Page 1

header

at the summer ball

what on earth is

sectionname@gairrhydd.com /

00


contents : Issue 68 - 9th June 2008 HAY FESTIVAL

A place where literary giants meet intellectual heavyweights, the Hay festival is a long way from the muddy trenches of Glastonbury. We present some of the highlights from the ‘Woodstock for the mind’...

p.22

MIRACLE FRUIT A magical fruit that makes everything taste deliciously sweet? Surely the promises of miracle fruit are too good to be true? Don’t worry, Quench’s eager guinea pigs are on hand to test out the claims of this, as yet, unclassified substance!

p.30

VOYEUR - - - - - - - - - - - - p.04 DEBATE - - - - - - - - - - - - - p.06 SOFIE - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - p.07 FASHION - - - - - - - - - - - p.08 TRAVEL - - - - - - - - - - - - - - p.12 FEATURES - - - - - - - - - - - p.17 BLIND DATE - - - - - - - - - p.28

GAY - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - p.29 FOOD - - - - - - - - - - - - - - p.30 ARTS - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - p.32 BOOKS - - - - - - - - - - - - - - p.36 CULT CLASSICS - - - - - - p.37 MUSIC - - - - - - - - - - - - - - p.39 FILM - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - p.47

Cover photo: Ed Salter Editor Ben Bryant Executive Editor Amy Harrison Assistant to the Editors Elaine Morgan Arts Amy Grier, Tasha Prest-Smith Blind Date Hazel Plush Books Tom Williams Cult Classics Gareth Mogg Debate Aisling Tempany Digital Dom MukwambaSendall Fashion Jo Butler, Mary Parkes Features Gillian Couch, Chris Rogers, Jim Whiteley Film Sim Eckstein, Will Hitchins Food Kath Petty, Daniel Smith Gay Andy Tweddle Going Out Lucy Rowe, Amelia Thomas Interviews Michael Bateson-Hill, Lucinda Day, Annika Henderson Music Kyle Ellison, Francesca Jarvis, Si Truss Travel Jim Finucane, Kirsty Page Photography Ed Salter Proof Readers Hazel Plush, Kath Petty, Laurel Burn, Aisling Tempany, Osian Haines.


voyeur

N

{Voyeur}

obody likes goodbyes. It’s the healthiest thing in the world to get closure, to move on, to leave before things get stale. But the feeling that something irretrievable has been lost is so prominent in a goodbye. And the future stares back blankly, no matter how prepared you are. Not that we don’t have to deal with loss on a daily basis; it’s just that without goodbyes, losses are easier to bear. Without any spoken conclusions, losses are easily ignored. Life can be just a steady stream of comings and goings, until you sit up and take notice. When you leave university, you’re not only saying goodbye to a lot of people, but to a way of life. Student culture is great, but nobody wants to be the kid hanging on three years after they’ve graduated, still getting tickets for Carnage, still buzzing around the Students’ Union, and still trying to pull freshers at Solus. Technology makes the load easier to bear. You can resist closure when everyone you leave behind is still at your fingertips on Facebook. But in reality, that lack of closure is just a comforting delusion. Facebook friends are like Pokémon: fun to collect, but pretty meaningless and probably worthless in a few years. And besides, although many relationships are made at university, few are made to last. We’re put through the mangle at uni, confronting enormous changes to our character in a relatively short space of time. We’re barely half-formed before we’re thrust into the real world. For us to move forward, our relationships have to move forward, and sometimes that means letting go of old ties, and accepting and appreciating relationships for what they’ve been. So goodbyes are great. Embrace them like you embrace your friends when you’re seeing them off. BB

04 / voyeur@gairrhydd.com

IN

OUT

swimming in the sea

swimming in the Taf

ATTENTION: The Taf is full of nasty diseases, filthy bacteria and sharp things. Any illnesses, injuries or deaths sustained while launching yourself down the Black Weir on an inflatable are entirely your own fault. Quench does not condone using the weir as a waterslide. Having said that, you are not ready to make the transition to your second year until you’ve choked on a lungful of cloudy, Taf-fresh bog juice. Mmm... decadent.

..

E-SHOPPER

TOAD PURSE JUST £11.11

“It takes a certain kind of woman to carry a Toad Purse. A woman who’s confident. A woman who’s not afraid to stand out. A woman who stays home on Saturday evenings, eating Pop Tarts while crying, “What is WRONG with me?!” www.stupid.com

.


Amber Duval

voyeur

.....

... DISPENSER OF FILTH AND PURVEYOR OF VULGAR TWATTERY

RATES THE H

KAMA SUTRA

ello girls, boys and in-betweeners! Amber Duval here. Having spent the last ten months assisting the student population with their style dilemmas, fawning over the latest gaggle of new students, and generally asserting my superiority in all matters relating to social conduct, my brief reign over this tawdry little rag-tag of a magazine must come to an end. Fabulousness is a quality that should not be taken for granted, lest it become tainted and bastardised, like a Burberry scarf with a ‘Made In Taiwan’ tag stitched to the seam. So before the proles get a hold of my inimitable style and fuck it up with their obnoxious little counterfeit Louis Vuitton handbags, I shall bow out gracefully to a glorious fanfare, a quick review of the Kama Sutra, and an ecstatic emancipation of bodily juices! Until next year, toodles!

“Just look at that! I’d like to see a scrawny little 21st century indie boy peel off his nuthuggers, stand on his head and rut me senseless like this erstwhile stud. A cum-dumpster worthy 9/10!”

“I once had a neighbour who used to enjoy rubbing his naked body up against Shetland ponies. His equine frottage was never quite as indulgent as this bestial gang-bang, however. A horse pounding 6/10!”

“Amputee-midget-shagfest! Surely a pretty niche fetish, even for the imaginative authors of the Kama Sutra. Still, my knickers are positively frothing at the sight of their eccentric rumpypumpy. A gash-tastic 10/10!”

.......................................... voyeur@gairrhydd.com /

05


debate

WAR VS PEACE

THE END OF YEAR IS NIGH! AND NOW IS THE LAST CHANCE YOU MAY EVER HAVE TO PATCH UP THOSE FEUDS WITH YOUR HOUSEMATES. OR THIS COULD BE THE TIME YOU FINALLY STAB THEM IN THE BACK, AND GET SWEET REVENGE!

T

W

hether you stab someone in the back is relative to his or her crime. If a housemate wakes you up everyday at 8am with her bizarre morning vigour, but she has no idea she’s doing it, then obviously, back stabbing is not the answer. Maybe just a gentle reminder every now and again. But if a person pisses you off to the point where you feel like mixing him or her a rat poison cocktail, then clearly burying the hatchet is a waste of time. I don’t get a kick out of arguments, but at the end of the day, I’d rather someone knew what I thought of him or her than just forget how much they’ve angered me. Unfortunately, peace rarely reigns without a war first. A memorable personal experience that springs to mind is not a housemate scenario, but an ex-boyfriend. God knows why, but I once went out with a George Bush supporter who claimed to be a member of the American aristocracy. Wherever his money came from, he certainly had loads of it. When he stayed for the first time in my middle-class, 4-bedroom house, he turned his nose up at everything and generally played the part of a rich, arrogant tosser. He dumped me a couple of days later, and after a few days feeling teary and stupid, I sent him a letter pouring scorn on his shallowness, materialism and insecurity. His reply was an 8-page grovel fest, where he admitted that I was completely right about him, and asking me to reform him. All I cared about was that I’d proved that I’m no doormat. Revenge was definitely sweet. Tash Prest-Smith

I’D RATHER SOMEONE KNEW WHAT I THOUGHT OF HIM OR HER RATHER THAN AUTOMATICALLY FORGET HOW MUCH HE OR SHE’S ANNOYED ME

06 / debate@gairrhydd.com

here are times when a person should attempt to make peace with their enemies and the end of the year is one of those times. Once you’ve made peace, you can go off to your summer holidays feeling warm and fuzzy, thinking, “I’ve finally sorted that out,” rather than idly making plans to sabotage their final year over a rainy Sunday afternoon. Sometimes when a situation is irreperable, like when you slept with their boyfriend/ girlfriend, or when you set fire to the kitchen (both hypothetical scenarios.) But the feud that began when you took some of their milk, which was followed by them stealing your cereal, so you took their vodka, could, and indeed should, be resolved before you finish university. After all, two years later they could be working alongside you in your most perfect job, and ruin it all. Your whole life could be ruined by a person because you never said sorry for stealing their milk. And that really, really would be sad. University is the time when you make your friends for life and, regrettably, it is also the time you make your enemies for life. I have the experience of forever ruining my University experience by starting a feud with someone with whom the damage can never be repaired. Graduation (when you finally leave) should be a peaceful time of celebration, of how great your student life was. It shouldn’t be a moment that your ceremony turns into the ending of a Stephen King film. Vanessa Preston

THERE ARE TIMES WHEN A SITUATION IS IRREPARABLE. LIKE WHEN YOU SLEPT WITH THEIR BOYFRIEND OR GIRLFIREND


n o s n i k n e Sofie J

sofie

Skip to the end: to a happy ending or a broken heart

G

od, life’s a bitch isn’t it? There are days when you look at the sky and see a smush of pretty clouds, breathe in and feel like everything is right. But great big chunks of it seem to be filled with times when you look up and it’s grey and wet. I have found that the sky is never greyer than when everything below it is changing beyond recognition. It can be tough and sometimes decisions that you always thought would be obvious or easy turn out to be full of doubt. Lots of different things in life can break your heart, just a little or quite a lot. Whether it be love lost, opportunity lost or just being at an utter loss at what to do next in life. Heartache is not an easy fish to fry; it’s not easy full stop, from which ever end or side you are on. But for some it does offer ample career enhancing material. The majority of art and music flying around the world seems to be, on the whole, a by product of torturous human emotion, pain and suffering. Falling mostly into the category of love, or lack thereof. I’ve often thought that if I could turn each gut wrenching, mind bending, life altering ounce of pain and thought into a song it would not only give me an outlet but might even make me better at dealing with it. I think that I would find all of these little breaks and even the big breaks a lot easier to process if I was some kind of brilliant songwriter or poet or artist. The distilled details of even half of the complicated and intense things that have seemingly taken over my brain in recent years could have provided me with the makings of a half decent album by now or, at the very least, more understanding of and some resolve for my bruised heart. Not forgetting the element of revenge and/or atonement that would occur as a bonus. The question of what to do with all of this excess thought, passion, doubt, uncertainty and so forth, if you don’t happen to be handy with an instrument, or maybe a pen, remains a mystery. Sometimes I find myself looking around at people in the street and wondering just how they are keeping it all in. Just how many of them have a similar amount of excess thought and/or emo-

tion bubbling away, trying to escape their head and are managing to contain it? Especially when I consistently feel like I’m about to explode in any given direction. One way I cope is by living vicariously through other people’s lyrics, as an outlet. To illustrate as such and without getting too Sex And The City on you I will be using the words of our friends The Futureheads, who are seemingly expert at describing the spectrum of heartache. A great lyric can give you a sense of comradery or of belonging; be part of the answer or part of the solution. It can make you feel uplifted or it can help you simmer with melancholy. “If I could cheat, I would skip to the end to decide whether if it’s worth going through with. Skip to the last paragraph before we start, to the happy ending or a broken heart.” “It’s hard to bear, difficult to watch, hard not to care when it means so much and it’s hard to bear but not impossible as such.”

WI have found that the sky is never greyer than when ever ything be low it is changing beyond recognition

“And you know that it’s easy to get lost in these dark places, but you never ever know what you might find.” Each one of these perfect little bubbles of sentiment and humanity have been in my head and my life at some point. As I haven’t managed to get my life crises down on paper as lyrics having boys from the north east shouting them at me will just have to do for now. Some things are easy to fix, especially if, like me, you have a badge from the brownies that proves your ability to change a plug, and some things aren’t so easy to fix, like a big old smashed up plate. When something is broken inside it’s even harder and I still haven’t worked out what the best glue is Finding something to put all your excess energy and focus into on the days where the sky is grey seems to help shape your life and stop you falling into a post-exam, post-education, post-love, post-job, posttravelling pothole. Finding something long term to give you passion can be great and life changing to boot. So here I am signing off from one and hoping to turn it into another. “We’ve never met but we’ve never been apart”…so goodbye and good luck.

sofie@gairrhydd.com /

07


fashion

Summer Ball Style Whether it’s a bright colour, eccentric pattern or unique accessory, make a statement at Cardiff’s most anticipated event of the year

Models: Kath Petty, Hazel Plush, James ‘Fordy’ Ford Photographer: Ed Salter

08 / fashion@gairrhydd.com


fashion

Top 5 ways for boys to put an individual spin on black tie Geek Chic Goes Formal: Throw caution to the wind and get your hands on a powder blue suit. The key to getting this look right is making sure it is really nicely fitted and accessorised with thick black rimmed reading glasses. This look takes an amazing amount of confidence but when done right, it can’t fail to impress.

The Duran Duran: The 80s have dominated fashion for the past couple of years so it makes perfect sense to have a formal 80s option. Get involved with a white suit but avoid looking like a 1920s gangster by giving the black shirt a miss and opting for something a bit more jovial, like a nice cranberry.

The Sexy Avenger: For you proud owners of three piece suits, I would suggest going the extra mile and accessorising with a bowler hat and cane or better yet a large umbrella. You will look like John Steed of The Avengers and the umbrella will come in handy if there is a spot of rain.

Classic British Tweed: Instead of just settling for the classic penguin look, this season embrace your inner gentleman and don a tweed suit. Accessorise with a pipe and a cheeky grin and you will have nothing but class seeping out of every pore.

Do the Michael Jackson: This look is aimed at all the taller gents who have difficulties finding trousers or suit jackets long enough. Instead of trying on endless suits in Topman, I would suggest you learn to love your ankles. Cover those bad boys in glistening white socks and wear a crisp white shirt. If MJ can do it, so can you. Mariam Bashorun

fashion@gairrhydd.com /

09


fashion

The Summer Ball Cardiff University’s Summer Ball, the one night of the student calendar where it’s acceptable to spend about four hours getting ready. Being held in a field however does raise some minor problems. Ladies, you should avoid dresses that trail on the floor. Although dip dye is a major trend this summer, the look doesn’t quite work when mud is the dying agent. Also avoid spindly heels unless you want to spend the entire night being pulled out of a mud pit. Gentlemen, you can’t go wrong really, just remember that trainers are distasteful at such an event, even if it is in the same place you play football at the weekend. Finally, don’t let your trouser legs drag on the floor either, but obviously avoid ankle bashers too. Take heed of this advice and come 13th June, get dressed up in your finery, crack open a can of Strongbow and let Scouting for Girls lovingly serenade you on the lawn. Meme Sgroi

10 / fashion@gairrhydd.com


fashion

Top 5 places to bag yourself a ball dress Hudson & Hudson – situated by the Millie’s Cookies stall in Queen’s Arcade, Hudson & Hudson is an exclusive Welsh store that boasts a splendid array of frocks to satisfy any taste. Coast – a more sophisticated choice of dress shops, but fabulous nonetheless, with numerous designs in store to choose from. Whatever the decision, you’ll stand out from the rest. Debenhams - Julien MacDonald’s ‘Star’ collection is inspired by the very name of the brand…the stars (of the celebrity variety that is). And you’ll be no different if you sport one of these exquisitely embellished beauties. Karen Millen – Expensive? Yes, but only the belle of the ball will be rocking up in one of these creations. Classy and elegant is an understatement, you’ll give the girls a bad case of the greeneyed monster. TK Maxx – Can’t afford anything that’s going to break the bank? Then head down to TK Maxx in the Hayes. Not even a hint of a charity shop, for TK Maxx just gets old stock from the high street stores. There’s an expansive range in store, with something for just about everyone! Sarah George

fashion@gairrhydd.com /

11


travel

WELSH WONDERS

Finished exams? In need of some light relief? Wales has tons to offer for the traveller looking to escape the library and their desk. Travel looks at some local hot spots to enjoy in the coming weeks.

