries and availability issues arised in the latter part of the season our campaign tailed off and we were disappointed to miss out on the top two. Jordan Mundy Gill

Player of the Season Jake Wimshurst

4. Establishment The Estabishment led by Xander Fraser established themselves with a solid mid table finish in their debut season. After chasing promotion for much of the season, a loss to the Thundercats on the last day of the season saw the Establishment miss out on the play off places narrowly. Ralph Blackburn

Player of the Season Xander Fraser 5. Trigger Happy

It’s been a mixed bag season, some big wins, some big losses. At the start the team didn’t gel, but as the season progress a good understanding of one another came about. Player of the season has to be undoubtedly Joe Hammil, a number of hatricks and a four goals in one match. James Wright

Player of the Season Joe Hammil

6. Geomatics Christopher Holland’s men had a disappointing opening season in Intra Mural football. Holland led from the front, scoring regularly, however it was not enough to stop Geomatics losing ten of their twelve games and finishing in the bottom two. Captain and striker Holland picked up a respectable eight goals over the course of the season, however an early charge petered out and Geomatics slumped to find themselves in the bottom two. Ralph Blackburn

Player of the Season George Corcoran 7. Crystal Phallus

The ‘Phallus’ had a disastrous season, winning a solitary game and conceding 75 goals. Anchored at the bottom of the Intra Mural football league, diamonds amongst the rough were Ste Benwell and John Picke. The goals were shared around the team, however this was not enough to keep Phallus from avoiding the ultimate wooden spoon. Ryan Sewell

Player of the Season John Picke

THE COURIER’S INTRA MURAL DREAM TEAM ST - Nathan Campbell (Medics 1sts)

Campbell’s early season goals helped propel the 1sts to the top of the league, whilst their form dropped off, his never did, with excellent movement troubling defences.

LM - Guy Hindley (Medics 2nds)

Hindley was consistent in both attack and defence. His whipped balls set up countless goals for Josh Batham, and set piece delivery again provided a lot of assists.

ST - Adam Duckworth (Hurricanes)

This season Ducky notched his 100th IM career goal. With 24 league goals, and more in the cup, saw his team, the Hurricanes, get promotion and to the final of the cup.

CM - Tom Needham (Medics 2nds)

Needham’s link up play, connected defence and attack for the 2nds. He saw passes that few else saw, always comfortable on the ball and chipped in with a few goals.

CB - Dave Gardiner (Medics 2nds)

Gardiner, nominated as the Medics’ 2nds player of the year, was a rock at the back of the title winning side. His passing out of the back was excellent, with regular goals from set pieces.

CM - Robbie Sweet (Hendo)

Webb was the rock at the centre of the title winning Jesmondino defence. Sadly he broke his leg on the pitch near the end of the season, however when playing he was unflappable

Pudner’s cat like reflexes denied Adam Duckworth and the Hurricanes repeatedly in the cup final to secure Hendo there first trophy for several years.

RM - Chris McCrory (Hurricanes)

Sweet was the star of the cup winning Hendo side. His devilish set pieces set up all of the goals in the semi and several in the final, an undisputed match winner.

Jonathan Webb (Jesmondino)

GK - Chris Pudner (Hendo)

ST - Johnny Armour (Toonich)

Johnny Armour’s 21 goals saw his team, Bayern Toonich run away with the Division Four, scoring a record 70 goals.

McCrory, who played on both left and right wing, was a mainstay of the successful Hurricanes team. Himself, Duckworth and Tom Holroyde were the spine of the side.

CB - James Homer (Eco)

Homer’s story is a true rags to riches tale. After continually asking Eco captain Tom Warren to be able to train with the team, after getting a run out in a cup game, Homer made the centre back position his own. His partnership with Bart Smith was the tightest in Intra Mural football, and Homer is the new Eco captain.

