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JANUARY 30 -FEBRUARY 12 2012 | | VOLUME 32 | ISSUE 08









Debate over publish pictures of the Prophet


Science looks at the world’s tiniest ear Two students looking for love go on a date



Assessing the value of a degree

Grant survives No Confidence vote as students cry foul over “management interference” The polarised ‘No Confidence’ campaign saw students going to colourful measures to make their point. PAGE 5

ULU kicks off election season Hesham Zakai Editor ULU University of London college elections have begun in earnest with the announcement of the candidates running for positions at the University of London Union. In total, there are twelve candidates running across the four different categories. Current ULU Sabbatical Officer Sean Rillo Raczka is the only candidate for President; there are four candidates for the Vice-President position that Rillo Raczka will vacate; five candidates for the role of London Student Editor; and just two candidates running for the four Trustee positions. This year ‘campaigning on the record’ is permitted, meaning candidates can freely associate with, criticise or compliment each other. The issue has been a contentious one in ULU elections in recent

years. The Returning Officer, Rob Park, who is tasked with overseeing the elections said: “We never want to suspend candidates from elections. We want to see fair, positive campaigning. “Over the years many candidates have been thrown out of elections directly as a result of comments made relating to other candidates. Now that campaigning on the Rob Park “Over the years

many candidates have been thrown out of elections directly as a result of comments made relating to other candidates.”

record is allowed, we hope that will change. Manifestos have been retracted or unpublished and hustings - the questions for candidates has been an aseptic non committal experience, with no candidate allowed even to comment on their rivals for good or bad.”

ULU 2012 Election Timetable Jan 31 Official hustings at 7pm Feb 2 President and Vice President extra hustings Feb 2 Voting opens at 6pm Feb 9 Voting closes at 6pm Feb 9 Final notice for complaints Feb 10 Results announced at ULU

The election period lasts for a week, starting from Thursday February 2. All University of London students who have not chosen to opt-out of ULU are eligible to vote at the ULU elections. Emails will be sent out to students via their College email accounts over the next fortnight instructing students on how to vote. The President, Vice-President and London Student editor positions are all sabbatical positions that last for one year, whilst the Student Trustees carry out their duties parttime alongside their studies. London Student has a special election pull out on pages 12 and 13, as well as more voting information on the back page. Over the coming months, students at institutions across London will go to the polls to elect their representatives for the next academic year.

The results of UCLU’s recent referendum provoked more questions than it answered a4er students complained that the results were subject to “management interference”.

________________________________ Writers Hesham Zakai | Ha/ie Williams Editor News Editor

The referendum covered three questions, the first of which was: “Does UCLU have confidence in Malcolm Grant as President and Provost of UCL?” In a record turnout for the Union of just over 3,300 students, 1699 students voted ‘Yes’, 1185 voted ‘No’, and 391 abstained. The turnout was in part inspired by Rex Knight, UCL’s Vice-Provost (Operations), who sent an email to the entire student body expressing concern that “the campaign for No Confidence has made claims which are misleading and untruthful” and encouraging students to vote. In a response posted on their website, the No Confidence campaign said it was “shocking that UCL managers have used the resources of the College to interfere in the democratic process [of the Students’Union]”. However, the Yes Provost dismissed this claim, commenting: “We think it is clear to see that UCLstudents are proud of UCL and of their Provost, and will turn out through voting in a referendum to show this. “The result is a credit to UCL, its students, and the campaign team who worked so hard to get students to vote; a feat that is not o4en easy to accomplish.“

The precise effect of Knight’s email is being investigated by the Union, according to Luke Durigan, the Chair of UCLU’s Trustee Board. One of the leaders of the No Confidence campaign, Michael Chessum, said that early data indicated a spike of 750 hits on the UCLwebsite in the immediate a4ermath of Knight’s email, “a figure higher than the [‘Yes’campaign’s] margin of victory”. The email follows earlier controversy when Knight wrote to the UCLU Trustee Board warning that the No Confidence move could have a “significant impact on our approach to future investment”. Professor Grant, appointed NHS Commissioning Board Chair last year, is being criticised for agreeing to implement the Coalition government’s health and social care bill.According to UCLU, the reshaping of the NHS will be “complicit in the carving up of the NHS as a public service”. This came a4er an earlier No Confidence motion passed at a members' meeting. The motion stated that: “The NHS Bill and the programme of education reforms – fees, cuts and the HEWhite Paper – are bad for students and constitute a fundamental threat to the welfare state, as well as being undemocratic and without electoral mandate.” Continued on page 5





LONDON STUDENT Malet Street, ULU, London, WC1E 7HY Tel: 02076 642054

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Welcome to Fusion:

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A Unique Fusion of Fashion Music and Dance in Aid of Cancer Research UK

The launch of Fusion @ London 2012 on the 25th and 26th of February promises to be an extravagant and unique fusion of fashion, dance and music. The stunning event will be hosted by Made In Chelsea stars and feature music headline acts including Sunday Girl and MTV Brand New for 2012 nominees, Angel, Clement Marfo & The Frontline and Charli XCX.


With a 150-strong talented student cast from various London universities, circus aerialists, well known professional dance crews and student dancers showcasing the work of some of London's top choreographers, fashion collections from some of the best emerging designers, including one that has dressed Lady Gaga, this is an event packed with jaw dropping performances and visuals.




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Offering a deluge of uniquely themed acts, it blends various gigs to suit every taste rolled into one big night. Expect to see the muti-talented cast rocking burlesque outfits, kimonos, vintage rock, dangling from ropes, and other unique sci-fi and latex ensembles. There will be ballerinas and every other type of dance including a rarely seen African contemporary number and sword dancers, the beautiful London Contemporary Voices Choir, a jazz band and many more.

The themed acts range from Circus, Beyond Retro, Arabian Nights, Urban Warfare, Memoirs of a Geisha, African & Classical syncopation to the Roaring twenties. This is certainly a much more entertaining night than the conventional fundraising methods like marathons and head shaving! Best of all, it’s all for a fantastic cause!






Most viewed Nazi drinking game results in 1 brawl 2 3 4 5

Some hard truths about antiSemitism Breaking: ULU election candidates announced The Makers of Gods

NUS should look to its antiApartheid roots and show solidarity with the Palestinians


Hosted by Ma0 Williamson and produced by Alireza S. Nejad, we’ve recorded interviews with the candidates vying for YOUR votes.

Ticket prices from only ÂŁ15 Visit for more information Event date: 25th and 26th of February Doors open 6pm, event starts at 7pm Venue: Troxy, Limehouse. E1 0HX

Guest readers

Editorial team Editor Hesham Zakai --

News Editors Hattie Williams Bassam Gergi

Comment Editors Rosa Wild Tom Chambers Abubakr Al-shamahi Features Editors Amy Bowles Ingrida Kerusauskaite

Community Editor Victoria Yates

Science Editors Harriet Jarlett Rachel Mundy

Academia Editor Valeriya Nefyodova

Entrepreneurship Editor Ahmad Bakhiet

Sport Editor Daniel O’Donnell London Loves Jessica Broadbent

Sub Editors Katie Lathan Niki Micklem Ayala Maurer Neha Srivastava Cathryn Parkes Jonathan Brunton --

Art Director Rahim Hakimi Designers Hesham Zakai Alireza S. Nejad

Production & Development Manager Alireza S. Nejad Photo Editor Danielle Bergere

Broadcast Editor Freya Pascall Libel Checker Caz Parra

London Student strives to be green, which is why our paper is printed on 100% recycled paper and all copies le/ over are recycled by our distributors. But you can do your bit too by recycling your copy once you're ďŹ nished.

London Student is printed by Print & Digital Associates. Ilie Print Cambridge Winship Road Milton Cambridge CB24 6PP

___________________________ NEWSPAPER SUPPORT RECYCLING

The recycled paper content of UK newspapers in 2010 was 77.4%

Shola Fediora (left) and Anca Lita, a City graduate and UCL 3rd year Anthropology student respectively, recharge their knowledge of London student affairs whilst working at Energy Base


Goldsmiths’ MA Filmmaking students in the spotlight at BAFTA

UCL prepares for diversity month

Writer Fatima Hasna Haidar

Writer Zee Yeo

Goldsmiths’ MA Filmmaking students showed their work at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts as part of the annual screening event. The screening will took place on the 26th of January 2012 and it consisted of four films being shown, in one of the world’s most prestigious film and television industry settings. Every second of on-screen action and sound is directed, produced, shot, lit, edited and designed by the MA Filmmaking students. The films range in length from 9.42 minutes to 19 minutes. In total, the films last just over an hour, covering creativity in turmoil; a showdown between good and evil; the domestic lives of assassins; and the search for undying love. In preparation for the event, the students released synopses of their work: “Unfinished” centres on Charlotte McKay, a successful crime novelist suffering from a crippling case of writers’ block at a crucial point in her latest book. Unable to kill off her main character as planned, Charlotte seeks the help of her therapist to uncover why writing this particular death is proving so difficult. In “Intra”, the last days of three assassins Bruno, Sophie and The Girl are told. These three lonely souls coexist in their isolation where the search for love is the only remedy. Set in an unspecified future and structured as a long flashback, the film takes place during the week prior to the team's last job. In their shared apartment, tension mounts as the three characters come to conclusions about their dead end lives. In “True Love”, Adam's relationship with his girlfriend is being soured by doubt and mistrust. But when he meets an old man, he learns the secret of how to make true love last forever. Lastly, in “Wild Dan”, Cowboy Dan embarks on a journey leading him to

February is Diversity Month at UCL. This annual event celebrates the diversity that is the norm in societies nowadays and features many events – film screenings, lunch talks, panel debates and temple tours. UCL academics, external experts and students alike, are brought together to discuss various diversity topics in gender, sexuality, religion and race. The importance of this event is explained by Sarah Guise, Head of UCL Equalities and Diversity. “Diversity month recognises that our differences are to be respected and promoted… During February 2012, an exciting programme of events has been scheduled to both celebrate diversity and examine the ongoing and evolving challenges some groups face in education, work and wider society.” The events touch on a wide variety of disciplines and there are several notable participants: Matthew Todd, Editor of Attitude magazine, takes part in a panel debate on gay men and body image issues; Dr Katrina Scior, Academic Director & Senior Lecturer, UCL Psychology, discusses how different cultural communities respond to mental illnesses and intellectual disabilities. There will also be an LGBT volunteering fair for all interested in helping out in this area. This year’s theme is based on the UCL Grand Challenge of Human Wellbeing. In conjunction with this month’s celebration, a week of talks and workshop will be held in February to explore the nature of being human and consider the topic of wellbeing. This includes a public discussion on the controversial topic of extended lifespan. All events are open to UCL students and the public alike.

Gerry “This year we have a McCulloch particularly talented

cohort of students who have worked tirelessly to produce these highly original films.”

become a real hero. Gerry McCulloch, Lecturer in Film Practice at Goldsmiths, said: “This year we have a particularly talented cohort of students who have worked tirelessly to produce these highly original films. We are delighted with the scope and ambition of the projects and are especially pleased to be presenting the first ever Western made at Goldsmiths. Our annual screening to a packed house at BAFTA is the start of the life of these films on the Interna-

Photos courtesy of Goldsmiths

tional Film Festival circuit; a journey which has delivered awards to Goldsmiths filmmakers in the previous two years.” The MA Filmmaking course has been running at Goldsmiths since 2006. The work done by the teams of students is a major component of the students’ MA and it involves collaborations with the Institute of Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths, as well as external collaborations with institutions such as the Royal College of Music and the Central School of Speech and Drama. The films are made from the winning scripts of the Goldsmiths Best Short Script Competition, which is open to all Goldsmiths students. Entries are now open for the 2012 competition.

News round up

New Year’s Eve vandalism costly LSE

The LSE announced that it will reimburse Bankside Hall, the largest of LSE’s halls of residence, for damages caused on New Year’s Eve. A sink was ripped off the wall in the men’s toilets which caused a major flood throughout the basement area. In an email to Bankside residents, Debra Ogden, hall Warden, said “the cost of repairs will be met by the School and will not be passed on to residents.”

Chinese ambassador pays visit Imperial College

The Chinese Ambassador to the UK paid a visit to Imperial College and gave a lecture on the role of innovation as the path to success in twenty first century China. Liu took the time to speak to individual Chinese students in order to find out about their experiences at college in London. The Ambassador and his wife, Mme HU Pingua, have been visiting other universities around England.

Roar! looks to introduce “page 3” King’s College London

KCL’s campus newspaper, Roar!, is looking to try and introduce a topless page 3 feature. Posters have been put up around campus encouraging students to come forward and apply. A notice was also posted on the Roar! Facebook page, saying: “Roar are doing our own version of page 3, auditions on tuesday 2-3 in KCLSU skills room! See you there!” London Student was told that Roar! has not been told by the College that they cannot proceed with the venture.

LSE launches commision to study longterm UK growth Writer Ha'ie Williams News Editor

The London School of Economics Growth Commission has launched today, aiming to provide an authoritative contribution to the formulation and implementation of long-term UK growth. LSE’s long-run growth strategy is being put forward by Professors Larry Summers of Harvard University and Steve

Nickell of Oxford University, who will give evidence on how to improve the growth performance of the UK economy in the medium to long term. Professor Summers was an economic policy adviser in the administrations of both President Clinton and President Obama, and Professor Nickell is a member of the Office for Budget Responsibility and former member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC). Co-chair of the Comission and former MPC member Professor Tim Besley,

Tim Besley

“Even in times of slow growth and protracted economic turbulence, it is essential to stay focused on the key drivers of prosperity over the long term.”

LSE, said: “Even in times of slow growth and protracted economic turbulence, it is essential to stay focused on the key drivers of prosperity over the long term.” He continued: “The LSE Growth Com-

mission will use frontier research and ideas to provide a framework for policy and policy-making in the UK to support sustainable growth.” Director of the Centre for Economic Performance and Commission co-chair John Van Reenen, added: “The scope of the Commission is broad, looking at, among other things, the role of green technologies, the creation and deployment of skills, the provision of infrastructure, the role of macroeconomic stability, the system of innovation, public sector productivity, trade and the tax

and regulatory regime.” “A unique feature of our approach will be to consider what structures of government are needed to support an effective growth strategy,” he continued. Today’s launch event is the first of a series of sessions, drawing evidence from academics in business and policy. The LSE Growth Commission will produce a report on policy changes to support growth in the UK by the end of 2012. The proceedings of the evidence sessions are to be put on permanent public record.


Internet strikes against antipiracy legislation Writer Zachary Boren The U.S. Congress shelved SOPA and PIPA, the controversial antipiracy legislation that has triggered an escalating conflict between America’s entertainment industry and federal government, and the websites that facilitate piracy. This is in response to widespread criticism and the highly publicized blackout of wikipedia, reddit, tumblr and many other websites,. The coordinated blackout on January 18, in which over 115,000 websites participated, was a determining factor in congress’ decision to withdraw SOPA. On the day, over 162 million people attempted to visit Wikipedia and were consequently redirected to a page that explained the purpose of the protest. Google, longtime opponents of the proposed legislation, provided a petition that over 7 million people signed. Opposition for the proposed laws was based on fears that their content could damage online freedom of speech. However, the decision to shelve SOPA and PIPA did not sit well with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Its chairman, Chris Dodd, has spoken out against the government’s decision, labeling it a “failure to act”. In an interview on Fox News, Dodd said, "Those who count on

Writer Toby Youell

Chris Dodd

“Those who count on Hollywood for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who’s going to stand up for them.”

quote 'Hollywood' for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who's going to stand up for them when their job is at stake. Don't ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don't pay any attention to me when my job is at stake". This continued rhetoric indicates that the withdrawal of SOPA and PIPA does not mark the end of American

Google participated in the SOPA/PIPA blackout

efforts to prevent and punish piracy. Since the blackout, the US Federal Government has taken other steps in their war on piracy. The FBI seized , the popular file-sharing site, on January 19 and its founder and chief executives have been arrested in New Zealand. Following this development, hacktivist collective, Anonymous, launched a denial-of-services attack on the organizations that they held responsible for this latest measure. Anonymous successfully shut down several websites, including that of the US Department of Justice, the MPAA and the FBI; albeit for about 70 minutes. Last week’s raid on megau- has frightened several other file-sharing sites, including Filesonic and Fileserve, into closing down their own operations. These conflicts come on the heels of news that a British Student, Richard O’Dwyer founder of streaming search engine , could be extradited to the United States. The question emerging from the flurry of recent activity is who should police the Internet and how you introduce legality to the digital frontier. The response from the online community is that of outrage. The New York Times, suggests that the hacktivists recent efforts mark a “a political coming of age for the tech industry”.

growth and innovation.” “It brings together leaders from the academic and business worlds and, using London as a test bed, will provide exciting new commercial opportunities to find technological solutions to everyday problems.” Stephen Caddick, UCL ViceProvost (Enterprise), was “delighted” with the new “ground-breaking” partnership. “It is an exciting model for partnership working and demonstrates our commitment to collaboration in research and enterprise,” he said. Edward Astle, Pro Rector Enterprise at Imperial College London, is equally pleased with the partnership that puts any rivals aside. “This new collaboration gives us the opportunity to explore how we can use the technologies in cities more effectively and develop new

ones to improve the ways in which people live, work and play," he said. “The developments in technology over the last few decades have transformed everyone’s lives, but we’ve only begun to explore how technology can transform our cities.” Justin Rattner, Intel CTO, is also keen to stress the “open” and “collaborative” nature of this new partnership. “Intel and the two universities are already hard at work defining a robust research agenda including plans to engage the communities in and around London in defining the future of sustainable city life,” he said. With the Memorandum of Understanding now signed, individual projects are expected to be confirmed in the first half of 2012.

UCL and Imperial team up to create ‘Institute for Sustainable Connected Cities’

Writer Ben Parfi% Two top London universities have teamed up with computing giant, Intel, to create an Institute for Sustainable Connected Cities. University College London (UCL) and Imperial College London signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Intel at 10 Downing Street earlier this month. The proposed institution aims to explore how new technologies can enhance the sustainability of cities and the quality of life for their inhabitants. It is hoped that UCL, Imperial and Intel will combine expertise in technology, user experience, business model innovation, the

Courtauld Institute of Art appoints new Chairman

built environment, and commerce, to produce first-class multi-disciplinary research. More details are expected to be announced within the next six Stephen Caddick

“It is an exciting model for partnership working and demostrates our commitment to collaboration in research and enterprise.”

months. The high-profile agreement is understood to be part of larger vision to make UK more competitive in the global economy. Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willets, said: “This agreement is a clear signal that the UK is a great place for high-tech research and that our significant investment in e-infrastructure will drive

James Hughes Halle6 has been appointed as the new Chairman of the Courtauld Institute of Art. Halle6 will become the second Chairman of the newly independent Institute, replacing the outgoing Nicholas Ferguson in July this year. Halle6 comes from an illustrious background in the private sector. Currently, he is a director of HSBC, Cathay Pacific and Swire Pacific as well as the Chairman of John Swire and sons. A spokesperson for the Institute said he had put careful consideration into balancing his new commitments. Already a member of the Governing Board of the Courtauld, he, like all members of the Board has made philanthropic gi5s to the Institute. A spokesperson for the Institute declined to disclose how much the gi5s amounted to. Fundraising will be an important part of his new position – his predecessor raised an endowment worth £32m, making Courtauld, one of the highest endowments per head in the UK. Its funding is further assured by an exemption in cuts on state funding for universities due to its public benefit. Halle6 will be expected to take a handon approach to ensuring that the Institute retains its privileged position. In a statement, he acknowledged the advantages the Institute currently had: “maintaining and augmenting this wonderful position had been, and will continue to be, a fascinating and demanding task”. Halle6 also expressed excitement over taking over the post from Nicholas Ferguson. Ferguson also had kind words, saying that, “The Courtauld’s Board and staff have greatly enjoyed ge6ing to know James in his capacity as trustee and look forward to working with him on taking forward the Institute’s vision for study of art history and conservation in this new role” Nicholas Ferguson led the Institute to independence in 2002 while other smaller colleges in the University of London were being absorbed into the larger Colleges. Founded in 1932, Courtauld was for many years based in Portman Square and from 1947 to 1974 was under the directorship of the Soviet spy, Anthony Blunt.

James Hugh Hallett, Chairman Courtauld Institute of Art


Nazi drinking game results in brawl during LSE trip Hesham Zakai Editor A Jewish student at LSE has suffered a broken nose after a Nazi-themed drinking game on an Athletics Union (AU) trip led to a brawl. According to a report in The Beaver, the ski trip to Val D’isere saw students playing a Nazi version of Ring of Fire, a popular drinking game which utilises playing cards. The cards were arranged in the shape of a Swastika and involved participants “saluting the Fuhrer”. The AU, LSE Students’ Union, and Jewish-Society have all condemned the incident, with J-Soc President Jay Stoll saying: “We are appalled by a reported antisemitic assault that occurred after a Jewish student objected to a Nazi-themed drinking game, that was being played by his fellow students on a recent LSE Ski Trip in France. Nazi glorification and anti-semitism have no place in our universities, which should remain safe spaces for all students.

“ For those who believe the game was all in good humour, need to realize that when a Jewish student is subject to violence and the Nazi ideology glorified, it is no joke, but a spiteful, collective attack on a community.” Students who were involved in the incident, which took place on the ski trip between December 9 and 17, are now subject to disciplinary action by LSE. The Students’ Union has also vowed to take action “to prevent an incident like this happening again in the future. We will work with all sections of the student community to expand on our current processes, training, and policies”. The AU statement denounced the “small group of individuals” behind the action and insisted “behaviour of this sort is not acceptable and is not an accurate representation of the behaviour we uphold ourselves to.” It is not the first time the AU has been mired in controversy. In December 2009, they were forced to apologise after members of the society painted their faces brown,

Jay Stoll

“For those who believe the game was all in good humout, need to realize that when a Jewish student is subject to violence and the Nazi ideology is glorified, it is no joke.”

dressed up as Guantanamo Bay inmates and drunkenly yelled ‘Oh Allah’ outside the college bar. After complaints from students at the time, the AU President Charlie Glyn wrote a joint statement with Student Union General Secretary Aled Dilwyn Fisher in The Beaver, LSE’s student newspaper, which condemned the actions “of a minority of students” as “racist, religiously insensitive and demeaning”. In an op-ed penned last week, Stoll wrote, “For those that think this is a campus issue consigned to the testimonies of Holocaust survivors, who will be touring campuses at the end of this month, as the President of the LSE Jewish Society, I urge readers to think otherwise.

Photo: The Beaver

Finger pointing at UCL a"er Grant survives No Confidence vote Continued from page 1

Writers Hesham Zakai | Ha#ie Williams Editor News Editor

Flickr: Lam Thuy Vo

However, as there students outside the room unable to attend the members’ meeting, UCLU passed the No Confidence motion onto a referendum of the entire College’s population. The referendum opened on January 19 and closed Thursday 26 January. The UCLU website explained its actions, saying that, “whilst Professor Grant has worked to improve UCL and its position as a world class university, he has also served to undermine public services, including providing support for the increases in tuition fees.” The report continued: “UCL may now be associated with the changes to the NHS.” Chessum, who is a third year History student and former students' union officer, said that Malcolm Grant would be “under very real pressure” from UCL and academics to resign should the motion pass. He added: “UCL would be faced with an explosion of campus radicalism and people who are willing to occupy various spaces on campus" despite its repu-

tation of being "quite a low-profile campus politically”. The senior management team is said to have expressed full confidence in former Russell Group chairman Professor Grant. Rex Knight, UCL's vice-provost (operations) said that the no-confidence motion had been “undertaken without any consideration of the potential huge reputational impact for both UCL and UCLU”. In a letter to the union's trustees last month, Mr Knight said that the vote “is bound to have a significant impact on the relationship (between the union and the university), our approach to future investment and our view of the roles and responsibilities of the union”. A UCL spokesman said that following the National Student Survey, the “vast majority” of students were satisfied with their time at the college and only a “tiny minority are engaged in this debate.” He added: "We note their concerns, but student politics have always enabled small numbers of individuals to pursue their interests, without having any impact on the life of the university.” A petition in support of Grant was also signed and circulated by 23 UCL alumni.



Illustrator Nathan Cluerbuck

Writer Bassam Gergi News Editor

“If you don’t vote, you don’t matter!”

This week’s London Student explores the upcoming ULU elections and the statements of the candidates seeking to represent their peers. And yet, there is a general perception, at least among a handful of our editors, that the UofLstudent body does not pay the a1ention to the elections that they should. Over the past year, millions of Arabs have marched for freedom and at long last they are holding fair and free elections. In the USA, a nation with a more developed democratic tradition, the Republican candidates are squaring off in primary-a0er-primary for the opportunity to face President Obama in the General Election next November. Whether it is in Egypt, Tunisia, USA or even in the ULU, voting is a powerful form of expression that should not be taken for granted. Without further grandstanding, let me present this weeks world news which focuses on the elections taking place across the globe. We hope you are inspired by these examples.


1)Republican primary USA

The GOP primary fight began in the plains of Iowa where former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum upset the field by winning the caucus by just 34 votes. In a close second place was former Governor Mi1 Romney who is the heavy favorite to win the nomination due to his fundraising prowess and well oiled organization. It therefore came as no surprise when Governor Romney won the New Hampshire primary one week later. His victory forced weaker candidates such as former Ambassador Jon Huntsman and Governor Rick Perry to exit the race. Many thought he was well on his way to a smooth victory. In South Carolina, however, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich made a stunning comeback. He won the primary with over 40 percent of the vote and reframed the primary as a two-man race. It boils down to Florida, the sunshine state, which holds its primary on Tuesday, January 31st. If Romney wins he will be expected to clinch the nomination. If Gingrich manages to stun once more, he may be able to leverage his back-to-back victories into the eventual nomination.


2)Front for Victory


In Argentina's general election, held in late October, center-le0ist president, Cristina Fernandez, won a landslide re-election victory and regained control of Congress. The results marked a dramatic change in fortunes for a leader who had faced angry protests by farmers and middle-class voters. She was languishing in public opinion polls, but on election night the voters credited her unconventional policies for a long economic boom. Fernandez’s party, Front for Victory, also won just over half of the seats in the National Congress. She was the first candidate to obtain an absolute majority of the popular vote since 1983. She also was the first woman re-elected as a head of state in Latin American history.






