Page 1

Can one Not everyone Bristolian drag needs snooker into the deodorant 21st century? page 5 page 35

Africa reviewed page 31 Issue 252

Issue 258

Monday 4th February 2013 www.epigram.org.uk 25 years of Epigram Bristol University’s Independent Student Newspaper

‘Come on!’ : Bristol petition calls for end to overseas student monitoring Jemma Buckley

Joseph Quinlan News Reporter

A University of Bristol student has tragically died after falling more than 300 feet whilst climbing Ben Nevis in the Scottish Highlands. An experienced climber and member of the University Officer Training Corps (UOTC), Ben St Joseph was planning to join the Royal Army Medical Corps after completing his Medical degree at Bristol. On Saturday 26th January, the 22-year-old was over half way up Tower Ridge – a popular route for climbers – when he plummeted to his death. It is believed St Joseph was climbing continued on page 3

Is this the end of the high street? page 11 Marek Allen

An open letter calling on the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Eric Thomas, to hold an open meeting about the university’s controversial monitoring of international students has attracted over 150 signatures. Since last autumn, non-EU students have been obliged to report to their department each month to show ‘engagement’ in their studies. The measure, imposed by the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA), is a condition on the right held by universities such as Bristol to sponsor visas for international students. The tightening of regulation came after the UKBA withdrew London Metropolitan University’s right to sponsor students in August 2012. In this instance, the authorities cited a lack of monitoring, insisting that revoking the university’s licence was ‘the right course of action’. Professor Thomas wrote in The Times Higher Education supplement last autumn that ‘We need to ensure that what happened to London Met can never happen again’, criticising UKBA’s decision as sending ‘an extremely damaging message to the world’. Yet some international students feel that the university’s leadership could do more. Cerelia Athanassiou, a Postgraduate Senate Rep and the petition’s founder, told Epigram ‘I don’t buy that “there is no alternative”. The more I keep asking questions, the more I see varied practices on this policy across this university – let alone across the country – and so I would like to find a space where can discuss and compare best practice on this issue, as well as deliberate on how to formally keep challenging this destructive policy at national level.’ We are gathering signatures on this important issue as we recognise that many international students (and staff!) would feel too intimidated to take action on their own. The letter expresses unease that ‘no consultation with the students or their representatives was taken and claims that the monitoring, which is refers to as ‘intimidating, humiliating and unnecessary’, could have ‘serious implications for the university’s ability to recruit prospective international students’. For many, the measure is shrouded in ambiguity; something the sought open meeting will aim to address. For example, there

Bristol student dies in Ben Nevis tragedy

Bus fares to be reviewed

First has announced that it is to undertake a public consultation on bus fares in Bristol. At a press conference attended by Epigram, First added that the consultation will include a third party ‘to ensure that the process is comprehensive’. The decision follows a petition, started by Daniel Farr, that has attracted nearly 3000 signatures and states that ‘First fares are among the most expensive continued on page 3

Petition demands UoB to clarify their agenda remains uncertainty over how stringent the regulations set by the UKBA are and to what extent the current monitoring programme is a self-imposed measure. The university’s Director of Communications and Marketing, David Alder, has told Epigram

that Bristol does not have to pass on its monthly attendance records to the UKBA, and would only need to contact the agency if a student had missed 10 consecutive registration sessions. continued on page 3

In defence of the gap yah page 8


Epigram

04.02.13

News

Editor: Jemma Buckley

Deputy Editor: Zaki Dogliani

Deputy Editor: Josephine McConville

news@epigram.org.uk

zdogliani@epigram.org.uk

jmcconville@epigram.org.uk

Editorial team Editor

Style Editor

Pippa Shawley

Lizi Woolgar

editor@epigram.org.uk

style@epigram.org.uk

Deputy Editors

Deputy Style Editor

Patrick Baker

Alice Johnston

patrick@epigram.org.uk

deputystyle@epigram.org.uk

Imogen Rowley

Arts Editor

imogen@epigram.org.uk

Rosemary Wagg

e2 Editor

arts@epigram.org.uk

Ant Adeane

Deputy Arts Editor

e2@epigram.org.uk

Rachel Schraer

News Editor

deputyarts@epigram.org.uk

Jemma Buckley

Music Editor

news@epigram.org.uk

Eliot Brammer

Deputy News Editors

music@epigram.org.uk

Zaki Dogliani

Editorial Settling in but not shutting up In issue 258 of Epigram, we highlight the highs and

That is if anybody turns up. Student apathy has

lows of student campaigning. From the ongoing

long been a problem at mass meetings, with

debate over the monitoring of international

sessions dominated by loud Labour students and

students (page 1) to the latest consultation

cross Conservatives, often debating just for the

Deputy Music Editor

between the department of Sport, Exercise and

sake of it. As seen in these pages, it isn’t simply

zdogliani@epigram.org.uk

Phil Gwyn

Health and students (page 36), students are

that Bristol students don’t care what happens here,

Josephine McConville

deputymusic@epigram.org.uk

actively working towards creating a better life at

but giving up an afternoon to listen to someone

jmcconville@epigram.org.uk

FIlm & TV Editor

Bristol. This Thursday brings the Union’s Annual

moan about the quality of the bog roll in the ASS

Features Editor

Jasper Jolly

Nahema Marchal

Members Meeting (AMM) which is supposedly a

library or other dreary subjects is unlikely to get

filmandtv@epigram.org.uk

features@epigram.org.uk

Deputy Film & TV Editor

platform for students to have their voices heard

people wandering in from distant Stoke Bishop.

Deputy Features Editor

Kate Samuelson

and make decisions as an entire student body.

Whilst the image of all 18,000 Bristol students

Helena Blackstone

deputyfilmandtv@epigram.org.uk

Leaving the building site that is the student union

queueing down Park Street to get into the AMM is

deputyfeatures@epigram.org.uk

Science & Technology Editor

for the more elegant environment of the Wills

a nice one, Epigram will report on what happened

Comment Editor

Mary Melville

Memorial Building, the AMM has the potential

in issue 259 if you find your bed is just too comfy

Joe Kavanagh

scienceandtech@epigram.org.uk

to get students not only talking but doing things.

to leave on Thursday.

comment@epigram.org.uk

Science & Technology Editor

Deputy Comment Editor

Erik Müürsepp

Nat Meyers deputycomment@epigram.co.uk Letters Editor Lucy De Greeff letters@epigram.org.uk Living Editor Imogen Hope Carter living@epigram.org.uk Deputy Living Editor

deputyscienceandtech@epigram. org.uk

Meetings News:

email news@epigram.org.uk

David Stone

Features:

email features@epigram.org.uk

sport@epigram.org.uk

Comment: email comment@epigram.org.uk

Sport Editor

Deputy Sport Editor Laura Lambert deputysport@epigram.org.uk Proof Reader: Joanne Craven

Josephine Franks jfranks@epigram.org.uk

Science & The White Bear, 1.15pm, Tech: 12th Feb

Travel:

The Refectory, 1.15pm, 8th Feb

Style:

The White Bear, midday, 6th Feb

Arts:

email arts@epigram.org.uk

Music:

The Highbury Vaults, 8pm, 12th Feb

Film & TV:

email filmandtv@epigram.org.uk

Sport:

ASS library, 5.30pm, 5th Feb

Mona Tabbara mtabbara@epigram.org.uk Travel Editor Alicia Queiro travel@epigram.org.uk Deputy Travel Editor Alex Bradbrook deputytravel@epigram.org.uk

Advertise with Epigram? To enquire about advertising, please contact Leanne Melbourne - advertising@epigram.org.uk Epigram is the independent student newspaper of the University of Bristol. The views expressed in this publication are not those of the University or the Students’ Union. The design, text and photographs are copyright of Epigram and its individual contributors and may not be reproduced without permission.

The White Bear, 1.15pm, 5th Feb

Flickr: SPakhrin

Living:


Epigram

04.02.2013

3

Tragic mountain death of Bristol student •

A popular student and dedicated officer, St Joseph was killed whilst climbing on Ben Nevis - ‘a place and a pursuit that he loved’

Father paid tribute to his son - ’He was an active, hard-working medical student who will be greatly missed by all who knew him’ Bristol UOTC: Ben Tomkins

Flickr: Sue Langford

St Joseph was a popular medic and soldier at Bristol Flickr_Ben Matthews

Witnesses report the student fell upto 300 ft

Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the British Isles

Josephine McConville Deputy News Editor Continued from page 1 alone when he fell. The Commanding Officer of Bristol University’s OTC Lt Col Ben Tomkins described St Joseph as ‘a hugely bright, popular, hard working and dedicated young officer’ The medic student was hoping to service as a doctor in the Army’s airborne and special forces on completion of his degree. ‘He was a great leader within the OTC and never pushed anyone harder than he pushed himself. ‘He was an enthusiast for life’ who died on ‘a place and a pursuit that he loved.’ Tomkins said. The cause of St Joseph’s fall remains uncertain; according to The Telegraph the avalanche risk was said to be ‘high’ that day but a Team Leader of Lochaber Mountain Rescue - John Stevenson - said he thought it unlikely to be avalanche-related.

‘It is just one of those tragic things - it is one of the risks that climbers take. ‘The conditions were pretty good. He was just on the verge of cloud level.’ Stevenson said. Andrew St Joseph – father of the Bristol student – paid tribute to his son, describing him as ‘an active, hard-working,

We wouldn’t “ want his death to discourage other young people from exploring the world and their limits

committed medical student who will be greatly missed by all who knew him friend, colleague, son, brother and grandson. ‘He was a very fit and experienced climber and had been on Ben Nevis before. He has climbed in the Andes and the Grampians and this climb was well within his capabilities.

‘We don’t know the exact details of the accident but we do know that Ben was within sight and sound of others when it happened.’ St Joseph said his son ‘knew the risks’ of climbing Ben Nevis. ‘We wouldn’t want his death to discourage other young people from exploring the world and their limits’ he added. Originally from Essex, St Joseph’s previous accomplishments include ice climbing in Peru, flying crop dusting planes in Australia and twice completing the 125mile Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race. St Joseph also helped his Bristol UOCT team to victory in a strenuous 55-kilometre march through the Welsh Black Mountains. Epigram received a statement from the University of Bristol that said the university was ‘saddened’ to hear of the tragic death of Ben St Joseph. ‘The University offers its condolences to his family and friends and its thoughts are with them at this very sad time’.

Zaki Dogliani Deputy News Editor Continued from page 1 in the country, yet their buses are unreliable and often late’. Its signatories include Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson, who led the press conference alongside First regional managing director Justin Davies. When asked by Epigram whether First would consider increasing the difference between adult and student fares, Davies told the paper that ‘Young people, students and people from about 16 to 25 going to work for the first time is actually one of the biggest markets to really explore and work at.’ Referring to the 1/3 discount on trains offered by a 16-25 railcard which compares to the mere 30p difference between adult and student day passes on buses in Bristol, he continued ‘That should be carried on [on buses]. If we get into a culture of people of your era using public transport, I’d like to think that would carry on into future generations not only in terms of yourselves and the opportunities but what we’re trying to do about reducing car usage in the years to come’. A single in Bristol costs £2.90,

compared to £1.15 in Glasgow, £1.40 in London, £1.70 in Cardiff and Birmingham, £1.80 in Reading and £2 in Plymouth. In an exclusive interview with Epigram in which Ferguson said that the consultation ‘has got to’ translate into a difference in fares, the Mayor stressed the importance of encouraging more bus use. ‘We are far too car dependent as a city and, in the interests of

A single in Bristol costs

£2.90 compared to £1.15 in Glasgow and £1.40 in London

the environment and getting the city moving, we’ve got to be prepared to take some much more radical measures than we have so far. Something I particularly favour for students is – I want to create – in the long term, a Bristol Freedom Pass that would hopefully give students a better advantage than they currently enjoy.’ Ferguson also told Epigram that he thought it was important to reduce fares to enable and encourage students to see more of the city. ‘Bristol

is a very diverse and interesting city. [Students] are not taking full advantage of the university and its position in the city if [they’re] not experiencing the communities in Easton, South Bristol and Southmead. Lots of students think Bristol is Stoke Bishop and Clifton. That is a terrible false impression of this wonderful, diverse city.’ Farr, however, told Epigram that he was yet to be convinced that First was serious about lowering prices. ‘The proof will be in the pudding. While I’m pleased about the announcement and that First are acknowledging that there’s an issue with fares, I’m not overconfident that there will be lower fares because First are already making some excuses and are not promising to change anything. To ensure they deliver lower fares and that this isn’t just an empty PR gesture I’m going to continue the campaign, petition and demo to keep up the pressure. Nothing less than reduced fares will do and make we want to stop the campaign to make fares fair!’ He led a protest outside Bristol Bus Station on Saturday February 2nd which was attended by students and councillors from all of the parties that sit on Bristol City Council. First’s consultation is expected to be completed by the end of the summer.

Zaki Dogliani

First to undertake public consultation on bus fares

Mayor Ferguson reveals the consultation with First’s Justin Davies at a press conference in the city centre

International students send monitoring petition Continued from page 1 ‘The main reason we are doing it is as a welfare activity. For example if a student didn’t register for one month we would immediately ask if there was anything wrong and could we help’. But, speaking to Epigram, international student Umut Parmaksiz, a Sociology PhD student, said ‘I am not troubled by this policy because I find it

difficult to sign a paper once a month. I am troubled by it because of the relationship it creates between me and the university. ‘The policy essentially treats and positions international students as“threats”.It positions us as people “to keep an eye on” or “to check every now and then”. I believe universities, including ours, should have no role in reinforcing xenophobic

views entertained by UKBA, some politicians or some parts of society; if anything they should be actively working to overcome them.’ The open letter, which has signatures from lecturers, UK students and international students, will be submitted to the Vice-Chancellor later this week and will be raised by Athanassiou at University Senate on February 25.


Epigram

04.02.2013

4

UoB the biggest growing uni last year Katy Barney Senior News Reporter Recent figures published by UCAS have further demonstrated that Bristol is bucking overall trends in the numbers of undergraduate entrants, despite the rise in fees that came into force in September 2012. UCAS, the organisation responsible for higher education applications, has compared the numbers of entrants in 2011, paying lower fees, with those for 2012 after fees shot up to a maximum of £9000. Overall, admissions fell by 51000 across the country in 12 months.

43%

the fall in student numbers at London Met

told Epigram ‘It is correct that we grew the most, as The Times reported’, but was keen to clarify that the planned growth in undergraduate numbers – of 600 – had been met rather than exceeded. ‘The reported figure, of 1029, probably refers to deferrals too, and there may be some international element.’ Opinion among students seems to be mixed, with many complaining that there is little if any development of facilities such as libraries taking place in response to the rise. The Arts and Social Sciences (ASS) Library was extremely busy during the recent exam period. The Geography Department is one of the most affected by the rise in student numbers, with its 2012 intake up 50% on the previous year. History is another department to have seen a sharp rise. One History student, however, is happy with the increase. ‘The humanities have long been the unloved child of Bristol when compared to how well-funded the sciences are. The increase in numbers will bring more money to the department, which will allow for more spending on students of all years.’

Construction work on Tyndall Avenue: University of Bristol craning to be the best

Avril Baker

Charity launches centre to help deprived children

Frances Shipsey News Reporter A new education centre in Bristol is looking for student volunteers to help run IntoUniversity, a charity which aims to help children from

deprived backgrounds progress onto further education. The figures suggest that the work of IntoUniversity is making a huge difference to the lives of the students they support; on average only 34% of state educated students progressed to further

education in 2012, while the figure was 77% among those who had received support from IntoUniversity. The centre runs after school homework clubs for primary and secondary school children from Monday to Thursday and the charity is looking for Tony Hay & John Cairns

IntoUniversity volunteers can help children from deprived backgrounds progress onto further education

volunteers who are willing to donate their time to help out with academic support or to be a mentor for a particular student requiring extra assistance. Volunteers can choose to mentor is areas in which their knowledge is strongest, or alternatively help out during the afternoons for primary school children. The children that attend these sessions have chosen to be there so they want to learn which makes the role of a volunteer easier and more enjoyable. The club also runs activities including games and exercises that also help develop students’ social skills, often with prizes of a chocolate variety. For example, at a recent Open Day the charity held a balloon race and cookie decorating session. IntoUniversity was founded six years ago, in 2007, and has eight centres in London, with more being launched this year in Nottingham, Hackney (East London) and here in Bristol. If you are interested in getting involved with this charity whilst adding to your CV, visit the website at www.intouniversity.org or contact rosanna.wakefield@ intouniversity.org.

Georgina Winney

The effects vary hugely across the higher education spectrum, with the hardest hit appearing to be post-1992 universities, such as London Metropolitan University, where the decline between the years was 43%. The

figures also show that some Russell Group universities have also suffered a drop in numbers, with 10 reporting an increase and 10 a fall. In an article about the statistics, The Times’ Higher Education supplement (THE), called Bristol ‘the biggest winner’ with its increase among the highest, at 29%, compared, for example, to Durham University which has increased intake by 5.9%, and the University of Leeds where it has fallen by 6.1%. This suggestion made by THE journalist John Morgan that Bristol is somehow ‘winning’, was met with some criticism on Twitter, with students questioning whether the expansion would really benefit the student body. Many expressed the view that they are losing out from capacity problems and increased class sizes that come as a result of an increase in numbers. According to UCAS, the university accepted 1029 more students in 2012 than it did in 2011, which has led to questions across the university about departments being able to cope. David Alder, Director of Communications and Marketing for the university,

Council to vote on election change Zaki Dogliani Deputy News Editor Bristol City Council appears set for all-out elections in which all councillors will be elected every four years. Currently, a third of seats are up for grabs each year, but there is growing support among councillors for a move to elect the whole council at the same time as the next Mayoral Election, in 2016. Council elections every four years would cost less than elections by thirds and provide results which are clearer and more easily understood. They would mean, however, that some students on 3-year courses would never get the chance to vote in council elections while in Bristol. Dr Elizabeth Evans, a UK Politics lecturer at Bristol University, told Epigram ‘I don’t see how you can hope to engage students if, during their time [at Bristol], some won’t even be able to vote. It would be absolute madness, especially with all-out elections aimed at increasing turnout’. Dr Evans suggested having half of the council elected every two years instead, a middle ground between the status quo and the proposed change. The Labour and Conservative groups on Bristol City Council support the change. In a press release titled ‘Bristol on the verge of 1463-day democracy’,

however, Bristol Green Party warned that the change would mean that Bristolians would have to wait nearly 1500 days between each council poll. Councillor Tim Kent, Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the council, told Epigram ‘As a group, we have discussed the issue extensively. Now there seems to be a general public mood in favour, with the disastrous turnout [28%] in the Mayoral election suggesting elections here need reform, I favour it. But our feeling is that no firm group decision will be taken, and our councillors will have a free vote on the issue. ‘While a majority of Lib Dem councillors are likely to support it in the vote, a sizeable minority is likely to vote against.’ A vote, requiring a two-thirds majority for the change to take place, will be held on Tuesday March 5th. The outcome is likely to come down to how many of the 32 Lib Dem councillors vote for and how many against. If all 22 Labour and all 14 Conservative councillors vote for, 11 Lib Dems voting the same way would be enough to make the change happen. The council’s role has been altered significantly by the introduction of a Mayor, who in effect carries out the duties of the former Leader of the Council. Bristol 1st candidate George Ferguson was elected to the post on November 16th.


Epigram

Close your windows: Police urge students to be vigiliant The number of students victim of burglaries is on the rise after several break-ins were reported to police in January. Several thousands of pounds worth of goods were stolen from students throughout the month after opportunist thieves managed to gain entry into flats and houses. The most common way that students become victim of burglary is by leaving their windows ajar after having left a room, allowing thieves to enter and steal goods. At the beginning of January, the police reported that hundreds of pounds of brand-new clothes had been stolen from a student house, and just one week later, items worth over £1400, including an iPad and a laptop computer, were stolen from a student’s bedroom in Stoke Bishop. A break-in was also reported at a student property in Clifton. Despite more people being aware of this sort of crime, the police have warned students to remain vigilant and to ensure that windows and doors are fully shut upon leaving a room.

Flickr: Harry Rose

Alex Bradbrook Senior News Reporter

In addition to thieves taking advantage of open windows, the police have also warned students about the increasing prevalence of ‘smash-andgrab’ robberies. These occur when burglars smash bedroom windows upon seeing valuables, such as laptop computers and jewellery, in easily accessible

The most “common

way students become victims is leaving their windows ajar

places, like on desks or window sills. The police are strongly encouraging people to ensure that their valuables are not left in places that make them easily visible to thieves. Responding to the increase in theft, University Security have been trying to raise awareness of registration programs that students can use to protect their property, with leaflets being handed out on campus to promote such measures. The police, as well as University Security, have recommended

Ensure windows and doors are fully secure before leaving the room

that students register valuables with the Immobilise National Property Register, at www. immobilise.com, which helps the police to return stolen goods to their rightful owners. Computers and smartphones can also have the Prey Project ( w w w. p r ey p r o j e c t . c o m ) software installed, in order to make it easier to recover them. The issue of burglars targeting students is nothing new, and an increase in theft is commonly reported at this

time of year. Last year, Epigram reported on several incidents of theft, including one where thieves entered a home when the tenants were still inside, and a series of three break-ins in the same night on Hampton Road, Redland. In order to ensure that possessions remains safe, the police have recommended that students remain vigilant and follow the guidelines found on the Bristol University Police Team website.

04.02.2013

5

Meat on the menu except for Mondays Dilys Potter News Reporter University of Bristol Union (UBU) has published the motions on the agenda for its AMM (Annual Members’ Meeting) on Thursday February 7th. 24 motions have been submitted, down five from the 29 put forward for last year’s event. Motions submitted include a proposal for MeatFree Mondays on campus and one for UBU officers to lobby the university for lectures to finish on the hour and start ten minutes past. Movers of the latter feel that having lectures finish on the hour would lead lectures to finish on time more often. There is also a motion to lobby UBU President Paul Charlton to write to Hiatt Baker Hall calling for a significant reduction in fees to make up for disruption caused by building work. The motion written by Claudia Summers and seconded by Joey Eccles, - says that ‘compensation should be given to those worst affected’ by noise disruption and closure of the library and common room. The ‘Meat-Free Mondays on University Campus’ motion, submitted by UBU’s VicePresident Community, Alice

Peck, would lead UBU to seek to persuade UoB food outlets to refrain from selling meat on a Monday. Peck, believed to be a fan of The Smiths, whose lead singer was well-known vegetarian Morrissey, begins the motion by writing ‘The meat industry is one of the biggest contributors to global warming, directly resulting in over half of all greenhouse gases’. It goes on to add that if students or staff really want to eat meat in the university precinct on Monday, they can bring in a packed lunch. Others include ‘Incorporate JCRs into the Students’ Union’ and ‘Discounted Broadsheets at UBU Info Point’. A priority ballot to decide the order in which motions will be discussed- those not heard at AMM will go to the next Student Council Amendments will be accepted until 4pm on February 4th. The event takes place from 2 til 5pm in the Great Hall of Wills Memorial Building. Paul Charlton told Burst Radio that the Vice-Chancellor has instructed all staff not to book teaching time on the afternoon of the AMM. Charlton assured students that he was working to ensure that this is adhered to in all departments, so that all students will be able to attend.

