‘Uncle Niall’ Reflects
Since U Been Gone
2013: Year of The Green
Editor: Natalie Gil Design: Adam Gray Sports editor: Ben Quarry
Back to the ‘Bridge
This issue: (The phenomenal) Illustrators: Esther Kezia Harding (estherkeziaharding.com) Lizzie Marx (email@example.com) Claudia Stocker (claudiastocker.com)
In Defence of the BA
Cambridge to Kinshasha
Year Abroad: Survival Guide
Contributors (in order): Niall de Lancey-Quille Kieran Corcoran Green Team Sophie Clarke Jackson Caines John Finnerty Hannah Wilkinson Catherine Airey Nancy Napper Canter Lewis Bartlett Sam Cook Ben Quarry
Average is Best
Rainbows and Smiles
Sport’s Hidden Sacrifices
This issue’s a cracker
o ho ho. Welcome to this special Christmas edition of Kiwi and my last issue as Editor. It’s been a tough rollercoaster of a term, but we’ve reached the light at the end of the tunnel that is the holidays and (some) spare time. Time that I’ll hopefully be spending asleep, eating Christmas pudding and sweeping all traces of a looming dissertation deadline under the carpet. Merry Christmas! Like Santa after a few too many sherrys, this issue of Kiwi is a gift that keeps on giving and is rammed with festive treats. We meet the team representing Selwyn in University Challenge next year (page 8), hear about John Finnerty’s ‘life-changing’ charity work in the DRC (page 10-11) and get some tips on how to survive a year abroad from our ‘Cairo correspondent’ Hannah Wilkinson (page 12). Tackling the hard-hitting issues as ever, I grumble about why people should stop crying over Christmas adverts (page 15). Now – holding back my own tears – I’d like to say a few words about my Kiwi-editing experience. It’s been emotional. I’ve really enjoyed being able to completely revamp and put my own stamp on the magazine. I’ve also learnt an invaluable amount about how much work actually goes into producing a publication, and I can tell you it’s not for the faint-hearted. Each and every one of my contributors has been great and I’d like to say a huge thank you to them all, particularly the friends whom I’ve pestered the hell out of. Adam, my partner in punning crime, never failed to amaze me with his superb designing skills and his Spotify playlists (which may or may not include Justin Bieber’s Christmas album, ‘Under the Mistletoe’). Ben, Kiwi’s ‘Sports Editor’ but mainly sub-editor, prevented countless typos from falling through the net, ensuring that I didn’t make too much of a fool out of myself and I couldn’t be more grateful. My illustrators – Esther, Claudia and Lizzie – have also been beyond brilliant and without them I might’ve had to resort to Clip Art or copied-and-pasted crosswords from the Internet. Check out their websites to marvel and coo over the rest of their work, if you haven’t already. The time has come for me to hand over the Kiwi baton to someone else, who we’ll be deciding on in January. If you’re interested in taking on the role or just want to find out more about what being an Editor entails, email me at ng345 and I’d be more than happy to answer any questions. And to whoever ends up taking the reigns, I wish you the best of luck and hope you enjoy and learn as much from the experience as I have.
Bored of mince pies? Then you’re bored of life. But see pages 16-17 anyway
P.s. I wanted to end with something wise and pertinent, but this little guy expresses my feelings better than I ever could – www.sanger.dk.