4)Islamists emerge as victors EGYPT


Arab Spring election TUNISIA

Tunisia's moderate Islamist Ennahda party has won the country's first democratic elections a/er the Arab Spring uprisings, securing 90 seats in the 217-member parliament. ISIE electoral commission secretary-general Boubaker Bethabet said more than 90 per cent of some 4.1 million citizens who registered ahead of the poll had cast their votes - at least half of all eligible voters. U.S. President Barack Obama congratulated Tunisians on the vote, which he described as "an important step forward." "The United States reaffirms its commitment to the Tunisian people as they move toward a democratic future that offers dignity, justice, freedom of expression, and greater economic opportunity for all," he said in a statement.

The Muslim Brotherhood won approximately 38 percent of seats allocated to party lists in Egypt's first freely-elected parliament in decades, recent results confirmed, giving it a major role in dra/ing the country's new constitution. The victory by the Brotherhood is a historic shi/ in Egypt; under Mubarak they were officially banned but allowed to exist. Many experts credit the Brotherhood’s organized political arm and its ability to mobilize its members for their strong showing. Many in the west would have preferred that the liberal parties won. In Washington and in the Republican primary, politicians refer to the “Islamist threat.” Whatever one’s preference, true democracies do not usually conform to foreign opinion or the interests of foreign leaders. If we want to encourage democratic springs, then we must be willing to work with the democratic victors, if possible.

5)China take note


Taiwan's incumbent President Ma Ying-Jeou won a second term in office, two weeks ago, promising to further improve ties with neighbouring China. China does not recognise Taiwan, regarding the island as a breakaway province. China continues to demand unification, another way of saying that it wants to annex Taiwan. Mr Ma told jubilant supporters on election night, "In the next four years, cross-strait relations will be more peaceful, with greater mutual trust and the chance of conflict will be less." The openness of the election in Taiwan and the incredibly high 80% turnout stands in stark contrast to the guardedness of China's Communist Party. One can only hope that the Chinese people will one day be free to express the same rights as their Taiwanese neighbors.



Tweeting Recession Depression Aggressive Obsession

Writer Julia Sekula SOAS

the ‘big boys’, the annoying popular crowd that finally face-palmed with its pants down Joe Mason UCL

We have a deep educational malaise in this country that requires radical re-assessment in British schools

“Internet craze plays on fascination with banking culture” is the tagline to Financial Times’ recent about @GSElevator, the anonymous Twi1er account that taps into the unruly world of banter in the Goldman Sachs Elevator. What’s going on? Anyone’s moral compass would immediately respond with, well – the indicators are clear, Occupy has reached the front page of nearly every newspaper, the public is outraged and disgusted at the game bankers played while chuckling through a fat Cuban cigar and the breeze on a new 300 yacht. But are they? Upon reading the article I found myself looking through that same Twi1er feed, cringing at posts like “Some chick asked me what I would do with 10 million bucks. I

told her I’d wonder where the rest of my money went.” Or perhaps a slight smirk at “if you have a job where you have to wear a name tag, no one gives a shit what your name is.” A0er more than 20 minutes I had saturated my desires of self-assertion and finger pointing and I was ready to move on with my life. Not quite: I realized that along with my “oh what baseless, primordial folk” thoughts were thoughts of dare I say, a1raction? I immediately wrote it off as some sort of primitive psychological mishap – but I understood what it was indicating. Despite the ever-enduring moral arguments about bigger-than-life bonuses and the recklessness of the firms like Goldman Sachs, people are simply captivated by its events. The fall of the ‘big boys’, the an-

noying popular crowd that finally face-palmed in the dirt with its pants down. Goldman Sachs is a prime example of this. The general population seems to have associated this specific image of arrogance to the entire financial industry. Doing so is just as unfounded as saying that all music is bad because Justin Bieber is a star. An understanding of subtlety is due o the part of the ‘rest of the world’. The entire drama over the financial crisis is part quantitative and a dumbfounded desire for an explanation to how it all got so bad so very quickly. The other part seems to fall into the category of the jersey shore phenomenon – with viewers watching in perplexed, entertained and repelled ways but still, watching season

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Michael Gove has been both praised and reviled for the speed, audacity and extent of his education reforms. As he admits this week that it will take ten years to judge the results, it is worth considering whether his reforms are going far enough. We have a deep educational malaise in this country that requires a radical reassessment of where British schools are headed, yet the government is not giving it the debate it deserves. We judge our state schools primarily through one vehicle: the league table. This has led to certain schools being seen as far more successful than others, with no understanding of the enormous differences that separate so many educational establishments; they have greatly varying student bodies from exceptionally wide socioeconomic backgrounds, and some serve a relatively small number of pupils whilst others cope with several thousand. Parents have compounded this inequality further; faced with the apparent certainty of this league table, they have sought out those schools that are inherently advantaged. We now have a state system where the most successful schools are either grammar, where private tutoring for the entrance exam is often the norm, or comprehensives with small catchment areas where property prices

are often 20% higher than the surrounding areas. In both of these instances, we have seen a shift towards the de-facto privatization of state schooling in this country. Combined with private schools, these chosen few students monopolize entry to the top universities, and in turn become the parents who purchase houses in expensive catchment areas, or send their children to private primary schools in an attempt to get them into the grammar and save on later fees. The government has claimed it is deeply concerned by the widening disparity in living standards in this country, the widening disparity in pay and opportunities. Educational equality is the only way to achieve it. The governmental approach has been, contrary to popular opinion, to reform the system from the below up. They are in the process of freeing up all state schools from local authority control, and are giving large grants to ‘Free Schools’, run by parents or companies and not required to teach the national curriculum. The central tenet behind Gove’s reforms is to give parents more choice; yesterday’s policy announcement that teachers will be sacked within a term, as opposed to a year, is also part of this bigger picture. By placing power in the hands of parents, he is hoping state schools will be forced to react and improve their services.

Yet increasing parent power is only going to increase, not decrease the problem. What we require is a radical rethink of our entire schooling system, driven by top-down reorganization; the Government must make educational equality, not parental pandering, at the heart of its reform Firstly, make a choice; we should either have a fully comprehensive system, with private and grammar schools turned into comprehensives, or a fully privatized system, where an extension bursary system would make education free for the majority, but penalize those parents earning above a certain amount. Secondly, we should standardize the exams system; instead of certain schools offering the IB, some experimenting with the Cambridge Pre-U, and others worrying about whether ‘soft’ A levels will be enough for university admission, we should have something akin to the American SATs. Every student undertakes the same set of exams at a certain point in their development. Once you have successfully leveled the playing field of these two essential areas, you can tackle the inequality of opportunity in a radical way; the university admission system needs to be torn apart and rewritten. Universities must agree on a set ranking which places them all nationally, a difficult but necessary

task. Then take the standardized results from every school in the country, and divide admissions as follows: the 1st student from every school goes to the 1st university. The 2nd best student from every school goes to the 2nd best university. Suddenly parents would be left scrambling, no longer would 33% of Oxbridge admissions come from eight private schools, and our society would become instantly more equal from the bottom up. If the Government is serious about healing the widening disparity in our society, about giving the majority of our young people something to aspire to, then Gove should stop tinkering with minor changes, giving a little less more money there, a little more power to that parent or to that head teacher; he should be as audacious and intelligent as he’d like to be thought of. If he doesn’t change course, then the Conservatives will be standing in front of the voting population in 2020 defending the fact that society is even more unequal and disparate as it was in 2010. Instead, Gove could stand tall and say that, in just ten years, he’d radically overhauled our schooling system in a way not seen for a hundred years, making education the powerful vehicle for equality that it is meant to be. Read and comment online:

a0er season. As the turmoil of the credit crisis rolls on, I don’t hesitate to say that the fascination will ride along with it. Nearly four years a0er the crunch, it is only now that tents are being pitched and tweets retweeted. I think a degree of acceptance is due – that we feed off of the mess we are victims of, that through the excessive media attention we give bankers, we empower them. Surely this recession –depression- crisis- speed bump, whatever you wish to call it, will come to pass and hopefully our strange twisted fascinations with an industry that has caused so much harm will too. online:

Gove’s education reforms: the tenyear experiment we can’t afford to try

Agree? Disagree? Your views: Danny Stone Birkbeck

Let us think about the language we use so that our minds expand, rather than narrow Jonathan Grant UCL

For those of us already angered the diminution of essential services and the chasm between the rich and the rest, it’s a t e r r i f y i n g prospect.



Anti-Semitism: still dangerous, still here Diversity? Or equality?

As students across the country prepared to return to study earlier this year, one graduate was being schooled by the French courts. The British fashion designer John Galliano was given a suspended ďŹ ne for two incidents of racist and antisemitic abuse. Galliano reportedly called a French lady a "fucking ugly Jewish bitch" and made some 30 anti-Jewish insults in the space of 45 minutes. Condemnation of Galliano was widespread. For anti-semitism, in this sense, is easy to recognise. It is the language of the far-right, of Nazis and bigots. One drunk guy in a bar isn’t that big a deal, is it? But there are subtler examples; in several incidents in past months serving MPs have questioned the abilities of Jewish oďŹƒcials to deal with issues such as Middle East policy. Such dual loyalty accusations are at the core of conspiracy theories which, as always, cast Jews as shady masters of money and power. It’s not quite as straightforward as calling someone an “ugly Jewish bitchâ€? though. Unconvinced? Let us take another example: The Islamist iEngage website uses more subtle language, but has the same message. Zionists advised the Government on a post Arab spring strategy, Zionists had a hand in the Iraq Inquiry, and Zionists are behind the EDL. Presumably, they are not talking about Christian Zionists or indeed secular supporters of the right of the Jewish people for self-determination. Indeed, they are talking about Jewish Zionists, any Jew who does not actively condemn Israel is part of the plot it would seem. Or how about this: the day before the 2003 Iraq war began, a BNP press release blamed the war on a plot by “Zionist and Christian fundamentalist zealots around Bushâ€? and “Blair’s pro-Israeli big business

backersâ€?. This is familiar stu: the idea that rich Jews manipulate politicians and force other countries to go to war with each other for Jewish gain, has been a staple of far right anti-semitic conspiracy theories for over a century. But the very next day, the Muslim Council of Britain blamed the war on a plot by “Zionists and American neo-Conservativesâ€? to “redraw the map of the Middle Eastâ€?, which is essentially the same conspiracy theory. Is one anti-semitic and the other not, because of who says it? This language can of course be the result of deep seated prejudices and stereotypes, or it may be the reproduction of language from the Middle East where this kind of conspiracy theory and much more overt anti-semitism is much more mainstream than in the UK. A tirade from the BNP or from an Islamist group may be expected, but perhaps more troubling are examples of public ďŹ gures and mainstream voices with signiďŹ cant followings using this type of language. In the Guardian, respected journalist Roy Greenslade said of Express Newsgroup owner Richard Desmond: "As a Jew, he may well have negative views of Muslims." Greenslade later apologised, but that he didn’t stop to think before he wrote is cause for concern. Even more worrying perhaps, are those established and prospective Parliamentarians who can mobilise political action. During the 2010 general election, serving MP Gerald Kaufman (himself a Jew) said “Jewish millionaires own half the Conservative Partyâ€? and Martin Linton (ex-MP for Ba8ersea) recalled Naziimagery with his comment: “There are long tentacles of Israel in this country who are funding election campaigns and pu8ing money into the British political system for their own endsâ€?.

Coming full circle, back to campus, at LSE in December 2010, Abdel Bari Atwan, editor-in chief of the London-based pan-Arab newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi, referred to the “Jewish Lobbyâ€? at least four times in a talk where he said the “Jewish lobbyâ€? was “extremely dangerous and is endangering the whole planet, the whole worldâ€?, and that it “controlledâ€? the American Senate, Congress and media. He suggested to a Jewish questioner that “You are bombing us every dayâ€?. The atmosphere at the talk became so heated that an audience member called a Jewish student and anti-racism oďŹƒcer who was speaking a “Naziâ€?, leading to wide disorder and the Jewish students having to leave. This is just one example of how abusive rhetoric directed at Jews is not an expression of free speech, but actually shuts down free speech on campus by making rational debate impossible. Explicit anti-semitism about Jews remains relatively rare in mainstream British discourse; Gallianotype incidents are thankfully well understood and not o7en repeated. It is, however, disturbingly common for older anti-semitic conspiracy themes to be evoked by modern depictions of “Zionismâ€? and “Zionistâ€?. Such language feeds action. Where Jews are held accountable for the actions of the state of Israel, regardless of their political views on the actions of the state of Israel, that is anti-semitism. It must be possible for Jewish students to express their views about Israel without fearing racist abuse in return. Our campuses are the founts of free speech, exchange of ideas and broadening of the mind. Articulating criticism of Israel may be part of that. But let us think about the language we use so that our minds expand, rather than narrow. hp://

For a Scot living in London, it’s been an interesting few weeks. The power play between David Cameron and Alex Salmond has been at times amusing, o7en irritating, but always fascinating. Doubt is the debate’s deďŹ ning feature. No one can decide if the referendum is legal, or if all Brits should be given the vote, or even what currency an independent Scotland would use. The one thing anyone says with certainty is that break-up would be devastating for the Labour party and for social democratic politics south of the border. With Scotland returning 41 seats for Labour and just one for the Tories, it’s easy to wonder why Cameron is a Unionist at all. Why not just cut loose all those stubborn Labour seats and stroll into Downing Street in 2015? To avoid electoral oblivion, Ed Miliband would be forced to lurch further to the right than Blair ever dared, dragging the political centre along with them. For those of us already angered by the diminution of essential services and the chasm between the rich and the rest, it’s a terrifying prospect. But for the Tories, it’s a potential political windfall. However, I’m not so sure of this

prediction. Especially for students and graduates, the British future looks pre8y bleak. 2012 is the year that the cuts will really draw blood, without even the promised payo of deďŹ cit reduction in this parliament. Austerity is stretching out further than anyone anticipated, and as we wake up to this same dismal story every morning, we fear severely diminished prospects. Unemployment is at a 15-year high, with no real economic growth in sight. And because in Scotland certain things are particularly troubling (male life expectancy is as low as 54 in Glasgow’s most deprived areas), you’ll understand if we make a run for it. But you may also wonder what the alternatives are for everyone else. I’ve yet to be convinced that Scotland could thrive or even just survive alone. But suppose that we prosper. Would English, Welsh and Northern Irish voters really stick with Osborne’s austerity drive? Would they really continue to vote for private ďŹ rms in public services, or for a university system that favours the wealthy over the able, if their neighbours do be8er on a dierent path? I doubt it. I wonder if the Labour party, freed from its commitment to the Union, would

for the ďŹ rst time be able to look north for inspiration. Miliband (or his successor) could use Scotland’s success to lend credibility to a progressive manifesto, especially if austerity falters across Europe. And echoes of Sco8ish policy are hardly a new phenomenon. The ban on smoking in public places was ďŹ rst introduced by the Sco8ish Government in 2006, and was brought to the rest of the country the following year. The SNP are now pushing for minimum alcohol pricing, something that is thought will also extend to the rest of the UK. I should emphasise that I’m not calling for independence. Politically, it makes sense – the o7-repeated gag is that Scotland has more giant pandas (two in Edinburgh Zoo) than Tory MPs (one in Dumfriesshire). But no one can say for sure how we’d fare economically, and maybe that risk is too great. My point is that rather than killing o social democracy across the UK, an independent Scotland might well revive it. With national, regional and global politics in the state they’re in, I hope time proves me right. Perhaps this referendum is the break Labour, and indeed all Brits feeling the pinch, have been hoping for.

Want a progressive future? Let Scotland break away

Writer Charlo&e Heikendorf Goldsmiths

Diversity is the theme for February month on UCL. As a student of anthropology, originally from Denmark and with previous work co-operations with a advocacy organization for homo-, bi- and transsexuals, I can help but ďŹ nding the theme interesting and provocative at the same time. The Scandinavian school and university system I was brought up in, focused on equality. Equal access to education; very few private schools and even the few existing ones had to follow a state regulated curriculum. Every child has to study math, Danish, English, history, science etc. from age 6 and the next ten years. That is not to say that diversity is not celebrated. Like the other Scandinavian countries, Denmark has a reputation for being a fairly liberal country when it comes to freedom of speech, religion (in the light of the Mohammed cartoons, that has become a entirely dierent discussion) and sexual orientation. I do not have any interest in spreading patriotic emotions or praising the country I hold citizenship to; at the end of the day, what is place of birth other than a coincidence? What I really want to question is the rigid way of teaching, judging students' knowledge at exams, the ranking system of the British universities, and what I consider as a unequal access to universities. Diversity is vital, I completely agree, and I have even heard cultural diversity compared to biological diversity, the la8er is just as vital to the survival of the whole ecosystem as the former is to the survival of the human species. But when does diversity become inequality? And can inequality be camouaged as a celebration of diversity? I just want to call a8ention to that the celebration of diversity, for me, is in the risk of sounding hollow and hypocritical when placed in a context of university ranking, the competition for good grades and competitive work sectors. Where is the so-called important diversity if everyone starts from a very dierent social background, with very dierent possibilities and access to education, and yet at the end of the day is judged by the same limited criteria? I think diversity is important, even vital. A society where people are copies of each other is not simulating or interesting at all. The same can be said for universities. Celebrating diversity is a celebration of a stimulating milieu and unique personalities with same human value. The diversity important for universities is not just ethnic, religious or sexual diversity; it is also diversity in pedagogic, in communication and study methods, and in ways of evaluation teaching and students’ knowledge. When using a range of pedagogic and methods of learning, more students will beneďŹ t from the lectures. Diversity, without inequality, can be the end result. hp://




Agree? Disagree? Your views:

Were the UCL atheists right to publish the prophet?

Controversy flared when the UCL Atheist, Secularist and Humanist society used an image from the online satirical comic ‘Jesus and Mo’ featuring the well known prophet, Mohammed to advertise their pub social event on Facebook. Compaints were lodgedby students calling for its retraction. But is there such a thing as a right not be offended? You can also air your views on our website.


Writer Art Mitchells-Urwin SOAS

The issue of the “Jesus and Mo” web cartoon, currently reproduced by the UCL Atheist, Humanist and Secularist society’s facebook page, is a contemporary example of our fear to question alternative opinions. It would appear that attempts by Richard Dawkins, the late Christopher Hitchens and others to demystify and to re-appropriate atheism as an intellectual stance has been relatively successful. Despite this, many people, when asked to define their religious views, shuffle their feet and mumble that they’re probably atheist, often followed by a quick clarification, “well, actually, I suppose I am agnostic”. For me this is symptomatic of non-religious people’s concern of contesting religion, even passively. Now, before I come across all “Daily Mail”, and “its political correctness gone mad”, I do recognise the clear divide between actively offending someone’s religious sensibilities deliberately, and offense resulting from the reception of a personal belief or expression of this belief. This cartoon was certainly the latter of two situations. As with the cartoons at the centre of the Jyllands-Posten controversy, these artistic expressions are satirical, intellectually based, and in the case of the current debate, inter-religious dialogue. The fear and panic over causing offense is a very real and a very insidious notion in our societies. This is especially evident within our universities. There is a real belief that as “educated” students we should possess the “selfawareness” not to upset our fel-

low students or members of the public. Whilst the Daily Mail and other right-wing beliefs may point to this being particularly prevalent in our attitude towards Islam, Muslims and the prophet Muhammad, and I believe there is some truth to this, I don’t think this is the fundamental issue. The cartoons were created with an intended audience in mind, were posted in a space within which its intended audience congregated, and its intention, as with almost all satirical art, was to stir debate or at least to attract the issue presented with a new viewpoint. In the case of the “Jesus and Mo” cartoon, the artist clearly intends to take the atheistic discourses of religion and dissect it from a new angle. This fear to discuss, dissect and question is demonstrated perfectly by the UCL Union’s initial request for the comic to be taken off the facebook page. It’s a minor development in the grand scheme of things, but it is indicative of the growing fear to question things other people have told us not too. There is simply no logical reason why the UCL Atheist, Humanist and Secularist society and its members should be forced, or indeed expected to adhere to a religious doctrine that they, as is proclaimed in their group’s title, do not belong to. Such expectations are merely proliferated by our own sense of responsibility not to upset anyone, especially, as is often whispered conspiratorially, minorities. Whilst we may wisely nod our head and quote that democracy burns at “451 Fahrenheit”, instead unbeknownst to us, we are burning our own bridges of freedom of thought, expression and critique by being, for want of a better term, too politically correct! Comment online: hp://


Writer Adil N. Ahmad UCL

The artist clearly intended to take the atheistic discourses of religion and dissect it from a new angle.

Absolute freedom of expression does not exist. As a society, we draw a line.

The UCL Atheist Society claim to be the bastion of rational thought and open debate, and yet the use of an image depicting the Prophets Muhammad and Jesus having a drink in a pub to advertise a social was entirely to the contrary. It is common knowledge that the consumption or purchase of alcohol is strictly forbidden in Islam. To depict Prophet Muhammad in such a way is not only grossly insensitive, but outright offensive and intentionally inflammatory. It instantly alienates a huge proportion of the university population, and stifles genuine open debate. But what of freedom of expression? The first point to make is that absolute freedom of expression does not exist. As a society, we draw a line – we are able to justify arresting individuals for inciting hatred or banning football players for racist abuse. While there may be no legal grounds for stopping the use of such images, it does not change its moral dubiousness. If the organisers of this event were not astute enough to realise that the image was disrespectful, despite a2ending an institution that prides itself on being globally diverse, they certainly knew the impact it had a1er receiving polite requests from concerned Muslim students to remove the image. It is extremely difficult to convey to someone who does not have faith just how offensive such actions are, because for atheists, there is nothing which is sacred. The only analogy that may be of some use, although still remarkably inadequate, is as follows: this image is on par with me using a cartoon which depicts obscene illustrations of a fellow student’s parent. While no one could legally force me to remove that image, I doubt there are many peo-

ple who would agree that it is right for me to use such an image. Moreover, the wrongness of that action does not depend on whether I made the original image – even if it was taken from a comic strip, it would remain morally repugnant. So what was to be gained from all of this? I agree that there are certain circumstances where the offense caused to a few by a particular action is outweighed by the overwhelming gain to be made. It is for that reason that I would encourage protests and speaking out against the injustices carried about by military forces and governments in many parts of the world, despite potentially causing offence to the citizens of those countries. Far from being intellectual or academic, this image was entirely devoid of any point whatsoever. The Atheist society showed a surprising lack of maturity. If they wanted to discuss aspects of Islamic teachings with which they had issue, they could have arranged for an intellectual debate in a civilised environment. Regardless personal opinion, such a discussion would have been inclusive rather than divisive, and which furthermore, would foster a greater degree of understanding and mutual respect, rather than confrontation and alienation. This wasn’t about debate – this was thoughtlessness and a chance for a few students in the commi2ee to gain instant fame and a place on Richard Dawkins’ christmas list. In doing so, it is unfortunate that they have done a considerable amount of damage to image of UCL Atheist Society. They did so merely because they could. Freedom of expression became a convenient guise to demonstrate a complete disregard for the consequences of their actions. What is perhaps most alarming about this whole episode is that had this been about another group, there would be no divided opinion. There is consciously or subconsciously, an acceptable face of Islamophobia that, since the last decade or so, has pervaded our society. Comment online: hp://



A Hare and Tortoise Race: Are Students in the slow lane? Writer Katie Keegan Photographer Adam Jones

I never thought the occasion would arise where I would use the following as an example, but here goes; Beckham studies. There. They actually exist as part of a Sport, Media and Culture degree. The point being; you can pre5y much get a degree in anything these days. Which, aside from being slightly alarming, in the case of the aforementioned subject, it is the issue of degrees becoming more vast, and graduate positions not, that is more worrying. So are degrees becoming less valid to their area of expertise in graduate employment? Are graduates sticking to the precise fields of their degree or are they branching off into other employment realms. Needless to say Beckham graduates won’t automatically be claiming shares in the Beckham Empire or scoring corner goals. So what becomes of degrees post-graduation? Is there a significant lack of correlation between degree and career path, if so, is this necessarily hindering graduates? In The Telegraph article ‘More than one in four graduates 'fail to find work'’ published September of last year, a survey on 2006/7 graduates in their present jobs showed that ‘more than a quarter of graduates were not in full time work three and half years a4er leaving university’. Whilst a fi4h of those working declared they felt their degrees had not prepared them for their specific career. However when asking the same quota of graduates if they were happy in their present jobs, an overall 84.2% said they were ‘satisfied’ with their career since graduating. Although the majority of graduates claim to be happy in their current jobs, significant amounts are not in correlating jobs to their degree. It seems graduates are in the slow lane of the career race and some may not feel University specifically put them in their present job path. It raises the question of how University prepares us for work, and whether it only sets us up in our specific field of chosen study rather than enriching us with a host of expertise for the wide world of employment. Similarly the University of Chichester recently claimed: ‘In the UK over 50% of graduates go into careers that are not related to their degree.’ But they raised the

significance of this being the lack of graduate vacancies compared to the increase of university graduates over the years. And according to the UK’s official graduate careers website; ‘Recruitment in December was 17% up on December 2010, according to new figures revealed by the Reed Job Index’. Therefore employment is out there, but it isn’t necessarily in the field graduates want or expect a4er their higher education. There is a pa5ern emerging of fewer graduates in jobs corresponding to their degrees. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), Europe's largest HR and development professional body, are at the forefront of addressing this issue. They produced a survey in March 2010 of 700 graduates, showing six out of ten were working in a profession unrelated to the degree they studied. They are working with the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) to provide guidance on how to develop employability skills and help economic growth. The CIPD’s belief is that life skills such as communication, team work and motivation are ‘a crucial ingredient in building the framework for higher level skills’. As these are imperative in the real world of graduate employment, and are ‘key to our competitive future’. They state: ‘it should certainly be part of the universities’ mission to encourage stu-

dents to become focused on career choices through a variety of routes’. CIPD highlight that Universities should not set students up only for the specific field in which they chose to study. As institutions of education, Universities should be equipping their students with these ‘life skills’ too. So, are our Universities le5ing us down when it comes to these ‘key citizenship skills’ the CIPD stress the importance of in the employment world. We come out knowing how to write a perfect academic essay and analyse data, but how are we at a worthy interview and communication skills, aside from our ability to recite Shakespeare or critique classics. There is the debate of whether those who did not go to University, and are now in work or internships, get a head start. But even if graduates aren’t currently using their qualifications to their full capacity, the presence of a degree in later employment competitiveness or promotions will become important. There will come a glass ceiling graduates need to break through, only we can’t see it yet, we’ve not long passed the starter mark. When asking graduates their opinions on the issue, their reviews were mixed. One Exeter graduate who received a BSE in Psychology in 2010 now works as a Market Analyst. She said: ‘I needed my Psychology degree to get the job I am in. Everyone at the company is required to have

degrees due to the nature of statistical analysis involved.’ And yet a4er several promotions in a couple of short years post-graduation she’s giving it up to go backpacking around the world for a year. As her degree isn’t going anywhere. On the other Long hours hand; a 2009 and small wages may be graduate of BSc the temporary Sport Science cushioned from Birminglanding after ham University the degree springboard; is working as an but the safety Assistant Mannet of the ager of a leading degree related retail chain. She career comes votes for perout when we chose to jump sonal expertise a bit higher off helping her over said her degree. She springboard. claimed that ‘It is life skills that are predominant in my field of work, not my degree. It’s about working my way up. In a way I feel cheated by the (higher education) system.’ Alternatively another graduate gratefully acknowledges that her degree taught her life skills for a profession not directly linked to her course. She is consciously not pursuing a career directly linked to her BA in Performance and Theatre. Despite being offered a job in a theatre company, she has chosen a career in teaching, starting a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) next

year. She fully recognises, and thanks, her specific degree for allowing her to achieve this. She corresponds with the CIPD’s demand for ‘key skills’, as she said: ‘I gained vital communication skills during my course, by having to present work and teach in student led workshops’. Drama aside, to present to a class of unruly school children is performance in itself; but so is a three hour exam. This is the balance the CIPD want graduates and employers to recognise; the importance of life skills and higher education combined. She is likely to be one of the 84.2% happy. It was her choice of degree that led her to detour deliberately and successfully into a teaching career. In the current climate even if graduates are not falling into high flying positions connected with their degrees, the majority claim to be content in their jobs. Additionally they are financially protected. Long hours and small wages may be the temporary cushioned landing a4er the degree springboard; but the safety net of the degree related career comes out when we chose to jump a bit higher off said springboard. Whether graduate’s degree prospects are being procrastinated; side-lined for realisations of their true calling, or overlooked by the tightness of today’s economy, degrees are not so much being swept under rugs as they are being kept snuggly beneath their belts. Any detouring into other fields of employment in the meantime is still developing the tactical ‘life skills’ the CIPD are promoting as further education. So let us not be down hearted about a li5le tightening of our own when graduates; there is nothing wrong in waiting for the right opportunity to release our degree to the world. The anticipation of future career prospects may feel a li5le tight and uncomfortable right now, but come the right time in our professional lives, it will loosen. Having looked at either side of this higher education debate perhaps we can further educate ourselves to embrace our decisions as students. Sidetracked degree paths; sabbaticals, or hiatus’, the beauty is that graduates have the ability to do these things out of choice. A4er graduation the test of academic endurance has been passed. The achievement employees want to see, along with life skills, will sit interminably on our CVs as a reward for stamina. We’re in the hare and tortoise employment race, and it is ok that right now we may be the tortoise.