Study says not everyone needs deodorant Joseph David Thomas Stone Joseph Thomas

Are you a stingy stinker or a frugal flower? A lucky few may not need to splash the cash on deodorant

Josephine McConville Deputy News Editor Strapped for cash students could be wasting their money on buying deodorant- a study by the University of Bristol shows. The research revealed that some people have a genetic defect that means they produce odourless under-arm sweat. However 78% of people with this gene continue to wear deodorant because they believe it is the social norm. Launched as part of the wider Children of the 90s study at the university, scientists tested 6495 women and discovered 117 of them - about 1 in 50 – carried a rare mutation of a gene known as ABCC11. Carriers of this unusual variant produce under-arm sweat that is odourless. Sniffing the pits may be the simplest way to test for pong but checking your earwax is also a good indicator. The research highlights that those with dry – as opposed to sticky – earwax are likely to be carriers of the ABCC11 mutation and therefore do not produce under-arm odour. The scientific evidence suggests that splashing out on deodorant may be one less thing fragrant-free folk need to worry about. However the majority of people who are

odourless still insist on buying deodorant. Ian Day, Professor of Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology at the University of Bristol said ‘three-quarters of those who do not produce an odour regularly use deodorants. We believe these people simply follow socio-cultural norms.’ ‘This contrasts with the situation in North East Asia, where most people do not need to use deodorant and they don’t.’ he said. The results of the research suggest students who have the rare mutation do not need to spend money on buying deodorant. Speaking to Epigram, Professor Day said; ‘around 2% of (European ancestry) students mostly have no need for deodorant. Across a lifetime, their deodorant purchasing is likely to amount to the value of a small car. You may be surprised to find that many East Asian students (8090% of whom genetically have no need for deodorant) would not even recognise a roll-on or stick for what it is if you showed one to them. The odour is caused by bacteria acting on lipid secretions which occur in those who genetically have an active gene for that secretory activity. Angus Yeomans- a fourth year Veterinary student-

believes he is one of the 2% of European students who do not produce body odour, ‘I only buy deodorant because everyone else does, I don’t think my armpits ever smell, maybe people will believe me now’ He added; ‘Actually I do get sweat patches so I probably would still wear deodorant.’ For those who do produce smelly sweat but want to save the pennies, Professor Day suggested a more economical way of reducing body odour; ‘trimming armpit hair to reduce the surface area available for bacterial growth might help reduce necessary frequency of application [of deodorant]’ he told Epigram Therefore students on a tight budget could potentially save money – by holding back on the roll-on and reducing the numbers of showers - with no odorous consequences. However, Professor Day pointed out that whilst all students would save money, only a very small minority would not produce body odour, leaving the question of whether it is perhaps worth spending that little bit extra on the supermarket shop. ‘The answer is obvious for the lucky 2%, and we’ll leave it to you to decide the best course of action for a thrifty odourproducer (aka stingy stinker).’


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Epigram

04.02.2013

7

Tom Phipps News Reporter The University of Bristol has announced a formal collaboration with other research intensive universities across the South West of England and Wales. It is hoped that this will bring together research expertise and capabilities. The

£1300m The current combined research turnover

partnership involves Bristol combining with the two other Russell Group universities in the region, Cardiff and Exeter, as well as Bath, in order to create a research hub to boost Bristol University’s standing overseas. The grouping, which will be known as Great Western 4 (GW4), currently has a combined research turnover

of more than £1,300 million and will pool resources to maximise the efficiency of its research investment. The GW4 collaboration will aim to build on the universities’ existing partnerships to enhance research capabilities as well as working together on capital investment projects and doctoral training. The university sees the strengthened research partnership between the 4 universities as a more effective way to effectively address global challenges. David Alder, Director of Marketing & Communication at University of Bristol told Epigram, ‘GW4 provides opportunities for regional collaboration with other research intensive universities and responds to the need for collaborative and cross discipline research carried out at a regional level. ‘Collaboration is an important part of the research landscape, as is highlighted by our activities with Kyoto University. We also hope that over time, collaborations such as GW4 will provide opportunities for our students.’

Alex Bradbrook Senior News Reporter

Amongst the masses of snowmen built on the weekend of the 19th January - certain groups of students had more ambitious plans - making Bristol the unlikely site of two authentic Inuit-style igloos. The igloos - constructed by students at the university - attracted local media attention, leading to appearances on BBC Points West and the ITV local news, with one group’s igloo becoming the feature of the fourth-most watched video on the BBC News website. One group of igloo-builders spent all day constructing their icy structure on Redland Green. As several members of the group are part of the university’s Raising and Giving (RAG) society, it was decided that it would be a good opportunity to raise awareness about a charity - 16-25 Independent Peoplewhich supports homeless young people in Bristol, an issue which is becoming increasingly common in this city. The group spent all day building the igloo, only finishing at 7pm at night, after which they held an impromptu candle-lit party inside. One of the group then

Christopher Dias

Research hub may Students build igloos - then sleep in them boost UoB standing

The sturdy igloos successfully raised awareness on the suffering of homeless people during Winter

decided to brave the elements and spend the night sleeping in the igloo, which he described in a television interview as ‘quite snug’, despite the temperature inside only being around 5 C. Second year geography student, Christopher Dias, described the project as ‘a good excuse to do some fundraising…and an excuse not to revise for my exam the following Monday!’ Independently of the Redland group, another group

of students also constructed an impressive igloo on the Durdham Downs, in order to raise awareness for another homelessness charity, Crisis. The group won the praise of the BBC Natural History Unit producer Ted Oakes, remarking that the only difference the Downs igloo had from an authentic, Inuit igloo was the lack of front porch. The group also slept in their igloo after spending the day building it, with one

group member, Mark Smithies, describing the experience as ‘fun and exciting’ but also a real eye-opener to difficulties faced by the homeless community during winter. Whilst the igloos were only ever going to survive for a limited time due to the increasingly mild temperatures, they undoubtedly raised awareness about the problem of homelessness in Bristol in a memorable – albeit cold – way.

GB Olympian praises UBU pool upgrade David Stone Joseph Thomas

David Stone

New facilities: Mens changing Rooms

Students can now shower after using the pool UoB Press Office

Cutting the Ribbon: £3.5 million has been spent on the pool refurbishment

Adam Bushnell News Reporter The Captain of the GB Olympic 2012 Water Polo team has praised the University of Bristol’s refurbished swimming pool in the University of Bristol Union (UBU). Craig Figes opened the upgraded facilities on Wednesday 23rd January, along with Pro Vice Chancellor, David Clarke. The refurbishment marks the end of phase one of the £30 million renovation of the Richmond building, home of UBU. Figes spoke to Epigram of his own experience of using the pool, ‘having trained at the Uni pool for much of my sporting career, it’s great to see it gain a new lease of life It’s a fantastic facility and I hope to continue to train there for a good few years to come’ he said. Nine months of ‘making do’ with temporary arrangements have now come to an end. In the autumn term the Students Union pushed for the premature opening of the pool before the changing areas were

complete. During this time there were no showers, and only one operational toilet. The university has invested £3.5m in the improvements to the swimming facilities aloneproviding a new reception area, changing rooms and viewing platform. Rachael Barr, the Captain of the university’s women’s water polo club told Epigram that ‘it was somewhat frustrating last term to not have showers available after training’ and that the ‘changing room and shower facilities […] are definitely a big improvement on last year’ However there is no spectator area for the pool which ‘considering [the university is] hosting water polo BUCS semi-finals in March, might be a problem!’ Barr added. Alice Bennett, a first year music student - who is a regular user of the new facilities – said she was pleased with the facilities ‘the cubicles were a good size and so were the lockers. There was a good balance of cubicles [and] open space to change in’ However Bennett felt

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improvements could still be made, she added ‘it would be nice to have a hair dryer and swimwear spinner’ both of which are currently unavailable at the new facilities. The recent opening coincides with the end of phase one of the £30m redevelopment of the building. This entailed not only revamping the changing areas, but improving the pool itself and creating a new foyer area, improving heating, cooling and IT technologies. At the opening, Professor Clarke emphasised that ‘full engagement with UBU and with student focus groups has informed the design.’ The second phase, which is scheduled to be complete by September 2013, sees the Anson Rooms - home of many gigs and events throughout all three terms - undergo their own renovation. Phase three includes the Winston Theatre undergoing developments such as the addition of a cinema screen, along with the whole building becoming wireless enabled. This should all be complete by September 2014.


Epigram 04.02.13

Features

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In defence of the ‘Gap yah’ experience

Photo: BBC Leqrning Zone

With the end of university looming, Lucy Bowen reflects on whether she should have opted for a gap year rather than a ‘gap yah’.

Flickr: pursyapt

Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand. This street was once a rice market, but in the last twenty years it has transformed into a ‘backpacker ghetto’, full of pubs and bars alongside a Buddhist temple.

Lucy Bowen Features Reporter I recently read in my local paper that a George Orwell Centre will be opening in a disused Chapel just outside my hometown. It will commemorate the life of the author, who grew up in Henley-on-Thames until 1921, when he left England to join the Indian Imperial Police in Burma where he would live out the experiences that would come to shape his first novel, Burmese Days. This little piece of news made me both smile and become a little sad, as it reminded me of two very different ventures: my great grandfather’s life working in the Katchin Hills in Burma - toing and froing

between tribes, building schools and health centres, settling feuds, learning to spot a ‘Cho Thar’ curry and avoid a ‘Cinthe’ one - and my own venture, my own little gap year. I travelled to various countries in Asia for five months and

“ I would be much

more likely to spot Jordan waltzing down Khao San Road than George Orwell popping into one the English ‘pubs’

made no remarkable impression on any native person. I did, however, visit Burma for three days to renew my Thai visa so that I could return to Ko Phi Phi and the safety of Englo-Asia with its ‘Little Britain Café’, ‘Banana-Rama’ guesthouses and ‘Irish Bars’ (Great-grandpa Noel would have turned in his grave). It is always tempting to align one’s experiences with an ancestor’s, but I fall incredibly short. I would be more likely to spot Jordan waltzing down the Koh San Road in Bangkok, rather than George Orwell, popping into one of the English ‘pubs’

with a blackboard indicating that they ‘serve chips and HEINZ baked beans’ (as opposed to the elusive sort of bean that does not come out of a turquoise tin - God forbid). Nowadays, a gap year isn’t a gap year unless you’ve got drunk on the Khao San Road! Or is it? We seem to be facing the crux of our predicament which, luckily, can all be explained by a simple linguistics error. I in fact took a Gap Yah - a term which was coined by Mat Lacey in his satirical sketch about ‘the great number of people who seem to be leaving these shores to vomit all over the developing world.’ That is to say, I worked for the first six months in order to fund a trip to South East Asia with some c l o s e friends to have fun and explore another part of the world, but returned with no great deed to my name, such as teaching English to baffled children or painting the side of a school red. I worked hard, had fun, and came back feeling cool and ready to be given a great big higher education hug. It is only with the great gift of hindsight that I can now ponder over whether I should have opted for a gap year rather than a gap yah. If only my private education had taught me to differentiate between vowel sounds.

Alas, better souls have fallen under such a trap. Without rattling off a long list of things to keep you within safe gap year proximities, everything a future Gappy needs to know can all probably be rolled into one golden rule: the ability to brag about it. Not just to a potential target, but to your parents,

your parents’ friends, their friends, your grandparents. This might sound pointless when impressing the ladies was the exact reason why you got a Red Bull tattoo on your bicep in the first place. So, think of it instead like a fine wine: if you do something noble and unpretentious when you’re young, as you get older, it sounds even better - a future employer might be awfully impressed. Tempting as it is to follow the beaten-to-the-pulp track to South East Asia, you will never be able to write ‘Downed three buckets in five minutes’

on your CV. I kept a journal throughout my time away that I’m very proud of. It’s a big brown leather thing with old faded white pages that are matted with leaves and dried flowers - it’s just soooo natural I couldn’t have got it from anywhere other than the flea market in Ind-ya. It’s just divine. But I still have to protect it in the hands of relatives in case they wonder onto one of the pages they’re not supposed to see, like the ‘Drunk Page’ or my vivid retellings of my Full Moon Night. No, no. I don’t regret my gap yah. For me, it was the perfect year of working hard and playing just as hard. I can f r e t n o w all I like but I know full well that I would not have been content with filling my precious break with months of work experience into every sector I could think of so I might have a better clue of what I wanted to do at the end of uni. I don’t have a clue, by the way, but maybe that’s fine too. Maybe it will all work out in the end and we will all fall into the perfect career. Or just maybe we should follow Polonius’ advice and ‘to thine own self be true’ before you start forcing yourself to believe that your thing has always been analyzing the percentages of real GDP. Who knows? I certainly don’t.


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There’s a reason why I’m not a vegan. Having been raised on a diet heavy in meat and dairy, I’ve always felt that I’d miss those animal products that we all know and love. From bacon sarnies to cauliflower cheese, the average person’s diet in the UK is less plant and more animal-based. With a housemate and a girlfriend who are both vegetarians for environmental reasons, it became increasingly difficult to ignore and dismiss their views. I’ve never been convinced by notions of animal rights, by the whole ‘how would you like to be slaughtered for bacon’ argument. As far as I am concerned, ‘rights’ are a human construct and thus are entirely insignificant in relation to animals, who sit below us in the food chain. Nevertheless, I’ve always been a supporter of recycling and green technologies and I side with the greens against the pantomime villains of BP and Shell. It is these arguments that make the most sense to me. Our increasing appetite for fish and meat has already put pressure on the availability of water, resources and land. With the global population set to hit 9 billion in 2050, doubts have

been raised about our capacity to feed the world with proteinrich food made from animals. What’s more, we no longer live off our own land and its produce. For instance, beef consumed in the USA is raised in Australia, the world’s second largest exporter of beef, before being shipped to America for slaughter and consumption. This all seems a bit excessive. If demand for meat dropped by just a fraction, the need for such remote sourcing would

I’m no an ecowarrior, nor am I a flag-waving vegan and I went 7 days without eating any meat

be removed because we would be eating more food grown in the UK, with the added benefit of supporting our own farming economy. However, there is a problem that remains with going meatfree. I believe that there is a perception of meat-free food that it is bland, boring and doesn’t fill you up. A couple of months into my relationship with my vegetarian girlfriend

Grace, she developed a dairy allergy. I’d made the effort to eat meat-free with her. The first meal I cooked for us was pasta with spinach and ricotta. This kind of vegetarian food was no longer an option. ‘So what can you actually eat now?’ I remember asking her. It wasn’t just that she couldn’t have animal milk or cheese. She couldn’t have mashed potato, pastry or ice cream. Both her and my housemate, however, know their way better around a kitchen than most of us omnivores. They’ve cooked for me: Moroccan feasts, vegetable wellington, chilli non carne, all sorts of curries and stir fries, which replace animal products with beans and lentils. If the truth be told, I don’t miss meat from their cooking, although I won’t be having soya milk for breakfast anytime soon. Grace’s diet became even more difficult when, recently, she was diagnosed with coeliac disease. Staples such as bread, flour and pasta are now avoided. She is still eating well, though, proving that vegan food can be just as tasty as ‘normal’ food. Never to be deterred, next time she cooks for me, she’s making a coconut milk panna cotta. A few weeks ago I went for over seven days without eating any meat. Sure, by the end of this meat-free period I was craving

Andres Van Der Stouwe

Antoni Swidlicki Features Reporter

Photo: Janka Man

Introducing ‘Flexitarian’: The new vegetarian

bangers and mash with a side of meatballs, but I survived and I didn’t hate it. These days I don’t eat meat for about two days a week, sometimes more. This doesn’t make me an ecowarrior or a flag-waving vegan, it simply goes some way to reducing my environmental footprint and is surely healthier

for me. If the demand for meat declined, the benefits to the planet would be many. This was the message of the film Vegucated, which I went along to see with Grace. I learned that ‘Kevin Keegan’ is rhyming slang for ‘Vegan’, and that Einstein turned vegan towards the end of his life, claiming: ‘Nothing

will…increase the chances of survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.’ Being still an omnivore, I would not urge everyone to write off the occasional pound of flesh, but perhaps we should all take a leaf out of Einstein’s book and scale back on meat consumption.

What does the Fairtrade ethical mark truly stand for? Epigram speaks to the Bristol University student Food Co-op, about why even ‘impoverished’ students should opt for ethical food. Josie Benge Features Reporter

Oban Fair trade

In recent years, there has been a sharp increase in the number of products stamped with the Fairtrade mark: from bananas to coffee beans, sugar and now even beauty products. The sale of these goods has grown by 12% in the last year, defying the trend of decline in the UK retail market. The expansion of the Fairtrade Foundation has been impressive, but what does the term ‘Fairtrade’ actually mean? Does it really impact on and help communities around the world develop sustainably, and, most importantly, what does it mean for us as students? The aim of Fairtrade is to offer a better deal to farmers and workers who have been economically marginalised by the conventional trading system. Fairtrade buyers offer the producer a fair price and a fixed term contract. By contrast, supermarket brands take the cheapest price offered to them, denying producers any long-term stability or security. Fairtrade buyers also pay a sum of money on top of the agreed price, which goes towards

The Fairtrade Foundation provides workers in developing countries with a stability and security which they would not otherwise be allowed in a highly competitive market. developing the producer’s local community. A product bearing the Fairtade logo simply signifies that the agreement between its producer and buyer meets these standards. Lucy King, who runs the Bristol University student Food Co-op, explained to Epigram why it is so important that people

buy Fairtade products : ‘We need to be responsible about looking after both people and the planet; Fairtrade and organic certification is a part of this. The global market means that Western demand for many foodstuffs drives the price of it up, and this can have an awful impact on those living in

developing countries, who then cannot afford to buy it. This is a big problem in itself, but at the very least we can ensure that the people who sell the crops get a fair price for it. Fairtrade and organic philosophies recognise that neither people nor the planet are things we can just keep taking from without

nurturing our relationships with them.’ Despite the evident benefits of Fairtrade, when faced with the choice many students still opt for cheaper alternatives: ‘Supermarkets capitalize on the branding of Fairtrade and of stereotypical consumers; relatively wealthy middle class people who are happy to pay extra. They put a huge markup on ethical products simply because they can do so and still sell them. However, people should take into account that they’re also more expensive because the producer is being paid a decent wage rather than being exploited - inevitably,that’s going to cost more. Students maybe hesitate to buy Fairtrade because of apathy, because they don’t think of themselves as ‘the type of person’ that buys these products, or perhaps they think of themselves as ‘a poor student’ and use that as an excuse. ’ If cost is the reason deterring students, then the B.U.S.T. Food Co-op offers a great solution, as it sells Fairtrade foods without the extortionate markups. Bristol is also well-known for its outstanding array of independent organic and

local food shops, so students certainly aren’t short for ethical shopping options. Just as Fairtrade is stereotypically linked with relatively wealthy customers, we, students, sometimes seem to view ourselves as customers of cheap brands like Sainsbury’s Basics simply by default. In doing so, we do not fully consider the implications of our decisions. Realistically, many of us probably could afford to buy more ethical products and with such excellent reasonably priced resources around us, it seems as though there’s no excuse not to.

The B.U.S.T food co-op is open every Wednesday from 12 – 3 in the Physbar in the Physics building on Tyndall Avenue.


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03.12.2012

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George Ferguson: Beating the drum for Bristol Epigram catches up with George Ferguson, Bristol’s newly elected mayor, to hear what it’s like to run a large city in uncertain times.

The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland

George Ferguson was elected Mayor of Bristol in November 2012, following a referendum in the city that changed the way we are governed.

Harrison Carter Features Reporter You were elected on the 16th November – how have the past two months been in power? I was elected on the 16th November and was in office here on Monday 19th November following a six month campaign. I was parachuted in and suddenly found myself running a city. I’ve really enjoyed the last two months. There have been and will continue to be tough decisions to be made. I realise that’s going to be the case. I was aware of that over the first few weeks when the government carried on reducing the amount available to us. Such that, what was a £28 million hole in our budget became a £35 million hole. So, there are tough decisions. But, I have to say there cannot be a better job to run a city you’ve spent most of your life in. Including being at its University. Have you had much contact with the student population since you were elected in? A lot. I’m a trustee of the University of Bristol Student’s Union. I’ve always taken a great interest in the University, in fact, in both universities in the city. I’ve got honorary degrees from both Universities which is something that I value. I spent six years at the University of Bristol. The University here has very much been a part of my life. It is the reason I am in Bristol. I’m one of those people who came to University in Bristol and ended up staying here. I’ve never doubted that decision. The idea of a directly elected mayor was something new to the whole country. Different cities nationwide voted to not change the local council set-up. How has the change in Bristol benefited the city? Let’s put that into perspective. We were the only city in the country to decide to have a mayor. Liverpool’s decision was one of the council itself. We were the only city that went to referendum and decided based upon that. This has been a very

fast process for Bristol. I think Bristol is generally celebrating the result of that referendum. We now have a different way of running things. A much more long-sighted way of governing. The mayoral term is four years. Therefore, I can take a much more long-term view than was previously the case with annual elections. I’ve already instigated a lot of efficiencies using my real-world business and entrepreneurial background and shall continue to do so when I plan the next three years ahead.

The University is the reason I am in Bristol. I am one of those who came here at university and ended up staying here.

Some people locally have said that having a mayor will not make any difference to the city. How would you respond to that criticism? Well, I think having an independent mayor makes a huge difference. Having a mayor that is not forever thinking about elections, having a mayor that is not being pulled by the local party group or from Westminster, having a mayor who has got a much wider background, who has come in from outside the political system, I think this makes a huge difference. If we had had a party mayor, you could have argued that the difference between the old and the new system would have been a lot smaller. I think people are noticing the difference. There’s also a change of mood amongst people in the city. There is an increased pride in Bristol because of what we have done. So, what is your background? I run a brewery, I have cafés and bars in the city, and I’ve got a theatre. I started, alongside other people, the academy of urbanism in cities across

the world. I was President of the Royal Institute of British Architects. I’ve travelled the world selling British Architecture to the world. So I’ve got local, national and international experience. How has that business experience changed your view of your responsibilities as Mayor? For example, like a business, when the Chief Executive retires in Spring I will be appointing a Chief Operating Officer who will effectively become the Head of Corporate Services. That streamlines the administration at the top, in a time when we need to make savings. It also emphasises the fact that the Mayor is in effect both Leader and Chief Executive. Not that I intend to spend too much time behind a desk. I want to be out there beating the drum for Bristol. That’s the real role of a Mayor. To raise the spirit in the City, to instil pride in Bristol and to sell the city to those who will invest here. In terms of the independent nature of your position, you’ve implemented a council cabinet and you’ve aimed to incorporate representatives from all the main parties in Bristol. What good has that brought to the decision making process? The Council Cabinet has operated excellently. We are working as one. I’m delighted with the attitude of the three portfolio holders. At the moment, I hold the other three portfolios because I’ve decided it will be a six seat cabinet. I hope to fill two of the three empty seats. But Labour members have, in a friendly way, confirmed to me that they won’t be able to change their minds about not sitting on the Cabinet. A month after coming into office you received the settlement from central government and realised that £35 million of savings had to be made. How do you find that sum of money? It’s not just about cuts. It’s about savings and income generation. For instance, one of my first decisions was to raise council tax to the maximum the government would allow without a city referendum. This is of course subject to

the council’s decision as I need a majority there. That increase will be 2%. If I didn’t do that, there would have to be greater cuts elsewhere. My job is to find a way to fill that black-hole. Some ways will be about savings and income generation. But, inevitably some will be about administrative savings and a loss in services and jobs. That cannot be helped.

