Issue 13 - FREE
Monday 8th February 2010
Ed iti on
“Wearing glasses when you don't need them is akin to goingaround in blackface”
On the piste
We meet Olympic snowboarder Ben Kilner
Comment Page 11
Arts Page 23
Feature Page 32
Feedback reform passed after heated debate at Senate UNIVERSITY MAKES LANDMARK DECISION TO IMPROVE FEEDBACK ACROSS DEPARTMENTS
DELIBERATING… University Senate debates the new feedback policy
MARKS TO BE RETURNED WITHIN THREE WEEKS
aster and more in-depth feedback will be guaranteed to students after a new feedback policy was passed by the University of Manchester last week. Students were heavily involved in drafting the policy, which will see marks returned within three weeks of deadline, and more extensive feedback for all types of assessment, including exams. “We’ve listened to our students and our students are telling us that they feel that our feedback process could be improved,” said Vice President for Teaching and Learning Colin Stirling. “We’ve listened to the suggestions and comments from the students and are trying to improve it.” The University has been criticised by students for years for the lack of feedback in many subjects and vast inconsistencies between schools; last year’s National Students Survey saw Manchester score particularly
Exam errors Missing phrases from exam scripts and false instructions have marred the January exam period for some students. With one exam hall being told to ‘ignore’ the first question on their script while students who had only been asked to prepare one question found themselves facing a longer paper on the day.
News Page 2
Concern ahead of student Palestine conference The Federation of Student Islamic Societies will host Dr. Azzam Tamimi, at the FOSIS Palestine Conference 2010. Tamimi has been censured in the past for his apparently extreme views and his forthcoming appearance at the FOSIS conference in Manchester is a cause of concern for some.
PHOTO: Alena Eis
Alena Eis News Editor
low in the feedback related questions. After months of consultations with students and staff the feedback policy, along with a formal recommendation from the Students’ Union Executive, was finally put before Senate, the institution’s main academic body comprised of ViceChancellor Alan Gilbert, Deans of Faculties, School representatives as well as members of the Students’ Union. “We had a very consistent response back from students for timely feedback,” said Dr Chris Davies, the Associate Dean of Teaching and Learning, who has been one of the driving forces behind the policy, during the meeting. Timely feedback should be provided “within the life of a unit” to give students the chance to respond to it. The quality of feedback was also found to be important, with students asking for “personal feedback they could respond to as an individual,” according to Davies, who added around 80 per cent of students said during consultation they would be happy to wait two to three weeks for their feedback to
News Page 3 ensure it would be of better quality. Stirling commented: “To some extent I was slightly surprised that they felt that a three week turnaround in feedback, for example on assessments, was very acceptable. I rather thought they might want it even quicker.” During consultations, staff have expressed worries that feedback would suffer if they were pressed for time. “I’m not surprised that students have listened to that argument and have understood and agreed with it. They would prefer that they get quality feedback in a reasonable time than lesser quality feedback very rapidly,” said Stirling. Indeed, the policy allows for an extension to four weeks, which faculties can grant under exceptional circumstances, such as Politics units which have 600 students enrolled. During the Senate meeting, many school representatives voiced similar concerns about the new regulations – at times resulting in
heated debate – some believing Senate was not “in a position to rule on it today.” Alan Gilbert - who has been repeatedly criticised by students during his term in office, which runs out this summer - openly spoke out in favour of the policy. He pointed out that most people agreed on the principles of the policy, ensuring students received better, quicker feedback, but argued about the wording instead. “It would be a hideous mistake for Senate not to try and determine these principles today,” Gilbert said, adding that the wording could be finalised in time for the next meeting in April. Arguing for the feedback policy, UMSU Academic Affairs Officer Kate Little said it was “shocking a document could be delayed because of procedure. “The University moves far too slowly for its own good sometimes.” “This isn’t rocket science,” added UMSU General Secretary Gabriel Hassan. “What’s the point of going to
uni if you’re not going to get feedback? You might as well just go to the library then. “Students are getting fed up. This is the first real opportunity to get something tangible. Students won’t react very well to this, they know what is right and this is right.” Stirling reinforced that most staff members do agree on the principles. “We’ve had a very widespread staff consultation, we’ve had lots and lots of comments from staff and the vast, vast, vast majority of those are very supportive of the principles. There are concerns on how to implement them because staff feel when we make promises we really have to try and keep them so there are concerns about that, but I think that we’ve come up with a policy that’s going to be feasible.”
