The Battle of Bristol: Your guide to Varsity 2013
Deal or Noel Deal e2 Living
Exploring the nation’s cider capital
e2 Travel Issue 252
Monday 18th March 2013 www.epigram.org.uk 25 years of Epigram Bristol University’s Independent Student Newspaper Christian Foss
Griffiths elected UBU President in record turnout Three incumbents also elected to serve second term in sabbatical team Jemma Buckley News Editor After a fortnight of campaigning and with a record number of votes cast, Rob Griffiths has been elected as the next President of University of Bristol Union (UBU). Running under the slogan ‘I fixed the radio station, now let me fix your Students’ Union’, Griffiths won the election relatively comfortably with 2057 votes to rival Kelvin Chen’s 1415. After the results had been announced, Griffiths, who is currently Station Manager of Burst Radio, said ‘genuinely everything in my manifesto I can do, or at least get the ball rolling in the next 12 months.’
In his detailed election manifesto, Griffiths makes a whopping 20 pledges to improve various different areas of the student experience including taking on the fight for Hiatt Baker students who have spent the year facing severely disruptive building work. He also pledges to ‘protect student activities’ in the face of reduced space at the Union during improvement works, to create more ‘recreational space on campus’ and to ‘support student enterprise’. His more creative ideas include launching a ‘green light map for study space computers’. In his manifesto Griffiths writes ‘Isn’t it frustrating when you turn up at the library or computer room just to find all the computers are taken? I feel your pain. There’s a straightforward solution to that
one, IT Services have all the data for which computers are in use at any one time, why can’t they publish that for everyone to see how many computers are in use?’. He was triumphant in the presidential battle despite being suspended from campaigning for a short period as a penalty for exceeding his allocated campaign budget. Seven complaints - some concerning his use of Facebook - were lodged against Griffiths, with three deemed to be worthy of a sanction by the Returning Officer but two of these reversed following appeal. His punishment was therefore reduced from a suspension from campaigning until voting closed to a suspension applied to the morning of Thursday March 14th. continued on page 3
More election night coverage page 3
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Half of current Full-Time Officers re-elected love my job. One minute I’m in Senate House then next I’m dressed as a cardboard box, talking to students - there are so many aspects to it’. In her acceptance speech, responding to suggestions on Twitter that candidates only ran for positions to further career prospects, she joked ‘This will look great on my CV’.
Campaigning has “come to make me
realise how much I love my job
Alessandra Berti, VP
Welfare & Equality 2012-14
Alex Sheppard Josephine McConville Alex Sheppard
The race to be VP Activities, won by former Epigram Lifestyle Editor Imogen Palmer, seemed like one of the most amicable in UBU history, with both Palmer and [Burst Operations Manager] Tom Sturdy full of praise for each other. Palmer, who made a campaign video in which she rapped her policies over the song Imagine (dubbed ‘Imo-gine’) by John Lennon, promised to organise a festival for societies in second term ‘with the working title SocFest 2k14’, as she told UBTV. Sturdy told Epigram ‘I feel incredibly lucky to have run against someone as fantastic as Imogen. She will be amazing in the role and I feel societies are in safe hands next year.’ Farooq Sabri, who finished third in the contest for VP Education behind Tom Flynn and Amy Collis, told Epigram he
couldn’t ‘fault what I did’ and that he was ‘bit disappointed’ with result. Speaking to Epigram, Williams, who was joined by her parents as the results were announced, said ‘words can not describe my emotions right now’. She won with 1494 votes in a very tight race against Hugh Loxton, who had 1387. Hannah Pollak, meanwhile, held off challenges from Scott Darroch, Danielle Simpson and Tabby St. Vincent to win a second term as VP Sport & Health. Pollak, who has been lobbying the university to retain the pay-as-you-go option for sports facilities, again made accessibility a focus of her campaign. This year’s election broke Union records with one in four students casting votes. In total 4798 students participated, with 29,595 votes cast. Turnout was 25%. The elections also Griffiths reacts to the result of the race for President in the ground floor foyer of the students’ union saw candidates running for every single Part-Time officer position for the first time in recent years. Results were read out by the election’s Deputy Returning Officer, Scott Farmer, Director of Democracy and Membership at UBU. Farmer started off the evening by Tom Flynn surprised by result telling the evening’s audience that he would not stand behind the lectern ‘otherwise you wouldn’t be able to see me’ A full list of the winners can be found at epigram.org.uk. The 5 elected as Delegates to NUS Conference were Rob Griffiths, Tom Flynn, Ellie Williams, Naomi McKay and Palmer and Tom Sturdy stop for a photo in each other’s campaign outfits Union foyer packed for results Fatima Akhter.
For the first time in recent union history, half of the fulltime officers in UBU have been re-elected and will continue their jobs next academic year. The role of VP (VicePresident) Education was won by incumbent Tom Flynn, who beat competitors Farooq Sabri and Amy Collis in a vote which went to second preferences. Hannah Pollak and Alessandra Berti were also reelected as VP Sport and Health and VP Welfare and Equality respectively. They will be joined by newcomers Imogen Palmer as VP Activities and Ellie Williams as VP Community., alongside new President Rob Griffiths. Current President Paul Charlton told Epigram that the number of current officers who have been reelected means that ‘Half of our team don’t need to use any time being inducted, they don’t need to spend too much time developing relationships; they don’t need to find their feet, which means that this organisation will be able to rapidly accelerate its development.’ ‘We’ve also got three fantastic individuals coming into new roles who I am completely confident will be excellent at their jobs and will be able to work with the current officers and staff to make UBU the organisation students deserve.’ Alessandra Berti, re-elected VP Welfare and Equality, told Epigram ‘Campaigning has come to make me realise how much I
Hiatt Baker campaign rumbles on First year students at the hall tell university something needs to change Pippa Shawley Editor
have “Residents complained
about regular loss of Wi-Fi, lack of hot water and electricity blackouts
WiFi signal, a frequent lack of hot water and electricity blackouts. A Facebook group has been set up to collect evidence of the disruption caused, and features a number of videos highlighting the extent of the noise heard in the hall, as well as a number of photographs of maintenance issues, including water leaking through areas full of
electrical wiring. A motion was passed at UBU’s Annual Members’ Meeting calling for ‘a reduction in fees and improvement of conditions at Hiatt Baker’. Construction work at the site begins at 8am during the week, and often continues past 5pm, meaning that students with fewer contact hours struggle to work from home. One English student living at the hall complained that he had ‘found this to be incredibly difficult above the constant din and whirring of the huge building site below’. Another resident said that the lack of green space meant that the hall ‘felt like a prison, especially when it snowed’. Tom Bassett, one of the co-organisers of the latest petition told Epigram, ‘We feel like we’re stuck here. We don’t want to move out because we’ve made friends here, but I can’t remember a time I’ve wanted to come back’. The petition also mentions
the potential health and safety hazards that the building work has caused, highlighted after a guest of a resident found themselves in the middle of the building site one night. Considering that the majority of open space has been taken over by contractors, it is surprising that there have not been more incidents of students finding themselves on the building site. Students at the hall are demanding that they are either refunded at least 30 per cent of their fees, or that the building work stops in some part. Members of the Facebook group reacted angrily when the university offered to pay for the ball as compensation. The warden of Hiatt Baker, Gordon Trevett, has said that he is deeply concerned about the work at the hall, and that they have already taken steps to install double glazing and heavy duty curtains in the rooms worst affected by the ongoing work.
Hiatt Baker residents have stepped up their campaign to get a part-refund on their accommodation fees. In a letter sent to a number of senior university staff, including Vice-Chancellor Eric Thomas, more than 350 students have called for a refund of 30 per cent of their accommodation fees. As reported in issue 259 of Epigram, Hiatt Baker residents feel that they were not made aware of the extent of the building work at the hall of residence when applying for accommodation, and therefore were unable to assess the potential ramifications this would have on both their university work and social lives. According to residents, the only mention of the building work in the hall’s prospectus was that ‘The very nature of any construction will at times cause varying levels of disturbance, especially to
the rooms directly facing onto the site’. It seems, however, that noise has not been the only problem caused by the construction. Residents have complained of regular loss of
Residents complain that Hiatt Baker ‘feels like a prison’
Broken ceilings are just one of the problems residents face
International students heard by uni chiefs International students voiced grievances about the University of Bristol’s monthly monitoring process at an open forum attended by senior university staff. Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Nick Lieven, Deputy Registrar Lynn Robinson and Academic Registrar Dr. Robert Partridge answered questions from a significant number of students affected by the process which the university claims is enforced by the UK Border Agency (UKBA). The event was chaired by Postgraduate Senate Rep Cerelia Athanassiou, an international student and author of the open letter which attracted over 150 signatures earlier this year. The letter, which asked that the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Eric Thomas, hold an open meeting, was raised by Athanassiou at the last meeting of university senate on February 25th. While Professor Thomas himself was not present, University of Bristol Union (UBU) Vice-President Education Tom Flynn told Epigram that UBU was grateful to university management for attending. He
called it ‘A productive meeting which gives us a lot to build on. In particular, I hope our suggestion that each school consults with its overseas students in working out how they can least intrusively monitor attendance in ways that don’t discriminate against those students or put extra hurdles in their path goes forward as soon as possible” Professor Lieven told students that ‘While it is true that the UKBA policy is “not set in stone” [as had been pointed out by Athanassiou], it is pressed on us [the university] to comply with legislation. The trick is to do it in a way that makes students feel welcome in Bristol’. ‘My prime objective is not to compromise compliance – there is a realpolitik here: we want to go through the [UKBA] audit first. I don’t want to aggravate anyone. I do think there’s a discussion we need to have as a sector. Universities UK is in active discussion about this – and you know who President is [UoB Vice-Chancellor Eric Thomas]’. Dr. Ryerson Christie, Lecturer in East Asian Studies, however, said that there had been a ‘Lack of evidence from the centre to
say we disagree with this policy from UKBA; that we are going to comply as we have to, but taking a stand publicly, that we as an institution object to this.’ An international student, who chose not to be named, agreed, adding that ‘It [the monitoring] originated because we’re international students. There is that discriminatory sense and no “we’re working on fine-tuning it” from the university stressing that it is not permanent. Ann Singleton, a representative for the University College Union and a Senior Research Fellow in the School for Policy Studies, told the audience ‘We need to ditch the language of UKBA. It doesn’t run the university and we shouldn’t always be talking about what it wants. Had these [policies] been challenged with some backbone by universities, many of them would never have become law’. There was agreement, however, that the forum had at least given international students a chance to voice concerns. Flynn added that the event was ‘The start of an important conversation with the university’.
Zaki Dogliani Deputy News Editor
Tom Flynn, Paul Charlton, Nick Lieven, Cerelia Athanassiou, Lynn Robinson and Robert Partridge
Zoology student brings wildlife home Matthew Field News Reporter
A bald eagle swooping down to catch a fish at sunset, Vancouver Island, Canada.
Practice, practice, practice. It is very easy to teach yourself. But more important is knowing your wildlife.
One of Gregory’s photos, a Peregrine flying in front of the Union Jack on top of the Houses of Parliament, was also featured
in the Guardian’s environment section in November last year. Another picture of an urban fox was picked up for one of The Telegraph’s ‘Photos of the Day’ in February earlier this year. One of Gregory’s first successes was winning the 2011 Young Outdoor Photographer of the Year award with a picture taken on Vancouver Island beating thousands of competitors with his close up photograph of a very inquisitive raccoon. Gregory told Epigram that his passion for photography began when he was 12, when his dad bought him an underwater compact camera. His advice for amateur photographers is ‘practice, practice, practice, it is very easy to teach yourself. But more important is knowing your wildlife to get the best results.’ Bertie Gregory
An urban red fox, Bristol
A second year Bristol Zoology student has captured a stunning collection of photographs during a recent trip to North America, as part of a project to document the ecosystems of the Pacific North-west Coast and Vancouver Island. Bertie Gregory, an already accomplished wildlife photographer, has spent the last two summers exploring and photographing the rich wildlife of the area which includes mammals such as black bears. Gregory is also becoming very well known in British photography circles for bringing urban wildlife closer to home. He is one of twenty young photographers working for 2020Vision, a group project to collect images from around the UK in order to ‘communicate the link between habitat restoration and our own wellbeing.’ 2020Vision wishes to promote environmental conservation and Gregory stated, ‘if you are ever going to inspire someone there is little better way than to show them wildlife on their doorstep.’ He believes ‘the public has become disconnected from wildlife’ and he wants to ‘get them reconnected’. While Gregory is one of the junior members of the project,
he has succeeded in collecting a selection of gorgeous images from around Bristol and London which include urban foxes and peregrine falcons.
An urban peregrine falcon stretching its tail feathers perched upon scaffolding, Bristol
Teaching excellence award for Bristol Laura Jacklin News Reporter
Such recognition is testament to the quality of undergraduate eduction at Bristol.
The University of Bristol has been recognised by The Guardian’s University Awards 2013, awarded runner up in the teaching excellence category. Bristol was rewarded for the creation of ‘Dynamic Laboratory Manuals’ which are guides to all of the apparatus, techniques and equipment a science student can expect to encounter throughout their degree. The guides enable hundreds of undergraduates to access interactive manuals and videos to learn about the skills they need before even stepping into the laboratory. The creation of the guides was due in part to the large amount of students arriving at Bristol to study a science degree without the necessary practical skills to be successful; a result of fewer practical experiments being done in schools. Instead of dumbing down the experimental side of science degrees, Bristol worked with partners including Bristol ChemLabS, AIMS/eBiolabs and a local e-learning company to create a resource that would fill in gaps in students’ knowledge. Dynamic Laboratory Manuals mean that instead of time in the laboratory being taken up with explanations of equipment, students can learn about skills and apparatus as they move through their degree programme, with increased confidence and preparation.
Charlotte Harris, a first year Cellular and Molecular Medicine student described the online guides as ‘a useful way of getting all of the information you need to know before practical experiments, as well as a really good revision tool’. Such is the success of the manuals, other subject areas such as Biology and Physics are making plans to develop similar learning strategies, as well as potentially expanding
Boxer opens up to students about mental health battle
Herol Graham with recently re-elected UBU Vice-President Welfare and Equality, Alessandra Berti
the package to A-level science subjects and marketing it to universities abroad. Professor Nick Norman, Head of the School of Chemistry at Bristol and Chief Executive of ChemLabS, said ‘ChemLabS and eBiolabs have been recognised by the University of Bristol as one of its most important recent teaching and learning initiatives, and work is underway to further develop this activity in other disciplines. For us to achieve such recognition is testament to the quality of undergraduate education at Bristol.’
Alex Saad News Reporter Former British boxer Herol ‘Bomber’ Graham recently visited the University to share his experience of suffering from depression. The talk and discussion group was part of the University of Bristol Union (UBU) initiative ‘Look After Your Mate’: a series of events designed to encourage conversation and reduce stigma about mental illness amongst students.
Graham, now retired from professional boxing, is generally regarded as ‘the best British boxer never to have won a world title’. He revealed during the talk that he was raped when he was eight years old and has struggled with depression throughout his life as a result. After stopping boxing following three failed world title attempts, Graham suffered from financial and familial breakdown, and attempted suicide. He was supported through his recovery by fiancé Karen Neville, who also
attended the talk. Graham is now involved with specialised personal training programs and promoting mental health awareness. ‘Men go through mental pain, but they daren’t say, “I’m suffering,”’ he explained, deeming the male sporting community to have a particularly stigmatised view of mental illness. ‘My mother used to say to me, “You’re a boxer. You should be able to cope.”’ Depression, however, is the most common psychiatric
disorder in the UK and the fourth leading cause of disability and disease worldwide. According to The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, ‘as many as one in four of us will be affected at some point in our lives’. UBU’s ‘Look After Your Mate’ fortnight featured a mindfulness walk and relaxation skills workshop, both useful methods for combating depression, as well as educational programs designed to help students look after themselves and others with a mental health problem. Additionally, there are several outside services available to support people with mental health concerns. Students Against Depression is a website offering guidance and information, whilst Off The Record Bristol and Light Box are locally organised projects actively supporting those with mental health concerns, providing an outlet to help people improve their lives. The NHS recommends visiting a doctor as soon as possible with regards to depression suspicions; Graham agrees, advocating ‘definitely see[ing] a specialist first’. He also finds exercise to be very effective in lifting mood, running early in the morning to boost his serotonin levels. ‘As soon as they dip, you have to pick yourself up again. That’s what I do.’ If someone appears to be struggling, Neville advised simply to ‘ask when you think there might be a problem’.
Secret donor gives £242,000 for language study in Tanzania Alex Saad News Reporter
Flickr: Kim TD
The money will be used to develop textbooks which will improve English proficiency.
An anonymous benefactor has made a massive £242,000 donation to the University of Bristol for a new project aiming to improve secondary education in Tanzania. The funding will allow teams of researchers to launch a project which will help students in Tanzania overcome language barriers which are often detrimental to academic progress and achievement. ‘The funder is most certainly known to the university but wishes to remain unnamed in public’, explained Dr Angeline M. Barrett, a lecturer at the University’s Graduate School of Education. Thanks to the funding, teams of researchers from the University of Bristol, led
by Barrett, as well as from the University of Dodoma, the Aga Khan University and the Tanzania Institute of Education
60% of secondary school children failed their national exams have been able to construct the three-year LaSTT (Language Supportive Teaching and Textbooks in Tanzania) project, which will address the dialectal difficulties faced by students in Tanzania’s secondary schools. The transition from primary to secondary school is accompanied by a change in the teaching language from Kiswahili, a widely spoken
African language, to English. As a result, many pupils face considerable difficulty in having to learn a new language in order to understand their other subjects, especially given the currently inadequate textbooks available, which use ‘dense, long sentences and few images, meaning very few students can read and use them’. The language barriers are often detrimental to academic achievement. ‘60% of students who took the national examinations last year (equivalent of GCSE) after four years of secondary schooling failed,’ said Barrett. ‘The project aims to contribute towards the development of textbooks and promote teaching strategies that support students to improve their proficiency in English’.
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Bristol kid racks up £1700 iTunes debt Katy Barney Senior News Reporter A five year old from Bristol has this month managed to rack up a bill of over £1700 on iTunes, after purchasing add-ons to an iPad game. Danny Kitchen, who lives in Warmley, just outside Bristol, asked for his parents’ Apple password in order to buy a free game. However within minutes he had accessed the game’s store and bought dozens of in-game weapons and ‘keys’ on the “Zombie” game, including 12 purchases of ‘333 keys’ at £69.99 a time and seven ‘333 ecstasy bombs’ at £69.99. Soon emails confirming the purchases attracted the attention of his parents, but their bank had not yet processed the transactions, so parents Sharon and Greg ignored it. However when Mrs. Kitchen received a call from her credit card provider, she realized the degree of the spending, and quickly contacted Apple. She told The Telegraph, ‘Loads of parents in the playground said similar things
had happened to them but for a lot less money.’ Apple, following three days of negotiations, agreed to refund the money, which is a great relief to the Kitchens, who say they will take more measures to prevent this happening again in the future. Apple say that their guide for parents contains instructions pertaining to such controls and a spokesman said that ‘All iOS devices (iPad, iPhone and iPod touch) have built in parental controls that give parents and guardians the ability to restrict access to content, eg internet access and age rated content such as music, games, apps, TV shows, etc.’ Danny has defended his mistake, saying ‘I said to dad “can you put the passcode for the game?”, he said no and then I said it was free so he said yes. The next day it cost lots of money. I was worried and I felt sad. I was crying. I’m not sure how I did it, I thought it was free. It was a good game, but I will never do anything like this again. I’m banned from the iPad now, but I am still going to play games when I can, but I will be careful now.’
Student who suffered temporary brain damage runs Bath Half for Meningitis UK Mark Alexander-Dann News Reporter A Bristol student has overcome temporary brain damage to run the Bath Half Marathon and raise hundreds of pounds for charity. Onor Crummay, who is studying to become a teacher, contracted meningitis four and a half years ago at the start of her first year at Bristol. She was forced to suspend her studies when doctors found that the disease had caused temporary brain damage, which made her feel drained and affected her ability to read and write. She ran with languages and philosophy student Serge Isakov and together they raised £600 for Meningitis UK. ‘Having managed to survive meningitis I’m in a good position to raise awareness of such a ferocious disease,’ Crummay told Epigram. ‘My work as a Meningitis UK Ambassador means I get to meet lots of people who have lost loved ones, or who have been left far worse off than me with permanent brain damage, or even amputations or paralysis.’
Serge Isakov and Onor Crummay cross the finish line, having raised £600 for Meningitis UK.
Bristol hosts cyber security competition Thomas Phipps News Reporter
Cyber Challenge team fending off attacks in last year’s final.