PULL Having a mayor that is not being pulled by the local party group or from Westminster makes a huge difference !

A change you’ve implemented already in your mayoral term is to have your salary paid to you in Bristol pounds. How might you see students being able to use the Bristol Pound? The great thing about the Bristol pound is that it highlights the way that if you spend your money in local businesses, that is much more valuable to the city and to the local sustainable economy, both in economic and environmental terms, than if you spend your money at Domino’s Pizza or Tesco. Here, all the money is sucked out of the city. Apart from the amount spent to employ people on very low wages usually. It’s a really useful nudge about local spending to local business. Students have a huge amount of buying power. There are around 40,000 students in Bristol, with 18,000 attending the University of Bristol. Students have a huge part to play in sustaining the local economy. It’s worth letting them and others know that the Bristol pound is not just about fun. It’s an extremely practical way of increasing the amount we spend in independent outlets committed to the city. I would encourage students to use the Bristol pound. Why not a Bristol pound outlet in the students’ union?!


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Is this the end of the high street? Pooja Kawa HMV going into administration is another in a long line of stores losing business and consumers. As Jessops and Blockbusters also went under, the beginning to 2013 looks very bleak indeed for the high street. This, as well as the recession’s impact on stores nationwide, has led us to question whether or not we’re beginning to say goodbye to shopping centres. The rise of internet shopping in recent years has been astounding and, in the case of HMV, it has posed massive competition to our high streets. Amazon and Play, Netflix and Lovefilm, as well as the emergence of online stores, have all meant serious business and, considering how many of us have been converted to armchair shoppers, they have done pretty well. A lot of people are feeling pretty heartbroken over HMV’s downfall in particular. #HMVmemories was trending worldwide after the news was announced. However, I’m going to try and buck the trend, and explain why we need to be a bit more open-minded about the closure of the high street stores we have an attachment for, but which no longer necessarily fulfil our demands. I love online shopping. It’s certainly made my life a lot easier to buy things that I want, and has saved me from having to squeeze into stores crammed with more people than they should be able to hold legally. It is this efficiency which has primarily captured our attention, as well as access to a hub of information about the products we are buying and the ability to browse and compare more straightforwardly. This is something we do not get in store anymore, and prices just aren’t competitive enough. I’ll take Waterstones as an example. Beautiful store, wonderful for browsing, but £9 for a book I could get off Amazon for a fiver? And HMV - £15 for a newly-released DVD, whereas I can get it off Play for half as much? It just doesn’t seem worth it anymore. Combining the price factor with the fact that we are now able to preview books, music and DVDs online, we are more likely to get what we want, when we want it, online sooner than we would on the high street. My main criticism would be that high street stores are losing touch with new

customers’ needs and have taken themselves away from competitive pricing. It’s a lot more cumbersome to have to get up, visit a high street and trawl through store after store with mostly overpriced goods, little efficiency and a lack of information, to get what we want. This is exactly why I think the demise of stores such as HMV is not such a terrible thing at all. In fact, this is exactly the type of thing that’s going to help new small businesses and independent stores rise. You are more likely to come across interesting stuff in these places, and the people working there will be a lot more knowledgeable and passionate about what they are selling. The new store space could mark a really interesting rise of more creative and consumerresponsive businesses. I think these will provide consumers with a better high street shopping experience - definitely a more interesting one - which could at least level with the Amazon giants. Of course, they’d still have to work hard to beat them, but nevertheless it’s better than us latching onto stores, such as HMV, solely for their history and presence. Can their £176m debt really motivate us to support HMV’s longstanding presence? Or do we make way for new, exciting ventures with fresh ideas and more to offer us? I’d prefer the latter. High street shopping has to be made more appealing, otherwise it is going to fade away. Those businesses relying on an old, loyal consumer base to sustain them, without making any changes to adapt to new customers that are fighting for their places, are in trouble. I don’t for a second believe that online shopping could ever fully eclipse going out and physically buying something, but at the moment high streets are stale, overpriced and disorganised, and it’s difficult to find the reasoning to not simply wait for a package in the post. It’s the new ideas, new products and new shopping experiences - not the Hollister type, mind you - that are going to revive and regenerate British retail. This is going to mean that we stop romanticising the old and welcome in the new with a more optimistic outlook.

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No Phyllis Rayner The threat posed to the High Street by online shopping has been brought to the fore in recent weeks as Jessops failed and HMV went into administration. Many have argued that the low prices and convenience of online retailers such as Amazon are responsible, and have failed to recognise the potentially huge advantages this could pose to the High Street. Firstly, the High Street has the advantage of a physical presence; a shop in which you can talk about the product you are buying. Apple, for example, has made full use of its stores. , with the Genius Bars where technical advice is given for existing customers as well as product demonstrations for new ones. Many a middle aged and confused iPad owner can be observed through the glass shop fronts seeking the technical expertise of a welltrained shop assistant. Their products are available online, it’s true, but arguably these products would not have reached their cult status if it weren’t for the in-store service provided, to ensure that they can actually be used by their owners. Lush also utilizes its stores with great success. Again, their products are available online but there is something about going into the shop, with the huge blocks of brightly coloured soaps and heady fragrances. The sales assistants are so enthusiastic and welltrained! They’ll dissolve a bath bomb for you to watch, let you play with the jelly soap and whisk up bath melts to show you the vast quantities of foam produced. It’s easy to leave the store with far more than you originally went in for. Lush was founded by a husband and wife in 1995 but, by virtue of the shopping experience offered as well as the products, it is now an international success. Conversely, the firms that are going under now are those which don’t offer any special service. After all, what did HMV offer us that we could not get online for less money? It was perhaps impossible for them to compete with platforms like iTunes but what I ask is this: was there any attempt made to change the shops themselves rather than the prices? Having worked in HMV I can assure you that no further training is given than the briefest of

tours and a crash course in operating a till. It is not hard to see that visiting a record store should be an opportunity to discuss music taste and seek recommendations. True, these recommendations would probably have then been downloaded elsewhere, but there was nothing to stop HMV from selling MP3 music in store through their own platform. While the threat of online shopping can’t be defeated in price, it can be beaten with excellent customer service and innovation. The advantages of having a shop where people can touch or smell what they want to buy are huge. A great deal of us have, at some point, been let down by internet shopping. What was described as ‘100 coloured lighters’ turns out to be a box of matches coloured

While the threat of online shopping can’t be defeated in price, it can be beaten with excellent customer service and innovation.

With stores such as HMV, Comet and Blockbusters recently going into administration, will the High Street soon be a thing of the past?

in with felt-tip. If it turns up at all, that is. The hazards of ordering online aside, there are aspects of high street shopping which cannot be recreated online. We can all agree that trying clothes on before we buy them is preferable to not doing so. Furthermore, the seductive experience of shopping itself is not to be ignored. Beautifully presented shop floors, draped with luxurious fabrics and piled high with tempting treats, have recently become the setting for both the BBC’s The Paradise and ITV’s Mr. Selfridge. These dramas are set at the turn of 20th Century, a time in which retail changed dramatically following the innovation of Department Stores. We, too, live in interesting times. The standards that shops are held to are rising and it is not enough to be the cheapest. Neither poorly trained staff nor badly presented shop floors are acceptable. The high street is adapting, as successful organisms do, and changing to meet the new demands of modern retail. Rather than the death of the high street we are looking forward to innovation and to lean, competitive businesses working hard for the money we pay them.


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04.02.2013

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S’no way to treat students Flickr: noiseburst

Rowena Henley On January 18th Bristol students opened their curtains to discover nothing less than a winter wonderland, with up to 15cm of snow covering some areas of our city. However, did the day really turn out to be all so wonderful? When we were younger a snow day was like Christmas come early - or a bit late in this case - but as we’ve grown older and a little bit more boring, the inconvenience threatens to outweigh the fun. Services across the country came to halt, with countless trains and buses cancelled, and Bristol University Though the majority of us was no exception. decided against working for the day, for those dedicated students who trekked through the snow to the ASS and other libraries, only to find them closed by 12 noon, the day only ended in frustration. In the middle of important exams and essay Though the University deadlines it is the responsibility cannot control the of the university to ensure weather forecast, perhaps students are not handicapped they could have handled by a few centimeters of snow, or the outcome more are at least given fair warning, considering the forecasts were efficiently. for heavy snowfall. Patrick O’Kane, a first year law student, agrees: ‘I made the effort to walk an hour to the library and I feel more of an effort could have been put into preparing

Snowed in? If your front door opens, stop moaning!

Jan Zeber

the University services for the weather conditions at such a crucial time.’ It is true that had students been told before 9:32am that morning about the closure of the library then needless journeys such as the one Patrick made could have been avoided. Furthermore, students could have organized their own work schedule by communicating with tutors in the preceding days about what needed to be done, considering a lot of pre-exam tutorials and seminars were also lost with no idea of how to account for this. Perhaps worst of all was the cancellation of exams. With confusion all morning, many students missed out on the

opportunity to enjoy a snowball fight with their friends and instead continued to do a bit of last minute cramming, only to be told at 11.25am that there was no need and the University was closed, with exams being re-scheduled. Charlie Worsley, a first year French and Politics student said: ‘I now have three exams in one week where I previously only had two. I was fully prepared on Friday and now I feel that all the pressure in such a short space of time may affect my performance.’ Though it is true that the University cannot control the weather forecast, perhaps they could have handled the outcome more efficiently and effectively.

I still remember the mixture of confusion and happiness I experienced almost six years ago, as I wondered why my school was deserted at 9am on a weekday. The receptionist, one of the brave few to turn up, did her best to explain to me the school is closed today due to ‘adverse weather conditions’. My English wasn’t great back then, so I thought I must be misunderstanding something. ‘Snow’ cannot possibly be the reason why all of the students and most of the staff chose to stay in bed today. They eventually sent me home, but my trouble did not stop there. My mother was not impressed with my story about the school being closed due to snow and expressed her disappointment with the reasons given, being ‘the best I could come up with’. It took phoning up the school to persuade her, and even then I don’t think she fully took it on board. I can’t say I blame her. She

remembers wading through a metre of snow in a raging blizzard, in hope of making the first lesson period; I remember having to wake up an hour earlier to dig out the car every morning. Little wonder she was confused at all the fuss caused by a centimetre of powder. Of course, part of it was to do with the fact that Polish schools don’t consider it their fault if a pupil injures themselves on school premises in general, let alone in snow. But what I find positively hilarious about Britain’s relationship with the white stuff is how everybody seems to be genuinely terrified of it. In Poland if you were ‘snowed in’, it meant your front door doesn’t open. Here, it means there’s a bit of snow on your driveway which means you can’t get the car out , because obviously it takes a special kind of suicidal maniac to attempt driving a motor vehicle on snow. I mean what if the underneath gets wet? The employers do not mind one bit, I suspect mainly due to the fact they themselves do not get out of bed. And of course, it goes without saying that if I slip on the bit of pavement outside Barclays and my bum hurts for a bit, I’m entitled to a six figure sum in compensation.

Izzy Obeng has a couple of words about online dating Izzy Obeng

Flickr: epSos.de

As a student, is online dating socially acceptable? The answer is no. What’s wrong with you? You’re a student. By definition you are outgoing, sociable, extroverted and you have plenty of opportunities to meet new people. Going online to find love - or ‘fun’ - smacks of desperation, even insanity! I’m obviously playing devil’s advocate here. I haven’t got any issue with people looking to find companionship online. After all, the internet expands your potential social network a million times over. Surely it’s like shopping; why go in store when you can have that pair of heels delivered straight to your door? Except people aren’t shoes. Unlike buying clothing from a reputable store, you’re much more likely to find false

advertisements. Let’s meet Terry: ‘Hey, I’m 6’3’, enjoy relaxing and have recently left my job in banking to see the world’. This could result in you meeting Terry, who is lovely but his obesity stops him engaging in any meaningful activity it’s an old profile picture. He is also long-term unemployed and his ‘world’ doesn’t consist of anything past the local Morrison’s - but at least he has dreams. Of course, not everybody

is a creep. This is proven by the hoards of us increasingly turning to online dating sites to find love. The industry in the UK is now worth a shocking £170m. Over 1,500 websites are drawing us in daily. Nine million of us have attempted to find love or sex through these sites, whether you fancy a man in uniform, a fellow high-flying professional, a cougar or simply someone to get down and dirty with; there’s something for everyone. We spend on average 15

hours a week online. This figure changes considerably for students and of that time we spend nearly 1 in 5 hours on Facebook and Twitter engaging in our virtual world, constructing our virtual identity. We hardly ever really log off as we now have ready access to these sites on our phones. We’re making lasting friendship networks online; surely the next logical step is to find lasting romances. Online dating sites are

tapping into our obsessions with expanding friendship networks. The increasing use of smartphones also means that developers can tap into previously hard-to-reach markets. More and more apps are being designed to tap into the 18-25 market. Apps mean that developers can include features such as location based search functions (think Gaydar. co.uk) for random encounters and Facebook-style instant messaging to get straight to the point. Can online dating ever become a normal part of uni life, like the pre-lash or societies? Perhaps not anytime soon but a pattern seems to be developing which will eventually see us wanting to find everything in life, including love, at the touch of a button. I dread to think that Valentine’s Day is approaching. A day when public displays of affection suddenly become socially acceptable, card companies commit daylight robbery and you are constantly reminded of just how single you are. Some of us may attend

a singles night or a speeddating event. With the figures as they are, it’s likely that more than one person in your lecture theatre will dabble in a bit of online fun. There is of course a downside to the emerging dating trend. It has the effect of making relationships a bit more disposable. Why commit to a single person when there is a whole world of fit singles within minutes of you ready to mingle? One study shows that since online dating became more popular, people have seemed willing to move more quickly from one relationship to another. Hopefully this article won’t be relevant to most of us until we’re thirty and broken-hearted from a string of disastrous relationships. On the upside, you’re young, at the peak of your physical fitness and the most attractive you will probably ever be. If you ever try to date online, you might initially find it rather embarrassing. That is until the awkward moment when you see the profiles of one of your best mates looking back at you.


Epigram

4.02.2013

13 13 13

Beware Islamic Imperialism in Mali

This article first appeared in The Commentator magazine on 24th January 2013. Whenever there are sectarian problems in Africa, the Middle East or Europe, Islamism is more often than not the root cause. The recent insurgency in Mali is simply the latest episode, and as Islamist rage spreads across regional fault lines in Africa and the Middle East, the battle between the West and Islamism is clearly intensifying. In 2010, this conflict was described by the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair as an ideological war against the cultural and religious equivalent of revolutionary communism. He believed this conflict would play out as a ‘generational-long struggle’, a view recently echoed by the current British Prime Minister, David Cameron. It has long been assumed that if the Israel-Palestine conflict was resolved, political Islam across the globe would quieten down, and we would coexist peacefully. This notion – that creating a Palestinian utopia would quell the rage boiling beneath the surface of so many Islamic communities worldwide – is idle, ignorant and absurd. Various events in recent years should have put an end to this outdated idea. If not the violence against Christians in Nigeria from Boko Haram, then surely this summer’s protests supposedly over the film Innocence of Muslims or even the Danish cartoon episode in 2006. What we are witnessing in Mali has nothing to do with Palestine. It has nothing to do with the supposed oppression of Muslims globally, and nothing

most likely involve the major regional powers: Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey (Sunni); Iran, and Pro-Salafi Qatar (Shia). The latter have already hosted the 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, arm and fund Hamas, and are reportedly currently arming al-Qaeda in Syria. Since 1945, wars between states have sharply declined. Most conflict now takes place in the form of insurgencies which can devastate societies, as seen in a variety of countries with sizeable Islamic factions (Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Algeria, and the former Sudan). In the case of Mali, the recent insurgency is of grave concern because it is a large country, nearly double the size of France. It has seven neighbours, whose large and weakly governed borders provide Islamic militants with easy supply and escape routes. The Islamic offshoots of al-Qaeda acting in the region include groups such as Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Movement for Jihad and Unity in West Africa (MUJAO), Ansar Dine and Boko Haram. Should Mali fall into the hands of violent Islamists, a domino effect in the region is highly probable.

The situation in Mali has everything to do with politicised Islam and its desire for imperialism.

Ben Lazarus

to do with Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, or any recent Western ‘imperialism’. Yet, while many in the liberal establishment cower from saying so, it has everything to do with politicised Islam and its desire for imperialism, or rather the recreation of the lost caliphate. Why else would Islamists be actively working to enforce their religion, power and rule over the people of Africa, thus condemning them to beggary and serfdom? This desire for Islamic imperialism stems from the historic failings of a tribal religion that has been forced to watch its own relative decline during the last 300 years. Whilst Western civilisation has grown from strength to strength, the Islamic world has idly stood by, seething with envy. The result is an unproductive and uninspiring civilization, incapable of contributing to progression, modernisation, and the advancement of humankind. Indeed, what was the last great contribution to the civilised world from a state governed by Islam, other than poverty, oil and terrorism? Today, this anger is boiling over, spilling into the regional borders of countries in the Middle East and Africa, and removing what remains left of an existing order. The individuals trapped under tyrannical rule won’t suffer alone; this development will have far-reaching consequences for the west. In the Middle East, the regional borders are exploding across two major fault lines – ethnic and religious. Ethnically, it is played out between the Sunni and Shia Muslims, while religiously between Wahhabi and Salafist movements. These may be ideological divisions, but they are also existential. A former senior editor of the Jerusalem Post, Douglas Davis, has argued these conflicts will

Neighboring states Algeria (in the north) and Ivory Coast (south) have both witnessed violence, extremism, and experienced instability from Islamism. Both countries are ill-equipped to cope if Mali implodes. Algeria certainly does not wish to experience a repeat of its

last insurgency, which claimed approximately 100,000 lives. Despite this huge loss of life, reports show militant Islamic cells continue to run in the eastern mountains of Algeria, and in the desert next door to Mali. On the western border, Mauritania has also struggled with Islamic militants who are associated with al-Qaeda. If the prospect of a vast Islamic bloc in Africa is not frightening enough, it is quite likely the conflict may spill over into Islamic states in Asia, such as Pakistan, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Of even more concern however is the position of France, and by extension the rest of the European community. France may come to suffer heavily from its intervention to save the Malian people. With over five million Muslims in France, mainly of North and West African origin, it is possible that some will seek revenge for the French intervention. Concerned by this prospect, French President Francois Hollande has ordered greater public protection by security forces, whilst the Interior Minister claimed they will be ‘watching individuals who want to go to Afghanistan, Syria and the Sahel’. There are clear worries people will return to French shores having been radicalised abroad, as was the case with the Toulouse killer, Mohamed Merah. European countries with sizeable Muslim populations would do well to be cautious in the face of an Islamist backlash. Given recent history, it is apparent Europe is not safe from retaliation whenever Muslim sensitivities are offended. And think: perhaps the next time an insurgency from Muslim rage occurs - such thugs may well be supported by a nuclear Iran.

What’s the beef with horse meat? We asked Epigram readers: 20% Yes No 80%

This month’s ‘horsemeat’ scandal led to supermarkets such as Tesco and Waitrose withdrawing some of their burgers from sale. This week Epigram asks, would you eat horse meat? This is how you responded.

www.epigram.org.uk

Offence is taken not given - chill out everyone

Rosslyn McNair I’ve often thought the conversational prefix ‘no offence but’ is the greatest contradiction in the English language. ‘No offence but I think you have the intellectual capacity of a Stock Aitken Waterman hit from 1987’. ‘No offence but your karaoke ability matches that of a set of elderly bike brakes being used as a rudimentary percussion instrument’. ‘No offence but I just hate the peasants’. It is the one time when the typically passive-aggressive British approach to causing offence becomes as blatant as if a sexually promiscuous woman were to literally metamorphosize into the one usable bicycle in the village. That is until the journalistic titans of Suzanne Moore and Julie Burchill found themselves caught up in a raging battle of vitriol between themselves and the transgender community. I will summarise a little of what occurred without wishing to pass judgement on the event. Essentially, in an article about female rage, Moore flippantly wrote in a metaphorical manner that women were angry because they didn’t have the ‘body of a Brazilian transexual’. The transgender community took offence to this and launched a virtual attack on Moore until she had no other choice but to leave Twitter, the journalistic equivalent of imprisonment at Alcatraz. Burchill waded in to protect her friend and published a bitter stream of consciousness with some half-baked ideas about this much misunderstood community. For me her most bizarre point was that the transgender community had attacked Moore because she is working class and they are all extremely privileged academics who are sat polishing their PHDs in their ivory towers, laughing at the poor people. No, I don’t understand it either. I read Burchill’s article, before it got taken off The Guardian website, and found the comments at the bottom of the article. If anything, they were more interesting and definitely - better constructed than the article itself. The

general consensus was that it was an offensive piece of writing. But what was most interesting was the number of people who progressed from objectively deeming it offensive, to actively becoming offended by it. A number of these people explicitly stated that they were not part of the transgender community but were offended on their behalf. It raised the question of whether taking offence on behalf of another community, despite not being part of that community, is legitimate. Do you have to be a Muslim to empathise with the offense caused by cartoons that represent their most important religious figure? Can David Cameron’s ‘calm down dear’ comments from about a year ago only be seen as offensive if you’re a woman? Can you truly be offended by something that isn’t targeting you? Or, is it right when to do otherwise means you must be in cahoots with the bad guys? I was reminded of a recent incident where a nineteen year old boy from Canterbury posted a video of himself burning a Rememberance poppy with a lighter on the eleventh of November. The boy was detained under the Malcious Communications Act 1988, where it is a crime to send anything that is ‘indecent or grossly offensive, or which conveys a threat … [where] there is an intent to cause distress or anxiety to the recipient’. According to The Guardian, it is generally used in connection with poison pen letters. The boy was made to apologise to a room of current and ex-service men as punishment and faced an understandable torrent of public condemnation. But the event raised the serious question of whether causing offence and especially something so clearly moronic, was an illegal act. Kent police were accused of infringing on freedom of speech with one Twitterer writing ‘Dear idiots at Kent police, burning a poppy may be obnoxious, but it is not a criminal offence’. I think it is an important, undervalued privilege in Britain that you not only have a right to be offended but, equally, that you have a right to offend. If you begin to curtail that then, amongst the badly considered and irrational ranting, you begin to curtail legitimate and valid criticism of society. That is where our democracy, and any kind of universal respect for other people, ends and totalitarianism begins.