THE BIG PIT A 50 minute drive from Cardiff off the M4 towards Newport lands you at The Big Pit, the National Coal Museum. Get ready to don your hard hat as you descend 300ft into the depths of the colliery accompanied by an experienced miner. The underground tour lasts just under an hour and makes for a slightly unusual day out. But maybe not if you’re claustrophobic… KP

THE BRECON BEACONS This gentle stroll through the Brecon Beacons is a perfect way to spend a day if you aren’t feeling too energetic. The train to Merthyr Tydfil takes just over an hour and with a young persons railcard, a return is only £3.45. Once in Merthyr, get a taxi to drop you by the village hall at the start of the footpath. Between four people, it shouldn’t be more than a pound or two. The path is relatively flat, passing beautiful scenery and ends in a cosy country pub, The Red Cow. After a quick lunch it’s time to turn around and head back. KP

PEN Y FAN For a slightly more hardcore trip to the Brecons, try heading to Pen y

12 / travel@gairrhydd.com

Fan. By car, follow the A470 out of Cardiff, through Powys and past the reservoir. There is a car park directly beneath the start of the walk. A very enjoyable walk with spectacular views at the top, Pen y Fan is worth a try if you are looking for something more than just a wander in the countryside. KP

CAERPHILLY CASTLE Standing on a 30 acre site Caerphilly Castle is one of the largest fortresses in Europe. The number 26 IBT bus service running between Cardiff and Tredegar stops adjacent to the gates. Open nine until five.

SNOWDONIA Snowdonia is the perfect location for climbing. However, it also offers other outdoor and extreme sports. For the less active of you, it is perfect for reliving those family holidays: you can hop aboard steam trains, feed cute animals and round off your nostalgia with an old fashioned ice-cream. By car it takes about 3 hours. The nearest train station is Llandudno and booking advance single tickets is the cheapest way to do it, costing £10 each. The journey takes about 5 hours and you can get a local bus to Snowdonia. LJ


travel

THREE CLIFFS BAY Three Cliffs Bay is in the Gower and takes about one hour in the car. To travel by train, the nearest station is Swansea, a Young Persons return ticket booked in advance is only about £6, it takes about an hour and from Swansea there are local buses to the Gower. The Three Ciffs Bay is a beautiful, secluded beach. There is an interestingly sloping campsite overlooking the beach. It is a steep descent and climb back up but is definitely worth the pain!! The campsite is intended for families though so if you go you have to be quiet and wellbehaved! If that sounds too much like hard work, there are plenty of other campsites nearby. LJ

LLANWIT MAJOR The train station may give you the impression that you’ve arrived at some sort of boring, south eastern commuter town, but within minutes the ugly main road in Welsh village Llantwit major is replaced with intriging and winding, medieval streets that rival the best of picture postcard places.

As you enter the village, in desperate need of a pint, the biggest obstacle you face is the overwhelming choice of old, cosy pubs and homely beer gardens to drink that mouth watering organic cider of theirs. And once you’ve polished off one of those (or three) there are plenty of quaint little boutiques and second hand shops to keep you entertained for an hour (or three). It is Llantwit Major’s biggest secret that makes it so very worth a visit however. Wander around aimlessely oggling at the desirable property (a very valid past time in itself) and you will quickly discover, not only a footpath which will lead you into the beautiful Welsh countryside, but the seaside too! So if it’s an impressive array of everything relaxing, and of course quintiessentially British, that you’re after then hopping on the train to llantwit Major is a definate must. It cost £4.50 for a return ticket on the train. LD

TENBY Taking the train to Tenby takes about two and a half hours, a return ticket costing £12. On arriving at Tenby, there are campsites a short walk away from the station. There is a Tesco nearby, perfect for buying a disposable barbeque and some food for a meal in a cove on North beach. This is particularly nice in the eve

ning as the sun sets and the town of Tenby is lit up and you can stay on the beach drinking and making merry until you feel like going back. The daytime makes for perfect seaside activities. This trip is good for at least a night, avoiding having to get the train there and back again the same day. KP The Tourist Information in town has loads of information on places to visit in Wales. Located opposite the indoor market.

travel@gairrhydd.com /

13


IMAGE: BEN BRYANT

21ST CENTURY TRAVELLERS

A MONTH ON THE OZ EXPERIENCE JUST DOESN’T CUT IT ANYMORE. THESE DAYS, IF YOU WANT TO FLAUNT TRUE ‘GAP-YAH’ STATUS AT UNI, YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO GO A LITTLE FURTHER AFIELD... JENNY EDWARDS INVESTIGATES


The Journey:

F

or everyone fed up of check-in queues and aeroplane food, there are a wealth of alternative options. Granted they may take a little longer, but there won’t be a baggage carousel in sight . . . Slow boat to China Slow boat sums up this transport mode, a 24-day journey from England to China where six passengers per voyage travel in actual working container ships. They sleep in basic cabins and eat meals in the officer’s mess. Accommodation is basic, but luxury can usually be found in the form of a fitness room or swimming pool. The boat stops at Singapore, Rio and Alexandria before arriving at Shanghai.

The 25-week road trip Making Route 66 look like Park Place, the Pan American Highway is 29,800 miles of road networks pausing only for a small gap of rain forest. Travellers can take a specialised tour from the North Arctic circle to the tip of Chile, going by mini bus and expedition truck. Accommodation is campsites and hotels and they can be forgiven the one necessary flight given the 25-week duration of the trip. Public transport goes global Anyone bored by the idea of a simple road trip can follow in the footsteps or train and tyre tracks of Pete Moore who left Victoria coach station, London and arrived in Sydney... 8 months later. He travelled 28,000 km relying solely on public transport in order to appreciate 25

travel countries normally spied from the plane window. 3 boats, 34 buses, 16 trains, 21 mini vans, 6 car rides and 1 sneaky flight later and he had well and truly succeeded in a more personal experience. Double-decker Asia Still embracing public transport, just minus the passengers, two friends from Brighton rebuilt a Double Decker bus and set off for the Himalayas. They replaced seats with a kitchen, shower and toilet downstairs and 3 double cabins upstairs. Going for the convertible look they created a fold down roof, apparently for manoeuvring under low bridges but also making a convenient sun terrace. Intending to cover 25 countries including the Balkans, Turkey, Asia and Russia they set off this April and were recently spotted near Sarajevo.

SITUATED IN A PUBLIC PARK, THE WOODPECKER HOTEL IS REACHED BY A ‘STURDY BUT WOBBLY’ ROPE LADDER... Accommodation:

G

one are the days when a hotel meant bedrooms and a reception area. Accommodation options now mean neither bed nor breakfast are the main attractions. Dog Bark Park Inn, Cottonwood, USA. This hotel boasts the world’s largest Beagle, which coincidentally is also the hotel itself. This wooden dog is two stories high offering accommodation for four. Ample entertainment is provided by the hotels owners/chainsaw artists who promise an impressive collection of ‘canine carvings’ and other animal shaped masterpieces. An ideal location for dog and carpentry fans alike. Crane Hotel, Harlingen, Netherlands The Crane Hotel does what it says on the sign and is a dockside crane converted in to a luxury hotel

for two. The external ladders have been replaced with lifts for entry to the machine room, now a luxurious bedroom. Not rating the original decor for comfort, it has been transformed with all hotel amenities and decorated like a designer hotel. Most exciting, it is still a working crane that can be whirled around from the drivers cabin. Propeller Island City Lodge. Berlin, Germany Staying here involves ‘living in a work of art’ with each room a unique exhibition. One room, titled ‘Two Lions: Sleeping in a cage’ involves literally sleeping in a cage set 1.5m high on stilts with a public audience (curtains provided for privacy). The ‘coffin’ fulfils the gothic fantasy of actually sleeping in a closed coffin. Woodpecker Hotel, Stockholm, Sweden The Woodpecker hotel is a cosy Scandinavian hut that happens to

be perching 13 metres up an oak tree. Situated in a public park it is reached by a ‘sturdy but wobbly’ rope ladder. It is well equipped for a comfortable stay, and given its location up a tree the ensuite toilet is an impressive extra. It also offers good views and in-room bird song 24/7. Jules Undersea Lodge, Florida, USA Offering an escape for anyone wanting to avoid people or land, the Undersea Lodge can only be reached by divers qualified to reach its 20-feet-below-water location. A cottage sized habitat, it has a kitchenette and bedroom and is reached by a hole in the bottom giving access to a wet room. Still equipped with all landed luxuries, it has a fridge, microwave and music plus windows for watching the fish go by.

travel@gairrhydd.com /

15


travel

The Entertainment:

O

nce safely there and settled in a hotel or hut in a tree there is no need for the adventures to stop. Racing for sun loungers no longer seems to satisfy holidaying thrill seekers and there’s plenty of adrenaline driven alternatives. River Bugging: Forget swimming with dolphins, riding down rapids in a ladybird style chair is the new thing to do before you die. While umblilically attached to a red inflatable chair, the person is cast down fast moving rapids to bounce off rocks and raft down eddies in to pools of icy water. In the height of style, webbed gloves are worn on their hands and short flippers on their feet. The craze, named ‘river bugging’ started in New Zealand and can now be done closer to home in Scotland. The Hot Air Balloon: For a crowd-free and more exciting sightseeing experience, hot air balloons are the way to go. Two-hour trips are offered across the Cambodian city of Angkor with the chance to see birds-eye views of the famous temple Angkor Wat. Alternatively, you can take excursions over the

16 / travel@gairrhydd.com

Australian Simpson and Tanami desert. Setting out at dawn, the balloons cruise over gorges and water pools with the Outback as the only horizon. The Safari Quad Bikes: The Tour operators Black Tomato offer a safari where half the fun is the transport itself. Travellers swap jeeps for quad bikes and take to remotest Botswana to track down wildlife with the help of zoologist experts. Spending five days out there isn’t as hard-core as it sounds, Persian rugs, laundered clothes and antique feather stuffed beds keep the basic away from the safari

experience. Antarctic Exploration: At the other end of the thermometer is the 13-day trip to Antarctica. Flying from Cape Town to the reassuringly named ‘Unknown International Airport’ of Antarctica, passengers land over icebergs and on to an ice runway. They are taken to a base eco camp where they are free to do anything from visiting nearby penguin rockeries to climbing up and abseiling down ice mountains. There is also an overnight stay in an exact replica of Walter Scott’s camp, complete with traditional tents.


HAY FESTIVAL Hay Festival

Hay Festival

HAY-ON-WYE IS FAMOUS FOR ONE THING: BOOKS. EVERY YEAR, BIBLIOPHILES FROM ACROSS THE UK MAKE A PILGRIMAGE TO HAY FESTIVAL TO LISTEN TO ESTEEMED AUTHORS, INTELLECTUALS AND POLITICIANS. QUENCH WERE ON SITE TO CATCH UP WITH SOME OF THE WORLD’S GREAT THINKERS

T

t he Guardian claims tha the you ‘cannot pigeon-hole y Ha people who go to the the at g ivin arr on Festival’, yet, ly became event’s gates, I quick oice of ch the of s ou self-consci in my g ldin ho beverage I was about re we re the y, kil Luc . hand ns, so I tio op ing ycl 7 different rec bottle my of was able to dispose king a ma id avo d an la -Co of Coca as. terrible faux-p all its The Hay Festival, with much y ver is ity, ers claimed div and a middle class, liberal ed and predominantly middle-ag uld, sho re The t. en up, environm dents however, be far more stu the of ity ers div the If present. hin the festival does not lie wit cer tainly it n the ts, rac att it le peop

does with the events and speakers that are present. From left wing political activists, such as George Monbiot to right-wing T.V presenters, namely Jeremy Clarkson, the Hay Festival should be attracting a greater demographic of people, certainly age wise, at least. This, coupled with the various deals for students, such as free tickets to certain events (if you apply online), should be enough to attract a greater portion of young people to the festival. Perhaps the Hay Festival simply isn’t ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ enough, and therefore isn’t a viable alternative to Glastonbury. Yet, with its location, next to the quaint town of Hay on Wye, you soon realise that the

Hay Festival site (just down the road from the town) is only one aspect of the whole event. The town itself offers a range of markets, more pubs selling absurdly strong cider than you can count using all the fingers on both of your hands (and you’ll need them ), a chance to speak to the aging local hippies about how disgustingly corporate and ordered the festival is, and, to top it all, a magnificent circus. So, next year, throw away your Coke cans, arm yourself with organic cider and help make the Hay Festival the demographically diverse event it should be. Chris Rogers

features@gairrhydd.com /

17


HAY FESTIVAL

Wit on

Wye

the

EVEN TORRENTIAL RAIN COULDN’T INTERRUPT THE CREATIVE FLOW OF HAY FESTIVAL’S MOST ESTEEMED GUESTS. QUENCH ROUNDS UP SOME OF THE BIG NAMES...

PAUL GREENGRASS, FILM MAKER

S

ince 1999’s The Murder of Steven Lawrence, Paul Greengrass has emerged as one of the foremost voices in British filmmaking. Equally adept at delivering high octane blockbusters (The Bourne Supremacy and Ultimatum) as he is contentious social commentaries (United 93 and Bloody Sunday), Greengrass

SALMAN RUSHDIE, AUTHOR

“A

nd I just wondered,” sniffed the markedly well-spoken lady several rows in front of me, “exactly how you replenish yourself emotionally and spirituallly after writing”.

18 / features@gairrhydd.com

spoke candidly of his early career in TV on World In Action and his rise to Hollywood. Engaging and frank throughout, the Surrey born director addressed the ethical issues that arise when dealing with sensitive and provocative subject matter. In reference to his portrayal of the infamous Steven Lawrence murder, he spoke of the importance he placed both on the involvement and blessing he obtained from the Lawrence family he had extensive contact with during filming. He also talked of his belief in the power of cinema to deal with such sensitive and complex issues. The criticism he received from some elements of the media for making United 93 so soon after the events of 9/11 was, he suggested, a reflection of their attitude towards drama.