Vote at:







Sean Rillo Raczka

Abs Hassanali

Daniel Lemberger Cooper

Ian Drummond

Ross Speer

Craig Gent

Vice-President ULU

I’m asking for your vote as ULU President because I believe ULU must be the strong, campaigning voice for London students. Students will face exceptional times over the next year. We need a union that can represent and fight for all of London’s students – we are stronger together. I’m proud of my record in office, both as Birkbeck Union Chair and this academic year as ULU Vice-President. I was at the forefront of organising London-wide campaigns against fees and continue to stand alongside those fighting cuts and redundancies in our universities. I’ve stood with striking university staff on their picket lines and supported the London Living Wage campaign across the University. If elected, I will ensure that ULU is a hub for organising London-wide anti-cuts campaigns, working with the Coalition of Resistance and others. I campaign for international solidarity and justice, no war with Iran, troops out of Afghanistan and freedom for Palestine . I believe in fair and equal access to education. Education should be free. But colleges this year have faced not just severe cuts to their funding and extraordinary fees increases, but the threat of further privatisation. I want to make sure that the government’s Higher Education White Paper proposals for the marketisation of our universities are met with an effective campaigning response. The diversity of the University of London makes it unique. Discrimination and prejudice have no place there. I will continue to work with liberation campaigns in the fight for equality. Vote Sean Rillo Raczka, #1 for ULU President

3rd Philosophy Heythrop

“ABS HAS BEEN AN ELECTED ULU TRUSTEE FOR TWO YEARS – IF ANYONE KNOWS WHAT THE JOB IS ABOUT OR WHAT IT TAKES, THEN IT’S DEFINITELY HIM.” I’m a 3rd year Philosophy undergraduate. I study at Heythrop, Queen Mary’s and SOAS – so I know what it really means to be an intercollegiate student.

I have been an elected ULU Trustee for two years now – I know what this job is all about and what it takes. And for anyone who has doubts, let me assure you: The student movement, is far from over. We all realise that everyone should be able to choose the right university for the right course, not one that is more affordable.

But ULU has to take a new direction. A new direction that takes on board the views and needs of more students. A new direction that puts students, not politics, back at the heart of our movement.

I know what it’s like to engage with students from the small and specialist colleges like Heythrop, and be part of the bigger ones like UCL and King’s. When I arrived at university, no one had thought of running for ULU, let alone actually winning. We have campaigned for a London Living Wage.

Many challenges remain, but together, with your vote, we can make that be6er change for students possible. “AS A 3RD YEAR PHILOSOPHY UNDERGRADUATE, ABS STUDIES AT HEYTHROP, QUEEN MARY’S AND SOAS – HE KNOWS WHAT IT REALLY MEANS TO BE AN INTERCOLLEGIATE UNIVERSITY OF LONDON STUDENT.”

President Royal Holloway SU

The standard I want ULU judged by is how effectively it interests, involves and mobilises its members. As a student activist since sixth form, a former People & Planet society president, the founder of a successful anti-cuts group and SU president at Royal Holloway, I have the experience, the ideas and the politics necessary to help YOU build the campaigning union London students need. I’m a grassroots activist and a socialist. That means students linking up with workers, to fight for decent services and rights for everyone in society. That’s what we’ve done at Royal Holloway since 2010. Working with trade unions on campus, we stopped 80% of proposed job cuts, by running a democratic, creative education campaign with mass actions and protests. Universities across London face huge cuts, courses and jobs are being slashed, and for-profit businesses are taking over our education. Staff and students face low wages, poor conditions and declining-quality education. Student housing is a scandal. This is possible because there’s a democratic deficit on our campuses, with unaccountable VCs and managers paid colossal sums whilst we suffer. Even our right to protest is being curtailed by police brutality.

Whether you lead an SU, run a society, or organise protests and direct action – ULU should co-ordinate students’ activity and campaigns into one powerful movement across London. We are stronger acting together, and that’s why I want all London SUs to be able to affiliate. For a campaigning ULU leading the London student movement – vote Daniel Cooper #1.

Egyptology Birkbeck

Ian Drummond #1 For ULU VP: Standing Up For Students.

I’m standing for ULU VP because I have the experience in the student movement and activist politics to continue and extend the leading role ULU has played in the last few years fighting fees and cuts and standing up for students as the government’s disastrous fee structure comes in this year.

I was a student and activist at SOAS and am now Campaigns Officer on Birkbeck Student Union’s Executive and Birkbeck’s ULU Senator, taking a proactive part in ULU’s governance. I’ve been an activist since the anti-war movement of 2003 and was on the Viva Palestina convoy which faced down Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak’s thugs to break the siege of Gaza; I’m now a trustee of the charity Viva Palestina. I was also active in the anti-fees student uprising.

ULU’s constitution remains Byzantine and bureaucratic, and if elected I will push for constitutional change to reconnect ULU with its members, hold mass meetings open to all ULU students to keep the membership in charge, and my door will always be open to members.

I’ll always stand up for the victimised, whether students, underpaid cleaners, or throughout the world. I support ethical campuses and will campaign around ULU’s pro-Palestinian policies and against links with companies complicit in Israel’s brutal occupation. I will campaign against racism, Islamophobia and all bigotry on campus. And in the event of any new war of aggression I will turn ULU into a hub of opposition.

BA History & Politics Queen Mary

Vote Ross Speer - For a campaigning ULU

As the Tories’ sweeping education cuts will see our education sold off and privatized ULU needs a Vice-President who will fight against the attack on the right to education.

If you struggle to learn, learn to struggle This means students co-ordinating action with the UCU. As President of Queen Mary’s anti-cuts group I have been involved in supporting striking lecturers and visiting picket lines.

What parliament does, the streets can undo We should push the NUS to organize a national demonstration in the first term of the next academic year. No to racism! No to islamophobia! We need to make sure our universities are zones free from discrimination. When the English Defense League came to Tower Hamlets I was at the centre of building resistance. Racists are not welcome in our community – nor are they welcome on our campuses.

Defend the Right to Protest The police is a6empting to increase its presence on campuses. All students should have the right to voice their opinions without the fear of intimidation – No to PREVENT! No to police on campuses!

International Solidarity & Palestine Students live in a wider society. As a ULU trustee, I am proud that ULU voted for the boyco6 of Israeli goods in order to delegitimize the imperialist ambitions of the State of Israel. Let’s bring this experience to ULU. Let’s make ULU the Union that fights and wins. Vote Ross Speer - For a campaigning ULU!

Royal Holloway

Ever since my first London Student Assembly, I have been passionate about ULU. Coming from one of the comparatively smaller colleges, Royal Holloway, I value ULU for the role it plays in bringing students from across London together.

I am running for student trustee because I believe in ULU we have a collective voice and are stronger as a result. The narrative has changed over the last 18 months. In ULU and across London – in particular at Royal Holloway – student unions are no longer being seen as mere bars but forums for organising together.

However, being a student trustee is not about imposing myself onto the political processes that are the realm of elected sabbaticals. Being a trustee is about playing a supporting role, providing the legal and financial oversight and probity for the sabbaticals’ political mandates to be realised. I am an excellent problem solver, have a positive a6itude, and in a time of savage funding cuts I want to make sure ULU can perform effectively in carrying out its role of representing and defending its members’ interests.

As Campaigns Officer on Royal Holloway SU’s executive commi6ee, I have gained experience in ensuring the efficient running and strategic development of a Union and it is this experience which I will bring with me to ULU. I will work to have excellent communication with all colleges, particularly smaller ones, always maintaining the link between students and trustees that I believe is crucial to a democratic and accountable ULU.

Not satisfied with any candidate? Then vote RON

In each ULU election category, there is the option to vote to Re-Open Nominations (RON). This is a sign of your dissatisfaction with the candidates on the ballot paper. If RON wins, then nominations are re-opened and there will be another vote.

Voting runs from 2-9 February 2012 and all ULU members are eligible to vote Watch video interviews with the candidates at: STUDENTTRUSTEE

London Student Editor

London Student Editor

London Student Editor

London Student Editor

Stef Newton

Ben Parfi+

Freya Pascall

Jen Izaakson

John Bell


I am currently the UCL Union LGBT Officer and member of Council. I have led the LGBT society, organised multiple events, and been actively involved with running all aspects of UCLU. Nationally, I am an active campaigner for LGBT and women’s issues.

I’m running for student trustee and I’d like to have your support! Why should you vote for me?

Firstly, higher education faces an unprecedented series of changes. The debate over education funding and privatization is still going strong, and students need a body that can argue their case. London has an extremely diverse student population, and I want to make sure that your union is a reflection of that. However, the financial position of ULU must be assured with careful oversight. I’ll ensure ULU can provide the high-quality services and representation London students deserve. Second, this year has seen a fierce ba8le for democracy, both in our institutions and outside of them. The sabbatical officers and the Senate are elected to represent your views and provide a political lead for ULU. Th-ey need to be able to make and implement decisions on the basis of their mandates.

Trustees are there to ensure those elected officers can fulfil their roles. Trustees do not hold a political position. Guidance and oversight is what they must provide.

My experience of student unions, both locally and nationally, and past involvement with ULU put me in a good position to act as one of your trustees and put your interests first.

MSc Geography UCL

The world is moving fast. The world of media is moving even faster. As the digital age thunders in, professionals have been forced to make drastic changes just to keep pace. Student media, however, has lagged behind, playing it as safe as it always has.

I recognise that print is not dead – far from it. But we can no longer ignore the changes that rupture the world as we know it. We live our lives online, through Facebook, twitter and such like. We carry smartphones and buy tablets. Knowing the value of what we already have, I call for and promise: a print evolution, a digital revolution.

Firstly, I will continue to build on the strength of previous editors and develop the paper in ever more professional directions. Further to this, I will introduce new print formats including a high quality magazine supplement for unrivalled style and a satirical pull-out to add a slice of humour.

Secondly, I will seek to develop industry standard smartphone and tablet apps. iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android apps are top of my list to revolutionise engagement with London Student. Coupled with the power of the existing website and social media pages, this means second-by-second breaking news via audio, text and video.

Finally, I vow that London Student will be accessible to all students – first years, postgraduates, mature students and international students alike. I will introduce Campus Editors across London to distribute the paper, recruit writers and feedback. It is your paper, a7er all.

BA Philosophy KCL

If elected I pledge to do the following:

1. Develop the London Student’s multi-media output. Podcasts, videos, blogs – it’s time for us to hit the digital age with a BANG! As the current Broadcast Editor of the London Student and Station Manager of KCL Radio I am the person to make this a reality. 2. Aim to be as neutral and unbiased as possible. I have no strong political leanings and therefore with me as Editor the London Student will always be free and fair in the information that it gives you. We will be as ‘BBC’ as possible, catering to the popular and the niche, whilst working to cover the various angles of every story. 3. Hold our Universities and Unions to account to ensure that they are working as hard for us as we are for them. 4. Provide wide-ranging opportunities for those wanting to gain skills and experience. I will particularly work to ensure that the needs of the smaller colleges are met. 5. Encourage the development of a satire section in the paper to showcase those who are unable to publish through their own Union for whatever reason. 6. Embolden the design of the paper. 7. Further the work of the Student Journalism Network (formerly LSJSN). Between all of the constituent colleges of ULU we have an astounding amount of experience and expertise. Together we can push student media to new heights.

Want to know more? Twi8er @freyapascall Facebook “Freya Pascall for London Student Editor”

Economic Sociology MSc LSE

For London Student to be at the heart of the student movement, VOTE JEN IZAAKSON! A collective student voice: I envision the London Student being a paper that is not just a passive participant, purely reporting student affairs, but functioning as a platform that both reflects the student sphere and empowers readers to shape it.

My Record: I was the founder and Editor of student newspaper The Free Press for two years and introduced a 16-page Black History Month special with an exposé of the slave ship on Deptford Town Hall. Presently, I act as Promotions Manager for LSE’s online magazine The Penguin. I’ve also wri8en features for Out Magazine about life as an LGBT Fresher in London.

Platform for campaigning journalism: London Student should run the stories that Universities don’t want to hear, whether exposing unethical financial links such as LSE’s with the Gaddafi regime or Malcolm Grant’s involvement in privatising the NHS. Impartiality and responsible reporting: Impartiality is a value integral to reporting responsibly, but its meaning is regularly distorted in the press. Facts should be the core of news reporting; we should resist selectivity or bias dressed up as ‘balance’. Intelligent, ethical journalism makes room for all opinions without ostracizing. NEW FEATURES – Live streaming and workshops: London Student has huge power to inform and connect. I will develop a free mobile app to aid accessibility, introduce live streaming of demonstrations and student conferences and offer workshops on editing, news writing and layout for societies, activists etc.

BSc Economics UCL

I am currently the editor of The Cheese Grater, the award-winning satirical and investigative magazine of UCL Union, and am hoping to bring my experience and ideas to the London Student. I believe that the London Student should seek to be impartial in its reporting. While not shying away from controversial subjects, balance should be given to both sides of the argument.

As the editor of an occasionally controversial publication, I have at times needed support from the London Student to resist UCLU censorship. I believe that the paper is invaluable in this respect, and that the LSJSN should be looking to provide similar anti-censorship assistance.

I want to make sure that all section editors are given better and more specific training, to guarantee that the paper reads in a consistent, authoritative voice. All contributors should be given feedback from the relevant section editor a7er an article is submitted, and this feedback should aim to foster contributors’ improvement not only as writers, but also as journalists. Ge8ing stories out as soon as possible is absolutely vital to ge8ing the best work of the London Student noticed – if elected I will look into ways to streamline the process of posting online. I also believe that more energy should be focussed on expanding the online presence, in particular more regular tweets and video content.

I believe that I can help the London Student to be really, really good. VOTE JOHN BELL FOR LONDON STUDENT EDITOR

London Student Editor

Wilf Mer+ens

BA Study of Religions SOAS

SUAVE EDITOR 5’9” 27 SEEKS VOTERS FOR FUNTIMES NSA Personal ads like mine here illustrate the glorious fact that a newspaper is a communal broadcasting device. However, unlike with websites or shouting, a paper can only broadcast so much. Decisions have to be made about what goes in and what stays out. These decisions are inevitably going to be political. So what is the fairest way for The London Student to operate? As editor I would ensure a broad range of quality journalism that dedicated column inches to the issues that concern the readership. This would mean a pro-active search for contributors, an awareness of fringe opinions and identities, journalistic training for writers, and most importantly, it would entail an innovative online presence that made it easy to submit anything from reviews to personals. I guess the cynical among you are worried I’m talking about some kind of facebook digest, or twi8er compendium, and in many contexts this would indeed be the projects fate. But, let’s remember that our situation is unique. Well over 300,000 students are undertaking a HE qualification in London and 100,000 of them are from overseas. They all have their own stories, and they are each developing distinctive specialities across London’s 30,000+ courses.

Eclectic communities of this calibre are a resource that should not be neglected. It is surely true that The London Student can be, with the right ethos and technology, the most democratic and the most highly qualified newspaper in the world.

Read all the candidates’ manifestos in full at:

Sufism on tour FEATURES



Writer Stanley Wilfrid Mer"ens SOAS

ast week I had a great honour. I introduced a highly respected Sheik from America, Sheik Hisham. I occasionally get compere work. They tell me I am good at it. To do it well you should be entertaining, but not memorable. If you are too memorable then you will make the less memorable acts look bad. For this reason it is best to go for an inoffensive level of entertaining. You should aim to be smooth and invisible, like a posh waiter. Anyway, I am persuaded to do it in two circumstances: 1. when there is money, or 2. when I like the event and want to support it. Last Friday was of the la5er variety. It was run by some sufi friends of mine. They are a li5le crew of musicians, rappers, poets and the like, who blend modern music styles with the vibrant expressions of Naqshibandi Islam.

They had invited the Sheik to speak, booked some acts, and hired out Friends House for the occasion. I’m sure Hisham speaks to such crowds all the time, but there was a difference here. The event was organised by young people, and he would be introduced by myself, a non-Muslim, and my friend, who is a young woman. Even in the Naqshibandi tradition, which is very liberal, it is extremely rare for someone young, female, or non-muslim to introduce a Sheik. So this event was something new. Being there for light relief, I duly supplied it. Making jokes about the acts and thankfully raising a few giggles from the crowd. It was terrifying with the Sheik being there in front of me though. The way people were treating him was incredible. The respect he received was far beyond what I had imagined. People were running up to touch him on the feet. A lady came over to strew petals in front of him. To her surprise he playfully picked a handful up and threw them at her. She scu5led back

off to her chair. Should I look at him, or avoid looking at him? The acts all thanked God for bringing him there. Should I imitate them, or is it bad form for a nonMuslim to do that? Did he like my jokes? I could sense the power that his presence held over the room. It dwarfed you even if you were performing on the stage. When we introduced him, I felt the words I had prepared falling away from me. My mind was blank. I mumbled that it was a great honour and passed the mic to my friend. She was able to do a li5le be5er and we went back to our seats. The first thing he said was “I am human, you are human, there is no difference”. His whole talk was selfdeprecating and emphasised our equality, and the need for humility. Ironically, the more he stressed his fallibility, the more people seemed to adore him as a saint. They cried out happily, or mu5ered prayers under their breath. The more they acted in such a way, the more he seemed compelled to humility.

Society Spotlight

Queen Mary Philosophy Society

Writer Sabheeah Zamakada Queen Mary

The Queen Mary Philosophy Society provides a platform for students to discuss contemporary ideas from a philosophical perspective. Queen Mary does not have a Philosophy department, although boasts a number

Flickr:liquidindian of philosophical modules in subjects ranging from the arts to the sciences. We aim to provide a platform for students from all departments and year groups to come together and engage with the social, ethical, cultural and philosophical issues of our world. The society began this September and has already a5racted over 200 online members. Our QMUL membership

base consists of members from a number of different departments and this creates a great diversity of thought and interest. Our sessions take place fortnightly on a Monday, in Francis Bancro4 1.01.1. The society is opened to all, irrespective of academic field and philosophical experience, always ensuring fruitful and open-minded debates. We are a friendly bunch and

It was a feed-back loop that generated a tangible feeling of power and mystery in the room. Sensing this perhaps, the children, who had been relatively well behaved until then, all started going absolutely mental. Their li5le feet thumped so4ly as they charged around the great hall. Over this sound the Sheik spoke about the invisible repression of women, he spoke about medicine, about listening to your heart, about dogmatism, about meditating, about recognising emotions and about loneliness. At one point he insisted he was a donkey, while everyone in the audience vigorously denied it. He laughed. I was not sure what I felt about the level of exaggerated adoration the Sheik received. I guess I am still not sure. That doesn’t happen where I come from. Surely there is a danger in such power? Despite this abstract worry though, I came away with the genuine impression that this was a good human. Modest and funny. Wise, but also sort of childish. You almost felt sorry that have great respect anyone willing to engage in healthy discussion and debate. Our discussions, ranging from drugs, sexuality, politics and the concepts of “truth” are continued on our lively Facebook page. Recent topics have sparked huge interest; we recently had over 170 comments on a debate centred on ‘Perceptions, Authenticity and Beauty’ in contemporary society. Recently we engaged in a heated discussion concerning the funeral of Kim Jong-II. Our Facebook page is always being updated with announcements of talks at LSE and UCL, which are popular with our members. We are always open to suggestion and adhere to a number-a5endance policy. This means that if there is an event which the majority of members will attend, we make this a calendar event for

Flickr: larry&flo

someone so playful and personable had everyone treating him in such a way. Before I le4, they took me to meet him. He chided me for not making a joke about him, as I had for the rest of the acts. Trying to make good, I said that he himself had claimed to be a donkey. Everyone in the room breathed in. Had this infidel boy just insulted a living sufi master? The Sheik laughed heartily and everyone relaxed. He took my hand, shook it, and asked my name. Wilf, I told him. ‘Wolf?!’ he exclaimed, delighted. Funnily enough this is always what young children love about my name, its similarity to the name of that wild creature. ‘So I am the donkey and you are the wolf?!’ He asked rhetorically, a mischievous grin on his face. He invited me to sit and eat with him, giving me a handful of sweet grapes.

Sufism is on tour! Check out

the society. In October 2011 we affiliated with the international event The Ba5le of Ideas and arranged discounted tickets for QMUL Philosophy Society members. The event gave our members an opportunity to be involved in discussions with over 300 global speakers, with over 75 talks ranging from the arts, politics and religion. Having gained media passes from the organisers of this event, we were able interview speakers, and hope to invite selected speakers to our meetings at Queen Mary in the coming months. To maintain our friendly and relaxed atmosphere, we organised a successful Christmas dinner, and will also be organising an annual black tie event in the final term. We also look forward to an optional participation summer charity fete where all our proceedings will be donated to several charities decided upon by our members.


The tragic deaths of James Cooper and James Kouzaris in April 2011 while on holiday in Florida has ignited a fight against youth violence - page 16

Victoria Yates



We look at the different breeds of Entrepreneur. From the high-street mogul to the coastal B&B owner, all manner of people choose to embark on their own business plans. Read our report on - page 17

Ahmad Bakhiet

ENTREPRENEURSHIP EDITOR Real About Your Relationship

All year Saul has been on hand to dish out advice on everything from study-block to SAD, now he’s proffering his wisdom on the emotion consuming supermarket aisles and lingerie storefronts; love. If you find yourself wondering how good your relationship really is, take Saul’s mini quiz to see if you’re on track for a valentine’s of effervescent romance or a solo stint of whisky and iPlayer... My partner does something I disapprove of. What do you do you? A Ignore talking about it B Have a go at them about it C May question our relationship How o-en do you disagree with partner about money or sex? A Never B Sometimes C Quite a lot D The whole time How much tension is there in your relationship? A It’s perfect

“The ultimate test of a relationship is to disagree but hold hands.” Flickr: Phaedrus...

B Minor arguing, but never fighting C Lots of arguing and nitpicking D Fight the whole time If you are scoring A’s are you being really honest? If you mainly have B’s things are good. If you are pushing into C’s and D’s then you may need to kiss and make up!


You’re constantly hearing of world records being broken, but how do you measure things you can’t see in the record books? Read our article on the world’s tiniest ear to find out how hearing may be better than seeing when it comes to microscopes - page 18-19



The first in a series exploring how students’ lives have been changed by university, see Elizabeth Kaplunov’s account on - page 20


Inevitably moving from one to plus one will pose its challenges, be sure to check out Saul’s advice on how to making the transition and making it last - page 21


Rachel Mundy Harriet Jarle.


Valeriya Nefyodova ACADEMIA EDITOR

The Green Column The Green Buzz Writer Ben Parfitt UCL

KeepCup: the latest lunchbox must-have accessory. These multicoloured plastic mugs have swept across the capital’s university coffee shops quicker than a nimbus 2000. If you’ve got one; give yourself a big old pat on the back right here, right now. If you’ve seen them around and about; read on and feed your curiosity. If you’ve not the faintest idea what I’m on about; prepare to be taken on an ecological jour-

ing users to reap the benefits over their disposable counterparts thereon in. Costing around £6, sometimes branded with a given university’s logo, the KeepCup is sold to us as an investment, and a sound one at that. The sales men and women have devised a nifty little incentive scheme for us thrifty students. For each coffee you buy using the cup from your participating university cafe, you will save around ten whole pence off the usual retail price. Over the year, that could add up to a lot of beers, cocktails, lemonades or whatever takes your fancy.