Epigram

04.02.2013

Science & Tech

Editor: Mary Melville

Deputy Editor: Erik Müürsepp

scienceandtech@epigram.org.uk deputyscienceandtech@epigram.org.uk

Mechsoc: the new society on the block Hannah Trager Science Reporter I meet my interviewee in the green interior of the Refectory. Back-packed up and hardly looking like the kind of gal that I’d imagine rolling out from under a car in greasy overalls. But then again I’ve yet to learn the difference between mechanics and mechanical engineers. So why was I here to speak to Jessie, MechSoc’s very own publicity & press officer-ess? For one thing, Bristol’s mechanical engineers are probably pretty eager to banish the misguided image of a greasy engineer rolling out from under a car. But they’ve also started up their very own, very exclusive society – one only for mechanical engineers. Big deal, right? We all have societies and who wants to join one that thinks maths is fun? Maths? Wrong again. Turns out MechSoc isn’t about doing extra maths in their free time. It’s about providing students a chance to apply the theory learnt in lectures in real life. It’s about making things and having fun doing it: who doesn’t want to compete in Bristol’s very own Scrapheap

“MechSoc wants to provide the, metaphorical, key to the workshops” Challenge? Can you imagine the glory to be bestowed upon you once you are the one to make a trebuchet throw something the furthest or the highest? Jessie and her team are eager to make the fun that prospective students are promised a reality. She is wistfully recounting

stories of wind tunnels and helicopter labs – the kind she saw on her open day. Now it’s just lecture after lecture and that, we both agree, isn’t fun. MechSoc want to take matters into their own hands and provide the - metaphorical - key to the workshops. Open the doors! Dust off the helicopter! Engage... But MechSoc isn’t only about fun, Jessie says. It’s also about pairing new students with a mentor or, as she likes to say, ‘family’. Someone to smile at, to ask which text books are worth buying, despite lecturers always peddling their own ones to you. Isn’t there a society that does all of this already? Apparently not. MechSoc is specifically for mechanical engineers (a crying shame because ever since I heard about those helicopters...). Jessie tells me that MechSoc is not trying to compete with TUBES – a society for Engineers generally – but offers an additional layer of fun and useful stuff. MechSoc wants to offer more than the usual bar crawls and sports events, it wants to run career talks and competitions too. And they’ve already had some past success. For instance, last term two Bristol graduates working at Rolls Royce came and spoke to them and because they had such a specific audience, they could get down to the nitty gritty of what they really did. It wasn’t a typical grad scheme promotional talk either. It was relevant, interesting and something everyone who went would go to again. What else are they planning that’s different? MechSoc has a committee member who is dedicated to industry. They hope that this way they’ll be able to foster better relationships with key players, leading to more talks and days out. Another new thing is that they want to build

“two Bristol graduates working at Rolls Royce came and spoke to them about the nitty gritty of what they really did” and film a Rube Goldberg machine. There are more talks scheduled for this term, a social and hopefully a family vs. family pub quiz. But that’s not all folks. Just as I was getting ready to hit ‘off’ on my recorder, Jessie starts talking competitions. There are two and I just love competitions - button firmly ‘on’. The first

Science video of the week Katie Dalton

Have you ever wondered why exactly we find things to be cute? Check out this YouTube video for the scientific explanation. Warning: contains images of kittens and bunnies.

one is a Make Challenge and something they’ve already had roaring success with. In this, participants will be given a challenge brief and invited to design and make anything to achieve the goal of the brief – materials are provided. The second competition is University-wide so listen up: MechSoc is in need of a logo. Something that makes them feel cool about themselves and which they can splash all over the place – on their website, on any cool kit they order (there are dreams of mechanical

socks, pun intended). The logo should be compact and represent the society and so that it super-duper represents the society, it should include the text ‘MechSoc’. And for your troubles? You’ll get a £50 Amazon voucher to spend on something to make you feel better about not being a mechanical engineer, or just extra spending money if you are one. And Jessie has one more thing to say about all this winning: MechSoc is really hoping to attract people from outside the department in this

competition. Everyone should feel welcome to give it a shot. So go for it. Details about signing up to the logo competition are on posters near you. As for signing up to MechSoc, well, for those of us that are not mechanical engineers – change degree. For those that are, check out their Facebook group Mechanical Society Bristol or their website. And that’s it. Our interview has come to an abrupt stop because I have a logo competition to go win...

Tech Product Feature: Charging Bag Mary Melville Science Editor My phone always seems to loose battery at the crucial moment when I most need it. Luckily there is now a solution to this problem. Richard Nicoll has developed a bag that can charge your BlackBerry, iPhone or Android phone for up to two days. On top of that the bag looks great. This is part of a new trend of tech and fashion combining. For instance, Juicy Couture have introduced a new USB bracelet. Now you just have to remember to charge the bag...


Epigram

04.02.2013

15

What does your birthday say about you? Sally Hargreaves Science Reporter

“interestingly, there are aspects of a person’s life that may, in part, be determined by their birth date.”

Flickr: Vavva

evening person. If you are an autumn or winter baby, you are much more likely to be a morning person. This is to do with the type of photoperiod you are exposed to during your early weeks of life. Lucky for the spring and summer babies who are more likely to be active in the evening, this means that

you can warrant your constant morning lie-ins. Your birth date may have more of an effect on your life if you are born into Islam. The ninth month of the Islamic calendar, known as Ramadan and also as the month of fasting, has been linked to birth weight and disability. It has been found that infants who are exposed to fasting during foetal development are likely to have a lower birth weight. It is also likely to increase the chances of the child having a disability; sight, hearing and mental disabilities are each significantly elevated. If we start to learn more about birth dates and the effects they can have on a child’s outcome in life, will that lead to more babies being born at a certain time of year purely because their parents don’t want them to be behind at school? Is it really that useful to know that you are more likely to be a morning person because you were born in October? In most cases I’d assume that the answer was no, especially if you

Katie Dalton

‘Purple is your birthday colour: Purple symbolizes royalty, respect, freedom and power. You are a fashionable and an artistic person.’ These kinds of analyses of your birth date are available all over the internet – but many, including myself, would agree that there is no real truth behind them. However interestingly, there are in fact other aspects of a person’s life that may, in part, be determined by their birth date. It has been shown, indeed multiple times, that in schools the younger individuals in a year group perform more poorly on average in tests than the older ones. This phenomenon known as the ‘August Birth Penalty’ means that the younger cohort is less likely to reach the expected level at GCSE. Why would this be? It could be the age at which individuals take the tests, as some will inevitably always

be younger. It could also be that the younger ones may not be as prepared in terms of life experience to take on the challenge of starting school. It has also been reported that the time of year you are born influences whether you are more active in the morning or the evening, usually referred to as being a morning or an

already considered yourself an evening person. Your birthday is something you can’t do anything about, it is purely a day given to

Should we fear the internet?

Michael Coombs reviews Cypherpunks - Freedom and the Future of the Internet.

Flickr:a.powers

You won’t be able to find a copy of Julian Assange’s new book in any old book shop. You won’t be able to get it on Amazon. Despite this, Assange is desperate for you to read it. He claims, along with a host of other cyber-intellectuals, that the world is heading towards a dystopian society of epic proportions. Many salute twitter and facebook as being the vehicles for free datacommunication which allowed for the liberation of many middle-eastern countries last spring. But Assange and other members of the “cypherpunks” movement think that if things continue as they are then the huge amount of free data people are feeding various power structures will lead to a

lack of freedom; a totalitarian internet state which would be to the detriment of all but a few online rebels . The cypherpunks’ motto is ‘transparency for the powerful and privacy for the weak.’ They advocate the use of cryptography to protect our personal information online. The ‘deep web’ and the use of anonymity software such as Tor has the capability and physical potential to pave the way for a new method of data-communication that is immune to interception and surveillance. The book is laid out in a dialectic form - a conversational debate between some of the front-runners of the ‘freedom of information’ bandwagon.

Assange - who is holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid extradition - is hoping that through the book he will be able to warn people of the coming cyber-apocalypse. The argument, grossly simplified, is that when huge organisations and nations have a monopoly on data sharing they amass huge powers over their people. For example, Russia recently lost a lawsuit which meant that they had to use Visa and Mastercard to do all their online transactions. The physical servers of these internet/financial goliaths are based in America. So, every Russian internet transaction not only goes through and is subject to American legislation, the Americans even profit from it. As Julian points out in the debate: “when Putin goes to buy a Coke, thirty seconds later it is know in Washington D.C.” Having close to a monopoly over the internet gives governments, particularly the U.S., the ability to censor journalism as they please and control what citizens can and cannot buy or support. They can impose financial blockades- all the funding that was being sent to Wikileaks by free international citizens was, arguably illegally, simply stopped. These actions in any society where the president or leader chucks around phrases like ‘free speech’ and ‘freemarket economy’ is at the very least hypocritical, and at the worst ‘a threat to human

civilization.’ The book lays out the evolution/devolution of Wikileaks and those around itit recounts the story of Bradley Manning, the whistleblower on various acts of U.S. military illegality (who has been held without trial for over eighthundred days.) The dialectic does a successful job of creating a sense of fear and indeed urgency about the oncoming online chaos but does very little to suggest alternatives. They talk towards the end of the conversation about the need for free software and other complicated technological improvements but they give very little to those whose sole use of their laptop is essays and facebook. Even if they pointed out carefully a few websites worth avoiding - I’m sure facebook would be on there or a few more pragmatic steps the average internet user could take then perhaps the book would do more than just freak a few of us out. It gives an enlightening account of the whole Wikileaks debacle, and has some of the best contemporary debates about the internet available. It just seems a shame there wasn’t more I could take away from it to do my bit at preventing the infoapocalypse.

you by your parents. Though studies have shown it may partly determine certain things in your life and it is very interesting, rest assured it

does not completely define you and what your life will entail, unless of course you believe in western astrology.

Science Behind... Popping candy

Edith Penty Geraets Online Editor After a Christmas filled with all sorts of delicacies and delight, one of the all time childhood favourites has still got to be popping candy. It comes in many names and variations: in lollies, chocolates and on cakes. Most recently I was lucky enough to discover an incredible popping candy cocktail. For those unfamiliar, this wondrous honey-coloured sweetie explodes in your mouth when eaten giving a firework sensation of crackles and pops on the tongue that one finds strangely pleasant. The effect is magical, however you don’t necessarily need to be a Willy Wonka to make this stuff. The candy is made in the normal way from sugar,

corn syrup, water and flavourings. The mixture is heated so that all the water evaporates off leaving pure sugar syrup. Now, instead of leaving to cool normally, the hot mixture is mixed with carbon dioxide (CO2) gas at extremely high pressure, roughly 40 atmospheres (40 atm)! Tiny CO2 bubbles are formed in the candy as it cools. When you then go to gorge at your favourite chocolate popping lolly the candy melts in the heat of your mouth and the bubbles are released. The sound and explosion you feel is the high-pressure gas being released from the bubbles. It is enough to leave your tongue tingling for a while! Go ahead. I urge you to give way to the child inside you and rediscover this exciting confectionary.


Epigram

04.02.2013

Letters

Editor: Lucy de Greeff letters@epigram.org.uk

Students have a right to live how they want flickr: HelloImNick

In response to ‘Disruptive students need to grow up’ (Issue 257), I’d just like to say that residents and locals also need to get used to living near students. Bristol is clearly a student city, and people need to accept that and put up with the occasional night of loud music or whatever. We have a right to live how we want! The previously mentioned letter stated that students

“Residents and locals need to get used to living near students” need to ‘grow up and act sensibly’. A large proportion of the student population are under twenty years old, not getting on for fifty.

Anonymous undergraduate

Have you got something to say? Get in touch and share your views:

letters@epigram.org.uk

The popular catchphrase ‘real women have curves’ is possibly one of the most irritating expressions. The term devalues the less voluptuous females amongnst us. Ironically, and rather hypocritically, the term has been coined by those who don’t comply to a so-called ‘skinny’ group and have therefore seemingly expanded to include females who are of a different shape. However, not every woman possesses such ‘curves’ and is therefore automatically excluded from the group that this term has created. It thus suggests that some females, though born with two X chromosomes which defines them as female, are not actually ‘real’ women! ‘Real’, says the OED, means having a verifiable existence, and is often compared to things that are not real, or are fake, for example real flowers vs. fake flowers, fur vs. faux-fur. The creators of the ‘real woman’ phrase that has somehow caught on, supposedly cultivated the term to promote a good body image, outside of the perhaps subscribed ideal. To a certain extent, this is a positive movement, and yet the term is also couched in such vague wishy-washy language that has consequently created a new pariah: the ‘unreal women’. The problem with this movement is not its goal of highlighting that women exist in different shapes, but the irony and hypocrisy it inevitably carries. The ridiculousness is that it claims to include all women, yet excludes a good majority. There are two problems I have with this catchphrase. Firstly, a very small minority of women actually have these ‘curves’, secondly, referring to curvy women as real automatically downgrades other women as fake or not real. Classical art has always portrayed beautiful women as curvy; Venus, and actresses Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe and Christina Hendricks have all been hailed as beautiful idealised women. Yet, ironically, a study has

shown that only 8.4% of women have this hourglass figure that is defined by shoulders, waist and hip ratio, which means that 91.6% of us must not be ‘real’! Furthermore, the term ‘curvy’ has been largely distorted and misused, and has come to include any body shape that is not straight up and straight down. The phrase ‘real women have curves’ has become as damaging to female body image as the very body images it has tried to counteract. ‘Real’ women encompass a broad spectrum of body types, and by labelling a specific one (in this case curvy) as perfection, it downgrades another body shape as less ‘real’ and therefore inferior. Relegating thinner women or just differently shaped women to a lesser status is not helpful in a world which is constantly obsessed with body perception. The catchphrase ‘real women have curves’ has pitted women of all sizes against each other in a battle as to who is more ‘real’ and raises questions as to how much women have actually progressed in terms of respecting each other. This ‘real’ women movement is questioning the femininity of many. What of the naturally thin? Those that struggle to put on weight? Female athletes that have a muscular build devoid of curves? Are these women not real? Is Beth Ditto more real than Kate Moss? Does it help anything to refer to larger women as ‘real’ and does that make thin women fake or not actually female? As you can see, the phrase raises several debates and is, in itself, complete drivel. Anyone with the right chromosomes is a real woman, and it is preposterous to suggest anything otherwise.

Olivia Ward

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Epigram

21.01.13

17 13

Because we didn’t give you any puzzles in the last edition of Epigram, this issue we’ve got an extra-special Sudoku challenge

Want to create puzzles for Epigram? Email letters@epigram.org.uk


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,ŽǁǁŽƵůĚ How would LJŽƵƐƉĞŶĚ you spend £20,000? £20,000? WEDNESDAY 06 FEBRUARY - THURSDAY 21 FEBRUARY dŚĞƵŝůĚĂĞƩĞƌƌŝƐƚŽůĐĂŵƉĂŝŐŶŝƐŐŝǀŝŶŐƐƚƵĚĞŶƚƐƚŚĞŽƉƉŽƌƚƵŶŝƚLJƚŽĚĞĐŝĚĞŚŽǁƚŽƐƉĞŶĚ άϮϬ͕ϬϬϬŽĨŐĞŶĞƌŽƵƐĂůƵŵŶŝĚŽŶĂƟŽŶƐ͘ ůůƐƚƵĚĞŶƚƐĐĂŶƐƵďŵŝƚĂŶŝĚĞĂƚŚĂƚƚŚĞLJƚŚŝŶŬǁŽƵůĚŵĂŬĞĂŶŝŵƉĂĐƚŽŶƚŚĞhŶŝǀĞƌƐŝƚLJŽĨƌŝƐƚŽůŽƌ ĂŶĂƐƉĞĐƚŽĨhŶŝǀĞƌƐŝƚLJůŝĨĞ͘ /ƚ͛ƐLJŽƵƌĐŚŽŝĐĞ͘/ƚ͛ƐƟŵĞƚŽůĞĂǀĞLJŽƵƌůĞŐĂĐLJ͘ ^ƵďŵŝƐƐŝŽŶĨŽƌŵƐĂŶĚŵŽƌĞŝŶĨŽƌŵĂƟŽŶĂǀĂŝůĂďůĞĂƚƵďƵ͘ŽƌŐ͘ƵŬͬďĞƩĞƌďƌŝƐƚŽů


CULTURE Is David Attenborough showing us the real Africa? Page 31

BBC/David Chancellor

Arts Pick of the Fortnight Ghost Stories The Brewery Theatre 5th - 9th February £8/10 www.tobaccofactorytheatre.com

The Nunkie Theatre Company stage two ghostly stories by master of the English ghost story, Montague Rhode James, on a night of spine chilling intrigue. This one-man show by Robert Lloyd Parry will thrill, amuse and terrify.

Music Pick of the Fortnight Dan Deacon The Fleece Friday 8th February £10 www.thefleece.co.uk On 8th February Baltimore’s Dan Deacon brings his live show to Bristol. Last year’s America was an ambitious, expansive album that mined the fertile ground between electric and acoustic, analogue and digital, so expect a performance of mind-rearranging compositions, backed by two drummers and fronted by Deacon’s talent for forging a communal spirit.

Film Pick of the Fortnight Antiviral Out now Films skewering our cult of celebrity are two-a-penny, but Antiviral promises to take this culture to the extreme, based on a clinic which copies the infections of its famous patients so that fans can experience an even closer connection with their idols. Syd smuggles out the viruses illegally, but it is only a matter of time before things go wrong. Expect large helpings of body horror and dystopian strangeness in the debut for writer/director Brandon (son of David) Cronenberg.


Epigram

04.02.2013

Arts

Editor: Rosemary Wagg

Deputy Editor: Rachel Schraer

arts@epigram.org.uk

deputyarts@epigram.org.uk

@EpigramArts

The stage is the natural habitat for Peacock and Gamble in my opinion, their style of comedy is far more effective live on stage. Having said that Peacock and Gamble’s style is best suited to a live performance, I should probably give an idea as to what kind of comedic style these two actually possess. Imagine the double act image of little and large Laurel and Hardy cross-bred with the outrageously exaggerated stupidity of Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels’ Dumb and Dumber. Furthermore, imagine the pair in a lighthouse, with a ‘Skype link’ link to Miranda. Yes, it is that odd.

Of the two, Peacock, who stands at roughly 5 foot 5, is the most silly, sporting a squeaky, childish voice and a vacant, absentminded stare. It is this childishness that is central to Peacock’s on-stage character. For instance, in the opening section of the show we are introduced to Peacock’s friend ‘Naughty Duck’, who is the scapegoat in a series of escapades involving yoghurt theft and going to the toilet in a sink. All the while Gamble plays the disapproving, ‘grown-up’ role, sarcastically humouring Peacock, whilst he tries to prove Naughty Duck guilty. The interesting thing about

this style of comedy is that it supports the old theory: it’s not the quality of the joke, but how you tell them that counts. In fact, there is even a section where Peacock attempts to tell more conventional jokes but dramatically fails, much to everyone’s amusement. It’s pretty fair to say then, that if it’s a night of conventional stand-up comedy you are looking for, Peacock and Gamble are not the right chaps to go and see. On the whole, was it worth heading out in the cold and making that perilous journey over to Bath? I’d definitely say so. Not only was it an incredibly silly, funny night out, but what is more, it was relatively cheap. Using a student rail card, the trip over to Bath came to a very modest £4.20 and the ticket to the show itself was only £12. Considering you’d have to pay far more to see one of the ‘bigger’, household names, it’s really not bad at all. So, maybe Peacock and Gamble have found their home in the world of comedy. Perhaps they really are not suited to the the big screen. However, what is certain is they are well suited to giving live performances and that paying to see them is certainly not a gamble.

Bristol Cinema Culture If you have abundant bucks, With DVDs you have no truck, Think independence sucks, Go to Cinema De Lux.

The City of Bristol’s finest, Cabot Circus’s highest, Screen 8 is the widest, Sally the Usher is the nicest.

Yet your heart is torn; Five pounds for popcorn, Leaves you quite withdrawn, As you watch Breaking Dawn.

The classic film Red Shoes, Would have been worth the queues, Would banish multiplex blues. And here’s some good news!

Flikr: Marcee Duggar

In spite of the panic-induced paralysis effect that the snowy weather always seems to have upon the British, last Friday a friend and I decided to brave the elements and make the perilous journey over to Bath to see the comedy duo Peacock and Gamble, in their show Don’t Even Want To Be On Telly Anyway. I must confess, before getting the tickets to the show, I hadn’t the foggiest who Peacock and Gamble were, let alone what their style of comedy might be. Therefore, as I’m sure most people of my generation would have done, I popped their name into YouTube to find out what was in store. What I found wasn’t particularly reassuring. I ended up watching a clip of the pair performing on Russell Howard’s Good News; their set seemed to be a bit childish and random for my liking. It was almost awkward to watch. Worrying signs. However, after making the journey to the Ustinov Theatre regardless of the ominous YouTube trailer, the duo ended up massively surpassing my expectations. In the flesh their random silliness was infectiously funny rather than distant and weird, as it had been on my laptop screen. It seems that these boys were quite right in ‘not wanting to be on the telly anyway’, because

Flikr: DDoher

Better than Angry Birds: Toby Dove encounters Peacock and Naughty Duck at the Ustinov

So much nicer instead, Is the Bristol Watershed, On handcut chips to be well fed, Your cinematic shoes can be well red.

Their frequent use of retrospective, Is quite the corrective, For those of us who are protective, Of nose-cut detectives.

The corporate chrome, May be left alone, For those who are at home, Watching Audrey ride round Rome.

Don’t be a sell-out fool, If you really want to be cool, Watch as Peter O’Toole, Rides across sands that make you drool.

Whatever is your movie, Whether liberal or choosey, If it’s for classic films you’re on the hunt, Get thee down to the waterfront.

By Basil Morpeth Flikr:Madison Berndt

Chinatown, The Red Shoes, Lawrence of Arabia, and Roman Holiday are all being shown at Bristol Watershed during February. The screenings at Cinema de Lux Bristol are entirely predictable.


Epigram

Look At me, Look at Me, Look at Me Now! Anna Symington reviews The Dog-Eared Collective’s You’re Amazing, Now Look At Me! evening as much as the audience, never taking themselves too seriously and smoothing over lips with quick wit and a relaxed attitude. At the same time, there were no pretentions about what was being done and the tone constantly teetered on the edge of being metacomedy without ever leaning too far over and diffusing the all important silliness. For a performance like this, audience interaction is essential. The Wardrobe Theatre in Bristol provided an intimate setting and effectively included the audience in the

“A tribute to the power of silliness” production. Effortlessly breaking through the fourth wall, the addresses to the audience avoided being awkward or cringe-worthy. Members of the audience were popping on and off the stage, being dressed up and laughed up; it was a risky

move but it paid off. Drawing on a mixture of wellknown themes, such as regional accents or the mystical power of mediums, and bizarre original ones, such as Glasgow 2022 winter Olympics and the ultimate secretarial team, the subject matter was varied, appealing to the diverse audience that had attended. There was little sense of coherence, and the ending was signalled by returning to the original sketch in an effort to portray temporal progression. However coherence wasn’t the aim. Random and absurd from beginning to end, the performance stuck to its guns, refusing to enter into the serious or profound as comedy so often feels the need to. A rapid pace was set, moving from sketch to sketch with a speed that even the performers sometimes failed at some points to keep up with. We were a sympathetic audience that thoroughly enjoyed the whole performance. Its genius lay in its ability to make one feel like a child again, able to laugh out loud at the simply wacky with an innocent and harmless enjoyment which i feel is lacking from much comedy today.

Dog-Eared Collective

Better than English: 10 Words to Know

English may be the language of Shakespeare and Eliot, but what’s missing from the Queen’s vocabulary and expressed better elsewhere? Aayah Nouno selects a few... 1. Koi No Yokan (Japanese) The sense when you first meet someone that you will both fall in love with each other.