A Bristol University student made the final in a competition which aims to find talented people to protect the UK from cyber-crime, hackers and computer viruses. The Cyber Security Challenge UK final took place in Bristol and competitors included Joseph Greenwood, an Aeronautical Engineering student studying at the University of Bristol. Greenwood, who is currently in his second year at Bristol told Epigram that, ‘I’ve really enjoyed the experience; it’s a fantastic way to get people interested and involved in Cyber Security as a whole.’ ‘It’s an industry that’s only going to grow, and to be on the cusp of that wave is very exciting indeed. Personally I do it for the challenge, but the addition of winning some rather incredible career-enabling prizes is very welcome indeed.’ The challenge is now in its third year and is backed by
the government and industry, with over 50 cyber security organisations providing ‘career-enabling’ prizes worth approximately £100,000. Finalists such as Greenwood have had to work through a number of different competitions to get selected, including working on simulated malware and
It’s an industry “that’s only going to grow, and to be on the cusp of that wave is very exciting.
malicious coding throughout late 2012 and early 2013. The theme of the final challenge was ‘motorsports’ with professional cyber teams having designed a challenge based upon Formula One. Roy Matthews, cyber defence lead from top firm Cassidian, explained how cyber security is relevant to the motorsports industry. ‘Cyber security is a growing
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issue in all fields where success depends both on protecting the intellectual property of the product, in this case the car, and also the privacy of communications, such as information relayed between the F1 team during races, vital to performance on the track. We chose to test Masterclass finalists using this theme to provide an accurate representation of what cyber security professionals are up against on a daily basis,’ he said. Greenwood was ultimately unsuccessful and the winner of the main prize was Stephen Miller from Hertfordshire. Greenwood, who is sponsored at Bristol by the Royal Navy, told Epigram that, ‘I’m currently part of a group setting up an Information Security Society at Bristol University, who are planning on running some challenges and workshops similar to this so anyone interested in that should email me or join the Facebook group.’ To find out more about the Information Security Society, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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J. Ladyman on the value of Philosophy Michael Coombs Features Reporter We spend less of our GDP on education than any other advanced nation. It’s pretty clear, however, that the U.K. is not going to pay its way in the 21st century with natural resources and cheap labour. Education is now more essential than ever, but with the recent raise in tuition fees people are becoming increasingly skeptical about the value of Arts degrees, especially Philosophy. I discussed this development with James Ladyman, Head of Philosophy here at Bristol University, and Joanna Burch-Brown, a new addition to the Philosophy department. James was quick to point out that the focus on degrees and academic research being immediately useful is a self-defeating obsession. Sometimes, trying really hard to maximise something is actually quite counterproductive; consider sleeping, impressing people and having fun. Philosophy affords people the opportunity to pursue areas of intellectual enquiry simply because they’re interested in them, and it’s sometimes the case that the most seemingly pointless research ends up being astoundingly useful. Bertrand Russell’s investigations into whether the sentence ‘The King of France is bald’ is false or meaningless seemed pointless at the time, but his discoveries in logic and grammar went on to play a central part in establishing
the foundations of computer programming as we know it today. At first glance the content of philosophy might seem pale in comparison to say, medicine, because of its reluctance to grant the assumptions necessary for most practical activities, but philosophy allows us to appraise our medical, scientific and ethical practices as we use them. For example, the sudden increase in measles in the U.K. arguably resulted from myths surrounding inoculation dangers, which are now supposed to have been based on bad science. From asserting the existence of the Higgs Boson to deciding whether to get a flushot, being able to distinguish between good science and bad is essential and Philosophy enables us to tread the line between knowledge and skepticism all the more nimbly. A lot of contemporary philosophy is less abstract and ineffectual than the nay-sayers claim anyway. Joanna used Henry Sidgwick and Peter Singer as examples of philosophers who push ethical strategies to change social norms for the better. Brief reflection shows just how far we’ve come and how quickly things have changed as a result of ethical discourse. The tangible effects in society of reflective philosophical enquiry are abundant; less than fifty years ago Peter Robinson was singing ‘sing if you’re proud to be gay’ in protest to the common occurrence of Police beating up gay people, and now through
With the rise in tuition fees comes skepticism over the value of an arts degree. Epigram asks two academics why philosophy matters.
ethical discourse and philosophical analysis of equality gay marriage is gradually becoming legalised and you can be arrested for homophobia. It is essential to keep alive the speculative interest in questions which might not be directly answerable by other areas of the academic community in order to increase the likelihood of developments taking place, such as women achieving the vote or our mature attitudes to the environment. Philosophical understanding of what constitutes a good argument
plays a vital role in singling out these instances of misinformation and ensures education in general is in accordance with our best theories and explanations of the world. As a riposte to Socrates’ claim that the unexamined life isn’t worth living, Nietzsche quipped that the unlived life isn’t worth examining. One’s ability to engage in culture, participate in science, and consider the way one should interact with other people are all virtues cultivated through Philosophy, and spending time
dedicated to this process surrounded by the intellectual wealth of our history is immensely valuable, even if it might not impress. Whether you’re doing substantial research for a Philosophy degree, casually reading it for a couple of hours on a Sunday evening or even listening to Philosophy podcasts - the guys at www.thepartiallyexaminedlife. com make particularly engaging ones - there is something hugely rewarding about Philosophical reflection which everyone should at least have a go at.
Camilla Lupton Features Reporter Last weekend, I unwittingly attended a Socialist Worker’s Party conference, hosted by the Socialist Worker Student Society. I was under the impression that this was a day of talks run by SOAS under the broad title ‘The Crisis of Capitalism’. Given SOAS’s political reputation, I was under no illusion as to the angle from which the issue would be approached. Indeed, I hoped and expected to be informed about the current crisis, its causes and the possible alternatives or solutions. What I wasn’t expecting was to be addressed as ‘comrade’, pelted with the Marxist rhetoric of struggle and conflict, and encouraged to believe that the example of 1917 Russia was still completely relevant. Yet this is what happened, leaving me conflicted about the purpose and validity of the SWP, rather than convinced. Let me briefly attempt to summarise the SWP’s ideals, as advertised in their membership leaflet. These are revolutionary
socialists, who seek to ‘fight for a different kind of world, one in which we strive to meet people’s needs, not to satisfy the lust for profit of a minority’. They explicitly differentiate themselves from the reformist socialists who, in their view, ‘place their faith in the existing institutions of capitalist society and seek to persuade those around them that piecemeal reform is the way forward’, considering them to be as much an obstacle to their struggle as the capitalist ruling class. Theirs is a struggle to smash the state, to fight capitalism, to agitate, confront and be militant. It is this violent rhetoric that I find myself struggling with. Don’t get me wrong: I wholeheartedly agree with their ideals, and tend to think that anyone who is not committed to the principle of equality as a youth must be either misguided or simply heartless. These ideals spring from a very simple question – why should we be governed by a system that allows for some people to live in luxury while others die in slums? We have surely evolved to a point where we can
‘Last weekend, I unwittingly attended a SWP conference’
transcend our human instincts of self-preservation and try to harness them. As was discussed in the first talk I attended, titled ‘Accumulation: the motor of capitalism’, ours is a system that relies upon the kind of crisis we are currently experiencing and works in cycles of boom and bust. I do not feel that I can
approve of a system in which crisis, and thus inequality and poverty, must necessarily come about. However, my problem with the SWP is that they offered me no real alternatives to the capitalist system. They are very aware of this: every speaker ended by posing him
or herself this very question. The party membership leaflet says ‘we arm our members with the arguments and ideas required to convince those they fight alongside of the best way forward, and ultimately to win them to socialism’. Yet even after hours of debate and information I feel armed with no such arguments. When asked about the alternative, the majority of the party members only seemed able to answer that such an alternative was at this time inconceivable, but possible, and out there. That seems fairly unconvincing to me. Furthermore, their emphasis on the necessity to unite seemed at times to undermine the significance of individual efforts, with potentially dangerous consequences. When the issue of the power of the consumer was brought up, most of the members argued that exercising such power is pointless, since it doesn’t change the system. The very man who so proudly addressed us all as ‘comrade’ admitted that he still banked with Natwest, defending this fact by suggesting that
switching to an ethical bank was not enough. It seems to me that people with such revolutionary ideals could at the very least allow themselves to be inspired by the Move Your Money campaign, and express their dissatisfaction with the system by changing their bank accounts, instead of being so quick to reject reform ideas. So I’m not the SWP’s latest devotee – I won’t be joining the SWP, I won’t be trying to convert you to their cause and I didn’t join in the chants of ‘One solution! Revolution!’ with which the day finished. However, I did witness a display of inspiring student activism that seems to me to be so direly lacking in Bristol. I left full of admiration for this group of students so dedicated to their beliefs, and to the notions of equality and justice. The SWP’s is a political discourse that, in the face of rising support for the far right so clearly demonstrated by UKIP’s success in the recent Eastleigh byelections, it is essential we don’t lose.
Should Bristol’s street art be commissioned?
I like the excitement, the buzz. With commissioned work there’s no atmosphere
to pay serious dividends for their home town in recent years. Back in 2009, the Bristol City Council was deliberately kept out of the loop in the planning for the Banksy exhibition at the Bristol Museum – the project was kept secret from even the city’s top officials until the very last moment to avoid any official intrusion. The 300,000 visitors who flocked to see the artist’s work did not, however, slip under the council’s radar, and the i n c re a s e d
footfall that shuffled through Broadmead was enough incentive to set the clerical gears in motion. The upshot was the first See No Evil festival in 2011, which combined the collaborative efforts of businessman Mike Bennett, artist Inkie and the Bristol City Council to draw in 70 of the world’s most gifted graffiti artists to the city to work alongside Bristol’s own impressive local talent. The results were extraordinary - a visual explosion which transformed the dilapidated face of Nelson Street within the space of a week into something that drew in crowds from miles around, and creating some of Bristol’s most instantly recognised artwork – Nick Walker’s iconic thirty-foot mural of the man in the pinstriped suit is easily spotted from most areas of the city, and was one of the centrepieces that shot up over the course of the event. The benefits of having the council on board were immediately obvious – the administration provided a creative license on a different scale. The relationship has cut both ways, providing an opportunity for street artists to work with unprecedented freedom, and an o p p o r t u n i ty for the council to extol the city’s virtues to the world outside the West Country. M i k e Bennett effectively summed up the
contrasting ambitions of the two parties when he predicted that the 2012 festival would be ‘even more significant to the growth of Bristol’s cultural heritage, and bring even more visitors to the city’. Indeed, the council have made no secret of the fact that, for them, this is partly a numbers game. Guy Poultney,
one of the city’s younger councillors, expanded on their strategy at the Bristol’s HUB talk on ‘Street Art in Bristol’ last week, admitting that it was ‘no coincidence that the festival has coincided with clearing week’ for the English universities. Times are tight across the board. The country’s major cities have
found themselves in direct competition to attract a 25-30 year-old demographic with the technical skills to support the government’s ‘green, digital, hitech agenda’, and Poultney sees the city’s ‘cultural package’ as a big hook with which to draw in their youthful target audience. Events such as See No Evil and
The South West, Druids and the occult Spencer Turner Features Reporter English history has had a long affinity with Druids and their enigmatic nature. Interest in this order has remained because of the lack of any historical facts about them, or Holy book, and because of the secretive nature of the Druids themselves. This makes defining what a Druid is particularly difficult. Perhaps the most concrete definition is that ‘Druid’ is a word given to experts in magical and religious practice by the peoples speaking Celtic languages who inhabited northwestern Europe around 2,000 years ago. Around this time the Druids were important religious figures to the Celts, who had conquered Britain; the role of Druids as judges, mythics, doctors and scholars made them the most influential and significant individuals in Celtic life. So what does it mean to say that someone is a ‘druid’ today? The Druid community has always has a particularly close ties to the south west of England and today the Glastonbury Order of Druids is thousands of years old and Druid use of the Glastonbury Tor dates back to 2700 BC. Stonehenge also
has important significance in Druid life, despite pre dating Druidism; it has been used for around 800 years to celebrate the summer solstice. Whilst the Druid faith is not the same today as it was over 2000 years ago, there are still around 10,000 practising druids across Britain who keep the Druid faith alive through the traditions of oral poetry, and by wearing ancient Celtic robes and symbols. The Druid faith has gained more notoriety recently as a result of increased interest in spiritualism, as well as in the environment and the legends surrounding Britain’s past. The public indeed is becoming increasingly curious about the occult, and many new-age travellers in the British countryside have been drawn towards Druidism, and its beliefs concerning reincarnation. Often overlooked, Druidism comes from a rich and colourful period in pre-Roman British history. Caesar himself gave one of the earliest known accounts of Druids in Europe and stated their important role in society; he said they were considered one of the most respected classes of people. Unfortunately, this period in British and European history, in which Druids were most
Street art has made a comfortable home for itself here in the South West. The first generation of Bristol-based artists cut their creative teeth on the city’s backstreets in the mideighties, lighting up the derelict concrete walls that stretched from Easton to Ashton Vale. Inkie, 3D, and Banksy all quite literally made their names here, creating their ‘noms-de-can’ in Bristol before making the grade on the international stage. They left behind a legacy, and graffiti artists such as Lokey and the TCF crew have since taken up the mantle, turning Bristol into an urban tapestry that seems to be in a state of constant flux. Love it or loathe it, street art has become a permanent part of Bristol’s cultural DNA. Not that the council are complaining, with the return of the city’s prodigal sons starting
BrisFest 2010 are part of the bigger picture for Guy Poultney – a plan to put Bristol back on the culture map. If the wall-towall coverage of See No Evil is anything to go by, the strategy seems to be working. What this means for the future of street art in Bristol might, perhaps, be something of a concern for the city’s guerrilla artists. The art and the establishment have never been so cosy, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Massive Attack’s 3D talked about the benefits of working outside the law back in 1987, admitting ‘I like the excitement, the buzz. With commissioned work there’s no atmosphere’. Could the council’s more laissez-faire attitude to street art actually set back the city’s creative instincts? Only time will tell – although local artist Old Master admits that the positives definitely outweigh the negatives. ‘The police actually stop and say good morning, instead of telling me to step away from that wall”, he says, ‘and that’s got to be a good thing’. For the moment in Bristol, the future’s bright, and the future’s also blue, green, red, black and orange.
Sam Fishwick Online Comment Editor
Photo: See No Evil
Two years after the first See No Evil festival, Sam Fishwick asks if commissioning street art undermines the nature of the genre.
One of the Avery standing stones - the largest stone circle in the UK
prevalent, is a mysterious to us as facts are few and far between. This, however, has allowed modern Druids to rework their image and allow Druidism to survive into the 21st century. Most modern Druids do not generally claim to be descended from Druids of old, nor do they claim to follow the original rituals exactly; rather, Druidism has been malleable over time. The future of Druidism appears to be fruitful. It certainly seems that as a result of a reticent and reserved existence, Druidism will be able
to go forward without fear of much prejudice against them. Every year the summer solstice, one of the most important events in the Druid calendar, is becoming ever more widely reported on, and interest in the occult, spiritualism and the Druid belief system is becoming more and more widespread. The mysteries of the Druids resonate with the mysteries of Stonehenge, and other ancient British monuments, which makes the South West one of the most interesting areas in Britain.
Why do we hate North Korea so much? Ottilie Wilford Features Reporter Former Chicago Bulls star Dennis Rodman has been ridiculed after returning from a trip to North Korea and telling ABC’s host George Stephanopoulos ‘I love Kim and think he’s awesome’, referring to the totalitarian state‘s leader Kim Jong Un. ‘You know, he’s a good guy to me. Guess what? He’s my friend,’ Rodman said of Kim. He even went as far as promoting diplomacy between Obama and Kim because ‘[Kim] loves basketball. And I said the same thing, I said: “Obama loves basketball.” Let’s start there.’ However, their shared passion for sport is unlikely to heal the rift made by Kim Jong Un’s explicit violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions and his threats to international peace and security. When Kim came to power in December 2011 he immediately alienated the Obama administration. He challenged the US by declaring an upcoming ‘rocketlaunched satellite’ for April, directly after agreeing to suspend long-range missile tests in order to receive US food aid in February 2012.This was the first in a succession of threatening gestures regarding nuclear missile testing. One would be pushed to find anyone in the western world who didn’t express outrage at Rodman’s remarks. It may be easy to condemn his ignorant attitude, but we should use this instance as an opportunity to examine our own obliviousness as
to what is in North Korea that we find so abhorrent. We laugh at Rodman for calling Kim a ‘good guy’ when the immediate words that spring to mind if we think of North Korea are ‘oppression’ and ‘tyranny’. More importantly perhaps is the ‘secrecy’. We know there is something wrong with how the state of North Korea is being run, but because of our knowledge of the state’s intense concealment we fall into the dangerous trap of forgetting to define exactly what is so abhorrent. Few people really know the extensive details of atrocious violations to human rights going on in North Korea and this is undoubtedly due to the fact that it is a completely closed state and there is no access to anything except very occasional trips to the capital for reporters. This is an issue which American journalist Blair Harden takes up in his book published in 2012 Escape From Camp 14. In an interview he points out the extreme lengths that North Korea goes to in order to cover up their appalling human rights’ situation. Their ongoing missile threats act as a distraction, creating a permanent sense of crisis so that the ‘outside world cannot calm down enough to look objectively at the horrors going on there.’ Harden’s book is based on a series of interviews with Shin Dong-hyuk, one of two people to ever escape from North Korea’s horrific concentration camps and live to tell the tale. Donghyuk was born in the camp because his family was imprisoned for his
The account of one man’s escape from a North Korean gulag reminds us what is so abhorrent about the Kim family tyranny.
Young soldiers from the Korean People’s Army (KPA) in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea - 25 September 2012.
uncle’s capital crime of escaping from the state. Most prisoners end up there for similar crimes involving defection to South Korea. An estimated 200,000 people live in these camps. Prisoners are practically starved, living on a limited diet of only corn and cabbage soup. The authorities foster an environment of intense suspicion and mistrust, even within families. Donghyuk does not think himself unusual in that he felt no remorse at snitching on his mother and brother’s escape
plans, not even when he watched them be executed for the crime he exposed. While watching his mother be hung he ‘thought she deserved to die.’ When Dong-hyuk breaks a sewing machine in the factory he works in, his middle finger is immediately hacked off as punishment. ‘Sewing machines were considered more valuable than prisoners, and ruining one was considered as a grave offence.’ Incidents like these make for a shocking read, but perhaps the most
atrocious thing to take from the book is how little awareness the outside world has about what is going on in these camps or indeed of their very existence. Aside from Dong-hyuk there is virtually no evidence of what goes on, making it problematic for the media. It goes without saying that Rodman’s friendship with Kim is perverse. But whilst condemning him we must also reflect upon our own inability to fully comprehend the current situation in North Korea.
Archie Phillpotts Features Reporter Howard Marks should be a very bad man. A former drug kingpin who dealt in the murky waters of the international cannabis trade, he has been associated with the likes of the FBI, the Mafia, the IRA and the MI6 throughout his somewhat dubious career. Marks gained notoriety in the 1970s and 80s through his devastatingly tight grip on the worldwide marijuana smuggling pipelines and through a series of high profile court cases bent on bringing him to justice. After years on the run and dozens of aliases and disguises, of which ‘Mr. Nice’ is his most famous, he was eventually incarcerated in one of America’s toughest prisons on a 25 year sentence. From humble Welsh beginnings to elite smuggler, it was Marks’ intelligence that always set him apart, winning him a degree in nuclear physics from Oxford, where he was to experience hashish for the first time and forge contacts that would be important to his later
drug empire. His sharp mind bohemian joint haunted by would also become his most old hippies and marauding dangerous weapon in the dark backpackers. The excitement arts of narcotics smuggling and was certainly palpable in the anticipation of this cult transportation. A man in this peculiar line figure and outspoken political of work campaigner; Marks ran for Colombian drug lord parliament in the 1997 Pablo Escobar He emerged being another g e n e r a l onstage like e x a m p l e election on the a modernday - would be single issue of Blackbeard, expected to the legislation of cannabis. posses a nasty t h r o u g h disposition; He emerged cigarette one would onstage like smoke, swaying expect him a modernday and muttering to be the Blackb eard, sort of man t h r o u g h d a r k l y high-powered a cloud of judges are cigarette afraid to take s m o k e , to trial for fear swaying and of reprisal, the muttering sort of man darkly, almost who orders decapitations and certainly inebriated. murders with the click of a finger. After considering his first Marks, however, is very different. shaky public lecture in an Irish In fact, the opposite is true: he pub called Filthy McNasty’s and is charming, charismatic and urging us to support the local frighteningly clever as I saw last economy (read local dealers), Thursday in Stokes Croft. This he launched vigorously into mysterious man gave his talk at regaling us with charming the Full Moon Hostel, a pseudo- stories from his experience in
the underground, which all involved witty anecdotes about the ‘cut and deal’ of the drugs business. Described by the Daily Mail as ‘one of the most sophisticated drug barons of all time”, Marks relied on bribery to move huge quantities of narcotics across borders. However, he shied away from the terror tactics employed by the juggernauts of drug trafficking dealing in heroin and cocaine, and relied instead on ingenuity to stay under the radar - deploying subversive measures as varied as smuggling cannabis in the furniture of Pakistani diplomats moving into London, to hiding the cargo in musical equipment of fictional British bands supposedly touring America. Although he was a formidable force to be reckoned with, Marks was not immune to the law and was constantly looking over his shoulder. After skipping bail in 1973 and with his identity now well-known, due in part to the British press’s fascination with him, the Welshman became a wanted fugitive. He was eventually cuffed by the DEA in his holiday house
in Mallorca through a tapped phone line. A sevenyear stint in the rough prison of Terre Haut in Indiana was to follow. According to Marks, one of the only books he could read in custody was the Bible, and its influence was clear in his talk when he proposed to have an unholy communion joint and a glass of red wine in the name of Jesus. W i l d l y enter taining and dangerously amusing, here is a man sticking a nicotinestained middle finger up to old age and the Establishment, a veritable underground rockstar whose reputation precedes his presence. A bit like Mick Jagger, but more hairy and Welsh, he
Howard Marks: an audience with legendary ‘Mr Nice’
was a multinational criminal mastermind, international fugitive and notorious cannabis smuggler in the past, and a political activist, best-selling author and music producer in the present; Howard Marks is certainly an interesting man.