Saul Hillman


over the course of the twentieth century. This means that, today, we discard more than ten times our body weight in waste per year. Still not convinced? Louise Quick, Royal Holloway student and ethical blogger, thinks you should be. “With every slurp you take from your KeepCup you are not only significantly reducing the amount of water usage and the size of the landIf you’re going to be a dirty coffee addict, then at least try to be an environmentally-conscious dirty coffee addict

fills, but also saving yourself money in the long term,” Louise

See Saul Hillman’s DIY Relationship fixing tips in full in London Listens, page 27

ney. The KeepCup is, quite simply, “the Each year, 500 first barista billion disposstandard able cups are cup”. Mimmade and used icking the globally. That size and equates to 75 shape of the disposable average discups for each posable cofand every soul fee cup, this on the planet simple innovation can be used in most espresso machines. KeepCup estimate that the reusable mug will break even after 15 uses, allow-

But there is more to it than a few pence here and there. Each year, 500 billion disposable cups are made and used globally. That equates to 75 disposable cups for each and every soul on the planet. It is estimated that 30,000 tonnes of disposable cup waste has already been prevented from entering landfill and 70,000 trees have been spared felling as a result of the reduction in paper cup use specifically attributed to the KeepCup. As students and residents of this great city, we should perhaps give more attention to our consumption since, alarmingly, urban rubbish increased tenfold

Flickr: penguincakes

explains. “You get all the coffee you pay for, whilst also avoiding the odd looks one receives when, as an eco alternative to the disposable container, they hand over the counter their dad’s old camping thermos,” she adds. “If you’re going to be a dirty coffee addict, then at least try to be an environmentally-conscious dirty coffee addict.” Follow Ben on @bparf



Friends Seek Message of Hope in Tragedy

Honouring James Cooper and James Kouzaris: Uniting Against Youth Violence Writer Jenny Cobb KCL

On April 6th 2011, two young Britons, James Cooper and James Kouzaris were shot dead whilst on holiday in Florida; a tragedy which prompted a group of the boys’ friends to create a charity in their memory, called Always a Chance. The charity aims to change the lives of British young people at risk of commi3ing violent crime and has clear goals at it’s heart: to take on the social causes of violent crime in the UK, to create a society in Britain where youths are given the opportunity to flourish and turn their back on violence. Similarly the charity aims to provide support to victims of violent crime and their families; helping them overcome the emotional effects that such crimes have with advice and financial support. London Student spoke to Joe Halle3, friend of the boys and Chief Executive Officer of Always a Chance about the motivation behind creating charity and their upcoming event the ’92 Club Relay.’ The idea for the organisation originated from James Kouzaris’ father who wanted to start a charity in his son’s name. This was then developed by a group of the boys’ friends who decided to start a charity in both their names. Halle3 explains the reason for the name they chose: “Always A Chance was a saying that the lads use to have whilst they were at University that basically meant that anything is possible, they were such positive individuals which is why we've created a charity in their memory because their legacy deserves to live on forever.” The Always a “We wanted to Chance event, create an event taking place in that personified February 2012 the nature of aims to raise Jam & Coops, money for its they were both cause. ‘The 92 fun, adventurClub Relay ous and loved running riot in football” the fight against violence’ is an event that involves thousands of people taking part in a relay to all 92 football league grounds in the UK over 12 weeks from February to March and covering 2200 miles across England and Wales. The event is supported by the Premier league and will involve match-day appearances and baton hand overs at some of the country’s biggest football clubs. Individuals and groups alike are being sponsored “to run, cycle, free run, skateboard, unicycle, rollerblade, swim or use any other man powered means possible to complete one leg of the journey” all in the name of reducing violent crime among young people in the

country. On how they came up with the idea of a relay event, Halle3 explains; “We wanted to create an event that personified the nature of Jam & Coops, they were both fun, adventurous and loved football so we wanted to come up with an event that represented their personalities which is why we opted for the 92 Club Relay, it's going to be a big challenge but it'll hopefully raise the profile of the charity alongside raising

about the endemic social causes of such outbreaks of violence. Young people are capable of extraordinary things and it is our duty to ensure that they are given the appropriate framework of support and the right

Our journey will travel through many of the places affected by the riots and provide an opportunity to unite football and the wider community in the fight against violence.

make a difference.” Whilst people of any age can take part in the relay, Halle3 explained that “as Jam & Coops were only 24 and 25 when they were so cruelly taken from us, I believe that students and young people will be able to relate to the boys as they had only graduated from University fairly recently, they were special lads who were very sporty, loved socialising, travelling and really lived life to the

Community’s Research Reading List As dissertation season is upon us we find ourselves in a near constant cycle of reading and research. We’ve listed some must-read finds be they for jumpstarting your work with some inspiration, or for your own personal enjoyment.

1/3 Road Maps for the 21st Centyry in Science Communication [SCIENCE &TECH]

When it comes to writing a dissertation then making your writing academic is of utmost importance. However, when you're discussing complex science which (after 10 000 words of blood, sweat and tears) you're emotionally attached to, it's important to remember to step back and make sure you're explaining yourself clearly. Read Alice Bell's excellent essay "Road Maps for the 21st Century in Science communication - Notes from some spaces inbetween" on how to communicate your science clearly, and you'll sail through!

2/3 Curriculum Design For Student’s Individual Needs [ACADEMIA]

James Kouzaris and James Cooper were tragically killed while on holiday in Florida Image Courtesy of

funds. We came up with the idea a couple weeks a2er their deaths, it has gone from being a distant vision to a reality that is almost underway, I think it's really important that the events we organise represent Coops and Jam's personalities, we want this event to be fun and for people to enjoy themselves so I'm pleased to say that we've got some amazing characters taking part! We've got one guy who is travelling 56.5miles on a micro-scooter, a group of Birmingham students are a doing a leg in onesies and another guy is roller skating dressed as banana man. If anyone reading this wants to get involved by doing something really wacky then please get in touch we would love to hear from you.” The summer riots of August 2011 evidently appealed to the message behind Always a Chance, and Halle3 explained that the organization believes something should be done to tackle the root cause of the problems that led to the riots. “As an organisation, we fundamentally believe that there is no place for the actions of those involved in the August riots 2011 but neither is there an excuse for society to sit back and do nothing

platforms to become a positive force within society. To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction and the 92 Club Relay is the counter strike against the events of last August. Our journey will travel through many of the places affected by the riots and provide an opportunity to unite football and the wider community in the fight against violence. It will also provide a platform to highlight what extraordinary achievements young people can achieve – together as one we can

full.” The charity are appealing to University teams to get involved by joining them on one leg of the relay, which vary in distance from 0.5 to 117 miles. So far 5 universities have signed up and the charity is keen for more to get involved: so visit their website at or follow the team on twi3er @92clubrelay if you are interested in taking part in and contributing to what is clearly a very worthwhile cause. For more information visit

This paper discusses the approaches that educators have used to design curricula that are responsive to the individual needs of young students. Major models of curriculum individuation including differentiated instruction and the universal instruction design are discussed. Teachers can engage students by drawing on their previous knowledge and using techniques such as journaling. In particular, teachers should seek to understand their students by developing home/school partnerships.

3/3 Harvard Business Review: The five stages of small business growth [ENTREPREUNERSHIP]

Flickr user JSmith Photo

It is interesting to analyse the different organisational structures and management styles that small businesses can experience. HBR sets out a five-stage framework for this rite of passage: Existence, Survival, Success, Take-off and Resource Maturity. Determining what stage a business is in helps identify key questions such as is the management style direct supervision or divisional? Is the organisation’s major strategy growth or maximising return on investment? A recommended read.


Variety of the entrepreneurial world We take an in-depth look at the different types of entrepreneur Writer Martyn Hopwood Birkbeck

An entrepreneur is an individual who creates a situation or finds a situation through which he or she can make money. The guy who sells fruits and vegetables at the market is an entrepreneur. The street kid who shines shoes in a Third World tourist destination is a sort of entrepreneur. The multimillionaire hotelier of five-star hotels across the globe is a type of entrepreneur. The type of entrepreneur you are most likely to come across is the wheeler-dealer type: the guy who buys a whole load of merchandise and sells it on for a profit. What that merchandise actually is will depend on whatever looks like it will make the most profit at any given time, be it knock-off remote control helicopters from a contact in Shenzhen or a batch of second-hand designer shirts bought off his mate. This type of entrepreneur has little time for focus groups, spread sheets, product placement and that kind of suhe just likes perfluous nonto get the gear sense: he just likes and sell it. to get the gear and sell it. Phillip Green is the ultimate successful wheeler-dealer: he started

out buying jeans in Asia to sell in London and, as sales increased, the business became more sophisticated and grew into a huge international company. You could in fact say he is still essentially a trader, simply in a much bigger and more complex way. The polar opposite of the wide boys in the

to improve and change people’s lives, or to create interesting things for us to interact with. A lot of the things we use in everyday life are down to these sorts of entrepreneurs. Think of the work of pioneers like Steve Jobs and Henry Ford: one saw, amongst other things, the commercial viability of a computer

en trepreneurial world are the smart, innovative and creative ones: the visionaries who present us with products and ideas we thought we never needed until we discovered them. A large proportion of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs suit this description. These types of entrepreneurs aren’t driven by money and don’t set up companies to get rich quickly: they are instead driven by a desire

mouse, whilst the latter envisaged a world in which everyone could own a car. Without the genius of such entrepreneurs, it’s conceivable that we might not have or else they’ll cars the way we have nothing know them to eat and die today, or userfriendly computers. Another type is the conformist,

professional entrepreneur, who has a passion for the workings of business and likes to open up new companies. This type will be trained in the management of companies and will probably have a business-specific qualification, such as an MBA degree. Business success will probably come about due to the right contacts, as well as years of experience and knowledge. Profits may also come about from being a business angel or investor. This type of businessman or businesswoman will have a team consisting of web designers, accountants and sales people, able to get any new venture up and running swiftly. The laid-back business people are the lifestyle entrepreneurs, who set up businesses in order to have more time to look after their kids or to have more free time during retirement: these are people who don’t really want to be entrepreneurs and just want easy stress-free living. Think of the people who make strawberry jam to sell at the local farmers’ market or move to Cornwall to open a bed-and-breakfast. Then you have the survival entrepreneurs. An example of these are the people living in the slums of Mumbai, trying to forge a living by selling whatever they can, or else they’ll have nothing to eat and die. Or, these are the people who are simply unemployable who, having received no replies

A flight to the future, and a flight to Silicon Valley Writer Carolina Mostert UCL

Silicon Valley Comes to the UK (SVc2UK) is an event which entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, student entrepreneurs dare not to miss. The competition is chaired by Sherry Coutu (serial entrepreneur, investor) and Reid Hoffman (Co-founder of LinkedIn). Over twenty universities took part in the SVc2U events, amongst which Imperial, Cambridge and Oxford. Thanks to their out of the box event idea and brilliant execution UCL Enterprise Society was defined as having the best university event and took home the prize despite it being their first year competing! With a team of about a dozen hard-working, passionate students the society put on a ‘flight to the future’ themed event, as Victoria Cullen explains: “the aim was to connect students, in a way that was fun and interactive”. Why did UCL win? It was 100% team effort, made by students for students. Victoria Cullen tells the London Student how everyone in the society works to reach out to as many students as possible attracting an audience of over 200: this attitude

was the team’s strength throughout the competition. The society’s approach was fresh, young: one that had a new “push”. Winning wasn’t its main goal and success came as a surprise; a “happy surprise”. The best aspect of this victory? “It felt as an experience, more than an event”, Victoria says. Judging from the stories, an experience it was indeed. Speakers suck as R. Fitzpatrick, from Toolkit, D. Sodergren, from the Marketing Man, and D.

Hulme from Satalia held talks which all students had the opportunity to attend. New start-ups were introduced: Thalantino, for instance, a UCL-born new catering business and Physical Pixels, a design and research practice for experimental art forms. Thalantino provided excellent food, Physical Pixels set up an interactive, innovative exhibition. Marisha Naz, one of the organisers told the London Student “We

really wanted something different and we wanted people to know that from the moment they stepped in, every detail mattered from decorations to food to speakers to hall layout to lights - nothing was left unplanned". The guests evidently enjoyed themselves and one Entrepreneur, Sascha Panepinto, managed to give us his insight of the night “The event and personalities inspired and energized me so much that once at home, I wrote down a list of potential business ideas and others which I had otherwise forgotten about. That evening, made me remember how important it is for an entrepreneur to be in such a stimulating and exciting environment. Thanks UCL Enterprise Society." One member of the Enterprise Society will enjoy eight days in California, everything included: flights, accommodation, visits to supertechy cities. Well deserved, UCL Enterprise Society, London Student will follow up with to learn more about what you encounter and experience. You can learn more about the UCL Enterprise Society by visiting their website or twitter page: @UCL_ES

even after sending out their sixtyseventh CV, decide to draw up a business plan, get some investment from a bank and give their start-up idea a go. Finally, the world of entrepreneurialism has opportunist entrepreneurs: these are the people who make the most of any opportunities they might come across to make cash quickly. This type of entrepreneur is the kind of person who buys Heston Blumenthal Christmas puddings from Waitrose and puts them up to be sold on eBay. Another example would be the investor who buys houses on the cheap during a property market crash and sells them on a profit when the market improves. It’s a strange paradox that hypersuccessful Internet billionaires are in exactly the same profession as the dodgy geezer you bought tickets off outside the venue of that sell-out gig a few weeks ago for three times the face value. Both are creating situations or finding situations to make money. Both are working independently and for themselves. People have innumerable motives and justifications to take on the demanding and precarious world of capitalism, and if one day, you find that you are an entrepreneur - in all probability - circumstance would have been the overriding factor in the type you became.

Tweet of the Week

“Identify opportunity, get to market quick, talk to users to find out if you met the opportunity, adapt/improve” @RedRookDigital Follow us: @LS_En

Book of the Week

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries All about incremental advancement. This rapid creation of prototypes is designed to test market assumptions, and uses customer feedback to evolve them much faster than via more traditional product development practices.

Next Issue

In one of our most exciting editions yet the London Student will be interviewing British Desginer and Billionaire Sir James Dyson. We’ll get insight into lessons he learned while studying in London and also learn more about the James Dyson Awards for students.



Research in Brief


Previous research has shown that elephants support their weight with the help of a newly identified sixth toe. Professor John Hutchinson, who led this work, is now turning his research attention to the rhino. With only three toes and small, stumpy feet, nobody is quite sure how one of the heaviest land animals supports itself. The team are studying the way that pressures and forces are distributed across rhinos’ feet, as the animals walk across a constrained track. When the work [or, research?] is completed, they hope to be far better informed on how to build machinery for transporting heavy loads.


Can computers be creative? A novel piece of software, designed by Dr Simon Colton, has proved that they can. ‘Painting Fool’ creates original artwork without any human guidance. It has a search function that allows it to scan the internet for ideas. It then chooses a style to suit the mood of the subject and then simply paints. This process makes sure the artwork is relevant to current human experience. It is not the first time that machines have created art or music. Previous software designers, however, have always provided their computers with a theme, such as copying the musical style of Bach, or painting a person with a plant pot. The work, described in New Scientist, leads us to question what produces bursts of creativity in the brain, and whether we can, in fact, describe them as a series of rational and traceable mental steps. We might even ask ourselves the question of how intrinsic creativity is to being human.

Limpits Are Best Engineers


New research has found that limpet teeth are extremely strong and resemble structures we use for building aircraft parts. Limpets use these impressive teeth to scrape their food source, algae, from tough rock surfaces. The teeth are formed from a mineral called goethite- a mineral commonly used in pigments of cave paintings- which is made up of tiny fibres that combine in a complicated way to reinforce the material. Limpets, therefore, are excellent engineers of robust materials! Scientists used a very fine microscopic technique to discover this feature, and published their findings in Journal of the Royal Society Interface.


‘Fame Factors’ is a new app that tells you which celebrity you are most like. The app asks you to pinpoint the features of your face using your camera phone, calculates the ratios of various distances between featuresand then uses these proportions to tell you how you compare.

Maria Botcharova

The Science of... Religion

LS_Science Online

Tweet of the Week

Writer Aamna Mohdin

Before we delve into the science of religion, we have to ask ourselves three basic questions: why do people believe in religion? Why do people disbelieve religious claims? What is the relationship between science and religion? Due to the rise in scepticism, the floodgates to critically examine religion have now been opened. Biblical criticism in the western world has only recently become acceptable. Criticising the Qur’an is still cloaked in controversy as many fear retribution. But even when supernatural claims, such as the Shroud of Turin, are scientifically debunked (according to scientific evidence it was a forgery from the fourteenth century), thousands of people still flock to see the it. What makes people reject rational evidence in favour of their beliefs? Paul Kurtz, o4en labelled as the father of secular humanism, describes the phenomenon as “transcendental temptation”. Kurtz explains that it’s a “tempSome religious tation to believe people choose to in things unseen, reject science all because they sattogether, but isfy felt needs they clearly don’t and desires”. speak for all of Kurtz argues that us. I am a Muspowerful psylim and a sciencho-sociotist; I don’t have biology plays a to choose to be key role in tranone or the other. scendental temptation. If transcendental temptation is o4en described as a powerful force, how are people able to resist submi5ing to

The worlds strongest acid is made by mixing Antimony pentaflouride (SbF5) and hydriflouric acid (HF) producing an eyewatering pH of 31! Follow us @LS_science

Science Blog

We still need regular bloggers for the Science Online issue. If you want to write about cute animal science, have some favourite photographs you want to explain the science behind or you just want to tell everyone why being a nerd is the new cool, then get in touch!

Elizabeth Eisen

it? Jennifer Toes, a second year biology student and a campaigner for secularism, says: “People become atheist for different reasons. I understand religious beliefs are comforting and that is why so many people are reluctant to let go of them, and face the reality that there may not be a plan for us.” She goes on to say: “This is something that I feel conflicted about. It’s a harsh reality to face. It's something I wonder about for the future, if I have children and need to explain to them some aspect of human tragedy, what exactly would I say?” Yet, is science and religion mutually exclusive? “No” argues genetics undergraduate Bahga Mohamud. “Some religious people choose to reject science all together, but they clearly don’t speak for all of us. I am

a Muslim and a scientist; I don’t have to choose to be one or the other. As long as people remain open minded, I don’t see a problem.” The relationship between science and religion is a complicated one, but it has developed a new area of research. A recent study from The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) found a clear relationship between time spent in church and lower blood pressure in both women and men. Professor Jostein Holmen, one of the authors of the study, encourages research into the possible health benefits of religion. "The fact that churchgoers have lower blood pressure encourages us to continue to study this issue. We're just in the start-up phase of an exciting research area," he said.

els of cigare5e craving than when the associated stimuli are presented alone. This type of association is called classical conditioning. This latest study, performed at Erasmus University, Ro5erdam, pushed smokingrelated conditioning studies even further, using electroencephalography to study the brain activity of 30 smoker and 31 non-smoker students. The researchers found that both smokers and non-smokers brains’ responded more to smokingrelated images than to neutral ones. Even though smokers showed larger event-related potentials, specifically P3 components (which are thought to reflect enhanced motivated a5ention to the stimuli presented), this result shows that, in general, smoking-related stimuli captures more a5ention than neutral ones. During the conditioning task, the students learnt to associate two different geometric images with either a smokingrelated image or a neutral image. Crucially, only the smokers’ brains showed large P3 amplitudes when presented with the geometric image previously associated with the smoking-related one. Furthermore, the smokers reported more

cue-elicited cravings when these images where presented. Marianne Li5el explains that these results suggest smokers have an enhanced ability for drug-related 'associative learning' compared to non-addicts. However, she continues: “When the experiment was continued the differences between

Polygons make you Puff Writer Clara Ferreira

Asmoker finishes his cigare5e, enters a café and sees a packet of cigare5es above a cubic napkin dispenser. The smoker orders his panini, sits down at a table with a similar dispenser, and feels an urge to smoke. What is going on inside this smoker’s brain? A recent study by Marianne Li5le and Ingmar Franken, published in BMC Neuroscience, discovered smokers can o4en associate geometrical images with smoking images, and the sight of geometric images alone can elicit cigare5e cravings. Furthermore, smokers’ brains respond electrophysiologically to these geometrical images - showing motivational a5ention signals. Smokers are known to associate smoking with smoking-related stimuli- like the sight of a cigare5e pack- or with sounds, images and smells which are around at times when they smoke. Several studies have shown that, in these conditions, smokers show increased physiological reactions, like heart rate and skin conductance, and report higher lev-

Read more at:

Next Issue

In the next issue we have lots of features for you to look out for. In particular one explaining the science behind why people look for faces in things. It might just explain why you saw Michael Jackson in your tea leaves this morning...

Science Editors

Harriet Jarlett Currently studying an MSc in Science Communication at Imperial College. Rachel Mundy A 'Science Communication' student at Royal Holloway.

Like the brick inthe background of this image, rectangles can induce cravings. Flickr User carsnap

smokers/non-smokers were lost. This may indicate that second order conditioning is transient or simply that the participants lost interest and concentration."



Hearing is Believing Writer Harriet Jarle&

This week we’ve heard about a world record-breaking long hug, now London Student can tell you all about the world’s smallest ears, and the scientist who discovered them using only a loudspeaker, a digital camera and some gold. This bizarre sounding collection of equipment was an invention borne out of necessity. When scientists at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich could no longer see what they needed down an optical microscope, they put their ingenuity to the test and came up with a rather homemade looking contraption. When they can’t see what they need to down a microscope, this experiment allows them to hear down it instead. The world’s smallest ear The scientists is actually first glued a the product tiny tungsten of long and needle onto a drawn out rel o u d s p e a k e r, search, led by and then used Jochen Friedthis to agitate mann. Their the gold partiwork, pubcles, by sendlished this ing sound month in waves towards Physical Letthem. ters, shows how trapping gold nanoparticles means they can use them as tiny 'ears' to hear the movement of objects down to the cellular level. The common method of using optical tweezers - radiation pres-

60 seconds with... Writer Alex Badrick

Education Secretary Michael Gove recently announced a “dramatic” overhaul of the ICT curriculum, branding the current syllabus “demotivating and dull” and proposing new computer science lessons from this September. Professor Peter McOwan, a computer scientist at Queen Mary, told us about his passion for the subject and its importance.

LS What interests you about computer science? PM I loved maths since I was a kid, and the idea of being able to write equations that could predict reality really appealed. Then I discovered that computers could do maths better than I could! I started off writing simple computer games, with simple built in physics equations using a Sinclair ZX81. My ideas became real

sure from a laser to twist and manipulate nano objects was suggested as a new way of holding the gold nanoparticles in place. The ‘ear ’ was only 60 nanometres wide which, to give you an idea, is about the size of a pea, if the pea were the size of the Earth. This static ‘ear ’ will only move if nudged by movement nearby, which means it can be used to measure fluctuations in its environment, fluctuations like an acoustic wave. Alexander Ohlinger and his colleagues used a two stage process to develop the ‘ear ’. “First, we validated the basic principle using a relatively strong sound source,” group leader Andrey Lutich explains. “In the second step we were able to detect significantly weaker acoustic excitations.” The scientists first glued a tiny tungsten needle onto a loudspeaker, and then used this to agitate the gold particles, by sending sound waves towards them. Friedmann could detect the movement of the particle using a darkfield microscope and an ordinary digital camera, to show on the screen. Later, I advanced to writing simulation programmes for magnets, and optics. Computers gave me the opportunity to create new ways of exploring, as my career progressed I became more interested in understanding the human brain. A1er degrees in psychology and medical physics I'm now in a computer science department trying to understand how our brains work mathematically, and using these insights to build smarter technologies, like robots.

LS What is your research focus? PM I coordinate a big EU robotics project, building socially aware companion robots. We use ideas from biology all the time - the biological world has had millions of years of evolution to come up with really good solutions to hard problems and we should use these where we can. In the past I've been able to use maths to predict new types of optical illusions - nature’s magic tricks and as a hobby magician I loved that. I also spend a lot of my time

the particle moved parallel to the sound wave propagation. Next, they trapped one gold nanoparticle in amongst a group of other ‘free’ particles and heated them with a green laser. It was found that these particles emitted tiny vibrations towards their static counterpart, which could be used to build a 3D image of the object at a nanoscale. The unprecedented sensitivity of the world's tiniest ear - it can hear sound a million times quieter

than you or I could - means a whole new wealth of information will be available to us about cells, bacteria and viruses (which we could never have imagined just from viewing them down a microscope). In particular we will be able to ‘see’ into areas where light conditions make use of an optical microscope impossible. However, as the experiment stands, it is only a concept which works in controlled laboratory environments, and it would need to be significantly refined in order to be used as a medical tool.

The Nanoear will be a microphone into the world of bacteria. Fernando Bergamaschi

Events under the microscope

Festival of the Spoken Nerd EVENT REVIEW Reviewed by Sophie Buijsen

Where do scientists go to have fun? Well this month they went en masse to the Bloomsbury Theatre to see the Festival of the Spoken Nerd. Musical comedian Helen Arney, Blue Peter science expert Steve Mould and standup mathematician Matt Parker, together with a few special guests, brought an evening of science, comedy and music… on fire! The motto of this month’s Festival of the Spoken Nerd seemed to be: “What fun is science if you can’t set fire to some things?” Comedian Kent Valentine tells his story of dangerous antics with napalm, while chemist Andrea Sella lights up some serious test tubes. The finale of the show sees a fiery visualisation of music, aided by beatboxer Vid Warren. And although the fire is good entertainment, the night would still hold up without it. Arney, Mould and Parker have created a show that even those with a hatred of science would find difficult to dislike. The threesome present the audience with their favourite scientific experiments and theories with childlike enthusiasm. Did you miss the show this month? Well the good news is that you can see it again on February 2 at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket.