2. Seigneur-terraces (French) Coffee shop dwellers who sit at tables a long time but spend little money.

3.

Greng-jai (Thai)

5.

That feeling you get when you don’t want someone to do something for you because it would be a pain for them.

4.

Oa’balik (Arabic)

This word is said to young men or women when a positive event has taken place (e.g. marriage); it’s a way of saying ‘It’s your turn next’ or ‘I hope the same happens to you’.

Lampadato (Italian)

23

Anastasia Reynolds

As far away as possible from the mainstream observational comedy of the likes of Macintyre and Whitehall, this performance is a tribute to the power of silliness. Announcing themselves as ‘totally un-internationally recognised’ there is absolutely nothing glamorous about these four unremarkable looking individuals. Despite, or rather because of, this, the Dog-Eared Collective are able to present an entertaining and engaging show that is happily un-thought provoking. The evening comprised a series of parodies, send-ups and well enacted dictionary misdefinitions that were tied together with snatches of catchy pop music. The fantastic array of primary school-worthy props with homemade touches gave the production a personal feel. This contributed to the prevailing sense that one is attending a school production, compounded by a sketch that centred on a year nine rap about Paddington Bear as a tribute to the slow readers group: ‘words’. The style of the comedy was simultaneously unselfconscious and self-aware. Refreshingly, The Dog-Eared Collective seemed to enjoy the

04.02.2013

Sleepy Hollow in Seoul

Anastasia Reynolds braves the wrath of Korean curators and tiptoes into Tim Burton I turned a corner and BAM! There I was, face to face with a terrifying creature, all eyes and stitches looming over me. I looked left: disembowelled, stunted figures, chimaeras of metal and flesh. To my right, a terrifying vision of melted faces, oncegaudy plastic dresses, rolling eyeballs. I was lost. How had I got here? How could I get out? What if they caught me? The sound of a razor being stropped made me jump. I could hear whispering, manic laughter, and…Oompa-Loompas. This was me, gatecrashing a Tim Burton exhibition at the Seoul Museum of Art. It was a ticketed event (hence the gatecrashing): I’d decided not to spend 3000 Won (less than £2) on a ticket, figuring I could go home and watch Corpse Bride, and so had carefully skirted the exhibition entrance and gone up some stairs at the other end of the building. The stairs turfed me out on to the third floor; I tiptoed through a reading room, skittered through another poncy café, and then turned down an interestinglooking corridor in hope of finding some Art to edify myself with. Instead, somehow, I ended up in the Tim Burton exhibition. I shrugged and went to look round. It was a good exhibition. I liked it. There was a

“I could hear whispering, manic laughter, and…Oompa-Loompas”

This word describes people addicted to the UV glow of tanning salons

6. Assatte (Japanese) and Zeg (Georgian) The day after tomorrow

7.

Tota (Finnish)

An actual word for the sound ‘umm’

8. Saudade (Brazilian Portuguese) A deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves.

9.

Kaelling (Danish)

A woman who stands at her door or in any public place cursing her kids.

10.

Jayus (Indonesian)

Flikr: Muffet

A joke so badly told and unfunny that you can’t help but laugh.

room of film posters and then a series of miniexhibitions about all his films, full of interesting bits and bobs. There were animatronic puppets, whole and opened up to show the workings. There were concept sketches and comparative size charts for characters. There were colour schemes. There were props: the box of razors from Sweeney Todd was perhaps the most interesting. The walls were decorated with quotes by and about Burton, Helena Bonham Carter, and Johnny Depp. Small TV screens played clips of the relevant films. The most interesting things, however, were the objects showing Burton the creator: the letters, notes to Depp and Bonham Carter and his model-makers, his own sketches of characters and scraps of dialogue. There was one excellent long picture frame containing 90 napkins from various restaurants and cafes, on which Burton had scrawled notes, thoughts, doodles, plans: an intriguing snapshot of his life and work, going back years – some of those napkins were older than I am. I left the orthodox way, down the stairs, past a large blue balloon-shaped thingy, all the while glancing round in a paranoid fashion, fearing at every step the heavy hand of a gallery attendant on my shoulder, demanding payment. Rather undramatically, though, nobody even gave me a


Epigram

04.02.2013

24

Blandings is no traitor to P. G. Wodehouse

It may be Slapstick, but displaying the essence of Wodehouse is the real majesty of Blandings, says Rosemary Wagg The Clive Exton version of Jeeves and Wooster, originally aired between 1990 and 1993 on ITV, has entered into adaptation heaven. Starring the unmatchable combination of Stephen Fry as Jeeves and Hugh Laurie as Wooster, the show remains a staple for the type of people who claim to ‘not really watch TV, actually’, and to prefer literature (preferably pre-1950) instead. Both the possessor of an iconic introduction piece of music and the ideal accompaniment to gin, Jeeves and Wooster is in many ways simply old school humour – farcical escapes from marrying beefy girls and mix-ups involving dogs – yet, maybe because of its dated feel, it tricks the viewer into thinking it is slapstick for the educated; comedy for the initiated. Blandings, the current BBC adaptation of P.G. Wodehouse’s other great series of comic

adventures, Life at Blandings, makes none of these concessions to elevated elegance. For devotees of Jeeves and Wooster it may not seem a match on either that adaptation or Wodehouse’s original. Pigs and a Pink Pussy punctuate the proceedings; costumes are often historically inaccurate and falling over furniture or into piles of horse poo count as top jokes. However, in many ways Blandings actually makes a very good shot at representing some of the most peculiar qualities of Wodehouse’s writing style and attitudes. In 1945, George Orwell wrote an article ‘In Defense of P. G. Wodehouse’, defending the writer against charges of traitorous behavior and Fascism bought about by Wodehouse recording a selection of wartime broadcasts for the Germans, whilst under internment. Whilst this behavior

was not entirely desirable or particularly well thought-out, Orwell decreed that Wodehouse was guilty of nothing more serious than ‘stupidity’ and certainly not ideological sympathies with Fascism. This type of a-political and lighthearted stupidity, Orwell claimed, was quite in line with much of Wodehouse’s writing and his overall attitude towards Britain. It is these same qualities

“Pigs and a Pink Pussy punctuate the proceedings”

Flikr: Peter Pearson

that can be easily identified in the current Blandings episodes. Although associated with the roaring 20s, Wodehouse wrote much of his fiction before 1918. Wodehouse’s ‘out-of-dateness’ is, according to Orwell, an important point as it explains both why Fascist sympathies cannot be detected in his books - his politics, or lack of, were conceived far before Fascism really existed in Europe - and also why his texts contain embarrassing anachronisms, such as young men wearing spats a good decade after men, well, stopped sporting spats. Take a good look at Blandings and it, as with Jeeves and Wooster, is actually harder to date than you would expect. The dropped hemlines and pre-dinner decanters of sherry immediately shout Twenties. Yet, the recent costume of Pandora looked – albeit pretty – like an Oasis version of Twenties attire, not the carefully sourced vintage of the Downton cast. The blatant CGI effects when Freddie crashes his car in each episode and the inclusion of actors well known for being famous within the last few decades, such as Jennifer Saunders and David Walliams, in roles that do not

attempt to disguise them, muddles that historic setting further. This shows that historical accuracy and, therefore, comment on any political situation is immaterial to the general humour and narrative. The show is governed by Wodehouse’s ‘ruling passion’, which is ‘to get a laugh’ as Orwell stated. It does not make critical comment on gender relations or sexual behavior: ‘nowhere in any of his books is there anything in the nature of a sex joke.’ Above all, Blandings repeatedly commits Wodehouse’s ‘real sin’ and that is ‘to present the English upper classes as much nicer people than they are’. Lord Emsworth himself, played by Timothy Spall, is by far the best example of this. An endearing pig-obsessive who prefers the company of a sow to Society, he repeatedly gets away with what would otherwise be considered pretty gross behavior. He loudly insults people also present at the dinner table, lumps together most females in to the categories of either carping sister or eligible niece, points out guests’ indigestion noises and talks a lot about manure. All of which is done with such charming, bumbling, lovable hilarity, he becomes like all the other beautifully desirable posh twits, such as Rupert Everett’s Algernon in The Importance of Being Ernest. Blandings is unlikely to enter into Classic TV recommendations lists in the same way that Wodehouse’s wartime broadcasts never made it into the history books alongside those of John Avery and Lord Haw-Haw. In many ways, though, it encapsulates the very spirit of Wodehouse in one short airing of stupidity.

Blandings BBC 1 on Sundays and Mondays until 18th February

Afterword: Reviewing the Reviewers

5-Star reviews may seem like a good idea at the time, but are you really doing your friends a favour? Asks Lucian Waugh How was it for you?’: a question of decidedly dubious worth. Does it belie sensitivity to the pleasure of others and a willingness to improve; or insecurity coupled to narcissistic self-regard? Besides which, the answer really ought to be obvious. Anything short of a loud and immediate ‘yes’, is likely to be a silent and pained ‘no’. Such is the lot of the actor, the writer, the musician, the stage poet. We want to be told we are the best ever, we do not want to have to tease that information

“Is it really a kindness to soft pedal?

undertaken with a maturer outlook from both sides of the page, what is lost in chumminess would undoubtedly be gained in credibility. One function of a University is preparation for the wider world. Even by age 20, creative types are already appearing a bit long in the tooth compared to the depressingly large amassed ranks of wunderkinds. And whilst savaging a ten year old moppet’s toothy rendition of Jerusalem is hardly the way to nurture talent, by the time one is old enough to buy the interval drinks, it might be time to non-gratuitously take the gloves off. Because criticism is close at hand. Apparently even sitting in the ASS library can now win you

a glowing notice on Facebook. Instant Twitter reaction is in. Balanced reflection is, if not quite out, certainly a bit old hat. In this world, we had better develop a thick skin. If only in the name of self-preservation. But grim stoicism in the face of the inevitable is the wrong attitude. At its best, criticism preserves a fleeting moment for the historical record and mediates the artistic conversation between creators and audiences. For all the pain it may sometimes cause, it is better that it is done. It is also better that it is done well. Criticism, especially from students, must be, above all else self-critical if it is to have genuine value and justification.

Flikr: F10n4

out, and above all, we want the resultant praise to actually be true. For the reviewer, matters are no less muddied. Criticism may expose the foibles of the critic with far greater acuity than does her review of the performance. Some self-dug elephant traps are easier to traverse then others. For instance, one never wishes to gush. Declaring a particular production the triumph of the century rather puts one’s neck on the block. Little deflates more than learning that the object of our heartfelt adoration has already been declared hopeless kitsch by the seemingly better read and culturally confident. Besides which, a reviewer really has had to get around a bit before confidently declaring a performance to be without modern parallel. There is not quite the same attendant risk on

taking a verbal sledgehammer to something. Extremes of negative superlative bedevil amateur criticism, especially when the amateur critic wishes to project a jaded seen-it-all-before urbanity. Perhaps our panning reveals we simply missed the subtle allusions to the Aeneid. But trashing the lighting or the bassist’s technique is normally fairly safe. Such issues are especially to the fore with student criticism of student productions. Few feel any obligation to declare an interest, even if the love of one’s life is the pianist. And proams can be subtle revengers; the insolent little prick who two years ago sneered at our recondite reference to Kant’s second critique during a seminar discussion on Hamlet is today reduced to invisibility by not even meriting a mention in our review. Even though he’s playing Uncle Vanya. Student readers, I suggest, expect a certain vapidity. The culture of Universities is steeped in favours. Even peer-reviewed journal articles do not entirely escape the suspicion that a good word in print for a colleague would never hurt. Besides, it seems an ungrateful return to someone who once stood us a drink at an otherwise dull conference. Expectations are adjusted accordingly. Declaring the Freshers’ open-mic night a musical sensation is taken with a healthy pinch of salt. Nor should we wish for cruelty. Nobody would begrudge a charitable omission of Harriet’s ungainly grande battement that sent a music stand hurtling into the orchestra pit. And yet. Is it really a kindness to soft pedal? Praise counts for nothing if we know it’s our due just for having gamely turned up. If reviewing was


Music

Epigram

Editor: Eliot Brammer

Deputy Editor: Phil Gwyn

music@epigram.org.uk

deputymusic@epigram.org.uk

04.02.2013

@epigrammusic

A long walk into the headlights

Ahead of the release of their fourth album, Gareth Davies spoke to Scott Hutchinson, frontman of the late-blooming Scottish band Frightened Rabbit. After four studio albums and seven years as a band, it must have been a surreal experience for Scottish fivepiece Frightened Rabbit to be paraded on Radio 1 as some sort of breakthrough act. Frontman Scott Hutchinson is affable and modest, insisting that they’re just happy to be in this situation. They have enjoyed considerable media attention in the lead-up to the release of their latest studio album Pedestrian Verse, with lead single ‘The Woodpile’ in particular receiving attention on numerous radio stations, including making it on to Radio 1’s ‘B Playlist’ in recent months. Their media push has included a performance on BBC Scotland as part of their Hogmanay coverage. As Hutchinson reflects on what was clearly a nervous and exciting experience, ‘at times we just wanted to get to the end without fucking it up entirely, and it was weird with not drinking until 1.30am on New Year’s Eve. At least our parents had a great time!’ Inspiration for the band’s second album, 2008’s Midnight Organ Fight, was found in the form of a difficult breakup for Hutchinson. The album was an angry, passionate and often devastating look at love and loss, and received widespread critical acclaim in return. Its release brought in an array of new fans who connected with the content and the powerful and intense delivery, with many tracks perfectly suited to energetic live performances. The Winter Of Mixed Drinks followed in 2010, and the detailed production and vast arrangements contrasted with previous output. Critics praised their ability to develop their studio sound while still maintaining the passionate choruses and gripping storytelling of their previous work. Like many lead singers, Hutchinson relies on his phone’s voice recorder to capture the snippets that shape the studio recordings: ‘we’d be mucking about soundchecking and I’ll think “oh I’ve got to get that down,” and by the time we got into the studio I had about 100 of these snippets.’ When the band did get into the studio with producer Leo Abrahams (Brian Eno, Imogen Heap, Paul Simon) the songwriting duties were shared by the whole band, something that was rare on the previous records. Hutchinson describes these changes, ‘we did set ourselves sort of rules, we felt like the last album was over the top in its layering,

The bookmakers’ favourite: Frightened Rabbit (l-r) are: Gordon Skene, Grant Hutchinson, Scott Hutchinson, Billy Kennedy and Andy Monaghan.

with luscious arrangements and things and we wanted to peel that back a bit, and we showed a lot of restraint on these songs. They still sound big - don’t get me wrong - but it is far less saturated than the last one so that the details can sing out and have their place.’ The album certainly retains the lyrical intensity of the band’s previous work, something that clearly pleases Hutchinson. Songs such as ‘Nitrous Gas’ and ‘Holy’ not only showcase his ability as a songwriter, but the development that has taken place in the past couple of years for both Hutchinson and the band as a whole. The band has achieved considerable commercial success in the USA, something that Hutchinson partly attributes to positive reviews for their 2006 debut full length Sing The Greys from influential sources, including Pitchfork. He also notes that the North American public have a great

affinity for Scottish music in general, and that they have followed in the footsteps of bands such as Teenage Fanclub, Belle & Sebastian and Mogwai in gaining attention a few thousand miles west of Scotland.

“The future might be bleak for record sales, but it’s not a bleak future for bands” The thrill of playing live is clearly something very important to the whole band, and throughout February they travel to many small UK venues that they have probably already outgrown. Following these dates they head to the USA for six weeks of long bus journeys and according to Hutchinson a varied shared playlist: ‘it’s important to have an eclectic selection on the

bus as we draw inspiration from all sorts. After a few beers we’ll always gravitate towards Scottish bands like King Creosote, Phantom Band, and Idlewild if we are particularly homesick!’ With a number of festival dates to follow their considerable tour, it must be difficult to eye it all up at once for the band. ‘I try not to look at the list of dates, it’s an incredibly daunting tour! The whole prospect of touring the new album is really exciting though.’ Hutchinson points to one of the thrills of leaving the studio, namely the prospect of turning the album tracks into integral parts of the live shows. ‘All of these new songs are still a bit raw and edgy, and not well worn in.’ The demise of HMV has caused quite a stir across the music industry, and while everyone involved scrambles to assess the impact there is plenty of nostalgia: ‘when I moved to college, I was quite a

regular, the internet existed but it wasn’t what it is now – I sound like a fucking old man saying that – so we went around the listening posts, and sometimes I would just listen to an entire album in there and then buy it if I loved it. Looking back it is kind of an early version of Soundcloud or Bandcamp, all about discovering new music. I haven’t been in one for ages in fact, but it’s always sad when something like that does disappear.’ There is certainly cause for optimism, however. ‘The future might be bleak for record sales, but it’s not a bleak future for bands. Essentially, in the past record sales haven’t made any discernible difference to our income, so sales are of borderline irrelevance to us in terms of keeping us going. With the internet making our music widely available and often free, which I don’t really care about because if someone wants to get our stuff for free and then fall in love with it, they

are far more likely to come to our show or buy a t-shirt. Not to be too cold about it, but it is a business, and to do what we do I don’t mourn the fact that most music is available for free now because that is the way it is, I don’t think there is anything we can or should do about it.’ Pragmatic and down to earth, this might just prove to be Frightened Rabbit’s time to step into the headlights.

Pedestrian Verse is out on 4th February. Frightened Rabbit play The Fleece on 16th February.


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Every year there’s a scramble of writers insisting on the music that will soundtrack your life over the next twelve months, or reinvent the way you think about music, and other assorted hyperbole. More often than not they’re wrong anyway, and something you’d never heard of sneaks in to become the word on every music lover’s lips. So with that in mind here’s just a snapshot of music our writers have been listening to, the newest of the new, straight from the cutting edge. Enjoy.

Le1f

By Rishi Modha

If you’ve been left feeling empty inside following Das Racist’s breakup, don’t despair. Greedhead have produced yet another hyper-literate Wesleyan grad bent on subverting hip-hop culture through provocative yet entertaining rap. Le1f is a gay rapper. Call him progressive, socially conscious, whatever – that’s not why he’s interesting. What’s interesting is that Le1f is creating sumptuous rap dripping with style; provocative rhymes demand the attention delivered with absorbing swagger over gorgeous futuristic production. The guy has undeniable charisma. He’s got pedigree in production too, credited with creating the beat for Das Racist’s party smash joke-rap anthem ‘Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell’. Lurking beneath the playful track lays a vogue beat, like Das Racist themselves; Le1f enjoys s l y l y poking fun at those who fail to get the reference. It’s testament to how many layers there are to his work that 2012 mixtape Dark York doesn’t fail to reward repeated listens with multiple dimensions of meaning. ‘Wut’ stands as his calling card; it challenges homophobic bigots with cleverly crafted wordplay which assumes an aura of confrontation due to its brash self-confident delivery just as much as it does due to its content. Serious stuff presented in a nonserious fashion that entertains even more than it questions, if that doesn’t sound like the future of rap music to you, you can go suck a dick.

In mathematics, a Moiré effect is achieved by superimposing visual patterns or grids on top of one another at different angles, thus creating a whole new pattern in turn (thanks Wiki; see EP cover). This isn’t a bad place to start from when thinking about the layered and abrasive productions from the Londoner with whom the effect shares a name, a shadowy presence who recently became the latest addition to the Werkdiscs roster. On the track ‘Drugs’, a synth line is summoned just before the halfway mark and sustained throughout the rest of the song, transforming the uncompromising tech-prang that precedes it into something close to euphoric. ‘Into’, a free download at Werkdiscs’ website, opens with splintered beats and ethereal vocal samples that morph into an ultra-dark, bouncing house track. The outpourings of an insomniac mind, Never Sleep is concerned with peeling back the layers of the after-hours and seeing beyond what appears on the surface. The EP is backed up by a remix of lead track ‘Lose It’ by label boss Actress, made apparently after just one listen to the original, stretching its 5 minutes of fragmented vocals into a nearnine minute rolling techno workout. A bold, tight debut, with creative energy pulling in many different directions, there’s hopefully much more to come from this murky new talent.

Alek Fin

By Phil Gwyn

Moiré

After strong releases on BRSTL, Well Rounded and Idle Hands, including last month’s album preview ‘Jaded / Sunshine Mills’, Bristol dance duo Outboxx consisting of Jacob Martin and Matthew Lambert - release their debut LP this March. Aidan Kelly caught up with them to talk all things house in Bristol. Hi guys, could you quickly introduce yourselves and the music you make? J: We’re both big fans of house music, we got together and started making music a few years ago. M: Mostly 4/4 house-orientated stuff, with a little bit of hip hop as well, but just kinda concentrating on the deeper, dancefloor stuff, music for people to have fun to really. What track do you reach for when you really want to win over a crowd? J: Moloko’s ‘Sing It Back’ remixed by Herbert – he’s an amazing producer and every single time you want to get a crowd moving you just play that – a lot of the time in a room it’s probably only about 20% heads, the rest of the people are out to just have fun, so you have to cater to them as well without playing songs you don’t like – that Solange tune as well [‘Losing You’], we open with that sometimes because you wouldn’t believe the bass on it. We played it in Exeter and the whole room started shaking, and we were like ‘hey, this is a pop song!’ You’re obviously very involved in the Bristol scene, Jake’s even wearing an Idle Hands t-shirt and the album’s coming out on the label, what do you think of it all? J: I don’t think we could be sitting here doing the music thing if it wasn’t for Bristol being so welcoming. The scene’s changed in that it’s not very genre specific, everyone’s doing their own thing and it all works together, whereas before there was a stricter vibe of dubstep nights and d’n’b nights. M: I think it’s probably more supportive than somewhere like London, where people are kinda doing it for themselves. J: Everyone here goes to the same nights, especially in the house scene, and it just becomes one big group of friends really – I need to be around exciting people to vibe off it, and it’s a good time for that.

By Eliot Brammer

The last place that you might expect to find a plaudit for Alek Fin’s sparse, experimental soundscapes would be in the form of Jay-Z, but he proved himself to have great choice in music as well as women by premiering Alek Fin’s single on his Life+Times blog. The California-based solo artist is responsible for the Mull EP, a stunning collection of electronica on the edge of the left-field, studded with the subtlest of hooks and melodies. Each track takes the form of a flowing atmosphere rather than a traditional structure; on ‘Waiting Like A Wolf’ rich swathes of synth give way to desperate, howled vocals and gasps of amputated hi-hat, with the whole sequence somehow tied together by its brooding atmosphere. Ironically, such inventive music seems to invite comparison more than most, and Alek Fin has been relentlessly compared to the paranoid musings of Thom Yorke and the stuttering rhythm of his Radiohead day job. This is never more apparent than on the introverted ‘Rocks In Paper’ which sounds pleasingly like a lost King-Of-Limbs-era tape with its jazzy bass and spluttering percussion. With such an eccentric approach to songwriting, you can expect Alek Fin’s name to steer clear of ‘Big in 2013’ lists, but if you’re searching for something affecting rather than the latest BBC-endorsed indie group, then Alek Fin might prove to be worth keeping Thom Yorke’s (lazy) eye on.