That reams of news coverage released mere hours after the event is seen as having greater value and legitimacy than drama when engaging with such issues. He pointed to the overwhelmingly positive reception of the film amongst critics, audiences and those who lost loved ones on the eponymous flight of the movie, which, he said, vindicated his belief that film afforded audiences the chance to engage with the humanity of such situations in way that journalistic texts could not. A filmmaker with a genuine passion for pursuing social justice, but entirely without the ‘crusading’ self importance that so often accompanies this stance, Greengrass is a true jewel in the crown of British film making and looks set to continue in the same vein for years to come. Sim Eckstein

Rushdie, evidently used to the eccentric ramblings of such mooncupdonning literary types, remained unfased by her perplexing question, and unleashed a bit of spiel about how writing is all he needs to, well, replenish himself. Still, I can’t help but feel that a small voice inside of him was urging him to stick it to the hippies - to launch into a long and extremely graphic description of a variety of depraved sexual practices that replenish his soul; of auto-erotic aspyxiation, teabagging, and, of course, the rusty trombone. But he behaved himself. I suspect that one fatwa per lifetime is quite enough for anyone, and the numerous postfeminists lurking at strategic points around the room were an ominous

portent of potential exile, if not from Islamic states, then at least from the Utopian idyll of Hay festival. Sure enough, the chance to confront Rushdie’s literary obsession with depicting women as virgins, whores, and very little inbetween, proved too good an opportunity to miss, and no less than three individuals raised the topic in a discussion about his excellent new novel, The Enchantress of Florence. Much to everyone’s relief, however, Rushdie never took the bait. Manipulting his crafty eyebrows and smiling smugly, he charismatically sidestepped his detractors, proving himself to be an entertaining, witty and really rather jolly host. Ben Bryant


HAY FESTIVAL

B

BEN NICHOLSON, MODERNIST ARTIST

JONATHAN STEELE, FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT, THE GUARDIAN

“W

e don’t really know what Gordon Brown’s thinking was about the Iraq war,’ states the Guardian’s leading foreign correspondent Jonathan Steele. And if anyone were to indeed know then it would be Johnothan; his new book unravels every detail of the story of the Iraq war and all its controversy. Talking at the Hay festival, next to … George Monbiot, Jonathan may be highly critical of the Iraq war, but does nonetheless avoid the theatrical delivery of views and anecdotes which Monbiot clearly favours. Instead, it appears that Steele is concerned with the facts, the problems and moving forward in our contemporary post war climate. Speaking after his talk at Hay, Steele spoke frankly about the contemporary issues surrounding the war, rather than the blunders of its coming about – although I’m sure there is enough of that stuff to keep you busy in his book.’ I think there is something in Robin Cooks book saying that he got another lecture from Gordon Brown,’ states Steele, ‘this implies that Brown was very much on Tony Blair’s side. But it is more significant to look at the situation

en Nicholson, as the curator of his current exhibition at the Tate Liverpool, Chris Stephens states, was a modernist with a personal agenda as well as a wider artistic endeavour to modernise art. Stephens explains that “Nicholson’s modernist style was partly born out of a troublesome relationship with his father, who was also an artist. He wanted to move away from his father’s style and do something new.” Of course, as aforementioned, Nicholson’s modernist style conformed to the wider artistic modernist movement that aimed to render realist art obsolete; it was not solely a personal vendetta

against his father’s work. “Nicholson shared the same appreciations as other modernists, who would read Joyce and Elliot and listen to Stravinsky.” Nicholson was married to St. Ives artist, Barbara Hepworth between 1933 and 1951 and together, they influenced each other, feeding of each other abstract styles. Stephen’s highlights Ben Nicholson’s unique style of “fusing the traditional with the modern”, particularly in his landscape paintings, which took the traditional artistic subject of nature, and merged it with a modernist, abstract style. Visit his work at www.tate.org.uk. Interview by Chris Rogers

now. Since he has become prime minister he has become in one way quite tactically clever by taking the British troops out of the front line so that the number of deaths has gone down quite significantly. But you very much wonder why he hasn’t had the courage and morality to pull them

not, according to Steele, the man to end the nightmare that is the current situation in Iraq, he appears to hold a little more hope out for an America under Barrack Obama’s rule. I hope Obama really will be the future of America. It seems to me that he is one of the few that really understands the concept of the American empire. The trouble with so many Americans politicians is that they are stuck with the idea that their country was formed out of a colonial footing, through which they were all dubbed champions of freedom. Yet in all actuality we don’t all look to America to secure freedom and democracy in our contemporary world. We look at them often as tyrants that topple regimes and set up dictatorships. And they play a very imperial role. But I think Obama, compared to any of his predecessors sees things quite differently; he is the first politician that fully understands the concept of the American empire. If he gets into power he’ll be under a lot of pressure to continue it, but I think he has an altogether different agenda for America, and the world.’ Despite his informative book, therefore, it is clear that Steele, like the rest of us, is looking to the looming British and American elections, for the next significant chapter within the Iraq saga.

“OBAMA IS THE ONLY AMERICAN POLITICIAN WHO UNDERSTANDS THE CONCEPT OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE” out altogether. In a way, he has the worst of both worlds. He still seems to be maintaining the occupation and is 100 percent with George bush; on the other hand he has recognised that British troops can’t do any good there anymore, and that the troops themselves want to get out of the front line.’ Yet does Steele really think that Tony Blair’s Iraq legacy can truly harm Gordon Brown’s image? ‘Certainly yes. He is considered to be a weak prime minister as he gives the impression that he is a ditherer. He dithered on the elections, he dithered on the 10p tax code, and he dithered on Iraq. He has blown it in this way.’ While Brown is most definitely

Interview by Lucinda Day Jonathan’s book: ‘Defeat: Why America and Britain Lost Iraq’ is out now.

features@gairrhydd.com /

19


HAY FESTIVAL

A HARD R

WORLD RENOWNED PHOTOGRAPHER MARK EDWARDS INFLUENCE OF BOB DYLAN ON HIS PHOTOGRAPHY, AN

“I

’m not using photography as an art form,” states Mark Edwards, who is incidentally one of the world’s most acclaimed photographers. The photos in his latest collection, however, are so misleadingly beautiful that you could, in fact, be forgiven for thinking otherwise. Impressive shots of children, electrifying forests and crystal clear waters may mesmerise as they meet the eye, but Edwards does not so much desire a ‘wow’ of admiration from his audience, but rather, one of disgust. Edwards has collected the photos that feature in his latest book ‘Hard Rain’ in order to make a political campaign for social justice and environmental change. While these phrases have become boring buzzwords (and we may all be slightly guilty of becoming dangerously desensitized to them at their very mention), Edwards has fused the visual forum of photography, with the rasping lyrics of Bob Dylan’s ‘Hard Rain’ to re-engage us with modern concerns that will quite literally be the death of us. His captivating mixture of music and photography seeks to convey political issues to a universal audience, and in the process highlight how popular culture is a significant tool for achieving social progress. And progress, for Edwards, is all about making the connection between “humans” and their “head on collision with nature. That is the key theme that I desperately wanted to convey to my audience and my readers. All our world’s problems of poverty, injustice, the environment, they are not separate issues, they are all intrinsically linked”, he states. Edward’s project is predominantly concerned with those in power that seem to overlook this simple point, because “these are the people that make the decisions that will give security for the future. And they are

20 / features@gairrhydd.com

the people that you have to reach. We must find a way of targeting such people.” Yet, Edwards’s style, which utilizes Dylan lyrics, is clearly not merely one for the politicians, “I’m amazed why young people are just not more angry with the state of the world,” he states perplexedly. “The crossover between collective and individual action is key. The government

and industries can take certain steps, but when the individual does one thing, they do good things too. They may be small steps, but if widely adopted they will have a big impact, and it is important to remember this. Individuals can give a powerful message to politicians and to business leaders, exposing how they are concerned about the future of the human race and the planet,


RAIN

HAY FESTIVAL

S TALKS TO LUCINDA DAY ABOUT HIS LATEST PROJECT, THE ND APATHY...

“I’M AMAZED WHY YOUNG PEOPLE ARE JUST NOT MORE ANGRY WITH THE STATE OF THE WORLD”

and that they will support legislation to preserve it best.” Edward’s approach to international development and global justice is refreshing in its alternative approach. While he prefers to distance his own work’s status as art, he points out that he “wanted to draw attention to the fact that we need to engage not just business people, or political leaders, but those of

the arts world in order to preserve our future. The arts world has a responsibility to use its imagination to these issues to life and particularly so do universities of course.” Art, for Edwards, is perhaps so important because it touches, just like global problems, the whole of humanity in one way or another. His exhibition is thus taking place worldwide, and is not just for those Guardian reading, lefty liberals that booked a ticket to his talk at Hay. His photos are currently on display in the form of banners in botanical gardens worldwide as “People who go there don’t have very much knowledge of environmental and developmental issues. The Hay festival audience was really an exception. I mean normally the exhibition is seen by people just randomly. At Hay people choose to come, they might have heard of the Hard Rain project already, or maybe they like Bob Dylan. But the vast majority of my work is seen by many uneducated people from around the world, and that probably has the greatest impact.” For the record, it is not just his images that have such a vast impact either; Mark’s collection is accompanied by critical essays to accompany his photography. More effective altogether, however, are Edward’s chilling prophecies, which he delivers in his speech at Hay, and in this interview. “I suppose that we (young people) should be more angry because it’s our children that will suffer?’ “No.” He quite vigorously corrects me, “it will be you.” Mark’s book Hard Rain: Our Headlong Collision With Nature is out now. For more information visit: www. hardrainproject.com.

features@gairrhydd.com /

21


HAY FESTIVAL

Loui e | Lucinda

Day talks to Louise Rennison - the lady allegedly responsible for corrupting the minds of teenagers for the past 10 years

I

’m not a teacher, I’m a writer, I’m free to write and people are free to read’, says Louise Rennison, author of every hormonal girls favourite teenage diary series. Indeed, it would be difficult to find a girl (or boy for that matter) between the ages of 12 and 22 who has not had at least a sneaky look in the back corner of the local library at Rennison’s Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging, the first of her books to cause a storm in the playground just over ten years ago now. ‘I love my readers, and their energy and I’m not going to do anything to hurt them, but equally I’m going to write and tell things that are funny to me,’ states Rennison defiantly. Despite what the titles of her books may suggest, however, any little brothers sneaking around their sisters’ bookshelves (or rather secret ones) would be better off sticking to their mums’ catalogues if they are after anything particularly saucy; Rennison’s books tackle the subject of developing sexual awareness, school and friendship in a refreshingly innocent (yet hilarious) manner. Brothers of course are all very well and good, but I can’t help but remember my own mother’s reaction back in

22 / features@gairrhydd.com

1998 when she first witnessed her innocent little girl clutching a book ‘about thongs?’ Rennison, however, clearly takes the parental thing in her damn right cool stride as she states, ‘I’ve had a few parents writing in, with letters of complaint, saying something like ‘oh it’s not suitable’. Yet, when they come to the gig they see who I am, and their feedback is generally very positive. They see that I’m not actually some sort of pornographer’. Rennison’s confidence clearly stems from her seamless and stylish approach to writing fiction for teenagers. Unlike many children’s writers, she prefers to stay true to herself and her own interests rather than writing what is deemed suitable or cool for kids. ‘I basically decided when I was asked to write a book for teenagers that it was gonna be on my terms, so that I’m comfortable. I’m not going to copy them and I don’t tend to hang out with teenagers…’ This is all very well and good, but Rennison’s books are clearly so down with the kids at Hay that I can’t help but get vaguely suspicious that there is at least some mild kiddie stalking going on. ‘ Well,

Author: Louise Rennison I think I am inclined to notice things I suppose, I wouldn’t read sugar magazine every week or anything, but I’m quite in tune with what’s going on. Mainly I write about things that I find funny and the girls can take it or leave is basically. I know one of my editors, not at Harper Collins but before, said look they’re all texting each other you should put text messages in. And I thought, but I’m not interested in text messaging, and actually they look shit on paper. It happened with the film as well actually. The film makers wanted to put things like ipods in but I refused, I mean what’s funny about ipods?’ For the record the film is out next month and the trailers look like every twelve year old girl’s dream, and perhaps every mother’s too (Alan Davies is playing the protagonist Georgia’s dad. Oh yes, yes, yes, he is). Rennison seems excited about


HAY FESTIVAL

I don’t tend to hang out with teenagers…

I think it will be good, it’s got an absolutely cracking cast. The editor, who worked on Bridget Jones’s Diary, really got me and my sense of humour

| ** ** * * * * * **

*^ * * ^ *

** * * * *

|

|

Despite this, Louise is desperate to get her hands on the second film and have more input, ‘If enough people watch this one then I’m hoping that I might get a crack at it second time round and the second film will be really hot.’ Rennison is perhaps slightly out of touch with the film because, of course ‘the film is quite young to me. As a writer, I’m now with Georgia ten years later. She’s younger than I am with her now.’ Interestingly, however, Georgia has remained the same age throughout the series and Rennison tells me she has no plans to change this, ‘I feel no need for the character to grow up, it’s usually adults who ask what is going to happen when she gets older, the kids just move on to reading something else when they have surpassed the age of the protagonist. I liked the TV series Friends when they all used to just hang out in the flat together; I liked that gang thing. When they all started pairing off and it got complicated, well I lost interest, I thought I know where this

is going…’ And as Rennison reassures me that she will continue to do more of the same with Georgia and her friends (because she clearly does it so well) I ask her if she can write something for the 22 year old fans that grew up with her because ‘life hasn’t really got any easier’ since I flounced around in the playground like her protagonist. ‘Well,’ Rennison gushes, ‘I did go to art college, and I laughed so much in my three years there….maybe I should write it?’ Yes please, but if, like me, you want more of Rennison in the meantime there’s always the dark corner in the library, right next to the pre-pubescent boy.

* ^ * * ^ *

the film, ‘I think it will be good, it’s got an absolutely cracking cast. The editor, who worked on Bridget Jones’s Diary really got me and my sense of humour .’

The film hits UK cinema screens on 25th July 2008 features@gairrhydd.com /

23


HAY FESTIVAL

“I

’ve written lots and lots of books set abroad and it’s absolutely vital to know what it feels like to live there”, asserts the charming Louis De Berniere, “you need to eat the food, collect the superstitions and see what plants are growing out of the walls and best of all, have a love affair.” His latest novel, A Partisan’s Daughter, endeavours to portray a clash of cultures, a romance that flourishes between a British man and a Serbian woman during the Winter of Discontent in 1978. Fortunately, as Louis states, “I did go

24 / features@gairrhydd.com

to Serbia before finishing the book, where I was able to ask vital questions such as how do you say ‘but I thought you loved me?’” Louis reveals a very personal aspect of his new novel, namely the writing in of his own character: “The Dylan character is actually a caricature of me”. The character Rosa, in the novel, is based on his former flatmate, who lived with him in a flat in Islington during his youth, and told him many romantic stories about her life. Louis, however, believes that “it’s a bit dodgy including someone you know in a novel”, before adding “but they hardly ever recognise themselves.”