ART REVIEW [GV GALLERY] Admission: FREE Reviewed by Lucy Pereira

trying to inspire school children about the excitement of research in science maths and computing, through my projects like computer science for fun and the magic based illusioneering project. LS How do you think ICT should be taught? PM Computing is a relatively new subject, so it's not surprising we are having some teaching troubles... I've been involved in [the curriculum review] behind the scenes. The problem with some ICT classes is that they can make computing dull every kid already knows how to use MS Word . It's about using existing tools rather than the wonderful creative skills of being able to build new and be2er so1ware. We should be allowing our next generation the chance to meet those moments in their lives where they too can discover how to create something new. The reality is far more complex, where will the teachers come from with the skills to do this?

LS What advances do you imagine in computer science in the next ten years? PM Computer science will continue to be the main driving force in new products and underpin advances in science and medicine, it will also allow the creation of new forms of art and entertainment. The importance of understanding the human user’s experience, rather than just writing good code, will become more important.

LS The next 100 years? PM Always hard to predict, my best shot will be that we will see more computing devices built into our homes, cars, clothes, and even our bodies. Humanity will link and then blend with artificial intelligence. In the same way as we look back on history and wonder how we lived without glasses, telephones and the printing press, in 100 years we will wonder how we lived without personally customised medicines, smart clothes, and adaptive smart buildings to reduce energy use.

Marylebone-based art gallery, GV Art, is hosting a group show as part of its ‘Art & Science’ series. The current exhibition, Trauma, explores the various manifestations of biological trauma. The exhibition offers an eclectic mix of pieces created from a diverse range of art media, with one display demonstrating a technique called ‘gellage’ - a ligature of collage and gelatin. Exhibit examples include Luke Jerram's Glass Microbiology - a set of beautiful, intricate hand-blown sculptures shaped like viruses, and haunting self-portraits from Alzheimer’s sufferer, the late William Utermohlen. Another piece, Hebarium of Surviving Specimens from the Exclusion Zone, strays from the heavily human-centred exhibition, instead considering trauma in the natural world. Hebarium…, by Anais Tondeur, is an interesting ensemble of Hebarium plant pictures, taken from the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear plant following the 1986 disaster. This exhibition encompasses both the negative and positive aspects of trauma, considering the fragility of life and the suffering that comes with pain and illness, as well as our qualities of survival, tolerance and strength. Unlike some science-art mashups, Trauma doesn’t come across as patronizing or dull, rather it is insightful, thoughtprovoking and visually stunning. Highly recommended.




How the University Experience Has Changed My Life Starting from the current issue, London Student is going to represent students’ personal experiences as well as academics’ reflections on their lives inside Academia. The idea is to tell the story of your personal growth, changes and transformations on your path through Academia. The voices of those who feel that their university degree has changed their perception of the world will provide an meaningful insight on one’s own “person – academia” interplay for everybody to think about and learn. In this issue, Elizabeth Kaplunov, UCL Masters student, shares her personal reflection on the experiences that changed her life once she decided to go down the Academia route.

Writer Elizabeth Kaplunov UCL

I finished a Psychology BSc from UCL last year and am doing a parttime Masters course. I found the time spent at UCL challenging at times, but mostly highly enjoyable and inspiring. UCL was the first university to admit people regardless of their gender and religion. There are currently 21 Nobel Prize winners among UCL alumni, as well as current and former staff. These are some of the reasons why I wanted to go to UCL in the first place – it is prestigious, academically esteemed and also fair to students from different walks of life. I would like to take this opportunity to write about how during my time at this university my academic preferences, language abilities, research skills and social life have changed. Firstly, my academic preferences have changed significantly during my time at UCL. During my A-levels, my favourite topic was ‘Social Psychology’. I was attracted to the drama of Milgram’s and Zimbardo’s highly shocking and unethical ex-

periments, which provide a lot of possibilities for debate. However, studying social psychology in the first year, I realised that most of the theories were based around common sense. Instead, I became more interested in memory, which was a far more concrete topic to study, as well as being one with a stronger and more established evidence base. I suppose that because memory has been studied for longer (from 1930s, with the famous Stroop test) and with tools, which produce highly accurate results (brain scanning) rather than behavioural tests, I find the theories proposed to be more believable. Another reason I am interested in memory is that I enjoy studying the problems faced, such as memory decline in the aging population. Currently, there is a rapidly increasing aging population. In order to relieve the financial burden on the NHS, as well as helping these people to live more comfortably, it is important to study cognitive decline in conditions such as dementia and Parkinson’s disorder and to prove interventions. The dramatic change during my time at UCL occurred to my lan-

guage abilities. I am bilingual Russian-English and I also speak German. My native language is Russian, but since coming to university I have had less contact with my family and more with English speakers. This has caused a slight decrease in my Russian vocabulary. Also, it has negatively affected my grammatical abilities. When I try to write a Russian passage, I make lots of spelling errors and write using an English sentence structure. Lastly, I am also forgetting complex words in Russian but (thankfully) retaining simple words I have known since childhood. My research skills have also changed during my time at UCL. When I first started at UCL, I had completed a brief gender stereotype coursework, which needed a rather limited amount of research skills. In the first year of my degree, I learnt how to write up experiments. In second year, I had to run my experiments, the outlines for which were given to me, then collect data for a questionnaire and run my own mini project. I also learnt how to analyse data that year by volunteering in an alcohol reduction project and how to prepare for an experiment during an internship for the Wellcome Trust. In my third year, I did a dissertation on smoking cessation, during which I learnt to code date and to transcribe. However, I didn’t learn about attracting subjects for a research study, as I didn’t need them for my project. I would like to mention how my social life has changed during my time at UCL. When I came to UCL, I

WHAT’S ON: Brain food and entertainment around UoL


Does Law Have a Place in the Modern University?

Speaker: Prof Roderick MacDonald Law faculties have been under increasing pressure nowadays. Might the study of law reclaim the central role that it played in the University a millennium ago?

Photo:Elizabeth Kaplinov

was rather a wallflower, well-behaved, well-raised, highly strung. 3 years later, I like to think that I am still a ‘goody-two shoes’ but with a bit of a twist. I have learnt a lot about dealing with boys, finding new friends, going out and dealing with tough life situations. Whilst London can be a great place to be young and free, it is also a challenging one, forcing completely different people together in one large melting pot. I have found my time at UCL hard at times, but I believe that most of the changes I have undergone have been positive and have helped me to grow up in more ways than one. Feeling like sharing your story? Contact the Academia Editor at

Time: February 7, 6.30-8pm Place: New Theatre, LSE


King's Greek Play

The King's Greek Play has been an annual tradition since 1953 and it is the only production in the country to be performed every year in the original Greek. The 2012 Greek Play will be Euripides' Hecuba directed by Roseanna Long, as part of the annual University of London Festival of Greek Drama.

Time: February 8, 9,10, 7pm Place: The Greenwood Theatre, King’s College London Tickets: Standard: £8.00, students: £5.00

“There Is Only One Good - Knowledge, And One Evil - Ignorance.”

Writer Valeriya Nefyodova Academia Editor

The university experience, as a part of one’s academic life, is generally described as an invaluable, unforgettable time in life. Fresher’s parties, new friends in halls, course mates, funny-looking professors talking in alien language, then allnighters, projects and dissertations… These moments are the ones most people remember later in their lives, and share with their grandchildren (well, probably some bits of “party” facts are usually kindly omitted, but never forgotten). However, sometimes things go in a direction different from what is expected. While some find their Academic experiences fascinating and truly enjoyable, others face annoying obstacles on their way, which

Photo: Studio SSamo

may in the end create a bitter-tasting flavour of not-so-smooth academic episodes in one’s life. Usually, bitter experiences come not directly from Academic institutions themselves, but from those rules and pressures, which one have to follow to the letter. Here is a short

reflection of a student, who shared her story, just to illustrate that:

“It was my first year at university and everything was new and exciting, including the International Exchange Programme, which after a simple personal statement I was ac-

cepted onto. But it was all downhill from there. After passing QM’s requirements, a potential 2:1 in first year, you then had to apply to the university you wanted to go to, for them to decide if you were a suitable candidate. I had chosen California as my destination; we had to pick up to three campuses to apply to, each differing in expense and demand for places. I had set my heart on the Santa Barbara campus, which was approximately the same cost as living in London and thus affordable, ignoring those such as LA because of expense and Berkley because of demand. The application form in itself was very complicated and you had to pick classes from a system totally different to the UK’s. But then there was my stumbling block, you had to PROVE 9 months before you were planning on leaving that you could afford to live there for a year. That was where my

dream ended. I could have afforded it, student loans, and a summer job, birthdays, Christmas…but I couldn’t prove it then. Don’t get me wrong, I encourage people to go for it, but go in realistically, there was no way my family could have provided bank statements to allow me to pass through the application system.” Sometimes rules may be unfair, or too strict. Nobody is immune to them, and big disappointments may follow unless you stick to every letter. The only way to avoid such consequences is to be knowledgeable about what you are about to take up, be sure there are no pitfalls, hidden compulsory requirements or commitments; always bear in mind the idea that Socrates expressed in his famous quote captured in the title of the article.



Dr Saul Hillman works as a psychologist at The Anna Freud Centre/ University College London. He also has his own practice as a hypnotherapist/life coach/NLP practitioner.



DIY Relationship Fix

We will be looking at happiness and positivity. Please email me with any letters or experiences you have in this or any other area

Saul can be contacted on 07939 523 025 or For more information and resources visit Our lives are punctuated by a whole range of different relationships including family, friendship, professional, and of course romantic/sexual ones. All such relationships are inevitably affected by changes in the environment which place a strain on maintaining their very existence. Relationships don’t operate in a vacuum. They exist between two emotional human beings who bring their own past experiences, history, and expectations into it. Two individuals also will have different levels of skill when it comes to communication. The most popular myth about communication in relationships is that since you talk to your partner, you’re automatically communicating. While talking to your partner is indeed a form of communication, if it’s primarily about everyday and superficial topics, you’re not really communicating about the important stuff. Communication either makes or breaks most relationships. Relationships have been studied extensively in psychology with studies on how relationships are formed, what causes a)raction and what may even contaminate their existence. There appears to be a number of reasons why relationships struggle. Role confusion – we fail in relationships when we have different notions about our responsibilities and roles (e.g. who does the organising or domestic duties). This in turn leads to a lack of trust, miscommunication and a breakdown. Conflicting priorities – we may have different priorities or commitments within a relationship. For example, one person may focus more on living life in the moment, whilst the other chooses more cerebral interests. Expectations – we may have underlying expectations regarding a whole range of things including how we should be treated, however, since these are hidden as-

sumptions and not “values” that the other one necessarily knows, it too can lead to problems. Repeated pa'erns – we may fall into unhealthy habits. One of the most common ones is where one person may play the hard-done by victim whilst the other is the combative and aggressive one. Communication breakdown – we may struggle to know how to communicate, and fail to convey our message in a way that the other appreciates. In extreme cases, one person, traditionally the man, ‘stonewalls’ and walks away rather than dealing with a particular conflict. Resistance to change – if one or both persons resist change in

Flickr User danielle_blue

their lifestyle, this may cause conflict. If one person in a relationship has a habit that is disruptive, their inflexibility to change will clearly undermine the relationship. Fine tuning the relationship Whilst it is easy to feel resigned to a relationship appearing to be doomed or dysfunctional, there are so many strategies that we can adopt that could make significant improvements. Appreciating one another – it is easy even in the early stages of a relationship to feel too comfortable in a relationship and to take our partner for granted. Whilst it may be easy to avoid and ignore, it is far more productive to engage and respond.

Communicating and Expressing– similarly, it is easy to fall into the habit of stopping talking and expressing feelings which can create a vacuum in a relationship. Stop and Listen – impulsivity can be hard to control but it can again be hazardous in relationships as it does not allow us to reflect upon things and take time out. Empathise and Listen – we may hear what the other one is saying but do we truly ‘listen’ and engage with what they are expressing? A failure to do so will again create a distance and possible negative feelings. Rational reasoning – in conflict, we can resort to making threats and/or se)ing unreasonable goals that can leave the other one feeling defeated, angry and helpless. If there is something troubling, it is best not to make threats but to discuss these concerns and suggest strategies. Open Trust – it goes without saying that we need to be open, candid and honest with our partner or trust is eroded. Non Verbal – it is not just what we say but how say it. These non-verbal signals, whether they are facial expressions or gestures, communicate a huge amount of information but are o(en the ones that we neglect to notice. Selective confrontation – it can become habitual to find fault and

offer suggestions and criticism to partners, and though we o(en can feel there are grounds for doing so, it can become all consuming and contaminate the relationship. It is always best to ‘pick your ba)les’ so that interactions don’t become ongoing nitpicking ones. Now! – we can become fixated on the past and what went wrong or we can focus too heavily on our wishes and dreams. What we fail to realise is that the ‘here and now’ of a relationship is undeniably the most important Change Environment – we get used to pa)erns so changing some part of the relationship whether this is having a holiday, moving home, or taking up a different shared interest, may help reconfigure things. Fun – relationships will of course go through different phases according to life events and demands, and it is inevitable that difficult periods such as long work hours, having a child or suffering a bereavement, will create a strain on a relationship. It is essential at all times that the spontaneity, fluidity and above all ‘fun’ including sex which had initially cemented the relationship is a major part. If both parties address ways of improving the relationship, it can pay dividends. As with all problems, there are therapists out there who can help.

In Conversation with the Doctor

What do we most argue about?

JJ (female, aged 19, 6 months into a relationship) –we just bicker about everything, he winds me up and I probably criticise him about everything. TH (female, aged 24, 3 years in a relationship) – we are just at different stages in our life, he likes to go out more than me, I am tired the whole time and have so much study.

AD (male, aged 20, 2 months in a relationship) – friends, she doesn’t like my friends and says I change around them and become something I’m not. HT (female, aged 30, 5 years in relationship) – money!!! He always makes out I spend too much when I’m not so extravagant. JK (male, aged 18, 2 years in relationship) – trust, she’s at home, I’m at uni, and I’m faithful but she is constantly checking up on me.






est, contemplative and passionate”. A history stu-

dent in his first year at King’s, he is cheerful and

funny, and very keen to find another lonely londoner. The new term has started, the cold wind is still ruffling hairdos and the unfulfilled promise of a romantic snowfall is increasingly prominent. This issue two more lonely Londners took the leap of faith and went along to Covent Garden for an evening organised by London Loves. The Mexican haven Wahaca was the setting of their date, hoping to help them blow away those lonesome January blues. Having recieved an e-mail from the lovely Henrique, requesting a “calm, charming and optimistic” lady, my Grecian intuitions told me “Aphrodite, chose Eleanor”. So, I did. Did my intuitions serve the pair well? Let’s see...

The Date: Henrique’s Report

Being stuck in traffic on one of London’s busiest roads (Oxford Street) is hardly a comfortable experience. However, it is even worse once you are prepared to go on the first blind date of your life and face, on top of seemingly never-ending queues of taxis and

buses, the danger of arriving late. So yes, I was quite anxious when I approached Covent Garden. The idea of going on a blind date had been a bit of a spontaneous one, but hey, you only live once, so why not give it a go? I arrived at Wahaca just about on time, but my anxiousness was slightly greater than I had expected. Ellie had already arrived a bit before me, but nevertheless offered me a warm welcome. While ordering our food with the incredibly friendly and considerate waitresses and waiters, we began to converse and as the conversation got going my prior anxiousness quickly faded away. Ellie turned out to be a lovely person, who was very easy to talk to. Our conversation flourished to such an extent that I eventually worried of drowning her in my lengthy torrents of words! Awkward silences were inexistent. While discussing our degrees, our cultural and family backgrounds and future plans, we quickly discovered our mutual passion for the US in general and New York in particular and our shared enthusiasm for music (she plays piano, I guitar). We spoke about the literary idols

Ellie is a third year English student

from Cheltenham, studying at King’s College London.

Cheerful and optimistic, she makes a perfect natterer on a first date!

from our respective countries (in her case, naturally, Shakespeare, in mine Kafka and Goethe), while enjoying our delicious and plentiful food. After a bit less than two hours, we left Wahaca, a restaurant Ellie had chosen as I was later to find out, after a fully satisfactory dinner. In retrospect, I should have shown a bit more chivalry and accompanied Ellie to her tube station, but considering that we not only attend the same uni but also the same campus, I might just redeem myself by inviting her for a coffee in Chapters. At least, it’d be a good opportunity to meet again and continue our lively conversations from Covent Garden.

The Date: Ellie’s report

I had a really fun time at Wahaca with Henrique! Luckily he is also a humanities student at KCL, so we had lots in common and I found him easygoing and talkative. I love Wahaca and Mexican food, so the prospect of having as much from the menu as we liked free of charge made us both extremely happy, - and many thanks to all the staff for making our evening so

Wahaca: Find them in: Covent Garden, Soho, Canary Wharf, Shepard’s Bushand and Stratford. Check out their website: Call on: 020 7240 1883 (Covent Garden)

num bers S n

ged og

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Henrique describes himself as “hon-


enjoyable! Our waitress in particular went out of her way to let us sample as many drinks and dishes as we liked, which was wonderful. I found out that Henrique was a first year history student , and it was really interesting learning more about another degree and what he hopes to do after it; both of us would love to travel to America and study over there for our Masters, so we found we had yet more in common in that sense. Henrique also talked about his time living in Brussels - something which I grilled him about as I would love to get an internship there with the EU once I graduate! Unfortunately, I think both of us understood there was nothing more than friendly chat during the date, but I still had a lovely time and would happily do the same again with Henrique as he was incredibly sweet. I wish him all the best with the rest of his studies and time in London, and am sure he will do very well in his degree as he seemed incredibly focused. Thank you London Loves and Wahaca for a great evening!

London Haunts: The Troubadour

Hanging copper pots meet live jazz. This wonderful bohemian café is reminiscent of the Mediterranean in its food, music, and magical garden complete with fairy lights.

Only a short walk from Earls Court, this cafe looks inconsequential from the outside - aside from an impressive medieval door which they are exceedingly proud of. However, it’s the buzz inside and the atmosphere that makes this joint stand out.

It's usually pretty packed of an evening, but go with it. You may well have to share a table - again, all part of the experience. Perhaps this isn't the best place therefore for a getting-to-know-you date, though it is a guaranteed night of fun. In fact, this may sound cutthroat, but it could be like a tester date, a litmus test: the place has so much of a character that it is sure to bring out the character of someone else, or possibly the lack there of, but hopefully not.

Whatever your idea of fun The Troubadour will suit. The club is downstairs in the cellar, which hosts a range of up and coming, and sometimes not-so, musicians.

The café provides scrumptious burgers and a ridiculous range of wine, and even the loos are exciting. It's a winner.

Flora Neville

Find The Troubadour café at: 263-7 Old Brompton Road London, SW5 9JA

Afterthoughts from Aphrodite

So it looks like these two didn’t bond over their burritos as romantically as they could have done, and the only heat of the evening was in the spices... At the end of the evening, a good time was had buy both parties and the prospect of future meetings is promising! Wahaca was a huge hit too, and if you want to learn how to make your very own Wahaca-style cuisine, check out the food section ithe next issue for their Huevos Rancheros recipe!

If you are a Lonely Londoner and fancy some good old fashioned romance to bring in the new year - AND a free meal, do contact Aphrodite at: with your name, age, university and 3 words to describe you. Find some romance today....

Sport - 23:Layout 1



Page 1



Banned Substances The Inside Track:

Writer Daniel O’Donnell Royal Holloway

Making the distinction between these so called ‘performance enhancing drugs’ and those that are deemed illegal is one that should be made - yet it seems that stigma of a drug holds the most power in the corridors of the International Olympic Commi6ee (IOC). It is deemed as cheating.

Every issue, Daniel O’Donnell examines issues, triumphs and decisions made by various organizing commi ees. In trying to determine how well the Olympic games will run, why decisions have been made and how will it all affect the city and the country next summer.

As the bandwagon starts to gain pace, things start happening. With the venues starting to find owners (since the last edition, the media centre has a shortlist of suitors, which the Legacy Company are now working their way through) the eye of attention is drawn elsewhere until the action begins.

Most notably over the last week it seems that the organisers now want to draw us on the opinion of drug testing, with the opening of the most technological advanced drug testing laboratory in the world unveiled a few weeks ago, and a promise of 10% more drug tests - it’s a hot topic. Just why is it that there is such a zero


tolerance approach to drugs in sport?

Generally speaking, most people would agree that using ‘performance enhancing drugs’ is cheating, and 90% of athletes believe so too. Which logically it is, it’s banned and illegal - therefore it’s breaking the very fundamental rule of Olympism (yes, that’s a term - trust me). To fully understand this though we need to look at three areas; cheating, ‘performance enhancing’ and image.

Performance Enhancing

For a start - are drugs even performance enhancing? The answer is, surprisingly, we don’t know. Without

Safe Standing A crucial campaign for footballfans;

Writer John Allwood KCL

Football supporters up and down the country were cheered recently when the Sco6ish Premier League backed the possibility of introducing safe standing areas in football grounds. To fans’ further delight, Premier League club Aston Villa have now declared they are looking into bringing in a standing area at Villa Park. These two developments will come as a welcome boost the campaign by the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) and the fans they represent.

Why is it, then, that so many football fans are keen to be allowed to stand? A key argument is the potential for improved atmospheres. On its day, the atmosphere in the Premier League can be electric. Sadly, this is becoming far less common. As anyone who regularly goes to football matches will know, standing up is far more conducive to

Anti-Doping Agency, whose mo6o it is to safeguard athletes, could then advise athletes on how best to use these substances as they could test their effects across a complete crosssection of athletes. This would be possible as most of the drugs that are on the banned substance list are not illegal in any other se6ing - most are available over the counter or by prescription.

being able to sing - hence why so many fans stand throughout the match anyway, increasing safety concerns for stewards and preventing others from seeing the pitch. No ma6er what schemes clubs try, there will always be a large number of fans standing. Why not let them do it in a way that is safe and doesn’t affect those who want to sit?

The crucial argument in favour of the campaign is that it can be enacted in a safe manner. Let’s not forget that in League 1, League 2, and all divisions below them safe standing areas are allowed. The Green Guide ( is the legal guide on how safety in English sports grounds should be ensured, se6ing out clear, rigorous, and sensible rules - including on standing outside the top two divisions. As the FSF will point out, the idea

going into the science of it all - there hasn’t been any evidential proof that there are any drugs that enhance performance.

The most important issue that has to be overcome is the argument for legalising any drug - if it is made legal - its affects can be studied. Therefore because most of those that are banned have never been tested it’s difficult to say why they are banned or if they will improve performance. In fact, a chap called Ellis Cashmore has long been championing the sanction to legalise all drugs and let athletes make informed and intelligent choices themselves. The World

that standing is safer for lower league clubs than for those in the Premier League or Championship is fallacy.

Those who fear that standing may only work in the lower leagues because of the small grounds and low a6endances need only look at stadiums in the German Bundesliga, the highest-a6ended football league in Europe. Almost all stadiums have large, well-managed, well-spaced standing areas, and have never experienced a disaster, be it a major tragedy like Hillsborough or otherwise. Having watched football in Germany from the standing area, I would gladly testify to the fact that it is safe. It feels safe. You are considerably less hemmed-in than in seated areas, so there is enough room to easily slip out to get a drink or go to the toilet. What’s more, there is no plastic seat at shinheight to trip you up when supporters

If the IOC had held such belief in traditions then we would still have very bizarre rulings of what constitutes ‘cheating’. Today in football, diving (and not the aquatic type) is constantly referred to here as cheating, though jump over to South America and they praise the efforts made. Not that it makes it any less frequent in either situation. Years ago, back before the days of World Wars and iPads, practising or training your sport was considered cheating during the days of the Amateurism values and the birth of the modern Olympics - how absurd would that be? Gone are the days of stamp collecting in the Olympics and women dressed in pe6icoats being just mere observers, today is the day of the dedicated, self-serving professional. This isn’t a drug-trade from The Wire, though it is one that could damage, instead of safeguard professionals. So give them the right to chose, they know how it’ll look.


As many know, sport is huge business - and it’s growing. Even with the English Premier League threat-

leap around a5er a goal has been scored - instead, you have a secure, metal bar in front of you at chest-height. This is shared with those on either side of you and as well as giving you something to lean on, would make sure you can’t fall forwards. It’s common sense. Indeed, many standing areas in Germany have what are known as ‘rail seats’; these seats fold flat underneath the metal barriers and can simply be unfolded for the competitions where 100% seating in the stadium is a requirement. A commercial motivation for clubs is that standing areas would increase attendances. It is possible to safely fit more fans into a standing area than into a seated area (according to the FSF the ratio is 1.8:1, though I would welcome erring on the side of caution and comfort and perhaps reducing this slightly).

ening to monopolise football there are still growing factions in most sports as advertisers find ways to make them more popular and ultimately grow more funds from the roots of potential on many a sporting field.

This seems to be the single most limiting reason that the IOC would be most worried about. In a competition where so many sports come together - none of them, bar tennis, get the sort of coverage that would be needed to sustain themselves outside of the games. Therefore how each athlete and sport is perceived is of paramount importance to the money makers.

Just how would Coca-Cola react if pro-doping measures came into play - with their own historical rumoured drug scandal they couldn’t afford to lose ground to Pepsi (other strange fizzy black drinks are available). To the uninformed person which most of us are when it comes to professional sports doping - it would seem totally unethical for athletes, the cleanest, most superior of all of us could be allowed to intoxicate and corrupt themselves. There would be a backlash - and with such a strong representation of anti-doping supporters, it seems near impossible for the IOC to go back now. Still, they’ve said there will be no positive results, due to having all these fantastic measures in place which means no-one is using anyway, right? Daniel writes a blog to accompany pieces wri en for The London Student on his website

Aston Villa’s chief executive, Paul Faulkner, mentioned the possibility of cheaper tickets as a result of this increase in a6endance. This would of course be a further positive for fans, though I fear that, such is the moneyruled world of modern football, any increases in revenue would be unlikely to be passed on to fans. The introduction of safe standing is seen as a politically sensitive ma6er because of the Hillsborough tragedy, but the basic arguments are there. More comfort and be6er atmospheres would amount to a vast improvement in the matchday experience. Most importantly, though, the scheme would be safe. It’s now up to supporters, the FSF and our football clubs to show this and to get a more formal debate started.