We can expect big things from the understated Kodaline, who describe themselves as just ‘four lads in a band.’ The old school friends turned band members hail from Dublin and have been playing music separately for much of their young lives, being runners up on Irish talent show You’re A Star six years ago standing as an early sign of crossover appeal. The twenty-somethings eventually formed Kodaline and released an EP last year recorded by Steve Harris, producer of Dave Matthews Band and mixer for U2. The sense of buzz around the band has since grown and they made it onto the longlist of BBC’s Sound of 2013 at the end of last year. Front-man and band-leader Steve Garrigan claims that Kodaline produce music ‘to serve a purpose’, to tell a story and the effect is a refreshingly honest self-prescribed almost self-indulgent therapy for the band and listener alike. Debut single ‘All I Want’ is especially haunting, evoking the lingering sense of melancholy which features all too poignantly in the post break up lull, while ‘The Answer’ and ‘Pray’ are melodic and dreamy without being inaccessible. Perhaps it is the fine balance between heart-wrenching lyricism and a stark sense of realism which makes Kodaline so striking and set for 2013.

Outboxx

Liz Eve

Breaking the silence

Kodaline

By Rachel Bamberg

Who should we look out for locally? J: Seeing some of the new stuff that Peverelist is working on, he’s one of the old guys and he’s still just doing it properly. Upcoming I’d say Jay L and all the Falling Up guys, like Andy Mac and Typesun, whose album is one to really watch out for. What made you decide to go all the way and make an album? M: Chris Farrell wasn’t it haha. J: We sent Chris [Idle Hands owner] six tracks, and he said ‘I want ‘em all – we’ll do an album’ and we were a bit taken aback, saying it’s not an album it’s just a collection of tracks. Eventually we got together and listened to them all and said ‘you know what, there’s an album there, it actually makes a lot of sense’, so we stripped it back from 16 to nine, which was quite brutal at times. M: When we were mastering it, the engineer said it sounds like nine different artists, which we like, an album should be somewhere to experiment and show what we can do. I’ve got to ask about the standout track, ‘Sunshine Mills’ – how did that come about? Did you want it to become an anthem? J: I think we were drinking haha. M: It was done in one session,Jake constructed a beat and I played keys over it. J: Yeah and as soon as Matt started playing that riff I was like ‘THAT THAT THAT’, keep going, hitting record and running round the room – I can’t sit still when we’re making good tunes, I’ve just got so much energy. I normally have to restrict him too, because he’ll start with a riff then go off on some jazzy progression, and I’m saying ‘no, just the loop!’ M: We’re really happy with people enjoying it, it’s one of those that just keeps getting played, especially by the Idle Hands guys. At first that’s awkward because you’re like, ‘that’s mine’ – at the Idle Hands Christmas party, when someone brought it in everyone went mad, and it just made me want to write more tracks like that, more party tunes, more music for people to dance to. As well as the album, what else can we expect from you guys this year? J: We’ve got some tracks and remixes in the pipeline, with one planned on Futureboogie, we’ve also got a Resident Advisor podcast coming up which should be pretty cool, and then we’ll be playing Love Saves The Day and a launch party for Echo festival, so you can catch us then. The 12” ‘Jaded / Sunshine Mills’ is out now on Idle Hands.


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Reviews THE FLOWER LANE Ducktails Domino 28th January

PUSH THE SKY AWAY Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Bad Seed Ltd. 18th February 2013 Push the Sky Away is the 15th album from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Recorded in Saint-Remy de Provence, in a 19th century mansion and produced by Nick Launay (producer of Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! and both Grinderman albums), this brings us the first Bad Seed’s album since 2008, and the first without founding-member Mick Harvey. The album’s songs took form in just under a year; each song striving to convey how significant events, momentary fads and mystical absurdities sit side-by-side, and ultimately coming to question how you may recognise what is important in life. Upon the announcement of their 15th album, Cave wrote ‘If I were to use that threadbare metaphor of albums being like children, then Push the Sky Away is the ghost-baby in the incubator and Warren [Ellis]’s loops are its tiny, trembling heart-beat.’ One could not ask for a more perfect description; lyrically the album is beautiful, intense and moving, but it’s Ellis’ production that holds the nine songs together, drawing out that

familiar Bad Seeds atmosphere and wrapping the words in illustrious intent. ‘We No Who U R’, the first single, sets the scene for the album; as a society, we’re living with the consequences of actions and Cave’s initial hesitancy steadily develops into a definitive threat: ‘We know where you live/and we know there’s no need to forgive’. While Cave’s lyrics remain potent and enriching throughout, the entire album adheres to a sense of powerful restraint. Even the album’s most predominate change of pace in ‘Water’s Edge’ remains true, immersed deep into the depths of Warren Ellis’ ardent strings. If you’re lusting after Nick’s all-too-familiar passion-propelled howls, in the most part, you’re not going to get it with this album. However, what Push the Sky Away does offer, is a beautifully complex and harrowing collection of menacing lullabies, rich in depth and bitterness and carrying an indistinguishable sadness. It may not be what you thought you wanted to hear, but it’s definitely what you needed. Livi Howe

13.0.0.0.0 TTNG Sargent House 21st January Change can be the most inf luential factor in a band’s career and when a lead vocalist leaves it can often spell the end. Occasionally, however, a new vocalist can breathe new life into a band gasping for air (ask any AC/DC fan). Filling the shoes of fan favourite Stuart Smith, Henry Tremain does just that, injecting newfound energy and emotion. Tremain’s soaring vocals are prominent from the start; opener ‘Cat Fantastic’ assumes a twee indie pop sound that is undeniably catchy but cloaks political lyrics such as: ‘Hide behind the breadline/Economic divide this doesn’t suit me fine’. The musicianship on 13.0.0.0.0 is of a very high quality, most notably on the six minute long ‘I’ll Take The Minute Snake’ in which the drums are especially impressive. The guitar melodies are captivating too, ranging from simpler riffs on the aforementioned ‘..Snake’ to dynamic sounds like those seen on ‘Havoc In The Forum’. The instrumental tracks experiment with glitchy synths and (on ‘Pygmy Polygamy’) a harpsichord. A last minute band name change epitomises what TTNG were shooting for on this album, a new sound and one which shows much promise for the future. Joshua Clark

NEWS FROM NOWHERE Darkstar Warp 4th February Electronic trio Darkstar released their debut album North in 2010 which showcased some original 2-step rhythms in conjunction with gritty synth melodies. Having moved to Warp Records, the trio travelled to an isolated house in the West Yorkshire countryside and created News From Nowhere, a record which bears almost no resemblance to earlier releases. The uplifting and dreamy feel of this album seems completely juxtaposed to the hard-nosed realism of North. This new atmosphere is immediately noticeable on the gentle introductory track ‘Light Body Clock Starter’ which segues beautifully into the clockwork melody of ‘Timeaway’. The characteristic digitized vocals of North are nowhere to be seen either, instead being replaced by a plethora of euphoric vocal manipulations and sing-along hooks such as on ‘Amplified Ease’. The daring experimentation of the group results in an album which is easily listened to in one sitting. This isn’t necessarily because the songs all flow amazingly well, but because it’s incredibly difficult to become bored with the dramatically new sounds on display. News From Nowhere is clearly an indicator that Darkstar are a band that thrive off stylistic change and will hopefully continue to follow this direction in later releases. James Lindsay

Atop the transatlantic crest of a nostalgia-tinged dreamy guitar wave comes The Flower Lane - the fourth LP from Ducktails, the project of Real Estate guitarist Matt Mondanile. Amid a mix of covers and original tracks, the album marks a departure from the bedroom stylings of previous efforts. Joined by a full band, the sound is more fleshed out and, on the evidence of opening track ‘Ivy Covered House’, not a world away from Real Estate’s trademark sound. That initial familiarity is cast aside when deeper delving brings stranger sounds: synths descend and the bass twists into something suspiciously like funk. If it seems slightly off kilter at first, a few listens show that this is where the heart of the record is. The variety of styles on show might cost the record some cohesion and may not be to everyone’s taste, but at the same time the more adventurous tracks convey plenty of personality and in many cases an enveloping intimacy. When Mondanile asks ‘Do you want to go under the covers?’, it feels like a personal invitation to enter the deeply romantic and rose-tinted world so many of today’s bands seem to inhabit. James Clark

NO THRILLS Amateur Best Double Denim 4th February No Thrills straddles the difficult middle ground that eludes many electronically-minded pop acts, striking a careful balance between emotional depth, progressive ornamentation and compelling songwriting. Joe Flory, formerly of synth-pop outfit Primary 1, tells the melancholy story of alter-ego James Best, a ‘sometime London DJ, latent alcoholic and lifelong amateur’. Highlights in this include the shimmering G-funk of ‘Pleased’, the sombre ‘Walk In Three’ and album centrepiece ‘Be Happy’. Over woozy keys and synths, the Flory/ Best character reaches his most introspective: ‘If it’s already happened, then why should I care? .. If I’m fucked up, then how should I know?’ This could quite easily slide into self-pitying mulch, but the brightness of the production provides an effective, head-bobbing counterbalance to the mopier thematic elements present. Flory’s voice, part dazzling soul singer and part untrained indie bedroom producer, is deployed to its fullest extent – he really lets it stand on its own, resulting in a quite affecting directness, coupled with a lyrical skill for turns of phrases that stick. But it is his production that really steals the show: lush, busy and upbeat, with otherworldly textures that hold the listener’s attention and ensures repeated, repeated listens. Mike Hegarty

TRUST EP Gold Panda Wichita 22nd January Gold Panda’s first release since the well-received 2012 LP Lucky Shiner sees the Berlin based producer from London hint at what lies in store for 2013: a progression towards a darker sound. However the trademark traits are still there, as his uniquely minimalist quirky electronic sound is created by the oriental sounding pitched percussion melodies, the crackling samples, and persistent hi-hat rhythms. The EP’s opener ‘Trust Intro’ is made up of spoken samples over the top of noise, but it glides effortlessly into the following track ‘Trust’, which is understated and mellow, with dark horns creating a rather eerie atmosphere. The downbeat final track ‘Casyam_59#02’ is Gold Panda at his most melodic and ambient, with the sweet sounding synths combining with the shuffle-like rhythm to great effect, in what is by far the strongest song on the EP. This trademark sound may sound like the music is constantly glitching, but this is the real charm of it, as it shapes an interestingly mellow flow. Due to his clearly apparent creativity and innovation, along with his rapidly growing reputation as a live act, expect big things from Gold Panda this year. Matty Edwards

OPPOSITES Biffy Clyro 14th Floor 28th January Biffy Clyro’s sound has developed over the course of a 15 year career from challenging posthardcore, characterised by twisting guitar lines and barked vocals, to soaring anthemic rock that has won them legions of new fans across the world. Their sixth album, Opposites, is the next step in their march towards stadium rock stardom. Certainly more compelling than the average Snow Patrol release, Opposites is still a disappointingly flat affair. When they combine the complexity of their earlier albums with the knack for a catchy hook that has propelled them to recent chart success the results are occasionally exhilarating. ‘Sounds like Balloons’, for example, is a belter; wriggling guitars and syncopated drums give way to a chorus of epic proportions, Simon Neil’s vocals sounding abrasive and beautiful in equal measure. But it is the more down-tempo songs that take centre stage and, coupled with the mammoth 20 song length, cause Opposites to feel tiresomely long. ‘Opposite’ is a woefully predictable ballad while the less said about the choir that concludes ‘Biblical’ the better. One is left with the feeling that Biffy Clyro could have easily halved the length of Opposites and better displayed their clearly impressive song-writing chops in the process. Ant Adeane


This February, the LGBT+ Society is collaborating with Amnesty International Society, Feminist Society and the Students’ Union to raise student awareness of LGBT+ issues. Events include a screening of (A)sexual, discussion groups, a Kiss-In and more.

lgbtplusbristol.org.uk/historymonth

Email ubu-lgbtplus@bristol.ac.uk with any questions.

11 - 17 February 2013

UBU Volunteering and Bristol Hub are celebrating Student Volunteering Week (SVW) with a jam packed schedule of events. We will be showcasing the positive differences that students have and continue to make on campus and in the community. There will be opportunities to volunteer throughout the week for various causes. For more information and a full schedule of events visit ubu.org.uk/volunteering Monday UBU Volunteer Induction 4pm – 5:30pm MR6, UBU

Wednesday Friday Hubbub Radio Show on BurstFM IntoUniversity Intro Session 6pm 1pm – 2pm, Brunel Suite

Tuesday Pancakes for Pledges 11am – 2pm, Info Point

Wednesday Ethical Careers Fair, 5:30pm – 8pm ,Social Sciences Complex

Tuesday Fundraising training by Bristol Hub 6pm – 8pm, TBC

Wednesday Speed Dating 7:30 – 10pm, Brunel Suite

Thursday Tuesday Voluntines Fair Volunteering and RAG Pub Quiz 11am – 2pm, Tyndall Avenue 8pm Bar, 100

Friday Volunteer: FEED Bristol – 10am-3pm @ Meet at UBU


Film & TV

Epigram

Editor: Jasper Jolly

Deputy Editor: Kate Samuelson

filmandtv@epigram.org.uk

deputyfilmandtv@epigram.org.uk

04.02.2013

@epigramfilm

Presidential Lincoln Hugo Mathers

The ceremony is held every year at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, but behind the glamour are the smears. Photo: Flickr/prayitno

Oscars: the brutal reality Gareth Downs reveals nominees have to survive vicious attacks and rumours Hollywood’s whispering smear campaign is back with a vengeance this awards season and all Christmas cheer has been long forgotten as filmmakers and actors alike mutter and murmur in an attempt to surround a film with controversy and negativity endeavouring to influence the Oscar Committee’s nominations. Kathryn Bigelow (director) and Mark Boal’s (writer) latest offering as a duo is Zero Dark Thirty, which charts the 10-year search for Osama Bin Laden, has come under heavy fire from the US Senate and the CIA, as well as filmmakers, for ‘glorifying torture’. The visceral torture scenes in the movie have stirred an angry response, which even includes a Government investigation into the information that had been supplied to Bigelow and Boal

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Every critic and their mother have been whining about Argo and Lincoln for their supposed lack of accuracy.

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by the CIA. Bigelow has fiercely defended her movie, claiming that torture is most definitely reprehensible but that it was a technique used in the campaign to capture Bin Laden, and she and Boal wished to tell a story as factually accurate as possible. The film industry took note: Bigelow missed out on a Best Director nomination at this Oscars, and the cynics will believe that it is because of the public pillorying that Zero Dark Thirty has faced from the US Intelligence Senate. Quentin Tarantino’s western revenge flick, Django Unchained, is being lauded as one of his best works and one of the front-runners for picking up the statue for Best Picture. However, it too has faced a great deal of criticism not least because of its use of the ‘nword’ 110 times in 165 minutes. The main body of criticism has come from the well respected director Spike Lee

(Malcolm X) who has labelled the film disrespectful for its depiction of the slave trade and its frequent use of the ‘n-word’. Tarantino has hit back saying that Lee’s comments are ridiculous and that if you make a film about slavery you will see and hear ‘ugly’ things and I am inclined to agree with him. Sure, Tarantino often goes over the top but that is his style and if you don’t like it then Django Unchained was never going to be to your taste. Another common bugbear this awards season has been the amount of artistic license taken with a true story. Every critic and their mother have been whining about Argo and Lincoln for their supposed lack of accuracy. Ben Affleck’s Argo has come under the most fire for this. Argo is the allegedly now-unclassified story of a group of Americans stranded in Iran whose hope of rescue rests on a fictitious movie script casting the group. Argo has been heavily criticised for its portrayal of Canada’s role in the mission and for the writing of a particular pulsating airport scene. Ben Affleck didn’t set out to make a documentary on the events of the Argo mission, he set out to make a film based on true events. For this reason, I find it disagreeable that Affleck is getting slated for Argo’s screenplay and I pray it wasn’t the reason that he missed out on a Best Director nomination – one I felt he thoroughly deserved. And now we come to the most ridiculous criticism of all; a smear campaign destined to fail before people even started moaning and griping to the media in the faint hope that the Academy would actually pay attention to such nonsense. Daniel Day-Lewis, who has yet been nominated for a Best Actor Oscar, has been slated for the ‘weedy’ high-pitched voice he took on for the part. A lot of Americans were unhappy with a Brit being cast as one of the greatest American heroes, and orators, of their history so perhaps this is bitterness? Day-Lewis has the backing of historians such as Harold Holzer,

however, who enlightened the public to the fact that his contemporaries recorded that he had a high-pitched, nasal voice. It is nonsensical to believe that the Oscar Committee would have decided not to nominate him purely based on this public whinge, for his performance is nothing short of stunning. Obviously the nominations have been released and, notwithstanding the dirty tricks, it is as most would

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This childish “my film is better than yours” bickering is tiresome and needs to end

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have expected. It is my opinion that this childish ‘my film is better than yours’ bickering is tiresome and needs to end. The Oscar guidelines state that one mustn’t promote their own film by criticising another. Nicholas Chartier, producer of 2010 Best Picture-winner The Hurt Locker, was banned for emailing a group of Academy voters pleading with them to vote for his film rather than the ‘$500 million movie’(Avatar). Whilst I believe The Hurt Locker to be a far superior film, and fully deserving of its Oscar honors, the actions of Chartier were unnecessary and disappointing. In the end, these smear campaigns are ineffectual. Just look at Slumdog Millionaire, which picked up the statue in 2008. A last minute outcry over the amount the child actors got paid did nothing to influence the Academy voters. This is fortunate because it would be a sad day when all the genius and hard work of a committed group of people to create a piece of cinema worthy of Academy recognition is ignored because of this influential spite. Competitiveness is great in Hollywood, for it ensures high-quality filmmaking, but these snide campaigns that people undertake to mar a film’s chances at the Oscars are pointless and tedious.

My first reaction when watching the trailer of Steven Spielberg’s latest Hollywood blockbuster was not the most enthusiastic. It had the impression of Americans glorifying Americans in spite of historical fact, and I pictured emotional viewers throughout the US wiping away tears of pride as the credits rolled, whimpering to themselves ‘God bless America’ – an image that makes me go red with rage. The first two scenes somewhat lived up to my expectations. Lincoln opens with an archetypal American Civil War re-enactment – cries of battle, muskets in the mud, stars and stripes held high and mighty, etc. In the next frame, Abraham Lincoln appears, talking to two black soldiers about the war, and then listening to them as they recite his famous Gettysburg Address; a particularly ostentatious and unlikely scene. But Lincoln proved to be neither overly patriotic nor excessively sensationalist. Unusually for a biopic, Spielberg has decided to focus only on the final four months of Lincoln’s life. The film strikes a fine balance between his political and private lives, contrasting presidential problems with family issues, but correctly focusing on the story that made him a national hero. Loved by the masses, re-elected for a second term, and on the verge of securing victory in the

American Civil War, Lincoln burdens himself with the righteous bid to pass the 13th Amendment: ending slavery in America. While he faces stubborn opposition in the House of Representatives, we also see Lincoln having to cope with the death of one son, another’s disobliging insistence to join the army, and his wife’s struggle with mental illness, passionately portrayed by Sally Field. The almost unamious verdict is that Abraham Lincoln is played brilliantly by Oscar-nominated Daniel Day-Lewis, who slips seamlessly into the role. He proves equally effective in presenting Lincoln’s favourable qualities – a poetic turn of phrase, charming witticisms, and moral yearnings – as well as his imperfections – occasional loss of temper, willingness to bend the law and his presidential powers, and frustratingly long-winded anecdotes. The look, the voice, and even the walk are flawless, and Day-Lewis produces yet another award-worthy performance. Spielberg has told this important historical story without unnecessary frills, idealisation or embellishment of the facts, which would have falsified Lincoln’s legacy. He also has Day-Lewis to thank, who has again proven his unique and unrivalled ability to master a complex persona to the finest detail.

Lincoln Released 25th January, Dir. Steven Spielberg, 150 mins

Not pitched perfectly Emily Quinn When did ‘musical comedy’ become a thing? It’s as if Hollywood saw the success of Glee and thought: ‘People clearly like this bollocks. Let’s turn this formula into a film so we can make millions from it’. I went into Pitch Perfect not expecting to enjoy it, or even to be entertained by the so-called ‘musical comedy of the year’. However, I was wrong. There is no doubt that this film is unbelievably cringe-worthy in places, mainly when it tries too hard to be edgy. The film tries too hard to make the main character, Beca, too cool. Pitch Perfect seems to think that liking music makes you immediately really alternative, despite the fact that the music Beca likes is sickeningly mainstream; ‘You know David Guetta?!’ is actually a line from the film. Despite this, the film is legitimately really funny. The trailers made ‘Fat Amy’ seem almost like a parody of herself, but in reality she turns every situation that threatens to be too serious into a barrel of laughs. She is the one cracking the jokes, not the butt of them, which makes a far more interesting dynamic than her character name suggested. Lily, the quiet Asian girl, is also an underrated character. Throughout most of the film, she speaks so quietly you can’t really hear the real comedy gold which comes

from the things she says when no one can hear her: ‘I set fires for joy’ and ‘I ate my twin in the womb’ are some of the best examples, adding a very weird comedic strand. Admittedly, sometimes the film falls short on the bigger laughs; Chloe’s ‘vocal nodes’ are a bit of an anomaly; it’s never certain whether this is meant to be a joke or serious. But when they aim for little bits of humour they hit the mark. Even the slightly embarrassing puns on a cappella - e.g. ‘aca-scuse me?!’, ‘aca-awkward’ and ‘aca-people’ add more than they take away. The ending is slightly disappointing. The winners of the final are obvious, but instead of making a big deal over what the whole film was building up to, they add this information on almost in an off-hand manner, as if they’re saying, ‘Oh yeah, by the way, they won’. Despite this, Pitch Perfect has the right balance of genuine humour to cancel out any cringe factor associated with the fact that, yes this is a film about a cappella groups. It does not take itself too seriously, nor should it be taken seriously at all. It is genuinely entertaining and enjoyable.