Continued on Page 2 Editorial on Page 8
Rent right Students traipsing through Fallowfield in the afternoon drizzle, knocking on doors, disappearing inside for a few minutes, only to repeat the whole process further along the road can only mean one thing: it’s house hunting season.
News Page 4
Airbrushing over the cracks The unveiling of David Cameron’s poster campaign inspired derision from all corners. Jo Gewirtz looks at what’s behind the airbrushing.
Politics Page 12
February 8th 2010 / Student Direct www.student-direct.co.uk
Ed iti on
Only fools rush in: the Mancunion housing special
Page 04 How green is your house?
Page 05 Browne committee in Manchester
Page 06 Warehouse project attack
Page 06 Letters & Editorial A Little help goes a long way
Page 08 Column “The British education system has developed over 800 years and yet politicians seem content to wreak havoc on it in a period of just a few months” Harry Long comments
Page 09 Opinion
To be or not to be, Martin?
Asks Polly Glass
Page 10 Politics & Analysis “The primary role of ISOCs has always been welfarebased, so we must ask whether the recent level of scrutiny is justified”
Historic change to Union control over Student Direct Adam Farnell News Editor Student Direct: Mancunion is now free to publish material on candidates standing in Union elections, thanks to a Union Council vote last week. The Council voted to amend longstanding election regulations that prevent the newspaper from referring to candidates by name or printing articles written by an election candidate. “This decision has been a long time in the making,” said Jennie Agg, Editor of the newspaper. “While it doesn’t give Student Direct: Mancunion full rights to publish about the elections, it will at least enable us to tell students the bare facts about what’s going on.” UMSU Communications Officer Tom Fairhurst, who tabled the motion, said, “Students will be able to turn to their newspaper to know about the student elections. This change will increase participation, increase knowledge of the candidates and can only encourage democracy.” The Union council voted in favour of the motion titled ‘Election Regulations and Fair Reporting’, which was seconded by Agg. The motion was previously
tabled on December 1 2009, but was narrowly defeated. Voting rules on overturning the Union constitution required that at least 20 of the 29 council members voted in favour of amendment. After the longest debate of the evening, 22 council members voted for, while five voted against the motion and two chose to abstain. The new rules will allow candidates to write for and be referred to in the paper everywhere except for the opinion and politics sections. There is also a caveat that precludes ‘editorialised’ coverage of candidates. Hisham Omara, studying for a PhD in Electrical Engineering and member of council, voted against the motion. He said the motion’s claim that the printing of candidates’ names during the election period would not affect the results needed substantiating. Omara said, “I think you have to back up the claim with scientific research. If they have no effect on elections, why have them at all?” Agg, however, continued: “Clearly, this was an amazingly positive decision for the Union. I mean, can you imagine trying to report on an election without being allowed to print the candidates’ names? It’s hard to believe that such a rule was kept in place for so long. The phrase ‘cutting off your nose to spite your face’ springs to mind.”
One problem after another for Whitworth Park residents Adam Farnell News Editor Students at Whitworth Park halls of residence had to suffer the noise of drills and diggers over the two-week exam period this January, despite an email from the university requesting that residents keep quiet. Workmen sometimes began as early as 7am. Geography student Alex Woods said: “It seems absurd to have building work at this time after we get an email asking us to be quiet. I was woken up at seven by constant drilling after going to bed late revising for an exam the next morning. I could’ve done with the extra hour of sleep and don’t enjoy being woken up by a drill.” The only respite from the disturbance, located in the central courtyard and meeting spaces, has been weekends. “It’s so noisy,” explained Gergana Draganova, a Languages student. “Why are they doing the work now, and so early in the morning? It’s very disruptive.”
A University spokesperson said: "The noise experienced by students is in connection with the replacement of lighting columns. This work could not be held back due to the potential unsafe condition of the existing columns. The original schedule was delayed due to the severe cold weather, which prevented the pouring of concrete. Contractors were onsite early in the morning in order to maximise daylight hours during the winter period. The work is due to be completed by February 12." But noise isn’t the only problem facing the halls of residence. Rubbish from the 1,200 inhabitants piled up outside wheelie bins that looked like they hadn’t been emptied over Christmas; many students resorted to throwing their bin bags on growing mounds, amidst fears about attracting pests. Jason Fu, a second year Economics student, also had trouble with his room: ‘I reported that my light had broken a week ago and they haven’t fixed it yet. It gets dark pretty early now so I’m using candles.” Last week the Whitworth Park laundry was closed due to flooding.