Sport Monday 8 July 2013 Issue 1273 Free



AU Officer Laura Mason and the AU Exec celebrate the victory with Roary the Lion Photography: Ralph Blackburn

Newcastle hit Poly for six

Newcastle edge to narrow 78.25 - 64.25 win to reclaim the trophy

By Nick Gabriel Sports Editor Newcastle secured their sixth consecutive Stan Calvert triumph over Northumbria in March, battling to a relatively narrow 78.75-64.25 victory in this year’s much anticipated competition. Whilst the result was significantly closer than last year, Team Newcastle were delighted with the hard-graft shown across the sporting board to win the University an unprecedented sixth consecutive crown. Speaking after the trophy ceremony, Fraser Kennedy was unsurprisingly delighted: “Once again everyone connected, stood up to be counted. It was an unbelievable collective effort. We should all be extremely proud.” He continued: “It amazes me how we always switch on and pull out all the stops to beat them.” Athletic Union Officer Laura Mason said: “I’m absolutely thrilled with the result, I can’t believe we’ve done it for another year. Thank you and well done to everyone who competed, you really

Stan Calvert victory is Newcastle’s unprecedented sixth in a row

put your best performances in. It was very exciting, as the results were quite a bit closer than in previous years.” The run-up to this year’s event was plagued by a number of disagreements between the two universities regarding what events should be a part of the competition and where certain matches should take place. The most notable change to the itinerary eventually arrived in the relocation of a number of key events away from Gateshead International Stadium. With so much emphasis being placed on the practical technicalities surrounding Stan Calvert in the weeks leading up to the event, it was undoubtedly a huge relief for all the concerns to be ironed out prior to the start of the competition, enabling attention to turn to matters on, rather than off, the pitch. Fittingly, the huge number of spectators willing to brave the baltic midMarch weather conditions for the competition’s final fixture at Kingston Park between the two Rugby Union 1st XI’s was testament to the true spirit of the competition, or as Kennedy described it, “the hard work, dedication, blood,

Northumbria salvage pride in Rugby Union showpiece finale

sweat and tears [of the competitors].” With a number of events taking place prior to the actual day, Newcastle were able to begin the defence of their 2012 crown in staunch fashion. On the Thursday night, Men’s Football 1sts laid

the three Men’s Hockey teams on the Friday, working to give Newcastle a commanding, but not unassailable, 2917 lead heading into the Sunday. On the day itself, there were exceptional performances from a variety of

down a serious gauntlet to all those involved, securing a shock 2-1 win against their heavily favoured Northumbria counterparts. Whilst this was going on, Newcastle Women’s Futsal 1st team battled to a hard-fought draw against their BUCS Championship chasing rivals. Meanwhile Newcastle’s rowers cruised to victory in all four of their races whilst both the Men’s and Women’s Water Polo sides triumphed in comfortable fashion. This was followed by a clean sweep by

sports. Most astonishing were a series of incredibly tense netball games, in which the 1sts were narrowly edged out 48-49, whilst the 2nds and 3rds won 49-48 and 49-46 respectively. An equally memorable encounter that will undoubtedly become a mainstay of Stan Calvert folklore was played out at Longbenton between the two Men’s Football 2 XI’s, with Newcastle cruelly conceding a last-minute penalty to lose the enthralling affair 5-4. In addition to these close results, there

“Everyone connected stood up to be counted. It was an unbelievable collective effort”

were also a large number of games that were decidedly less so, as a fair few of Newcastle’s finest opted to indulge in a spot of aptly named ‘Poly bashing’. The women’s lacrosse smashed their Northumbria rivals 21-1, whilst the Women’s Tennis team put in a faultless performance to win their fixture 12-0. The Women’s Hockey 2nds won their match 7-0, whilst the Men’s Tennis 2nd team also served up an impressive display, winning their match comfortably 5-1. Although Northumbria put up a respectable fight with impressive victories in the basketball, volleyball and both formats of Men’s 1st team rugby, on the whole Newcastle were simply too good, outclassing their opponents throughout the decisive day. As such it was only a matter of time before the competition was ended as a contest. The result was made safe at around 5pm on the Sunday afternoon, with a win in the Men’s Squash for Newcastle. This secured the University their sixth straight title with a catchy final scoreline of 78.75 – 64.25.

The Courier 1273  
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