‘Uncle Niall’ Reflects Michaelmas term has been a learning curve for everyone’s favourite toff, Niall de LanceyQuille
nd so, as the first term draws to a close like the slow grinding hips of a dirty dancing couple at a Freshers’ Bop, just what have you learnt in your short time here? Ah yes: 1) Never mix grape and grain. Stick to Um Bongo and lime cordial. What a dreadful mess one can make after a swap, especially down the front of the plunge neck gown of that young filly you’ve spent all evening trying to impress, when nerves and 5 glasses of noxious vino have got the better of you! Learn through experience and the dry cleaning bill. 2) Try and finish your supervision essays in good time, dear child. Remember that old pastyfaced Watkins from 4th Form Divs at school is no longer just down the corridor, willing to write them up for you in return for social acceptance. He’s far too busy…up at Oxford. As tempting as it is to play FIFA ’13 until dawn or quaff champoo whilst barking out music hall numbers around the pianos around town in the small hours, it would actually help if you worked sensibly. I know – it’s a bore! I hear your protest. I share your shame. I raise a glass to your rebellion. But this is Cambridge mes amis and one doesn’t want to get sent down…to, say,
Durham. That would be utterly ghastly! 3) The Snowball is on our doorstep. Time to gird your loins, dust down your Harrods dinner jacket, plump up the cortege on your taffeta gown, stencil in the missing sections of eyebrows you’ve plucked at all term in obsessive anxiety and ask that partner you’ve been cooing over in Old Court to join you at the event of the year so far! Remember: it’s all so much better when you’ve got someone to impress and hold your drink whilst you’re in the toilet mixing anti-depressants with alcohol. Trust your Uncle Niall who knows these things, my little beauties. Of course, we do them differently up in Berkshire – but I appreciate that even a man like me needs to slum it down once in a while to ‘keep it real’. Naturally my door remains open to each and every one of you at this festive time of year. Come in and share a glass of mulled wine and mince pie with me. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Yours Ever, Niall de Lancey-Quille
Since U Been Gone When it comes to Selwyn, you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone
ey Selwyn, how’s it going? Oh, has it been four months since graduation already? I hardly noticed. I’m having SUCH FUN in London with my new job and life and stuff. Gosh, being a graduate is such laughs, you never have to do all-nighters and you can have a car again and Varsity is very, very far away. Well, I see you replaced me quickly enough. Blimey, they’re a bit young and spotty aren’t they? You used to be classy, Selwyn. I hear you’re charging more these days, too. I saw you matriculate them all, the stupid smiles on their faces. So proud signing that oversized book, passing the port to the left hand side with all their wide-eyed might and drinking penny-infused wine when Antonio’s not looking. Libraries are cool! It feels so new to them, but you’ve been doing this for more than a century. I remember when you used to look at me like that. Floating down Grange Road in the twilight like a carefree academic cockatoo, it felt like it never had to end. What happened? Did I get too old? Too ugly? It better not be that time I vommed on the bar, because that was literally not my fault at all. So now I inhale a new armpit on the tube every
day and struggle to convince the capital I know how to dress myself (it turns out stash is even less impressive outside the bubble). It’s so hard to have a good conversation about Chaucer these days, and nobody cares when my comments on The Tab get 50 thumbs-ups. And I’m sure you’ll cosy up to them just the same, promising the life of a Sebastian Flyte but without the family issues, delivering instead the life of a well-read caffeine addict and tittering as they fail to notice the difference. Then, when the graduation day champagne is washed away, and the “2.1” is barely dry on their degree certificate, you thrust them out with a whole world to get on with, and no idea how to feed themselves without hall, or pay a gas bill. It’s how a newborn must feel on emerging from the womb, though babies don’t owe the government £30,000. The world outside is so cold; I hope they enjoy their time while they can; it won’t come again. Yours, A. Bitterman
(As imagined by Kieran Corcoran) 5
2013: Year of the
It’s actually quite easy being green, says Selwyn’s Green
hy hello, fancy seeing you here! We’ve managed to commandeer some space in Kiwi, so we thought we’d let you know what we’re up to, how we’ve been doing, why we haven’t been answering your calls... After much deliberation, we’ve decided to rebrand the whole of next year to ‘2013: Year of the Green’. This is mainly in the hope that we poach internet traffic from students searching for weed in the Cambridge area, you know, like the Snowball did with Eastern European transsexual pornography. Selwynsnowball.com anybody? ANYWAY, we want to challenge you to make one green new year’s resolution. It can be as big or as small as you like, regarding environmentalism, tax fairness, or human rights, etc. Any of that stuff. Here are a few of ours: • Choose a high-street shop with a particularly bad environmental record and stop shopping there. • Go vegetarian, pescetarian, or vegan. • Instead of taking out polystyrene from the canteen, take some Tupperware. • Pour orange juice into a glass at brunch, rather than getting a bottle of Innocent. • Start wearing more hemp. • Turn off lights, regardless of who is in the room, or what they’re doing.
RECYCLING If you fancy getting proactive in your kitchen, or maybe you just like pretending that you live in a hippy commune, make your corridor your own set of bins. Bang up a rota and some passive aggressive notices and you’re well on your way to world peace. If you’re uber keen and you want a cheeky food waste bin for your kitchen on the DL, get in touch, preferably through some sort of extravagant code.
GET INVOLVED If you want to get involved or let us know what you think, what you want, how you want it, how fast, for how long and in what position, get in touch! Alternatively, send us some hate mail. Green team luvin’ xxx
environMENTAL BANTZ • What did the California wind farm say when it met Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger? We’re big fans of yours! • What’s the best way to charge a car battery? With a credit card. • What do you call a silly old man? A fossil fool. • What should they do to gas guzzlers? Lock them up in a fuel cell. • What did the 150 kilowatt Southwest Wind Power wind turbine say to the 15 kilowatt wind turbine? Trick question: Southwest Wind Power wind turbines don’t talk. They whisper. • How can you grow your own power plant? Try planting a light bulb.