Editor: Joe Kavanagh
Deputy Editor: Nat Meyers
Should the cost of our degrees vary? Emily McMullin This is an issue that I have discussed on various occasions with friends, family and fellow students, and one that creates strong divides between us here at Bristol. As an English student, I cannot help but feel that I am not getting my money’s worth, particularly in comparison to say a Medic or a Chemistry student. I was strongly opposed to the rise of tuition fees to £9000 a year, and although I have now moved on and accepted this steep increase in cost, I still think it is an absurd price to pay for the 6 hours of contact time I get a week. Last year, I would have had that many hours in an average day at college, and I wasn’t paying anything for my education. Now I am not so ignorant as to think that university, like school and college, should be free, although in an ideal world the government would be able
“ Our tuition fees should reflect more justly what we receive. Or the University could at least throw in a free gym membership to keep us quiet.
“ to fund them all. But £9000a-year per student provides universities with large sums of money to say the least, and I do not feel that I am getting enough in return for my contribution (well, the government’s contribution, but eventually I’ll be paying for it). The Science departments get substantially more funding than the Arts departments do, which makes me feel that I am paying for other people’s degrees. Subjects like Biology, for example, get 10 – 30 hours a week, full use of the labs and a free textbook. Others like Geology take part in practicals most weeks and also go on field trips. Us English students, however, are entitled to three or four lectures a week along with a seminar and a tutorial. I understand certain subjects do require more hours, contact time with tutors and equipment, which is not a
problem, but our tuition fees should reflect more justly what we receive. I certainly think that the university could at least pay for the books required for our course; we have to fork out a minimum of £100 at the beginning of the year for the core texts and then continue to buy books throughout both terms. There aren’t enough copies of key texts in the library and even if you do manage to get your hands on a copy, you can’t write in it as is sometimes necessary. Subjects like philosophy also have to pay for their course packs, which at £15 each could surely be included in the £9000. For students with tight budgets, these extra costs make things quite difficult. Varied tuition fees across subjects would not be a simple change to make. In fact it would probably be rather controversial. There is of course the issue of social mobility that the increase of fees already raised; some would argue that varied fees would put people off certain subjects, and limit the degrees that students from lower-class backgrounds could undertake. However, paying £9000 a year has not had as dramatic an effect on the number of university applicants as was expected, although it may take a few years for us to see any drastic change, and those with a low household income do get a reduction in their fees. In the same way, I think it is unlikely that a prospective medicine student would take a history degree instead because the fees were less. We would all still be paying them back in the same way, and most of the subjects that would require higher fees will lead to better paid and more certain employment prospects. Let’s face it, the likelihood of an English student like myself earning the same or more than a medic in 20 years time is pretty small. I am very aware that varying tuition fees across subjects wouldn’t come without certain problems and resistance, but that didn’t stop the government tripling them. I think it’s only fair that students get what they are paying for, because soon people will start to realize they’re being ripped off and then we could really see a negative effect on the number of university applicants. Or they could at least throw in a free gym membership to keep us quiet.
Insight of an Intern
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Rachael Schraer As an Arts student, you might assume my obvious and self-motivated answer to whether tuition fees should vary across subject, to reflect the actual cost of the degree, would be a resounding ‘yes’. The arguments in favour of the statement are clear: why should I pay the same for my paltry six hours a week of contact time, and access to a library in which I can never get a seat, or even more rarely, a book - as a scientist pays for access to expensive equipment and in some cases, triple the teaching hours? However, this easy answer from (understandably) frustrated arts students looks to the wrong place for redress. I believe in equality of opportunity when it comes to education: students should have an equal opportunity to pursue their chosen path, whether they happen to excel at Chemistry, or History. It is, unfortunately, just the nature of the beast that arts courses are comparatively cheaper to run, but this arbitrary fact shouldn’t mean that access to science education is restricted. Although I’ve chosen to pursue an English degree, I would like to think that if I’d been more scientifically inclined, I would have been just as free to pursue this path without prohibitive financial consideration. Hiking up the price of these degrees for students who happen to be scientifically gifted, rather than inclined towards the Humanities, could prevent those from less advantaged backgrounds from gaining relevant education. It would deny them the greater freedom of choice that a student who happens to want to follow an Arts-based discipline would be privileged with, as well as lowering the perceived value of an equally worthy arts degree. This has some obvious and significant implications for social mobility: if we want to train the best doctors and scientists for the future, access to the appropriate education must be open to the most able regardless of background, and not just to those born into the top income bracket. According to the university’s Income Office, arts students’ fees are not being used to cross-subsidise science degrees. The fee follows the student, and does not get re-attributed outside of their department of study. This means that arts students pay for a hundred
per cent of their degree, whilst those starting more expensive courses still have part of their education subsidised by the government and other external sources, even after the tuition fee rise and dispensation with top-up fees. So, if Arts courses aren’t being used to subsidise the sciences, a rise in tuition fees for scientists wouldn’t impact on humanities courses. Instead, it would merely change where science degrees are funded from (one hundred per cent from the student, instead of partially government funded as they currently are). Although, arguably it could be said that this saving the government would make from not contributing towards Science degrees could be re-invested into the Arts, realistically it’s far more likely that this chunk of money would be taken out of the educational sector altogether; arts students would gain nothing, and Science students would lose out. Ultimately, even if I were to argue from a wholly selfish standpoint, raising scientists’
Hiking up the prices of degrees could prevent thosefromlessadvantaged backgrounds from gaining relevant education.
With cost increasingly determining whether students apply to university, Epigram asks: should some degrees cost less than others?
tuition fees wouldn’t solve the biggest problem, which is not tuition fees but the cost of living. As David Ellis recently quoted in his Telegraph blog, ‘One student …summed up the inadequacy of maintenance funding: “I don’t drink, and have a job, yet I am still £800 short on rent a term. In order to pay for my rent I have had weeks where I am living on around £10-£15, which is spent on food and only food. People need to seriously consider if university is appropriate.”’. In a system where ‘A student whose parents both earn the national average wage of £26,500 would receive no maintenance grant and a reduced loan’, without factoring in the fact that they may have younger, financially dependent children or elderly parents at home, or may not be prepared to bankroll their 22 year old not-such-a-child, the position for the non-trust-fundendowed students among us is going to become increasingly untenable.
Madness in the method: the dangers of method acting
Reports recently emerged that film star Ashton Kutcher was hospitalized as a direct result of his adoption of one of Steve Jobs’ notorious fruitarian diets. Kutcher undertook the stringent dietary regime – which limits intake to only fruits, nuts and seeds - in preparation for his role as the title character in new biopic ‘jOBS’, which focusses on the life and work of the late Apple CEO. Kutcher described his ordeal to reporters covering the recent Sundance Film Festival, where ‘jOBS’ premiered, claiming he had been ‘doubled over in pain’ prior to shooting, adding: ‘my pancreas levels were completely out of whack, which is terrible…considering everything’. Kutcher of course alludes to the devastating pancreatic cancer which Jobs succumbed to in October
2011 aged just 56, following weight - for his role in ‘The a long and painful battle. It Machinist’: his diet consisting of appears that Kutcher’s desire to water, coffee, and one apple per emulate the great Apple mogul day. Bale pushed his body to the has had severe, potentially life- limits, yet his ‘The Dark Knight’ threatening effects. So why co-star Heath Ledger tested then, did he choose to push the parameters of his mental his body to such extremities, to health, for his role as the Joker enhance a performance which in the aforementioned film. is already being Ledger remained described by in character at all critics as belowtimes, refusing par? to acknowledge Did Kutcher his real identity; Perhaps great lack confidence this proved to performances are so in his ability to be a potent ‘act’ the part? affecting because we mutation of Did he feel he can see the residuary of method-acting, could not play an artist’s previous lives that engendered without being and roles in their current the insomnia, Jobs, unable to performance depression, and ‘get under his substance abuse skin’, without that hastened l i t e r a l l y his death by repro ducing overdose in 2008, his pallid skin just months after tone. filming for ‘The Dark Knight’ Kutcher is not the first actor to concluded. go to extreme lengths, in order That said, there is potential to emulate his character. There success for the budding methodis a long cinematic history of actor. Most recently Anne artists who have suffered – both Hathaway, in her role as fallenin body and mind - for their art. woman Fantine in the epic ‘Les Christian Bale evidenced his Miserables: the film’, acted out dedication to acting in 2004, the scene where Fantine has when he rapidly shed over 28kg her tumbling locks chopped off - approximately 1/3 of his body in real-time with beautiful, and
harrowing results. Daniel DayLewis went to similar lengths to fulfil the role of the title character in the Spielberg biopic ‘Lincoln’, due out this week. He signed of SMS messages to cast members as ‘A’ or ‘The Commander in Chief’, refusing to speak of current affairs, and allowing Lincoln to dominate his every conversation. Hathaway and Day-Lewis have reaped substantial reward and critical acclaim for their efforts, both actors receiving Golden Globes for their respective performances. Evidently, there is much to be said for methodacting, if, unlike that of Ledger, it is carefully paroled, and kept within reasonable boundaries. Arguably, there might be other reasons why Kutcher may want to tone down his ‘reallife’ portrayal. The intention to involve oneself so fully and intensely in a cinematic role is indeed admirable, but is it apt? As great legends of film have testified, it is the amalgamation of both fictional character and real-life enigma which produces the most gripping performances. Liz Taylor was a magnificent Cleopatra, yet, throughout her captivating performance, one was always obliquely aware of
the fascinating woman behind the regal address. Taylor’s performance captured both powerful female-leader, and potent public celebrity, Egyptian goddess, and American Itgirl. Further, perhaps great performances are so affecting because we can see the residuary of an artist’s previous lives and roles in their current performance; arguably, in Hathaway’s desolate Fantine we see glimmers of her innocent, nubile ‘Princess Bride’, and it is exactly that which evinces our empathy. As Kutcher’s rather reckless attempt to embody Steve Jobs has shown, methodacting is perhaps not always the right route. Arguably, he has superseded what the audience reasonably ex p e c t s from their p e r fo r m e r ; we want to see an accurate p or trayal , yes, but not of a superhuman duplication. Overall, it
seems that the Oscar winning performances - those which do not have a detrimental effect on the artist’s well-being, at least - maintain a careful equilibrium between character and actor; such actors immerse themselves in roles, but never allow their real identity to become subordinate to that of their characters.
George Osborne is blindly steering a Tory Titanic
Alex Gorokhov Cameron’s support for George Osborne amidst the choking of the economy may prove to be a decision he lives to regret. The downgrade of the UK’s credit rating was an inevitable disappointment, yet Mr. Osborne’s reluctance to accept the failure of his restoration tactics leaves an air of doubt whether the coalition’s master plan to repair the country’s economy is ever going to pay dividends. Agonisingly slow progress in the reduction of the deficit has meant a complete derailment of the Chancellor’s original plans and promises. Whilst slight improvements have been made through the government’s austerity measures, VAT increases and cuts in capital spending have left the economy frail to say the least. Calls for a kinetic reanimation of the economy have been widespread, with an increase in spending presented as the sole realistic way to breathe life into a financially limp Britain. It was recently revealed that Osborne has halted his questionable policy-
making, putting on hold any parliamentary action until after the 2015 election – a vivid demonstration that the Chancellor appreciates the hole he has dug himself. His opponents will argue this is somewhat a throwing in of the towel; yet, reminiscent of a great boxing coach, Mr. Cameron defiantly stands behind him in the blue corner, lending his full support to his under-fire colleague. Osborne’s threat to split up banks has equally raised eyebrows amongst the financial elites. Launching a scathing attack on those who acted
irresponsibly in the past, the Chancellor has warned that the governor of the Bank of England will have the power to breakup a bank, ‘splitting its retail arm from its wholesale one’. Whilst politically sound, from a financial perspective Mr. Osborne once again has fluffed his lines. The key to economic recovery lies in the rebuilding of trust in the banks and a subsequent increase in the money lent by them to convalescing businesses. The proposed reforms would position the UK as the only country in the world to hold the separation of banks within its
statute books, leaving London looking rather unattractive as a global financial centre. At a time when the international banking community looks to rally in order to solve global financial issues, depleting London’s appeal would prove a critical error. One must also look to the future in order to fully analyse the Chancellor’s performance. The strategy for economic growth, set to be implemented following the 2015 parliamentary election, implies modifications only in the form of public spending cuts; alas, Osborne’s critics predict
this is solely a pipedream, demonstrating either the Chancellor’s naivety, or his desperate desire to maintain the public’s faith through an optimistic prophecy. The Institute for Fiscal Studies affirms that the £64bn deficit will not be solved solely through public spending cuts; forecasters state tax rises in the region of £10-12bn will be required in order to recover the UK economy. The promised land of post-election economic growth appears to once again be leaving taxpayers at the mercy of ruthless government policy.
Controversial government plans to launch a ludicrous -considering the current economic climate - £47bn project to build a high-speed railway system across Britain has only worsened public questioning of where their taxes are going. However, it is not just public perception that Osborne and Cameron should fear. The recent dispute over gay marriage demonstrated internal turbulence within Mr. Cameron’s party; increasing numbers of grassroots Tories believe the Prime Minister is hijacking their beloved party and leading it into oblivion. Such discontent within the ranks unsurprisingly leads to the original modernisers tightening their already unyielding bond, with Osborne forming an integral part of this endangered herd. The modernist Tory belief is that the party must evolve or die – if Cameron were to surrender his closest ally now, any aspirations of maintaining order within his government would be extinguished. As Mr. Osborne’s deficit reduction targets solemnly fade into the distance, the sight of Cameron by his side suggests that, if the Chancellor steers the Tory ship down, the Prime Minister will be his chief mate.
13 13 13
Hands off our booze: why ‘plain packaged’ alcohol won’t fix much
Media frenzy shows Huhne is paying the Pryce
Rosslyn McNair We are all familiar with the pictures. A girl wearing her best dress and highest heels, slumped by a bin, vomiting away the three hours it took her to get ready. A group of boys, desperately trying to aim punches at each other with as much accuracy as a two toed sloth painting its toenails. Thanks to the long lenses of the Daily Mail and others like it, scenes like this have become commonplace in our papers and on our television. Programs like Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents and 999 What’s your Emergency have even turned binge drinking into a twisted spectator sport where we point and giggle at unfortunates. Several journalists have recently commented that the social pressure to drink alcohol in the UK is enormous. Teetotalers are treated with the sort of suspicion reserved for men with thick German accents during WWII or people who don’t like kittens. It is this universal acceptability towards
The British belief in our right to drink is akin to America’s belief in their right to bear arms.
drinking alcohol that is surely responsible for alcohol misuse costing the NHS £55bn a year. Therefore it comes as a surprise to me that the government has rejected proposals by a coalition of medical bodies and drinking charities in order to reverse this binge drinking trend. Proposals including banning companies such as Budweiser sponsoring major sporting events, lowering the drink-drive limit and putting cigarette style health warnings on alcohol. Several of the proposals might have been a little extreme - such as suggesting that alcohol should only be sold at certain times of the day in order to stop, what the Guardian referred to as ‘preloading’, the much loved social activity of ‘pre-drinking’. But overall the suggestions were certainly conducive to reducing Britain’s drinking culture. The Department of Health responded by saying: ‘Cigarettestyle health warnings are not applicable to alcohol. All levels of smoking are bad for your health, but the same cannot be
said for alcohol consumption’. They have a point. If you were a professional buying a bottle of wine to have over dinner with a partner, you might feel the labels were unnecessarily inferring that, by the mere acr of consuming alcohol, you either were a hooligan or had the intention of transforming into one three glasses down the line. But equally it is a common thought that if alcohol had been discovered at the same time as something like heroin, it would almost certainly have been made illegal. The fact is that education on the dangers of drinking alone isn’t working. It’s very difficult to tell a child that something will eventually cause considerable harm to them if they then go home and see their parents partaking in a glass of two. Alcohol consumption is normalised for children in a way that smoking is becoming more and more stigmatised. My scant memories of being told about the dangers of alcohol was less useful for instilling a fear of consuming too much
and more helpful in adding up alcoholic units in relation to a length of a hangover. The Guardian, who reported on this story, described the measures as ‘draconian’ which I think subtly lays bare the problem with drinking in this country. The British belief in our right to drink is akin to America’s belief in their right to bear arms. When we believe the government begins to infringe on this ‘right’, we see it not as an attempt to help both us and our health system but as an erosion of civil liberties. We are automatically on the defensive. Whilst I’m undeniably partial to a glass or two, recently it’s started to dawn on me that maybe I am drinking too much. The first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem, and the reaction of both The Guardian and even the Department of Health to sensible proposals to curb a serious problem in this country, suggest we have a way to go before that acceptance occurs.
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Chris Huhne’s fall from grace has, unquestionably, made for compulsive reading. The disgraced former cabinet minister was last week sentenced to eight months in prison for perverting the course of justice, after he admitted asking his then-wife Vicky Pryce to take his speeding points to avoid losing his driving licence in 2003. The national press, however, have long since lost interest in the speeding rap, having instead been caught up in the intriguing sub-plots that have dominated proceedings at the Southwark Crown Court. ‘An affair to remember’ doesn’t quite do the episode justice. The details of the couple’s bitter divorce proceedings, so central to the arguments of both the prosecution and the defence in court, have hammered Huhne in the national headlines for the last twelve months. ‘Dad, you disgust me’ screamed The Daily Mirror in February, when the paper published texts between Huhne and his son, Peter, dating back to June 2010. But did they overstep the mark? Was the story still ‘in the public interest’, or had the paper blundered into a more capricious form of salacious journalism? It’s a difficult line to tread. On the one hand, the conversations between father and son were, to an extent, pertinent to the case, with a text from May 2011 apparently implicating Chris Huhne’s ‘responsibility’ for passing the points on to Pryce. The relevant exchange was, however, only one of nine others printed - all highly emotive, but lacking any discernible journalistic purpose other than to spin out a good story. The Mirror was by no means the only paper playing on the nation’s heart-strings: The Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph, the BBC, and indeed almost every other reputable broadsheet and tabloid foregrounded the breakdown in the relationship between Chris Huhne when the evidence was made public in February. The Independent was the only paper to take the moral high ground, instead choosing to print an editorial piece condemning their publication. Editor Chris Blackhurst should
be applauded for his stand on the episode, but with the outfit’s circulation dropping by 35% in the previous calendar year, their stance has also served as a timely reminder that scandal sells, regardless of content. Pryce and Huhne have, of course, made their own respective beds to lie in after the manner in which they have both played the media over the course of the trial. Pryce, of course, fed material to The Mail on Sunday through freelance journalist Andrew Alderson as part of her efforts to ‘nail’ her ex-husband, turning to The Sunday Times - who broke the story in March 2011 - when she became frustrated with The Mail’s lack of progress. Mr Justice Sweeney, who presided over the trial, condemned her ‘weapon of choice’ as a doubleedged sword, given that they had both been complicit in breaking the law. Huhne’s legal team have also carefully managed the press – it has been suggested by certain sources that the publication of the eight other text conversations was part of an effort by the defence to undermine the legal testimony of his son by calling into question his emotional stability. Even for a man as ruthlessly determined as Chris Huhne, this would represent a new and quite appalling low – an accusation which lended extra weight to Mr Sweeney’s damning conclusion that ‘any element of tragedy is entirely your [Chris Huhne’s and Vicky Pryce’s] own fault’. There is little doubt that, directly or indirectly, Pryce and Huhne provided the ingredients for their own demise in the national papers. Nevertheless, there is no excuse for the relish with which the media served up the story of a wealthy family at war with itself. There is little defence to be had in hiding behind the facts - the glee with which the Mirror trumpeted ‘THE STORY THEY ALL WANTED…THE PICTURE THEY ALL WANTED’ was evidence enough of their desire to twist the knife as deep as it would go. Chris Huhne has quite rightly been hung out to dry. Nevertheless, there seems to be little reason to air the man’s dirty laundry out with him, at the full cost of his family’s dignity. Sympathy has always been in short supply in the printed press, and the Huhne case has proved no exception. Perhaps, however, the time has come to look for the bigger picture.