Supporters of the proposal can sign the petition online at

ULU elections in numbers 140,000

22 17 12 42

The number of students eligible to vote in this year’s elections The number of institutions that are part of ULU The number of candidates that stood in last year’s election The number of candidates standing in this year’s elections The total number of spoilt votes at last year’s election







10 stage +interview with sophie thompson (actress) 11,12,13 music +wiley +punk!



Punk, A guide. play editorsJake pace-lawrie gwilym lewis-brooke

14 TRAVEL +win: the gap year guidebook

ASSISTANT editorkevin guyan

Screen editorsaustin raywood, dakid katz

15 lITERATURE + review: the third reich + why write poetry? prizes. +review: the femicide machine


stage editormatt williamson

literature EditorROBERT KIELY





Food Editor Helena Goodrich

brand designDanny WIlson Cover: zoe williams

The Life of a Fashion Student... PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 8

I study History and the History of Ideas. But I work in fashion. To me, this was never an unusual route to take. So it is always fascinating to talk to fashion students – learning everything from merchandising to styling to how to put together a look book – to see how they learn about such a complex industry from an academic point of view. Giovanna Balivo, a first year undergraduate at Southampton Solent University is one such student. Studying BA Fashion with Photography, Play went to find out the true life of a fashion student, to see whether it was as creative and glamorous as it sounds, and if it is really necessary to become successful in the industry.

Giovanna, or G as she likes to be know, is all things fashionable. Read every magawhat you might call the archetypal fashzine, look at as many blogs as you can. I ion student. A wardrobe full of gladiator don’t see it as work because I am really insandals, aviator sunnies and maxi terested in it but that is definitely the way dresses, a casual Nikon SLR camera slung to stay on top of it”. So it seems that as a around her neck and an eye out confashion student, the research structures stantly for the latest trends for her blog – are very much the same. Instead of readyou can’t really imagine her studying anying an analysis of ‘Lord of the Flies’, you thing else. It’s creative or bust. But why, if study the editorials of Japanese Vogue. she already has such a strong interest and knowledge of the fashion world did she feel the need to study it at university? Well the answer lies in the resources and structures university provides you. “If nothing else, by the end of these three years I will have an amazing portfolio”, she says as I flick through the stunning design sketches she had to complete for her Design in Shoot with Context module. Anrdrea Bradley “That is the best thing a fashion degree will give you, an amazing body of Rather than searching for ‘The South work that you can take right into an inAfrican Apartheid: Causes and Conseterview and use to show off exactly the quences” on JSTOR, you go through the kind of work they would be asking you to blogosphere to find out what is causing a do”. That is certainly a very good point. storm in the fashion world. Basically, you No one is saying that by studying Theolstill study, and you still work, and that ogy or Spanish or even the Social History work is still marked – it’s just that you of Latin America that you have struck look for your sources in different places yourself off the fashion radar. That by . looking to know more about African ecoWith three mood boards to complete, five nomics during your degree means you forum reports to have in by February and have blacklisted yourself from ever holdconcept work done and dusted for four ing down a job in the industry. But it is separate, equally challenging photo certainly more of an onus on you to start shoots, there must be a downside to a dea blog, to search out the placements, to gree which can only be described as write for the student paper than it is when sounding ideal in its appeal. “Because so it means getting a 2:1 or a First. much of what I do is independent and means that I work on my own, sometimes But surely it must be hard to find so much it can make lectures seem a little pointless inspiration when you have to meet such – and even more if they’re at 9 a.m!”. No tight deadlines. It’s all well and good putarguments there, we have all had that ting together a portfolio or sketchbook feeling of ‘WHY AM I HERE?! This isn’t when you can spend the best part of a even to do with my degree and I’m still month on it but when it is being graded forced to sit here through this mumbling, by next Monday, how do you manage to boring, pointless hour and a half. Joy’. do it? “I won’t lie, sometimes it is really “That can be quite frustrating”, G says as hard - especially to find different forms of I gawp at her latest photo shoot titled inspiration all the time. But the best thing ‘Laundry Day’ – so professional in its proyou can do is to take a genuine interest in duction that if someone told me I was

looking at the most recent Dazed and Confused cover shoot, I wouldn’t bat an eyelid. “Also, the staff are sometimes quite disorganized, they can turn up late or not have the right assignments prepared and that is really, really annoying”. Again, no arguments. But this is most definitely a case of the Pro-Con list coming into its own. And the Pros are winning by a long stretch. “Studying fashion, any aspect of fashion is a brilliant way to get

professional direction on your career. It drives you more to get internships and to apply for summer work because your lecturers know the best way to go about it and truly want to help you get ahead too”. And that is one of the greatest advantages of a fashion course over a humanities Laundry Day or science degree – the career help. This isn’t to say that other careers services are totally inept at helping with fashion placements at all. Usually they are very encouraging and can point you in all sorts of places to seek out a week here or a month there. But when you’re lecturer wrote for Marie Claire for 10 years and personally knows the Art Director of GQ, the grass is not only greener on the other side, but its closer to a permanent contract too. So the final question – do you think that you will go into the area of fashion photography after you graduate – is a tricky

one for G. “I’m not sure right now. The good thing about my course is that it’s so broad so you have a really wide basis of experience which you can build on. I really love styling at the moment and I think that’s something I’d like to explore more. Maybe I could be a stylist and a photographer at the same time!” And why not? A fashion degree does have a slant which a less vocational degree lacks. But that is not to say that without one you are a lost cause. Just because you study Anthropology doesn’t mean you are going to spend the rest of your life in Papua New Guinea analysing the earliest forms of civilization. If you can write, style, market or design then there is no reason at all why you can’t get ahead in the industry in just the same way. You may just have to do a little more searching than someone who works in that environment everyday. Besides, just because you aren’t enrolled in a fashion school doesn’t mean you can’t use their resources. A final tip from me to you. If you are looking for a placement or work, who’s to say you can’t take a look at the London College of Fashion careers website. You may not be a fashion student, but they don’t have to know that.


From one writer to another... Giovanna has a fantastic blog which is a must have for any aspiring fashionista. Take a look at...


SORTED- Food, Recipes, Videos and Banter

PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 8

The Best Restaurants in Chinatown...

A Solution to Student Cooking Dilemmas...

Jamie Spafford is one of the five guys who set up SORTED. Together with chef mate, Ben, and fellow sorted crew members, Jon, Barry and Mike, they have launched this interactive food community providing recipes, video demonstrations and cooking tips, all along with a good dose of “banter”. SORTED company has also published two recipe books: ‘SORTED – a recipe for student survival’, which is aimed specifically at students, and their latest one: ‘SORTED – A Rookie’s guide to crackin’ cooking’. To be honest, the best way to appreciate these guys’ work is by checking out their videos, which are genuinely fantastic and follow a really professional format but in a relaxed style. Unlike Nigella Lawson or Yotam Ottolenghi, great chefs, but they can be a total pain to watch on TV. The videos contain no excessive seductive finger licking nor ingredients that are impossible to find, but just a group of guys having fun in the kitchen and coming out with some pretty tasty food. SORTED is growing in popularity and has thousands of followers across the globe. I chat to Jamie to find out more about their success...

A belated Happy Chinese New Year to you all! My former boss, who is originally from China, reckoned she knew the best places to dine in Central London hotspot: Chinatown. Here are two of the hidden gems she passed onto me...

We are a genuine group of friends just trying to help people out. Nothing we do is expensive or complicated: just good, honest grub! having trouble too… out of which SORTED was born, to help young people in the kitchen. Who is SORTED Food targeted at? We started off aiming at students but, the deeper we looked, the more we realised that the problem was much more widespread. There is a whole generation of young people growing up on microwave meals and takeaways, who can’t cook for themselves. We want to show how easy cooking good food can be and how you can have fun at the same time. Why do you think it would appeal to students?

So, tell me about yourself: I’m 25 and am currently living in Hertfordshire, having graduated from Bournemouth University with a BA in Marketing. I’m now working full-time on SORTED, trying to get our message out there. Summarise the aim of SORTED in a sentence: SORTED is about getting young people into the kitchen, cooking great food with their mates. What inspired you to set up SORTED ? We are all old school friends, and we used to meet up in the Christmas holidays in the pub and share our stories about uni life. As a chef, our friend Ben became increasingly worried that the rest of us weren’t cooking proper food, so he started to write down recipes on the back of beer mats that we could take to uni with us. This continued until Barry realised that if there was a group of us struggling to cook, maybe others were


We provide authentic and easy to cook food and, most of all, we have fun with it. We are a genuine group of friends just trying to help people out. Nothing we do is expensive or complicated: just good, honest grub! What are your future aims for SORTED? We want all young people to feel empowered in the kitchen. We’re currently scaling up from one video recipe a week to two, as we’re keen to make sure that we provide solutions to all food problems. What do you offer that can’t be found in student cookbooks? Authenticity and personal experience: we’re not talking down to students, we were there ourselves and we just want to help out! Plus everything we do is mixed with sprinklings of fun and laughter: cooking shouldn’t be a serious pastime! Why do you think students should cook rather than opting for ready prepared/ takeaway meals? The question is: why shouldn’t you?! Ready prepared/takeaway meals are really expensive and have no health benefits at all. Most

meals we cook can be prepared in under the time a takeaway would deliver in, and it will be a fraction of the price! Plus, cooking can be a fun thing to do with your mates. How are you making SORTED Food into an online food community? By using the tools that are available to us: Twitter, Facebook and Youtube! They’re free and really easy to setup. Plus, by creating our own website we can offer loads of content to everyone. We think it’s important to build up this community so that the people can start to help each other by passing on tips and tricks. We are constantly learning from our online followers and all of this makes cooking more interactive. Who else are you inspired by in the food world? Chefs such as Jamie Oliver really paved the way for us, and you can’t forget legends such as Rick Stein! Which of your recipes would you most recommend to student readers to get started on? For a quick and tasty alternative to pizza, you can’t beat our Quesadilla (www. A classic student staple is pasta: we create a simple delicious pasta dish with prawns and peas (!/prawnpasta). A cake you can bake in under 3 minutes? Our brilliant ‘Cake in a Mug’ is one of our most popular recipes ( Check out the website for more information HELENA GOODRICH

Joy King Lau, 3 Leicester Street, WC2H 7BL Off the horrendously busy Leicester Square, lies the Joy King Lau, a name that comes from the Chinese words for “a place where people gather to eat and drink”. This offers a very authentic dining experience, by which I mean that the décor won’t necessarily “wow” you and the waiters may not be particularly friendly, but the food is heavenly and served in generous portions. The price is reasonable as well: two people can expect to pay £20 in total, and you can also get free refills of Jasmine tea. The lunch and dinner experiences are markedly different as certain specialities are only revealed in the evening. I would recommend going for lunch and trying some of the dim sum dishes, which are served until 5pm. The best of these are the pork buns, the steamed scallop dumplings and the Cheung fun, which is a slippery prawn dish that, although tricky to eat, is amazing in taste. Leong’s Legends, 4 Macclesfield Street, W1D 6AX Out of the three branches of this restaurant in London, this one remains my favourite. The interior, unusually for Chinatown, is very classy; stained black wood in a Taiwanese teahouse-style, allowing you to imagine that you are in some far away country. The food is brilliant. Get the squirting dumplings! Seriously, I crave them on a weekly basis! You can get eight baozi, which are soup filled dumplings, for £6.50. The pork belly rice is tender and delicious. The service is, however, a little off, with the food often arriving after delays, but it’s worth waiting for. Watch out for queues: this restaurant is either half empty or, at peak times, rammed to an almost insufferable point. If you fancy something more upmarket post dining, try The Experimental Cocktail Club, which is an impressive speakeasy, hidden upstairs between two restaurants at 13A Gerrard Street, W1D 5PS. MAYA KORN

The Secret Ingredient... PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 8

No. 1: Wasabi

Chocolate and Wasabi Cupcakes (makes 16): Ingredients For the cupcakes:

“I know you’re thinking, ‘Holy Katsu!’, but bear with me, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

Welcome to my new column. Each issue, I am going to feature an interesting ingredient, explain a bit about its history and include a recipe for you to try out. I expect most of these ingredients will be ones you’ve heard of, but perhaps have felt a bit daunted by when it comes to using them in your own cooking. So to start us off, please, sit back and be amazed by the Japanese wonder of wasabi. I’m sure you’ve smeared it on your sashimi or nigiri, but what is this peculiar green paste that sits alongside your pickled ginger and fish-shaped sachet of soy sauce?

Although wasabi is most commonly compared to horseradish, it is in fact not related. It is a small plant that grows in rural Japan, hence its literal translation ‘mountain hollyhock’. It takes several years to mature, so it’s just as well you only need a smidgen to make a difference to your dish. The paste we most commonly come across is made from the root of the plant, but the leaves, stalks and flowers can also be used to make a pickle to accompany Japanese curries if you’re lucky enough to discover the entire plant in an Asian supermarket. As it is normally included in savoury dishes, I thought I would mix things up a little bit and combine it with chocolate for a cupcake with a kick and a punch. I know you’re thinking, ‘Holy Katsu!’, but bear with me, I think

you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

100g good dark chocolate 100g butter 175g golden caster sugar 1 tspn vanilla extract 3 large eggs 100g self-raising flour ½ tspn baking powder ¼ tspn salt 1 generous tbspn wasabi paste (Don’t be scared by this, since it loses some of its potency during cooking!) 16 cupcake cases

it comes out clean, then they are done, but if it has some goo on it then they need a little more time in the oven. 8. While the cupcakes are in the oven, make the icing. First blend the butter and cream cheese together. 9. Gradually sift in the icing sugar and then add the ginger and vanilla. 10. Once the cupcakes are done and have cooled, slice off the tops to a flat surface for the icing. Smear on a good teaspoon of the icing and decorate with the crushed wasabi peanuts and finely chopped ginger as you see fit. 11.Tuck in!

For the icing:


50g softened butter 100g cream cheese 250g icing sugar 1 tspn vanilla extract ½ tspn ground ginger

Food Lessons in Love...

To decorate: Crushed wasabi peanuts Stem ginger, finely chopped Method: 1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. 2. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a large saucepan on a very low heat. 3. Add the sugar. Mix well, but don’t worry if the mixture is a bit grainy, as the sugar is not supposed to dissolve. 4. Leave to cool for 10 to 15 minutes. 5. Add the eggs, one at a time. 6.Then, sift in the dry ingredients and finally work in the wasabi. 7. Scoop a dessert-spoonful of the mixture into each paper case, place on a baking tray and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on your oven. To test, insert a thin knife or skewer into the centre of the cupcake and, if

No. 2: The First Date Conundrum

‘‘A first date is like marmite: you will either love it or hate it.”

1. Do not order messy food. Messy foods include spaghetti, mussels, shelled prawns, linguine... Basically, anything that is going to get all over your face no matter how hard you try: just stay clear. 2. Order food you definitely will eat. No one likes being sat opposite a date that is just not eating their food. Or even worse are the adventurous types that end up hating their dinner because they chose something too “alternative”. Order a dish you will enjoy, or else what’s the point in eating out? 3. Use your cutlery correctly. If you're right-handed, hold your knife in the right hand and fork in the left hand, and vice versa for left-handed people. There is just no excuse for not knowing how to hold your cutlery in this day and age, end of. 4. Do not eat with your mouth open. This is probably the most obvious dating rule, yet you would be surprised how many people forget this one. Keep your mouth closed when eating as, quite frankly, it's disgusting not to. 5. Don't be a know it all. None of us want to be out with the guy or girl that wants to discuss the entire menu and is basically a food bore. Yes, you can advise your date about food choices, but only if they ask. 6. Stay away from dishes that have strong flavours. If you want to be kissed, the last thing you want is to end up with garlic or onion breath. However, if the date is going badly, I would recommend such dishes as a deterrent to unwanted attention. 7. Keep your elbows off the table. This bothers some people more than others but, try to refrain from placing your elbows on the table on a first date, at least until you know your date a bit better. 8. Be polite. I cannot stand people who are rude in restaurants or in fact generally in life. So, be nice to the waiters. If not, be prepared for the consequences: most likely your food being spat into and your date thinking that you're a complete moron. 9. Make conversation. No one likes to sit and eat in silence. Part of the fun of being on a first date is getting to know the person. But make sure you don’t contradict rule number 4: save the chat for in between mouthfuls.

A first date is like marmite: you will either love it or hate it. There is no guarantee that your date will be a success but there are things you can do to help it go well. Choosing the right restaurant plays a big part in this. But in my mind the most important factor in a good date isn't the type of food we eat but the way we eat our food. Or, quite simply put, our table manners. Whether we like to admit it or not, manners can make or break a first date. After undertaking much research into the mannerisms that turn us on or off, I have selected the top ten of these to share with you all...

And finally... 10. If your date has made any of the above mistakes, do not tell them as no one wants to be with a person who is constantly correcting their table manners. Or, for the less forgiving among us, never date that person again. SAPNA SIAN


Da Vinci at the National Gallery

PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 8

A Very Human Desire for the Metaphysical

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) The Virgin of the Rocks, 1483 – about 1485 Musée du Louvre, Paris, Département des Peintures (777) © RMN / Franck Raux

I had every intention of rocking up at some ungodly hour in Trafalgar Square to queue with the rest of the world for my Da Vinci prize. Only, as if by Immaculate Conception (a friend called John), was I delivered the Golden Ticket. Described as a “triumph in diplomacy and enlightened scholarship”, I was feeling privileged to hold a ticket to the National Gallery’s Leonardo once-in-a-lifetime show. Of the confirmed fifteen of his paintings, nine are exhibited here in London, four of which are incomplete, but that is beside the point. If Rachel Campbell Johnston, the Chief Art Critic for The Times, posits that the National Gallery has achieved the “near impossible”, perhaps this really is a case of Roald Dahl witchery. Only I’m certain there were originally only five Golden Tickets and Charlie had only four companions: entering the exhibition space of violet shadows we find ourselves shuffling with swarms. Leonardo would be delighted! I stand for a moment just left of Boltraffio’s Portrait of a Young Man, and catch the whispers of a group of elderly women, flocking in veils of Chanel No.5, squinting at the portrait one turns to another and gossips, “He looks as if he’s had Botox.” Granted, the musculature of the human body is seemingly wrought to severe verisimilitude. Yet Leonardo and his contemporaries didn’t study the human anatomy to affect a corporeal paralysis. I assure you, there isn’t anything remotely inactive about the works exhibited at the National Gallery. They rather ooze energy. Energy so enigmatically charged, one struggles for words. But how do you begin to describe what you see?


Of course the majority of visitors are listening to audio guides; assigning their senso comune to an infiltration of sober insights by Luke Syson, the exhibition curator. A concept that Leonardo himself would have most likely been hostile to. The artist admonished the science of words and poetry as infinitely inferior to art, as it cannot “compose a proportional harmony”. We, the adoring viewers, thus owe it to this most fascinating of polymaths to remove our audio headphones and quash our public prattle: we need only to look. His message is a mute vernacular. As are his subjects that embody paradoxes. At once the artist depicts movement and poise,

Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Portrait of a Woman (‘La Belle Ferronnière’), about 1493–4. Oil on walnut, 63 x 45 cm. Musée du Louvre, Paris, Département des Peintures (778). © RMN / Franck Raux

Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) The Virgin of the Rocks, about 1491/2–99 and 1506-8 © The National Gallery, London (NG 1093)

composure and tension, eyes that both seek you and resist you. Leonardo’s La Belle Ferronniere is the seeming paradigm of his play with paradox: the white glint of her stare pierces your gaze, yet she is forever looking over your shoulder. Her ornamental attire draws her demarcations, yet there is a blurring of lines essential to the artists principal goal of creating relievo (from rilevare, ‘to raise’), she is suspended above a parapet that becomes a sort of plinth, yet she does not possess the volume of a sculpture, she merely conveys volume; she appears perfectly solemn yet the emotions of her mind are exposed by the slightest of facial idiosyncrasies. Set against a lamp-black background, her swollen mien flushes hues of Terra Rosa, disclosing deep-seated passions. Through painterly technique alone Leonardo sculpts subtle shades of irony to propose that her ascetic countenance is but a façade. Yet his framing is not quite lucid enough to tear her mask completely from her. The little jewel on her forehead, held on a chord around her head, pins her in place. You walk away feeling unbearably excluded from her secrets. You will turn to look again. She will stare defiantly past you. We cannot divine Ferronniere’s thoughts, as is the case with Leonardo’s Portrait of Cecilia Gallerani. While their depictions are static and flat, there is an implied motion. The artist’s refined application of oil paints shapes spatial volume, allowing for mobility. Indeed both women look as if they are about to move. It is this subverting of the medium, paint is static after all, which lends them their quietly subversive air. There is waywardness about them, an inferred naughtiness that finds its apogee twenty years or so later in Florence, with Mona

Lisa’s smile. The exhibition’s ultimate success is of course the reuniting of the two Virgins of the Rocks, whose notorious story not only haunts Renaissance history but to this day, sparks heated dispute. The Franciscan church in Milan commissioned the initial painting in 1483, which now belongs to The Louvre. It was to be an altarpiece for the chapel of Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception; only it was delivered 25 years late, and in the interlude another version was conceived. The two renderings of the same picture now hang at either end of an exhibition room in the National Gallery. The affect is delusional. At first you’re waltzing through a fairground hall of mirrors, animating double takes. Until their opuses appear quintessentially different, denoting quite dissimilar philosophies. I find myself infinitely more attracted to the later version. Like a moth to a flame, I flutter to its illumination of the Platonic Ideal. Why is it that I’m quite literally drawn to the light? Art historians and budding art critics alike would toss Italian terms like relievo and sfumato at you. Technique aside, there’s no denying that pictures that embody something of the immaterial charm us. While England, or the world for that matter, is becoming increasingly secularized, humanity shyly adores the metaphysical. I asked my friends in halls to pick their favourite of the two. The latter ranked more votes. Why I asked: “You see the light.”


At the National Gallery until February 5 2012. Nearest Tube: Charing Cross Tickets cost £8 for students (£16 full price). Tickets go on sale at 10am. Arrive early and be prepared to queue.

Anselm Kiefer at White Cube

PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 8

Alchemy, Garden Philosophy, and Swarms of Toy Planes

Epicurus, the Hellenistic sage, constructed a philosophy upon a “life according to nature”, a materialistic and individualised existence in which pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain were the only viable tenets. This outlook had its foundations in Epicurean atomic theory, a world of constantly moving particles, which would, every now and then, randomly ‘swerve’. This ‘swerve’ reaffirms a structureless, meaningless world. On the floor of one of the White Cube Bermondsey’s vast clinical galleries lies a huge corroding metal book, upon which leer a number of repulsive, dead sunflowers. It’s a strange mess of seemingly discarded objects. Scrawled on top of the dull lead are the words ‘Hortus Philosophorum’ – Garden Philosopher – an epithet for Epicurus; a lonely reference, seemingly discordant with the titular themes of the other sculptures and paintings. Yet the implications of Epicurus’ chaotic theory, void of ideological significance, resonate through the cavernous halls. The title of the exhibition, Il Misterio delle Cattedrali, derives from an esoteric manual written by the illusive alchemist Fulcanelli in the 1920s. The mystery of alchemy hovers throughout the exhibition. Strange chemicals are weighed from complicated apparatus. The first room you encounter, South Gallery I, houses five large sculptures. Each is enigmatic and strange, grappling with the metaphorical dissection of alchemical ideals. A work called Alkahest depicts an upturned bucket upon a fragile chair. From the bucket unfurls a strand of photographic transparencies, each capturing an enigmatic seascape. Waves lap on the beach. We perceive the ebb and flow of history and the tide of ages. An ethereal, shadowy figure is glimpsed in the photographs, mythical and portentous. Alchemy is Kiefer’s point of departure, the

mystical shell that draws the exhibition together into a coherent experience. Yet he is ultimately interested in ideas. Alchemy signifies man’s compulsion to dominate nature through mastering the transformative process, the vain search for qualitative progress – turning lead into gold. In the final room, scientific instruments hang in front of huge canvases depicting the wildness of nature and bleak human edifices, paralleling man’s search for hidden codes in the real world. As in all Kiefer’s work, everything is ambiguous and multi-faceted, and from this mystical base he speculates upon history. Across all the paintings and sculptures within the exhibition there is an unsavoury corrosion or calcification, a chemical corruption of material. Enormous fungal plants sprout from the canvases and from the lead, reaching aimlessly, blackened and sordid. This process of decay seems to capture the inescapable passing of time, the inevitable, unharnessed course of change to which all must succumb. Kiefer reveals the inner frailty of man’s twin ambitions, to maintain the present state of things, and to order and direct progress. Both signify a self-nourishment within the constructed cage of existence, the aversion of the eyes from the pulsating chaotic reality beyond. Through this, man also denies the precariousness of his situation. There is something unstable about the pieces here. Spindly slatted chairs are crushed between weighty leaden tomes. Samson depicts a heavy rock, under which is wedged a rusting miniature plane. The sculpture is confusing, the natural stone seems as though it may roll off its stone plinth at any moment, having been destabilised by the human construction. Within this allegorical work is captured the cyclical nature of history, undermining itself and contributing to the erosion of conviction in our most definite

structure - time. In Dat Rosa Miel Apibus, from within the leaden pages of accumulated wisdom and knowledge stutter rusting fighter planes. Our qualitative advancement is undermined, and derided. This instability is juxtaposed with a sense of heaviness that prevails throughout the exhibition, emanating from the physicality of the canvases. Paintings and sculptures loom oppressively; they weigh upon you, it is a burden of the past, but also the burden of uncertainty. The mind of the artist is tangible throughout, as if he peers judiciously from behind the painted canvas at our vain attempts to decipher his creations. Kiefer’s other major thematic tract is his homeland, Germany. Within this context the

Following Waldemar Januszczak’s now-infamous outburst on the subject of video art (as discussed here last issue), this exhibition, from the 2007 Turner Prize nominee Zarina Bhimji, features the first major piece of video art of 2012. Yellow Patch, which is currently showing amongst 25 years of her work in the Whitechapel Gallery, could not have come at a

better time to question his rather smallminded assertions. Over its 25-minute span, the audience is drawn into one arresting image after another, each of which potently captures the themes of post-colonial loss and destruction (most explicitly shown by its final, defining image of a weather-beaten statue of Queen Victoria in India). Although conceptually a sequel to her first

truly acclaimed piece, 2002’s Out of Blue (also in the show), it is definitely from The Dark Knight school of sequels, with Yellow Patch far outstripping its predecessor. This is in part due to new technology; whereas Out of Blue, shot on Super 16 film, occasionally resembles camcorder footage of an exotic holiday, the HD of Yellow Patch gives each of its set pieces a wonderful clarity that adds to its haunting absence. We can see every crack, crevice and cobweb in the abandoned colonial palaces. Bhimji says that it “is not about the actual facts but about the echo they create”, and this is apparent throughout the photographs that make up her later collections. Although many of these stem from real events (for example, the trails of anti-malarial drugs in Britain, the slave trade, or her expulsion from Idi Amin’s Uganda when she was 11, which arguably has influenced all of her career), these are left implicit, leaving their impact upon the viewer purely by association. In photos such as 2007’s Memories Were Trapped inside the Asphalt (a title that for me could epitomise the exhibition), we are confronted with two pairs of presumably abandoned shoes. No context is given, allowing the shoes to act as a focal point for the themes of abandonment. Clearly, we are dealing with an artist of great composition skill – in scenes so bleak and sparse, she ensures that every item or blemish tells a story. That said, her earlier works, also displayed

Zarina Bhimji at Whitechapel

Zarina Bhimji Bapa Closed His Heart, It Was Over. 2001-2006 Ilfochrome Ciba classic print. 121.9 x 154.4 cm Courtesy the artist and DACS, London

formative relationship between the present and the past is endowed with greater volatility. The bleak depictions of Tempelhof, the airport designed during Nazi rule, are terrifying in their emptiness. Toy planes swarm the exhibition like mosquitoes, as history haunts the present. Wandering through the exhibition, there is a monumental religiosity about the experience. It is disorientating. The work assaults our convictions, screws up our preconceptions, and flings them into the swirling vortex of doubt. And yet somehow this process is liberating, life-affirming: we experience the mortality of our ideas. NICHOLAS MITHEN At White Cube, Bermondsey until Feb 26 2012. Nearest tubes: London Bridge, Borough.