Continued from Page 1 The policy also includes making it possible for students to see their exam scripts university-wide. Currently, some schools allow their students to see their exams, however they need to pay a £10 fee for the privilege. “To be honest with you, in many parts of the university it is possible now for students to ask to see their exams and they can,” said Colin Stirling, “it’s simply that it’s not widespread and we intend that it should be a facility that’s open to all students. Of course most students even in schools where it is possible don’t ask to see their exams as they’re quite happy with their marks and don’t feel any need to.” He added that the University would “want to see that practice [of charging £10] stop at present, though it could be reintroduced at a later point should demand among students increase dramatically. [However] I really would trust that we won’t have to.” While the principles of the feedback policy were passed, the effects are unlikely to be immediately visible to students. To ensure faster feedback is possible, submission deadlines for essays and other coursework would have to be moved. “I think it would be difficult and perhaps even unfair on students themselves to suddenly change all those deadlines,” said Stirling. “What we would be asking is that schools should look at the new
regulations and that they should seek to implement them as quickly as possible, so that where those sort of considerations don’t apply we hope that the schools would start to implement them. “But of course there will be a bit of a cultural change that’s required in certain parts, in student support and the like, and so we’d expect it to be much more fully implemented in the following academic year.” Following the vote, Kate Little commented: “I'm delighted that Senate has approved a document essentially created by students and with students' needs put first. The one thing I don't get is why the meeting was such a battle: surely it's common sense that students need good feedback to learn? “Students have been surveyed, questionnaired and focus-grouped for years, saying the same things: it's about time the University gave us something tangible in response, and this is a great first step. There's much more work to be done, though: I'll keep a close eye on the revised wording of the policy and will push for a monitoring scheme to make sure that students are actually getting what this policy says they deserve, and that they have somewhere to complain to if their feedback isn't up to scratch. “We've got the big symbolic win, but we have to make sure what we asked for is actually delivered: I'll be working hard on making sure it will be.”
Students asked to ‘ignore’ exam question – 45 minutes too late Girish Gupta News Editor Errors in exam scripts have led to many students receiving apologies from the University of Manchester after being asked incorrect questions. Students taking Advanced English Language in Use I were told 45 minutes into their exam in January not to answer the first question as it missed out key phrases. “Between the time it took invigilators to contact the exam office, for our administrator to check the original version of the paper, and then contact the teacher who had set the paper, 45 minutes had gone by,” said Director of University-Wide Language Programmes Dr John Morley. Students were asked to ignore the
question and concentrate on the following three. It was later discovered that the error was caused by staff using different versions of Microsoft Word. “It would be patently unjust on our part to suggest that there would be any [penalties],” continued Morley. “We will be contacting students again to apologise and to reassure them.” Elsewhere in the University, over a dozen students sitting the ‘Modernity and its Forms in Catalan Cult and Society’ exam had been told throughout the course to answer one of seven questions in their exam, however, were shocked to find they had to answer two when in the exam hall. Course lecturer Adrià Castellsferrando has emailed the students apologising for the error and arranged a meeting with them and their Course Convener, Professor Christopher Perriam, to discuss the issue.