The Partisan’s Daughter has taken Louis over 23 years to complete, and the premise and concept of the novel has developed and changed dramatically along the way. “My original plan was to make it a novel about sexual obsession, quite an interesting subject, but after reading it back, I found it left a bad taste in the mouth really, so I decided then to make it a love story.” When asked if he is ever truly satisfied, Louis replied, “you can always look back and think of things that could have been better, I often think the end of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin could have been better”, he then goes on to state that A Partisan’s Daughter has “my very best ending”, despite having “places where it drifts around in the middle a bit.” The critics, however, do not seem to have picked up on this latter criticism by the author. The critically well-received novel is out now in stores. Chris Rogers and Lucinda Day


HAY FESTIVAL

A nighT at thE Circus

Chris Rogers takes some time out from all the books to enjoy a performance from the one and only Gifford Circus, and talks to its founder, Nell Gifford, about her ambitious project: bringing the circus back to the forefront of British entertainment

E

very Summer, Gifford’s Circus embarks upon a magical tour of the SouthWest, bringing an array of talent and spectacle to village fields across the region. In conjunction with the Hay Festival, the eclectic group of travelling horse whisperers, gymnasts, jokers, jugglers and musicians set up camp in a muddy field to offer an alternative form of entertainment and an excuse for couples to bring their young children to a literacy festival. The founder of Gifford’s circus, Nell Gifford, rides her horse with proud posture around the streets of Hay-on-Wye, promoting her circus. By doing so, she is attempting to bring back a form of entertainment that has seen a lapse in Britain since the late Sixties. Nell explains that “despite being a British invention, the circus does not get the attention here that it enjoys in other parts of the world, partic-

ularly Eastern Europe, where a circus renaissance is very much in full flow.” This is actually a lot to do with the British government, as Nell points out, stating that “governments in places like Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary invest heavily in the state circus. In Hungary, for example, you can join the circus for life and get a pension out of it and everything – its actually a viable career path”. There are also issues regarding touring in Britain, “restrictions exist in regards to what we are able to do over here, it’s a real pain getting hold of a premises licence, for example. This really curtails our movements; it’s as if the nature of the circus isn’t compatible with the Britain’s obsession with control and order.” Nell is obviously extremely proud of what she has created with Gilford’s Circus. For her, it is an expression of diversity; its strong multicultural elements encompass the nature of the circus. “The mixed backgrounds and various cultures that are brought together by the circus is what gives it an edgy and exciting feel.” This year’s tour is entitled ‘Caravan’ and centres around events that take place during a horse fair in 1900. The charmingly witless joker provides much of the comedy and the jaw-dropping stunts are performed by young and highly talented gymnasts. Nell herself is at her most impressive while on horseback. Shimmying around the edge of

the audience on a horse while flying a falcon and taking part in a courting scene, she embodies all the confidence of a great performer. If you were not at the Hay Festival do not fret. The Gifford Circus has only just begun its Summer 2008 tour. For full details on dates and locations of the tour, go to www.giffordscircus.com or call 08454597469. Alternatively, if you wish to run away with the circus, then there are two job positions advertised on the website.

features@gairrhydd.com /

25


features

Under the influence

Huw Davies provides an insight into the wit and music of Humphrey Lyttelton, the dirty grandad of Radio 4

I

t isn’t necessarily the case that with age comes influence, but Humphrey Lyttelton showed how with age comes influence over an audience. A reverential silence settles upon seeing this man take the mic at the age of 86, everready with a sly innuendo, taking complete control of an unruly I’m Sorry, I Haven’t A Clue panel and audience. And yet as natural and influential as his style of hosting was, the man known as Humph was by trade a trumpeter, highly influential on the jazz scene. His longevity and high regard speaks for itself; the legendary Louis Armstrong knew him as “that cat in England who swings his ass off”, and he even helped Radiohead out during a troublesome Amnesiac session, pulling an exhausting seven-hour shift for Life in a Glasshouse in what Humph called “a very heavy day”. But his real influence on the world has been in the presentation of absolute filth. Its 6.30pm slot on

26 / features@gairrhydd.com

Radio 4 never stopped the cult radio show I’m Sorry, I Haven’t A Clue, which Humph hosted for 50 series from its creation in 1972 to his sad passing in late April of this year, from engaging in dirty wordplay and puns so lewd they’d make Chaucer blush. And Humph told them masterfully. There was no wink-wink-nudgenudge, nor the grotesque theatrics of Paul O’Grady’s ilk; just feigned innocence and deadpan delivery. “Lionel Blair’s mood swings make him difficult to work with; in this year’s Snow White, co-stars said that one minute he’d be feeling Happy,” Humph would say, looking surprised at the audience’s tittering, before finishing, “…and the next he’d come over Grumpy.” You can’t help but wonder how the show got away with it on primetime Radio 4 (if, in-

deed, there’s such a thing as primetime on Radio 4), but Humph’s innocent demeanour was certainly a factor. He seemed a confused old man, set up by mischievous writers. His double entendres about the game’s scorer Samantha, forever popping out to enjoy “some winkles in cider” or to see her miserly lover (he doesn’t like spending money, but she finds if she butters him up properly she can get him to splash out), were all the funnier for his apparent naïveté. At times he just sounded bored, tying in beautifully with the show’s self-deprecation, related by a cynical, insouciant and tired Humph sighing, “Nietzsche said that life was a choice between suffering and boredom; he never said anything about having to put up with both at the same time.” Some people seem to live forever; others seem to forever dying. Humph was both. I was lucky enough to see the show live only a month before his death, and it was incredible to see such a combination of vivacity, wit and pure cynicism in a man touring well into his 80s and pretending to hate every minute of it. His influence – over listeners; over comedy; over jazz; over smut – lives on, and maybe this man, who twice turned down a knighthood, can influence our life philosophy a bit too, in his own unique way. “As we journey through life’ he said, ‘discarding baggage along the way, we should keep an iron grip, to the very end, on the capacity for silliness.”


header

sectionname@gairrhydd.com /

00


O S

O S Blind Date

blind date

“WE GOT ON LIKE A GAY HOUSE ON FIRE!”

Tim Mostyn Tim, what were your first impressions of Jake? He was a bit late, but after he finally arrived we got on like a gay house on fire! So you had a good night then? Yeah! We spent most of our time bantering with our waitress Tatyana and it was fantastic, almost as if we’d met before... Me and Jake that is, not Tatyana... So will you two be hooking up again? Sure - we’ll definitely be going out again soon. Awesome, so which would you rather: chuck, fuck or marry? I would say marry. And out of ten? Nine and a half.

Jake Wassef

First impressions? I thought he was really fit, talkative and friendly. How did the night go for you? Really well. We got on brilliantly, there were no awkward silences and we had much love for our waitress. How did you leave it? He walked me home like a perfect gentleman, but spat his chewing gum out when we said goodbye! I thought it was cute though. Chuck, fuck or marry? Marry - he’s hot, he’s hip and I like his big lips. Out of ten? Nine!

INTERESTED IN A BLIND DATE? EMAIL ME, YOUR VERY OWN SULTRY LOVE GODDESS... 28 / blinddate@gairrhydd.com


MATCHMAKER, MATCHMAKER, MAKE ME A MATCH...

gay

In light of a fruitful dating year, Andrew Tweddle discusses gay dating and wonders whether something doesn’t quite add up...

G

etting a date can be complicated at the easiest of times. Ever since homosapien A invited homosapien B out for some boar, people have spent their time obsessing about dating. We spend our time moaning about never going on dates, sketching out when we get one, and wondering why homosapien B never texted back after the boar feast. And so, inevitably, this neurosis translates across to the gay world. The tricky little hurdles that our heterosexual counterparts try to overcome, pale in comparison over on our side of the watering-hole. How do we know if our potential date is in into same-sex pairings in the first place? And when we eventually meet someone that might fit the bill, who’s to say they’ll make you go bang? In a moment of self indulgent gay arithmetic, I worked out that the likelihood of a twenty-year-old Cardiff homosexual embarking upon a successful date is not sparkling. Here comes the maths bit, concentrate. There are about 300,000 people in Cardiff. Divide this by two due to gender and we have 150,000. If the – rather generous – “one in ten men is gay” myth is accurate, this means that there are 15,000 potentially dateable men for our hypothetical gay single (let’s call him HGS). Brilliant!

Hold up, though – what about age? A quarter of these guys are probably too young to be legally dateable and a quarter of them are probably hooked up to a life support machine. If we take the average life expectancy of a man as 80, and

“THE LIKELIHOOD OF A TWENTY YEAR-OLD CARDIFF HOMOSEXUAL EMBARKING UPON A SUCCESSFUL DATE IS NOT SPARKLING” divide 15,000 by this number, we can deduce that there are 187.5 gay men in Cardiff for every age. So if we say our twenty-year-old HGS is willing to date people between the ages of 18 and 27, he has 1,875 people to choose from – which is still a pretty decent figure. But only about half of these guys will actually be single, and, like, only a quarter of the single ones you’ll probably deem fit enough to be seen with. That gives us 234.375 men for HGS to take to the Funky Buddha for a pint. We’ll call it 234 because the 0.375 five guy, despite being single

and fit, will probably have no legs or something. Good for him for getting this far in the vetting process, though. OK, so HGS has 234 guys to date. How many of these will want to date HGS? Half? How many will be free when he’s free? Fifty? And how many of them will actually make HGS go bang? After all these calculations, it might look a little more fizzle than sizzle for HGS on date night. Never fear, he still has fifty people to step out with and maybe one of these will be a potential mate for life. So while his heterosexual housemates swan off to The Goat Major with their dates, HGS rocks up at a friendly bar with Mr. 1/50. Mr. 1/50 and HGS seem to be getting on really well, but there are still a few mini-obstacles to overcome. Like, did Mr. 1/50 just touch HGS leg on purpose, or was that a mistake? Is HGS coming across as a bit of a wanker as he finishes his third bottle of Becks? And, if sparks fly and HGS invites Mr. 1/50 back to the cave, how far should they go? With all this stress, politics, anxieties and mathematics, gay dating is tough. Dating is tough. But the butterflies that HGS feels when Mr. 1/50 smiles at him across the table make everything totally worth it.

gay@gairrhydd.com /

29


food

A

e l c F a r r u i it M

Trip!

Amy Harrison, Ben Bryant and Kath Petty are three intrepid adventurers who took their tastebuds on the trip of a lifetime with a magical substance known only to us as ‘miracle fruit’...

W

e took a trip to confectioners’ heaven to discover the wonderful, renowned properties of miracle fruit. This elusive product arrived at the office in a mysterious, freeze-dried form, which didn’t look particularly magical. Nevertheless, a tab of miracle fruit dissolved on the tongue was supposed to be enough to turn even the sourest, bitterest lemons into sweet, juicy, delicious fruits. It is known to work best with fruits and foods that taste particularly sour, but it also makes sweet foods taste sweeter. Wanting to test the fruit to its limits, we foraged

30 / food@gairrhydd.com

and gathered ingredients that we thought would work best: lemons, limes, grapefruit, kiwi fruit, grapes, melon and orange juice along with a few wild cards - a few bottles of Guinness, radishes and some pickled onions. We began by tasting some of the food without having tried the miracle berry beforehand. The lemons were particularly to everyone’s distaste, which garnered some not very pretty facial expressions. The pickled onions also provoked hideous cries of disgust from Kath, who hates pickled onions, whereas Amy happily chomped away. Then to the freeze-dried sub-

stance waiting longingly for its turn in the spotlight, resting in a tiny packet on the table. We all took a small chunk no bigger than the size of a penny, and rubbed it all over our tongue until it dissolved. “It tastes fruity”, exclaims Amy incoherently, as she tries to talk while rubbing her tongue. It would hopefully prove to be a good omen.


food

Deliciously different: What works under the influence of Miracle Fruit? lemons limes kiwi fruit grapes radishes

pickled onions grapefruit juice orange and mango juice Guinness melon

The results... So what were the effects of the miracle berries? Did we return from our fruit trip feeling like we’d just eaten a bunch of regular fruit? On the contrary, the results of our sugary journey were most promising. And the lemons proved to be the stars of the show. With the berrylicious goodness firmly dissolved on our palette, we picked up a lemon wedge and simultaneously sank our teeth into it, quite a bizarre experience indeed. “Mmm, it does taste sweet”, was the first surprised response, “it tastes really good, amazing!” said another, as Ben laughed mischievously in the background. We were all astounded by the fact that you could bite into a lemon, and not get the taste you were expecting, instead leaving a sickly sweet residue in your mouth. Such a surreal experience would make anyone truly think we were in a parallel universe, or indeed, Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, as we continued to grab at lemons and bite eagerly into them.

The Guinness produced a similar strange experience. “Oh my god, that’s so bizarre,” exclaimed Ben. The effect of the fruit seemed to render the drink which otherwise has such a strange taste, almost non-alcoholic. We all agreed that you could quite happily become inebriated after a few bottles.

“with the berrylicious goodness firmly dissolved on our palette, we picked up a lemon wedge and simultaneously sank our teeth into it.” Throughout our magical fruit trip, our mouths continued to taste ridiculouusly sweet, with which I was not entirely comfortable with. The effect of sweet fruit was similarly astonishing, and the orange juice and the kiwi tasted phenomenally sweet, like nectar, almost.

While the effects on many of these fruits were pleasing, a lot of the other taste tests proved disappointing. I excitedly tucked into a pickled onion, hoping that the miracle fruit would leave a pleasant smile on my face. But yet again, I came away making hideous gurning facial expressions, as the pickled flavour filled up my mouth, and stayed there. The radish too, and the melon, tasted as they usually would, so it doesn’t make all food taste delightful and heavenly. But overall, the result was very pleasing. “I love sweet things”, Amy sighed, longingly hoping that the effect would last in her mouth forever. And for those with a sweet tooth, a miracle fruit trip is certainly well worth the pricey investment. The claim that it can solve the world obesity crisis, however, is dubious. It is thought that people can still achieve the sweet taste they crave through fruit, but without the additional calories. One thing is for sure however, that our magical fruit trips made us feel like true guests at Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

What is miracle fruit? Contrary to popular thought, the magical berry unfortunately does not hail from a land of make-believe, where rivers are made of chocolate and everything tastes of honey. Its scientific name is Synsepalum Dulcificum, which grows in Africa, and it acts on the sour receptors on the tongue, turning sour food sweet, which is why it works so well on lemons. Hot foods and drink destroy the effect on the tongue.

food@gairrhydd.com /

31


arts

the best of t

If you prefer Mozart to mud and Pimm’s to guide to the best alternative festivals this The Edinburgh Fringe Festival Edinburgh 3-25 August

T

he biggest and the best, the Edinburgh festival is a month long celebration of everything ‘arty’. This year’s offerings include big-name comedians like Alan Carr, Paul Merton and Russell Howard, as

well as some lesser known comedy shows, such as one intriguingly entitled ‘Moths ate my Doctor who scarf.’ If you are a virgin-fringe goer, a must-see is a show called ‘best of the fest’: a stand-up comedy show where the line-up is selected by the Fringe organisers themselves. The best comics from the festival perform at midnight. They are pissed, so are the audience, it is magic! Although comedy is what the Fringe is best known for, it also offers a plethora of musical and theatrical events at much lower prices than you would pay for touring

00 / sectionname@gairrhydd.com

productions or concerts. Headlining this year are the Foo Fighters. Interpol, the Guillemots and Calvin Harris are also playing. If Classical music is more up your street then fear not, they also have the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain making an appearance. What a line-up! The Fringe is also the best place to catch new or experimental theatre. Granted, some of the productions are terrible, but when most tickets cost a maximum of £10 it is hard to go wrong. Whether you pick shows based on online reviews, or just because you like the funny name it doesn’t matter, because even the bad things you go to will be great. I have been to the Edinburgh


arts

the festivals

portaloos, then Amy Grier has your s summer season Festival three times now and loved it more and more each time. It is expensive, but the pubs are open till 5am, you can walk everywhere in 20 minutes and the atmosphere is amazing. A definite must for anyone who likes art, comedy, theatre, music, and beer. For more information go to www. edfringe.com

The Galway Arts Festival Galway, Ireland 14-27 July

I

thought I would throw this one in the mix for those more adventurous types. The Galway Arts festival has been going for 30 years,

and is much like the Edinburgh fringe, except smaller, shorter and in Ireland. The focus here is mainly on music, although theatre and comedy is also available. The music acts confirmed so far are KT Tunstall and Tom Baxter, Blondie, The Dandy Warholls and Ash, with more to be confirmed nearer the time. Perhaps not the most dynamic of festivals, the attraction of Galway festival is Galway itself. Set on the river and close to the Atlantic Ocean, Galway is a strange mix of new and old. This festival would be a chance to see Irish culture at its best. Tickets are still available. For more information go to www. galwayartsfestival.com

Latitude Festival Suffolk 17-20 July

L

atitude is a small but thriving music and arts festival on the Suffolk coast, within easy commute of London. As well as boasting live bands

ILLUSTRATION: Mario Gambardella

such as Sigur Ros, Elbow, Franz Ferdinand and Deathcab for a Cutie, who will be performing on the main stage across the weekend, Latitude also hosts a variety of comedy, theatre, dance, art and literature events. The comedy arena has more famous names than the Edinburgh Fringe, with Bill Bailey, Omid Djallil, Ross Noble and Frankie Boyle all set to attend, along with many, many more. Even more impressive is that Latitude has managed to get the RSC and the National Theatre New Connections company to put on productions in the theatre arena across the weekend. As if that wasn’t enough, it also has a film tent (not so sure what goes on here but I bet it will be great) and a literature and books tent which according to the Independent on Sunday ‘puts many dedicated books festivals to shame.’ Its idyllic setting near the woods and on the water, as well as the diversity of the entertainment available make Latitude an ideal choice for arty-types who perhaps don’t want to venture as far as Scotland or Ireland. With the option to camp on-site, Latitude also provides a viable alternative to the bigger music festivals, offering the atmosphere and freedom without the mud or the massive price tag. For more information go to www. latitudefestival.co.uk

arts@gairrhydd.com /

33


arts

Where the Art is... t is One of the defining aspects of ar nal that it taps into emotion and perso purely experience. At other times, ar t’s y. about aesthetic beauty or curiosit what Tash Prest-Smith asked students is, their favourite piece of ar twork aphy, whether painting, film or photogr and why...