Save Your Energy The Green Team’s top energy-saving tips: Get that radiator off, and that stash on: What’s the point in being in the college first VIII boat, a member of the Footlights, a Union member (ite?) or just plain retro member of Selwyn College if you can’t smugly wear those scarves, hoodies, and onesies in your room? – alternatively, you could live in Cripps’ court where the heating doesn’t work anyway. • Unplug your laptop when it’s charged: Laptop chargers continue to use energy, even when the device is fully charged. Plus, its beneficial for your battery. It’s just good sense. • Only fill the kettle with the water you are going to use: Are you really about to drink 1.5 litres of coffee? • Don’t leave your light on: Nobody likes to be left standing... • Spoon: The more people, the lower the body mass to surface area ratio. A NatSci may be able to explain this. We, obviously, cannot. • Draw the curtains: Tucking them onto the windowsill keeps the warm in and the cold out.
Bring it all back Sophie Clarke is back at Selwyn after a year at Edinburgh
h, hello Selwyn. It’s nice to see you again, so red, so chapel-filled, so beautiful and green and soul-soothing. Unfortunately, you appear to be populated with people I don’t know. I’m sure you’re all perfectly nice, since you’re at the best and friendliest college, but similarly you could all be knife-wielding axe murderers behind those maroon and gold swathed smiles. It’s bizarre to no longer trudge back to a corridor filled with people, nay friends, of three years standing and instead be greeted by smiling new faces in the MCR, not the JCR, and try to find people I know at hall to sit with instead of deciding between reams of chattering groups. But Selwyn, o lovely Selwyn, you’ve done what you do best and welcomed me back with open arms. The bar is as bizarrely quiet as ever and stocked with the best bad white wine I’ve ever encountered, the sports teams are glad again for the extra body running around on the pitch, and the catering staff still firmly believe that every meal must come with a side of potatoes. My return has not been seamless, and there have been many moments of seeing my ghosts of Selwyn past around the place, of walking a certain staircase and being assailed with memories of times before, but as much as it was the people that made my undergraduate years so great, so now it is the people that make this year brilliant. Enjoy your people while you’re here, as although the place stays the same, the constant tick over of new, fresh, keen Selwynites will tread over your memories, creating those of their own. As is only natural. Thank you, Selwynites, for being so awesome.
It’s secretly every Cambridge student’s favourite programme. Kiwi caught up with the brainboxes representing Selwyn next year Captain: Sam Hole, 28, from London, PhD in Theology Specialist subject outside your degree: History (though that was my first degree…) Favourite fact: The Cambridge college worth the most at Scrabble is Fitzwilliam, with 28 What would you ask Paxo? Newsnight boxing: would you rather take on Gavin Esler or Kirsty Wark? How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? I’d have to cedar woodchuck to check, as I always fir-get; I think a fairly larch tree, though.
Nick Jones, 24, from Warwick, PhD in Public Health Specialist subject outside your degree: Television of the late 20th century Favourite fact: A hamster has over ten thousand teeth What would you ask Paxo? Did you threaten to overrule him? Is this the way to Amarillo? Sorry, I don’t know this area very well. Have you asked at the Post Office?
Hannah Mirsky, 19, from London, reading English Specialist subject outside your degree: Mythology Favourite fact? Before the Battle of Thermopylae, the Spartans prepared by combing their
Reserve: Hannah Warwicker, 19, from, Huddersfield, reading Classics Specialist subject outside your degree: Not sure, but it definitely isn’t history... Favourite fact: Augustus Caesar
hair What would you ask Paxo? Are you mean on purpose, or is that just what you’re like? How long is a piece of string? As long as you cut it.
liked asparagus What would you ask Paxo? Obviously I’d ask for the answers. I take this competition seriously. Where’s Wally? I’m going for Luxembourg. If in doubt, on University Challenge, the answer is always Luxembourg.
David Parke, 19, from London, reading German and Russian Specialist subject outside your degree: The life and works of Jeremy Paxman Favourite fact: The CIA once spent $20 million on a cat fitted with specialist equipment for spying on Soviet agents. On its first
test run the cat crossed a road only to be hit by a passing taxi What would you ask Paxo? When you were at St Catz, did people ever call you Jezza? What is love? (Baby don’t hurt me): Love is the feeling I have for the people at the Van of Life when they give me extra cheese on my chips. Nobody gets hurt if you just give me my extra cheese. It’s also “evol” spelled backwards.