Anselm Kiefer Il Mistero delle Cattedrali', South Galleries and 9x9x9, White Cube Bermondsey, London 9 December 2011 - 26 February 2012 .© the artist. Photo: Ben Westoby. Courtesy White Cube

here, show that she has not always been this devastatingly effective. For example, 1987’s She Loved to Breathe – Pure Silence (inspired by the tests used in Heathrow in the 70s to determine whether those who claimed to be Indian wives were really virgins), very effectively uses scattered turmeric and chilli powder to enforce its themes through sight and scent. Nonetheless its final frame, which features a pair of what looks like bloodstained latex gloves, feels slightly heavy-handed compared to the subtlety of her later pieces. Even so, it would still work as a standalone piece. 1998’s Cleaning the Garden series is also flawed. The use of mirrors etched with advertisements for runaway slaves work well, but the accompanying lightboxes just aren’t sufficiently interesting images to complement them, especially when compared to Yellow Patch and the series of photographs the gallery visitor will have seen just before them. Her juvenilia, however, does have its moments of greatness. The giant Polaroids she made for the V&A are beautiful examples of what might have been had Bhimji taken an interest in photographing the human form. All in all, then, this exhibit shows an artist currently at the top of her game, and as such is certainly worthy of a visit. SAMUEL SPENCER At Whitechapel Gallery until March 9 2012. Nearest Tube: Aldgate East


Screen’s Essentials

PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 8

Over the last few months, we’ve received a number of requests from students of a list of essential films. Now, while Robert Osborne and Alec Baldwin may have that covered with The Essentials on Turner Classic Movies (you Americans out there know what I mean), our list is specifically geared towards students. From now on we will start posting reviews of “essential” student films on the London Student website weekly. So for those that have asked previously, (I’m still trying to figure out why they all seem to be from Goldsmith’s) watch the films below, and check for the weekly update and you’ll finally having something to talk about with “gasp”, art students. So here it is, Screen’s essential student canon: AUSTIN RAYWOOD

Breathless (Dir. Jean-Luc Godard, 1960)

Jean-Luc Godard’s 1960 masterpiece is arguably the most quintessential student film. It contains the perfect mix of cerebral and stylistic elements in order to make it both sexy and intellectual. Not an easy feat. The film tells the story of Michel (the legendary Jean-Paul Belmondo), a small-time French criminal who kills a cop, and spends the film running from the Paris police, while trying to woo an American student (the gorgeous Jean Seberg). The film established what would become the mantra of the Nouvelle Vague, i.e. the ability to talk about intellectual and philisophical questions in a serious and adult manner, while still making sure that the film looked cool and had beautiful women. At its core the film is little more than a run-of-the-mill crime film, but its questioning of gender politics and its hugely influential cinematography make it the pinnacle of the French New Wave. Also see: The 400 Blows, Le Mepris, Hiroshima Mon Amour, Pierrot Le Fou, And God Created Woman....

Blue Velvet (Dir. David Lynch, 1986)

David Lynch’s (the most “essential” student director) 1986 classic is arguably the creepiest film to have ever come out of a Hollywood studio. It’s not a horror film per se, which is what allows the impact of its most bizarre and tense sequences to be far more frightening than you’d expect. We are introduced to Jeffery Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) who lives in a small, quiet mid-western town. However, when he discovers a severed human ear in an empty lot, he quickly comes to realize not everything is as it seems. With exceptional performances from Laura Dern, Isabella Rosselini, and with one of the greatest performances of villainy to have been captured on celluloid, Dennis Hopper as Frank, the film triumphs as a great surrealist romp through the underbelly of Frank Capra’s America. Also see: Eraserhead, Mullholland Drive, Twin Peaks (TV Series).

Blade Runner (Dir. Ridley Scott, 1982)

The film that blasted Ridley Scott to filmmaking stardom is perhaps the greatest sci-fi work of the last thirty years. It’s a dystopian 2019 Los Angeles, and a group of cyborgs, indistinguishable from humans and known as replicants, are loose in the city and it’s up to Deckard (Harrison Ford) to terminate (kill) them for the police. Meanwhile, Deckard is conflicted by wondering if he’s a replicant, while falling for the beautiful Rachel (Sean Young) who is. Even while ignoring the film’s questions of humanity, slavery, loneliness, technology, and urban decay, you find yourself engrossed by the level of incredible detail on screen. Note that almost all of it was done without any CGI, and often looks far superior to it. Long cited as one of the most visually inspired pieces of cinema, this is arguably the coolest film on the list, not to mention the (literally) darkest. A film critic at the time of it’s release claimed, “I saw the film at the Odeon in Leicester Square. When I walked out of the film, I wasn’t moved by it, but then I saw where I was. In a large crowd in the rain at night. I had walked out of the theatre and into Blade Runner.” Is the future really the future? Also see: Alien, Videodrome, The Terminator.

Taxi Driver (Dir. Martin Scorsese, 1976)

Marty Scorsese’s tale of loneliness, decay, and anger is just as visceral as it was upon its release in 1976. Travis Bickle (Robert DeNiro) is a Vietnam-vet loner cab driver in the hell hole that was New York in the 70’s. He drives his cab from one end of the city to the other each night, constantly encountering new people and situations. However, they all end very quickly and his passengers hardly acknowledge his existence unless their intentions are less than noble. That is until he meets the child prostitute Iris (Jodie Foster) and decides to take a stand against the rabid street crime around him. Long cited for its uncompromising darkness and impressive cinematography (check the shots of DeNiro driving), Taxi Driver stands as perhaps the definitive document of American cinema in the 1970’s. Also see: Raging Bull, Easy Rider, The Last Picture Show, The French Connection.

The Breakfast Club (Dir. John Hughes, 1985)

It’s impossible to dislike this seminal 1985 film. Part of the John Hughes collection of widely adored teenage comedies; it’s oft called “the perfect high school movie”. The film tells the story of five radically different teenagers brought together to spend a Saturday morning in detention. They are, as the film notes at the end, a geek (Anthony Michael Hall), a jock (Emilio Estevez), a weird girl (Ally Sheedy), a punk (Judd Nelson), and a school princess (Molly Ringwald). Together these disparate individuals are forced to come to grips with themselves, their surroundings, and their futures. Never has a film so clearly demonstrated the feelings of one in High School, and it’s unlikely to be achieved again (as scores of filmmakers who’ve attempted to replicate the magic of the film have discovered). Also see: Sixteen Candles, Pretty In Pink, and Some Kind of Wonderful.


Chris Marker PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 8

DVD Release

Optimums re-release of three works from the elusive Chris Marker is a neat cross-section of his work, bridging the period of his early association to the Left-Bank film movement and loose affiliation to a blossoming Nouvelle Vague.

The other two films form a section of his later output, Sans Soleil being made relatively soon after returning to film since leaving in the late sixties to form SLON, a politically active collective of filmmakers and writers whose objectives were to encourage students and industrial workers to form film collectives of their own.

This growing sense of political responsibility can be noticed in some of Marker's work of the late sixties, such as his collaboration with a number of directors on Loin du Vietnam, in 1967, such as Jean-Luc Goddard, William Klein, and fellow Left-Bankers Agnes Varda and Alain Resnais. This documentary expressed deep sympathy for the North Vietnamese people at a time of Western panic, as America attempted to stomp out the nascent Vietnamese revolution with a jackboot of napalm. SLON, also the Russian word for elephant became I.S.K.R.A (Spark) in 1974. During this period SLON productions were headed by Marker and he was usually credited as director. It was when I.S.K.R.A. was formed that marker detached himself from the collective and began again to make his personally-focused films.

Although not primarily a filmmaker, Marker, (born Christian François Bouche-Villeneuve in 1921) worked as a photographer, writer and critic, first contributing to the neo-Catholic magazine Espirit, edited by Andre Bazin. He would later become an early contributor to Cahiers du Cinema. It was also in the early 50s Marker made his first film, Olympia 52 on the Helsinki Olympic Games. He would work as assistant to fellow Left-Bank filmmaker and friend Alan Resnais on Night and Fog three years later. In 1962 Marker made one of his most celebrated pictures, La Jetee. Shot almost entirely using still photography, Marker builds the story of a dystopian post-WWIII society, where its survivors are tested by a scientific militia for their potential ability to travel back in time. It's here that Marker's lyricism is best exemplified. The Man chosen to travel back in time (William Klein), clings to an image of the past, one of his own childhood that holds a fatal relevance even he cannot perceive.

The narration, reads like a letter to the audience, a device that Marker favoured again with Sans Soleil and creates a difference in the audiences perception of the characters and events. The minimalism of story and visual design make it timeless; the sequences in the future unfold in a series of darkened tunnels with thick shadow flickering off the damp, illuminating a sewer with faces

staring off screen.

The minimal technique of the sound design emphasizes the future-primitive conception of the film as a whole. But it's also that the science fiction elements and fut u r i s t i c reference are left to the periphery of La Jetee. Memory is the lynchpin of the story; the concept harnessed by the federal militia to return to the past, and it's Klein's character's particular capacity to possess a strong connection to his own past; he can't let the memory of that drift away in the fallout of now. Marker also shows the inadequacy or the subjective nature of the memory, in time it becomes like the recollection of a dream, images we cling to from a miasma of feeling, much like the woman's face which keeps driving the prisoner back.

We have opportunity to hear more of his audio design in Sans Soleil, released in 1982. Throughout the late seventies Marker travelled extensively, mainly through Japan and Africa, bracketing his reintegration with cinema. What makes this film remarkable is its fusing of genres; film essay, documentary, and travelogue - it holds the hallmarks of all of these, but moulds them into an overarching design of rumination and soliloquy. Framed through the work of a fictitious photographer Sandor Krasna, (and credited to him), Marker poses questions and offers observations on the existence of people drawn from the slums of

Guinea to the budding technological landscape of Tokyo in the late seventies. This serves as his most celebrated film essay, and is a compelling rumination of society in all its incarnations. And again, what it is we're hearing and seeing are the memories of Krasna and his travels; his supposed thoughts read out over the images he's composed and the subjects he's chosen.

The narration, this time far broader in scope than that of La Jetee is one that holds the same balance of an ageworn experience but also sensitivity to the images he films. The sequences where he describes the flickering eyes of locals caught in his lens really highlight his unconventional but highly romanticised relationship with the medium.

Marker perforates Sans Soleil with stylized photomontages, quite at odds with the documentary style of the majority of the film, and uses these to underline an incongruity of tradition or a hypocrisy in ethics. The series of monkeys posed mid-coitus, in very human ways serves as a neat metaphor for the fetishised use of sexual organs, that "can only exist if removed from the body". The phantom limbs of pornography festoon the simian form and illicit the playful side of Marker’s rhetoric. FELIX JUDE WEST.


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Sophie Thompson on... She Stoops to Conquer

Sophie Thompson Sophie Thompson is just one of those utterly brilliant British actresses who pops up everywhere from Harry Potter to Eastenders and now in the National Theatre’s new production of She Stoops to Conquer. We meet in a special audio recording room somewhere deep within the National’s labyrinthine Southbank home. As is the case with a busy and frantic rehearsal schedule, Sophie arrives looking thoroughly knackered wearing a sort of period-esque dress, high-heeled shoes and a light glaze of sweat. Although being an established actress, this is her first production at the National and her enthusiasm for the place is infectious. She describes it as a building packed with 'brilliant people, all doing brilliant things'. Being in a bland rehearsal room all day she gains a real feel for the production and how it will look by walking through the National's vast complex and seeing people 'painting bits and building bits' for the play wherever she turns. When first approached, she admits she was very apprehensive, saying ‘I’ve never done

this kind of material before, but it felt like a real, brilliant challenge to have a go at it and to work with Jamie [Lloyd] on this play, with this wonderful company.’ She describes these factors as a ‘myriad of ingredients, which makes you want to be in that cake’. She explains that ‘because I'd never really done a restoration play I sort of saw it in my head as a bit of a dusty thing. When I read the play I thought 'oh crikey' I'll have to do lots of fanning and huffing and puffing. I feel I was seeing it in a dusty light and [Jamie] sort of blew the dust off and was like 'well actually, its this'. When asked how close the play is to the original style in which it was first performed, Thompson states that ‘in our production, we've chosen to be very true to the century that it was written in. All that Mark Thompson's done with the design, the costumes and the set – it’s got a real authentic feel, which I'm really enjoying’. Central to rehearsals have been lessons in dance, etiquette and how to use a fan properly. Thompson says: “we've got this amazing movement by Ann Yee, who did the movement on Comedy of Errors. She gets us all moving about and connecting up in that way, physically, which is fantastically helpful”. The costumes are certainly a major factor in a production such as this, being a statement of its context and its class divisions. Thompson explains that when she sees ‘the dress getting more and more beautiful and the corset and everything and you think golly I hope I can create a Mrs.Hardcastle that can live up to this blinking frock!’ But much like the runaway success of the National’s One Man Two Guv’nors and the Old Vic’s Noises Off, the play is very much about the humanity of the characters. Thompson

suggested that ‘apart from all the trappings and everything, the people are not so different from us. Although they behave in rather an outrageous and huge way, you want it to be true. So people can relate to them and go 'oh I know a woman just like that'’. Having recently been in a few very modern plays, she seemed really encouraged by the fact that the Hardcastles are, in actual fact, ‘fantastically dysfunctional and in a way that makes it rather a modern family’ due to the fact ‘they both have children, but by other people’ I asked what it was about the play’s focus on class and the ‘merriment’ that ensues that was so appealing to audiences across all demographics. Thompson saw it as simply ‘people being brought down to a level’ by ‘silliness and daftness’. She adds with a giggle that ‘we’re all daft human animals and we all embarrass ourselves and fall over and fart at posh dinners!’. Was that in the play or was that something she has been known to do at posh dinners? ‘It might well happen with nerves and the rest of it’ she adds in her Mrs.Hardcastle voice. ‘Hopefully the Olivier audience won’t hear it’! Thompson seems to have great affection for her character who she says ‘pretends to be a bit posh in front of Hastings because she's a bit of a snob but it’s also because she want's to belong and she wants to go to London. It’s the vulnerabilities of people that will always continue to make us laugh and cry’. As is the case with this variety of theatre, it seems it is a brilliant chance just to have a good ‘chortle’. Looking back towards where she had just ran through the play, she smiles and just says ‘it’s just funny, and we’ll never know why’. LUKE JONES KCL

Review: Travelling Light

“In all my any travel, I never not learn one language good … then I see your motion picture and the door to paradise open for me. I see big light, big sun, big sky! Because no words!” Nicholas Wright’s new play Travelling Light tells of how a humble Jewish village was enchanted by this new, magical thing called film. In paying tribute to this colourful folk culture, it celebrates the seed from which the golden age of American cinema would eventually blossom. Looking back from 1936, the play revolves around the recollections of prominent film maker Maurice Montgomery. As a young man in a small Eastern European village, he inherits his father’s cinematograph and is inspired to begin pursuit of the high and noble art of filmmaking. Without money of his own, he accepts timber-merchant Jacob’s funding, and is persuaded to settle in the shtetle to film life in the village. With the beautiful Anna, who was sent over to help him, he discovers the magic of moving pictures. When the idea of filming a fictional story comes up, all the villagers gather to form a motley


production team – divas are exposed, treasurers assigned, and cheesy ideas bandied around. The farce that ensues, although harmless, is all too ironic a projection of Motl’s future, who desires to leave for America in order to escape the increasing pressure of budget restrictions and sappy folk stories. The complexity brought into village life by movies is reflected in the medium. While it started off with guileless clips recording happily waving villagers, Anna eventually discovers that by cutting and reconnecting strips of film, a story can be told that never happened. This innocent enough conceit rapidly develops and becomes an inseparable shadow to the movies, in which lies and deceit are proliferated and perceived, culminating in Motl’s final betrayal. Despite the poignant undercurrents, the production was an alluring picture, as if a scene out of the movies itself. Bob Crowley’s design of the shtetl is charming and quaint, casting cosy shadows that contrast with the broad expanse of sky onto which Jon Driscoll’s delightful videos and projections were cast. In them, we see the drama on stage retold, in their own ensnaring silence. Damien Molony was a charm as the excitable and awkward Motl, and Lauren O’Neil suited the role of inspirational beauty like a glove. But most outstanding was Antony Sher, who

Anthony Sher as Jacob Bindel. Photo: Johan Perrson

was brilliant in the almost tragic figure of Jacob. His progression from wide-eyed wonder to wretched wretched disappointment in the new, unpredictable medium was passionately conveyed by Sher. Travelling Light is a spectacularly layered play. Despite being a celebration of the movie, it does not shy away from the darker aspects of it; but in dealing with sombre themes, like a fairy-tale, it never fails to retain its rustic appeal. Travelling Light runs at the National Theatre till 6th March 2012 ZEE YEO

PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 8

Dance Class

Hermione Pagni listens in on a dress rehearsal of Philip McKee’s latest production.

When I decided to attend Dance Class’s dress rehearsal, the thought that the experience might give a different perspective of the performance barely crossed my mind. It will be the same with a blip or two I thought. But as I entered the small theatre, tucked above the Lion and Unicorn pub in Kentish Town, it struck me that the actors were there, sitting in the stalls, chatting. Oh yes, they are people too I thought. At first therefore, it took a few minutes to suspend my disbelief and accept them as characters. This was added to by a somewhat intrepid photographer who had no qualms about standing between the characters, getting in their way, camera in their face to get his desired shot. As the rehearsal continued, I became increasingly aware that my reaction was the only reaction to be heard. My laughter felt eerily lonely without the buffer of the rest of the audience. As the only spectator I felt far closer the characters than I would have in a large crowd. But at some of the more intimate moments between the characters I even felt like a bit of a voyeur. It was quite easy to forget that this was a play and that I wasn’t just peeping through a window at the couple next door’s latest domestic. As I got over my initial awkwardness, I enjoyed the play more and more. It is an emotional piece and though this sentimentality rests on a knife edge the play never becomes cheesy. The conclusion sees the complete breakdown of the couple’s relationship. I was moved and would have been more so had it not been for a shout from the back of the room as the lights cut at the wrong time. I was made instantly aware of the tension that had been slowly built upon through the act, how precarious it was, and how with one mistake it could be completely lost. After the rehearsal, director Philip McKee explained the difficulties of producing the play; how he had helped cut the original script down in size, and how the use of costume was essential in achieving a balance between the characters. He went onto explain that even at this stage in its production, with the play to be opened to the public within a week, there was still tweaking to be done. Ultimately, despite a rogue photographer, a bit of initial awkwardness and a blip with the lighting, the play was hugely enjoyable. My attention was gripped from beginning to end by an accessible story that uses music and dance to explore inequality in relationships, psychological problems and the inevitability of history repeating itself. Surely a play that could please to such an extent on its dress rehearsal is most definitely worth seeing when it is released? Dance Class by Andre Radmall. Directed by Philip McKee. The Lion and Unicorn Theatre. January 17– February 5, 2012. Tues- Sat 7.30pm Sun. 3.30pm. Tickets £10/£12/£15 HERMIONE PAGNI UCL

Wiley Evolve or Be Extinct PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 8

So basically, Wiley is a human who was born in east London in an area called Bow, and he grew up and then a whole set of stuff happened to him, and in that weird way humans can he also happened to the world. You know. Some people just sort of affect the world more than others, its hard to articulate but you know, some humans just have an energy and are born with a complex web of characteristics and into a specific place and at the right time, and they end up changing the world.

His latest album is called 'Evolve or Be Extinct'. It’s riddled with brilliant lines, futuristic soundscapes and idiosyncratic brilliance. Plus a few hilarious skits, funny voices, political comments and reflections about life and society. It’s the usual Wiley, condensed into album form. Moments when Wiley just speaks, when the beat drops out, when the form of the song deconstructs around itself, and then builds back up into a new version of itself. Ideas about life and people which are warm and humble and honest. And also, the albums actually good, you know, its just good. I can’t really explain why. I know that’s what I'm supposed to be doing here, but it’s hard, allow me. I’m really, really trying not to use the term post-modern, and thats taking up a lot of my energy.

Then theres art. You know, 'art'. Sorry, I mean 'Art'. The stuff in the frames, in the books, the stuff a whole load of 'white' people enjoy scratching their beards and looking at. I'm 'white' by the way. And I have a beard, which I occasionally scratch while looking at framed or unframed stuff in cubic white rooms, or while reading texts which are written in a weird language with loads of long words. I mean, obviously lots of people do this. Not just 'white' people. But in the grand scheme of things, this sort of 'high art' I'm talking about, its got a history very much connected to 'white' people. Wileys not 'white'. Wiley is 'black'. And the music he has made over the course of his life has been pretty far from the 'high art' I described earlier. But Wiley's a very clever human. He understands that the difference between high and low art is in our heads. He understands the culture industry, sorry I mean the ‘music industry’. He's the guy who invented a genre with a load of mates ( its called Grime, check it out ) and then maintained his position at the top of that genre. Then he was that guy who cracked the formula to the top ten, and made a single that broke onto mainstream radio (its called Wearing my Rolex, check it out). Wiley is a human who has been through the major label process dozens of times, been sold a dream, lived through the undreamy reality, and produced factory like music (his crew Roll Deep have made a number of commercially successful albums, maybe don’t bother checking them out). He was the guy who captured the imagination of a whole generation of economically

He's good at making music.

privileged young english speaking humans (middle class kids like me) and he was also the guy who smoked a shit load of skunk (weed) and remained relentlessly himself, relentlessly good tempered, and relentlessly creative throughout all of the above. In fact, this human being called Wiley is so clever that over his lifetime he has made a body of work that might just be the best articulation of our current times since, oh I don’t know, let’s just say since forever. Because it manages to trample backwards and forwards over the divisions and fences erected between, say, 'high art' and 'low art', 'urban music' and 'intelligent music', 'black culture' and 'white culture', 'commercially viable music' and 'not commercially viable music'.

At one point Wiley says matter of factly, 'Its crazy trying to make an album that you want to connect with so many people' before talking frankly about the ins and outs of his record deal and the audiences he wants to reach. On his own Who does PLAY | album. Volume 32, Issue 8 that? Well, Wiley does. Because like I've mentioned, Wiley gets it. He understands music's what you make it. It's heard by a hundred ears, a million audiences, but weirdly its still just one thing, one product. And i'ts important, and it's not important at the same time. This is just an album. That’s Wileys words there - 'this is just an The thing is, over the span of his caalbum'. It’s also the title of one of the reer, from 90s jungle up to futuristic songs. And the chorus. Repeated again now-music, Wiley has always been testand again. This is just an album. When ing music, stretching its boundaries, you listen to it remember, he made it to using the most forward thinking medium before the major labels even re- make money and to express creative genius, in roughly equal parts. It’s just an alise what’s going on. He's cut music on album. vinyl and sold hundreds and hundreds of white label records from the back of his car. He was king of pirate Can you see it yet? I hope radio when pirate radio it’s starting to dawn on was still firmly loyou. The casual cated in the unburning intelliderground and gence in the crenot being ative work of fetishised this human by mainbeing who stream was born in newspaBow, East pers like London and the then made an album 32 years later. No big deal, Guardian. he's just sumHe has ming up where created muwe are as a cresical experiative culture and ences (his rave as a society. Don't is called Eskimo worry about it. This is dance, check it out) and he was one of the just an first to leak zip files full of his album. own music. He's been doing carefully BEN orchestrated pr stunts since he was a WIDGERY teenager. He's good at making money.


PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 8


Search YouTube for ‘Johnny Rotten Sex Pistols Interview 1977’ and you’ll find someone interrogating Rotten in rather an acute and facetious manner, bringing about a verbal exchange which sums up the attitude of punk far better than the more famous Bill Grundy altercation (also on YouTube). Rotten presents a persona of cheeky nonchalance, without obscuring a heartfelt commitment to “freedom” of expression. “That’s what the hippies called it, although there’s probably a better word for it,” he pines sarcastically. Interviewer: Punk is really nothing new, I think. Rotten: Then you think wrong. Interviewer: What’s new about punk? Rotten: I don’t know, but you still think wrong.

