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Issue 211 Monday 9 February 2009

In The Mix this week: Budget food taste test Ethical fashion workshop Home alone on Valentine’s

FREE Prosecco Rosé Ruggeri bottle at Carluccios this Valentines Day

Bristol University’s independent student newspaper

Details revealed in appeal for information Latest attack at 5pm in Redland Park ELLIE HARVIE News Editor Police have issued images of a man they wish to speak to in connection with the series of sex attacks in the Clifton area, in the hope that the CCTV footage will lead to an arrest. Detectives investigating the case have revealed that they believe a student may be responsible for the string of attacks. Avon and Somerset Constabulary held a press conference last week in which a victim of an attack spoke of her experience, and further details were released about the suspect. Police revealed that there had been seven attacks around the Clifton Down area, two more than originally thought. Police issued information detailing that two women had been attacked in one night, on November 8 where two women were seriously assaulted within an hour of each other. A full description of the sex

attacker has been released, in which he is described as white, aged in his 20s, 5ft 10ins tall and wearing dark clothing at the time of the attacks. The man has an English accent, and approached his victims from behind before pushing them to the ground and sexually assaulting them. Police listed the locations of each attack in the hope of jogging the memories of potential witnesses. The seven attacks occurred between October 6 and November 21, since when there has been no further such incidents reported. The sites of the sexual assaults were Worcester Terrace, Pembroke Road, Hanbury Road, Whiteladies Road, Alma Road, Redland Park and Hampton Park. The footage recently released was taken on November 8, when he attacked twice in one night, and on 21 November, the time of his last known assault. Four of the attacks have happened in the early hours of the morning, between 2am and 4am, but three females have been attacked in the early evening, the earliest attack occurring at 5pm in Redland Park. Police revealed that they believe the man has been following the women up Whiteladies Road before approaching them. Continued on page three

Review of Vicky, Christina, Barcelona See Film, p.30

Photo:Extremesportsphoto.com

Sex attacker believed to be a student

Tears and walkouts at Union AGM Landmark decision over pro-platform vote Many question the integrity of process ROB TROTTER and ELLIE HARVIE Reporters

A lucky Bristol graduate is lifted to safety in Tignes after getting stranded on a rocky outcrop off piste. His companion fell down an 100ft precipice. Report on page 6

90

The percentage increase in teach rst applcations this year

The value of a Bristol University degree in a recession, p.12

Students and Sabbatical officers walked out of the Students Union AGM amidst claims of democratic failings, after a controversial ProPlatform motion was passed. Motion six will “safeguard the right of Bristol students, societies and organisations to ask anyone they deem appropriate to speak at an event they host.” In an emotional debate, critics argued that the motion could allow extremist groups into the university and endanger the safety of minority students. The passing of the pro-platform policy represents a first for any Student Union in Britain. If ratified by the Student Council on 19 February the policy will be in direct contravention of the National Union of Students’ decision to have no platform for extremism. Continued on page four

“Releasing a seventh album ranks lower than restoring faith in democracy” The return of the music awards season, p.24


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Issue 211 • MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009

09.02.2009 Epigram is typeset in Le Monde Courrier, Parisine, Akagi Ultra, and Prelo Slab.

Contents

Editorial briefs

3

NEWS

12

FEATURES

Website relaunch, Epigram promises listings revolution neutrality

16

COMMENT

18

LETTERS & EDITORIAL

22

ARTS

24

MUSIC

This space in Epigram, the ‘Editorial Briefs’, was relatively undefined at its genesis in the first issue of Epigram this year. It has evolved into a space which allows the editorial team to flag and direct readers to interesting and new parts of the newspaper. This issue, the section plays host to a quite important and exciting piece of Epigram-related news (hold your breath…). Epigram will be launching itself headfirst into the world of the online information hub. That’s

NIGHTLIFE

30

FILM

32

TV & RADIO

34 36

LISTINGS

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this paper are not necessarily the views of University of Bristol Students’ Union

Epigram is kindly supported by the University of Bristol Alumni Foundation. visit www.bris.ac.uk/ alumni for more information.

Tuesday 17, 5pm,

Tuesday 10, 1pm, The White Bear

MUSIC

FEATURES

Thursday 19, 5pm, The White Bear

NIGHTLIFE

Tuesday 10, 5pm, The White Bear

COMMENT

Tuesday 10, 5.30pm, Wicked cafe, Union

FILM & TV

Monday 16, 5.30pm, The White Bear

ARTS

Monday 16, 5.30pm, Wetherspoon’s

SPORT

Monday 16, 5pm, Wicked cafe, Union

newspaper. Epigram goes to great pains to report both sides of the story when it comes to any news report or feature, and we covered the referendum ‘No’ campaign extensively before and after the vote. However, Epigram also considers itself a newspaper that reports the balance of argument fairly. Hopefully readers will enjoy the new Union-relevant coverage on pages 4 and 5. Hopefully, they will see that Epigram is editorially independent and neutral.

THE MIX

Tuesday 10, 1pm, The Highbury Vaults

FASHION

Thursday 12, 1pm, The Highbury Vaults

Fashion

Sarah Sternberg

Deputy

Catherine Kernaghan

Sports

Michael Cox

Deputy

Ollie Jarvis-Bicknell

Listings

Jonny Young

Sub-editors

Alice Horrocks, Alice Brooksmith, Jenny Flack & Polly Silk

Design

Toby Milner-Gulland

Cartoonist

Jack West-Oram

Illustration editor

Carole Kenrick

The White Bear

Editorial team Editor Deputy editors

SPORT

The University of Bristol Students’ Union is in trouble. Epigram reports in this issue the dramatic events of the AGM, which could have hugely significant consequences, and the ratification/rejection of the motions passed at referendum a fortnight ago under the ‘Build a Better Union’ campaign. Epigram would like to use this opportunity to clarify itself editorially, specifically concerning its stance on the Union. The most important thing to emphasise is that Epigram is not a pro-Union

Section meeting times NEWS

29

a fancy way of saying that the newspaper is going online with a new website that will be replete not only with content, but also with up-to-date listings and more competitions and giveaways. So you won’t have to onto an un-updated website with Soviet-era design that lists events you don’t want to go to or rely on irritating flyerdistributers for information about what’s on. The new website should be live by the end of term. We’ll tell you when it is. Right here.

William Irwin

editor@epigram.org.uk

Georgia Graham

georgia@epigram.org.uk

Tiffany Philippou

tiffany@epigram.org.uk

Photo Advertising

John Edwards

photography@epigram.org.uk

BAM student marketing pct@bamuk.com

Comment

Jules Norton-Selzer comment@epigram.org.uk

Arts

Emily Shankar arts@epigram.org.uk

Deputy Music

Will Miles

deputyarts@epigram.org.uk

Tim Wong

music@epigram.org.uk

Deputy

Chris Clarke

Nightlife

Alek Petty Phil Eacott

Marketing

Claudia Newman

marketing@epigram.org.uk

Film/TV

News

Ellie Harvie

Deputy

Deputy

Jon Wiltshire

deputymusic@epigram.org.uk nightlife@epigram.org.uk

lmandtv@epigram.org.uk news@epigram.org.uk deputynews@epigram.org.uk

Features

Hannah Walters

Deputy

Andrew Naughtie

deputylmandtv@epigram.org.uk

The Mix

Ruth Symons

Deputy

Rehan Benson

features@epigram.org.uk deputyfeatures@epigram.org.uk

Ben Welch

Agony Aunt

themix@epigram.org.uk deputythemix@epigram.org.uk

Charlotte Burdock

fashion@epigram.org.uk deputyfashion@epigram.org.uk

sport@epigram.orguk deputysport@epigram.

listings@epigram.org

Illustrators

Louise Hayter Charlotte Whiteld

Web designer

Rosie Campbell


NEWS

MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009 • Issue 211 News editor

Ellie Harvie news@epigram.org.uk

Deputy editor

Jon Wiltshire deputynews@epigram.org.uk

News

Sex attack investigation team issues CCTV images

News in brief Bristol University researchers discover bovine love Photo: CCTV image issued by Avon and Somerset Police

Images released of man police would like to contact as part of investigation Continued from page one A reward of £5,000 has been offered to anyone who can provide information which leads to the arrest and prosecution of the attacker, with money for the reward provided by Safer Bristol Partnership. Epigram reported that a third year student was arrested for the attacks and subsequently released without charge in December (Epigram 209). Detective Inspector Ed Heath told the press, “We have not had any sexual assaults linked to this series since the 21st of November last year; however we are committed to identifying and bringing the offender to justice.” At least two of the victims are known to be students, one of whom spoke to Epigram about the assault on November 8 (Epigram 207). Police released an anonymous statement from a victim who spoke of her trauma, saying “It’s hard to put into words exactly how I felt at that moment, and to be honest it wasn’t for a few weeks it really hit home what a traumatic experience this was.” Bristol University Security Services continue to patrol the affected area. Anyone who is able to identify the man from the CCTV images are urged to contact Bristol CID on 0117 9455562.

JON WILTSHIRE Deputy News Editor Another student was badly beaten by bouncers from the Platform 1 nightclub on January 28. The victim, who wishes to remain anonymous, is the second victim of violence by the nightclub’s bouncers.

Researchers at Bristol University have found that cows form relationships just like humans. A study has found that the farm animals form cliques, take part in long term relationships, have best friends and have arguments in a similar way to human social relationships. Cows are said to lick each other as a sign of affection, and can hold long term grudges against a peer if they are offensive towards them. An animal may be ostracised from its fellow field-dwellers if it is left out of the bovine social hierarchy.

Ski club in naked gymnastics on Wills Memorial lawn Passing traffic was treated to an eyeful of Bristol’s finest when a snowsports social on January 26 ended in the construction of human pyramids outside the Wills Memorial Building without suitable thermal dress. The nudity was part of the Valley Rally, a competitive bar crawl around Clifton in homage to the legendary Valley Rally of the Bristol University Ski trips. The wakeboarding society joined the mass exposure of white bits after what is described as “an assault course...running from pub to pub collecting points for outrageous things carried out along the way.” The clubs are not averse to public exposure and the naked pyramids were well rewarded.

CCTV image of the man who is believed to be the attacker as police appeal for information

Repeat of bouncer aggression at Platform 1 Second incident of disproportionate force by bouncers outside nightclub

3

The incident occurred at approximately 11.30pm in and around the entrance to the nightclub. After attempting to placate a drunk and aggressive friend, the victim was forcibly removed from the queue by a bouncer. The man stressed that the escalating violence began “for literally no reason.” The bouncer proceeded to repeatedly hit the student in the face and around the head. The victim, who trains as a boxer, tried to defend himself by hitting out at the bouncer. The scene, according to a

witness, “turned into a brawl” as the student was pinned to the floor by three bouncers. One of the bouncers then choked the student until he “could not breathe”. According to the victim, the bouncer was “laughing and smirking while he choked me”. The student also has serious bruising on the left side of his body and neck and is consequently having trouble sleeping. The student stressed to Epigram that the force used was “entirely disproportionate – they hit me first”. After briefly being freed from

the bouncers’ grips, the student was then set-upon again and forced into a fenced area.“They locked me in a cage, a fencedoff area next to the club, where the only escape was over a brick wall onto the train tracks”, the victim told Epigram. The police were then called to the scene and talked at length with the security staff, who then released the victim from the fenced area. The student told the authorities that he wished to make a formal complaint but police refused to take him to a police station in order to do so.

Dentists launch manhunt as James Bond goes AWOL Bristol University Dental Society sent out a plea to their members after a life-size cutout of the actor Daniel Craig was stolen from the Dental Society Ball on Saturday 17 January. The James Bond cardboard figurine had been on loan from the children’s ward of Bristol Dental Hospital when a guest at the ball decided to steal the cut-out presumably to take the figure home. The email plea was written as a ‘missing persons report’, and urged the Bond fan to return the figurine for the benefit of the children.


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NEWS

Issue 211 • MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009

What is the real value of a Bristol degree during the recession?

Features, p.12

Union AGM’s positive beginning Failure to reach quorum means motions will have to be re-debated ROB TROTTER Senior Reporter Drama and tension ruled the UBU Annual General Meeting as walk-outs, controversy and chaos distracted from proceedings. A low student turnout left the centenary AGM un-quorate; the number needed to make the passing of a motion valid stands at 401, whereas the number attending on 5 February fluctuated between 150 and the high 300s. This means that all the motions passed require Student Council ratification before becoming binding. Poor advertising and the distractions of the snow were blamed for the lack of numbers. The Pro-Platform motion was particularly controversial as Chair James Ashton-Bell was accused of selectively choosing the opposing speakers, thereby preventing a full and detailed debate on the issue. Following the passing of the motion a number of Sabbatical Officers and Union groups walked out, notably the entirety of the Jewish Society, Amandla ThomasJohnson, Black and Minority Ethnic Student’s Officer and Tobin Webb, Students’ Union President. Daniel Mulkis, Chair of the Jewish Society described proceedings as “farcical”. Mr Webb explained his absence, saying: “Following passing of the motion several members of the union were visibly upset to the point of tears. I decided to stay with them until they were consoled”. Controversy also arose during the motion regarding religious involvement in halls. The motion initially had a broad agenda, both to stop the Bible being the only religious text left in hall bedrooms and to prevent halls guaranteeing returner places for Hall Fellowship leaders. Only the resolution to call for the cessation of saying prayers at hall dinners

was passed however, after the opposing speaker pointed out factual inaccuracies in the motion. The criticisms arose when it became clear that the Christian Union had organised a block vote, as a large number of students left following the motion. Mr Kester Ratcliff, a Theology and Religious Studies mature student expressed a lack of confidence in the AGM. He argued that block voting skewed and undermined the representativeness of the AGM. The final five motions went unheard as UBU was unable to pay for technical support beyond 6pm, forcing the AGM to close early. The motion ‘Broke and Broken’ also passed, formalising UBU opposition to the lifting of the cap on tuition fees. The motion also means support for the developing NUS campaign against the lifting of the cap. Chris Thomas, Education Campaigns Officer said: “the current system is broken” and emphasised that the lifting of the cap could result in universities charging unrestricted tuition fees. The union also voted to support the campaign against the new government legislation that forces universities to heavily monitor the attendance of international students (Epigram 208). The ban on societies claiming back expense money for ESSO fuel has been revoked. Proposers argued that ESSO have made significant improvements to their environmental policies, making the ban inaccurate. Despite strong opposition, the motion was passed. A motion for the banning of Facebook during union election campaigns did not pass. The proposal aimed to bring usage of the website in line with current policy on mass communication, which prevents group emails and texts. Chris Thomas, speaking against the proposal said that the eliminating the communication tool would reduce election participation. After the AGM closed, Mr Webb commented: “We’ve had mixed results. The decisions such as those on tuition fees, international students and so on are positive progressive things were passed. But the snow has had an effect – at its peak last year there were 750 people, but today we didn’t even hit 400.”

Photo: Ellie Harvie

Weather conditions blamed for mediocre turnout at Union meeting

President Tobin Webb objects to the chair after being overlooked to speak on the pro-platform policy

Student walkout over vote Complaints as sabbatical team absent themselves for over an hour Continued from page one The democratic nature of the AGM was called into question as Chair James Ashton-Bell was accused of hindering in his choice of opposition speakers. Aaron Hugh Ellis spoke on the ‘against’ platform, yet minutes later voted in favour of the proplatform policy. A procedural vote of noconfidence was brought about “on the basis that no-one who would be affected by a BNP visit has been chosen to speak against the motion.” UBU President Tobin Webb told Epigram “I felt a sense of failure because of what happened.” Webb said he

was enraged at the decision by Ashton-Bell to ignore requests to speak by both himself and Mr Thomas-Johnson, “Who better is there to speak on the subject than someone who is there to represent ethnic minority students?” Daniel Mulkis, Chair of the Jewish Society, said: “it is nothing short of a disgrace that elected student officers chosen to represent minorities were not chosen to speak until after the vote of no confidence.” UBU Communications and Campaigns officer Jo Gilder said of the decision, “As a minority student myself, I’ve never felt so uncomfortable or vulnerable in my own Students’ Union.” NUS President Wes Streeting condemned the result, saying “I would add my voice to the students’ union president and black students’ officer in calling on students to overturn this

juvenile stunt.” A group of students suggested Mr Ashton-Bell had “failed in his responsibility to make sure that the debate was fair and balanced.” Criticism occurred over Ashton-Bell because he spoke out against a ‘no’ platform at last year’s AGM. Ashton Bell defended his actions to Epigram, stressing “I spoke against a ‘no’ platform last year on the basis that it was not a clear policy...there was no objection from the Steering Committee about me chairing the motion.” The controversy surrounding the Pro-Platform motion was compounded by its early place on the agenda, compared to the ‘No-Platform’ motion at eighteen. A minority student said: “I’m absolutely certain that the outcome would’ve been different if the motions had been closer together”.


NEWS

MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009 • Issue 211

5

The Union is still in denial about Epi Bar failure

Letter of the Week, p.18

derailed by controversy

News in brief

Photo: John Edwards

Furious protests by Bristol residents over local porn den Residents of Bradley Stoke in Bristol gathered outside the home of resident James Edwards in opposition to his establishment of a pornmaking studio in his fourbedroom home in the cul-desac. Residents were angry about Mr. Edwards’ activities because they believed that the adult entertainment production will harm local house prices. The residents, including the Mayor of Bradley Stoke, gathered outside Mr Edwards’ home with placards urging an end to the business. The porn maestro has been in the business for ten years, and said “When you look at the house, you can’t actually see that there’s anything going on.” Local residents were highly disapproving of the nature of the films, saying “If you’ve got pornography here now, you’re going to have prostitution next, you’re going to have drugs”.

Bristol University praised for safety in security awards

Optimism for Student Union’s finances Union sabbatical team announce that UBU services are breaking even SOPHIE TAYLOR Reporter The University of Bristol Students’ Union’s slide into decline appears to have been slowed with the announcement that they are no longer losing money on their services. President Tobin Webb said he was “delighted” with the progress of the Union’s finances after the announcement last year of a £70,000 deficit in funds (Epigram 193). The Union sabbatical team described the achievement as “the fruits of eighteen months of hard work.” The dire monetary situation of UBU has seen massive cuts

in Union services, including the closure of the Hiatt Baker and Queen’s Road UBU shops at the closure of last academic year (Epigram 203). Further cuts were made at the beginning of this academic year when the contract for Union security was outsourced (Epigram 205). A union sabbatical officer told Epigram “this shows a decisive move by the Union to turn things around. It is now time for the University to take the next step and grant the proposals laid out by the ‘Build a Better Union’ campaign.” The most recent move to save finances was the closure of the Epi Bar after it was revealed that it had taken £35,000 less last term than in the same period last year (Epigram 209). The cease in the haemorrhaging of funds is said to be due to the success of the Wicked Café, recently opened on

the ground floor of the Queen’s Road building. The Students’ Union revealed to Epigram that the ground floor café is making a profit of £900 a day through a combination of clothing, memorabilia and coffee sales. The achievement of the Wicked Café is hoped to be followed by the opening of the new ground floor bar in the Union, due to open its doors this month (Epigram 210). The sabbatical team stress that they believe the position of the new bar on the ground floor will create more profit, suggesting that the smoking ban was a key factor in the decline of the Epi Bar. The recent optimistic announcement comes as Bristol Students’ Union awaits the decision of the University over an appeal for drastically needed funding. President Tobin Webb launched the ‘Build a Better

Union’ campaign, which laid out plans for the Union to be granted charitable status, the enlargement of the full-time support staff body and the restructuring of the sabbatical structure (Epigram 209). The recent referendum held by the Union passed these proposals, but the decision on whether the University will grant the requested £250,000 is yet to be announced. Webb has described the funding bid as “sink or swim” in the fate of the Union. The referendum was passed by a margin of 938 ‘yes’ votes in a total of 1,335 cast. President Tobin Webb spoke of the positive result of the referendum, “the fact that the students voted to make the changes shows the University that it’s not just me who wants it.” The result of the funding request by the Union is likely to be known in March.