Mo Saqib in defence of campus Islamic societies
Page 12 Union & Listings
LGBT Awareness week
Contacts @ Student Direct: Mancunion Edition All letters and corrections to: email@example.com
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Student Direct / February 8th 2010 www.student-direct.co.uk
Speaker’s alleged Hamas link splits students Adam Farnell News Editor A guest speaker accused of supporting Hamas and the destruction of Israel will feature at an event held at the University of Manchester this week. The Federation of Student Islamic Societies will host Dr. Azzam Tamimi, at the FOSIS Palestine Conference 2010. Dr Tamimi is the director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought and a regular contributor to Al-Jazeera and the Guardian. Accusations of anti-Semitism have led to concerns from the Jewish community on campus. In an interview with BBC News 24 HARDtalk, Tamimi described sacrificing his life for Palestinian justice as "a noble cause. It is the straight way to pleasing my God and I would do it if I had the opportunity." The Daily Mail reacted to this quote, reporting, "A British-based Muslim radical appeared to back suicide bombing yesterday when
he claimed that dying for your beliefs was 'just'." Dr Tamimi responded in the Guardian, stating that, "martyrdom is dying for justice and peace…not blowing oneself up killing innocent people." Alex Goodman, of the Manchester Jewish Society (MJS), said: “MJS is concerned about the welfare of all students on campus and seek safety for all and freedom from extremism and hate speech. We sincerely hope that this event will not be a forum for hate." “If anything racist or hate inciting was said, we would intervene.” said Tom Fairhurst, Communications Officer at the UMSU. “It is clearly illegal, and against our policy and we would not hesitate to intervene. But before anything is said we have to respect our values of free speech.” Fairhurst added: “If students are concerned, we will put more security in place.” Also speaking at the conference will be Ismail Patel, a graduate from the University of Manchester and founder of the NGO Friends of Al-Aqsa. The
CONTENTIOUS?… Dr Tamimi will speak in manchester on Friday
organisation is concerned with human rights in Palestine. Yet, he has been accused of supporting terrorism by defending Hamas. In a demonstration on January 10, 2009, Patel said: “Hamas is no terrorist organisation. The reason they hate Hamas is because they refuse to be subjugated, occupied by the Israeli state, and we salute Hamas for standing up to Israel.” The event takes place on February 13 at University Place and is hosted by the USMU Islamic Society. A University of Manchester spokesperson said: “The University is fundamentally committed to ensuring freedom of speech within the law. “This particular event has been organised by a recognised Students’ Union society and hosted by the Students’ Union, rather than the University itself. As necessary, the University seeks assurances from the student society and the Students’ Union that the event will be conducted in an orderly fashion and that all the speakers will respect the laws of the land.”
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04 News Housing
February 8th 2010 / Student Direct www.student-direct.co.uk
Alena Eis News Editor Groups of students traipsing through Fallowfield in the afternoon drizzle, knocking on doors, disappearing inside a house for a few minutes only to repeat the whole process a bit down the road – this can only mean one thing: It’s house hunting season. Last Monday, Manchester Student Homes (MSH) published their annual housing list, and frantic freshers have already started a desperate scramble to find a place for next year, along with wary second years, jaded from bad experience. Now, there is one thing that is absolutely crucial to know about the student housing market in Manchester, and probably the worst kept secret around: there are far more student houses than students. There is no reason to panic in February, or indeed May. New houses are added to the agency lists throughout the year, and many remain empty after summer, and not just because they are bad (though those exist, too). Terrifying as looking for a house for the first time can seem there is no reason to be scared as long as you know what you are doing. There are several letting agents operating in Manchester, including MSH, which is the only agency accredited by the University, and Homes4U. When looking for houses,
actually do look at several houses, the abundance of them means you won’t be out of a home if you are a bit slow, so don’t rent the first house in sight in a panic. Don’t expect to find the perfect house at the first try either; there are some squalid abodes out there featuring everything from mould to unwanted housemates of the rodent kind. “When I walked into the house,” said one student, “there was this funny smell, a mix of damp and cigarette smoke. When we got to the upstairs bedrooms I saw the mould on the ceilings, my future housemates didn’t even notice it. We looked at a few houses in the same area – owned by different landlords – but most appeared to have the same problems, especially with mice because the bins were in between the houses and a complete mess.” Sometimes it can be worth branching out into areas off the beaten track, though UMSU Welfare Officer Vicky Thompson, who deals with housing complaints as part of her role, cautions that location can be a problem. “Some people don’t think about transport when they look for a house, then try to make it in for a 9am lecture from East Didsbury and there are no buses and it takes them an hour, then that’s just not going to happen, no matter how nice it sounds to say you live there.” Likewise, dangerous areas might not be worth the pound a week you save if it means you are scared to go out alone in the dark, which in winter
can be as early as 4pm. Speaking to current tenants instead of just the landlord or agency can be particularly helpful, as they will be able to answer questions on the area, how high the bills usually are and if there have been any problems with the landlord or the house itself. While many will move out because they are graduating, some might have altogether different reasons. Some contracts, especially of houses found individually rather than through an agency can be questionable and should be read with great care. Some include clauses that forbid house parties, or just small things like putting up posters on walls. However, contracts are negotiable and landlords may be willing to make some amendments before signing. Of course, problems can arise during the tenancy itself, from things breaking to mould spreading. “A lot of stuff breaks and isn’t replaced,” commented Thompson, on what problems most students approach her with. “Broken showers, flooded basements, broken heating, that was a big problem in winter.” This is exacerbated when the landlord is unavailable. “They’re not answering their phone and you don’t have an address for them, so you just don’t know how to get in touch.” Students renting through MSH can go through the agency to report any problems, who will then in turn contact the landlord.