Pitch Perfect Released 21st December, Dir. Jason Moore, 112 mins


Epigram

30

04.02.2013

cinematoria.com

Zero humanity and darkness of modern war

Matthew Field: Katherine Bigelow’s latest film does not live up to the electrifying The Hurt Locker be there simply for shock value. We all knew the outcome before the film even started: Osama Bin Laden would die. The film almost plays to American sentimentalities in their ruthless, single-minded pursuit of justice. It seems to attempt to offer an ‘end to justify the means’ solution to the use of torture, two wars and tens of thousands dead. Unlike Bigelow’s excellent film The Hurt Locker, starring Jeremy Renner, Zero Dark Thirty loses its humanity in this mindless pursuit of American patriotic justice. Politics aside, I found the film only just about satisfactory. Jessica Chastain plays Maya, the film’s central CIA officer, with the chilling efficiency and aggressive single-mindedness that the role requires. However, with all the controversy surrounding this film I remain doubtful that she will win an Oscar this year. Her character also seems to lack any sympathy

‘‘

Zero Dark Thirty lacked humanity and felt empty of emotion

’’

and quickly becomes a proponent of the CIA’s torture programme. Sadly the human element of the story was lost from the early moments of the film. The lengthy torture sequences, featuring an Al Qaeda operative being tortured by the CIA agent Dan, left me with little sympathy for the American cause. To them the capture of Bin Laden seems like the key to everything,

mirror.com

Katherine Bigelow’s latest film sees a gritty exploration of the ten year hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Written by Mark Boal, the film has an air of authenticity and realism, delivering some of the most terrifyingly real and believable scenes of the CIA’s ‘Enhanced Interrogation Techniques’ committed to screen. The film even begins with the disclaimer that ‘the following motion picture is based on first-hand accounts of actual events’ a claim disputed by some politicians who argue that the filmmakers have elaborated on the effectiveness of the CIA’s torture. Zero Dark Thirty has been steeped in political controversy from the outset. There is little doubt that this film is in many ways a highly sophisticated and intelligent depiction of modern spying and counter terrorism, relying on clever and realistic dialogue with a documentary feel. There are also moments that play on deeply sensitive human emotions, the use of real phone transmissions from the hijacked flights and the twin towers, with the harrowing voice of one woman stating ‘I’m going to die? Aren’t I?’. Some critics have suggested that the film seems to condone torture. It does feel as if Bigelow is almost caught up in exploring the idea and the effectiveness the torture. This has led to criticism from American politicians with John McCain claiming the film made him feel sick. Many of these torture sequences did little to really develop the film; they seemed to

Zero Dark Thirty has secured 5 BAFTA nominations and 5 Oscar nominations

but I was honestly left wondering: why should I care? How relevant was Bin Laden by 2011 anyway? For a film about spying and terrorism, Zero Dark Thirty lacked the tension that made The Hurt Locker such an electrifying film. With the outcome pre-decided, it was really just a matter of how many CIA agents would get themselves killed in the process. With little emotional development given to any agent, I was left struggling to feel bothered about their frankly detestable, torture-loving lives. The agents never attempted to understand the motives of the enemy; they only wanted revenge. The final ‘act’ of this film is where Bigelow finally shows us why she is an Oscar-winning director. The raid on Bin Laden’s compound is well filmed and the tension is magnificent, giving us something far more real, claustrophobic and intense than any of the prior two hours. Here we are

shown some excellent cinematography which glues you to your seat and leaves you breathlessly waiting for the final confrontation. While this film has been set up for greatness, with Chastain already winning a Golden Globe for best actress, I left feeling less than satisfied. I was doubly disappointed as Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker is in my opinion the greatest war film of the last decade. Zero Dark Thirty lacked humanity and felt empty of emotion. There was more feeling in the first thirty seconds of the 9/11 soundscape than there were in two hours of CIA jargon, more urgency in the final assault than in the decadelong hunt that the film painstakingly documents.

Zero Dark Thirty Released 25th January 2013 Dir. Katherine Bigelow, 157 mins

Django unconstrained Jack Loxham We’ve all fantasized about getting away with kicking the school bully’s teeth in. These aggressive fantasies are undeniably satisfying to contemplate. What makes them so heart-wrenching, however, is that they are rarely acted upon and are subsequently repressed. In Quentin Tarantino’s epic spaghetti Western, Django Unchained, that primal urge to seek revenge is given into a hundred times over, winding up with an oh-so satisfying, blood-drenched finale. As with Tarantino’s previous film, Inglorious Basterds, history is unabashedly played with by the smooth, self-assured protagonists we all wish we could be. These, I think, are the best two words to describe Django Unchained: satisfying and cool. Set two years before the civil war in the heart of America’s Deep South, a silver-tongued rebel with faultless style, Dr King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) takes the enslaved Django (Jamie Foxx) as his apprentice and discovers his talent as a marksman. One a rebel, the other a newly freed man, they go on a mission to rescue Django’s slave wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) from plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), and God help any slaveholder in their way. With edgy camerawork and a funky soundtrack, the first half of the movie belongs to the munificent Schultz, who goes out of his way to antagonize the white supremacists - which apparently includes everyone - whose small-

minded ideals he so hates. However, as the laughs and body count pile up, the plot thickens, and Django takes centre stage as a rarely depicted symbol of black heroism. He sets off after revenge which he executes with as much style and verve as one can muster. The bullets rain and the violence is graphic. However, as with all Tarantino films, these only serve to deliver a powerful, cathartic punch which Freud would have been impressed by. The bloodier the better, a fact which attests to Tarantino’s unmatched skill in channelling an audience’s basest urges in whatever direction and to whatever magnitude he chooses. The violence is somehow cool, shocking, invigorating and funny, all at the same time. Indeed, anything that can serve to make carnage desirable, be it slow motion camerawork, hip hop music or crisp gunfire, is used to glorious effect. The reason the onscreen violence is so satisfying to watch is because, unlike 99% of action films, Django tackles an emotive subject (not the abolishment of slavery, but its unabolished, everyday counterpart which Hollywood usually steers clear of), and in blasting through the squeamishness that surrounds it, manages to create something that plays on our deepest and most strongly held values. The depiction of slaveholders as cruel and subhuman walking targets for Django and Schultz is bound to get us rooting for the protagonists. The details of the slave trade and life on the plantation are not hidden, obfuscated or distorted, but

‘I like the way you die boy’: Jamie Foxx as the effortlessly cool Django. Photo: collider.com

treated full on; a man is ripped apart by dogs; people’s backs are whipped to shreds. There are times when it is hard to watch, however, if they had never made it in, their absence would have been notable. Although being well over two hours long, Django barely ever tires. Long, fluid scenes that revel in their complex wordplay and stylistic details are interspersed between crescendos of brutality and streams of blood. Django, as the hero, is easy to get behind, and his story is one that speaks to everyone. However, as cool as he is, he is not the hero he could have been. His quest for redemption is not one carried out in aid of the slave population, but for his own personal reasons and on his own terms. At no point does he deign to acknowledge the plight of his kin – he stands apart, neither black nor white, but that ‘one in a thousand’. Then again, if he hadn’t, Django might have been held in bad taste by current audiences, so Tarantino is probably

right in having held back. As the imperious Django, Foxx is brilliant. DiCaprio who, in contrast to his previously more sombre characters, gets to show off his conceited smile and talent for accents, all the while giving a chilling and committed performance. The most intriguing character, however, is Samuel L. Jackson as Candie’s devoted house slave Stephen. His character, possibly even more conservative one than his master’s, highlights the depravity of his situation in which you either collaborate or die. He is in many ways the the most sinister figure. Django Unchained is like a sugar rush; it’s glorious when you have it, but the next day you’ve forgotten all about it. I wouldn’t want anything more!

Django Unchained Released 18th January 2013 Dir. Quentin Tarantino, 165 mins

Sessions: strange and satisfying Edward Carden The Sessions is a drama, with elements of tragedy and comedy, about a man called Mark O’Brien (John Hawkes), who is paralysed from the neck down, who is seeking to lose his virginity before he ‘reaches his use by date’. He tries to do so by hiring a sex surrogate with the blessing of his priest. Yes, tricky waters indeed, and ripe for a trivial Apatow farce, but it steers clear of exploitative melodrama, delivering a genuinely heart-warming picture. The plot is strong: a central theme simple enough to allow for a thorough emotional examination of the characters. The sexual element is really a means to explore inter-personal relationships, at no point gratuitous or crude. There are also a few peripheral players and narratives to facilitate a flavour of stimulating complexity. The disability element is the most notable, and one which could attract criticism. But stemming from a true story, portrayed with searing reality, it would be difficult to find any. It is not always easy viewing. Mark struggles to carry out actions by using a pen with his mouth; it’s excruciatingly frustrating to watch. His contorted, disease-warped body is unsettling. The whole story happens within the confines of a few locations, mirroring the endless claustrophobia of his existence. But his positivity is unsentimental and wholly credible. Hawkes’ paralysed polio victim is extraordinarily convincing, moving - and not moving - with authentic credibility; it is a titanic performance. Helen Hunt’s portrayal of his sex surrogate is solid, exposing Mark’s vulnerabilities while creating a touching showcase of her own. The complexity of emotions is an interesting product of this narrative. The turmoil of every character is evident; each is battling their own demons in various ways, elevating The Sessions from a clinical and laboured study of one man. His are, of course, the most prevalent; we watch him struggle with the many challenges of his quest and the possibility that he will forever be alone. The Sessions is a satisfying slice of reality with all its glories and drawbacks, humour and sadness juxtaposed. The possibilities of existence through kindness and positivity are displayed in a genuine fashion. Perhaps some viewers will examine their own fortunes as a result, something which surely makes this challenging viewing.

The Sessions Released 18th January 2013 Dir. Ben Lewin, 95 mins


Epigram

30

04.02.2013

cinematoria.com

Zero humanity and darkness of modern war

Matthew Field: Katherine Bigelow’s latest film does not live up to the electrifying The Hurt Locker be there simply for shock value. We all knew the outcome before the film even started: Osama Bin Laden would die. The film almost plays to American sentimentalities in their ruthless, single-minded pursuit of justice. It seems to attempt to offer an ‘end to justify the means’ solution to the use of torture, two wars and tens of thousands dead. Unlike Bigelow’s excellent film The Hurt Locker, starring Jeremy Renner, Zero Dark Thirty loses its humanity in this mindless pursuit of American patriotic justice. Politics aside, I found the film only just about satisfactory. Jessica Chastain plays Maya, the film’s central CIA officer, with the chilling efficiency and aggressive single-mindedness that the role requires. However, with all the controversy surrounding this film I remain doubtful that she will win an Oscar this year. Her character also seems to lack any sympathy

‘‘

Zero Dark Thirty lacked humanity and felt empty of emotion

’’

and quickly becomes a proponent of the CIA’s torture programme. Sadly the human element of the story was lost from the early moments of the film. The lengthy torture sequences, featuring an Al Qaeda operative being tortured by the CIA agent Dan, left me with little sympathy for the American cause. To them the capture of Bin Laden seems like the key to everything,

mirror.com

Katherine Bigelow’s latest film sees a gritty exploration of the ten year hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Written by Mark Boal, the film has an air of authenticity and realism, delivering some of the most terrifyingly real and believable scenes of the CIA’s ‘Enhanced Interrogation Techniques’ committed to screen. The film even begins with the disclaimer that ‘the following motion picture is based on first-hand accounts of actual events’ a claim disputed by some politicians who argue that the filmmakers have elaborated on the effectiveness of the CIA’s torture. Zero Dark Thirty has been steeped in political controversy from the outset. There is little doubt that this film is in many ways a highly sophisticated and intelligent depiction of modern spying and counter terrorism, relying on clever and realistic dialogue with a documentary feel. There are also moments that play on deeply sensitive human emotions, the use of real phone transmissions from the hijacked flights and the twin towers, with the harrowing voice of one woman stating ‘I’m going to die? Aren’t I?’. Some critics have suggested that the film seems to condone torture. It does feel as if Bigelow is almost caught up in exploring the idea and the effectiveness the torture. This has led to criticism from American politicians with John McCain claiming the film made him feel sick. Many of these torture sequences did little to really develop the film; they seemed to

Zero Dark Thirty has secured 5 BAFTA nominations and 5 Oscar nominations

but I was honestly left wondering: why should I care? How relevant was Bin Laden by 2011 anyway? For a film about spying and terrorism, Zero Dark Thirty lacked the tension that made The Hurt Locker such an electrifying film. With the outcome pre-decided, it was really just a matter of how many CIA agents would get themselves killed in the process. With little emotional development given to any agent, I was left struggling to feel bothered about their frankly detestable, torture-loving lives. The agents never attempted to understand the motives of the enemy; they only wanted revenge. The final ‘act’ of this film is where Bigelow finally shows us why she is an Oscar-winning director. The raid on Bin Laden’s compound is well filmed and the tension is magnificent, giving us something far more real, claustrophobic and intense than any of the prior two hours. Here we are

shown some excellent cinematography which glues you to your seat and leaves you breathlessly waiting for the final confrontation. While this film has been set up for greatness, with Chastain already winning a Golden Globe for best actress, I left feeling less than satisfied. I was doubly disappointed as Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker is in my opinion the greatest war film of the last decade. Zero Dark Thirty lacked humanity and felt empty of emotion. There was more feeling in the first thirty seconds of the 9/11 soundscape than there were in two hours of CIA jargon, more urgency in the final assault than in the decadelong hunt that the film painstakingly documents.

Zero Dark Thirty Released 25th January 2013 Dir. Katherine Bigelow, 157 mins

Django unconstrained Jack Loxham We’ve all fantasized about getting away with kicking the school bully’s teeth in. These aggressive fantasies are undeniably satisfying to contemplate. What makes them so heart-wrenching, however, is that they are rarely acted upon and are subsequently repressed. In Quentin Tarantino’s epic spaghetti Western, Django Unchained, that primal urge to seek revenge is given into a hundred times over, winding up with an oh-so satisfying, blood-drenched finale. As with Tarantino’s previous film, Inglorious Basterds, history is unabashedly played with by the smooth, self-assured protagonists we all wish we could be. These, I think, are the best two words to describe Django Unchained: satisfying and cool. Set two years before the civil war in the heart of America’s Deep South, a silver-tongued rebel with faultless style, Dr King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) takes the enslaved Django (Jamie Foxx) as his apprentice and discovers his talent as a marksman. One a rebel, the other a newly freed man, they go on a mission to rescue Django’s slave wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) from plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), and God help any slaveholder in their way. With edgy camerawork and a funky soundtrack, the first half of the movie belongs to the munificent Schultz, who goes out of his way to antagonize the white supremacists - which apparently includes everyone - whose small-

minded ideals he so hates. However, as the laughs and body count pile up, the plot thickens, and Django takes centre stage as a rarely depicted symbol of black heroism. He sets off after revenge which he executes with as much style and verve as one can muster. The bullets rain and the violence is graphic. However, as with all Tarantino films, these only serve to deliver a powerful, cathartic punch which Freud would have been impressed by. The bloodier the better, a fact which attests to Tarantino’s unmatched skill in channelling an audience’s basest urges in whatever direction and to whatever magnitude he chooses. The violence is somehow cool, shocking, invigorating and funny, all at the same time. Indeed, anything that can serve to make carnage desirable, be it slow motion camerawork, hip hop music or crisp gunfire, is used to glorious effect. The reason the onscreen violence is so satisfying to watch is because, unlike 99% of action films, Django tackles an emotive subject (not the abolishment of slavery, but its unabolished, everyday counterpart which Hollywood usually steers clear of), and in blasting through the squeamishness that surrounds it, manages to create something that plays on our deepest and most strongly held values. The depiction of slaveholders as cruel and subhuman walking targets for Django and Schultz is bound to get us rooting for the protagonists. The details of the slave trade and life on the plantation are not hidden, obfuscated or distorted, but

‘I like the way you die boy’: Jamie Foxx as the effortlessly cool Django. Photo: collider.com

treated full on; a man is ripped apart by dogs; people’s backs are whipped to shreds. There are times when it is hard to watch, however, if they had never made it in, their absence would have been notable. Although being well over two hours long, Django barely ever tires. Long, fluid scenes that revel in their complex wordplay and stylistic details are interspersed between crescendos of brutality and streams of blood. Django, as the hero, is easy to get behind, and his story is one that speaks to everyone. However, as cool as he is, he is not the hero he could have been. His quest for redemption is not one carried out in aid of the slave population, but for his own personal reasons and on his own terms. At no point does he deign to acknowledge the plight of his kin – he stands apart, neither black nor white, but that ‘one in a thousand’. Then again, if he hadn’t, Django might have been held in bad taste by current audiences, so Tarantino is probably

right in having held back. As the imperious Django, Foxx is brilliant. DiCaprio who, in contrast to his previously more sombre characters, gets to show off his conceited smile and talent for accents, all the while giving a chilling and committed performance. The most intriguing character, however, is Samuel L. Jackson as Candie’s devoted house slave Stephen. His character, possibly even more conservative one than his master’s, highlights the depravity of his situation in which you either collaborate or die. He is in many ways the the most sinister figure. Django Unchained is like a sugar rush; it’s glorious when you have it, but the next day you’ve forgotten all about it. I wouldn’t want anything more!

Django Unchained Released 18th January 2013 Dir. Quentin Tarantino, 165 mins

Sessions: strange and satisfying Edward Carden The Sessions is a drama, with elements of tragedy and comedy, about a man called Mark O’Brien (John Hawkes), who is paralysed from the neck down, who is seeking to lose his virginity before he ‘reaches his use by date’. He tries to do so by hiring a sex surrogate with the blessing of his priest. Yes, tricky waters indeed, and ripe for a trivial Apatow farce, but it steers clear of exploitative melodrama, delivering a genuinely heart-warming picture. The plot is strong: a central theme simple enough to allow for a thorough emotional examination of the characters. The sexual element is really a means to explore inter-personal relationships, at no point gratuitous or crude. There are also a few peripheral players and narratives to facilitate a flavour of stimulating complexity. The disability element is the most notable, and one which could attract criticism. But stemming from a true story, portrayed with searing reality, it would be difficult to find any. It is not always easy viewing. Mark struggles to carry out actions by using a pen with his mouth; it’s excruciatingly frustrating to watch. His contorted, disease-warped body is unsettling. The whole story happens within the confines of a few locations, mirroring the endless claustrophobia of his existence. But his positivity is unsentimental and wholly credible. Hawkes’ paralysed polio victim is extraordinarily convincing, moving - and not moving - with authentic credibility; it is a titanic performance. Helen Hunt’s portrayal of his sex surrogate is solid, exposing Mark’s vulnerabilities while creating a touching showcase of her own. The complexity of emotions is an interesting product of this narrative. The turmoil of every character is evident; each is battling their own demons in various ways, elevating The Sessions from a clinical and laboured study of one man. His are, of course, the most prevalent; we watch him struggle with the many challenges of his quest and the possibility that he will forever be alone. The Sessions is a satisfying slice of reality with all its glories and drawbacks, humour and sadness juxtaposed. The possibilities of existence through kindness and positivity are displayed in a genuine fashion. Perhaps some viewers will examine their own fortunes as a result, something which surely makes this challenging viewing.

The Sessions Released 18th January 2013 Dir. Ben Lewin, 95 mins


Epigram

04.02.2013

31

Not exactly paradise: Utopia is witty, stylish and brutal Rose Bonsier Having previously aired the likes of Misfits and Dead Set, I think it’s fair to say that Utopia is very Channel 4. This new six part sci-fi drama series feels as though it’s been produced to have that particular ‘edginess’, taking the old end-of-the-world-through-geneticmodification conspiracy theory and twisting it to create a story based around the leak of a graphic novel manuscript. But it does work. Like many such dramas gone before it, it’s the strong and engaging characters that make Utopia. What could otherwise

Channel 4

have been a flop based on a bit of an overdone concept is saved remarkably by the brilliantly written dialogue between them, with Dennis Kelly’s well observed and witty script making for many tongue-in-cheek comic moments amongst the dark scenes of this thriller. The story revolves around the pursuit of the unpublished second part of ‘The Utopia Experiments’. The published first part has gained a cult following online from a hardcore minority who believe there is truth in the story and a bunch of others who go along with it for a bit of fun. It documents the work of an organization, around since the Cold War, who work to create drugs, illnesses and such like that can be used as biological weapons. The first episode shows the attempts of a shady organization, the imaginatively named ‘The Network’, to retrieve the second part of the manuscript by tracking down and brutally murdering all those whose hands it’s changed through. If there was ever a good reason not to meet with people who you’ve met online it’s played out here. After purchasing the manuscript from a comic book store, businessman Bejan (Mark Stobbart) arranges to meet with dedicated Utopia followers Becky (Alexandra Roach) and Wilson (Adeel Akhtar), joined by Ian (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) and Grant (Oliver Woollford), who really have no idea

what they’re getting themselves into. After The Network find and kill him, the remaining group are left to go on the run before The Network catches up with them too. Thrown together, they have nearly as much trouble trying to work each other out as work out what’s going on. Becky is a warm and friendly postgrad student who, so she claims, has an interest in the manuscript because it shows the genetic mutation causing the disease her father died of. Wilson is a through-and-through conspiracist, the sort of person you’d probably be inclined to condemn as extremely paranoid or slightly mad. This is until you realize that his attempts to conceal his existence by hacking into the web and wiping all record of himself from the internet turn out to be remarkably sensible given the circumstances he ends up in. The best character, however, has to be eleven-year-old Grant, who is the perfect example of how an online persona can turn out to be utter rubbish. Claiming to be a big-shot city trader with a Porsche and supermodel girlfriend, Grant turns out to be a neglected and almost feral child who decides to take the opportunity to break into Bejan’s apartment rather than going to meet him as specified. Utopia is undoubtedly violent but I don’t think gratuitously so. The scenes of torture, of which there are a number, are well placed to invoke fear

and horror at the thought of capture from The Network and encourage the emotional involvement of the viewer. I’m not hugely squeamish but I did find one particular torture scene involving chillies, sand, bleach, and a spoon - hard to take. The brutality of the situation is demonstrated perfectly by Jessica Hyde

Paul Ready with the spoon. Photo: Channel 4

(Fiona O’Shaughnessy), who ruthlessly strangles an old acquaintance of hers because he gives up information too easily. It is hard to deduce individual motives and who’s working for whom, but this is no criticism as the unpredictability keeps the drama fresh and exciting. Nevertheless, I do think Hyde’s character is a bit overdone; she’s weird and enigmatic, and whilst I’m sure the idea is that this makes her interesting, for somebody who’s spent most of their life on the run she hasn’t mastered the art of blending in particularly well, even if she is good at escaping. The other major subplot involves blundering senior civil servant Michael

Dugdale’s (Paul Higgins) mass order of a Russian flu vaccine under blackmail, which implies that whatever plan was detailed in the second manuscript is already unfolding. I really don’t know where Utopia will go next, and to me that quality is one of the things that makes a drama brilliant. The icing on the cake is that you can even take part in the Utopia inquiry on the Channel 4 website. After analyzing my transport, phone and internet usage, and discovering that Bristol City Council has spent £4,220,268.85 on 786 CCTV cameras to observe me since 2007, it estimated that I would be able to evade capture for 28 hours, 42 minutes and twenty two seconds – although I’m quite sure you could find me much quicker than that. Whilst there’s not enough innovation and invention in it to completely satisfy real sci-fi fans, it avoids coming across as overly geeky and makes for a programme that can be enjoyed by a wide audience. It is cinematically striking in many places and has a simple soundtrack that’s original and fits perfectly with the genre. But most of all it’s got a cast that bounce naturally off of one another, and a story that does something new with an old theme to make a show that’s compellingly contemporary. Utopia Channel 4, Tuesdays at 10pm

The most glamorous show on TV? Ben Marshall: Suits is a cool show, I just wish it wasn’t shown on Dave

‘‘

Being a lawyer [...] is all based on being the slickest, sexiest person around

’’

in a nursing home. The two leads have excellent onscreen chemistry. They form a perfect modern day, city slicker odd couple. Though we may wonder how two such people could ever lead such exciting lives within corporate law all doubt is overcome as no one in the audience could possibly be immune to their charm.