Both Bristol and Bath universities have been lauded for their security services. They were awarded the Secured Environments Award for their dedication to the preservation of safety and crime protection through strategy, process and people. Head of Security, Jerry Woods, said of the award “I am delighted that we are seen as making a difference to the thousands of students and staff who study and work here.” The award acknowledged that the work of the security services had helped to reduce the fear of crime around the university.

Students take to Bristol’s streets on snowboards The snowfall over the city saw students frolicking on the hills of the city. Brandon Hill was filled with students revelling in the inches of snow after the cold snap covering Britain. Breakaway Events organised an event listing “Britain’s Biggest Snowfight” on February 2 on the Downs, encouraging students to arm themselves with snow.


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NEWS

MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009 • Issue 211

7

“How hard is it to pull on a pair of jeans?”

Epigrump, p.19

Daytime spiking in Costa Coffee

Professor awarded Blue Peter Badge Photo: Nicola Connelly

Bristol professor is BBC’s golden boy as he is showered with badge accolade SIMON ILES Head News Reporter A University of Bristol professor has been awarded a gold Blue Peter badge, after a series of events starting in 1973. Professor Anthony Hollander was one of the team involved in last year’s groundbreaking windpipe transplant operation which saved the life of Columbian patient Claudia Castillo (Epigram 208). Professor Hollander had written a letter to Blue Peter at nine years old, 36 years ago, which he himself has described as ‘eccentric’, after being

disturbed by the discovery of a dying bird in his North London garden. After thinking about death, and how he may be able to save lives, he penned his letter, suggesting that he had a ‘strange’ belief that he could “make people or animals alive”, asking for a model heart and tools to cut people open with to help him practice. Hollander believes that the reply from Biddy Baxter, then-editor of the childrens’ programme, had a huge influence on him following his dream. Speaking to the BBC, Professor Hollander said, “If her letter had shown any hint of ridicule or disbelief I might perhaps never have trained to become a medical scientist or been driven to achieve the impossible dream, and really make a difference to a human being’s life.”

ASSL ban on DVDs angers Languages Controversial foreign DVDs banned after ASSL staff complaints made One of the women was urgently hospitalised

Students victims of midday spiking in Fishponds popular cafe Doctors fail to identify the drug and women clueless as to spiker’s identity

A University of Bristol student’s coffee was spiked in Costa Coffee in Fishponds on Tuesday 13 January. The second year student was at the Emersons Green branch of the coffee chain at lunchtime when the incident happened. The student had just ordered coffees and, together with her

won’t stop going to cafes, but I will be more careful”. It remains unclear which substance the coffees were poisoned with. Most spiking of drinks involves the use of solely alcohol, but prescription and illicit drugs are also used. A junior doctor working in Bristol told Epigram that the medical profession “sees a fair few patients who have been spiked in A&E. Symptoms can be anything from vague nausea to vomiting and being unconscious”. Due to the nature of symptoms experienced by the student and her cousin, it is likely they were spiked with a prescriptive depressant drug which are known to cause vomiting. The incident was reported to local police, who were unavailable for comment.

The University has withdrawn a number of DVDs from that are not certified by the British Board of Film Classification. These actions largely affect and have angered many language students. The decision has led to a number of foreign films being removed from libraries. La Movida Latina, the society of the Hispanic, Portuguese and Latin American Studies Deparment (HiPLA), have also been advised against showing specific Spanish language films. A committee member of La Movida Latina said, “I was cautious and asked a member of the department if we could show the film, and they said that if it didn’t have a BBFC classification, then we would not be allowed to. “If you look through the films in the library, they’re mostly independent and have delicate themes, and this film is no different. The BBFC’s decision is

Photo: Will Teddy

NICOLA CONNELLY Senior Reporter

cousin, left them on their table whilst going to the bathroom. Her cousin began to feel unwell after drinking most of her drink and although the University of Bristol student had only sipped hers, she also felt nauseous. The student and her cousin were concerned when both began to periodically vomit. Her cousin subsequently developed diarrhoea and was admitted to A&E where she had her stomach pumped. The student was seriously sick for a couple of hours and remained unwell. Speaking to Epigram, the second year student did not notice anyone acting suspiciously in the coffee shop: “We didn’t really look around us. We just didn’t understand what was going on. “Whoever does it is quite pathetic in my book. I definitely

LAURA SNAPES Reporter

a form of censorship.” A first year student who wished to remain nameless added that “I understand the need for classification of films with strong content when it comes to children, however, as adults, we should be entrusted with the right to decide upon what we do and do not want to watch.” Dr Peter King, Director of Library Services at the University of Bristol said: “For legal reasons that have recently been reviewed, all foreign videos and DVD recordings that do not have a British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) classification will have to be more strictly managed. In order to set up the new arrangements the Library has had to take this material off the shelves”.


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NEWS

Issue 211 • MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009

Landlord threatens students

News, p.11

Miracle as Bristol graduate survives 100ft fall in the Alps Snowboarder drops off cliff face after going off the piste in Tignes, France Dramatic rescue as Bristol graduates helicoptered from the mountain ELLIE HARVIE News Editor

Photo:Extremesportsphoto.com

A Bristol graduate managed to survive a life-threatening fall unscathed after wandering into an off-limits area on a ski holiday. James Pell, who graduated in June 2008, was on holiday in Tignes in the French Alps when he ran into trouble. The physics graduate, who now works as an engineer in London, told Epigram that he was “100% fine” after his ordeal, and continued snowboarding for the rest of the week after the accident. Pell was on holiday with a group of fellow graduates when they decided to venture off-piste into a restricted area and found themselves at the top of a 100m cliff face. Mr Pell spoke of how he and his group were stranded at the top of the slope, “We came to a cliff ledge and quickly realised that there was no way we would be able to ride out of the area. But by

the time we realised this it was too late to do anything about it. We were stuck. We tried to find a way down but the slope was really steep and the snow was very loose.” Mr Pell was positioned at the top of the drop on the Les Boissons mountain, and had taken off his snowboard in an attempt to climb to safety. However, the snow gave way beneath him and the graduate plummeted 100 feet, his fall miraculously cushioned by a pile of snow. The snowboarders were fortunate in that their drama was witnessed by a photographer on the facing slope, who was able to call for help. The group of snowboarders were rescued by the French authorities in a dramatic helicopter operation. Mr Pell was able to walk free from the pile of snow into which he had fallen, and his friend was rescued from his position anchored to a tree on the cliff face. The members of the group who had to be airlifted from the mountain were forced to pay £1,500 each for their rescue, which was fortunately covered by their travel insurance policies. The group of graduates were fortunate not to be included in the statistics of alpine related deaths: records have shown that there were 30 fatalities due to snow-related accidents in the Alps in the 2007-08 ski season.

Mr Pell survives a considerable fall in Tignes before his rescue

Housing shock as student rental prices continue to rise Student panic as rent prices continue to rise despite economic recession LAURA WALTERS Senior Reporter Students in Bristol have seen a dramatic increase in student rental prices, despite the UK officially being in the grips of a recession. Students in Bristol have seen an increase of up to 15% when staying in the same properties as last year. Despite student rentals often seeing price increases from year to year, Bristol students searching for

properties for the next academic year have seen unprecedented price hikes, particularly given that the cost of living is now officially decreasing. The Association of Residential Lettings Agents advised landlords last month that student lettings could prove lucrative in an otherwise challenging market, suggesting that the best chance of high returns were in ‘areas with a greater proportion of people looking for short-term rents. The large student populations of university towns are a good example of this.’ Such increases, however, are reflected to a lesser extent in the wider rental market, with the general cost of renting

rising 14% in the last year as landlords struggle to pay their mortgages and purchasing a home remains out of reach for many. Dominic of Flatline, one of Bristol students’ most popular rental companies, told Epigram that the average prices are higher than the University imagines them to be. ‘The University considers £330 to be an average monthly rental, but we’re seeing £350 to be a more realistic figure for student rentals. Whilst some prices have remained static, most landlords have generally gone for an increase of £5 per person, per month on last year, although this is a very generalised figure. We’ve seen increases of £20 per

person, per month.’ There have been reports of price hikes of up to 12% in student letting agencies such as Unite since last year. A second-year Law student told Epigram that price increases are compounded by student panic. “We’ve been looking for a home for next year, but found that reasonably-priced houses are rare. As a result, properties are getting snapped up quicker than last year, with many being taken on the same day that they’re advertised. It’s not difficult to find houses priced as high as £400 per person, per month’. Bristol University’s accommodation office told Epigram “the properties

registered on the UoB database show increases range from only 1.5% to 5.7%...One way students could save money is by renting through the University property list or letting agency”. Pru Lawrence Archer of the University Accommodation office stressed that agency fees of up to £120 were unnecessary, when properties can be rented without fees through universityapproved sources. Bristol is not the only university city to see a considerable rise in student rent. Students from Birmingham University were protesting this week, suggesting that high accommodation costs mean that students are being ‘priced out’ of university education.


NEWS

MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009 • Issue 211

9

“The rise of the BRIC countries could mean the end of US foreign policy dominance”

Comment, p.17

Universities across UK protest for Gaza releif

Gaza protest at BBC Anti-BBC protest on Whiteladies Road against refusal to show Gaza aid appeal JON WILTSHIRE Deputy News Editor Demonstrators rallied outside BBC Bristol on Whiteladies Road protesting against the BBC’s decision not to air an appeal for aid for the people in Gaza. The protest, organised by Bristol Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Bristol Stop-TheWar, Bristol-RESPECT, and the Bristol Muslim Community, saw approximately one hundred people assemble at late notice. The separate organisations gave speeches criticising the BBC and articulating their solidarity with Gaza. It was noticeable that there was a very minimal University of Bristol student presence. There was a large Islamic activist presence at the protest, which lasted just over an hour. Police officers were present, and the protest was a peaceful one. The BBC has come under widespread criticism for not airing the Disasters Emergency Committee’s humanitarian appeal. The decision was made on the January 23 and has since been seconded by Sky. Mark Thompson, the BBC’s Director defended the decision: “We concluded that we could not broadcast a freestanding appeal, no matter how carefully constructed, without running the risk of reducing public confidence in the BBC’s impartiality in its wider coverage of the story”. 162 MPs have signed a letter condemning the BBC’s actions, and there is widespread consensus that the BBC was wrong to not air the appeal. The protest follows mass protests organised by the Stop the War Coalition in London and BBC sit-ins and protests around the country. More than 22,000 people have complained to the BBC. The protests come as many students have appealed to their universities to publicly condemn Israeli offensive amongst other varied demands (see page nine).

Activists protest outside the BBC building on Whiteladies Road

Universities across the UK see students taking over lecture theatres in protest Students demand condemnation of Gazan war and aid for Gaza students ROB TROTTER Senior Reporter Students at many UK universities have been protesting against the Israeli invasion and bombing of Gaza. Sit-ins and lecture theatre occupations have taken place at the School of Oriental and African Studies, LSE, King’s College London, Sussex, Oxford, Cambridge, Warwick, Essex, Nottingham and Queen Mary University London. Students from SOAS and LSE were the first to begin protests, with LSE students maintaining an seven-day occupation. The longest running occupation

took place at Kings College London, where students occupied a lecture theatre for nearly two weeks. At Sussex University around 100 students occupied the Asa Briggs lecture theatre for eight days. The demands of the different protests have been largely similar, with all the occupations calling for the provision by universities of material humanitarian aid and ‘academic’ aid, notably the offering of scholarships to Palestinian students. Students were also calling for ethical reviews of university’s investment policies and statements of condemnation by university officials. Amy Mount, a second year Clare College Geography student who took part in the protests, said: “The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is horrific and tragic and the destruction of educational institutions is not going to contribute to a sustainable dialogue. I thought Cambridge University was a credible institution that could help alleviate problems there.”

University authority’s responses have been mixed. Several groups’ demands have been met, with Kings College London agreeing to extend their scholarship list to include Gazan students. Sussex University will also be offering scholarships, reviewing its investment policy and donating surplus educational materials to Gaza. Other universities have responded differently. Police evicted students at Birmingham University after a 12-hour lecture theatre occupation. Security staff forcibly removed University of Nottingham students with police in attendance, before searching their belongings. Around 120 Cambridge University students occupied a Law Faculty lecture theatre for six days, despite university authorities threatening protesters with court injunctions, preventing other students from joining the protest and throwing away protester’s food stocks. Ms Mount said: “The

university just wouldn’t budge. They refused to talk to our opening meetings and acted heavy handedly; their behaviour was obscene and petty”. The use of social networking technologies and blogs have been central in the protests. All the occupations ran regular blogs that enabled communication with other students, the different occupations and the media, as well as with students and officials at Gaza University itself. “There’s a real network of occupations and a great sense of solidarity across the universities: people are working together” Ms Mount said. Some of the occupations have been criticised for not communicating the reasons for the protests to the wider student bodies. Activist groups have also been criticised on their blogs for not raising enough awareness of the Disaster’s Emergency Committee’s aid appeal for people affected by the war. A press release by protesters on ending the occupation said: “We did not fail, we were failed.”


10

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Issue 211 • MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009

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NEWS

MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009 • Issue 211

11

“Musical tradegy at Winston”

Arts Review, p.23

Landlord Student bikes worth £7k threatens stolen by audacious thieves students All student tenants at home when thieves struck in early evening Friends recognised stolen bikes and rushed with police to the scene JON WILTSHIRE Deputy News Editor

“if they could do that in the early evening, what would they do late at night?”

Student complains about landlord’s aggressive and abusive behaviour JON WILTSHIRE Deputy News Editor

Photo: James Carberry

£7,000 worth of property was stolen from a student house on Wednesday 28 January. Two specialist road bikes, separately worth £4,000 and £3,000, were taken from a student house on Waverly Road in Redland. All six tenants were in the house during the robbery which took place in the early evening between 5 and 7.40pm. The owners of the bikes, James Clews and Katie Parsons, had just returned from a ride when the bikes were stolen. Unloading the bikes from their car, they walked the bikes down an alleyway which leads to the back of the house in order to leave them in the kitchen. Mr Clews told Epigram that he was “certain that these guys, whoever they were, followed me in”, after having spotted the bikes on the car’s roof-rack on Waverly Road. The alleyway only leads to rear entrances to houses, so Mr Clews believes that the thieves

must have been opportunists and risked following them to the back of their house. The thieves broke into the kitchen by punching through a plastic air vent in order to open a window and then proceeded to remove several metal bars designed to prevent break-ins in order to steal the bikes. Mr Clews’ friend, living in Southmead, who had heard about the incident, later phoned to inform the victims that he had spotted some teenagers riding the stolen bikes. Both Mr Clews and Miss Parsons were quickly taken by the police to Southmead in order to identify their bikes, but apparently only just missed the probable thieves. The people riding the bikes appeared to be in their teens. The following day, Mr Clews and other students toured Southmead looking for the bikes. Unsuccessful in their attempt, they did see a number of expensive bikes “not inkeeping with the area”. Mr Clews’ anecdotal description of the number of “young teenagers on seemingly stolen bikes” supports many victims’ predictions of where stolen bikes are eventually taken. Mr Clews and Miss Parsons are both relatively shaken by the incident, with Mr Clews surprised at the ease and audacity of the break-in, saying: “if they could do that in the early evening, what would they do late

at night?” Both are particularly annoyed by the thefts as both bikes were custom assemblies and were described to be the students’ “pride and joy”. Mr Clews and Miss Parsons are not hopeful of the successful return of the bikes and it is

highly possible that they will be broken down into component parts and sold. This method of selling on the stolen bike is difficult to trace. Police are treating the incident seriously because of the value of the items taken.

Student outrage at dramatic tuition fee hike Faculty of Arts proposes fee increase which may force students out LAURA WALTERS Senior Reporter Part-time students on the BA (Hons) Archaeological Studies course at Bristol will be subjected to huge new fee increases next year, according to plans from the Faculty of Arts. As of October, part-time students will go from paying £3750, for the entirety of

375

%

Possible increase in fees for the Archaeological Studies part time course

the six year course, to as much as £14,400 for their degree, dependent on their qualifications prior to commencing the course. The fee increases will take effect immediately, and fees are paid yearly, meaning that students in the middle of a course could be forced out of it as a result by this 375% increase. In an open letter to Professor Robert Fowler, Dean of Arts, student representatives highlighted their concerns that part-time students are being sidelined by the Faculty and the University as a whole. “Our understanding is that the fees have been derived by

comparison with the fees/costs that full time students incur. The nature of the part time course is such that the students spend the majority of their time gaining credits off campus. The costs for part-time students should therefore be much less pro rata. Those who are now in their second or fourth year of study have effectively been informed they will not be able to complete their degree.” Bryan Moore, the course’s student representative for Year 4, told Epigram that he had very real concerns for the future of the course should the fee increase go ahead. “Existing students have invested time,

money and effort and will have to leave their degrees unfinished for financial reasons. A straw poll at our meeting with the staff showed that about 75 – 80% of a representative group would leave. If this happens, we will lose a course that is well attended and enjoyed by many students”. Mr. Moore expressed fears that the plans would be in conflict with the University’s aims of wider participation, adding “The Arts Faculty has also decided to cut most of the short courses that were run at evenings and weekends, which does much to engage with the people of Bristol’s wider community”.

The landlord of several student properties has had a formal complaint made against him on after behaving threateningly towards his tenants Tuesday 3 February. The landlord, who must remain anonymous for legal reasons, entered the property on Regent Street, in Clifton, in order to confront the tenants about their treatment of one of his employees. According to the landlord, the tenants had been bullying the employee in their dealing with the letting agent. The landlord was let into the property when he began to shout and act aggressively to one of the tenants. Bonita Thwaites told Epigram that the landlord “was shouting and screaming, towering over me until I was cornered in my own flat”. Another tenant, Michaela Wilson who challenged the landlord and asked him to stop acting aggressively was astounded at the threatening nature of the confrontation. The tenants had not met the landlord before the incident, and he arrived unannounced. After the incident, the tenants phoned the police and reported the landlord’s verbal abuse and physically threatening behaviour and also lodged a formal complaint with the University of Bristol Accommodation Office. Since the complaint, the Accommodation Office has been in communication with the landlord and are formally writing to the letting agency informing them that, on further investigation, it may be discredited and therefore struck from the University’s listings of private sector rented accommodation. Miss Thwaites remarked that the Accommodation Office had been helpful. The decision as to whether the letting agency is to be struck from the University listings is yet to be made.