Bas Jan Ader, I’m Too Sad to Tell You (1971) I love the way Ader’s film rouses your curiosity. His uncontrollable grief appears so extreme that you are desperate to know why he is crying, but as the title reveals, he is too sad to tell you and consequently, you are left bewildered and as troubled as he seems. Emily Bratt

Charles-August Mengin, Sappho of Lesbos (1877) The subject of the painting is Sappho, a beautiful woman, but not conventionally so. This piece appeals as it depicts a soul lost in heavy thoughts. Sappho is absorbed by the fundamental question of whether to live or die. The scene of the sky on the brink of the storm mirrors her inner turmoil. Georgie Yates

Shawn McNulty, Calamity (2002) This painting is a favourite of mine because of the impulsive use of shapes and colour. McNulty’s spontaneous expression is the reason it stands out in my mind. The simple use of patterns and bold colours gives a modern spin to the painting. It is an abstract work that catches and transfixes my eye every time I see it. Lisa Evans

34 / arts@gairrhydd.com


N O S ’ T A WH F F I D R A IN C : R E M M THIS SU arts

Spencer Rowell, Man and Baby or L’Enfant (1986)

SLEUTH NEW THEATRE - 2-7 JUNE

One of the darkest thrillers ever written will be on stage this summer. Riddled with twists and turns, the plot is bound to keep the audience captivated. This deeply psychological play sees characters collide in mysterious ways. I can remember this poster on my friend’s wall when I was younger. I love the vulnerability, trust and tenderness it portrays. I am also constantly bemused by the way the man and baby seem unsure of, yet beholden to, one another. Charlotte White

YELLOW MOON SHERMAN THEATRE - 12 JUNE Described as a Bonnie and Clyde for the modern day, the performance presents the lives of two youngsters who have been caught up in a murder. Using just four actors and four chairs, Yellow Moon explores the ideas of youth, relationships and growing up through a mix of action and storytelling. With top reviews, expect an engaging production from writer David Greig.

OPEN PHOTOGRAPHIC EXHIBITION THE GATE - 14 JUNE- 12 JULY

Rene Magritte, Les Amants II (The Lovers) (1928) I like this painting because it subtly suggests all kinds of different things. It reminds us that people in relationships often know little about the other person, and also about the state of society in general, whereas superficial connections are made between individuals without any underlying commitment or responsibility. But I don’t think it’s a pessimistic painting - it’s realistic, and disturbing without being extravagant. Tash Prest-Smith

This exhibition allows people to submit their own pieces of photographic art. There is no specific theme to the exhibition; it is an opportunity to seek out new and innovative artistic work from upcoming or established artists.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING CARDIFF CASTLE (COOPERS FIELD) - 2-4 JULY No sooner than the Summer Ball marquees have been cleared away, the grounds of Coopers Field play host to a performance of Shakespeare’s classic comedy, Much Ado About Nothing. With an all-male cast, acclaimed company The Lord Chamberlain’s Men will be bringing the play to light in true Shakespearean tradition.

CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG WALES MILLENNIUM CENTRE 3 JULY-30 AUGUST

If you are looking for a bit of a ‘bang’ this summer then look no further than Cardiff’s Millennium Centre. This production is based on the MGM/United Artists Motion Picture and includes the ultimate prop - a flying car!

LEE EVANS CARDIFF INTERNATIONAL ARENA 8-14 SEPTEMBER September sees the Cardiff leg of Lee Evans’s Big tour, which will see the outlandish comic performing seven consecutive nights of wild, energetic and no doubt entertaining shows. Those eager to see him over the summer should race to the ticket office soon, as the massive tour is selling out fast.

PHILIP WHITING BAYART GALLERY 15 AUGUST- 20 SEPTEMBER The summer installation at BayArt presents work from Cornwall-based artist Phillip Whiting. Dealing with both historical subjects such as Srebrenica and the area where the artist is based, the exhibition presents an exploration of landscape from a physical and psychological perspective with haunting effect.

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF NEW THEATRE 15- 20 SEPTEMBER

This production includes some classic musical tunes - If I was a Rich Man, anyone? This tale of a traditional father clashing with his five daughters is a guaranteed night of entertainment.

arts@gairrhydd.com /

35


books

news...news...news...news...news Comeback set for Garcia Márquez Last week, the shortlist was announced for the Wales Book of The Year award. Three English-language titles and three Welsh language titles. The winner of the £10,000 prize will be announced on July 1. The nominees are: Dannie Abse The Presence, Tom Bullough The Claude Glass, Nia Wyn Blue Sky July, Tony Bianchi Pryfeta, Gareth Miles Y Proffwyd a’l Ddwy Jesebel Gwasg and Ceri Wyn Jones Dauwynebog

N

reviews...reviews...reviews...

obel Prize winner and father of Magical Realism Gabriel Garcia Márquez is reportedly finishing a new novel after vowing in the Spanish press in 2006 that his writing days were over. The as yet untitled novel is reportedly undergoing drafting. The author of such esteemed works as One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera is said to be putting the final touches to a new “novel of love”. Garcia Márquez, 81, is hoping to make a successful comeback after his last novel, Memories of my Melancholy Whores, which told the story of an elderly man’s quest to take the virginity of a teenage girl was met with mixed critical reaction.

......................

Sebastian Faulks, author of Birdsong and Charlotte Gray, has penned a new James Bond novel, celebrating the anniversary of Ian Fleming’s birth.

......................

A controversial erotic novel that became a huge success in Germany will soon be available in the UK. Charlotte Roche’s novel Feuchtgebiete (Wetlands in English) has been described as “adenunciation of the fetishism of beauty and the obsession with hygiene” and “a masturbation pamphlet.”

Ruso and the Demented Doctor R.S. Downie (Michael Joseph)

A

light-hearted mystery thriller set in Roman-occupied Britain, in which army doctor Gaius Petreius Ruso and British slave-girl Tilla investigate a murder in a remote military outpost in the north of England. A local doctor has confessed to the murder, but Ruso doubts his confession. Meanwhile a mysterious stag-headed man is stalking the countryside, threatening to provoke unrest among the local tribes. This is the second in a series of novels by RS Downie, starring Ruso as a Romanera Sherlock Holmes/Hercule Poirot/Cadfael, solving crimes with a distinctly henpecked air about him. Meanwhile Tilla acts as a feisty feminist sidekick, part Doctor Watson, part Donna Noble from Doctor Who. As it’s part of a series there was some-

36 / books@gairrhydd.com

times a feeling that I should have read its prequel but the novel adequately stands on its own. There seems something familiar and unremarkable about the pairing. However, between them, they make for a likeable double act, getting into scrapes and uncovering plots at the edge of Empire. Downie – an amateur archaeologist – clearly has a keen affinity for this particular era, and writes evocatively of life for a Roman soldier posted far from home on a cold, rain-sodden island. Unlike some historical novels, she doesn’t allow the storytelling to get bogged down in pedantic detail, keeping the plot moving at a brisk pace with a liberal sprinkling of humour. The novel is convincing and realistic, without becoming technically dull. This should appeal to fans

of Roman history, or of similar Roman-themed fiction such as those by Lindsay Davis or Steven Saylor. However, if weighty historical detail isn’t your thing then the cheerful rollicking pace – more Terry Pratchett than Bernard Cornwell – should still appeal. The first novel in this series was well received by critics and was a New York Times bestseller, and this second instalment continues in the same high quality. Overall, I’d recommend obtaining a copy of this to set aside as something to unwind with once your exams are over. After a year of highbrow literature, it’s good to take in a story that has a bit of a challenge, but doesn’t require a degree to understand. Aisling Tempany


summer reads

CULT

cult classics

THE WORKS OF JEAN GENET AND ANDRE GIDE’S THE VATICAN CELLARS ARE IN THIS WEEK’S CULT SPOTLIGHT

Jean Genet

W

ith homoeroticism and a reverence for murder/evil a key part of his works, it is apparent that Genet’s work will not be gracing a vast proportion of bookshelves. There would indeed be grave difficulty in selling Genet to a mass audience. The key Genet hero is probably Georges Querelle (from the novel Querelle of Brest). Though employed as a sailor, Querelle is a thief, a prostitute, an opium smuggler and a serial killer killing for money or his own self-survival, it is clear that the real motive is the sheer thrill of murder. Querelle is a sociopath; his relationships are based on his sadomasochistic fantasies of power and punishment, and he sleeps with his brother’s mistress purely to spite him. Genet’s work is both crude and beautiful, philosophical and yet base; he sits somewhere between the Marquis de Sade and Henry Miller. Though seemingly to praise self-interest and betrayal as virtuous, Genet also sees himself as a voice for the marginalised, whether the cause of oppression be sexuality, race or religion. Genet’s finest work, Our Lady of the Flowers, was composed while he was still in prison. The novel’s narrator claims at the outset that the story is merely a ‘masturbatory’ aid. The story details not only the prisoner’s life but his obsession with the beautiful young male murderers that cohabit the prison. The figures are not only idealised from a sexual standpoint in regards to their aesthetically pleasing nature, but also because in committing the act of murder the narrator

feels that they have transgressed against a slave morality. Though explicit, there is more to this novel than a wank fantasy for Genet. The mix of free-flowing poetic language is interspersed with slang. Its celebration of the under-class and the graphic description of homosexuality made Genet a key influence for the Beat movement. Jean-Paul Sartre treated the novel as the epitome of existentialism and his subsequent work Saint Genet, though covering the whole of Genet’s life and work, focused mainly on Genet’s first novels.

“RISKING THE WRATH OF THE CATHOLIC COMMUNITY AND ETERNAL DAMNATION IS WORTH IT”

The Vatican Cellars

C

rime and Punishment remains a favourite for many pretentious English Literature students (myself included), though it is odd how this novel can be so popular while other great novels running on similar themes have been virtually forgotten. Amongst these many works I would suggest The Vatican Cellars, by Andre Gide as being a work especially worthy of note. Undoubtedly a bit of an oddity, The Vatican Cellars is a treat for anyone who can go to the extraordinary effort to locate a copy. The story covers an alleged abduction of the Pope, a miraculous conversion, illegitimacy, fraud, adultery and murder. A bizarre

combination of a bawdy romp and an interrogation of the notion of unmotivated crime, The Vatican Cellars is a fantastic novel. It revolves around a claim that Masonic and Jesuit conspirators kidnapped Pope Leo VIII and replaced him with an imposter – a claim con-men used to net a fortune from the rich and gullible. Gide does not focus on this episode, however, and the con-men have only a minimal presence in the story. The Pope’s fate is merely the driving force for the characters. The odd and yet appealing part of The Vatican Cellars is the dualnature of the book; it is simultaneously comedic and philosophical. There is humour in the naiveté, hypocrisy and pomposity of the Religious fanatics. Running parallel to this story is the tale of Lafacdio Wluiki, the bastard child of a nobleman, who debates the notion of morality. These two narrative paths of the story interweave, with a character’s actions in the one storyline leading to dramatic effects in the other. This book is probably not for Catholics as it is according to my research still on the Vatican’s Librorum Prohibitorum ‘Index of Forbidden books’. I would say, however, that risking the wrath of the Catholic community and eternal damnation is worth it with a novel like The Vatican Cellars. You should be able to read and enjoy it even if you do not agree with the content. Whether The Vatican Cellars is Andre Gide’s best novel seems irrelevant; it is entertaining, funny and chilling. And though I despise glib lines to sum up articles I will attempts one here. The Vatican Cellars is Nietzsche’s theory of the ‘Supermen’ rewritten by Stephen Fry. Joseph M. Allen

classics@gairrhydd.com /

37


music

inmusicthisweek

albums:deathcab

atp:explosions

live:blacklips

bizarre that the format has lasted for so long in the first place. Ok, so children don’t neccessarilly have the money to go out and buy full albums, but it’s not as if CD Singles are even cheap. They often cost between £2 and £4 for which you get in return a song (that you’ve heard), possibly a B-Side, but ever more likely a remix that is probably not as good as the regular version. It makes every sense for singles to be released digitally; however, if you need a debit card to sign up to itunes store then young people are again in danger of losing out.

Of course, for DJ’s and the nostalgic the single will remain as important as ever in vinyl format, but this is the same minority of people that has always existed within the underground of the music industry. The move from Woolworths comes after the loss of other cultural institutions such as Top of the Pops, and perhaps this symbolizes how the internet has become central to discovering and listening to music. Personally I think this can only be a positive change, as the internet offers a broader spectrum of music than any medium previously could. KE

musiceditorial musiceditorial

W

oolworths’ decision this week to scrap CD singles as of August, has revitalized the debate over the ‘death’ of the format itself. As the biggest retailer of CD singles, this is a bold step that surely predicts the end of a format that has seen a gradual decline for a number of years. Initially I was outraged at this as I remembered weeks scraping together my pocket money to exchange for a shiny new chart single, probably by The Offspring or some other gem from my past. However, after giving it some actual rational thought, it seems

loveletters Kyle Ellison reveals how his heart was broken by Weezer

T

he arrival of a new Weezer album this week seems to have dashed any hope regarding a possible return to their former glory. It’s not for the first time, but Rivers and co. have left me feeling completely and utterly confused after producing yet another album that is not only disappointing, but painfully un-listenable. Of course the disappointment of Weezer’s sith (and third selftitled) album might not have been so great, had I not been aware of what they are capable of. Whilst the blue album demonstrated the

bands craft for writing alternative pop masterpieces, Pinkerton was the sound of Rivers emptying out his heart, with embarrassingly honest but brilliantly witty lyrics and tightly composed musicianship. In the four albums since Pinkerton Weezer have shown only fleeting glimpses of this quality which are drowned amongst some pretty mediocre surroundings. But mediocre isn’t so bad, mediocre is fine. What’s devastating is that much of Weezer’s recent material has been genuinely ‘bad’, and this continues to tar-

nish the credibility of their earlier work. Worse, even than this, is that Rivers seems to be pushing this direction on purpose, aware that he is alienating a generation of fans in pursuing an ‘art’ that simply isn’t there. It’s the lyrics that are the most cringeworthy of all, once heartfelt and sincere, but now littered with pop culture references and material desires. My love affair with Weezer ended 12 years ago. Whilst I can still cherish the memories of those early days, it’s time to move on, and I’m no longer holding out for a happy re-union.

music@gairrhydd.com /

39


music

albums DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE Narrow Stairs Warner

D

Don’t Fall Down

eath Cab’s seventh release, 18 years on from We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes and The Photo Album, is probably their most highly anticipated LP to date. After the bland musical landscape of their first major record label release, Plans, Narrow Stairs marks the apparent departure of middle-of-the-road rock-pop, and celebrates the arrival of a sound far superior. Narrow Stairs begins beautifully; Bixby Canyon Bridge is a wonderfully intricate introduction to an album burderned with high expectations, which builds up to an almighty, and almost unexpected, distorted crescendo. Alongside the landmark eight-minute first single, I Will Possess Your Heart, and delightfully melodic Cath... the first few tracks are wonderfully constructed pieces of ear candy. It is perhaps, then, the middle

THE TING TINGS We Started Nothing Song BMG

Ring ring...it’s the Ting Tings

T

he most tedious thing about this band is the fact that they simply have no idea what they want to be. Despite boasting their indie credentials to anyone who sits still long enough to listen; as soon as anybody who even smells of major label popularity takes notice, they’ll eschew their indie roots and claim that they are in fact a pop band trapped by circumstance. It is perhaps this deeply confused central aspect of the group that shaped their mixed bag of an album.