In Defence of the BA Arts degrees are a lot more important than than they may seem, argues Jackson Caines
t would have taken a political commentator of extraordinary prescience to predict that November 2012 would see Michael Gove leaping to the defence of ‘French lesbian poetry’. But leap he did, the Education Secretary firing back at complaints from James Dyson (of bagless vacuum cleaner fame) that British students should be embracing ‘important subjects’ like engineering rather than wasting their time with this literature nonsense. I’m sure that most poetically-inclined French lesbians would be horrified to receive the enthusiastic endorsement of a Tory minister, but that’s beside the point. What’s interesting is that these public figures have revived an age-old debate: how can arts degrees be justified when they are arguably of little worth to the British economy? As arts students go, I’m actually not particularly tribal. I’d be the first to recognise the vital importance of scientists and engineers to society. Indeed, I appreciate the worrying implications of the long-term decline in British manufacturing, and am all for harnessing the potential of this generation’s students to reclaim the mantle of ‘workshop of the world’ (in a green, 21st century context, of course). I am, however, a historian, and duty-bound to defend arts subjects from the small-minded jibes of philistines like Dyson. In an event about as common as a solar eclipse, Michael Gove has been completely right about something. Defending apparently ‘frivolous’ pursuits (ASNaC
springs to mind here), he insisted these were ‘every bit as rigorous and useful’ as the more vocational subjects. Hear, hear. It’s easy to wax lyrical about the virtues of the arts – so I’ll proceed to do just that. By taking us out of our cultural comfort zone, whether via peasants in 17th century France or Leviticus 18:22, arts degrees tax our brains in a unique way, encouraging not only analytical skills but also individuality and originality. Strange as it may sound to a scientist, the willingness to confront a silent German film from 1928 and decode what it tells us about interwar Europe, to delve into a medieval manuscript in the hope of finding one reference to that local parish you’ve been studying, or to explore the effect of upward cadences in a Marlowe monologue is a quality that will serve you well in any walk of life. It’s this sort of open-mindedness that we need in our political leaders, yes, but also in our fellow citizens. Stop me before I get too idealistic, but I’m adamant that a society in which ordinary people feel they can reach for that obscure poetry anthology without being laughed at is a society worth striving for. It’s not so different from the open-mindedness that gave us such radical innovations as the bagless vacuum cleaner. Perhaps Mr Dyson doesn’t recognise that the arts students he patronises are really his natural allies.
Cambridge to Kinshasa John Finnerty didn’t spend his summer lounging around reading erotic fiction, but doing charity work in the DRC
hen I first told my mum I was considering travelling to Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo for five weeks, she asked: ‘Why?’ My reasons were fairly straightforward. I hadn’t really travelled outside of Europe and I was keen to experience a totally different continent and culture. I also wanted to do something charitable and let’s face it ‘medical charity work in the Congo’ sounds pretty cool. I often fantasise about speeding off in a jeep, ‘MSF’ emblazoned on the side, to some remote village on a dangerous medical mission, and so the opportunity to experience some tropical medicine first hand was attractive. The DRC has had a troubled history with the Second Congo War (1998-2003) tearing the country apart, resulting in 5.4 million deaths. The vast majority of people living there are impoverished and it has the lowest Human Development Index recorded in the world. Conflict is on going in eastern DRC and it remains extremely dangerous. Kinshasa is in the west, a stone’s throw from Congo-Brazzaville across the Congo River. Kinshasa is amazing. The sprawling streets are filled with people all day. Traffic laws as we know them are strictly disobeyed, as vehicles cobbled together from scrap metal hurtle by. With no waste disposal system in place, rubbish accumulates until it is burnt, the acrid smoke ensuring no matter how hot and humid it may seem, you will scarcely see the sun through the thick layer of smog. The poverty
is apparent. Polio victims crawl on their callused hands and knees, whilst men singlehandedly pull carts loaded to breaking point from one side of the city to the other. I stayed at a compound of Theodore Menelik, the founder of Menelik Education Ltd., the Cambridgebased charity with which I was working. One of the first places we visited as part of our project was a community maternity clinic, where people could chose to go and give birth at an affordable price. The treatment we observed was shocking. Women in labour were given no pain relief, then hit and laughed at when their screams became too loud. Babies were shaken and slapped until they opened their mouth for a spoonful of medicine. We decided not to return as we felt we didn’t have the language skills, let alone the authority required to make a positive contribution. Our approach was to write a presentation for nurses and clinicians from these community clinics detailing the benefits of clinical practice as carried out in the UK in the hope of convincing a few, without assuming a right to rigidly dictate how they should do their jobs. Menelik met this idea with enthusiasm. Over the next week or so we spent a long time writing the presentation, getting the angle right, translating it into French, and making invitations for the talk. For the next two weeks we spent our time trying to deliver the invitations to the relevant community clinics. Our requests to Menelik were met with half-baked tales of other tasks that needed
doing, problems with the vehicles or occasionally just ‘tomorrow’. Eventually we were told that the invitations had been delivered for us and that all we needed to do was give the talk. The presentation went well, but the attending nurses and clinicians were from good charity-run clinics that Menelik Education Ltd. had links with. They weren’t from the community clinics the talk was aimed at and it was clear that we were preaching to the converted. Our invitations had simply not made it to the right people, despite our very best efforts. Aside from this disappointing lack of support, it became obvious as the weeks went on that the charity was suffering from a severe lack of organisation, especially when it came to their finances. They charged each volunteer £30 a day – a sizable amount considering the price of fuel and food. Certainly it was too much considering we just had bread for lunch for three weeks. Perhaps people
would’ve been more understanding if we’d been told that some of this money was going into the charity or even if we could see the effects of it being spent. We estimated that for all the volunteers that summer, the disparity between estimated costs and what we had paid was somewhere in the region of $15,000. This lack of transparency and cooperation from the charity left a bad taste in my mouth. However, it was a clear lesson in how hard it is to run a charity well and perhaps that many are not all they claim to be. Despite all this, I came away with some amazing memories: I met and worked with some inspiring doctors and children at a local orphanage, met some admirable lawyers working for a legal-aid clinic, and I even saw some incredible scenery on the occasions we ventured outside of Kinshasa. It is hard to summarise a trip like that in an article like this but, fully embracing the cliché, I can honestly say it was life-changing.