BBC

Suits is a cool show. There aren’t many other ways to describe it. I mean it is really cool. Being aired on Dave, the first season for the most part went under the radar. This was a shame. A light-hearted legal drama, with a fast paced script and superb cast, it ticked a lot of boxes. It is a fantastic import, a must-see show for those who have seen it and will only gain fans as word spreads. The plot focusses upon legal guru Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) and his protege genius Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams). Episode one sees Mike on the run from the New York Police Department after a drug deal goes wrong. Somehow this leads to him stumbling into a job at a New York law firm in a questionably plausible but highly amusing manner. Under the guidance of Harvey the story follows Mike as he traverses life in corporate law and romance whilst he attempts to earn $25,000 to keep his grandmother

It’s not time for Africa Gabriel Macht (left) and Patrick J. Adams star as two New York laywers in Suits. Photo: image.net

The real star of the show is, of course, the clothing. The idea of ‘dress for success’ has never been more relevant. I defy anyone to watch Suits and not want to go out and purchase a new wardrobe. It is fair to assume however that the ‘suits’ will be far beyond the price range of the average joe, apparently costing around $15,000 each. To put it simply, Suits is Mad Men watered down. The intensity and depth is removed to be replaced by soft drama and humor. This is not a criticism, it is a compliment. I am referring simply to the sheer style it displays in every scene. The show and its characters literally strut their way across the screen. Between the two shows, working life can be expected to consist predominantly of well-dressed, beautiful people drinking expensive scotch. If this is not the case, I shall be very disappointed. After watching the show, I am fairly

confident that the skills required to be an excellent lawyer are not found in legal knowledge. It is all based on being the slickest, sexiest person around. Saying this, however, the show does leave you feeling like an expert in all legal matters, though a quick Google search tells me that Suits is considered incredibly inaccurate... Never mind, pretending is still fun. The second series of Suits aired on the 25th of January. Sadly it is still on Dave which means poor picture quality persists compared with Sky Atlantic, where we’re used to getting our fill of American drama. It’s even more annoying if you, like me, were hoping to watch series two in HD. Nevertheless, it is unmissable television even if it has yet to properly grip the mainstream or earn a slot on a more prominent Suits: season two Dave, Thursdays at 9pm

Rose Bonsier David Attenborough’s most recent nature series promotes an incredibly breathtaking and lavish image of Africa, painting it in a way that enhances the stunning and diverse scenery. But is this image that we are seeing on our televisions really that realistic? It seems that with all the recent advances in technology, with high definition, digital televisions and powerful high megapixel cameras, we have become so accustomed to seeing images in such perfect quality that if they weren’t digitally enhanced then we wouldn’t be satisfied. It has only been in the last few years that this notion of having to see everything in the highest possible quality has come about - before HD and 3D, we didn’t think twice about it. But here’s the question: has Attenborough (above) got so carried away with the advances in technology that he is showing us an unrealistic view of Africa? There’s no questioning the fact that the cinematography of Africa is incredible, but the filming in Attenborough’s previous nature

programmes never used to be quite so altered and adapted. We used to see nature as it was in reality - but now we see snapshots of scenes which have been speeded or slowed to create maximum impact. This, of course, makes Africa an enjoyable and fascinating programme and it captures the audience’s interest in nature, making people want to see these scenes for themselves.But we have been shown Africa in a glorified manner as the digital enhancement of colours and the wide-angle capturing of panoramic views mean that we see a distorted view of the continent. The images seem to have been ‘cleaned up’; we are seeing nature and animals in their most perfect form, and not how they actually are in reality. They are the images the viewer wants to see and the picture-perfect scenery is what makes Africa such a popular programme, but in my opinion, I feel Attenborough has gone over-the-top and taken his programmes too far away from the reality. Africa BBC 1, Wednesdays at 9pm


? N O S AT’

WH Dates for y

our diary

Not got a date sorted for Valentine’s Day yet? Fear not! UBU Volunteering is hosting a speed dating session on Valentine’s Eve to unite soulmates and raise cash for volunteering projects across Bristol. Although UBU’s Brunel Suite might not seem the most obvious place for love to blossom, it will be transformed with fairy lights and candles to create the perfect environment to meet the love or your life (or perhaps just that evening). Tickets include a free drink (presumably to calm the nerves and lubricate tongues) and discounted entry to Dorma (so you can take your first dance).

Wednesday 13th February 7pm £5 Brunel Suite, First Floor, UBU Flickr: Jeff Gamble

fill the s t n e d u t s l o t is r B krostatic le E e h t y b t f le void Festival music festival closes? For

Oliver!

Seamus Ryan

Fresh from appearing in Oscar-nominated Les Miserables as Éponine, Samantha Barks stars in Cameron Mackintosh’s touring production of Oliver! which visits the Hippodrome this month. Former badly-behaved man and now part-time brewer Neil Morrissey appears as genial career-criminal Fagin. Until 24th February Bristol Hippodrome From £17.50 www.atgtickets.com/

ry ding contempora s obvious: when Bristol’s lea y, the answer wa Fa vid Da d What do you do an ole -B is a series an ) eg MV Ke (C ur e Arth ry Music Ventur ra po Bristol students the em nt Co e es from some of festival. Th exciting premier set up their own ne ics. bi ss m cla co ry to ra po ise em prom ll-known cont we e m g of concerts which in so giv th s, wi for the serie usic students ly commissioned country’s top m ial ec sp s. en ate be er ve op eces ha rld of music All the student pi e professional wo sight into how th in an rs se po m co on ert takes place CMV’s first conc ry Februa Wednesday 13th 8pm BS8 , St. Paul’s Road, St. Paul’s Church Admission free .weebly.com www.cmvconcerts

Seamus Ryan Seamus Ryan

Have yo u got a c Email ed ultural secret t itor@epi gram.org o share? .uk


Epigram

04.02.2013

33

Views from the Dugout... Swansea Ballboy Special

For those few of you unaware of one of the most ridiculous stories of the football season, allow us to explain. Chelsea are playing Swansea in the Second Leg of the League Cup Final. 2 nil down on aggregate and with time running out, matters are not helped by one of the Swansea ballboys doing his utmost to timewaste every time he gets the ball. One Chelsea player, Eden Hazard, finally snaps when the ballboy, now revealed as Charlie Morgan, falls on top of the ball rather than give it to him. He proceeds to kick the ball from under him, catching the boy in the process who then proceeds to start rolling around the pitch in apparent agony. Hazard is given a red card and Chelsea carry on to be knocked out the cup It is however later revealed that not only was Charlie Morgan the son of one of the Swansea directors, but earlier that night on Twitter had prondly proclaimed he would be timewasting. The internet took notice, and has created some fantastic parodies. As for the ballboy? Well he now has over 90,000 twitter followers and is banned from working at the Wales vs. Austria match which Epigram would see as a reward more than anything...

This internet game by mousebraker.com summed up the public reaction...hilarious

Let’s push for a Transfer lies aren’t fooling anyone Sporting priority at Union AMM Henry Tydeman Football Correspondant

The Students’ Union Anual Members Meeting is happening this Thursday 7th February at 2pm in the Great Hall of the Wills Memorial Building With several important motions regarding Sport at the University having been submitted, some dealing with contentious issue of Sports Passes, it would be great to see a big turn out. Get online at www.ubu.org.uk and vote in the Priority Ballot now to push the Sports motions to the top of the agenda!

J.Corbin

West Bromwich Albion turned down another QPR bid for their striker, Peter Odemwingie, this week, and everyone, it seems, has their own opinion on the Nigerian’s proposed move to London. Many football fans find this sort of transfer particularly frustrating, as it is clear that Odemwingie is itching for a move primarily because Tony Fernandes will undoubtedly pay him significantly more at Loftus Road than the centre forward currently earns. It has angered many supporters who believe that the West Brom man appears to care a lot less about what he can achieve with his team than the state of his bank balance, as QPR, who can (at the moment) afford to pay Odemwingie more than West Brom would like to, sit bottom of the table, whilst Steve Clarke’s men are level on points with Liverpool in 8th place. On the surface of it, Odemwingie’s desire to move does seem to have been fuelled by selfish, mercenary motives. When any player moves to a club clearly for financial reasons alone, the move seems to have a real lack of class to it; to use arguably the most extreme example, many were put off by Samuel Eto’o’s move to the Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala in 2011, who reportedly pay the Cameroonian around £18m a

year. Fans are also riled when players involved in such transfers try to dress their move up as being one made for more noble causes. Odemwingie has said that he wants to move to QPR to experience a ‘new challenge’ and ‘a new opportunity’, At no point has he mentioned what will be (if he does move to Loftus Road), his significantly higher wages, because, in theory, it is such a terrible thing for a player to seek a move for such egotistical reasons.

“ ”

Football fans, who worship players, and idolise them as their heroes, supporters often lose sight of the fact that footballers play football for a living. Playing the game is a job for them. Just like how working in a bank, or down a mine, are jobs that other people do. In professions like these, no one would bat an eyelid at the thought of one seeking promotions, or moves in order for them to increase their salary. It is, after all, the done thing to strive to gain as much financially as one can from their job, is it not? Is it really that bad that Odemwingie wants to move down south? He has a wife and

has recently had a baby boy. Should it not be acceptable for him to try to bring in as much money as he possibly can to support his new family? It would be if Odemwingie were in another occupation, but in football, fans tend to dislike players who approach their career in this way. It has become so totally intolerable that, on the whole, players like Odemwingie and Didier Drogba, who moved to Shanghai Shenhua in China last summer, feel obliged to lie about their reasons for moving; Drogba even went as far as saying that his decision had nothing to do with money. Would it not be so much better if players were honest, and fans respected them for their honesty, as opposed to deriding them for telling the truth? Related to this is the interesting case of Tottenham full-back Benoît Assou-Ekotto, whose candidness has proven to be very much the exception to the rule amongst football players.

In 2010 Assou-Ekotto said in an interview that, ‘I am honest all of the time, although the truth is not always good to say’, intelligently recognising that fans do not always want to here the truth from their heroes. He went on to unashamedly declare, ‘I play for the money’. Many within the media and various fan groups were horrified at the defender’s revelations at the time, and the general reaction, on the whole, was a particularly negative one. Undoubtedly then, it is the fact that brutal honesty is met with such shock and disgust from the football public, that discourages players from being completely truthful. Maybe it is time to accept that football isn’t the gallant collection of altruistic individuals who are motivated solely by glory, that some think it is. After all, honesty really does tend to be the best policy.

Time for footballers to own up over transfers?


Epigram

04.02.2013

34

Sport, Exercise and Health is more than muddy Wednesdays and gym bunnies

Sport at the Bristol University isn’t just for BUCS stars or High Performance athletes. Here Matt Edwards, SEH Sports Development Manager, discusses the role of the department and how you can get involved with the wide range of fun and great actitivies on ofThe Sport Exercise and Health department has a role in helping all of this happens. Like many Universities we have on offer High Performance Sport, representative teams, gym programmes, classes and support like injury prevention and treatment. All essential and well-established. But we also know that sport, exercise and health doesn’t just happen on a Wednesday afternoon, and there are as many ways of taking part as there are reasons for doing so. Given existing facilities are

often at capacity and knowing that even the word ‘Sport’ can put many people off, we are keen to provide various options for being more active more often, and to help reinforce the idea that physical and mental well-being are not separable: they are the same. Can you really expect to be productive in the lab, or revise effectively, if your energy levels are poor, sleep pattern disrupted, and your diet promotes highs and lows in mood? Making even a tiny change in habits around physical well-being can have

M.Edwards

As part of a growing University with a very strong ethos of academic excellence, we are aware that people are physically active , or not, for a whole range of reasons. Some current Bristol students will be, given enough hard work, getting medals at the Rio Olympics in 2016; many hundreds turn out in University colours every week in BUCS and other competitions at national level; over 50 intra-mural football teams are playing on Durdham Downs every week; the gym continues to operate near full capacity.

huge effects. Ways of getting a little more active, with no need for a sports pass, to join a team, or to commit to a club are all around you. SEH this year is expanding our offer around getting active and looking after yourself. Things you can get involved in this term include: M.Edwards

The Tyndall Avenue Sports Day is just one of the numerous events which take place every year

UBU Active. Free and lowcost taster sessions and short courses in a range of sport from Dodgeball to Netball

to Triathlon and beginner’s running: Well Wednesdays, Pedometer Challenge SEH will also be a significant supporter of UBU’s mental health campaign ‘Look after Your Mate’ with activities and sessions on mindfulness, relaxation skills and mental strength in sport. So we’re not just about Wednesdays at Coombe Dingle or how many chin ups you can do. It’s not all about scrum downs

and chin-ups. Being active might just be what you need to feel better and perform better. We’d be delighted to help. For more information and to get involved visit: http://www.ubu.org.uk/activities/ sports/ubuactive/ http://www.bris.ac.uk /spor t / healthyliving/

Terrific Trump hoping to drag snooker into 21st century Kyle Gladwin Sports Reporter

out and enjoy his prize money, in the public eye - though not in Dorma apparently, claiming it to be the ‘worst club ever in Bristol’. Given a shortage of young players coming through the ranks in the UK, seeing professionals pursue this glamorous lifestyle may inspire budding youngsters to pick up a cue.

“ ”

His media-appeal doesn’t stop at his image, either. In recent months, Trump has been particularly vocal in his opinions on how snooker, as a whole, is run. Like many other players, he is worried at the lack of money in the game; a valid concern when you consider that snooker was almost entirely funded by sponsorship from tobacco companies before the changes to the law in 2005. In addition, he has called for snooker to take inspiration from rival sport darts, which has seen its popularity sky-

rocket in the last decade thanks to the prospect of electric atmospheres consistently bringing punters in. It is clear that the world number two is passionate about the future of snooker beyond his own personal ambitions, and the pressure he is putting on World Snooker could be hard to ignore for much longer. The recently-appointed head of World Snooker’s commercial arm, Barry Hearn, has vast experience in the world of spectator sports, as current chairman of the Professional

Darts Corporation and Leyton Orient FC, and having been the promoter for many British boxers, including Lennox Lewis and Chris Eubank. Hearn started his career in snooker however, and has managed almost every top player the game has seen. Despite this making him a perfect fit for the role, his mentality as a businessman means he will need players like Judd Trump to remind him that the priority is to keep snooker alive, rather than seek personal profit. Whether snooker can pull

itself away from the unwanted stereotypes it has gained and push itself into the 21st century remains to be seen. The game is currently exploding in China – with between 500 and 1,000 snooker clubs estimated to be in Beijing alone – and the prospect of Ronnie O’ Sullivan coming back to the game will unquestionably provide a boost to ratings. The biggest hope for the future of snooker, however, is that ‘the Juddernaut’ continues to galvanise the sport in both his gameplay and his media work.

lib.su

For many people, snooker tends to conjure uninspiring images of stone-faced men in waistcoats, sleeping audience members and late nights spent watching BBC2. It is no secret that the popularity of the game is at its lowest point in recent years, with both live and television audiences constantly dwindling. It’s hard to believe that a game in such a rut once managed to attract a record television audience of 18.5 million UK viewers in 1986 for a World Championship final (contested by one of the game’s most boring characters no less, Steve Davis). There is hope for snooker, however, and a large portion falls on one of its brightest young talents: Judd Trump. The 23 year-old from Keynsham, on the outskirts of Bristol, is currently ranked number two in the world and could prove to be the catalyst of the revival of the once-loved sport. Now based in Essex, having trained under the game’s most talented player, Ronnie O’ Sullivan, Trump looks

to be every bit the world-class player he was expected to be. While there is no doubt that Trump’s ultra-attacking and crowd-pleasing gameplay does and will continue to raise attendances, it is possibly his activity off the table that may hold the key to developing interest in the game. Every sport needs their idol, be it David Beckham for football or Sir Bradley Wiggins for cycling; snooker is no different. Granted, he is no George Best, but Judd Trump brings that slight element of glamour to snooker that will increase excitement for the game. Not many other snooker players will boast a collection of sports cars or be able to pull off a crossover-tie with a pair of £2,000 studded Christian Louboutin shoes during a match. Although Trump dismisses accusations of being a playboy, it’s obvious that he doesn’t fit the usual mould of a snooker player. Looking through his Twitter feed, you realise that he is just a normal 23 year-old with lots of money to spend, a reporter’s dream. Where most players would spend their lives on the practice table, Trump will go


Epigram

04.02.2013

35

Bristol calls ‘We always strive to do for greater our very best for Sport’ accessibility

Last week saw the SEH Department run an open presentation, discussion and Q&A on the future of sport at the University. During this Sport Director Simon Hinks gave an interesting and engaging talk, as Epigram Sport’s Deputy Editor Laura Lambert reports

David Stone Sport Editor A Sports Consultation commissioned by Hannah Pollak, VP Sport and Health, has revealed that significant numbers of students have several concerns over the future of sport at the University. The Consultation was one of Pollak’s main priorities and was primarily in response to student frustration with the new Sports Pass membership system. She also felt that a previous consultation carried out by SEH presented an unfair representation of users of the facilities as it involved only a select group of ‘focus sport’ club captains. Therefore this Consultation would seek to establish some clear conclusions, hopefully leading to a membership system which was both financially sustainable. Other student grievances would also be addressed.

Three main issues were raised. These were the membership system, a lack of perception about SEH principles, and the level of investment in University sport. However it would appear to Epigram that the university is aware of these issues and trying to tackle them. Both the Department of Sport, Exercise and Health and Senior University Management have taken some action to ensure

It is clear that Hinks is proud of and passionate about sport at the University. With the help of eight operational and programme managers at SEH, who are ‘dedicating their life to you, the student’, Hinks’ constant aim is to improve the student experience. Working with pretty tight resources and not a huge amount of budget doesn’t deter Hinks or his team from always striving to improve what they do and what is offered to students.

“ ”

Following a departmental review in 2007, the SEH committee has been working more closely with UBU, specifically the Sports Executive committee (which is largely student-run). Through these formal links between the student body and the professional staff within SEH, Hinks is increasingly confident that the University of Bristol is ‘up with, or slightly ahead of, the game’, in terms sport compared with other universities.

“ ”

However, in Hinks’ eyes there is always room for improvement, and one of his main concerns

H.Pollak

what they call ‘a positive future and legacy’. The £3.5 million swimming pool refurbishment work and a new floor to the Pulse gym, which were warmly received by students, are just part of the wider investment in sporting facilities which is currently taking place. As covered in this newspaper, Director of Sport Simon Hinks has set out how determined he is to always improve the student sport experience. With regards to Sport Pass issues, earlier this year students successfully campaigned for Pay-As-You-Go access to the sports facilities during offpeak hours. Furthermore there are several motions set for the Student Union’s Annual Members Meeting, which is taking place this Thursday at 2pm in the Great Hall of the Wills Memorial Building, which will adjust and create sporting policy to suit the various needs of students. Events such as the Sport, Exercise and Health open discussion and presentation, held last week, will also help to push across the aims, objectives and principles of SEH. Saying this, greater publicity is needed for these type of events in the future in order to attract greater numbers of students. The full Sport Consultation Report will be presented at the AMM, as well as given to the Vice-Chancellor and University Council and Student Affairs Committee. This should lead to action therefore being taken and new options considered. Hopefully co-operation and engagement between the Union, SEH, Senior University Management and the wider student body will result in the widespread sporting success at Bristol being continued.

Hinks, on the far left, opening the refurbished Swimming Pool. Just one of the many upgrades planned for

is how to instil continuity in the university sports clubs when the committee usually changes every year. The SEH has begun a club development planning process, whereby captains informally meet with SEH staff to plan for more than one year, so that the bright ideas thought up by captains for their respective club can be sustained in the future. Within SEH itself, Hinks is keen to initiate closer discussion between departments, to ensure that the work being done is ‘reflective, effective, efficient and [we can] move forward together to improve the student experience’. Since an audit that

took place about three years ago, the main priority for SEH has been the swimming pool, and many students would agree that the refurbishment that has just been revealed is an ‘outstanding piece of work’. In addition to the swimming pool development, the ground floor of the Tyndall Avenue sports centre has been expanded and a small gym at Langford has been completed. Looking to the future, SEH hopes to expand the indoor sports centre on Tyndall Avenue, including replacing the wooden floor in the sports hall. A feasibility study for this project will take place in the

coming months to see what is affordable, but SEH hopes to have ‘a chunk of money to spend to improve the facilities going forward’ Ambitions for development don’t stop there, as there are also plans for Coombe Dingle in the pipeline. It is hoped that student growth might help with the funding of these plans, all of which aim to offer students the best possible sports experience. In future editions Epigram Sport will be running a Q and A with Simon Hinks. If you have a question, email it to sport@epigram.org.uk

O’Driscoll leads Robins revival with strong home wins Alex Benedyk

Bristol City Correspondant

regularly witnessed by the Ashton Gate faithful. Bristol City bounced back in perfect style to grab a last-minute winner at home to fellow strugglers Ipswich before beating an on-form Watford side 2-0 in a convincing display in front of the home crowd. Overall, it is going to be a long hard battle for Bristol City to maintain their Championship status, but the shrewd appointment of Sean O’Driscoll has given them a fighting chance.

Having watched Bristol City beat my beloved Watford 2-0 last week, I could scarcely believe the change in the Robins’ play. Sean O’Driscoll has turned the team into an organised and resilient outfit, ready to withstand pressure then come out and get the goals. The Championship is very unpredictable though, so it remains to be seen if he can save them from League 1 obscurity. David Stone

Can O’Driscoll lead Bristol to safety?

fmscout.co.uk

With Bristol City stubbornly placed at the bottom of the Championship, having recently suffered a record-breaking seven successive losses, it was perhaps unsurprising that manager Derek McInnes was out of a job, with his backroom staff shortly out as well. Sean O’Driscoll, strangely sacked by Nottingham Forest

just weeks before despite their strong start to the season, was a popular appointment and has since proved to be a moderate success. In his three games in charge, O’Driscoll has secured six points out of a possible nine, with his side now a tantalising four points from safety. Despite the initial setback of a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Leeds at Elland Road, O’Driscoll appears to have got Bristol City’s defence in order, a far cry from the totally chaotic scenes


Epigram

04.02.2013

Sport

Editor: David Stone

Deputy Editor: Laura Lambert

sport@epigram.org.uk

deputysport@epigram.org.uk

Sports Consultation: Students voice concerns as the University looks to the future • Concern over Sports Pass accessibility and membership system

@epigramsport

Inside Sport Simon Hinks, Director of Sport, gives an engaging and interesting talk on Sport at the University, hoping to ease student anxieties Sean O’Driscoll rides to The Robins’ rescue presenting a glimmer of hope in their tough relegation battle

Getting to know the Department of Sport, Exercise and Health

• Positive reception to actions already taken by the University • ‘The impressive progress made in the past few years needs to continue’

STUDENT ELECTIONS 2013

Bristolian Judd Trump has rapidly risen up through the ranks of professional snooker, can he now also be its saviour?

Plus - An update on Sport motions at The Annual Members’ Meeting -Transfer lies aren’t fooling anyone

5HSUHVHQW\RXUIHOORZVWXGHQWVDVD)XOOWLPH2IÀFHU 3DUWWLPH2IÀFHURUD'HOHJDWHDWWKH1861DWLRQDO &RQIHUHQFH3LFNXSDQ(OHFWLRQV*XLGHDWWKH6WXGHQWV¡ 8QLRQWKH,QIR3RLQWRUGRZQORDGDIRUPRQOLQHDQG nominate yourself to lead your union.

ubu.org.uk/elections

Issue 258  

Issue 258 of Epigram, Bristol University's independent student paper

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