40 / music@gairrhydd.com

of Narrow Stairs which falters, and trips over itself in an effort to be too clever, and too different. It doesn’t quite follow through, and ends up a lot like the filler found on Plans; good, but just not quite good enough to save itself from falling far into the depths of bland guitar-rock obscurity. The one saving grace for the album’s middle is Grapevine Fires, a simple pop song that is transformed into a piece of literary genius by Ben Gibbard; a true testament to his song-writing talent, a skill that some critics find obnoxious, but arguably forms the basis for the true brilliance of the band itself. Perhaps it is the lyricism of Narrow Stairs that is at its most mature, and undoubtedly its most beautiful. Alongside simple guitar melodies, and the striking nature of Gibbard’s vocals, the tracks that stand out are beyond good, beyond great and venture into the realm of downright fucking

Pick The Of k Wee amazing. Death Cab have changed; they have got darker, more mature and more atmospheric, but with it they have constructed a sound that can only beg even better, brighter things from the band’s future. 8/10 Francesca Jarvis There are some lovely jangly pop moments, but these rare instances are unfortunately hidden behind such crashing drudgery that the album sounds less like the upbeat indie pop gem that the Machiavellian music supremos behind it wish it were, and more like an audio manual in how to fucking irritate people with ears. However, despite the striking tedium of the singles released thus far, the single most annoying element of the whole affair is the sheer lack of impact the album generates. After listening to the album in its entirety I honestly felt as if I had passed out and lost 40 odd minutes. Utterly forgettable. We Started Nothing? Too fucking right. 3/10 Ben Marshall

SILVER JEWS

Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea Drag City

B

I’m a coming..

ack in the 90s Silver Jews were often written off as a mere side-project to Pavement; something Stephen Malkmus did with his days off. This view of the band couldn’t be further from the truth. True, the sloppy indie-rock sound of the band’s earlier records came from the incorporation of several members of Pavement into the line-up, but the Jews were never Malkmus’ band. Rather the heart and soul of Silver Jews has always been the band’s poetic vocalist and it’s only continuous member David Berman. Berman, who works also as a poet and writer, writes with the same sense of realism, social criticism and humourous observation as the best writers of America’s beat generation and as such Berman’s lyrics, at their worst, consistently out-do any of his contemporaries and at their best make genuinely poetic statements. Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea is Berman’s second record since reforming Silver Jews after a period of serious drug addiction, an attempted suicide and a subsequent spell in rehab. However, while the band’s previous record, 2006’s Tanglewood Numbers, was a dark and largely inconsistent account of Berman’s struggle with addiction and depression, Lookout Mountain is an album filled with optimism and positivity. As with Tanglewood Numbers Berman’s wife Cassie plays a major role on the album (playing bass as well as providing backing vocals), yet this time around there emerges a touching insight into the relationship between Berman as recovering addict and the wife who supports him through it. “Send us your coordinates we’ll send a St Bernard” she sings sweetly back at Berman as he recounts tales of substance abuse on the suprisingly upbeat Party Barge. It is fair to say that the post-rehab incarnation of Silver Jews fails to match the band’s best work in terms of music; American Water or the delicate Natural Bridge are better for that. Yet poetically Berman is on some of the best form of his career so far. 8/10 Si Truss


CUT COPY

CRYSTAL CASTLES

Ass-per the friendly ghost

Fragile.

I

t’s been four years since Cut Copy’s debut album, but judging by the resulting In Ghost Colours it seems this time has been well spent. 2004’s Bright Like Neon Love was a solid record, but understandably it was lumped in amongst every other fashionable electro act with a penchant for sunglasses. With In Ghost Colours the Aussie trio have risen above cliché and pastiche and fashioned an album which is a product of their influences, rather than an imitation. What differs Cut Copy from their contemporaries is that they often feel more like a band than a dance act. While synths, samples and drum loops dominate proceedings, there are moments when raw guitar and drumming come to the fore such as in So Haunted. Front man Dan Whitford’s voice holds everything together, shimmying between traditional rock stylings and Daft Punk style modulation. Over its fifteen tracks, the record traverses Shoegaze, French House, Space Rock and everything in between, but at fifty minutes it’s at least ten minutes too long; it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Still, Cut Copy have made a great album, and ironically, something original. 8/10 Guy Ferneyhough

SHOUT OUT LOUDS Our Ill Wills Pinnacle

M

Sssshhh...

aking a belated appearance on our shores after being released in their home country of Sweden and the US a year ago, Our Ill Wills by indie outfit Shout Out Louds is an album of melody which ultimately, despite a couple of stand out tracks, is not something I would recommend to the general listener. One of the album’s highlight is Parents Livingroom that lyrically and melodically tells the listener about experiences in a parents living room with: “A smell and a sound, a

Crystal Castles Pias Recordings

A

mid the hype and praise of virtually every magazine and website in the universe, Toronto-based dance duo Crystal Castles release their self-titled debut album through Pias Recordings. Though supposedly coincidental, the connotations with the ‘80s arcade game of the same name are not unfounded; Crystal Castles are essentially an 8-bit band. Aside from the primitive bleeps and beeps, however, there is very little that remains consistent throughout the album’s 16 tracks. In terms of electronic music, there are few places that are

moving picture can take you back again”. The problem, which Shout Out Louds attempt to move away from, is being indistinctive from other indie bands past and present. The epic

this Swedish outfit are not pioneers of originality

In Ghost Colours Modular

music

not explored, and this makes for an engaging listen. There’s everything here from disco-friendly floor-fillers, dark, rhythmic instrumentals through to trashy electro-punk. With this, however, there comes a considerable variation in accessibility; this is certainly not a dance album for everyone. Crystal Castles are not without their pretensions, so be warned that this a record that believes itself to be terribly chic. At times the relentless electronic blips combined with Alice Glass’ decline into yelping and screaming can border on unlistenable, most notably on second track Alice Practice. This aside, Crystal Castles have created a fragmented, damaged collection of 8-bit electronica that should prove to be one of the most unique and notable electronic releases of 2008. 7/10 Phil Guy

shaker does spice up some of the music a bit to be fair. Despite this promising effort and others throughout the album, it doesn’t kick on to greater things. It’s worth a listen if you like bands like the Strokes and love your regular indie. At times some of the songs sound like an attempt at creating the perfect adult lullaby; Ill Wills seems to be an attempt at this. In sum this Swedish outfit are not pioneers of originality and after a few listens they get a little samey, although it’s not bad. 5/10 Jonathan Evans

Impossible is a mesh of guitars, appealing lyrics of love and various wood instruments that are endearing and different. The use of these wood instruments and a musical

music@gairrhydd.com /

41


music

live live live live live live live live Black Lips / No Age

Thekla

Barfly

13/05/08

S

oiled Mattress and the Springs operate well as paunchy keyboard and sax-driven left-field garage jazz back-drop, but for a night that deviates from conventions of the clean and taut, the anticipation of impending main act(s) renders the masses unimpressed. Thus, we get onto the focal point of my night: No Age. Their two-man zealous purveying of a dense slew of sound is what makes this gig. For a band so inherently drenched in noise, Spunt and Randall also deviate from traditional totems of noisecore. Incomprehensible distortion, throbbing drums and barely-there vocals are fast becoming trademarks of No Age’s style.

14/05/08

W

ith five incarnations and more than ten LPs spanning 15-plus years under his belt, Jonah Matranga should, by rights, have a far larger crowd here tonight. It’s no matter though, because as soon as he opens with an a capella version of Gratitude track The Greatest Wonder, it becomes clear that his voice alone could fill the venue. It’s this voice which is the central, striking feature of this performance, from the cracked whisper of One

Jonah Matranga

Linedrawing Tracks, the impassioned roar of Far and the straight-up melody of the songs from his latest solo release And, such as the glorious Not About A Girl Or Place. The generous setlist encompasses the whole of Matranga’s career, including a short solo set as well as the help of a backing band in the form of his ex-Gratitude bandmates (now forming the backbone of support act Attention) and providing something for fans from every era. Watching Matranga play, it’s obvious that he truly loves what he’s doing, a fact which rubs off in the songs. In a word, it’s captivating. In a few others, it’s also euphoric, and life-affirming. “I never wanna be lukewarm again,” sings Matranga on closer Lukewarm: an ironic ending for a gig that’s been anything but. Emma Davies

It’s a two man band for Punk’s sake

Spent connects to the taut beat, seen on Eraser and Here Should Be My Home. On Neck Escapah, he attempts to sing his way through, failing that, well, he’ll just shout. Yes, the vocal is buried, just like it is on the record, but it’s a two man band for punk’s sake, further serving to saturate your lobes with an amalgamation of scuzzy feedback. Black Lips strut and amble onto the stage in equal measure. When Cole Alexander incoherently slurs and spits into the air several times over (and proceeds to fail to catch it) you can see this give-a-shit attitude transcend into the mass of sweaty bodies, they themselves beginning to salivate through the riotous torrent of the Black Lips canon: Bad Kids, Cold Hands and Oh Katrina are executed with fervent conviction. With Black Lips (as well as No Age), the onus is on the unrelenting enthusiasm and the (un)awareness of their impact, one fast becoming part of their sticks. Jazz Kaur

42 / music@gairrhydd.com

DJ Yoda’s Magic Cinema Show 09/05/08 Clwb

I

f you’d told me an hour before this show that I’d ever be caught dancing to Tom Jones then I’d have bet the remainder of my student loan you were lying, but a Friday night in Clwb Ifor Bach finds me doing just that. From the moment the curtains on stage are drawn back to the drum roll of the 20th Century Fox theme, it was clear we were in for a special experience. And ‘experience’ is definitely the word. Not content with the

traditional format of mixing records together, tonight saw DJ Yoda use cutting edge DVD mixing technology to cut and paste an array of film clips live in front of an audience. The 90 minute set saw him join the dots from everything from The Simpsons theme to the training montage from ‘Rocky’, all overlaid with hip hop beats and his trademark scratching. The unique mixture of humorous clips, turntablism and genuinely infectious beats meant that you were never sure whether you should be watching or dancing, but somehow the crowd manage to pull off both. In one show Yoda single-handedly raised the standard for DJs everywhere, now he’s just waiting for everyone else to catch up. James Waldron


music

live live live live live live live live Dot to Dot Festival

Various, Bristol

24-25/05/08

L

ast year’s Dot to Dot festival in Bristol was a great success, showcasing some of the most exciting British and overseas talent across the city’s best music venues. Whilst the line-up was strong what made it work so well was perhaps the organization, however as the festival was enlarged this year it seems to have encountered problems. Although this year’s bill was as impressive as ever, many of the bands clashed with one another and the distance between venues resulted in taxi rides and tired legs. Here’s what Quench did manage to see over the weekend.

SATURDAY

Caribou - With the stage bathed in flashing light and two drum kits utilised to full effect, there was something mesmerising about Caribou’s set. Dan Snaith and friends take us on a guided tour through last years Andorra, the songs sound rawer live as many of them are played with traditional instruments. While some of the tunes sound quite different, this approach is ultimately successful and moves Caribou away from the sterility that blights so many live performances of electronica. A set list comprising more older material would have been welcome, but I’ve got no complaints, Caribou were awesome. GF

Santogold - Hello zeitgeist. There is somewhat of a buzz about the proceedings tonight, due in no small part to Santogold. Frequently cited as a poor man’s MIA by lazy journalists, it is actually one of the few occasions when such lumpen criticism is apt. A technicolour hangover from Electroclash and Nu-Rave meets hipster world music eclecticism equals less than the sum of her parts. So, a poor man’s MIA indeed BM

The Mae Shi - Probably the highlight of the weekend, experimental Californian pop-punks The Mae Shi take to the stage like some weird group of terrifying, rage fueled children’s entertainers. They spend less time on-stage than they do diving around in the audience. Every thirty seconds or so a catchy keyboard sample cuts through their manic punk riffs, they chant and sing like a drunk 90s boy-band and at one point even start playing parachute games with the audience. If only all gigs were this much fun... ST Cutting Pink With Knives - Playing just after The Mae Shi, CPWK are just as energetic and loud except their songs are awful and they’re not fun. Turns out CPWK are just a fundamentally terrible band; kind of like an un-charismatic Enter Shikari without the loyal teenage following. ST Rolo Tomassi - Rolo Tomassi are loud, tight and a very fun band to watch. The young band still have some way to go yet, currently still clinging on to a few too many over used post-hardcore cliches, yet don’t let that put you off; they have the potential to become something truly fantastic in the near future. ST Hercules and Love Affair - Despite having an acclaimed debut album under their belt, Hercules are nothing particularly special live. Without their most notable vocalist, Antony (of ‘and the Johnsons’ fame) there is nothing that stands out about their old-fashioned disco sound. ST

music@gairrhydd.com /

43

Illustration by Roseanna Eastoe

Two Gallants - Sometimes I wish Two Gallants’ drummer Tyson Vogel was part of a different band. Whilst together the duo always delivers decent live shows, I can’t help but notice the potential for something special if a full band and some slightly more tuneful vocals accompanied him. Don’t get me wrong; vocalist Adam Stephens is great at what he does, but as Vogel hammers away at his kit during tonight’s performance it seems like such a waste of talent. Even so, it’s a tight set from the Saddle Creek outfit and everyone in the audience seems grateful to see some music, after a day plagued by rescheduling. KE

SUNDAY


music

live live live live live live live live ATP - Weekend 2 Butlins, Minehead

16-19/05/08 30/04/08

T

here may be some sort of stigma about the novelty and hilarity of Butlins, but it’s a little known fact that the resort plays host to some of the best festivals in the world; All Tomorrow’s Parties. This is the second ATP outing of the year, feauturing an eclectic mix of rap, indie, electronic and experimental artists over three days of musical bliss. Unlike Reading or any other major music festival, the bands also mill around, enjoying the treats it has to offer; and at times, it’s hard to contain yourself when you spy Dinosaur Jr. or members of Wu-Tang tucking into their Pizza Hut buffet. Explosions in the Sky - Strangely the curators of this Weekend’s festival don’t appear to be the band on everyone’s lips, however, Explosions in the Sky’s performance reminds many people why they were

“Butlins put your hands in the air for Wu-Tang...” asked to curate it in the first place. With a short, humble introduction the Texan four-piece proceed to play through the ‘hits’ with much the style you might expect, but it’s only seeing them live that you realize just how good they are at what they do. Explosions in the Sky might not be the most ‘interesting’ band on the diverse bill, but they are definitely one of the most polished. Dinosaur Jr. - We catch Dinosaur Jr. playing their second set of the weekend on Saturday afternoon and it quickly becomes clear that we’re in the minority. Yet the fact that most people attending the festival seem to be watching The National who are playing on the main stage at the same time, and that Dinosaur Jr. appear to be playing to a half empty room doesn’t detract from how consistently brilliant they are. The mid -sized stage is dominated by guitarist J Mascis’ wall of stacked guitar amps while the man himself keeps his head

down, long grey hair covering his face, as he plays guitar at an almost inhuman speed and volume. They play the classics, they play the new stuff; it all sounds great. Silver Jews - Vocalist David Berman is an amazing man. Strutting around the stage, notebook in hand, with a playful yet imposing stage presence. His backing band are sufficient but that’s all they need to be; this is the David Berman show and he knows how to please a crowd. Envy - The Japanese rockers played one of the last sets of the festival and quickly established themselves as one of the highlights. Combining the quiet moments of Mogwai with the aggressive power of Isis, Envy play a set that is tight, heavy and generally blows anyone watching away. Polvo - Polvo were underground legends back in the mid 90s but this is their first live set after a ten year hiatus. Their guitar interplay is wonderful and the songs are all great yet in typical style for a 90s alt-rock band their performance is somewhat static and they provide little to look at. The Drift - With songs that brilliantly combine jazz and post-rock influences The Drift use an excellent trumpet player and a great double bassist to create some of the most pleasingly atmospheric music of the festival.