Photo: Hannah Reiss
The rush to rent
“Some landlords go completely rogue and try to evict tenants by force, or verbally abuse tenants,” added Thompson. MSH also offers advice on issues to students not renting from them, including looking through contracts to ensure students’ safety. Other problems, like rubbish piles or rat infestations, which are considered an environmental health problem, can be tackled through the Council for free.
UMSU also offers help with renting problems. “Come into the Advice Centre and talk to Kevin or Rebekah directly,” said Thompson. The Advice Centre can help with legal rights, writing letters and advise on how to start proceedings to take landlords to small claims court. Knowing your rights can of course be crucial in solving problems. “My landlord kept coming over to our house,” said 20year-old Sarah. “He’d keep fixing tiny things that weren’t
really a problem but take forever to do it, and have tea breaks all the time. It got so far that we couldn’t even be alone in the house and just didn’t have any privacy.” However, problems aren’t just caused by dodgy landlords or houses. “One of the biggest mistakes people make is in choosing the people they live with,” said Thompson. “Choose carefully, as you’ll have to live with them often four times as long as you have known them.” Getting along with someone
Real Perspective: Two students’ accounts of renting right and renting very, very wrong For me, last February meant only one thing, the same thing it means for almost every other student, it was time to hit the unforgiving streets of Manchester in search of somewhere halfway hospitable to call home for the next year. Having made the rather easy decision to go with MSH, who are accredited by the uni we (my two housemates and I) set a couple of requirements for our house: a nice kitchen, big bedrooms, good transport links etc, (you’d think you’re on Relocation, Relocation, Relocation). Then we hit the net with a vengeance— well, we went on the MSH website and the only thing getting hit were the keys on my keyboard, but you get the idea. There was an abundance of potential houses and viewings were quickly arranged. Next day, we hit the streets (sorry, I need to stop talking about hitting things) to look at the places we shortlisted, oh what a parade of horrors this was, like some sort of extended nightmarish
episode of How Clean is your House? only with full smell-o-vision. Most student places are absolute dumps and this was glaringly evident as we wandered through room after room of mouldy walls and mousetrap-strewn floors while being regaled with tales of rat invasions and dodgy broadband connections (at least as important to the modern student and something that should definitely be on the ‘ask about’ list). Finally we found one place that was halfway decent, on the plus side it came with a dishwasher and a TV, on the minus it was bright pink and seemed to have the world’s most insane landlord, still it was definitely the early frontrunner. A new day brought new possibilities, with two more viewings scheduled, an MSH guy as our guide, and only two of us due to timetabling issues. The first house turned out to be a bit of damp squib as a lockout rendered it unknowable, and then came The One. It was clean, it had a kitchen that was shiny and new, there was no mould, mousetraps or other trademarks of student housing, in short it was perfect and its location slightly off the beaten track meant that it was £20 a week less than we expected. The next day we returned with housemate number three in tow and agreed to sign the contract outside the door. Alec Hawley
For many of you, Manchester Student Homes (MSH) will become a safe haven. They will aid you with enquiries, viewings, contract problems and any other issues which could arise before the start of your tenancy. I would strongly advise you to take advantage of this service and to learn from my mistakes. It happens every year - students panic that all the best houses would have gone, and they go on a rampant mission to find a house. Any house. I found myself jumping the gun last year and searching for properties before MSH had opened their listings. We had numerous viewings; some good, some bad and some very ugly. One property had a living room in the basement, with a window the size of a cat flap. Another property had a kitchen built all along the walls of the living room - not as cool as it sounds. Eventually we found a seven bedroom house in Rusholme. Great? Not so much. I realised how bad my contract was days before signing it, but not before I had paid my deposit - with MSH you will receive a standard, approved contract, but when you look for a property yourself, you are left with very little security. This meant numerous visits to
legal advisors and to the letting agency, who wanted to retain a clause which stated we could be moved out of the property at the landlord’s discretion. However, the biggest headache was the arguments we had and the changing group dynamic. Some groups will soon realise what shaky foundations their friendships rest upon when it comes to deciding on bedrooms, which house you prefer or what your budget is. The arguments started with us back in January even as we looked at our very first house and they lasted up until June when we made the decision to no longer live together. This meant looking for other tenants to replace us in the contract and involved months of advertising and viewings over the summer, and eventually a last minute scrabble to find somewhere to live in time for the academic year Danijela Topalovic
News Housing 05
Student Direct / February 8th 2010 www.student-direct.co.uk
Protecting your deposit
ON PATROL... Police officers ensure students’ safety in Rusholme and Fallowfield in a new campaign
Photo: Hannah Reiss
Alena Eis News Editor
e in halls is no guarantee that you will get along with them when you move into a house together, and especially important if houses are rented under joint tenancy, which means everybody is equally liable for damage to the property. If for whatever reason you end up without housemates to move in with, MSH run a forum in which people can advertise and look for housemates or rooms. “I meant to move in with some mates after first year,” said Nursing student Mike, 22. “One left uni though, and then the other wanted to move in with his girlfriend, and everybody else had a place already, so I guess I
started to panic a bit. I thought it would be a nice change to live in city centre, so I went to a private hall, which looked good enough, and signed a contract. “When I got there after the summer it was a complete mess, mould in the shower, they put me in a different room than the one I signed the contract for and when I complained about silver fish the manager just came up to my room with me, stomped down on one and told me that’s what I should do.” “If the warning bells are ringing, don’t sign,” warned Thompson. “You can find somewhere to live in September, and you can find people to live with in September.”