Year Aboad: Survival Guide Hannah Wilkinson is on her year abroad at Cairo University, with some wise words for MML-ers
The only kind of ‘Pyramid’ you’ll find in Cambridge
rriving as a linguist in Cambridge can be a disorientating experience. As much as you want to settle in to the comforts of everyday life at Selwyn, in your heart you know that come third year you’ll be jetting off to some exotic location like ‘China’ or maybe even ‘France’. But never fear, fellow language learners. As someone currently living in a ‘foreign’ land, here are my top tips for maintaining as much normality as possible. Making friends Moving away from Cambridge means that you might be forced to make friends with someone without the social glue of being able to throw a penny in their drink whenever the chat gets awkward. In the real world, opening every conversation with ‘Where are you from and what subject are you studying?’ just isn’t going to cut the moutarde. You’ll also find that the real world doesn’t have a week five, no one wants to moan about supervision work, and people aren’t interested in your erg time (although FYI, no one was interested in that in Cambridge either). Instead, you might want to try talking about things like ‘films’, ‘music’, or ‘books’, which I have been reliably informed, is what ‘normal people’ like to discuss. The food In the words of Joni Mitchell, ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’. Sure, you complain about the overabundance of potato and
the unvaried emptiness of the ‘salad bar’ now, but come third year you’ll feel a strange sense of nostalgia for ‘Chicken a la King’ and ‘Armenian Lamb’. Unless you’re on a Year Abroad in Armenia, in which case you’ll be swimming in the stuff. If nostalgia does come a-callin’, don’t go out and try the local food, it’ll only disappoint. Instead, stay home and re-create the ‘trio of chicken’ by cooking and then eating three pieces of chicken. Dissertation Work As much as you’re looking forward to a year of hopping from one cool European club to another, you are actually meant to be doing some work. Hopefully the inclination to start reading for your dissertation will be nothing but a little voice in your head. If that voice starts getting too persuasive, try drowning it out with loud music. After all, you’ve got ages to do your dissertation, what’s the big hurry….? Coming Home As hard as it is to leave your life in Cambridge behind, your year abroad will probably end up being fantastic. Nonetheless, all good things must come to an end and before you know it you’ll be back in Selwyn again with only the engineers and a few Natscis for company. When you do get back to Cambridge, be sure to start every other sentence with the words ‘Yah, so this one time on my year abroad…’ People love that.
Average is Best Compared to other colleges, Selwyn’s pretty standard but Catherine Airey is glad
Are you a hungover arts student with early morning lectures? Then you picked the right college
henever I tell someone I go to Cambridge, the first thing they ask is what college I’m at. My reply is usually followed by an awkward silence; no one has heard of Selwyn, and for this I’m glad. As far as Cambridge colleges go, Selwyn is pretty unremarkable. It’s not super rich or super poor. It’s not really old or really new. It’s not in the middle of town, but neither is it one of the ‘far out colleges’. By most measures, Selwyn sits snugly in the middle. Of course, we do have some things to brag about – Hugh Laurie for one. Selwyn was also the first college to sport an annual winter ball (though this is probably because we’re too unknown to compete in May Week), the only college to have ‘shower buddies’, and, best of all (for Arts students anyway), it’s the closest college to the Sidgwick site. On the whole, however, Selwyn can’t really compete with the big dog colleges of Cambridge. But this isn’t a bad thing. It’s easy to become complacent as a Cambridge student; within the bubble, we so easily forget how privileged we are. That Selwyn is average helps put things into perspective. We go to Churchill or make the trek to Homerton and are thankful our college is so attractive and convenient. Then, when we cycle into town for a Sainsbury’s trip, we’re still a bit taken-aback by how beautiful the city is.