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FEATURES

Issue 211 • MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009

Features

Features editor

Hannah Walters features@epigram.org.uk

Deputy editor

Andrew Naughtie deputyfeatures@epigram.org.uk

What is the real value of a Bristol With the UK now ofcially in a state of recession, does it still pay to invest in higher education? HANNAH WALTERS Features Editor For most students, the end of undergraduate life signals a huge transition into adulthood; the inevitable entrance into the job market. For many, a degree certificate will be the golden ticket to a dream career. But what does your degree really mean in today’s tangled emploment jungle? How highly do employers rate your qualifications? And will the years of study you’ve put in secure you the financial gain you expect? A survey by High Flyers Research conducted in December 2008 showed that the UK’s leading graduate employers have reduced recruitment targets for 2009 by 17%. Investment banks are making a considerable reduction in their intake and there has been a significant cut in the number of vacancies at leading accountant and professional service firms. At the same time, the Labour Government’s push to get 50% of the UK population into higher education by 2010 means that even more people are entering the graduate marketplace with a degree under their belt. This is verified by UCAS figures, which demonstrate a 9.1% increase in the number of people starting university between September 2007 and September 2008. With job cuts across the board and ever closer competition, you could be forgiven for burying your head in the sand at the very mention of hunting for a graduate career. But Jeff Goodman, Director of the University of Bristol Careers Service, encourages students not to worry too much about finding a first job. Although he stresses that 2009 will be a highly competitive year for graduates, he reminds students to be confident about the benefits of getting a degree from Bristol University: “There are two different types of degree. A degree. And a degree from Bristol. In past recessions, having to cut back on staff

numbers meant that employers took the quality of their workers more seriously. Today, companies are likely to take a similarly tough stance and a potential employee with a degree will obviously be more attractive than someone who doesn’t have one. And employers will continue to turn to Bristol. They consider Bristol to be a good institution with intelligent students.” Contrary to popular doubts about the value of higher education at a time when more people than ever are brandishing degree certificates across the UK, Mr Goodman’s comments indicate the importance of gaining qualifications at an institute like Bristol University. It seems that an employer’s need to find the very best candidates in a period of economic downturn actually strengthens the value of a good degree. Still, prospective students who see a degree as a financial investment will have to take care when choosing a degree course. Mr Goodman draws attention to this: “A degree is now a serious investment. Because it is so costly, students will want to ask what they will get from it and whether they want to spend that much money.” Measuring a degree’s value in economic terms requires a careful balancing act between potential profit and risk. For many graduates, the cost of tuition fees and the minimum three-year delay before they get a full-scale income amount suggests a monetary loss that can leave average students in debts of around £20,000. To counter this, a degree should secure graduates a higher paid job in the long run. A report by Kent University, published i n September

2008, however, found that one third of graduates from the class of 2003 are earning no extra money as a result of their qualification. In fact, graduate salaries rose last year by only 1.8% – the smallest increase in years. The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) has stated that the average graduate salary across all sectors and regions is £18,501. HESA says that a degree is a long-term investment, the benefits of which will be seen later in graduates’ working lives than they might expect. According to them, by the age of 33, the average yearly salary for someone who has just A-levels is £24,000. For someone with a degree, the average salary is £34,000. But Universities UK stresses that the kind of salary graduates can expect to earn depends on what their degree is in. For example, someone with a medicine degree will earn £340,315 more over the course of a lifetime than someone without a degree, but an arts graduate will earn just £34,494 more. In the current economic downturn, many students might be tempted to remain in education as a means of boosting their potential graduate salaries. But this might not have the

“Employers will continue to turn to Bristol. They consider Bristol to be a good institution with intelligent students.”

desired effect. According to Martin Birchall of High Fliers Research Ltd (which carried out the survey for 35 big graduate employers) it is a “fallacy” to believe employers are keen on postgraduate qualifications. He says only about 5% of employers are willing to pay more for job applicants with Masters degrees. So, unless the qualification is directly relevant to the post, “it is unlikely to either get you the job or influence the first pay packet.” Mr Goodman is less hasty to dismiss the benefits of postgraduate study. He says: “Whatever you do, you have to make the best of it. And if decide to do an MA you will develop transferable skills that will make you a valuable contender in the workplace. Research and presentation skills are just two examples. Further study also allows you more time to consider your future and gain invaluable work experience in your chosen field.” However you decide to make the transition from student life to the working world, the message to students seems to be, make the most of whatever experiences come your way. Being able to adapt to new situations and use the skills you already have to the best of your ability will in itself work as a green light to potential employers. In the meantime, Mr Goodman has some good advice for worried students about to enter the job market. “Finalists should keep calm and do their research. Use the Careers Service to make sure your applications are as strong as possible. And be aware of the hidden job market. If you want to work in finance, for example, research the less obvious jobs available. Banking is not the only option. For other undergraduates, take every opportunity to improve your skills and get as much work experience as possible.” The graduate job market may be getting more competitive, but a degree is still a valuable commodity in today’s tougher economic climate. Further advice and tips on how to find the job you want during a recession can be found on the University of Bristol Careers website, which can be found at www.bris.ac.uk/careers.


FEATURES

MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009 • Issue 211

13

Does anyone care about the Brit awards?

Music, p.24

degree during the Recession? Graduates are starting to re-evaluate their skills and priorites and it seems they might end up joining the army GEORGIA GRAHAM Deputy Editor

90

%

the increase in teach rst applications

‘Why was I attracted to a job in the city?’ a 2006 Oxford Economics graduate parrots back at Epigram, ‘because I was offered lots of money. So much money. At 21 and I had a flat in Islington, a new car I could afford pretty much anything I wanted. I love it of course. The adrenaline, the rush, it’s all I ever wanted to do.’ Stories like these were commonplace across the top UK universities, people joked over a pint of the champagne lifestyle they could have on a £80 grand salary. That is, until the recent economic crisis turned talk away from yachts to bus fare to the job centre. As over dramatic as that shift might seem, it is a simple fact that there are fewer jobs for graduates this year, with the hollowed city jobs and acommanying salaries hardest hit with graduate recruitment in the financial sector down 47% stories of city salaries are fading into obscurity. Highfliers, the compilers of The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers, conducted a survey of 100 firms revealed that the problem was not confined to the city. Overall, employers expect to hire almost 3,400 fewer graduates in 2009 than was initially planned at the start of recruitment season. Due to these cuts and the build up of jobless 2008 grads, this year is proving to be one of the worst years to graduate in two decades. The knock to graduates confidence has been rapid and brutal. In April 2008 the

Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) took a survey of soon to be graduates feelings about their prospects. 55 per cent were ‘very confident’ they would find a job. In the most recent survey taken in December, only 10% were ‘very confident’ with almost half saying they were ‘not confident’ due to the economic situation. So where next? While Bristol degree is still a degree that is worth a quite a bit more than the paper it’s written on it doesn’t mean that Bristol graduates can rest on their laurels. It seems it is time for students to rethink their approach to the job market focusing on the skills and experience they bring to the table. Recruiters see the area of most concern as writing skills with 56.4% of employers stating this as a problem area. A further 43.1% were predicting problems with graduates’ leadership skills. So what do they suggest? Internships are seen by 80.5% as efficient in developing soft skills, while hard skills can be approached through better application to the degree you are at university to complete. Insecurity over graduate jobs has led to many individuals changing the focus of their job searches and the training they plan to undertake. Where once the prestige and prosperity of the financial sector was the greatest lure for newly graduated students, job security and stability are starting to sound tempting in the bleak new year of 2009. Data published by Highfliers show that one in three final-year students see the public sector as a more appealing employer

Photo: John Edwards

during the recession. Luckily for them the report also shows that the public sector is one of only two sectors to show significant growth in graduate vacancies in 2009; the other is the Armed Services. And the tide has already started to turn in terms of applications. The NHS has reported an 83 per cent rise in applications for its training scheme, the Civil Service Fast Stream a 33 per cent increase and even local government management programmes have seen a 10 to 15 per cent rise. The teaching is another port of call for anxious grads. According to the Training and Development Agency for Schools, enquiries about routes into teaching have increased 34 per cent since the start of the credit crunch unsurprising considering that nine out of 10 teachers are employed six months after completing their training. While Teach First, an already popular choice for Russell Group graduates, has also seen a 90 per cent increase in applications. As thousands of Bristol third years brace themselves for their first step into the big wide working world, it is important to have some perspective in the face of scaremongering in the national media. In some ways there will be better graduates going in to the job market because of the credit crunch, graduates focused not only on money but on satisfaction and security. Graduates, moreover, who are aware of the necessity to develop and hone thier skills for a competitive job market. The image of a line of graduates at the job centre or on a production line is a compelling one for the media, but it is unlikely to be a reality for Bristol students. Longterm changes in the economy have seen a constant growing demand for well-qualified staff with another AGR survey showing that in August 2008 graduate unemployment was at its lowest in five years.


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Issue 211 • MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009


FEATURES

MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009 • Issue 211

15

Is dyslexia just a big, expensive myth?

Comment, p.17

Bristol Centenary degrees As the University celebrates its 100th birthday, degrees are offered to Bristolians who have that special something

Photo: Joanna Reed

KIERA TONGISH Reporter When most Bristol students think of their University experience, it is not in immediate association with Bristol itself. As in most University cities, something of a divide exists between Bristol’s students and its locals. But even if the students are removed from their surroundings, the University itself is, as University Communications Director Barry Taylor told the Epigram, “one of the leading Universities in the UK insofar as public engagement is concerned.” In fact, Bristol runs a very successful public engagement campaign which works with both academics and locals in order to foster commonality and positive relations between the University and the local community. This includes organizing a day of free family events at Wills Memorial and Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery to celebrate the Chinese New Year, ‘Wellness Day’ arranged by the University’s Centre for Sport, Exercise and Health in order to provide information and support for local people on the verge of homelessness, or groups such as the University of

Bristol Innocence Project which undertakes pro-bono work on behalf of prisoners maintaining their innocence. This year, the University’s Centenary Campaign has provided yet more opportunity to make the University a solid community participant. Teaming up with the Bristol Evening Post to look for candidates, the University will award up to four Centenary Degrees to members of the local community. The purpose of the Degree is both to honor the achievements and work of some of Bristol’s most exceptional citizens, and to further integrate the University into the surrounding community. The degrees will be given out at the University’s graduation ceremony in July by Chancellor Baroness Hale. The degrees will go to people without a traditional background in higher education, and not necessarily those with a career in teaching or research, as the University seeks to re-establish its community credentials. So far, nominees include Dennis Stinchcombe, who has been nominated for his work with young people in the Bristol inner-city area. For the past thirty-five years, Mr. Stinchcombe has run the Broad Plains Boys’ Club which offers

a variety of sports for young people aged seven to twenty five. Founded in 1894, the Boys’ Club has now been forced by the city council to change its name to the Broad Plain Working with Young People Group and open its doors to girls or face the loss of vital funding. While Stinchcombe is disdainful of bureaucratically enforced political correctness, his work as a community leader goes on. He is also the founder of the Riverside Youth Project which provides young people with greater opportunities in life through encouraging good behavior and self discipline in a caring environment, using both sporting activities and learning. Mr. Stinchcombe has also been the head boxing coach for England in international tournaments, and he and his wife have fostered over one hundred boys in their own home. In 2004 he was awarded

an MBE for services to young people. Mr. Stinchcombe told Epigram that his nomination for a Centenary Degree was on par with receiving his MBE. He went on to say that it was “a great honor” for his own city to have recognized and honored him in this way. As a part of the important link between the University and the local community, students are also welcome to get involved and nominate anyone who deserves recognition for their social contribution in the city of Bristol. The Bristol Evening Post will be accepting nominations until Friday February 27, so if you have ventured far enough from Woodland Road to have met an extraordinary real-life Bristolian, or experienced any of their valuable work, please email your nominations into the Bristol Evening Post: r.stokes@ bepp.co.uk.

“The University will award up to four Centenary Degrees to members of the local community.”

On the job Henry Charlton-Moore did work experience with a lm distribution company. It’s easy to forget, immersed as we are in popcorn and sex scenes and other cinematic shenanigans, exactly how much besides writing, acting and directing goes into filmmaking. Spending a week, way back when, as chief dogsbody in a film distributor’s London headquarters gave me a striking glimpse of how the sausage is made. Everyone I met was, at the very least, friendly - not too stressed out, not too bored. As work experience goes I had found what astronomers call the “Goldilocks zone” – in space terms, the distance from a star where conditions are just right for life. However, the name of my assigned department, “Creative Services”, was misleading. Nothing was created here, just moved around by strangely upbeat people who had landed the job of funneling the output of distant L.A luminaries and Hollywood hacks. The tasks I got were actually fairly useful training for what workplace life is actually like: making powerpoint presentations, looking up dates and figures, archiving tapes, making an excel spreadsheet of 800 DVDs and their serial numbers (a full eight hours’ work). Talk about taking the romance out of the movies. There were, of course perks; I got to see two films then heading for general release. The first was Jarhead – for those who don’t remember it, a war film without any war featuring Jake Gyllenhaal. I liked it enough, not being particularly partial to the Gulf War, and spent the afternoon trying and failing to come up with a tagline for it. I can comfortably say that ‘Welcome To The Suck’, which it got saddled with in the end, wasn’t far ahead of my better suggestions. The other film I got to see, however, was Cameron Crowe’s Elizabethtown. Borderline insulting in its sloppiness, and to make matters worse, featuring Orlando Bloom with a shocking American accent, it is best forgotten. Still, in a week of work experience, a two-hour break is never a bad thing.


16

COMMENT

Issue 211 • MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009

Comment

Comment editor Jules Norton-Selzer comment@epigram.org.uk

Athiest bus denying God’s existence does nothing to help community relations Despite being a non-believer myself, the transport campaign by the British Humanist Association is both distasteful and unnecessarily antagonistic “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” This is the advertising slogan that the British Humanist Association has paid £140,000 for the privilege of plastering on buses and tubes as of January 6 this year. As an atheist you might expect me to welcome such a move with my agreement with half of the statement, and the second being undeniably good advice. But when the two are placed side by side they become a complete nonsequitur. The condescension inherent in such a slogan beggars belief. Are the British Humanist Association really implying that ditching one’s religious beliefs is the key to escaping anxiety and discovering happiness? Are there really no other causes for concern and unhappiness in the modern world? Is religion such a blight on human life that it can offer nothing but angst and misery? Not only is the advertising scheme insulting to people of faith, it is utterly devoid of worth. The religious believer is hardly likely to read the slogan and have a sudden epiphany, ‘well, now that it’s put like that, yes, I have been mistaken. I am wracked with worries

and unable to enjoy my life, I shall denounce my faith forthwith!’ Nor does the confirmed atheist, such as myself, benefit from it. I am not so insecure in my disbelief that I require someone else’s constant affirmation of it plastered on public transport. Those in favour of the scheme have cited as justification the numerous religious messages that permeate our cities. If Christians are allowed to declare that Jesus is our only chance for salvation, or Muslims that Allah is

the Supreme Being, then why can’t we respond with our own opinions on the matter? In the first place, the vast majority of such assertions can be found on Church or Mosque property, or the equivalent, and not in the public domain. In the second place, were such religious messages to appear on a widespread basis in public places, atheists like Richard Dawkins, who has voiced support for the Humanists’ actions, would be the first to voice their resentment and dissatisfaction of the

£140,000 the amount spent on on advertising the athiest bus campaign

Society must be more aware of the internet’s potential as an anti-democratic medium Despite a number of reasons to celebrate the decentralized power of the web, a lack of control and scrutiny masks its darker side In an age where participatory democracy is seen to be in decline, the emergence of the internet as a tool for mass political participation has been lauded by activists as a paradigmatic moment in the modern era. Journalists like John Pilger argue that the internet has revolutionary potential as a medium of ‘true’ democratic expression. It is seen as a de-centralized counterbalance to traditional elite media interests, and is increasingly accessible regardless of class and gender. We can see the internet within this pluralist perspective of it enhancing the democratic process through more interaction and greater participation, what one political commentator termed ‘a virtual individualism outside reference of traditional actors.’ Its ability to exert democratic pressure on government was shown by its embarrassing u-turn on the introduction of road taxes after a petition on the Downing Street website attracted 1,802,175 signatures.

Furthermore the ‘bloggerisation’ phenomenon seemingly underlined the internet’s role as ‘the great liberator’ that empowers individuals, allowing anyone with something to say to speak out, uncensored and without fear. It has undoubtedly brought a type of freedom to many that they have never experienced before. The exposures of thuggish behaviour in repressive regimes by bloggers have acted as a democratic pressure valve. A celebrated example was the “Baghdad Blogger” who published a vivid daily account of life in Iraq during the final days of Saddam Hussein’s rule. However we should treat this rather utopian emphasis on the unfiltered medium with a strong degree of caution. Just as some celebrate its decentralizing power, so we should be aware of the internet’s sinister shadow as a medium for disinformation. Without filtering and control of content public debate can quickly turn into a farcical display

of misinformation. There are no rules to stop terrorists outlining the step-bystep guide to a nice homemade bomb. There is nothing to stop ideological zealots using the internet to convince people to commit acts of violence. A quick peruse on Google by a vulnerable individual could make them convinced that Bush secretly planned 9/11 and the Jews are in a conspiracy to take over the world. Indeed the internet is the main form of recruitment for fundamentalism. Perhaps I am being hyperbolic, but beneath is a worrying reality. The internet can be a chaotic, almost anarchic medium where opinion masquerades as fact, and conspiracy theorists with an obsessive agenda can disseminate their dogma across the world free of charge. Its ability to instantaneously transmit images that transcend language barriers can be a good thing, such as in prodemocracy protests against dictators such as Burma.

‘Without ltering and control of content public debate can quickly turn into a farcical display of misinformation’

s Chris Clarke fact. Since the turn of the millennium we have witnessed horrendous crimes committed on the basis of the fact that people disagree over certain fundamental questions. We should be pouring every last ounce of our energy into creating a world defined by understanding and tolerance, in which people of different faiths and philosophies can stand side by side without resentment or malice. The Humanists are a group that define themselves by the belief that all people are equal in dignity and worth. Why then do they feel that it is appropriate or responsible to rub their own particular views in the faces of others, and by so doing to risk insulting or offending people? It can only serve to increase the already dangerously large divide that exists between people of different belief-systems. It does not serve to promote discussion, but comes across as a middle finger raised to all of those that don’t share its sentiments. It is childish and arrogant, misjudged and capable of achieving nothing of any benefit for our already fractured society.