Advice Don’t rush, rent right Vicky Thompson, UMSU Welfare Officer Every year without fail, students rush to rent private accommodation. Many students are sold the lie that they need to “beat the rush” and rent before the end of January or right at the beginning of February.
There is no need. In Manchester, there are more student houses than there are students. If you don’t manage to find a house straight away, don’t panic (and whatever you do, don’t panic rent!) You will have to live in the house you choose for an entire year, so settling for a poky house in Fallowfield when you were after something more spacious in Victoria Park is not a good idea. There’s no need to settle on the first house you see just because it’s “not too
bad” or “could be worse”. Keep calm and keep looking. You also need time to pick your flatmates carefully- don’t live with people you’re not sure about. Pick your area carefully and be sure to do your research; it doesn’t matter if your house if far away, as long as the transport links are good and the area is sufficiently busy. Whatever you do, never agree to rent unless you personally have seen the property.
How green is your (student) house? Alena Eis News Editor Carbon Neutral housing is the newest fad hitting the student rental market in Manchester, allowing students to not just go green but also save money. Student landlord Beech Properties has begun switching its properties to green energy by installing solar panels on the roofs. The solar energy produced not only meets the houses’ needs, but exceeds them, additional energy being fed into the National Grid and students able to keep the payback of around £60 a year. To make them more energy efficient, the houses are also equipped with new, all-round insulation, something student houses notoriously lack, making
them hard to heat and draughty. As you would expect, the green houses make a difference environmentally too, reducing tenants’ impact on climate change. “Many students recognise the criticality of this issue and want to become part of the solution, not the problem,” said company owner Stephen Beech. “Students welcome the opportunity to reduce their carbon emissions but they are also very cost conscious and are not willing to compromise on quality or location. I wanted to make a fully modernised home that was value for money, in a prime location and also energy efficient. “We’re getting a lot of interest for our green houses, which shows that students really do care about the environment and want to play their part in helping reduce climate change.”
Solar Power… green student houses are 100% carbon neutral
Fearing for deposits is as much a part of student life as writing essays, except the latter only gets expensive if you forget to renew those High Demand books. The carpet is wearing suspiciously thin, does that go out of my deposit? The paint chipping off the door every time you open it? The microwave that caught on fire? That situation is worse when your landlord is a little on the dodgy side, the dread setting in the closer June and moving out gets. Sure, that chair that broke at the party before Christmas needs to be replaced, but it was cheap and rickety, Surely it can’t be right to take £40 out of the deposits of all four housemates? And what about those stories of people not getting their deposits back at all, the landlord considering it as an extra month’s rent? This is where the Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme comes in. Since April 2007, landlords are required by law to pay deposits into a protection scheme within 14 days of receiving it and tell you which scheme the deposit is with. There are only three companies contracted by the government to run these schemes. The scheme is supposed to give more safety to tenants and landlords alike and allows tenants to get all or part of their deposit back so long as they are entitled to it. This means landlords cannot keep deposits without valid reasoning, while disputes can be solved with help of the company, who will offer mediators should tenants and landlord not be able to resolve conflicts between them. If the landlord does not provide information on the protection scheme, ask them about it. If a landlord fails to sign up for a scheme you can go through a local county court, which can then force the landlord to enter into a scheme of repay the deposit. However, there are some things to bear in mind to ensure a smooth process: inventories are usually supplied at the start of tenancy and should be checked at the beginning to avoid problems. If furniture is missing or damaged this is the time to put it down in writing so you won’t be blamed for it. If no inventory is provided, make your own with a witness present, and if possible get your landlord to co-sign it.