Science & Tech
Editor: Mary Melville
Deputy Editor: Erik Müürsepp
Is oxytocin really the love drug? Marie Rodgers Science Reporter
like humans trust everyone they meet and regress into a state of inertia. Oxytocin, however, is a slow-acting hormone, with very different mechanisms to drugs of abuse. Participants in experiments tend not to be able to tell whether they’ve been given the hormone or a placebo. This suggests it may lack the instant gratification essential to addictive chemicals. Whilst oxytocin may not have the potential to bring
about world peace/the collapse of civilisation, it may have powerful therapeutic applications. Its positive effects on individuals with schizotypy (a continuum of characteristics related to psychosis) and personality disorders are already being investigated. ‘If you administer oxytocin to people with schizophrenia, not only does it improve their social skills, it seems to attenuate their psychotic symptomatology,’ Rowe says. Rowe also suggests it may also be useful in talking therapies and counselling, as the pro-social effects may lead
to decreased inhibitions when discussing sensitive issues. This is slightly reminiscent of the ‘psychedelic therapy’ of the 50s in which drugs such as LSD were used to get people to open up in therapy and even marriage guidance sessions. Describing oxytocin as merely a social promoter is far too simplistic – it is a chemical involved in the very complex process of social interaction. For example, some studies have found that whilst it promotes sociability towards familiar people (members of the ‘in-group’) it increases ethnocentricity and
discrimination against the ‘outgroup’. However, scientific evidence has never stood in the way of money-making or headline grabbing. Rowe says, ‘I remember when we started this research program, you’d get these adverts selling oxytocin sprays to businessmen. There were pictures of men spraying a room with the product and women fawning! Which is obviously complete nonsense.’ So there you have it, expert advice says don’t spend money on sprays claiming to make you irresistible to the opposite sex.
Take part in novel research The Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group (TARG) are a group of Bristol researchers interested in examining the causes and consequences of alcohol and nicotine use, together with the biological and psychological factors underlying addiction and mood disorders. We are looking for volunteers to take part in the following studies. • Emotion recognition training. Facial expressions provide us with information about what other people are feeling and thinking and can help us anticipate others’ behaviour.
Problems with accurately recognising expressions can lead to difficulties communicating and behaving appropriately in social situations. The research focuses on developing ways of training people to perceive expressions more positively and accurately. For further information please contact sally.adams@bristol. ac.uk • Smoking studies. We are conducting several studies looking at the ways in which nicotine influences thought processes and behaviour. This research will develop our understanding
of smoking behaviour and will help us come up with realistic treatments for quitting smoking. Specific projects in this area include the effects of inhibition training on smoking and the effects of smoking pharmacotherapy (e.g. stopsmoking medication) and cognitive training on smoking. For further information please contact angela.attwood@ bristol.ac.uk You can sign up to our mailing list at www.bristol.ac.uk/ expsych/research/brain/targ/ to hear about all current and upcoming experiments.
EU tobacco directive: the awful truth Jenny Henshaw Section Editor With about 25% of 16-19 year olds and a third of 20-24 year olds in the UK considering themselves smokers, the likelihood that you are a smoker, or are good friends with a smoker are pretty high. Everyone knows the risks smoking comes with, and scary as they are, it clearly doesn’t put everyone off. Students and other young people seem to have the mentality that it will never happen to them, but 700,000 people in the EU die from smoking related diseases every year, and over 70% of them started in their teens. Another shocking statistic for
money tight students is that smokers cost the EU £20.6 billion a year – think how long you could have your heating on for with that kind of money! The contribution to the UK’s economy from the tax on cigarettes is £12.1 billion, and we all know the UK is in need of more money. However, for those who do smoke, that’s even more of your money being paid to the government on top of your tuition fees, with £4.10 of every £5.50 packet of cigarettes being taken in taxes. In 2001, the EU recognised that regulation of cigarettes and other tobacco products was needed in order to try and reduce the number of smokers in the EU, so they set up the tobacco products directive
They introduced new policies and legislation to be enforced in all member states of the EU, including:
25% of 16-19 year olds in the UK consider themselves smokers
information about tobacco, as well as the tobacco market have changed, such as introducing the 2007 ban on smoking inside public spaces. In 2010 it was widely recognised that the TPD needed updating, however the EU Health Commissioner at the time, John Dalli, mysteriously kept postponing the revision dates. Dalli was fired in October last year over claims he had known about communications between tobacco companies and their shareholders that would influence the revised TPD in their favour. His successor, Tonio Borg, made an announcement on the 19th December 2012 stating that the
new directive will be put in place from 2015/2016. The revised proposal states that: • Requirements for the packaging of each cigarette pack should be 75% pictorial health warnings rather than textual health warnings; • There should be no company branding on cigarette packs; • A ban on slim cigarettes will be imposed; • There will be a minimum
of 20 cigarettes per pack (an increase from the current minimum of 10 allowed in some countries, including the UK); • Current limits on tar, carbon monoxide and nicotine levels will be maintained; • Flavourings used to disguise the taste of tobacco in cigarettes, roll-your-owns and smokeless tobacco will be banned; and • The ban on oral tobacco, or snus, in all member
states except Sweden will be continued. The revised TPD will hopefully discourage students, along with the rest of the population, from smoking as it will mean that cigarettes become less affordable, less appealing and mean they taste even worse than they already do. It remains to be seen whether the set date for the revision of the TPD will be stuck to this time around, but surely the sooner the better.
• A ban on misleading words such as ‘light’, ‘mild’, and ‘low-tar’; • A restriction on the maximum tar, carbon monoxide and nicotine in the products; • The requirement of a health warning on tobacco products; • A ban on the use of oral tobacco or snus (except in Sweden, where it is allowed as it is seen as traditional).
(TPD) with aims to reduce the appeal of tobacco products and the ease with which they can be obtained. They introduced new policies and legislation to be enforced in all member states of the EU Since 2001 the scientific
Oxytocin has been called the cuddle chemical and the love hormone. It is thought to be involved in maternal bonding, sexual pleasure, empathy and generosity - all the things which make life worth living. It’s easy to see why it’s being touted as the solution to all of mankind’s ills. But is it really that simple? Recently, a paper published by scientists from Bristol’s School of Experimental Psychology found that subjects administered with oxytocin rated unfamiliar faces as more trustworthy and attractive. This is in line with the current view of oxytocin as a hormone which promotes pro-social behaviour. This paper won an accolade from the journal Hormones and Behaviour for its high citation rate, highlighting the current fascination and excitement surrounding the hormone. However Dr Angela Rowe, a co-author on the paper, believes many have been too optimistic about the potentials of oxytocin. She says early animal literature indicated that oxytocin may play a strong role in bonding behaviours, for example if you increase the levels in an ewe she bonds with every lamb she comes across. But human studies have not found such
simple causal relationships, and expected effects on attachment behaviours were not found. Could oxytocin be an opiate of the masses – if its effects are so wonderful, could it theoretically be addictive? Its availability is very limited, but synthetic oxytocin is frequently used in childbirth and the real thing is starting to be easier to come by. This sort of thinking inevitably leads to cynical visions of a dystopian future in which stupefied, placated, child-
25 years: how science can change the world Looking to the future Verity Hunter reports on how superconductivity could lead to speedy hover cars and floating trains. Everyone evacuates the concert hall within a few seconds with no resistance and they’re all energized when they get outside. Such is the wonder of frictionless superconductivity. Unfortunately at the moment, superconductors only work at extremely low temperatures – even ‘hightemperature superconductors’ are only characteristic at minus 135°C. The reason for this is that scientists don’t really understand why this phenomenon occurs, once this is understood the combination of elements necessary for a superconductor will be much easier to deduce. So, what’s the future? Superconducting trains that run at 300mph and hover cars, not to mention ‘levitation belts’ that can be worn to simulate flying. As cool as that is, the medicinal advances would be phenomenal: portable MRI machines could become the norm. In addition, highpowered supercomputers, transmission bandwidth that is 167 times faster than at present, and hyper-efficient power generators. Maglev trains, based on magnetic levitation, are currently in operation. These are based on the same levitation principal as that of
The future holds many exciting things for scientific advances, but the invention of viable hover cars and floating trains that can get you from London to Edinburgh in an hour and a half may be closer than we think… I know it all seems a bit Futurama but with the help of superconductors that work at room temperature, it could become a reality in our lifetime. Superconductors are metals or alloys that have zero resistance within their structure and an expulsion of magnetic fields, causing them to levitate above a magnetic material. This levitation would cause no resistance between the train and the track, meaning that the train could be pushed at the beginning of the journey and would need no more acceleration. Imagine free electrons in a typical conductor as people coming out of a packed concert hall, everyone is moving slowly out of the doors apart from the handful of annoying ones that have forgotten their coat. Thanks to the resistance they provide, the general speed of the jostling crowd is slow. Now replace those stragglers with a few thousand synchronized Usain Bolts.
superconductors, however, these require huge magnets to support the weight of the train and their use is still widespread. The amount of energy required to produce a super conductor
Magical transgenic plants Mary Melville Section Editor One of the current global problems is population increase. It is one thing that can’t be ignored and is steadily increasing without fail. The population is expanding by 80 million people a year and is thought to peak in 2050 at just over 9 billion. With 1.02 billion people estimated to be undernourished it is essential
for the next 25 years to tackle how to feed this growing population. By genetically modifying crops, the nutritional value of food could be significantly increased. Take golden rice: this rice was genetically engineered to produced beta-carotene, which is a precursor Vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency kills over 670,000 children under 5 each year, so this new rice could be an essential new part of people’s diets. In addition
researchers are looking to add vitamin E, iron and zinc to the rice through genetic modification. Increasing nutritional value of food isn’t the only way modified plants can help. As the global population increases, and maximum yield production per hectare levels off, it is imperative that we find a solution. Currently 40% of the world’s arable lands are too acidic for crops. Genetically modified plants could help to ‘clean up’ these lands and
the nutritional value of food could be significantly increased.
recycle materials; for instance tobacco and papaya plants have been successfully grown in soils high in dissolved aluminum. Taking this further, plants can even be modified to biodegrade explosives. Wars have damaged a huge amount of land that could potentially be used for agriculture. Modified plants were able degrade explosives including GNT, making them a potential strategy for removing pollutants in the soil.
is huge and on August 11, 2006, a maglev train compartment on the Transrapid Shanghai airport line caught fire due to an electrical problem. None of this would be a problem with
a superconductor train, which would be much faster and more environmentally friendly. Since scientists all around the world are putting all of their efforts into finding this
illusive room temperature semiconductor, it could only be a matter of decades. One thing is for sure: the person who discovers this will change the world as we know it.
Omnipotent machines Adam Scott Science Reporter A number of films depict supercomputers with humanlike intelligence; once trusted they became too powerful and wreaked havoc – HAL9000 (2001: A Space Odyssey), Skynet (Terminator franchise), and V.I.K.I (i-Robot). Could this ever actually happen? ‘No, this is just science fiction’, you say. Maybe so, but advances in Artificial Intelligence are progressing at such a rate that one futurist believes that by 2029 a computer will beat the Turing Test – essentially a computer will be created with intelligence that matches or even surpasses that of humans. Predicting the future is impossible, right? Wrong. In 1999 Ray Kurzweil wrote Age of Spiritual Machines which predicted technological advances for specific decades – 2009, 2019, 2029, and 2099 by applying knowledge of the Law of Accelerating Returns. Of 147 predictions for 2009, 78% were entirely correct, 8% ‘essentially correct’ (a few years off), 12% partially correct and just 2% wrong. With such devastating accuracy, one must wonder whether the same will be true come 2029 – just over 15 years from now. In 2029 Kurzweil predicts computers will routinely pass
the Turing Test, although controversy will exist over whether machines are as intelligent as humans in all areas, leading to the rise of a genuine ‘robot rights’ movement. There will be considerable progress in understanding the human brain, such that reverse-engineering will allow algorithms coding for development of specific brain regions to be deciphered and incorporated into computers. Computer implants will be developed that can augment humans’ natural senses, improving higher brain functions such as memory, learning speed and general intelligence, while machines themselves will
Computer implants will be developed that can augment humans’ natural senses
autonomously learn and create new knowledge. These rather eerie events seem distant, but may be closer than we think. ASIMO, Honda’s humanoid robot creation, can recognise objects, postures, gestures, its environment, sounds and faces, enabling interaction with humans. Meanwhile, the Papa Mau Wave Glider recently set a world
record for the furthest distance travelled autonomously by a robot, travelling almost 17,000 km and surviving 15 hurricanes en route. Robots are being used to assist surgical procedures and are now even capable of creativity, something that makes us uniquely human: the Spanish computer cluster named Iamus can write its own complex musical compositions for different genres and cultures. The Blue Brain project is even working towards creating an artificial brain and they’re making very good progress. Professor Chris Melhuish, director of the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, calls robots ‘life savers’. ‘You want them to go in places where you don’t want to be, at a time that you don’t want to be there, doing something that you don’t want to do, which is still useful.’ He also states that ‘The future is going to be full of robot devices, having degrees of autonomy. The key thing is that in the future we’ll see robots working with us and for us.’ We already heavily rely on computers, but could they become over-relied upon and too powerful? The aforementioned films seem slightly less fictitious now, but on a positive note, at least you may get your robot butler after all.
Editor: Lucy de Greeff firstname.lastname@example.org
‘The ASS library will always be a sciences overflow car park’ Natalia Osiatynska
by visiting each in turn and analysing their repulsiveness. This idea that the use of ASS library is out of preference rather than necessity is based on the flawed assumption that the ASS library is really great and the science libraries are all really awful. I hate the ASS library. If I can find anywhere else to work, I will. It is ugly and intimidatingly huge. As I attempt to get through the barriers, before remembering that I must present my papers to the mechanical customs officer who guards the entrance, I feel the judging gaze of all the confident, well-read artists in the cafe. Theireyes pierce my soul and see a list of all the influential literature I haven’t read. They see that I am neither knowledgeable about music nor can I play an instrument and that I am frighteningly clueless when it comes to popular culture, as I fumble for my wallet and snatch my student card out , drop it, pick it up, swipe it on the scanner-ma-jig the wrong way, then the right. As I pace from the arena of stares, I think to myself ‘Maybe I’m reading too much into the look they gave me’. By contrast, my native biological sciences library, manages to be
“If I can find anywhere else to work, I will. It is ugly and intimidatingly huge”
both airy and cosy. It is wall-to-wall varnished oak and ancient tomes on chimps and extremophiles, and everything in between. Jokes and exaggeration aside, the point I am trying to make is that few scientists actually want to be in the ASS library. Yet, on the 5 or 6 occasions I have had to work there this year, I have been accompanied by a swath of other biologists. The reason? Deadlines. Have an essay due in the next few days? Good luck finding a seat in the biology library, because so does everyone else. I am willing to bet that on any given day in the ASS library, almost every scientist in there will be doing the same course and the same piece of work. Preventing non-artists from using the ASS library would just mean scientists would have to skip lectures to ensure getting a computer (you need to be on the university’s internet to access most scientific papers) and those that don’t would suffer. Furthermore, 90% of the time any single given science subject will not have any specific deadlines in the immediate future, and the subject library will be barren and lifeless. So, the simple argument of ‘we need to have more library space’ would be futile; there is no point in building new library space if it sits empty most of the time. It is probably best to just accept that the ASS library will always be a sciences overflow carpark.
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As we are approaching Easter and exams are fast upon us, we start to consider the monotonous routine we force ourselves to adopt as we begin to move into the library. Library life is something many of us are all too aware of already, some of us even having a designated desk in that particularly area of the building that is ours and solely ours! One often comes across students who have fallen asleep in the library and we begin to wonder if they ever actually go home to sleep. If you are familiar with feeling like you have made the permanent transition from sociable and fun university life to monotonous and dull library life, you may also have your own mental list of annoying things that people to do whilst in the library. When spending long periods of time in such confined spaces, it is no wonder that our fellow students, who may have once been friends to us, now become our worst nightmare. From sniffing really loudly, sighing really loudly to typing really loudly, there are infinite mannerisms that begin to irritate. Unbearably loud typing is the bugbear of many students. The often loud battering of the laptop keys creates such a racket that you cannot concentrate and subsequently listen out for the annoying sound. The tranquillity of the library is forever disturbed by not just the pounding of the keyboard but also by those who have a cold and are determined to make you aware of it. Constant sniffing every five seconds is as annoying in the library as it is in an exam and almost makes me want to offer that person a tissue for their sake and for mine. One of the most common irritations of the library are those that talk, and whilst I am keen to avoid sounding like a librarian telling people off for whispering… It is highly Graham Holliday
The other day I read an article which, as well as reminding me of the frustration I felt after reading its predecessor, gave me an insight into the what the author of both articles was getting at and why. In both cases, they were blaming all the wrong things. The article tackles the issue of the infestation of scientists, engineers, medics and vets in the ASS library, who have been performing infuriating activities such as doing ‘equations’ and ‘working’. It is part of an on-going section of e2 titled “Arts Vs Science”, which is a concept as childish as an article on “Burger King Vs McDonalds” or “Showers Vs Baths” and as flawed as a battleship made of felt. However, my annoyance at the existence of this series is irrelevant for now. The first article concludes that, since they have their own libraries, non-arts students should be excluded from the ASS library during the opening hours of the subject specific libraries. At first glance this seems like a fairly reasonable policy to instate; scientists don’t lose access to 24 hours of library but space is left free for artists during work hours. Indeed, most of my initial frustration was because I thoroughly disagreed with this idea, but couldn’t think of anything specifically wrong or unfair with it. Having read the follow up article ‘Arts vs Science Students: What’s so bad about the Science libraries?’, however, I understand my objection much more clearly. The author tries to unveil the push factors that force scientists to abandon their own libraries and head to the ASS library in droves, intent on inconveniencing the students of neglected art subjects,
annoying. Said students often sit in large groups or crowd around one desk, whispering so loudly that they may as well be talking at a normal voice level, calling over people they know, oblivious to my angry looks. This incessant chatter simmers for a while before reaching a crescendo in which the whisper is punctuated with things like “I WAS SOOO DRUNK LAST NIGHT!” – As if we were not already depressed enough to be in the library. Another annoying habit of a select few in the library is that of the ‘nodding dog,’ named after Churchill by an amusing individual on the Facebook page ‘Spotted in the ASS Library’. Though probably self-explanatory, this involves the student wearing headphones and nodding rhythmically for about 3 hours straight which never fails to draw your attention from the corner of your eye. The list is endless. There are those who tap their fingers on the desk incessantly, or tap their foot as if they are drumming when actually they are in a library, or even worse is that person who treks to the library to sit and watch TV on their laptop and proceed to literally laugh out loud. The library offers vast scope for potentially irritating people or situations. One needs only to return from a trip to the toilet to a note on your desk from a member of the library staff telling you not to leave your belongings unattended or to reserve a desk, which in turn makes you wonder what you are meant to do with your belongings in this five minute break. Added to this list is the squirrel student hiding high demand books on obscure shelves and it is no wonder many of us leave the library feeling agitated.
Celebrity yearbook photos
17 13 Brought to you by Lucy Eyers and Anna Griller
Can you name these famous people from their childhood photos? Steffano Vitorio
Last week’s answers: Madagascar (Antananarivo); Bangladesh (Dhaka); Hungary (Budapest); Philippines (Manila); Jamaica (Kingston); Paraguay (Asuncion); Djibouti (Djibouti); Nicaragua (Managua); Ecuador (Quito); Ukraine (Kiev)
Number puzzle Work out the pattern in the first three boxes to fill in the missing number in the fourth box.
Can you unscramble the following Disney characters? AULUSR ASMFAU
RAEBEGHA RBOOREHPTNCSIRIH Down
2. Presents on a 1. Designed the British TV show with Clifton Suspension 4 down Bridge 3. Tricked and 4. Character on a controlled your British TV show mind, investigated with 2 across and experimented 5. Born Archibald 6. Performed stand- Alexander Leach up at the union a few weeks ago 8. Used to cohost Friday night 7. Won big brother project in 2010 10. Cabot Circus is 9. His artwork was recently removed named after him from London and 11. Voices Wheatley put on auction in on Portal 2 the USA
Quick quiz: Easter special 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Which animal has Lindt produced a chocolate version of every Easter since 1952? Who painted The Last Supper? On which day are hot cross buns traditionally eaten? How many days does Lent last for? Which Andrew Lloyd Webber musical is based on the last week of Jesus’ life? Traditionally eaten at Easter in Eastern European countries, what type of food is paska? Which of the 12 apostles betrayed Jesus, resulting in his crucifixion? What were Easter eggs made from before chocolate ones were introduced? Which 2011 animated Easter film featured the voices of Russell Brand and Hugh Laurie? Which Jewish festival occurs around the Easter period?