Jules Norton Selzer However the internet has concomitantly become the building block on the statue of civil disobedience. Technology is used as an antidemocratic tool to quicken the pace of violent acts in prosperous, networked societies. This was the case in the 2005 French riots where the use of blogs helped coordinate protests with the message to ‘burn all the cops.’ Youths in Budapest in 2006 used the internet to encourage and incited waves of lynchings and murders in protest against government action. Such acts could never have been synchronized so effectively without the medium of the internet. This should not be taken as a rant against the internet per se. Its potential value is beyond dispute. Rather, to point out that internet’s great strength is also its great weakness; no one is in control. It offers vast opportunities, but experience tells us that for a real democracy to function, somebody has to make and enforce the rules.


s

COMMENT

MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009 • Issue 211

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“The next generation of footballers will be better prepared than those before them”

Sport Comment, p.37

The rise of the BRIC countries could mean the end of US foreign policy dominance As Obama gets to grip with a number of foreign policy changes, he should be aware that he will be acting in an increasingly assertive multi-polar world

Ian Horne

America currently holds a privileged position in world affairs owing to an economic, military and political dominance. While attention is currently centred on the recent inauguration of Barack Obama and the excitement surrounding American politics, the emergence of the BRIC nations cannot be ignored. The BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) are the four nations identified by Goldman Sachs, the bank holding company who coined the abbreviation, as possessing the greatest potential for economic growth. Jim O’Neill, the head of global economics research for Goldman Sachs, has predicted that by 2050, the gross domestic product for the BRIC nations will be greater than that of the G7. China is expected to overtake America as the dominant force in global economics within this period, a prediction that becomes increasingly valid given the current state of the US economy. Furthermore, the anticipated growth of the BRIC nations has seemingly begun. Over a quarter of global economic growth over the past five

higher levels of growth unattainable. Regardless of the fact that the growth of the BRIC nations is by no means destined or pre-determined, America will have to act if it is to retain its position of dominance and hegemony. Any of the four BRIC countries could become a major power in the next fifty years, however it shouldn’t be assumed that they will all fulfil their economic potential. The Goldman Sachs predictions also indicate that GDP per capita in the BRIC nations will not eclipse that of the major global powers within fifty years. In this respect, America will still retain dominance in independent wealth and theoretically in structurally important areas such as education. The effect of all of this may go unnoticed during Obama’s regime, but America will undoubtedly have to prepare for its existence in an increasingly multi-polar world. Whether the next perceived major threat to American hegemony should come from Brazil, Russia, India or China, a change to the unilateral status quo is surely inevitable.

years can be attributed to the BRIC economies. Should the projected growth occur, the impact on global politics would be huge. Economic strength leads to political influence. As a result of such a change, the current position of the US as a hegemonic power will be seriously threatened and undermined, especially in light of the US’s leading role in the

economic crisis. The future of the world may in effect lie with the BRIC nations and the decisions they make. However, the likelihood of this is disputable. Goldman Sachs admit that their predictions,while being reasonable, are made under assumptions that no major external issues, for example war, will damage the growth of the BRIC nations. They also admit that it’s likely that at least one of the BRIC nations will fail to meet their projected growth for 2050. Other issues face the BRIC nations also. While they have been grouped together by theorists as a potential counterweight to US hegemony, their contrasting political systems make the prospect of effective collaboration unlikely. India and Brazil’s conventional democracies bear a stark contrast to the comparatively authoritarian governing politics of Russia and China. It is likely that the BRIC nations will at some point be plagued by corruption, pollution and in China’s case a lack of natural resources. India’s growth in particular may be hindered by their poor infrastructure, which could make

2050 The year Goldman Sachs predicts that the GDP of the BRIC nations will be greater than that of the G7

Is dyslexia just a big, expensive myth? After controversial comments by a Labour MP, a debate has arisen about government spending on dyslexia. Better denition of the term is required Backbench Labour MP Graham Stringer has angered and offended many people this week with his outrageous and insensitive comments about dyslexia. Writing in an online column, Mr Stringer described the condition as a “cruel fiction” that should be “consigned to the dustbin of history.” He accused Education Minister Ed Balls of wasting £78.4million per year on disability allowances for dyslexics, instead of addressing how children are taught to read, as well as stressing “the huge correlation between illiteracy and criminal activity.” His attack astonished campaigners, who declared that his remarks contradicted evidence and would undermine the struggle dyslexia sufferers already endure at school. Dyslexia is commonly understood to be a term covering a range of types of learning difficulty, where someone of normal intelligence has significant problems with reading, writing and spelling. Around six million Britons are believed to be affected by the condition. Students formally diagnosed as having dyslexia are given up to 25% extra

time in GCSEs, A-levels and vocational assessments and many also receive financial assistance to pay for resources such as laptops, tape recorders and extra books. Mr Stringer commented, “There has been created a situation where there are financial and educational incentives to being bad at spelling and reading. How perverse.” Professor Julian Elliott from Durham University, agrees the term is an ‘emotional construct’, not a scientific one, and that experts can not agree on a definition of dyslexia or on how to treat it. It is possible that in some cases, students who simply struggle with reading and writing may be wrongly branded as dyslexic, as the term is often used too vaguely and widely. Some believe that it is too easy for lazy teachers to classify slow learners as dyslexic and that parents are happy to accept a label that brings with it dividends of extra help and encouragement in the classroom. However, these are isolated cases and do not detract from the fact that dyslexia is a very real condition.

Professor Susan Tresman of the British Dyslexia Association said, “I cannot accept his views, given the number of researchers investigating dyslexia that we work with. There were 900 delegates from 35 countries at our conference last year. Is he suggesting that they are all suffering from some kind of emotional delusion?” Another spokeswoman added, “It is concerning that an MP does not recognise dyslexia, which affects 10% of his constituents.” Mr Stringer’s comments betray ignorance and a lack of understanding. He suggested that the “fictional malady” could be wiped out by teaching children to read using a system of synthetic phonetics. However, the condition is a complex one and cannot be eradicated by merely changing to a particular reading system. The British Dyslexia Association has described his views as “very damaging and insulting to people who are trying to overcome their dyslexia.” The term ‘dyslexia’ carries so many wrong associations, and is understood in so many different ways by so many

Liz Day different people, that it serves no useful scientific or therapeutic purpose. It should either be clearly defined or dropped completely. Those who are affected are fed up of hearing the everchanging ‘truth’ about dyslexia and ignorant MPs should stop whimsically telling people that the condition that has come to define their lives is nothing more than an expensive lie.

“The

term ‘dyslexia’

£78.4 m the amount spent per year on disability allowances for dyslexics

is misunderstoo in so many

different ways


LETTERS 18 LETTERS

Issue 211 • MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009

Letters Please send in your letters, whether they be of complaint, appraisal or comment to comment@epigram.org.uk Letters will only be edited for clarity or length

Letter of the week

The Union is still in denial about Epi Bar failure Dear Epigram, It was announced a while ago that the Epi bar will be closing (‘Union calls last orders for the Epi Bar’, Epigram, Issue 209, online). In many universities this would be a sad occasion, but for our university I think it may well be the biggest non-event that has ever been on Epigram’s front cover. Before university I had a romantic idea of a Students’ Union bar as a buzzing place where you could always be sure to see a friendly face. Where the highfliers of student politics worked out strategies to protect our rights and if you were looking for a party on a Saturday night, you need look no further. The ways in which the crypt-like Epi bar fell short of this ideal are many, and Tobin Webb’s reasoning for the closure in

the last issue was ridiculous,particularly when citing the credit crunch. The real reason the Epi bar closed down is because it wasn’t very nice. It was always empty with school assembly-style furniture scattered round,; the beer from the tap consistently tasted of exhaust and it had the same linoleum flooring as there is in hospitals. The most fun you could have had there was on the It-Box. However this is not an attack at the Epi or the Union; I feel the state of repair and atmosphere of a Students’ Union bar is the student body’s responsibility. A Students’ Union bar should be the place where the students are united. It is their place of union and so its lack of atmosphere reflects the weakness of a student body’s collective spirit and identity. Even if it

lacks funding, a cohesive student body who like to be in the same place and share good times could make the Students’ Union bar the place to be. An empty bar is always doomed to close, but how could the Epi hope to draw crowds when much of the student body spends its time trying to look like it is as little to do with the university as possible? The vitriol of my displeasure with the Epi was not purely down to the terrible atmosphere; the soulless Epi bar symbolized many of my let-downs with the university experience. My idealized image of the Students’ Union bar also extended to an idealized image of a university; people bound by more than just their place of study, but by a shared ethos and feeling that they were part of something that would

remain with them long after graduation. Mr. Brackstone the former Union manager suggested the closure “represents a mismatch between what the students want delivered and what the university is prepared to fund”. This is a fair point. Bristol students seem to gravitate towards the alternative and the underground of which the town offers plenty, and all the university could offer is nothing more than the place where we do our degrees. I don’t feel sad about the Epi bar closing, I doubt many people do, but it is a shame that in recent years it has never been a place that we would care if it did close. Yours sincerely, William Ackerou

Too much Guevara-loving Dear Epigram,

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I accept that Che Guevara is an emotive issue, but Julia Morrissy-Swan’s review of the recent biopic Che: Part 1 is not a review in the traditional sense of the word, but an unashamed adulation with no attempt at anything approaching the impartiality that makes good journalism. There is not even a passing mention of the controversy that surrounds his name. This alone should preclude the film from getting 4 stars. My main protest is that Che had ‘immaculate

morals, strength, and focus’. Ignoring all ideology, it is a well documented fact that Che was known for conducting summary executions without trial of both civilians and combatants of either side. He was also feared for his use of torture as means of punishment and extracting information. These sound like the same levels of ‘immaculate morals’ found in Nazis, Soviets and tinpot dictators the world over. Yours sincerely Alex Gerald

Nick Clegg Question was sensible, not foolish Dear Epigram, I have to make an objection to the tone used in your article ‘Nick Clegg’s trip to Manor Hall’ by Andrew Naughtie (Epigram issue 210, online). I do not like being called a fool in the University paper. I asked a reasonable question about Heathrow expansion and got what I thought of as a reasonable, if in my view incorrect, answer to the question. Whilst I have no problem with Mr Naughtie reporting on that question as it was one of the more controversial ones of the evening, I am upset by the way he framed me the questioner. I was polite and I dispensed statistics that have been supported by a large number of organisations including companies that are not connected to any airline or BAA.

Yes, while Mr Clegg may have got applause from the audience on his statement that “I am anti-plane”, I wonder how many will applaud when they go to buy plane tickets and discover how much tax there is on them! I am all for reducing the number of plane journeys and reducing global emissions but for politicians to come out with easy one-line statements that are then reported by journalists as gospel does nothing to help the debate or inform readers about the real issues. I asked a polite and reasonable question, I am not though for being called an “angry man” or a fool! Yours sincerely Ben Tuffley


EDITORIAL 19

MONDAY 17 NOVEMBER 2008 • Issue 207

Editorial Epigrump Too cool to care A little part of me shudders each time I hear somebody boasting about how little effort they put into their degree. At essay handins I inwardly groan as I hear competing boasts of how impressively late various drained and dishevelled students have stayed up the previous night. 7 o’clock trumps 6 o’clock, but of course the highest card in this game is the all-nighter. At least the people that handed it in the day before aren’t there to suffer the shame of their forethought. It seems to be along the lines of the ‘how little effort can I make with my appearance today’ game. Hairdos which could house a small family of birds betray pained hours in front of the mirror. Similar to this is the ‘look at me I’m wearing my pyjamas on Woodland Road/my boyfriend’s boxers in Sainsbury’s’ fad, which is frankly beyond me. After all, how hard is it to pull on a pair of jeans? But it’s not about effort is it? It’s about not caring. And making it clear that you don’t care. Which ultimately suggests that you do. Foiled. And that’s the worst thing when it comes to essays. It’s not the fact that people leave them till the very last minute that annoys me, but the fact that their tales of tortuous 4am referencing has taken on a competitive drive. There’s a sort of inherent arrogance behind it all. By doing the same piece of work in one night that someone else might spend a week on you prove yourself the superior student right? So you work all night, you hand in that essay, and you briefly crow about your efforts. Mission complete. I win, you think smugly to yourself. And then you go home and you sleep all day and night while your fellow classmates celebrate in more traditional ways. Impressive. I’ll admit, there’s an element of jealousy behind all this. We’d all like to be the person who can hash out an essay in three hours and still get a first. And perhaps I sound a bit like a teacher. But competitiveness is never attractive. So keep it to yourselves and go back to bed.

Tears and tantrums at the AGM

University should trust its students

This year’s Annual General Meeting was a farce, most notably demonstrated by the sabbatical team walking out after a motion passed which they did not agree with. This move clearly unsettled the subsequent proceedings of the AGM and left many students upset and confused as to why their president had chosen to walk out on his own AGM. Although there was controversy surrounding the nature of the debate, the floor did not agree with the accusations made against the chair as the vote of no confidence in James Ashton Bell fell with an overwhelming majority. Ashton-Bell was allowed to continue as chair and the students allowed to vote for what they believed in, and that was pro-platform. For the sabbaticals to respond in such a way was an insult to the process of student democracy and further undermines the AGM and no doubt those disillusioned many

DVDs which have not been classified by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) have been removed from libraries and syllabi this week after library staff complained about their inclusion. Students have lamented that the nature of many films, especially in Spanish and Latin American cinema, is pointedly controversial and that such a move diminishes the breadth and quality of education at the University. Such students highlight that the controversy of many Italian and Spanish films is a reaction to years of censorship and marginalisation of artistic freedom. The Uni’s argument of protecting students and complying with an illdefined set of guidelines does not stand: censoring learning materials sets a dangerous precedent. The University must trust its students to be mature and to understand different cultural perspectives. Without this respect, education in language has the potential to misrepresent the very cultures it intends to analyse.

will not bother returning next year. Further insult will occur as it is believed that the pro-platform resolves will not be ratified by student council. Hopefully this will not be the case as the students have spoken. The irony of this whole issue being that there is not one single incident of a controversial speaker coming to Bristol Union, as they are neither invited nor would they bother to come. The failiures of the AGM encapture the problems with student politics today. The lack of interest from the student body is understandable in the face of the issues being presented of little practical merit to the everyday life of a Bristol student. While the AGM remains simply a forum for pushing through measures and not a forum for real debate and change it will continue to be greeted apathetically by much of the student body.

Daylight robbery

This issue of Epigram regretfully reports the occurrence of three rather unpleasant incidences. The first is someone’s coffee getting spiked at a Costa Coffee branch in Fishponds. The second is the theft of £7,000 worth of bikes from a student property. The third is the announcement made by Police that the now infamous ‘Clifton sex attacker’ has struck twice more in the late afternoon. What unites these three incidences is that they defy expectation in terms of where and when they happened. One imagines spiking to occur in nightclubs in the early hours of the morning, not in a café in the morning. The recent sex attacks had all been late at night until most recently. One expects bike theft to happen under cover of darkness. These occurrences serve as a reminder that our pre-conceptions are a poor guide when it comes to these things. Criminals are unpredictable and unscrupulous.


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ARTS

Issue 211 • MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009

Arts

Arts editor

Emily Shankar arts@epigram.org.uk

Deputy editor

Will Miles deputyarts@epigram.org.uk

Bath Literature Festival

Georgia Bridgwood looks at what this year’s festival offers the literarily inclines over the coming month At the end of the month, Bath is set to become a hub of cultural talks and performances with the return of the Bath Literature Festival for 2009. Authors, commentators and thinkers are set to appear this year, with one of the main features being the ‘Best of British’ series. It will include talks from Julian Fellowes on his hopes for a more considerate Britain, and BBC Radio 2’s Stuart Maconie on his travels around middle England in conjunction with the release of his new book, Adventures on the High Teas. Now in its 13th year, the festival aims to provoke inspiration and debate issues, old and new. The centre for most of the events is Bath Guildhall, with some events held at the Theatre Royal. Organisers, including the Artistic Director Sarah Le Fenu, are keen to emphasise that the festival is much more than a collection of promotional book tours: the speakers are discussing new and abstract topics in a debate forum. This year’s Keynote Speech is set to be influential, as controversial literary critic Terry Eagleton (author of The Meaning of Life: A Very Short Introduction) contemplates philosophy and human consciousness. The themes covered by the talks are not, however, solely literary-based. ‘The Cutting Edge’ lectures deal with science and nature, including a presentation from the author

of Bad Scientist and Guardian columnist Ben Goldacre. There is also a range of lectures on Charles Darwin: ‘Darwin 2009’, including a feature on his links with the Wedgwood family as well as his great-greatgranddaughter, award winning poet Ruth Padel, reading from her take on his career: Darwin: A Life In Poems. For literature students, the ‘Retrospectives’ series is a must. Featuring current authors’ insights on classical greats, highlights will include the first William Golding Memorial Lecture by Craig Laine, celebrating the impact of Lord of the Flies on English culture sixteen years since Golding’s death. Another exciting

talk will be Edna O’Brien’s preview of her biography of serial womaniser and literary figurehead Lord Byron, which is eagerly anticipated after her outstanding work on the life of James Joyce. The ‘Intimate Lives’ memoir series is sure to be extremely moving. Among the speakers are Emmanuel Jal, who was one of the child soldiers in the Sudanese ‘People’s Liberation Army’, and Jan Wong on life in Beijing during the Cultural Revolution. Budding writers can benefit from a series of ‘How To...’ workshops such as ‘Edit Your Work’, ‘Be a Freelance Journalist’, ‘Writing for Publication’, and more. There is also a variety of

free events including the return of the Poetry Taxi, where you can experience a personal reading of a poem of your choice. Students can receive a concession of around £2 from most fees, which range between £3 and £10; however tickets are selling fast, so if you want to be a part of this year’s literary experience, book up soon.

The festival runs from Saturday February 28 to Sunday March 8. For more information and to book tickets visit the website: www.bathlitfest.org.uk

This year’s festival features the return of the Poetry Taxi.

Bristol project raises global awareness Crumbling glaciers crashing into the sea and polar bears wandering across bleak arctic landscapes are go-to images when it comes to illustrating climate change. Icy and removed, these pictures are too remote to effectively highlight the threat of global warming, rising sea levels and their implications for Bristol. The Watermarks Project, funded by the Arts Council England South West, and taking place in the centre, brings climate change out of the Arctic and down to a local level. Created by artist and landscape architect Chris Bodle, the Watermarks Project consists of night-time projections of the

anticipated rise in water levels caused by global warming. Using current UK government predictions, descriptive text and waterlines are beamed onto the walls of seven locations in the city centre, including ExploreAt-Bristol, Cabot Circus and the harbourside. The genius of this project lies in its simplicity. Ethereally beautiful images float on walls and serve as a haunting visual aid. The medium of light mirrors the translucency of the symbolized water while being equally fluid and pervasive. The projections stun viewers with the reality of rising tides and the gritty details of the implications of rising ocean

levels are revealed by Bodle’s marks. Skips, benches, building foundations and postboxes fall below the future water line, highlighting the drastic changes that threaten to transform the familiar Bristol cityscape. Yet, Bodle’s art is not meant to scare. His goal is to stimulate conversation about precautions and technology that can be implemented when the floods come. The artist expressed, “This project contends that the future of our cities and landscapes should not only be left to scientists, politicians and engineers, but should be a matter for us all.” It is a social and cultural matter as well as scientific and technical.

Along these lines, the project includes constructed forums for discussion, located on the artist’s website as well as a few family-oriented dropin workshops at Explore. By encouraging individual responsibility and community interaction, while drawing on Bristol’s Urban Art legacy, Bodle’s project is particularly intelligent and pertinent. The Watermarks Project fills an important place in the debate on climate change. With so many people preaching at us from the rooftops, Bodle’s art manages to suceed an accessible level rather than an alienating one. Kate Perutz

I absolutely adore children’s television... from the 60s and 70s. My mother, being the kook that she is, brought me up on a staple diet of Parsley and the Herb Garden, Watch with Mother and Muffin the Mule. Thanks to the nice people at the Student Loans Company, I bought myself some 60s Kids TV DVDs from Amazon to see exactly why they are no longer about. After much watching, (admittedly with a bottle of wine instead of a beaker of squash) I concluded that the reason they aren’t available is because for some reason, despite improvements in technology and education, children’s television producers in the past ten or fifteen years seem to have come to the decision that children are actually quite stupid. Take Hector’s House versus The Tweenies, for example. Hector’s House features arguments about the morality of hunting, has elaborate plots and fullyformed characters (OK, so they’re a married cat and dog with a frog neighbour, but bear with me). Whereas The Tweenies, aimed at the same pre-school age group, features... well, not that much. Maybe I’m just being an arty snobby type, but even if you look at the quality of the animation, set design and character construction, in the old days it was something of an art form. Stop-motion and puppeteering ruled the world between 3pm and 5pm back then and it’s such a shame that nowadays instead of exposure to incredible craftsmanship of story and animation, today’s children get to see permatanned prancing drama school rejects talking about the alphabet to purple monkeys, or are they bears? Things are looking up though; stop-motion is slowly making its way back into the mainstream, so maybe there is hope after all for the intelligent children’s story. Stuff ‘Fopp’ and its arty sexy foreign films, I want a night in with Thomas the Tank. Woot! Woot! Lilly R. Caerie


ARTS

MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009 • Issue 211

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“are they deserving of the hype so liberally foisted upon them?”