06 News 04
February 8th 2010 / Student Direct
Photo: Hafsah Saadiqah
The Big Picture CHRONIC DEBT… UMSU’s debt doctors give their diagnosis
Tuition fee committee in Manchester Danijela Topalovic News Sub Editor The committee responsible for reviewing tuition fees met with students at the University of Manchester last week. The Browne Committee, who are currently reviewing tuition fees and funding, toured the university campus and met with 20 students. The national government committee spent time talking to the students, some of whom will be leaving with over £20,000 worth of debts. However, Kate Little, the Academic Affairs Officer at the University of
Manchester Students’ Union (UMSU) said: “It felt like a tokenistic gesture. We’ve made our arguments, let’s hope they listen.” The morning before the committee arrived in Manchester, the campaign against tuition fees continued. Students dressed up as doctors and scoured the area around the library in a bid to “diagnose” chronic debt. The treatment offered was advice on how to help contribute to the ongoing campaign. A debtometer was also placed at Pangea and students posed with the debtometer according to how much they owed. This drive against tuition fees comes as the National Union of Students (NUS) launches a campaign to get more MPs to vote
in favour of students - otherwise they could lose their vote. The NUS warns “vote for us or pay the price” and follows on from a national campaign of town takeovers. Wes Streeting, President of the NUS, sent out a stark warning: “Our list of key student seats should make the point particularly clearly. Elections have been won and lost by the votes of students before and it will happen again.” To find out about ongoing and future campaigns against tuition fees, email Kate Little at firstname.lastname@example.org k or alternatively write to your MP - a sample letter will shortly be available on the UMSU website.
Man attacked at Warehouse Project Girish Gupta News Editor A man suffered cuts to his face and arm following an attack at the Warehouse Project during the Christmas period. The Manchester venue saw a scuffle between two customers on December 27— David Guetta headlining— in which one suffered injuries. These were caused by the edge of a beer can, according to the club’s managing director Sacha Lord-
Marchionne. “The paramedics dealt with the wound and informed the police of the scuffle,” continued Lord-Marchionne. “The wounded party went to the hospital, to receive stitches. However, became bored with waiting and left. “I am led to believe that the wounded person doesn’t want to press charges against the person who attacked him.” A staff member working that night thought that there had been a stabbing and was disappointed not to have been better informed of the situation. “I was a bit shocked that the management never told the staff,” they said. “There were people
walking around in the nightclub, stewards, people selling poppers and so on.” Detective Constable Paul Shacklady of North Manchester CID pointed out how rare the incident was and that the venue had won awards for its safety record: “Because of this I am hoping someone noticed the assault. "There was a large crowd of people at the event and I am appealing to anyone who may have witnessed the assault to come forward." Anyone with information should call police on 0161 856 3240 or call the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Amis maintains suicide booths for the elderly are a ‘serious’ consideration Joshua Carroll Martin Amis has angered religious and anti-euthanasia groups by proposing a radical solution to Britain’s ageing population- suicide booths. Amis, a novelist and lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Manchester, made the comments in an interview with the Sunday Times Magazine. In the interview Amis described the future population of Britain as a “silver tsunami” and “an invasion of terrible immigrants, stinking out the restaurants and cafes and shops.” When quizzed by an audience member at a Guardian book club meeting, Amis maintained his
Letting agent offers free food for a year Danijela Topalovic News Sub Editor A Fallowfield letting agency is offering students the chance to win a year’s supply of food.
proposal to have “a booth on every corner” was serious. Amis defended his position by insisting that his own generation will soon “be a curse on society of a magnitude that demographers say is quite new...no demographic distortion will ever approach what we’re now about to have.” This isn’t the first time Amis has courted controversy. Back in 2007 Manchester academic Terry Eagleton accused Amis of racism - a retaliation against Amis advocating deportation and a “curtailing of freedoms” for the entire Muslim community as a possible means of preventing terrorism. Eagleton remained silent on the latest dispute. A spokesperson for antieuthanasia group the ProLife Alliance told Student Direct: Mancunion: “his comments were
The competition, run by Around Town Flats, will present one lucky student with weekly Sainsbury’s vouchers worth £20 - for the whole year. The “Win a year’s free shopping” competition endeavours to provide some financial relief for the competition winner. Around Town Flats, situated opposite Owens Park, say they hope to offer a respite for those students who are surviving off beans and noodles. Lettings Manager Jill Speers said:
very out there. No one really takes the idea of suicide booths seriously. This debate impacts primarily on the elderly and the phrase ‘silver tsunami’ is very pejorative. “If this is the attitude we’re going to have then maybe we’re not approaching the issue dispassionately.” When asked if the comments were timed to bolster the publicity campaign for Amis’ new book, ProLife Alliance said: “[We] can’t comment on Amis’s exact motivation… but he does seem to have a strong opinion on the subject.” Last week fellow novelist Sir Terry Pratchett added to the debate by calling for the introduction of euthanasia tribunals.