Last week’s answers: A roll of film; Can You Feel The Love Tonight; Forrest Gump; He turned it down; Virginia Woolf; Walt Disney; Best Director; Rome; Citizen Kane; 1920s
Crossword: famous Bristolians
Picture puzzles Which common phrases do these puzzles represent?
X I S T N G
? Last week’s answers: [missing figure]; 3 piece suite, odds-on favourite
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CULTURE Mixed feelings about Mayday p29
Editor: Rosemary Wagg
Deputy Editor: Rachel Schraer
Bristol’s Children of the Can Rosemary Wagg reviews Felix ‘FLX’ Braun’s beautiful book on Bristol street art
later we then have Inkie, who begun painting alongside Braun’s brother Joe, but later went on to work with Banksy, including painting at the launch of Banksy’s book Bristol: Home Sweet Home. One thing that is particularly interesting about the DBK interview is the comment on the differentiation between tags and ‘art work’ of the kind included in See No Evil. ‘They [the media and public] accept one thing but not the other. It’s hypocritical, they say that looks nice but not the tags, that’s what everyone says, but really they should shut the fuck up.’ I think this is a particularly valid point in part because it chimes true with my own experience. When looking through the book, I was immediately drawn to the Mucha-style ladies of Inkie; the blow-up humour of Feek and photorealism of Dones, in short the graffiti that doesn’t look so much like ‘graffiti’ and exactly the kind of artwork which makes street art suitable for Observer readers. The obvious answer would be that I, like most middle class people, am displaying my educationinfluenced judgment on ‘What is Art’. However, I wonder if it is also explained as a more general preference possessed by many for referential art over abstract art. Aside from conditioned prejudices, it may also be that we still find nonabstract work easier to compute and are more open to wanting to ‘get’ it. Almost every show that Tate Modern puts on is still greeted with a deluge of articles questioning ‘Is this art?’ showing that however post-post-modern we apparently are, we still aren’t quite ready for modern art. And as with the works of Rothko, maybe if we approached graffiti tags with a desire to see it as ‘art’ and to appreciate them then, in turn, we would. That, of course, is another wordy debate drawing gauze over the pictures. Children of the Can is a comprehensive and beautiful book, which chronicles and collates together for prosperity many images which, in their original environment, would have a limited life-span. The author’s democratic attitude to the material and the people who produce it should serve as an example not just in our approach to street art, but to art in general.
f r o m becoming a loveletter to the Bristol of the late 1980s, early 1990s and stops there being too much emphasis on the current generation’s debt to those preceding them. T h e text that accompanies the great array of images is mostly interviews conducted by Braun with t h e selected artists and is well-worth reading, as it includes insightful and oppositional comments on some of the aforementioned debates without passing judgment. As with the democratic approach to including artists from different eras without great distinction, Braun’s interview technique is one which enables the collection of information rather than the establishment of value judgments. For instance, included are DBK – ‘a manyheaded beast’ whose acronym stands for Def Bombin’ Krew, Dirty Bristol Kids, Destroy Bomb Kill and various other combinations of words with the right initial letters. The member who is interviewed describes Banksy as currently producing ‘bourgie arty bonds on paper for investment bankers to buy’. Roughly 80 pages
returns to the images themselves and to those who make them, in a welcome interjection to all the recent chatter. The book is compiled like a reference guide to the movement. Single artists, groups or particular events – such as those in local art galleries – are presented alphabetically, rather than chronologically. This prevents the book
If there has been one subject which has inspired more proposed articles for the Arts section this year than any other it has been Bristol’s graffiti scene. In recent years the graffiti that adorns city walls has become, as Children of the Can author Felix ‘FLX’ Braun says, ‘Bristol’s Unique Selling Point’ and has been co-opted by the City Council to promote the city as creative and diverse (two tick points on every marketing team’s check list). The international acclaim of Banksy continues apace, but with it has come a cacophony of ‘Sell Out’ cries from both those who are actually a part of the graffiti scene and, interestingly, armchair critics and ‘creatives’ outside of it. Another tension that has arisen has been between the Council’s careful endorsement of controlled events such as the See No Evil project and Banksy Vs. Bristol Museum, while continuing to classify those who spray paint outside of designated spaces as criminals. Children of the Can of course identifies these conflicts of interest – how could it not? – but then, thankfully, chooses not to dwell on them. ‘Graffiti (or street art) is, by force of numbers, popularity and proliferation, unquestionably the biggest art movement in human history’ argues Braun. It always seems a slightly curious thing to both demonise some who express themselves and subvert through, well, art - soft, refined, sanctified art - and praise others. For instance, a recent blockbuster Tate Britain show fought hard to categories the Victorian Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood as ‘avant-garde’, a term that glorifies disruption to a previous establishment. This contradiction, like those specifically related to the Bristol street art scene, is like many academic arguments relating to art in that it can serve as a potential distraction from simply looking at the artworks themselves. Becoming too imbued in surface arguments has distracted us from how beautiful, skilled and inventive much of the graffiti around Bristol has been and still is. Children of the Can, as befits a volume on street art, is, if nothing else, fantastically and densely illustrated with lovely hi-res photographs taken around the city and re-prints of designs produced on paper or canvas. In a Bristolian fashion it
COMPETITION COMPETITION COMPETITION For a chance to win one of three copies of Children of the Can, simply answer the following question: Endorsed by Bristol City Council, the street art project housed on and around Nelson Street is called: A. Hear No Evil B. See No Evil C. Speak No Evil Send your answer to arts@ epigram.org.uk with ‘COMPETITON’ in the subject heading by Monday 25th March to be in with a chance of winning. All winners will be selected at random (quite possibly from a hat) and will be notified within a week of the competiton closing. Good Luck!
Pre-teens’ post-cinematic stress disorder How young is too young for the limelight? Hugo Mathers ponders the plight of the child star
Child actors – they’ve got it all, haven’t they? They make a quick killing for themselves and their families, and set themselves up for a life of privilege before they’ve even learnt their times tables. Just look at the Harry Potter triumvirate of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. According to last year’s Sunday Times Rich List, they had earned over £54m, £26m and £24m respectively, which is just silly money. Silly, silly money. But it’s not all fun and games for youngsters like these; money isn’t everything. There is a very real connection between child actors and the development of psychological problems, as they struggle to deal with the pressures of premature stardom, and stumble into a downward spiral of drink, drugs, depression and rehab. Macaulay Culkin and Drew Barrymore are just a couple that spring to mind. Culkin deteriorated dramatically from the adorable face of Home Alone to the skeletal face of drug addiction and Barrymore, having starred in E.T. the Extra Terrestrial aged six, allegedly began drinking at nine, smoking marijuana at ten, snorting cocaine at twelve, and was in rehab by the time she was thirteen. But what about young actors that are affected by the traumatic nature of the actual film they star in? Oliwia Dabrowska has recently announced that her role as the Girl in the Red Coat in Schindler’s List ‘led to years of trauma and shame’. The actress,
who was three years old at the time, said she was ‘horrified’ when she watched the film back, and that she ‘didn’t want to watch [it] ever again’ in her life. Dabrowska told The Times that director Stephen Spielberg warned her not to watch it until she was eighteen and that she must ‘grow up into the film’. However, temptation proved too strong, and she decided to watch it aged
“Her role as the Girl in the Red Coat in Schindler’s List ‘led to years of trauma and shame’” eleven, witnessing scenes of death and torture most adults would find disturbing. Child actors increasingly star in roles of a sexual, violent or traumatic nature; they’re involved in scenes that most parents would shield from their children’s eyes. How can children be actors in films that are not even suitable for them to watch? Certain scenes from horror movies come to mind. In the Exorcist, for instance, child actress Linda Blair at one point is seen masturbating with a crucifix, bleeding profusely, yelling ‘Let Jesus fuck you’. Likewise, in one scene during The Shining, six year-old Danny Lloyd appears possessed by his demonic ‘imaginary’ friend as he croaks ‘Redrum, Redrum’. [SPOILER: ‘redrum’ is ‘murder’ backwards.] But directors are not monsters – deliberately scarring children from a young age – and they use techniques to protect kids from traumatic
content. In The Shining, director Stanley Kubrick ensured that Lloyd was kept in the dark: the actor did not even know it was a horror film until several years later. Similarly, with regards to Linda Blair’s crucifix scene, the actress has said that she didn’t fully understand what it meant, and that she was simply told to thrust a cross in and out of a box. A young Jodie Foster played the part of a pre-teen prostitute in Taxi Driver, but she had been psychologically tested previously to ensure she would not be emotionally scarred by her role, and the adult scenes were explained and demonstrated for her. Dabrowska’s recent outburst ultimately reflects a considerably unique situation. Most holocaust films, like Schindler’s List, require children to replicate the reality of what happened, and Dabrowska is one of many who have been involved in unsuitable scenes before their time. But there is no obvious correlation between child actors experiencing trauma as a result of the traumatic nature of the film they starred in. The likes of Lloyd, Foster and Blair played their parts and never looked back, whilst soft, cuddly, family film stars such as the aforementioned Culkin and Barrymore went off the rails somewhat. It is interesting to note however t h a t Culkin and Barrymore, though famous for their roles in these children’s films, did in fact star in lesser known horror movies when they were twelve and nine respectively. Coincidence? Probably. flickr: GreyArea
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Catholic Scandal and the Art of Catholic Guilt: From the Pope to PBS, Jack Donaghy to James Joyce Catholicism has not had the easiest time of late. Firstly, the Pope decided to retire, making him the first Pope to stand down in over seven centuries. When explaining what he plans on doing next, the Pope said he intends to remain ‘hidden from the world’. He has been forced into a Gordon Brown style shuffling off, tail between his legs, while the Vatican wrestles with important questions such as what colour robe he should now wear. If they did not have enough on their plate with the costume debate, Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric Keith O’Brien has been found to be up to no good with his tail very much out of his legs. We all love to read about a religious scandal. Unearthing the skeletons in the closet of public
institutions makes us all feel a little better about our own shortcomings. While the newspapers relish in the big, juicy sex shames, art manages to sensitively capture the anguish of the private individual in religious turmoil. The term Catholic guilt often gets thrown around to describe the emotional burden relating to an individual’s tumultuous relationship within their day to day life with their Catholic faith. 30 Rock’s Jack Donaghy summarised the experience of Catholic guilt in the episode The Fighting Irish, ‘Even though there is the whole confession thing, that’s no free pass, because there is a crushing guilt that comes with being a Catholic. Whether things are good or bad or you’re simply... eating tacos in the park, there is always the crushing guilt.’ What Jack Donaghy crudely summarises is an experience that has inspired writers to create some of literature’s most tortured depictions of a figure’s inner existence. By transforming one’s inner religious experience into the secular form of the novel, a tension is instantly established between the character’s spiritual existence and their external self. Eveyln Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited is an example of the literary beauty that can be created out of the painful topic of Catholic guilt. Written fifteen years after Waugh’s own conversion to Catholicism, the novel is hugely popular and has been repeatedly placed within the top 100 novels of the 20th century by various lists. The text examines the Roman Catholic aristocratic Marchmain family through the eyes of the agnostic narrator, Charles Ryder. While the novel entangles itself in webs of forbidden desires, Catholicism’s heavy presence throughout the text proves to ultimately be the victorious force in dictating the fate of the characters. A superb contrast is established in the novel between the lavish aristocratic lifestyle ridden with indulgent descriptions of food and
wine, and a festering repulsion at their state of sin. Catholic guilt also permeates the work of James Joyce. Joyce’s Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man portrays the complex relationship
“Unearthing the skeletons in the closets of public institutions makes us all feel a little better about our own shortcomings” between an Irish Catholic family and their religious identity. The novel’s protagonist, Stephen Dedalus, is a student of great promise and is tempted by the Church to become a Jesuit priest. However, Dedalus is unable to value himself as sinless enough to justify joining the priesthood and instead chooses to pursue the life of an artist. The novel portrays an anxiety in the relationship between art and religion, as Dedalus is unable to follow a religious life while undergoing his growth into an artist. He therefore banishes himself away from his native Ireland in an attempt to find inner solace. Waugh and Joyce’s decision to write about the experience of Catholic guilt supports the belief that writing is a cathartic practice. The act of writing allows one to investigate the private self and transform these anxieties into a public expression. While writing about one’s guilt may not relieve one of its burden and will guarantee ‘no free pass’, the creation of art at the expense of guilt provides a way of finding pleasure and value in even the most crippling aspects of the human condition. Mona Tabbara
Cryptic Czech Republic Anastasia Reynolds takes a tour of not one but two Czech crypts Last Saturday, a wet, slushy, grey and bitterly windy day, I made a dead-bodies tour of Brno. I say tour, but really I went to one ossuary and one crypt. The craic with the first stop is that there has been a church there since God was a lad, people have been dying ditto, and because the growing town meant space was at a premium, the clerics thought it would be a good idea to keep people’s bones in a system of underground tunnels, nicely arranged in columns and rows and every other kind of pattern you can think of. It ought to be macabre, all these rows and rows of empty eye sockets, heads and toothless – but still somehow grinning – jaws, but it really isn’t. With flickering candles, rosy-red brick tunnels, and discreet piped churchy music, the skulls are actually pleasing to look at: worn smooth over hundreds of years, sort of burnished yellowy-grey, like over-boiled egg yolks, and in such quantities that they are very restful on the eye. The Capuchin crypt was another matter
“Space-saving and practical, [it was] the IKEA of cemeteries” altogether. Chilly and whitewashed, i was more like a hospital than a nice system of catacombs (except for being full of very dead people, of corpse). And the bodies! Long ago, the monks discovered that the natural circulation of air in their basement had a mummifying effect on bodies left down there, so they started doing it deliberately. It’s like a prop store for a horror film. These poor monks and local worthies are dried out and emaciated, with grey, leathery skin stretched over grey bones, brittle strands of hair clinging stubbornly to their heads, said heads lolling on disintegrating vertebrae. Because all the flesh has rotted or melted or otherwise vanished, the hands folded over their chests are now spindly bones, suspended in mid-air over horrible concave torsos. The empty, caved eye sockets fix their faces eternally in expressions of silent terror. That’s not to say it wasn’t interesting. It was. It was just icky, unnecessarily so. I think it was something to do with the bodies still having remnants of the fleshy bits that make us individual whilst living, albeit in a warped and horrifying way – you want your long-dead monks to look long-dead, not like nightmarish raisins. The ossuary was much more comforting – bones are definitely, decidedly deceased, and it had such a sensible air about it, space-saving, practical, the IKEA of cemeteries. You can accept that sort of thing.
What the **** is Normal? Rachel Schraer
‘Wobbly’ Comedian, Francesca Martinez talks Labels, Politics and falling in Love Francesca Martinez has been touring since May, but her exhausting schedule doesn’t seem to have dampened her spirits. You expect an interview with a comedian to result in a few gags and wisecrack answers, but by the time we’d finished talking we’d skated from doing the Edinburgh festival (“absolutely exhausting!”) to the evils of the corporate world and the future of the planet via the temporariness of life; I felt like I’d had a session with some kind of right-thinking guru, not a stand-up. Her show, ‘What the **** is Normal?’ is about the pressure there is on everybody to be normal, and her own anxieties about normality as a teenager who was “born wobbly”. “I have Cerebral Palsy but I prefer wobbly because it’s a lot cooler; everyone’s a bit wobbly sometimes”. She’s very interested in the idea of labels— something comedians often play up to—perhaps, she thinks, because “I had a label slapped on me from an early age, a label that I hated.” “Then I realised that [cerebral palsy] is just a name that someone else made up, it’s not the objective truth. So I thought, I’m going to make up my own name which is just as accurate as that name, if not more because it doesn’t come with so much baggage” This personal ‘rebranding’ is very much representative of the positive spin Martinez puts on everything, and what makes her comedy so likeable. “One day, something made me realise, actually I’ve never met a normal person in my life…where are they?” It’s this liberating realisation, that everyone is
different and she no more different than anyone else, that she is keen to share with her audience. She hopes her show can have the same perceptionshifting effect on her audience, perhaps changing the way they see themselves and others. Being in the public eye, as a character on Grange Hill, from the age of 14, and having “your spotty gawky teenage face captured forever” might have a negative impact on many young women, but Martinez has nothing but praise for the experience. “I really hated my school life…and then all of a sudden I was on Grange Hill and it just rescued me from that environment. It gave me some of my confidence back [because] I was being judged on something I could do, rather than something I couldn’t” But most importantly, it was acting that introduced her to the world of comedy, when her scriptwriter father wrote her a role as a stand-up. She found in it a “a level of control… you have over every aspect of your performance...that I adore.” “[It’s] such a creative freedom”, that she went on to do it professionally. “[I] felt like it was something I could do for the rest of my life. It’s so challenging, and you’re always learning so it’s very hard to get bored with it or think ‘I know this now’”. But Martinez has never been about the throwaway gag. She is fascinated by “comedy that really challenges people and makes serious points… [and] how you can put the two together”. This is where the passionately humanitarian crusader Francesca kicks in. She has written for The Independent against Cameron’s welfare cuts,
and fronted the WOW (War on Welfare) campaign to petition against disability benefit cuts. Has this changed the way she approaches comedy? “The aim of comedy changes, it shifts from ‘how can I be funny?’ to ‘how can I say what I want to say in a funny way’”, although, she adds, “If you’re sitting opposite a Tory politician, the instinct is not to tell a joke”. In fact, far from the walking ego that you often expect of stand-up comedians, if Martinez were made Queen for a day, she would “get together as a human race and think how we can save the planet…[because] there won’t be an economy if there’s no planet to live on!” And after calling out profiteering politicians, she has just as little time for the shallow world of media and its values. “Putting aside me for one minute, you can’t even get a woman over 40 on TV! I think people are absolutely craving a bit of reality” So, someone who gets up on stage and talks about themself for a living who doesn’t want to put other people down, wants to save the planet and thinks we need to break down barriers between people and realise that we’re all human. Anything else, before I melt into a puddle of warm and fuzzies? “Don’t let anyone make you feel abnormal because it doesn’t exist. Don’t live your life by other people’s standards or expectationsmake up your own. And remember that life is temporary, so make sure that what you do makes you happy.” I think I’ll have that on a postcard, please. Rachel Schraer
Getting On: Grads and the Art of Culture
Rachel Schraer gets the Low Down on Multiculturalism and the Getting a Job in the Arts
Interact, a non-profit interfaith organisation put together their exhibition Multiculturalism is Dead as a response to Cameron’s dismissal of multiculturalism as a failure. It brings thirty young people together with professional artists to be mentored, and present their experiences and responses to this statement. B r i s t o l graduate and project coo rd i n a t o r Genevieve S c h w a r t z describes her involvement in the exhibition as an “unbelievably valuable experience” in breaking into the arts. But what of her own response to the exhibition’s tagline? “If we look at multiculturalism as the
combination of different cultures in [London], then it is difficult to say that it does not exist” “I would argue that more has to be done to turn ‘multiculturalism’ into ‘inter-culturalism’ in this country, instead of existing side by side, we in our communities need to do more to integrate with those from other cultures” Indeed, art has always played a powerful role in social and political change.
“Now images can be distributed at the click of a button” “Even as early as the 1400’s artists like Masaccio were using their art to disseminate political ideas to those who saw their works in public spaces. “ And now that “images can be distributed to millions at the click of a button” this role is, arguably, more important than ever.” For arts graduates, starting out as a cog in this powerful machine is notoriously difficult, with fewer jobs available to an ever-widening pool of young applicants.
“The likelihood is that arts graduates will need to work unpaid to get the experience they need for the jobs that they want to apply for.” But even an unsuccessful application can turn into a good opportunity. More often than not, getting accepted is a numbers game, but as Schwartz learnt, if a company likes you, they may help you in other ways. She was referred for the Interact role by a company from which she received an initial rejection. “It does take a lot of energy and motivation to hit on a project which actually interests you, and there can be a lot of disappointment along the way.” But the hard work has paid off for Schwartz, who has been taken on to help with the organisation’s next film project, giving hope to those arts grads facing a barrage from the non-vocational naysayers.
Interact runs in Bethnal Green until 20th March www.interact-uk.org.uk
Mantel Mistook Good writing is immortal; with each new reader, the inspiration experienced when first the sentences were composed, is revived. However, written word has, at its heart, division. As I’m sure any English student who has encountered structuralist thought will know, the gap between the word we assign an object and the object itself is insurmountable – in brief, there is nothing inherent in the object of a tree which indicates we should refer to it using the word “tree”. Language is, therefore, cursed by limitation. That words are multivalent – susceptible to one, instead of the other, of its connotative layers being absorbed by the reader – is a problem for any writer, often leading to an entire piece being lost in the shadows of misinterpretation. Twotime Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel is the most recent victim to have had her words fall into this void, with her article ‘Royal Bodies’ (as published on the London Review of Books). The article expresses Mantel’s opinion of the Royal Family as a group of people who are in a position which we, the public, often feel allows us to pass judgement on them, like exotic animals to be gawped at in a zoo.