Music reviews, p.27

Musical tragedy at the Winston AMADEUS Clemmie Reynolds and Emily Smith Wickham Theatre

the characters’ emotions, but occasionally contradictory, such as the triumphant Mozart piece played over Salieri’s breakdown, the score engaged the audience with the plot, seamlessly linking one scene to the next. The rest of the cast, despite a small degree of overacting by some of the male actors, only enhanced Salieri’s story. Despite a slight lapse of attention towards the beginning of the second half, as Salieri continually attempts to ruin Mozart’s opera, (which is saved by the Emperor in his overly camp manner); the play recaptures its audience with the madness, and later the death, of Mozart. The play eventually draws to a close, still captivating its audience, with a return to the Old Salieri who attempts suicide in his last pathetic bid to be remembered. Emily Shankar

Photo: Nadège Laici

Set to be one of the best student productions of the year so far, Amadeus did not disappoint. Skilfully directed by Clemmie Reynolds and Emily Smith, this production, which is loosely based on the lives of the composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri, ensured the audience were hanging onto every last word uttered by the actors, and every last note played by the accompanying orchestra. Together Ed Sayer as Mozart, and both Rory Sherrington and Luke Thompson as Salieri, (young and old respectively), gave convincing performances

of two composers fighting for their work to be heard and loved. The audience plays the parts of the ‘ghosts of the future’ as Old Salieri begins his story, convinced that he killed Mozart by poisoning him. The play then flashes back to the late eighteenth century, complete with the elaborate costumes, to tell the tale of how Salieri came to destroy Mozart. The audience watches him meet, betray and deceive Mozart, whose childish behaviour and sexual frivolity is excellently portrayed by Sayer. The orchestra, conducted by Stella Dilke, and chorus, added an astounding element, truly engaging the audience in the focal point of the play: the compositions. We hear pieces by Mozart, Salieri and other composers, which are performed to the highest standard by the large orchestra which was set beneath the stage. Usually representative of

An envious Salieri (Rory Sherrington) destroys Mozart (Ed Sayer)

Russian Classical Ballet Company graces Hippodrome COPPELIA Ellen Kent Hippodrome

Ballet is a strange genre. Its heritage lies in the aristocratic courts of bygone eras. Ellen Kent is intent, as always, on putting her own theatrical stamp on

affairs. A self-confessed Jack of all trades, her company’s ambition seems to have no end. Not content with a string of recent operas at the Hippodrome, Amphitheatre Productions are marking their tenth birthday by bringing their predominantly Slavic crew to Bristol with Delibes’ Coppelia. Next to Swan Lake,

its accompanying touring ballet, it can appear mediocre. Delibes is best known for a few exceptional melodic motifs such as the Lakme ‘Flower Duet’, stock repertoire of most female soprani. Coppelia is no exception; the tune of the principal’s opening solo waltz is the only one likely to remain in the audience’s mind. As usual, Kent made up for this

with a hefty dose of melodrama. The touching story of dolls, magic and lovers provides many opportunities for fantasy and colour as well as imaginative choreography. It did not take much for husband and wife Alexei and Kristina Terentiev to show how exceptional they were in their roles. Alexei’s extraordinary leg strength gave him a vigorous presence whilst Kristina’s effortless grace gives that most special of effects, her feet seeming never to touch the ground. From her first dance to her final bewildering series of pirouettes, her pointe work shone brightly against an uninspiring company. There were a few too many toes out of line to go unnoticed at times; but on the plus side, this was a treat in so many ways. The charming combination of doll-like floppiness and statuesque robotic routines held all eyes captive. Typically colourful, one could say brash, the set helped the entertainment value greatly. This was a show in the way Kent often chooses – confident and never prissy. Even if the costumers sometimes seemed to have been watching a little too much Strictly Come Dancing, the light-hearted nature of a tale set in a fantasy world was

reflected by childish colours and scenery. A sign, perhaps, that Kent sees ballet moving even further away from its archetypal exclusivity towards the territory of musical theatre. It works to an extent, but at the cost of sophistication. The most endearing character of them all was a Dr. Coppelius whose fashion sense was borrowed from Rogers and Hammerstein’s Fagin and stick-wielding skills from mime. Amusing and yet sinister at times, he was the perfect antidote to the cartoonish doll characters in his workshop. This workshop, a Tardis behind just one window in the first act, occupied the whole of the second act with a futuristic concoction of blue lights and gaudy costumes. Overall, this production was often a little too infantile. The green netting on which the town’s fabric backdrop was hung was far too obvious. If the dancers resembled free spirits, the set was one large, gregarious puppet. At least the orchestra performed with the light touch and sensitivity needed for a ballet – a shame that the same sensitivity was not shared on stage by all but the principals.


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MUSIC

Issue 211 • MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009

Music

Music editor

Tim Wong music@epigram.org.uk

Deputy editor

Chris Clarke deputymusic@epigram.org.uk

It’s the start of the music awards s Jonny Young ponders whether overblown awards like the BRITs are still relevant today Barack Obama, Brandon Flowers, Noel Gallagher and Noel Fielding. Two are American. Two are musicians. All are nominated for ‘Hero of the Year’ at the Shockwaves NME Awards held at Brixton Academy on February 25. As things go, releasing a seventh album ranks slightly lower on this writer’s scale of heroism than restoring faith in American democracy by directing the US military to withdraw troops from Iraq and ordering the closure of Guantanamo Bay. You may disagree. What’s the reason behind a ‘Hero of the Year’ award? At best, it’s a throwaway trophy. It can hardly be claimed it increases exposure; only the most hardcore Pete Doherty fan will know that the smackaddled ex-Libertines man was last year’s hero, a result that led to accusations of NME glorifying hard drug abuse. If Obama wins, which, given the fact that George Bush has been NME’s ‘Villain of the Year’ for five years running, is highly likely, he’s unlikely to notice, l e t alone feel his career h a s finally been

justified. The public will similarly go ‘fair enough’, and then instantly forget. In short, it’s a superfluous award. But then, so are many of the awards. NME’s ‘Best Film’ award is inevitably overshadowed by the BAFTAs and Oscars, while categories for ‘Best and Worst Dressed’ seem, despite the majority of the nominees being musicians, far removed from a concern for the music itself. A bit of a jokey award, you might say, particularly given that Brandon Flowers is nominated in both ‘Best Dressed’ and ‘Worst Dressed’ categories. The problem then arises that if some awards should be taken as a bit of a joke, how seriously should we take the others? Would we care if Rolf Harris suddenly received ‘Best Album’ award? We’d argue about it a bit, then forget about it entirely. This is the one saving grace of these ceremonies: they provoke brief arguments and discussions about the music industry, albeit usually through disparaging the ceremonies themselves. Chart expert G e n n a r o C a s t a l d o believes that, more than the NMEs, the BRITs do a lot for bands in terms of

album sales and exposure since the public read about it in the papers and hear about it on TV. If you open the paper next Thursday you’ll instantly find out whether Coldplay, Duffy, Elbow, Radiohead or The Ting Tings have claimed the ‘Best British Album’ award. Unlike the NME Awards, however, it’s a thousand strong committee of ‘industry insiders’who nominate and vote for these awards,

A shining icon of the British music scene at last year’s BRIT Awards... oh, and Kate Nash too.

suggesting they may not always be an accurate representation of what is critically acclaimed or beloved by music fans, but rather of what sells. The public is allowed to vote, from a carefully chosen list of nominees of course, in only three categories, including ‘Best British Single’. Inevitably, the nominations themselves will probably have passed most people by since Fearne Cotton

announced them on January 20, a day when pretty much the entire world was overshadowed by the inauguration of our transatlantic neighbours’ 44th president. To give you some idea, Scouting for Girls’ ‘Heartbeat’, Alexandra Burke’s ‘Hallelujah’, Duffy’s ‘Mercy’ and Girls Aloud’s ‘The Promise’ are all nominated for Best British Single. Were the award for best-


MUSIC

MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2008 • Issue 211

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For what gigs are on where turn to Epigram’s listings pages

Listings, p.34

season again, but who still cares? selling single, Alexandra Burke would win with her controversial version of Leonard Cohen’s classic song. Were the award for catchiest single, perhaps Scouting for Girls should win. Neither of these, however, appears to represent the originality that should surely be part of the criteria for producing a ‘Best Single’ of 2008. And this is where the problems lie. What are the criteria? No one knows.

Every artist nominated is a high-selling, mainstream act. No mention of singles from Foals, Late of the Pier, Hot Chip, Glasvegas, to name but a few. It seems that BRITs judges like to play it safe, only awarding the hugely commercially successful bands the prizes. Obviously there will inevitably be some correlation between commercial success and awards. Looking at last year’s top five best-selling albums from Take That, Duffy, Kings of Leon, Coldplay and The Killers, there are some clues as to whom the awards will go to this year. Coldplay and Duffy are in fact nominated for four awards each, both probably needing an extra pair of hands to carry off their awards. This seems to render the ceremony somewhat dull and unimaginative, seemingly belatedly rewarding success in a manner even the artists themselves aren’t bothered by, with many of the winners famously failing to turn up. Given that this year the ceremony is hosted by Gavin and Stacey stars Matthew Horne and James Corden alongside Kylie Minogue, you could be forgiven for thinking the whole affair has become a little farcical. To pit Scouting for Girls, however successful they have been, alongside Iron Maiden, The Verve, Elbow and Coldplay as ‘Best Live Act’ is surely laughable, as is the suggestion that Ian Brown was the ‘Best British Male Solo Artist’ of 2008. It may be conceded that he is a phenomenally talented artist, but the former Stone Roses man hasn’t produced anything of note since 2007. In a year dominated by female solo artists, the BRITs committee has clearly struggled to think of nominations f o r t h e corresp onding male category. The NMEs, despite some of their ‘throwaway’ categories, are seen by many as more credible and representative than the B R I T s . NME’s ‘Best Live Band’ nominees

to be taken seriously. In its attempted broad scope it comes up against similar problems as the Grammys in America which, despite having the advantage of distinct categories of best electronic, rock, alternative, R&B and rap album (to name a few - there are 110 categories in total), results in the more general ‘Album of the Year’ award comprising nominees from Lil Wayne, Coldplay and Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, all diverse artists who cannot successfully be judged against each other. Consequently, Herbie Hancock, Dixie Chicks, U2 and Outkast have all won this category in the past. So the Grammys are not a show for the casual pop-music fan, but neither are they quite one for highbrow artists. In attempting to please everyone the result seems more to be general confusion. Compared to their film industry relatives, the BAFTAs and Oscars, the music industry’s

are Radiohead, Oasis, The Killers, Muse and Kings of Leon, bands that, whether you like them or not, undoubtedly put on a damn good show. Noticeably none of the nominees are the same as in the BRITs’ equivalent category.

So which should we be more interested in? Unlike the BRITs, the public can nominate and vote for the NMEs, with the two most coveted and arguably most significant awards, ‘Best British Band’ and ‘Best International Band’ currently held by Arctic Monkeys and The Killers respectively. As unsurprising as the BRITs, you might think. But a glance at the nominees for ‘Best New Band’, which includes Glasvegas, Late of the Pier and White Lies as opposed to BRITs equivalents Adele, Duffy and Scouting for Girls shows a marked difference in perceptions as to which artists belong in this category. At the two ceremonies last year, the artists winning ‘Best New Band’ and ‘Best Breakthrough Act’ were either The Enemy or Mika, depending on which award winners’ list you read. You can probably guess which ceremony gave the award to Mika. The problem with both award ceremonies is that they don’t always know what they want to achieve. The BRIT Awards seems to want to be the definitive British music award ceremony, but only caters for mainstream success stories. The NME A w a r d s attempts to include the more alternative a c t s , incorporating award categories such as ‘Best Dance Floor Filler’, but is almost too f lippant for any of its awards

award ceremonies seem to be largely worthless and need to be more focused if they are to be considered as important and significant as their film counterparts. For many artists, the Nationwide Mercury Prize is the most noteworthy milestone, a single prize awarded for the best original album in the UK and famously gaining a reputation for not simply awarding the best-selling albums. In awarding the prize to artists from Dizzee Rascal and Franz Ferdinand to Ms Dynamite, Klaxons and most recently, Elbow, all these artists have gained recognition for their original albums. Arguments are still sparked, but the award has become even more momentous and easier to digest than the bombardment and vagueness of the BRITS, NMEs, Grammys, or even the MTV Europe Music Awards, who last year awarded Rick Astley the ‘Best Act Ever’ award. Naturally, he wasn’t available to attend.

Some of this year’s nominations The BRIT Awards: ‘Best British Single’ Adele - ‘Chasing Pavements’ Alexandra Burke - ‘Hallelujah’ Coldplay - ‘Viva La Vida’ Dizzee Rascal ft. Calvin Harris - ‘Dance Wiv Me’ Duffy - ‘Mercy’ Estelle ft. Kanye West: ‘American Boy’ Girls Aloud - ‘The Promise’ Leona Lewis - ‘Better In Time’ Scouting For Girls - ‘Heartbeat’ The X Factor Finalists - ‘Hero’ Shockwaves NME Awards: ‘Best British Band’ Oasis Bloc Party Radiohead Muse Last Shadow Puppets The Grammy Awards:

Releasing a seventh album ranks slightly lower on this writer’s scale of heroism than restoring faith in American democracy

‘Record of the Year’ Adele - ‘Chasing Pavements’ Coldplay - ‘Viva La Vida’ Leona Lewis - ‘Bleeding Love’ M.I.A - ‘Paper Planes’ ‘Album of the Year’ Coldplay - ‘Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends’ Lil Wayne - ‘Tha Carter III’ Ne-Yo - ‘Year of the Gentleman’ Robert Plant and Allison Krauss - ‘Raising Sand’ Radiohead - ‘In Rainbows’


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MUSIC

Issue 211 • MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009

Got an opinion? Visit Epigram’s website to comment on articles online

www.epigram.org.uk

Interview

Derek Grant from Alkaline Trio

Ant Lee grabs the American punk veterans’ drummer for a deadpan chat on everything from Obama to the Church of Satan It might seem like just yesterday that Alkaline Trio burst onto the mainstream pop-punk scene with their hit single ‘Stupid Kid’, but that was all the way back in 2001. Since then, the band have found a settled line-up and a formula of dark lyrics mixed with anthemic, heart-raising choruses, while still touring hard. 2008’s Agony and Irony, their first on major label Epic, gave them their highest Billboard chart rating to date and showcases the band going from strength to strength. The threepiece recently played a gig at Bristol’s newly renamed O2 Academy. You’re in the middle of a big European tour. How are you feeling about it? Would you say there are any differences between your fans in the States and fans over here? The fans in Europe seem a bit more enthusiastic, probably because we don’t get to tour here as often as we do in the States. It also seems to be a broader audience here than in the States. People in the USA can be quite narrow-minded when it comes to music. The Trio have been around for about 10 years now. Have you noticed any changes in your fan base from when you started? Well, I joined the band in 2001 [replacing previous drummer Mike Felumlee of Smoking Popes fame] so I can only speak about the past 8 years, but the audience has grown steadily. We still see the same familiar faces at our shows, so that’s a great thing. Your latest album, Agony & Irony, still retains elements of the sound from your older albums but demonstrates how the band has matured musically. Has your approach to the way you write a record changed over the years, and did being on a major label put any extra pressure on you? The writing process hasn’t changed much, apart from the fact that we all live in different states now. Grant lives in Indiana, while Matt Skiba resides in California. Instead of getting together to show each other the songs we’ve written, we just email them these days. We’ve

I heard that you recently somehow managed to freak out Marilyn Manson. Is this true? I cannot divulge that information, as we’ve been sworn to secrecy and threatened with lawsuits and gypsy curses.

noticed no difference in working with a major label, everyone has been very supportive and enthusiastic about the album from the get-go. Your lyrics usually tackle difficult subjects that you’ve experienced yourselves like alcoholism, drugs, depression, and death. With some of you now happily married with children, are there any signs of you mellowing out in your old age? Can we expect any easy listening tracks about changing nappies or playing golf in the near future? I think it’s safe to assume you won’t be hearing any overtly cheery songs from the band. There will always be a darker side to life, no matter how perfect things may seem. That’s where inspiration is found.

But aren’t you and Matt card-carrying members of the Church of Satan? By the way, how do Satanists celebrate Christmas? I take it the Church of Satan didn’t have a carol service this time around? We all managed to avoid the terrible Midwestern weather

Your previous records like Goddamnit and Maybe I’ll Catch Fire were very important albums to a lot of kids growing up. There’s such a great raw energy in them. How do you feel looking back at those records, knowing they have had a major influence on so many people? Again, because I joined later you’d have to ask the others, but what I will say is that I really enjoy playing songs from those albums. When I hear those songs, I’m very much a fan of the band. Agony & Irony did very well in the US billboard charts and has sold very well. But what do you think of the music industry at the moment, and the popularity of illegal downloading? I think the music industry is in some serious trouble, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As an artist it’s actually pretty liberating. One of your songs, ‘Warbrain’, was on Rock Against Bush Vol. 1, which I take it means you’re not big fans of the now ex-President. What are your thoughts about Barack Obama’s election to the presidency? I can speak for all of us when I say that Obama’s election comes with a lot of hope. But it’s going to be a difficult task undoing all of the evil that has been done over the past eight years.

Alkaline Trio try out their ‘happy’ pose for the camera

over the holidays, so I think it’s safe to say we enjoyed it quite a bit. I celebrated by going to see a film and hanging out with friends. I skipped the annual séance and goat sacrifice this year. Outside of music, what are you guys interested in? How does a routine day go for a member or Alkaline Trio? When we’re travelling we like to check out the cities we play in, work out or meditate before the show, have a few drinks after the show, watch movies on the bus, nothing too exciting.