The Selwyn experience is the perfect Cambridge experience precisely because it’s so average. Unlike at some colleges, Selwyn students aren’t given ridiculously opulent rooms, gourmet food or superfluous facilities, but we’re still distinctly aware that where we’re living is rather special. Though not many people have heard of Selwyn, when they do visit, the typical reaction is one of pleasant surprise. When I invited a friend to lunch the other day, she was astonished by Selwyn’s gate onto the Sidgwick site. After two years of lectures at the History faculty, she’d never noticed its existence. Then, as we approached Old Court through the gardens, she had to stop and stare. ‘Selwyn’s actually really nice’, she said. ‘I’d always assumed it was a bit of a dump’. I’m glad it’s not common knowledge where Selwyn is, or what it looks like, or even that it exists at all. Selwyn’s too average to be a tourist destination, but nice enough that I feel I’m harbouring a little secret whenever someone visits for the first time. Of course, nothing’s really ‘average’ in Cambridge, and Selwyn’s very much within the bubble. This bubble, however, varies depending on what college you’re at. Here, we have to do our own laundry and make our own beds. I’ll be thankful for this semblance of normality when my three years are up and the bubble finally bursts. Being average is great preparation for the outside world.
Rainbows and Smiles Nancy Napper Canter was left red-faced after a little misunderstanding...
t the end of my first year, I was on a post-exam, pre-May-week high. Having survived my first three terms, I now felt I belonged here. I knew my way around, knew what a supervision was, knew what ‘DoS,’ ‘gyp’ and ‘bop’ meant. The Cambridge world was my oyster. What better way to celebrate this feeling than by co-hosting the very access visit that inspired me to apply to Selwyn? I remembered vividly being one of those earnest sixth formers - with UCAS, a potential interview, the study-leave cram, and the old A2 exams looming ominously before me. One year ago, I had looked up in awe at those students who had already done it. And now I was one of them. Subject tours went well. Leading the six or seven odd p ro s p e c t i v e students around the physics faculty, it was nice to feel I was making a difference. I was sharing my wisdom. I felt so old. A whole year had passed, and I was a different person entirely. Next came the talk from Dr Llewes, the science admissions officer. Ah, how I remembered that same talk! The spiel about the odds of getting in, the suggestions for reading over the summer, the advice for the interview… It was nice to be reminded how far I’d come. About half way through the talk, however, I began to notice something. Though Dr Llewes peppered his talk with questions to my fellow student and co-host of the access visit, not one
question was aimed at me. In fact, Dr. Llewes didn’t even catch my eye. And then it hit me: Dr. Llewes thought I was a sixth-former. I kept a cool head, even in embarrassment. The key, I decided, was to play along. This wasn’t so hard - it had been me only a year ago. The part-anxious, part-excited expression was one I assumed without difficulty. After all, it was in my face-muscle-memory. The crunch came, however, when Dr Llewes went to fetch Selwyn College Prospectuses for each of the seven prospective students. This provoked a dilemma. ‘I’ll get eight prospectuses, then,’ remarked Dr Llewes, cheerily. ‘Ah, no - seven will be fine’, replied my co-host - coming to what he thought was the rescue. ‘Seven? Are you sure?’ ‘Yes, seven is fine’. The cringe was almost audible. My credibility was blown. My feeling of belonging, authority and smugness evaporated. LLewes’ mistake was akin to that ever-quotable moment in Mean Girls when the girl who just wants to make a cake ‘filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy’ is heckled by Damian’s comment: ‘She doesn’t even go here!’ Taking refuge in the fact that Dr Llewes might know who I was by next year’s visit, I suppressed the impulse to shout, ‘I do even go here! I do! I do! I do!’