Punk was new, but that didn’t mean it was without ancestry. It’s always contentious canonising a genre’s historical narrative, but it’s also fun and needn’t assume to be definitive. The word itself, “punk”, is traceable to Shakespeare, but its most iconic use pre-punk rock is Clint Eastwood’s immortal threat, “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well do ya, punk?!” In America, punk was a term for “thug”, a seedy urban nuisance, and minus the actual criminal element it’s a fair comparison to the general social perception of the archetypal punk rockers, The Ramones, Sex Pistols and The Clash. A lot of the musicality of punk stems from the stripped back sound and


three-chord structures of ’60s garage rock, which apart from the odd hit (‘Louie Louie’ by The Kingsmen) never achieved mainstream exposure in America, but was a heavy influence on Brit-invasion bands like The Kinks and The Who. The Who’s snarly and chaotic public persona was also prophetic of how punk musicians would interact frigidly with their audiences and the press. Also in America, The Velvet Underground were significant in paving the way for punk to sing frankly about sex and drugs and the underworld of alternative culture. New York Dolls are noteworthy for their distorted shambolic soundand performances. Iggy Pop’s goading of audiences with sadomasochistic, homoerotic stage antics and crowd-dives was a prelude to punk bands doing their best to break the fourth wall and create an atmosphere of sweaty anarchic energy. Things started to cohere a little when artists like Television, Patti Smith and Richard Hell started performing at CBGB in New York. But it was The Ramones, with their relentless tempos, quirky humour and provocative content - and also their grungy style and blank stares on their debut album cover - that really put punk into focus. It was also in New York that Malcolm McLaren (who was temporarily managing New York Dolls) drew a lot of the inspiration that would later inform the style of the clothes shop, SEX, that he would soon establish with ex-partner Vivienne Westwood in London. McLaren formed the Sex Pistols from SEX regulars and they soon garnered a lot of attention with their epochal songs, ‘Anarchy

In the UK’ and ‘God Save the Queen’. At the same time, The Clash were making a big impression with their less nihilistic and more politically committed lyrics, twinned with music that was more embracing of its rock roots - see ‘Career Opportunities’ or ‘White Riot’. Musically, punk was a reaction against the ageing rock-star decadence of mainstream, hi-tech, bigbudget prog rock (Pink Floyd, for example) with its false notions of classical grandeur, apparent in ten-minute guitar solos. Punk was also critical of the complacent and escapist hippie sentimentality of acts like Simon and Garfunkel. Punk wanted to revive the wild rebellious aspect of rock ‘n’ roll, and stay in keeping with the earlier, more anti-authoritarian elements of hippie ’60s rock. This was achieved by keeping songs short and using basic instrumentation and simple verse-chorus structures. Production was pared down, although distortion was often added, to give the sound a raw, aggressive edge. Time signature rarely departed from 4/4 and rhythms avoided syncopation to distance it from the gleeful fare of dance-based music and funk. Lyrics and performances strove to be rebellious and political and to reflect the experiences of disaffected youth. When Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious, died in very grim circumstances in 1979, it exacerbated concerns about how long punk could last, and how far it could go, with its primitive musical means and despairing tone. Soon enough, elements of the genre were re-tweaked to create post-punk, New Wave, hardcore, alternative rock and many more

hybrids. Punk was so influential that literally anyone making music with electric guitars could not help but be informed by it, and judged in relation to it. This remains true to this day. Essential reading: - England’s Dreaming: Sex Pistols and Punk Rock by Jon Savage YouTube-based amusement: - ‘Sheep Farming in the Falklands’ by Crass - ‘So What’ by Anti-Nowhere League - ‘Sex Pistols Bill Grundy Interview’

Live Review: Ani DiFranco PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 8

10 January @ Union Chapel By Emma Black

Despite the notion of any artist looking, sounding and writing the same way for 20 years being obviously absurd, there are some fans that have quite notoriously never forgiven Ani DiFranco for growing her hair, getting married, having a child and writing songs about it along the way. Those fans clearly decided to give tonight’s show a miss, if the rapturous applause that greets DiFranco’s appearance on stage is anything to go by. It has been three years since her last release – a virtual hibernation by DiFranco’s usually prolific standards – and the atmosphere at Union Chapel is one of joyous celebration at the return of one of folk’s most enduring talents. Opening with ‘Little Plastic Castle’, DiFranco has the audience captivated from her first chord until she leaves the stage 90 minutes later. The bulk of the set is drawn from her new album Which Side Are You On? which, whilst fiercely political, is also a celebration of finding happiness and stability in her personal life. Fears that marriage and motherhood have “tamed” DiFranco are unfounded, however. Yes, she is calmer and her battles within herself appear much less

frantic, but this should not to be confused with passivity. DiFranco is definitely still fighting the good fight and this album finds her focusing her anger more specifically than on previous albums, with songs such as ‘J’, which references the impact of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill on an already shattered New Orleans and the failure of the those in power to react swiftly to the tragedy. She calls Barack Obama out for appearing to drag his feet after getting into office. A staunch advocate of the Occupy movement in the US, tonight she congratulates those taking part in the protest in London, praising their determination and the movement’s simplicity: “I am just going to get in the way until something makes sense.” DiFranco aligns us all with those that are camping out – “All working people are Occupiers, too… occupying this planet” – and closes her main set with a reworking of Pete Seeger’s classic call to arms, which also provides the album’s title-track. She also throws in a few classics, of course, including a stunning and savage version of ‘Dilate’. A call for requests leads to one of the evening’s highlights, a brilliant version of ‘Overlap’, with impromptu guitar support from the superfan who shouted for it (identified ecstatically on Twitter moments

Ani DiFranco live at Union Chapel Photograph by Jeff G after the show had ended as UK musician Declan Bennett), after DiFranco confessed she couldn’t play all of it herself. Closing the encore with ’32 Flavours’ brings the audience to its feet. Which Side Are You On? marks the next phase of Ani DiFranco and a career that has so far spanned 22 years and over 20 albums. She may be viewing the world through the prism of new-found domestic bliss but

she is still furiously flying the flag of protest and tonight she mocks herself for being unable to write “happy” music, despite being the happiest she has ever been in her life: “I thought I was going to write happy songs... but it turned out kinda political.” Whilst much has changed for DiFranco, it seems that everything has pretty much remained the same.

The release of Major/Minor marks Thrice’s eighth record since they were founded in 1998. Whilst many bands have that one album that is considered to be their best, Thrice continually dish out the goods with every record they put out - their latest being no exception. Following from their previous album Beggars, Major/Minor is like its predecessor in that it was conceived from the band simply jamming together in a room, resulting in similarly barebones, honest-to-goodness rock tone. The title originally stemmed from the practice of

playing a major chord rather than the expected minor counterpart in a song’s progression. Utilised by many grunge bands in the ’90s, this technique lends itself to the album’s earthy, aggressive sound. The births and deaths of several family members during the writing process meant that Major/Minor eventually took on a double-meaning, referencing both the good and bad in life in some very poignant moments on the album. Whilst the guitars are undisputedly at the forefront of the songs, the other instruments complement each other so well that they are all equally important in driving the music, which is often loud, occasionally soft and always melodic. But a Thrice album

wouldn’t be a Thrice album without Dustin Kensrue’s beautiful lyrics, and for Major/Minor he has penned possibly his best songs yet. His genuine and enrapturing vocal delivery leaves one with the impression that what the man has to say, he says from the heart. Thrice’s organic sound is the result of a band that has only ever made music for music’s sake, and nothing else. They may have had a tough time of it while making of this record, but despite this (or perhaps because of it), Major/Minor is their best one to date.

old record. ‘Pray On Me’ is the obvious, blood-pressure spiking hit, quickly followed by ‘You’re In My Blood’. If you revel more in slower tunes then ‘Dark Hearted Songbird’ is sinister and beautiful. Prior to their gig opening for Vintage Trouble, we chatted to Kill It Kid about their beginnings, their influen ces and what 2012 has in store...

Stephanie: Johnny Cash and June Carter were an influence, although I don’t think there are many people doing the same sort of thing on heavy songs... Chris: I just had sort of an epiphany moment before the band came together. I was listening to Blind Willie McTell, who we were named after, and just hearing him and his wife sing on the record.

Album Review: Thrice, ‘Major/Minor’ By Pawel Jarzembowski

Introducing Kill It Kid By Julia Sekula

Live at the Electric Ballroom at the end of last year, Kill It Kid proved beyond doubt that rock is not dead. Oozing delta blues riffs sieved through gospel and jazz roots, this Bath-based four-piece seems to have all the guns to face an army of Ke$ha-ites. It isn’t an easy battle – the days when Led Zeppelin-esque talent dominated and people sought quality rather than “I can dance to this when I’m drunk” are over. So, the reality is that bands like Kill It Kid have a tough time. Needless to say, they are true rock n’ rollers, led by voices that are laced with emotion and gut-wrenching cries – Chris Turpin’s voice is reminiscent of Cormac Neeson or Jack White, while Stephanie Ward’s is characterised by spicy-sweet power melodies. Only in their early twenties and coined as one of the best acts of 2009, they released their second album Fall Feet Heavy in September 2011. The record a class act for those of us who still relish the crackle of an

Chris, there have been a lot of comparisons between you and Jack White. Has that been more of a blessing or a curse? Chris: It’s good for us since we see ourselves as part of the same reinvention of the blues movement. I was a big fan of a lot of the Detroit bands that came out like The White Stripes and The Kills. It’s nice, we got to meet him a few months ago which was damn exciting, so we’re happy with the comparison. Did you have any specific influences in terms of the male/female partnership?

Out Now

What’s in store for Kill It Kid in the coming months? Chris: We have a headlining show coming up in Turkey where we’ll have to pay for two and a half hours, and the most peculiar European tour coming up where we’ll go through much of Eastern Europe and Italy – places where we look forward to meeting some of our fans. Kill it Kid got ready for their set and played a great gig. As we say with the blues, it just “hurt so good”. Hopefully we’ll be seeing more of them in London during the spring and I urge all London Student music fanatics to check them out.


A Christmas Down Under

PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 8

Following a three day stopover in freezing Beijing, my mum and I had planned a three week trip travelling up the East Coast of Australia over the Christmas period. It was a trip with the somewhat unusual twist that I would be returning home in time for university, whereas mum was to carry on enjoying the backpacker lifestyle for a further two months.

Byron Bay was to become the first place in which we encountered the type of ‘backpacker paradise’ which undoubtedly would be great fun for a couple of blow-out nights with a group of friends, but one that is definitely best

I had left England feeling rather apprehensive as to what was in store: three weeks spent constantly with my mother was something to greatly look forward to but something that had not taken place for at least ten years. Concerns about the fellow travellers we would be sharing dorms with were running around my head: would the fun-seeking, generally younger backpackers make mum feel out of place? Furthermore, spending Christmas and New Year’s in a sunny country away from family, friends and my boyfriend was bound to be an enriching experience - but would it be lonely? With hindsight, these unfounded worries probably stemmed from me ultimately feeling a bit miffed that this time around it was mum who would be gallivanting carefree wherever she pleased whilst I had to return to greying England for university commitments. Needless to say, on arrival this jealousytinged apprehension rapidly transformed into an appreciation of what was to be expected travelling with your mother in tow, alongside the immense excitement of exploring a new continent.

We arrived in Sydney to discover that it had been the coldest December on record – still a ‘disappointingly low’ average of 22°C was perfect for us, mixed in with plenty of homely drizzle! Having gazed at the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge anticipating the picture-perfect view from the travel brochures, we felt that the harbour and all its attractions only really lived up to their reputation after dark when vividly illuminated. Next stop were the famous sights nearby, such as Bondi Beach and the second largest fish market in the world (second to Tokyo), after which we were glad to be heading to the coastal area of Byron Bay - a picturesque area where Elle Macpherson evidently decided to spend New Year’s Eve surfing off the bleached white beaches.

Flynne and her Mother on New Year’s Eve

avoided when travelling with your mother! Our fully-booked eight bed dorm also hosted an impressive number of large cockroaches, spiders and slightly cuter lizards; our first night passed largely undisturbed apart from the endless music resounding from the next door club. The Arts Factory Lodge had a beautiful jungle setting, with each dorm standing alone, and ours overlooked a lake surrounded by friendly wildlife and endless Water Dragons (lizards) seeming to exude pride and superiority. This idyllic situation, however, somewhat lost its appeal when our dorm mates evidently could see flying pigs deep into the early hours of the morning, with a tremendous lack of recognition that there were other people not engaged in the same habits as themselves in the same room. To top off the night, one of the dorm mates walked in and promptly passed out face first onto the solid wooden floor. After the necessary fussing, we established that she was OK and

Book Review: The Gap-Year Guidebook 2012

The Gap-Year Guidebook has been a vital source of inspiration for travellers for many years – the fact that it’s now in its 20th Edition speaks volumes about its worth. Covering twelve different sections, the book is a valuable guide for all, and is especially recommended for students. Whether you want to travel to volunteer abroad, learn, or simply explore the UK, any questions you have will undoubtedly be answered. It takes you through step-by-step, from the planning process to the travelling itself and, unusual for a book of its kind, it thoughtfully includes


a section on how to deal with readjusting to coming home after a spell abroad and how to use your experience in the workplace.

With a cohesive structure and vibrant images, it’s a book you’ll want to repeatedly delve intofor fun and not just for ideas. It really is a bible for all travellers, and its content asserts it as the authoritative book on gap-year travel. The Gap-Year Guidebook 2012 (RRP £14.99) is out now. For more information see Emily Ray Travel Editor

mercifully that was the cue for everyone else to gain some shuteye. Needless to say this experience, totally out of my control as it was, was very cringe-worthy and aptly reinforced the ‘youth of today’s’ stereotype. Thankfully, the slightly more established Youth Hostel Association accommodation which we stayed in afterwards spared us of any similar experiences.

Following a one day, one night whirlwind tour around Brisbane, we arrived at Noosa – just north of Brisbane – where we were to stay five nights including Christmas day. Noosa National Park was a prime example of the numerous, well preserved national parks over Australia, with the rainforest covered cliffs overlooking endless pristine, generally unoccupied beaches with the hot summer sun beating down. This provided a perfect, if unfamiliar, setting for Christmas day, with the occasional monsoon downpour being greatly appreciated. In the place of the usual roast, we feasted on olives, cheese and bread with ‘decorate your own gingerbread Christmas tree’ for dessert, which we enjoyed whilst gazing out across the Tasman Sea! Reluctant to leave our homely hostel and the local wonders such as Fraser Island – the largest sand island in the world, and the only one to support rainforest – we took an overnight train then a ferry to Magnetic Island. As the name suggests, the magnetism prevents any phone signal existing which can only be a blessing on such an idyllic, mountainous island with so many uninhabited beaches to explore. Our New Year’s Eve passed relatively uneventfully in Townsville; the ‘happening’ areas of town were still empty by English standards and our view of the midnight fireworks was unfortunately obscured by an imposing hill. Townsville, like other Australian towns, was laid out in a very spacious manner and really portrayed the feeling that space is no object – so unlike the crowded cities at home, and such a refreshing change!

On the train once more, we struggled to overcome our frustration at the ungainly pace of the trains. Not once did a car fail to overtake our carriage, and even the supposedly faster Tilt Trains travel at a very leisurely pace. However, we quickly grew to

appreciate the amazing views afforded by this wandering pace through the heart of Australia’s fertile plains, allowing a unique view of the varying landscapes just inland of the East Coast.

We used Cairns as a launch pad for the Great Barrier Reef. Due to lack of time, we opted to snorkel over the remaining coral nearby at a popular daytrip destination named Green Island. Sadly, to say that the coral here was in a bad state would be an overstatement: dead coral lay all around with only the brightly coloured tropical fish to remind us that we were meant to be above the famed, multicoloured, unique Great Barrier Reef. We left hoping that the areas preserved under the National Parks better escaped the tourist groups! Having explored as much of the East Coast as time allowed, I have had a brilliant insight into the wonders that the East Coast has to

Christmas biscuits on the beach! offer – a place of breathtaking sights and endlessly welcoming and friendly people. Once off the beaten track, there are little wonders to be discovered at every turn and despite my reservations about backpacking with my mother, we had the most amazing time together and opened my eyes to just how treasured a mother-daughter relationship can be when one is no longer a dependant but an equal companion.

WIN! Flynne Rushton

We have a copy of The Gap-Year Guidebook 2012 to give away! To enter, just send your name to with the subject title ‘Gap-Year Guidebook’. Good luck!

Why Write?! Poetry competitions, that’s why

PLAY | Volume 32, Issue 8

Dear Writer, I wanted to write and thank you for writing. I do not yet have your poems, but I have them already by heart, and I will murmur them to myself in muffled sounds, until you speak some words on my behalf. Following is a list of competitions where you can most likely reach me with your words. There is nothing that I do not await in these correspondences. There is nothing that I will not reward with some response. I hope you realise that what you are doing is vital for my existence, and I cannot reach you unless you reach me first. Do not let anything stop you doing what you are doing; realise the importance and validity of what you have made. Yours, Penny Newell Kent and Sussex Open Poetry Competition First Prize: £800 Submissions: £5 per poem Poems should be no more than 40 lines Closing: 31st January Reader: Mimi Khalvati

The Lumin/Camden Poetry Prize First Prize: The winner will have a collection of their poems published in a 20 page pamphlet, and will be invited to read at the ‘Camden and Lumen Open Mic’ Events and ‘Friday Night Writers’, in London Submissions: £2.50 per poem. All proceeds go to London Homeless Cold Weather Shelters. Poems should be no more than 40 lines. Closing: 14th February Reader: Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy The Stafford Poetry Competition First prize: £1000 Poems should be no more than 40 lines

Offering an extra prize of £100 for the best poem entitled either Arcadia or Olympics Closing: 28th February Reader: Michael Hulse Cardiff International Poetry Competition First Prize: £5,000 Submissions: £6 per poem Poems should be no more than 50 lines Closing: 2nd March Readers: Patrick McGuinness, Sinéad Morrissey and Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch

Poetic Republic Poetry Prize 2012 1st Prize: (Single poem) £2,000 1st Prize: (Portfolio) £1,000 Submissions: £7 per poem Poems should be no more than 42 lines Closing date: 30 April 2012 Readers: the entrants themselves judge this online competition. The poems with the best response are featured in an eBook publication, alongside comments on the poems, as chosen by the writer. The Bridport Prize First Prize: £5,000 Submissions: £7 per poem Poems should be no more than 42 lines Closing: 2nd May 2012 Reader: Gwyneth Lewis Troubadour International Poetry Prize First Prize: £2,500, public reading, season membership at the Troubadoour Submissions: £5 per poem Poems should be no longer than 45 lines Closing: 15th October 2012 Readers: Jane Draycott and Bernard O’Donoghue

Roberto Bolaño’s The Third Reich COMPILED BY PENNY NEWELL

Roberto Bolaño, The Third Reich, trans. Natasha Wimmer (London: Picador, 2012), £18.99 Burnt One) who lives in a burrow underneath Published 12th January 2012 his pedal boats. When the impulsive Charly

Discovered among his papers after his death in 2003, Roberto Bolaño’s The Third Reich was finally published in English this month, almost a quarter of a century after its composition in 1989. The novel recounts a disastrous holiday experience, tinged with alienation, boredom and historical guilt. Udo, the protagonist, is a German war games’ champion who has travelled to the Costa Brava in Spain with his beautiful, child-like girlfriend Ingeborg. Unable to relax, Udo spends most of his time in his room, pouring obsessively over battalions, defences and algorithms for the latest instalment of his fictional war game. He keeps a journal in a vain effort to match the rigour of his tactics to the clarity of his prose, and it is thanks to this document that the reader learns about the strange events of the summer. As the air of doom that hangs over the Catalan beach resort thickens along with the sweltering summer heat, Udo’s compulsion to record his surreal experiences inevitably fails to match his high standards of precision. The holiday takes a turn for the worse when Ingeborg befriends Hannah and Charly, another German couple, whose taste for hedonism and alcohol drags the asocial gamer into the seedy underbelly of the tourist-infested Spanish coast. Characters such as the Wolf and the Lamb slip between thuggish violence and the harmless stereotype of ‘Latin lovers’, and Udo becomes fixated with a horrifically disfigured strong man known as El Quemado (the

disappears, Udo enters into a phase of obsession and calculative mania: he refuses to leave the resort until Charly resurfaces. Udo then invites El Quemado to join him in a game called “The Third Reich”, which forms the entire second part of the novel. Disturbing visual recalls of destruction and violence linger over the playing table as El Quemado takes his position against Udo, being described as “muscular and charred, his torso looms over Europe like a nightmare”. The German champion disturbingly notes how his opponent approaches the game with sadness, “as though he were witnessing a real war”. Udo’s obsession with finishing the game is a veiled, horrifying attempt to correct how the German war campaigns went wrong from 1939 to 1945. El Quemado brings documentary evidence from the actual Second World War in order to lend realism to their game, which Udo hopes will shed light on “exactly how everything was done before” to correct Germany’s defeat, “in order to change what was done wrong.” Bolaño’s dissection of rational intransigence and belligerent fanaticism is as relevant now as it was in 1989, as it raises essential questions about the lessons of history and atonement for the past. It is a brooding novel, menace and misanthropy stewing under the lid. As Udo’s written testimony of the game becomes more fragmentary – a reflection of his fractured sanity – his friend and fellow wargames maniac Conrad encourages him to leave the game unfinished, “for the sake of humanity”. ALEXANDRA HILLS

Sergio González Rodríguez’s THE FEMICIDE MACHINE and Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 Sergio González Rodríguez, The Femicide Machine, trans. Michael

Parker-Stainback (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2012), £9.95 Published 9th March 2012 begin to shock ourselves into some kind of rec-

This is a fascinating book about the horrific femicides of Ciudad Juárez, a city in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. The scale of the misogynistic violence is astounding – a recent Reuters article noted that: “Although official figures vary, the city this month likely surpassed 10,000 homicides in the past four years. That’s more than Afghanistan’s civilian casualties in the same period and more than double the number of U.S. troops killed in the entire Iraq war.” In this book, González Rodríguez tries to explain why. He provides a history of the city, going through its growth in the 1940s from sex tourism, the foundation of the large-scale assembly-factories, the population explosion, the lack of basic services, the drug cartels, and the problems of being a bordercity. All combine to create one nightmarish area of hyper-modernization and hyper-capitalism, based on double standards, complicity, and violence. This has created, in turn, “a femicide machine: an apparatus that didn’t just create the conditions for the murders of dozens of women and little girls, but developed the institutions that guarantee impunity for those crimes and even legalize them.” Ciudad Juárez is, he tells us, “the world reduced to a crime tabloid article.” It is a place of “normalized barbarism”, where girls as young as 8 years of age are kidnapped, raped, and dumped in parking lots. The police never investigate, as a rule. Generally the perpetrators are members of gangs and cartels; witnesses see girls being taken, see them taken into certain buildings affiliated with certain criminals, and nothing more is known. The book ends with an epilogue which gives the case details of just one of the 10,000 victims. It is quite a shocking read. González Rodríguez is a columnist for Reforma, a Mexico City newspaper. As a journalist, González Rodríguez found out that the police chief of Ciudad Juárez was involved in covering up the femicides and placing innocent people behind bars after forcing witnesses to testify against them. In the summer of 1999, his reporting began to suggest that the policemen, government officials and drug traffickers of Juárez were all connected to one another, and to the femicides. Assaulted and kidnapped by unknown assailants in Mexico City in 1999 and banned from the State of Chihuahua, he continues to write on these subjects. The Femicide Machine is the first book by González Rodríguez to appear in English translation, and was written especially for Semiotext(e) Intervention series. The Femicide Machine synthesizes González Rodríguez’s documentation of the Juárez crimes, his analysis of the unique urban conditions in which they take place, and a discussion of the terror techniques of narcowarfare. The result is a gripping polemic. Of course the reality of the situation to which this book refers is what is paraamount. But what we can do, by thinking, appreciating, pausing, is perhaps give the horror its full weight, and

tification of the problems this book highlights, problems endemic in modern capitalism. With poets such as Keston Sutherland and novelists such as Roberto Bolaño referring to it, Ciudad Juárez and its femicides seems to have become a motif of modern literature. González Rodríguez appears as Sergio González in Bolaño’s 2666. Bolaño corresponded with González to acquire details for his book; no wonder, then, that he found 2666 difficult to read because of its accuracy. Bolaño died from liver disease in 2003, aged 50. 2666 was his final work, his magnum opus. It is a wonderful book, which articulates the ineffability of the world in a very simple way: there are no simple answers, and no simple linear narratives in this book. However, it flows wonderfully, with very quick episodes and longer digressions intermingling easily. Many readers note the sense “apocalyptic foreboding” that the work produces, but perhaps it is saying something even worse: that we are in a hellish reality. One character wonders: “Isn’t reality an insatiable Aids-riddled whore?” The reality it draws our attention to is the events of the Second World War, the Holocaust, and Ciudad Juárez. Reading a copy of Bolaño’s 2666, one could be forgiven for remaining ignorant of the fact that the horrifying murders of the fictional Santa Teresa are based upon real events. ‘The Part About The Crimes’, the unifying element of this sprawling epic, is a brow-beating litany of hundreds of murders of girls and young women which wears the reader down. The book can easily be compared to other nightmarish works, such as Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom. No note or addition highlights the fact that it is based on the femicides of Ciudad Juárez. Many reviewers of 2666 fail to fully acknowledge the book’s basis on reality or Bolaño’s careful research; rather they remain ignorant of the wider picture. Most reviews merely mention Ciudad Juárez in passing, if at all. In a sense the reviewers are cushioned from the terrible reality of the world just like the critics in ‘The Part About The Critics’. It is quite terrifying to think this kind of thing can just go on and on, despite media attention. But it does, and this should tell us something. It is unlikely that the killers of these women will ever be caught or punished. The corrupt system remains in place. One senses in 2666 that Bolaño is truly blazing a path into the great unknown. The loose digressive style is thrilling, foreboding, and infinitely malleable. He mercilessly uncovers the terrible reality of the human condition, from the Holocaust to the killings in Ciudad Juárez, and its perverse nature. Bolaño has a bleak view of the world, but it is less a view than a scrupulous adherence to reality. Rather than painting a pretty picture to distract us, he brings something real to our attention, and grinds our nose in the shit, as all great art should. ROBERT KIELY


London Student & Play V.32 Issue 8  
London Student & Play V.32 Issue 8  

Fortnightly newspaper of the University of London Union and largest student newspaper in Europe.