Alkaline Trio are currently on tour in the UK in support of latest album Agony and Irony, out now on Epic Records


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“The whole lm smacks of a skindeep attitude”

Film Reviews, p.31

Reviews WALKING ON A DREAM Empire of the Sun Febuary 16 2009 Virgin Australian duo Empire of the Sun, a.k.a. Luke Steele of The Sleepy Jackson and Nick Littlemore of Pnau, have hardly been absent from most ‘top tips for 2009’ feature. This month sees the release of their debut album, demanding that we ask the question, are they deserving of the hype so liberally foisted upon them? For the large part, the album is just what one would expect from the combination of Pnau’s eccentric, sun-kissed house and the calmer, acoustic end of Sleepy Jackson’s indie. If, indeed, one can expect anything from such an unlikely cross-pollination. Opener ‘Standing On The Shore’ consists of a quietly yearning vocal drifting around a lazily insistent groove. It sounds like the soundtrack to a gentle post-rave comedown in the early hours of a summer’s morning. It’s a mood that’s maintained throughout the majority of the album. Warm synths duel with sparse, laid-back guitars, providing a background for wistful vocals to weave in and out of the foreground, undergirded by an unrelenting yet unobtrusive rhythm section. However, Empire of the Sun are no one trick pony, and they’re capable of upping the ante

FIRST LOVE Emmy The Great February 9 2009 Close Harbour Named after a Samuel Beckett novella, Emmy The Great’s debut album First Love has been a long time coming, almost three years in fact. But has the wait been justified? Fans of her lyrical witticisms and folky style won’t be disappointed, as it’s this ‘passive-aggressive’ formula that the Hong Kong born singer sticks to again and again and again. This might make First Love sound like just another boring exercise in anti-folk, but when there’s real substance and spit behind the lyrics, as on ‘We Almost Had A Baby’ you can’t help but break into a wry smile. It’s the bittersweet quality on this song in particular, the album’s lead-off single, that marks Emmy, real name Emma-Lee Moss, apart from most other pretty girls with acoustic guitars, with the singer admitting recently “it’s one of the only songs I’ve ever written just so I could put it out and make someone feel like shit.” But moments of genuine loveliness are nestled nicely in between these more acerbic asides, with ‘MIA’ in particular a beautiful hark back to the early days of a summer’s relationship. There are those who will point to these songs as proof that Moss’ songwriting is flimsily lightweight, and admittedly there are moments like “Hallelujah, hallelujah, and the sky was so much bluer” on the album’s title track that smack of embarrassing lyrical vacuity. But ultimately the album sounds the way you’d expect an Emmy The Great record to sound. First Love is a promising first effort. Tim Wong

significantly. The oddly named ‘Swordfish Hotkiss Night’, for example, is a sleazy, ominous track with aggression bubbling under the surface of the half-rapped vocals. ‘Tiger By My Side’ follows, serving to reign things in a little bit, but still romping along at some speed before fading into the melancholic eighties drawl of closing tune ‘Without You’. The primary point of comparison offered by the press has been with MGMT, and while there’s certainly a degree of shared musical ground, it would be unfair to question either band’s idiosyncracy. The main similarity between the two acts is their predilection for peculiar fashion statements and highly theatrical performances, both of which permeate the mythology that Empire of the Sun have built around themselves. Littlemore and Steele have frequently expressed the intention to create something as visually epic as it is musically exploratory, and no-one can question that they’ve achieved just that. Empire of the Sun are everything that a band should be, engaging, uplifting, and gifted with the ability to write truly original pop songs. Chris Clarke

HOLD TIME M. Ward February 16 2009 Merge Records Matt Ward has been quietly releasing albums of hushed folk music since 1999, but the time seems right for the world to start paying attention. Hold Time sees him treading his same familiar territory, confirming his status as one of the very finest old-time troubadours. Ward’s music has a timeless quality. The fingerpicked acoustic guitar and analogue recording gives the album the same warmth that made Fleet Foxes’ debut so universally loved. On Hold Time he sounds more than ever like a true master of his craft by pairing this formula with some of his best songs yet. The lushly-orchestrated title track is breathtaking.“I wrote this song about it, cos I didn’t care about any worthless photographs”, he sighs into the strings, his heartbroken drawl suggesting that moment is long gone. Elsewhere, the songwriting is mostly good enough to hold up to the brave choice of covers like ‘50s standard ‘Oh Lonesome Me’. ‘One Hundred Million Years’ stands out for its beautiful guitarwork, and the strangely optimistic reflections about death on ‘Blake’s View’ reveal a new depth and variety to his lyrics. Occasionally though, he crosses the fine line into unremarkable pastiche. ‘Never Had Nobody Like You’ and ‘Fisher Of Men’ are fun, simplistic rockabilly tunes but they feel somewhat unnecessary when they’re in such good company. There’s really no need for onedimensional imitations of classic songwriters when he’s so close to becoming one himself. Mike Mantin

NOBLE BEAST Andrew Bird February 2 2009 Bella Union Andrew Bird’s 11th album Noble Beast is deliciously obsessed with the consonance of words, even making them up if need be, to rumble down his ornate, violin-led songs. The production is towed by clarity; crisp, and nurturing the warmly defined sounds within, particularly the percussion. Every kick-drum thump resonates accordingly, and every ting tickles the ear. ‘Masterswarm’ could be Rufus Wainwright covering Bryter Layter-era Nick Drake, powered by ticking handclaps and a skittering violin, in constant conversation with the more grounded cello parts. “This is sure to misspell disaster”, he eloquently mumbles, highlighting his flair for clever but never clichéd lyrics. He often plays a trick that chews its way into the depths of your soul, without you being able to articulate why such a simple guitar line has such an effect. Take ‘Anonanimal’, where his biological mutterings lollop into each other, an elegiac, sophisticated tongue-twister atop a pensive drum and needle sharp xylophone and strings. Equally affecting is ‘Souverian’, which Bird himself confesses remains a mystery to him. His master instrument shudders as he whistles across a desolate landscape that Cormac McCarthy might be proud of, and finally breaking into a conversational piano line. Although Noble Beast was born from Bird’s neuroses and uncertainty, he should rest easy that it’s certain to grow gratefully-received into the lives of many. Laura Snapes

EVERYBODY LOVES A SCENE New Rhodes February 16 2009 Salty Cat After a string of moderately successful singles on cooler-than-thou record label Moshi Moshi and their debut Salty Cat release Songs from the Lodge a couple of years back, anyone who remembers Bristolian indie-poppers New Rhodes may be wondering where they’ve got to. But anyone hankering for another dose need not despair, as the band return to the scene with another collection of middle-of-theroad anthems. Not that New Rhodes aren’t good at what they do, their brand of 80’s throwback indie is as deserving of mainstream attention as NME-fodder White Lies. New single and album opener ‘Everybody Loves a Scene’, is a fitting manifesto for the band in 2009, as well as providing the title for the album. Soaring guitar lines meeting sarcastic jibes about a music industry the band have failed to crack. In the past the band have been favourably compared to the likes of The Smiths, The Strokes and Interpol, and have supported indie heavyweights Razorlight, Bloc Party and The Killers. Yet their sound can easily be derived from this list. There’s very little on this album that feels like the band’s own. At their best, New Rhodes are capable of making exactly the kind of music that would sit comfortably alongside those they have imitated. But for those industry types who have heralded 2009 as the long-overdue death of mediocre guitar music, the danger is that this band are simply flogging a dead horse. James Galley


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Issue 211 • MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009


NIGHTLIFE

MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009 • Issue 211

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Nightlife

Nightlife editor Alek Petty nightlife@epigram.org.uk

The names behind the nights

Epigram chats to some of the students involved in Bristol’s nightlife about how they have successfully managed to t it all in alongside that all important degree, and how you too can get involved.

Sam Collenette aka Laconic

Owen Parsons aka Professor Messa

DJ/Promoter - Shudder

DJ/promoter - 5th Bass

Jules Norton Selzer Promoter - Beans on Toast

What student nights are you involved in?

How did you get 5th Bass off the ground?

How did ‘Beans on Toast’ come about?

I co-run ‘Shudder’ at The Tube with a friend of mine. I am also involved in a new start-up, called ‘Krunk!’ which is also at The Tube. Along with this I DJ regularly at ‘Beans On Toast’ at Dojo Lounge every other Thursday.

I guess it started at the end of last year. We’d put on various ents in Goldney as we were all part of the JCR and then got offered a one off night at The Tube in our last term. We didn’t really have the budget to get any big names in, so we got a group of DJs together consisting of us and a few DJ friends. It went well so The Tube asked us if we’d like to do something regular and the money we made from that night we put into the improving the next one.

Through being President at Badock Hall. We had to organize loads of hall events, then we had a big goodbye event in May at Dojos and everyone came along. The owner then asked us to do a regular night

How long have you been DJing? How did you get involved in the Bristol scene? I have been DJing since sixth form. I got a few gigs just by searching around and putting my name out there through university societies and such. Things only really picked up though after I played at a Badock end of year party in my first year, which went really well and through that I got involved in ‘Beans On Toast’. That is also part of the reason I set up my own night.

We first got put in touch with The Tube through Sam and Sara who run ‘Shudder’, so a big thank you to them. We also had a big launch party at Joe Publics before we started at The Tube, which the guys from Groove On/Just Jack helped with. How do you fit in running a night with your degree?

I find that overall it has a really positive effect because it is a really constructive hobby. If I didn’t have DJing I would probably just be sitting around bored which which would motivate me to work even less. It only becomes difficult if you start having late nights because of gigs which can really take their toll!

It’s not too tricky, since the work, such as postering, flyering, booking acts, is all quite flexible. We all have early starts on Wednesdays which is a struggle, but we get by.

I have been really lucky personally. ‘Beans on Toast’ especially has been a pleasure to be involved in. Largely however, promoters have a tendency to be false and fickle because of their line of work. Don’t let that put you off though, there are always exceptions.

Well my partner Alex Manby went on his year abroad, so it has been a bit less exciting in the sense that I do a lot of the bookings and promo myself rather than with another person.

What contacts did you need to get going?

How do you fit in DJing with your degree?

What are the promoters you work with like?

How has running ‘Beans on Toast’ changed from last year?

Any future plans for 5th Bass? That would be telling! We’ve got a few big plans for nights towards then end of the year. We’ve also got some pretty decent acts playing this term such as In:sight from ‘Hospitality’ and Stereo 8 from Finger Lickin’ Records so look out for those. Any tips for aspiring promoters? Don’t put your night on a Tuesday!

How do you fit in in with your degree?

“It’s more a case of who you know, not what you know”

It’s pretty difficult to be honest. Even if ‘Beans’ isn’t literally taking up my time, I’m always thinking about things. I don’t deal with stress too well so it can be tough. How easy is it to pull in and manage some of the bigger DJs? They vary quite a lot to be honest. Some bigger names such as Kenny Ken, who have been doing it for 20 years are pretty chilled out and you can avoid all the agent stuff. But others can be quite primadonna with contracts and their demands. Any tips promoters?

for

aspiring

Ha ha any tips? My tip would be don’t start a night unless you have got a great idea and an even better venue, because since we started ‘Beans’, the number of student nights have grown so much. A lot of competition these days makes it all a lot harder work!

You? Promoter/DJ/P.I.M.P?

Who, me? Many have tried. Many have failed. However, starting up your own club night isn’t something you should be scared of. As the thoughts of current promoters show, it’s a tough world out there and the market is reaching saturation point, but with some creative thinking and good business acumen, it really is possible to plug any holes you may feel currently exist in the Bristol nightlife scene. What venue? Many places around Bristol offer their clubs up for free, with the promoters taking 100% of the door money and the owners having full spoils of the bar. If it’s a sell-out you’re after then Bijou struggles not to reach full capacity, The Tube comfortably creates a cool vibe without needing an army of mates or Dojo Lounge and its extensive smoking area can squeeze a few more in if you’re lucky. Where do I start? As in a most industries it’s more a case of who you know not what you know. Try and get in contact with some of the promoters already running nights and ask for their advice. A lot of the more established names such as JustJack have been known to help a lot of the new student start-ups, providing DJs at a small fee and contacts with club owners. Will it make me rich? Probably not, but a well run club night should give you a bit more pocket money, and hopefully funds to invest in pulling in some bigger names. Remember, it’s about the music man!


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FILM

Issue 211 • MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009

Film

Film editor

Phil Eacott lmandtv@epigram.org.uk

Deputy editor

Ben Welch deputylmandtv@epigram.org.uk

Vicky Christina Barcelona

Laura Snapes reviews Woody Allen’s new lm and reveals if Vicky Christina Barcelona is the much belated return to form VICKY CHRISTINA BARCELONA Dir. Woody Allen 06/02/09 Javier Bardem, Scarlett Johansson, Penelope Cruz

About a decade ago, I spied on my younger brother as he furtively watched and rewound Kate Winslet’s nude scene in Titanic, him repeating this process to the extent that said scene is now unwatchably fuzzy due to his pre-pubescent yearnings. It’s not especially hard to imagine him reliving the process with a scene from Woody Allen’s latest, as María-Elena (Penélope Cruz) strokes Cristina’s (Scarlett Johansson) apple-cheeked face with smouldering seduction in the velvety red hues of a photographic darkroom, and the two embrace, dropping out of shot to make love. Given Allen’s lascivious history, you’d be forgiven for thinking that he might exploit the moment’s lust, but fortunately (perhaps surprisingly), the kiss is part of a rich, sympathetic tapestry exploring the dynamics of love in every form – repressed, unrequited, desire and antidesire, monogamy and polygamy. The lead females blaze through Spain – Vicky (Rebecca Hall), engaged to be married, and pursuing a Masters in Catalan Identity (in turn unearthing her own), and Cristina following in the pursuit of love. She enjoys the work of Gaudi - the architect’s unfinished works, much like herself, alive with the vivacity of their lauded curvature – and impulsively decides to follow painter Juan Antonio

MILK Dir. Gus Van Sant 23/01/09

On November 4 2008, the day Barack Obama was elected as 44th president of the United States, Proposition 8 – which restricted marriage to only heterosexual couples therefore prohibiting same sex unions – was passed in California. Thus, the recent arrival of Gus Van Sant’s Milk, nominated for eight Oscars, could hardly have come at a more opportune time.

to an historical village, setting off a chain of emotionally and physically explosive events which make both girls reevaluate what they held dear. The film starts off oddly charmless and quirkless, looking like a perfectly obvious rom-com and continuing evidence that Allen’s losing his touch. (Don) Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem) is the chancing charlatan, and the female leads act mock-coy whilst swirling enormous, clichéd wine glasses. But it develops into a sensual, sensitive portrait of sexual experimentation with the arrival of Juan Antonio’s passionately erratic artist ex-wife, MaríaElena, equal parts spiteful and seductive, spitting her words with hysterical fury and jealousy at Cristina’s usurping of her position. In Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Allen riles against the conventions of love, the expectations and nomenclature that surround it. It only seeks to criticise Doug, Vicky’s smarmy, stereotypically yuppie fiancé, who longs for a life of expensive suburbia and bridge games, failing to realise that love isn’t just marriage and financial security. Although Vicky Cristina Barcelona may not be one of Allen’s finest, it’s sure to be considerably more poignant and lasting than anything else you’re likely to see at the cinema this Valentine’s Day. Let’s just hope you’re not sat next to my brother…

The film charts the rise of Harvey Milk, from ambitious camera store owner to District Supervisor, and depicts the struggle of those at the centre of the vibrant gay rights movement in 1970’s San Francisco. Skilful interlacing of original archive footage enhances our appreciation of this revolutionary period in US history. Initially seeking to cast an out gay actor in the lead role of Harvey Milk, Van Sant and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black eventually decided on the undeniably heterosexual Sean Penn. Black stated in an

‘In Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Allen riles against the conventions of love’ interview that Penn is ‘intensely passionate and very politically active’, attributes essential for the portrayal of the determined and compassionate Milk. Penn’s masterful performance, conveying humility, resolve, humour and disappointment, forms the centrepiece of this dramatic biopic. The tender relationship between Harvey and Scott Smith, played by co-star James Franco, which anchors Milk throughout his turbulent political endeavours, is communicated with a touching honesty. The intimate moments shared between the two are starkly

contrasted with the frequently volatile relations that plague Harvey’s later relationship with Jack Lira, a comic yet unstable figure embraced by Diego Luna. Josh Brolin’s Oscar nominated performance as the confused and tormented Dan White, another member of the Board of Supervisors, must not be overlooked. Brolin’s sinister intensity as Milk’s straight laced adversary brings an unnerving undercurrent to the prevailing tone of optimism. Interactions between Milk and White are invariably tense, and even Milk’s playful jokes do little to dispel

the loaded atmosphere. From the very outset, the film seems tinged with tragedy and an underlying sense that Harvey’s life is fated. In an early scene with Scott, Harvey jokes on his 40th birthday ‘I’m not sure I’ll make it to fifty’; a statement which turns out to be sadly prophetic. However, as we watch a great number of the San Francisco community march through the streets bearing candles to commemorate Milk at the end of the film, we observe Harvey’s conviction that ‘the movement is bigger than the man’. Alice Horrocks


FILM

MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009 • Issue 211

31

For what’s on in Bristol cinemas this fortnight visit Epigram’s listings section

Listings, p.34

Will Smith’s Manly Chick Flick

Will Smith consolidates his position as Hollywood’s premier purveyour of schmaltz. Michelle Ruda reviews Seven Pounds SEVEN POUNDS Dir. Gabriele Muccino 16/01/09 Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson

You won’t have any idea what’s going on. Seriously. For the first twenty minutes you will be in an utter state of perplexity, then as the film unravels you will start nodding and coming up with your own theories of what on earth is going on, then as the plot is tantalizingly revealed you will either jump in triumphant joy at having guessed right or continue to sit in your own bewilderment. Having said that, Seven Pounds is not a happy film, neither is it a complicated one. Will Smith plays taxman Ben Thomas, a man with a secret, a man on a mission. This mission spins a web of pain and love for Ben and the strangers he embarks on during the film. Something terrible has happened and something terrible will happen. Ben Thomas knows this. And he tries, he hopes, to do some good in the lives of seven strangers. The film’s beauty lies in having the audience not know what is going on and those with

enough patience for the ride will enjoy this film immensely. The story kicks off revealing the turbulent state of Ben Thomas with a shocking telephone scene with a company worker. The film progresses with more strange behaviour from Ben stalking people at hospitals, moving out of his beautiful home and caring for a jellyfish. Scenes are crafted to provoke as much curiosity, amazement and emotion as possible as the viewer gets drawn deeper into the heartrending lives of the characters. Rosario Dawson and Woody Harrelson give strong performances but the chameleon to walk away with the crown is Will Smith. Smith started as a Fresh Prince and has ended up a king. He has matured from his Men in Black days to what perhaps is now the peak of his career, having morphed from rapper to Oscar nominee for his magnum opus The Pursuit of Happyness. In Seven Pounds

Will Smith in Seven Pounds Smith perfectly depicts a man locked in a cage of emotional and mental torment, whose charming, placid front in the eyes of strangers is undermined by his hidden anguish. Smith

manages to capture a character who is erratic, disturbed and haunted by his past, bound and fuelled by it. Even if following a breadcrumb trail is not your type of

VALKYIE Dir. Bryan Singer 23/01/09 Tom Cruise, Kenneth Brannagh, Bill Nighy

‘The whole lm smacks of a skin-deep attitude’

“Operation Valkyrie” was a plan for the mobilisation of the German reserve army in the event of crisis. The film shows how the German Resistance conspirators attempted to overthrow the Nazi regime from within by turning the operation against the S.S. and the Nazi leadership. Their plan rests on the assassination of Hitler, in order that the soldiers are freed from their pledge of loyalty to the Fuhrer. Tom Cruise plays von Stauffenberg, at once both a Nazi war hero and an undercover dissident, invited into the powerful fold of the Kreisau Circle and taking charge of the assassination plot. Apparently, von Stauffenberg and Cruise are very similar in profile and this is what attracted the actor to the role. The whole film smacks of this

skin-deep attitude. The earnest grey set-design and sly-faced Nazis were thin devices relying on the audience’s preconceived horror of the regime. Were von Stauffenberg’s angelic blond children supposed to be a nod to his family’s surface conformity to the Nazi, Aryan ideal, or were they rather the familiar Hollywood symbols of goodness? The film cackhandedly polarised ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and the dialogue mostly relies on solemn declarations of morality. No one needs such explicit instructions on how to feel about Hitler. It would have been much better had they made the plot more nail-biting, but as it is, the conspirators come across as almost embarrassingly clumsy. At a tense moment leading up to the assassination attempt, Cruise looks ridiculous

film, go and see it to marvel at how the man portraying the flawless expression of an agonizing internal struggle is the same man that sang ‘Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It’.

wrestling with a bomb in one hand as he tries to force it into the briefcase pinned down by his stump-arm (amputated in battle), meanwhile his comrade has to stand against the door to prevent errant Nazis strolling in. Why was the hero’s glass eye turned into a bizarre character trait? The serious tone was often undermined when Cruise was shown musing while oddly fingering his rubbery false eye. Again, it was almost cartoonish when a look of inspiration clouded the hero’s face near the beginning just as Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” happened to start playing. Valkyrie ought to have been a lot better than it is. The history is exciting and emotionally charged but the film drained the soul from the story. You have nothing but a cold feeling when Cruise faces the firing squad at the end. In fact, I was prickled with annoyance by his glib, manufactured bravado. Caroline Usher-Somers


32 TV

Issue 211 • MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009

TV

Can you taste the difference?