“The entire piece [is] lost in the shadows of misinterpretation” Mantel is right in this regard. Although the members of the Royal Family are born onto a pedestal, it is a pedestal nonetheless – an alienating, lofty platform, exposed to the judgement of onlookers. However, it was not Mantel’s views on the Royal Family as a whole which caused complaint from both newspapers (see The Telegraph, Daily Mail, and The Guardian) and politicians (Cameron claimed Mantel to be “completely misguided”), but her apparent discontent with Kate Middleton. Mantel has been widely misinterpreted as believing Kate Middleton was roped into the Royal Family for her ‘plastic smile’ and good breeding. Indeed, it easy to lift certain comments from the article and, upon reading them, condemn Mantel as an embittered, unattractive, middleaged snob, stereotyping her in the same way the abstracted comments would seem to stereotype Kate Middleton as a vacuous, pretty, baby-bearing princess. However, to view Mantel’s opinions as those of a ‘chauvinist’ – as done by The Telegraph reporter, Tim Stanley – would be too parochial a reading. Read the article in full, and without approaching it from the bitter background of condemnation, and Mantel’s view will be clarified: women of the Royal Family suffer a large amount of pressure to produce healthy children. This is not an unreasonable statement, for the Monarchy is, ultimately, a bloodline. However, Mantel recognizes that the women of the Royal Family are not (at least nowadays) mere vessels, but are themselves individuals who are faced with the difficult task of a life-long performance upon the Royal stage. And – if the hecklers and the critics will quiet down – all that Mantel is actually asking is that we respect, rather than pry into, the lives of the Royal Family.
Editor: Eliot Brammer
Deputy Editor: Phil Gwyn
With hit tracks like ‘Recover’ and ‘The Mother We Share’, Glaswegian synth-pop trio CHVRCHES look just about ready to explode over the next couple of months. Kiki Knowles and Helena Wadia met the band to capture this moment in their ascendency.
A leap of faith for CHVRCHES We meet Martin Doherty, Iain Cook and Lauren Mayberry, known together as CHVRCHES, on a Tuesday evening in the empty bar of Thekla. Having all played in different bands previously, the trio formed in 2011 and began work on a new project, CHVRCHES (so-called ‘because we had to pick a name’; spelled with a V after realising how problematic ‘Churches’ was to google). With the help of a top 5 placing in the BBC Sound of 2013 list and a slot supporting Passion Pit on their most recent tour, their popularity has expanded far beyond the Glasgow music scene from which they originated, and, as Martin puts it, ‘Thirteen months later, here we are on a boat in Bristol’. They are at the beginning of their headline tour, which will soon see their first trip to America. Their success has come quickly, yet the three band members do not seem overwhelmed by this, instead appearing to take it calmly in their stride. That is not to say that they are complacent about the success they have achieved so far; as Martin says, ‘We’re well aware that this could all be gone tomorrow or could go no further.’ They take a similarly humble attitude towards being labelled as Scotland’s next big thing: ‘It builds up expectations which we have no interest of trying to live up to,’ explains Iain. ‘We’re just doing what we’re doing and people
can say what they like.’ Martin adds, ‘As soon as you start thinking and concentrating about what everyone else is saying, that’s when you take your eye off writing music, and being in a band.’ Martin and Iain both seem happier playing their music to people rather than discussing what those people might have to say about it. When pressed to ascribe a genre to their sound, they waver between categories, suggesting we pick any from ‘indie, alternative, electro and pop’, before eventually settling on it being ‘pretty much just an indie band, but we’ve replaced all the guitars with keyboards.’ They are generally unconcerned with labels, and their attitude is to let the music do the talking. This way of working is reflected in a writing process which is very organic and developmental, rather than being rooted in a particular idea for a message of a song. Starting with ‘the germ of an idea’ – a sound, a vocal hook, a beat or a bass line – they then build up the layers of music, adding lyrics last of all. ‘We do a lot with sounds and vocal inflections, writing out songs without any lyrics, just gibberish,’ Iain explains. ‘That often informs where you go lyrically because you can almost hear what you’re going to say.’ Although they may not be a band
with a strong agenda, they are far from spineless. Lauren in particular is charmingly feisty, talking at a hundred miles per hour in a soft Glaswegian accent. Since she wrote her MA dissertation on images of femininity in the media, we ask her about her stance on the portrayal of women in music, and how she feels this affects her. Her answer betrays a polite yet begrudging awareness of her position as a female lead singer: ‘I think there is a tendency in some kinds of media to portray people in certain ways, and particularly in electropop bands which are fronted by women, those women are not always portrayed positively.’ Like most women when talking about sexism, she holds her own personal examples to elaborate her point. She recounts to us a performance in which CHVRCHES went on stage after a band with a saxophone-player. The introduction that was given for them was ‘the next band don’t have a brass instrument, but they do have a girl.’ Hardly the most offensive comment, yet it is for her a subtle reminder that she is in an industry where she will be singled out for her gender and the implicit expectations of her, that come as a result of this. She appears wise without being deluded; she knows that to some extent she is part of an industry which sees women in a certain light. ‘I think you can only
control it to a certain extent, but you should try and be as aware of it as possible. I worry about it, but there’s only so much you can do.’ It is no surprise, then, that Lauren cites the Riot Grrrl movement as an important influence on her work. Other influences are broader reaching, and not confined to underground feminist punk – Depeche Mode, Cyndi Lauper, The Cure, Throbbing Gristle, Factory Floor, The Smiths and Michael Jackson all get a mention, although Phil Collins is apparently their artist of choice for music in the tour van. Being aware of their musical contemporaries is also important to CHVRCHES. As Martin puts it, ‘I think it’s important to be aware of what’s going on around you, otherwise you can quickly become irrelevant. That’s not to say you should try to predict the zeitgeist or copy trends as they happen, but I think it’s important to have some kind of awareness of the music other people are making, so you can tell whether you’re even kind of in the ballpark.’ Lauren adds, ‘You never want to emulate anyone specifically but it’s important to take in as much as possible.’ Their respect for other bands comes no doubt as a result of their relationship with the tightly-knit Glasgow music industry and its rich heritage. ‘It’s like a support network, it’s not as competitive as
London,’ they explain. ‘So instead of all the bitchiness you get people helping each other.’ They themselves are hugely complimentary towards the artists who have backed them, notably the aforementioned Passion Pit. They look forward to supporting Two Door Cinema Club on their next tour, whom they are yet to meet but apparently are ‘really good guys’. As they rise in popularity, they also have their own tour to look forward to, which spans the next few months, as well as an EP out this month and the release of their debut album later in the year. Armed with their laid-back, humble attitude and a dry Scottish sense of humour, CHVRCHES look well set to convert many a popbeliever.
The EP Recover is out on 25th March via Goodbye Records / Virgin Records
26 ‘It was just a good excuse to get pissed for free.’ This is the initial explanation that fraternal Sheffield duo Drenge give for starting a band. It’s an assertion that seems increasingly less rock and roll as drummer Rory continues recounting their first stories from 2010, when his teenage self used to trek from one side of Sheffield to the other, in pursuit of that ‘one can of warm Fosters’ that seems unreasonably appealing when you’re not of legal drinking age. Front-man Eoin also cites the musical landscape as another factor, explaining that ‘there are just no guitar bands out apart from Brother and the Vaccines...’ He breaks off into silence to make the point, leaving those two putrid clangers hanging threateningly in the air. Yet their dressing down of indie, that has been liberated of ingenuity, doesn’t necessarily mean that they consider themselves an inventive band. ‘I don’t think we started out to be totally individual...’ continues Rory, yet they do sound increasingly individual in the context of their peers; the rawness of their stripped back tunes standing out in an age where bedroom producers are writing number one singles. Yet, considering their gravelly collection of songs are the musical equivalent of rolling around in the dirt, circa 1400, they concede that the gig to mosh pit ratio on their current tour has been ‘low,’ before qualifying this with the observation that ‘we’re on quite early in the evening, and you need to drink a lot of Coca Cola before you start
moshing.’ Having said that, the brothers have fond memories of playing Bristol last year, when ‘people did dance for the first time.’ Surprisingly, they complain that ‘Big Jeff, unfortunately, wasn’t there.’ Startled at the mention of Bristol’s most loveable music obsessive, I ask how they could possibly know about Big Jeff. ‘Everybody knows who Big Jeff is, he’s the big guy who dances at gigs,’ comes the obvious reply, ‘I watched a documentary about him – his name has spread throughout the world. We can’t wait to meet him.’ And meet him they do, as he flops his enthusiastic mane all over their introductory half-hour of relentless, high octane drudgery. Having said that, for two such loveable northern chaps, there’s something that doesn’t add up about the aggression that claws its way to the forefront of their music. After a quasi-philosophical dive into the appeal of violence and Quentin Tarantino, Eoin admits that, essentially ‘it’s all very tongue in cheek. I’m not that meathead who goes round punching people in the face. I actually don’t think I’ve ever punched anyone, apart from Rory.’ Rory nods sagely in confirmation, before adding that the song ‘People In Love Make Me Feel Yuck’ isn’t entirely tongue in cheek – ‘that’s not to say that I don’t ever find people in love to be yucky. I just didn’t like the whole ‘Wills-and-Kate-weddingthing’. That’s what the song’s about essentially. It was written on the day of the wedding.’ Maybe future observers of Drenge gigs should be forewarned,
Where primal instincts collide though, as Rory recounts a recent experience at an Iceage gig, where the lead singer ‘started smashing this guy in the front row in the face with the microphone, and this guy just took it. So maybe fans do like getting violent...’ Although he’s joking, Eoin suggests that the visceral edge to their music was sort of inevitable, as ‘it was always going to be really loud and stupid and badly played.’ However, he general music media don’t seem to share their deprecatory tone. After receiving a few cursory plays from Radio 1 last summer, they ended up in the toilets of a psychedelic festival in Liverpool, being interviewed by the NME. ‘It was literally the shittest
Sound sailing Within just ‘a few weeks of being a band’ back when they started up in 2011, Cloud Boat found themselves handpicked to support James Blake and Mount Kimbie on tour and saw their first single, ‘Lions on the Beach’, released by the massively respected dance label R&S in September of that year. Friends in high places, you might scoff. But their rise has been steadily plotted, taking time off after those tours to write, only just releasing their second single ‘Wanderlust’ in the first week of March this year and now with an album set for release in late May. The north London duo of Sam Ricketts and Tom Clarke grew up playing in metal bands, obsessed with Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Radiohead. It was only when they got to university, Sam at Goldsmith’s in London and Tom in Bath, that they started to explore dance and electronic music, Sam especially with regular visits to the legendary FWD>> and DMZ nights in London. With less of a thriving scene in Bath, Tom admits that ‘even now I’m still on a kind of discovery mission’, as I talk to the pair in the smoking area of Start the Bus, the audibility of our recorded conversation regularly interrupted by the Saturday night creatures of Bristol city centre crawling by. They started making music together again when they graduated, exploring samples and electronics and feeling the benefit of working just as a two-piece, as Sam explains ‘You can never really be truly collaborative with five people, so it’s nice to have everything completely shared, creatively.’ Tracks like ‘Lions on the Beach’ and
‘I Left for a Reason (It Escapes Me Now)’ meld post-rock atmospherics to razor-sharp beats reminiscent of the ‘nightbus’ sounds of Burial or Airhead. That might sound like an odd combination, but it works surprisingly well and Sam is delighted with the ‘compliment’ of a noticeable trace of post-rock in their songs. Tom points to the shared ‘visceral’ quality of metal, or rock, with electronic music. On the music they grew up listening to, and the electronic music they’re surrounded by now, Sam says ‘it’s funny how, when you’re younger you think it’s so separate and you think dance music is just trance and everyone going crazy in a room, but I still play in a local band and there is quite a big crossover I think, in terms of the physical assault of the music.’ ‘My girlfriend’s dad said the other day, like “why are they all so sad?”’ laughs Sam. It’s true that there’s an inescapable sadness to songs like ‘Bastion’ and ‘Wanderlust’, but ‘music, writing and performing is cathartic, it’s easier to channel things like that,
whereas if you’re happy, that’s not necessarily going to make you want to write a song.’ Tom agrees: ‘For me, definitely, I find hope and happiness and those sorts of positive emotions not necessarily in happy music; Godspeed are really, really, awfully sad but I find there are moments in their music that will give me a rush of happiness that I couldn’t get anywhere else.’ I suggest that it’s an especially delicate thing, to make sad electronic music; after all, you’re putting human emotions through a machine. ‘But is dancing an intrinsically positive thing?’ asks Tom. ‘You can still dance to Burial.’ Like much of the best new music emerging in recent years, Cloud Boat are at least partly about finding a meeting-point between electronics and ‘real’ instruments. Sam explains that ‘we try to never really keep the same songwriting process, so that you don’t get bored and your listeners don’t get bored. Some of our songs will come just from a beat, some from a vocal or guitar part’. On a record, the
interview we’ve ever done,’ they confirm, before helpfully clarifying, ‘because of the toilets, not the questions.’ I ask them if it seems much of a rapid progression to them, and they reasonably point out that seeing as they’ve been together since 2010, ‘it’s been quite quick in the last six months, but it has been gradual.’ If they’ve been keeping their feet on the ground so far, though, they may find it harder to keep themselves rooted in reality in the near future, as recently they signed to Infectious Records, the record label responsible for bringing Alt-J to the masses, and they’ve already been booked to play a countless string of festival appearances (‘You can actually count them,’ comes their songs are affecting, at least in part, due their restraint; live, it’s a much more full-on experience, set up on stage with Tom on vocals variously pitched up and down while also controlling programmed beats and samples, Sam accompanying him on electric guitar. ‘Dréan’, the b-side to ‘Wanderlust’ is a haunting modern folk song: recorded during a writing session in a bungalow by the sea, it arrived ‘pretty much fully-formed’, a fitting product of Tom’s ‘musical growingup’ listening to singer-songwriters like Scott McKenzie and Fionn Regan. Recorded with just two guitars and a vocal, Tom says ‘it’s nice to have that [simplicity] in the recording process’, and it shows another side to the band’s sound. Recently, they’ve made video recordings with a small orchestra of brass and strings. Do they see themselves moving entirely into either acoustic songwriting, or electronic production? ‘To be honest I think I’d like to be selfish and try both!’ explains Sam. ‘We both want to do everything and there’s definitely no limits, I can see us doing acoustic shows and I can see us writing some harder stuff as well.’ For a band happy to hop in conversation between Blawan, Burial and Jeff Buckley, you can be sure that’s the case.
predictably sensible response). They’ve also just finished mixing their debut record which they claim will reveal the ‘dare-I-say-it, more experimental, navel gazing side of us.’ As if determined to confound expectations, they continue that ‘you’ve got the lighter anthem on there as well. Beers in the summer afternoon with a straw trilby hat, shorts, flip flops, frisby. That sort of thing.’ By way of explanation, Eoin finishes that ‘it’s just fun to write those songs, they might not be the most artistically credible, but then I don’t think that we are artistically credible. I don’t think that anybody is, really.’ Phil Gwyn
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‘Wanderlust / Dréan’ is out now on Apollo Records. Eliot Brammer
Reviews IF YOU LEAVE Daughter 4AD 18th March 2013 The long awaited debut album from Londonbased trio Daughter confirms their place as a truly exciting band that has managed to expand its sound masterfully since their humble beginnings back in 2010. If You Leave is an engrossing, mesmerising debut. The foundations of their sound haven’t actually changed very much at all, with the driving force being lead singer Elena Tonra’s piercing, beautiful voice, her powerful lyrics and charmingly melodic folky guitar parts. However their sound has been expanded, with a move from acoustic to electric, as well as the growing role of the deep, rumbling guitar parts of Igor Haefelli and the pounding percussion of Remi Aguilella. The result of all this is a uniquely emotive sound that creates wintry soundscapes with overlapping, reverb-soaked layers. Almost each one of the 10 songs on this record builds, swells, rises and falls, while Tonra glues it all together with her incredible delivery. If You Leave may only contain about six totally new songs but the group push the boundaries with reworkings of old songs, like ‘Tomorrow’, ‘Shallows’, and their most famous track to date – ‘Youth’. It is in ‘Youth’ that Tonra perhaps reaches her lyrical pinnacle with the violent imagery of
THE NORTH BORDERS Bonobo Ninja Tune 1st April ‘And if you’re still breathing, you’re the lucky ones / ‘Cause most of us are heaving through corrupted lungs / Setting fire to our insides for fun’. The themes and issues tackled by Tonra are consistently dark, whether it be decay, failed relationships, or even abortion. Her recurring metaphors combining nature and death are particularly powerful. The emotive nature of this album is probably its defining feature, with the songs conveying anguish, despair and isolation, and even at times forming apocalyptic-sounding atmospheres. It is quite astonishing the amount of power the trio create when their songs build, and the swirling, echoing soundscapes are chilling, with the beautiful final track ‘Shallows’ perhaps the best reflection of this and therefore the highlight of the record. If You Leave is hypnotic in its melancholy beauty, consistent yet adequately varied and engaging, and most importantly, able to effortlessly convey emotion. This is mainly due to the immense talent of Elena Tonra, who will undoubtedly lead Daughter onto very, very big things in the future.
The blend of orchestrated soul, jazz and electronica which made critics and the public alike forget the real meaning of the word ‘Bonobo’ (a Congolese chimpanzee, for anyone wondering) and learn to associate the word with smooth jams is actually only a recent development in the Leeds producer’s music. Simon Green started out making relatively unremarkable downtempo electronica, but has slowly risen above the oft-derided label of making ‘chill out music’. His outstanding 2010 LP Black Sands was the culmination of an effort to incorporate and meld as many genres and influences as possible, with inspiration ranging from African to Oriental styles. On new album The North Borders, Bonobo seems to have followed a recent trend among producers of more relaxing sample-based music (think Four Tet) in making a move towards the club scene in the three years since his last outing. Opener ‘First Fires’ treads the line between soulful pop and dance music, with guest vocals from Ninja Tune labelmate Grey Reverend accompanying a mounting bassy beat. The bass is a signal of intent from Bonobo, who peppers this album with punchy slow-building dance tracks. ‘Emkay’, ‘Jets’ and ‘Know You’ prove that Bonobo has the
versatility to pull these off, but this album isn’t only about making its listeners get on their feet. Often here he pushes traditionally understated elements of dance music like sweeping synths and chimes to the fore, demoting the bass and beat to play a supporting role which creates an atmosphere not at all dancey, and often sinister, but always expertly crafted. Pre-release teaser ‘Cirrus’ is a particular highlight, showcasing all Green’s skill at melding different fragments of sound into one harmonious piece of music. Bonobo retains his predilection for soul with guest vocals from Erkyah Badu (on ‘Heaven for the Sinner’) and Cornelia (on closer ‘Pieces’), but much of the jazzy instrumentation and funk sampling that made Black Sands so unique has been disappointingly dispensed with. Bonobo shows he can make solid dance tracks and menacing electronic soundscapes, but aside from regular string flourishes towards the end of songs he rarely revisits the global sound he cultivated previously. The tracks are well sequenced and skilfully crafted, but the album as a whole is a slight let down because it feels like a step sideways, rather than forwards, from Black Sands. Dan Faber
WONDROUS BUGHOUSE Youth Lagoon Fat Possum 18th March Where others turn their gaze towards the stars and the vastness beyond Earth, 23-year-old producer Trevor Powers turns inwards. However, despite guiding the listener through an intensely introspective journey by submerging them into the all-consuming soporific soundscapes that compose Wondrous Bughouse, Youth Lagoon manages to avoid sacrificing the grand sense of wonder and excitement of exploration typically evoked by astral dreamers. This marks a genuine transformation for Powers - whose first record The Year of Hibernation was an archetypal intimate bedroom production - as the scope of his sound has been amplified beyond recognition. Crucially though, he’s done this without relinquishing the honesty that made his debut noteworthy. The melodies are uncomplicated and almost naive, but when surrounded by deep saturated productions they are enveloped by otherness, making for an unsettlingly trippy experience. Wondrous Bughouse is unique and utterly brilliant; combining the dreamy atmospherics of Beach House with the scope of Atlas Sound, creating a meditative Grimm-like fairytale that focuses within yet finds its reach stretching far beyond, directly into the darkest depths of the unknown. Rishi Modha
RETRO STEFSON Retro Stefson Les Fréres Stefson 25th March For bands from a country with such a rich musical heritage, it is possible that Icelandic bands are pigeon-holed in some manner before they’ve even started out. Alt-pop septet Retro Stefson’s third, self-titled album is the follow-up to Kimbabwe, and is their first to get a proper release in the UK. In essence, the songs are fun if not particularly groundbreaking and are seemingly well-suited for live performances. The band are held in considerable esteem back in their home nation for their energetic and colourful shows, and perhaps they are more at home on the stage than in the studio. Dramatic and entertaining opener ‘Solaris’ leads into the album’s catchy lead singles, ‘Glow’ and the mesmeric ‘Qween’. However, these heady heights are not maintained throughout. ‘True’ exemplifies the creative talents with clever vocal harmonies and varied use of the synth. The jittery beats and funky guitars work well with the imaginative synth work that is reminiscent of Cut Copy, but many of the later tracks seem neither pop enough nor inventive enough to set them apart from their plentiful and diversely talented peers making forward thinking electropop. Gareth Davies
SEABED Vondelpark R&S 1st April Seabed is the long-awaited debut from London 3-piece Vondelpark, a record to cater for fans of introspective guitar music and R&B alike. It marks a progression from the band’s earlier EPs towards a more organic sound. There are certainly parallels to be drawn between the album’s title and Vondelpark’s sound, one of murky and shimmering electronics. Bubbling layers are often complemented by beautifully understated bass lines as distorted lyrics blend into the mix. However, the trio are unafraid to venture away from the dense textures which characterise the majority of the record. Centrepiece ‘California Analog Dream’, a reworking of the song from 2010 EP Sauna, hinges on a delicate guitar line and a taut, staccato 2-step beat. Similarly, the padded groove of ‘Come On’ suggests that Vondelpark are at their best when dealing in concrete, repetitive figures rather than the blurred reverberations that can render tracks such as ‘Closer’ and ‘Seabed’ impenetrable and inconsequential. The sultry R&B for which they strive is difficult to maintain across a full-length, however, the substantial promise which Vondelpark exhibit here does enough to set them apart in an increasingly saturated crossover market. Ben Hickey
IN LOVE Peace Columbia 25th March Formed by brothers Harrison and Samuel Kossier on vocals/guitar and bass, the line up completed by guitarist Douglas Castle and drummer Dominic Boyce, Brum-rockers Peace gained recognition after releasing the acclaimed Delicious EP in 2012. After forming in 2010 they earned their stripes with support slots for the likes of the Vaccines, Tame Impala and Mystery Jets, all hinting at future success. Indeed, the earlier EP was upbeat and punchy. Yet upcoming album In Love just isn’t that remarkable. Kossier claims ‘there is something for everyone on there’ which, although may be true, also leaves the album lacking any real sense of direction or purpose. Fans of Vampire Weekend and Foals might gain a slither of pleasure in hearing a semblance of their heroes in songs such as ‘Lovesick’ and ‘Waste of Paint’, while ‘Wraith’ is a cracking tune, free spirited and very, very catchy. ‘California Daze’, meanwhile, shows the softer, more melodic side to the album. Perhaps Peace sound too self-assured for a band so early in their career, and there’s a spark lacking which stops you coming back for more. Rachel Bamberg
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Film & TV
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Mixed feelings about Mayday stuffbox.com
Rose Bonsier: The plot is not flawless, but this BBC 1 drama does raise some important questions
Move over, Friends Ben Marshall Mayday, aired over five consecutive nights, is a supernatural drama. Picture: BBC.