#FestiveFail Have yourself a crappy little Christmas, sings Natalie Gil
was the night before Christmas, when all through the house… My siblings and I were complaining that there was nothing on TV, thanks to the ‘Christmas specials’ and repeats of films that even the dog’s watched every year since he’s been alive. Christmas day is always a let down. Deny it all you like, but just as M&S’s contribution to the festive advert showdown will contain a posse of models in push-up bras (less than appropriate considering the snowfall), Christmas day will never live up to the huge hype that surrounds it. The hype that begins before the last few ‘reduced to clear’ Halloween pumpkins have even flown off the supermarket shelves. My first gripe is with the sugary adverts and the tosh they’re trying to peddle (or ‘gifts’ as I’ve heard them be called). They’re shoved down our throats like spoonfuls of Calpol, eventually tasting too sickly sweet for me to bear. For instance, I’m rare in having been distinctly underwhelmed by this year’s John Lewis Christmas advert, which features a snowman and the soundtrack of a woman childishly whispering an eighties ballad at half the speed of the original (again). As I write, Tweeters are hailing it as ‘a better love story than Twilight’ and ‘so lovely awwww Christmassy’ – both laudable accolades. Maybe my cynicism’s down to old age, or maybe it’s because this is an advert for a shop. Gift exchange is often selfishness in disguise. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good present. Who
doesn’t? But often, I’m spending money to avoid coming across as a stingy Scrooge, not because I’ve found the perfect present for Person XYZ. Person XYZ would probably much rather receive something useful. Some ink cartridges perhaps, or a handheld whisk. Shops and Christmas catalogues don’t warn you about the feigned thank-yous and awkward cheek kissing than ensues when you’re giving and receiving yet another Boots loofah set or Bart Simpson talking bottle opener*. Funny that! Alongside the crappy gifts, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without food. Food’s fabulous and it’s all very well funnelling five different types of animal down your gullet (it’ll be nut roast for me instead, thanks). But before long you’re as stuffed as a trust fund baby’s stocking on Christmas morning. Food-induced comas are less than festive and I speak from experience. By six pm your food octuplets have subsided and you’re feeling peckish. Fancy a Quality Street? Oh, there are only a few lonely blue ones left (Coconut Eclairs FYI, if you’re more of a Celebrations kinda person). Yet another reason to feel let down by the festive season. Let’s just watch Love Actually or The Holiday and pretend we’ve had the joyful and gratifying Christmas day that the films and shops said we would. Bah Humbug. * See www.shitchristmas.com for more pointless presents
Baking Blue Come in from the cold. Lewis Bartlett’s winter treats will warm you up in no time
ometimes, when it’s dark by 4:30pm and you’re resembling Rudolph thanks to the harsh chill outside, the only thing that can cheer you up is baking seasonal snacks. These are my favourites for those looong winter days and nights...
3. Slowly mix the melted mixture into the dry ingredients. Fold it in if you know how (see Baking Blue edition 1). 4. Beat together the eggs and milks and combine thoroughly with the rest of the ingredients. 5. Grease a square 20cmx20cm (or other preferred shape) tin. Fill it with the mixture and bake for 75 minutes at 130ºC (or maybe a little over, err on the side of under-baking). 6. A CRUCIAL STEP AND TEST OF SELF CONTROL. You must now, before cutting the cake, wrap it in greaseproof paper and leave it in a sealed cake tin for a few days, no longer than a week. Magic occurs and the cake becomes moist, sticky and amazing. 7. Devour.
Parkin A recipe dearly close to my own heart, Parkin is a Yorkshire cake (do not even mention the bastardised Lancastrian version) traditionally eaten on Bonfire Night. As I am banished to the uncultured southern realms for the duration of November, it is a treat I have embraced to eat across all of the chilly autumn and winter months. Ingredients • 110g butter • 110g soft brown sugar (the darker the better, Muscovado would be ideal) • 150g black treacle • 50g golden syrup • 225g oatmeal • 110g self-raising flour • 3 tsp ground ginger • 3 tsp ground cinnamon • 2 eggs • 1 tbsp milk 1. Melt the butter, treacle, syrup and sugar together over a LOW heat. Don’t allow it to bubble, boil or simmer. You want to melt everything into a homogenous goo. 2. Sift the spices, flower and oatmeal together in a large bowl, making a well in the middle.
How’s my Parkin’?
Chocolate Gingerbread For something to have a bit more fun with, a variety of decoratable chocolate gingerbread shapes will entertain your childish side. Do send in pictures, but hold off on the gingerbread dicks please. Ingredients • 300g plain flour • 35g cocoa powder • 4 tsp ground ginger • 2 tsp ground cinnamon • ½ nutmeg, grated • 125g butter • 185g brown sugar • 1 egg
Mark couldn’t tell if Holly liked his gift
1. Sift together the spices, flour and cocoa. 2. Cube the butter and rub into the dry mixture (fingertips only and cold hands are best!) until you reach a fine breadcrumb consistency. 3. Stir in the sugar. 4. Beat the egg and mix it in, the mixture should form a dough (look for it ‘cleaning the sides’ of the bowl. You’ll know what I mean when you see it). 5. If it won’t come together, add milk a half teaspoon at a time until you get a dough. 6. Chill the dough for 10 minutes in the fridge. 7. Roll out the dough to as thick as you’d like. Cut shapes with cutters, a sharp knife or whatever else you have to hand. 8. Bake at 170ºC for about 15 minutes, maybe a little under.