The Mix, p.2

Piers Morgan shows off in Dubai PIERS MORGAN ON.... Splash Media Prod: James Harrison ITV1, 9-10pm, Thursdays

As the ďŹ rst of a 3 part series of ITV documentaries, Piers Morgan explores the most opulent hotspots in the world. In this list of lavish locales are Dubai, Monte Carlo and Bel Air, where Piers Morgan explores how wealth has inuenced these areas. The ďŹ rst of the series, Piers Morgan On Dubai was a disappointing start. By far the most annoying aspect of the programme was the presenter himself. The researchers of the show are to be commended in ďŹ nding some good contributors, the Prince of Dubai for example and Gary Rhodes, a billionaire real estate agent. All of these people could undoubtedly have provided some fascinating insight into the prosperity of Dubai, if it hadn’t have been for Piers Morgan dominating the interviews. It became even more frustrating when he dropped in sexist jibes when talking to the successful real estate agent, saying, ‘but you’re just a secretary’. Yet again when interviewing a woman at a polo match, all he did was put her down about coming from Bingley in West Yorkshire. There was also certainly a self indulgent feel, where everything explored in Dubai eventually boiled down to Piers Morgan. The most memorable example of this being when he stayed in the famous 7 star hotel and instead of drawing attention to the ornate and beautiful rooms, he merely made it about him,

such as, “I have been dreaming of the day when I could go to bed looking at myselfâ€?, in reference to a mirrored ceiling. It was this egotistical style of presenting that not only proved annoying but seemed to restrict our view on Dubai as a viewer. It was as if Piers Morgan was standing in front of the view, and we were craning to see around him. If you enjoy having a nosy into the lives of the rich and the famous, then this programme is deďŹ nitely for you, but there was a distinct lack of intelligent inquiry into the larger issues surrounding wealth in Dubai. The issue of compromise in Dubai, of allowing Western people and their activities in a strictly Muslim country, was touched upon but was not explored in nearly enough depth or with a level argument. They had not asked a Muslim Cleric, or a government official over this issue, and barely mentioned the most critical issue of the couple who got extradited for having sex on the beach. Hence, the documentary lacked depth and a balanced view. That said, it served its ITV audience well, those people who enjoy looking around the haunts of the rich and famous and are dazzled by luxury goods and shiny objects. It was a shame that the presenter attempted and failed a Jeremy Clarkson style to presenting, forgetting the critical factor that Clarkson is funny. Liam Ferrougby

Dubai’s 7 star hotel. Piers Morgan makes checks in to check it out

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TV

MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2008 • Issue 211

33

To comment on articles online, visit Epigram’s website www.epigram.org.uk

Square Eyes

Katie Reynolds talks about the new series of Lost soon to hit our TV sets Following the adventures and mysteries of the last series, Lost returns to our screens once more for its penultimate season. As the survivors discover more about the evermystical and curious island, set against stunning rainforest and beach backdrops, they encounter new and intriguing characters to further confuse and develop the plot. Alongside new arrivals, the show also brings back some familiar faces, who supposedly met their ends in previous episodes. We also learn more about the island’s strange qualities, as it becomes apparent that it is able to time-travel, which viewers have already seen in the first exciting episode of the series. It opens where the last season ended, telling the story of those who left the island, known as the ‘oceanic six’, and those left behind, who struggle to figure out where and when they are as the island jumps through time. In coming episodes, we learn that the island was used by US military to test Hbombs, explaining some of the

Ross makes his comeback MICHELLE RUDA

TV Reporter Rising from the ashes of the Sachsgate scandal, arrives the dawning of a new era for Jonathan Ross who has to twiddle his jokes, watch his step and extinguish his profanity. For now, anyway. His late night chat show aired on January 23 prompted a charming, calm and apologetic Ross. He stepped into the limelight once again with a cool, “So. Where were we?”before later making a remarkably genuine apology saying that he was, “more aware of responsibility.” The lovable culprit was greeted to such warm applause you’d think he’d become a national hero not insulted a seventy eight year old ex-staff member of Fawlty Towers. His jokes on the matter were delicate, obviously treading around dragon egg shells. Bringing out the big guns for his comeback show were guests Lee Evans, Stephen Fry and Tom Cruise with music from Franz Ferdinand. Each interview still had the same quality of extensive research, old wisecracks were delivered with a twinkly glint in his eye and laughs sprung out in abundance. He still whipped out the old trick of convincing an A list guest to do something he didn’t want to. Who else in the world could persuade Tom Cruise to sing Elvis? Crudeness, nil. Profanity, nada. So is this the new Woss meister? A refurbished PG rating makeover and all’s well that end’s well? Because you can’t teach an old dog new tricks neither can you tell it to shut up when it’s been barking for most of its life. So how long will it last?

“Friday nights on the couch are back and better than ever” Britain loves a do-gooder gone wrong and then trying to do good again so undoubtedly the public will receive Ross’s apology with open arms. His ratings will go up and his popularity will too. Even if he sinks back into his bad old ways

the nation have a soft spot for this marmite TV persona who oozes sparkle, wit and charisma. Basically, no matter what Ross does, he ain’t going anywhere. He does bag the best guests. The best musicians. Four Poofs and a Piano. Admit it, you’d be

heartbroken if you never saw them again. Those of you who don’t like him better get used to seeing him on your screens and for those of you who do, rejoice for Friday night’s on the couch are back and they are better than ever.

New BBC sitcom takes over where Peep Show left off JAMES FORD TV Reporter Writers behind Channel 4’s Peep Show, Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong have teamed together again, presenting their new sitcom The Old Guys which is currently running on BBC1 at 9.30pm on Saturday nights. Carrying on from the success of Peep Show, this show is painfully funny in places, even though the setup is not a far cry from Peep Show itself with two men living together and annoying

one another. The difference however, is that where Peep Show is from the perspective of two young men, the men are older this time, making David Butcher from the Radio Times refer to this programme was a mixture between One Foot in the Grave and Peep Show. The cast is undoubtedly terrific. Roger Lloyd Pack plays the character ‘Tom’. Best remembered for his roles as the gormless ‘Trigger’ in Only Fools and Horses, and the downright dirty and

suggestive farmer ‘Owen’ in The Vicar of Dibley, he does not fail to provide humour in this new sitcom, carrying on from his long list of comic characters. The writing of the programme is certainly of a good quality and it is definitely worth a watch. The programme has being running since Saturday 31 January and critics are already holding out a lot of hope for the sitcom, many believing it to be the next big thing. The show is on Saturday evenings on BBC One at


34

LISTINGS

Issue 211 • MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009

Listings

Week 1

9 Feb - 15 Feb

Screen

Want your event listed in next issue? Email us before Fri 13 THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (12A)

HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU (12A)

THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD (15)

FRIDAY THE 13TH (cert. tbc)

Adapted from the 1920s story by F. Scott Fitzgerald about a man who is born in his eighties and ages backwards. Diagnosed with several aged diseases at birth and thus given little chance of survival, much to everyone’s surprise he lives and in fact gets younger with time. Nominated for 13 Academy Awards. Now showing

Chronicling the romantic misadventures of several individuals in their twenties and thirties with the common thread that one person in each relationship is more ‘into’ the other person than vice versa.

Or Joheunnom nabbeunnom isanghannom in the original Korean. The story of three Korean outlaws in 1930s Manchuria and their dealings with the Japanese army and Chinese and Russian bandits. Inspired, as if you couldn’t tell, by Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Now showing

Now showing

New spin on the 1980s Friday the 13th lm series. Searching for his missing sister, Clay heads up to the eerie woods of legendary Crystal Lake. Little does he know he’s entered the domain of one of the most terrifying spectres in American lm history. The infamous killer who haunts Crystal Lake armed with a razorsharp machete. Opens Fri 13

CLUB NME

MYSTERY JETS

SHARLEEN SPITERI

The Lanes

Anson Rooms

Colston Hall

THE WEEKEND’S HIGHLIGHTS Single or otherwise engaged, check out:

Sound

Featuring wonderfully cheery and catchy pop from London’s Hatcham Social. They even have a song called ‘So So Happy Making’. Part of the new wave of indie/shoegaze artists that seem to be emerging of late, they craft some good jangly pop. Tues 10, £4.

Selected

Stage

BUDDY Hippodrome

A band who manage to do something new with the rock sound. Their music is unusual and boundary pushing, but luckily they have the technical prowess to pull it off, sometimes mastering kitchen utensils as well as more standard instruments. Thurs 12, £11 DISINTEGRATED Wickham Theatre Sean Tuan John, an award-winning multidisciplined artist, has created an innovative and challenging solo performance that focuses on the severe implications of dementia and the treatment of the elderly in society.

Following the life of Buddy Holly from his rst recording contract through to his fatal tour of Midwest America with Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper when on February 3 1959 he was tragically killed aged just 22. Mon 9 – Sat 14, prices vary

Co-founder of acclaimed alt-rock group Texas, Sharleen Spiteri began performing as a solo artist in 2008 with her rst album ‘Melody’ debuting at number 3 on the UK Album Chart. The singer has also worked as an actor and provided backing vocals for Rammstein.

Thurs 12, £8.50/5

Fri 13, prices vary THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO Winston Theatre

ROMEO AND JULIET Bristol Old Vic

Comic Opera composed by Mozart and performed by Bristol University Operatic Society. Will Figaro’s wedding ever happen? He is due to marry Susanna, but the marriage of their employers is on the rocks. The Count neglects his wife, and assumes he can have whomever he wants, including Susanna. Weds 11- Sat 14, £6/5

The love of a boy and girl whose passion for each other is ignited by a world at war. Bristol Old Vic Theatre School returns to the Theatre Royal with a high-energy battle between love and hate in Shakespeare’s greatest love story.

Dupstep at Seasonve’s second event, Tube on Sat 14 (£4/5) Shy FX at Clockwork, Fri 13, £12 Zane Lowe at Motion, Sat 14, £15 Jumble Sale vs The Last Train Track, Start the Bus, free

Thurs 12-Sat 14, Mon 16-Sat 21, £10

HOW I FADED AND GO GREEN WEEK

SPEED DATING Union

VAGINA MONOLOGUES Bristol Old Vic

Student action raising awareness of the negative impact that universities have on the climate.Last year, students nationwide took part in exciting and creative actions including a giant waste sculpture, environmental question times with politicians, campus-wide marches, big green bike rides and green parties. For more info see bristolhub.org

Still looking for a date for Valentines Day? Or just up for a laugh? Come to SCA Speed Dating with free wine, free sweets and all proceeds to SCA.

Wittily honest investigation about how women feel about their sexuality, diving into the mystery, humour, pain, power, wisdom, outrage and excitement buried in women’s experiences. Performed by a group of women from across Bristol, all proceeds go to to the charities Survive and One25.

Mon 9- Fri 13

Wed 12, 7.30pm, £5

Sat 14-Sun 15, £10


LISTINGS

MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009 • Issue 211

35

Week 2

16 Feb - 22 Feb

VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA (12A)

Two girlfriends on a summer holiday in Spain become enamoured with the same painter, unaware that his ex-wife, with whom he has a tempestuous relationship, is about to re-enter the picture. With Penélope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson.

Now showing

TIMECRIMES (15)

NOTORIOUS (15)

THREE MONKEYS (15)

Twisted time-travel tale. While taking a break from unloading furniture with his wife, Hector spies a topless woman in the woods behind his house. Moving in for a closer look brings him face-to-face with a terrifying killer. He tries to elude the stalker by hiding in a peculiar scientic contraption, and moments later, he emerges, only to nd that it’s hours earlier.

The story of Notorious B.I.G., a.k.a. Christopher Wallace, who transformed himself from Brooklyn street hustler, once selling crack to pregnant women, to one of the greatest rappers of all time.

Now showing

Now showing

Powerful psychological thriller which garnered the Best Director award at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. Follows the tangled threads woven by a man, his wife and son, and his employer as their small failings blow up into extravagant lies. A stunning investigation into the mysterious contradictions of the human soul as the family chooses not to see, hear or talk about the truth. Now showing

THE BLACK LIPS Fleece

BRIT AWARDS ITV

MY LUMINARIES O2 Academy

REEL BIG FISH O2 Academy

Formed in 2000 by a group of teenage friends, Black Lips quickly became one of the Atlanta underground’s most talked about bands. Famed for their frenzied live shows and genretwisting style, they’re one of the most exciting and electrifying bands around.

Kylie Minogue and Gavin and Stacey stars James Corden and Mathew Horne present the awards, with Kings of Leon, Duffy, U2 and Girls Aloud performing.

Jagged indie-pop from Reading four-piece likened to The Arcade Fire by NME.

Returning for a UK tour following the success of their 2007 album ‘Monkeys For Nothin’ and the Chimps For Free’.

Mon 16, £8

Wed 18, 8pm

Thurs 19, £5

Fri 20, £13.50

Are the BRITs losing their appeal? See Music, p. 25-25

JULIUS CAESAR Tobacco Factory

JOSIE LONG Hen & Chicken

ANTIBODIES Arnolni

IN A THOUSAND PIECES Wickham Theatre

Tragedy built around one of the most notorious political assassinations in history. A group of selfstyled guardians of the Roman Republic, led by Brutus and Cassius, kill the man they fear could be crowned as the rst King of Rome since the hated Tarquin was expelled from the city.

A breath of fresh air in the testosterone-lled world of comedy. Having won the BBC New Comedy Awards at the age of 17, nine years on she has appeared on Never Mind the Buzzcocks written for Skins and debated the relative merits of your Grandad being on Facebook.

Exploring different attitudes to ‘the body’, contrasting the particularity of the artist’s body-concept against the ideal ‘body-machine’ of the Olympic athlete, revealing underlying idealisations of the body as they are reproduced within different everyday social contexts.

Now showing

Thurs 19, £10

Ice-creams, suitcases, oorboards and buttons tell the physically and visually moving tale of a young Eastern European girl and her journey to England. Sees The Paper Birds returning to their all female roots to deliver a touching depiction of the violent, isolated and brutal world that is home to thousands of women forced into the British sex trade. Fri 20 , £8.50/5

Opens Thurs 19

CROSSROADS Spike Island

JAZZ CONCERT Winston Theatre

This exhibition developed out of the artist’s investigation into the mythology surrounding the legendary bluesman Robert Johnson who was rumoured to have sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads. Shot on location in high-denition video, British artist David Blandy visited the multiple mythic crossroads that are claimed to the site of this exchange.

Celebrating the music of American saxophonist and arranger Bob Mintzer, featuring Bristol University ‘Hornstars’ Big Band, Dr Doctor and SaxyTime. Proceeds go to the Samaritans.

Now open

If you want more jazz, Bristol Uni Jazz Orchestra will also be playing their second concert at the Victoria Rooms at lunchtime on Fri 20. Wed 18, £5/3

Fri 20, 1.15pm

MEDICS’ GLITTER BALL Bristol Grammar School

SPORTING HIGHLIGHTS

Possibly the most glittery night of the year. Hosted by Galenicals (Medical Students Soc) in conjunction with a Medsin project, every penny of prot goes to NGOs providing international aid, this year the World Medical Fund and Medicins du Monde. Dress code: black tie, gowns and, obviously, glitter.

Football Internationals Spain v England, Wed 11, 8pm Wales v Poland, Wed 11, 5.15pm

Sat 21, 7pm-1.30am, £25 Galenicals, £35 non

Rugby Union International Wales v England, Sat 14, 5.30pm Cricket Second Test Match West Indies v England, Fri 13


36

SPORT

Issue 209 • MONDAY 12 JANUARY 2009

Sport

Sport editor

Michael Cox sport@epigram.org.uk

Deputy editor

Ollie Jarvis-Bicknell deputysport@epigram.org.uk

Has Capello revolutionised the beau It’s twelve months since the Italian’s rst game as boss. Epigram assesses his highly successful rst year.

100% record so far England top group 5 with four wins from four - on the pitch, England are on form Steve McClaren was sacked on 22 November 2007, a day after England failed to qualify for the 2008 European Championships. Ultimately a hapless bungler, McClaren’s sacking was almost universally greeted with delight by both the press and the average armchair analyst. Despite some mitigating circumstances, it’s easy to see why. His essential flaw seemed to be a need to ingratiate himself with his players, summed up most memorably by his frankly embarrassing use of ‘Stevie G’ and ‘JT’. If 21 November 2007 was a bleak day for English football, December 14 looks like it might

well be remembered as a great one. On that day, Fabio Capello, architect of the best start to an England qualifying campaign in history, was hired. In his first game in charge on February 6, England laboured to a 2-1 win against a poor Switzerland outfit, with Jermaine Jenas scoring, a player who would not be on the tip of most people’s tongue when asked who should get a starting midfield berth. Capello’s other friendlies went similarly, with the press at the time focusing on his rotation of the captaincy and Beckham’s 100th cap, which came against France in game number two. As the games wore on,

The road to 2010 Results: Andorra 0-2 England Croatia 1-4 England England 5-1 Kaz’stan

TOM FLYNN

Belarus 1-3 England

Group 6 table: England’s lack of change started to become a worry. But, unusually for a football audience where the most recent game is freshest in the memory, there seemed a real willingness to give Capello time. The game against Andorra was probably the lowest ebb of his tenure to date, and yet, after a 2-0 victory just as limp as the one that heaped pressure on McClaren, there was still very little trace of negativity in the press. Yet no-one could have predicted the shift in gear that took place after that, with a 4-1 demolition of Croatia, spearheaded by an everdangerous Theo Walcott, who scored a hatrick. Every player appeared transformed, and it seemed to last for the victories over Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Germany. So what has Capello done that McClaren failed to? Firstly, he has created an environment in which he is boss and not ‘one of the lads’. Whilst that might not seem much of a reason for such a transformation, real respect for the boss is a real motivational factor. Secondly, both the players and the manager seem content to change formations. The change to 4-4-2 at half time was crucial to winning against Kazakhstan, and the 4-3-3 formation used in many of the other games was the right system for the players at his disposal. Most importantly, Capello seems to have a clear tactical plan. Under the previous regime, the reasons for tactical decisions didn’t always seem obvious; under Capello, the reasoning seems self-evident, and that reassures the players as well as the fans, who seem more content to accept Emile Heskey, for instance, than they might under a less talented manager. Of course, whether this continues if results change is another matter entirely.