BBC One’s Mayday had all the components of a great thriller – a gripping, twisting plotline, a mystical woodland setting combined with a dysfunctional depiction of domestic life, and a set of unsettling characters who all look as though they could be capable of murder. Unfortunately, whilst the involvement of folklore and the supernatural certainly boosted the drama and kept the mystery going, the series struggled to find a balance between magic and reality, especially at its close, tying up the plot in a bit of a loose and haphazard way. Aired over five consecutive nights, Mayday unravels the story behind the disappearance of Hattie, the May Queen who goes missing in the woods on her way to the Parade. There are half a dozen key male suspects who are all, unsurprisingly, unhappy at home or in difficulty of some kind, and their increasingly worrying behaviour in the days following the disappearance does nothing but arouse the suspicions of their family. A couple of subplots
are weaved in nicely, which gives the sometimes unbelieveable characters a bit more depth as well as numerous hidden dimensions. The romance between Hattie’s twin Caitlin and brooding next-door-neighbour Linus is sweetly played out, if sometimes a bit contrived. The trust and love between the two makes the teenage couple the only pair in the drama who are able to honestly share their feeling with one another, and thus the viewer – and having much of the drama seen from a teenage perspective is very effective. Interestingly, the writers of Mayday have chosen not to focus on the grieving family and plotlines surrounding them; in fact, the access we get to Hattie’s parents is minimal and tends only to occur when they have a necessary interaction with other characters. Nevertheless, this certainly isn’t detrimental and instead gives a much broader view of proceedings by focusing time on some characters who don’t necessarily know Hattie well but are potentially involved in her
disappearance. One such character is Gayle Spicer (Lesley Manville), the well-turned-out but miserable and wife of property developer Malcom Spicer (Peter Firth). The sarcastic disagreements between the couple as well as Gayle’s ridiculous doting over their dog Duke (whom she provides with a cooked breakfast every day) make for darkly humorous interludes in the drama, which Gayle caries through even without Malcom. Gayle’s changing relationship with their neighbours as the story develops cynically shows the fine line between fickleness and friendship in a cleverly understated way. Another intriguing character is Seth, a man who is believed to be mentally ill, although this is brought into question when his belief that the wood is alive and able to communicate is later given credence. His druidism and ritualistic worship in the woods, as well as his fragile psychological state, set him up as a prime suspect for Hattie’s disappearance early on.
The drama here takes time to make a serious point about the potential for misunderstanding certain mental illnesses, and the concern that individuals might be scapegoated for crimes they haven’t committed. Mayday burns very slowly and the plot twists are drawn out, which is no problem except for the fact that the ending comes round very fast and cuts off in a rather unsatisfactory place. In some ways it feels as though the end isn’t reached - the wrong person is arrested, and we don’t get to see the right person discovered. But it’s also a very supernatural ending, which although far fetched, does leave you with the feeling that somewhere along the line justice will be served. Don’t expect a flawless plot, but Mayday definitely raises some important questions about the conflict between loyalty and family, morals and beliefs. Mayday Catch up on BBC iPlayer
Black Mirror is frighteningly close to reality Joshua Adcock
I can’t quite decide how best to describe Charlie Brooker. I’m not sure whether I should describe him as a comedian, a satirist, or a media personality. I’m not quite sure, but I can definitely say that he’s not just an angry man who shouts at the tv screen for laughs: with the production of Black Mirror he’s undeniably an ‘author’. So, what can we say about Black Mirror? Well, it’s a series of dark, speculative dramas which deal with the influence of technology and media, particularly social media, on our lives and ways of thinking. And
the series is surprisingly good at being both engrossingly entertaining and disturbingly shocking. I should say that I’m actually not a great fan of the name. But to borrow the imagery from the name itself, each episode is a dark reflection of a dystopian future and each writhes and twists like a horror film, keeping us tense with bated breath as we wait to see how far down the rabbit hole each conceit will take us. Black Mirror is almost intended to scare adults with its speculative fiction in the same way that Doctor Who is intended to scare kids. In fact, the show is almost Whovian, in a good way; Brooker’s clearly a good writer and maybe he should even be considered to pen a couple of scripts for the Time Lord. And it gets ever more frightening when we realise just how close these ‘fictions’ really are: according to Charlie Brooker’s Guardian column, someone has actually proposed resurrection through social media in real life. Much in the same way that The Thick of It often seemed to grind past the edges of reality, even when being overtly comic
and absurd, and thereby satirised the ‘omnishambles’ of real politics, Black Mirror shows the grotesque absurdities of modern digital life not to make us laugh, but to make us feel fear. Black Mirror can be best described as speculative fiction. It’s not quite sci-fi, but has too much tech to be pure drama; in fact you could posit it as being in the same vein as the speculative fiction of George Orwell and the long tradition of dystopian fiction. Both postulate the horrific possibilities of our social fabric that we may not really want to contemplate. So in Be Right Back, we have to deal with the possibility of resurrection,
Black Mirror shows the grotesque absurdities of modern digital life
of artificiality: what if your deceased loved one could be replicated, imitated, and delivered to your doorstep? Would it be the same person? Of course not. But what would you do? How would you cope with your loved one being a
ghost in the machine? The ending of this episode is not tragic though, it’s absurd, almost comic. The worlds of Black Mirror are often surprisingly mundane, and low-tech normal settings, and normal people predominate. But that makes it terrifying, because it’s so close to reality, it’s so easy to identify with that world, so domestic; the seemingly murderous antagonists of White Bear (no connection with the pub) are terrifying because they seem so familiar, and when the revelation comes as to who they really are and what they’re really doing, they seem even more grotesque for their willing deception, and they are so absurdly, almost comically, mundane individuals. And the end of each episode lacks any catharsis, the world carries on in its absurd equilibrium. Brooker’s taking what we feel familiar with; social networking, technology, game shows, TV violence, and so on, and de-familiarising them, to make us think about how bizarre, how grotesque, our ‘normal’ world could actually be, and how close that reflection is to the real world.
How I Met Your Mother is smart, funny and thoroughly enjoyable television. Yet I feel ashamed to say so. There is a distinct stigma against the show. As with Two and a Half Men, Entourage, Not Going Out and many other sit-coms, admitting you enjoy How I Met Your Mother can lead to thinly disguised sneers and judgement. The question is why? There are many who dislike How I Met Your Mother for being too similar to Friends. It is accused of being a cheap imitation. The similarities though are only superficial. Yes, I admit, they are both set in New York, both focus upon a small mixed group and their lives but that is all. How I Met Your Mother has created characters of great depth, with original and individually distinct lives. These are brand new stories for an audience to love. For those who were watching Friends repeats on E4 and now on Comedy Central: it’s over, it’s time to move on. Give in and let How I Met Your Mother fill that crushing void. There are, of course, those who criticise the show for being too gentle and say the humour is too mainstream. The sad fact is that most of us are mainstream, that’s why it’s called the mainstream. There is nothing wrong with coming in at the end of the day and letting a show like this wash over you. That is precisely what it was intended for. We can’t all be into the dark, noir, indie show that your hipster friends were all raving about, so let’s not try. If we all start admitting that when we enjoy these shows we can rehabilitate them and stop living in fear of tarnished reputations. How I Met Your Mother has been going for a while. The odd narrative, the obvious one liners and the overly enthusiastic acting are all part of its charm. After nine seasons, it’s obvious people must be enjoying it. It’s not Friends, it never will be, but it never tried to be. It’s time to break free. Time to be proud. Time to come out of the How I Met Your Mother closet and admit it is a good TV show. Unless I am the only one, in which case this was all a joke....
How I Met Your Mother E4, Thursdays at 8.30pm
ITV drama has broad ambitions Toby Jungius
Iron Man 3 is released on 3rd May, with Robert Downey Jr returning as Tony Stark. Photo: Disney
The morning after the night before: cure the post-Oscar blues Gareth Downs: the Oscars have passed by, but the year for big Hollywood productions has just begun. So, with the Academy Awards over for another year, what do we have in place for 2013 to cure the Oscar hangover? Currently you can enjoy the thrills of Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects, or the psychological mind games of Chan-wook Park’s Stoker. The fun doesn’t end here though, and there are many fantastic films to look forward to in 2013 including the box officedestroying blockbusters.
IRON MAN 3 (May 3rd)
Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t seem capable of making a bad film. Neither does Carey Mulligan. Couple those two genius talents with Baz Lurhmann (Moulin Rouge) and we have every right to be incredibly excited to see how F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel is translated into a 3D film for the summer.
MAN OF STEEL (June 14th) Henry Cavill is donning the lycra suit for the latest Superman film. Previous Superman films have not convinced many critics, especially in recent years,but Man of Steel boasts Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight trilogy) and Zack Snyder (300) with producer and director credits. Take that in conjunction with the inevitably great performances of Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner and Michael Shannon, and you have something to get really very excited about. In related news, Christopher Nolan is reportedly on course to be involved in the production of a Justice League film due in 2015.
WORLD WAR Z (June 21st) There isn’t a lot being said about Brad Pitt’s blockbusting summer epic but zombies, Pitt, secret service, guns…
sounds like a pretty decent film to me! Marc Foster directs this huge-scale film and it’s definitely going to be a fun one, even if it’s not going to clean up at awards ceremonies.
THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG (December 13th) We ended An Unexpected Journey with the awakening of Smaug, which has left fans of Tolkien’s books and Jackson’s films hungry for more of Bilbo Baggins’ adventures. This promises to be maybe slightly more eventful than the first part of The Hobbit story, hopefully quieting the critics of the An Unexpected Journey who claimed it was a little slow paced.
THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (November 22nd) The first Hunger Games film was excellent and has set Jennifer Lawrence (inset right) up for what is fast becoming a glittering career. She returns to the world of Panem with her co-stars Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutchinson on November 22nd in Catching Fire, which is faster paced and more exciting than the first by all accounts! This is a film definitely worth getting excited about.
THE WORLD’S END (October 25th) The second comedy about the end of the world is perhaps even more anticipated, at least in the UK, than Apatow’s for it brings together Simon Pegg and Nick Frost under Edgar
Wright’s watchful eye for the third and final installment in the ‘Three Flavours Cornetto’ trilogy. Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan and Paddy Considine (one half of the Andes from Hot Fuzz) are friends of Pegg and Frost, coming together to recreate an epic bar crawl that finishes at The World’s End pub. They soon realise that they might not make it before the world actually ends.
ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND CONTINUES (December 20th) This is the sequel to the cult comedy from 2004 and the whole cast has returned to continue the adventures of San Diego’s favourite news team. And it’s got Harrison Ford in it. There are no more words I can use to sell this film. pdfcast.net
THE GREAT GATSBY (May 10th)
Fresh of the back of J. J. Abrams being announced as the man to bring Star Wars back to cinemas, here comes the second installment of his first successful revamp. The first modern Star Trek film hit cinemas back in 2009, if you can believe it’s now that old, and it was a decent spectacle with a fantastic cast, which pleased both cult fans and newcomers to the brand. Throw Benedict Cumberbatch (inset left) into the sinister villain role and you’re more than onto a winner.
The third solo outing for Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark promises to be bigger and more explosive than the first two, and hopefully will be an improvement on the disappointing Iron Man 2. Shane Black, who was the mastermind behind Downey’s comeback in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang back in 2005, has taken Jon Favreau’s place in the director’s chair. He has added Guy Pearce and Ben Kingsley to the list of bad guys trying to take down Iron Man, and this film looks like it will not be one to be missed. As an Avengers aside, November will also see the return of Thor to the big screen.
STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS (May 17th)
THIS IS THE END (June 28th)
This is 40 fell flat but maybe that is because Judd Apatow’s regulars were tired, having just suffered through an apocalypse. The plot is not clear at this point, but the basic premise is that a series of cataclysmic events occur whilst a group of friends are enjoying a party at James Franco’s house. All the actors play themselves and I’ll just quickly list some of the talent in this film and you can make your own mind up about whether or not it’ll be worth seeing: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, Jay Beruchel, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera, Jason Segel, Emma Watson, Paul Rudd. I rest my case.
Broadchurch is one of those television series that you expect will earn a courtesy viewing from you because a popular actor you like is on it, and then it will fade from your memory because all it ended up being was a generic TV drama. The first episode did everything to dispel those expectations, as I genuinely believe that, if it maintains this level of quality, Broadchurch will become a cherished series of British television. Filmed in Bridport, Broadchurch centres on the murder of an 11-yearold boy and the effects it has on the small local community of the titular town. David Tennant plays the experienced and out-of-town Detective Inspector Alec Hardy, who works with local Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) who has a personal attachment to the case. While this sounds like your run-ofthe-mill murder mystery drama, and the fact that it’s on ITV1 doesn’t help, this series quickly affirms that we aren’t meant to find the investigation glamorous. The emotions are the focus of the series, camera angles and musical scoring being expertly applied to accentuate what we see on screen at every moment, whether it’s the monotony of a normal day before the news spreads, the pain of a grieving family, or the helplessness others feel in their inability to improve the situation. You would expect the skills of Shakespearean actor David Tennant to shine above the rest of the cast, but everyone in episode one gave a believable performance, including the murdered boy’s parents who managed to jerk some tears from me, as well as Olivia Colman’s character whose kind disposition struggles to cope with these stressful circumstances. Tennant does an excellent job of capturing the steely resolve of a professional forced to swallow his emotions by distancing himself from the case, but the series has a great team effort going for it that makes you pay attention to everyone, and not just the lead character. The first episode was engaging and deceptively creative, setting a high cinematic standard for the rest of the series. If you want to see a murder drama that properly deals with the emotional responses to death, then you’ll want to see this. Broadchurch ITV, Mondays at 9pm
The end of the celluloid dream? Michelle Chamroo
Matrix revelation: Keanu Reeves is a surprisingly engaging interviewer. Picture: Watershed
complete contrast, cinematographer Wally Pfister laments, “I’m not going to trade my oil paints in for a set of crayons,” alluding to film, insisting that digital is of an inferior quality and lacking the sophistication of film. Side by Side offers first-hand experience of what it is to use these two mediums and instead of being a money-making piece of propaganda for digital technologies, Kenneally (the director) debates the merits of both well. In exploring in much detail the beginnings of film with some tantalising shots of the kind of cameras used, this is porn for your average film geek. As a novice in film-making, and yet with a keen interest in the area, I enjoyed Side by Side. Hearing from those within the industry that are never seen, illuminates the complex nature of film-making . I am a fan of celluloid; I like the grainy quality of it and the less than perfect nature of the colours and tend to agree with Pfister: I much prefer oil paints to crayons. If you haven’t seen the documentary Samsara , which is shot on 70-millimetre film, it is well worth taking a look. However, I am not here to run my own campaign for film. You don’t have to be a serious film geek to appreciate the effort that has gone into making Side by Side. Nevertheless it is not an ‘Oh I’ve had a shit week, and need to turn my brain off for a while’ film. For those with a keen interest in film I would recommend it, if only to see it denote the chronological order of shooting pertaining to the state of Reeves beard.
Side by Side Released 15th February 2013 Dir. Christopher Kennealy, 99 mins
Hansel and regrettal Hugo Mathers
by shovels. Even worse, however, is the failed attempt to introduce a comedic element to the plot. Writer-director Tommy Wirkola seems to have reverted to early adolescent humour – the puerile belief that swearing is funny, and therefore he should use the F-word in every other line. The pick of the blasphemous punch lines (in relation to the gingerbread house): “Whatever you do, don’t eat the fucking candy.” Har har har. If you have any respect for the precious time you have on this planet, do not go and see this film; I’m still regretting it.
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters Released 27th February 2013 Dir. Tommy Wirkola, 88 mins
The terrible price of destroyed innocence Alejandro Palekar Fernandez: this Holocaust drama is powerful, compelling, and brave. Set in the last days of the Third Reich, Cate Shortland’s impressive drama Lore is a brave film which offers a new perspective on one of the most devastating events in history: the Holocaust. Focusing on the children of Nazis rather than on Nazis themselves, or Jews, characters are not distinctively good or bad, but devastatingly real. Abandoned by her fugitive mother, Lore is suddenly faced with the task of looking after her four siblings, and transporting them to their grandmother’s house 500km away, through the Black Forest. Initially unaware of the demise of Hitler’s regime, Lore is a young innocent victim of Nazi education. Saddened upon the news of Hitler’s death and reluctant to believe the atrocities when shown pictures, her transformation from a naïve indoctrinated girl into a conscious, knowledgeable woman is fascinating. Indeed, Lore’s confusion and the unpredictability and instability of her circumstances reflect Germany’s post-war state of turmoil; the reality that liberation does not mean freedom but, rather, subjugation to a different leader – in this case, the Allies. Likewise, Lore is anything but free without her parents, having to depend on others even m o r e than ever
What a terrible film. There I was, all settled, with my popcorn in hand, ready to enjoy a modern-day twist on a classic fairy tale, totally unaware I was in the process of flushing an hour and a half of my life down the toilet. The Brothers Grimm fable of Hansel and Gretel is portrayed in the prologue – probably the most gripping part of the whole film. For those who don’t know, the original tale is about two lost siblings who stumble upon a gingerbread house, only to find that a wicked witch inhabits this delicious dwelling. She imprisons them, and prepares to satisfy her cannibalistic cravings when the kids see to her demise: pushing her into the oven. This film is proof that the story should end there. Instead, we are thrust forward in time, ‘many years later’, when the siblings are all grown-up, though exactly when this is – or where it is – remains unclear. The Medieval-esque setting is mismatched by state-ofthe-art weaponry, and the vaguely Bavarian woodlands play host to an amalgamation of accents. As you can imagine, all this doesn’t do wonders for the film’s coherency.