To decorate: use whatever you like. Ice them, stick on marshmallows and Smarties attached with melted chocolate. My favourite is using grating coconut soaked in Malibu and then dried a little bit. Thoroughly Warming Hot Chocolate As much as I’d like to hope you’re all capable of making a decent hot chocolate, I somehow doubt it after seeing certain students in the gyp. Heat 2/3rds of a mug of milk to scalding but not-quite-boiling, stirring frequently to avoid a skin. Stir in a heaped teaspoon of plain cocoa and get rid of the lumps with a mini balloon whisk (because you’re bound to have one of them to hand…) Top up with chilled Irish Cream or, if it’s a particularly cold night, try Brandy (I go for a splash of Metaxa myself).
Kiwi’s cream of the crimbo crop... Basics Smoked Salmon Trimmings (‘Various cuts, slices & shades’) 90p
Basics Red Wine (‘Light and fruity’ Table Red) £3.49
Basics sliced carrots (‘Fresh’ and healthy) 20p Basics Xmas Pud (‘Full of festive cheer’) 98p
Basics Choc Xmas Tree Decs (18% cocoa. Nuff said.) £1
Feeling hot hot hot (chocolate)
Sam Cook, Selwyn’s quizmaster extraordinaire, has some facts for us to fascinate our families with 1. “The Christmas Song” is its official name, but this song, first recorded by Mel Torme in 1944, is often called by its first line, which refers to which traditional Christmas food? 2. Which country is believed to have started the tradition of having Christmas trees, the tradition having been popularised here by Prince Albert? 3. The Cambridge Christmas show, a chance for local arts and crafts professionals to exhibit their work, has been running for how many years now? 4. What year was Jingle Bells, possibly the most famous of Christmas songs, first copyrighted? 5. Which fruit is traditionally associated with Christmas in much of northern Europe? 6. Saint Nicholas, from whose name derives the modern Santa Claus, was a 4th-century bishop of Myra in which modern-day country? 7. The celebration of Christmas was banned between 1647 and 1660 in this country by which religious group? 8. Winterval was an alternative non-Christian name for Christmas celebrations promoted (to widespread criticism) by which English city council in 1998? 9. What date did Cambridge City Council switch on its Christmas lights this year? 10. Carols from King’s, where the King’s College Choir sing through the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, has been held annually since which year? Answers: 1) Chestnuts (Roasting on an Open Fire). 2) Germany. 3) 5. 4) 1857. 5) Orange (it was one of the few available at that time of year). 6) Turkey. 7) The Puritans (it was repealed when Charles II was restored to the throne). 8) Birmingham. 9) November 18th (only just over 5 weeks in advance…) 10) 1928 18
Sport’s Hidden Sacrifices
The flipside of stash, banter and status, Ben Quarry ‘suffers’ for his sport
t’s no secret that playing university level sport requires a big commitment and competent time management. Cambridge is a stressful and busy enough place, without adding the complication of almost daily training and weekend matches. However, it’s very easy to gloss over the details of what it actually takes to perform at this level, particularly as we start to head into Varsity Match season. Firstly you have to look after your body. This means making sure that you’re getting enough sleep and not being the last person out of Cindies on a Wednesday night. But the body maintenance doesn’t stop there – you really need to put in the hard graft in the weeks running up to Varsity to ensure that if you do get the call for that run out at Twickenham, you’re not going to be let down by your fitness. Pushing your body to its limit every week is the minimum, if you’re not willing to put in the time off the pitch, you’re never going to get on it at Rugby HQ. It’s not just the fitness that plays a part though, you can run as much as you want, but if you don’t feed well then it’ll all be for nothing. The Blues squad and the u21s have been visited by the England team nutritionist and told what to eat in minute detail, down to the very last banana before kick-off.
It’s in the last two or three weeks in the run up to Varsity that the really noticeable changes have to be made. Drinking is prohibited, but by this point you don’t want to pollute your body with anything that might make even the slightest bit of difference between now and then. Perhaps the hardest thing is the fact that you’re banned from playing college sport. It’s tough telling a team that normally struggles for numbers that, despite being fit, you can’t play for them because of the sporting hierarchy. And it’s even harder to stand on the touchline and see them play knowing that, however much you want to get involved and help them out, you can’t. The real question then is, is all this sacrifice worth it? I think the answer to that very much depends on the result on 6th December – a victory against the Other Place will make it all worth it. However, if the result doesn’t go our way then perhaps people will question whether they could have given more, or whether the sacrifices even made a difference in the first place. All we can do now is try to ensure that we aren’t left with any ‘if onlys’ and give it our all. In the very least the discipline learnt will be a facet to take forward into life.
Published on Dec 1, 2012