44 / music@gairrhydd.com

Animal Collective - Potentially Animal Collective could have offered one of the best performances of the weekend, yet the inconsistency in their live show is again the talking point. Integrating earlier hits through a mesh of noise loops, it’s when they get back to basics and actually play songs that the crowd responds. Although these moments are brief, however, they are equally mesmer-


music

live live live live live live live live band, the magic of Lekman’s storytelling lingers on for the rest of the weekend, much like delicate specks of fairy-dust; beautiful yet irritating, as nobody else can quite re-create that same, wonderful feeling. De La Soul - With the power to transform even the most skeptical of listeners into a dance-crazed grinder, De La Soul provided a milder alternative to Ghostface’s

heavier tracks Abel and Mr November. Battles - There is something utterly mesmerizing about a band that, through the beauty of noise alone, can induce a mob of ATP goers into a rhythmed frenzy. A phenomenon made all the more surreal by the surroundings of Butlin’s Centre Stage; a place once graced by Sarah Whatmore and Blazin’ Squad. The forcefulness and intensity of Battles’ performance is almost too difficult to sum up in words. Jens Lekman - The perfect way to kick off Sunday afternoon, Jens Lekman is delightful, honest, charming and fascinating; all traits which are translated wonderfully into his enchanting lyrics and gorgeous melodies. Accompanied on stage by an equally lovely female (bar one)

‘greedy bitches’, but upped the soulante, creating a set so brilliant and so fucking fun that I never wanted it to end. Broken Social Scene - One of the most anticpated and argued over acts of the weekend. Some said they were shit, some said they were average and some said they were fucking fantastic. I am most definitely in the latter. Nothing quite rounds up the weekend like a Explosions-Constantines-J Mascis-BSS collaboration, alongside a haunting renditions of Anthems and a rousing version of KC Accidental. Beautiful and brilliant; as if they’d be anything less.

Ghostface Killah (or how Quench got hustled out of £10) - Ghostface Killah’s ATP set was awesome, he managed to awake misogynist feelings within me which had laid dormant since my mother smacked me as a child. I wanted to be onstage with him gyrating up against all the greedy bitches! Gangsta rap is an exciting world, and when I was outside the Butlins Pavilion after the gig I saw my chance to get a slice of the life. His entourage were waving around promo CDs, this was my chance to mix with this

dangerous subculture and get a free CD to boot. I beckoned the hoodlums over, they were giants of men clad in the latest oversized sportswear. “One for five or three for ten” barked a man with a menacing look on his face, I would later come to know him as Trife. I was in over my head, and I knew it. They had me cornered, I looked around for help but the bystanders had all turned their backs. “Four for ten” snapped another aggressively. I was running out of options, I removed my wallet and carefully plucked out a crisp ten pound note. It was snatched out of my hand instantaneously and I was loaded up with four rewritable CDs. They left me a broken man; overwhelmed by a feeling of worthlessness and shame. Words: Si Truss, Kyle Ellison, Francesca Jarvis, Guy Fernyhough

music@gairrhydd.com /

45

Illustrations by Roseanna Eastoe

izing; Strawberry Jam standout tracks Fireworks and Peacebone being clear highlights. The National - It was heart-warming to see such a great crowd response for The National, a band not causing much interest before third album Alligator but who now find themselves headlining the main Pavilion stage at ATP. They deliver a strong and impassioned performance, both beautiful and melancholic in its quieter moments but truly electric when vocalist Matt Berninger lets loose in


music

S I N G L E S listings/9th-17thjune/singles 9th-17thjune Monday 9th Muscle Club @ Clwb Devil Wears Prada @ Barfly

Tuesday 10th

36 Crazyfists @ Barfly Lost Prophets @ SU The Fur Furs + More @ Buffalo

Wednesday 11th The Commitments @ St David’s Stone Gods @ The Point Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man @ Barfly

Thursday 12th The Corrections @ Thekla The Blims @ Buffalo Robyn @ Bristol Academy

Friday 13th Cardiff Summer Ball @ Cooper’s Field Pterodactyl @ Buffalo

Saturday 14th Drop Dead Gorgeous @ Fleece Bruce Springsteen @ Millenium Stadium

Sunday 15th Abandon Ship @ Thekla Darren Haymen @ Clwb The Choirboys @ Barfly

Monday 16th The Music @ SU The Sugars @ Barfly

Tuesday 17th

Tokyo Police Club @ Thekla Alison’s Op @ 10 Feet Tall Britain’s Got Talent @ CIA Morcheeba @ Bristol Academy

46 / music@gairrhydd.com

singlesoftheweek Pendulum

8

Propane Nightmares Warner Music Group

Propane Nightmares, the first single off Pendulum’s new album, is different from the bands previous drum n bass and synthesiser fuelled efforts. With a band, lyrics and a real rock tune dominating this futuristic song, whilst not abandoning their original sound, Pendulum have an opportunity of reaching out to the non-raving masses. JE

We Are Scientists Chick Lit Virgin Music

7

According to the band this is a song about a girl called Agatha who discovers a magic well. It sums up this typical We Are Scientists song: entertainment that refuses to take itself too seriously. A little less chorus would solve the repetivity but it is easy to listen to, catchy and stylish. Great riffs drive the track and the result is solid electro-pop. JE

The Presets This Boy's in Love Modular

6

The Presets release This Boy’s In Love in anticipation of second album Apocalypso. Though not as cataclysmic as anything from 2005’s Beams, This Boy’s In Love demonstrates The Presets’ conventionally epic electronica , albeit with a melancholy largely unexplored previously. This is refreshing, particularly Hamilton’s break into falsetto, but This Boy’s In Love is not a far enough departure from previous work to be massively exciting. PG

Modernaire 8 Distraction Kruger Singles Club

This is quirky, intelligent proof that indie-electro need not always be totally mindless. More concerned with Greek goddesses than rave paint, Distraction is a glitzy, sensual pop song from the hotly-tipped Manchester boy/girl band. PG

quenchrecommendsS

ABANDON SHIP DAY FESTIVAL W/ADEM HOT CLUB DE PARIS + MORE Bristol Thekla The good people at Bristol’s indie society have put together their first ever festival, with a terrific line-up of bands taking over the Thekla for the day from 2pm on 15th June. British ‘nufolk’ artist Adem is set to headline, already justifying the modest £6 entry fee; however, there is an equally impressive support bill with Hot Club De Paris, Let’s Wrestle and the superb Johnny Foriegner being the pick of the bunch. Elsewhere on the line-up there is a mix of carefully selected Bristol based bands including Munch Munch, It Hugs Back, Ryan, and The Cut Ups.

I N


m l i F

film

THE BUZZ...

The latest news, rumours and conjecture

THIS

WEEK

WE

HAVE

BEEN

I DON’T GIVE A CANNES

THINKING...

for years now and we can only hope that he will find a new lease of life working with some of the leading comedy actors of their generation.

Last week, the Jury of Cannes film festival awarded their highest honour, the Palme d’Or, to a trueo, this year’s final issue of COEN BROTHERS CONTINUE to-life drama about a year in the Quench has rolled around, and it’s my final ever issue as life of a French classroom. Entre The Coen Brothers, on the other Le Murs (English title; The Class) is a writer/editor. It’s been a rollerhand, are never ones to rest on the first French film to win the prize coaster ride, much like Deep Blue their laurels. After sweeping up at Sea or Armageddon, except without for more than twenty years and this year’s Oscars, they are followwas a surprise winner in a reportthe killer sharks or self-sacrifice. ing up with a more comedic film, edly unspectacular year. The best Instead of giving up my life to Burn After Reading. It stars Coen actor prize was awarded to Benicio save the world I’ve given up a few brother regulars Frances McDormand Del Toro (below) for his portrayal hours of time to produce a fucking and George Clooney, as well as the of revolutionary Che Guevara in brilliant film section (actually that painfully overlooked Brad Pitt (in the Stephen Soderbergh’s epic Che. was Sim). Anyhow, aside from that self indulgence, this week I’ve been The film picks up from where Walter Oscars that is). The plot involves two gym employees who find a CD left by Salles The Motorcycle Diaries left loving the Empire Daily Movie Quiz. It’s four questions a day and proves off and Del Toro apparently provides a member of the CIA (John Malkovich) and decide to blackmail him. a career defining performance as a quick hit of film trivia and satisfies the itch I feel to prove my movie the Argentian partisan. British direc- The trailer looks great and the Coen brothers are more than a safe pair of tor, and former Turner Prize winner intellect to anyone looking over my hands. This one’s going to be good. shoulder. For some reason, however, Steve McQueen won the prize for a first time feature film director for the answer to two out of four questions always seems to be The Abyss; his portrayal of IRA Hunger Striker Bobby Sands. which was far from spectacular though it was situated on the ocean, KEVIN SMITH GOES PORNO which brings us back to Deep Blue Sea. This week, the section includes a Fans of Kevin Smith will be pleased luke warm review of the long awaited to hear that he is currently working on a film with Seth Rogen (Knocked Sex and the City movie, which has Up) about the making of a porn film. too little sex and city. I mean, when The originally titled Zack and Miri I used to stay up late at night and Make a Porno does exactly what is watch Carrie and the girls I would says on the tin, seeing two friends hope to get at least one breast attempting to find their way out of a shot, enough for a semi. Also, one financial crisis by making an adult can hardly sit in a cinema full of young women with your member out, movie. Will they be just friends at slowly caressing yourself until there the end? Our money’s on no. The online preview of the movie (www. is thirty seconds of sub-par sex at which point start masturbating vigor- quickstopentertainment.com) is pretty hilarious so we have high ously. It works on a sofa, not in a hopes for this one. Kevin Smith filled auditorium. has been resting on his laurels We also have a top five weapons of mass destruction feature; from John McClane to a giant marshmallow man, the cinema has been Always make the more inventive in producing forms of destruction from nowhere than the audience suffer as much US’s dossier on Iraq. In a truly average fortnight of as possible films, all but one of our reviews is three stars. But hey, it’s not our fault Afred Hitchcock. if the releases are blander than a Director feature p. 54 Tesco value jar of chicken Korma. MOSTLY

S

Will Hitchins

film@gairrhydd.com /

47


film

INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL Dir: Steven Spielberg Cast: Harrison Ford, Shia LeBeouf, Cate Blanchett Out Now, 124 mins.

Synopsis: After escaping communist kidnappers, Indy (Ford) is approached by young greaser Mutt (LeBeouf) who asks him to help to track down an ancient artefact in order to save his mother.

L

ong awaited sequels are inherently dangerous beasts, a fact that Star Wars fans will no doubt pay testament to. With George Lucas’ track record, it’s no wonder that, for those who grew up with an unhealthy obsession with whips and fedoras, it’s the paralysing fear of disappointment

48 / film@gairrhydd.com

rather than bubbling excitement that’ll grip them as they await the latest instalment of Indiana Jones. Let me allay the worst of those fears right away. Kingdom (as it’s known to its friends) is most definitely a proper Indiana Jones movie. The adventure has all of the fun, frivolity and fast-paced action of its predecessors, and is entirely unburdened by the tawdry shackles of realism. In this sense, the movie is true to the spirit of its much-loved forerunners. That said however, Spielberg has pulled no punches in reflecting the 19 years that have passed since the last movie. Firstly, we have a change of the guard in the bad guy stakes. Gone are the panto Nazis of yesteryear and, originally enough, in come the Reds. Spielberg’s colour palette and cinematography have also shifted to reflect the passing of time within Jones’ universe, the extravagant, colourful style of the first three 1930’s based films being superseded by a beautiful soft focus, pastel aesthetic that wonderfully evokes

the films of the 1950’s. The cast is, without exception, outstanding. Cate Blanchett is hugely effective as the ice-cool psychic villain of the piece and Ray Winstone and John Hurt are excellent if a little underused. Renewing their relationship a full 27 years after Raiders, the chemistry between Ford and Karen Allen has not dulled a bit. Their scenes are among the strongest in the film, fizzling with the kind of chemistry that can’t be faked. Ford predictably slips effortlessly back into the comfortable skin of Indy, older and more jowly, but just as engaging as ever. Somewhat surprisingly though, it is Shia LaBeouf’s interactions with Ford that provide the best moments of the movie. Likeable, charismatic and engaging (even if he does struggle a little to pull off the Brando-esque greaser styling - then again, who wouldn’t?), the young upstart really kickstarts the movie, providing a youthful exhuberence to counter Ford’s worldweary cynicism. Indeed, the bar fight that sets the main adventure in


film CHARLIE BARTLETT Dir. Jon Poll Starring: Anton Yelchin, Robert Downey Jr, Kat Dennings. 97 mins

Kingdom frequently leaves one feeling like an uninvited guest at a private party, nose pressed against the window watching all the fun being had inside

motion is as perfect an example of Spielberg’s charms as you are likely to see: cheeky, exciting, unapologetic fun. Kingdom, is not however, a runaway success. Spielberg’s playful references to 1950’s cinema lurch from being accessible and humorous to pangs of elitist self gratification all too often, and frequently leave one feeling like an uninvited guest at a private party, nose pressed against the window watching all the fun being had inside. The 50’s inspired shift from theology to sci-fi is also a major headache at times, often verging on the ridiculous. Having said all of this however, Kingdom isn’t the disappointment that we all feared. It has succeeded in emulating the tone and spirit of the franchise that is loved by so many and, while it may be the worst of the four, it IS an Indiana Jones movie, and in the end, who could ask for more? Sim Eckstein

Synopsis: Rich kid Charlie Bartlett has trouble fitting in at his new high-school after being expelled from just about every private institution in America. Until, that is, he becomes a self appointed shrink and pharmacist to the other students, helping them out with their teenage angst and winning friends (and enemies) along the way.

able as ever. The comedy is reasonably gentle, bouncing along at a pleasant rate as the plot thickens, leaving the odd moment for some emotional scenes. A few teeter dangerously close to sentimentality, but for the most part are well judged and genuinely affecting – particularly when Downey Jr and Yelchin share the screen. It's a shame though, that in the end the slightly subversive nature of the film is compromised by its return to standard Hollywood storytelling – which suggests the producers didn't quite have the guts to push some of the ideas all the way. So, will audiences warm to Charlie Bartlett? Providing their morals allow them to like a Ritalin-dealing, trouble-making rich kid, then he's probably worth a look. Andy Swidenbank

C

harlie Bartlett shouldn't really be a likeable person. Flitting from spoilt private school kid to teenage prescriptiondrug dealer in a flash, it could have been difficult to warm to him. Thankfully, Anton Yelchin takes to the role and turns the character into a kid simply looking for acceptance in the alien environment of a public high school. The film follows Charlie through the usual trials and tribulations of school; making friends, running into the bully, getting sent to the Principal and all the other clichés you would expect from a high school movie. Except they aren't quite clichés; the situations and the characters feel real, not simply standard celluloid caricatures. This is due to the uniformly excellent performances, particularly from the strangely beautiful Kat Dennings (Charlie's love interest) who just so happens to be the daughter of Robert Downey Jr's troubled Principal. It's likely this will be Downey Jr's least talked about film this summer, but he is as reli-

film@gairrhydd.com /

49


film

SEX AND THE CITY Dir: Michael King Cast: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon, Kim Cattrall Out Now, 148 mins

Synopsis: Four years ago, after finally getting over all of their shit, perpetually single Carrie Bradshaw and Mr. John-James-Preston-Big ended iconic TV series Sex and the City in an actual proper relationship. But life always has a twist, and Carrie and Co. are back – this time on the silver screen – to continue bitching about men and overspending on shoes.