So then, Hansel (Jeremy Renner – a star of much more impressive works such as The Hurt Locker) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton – who has acted in other flops like Prince of Persia and Clash of the Titans) have, whenever/ wherever this is meant to be, become bounty hunters, vengefully pursuing and slaying witches across the land. With the help of geeky aficionado Ben (Thomas Mann), white witch Mina (Pihla Viitala), and Edward the troll (Derek Mears and Robin Atkin Downes), they embark on a mission to stop the evil witch Muriel (Famke Janssen) et al stealing the children of a small village, whilst holding off opposition from the sheriff (Peter Stormare), and finding out the truth about their parents. The performances are far from inspired, though the script weighs them down like a fifty-tonne anchor; you get the impression the writers are deliberately sabotaging their acting careers. Hansel and Gretel, posing and pouting in leather with huge guns and crossbows, are arrogant, insipid and clichéd characters – are we supposed to care what happens to them? It’s essentially just one big sequence of mindless, blood-laden violence; noses head-butted and bitten, women frequently beaten, and craniums crushed underfoot and decapitated
Keanu Reeves would not have been the first person I considered when making an intelligent, insightful and interesting film exploring the current predicament pertaining to the perceived disappearance of photochemical film and the huge popularity of digital. He has certainly been in the business for a long time, with compelling pieces of cinema under his belt, such as Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Point Break and the gripping piece of suspenseful cinema Speed. I would argue Reeves has the looks, but is not the brightest bulb in the box. Still I should not mock, Reeves not only does a good job asking engaging questions, demonstrating he is knowledgeable on the subject matter, but also produces it.
Side By Side is a film geek’s wet dream, with a stellar cast of cinematographers, directors and industry experts, the list is impressive: David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, Wally Pfister, George Lucas, James Cameron and Lena Dunham to name a few. And many, many close-up sexy shots of the tools of the trade, the camera, most of which start to look like Daleks after a while. With all this talent, can there possibly be any substance? Yes; indeed there is substance, bucket loads of it. Reeves is essentially asking the question, “Is film dead?” If it is, what does that mean? And is what is replacing it to equal or better it? Soderbergh states, “I should call film on the phone and say I’ve met someone,” referring to first time he popped his cherry with digital. In
before. The sheer scope of her prejudiced upbringing is challenged when she is forced to rely on the one person she has been taught to hate: a Jew. Her dependence on the ‘enemy’, as well as her increasing awareness of her parents’ crimes, and the cruel nature of the regime she so respects and admires makes for compulsive viewing. Lore’s increasing maturity represents the country’s attempts at dealing with both its grief and its guilt in such sudden devastation. Cate Shortland cleverly only addresses the camps through active Nazi supporters, whose negation of the terror invoked by the regime is at once both despicable and pitiable. Ursina Lardi, playing Lore’s mother, is particularly captivating, providing the film’s most memorable and emotional performance. Moreover, the cinematography, evocative of Terrence Malick, though without pretence, featuring vast desolate landscapes, is incredibly beautiful. Combined with Max Richter’s haunting score, this makes it immensely atmospheric and encourages a permanent sense of tension. Lore is bleak and pessimistic, but an incredible character study. Unfairly overlooked in awards season, perhaps due to its difficult stance, it is original and powerful. Rather than regurgitating the same ideas which pervade other films dealing with the same issue, Lore takes a completely new – and very brave – view. A visual delight and a morally complex drama, Lore is a powerful film, where characters are not good or bad, but merely victims of their own circumstances.
Lore Released 22nd February 2013 Dir. Cate Shortland, 109 mins
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The gloomier side of sport: foul play threatens more than just the result Spencer Turner Sports Reporter
to find that the spirit of fairness has been ruined is devastating
century either. One of the most famous doping cases, that of the disgraced Ben Johnson, happened after the 1988 Seoul Olympics. There appears to be a trend not just in athletics, but also in other high profile sports such as football, that there is cheating at the highest level. At the start of this current season Antonio Conte was banned
over claims he failed to report alleged match-fixing while at Siena, while in 2006 the Italian league was forced to come to terms with the enormity of the match fixing scandal it had experienced. When sports fans across the world tune in daily to follow their chosen sports, and billions are spent annually by spectators to watch elite athletes perform and compete at the top of their abilities, how and why can this be allowed to happen? When I first heard about the allegations against Lance Armstrong my initial reaction was disbelief, and I know I wasn’t alone in that sentiment. To deceive fans who actively give their time to follow a particular person or sport in general, only to find out that the spirit of fairness has been ruined is devastating. The motivations to cheat are obvious. The potential gain from winning such a huge sporting event doesn’t need to be explained here. Furthermore, the culture that many sports adopt towards cheating appears to make it seem more acceptable to certain athletes. As a spectator I find myself ever more sceptical towards athletes in general. Recently, we have seen a flurry of disclosures of cheating throughout the sporting world, almost definitely as a result of enhanced testing methods and greater eagerness by regulating bodies to stamp out cheating in
Juventus fans stayed loyal to their club despite the match fixing, how would we react in England?
sport. What if our current crop of champions are going to be marred by the same allegations in years to come? What if Bolt, Messi or Ennis turn out to be cheaters or dopers? The world watched London in 2012 and undoubtedly countless young aspiring athletes will have been inspired by what they saw in the summer. Let’s take Bolt as an example, a man who has done so much to revive sprinting, and to make it into a fashionable event again. If it were revealed that he had taken performance enhancing drugs, would the sprinting community really want him ousted and
hung out to dry? As a man who has improved the image of sprinting everywhere and raised the profile of the event, it would be difficult to do such a thing.
what if our current crop of champions are going to be marred by the same allegations in years to come?
it is certainly interesting to consider the ramifications of such an event happening. It is even more interesting, given the current culture that is apparent across a range of sports, to see which athlete may be exposed next. Cheating is certainly a huge issue for sporting bodies to have to tackle currently and also in the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, it is only by choice that athletes cheat, so to truly keep sports clean athletes themselves must uphold the true moral foundations of fairness that are expected across all sports to rid them of their current culture for good.
Fight Night photo highlights: direct from the ringside One of the highlights of the Varsity Calendar, the Boxing Fight Night, recently took place at the Broad Plains Boxing Club. A capacity crowd saw Bristol and a host of other South-West Universities compete in what one attendee described to Epigram afterwards as ‘a brutal but gripping affair’. Whilst Bristol were unable to repeat the success of last year’s event they fought to an honourable draw against UWE with the final result 1-1 in their respective bouts, with Ciaran Thapar getting the key win for UBU. Hari May-Phippen, Patrick Armstrong and Edward Hussey also proudly represented Bristol that night Photographer Christian Foss was ringside and able to take some cracking photos, the our favourite are featured here.
Recently, the sporting world has been thrown into turmoil and has had its ethics and culture repeatedly questioned in relation to high profile misdemeanours ranging from doping to match fixing. Perhaps the most shocking aspect of it all is that the transgressions are not contained to one single sport, but rather spread across a huge range of disciplines, ranging from athletics to football. One of the most striking incidents in recent times is the case of Lance Armstrong who has been unceremoniously stripped of all seven of his Tour de France wins, for using performance enhancing drugs. Much ink has been spilt trying to digest the revelations and come to terms with the truth that Armstrong can be labelled
as a cheat. Most unfortunate of all is that this appears to be only the tip of the iceberg. Just a few days ago five medalwinning athletes were caught doping after samples from the 2005 World Championships were retested. This problem isn’t just confined to the 21st
UoB Futsal Club finally making its mark Futsal player Jonny Winterburn explains the sport’s growth in popularity in Britain and describes the rise of UoBFC at Bristol continued from back page Futsal is South America’s answer to the British tradition of 5-a-side; an indoor version, but played to touchlines rather than walls. With rules based more on skill and close control, such as the ball being able to go out for a kick in, it develops players’ touch, skill, movement and passing. Unlike the British 5-a-side, futsal is affiliated to both FIFA and UEFA, but unfortunately the England team, having only formed in 2005, have failed to make any World Cups or Euros.
Over the last 7 years, futsal has boomed in Britain and is one of the fastest growing sports in the country, represented by the increasing number of universities in the BUCS leagues. Although Bristol has been involved in the university
qualifying for the nationals for the last three years. With a squad primarily in their second year, the team look to have a good base to build from and hope for further success next year. Similar to the women’s team, the men’s team shows very little resemblance to previous years, yet have been able to make good use of their regular training, another first this year, to be in a position to fight for promotion. An upcoming league game against Gloucester will decide who gets promoted, a feat which has eluded Bristol for a number of years. Despite a loss in their cup game against the same team, Bristol look strong enough to win that game and enter into the Western Premier League.
Over the last 7 years futsal has boomed in Britain and is one of the fastest growing sports oin the country
Although only starting up as an official club this year, the
The team look to have a good base to build from and hope for further success next year
futsal scene for a number of years, with the sport not widely known, it has been difficult for the team to attract players and make an impact. Fortunately, this has now changed. After years of working on their own, the University of Bristol Futsal Club are now affiliated with the Athletic Union and have been given a fantastic platform to start attracting players from around the university. With a stall at freshers’ fair, the club were able to make themselves known from the start of the year and now host weekly sessions for all abilities, for both men and women. Attracting over 40 players a week, the university men’s and women’s squads have been able to flourish, being able to fight for promotion and titles this year. 2012/2013 marks the first season that there has been a realistic opportunity of success for both genders. This season, the women came second in their league, a fantastic result considering the vast majority are new to the sport this year, but were then unfortunately beaten by a far more advanced Gloucester side in the resulting knockout phase. The women’s team have done incredibly well recently,
The Men’s Team before their Cup game against Gloucester
club captain Juliette Denny, supported by a small yet dedicated committee, has been able to create a fantastic club, where both advanced players and beginners can experience and play the game of futsal. The university squad has improved as a result and the participation
levels have rocketed, providing players of all abilities great fun and exercise on a Saturday afternoon Get involved: Email email@example.com Twitter: @uobfutsal
Facebook: uobfutsalclub Come along to the open session which takes place every Saturday :1-3pm Men, :4-5pm Women. £2, Bristol Grammar School, University Road.
Bristol RFC hoping for new dawn after years of heartbreak Benj Cunningham Sports Reporter continued from back page At the outset, the smell of optimism was thick in the air. It seemed to many that with talent such as outside half Tristan Roberts and the young, explosive back three of Jack Tovey, George Watkins and Ryan Edwards, Bristol were finally ready to retake their seat at the big-boy table of English rugby.
However, an indifferent start to the season, with losses to recently relegated Newcastle Falcons, Leeds Carnegie and Moseley in their first five fixtures, meant the West Country side were left meandering in the middle of the table. Despite a promising run in the British and Irish Cup - the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy of rugby - in which they booked a home quarter final with a 6112 dismantling of a weak Cardiff side, Bristol RFC’s season has all too often been a story of what
might have been. However, it is not all doom and gloom for the men in blue, as things appear to be on the rise for Bristol RFC. The appointment of new Head Coach Andy Robinson has brought a renewed sense of optimism to the city, and is the latest in a series of boosts for the Championship team. While Robinson is most famous for his calamitous stints as head coach of England, and then Scotland, with whom he oversaw a humiliating 15-21
Robinson (2nd right) is seen as the man to finally lead Bristol into the Premiership
defeat against the lowly Tonga, there is firm belief within the Bristol camp that Robinson is the man for the job.
Robinson was the man responsible for the socalled ‘Orcs on Steroids’the mighty, World Cup winning England pack of 2003
His credentials as a forwards coach do nothing to dispel this assumption. Robinson was the man responsible for the so-called ‘Orcs on Steroids’– the mighty, World Cup winning England pack of 2003. His partnership with young Zimbabwean coach Liam Middleton is one which, if handled correctly, could lead to exciting times for this rugby club, and banish English rugby’s negative view of their former Director of Rugby. The new-found optimism surrounding the playoff contenders is not without foundation. The appointment led many players to renew their contracts, not least 22 year olds George Watkins and Jack Tovey. Speaking to the
Bristol Post, Tovey, a prolific try scorer, enthused: ‘Even a few little things Andy has added in training over the last few days make you really think that this is a serious thing and we’re looking to move in the right direction as a club.’ Along with this, a plethora of new signings, most notably former Welsh international fly-half Nicky Robinson from Wasps, has meant that the Memorial Stadium is buzzing with excitement over the side’s chances. The race for the top four quickens. Robinson’s first game as a Bristol coach ended in a mightily impressive away win against 3rd place Bedford by 18 points to 6. Despite a heartbreaking loss to second place Nottingham, Bristol are
well set for a run at the play-off spots, with a favourable run-in awaiting them.
Bristol RFC’s season has all too often been a story of what might have been.
The final match of the season, against league leaders Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park, may well prove crucial in the push for promotion. A place in the top four beckons and whether the new coach can lead his young guns to the glory of promotion remains to be seen.
Varsity Guide: The Battle of Bristol
Q&A with the UoB Motorsport Society: Karting
David Stone Sports Reporter
How does your 2012/2013 compare to last year? We didn’t qualify last year but have qualified this year and have had some very positive results this season
This week over 20 different Bristol sports clubs and societies will battle against UWE as part of Varsity Series 2013. Tonight both the Men and Women Football First XI’s compete at Bristol Rovers’ Memorial Ground, whilst on Wednesday Varsity Day sees multiple events taking place all over the city. This is your guide to what’s happening where and when so you don’t miss any of the action.
Varsity Day: Wednesday 20th March Sport, Exercise and Health Centre, Bristol University Campus Badminton Men 1st (13:0014:00) Badminton Women 1st (14:0015:00) Badminton Mixed 1st (15:0016:00) Fencing Men 1st (14:00 - 16:00) Fencing Women 1st (14:0016:00) Trampoline Mixed (17:30-19:30) UWESU RedBar
Future events to look out for after Easter are: The Boat Race-fighting for The Varsity Challenge Cup Saturday 27th April 2013 11:3016:00 Bristol Harbourside
Darts Mixed Poker Mixed Wargames Mixed -All throughout the afternoon How to get there Postcode: BS16 1QY Buses: 11,12,13,14,15,19,70
Rugby Union Monday 29th April 2013 18:0021:00 The Memorial Stadium
Astro Pitches, UWE Frenchay Campus Hockey Men 3rd (12:00) Hockey Women 2nd (13:15) Hockey Men 2nd (14:30) Hockey Women 1st (16:00) Hockey Men 1st (17:30) How to get there Postcode: BS8 1QY Buses: 11,12, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19, St. Matts Playing Fields Lacrosse Women 2nd (13:30) Lacrosse Women 1st (15:00) Lacrosse Men 1st (16:30) How to get there Postcode: BS16 2JP Buses: 13 Dings Crusaders RFC Rugby League Men 1st (14:00) How to get there Postcode: BS7 9YS Buses: 11,12, 15, 19, 70, 73
UWE Frenchay CampusCentre For Sport Cricket Men 1st (10.30 - Court 1) Netball 5th (12:00 - Court 1) Netball 4th (13:15 - Court 1) Netball 3rd (14:30 - Court 1) Netball 2nd (15:45- Court 1) Netball 1st (17:00 - Court 1) Volleyball Men 1st (10.30 - Court 2) Basketball Men 2nd (12.00hCourt 2) Basketball Women 1st (13:30Court 1) Basketball Men 1st (15:30 Court 1) Futsal Men 1st (17:00 - Court 1) Squash Men 2nd (14.00-- Squash Courts) Squash Men 3rd (14.00 - Squash Courts) Squash Men 4th (14.00 - Squash Courts) Squash Women 1st (14.00 Squash Courts)
Coombe Dingle Rugby Union Men 2nd (14:00hrs) Tennis Women 1st (11:3016:30hrs) Tennis Men 1st (11:30-16:30hrs) How to get there Postcode: BS9 2BJ Buses: 41 UBU Pool Waterpolo Men 1st (14:00) Swimming Gala Mixed (13:00) South West Tae Kwon Do Jiu Jitsu Mixed Kickboxing Mixed Tae Kwon Do Mixed - All throughout the afternoon How to get there Postcode: BS2 8SF Buses : Any City Centre Bus
How to get there Postcode : BS9 1QY Buses: 11,12,13,14,15,19 ,70
Where: The Memorial Ground, BS8 0BF How: Bus routes 70/73, ample free parking at the stadium When: Women’s match 6pm kick off, Men’s at 8pm Full match commentary also on BURST Radio Bristol Men’s Football Social Secretary and Squad Member George Starkey-Midha gives an exclusive preview to Epigram ahead of their game tonight:
Defenders: Ben Cole, Steve Whitehead, Oliver Mann, Rory Campbell, Ben Eder, Russell Kroll, Joe Cowen
Forwards: Tim Downes, Jonny Eamer, Jayesh Mistry, Pete Bray, Leo Pascoulis
What’s the main appeal of university motorsport racing? There’s lots of adrenaline involved, with often very tight racing and some drama on the side. There are often 36 karts going into turn one, meaning there’s normally a bit of a pileup. However, there’s always a medical team on standby so it’s safe too!
You’re the biggest university motorsport society in the country, what makes you so popular? Our initial membership costs only £5, which is the cheapest in the country. By keeping costs for members as little as possible, we hope to keep our society as open as possible. The £5 allows us to subsidise future events, to keep the club going. Explain a bit about your Bristol Indoor Championship. It is our most popular event, and is only for Bristol students. It’s about 10 miles away, costs £15 per race and you’re guaranteed to be racing people that are at your skill level.
Firsts Squad List: Goalkeepers: Alex Mitchell, Jamie Diserens
Midfielders: Josh Marcus, Harry Hatchwell, Nick Cunniffe, Jocelino Rodrigues, Freddie Hawke, Harry Rudkin
What are the karts like? BUKC karts are really properly quick, they aren’t the ‘arrive and drive’ karts you get on holiday. They officially go 5-60mph in 4.5 seconds and as they are light they very fast round corners.
What’s the standard of the people you’re racing against? One of the best bits is we have the opportunity to compete against people that are professional racing drivers, and might well compete in Formula One in the future. Although it’s intimidating to begin with, once you put your helmets on and get in the zone, you think of them as competition not as people who are better than you.
‘After the graduation of several key players from the University last year, this season has been one of transition for the 1st XI. Whilst UWE have won their parallel league, results for Bristol have not been as consistent as the team would have liked. However, there have been more than enough positives in their performances throughout the season to give them hope that they can repeat last year’s stunning 3-2 victory. Fresher’s such as Portuguese attacking midfielder Jocelino Rodrigues and powerhouse forward Tim Downes have added quality to a squad containing a solid core of experienced 1st XI players including centre back and captain Ben Cole, and midfield duo Harry Hatchwell and Nick Cunniffe. In Pete Bray, Leo Pascoulis and Josh Marcus, Coach Alan Tyres has an abundance of attacking options at his disposal and will have faith that his players can get a result in Monday’s game.’
When did the motorsport society start up? We were first entered in the BUCS league in 2003, but that was set up by a group of friends. We’ve got more of a professional setup now.
Do you have Varsity? We don’t have Varsity, so we’ve hopefully organised an endurance race with Bath, which will be during the first week back after the Easter holidays. Contact the Motorsport society on Twitter: @ubms_bukc or Facebook: UoB Motorsport
Editor: David Stone
Deputy Editor: Laura Lambert
Rugby Firsts secure league title after beating local rivals Hartpury three times
Inside Sport Futsal on the up at the University If you had said the word ‘futsal’ to somebody 7 years ago, without doubt they would have given you a weird look and asked what on earth futsal is. Do the same thing in 2013 and you’d probably get a similar response from a number of people, but now there’s a large group who have heard of it and are finding it incredibly enjoyable... continued on page 34 UBRFC
David Stone Sport Editor
happening. Three days later the opposition put on a physical performance, only for Bristol to again come out on top with a narrow 34-32 scoreline. Finally a week later in the Cup Semi-Final, UBAFC secured a 24-15 win and will now face Loughborough in
the final on the 24th March. A 20-15 victory over Imperial College last week finally secured their positions as Champions, something which was no doubt deservedly well celebrated that evening.
Andy Robinson looking to lead Bristol RFC into the top flight of English rugby After a hugely impressive 2011/2012 season, albeit ending in the agony of playoff defeat at the hands of the Cornish Pirates, which prevented the Bristolians from returning to the top flight of English rugby after a three year absence, Bristol RFC have been somewhat underwhelming this year.... continued on page 34
Motorsport Society Q&A Getting to know one of Bristol’s most exciting and newest societies
The victorious First XV squad
The University of Bristol Rugby 1sts recently were recently crowned league champions of the BUCS Premier South B, an achievement made all the more notable as it came right after beating local rivals Hartpury three times in close succession. This means that next year they will be competing in the Premier South A along with some of the other very top university rugby teams in the country. A great season threatened to be derailed when it emerged that not only would Bristol have to face Hartpury in the cup, this would be coinciding with playing them home and away in the league in the weeks beforehand. Dubbed on social media as the ‘Hartpury Trilogy’ after the Lord of the Rings films some in the club took this literally, convincing themselves
that they indeed were fighting for the future of Middle Earth as well as Bristolian prestige. In any case a 29-7 victory away from home towards the end of February, the first league fixture against Hartpury, showed that something magical was indeed
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Worried about food or eating? Don’t be, we’re here. UBU’s eating disorders support group is run by students for students, and offers a relaxed and supportive atmosphere for talking about life, university and issues relating to eating disorders.
For more info visit ubu.org.uk/eatingdisorders