England 12 Croatia 9 Ukraine 7 Belarus 3 Kazakhstan 3 Andorra 0

Fixtures: April 1st: England v Ukraine June 6th: Kaz’stan v England June 10th: England v Andorra September 9th: England v Croatia October 10th: Ukraine v England October 14th: England v Belarus

Backroom re-vamp for E

6

Fabio Capello’s annual salary, in millions of pounds

12

Wembley’s annual loss, in millions of pounds

The Football Association have unveiled their rst are searching for a new chief executive, and are The first anniversary of Fabio Capello’s first game in charge of England will inevitably prompt judgment of the last twelve months. But for all the good results, it has also been an action packed year off the pitch. Wembley celebrated its first birthday last March, but parties were overshadowed by the size of the bill. The world’s most expensive stadium was reportedly haemorraghing cash to the tune of £1 million a month. WNSL, the subsidiary of the FA that owns the stadium, subsequently restructured its £342 million debt in order to reduce the monthly payments significantly. The downside is that the debt won’t be paid off until 2023, and the income from corporate seat licences will stop in 2017. This same debt has caused

a few headaches for Lord Triesman, chairman of the FA. He made plenty of enemies when he lashed out at the amount of ‘toxic debt’ in the Premier League last October. He may have ingratiated himself with Sepp Blatter with that speech, but he fell out of favour with a fair number of fans and board members in England’s top league. Although Triesman’s skills as a politician may have been partly to thank for his appointment, they are equally responsible for his lack of popularity. Quick to praise the controversial ‘39th game’ proposal, the former communist quickly jumped off the bandwagon as soon as it became clear that nobody in this country wanted a match played overseas added to the already overcrowded fixture list.


SPORT

MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009 • Issue 211

37

Win a bottle of Malibu, turn to Epigram’s competitions page

Competitions in the Mix, p.12

utiful game for English football? The future’s bright

The next generation of footballers will be better prepared than those before them

England

t independent chairman, bidding for the World Cup Triesman was also responsible for Brian Barwick’s departure at the end of 2008. The exChief Executive was widely criticised for the handling of Steve McClaren’s appointment, but redeemed himself when he found a more than qualified replacement in Capello. The Italian wisely stayed away from the political side of the game, declaring Barwick’s departure, less than a year later, “not my problem”. But for all the upheaval, it hasn’t all been bad news for English football behind the scenes. A couple of weeks ago the FA officially bid for the 2018 World Cup. On paper, the English bid has a very good chance of being accepted. It boasts good commercial prospects, enough suitable stadiums and a bid team bolstered by a variety of big names.

PAUL BERENTZEN

However, it won’t be entirely plain sailing for the English bid team. The rift between the FA and the Premier League could be a major stumbling block. With Triesman working alongside the likes of Peter Kenyon and David Gill, it seems the bid has little chance of success without some form of reconciliation. The FA has to accept the fact that the Premier League, rather than the national team, is England’s biggest selling point across the rest of the world, and has no choice but to heed Kenyon’s call to ‘unite.’ But with politics causing havoc off the pitch, fans of the beautiful game can only hope that Capello can stay well clear and let the team’s performance on the pitch do all the talking. If the past year is anything to go by, that just might turn out nicely.

‘The tradition of football as a winter sport must be challenged’

It is eight years since the FA purchased a large plot of land near Burton-on-Trent, in preparation for the National Football Centre. Repeatedly delayed as Wembley went overbudget, it took the catastrophic failure by England for the FA to realise how fundamentally important the NFC is for the future of the national team. Arsene Wenger has described it as “unthinkable” that a footballing nation the size of England has persisted for so long with no national academy. Wenger points to France’s version, Clairefontaine, which has produced the likes of Henry, Anelka, Gallas and Saha, for the value of a centre of excellence. It’s hard to find a counterargument, either you witness the national team’s rigid shape and inability to retain possession, or you consider that French footballers aged 1216 get twice as many training hours as ours; we need a severe shake-up of our youth system. The NFC is the first step. Its main opposition has been due to its location – quite bizarre when the site is smack in the middle of the country. As Steve McClaren (an excellent coach, if not a great tactician or manmanager) observed, the biggest advances in football in the past decade have come through use of medical and sports

science, and increased levels of technology and statistics. Experts in these areas have had no base to work from. Sir Trevor Brooking, the FA’s Director of Football Development, has frequently spoken about the ‘golden age of learning’ between 9 and 13 – the best age to teach youngsters technique – and it is that age group that have seen the most sweeping changes. The FA has banned the practice of league tables for under-eights and under-nines, to much dissatisfaction from some, but the move makes sense. At that age, competence should be placed over competition; technique over trophies; learning over league tables. More seven-a-side games on smaller pitches also helps; a focus on positioning, movement and passing is the recipe to long-term success. Brooking has also actively pursued the recruitment of more coaches at this level. These moves are certainly positive, but don’t constitute the fundamental rethink needed within youth coaching, so here are two further suggestions. Firstly, coaches should be actively encouraged to field players in a variety of positions, to enable their allround development. England’s lack of left-footed players is often cursed, but this misses

MICHAEL COX the point. One needn’t be leftfooted to play on the left, being predominantly right-footed didn’t impair Marc Overmars or Robert Pires; nor has it harmed Paolo Maldini, Milan’s left-back of twenty-four seasons. The point is that English players are completely uncomfortable on the left, as they have never had to play there. Secondly, the tradition of football as a ‘winter sport’ must be challenged. The state of many pitches across the country is shocking, because of the insistence on playing football in cold, rainy months when the ground inevitably becomes a horrible dangerous, soggy patch of mud. How on earth can we expect youngsters to play a short passing game on such pitches? It is only natural to bypass the mud by punting the ball as far as possible. Playing in the winter might also be partly responsible for England’s tendency to fatigue easily during major tournaments, played in June in warmer climates than ours. We’re simply not prepared. Clairefontaine took ten years to build and another nine before the centre had noticeable results, when France won the World Cup in 1998. With the FA bidding to host the World Cup in 2018, let’s hope we copy France in every way.

Tomorrow’s World Cup winners? Four future stars rated Jack Wilshere At 17, Jack Wilshere looks to be one of the most exciting players of his generation. Naturally left-sided, he can also play ‘in the hole’ or on the right wing. After becoming Arsenal’s youngest ever player, he’s played in a handful of cup games, where he scored his rst goal against Shefeld United, even being likened to Cesc Fabregas by Arsene Wenger. Fabian Delph Delph has made such an impression for Leeds this year that he’s been linked with almost every Premiership club. At 19, he has demonstrated a maturity beyond his years whilst playing in the heart of Leeds’ mideld – his driving runs, eye for goal and fantastic spatial awareness belie his young age. Will certainly progress past U21 level he has so far excelled at.

Danny Welbeck This 18-year-old has already made seven appearances for Manchester United this season, scoring two goals. His height and long gait have resulted in comparisons with Adebayor and Kanu, but his stunning thirty-yard strike on his league debut against Stoke, and ability to play in mideld, shows that he has the potential to be a far more well-rounded player. Daniel Sturridge With an explosive turn of pace, this 19-year-old will almost certainly lead England’s attack in the future. In the past year he has made sporadic appearances for Man City, winning the plaudits of team mate Robinho, who dropped to his knee to shine Sturridge’s left boot following his two assists in their game against Stoke this season. Jamie Connolly and Harry von Behr


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SPORT

Issue 211 • MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009

For what’s on this fortnight in Bristol, visit Epigram’s listings pages

Listings, p.34

Girls lose crucial play-off to Oxford

Photo: Joey Hongganata

Bristol Oxford

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GARY NIEUWENHUIS At the Sports Centre Plenty was at stake here, as Bristol hosted their final game in the premier league of BUCS basketball. Effectively, this was a play-off for third place with the

two teams locked on nine points each, going into the game. The importance of the match seemed to be lost on both sides early on, but Bristol stuttered to a 4-0 lead. The first quarter was characterised by attacking indecision at both ends, as the Oxford coach shouted at his players for intensity of play. Oxford visibly stepped the tempo up as a response, with

Bristol opting to move sideways whenever they got to their opponents’ three point zone. Emilie Ravn kept it close for Bristol with 6 points and an assist, and the quarter finished 13-16 to the Oxford Blues. I was hoping that penetration would be the name of the game for Bristol in the second quarter but I was left disappointed early on, as a twenty-pass move

Bristol’s Lizzie Henderson surrounded by two Oxford opponents

came to nothing, with Oxford snatching the ball and taking a 13-20 lead. The frustration was now visibly etched on the face of the Bristol coach, who vented some of it at the referee when Oxford were quite incorrectly awarded two free throws, which they duly dispatched. At 17-24, it seemed that the aim for Bristol now would be to remain in the game going

into half time. Naomi Coe shot unfortunately wide for Bristol before Oxford missed a three point attempt in what would have been a killer blow. With that reprieve, it was important for Bristol to take the initiative and Ravn found Lizzie Henderson in space with a sublime pass to make it 19-24. After Oxford missed clean through on the breakaway, the Bristol coach called for time out, fully aware that this was crunch time. Bristol responded quickly as Ravn made no mistake with two free throws, and Bristol had closed the gap to three. It was eventually closed to one, but then missing three out of four free throw opportunities, and some poor defending allowed Oxford to regain a four point lead at 26-30. Bristol then had a large spell of impotent possession and with five seconds left to the half time buzzer, it looked like they would be punished. Oxford’s point guard dribbled her way into the key and looked a certainty, but Bristol’s hounding put her off just enough. My half time refreshment would have to wait, because as I turned to leave the sports hall I heard the now all too familiar shouts of the Bristol coach. Oxford’s point guard had been adjudged to have been fouled in the air as she took the final shot of the half. The coach watched on, livid as Oxford added another point to their tally. 26-31 at the break. Unfortunately, the third quarter saw the end of the game as a contest. Oxford won the first seven points to race into a 26-38 lead. Ravn was trying desperately to salvage the match for Bristol but to no avail. She scored 50% of Bristol’s points in this match and certainly didn’t deserve to be on the losing side. Despite her efforts, Bristol would go into the final quarter 41-52 down, facing mission impossible. And Bristol were to lose this final quarter 11-23, as they visibly became very tired. Bristol’s defence seemed to be out-muscled and out-fought all game, with the coach resistant to use his subs bench. A fantastic 3 pointer from Ellie Binns was a highlight with a few minutes to go, but it was all too little, too late. The Oxford coach’s shouts for intensity will be my lasting memory from this one – Bristol were sadly lacking in it.


SPORT

MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009 • Issue 211

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Bristol thrash sorry Swansea Bristol Swansea

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LARA APPLEBY At Coombe Dingle

Photo: Niall Oswald

Bristol women’s rugby team slayed the Welsh side Swansea at Coombe Dingle wth an emphatic victory. The two had encountered one another previously, in the first game of the season. in a match where most of the Bristol side had never played together before. The scoreline then finished 15-5. Bristol had an impressive 100% home record to keep up going into the game, with only five points conceded. From kick-off, Bristol were in Swansea’s half and dominating the game, always quick to protect the ball as their players were tackled. They fought well to maintain possession despite their opponents’ size advantage, and the forwards did well to turn over several scrums. The scoreboard was opened by Alex Bradford, scoring her first try for the club, and was

easily converted by the golden boot of Lucie Smith. Maintaining composure, Bristol immediately fought back into the Welsh half and swung the attack from side to side before Kiri Dixon scored her first of the afternoon. The ferocious inside centre quickly scored a second under the posts, both of her tries being converted by Smith. The second half was less eventful, with Bristol struggling to find the try line, and Swansea desperately trying to get out of their own half. Yomi George was unlucky not to score, being tackled on the line and knocking the ball on. Swansea were frustrated and increasingly made mistakes. A fourth try was eventually scored by Smith herself, making her points tally 43 from 8 games, and making her the team’s leading scorer. The final score was 26–0, with Bristol maintaining another clean sheet to emphasize their impressive defensive record. Players of the match went to Sophie Eaden and Kiri Dixon for great all-round displays.

Defining a Game or a Sport: the impossible question Is competitiveness the only difference? OLLIE JARVIS-BICKNELL Deputy Sport Editor

Photo: Niall Oswald

‘Sport is to a game as Hollyoaks is to Pride and Prejudice’

Undoubtedly there is some overlap between what constitutes a game and what constitutes a sport. What is the real difference between the two? There is always a hearty rugby player who is determined to impress on his audience that sports are competitive, require physical effort and specialised skill; whereas games are more organised affairs with rules. However, it might be pointed out that propping needs little specialised skill and great physical effort merely to heave their fat bodies around the pitch. Also, rugby is largely regulated and organised; does that make it a game? So are they sportsmen or games-men? Other criteria suggests that if it can be played in trousers, while drinking a beer and smoking a fag it is more of a game than a sport. Perhaps this is why I enjoy cricket and golf. It could be the way one

plays the game/sport which determines its status. For example, if you watch Tiger Woods play golf he is smashing balls for miles all day all the while walking between shots (granted he is not carrying the clubs). His physique, skill and fitness certainly rival that of any hockey player – so does that mean he is playing sport? When I play golf, I like to drive from shot to shot in my golf cart, take at least an hour out for lunch after nine holes, and celebrate finishing the course in the ‘19th hole’ at the end of such an arduous day. Maybe I’m playing the game of golf rather than the sport? Others propose that sport is a consistent media driven event, as opposed to a game which is one event during one period of time. Even more ridiculously, someone suggested that if it is on Sky Sports then it is a sport – but poker and fishing are on this channel. If these are sports, then I consider myself to be an elite athlete; but I still can’t run a lap of the Downs without stopping to ‘stretch’. My view is that golf is a game, football is ‘the beautiful game’,

tennis, cricket and rugby are also all games. So too are poker and tiddlywinks. Generically they are the same; the only difference is that the first set of games are played outdoors and involve physical exercise and expertise, the second can be played sitting down and only involve mental agility. Sport is totally different. Running around a track is a sport, rowing down rivers, beating someone up in a ring and bicycling around a hippodrome – those are all sports. It seems sports are mind-numbing and exhausting recreations which are not particularly stimulating to watch. Perhaps this is the biggest difference between sport and a game? Games are fun, indoors or out of doors, involving brain power, or muscle power, wit or skill; games are dynamic and interesting. They spring from the minds of men and women who want to entertain themselves and express their delight for life. Sport is far less complex. So let us have games and not sport, and do not confuse the two.

Global Games: Air Hockey

RICHARD DANIEL Global Gamer It has been argued that this column tends not to be particularly applicable to the average student. How many students went camel wrestling last month? So this week, it’s Air Hockey. OK, so admittedly there’s not a table in any Bristol pub to my knowledge, but most students have once probably spent £1 on a game. It’s pucking brilliant. In 1969, three Brunswick Billiard engineers attempted to create a game utilising a frictionless surface. In its original form it was played with round discs, probably not made from polycarbonate, and square mallets, not today’s plastic sombreros, and doorbells were hooked up at each end with a photo sensor and a goal. Ice-hockey fanatic Lemieux finalised this ‘Air Hockey’ design and an instant classic was born. Nowadays, on some tables, machinery is eschewed in favour of a slick table surface. Technically, without the important constituent of ‘air’ these are not air hockey tables and are not approved by the United States Air-Table-Hockey Association. Neither are pucks that use a battery and fan to generate their own air cushion and are prone to breakage. These instead are marketed as ‘toys’. This is a serious game. Most rules are simple. But here are some important clarifications. Placing one’s mallet on the puck, ‘topping’, is a foul. Stopping the puck with anything other than the mallet when the puck is on a clear path to goal, ‘goaltending’, is penalised with a free shot. If the puck leaves the table, the player who provided the offensive motion is deemed to have ‘fouled’ and possession lost. Commonly, in competitive play the mallet is gripped behind (rather than on top of) the knob using one’s fingertips. This, apparently, allows more wrist action. Now you know.


Sport

Capello one year on SPORT Pg. 38 - 39

MONDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2009 • Issue 211

Successful Thames race for Bristol as Varsity preparations take shape

Men’s second VIII win division, as men’s and women’s rst teams nish runners-up ALISTAIR NUTTALL Reporter The University of Bristol Boat Club put in a strong performance at Quintin Head Race, held on the Thames. The most successful of the six crews entered by Bristol was the men’s second VIII, who rowed their way to victory in their division. In their first race of the year, the crew will be particularly pleased with

the fact that they beat UWE’s men’s second VIII by an impressive forty seconds and recorded a time quicker than many crews racing at more advanced levels. But, promisingly for the boat club, the men’s second VIII were not the only Bristol crew to rise to the head race challenge. The men’s first VIII proved that they can compete with the very best in British rowing and were unlucky not to win their division, finishing as runners-up behind a talented crew from London Rowing Club, who benefited from home advantage. The time set by the men’s first VIII was the sixth fastest of the day in any division, and seven seconds quicker than the time recorded by

their Varsity rivals in UWE’s men’s first VIII. The first VIII may be slightly disappointed with their result given that in 2007 and 2008 Bristol’s men posted the fastest time in, not only their division, but the head race as a whole. However, they will take consolation from the fact that the overall winner of this year’s competition was a crew selected from none other than Cambridge University’s men’s Boat Race squad. Bristol’s women’s VIII responded to the high standard set by Bristol’s male crews with an equally positive performance. Bristol’s women finished in second place in their division and will be buoyed by the

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Even more successful were the Novice men’s VIII who came second in their division, embarrassing crews from Imperial and Thames rowing club on their home water. The Novice men would seem to be progressing well as they aim to match the success of last year’s triumphant BUSA winning squad. Bristol’s crews will view their success at Quintin as an indication of their encouraging progress so far this year. They will strive to maintain their effort levels as they look towards the BUCS Head of the River Race later this month, summer regattas, and next term’s eagerlyawaited Varsity showdown against UWE.

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fact that their time was significantly quicker than a number of women’s crews competing in more advanced categories. Not to be outdone by their more experienced teammates, Bristol’s Novice crews also reacted well to the demanding waters of the Thames. For these novices, who only took up rowing at the start of this academic year, this head race was their first experience of competitive rowing away from the reassuring calm of the River Avon. The Novice women’s first VIII showed their potential by finishing fourth in their division, ahead of crews from Royal Holloway and Imperial.

1. Parts of torsos (5) 5. Raised (anchor) (6) 8. Unimportant details (5) 9. Ask round (6) 11. Indian state 12. Front of clock (5) 13. Foul or odourous (5) 15. The day after yesterday (5) 17. Greek God of Love (4) 19. Go underwater (4) 20. Join up (5) 22. Boiling pot (5) 24. Sleeps (briey) (4) 26. Wide, open container (3) 27. Cause to be lover (5) 29. Precipitated (6) 30. Unmoving (5) 31 Shedding tears (6)

DOWN 2. Cardiovascular chambers (5) 3. Citizens of USSR (7) 4. Pre-planned (6) 5. Bird-enclosure (6) 6. Small, with pointed ears (5) 7. Bowel (3) 10. Innite (7) 12. Blemish on skin (7) 14. Greek Letter (3) 16. Imitate (3) 18. Not at home (3) 19. Compactness (7) 20. Not imperial (6) 21. Exam guidelines (6) 23. Present (5) 25. Put effort into appearance (5) 28. Fishing apparatus (3)

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© Published by Bristol University Student Publications, University of Bristol Union, Queens Road, Bristol, BS8 1LN, and printed at Paddock Print, Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire

Epigram 211  

Bristol University's student newspaper

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