E

ver since the series ended, the scent of a big-screen adaptation has been rife, so when the movie was confirmed last year, fans began to heavily anticipate and panic - about the outcome. So did the movie do justice to its HBO precursor, or did the big budget and over-hype allow the movie to get a

50 / film@gairrhydd.com

ity. There is a slight nagging feeling little… carried away? that, as everything comes full circle, Naturally, there are many things the whole film wasn’t entirely necwrong with this film. Is Carrie’s new cessary. The girls and their men assistant Louise – played by Jenbreak up, and, for the most part, get nifer Hudson – totally necessary? Nah, not really. Is it conceivable that back together again, in a slow, sluggish and ultimately disappointing GBFs Stanford and Anthony might 2 hours and 20 minutes of realisactually end up together? Of course ing that this show not. And, after and its characters spending the SATC is ultimately a getting older, last ten years of disappointing 2 hours and are and sagging in all our lives telling the places they us that she just 20 minutes of realising wasn’t the mar- that this show and its char- shouldn’t. That being rying kind, can acters are getting older, said, just like the we really believe female characters that the ultimate and sagging in all the living within it, single girl Carrie places they shouldn’t Sex and the City Bradshaw would doesn’t take itself too seriously. It is actually walk down the aisle with decadent, brash, shocking, touchBig? Whether you agree with the ing and totally make-believe. It’s narrative direction or not, it’s just never going to win any Oscars and nice to see all these characters toit’s not an incredible tour-de-force, gether again in what basically is an but it will make you laugh and it will elongated episode of the show. most definitely make you cry. But And perhaps this is where the deep down, there’s this part of me problem lies; how exactly can you that longs to go back in time and make an ‘extended episode’ any end it the way it should’ve been in good without nicely glossing over the sixth season, the 94th episode. certain characters and story arcs. Abso-fuckin’-lutely. Truth is, you can’t. The male characAndy Tweddle & Fran Jarvis ters are criminally underused, and the plot, much like the show itself, relies far too much on superficial-


film SPEED RACER

GONE BABY GONE

Dir: Andy and Larry Wachowski

Dir: Ben Affleck

Cast: Emile Hirsh, Christina Ricci, John Goodman, Susan Sarandon

Cast: Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan Amy Ryan, Ed Harris Out now, 114 mins

Out now, 129 mins

Synopsis: Speed Racer (Hirsch) is a natural behind the wheel, agressive, instinctive and above all fearless. His only real competition is the memory of the brother he idolised - the legendary Rex Racer (Porter). After uncovering the ruthless world of race fixing, Speed vows to prove that honesty and fair play will triumph in the race that took his brother’s life: the death-defying, cross country rally known as The Crucible.

F

rom the makers of The Matrix franchise comes a film derived from the free-for-all archives of children’s television, reworked for an apparently unquenchable contemporary audience. It’s a family film for the green screen generation. Sadly, however, all the charms of the original Japanese anime inspired cartoon have been lost, drowned in an endless sea of CGI. In a world built for speed, it’s often hard to keep up with the pace of a film which jumps from exhilarating break-neck speed one second to bullet-time slow-motion the next. Away from the track, the city of Cosmopolis provides the largerthan-life cast the chance to exhibit their palpable talents on a more grounded level. But while Hirsh and Ricci provide some much needed warmth and genuine chemistry, the rest of the cast seem somewhat out of place. Even Goodman at his most caricatured never really feels at home here, fatefully washed out against a gaudy backdrop of pixelated mayhem. What’s more, the script is painfully lacklustre, rife with clichés and jokes so witlessly slapstick they would insult a twelve year old. Ultimately ,there’s only a certain number of times you can sit and watch a digital car spin out on a digital race track, crash into the wall of a digital arena and subsequently explode in a digital blaze of glory. Zoom. Whiz. Whoosh. Snooze. Adam Woodward

Synopsis: When four year old Amanda McCready disappears without a trace, her worried aunt and uncle hire two private detectives (Affleck, Monaghan) to lead the investigation away from the failing police force and a negligent mother. In one of Boston’s toughest neighbourhoods, the partners find themselves torn to solve the case of a lost little girl.

R

eleased last year in the US, Gone Baby Gone was held back from UK cinemas due to its likeness to the Madeline McCann case, which broke but weeks before the films scheduled release. Although adapted from the best selling novel by Dennis Lehane, the similarities are at times chillingly

coincidental. Most notably the abductee; an angelic, blonde girl played by the fatefully named Madeline O’Brien. Trivial comparisons aside, this is an intensely gripping mystery from actor-turned-rookie-director Ben Affleck. With younger brother Casey turning in a stunning performance as devoted detective Patrick Kenzie, this is a film driven by strong emotional nuances and ethical ambivalence. Exploiting a stellar cast, the dialogue is both razor sharp and unapologetically brash, transforming an intelligent script into a slick crime-thriller. Perhaps Affleck’s greatest realisation, however, is the utilisation of his home town, Boston, as a central character, noirishly stylised and at once darkly atmospheric. While Affleck emerged from the J-Lo years very much the butt-end of celebrity, this has proved a shrewd if somewhat surprising career move. His directorial debut is refreshingly competent, balancing skilled performances with brutally sincere storytelling. Compelling, brave and at times hauntingly sobering, this is cinema as it should be. Adam Woodward

film@gairrhydd.com /

51


film

52 / film@gairrhydd.com

films

QUENCH’S


W

ith the end of the academic year looming large on the horizon we’ve taken the opportunity to select our favourite films of the year. Tears have been shed, blood spilt and film editor Will may never recover the use of his right testicle, but eventually we bit the bullet and narrowed our choices down to six key films. Read, enjoy, discuss and send your complaints to the address below.

of the

THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD Though massively overlooked by the academy, Andrew Dominik’s melancholic Western is arguably the best of its kind since Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven. Far more than the “parable of celebrity culture” it was labelled by some, Jesse James mused almost as obsessively as its chief protagonist on existential themes of loneliness, isolation and death. Boasting a mesmerising performance from Pitt and a deeply unsettling portrayal of Robert Ford from Casey Affleck, Jesse James is as fine an example of film making as you are likely to see. Sim Eckstein RATATOUILLE It’s very, very rare for Pixar to ever get it wrong, but in the case of Ratatouille, the enchanting story of the rat with a penchant for cooking, they get it so right it’s almost hard to believe. Everything is near-perfect; the animation is vivid, colourful and absorbing, the characters are both lovable and wellconstructed, and the story manages to be fresh and original while remaining simple enough for its young audience to digest. Ratatouille is how animation should be done; it’s delightful, charming, and propels you headfirst into a world so magically beautiful, right down to the last, tiny detail. Fran Jarvis JUNO The surprise package of the year, Juno announced the arrival of some of the most exciting new talent in cinema. Written by former blogger Diablo Cody and directed by Jason Reitman, Juno tackles the issues surrounding teenage pregnancy with a heady mixture of flippant sarcasm and genuine tenderness. It is, however, the chief protagonist that makes this film. Ellen Page, portraying the kooky, fast talking and fiercely independent Juno delivers a performance of such conviction that it may be some time before we can see her as anyone else. Warm, charming, and above all incredibly good. Mike Roff

year

THE DARJEELING LIMITED The Darjeeling Limited might not exactly be new ground for Wes Anderson, but it’s so wonderfully constructed that it nestles nicely next to the best of his films. Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman and Owen Wilson form the centrepiece, expertly playing brothers typical of Anderson’s other dysfunctional families. The quirky script is a pleasure throughout, rarely giving in to punch line opportunities, but relying instead on the three characters’ unique and fascinating appeal. Anderson’s formula has never been so beautifully executed. Kyle Ellison THERE WILL BE BLOOD In a film that is memorable for its silences, sparse dialogue, and vast, open spaces, it is testament to the acting ability of Daniel Day-Lewis that he manages to construct such a monstrous, frighteningly potent character as Daniel Plainview. Misanthropic, selfish, and utterly, utterly, compelling, Plainview seems to be present in the very fabric of the oil-drenched landscape, at one with the rickety oil derricks and filthy wells. Played out to a sublime, ominous soundtrack by Jonny Greenwood, There Will Be Blood is simply a perfectly balanced, masterfully crafted film. Ben Bryant THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY A favourite at Cannes last year, Diving Bell is a truly life affirming piece of cinema. Based on the memoirs of Jean-Dominique Bauby, it is his account of his total paralysis, save the movement of one eye, delivered with a typically French mix of bitter sweet humour and overwhelming tragedy. With such grim subject matter one would expect the movie to be a challenge to get through but Schnabel handles the material with wit and panache, and mixed with Bauby’s painfully honest memoirs the work is an example of the truly redemptive power of cinema. Will Hitchins

film@gairrhydd.com /

53


film

Director...

Alfred Hitchcock

N

early thirty years after his death, Alfred Hitchcock is still one of the most recognisable film makers of all time. Not only is he renowned within the filmmaking world for shaping the boundaries of modern mainstream cinema, but many of his films have taken on an iconic role in pop culture all of their own. The shower scene in Psycho (1960) is universally recognised and often referenced, Vertigo (1958) introduced the instantly recognisable ‘Hitchcock zoom’ camera technique while the scene in which Cary Grant is chased through corn fields by a plane in North By Northwest (1959) has become one of the most iconic moments in cinema history. Yet it is not only Hitchcock’s films that have become iconic within pop culture; through his trademark cameos in his own films and his TV appearances, the man himself became the first true celebrity director, known for his ironic, dry wit and possessing a silhouette more famous than probably anyone else in history. Hitchcock’s celebrity does not, however, overshadow the brilliance of his contributions to cinema. It is not without reason that Hitchcock is commonly referred to as the ‘master of suspense.’ At the peak of his career, Hitchcock was constantly experimenting with new cinematic techniques and played a hugely instrumental role in the introduction of both sound and colour in mainstream filmmaking. Further still, while he famously claimed that actors should be treated like cattle, Hitchcock’s films see him coax career-defining performances out of some of the most acclaimed actors and actresses of the last century. KEY FILM: THE BIRDS While Psycho might be the more obvious choice for a key film, in reality, any of the films Hitchcock produced between the late 50s and

54 / film@gairrhydd.com

early 60s can be seen as one of his masterpieces and to pick one as a standout film becomes more a matter of personal opinion. The Birds provides a prime example of just how good Hitchcock is at building suspense; notable for its eerie lack of a musical score and iconic for its slow repetitive shots of birds massing menacingly, poised to attack. Rumour has it that a remake of the film is set for next year with Pearl Harbour director and all-round notoriously bad film maker Michael Bay as a producer; all the more reason to watch it now before it is eternally ruined for everyone. MY FAVOURITE: ROPE Rope is one of Hitchcock’s darkest, funniest and most inventive films. Following two intellectuals who murder a former classmate and then host a dinner party for the victim’s family where the body remains hidden in a trunk that is used as a table as a buffet table, Rope is an

adaptation of a play and as such appears to be filmed as one long continuous take. In fact the film is made up several shots each around ten minutes in length (ten minutes being the longest length of film reel available at the time) yet Hitchcock hides the transitions between each seamlessly by placing objects in front of the camera to create moments of darkness. ONE TO MISS: TOPAZ Having made so many films in his career it is no surprise that there is the odd film in Hitchcock’s repertoire that does not reach the heights of his greatest work. Topaz is merely one example of this; while the film is not necessarily bad, it is one of the more lacklustre spy-thrillers he made in his latter years and as such simply lacks the element of brilliance that you find in all his best work. Si Truss


film

M

ovies aren’t all about big guns, loud explosions and glorified destruction. However, all these things are a lot of fun, so, for our very last Top 5 of the year we thought we’d go out with a bit of a bang. Behold, the very best weapons of mass destruction in the world of cinema.

THE DEATH STAR, STAR WARS (1977) It’s all in the name really isn’t it? Death star. DEATH star. Indeed, I must thank the subtle and inquiring mind of George Lucas for making my first choice so easy. Only he could have named a star sized harbinger of death, ‘The Death Star’. Without the name, I’d have been lost. Whichever way you look at it, it’s genius. It also blows up planets, which is pretty cool. MICHAEL BAY (1995-PRESENT) I could talk about Michael Bay’s penchant for the extensive use of semtex in his movies. I could talk about the almost pornographic way in which he films weapons and explosions. I could talk about the trail of destruction and carnage that he leaves strewn through his movies like yesterday’s dirty washing in halls of residence. Instead though, I’ll just list his films in chronological order: Bad Boys, The Rock, Armageddon, Pearl Harbour, Bad Boys II, The Island, Transformers. Nuff said. THE STAY PUFT MARSHMALLOW MAN, GHOSTBUSTERS (1984) Mr Stay Puft is one of many giant destructive monsters to have wreaked havoc in down town New York; Godzilla, King Kong, the Cloverfield monster, take your pick... He however, is the only one made out of marshmallow. And that makes him the best. Full stop. JOHN MCCLANE, DIE HARD QUADRILOGY (1988-2007) It was a tough call - John McClane or Jason Bourne? In the end, it

was the sheer recklessness of McClane’s very distinctive brand of violence that piped the precision weapon of Bourne to the post. High rise buildings, planes, airports, helicopters, F16 fighter jets, tunnels, trawler boats, trains, train stations, lifts, elevators, lorries, big overflow pipe things… literally nothing is safe from John McClane. Importantly however, he always gets his man, so the casualties and costs incurred don’t really matter do they? Nope, thought not.

This Mr. Stay Puft's okay! He's a sailor, he's in New York; we get this guy laid, we won't have any trouble!

ALIEN SPACE SHIPS, INDEPENDENCE DAY (1996) These guys really knew how to destroy stuff. Not content with obliterating the White House in one of the most iconic movie explosions of all time, the cheeky buggers also wiped LA, New York and most of the other major cities across the world. Luckily for us, Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith were around to save the day. Oh! Elvis has left the building! Words - Sim Eckstein Images - Benjamin Phillips

film@gairrhydd.com /

55


Quench - Issue 68  

Quench - Issue 68

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you