Opinion Page 10
“After paying for books, bills and tuition fees, many students find there’s little left in the bank for groceries each week. “That’s why we’ve decided to give one student a helping hand and make surviving on a student budget that little bit easier.” The competition is open to students in Manchester and to enter, students should send their name and contact details to email@example.com before February 26.
Student Direct / February 8th 2010
08 Letters & Editorial
February 8th 2010 / Student Direct www.student-direct.co.uk
Letters & Editorial Time to make a come back…
The last few editions of the paper have had attack after attack on women. It’s about time to make a stand against this recent misogynistic wave, and to defend the women’s rights movement
A Little help goes a long way
osam Abdel’s letter about the ‘feminist agenda’ of the paper, and the women in the office, ended up not being an attack on journalism but an attack on women for being women. So yes, ‘P.Terphile’, it was misogynistic. A woman standing up to this attack, and defending others from it, is then personally attacked in a similar vein with reference to ‘vagina shaving’ and ‘lesbian bicycle cooperatives’ (neither of which were ever featured in the paper). Yes, this is misogyny: hatred or contempt of women. Given that the mass media is overwhelmingly patriarchal, a ‘feminist agenda’ in the paper is at the very least a re-balancing of the media world, and possibly a useful step towards women’s liberation. Challenging objectification in the media, raising awareness about rape myths, challenging dangerous parliamentary bills, engaging in open debate about beauty pageants, Men’s Societies and promoting women’s choices in their lives are usually severely sidelined in the media. Women and non-women alike should be celebrating the fact that the women’s liberation campaign is active and - for the most part – well respected. Women’s equality and liberation is for the benefit of all, or do we not all
want to live in a society where, as a good friend puts it, mutual love and respect for all as the basis? A reply also has to follow from the letter about domestic violence. Domestic violence against men should certainly not be dismissed as nonexistent, but the letter printed was severely factually inaccurate. The emphasis on targeting perpetrators rather than victims is laudable in prevention – it is the perpetrators who have the power to end domestic violence rather than the victims, however I dismiss the idea that women are deemed more important victims than men. Now for the facts. Firstly, John Dias mentions a ‘peer reviewed’ report without making any reference to the report itself, please do share. The last 35 years may have revealed some interesting ideas, but the last 5 years have revealed reliable statistics and some shocking results and attitudes. The oft-quoted figure of 1 in 6 men experience domestic violence does not take into account sexual assault, which is overwhelmingly man on woman, nor whether violent acts were repeated. The Home Office Research Study (276) into Domestic violence, sexual assault and
stalking: Findings from the British Crime Survey by Sylvia Walby and Jonathan Allen gives the most up to date picture of domestic violence. Repeat attacks is an area which often shows the differences between how men and women experience domestic violence, and suggests that behind the statistics there is a systemic abuse of power and control within relationships. In this report, of women, 43 per cent had experienced one act of domestic violence from a partner or former partner person, while a further 25 per cent suffered one or two further incidents. Of men, 69 per cent said that the event was never repeated by that partner, while for 21 per cent it was repeated once or twice more. Among women, 32 per cent of those who had experienced domestic violence did so ‘many times’ (that is, four or more times), as compared with 11 per cent of the (smaller number) of men who had done so. Women constituted 89 per cent of all those who suffered four or more incidents. On average 2 women a week are killed by a male partner or former partner: this constitutes around one-third of all female homicide victims. (Povey, (ed.), 2004, 2005; Home Office, 1999;
Action Palestine’s speaker conundrum
nti-semites and plain old idiots are the biggest threat to the Palestinian cause. All too often pro-Palestinian groups will grab on to any idiot they can find who hates Israel. Hating Israel and loving Palestine are separate issues. Some people seem to not understand that. Poor organisation and idiots like Masuku are one of the very biggest threats facing Palestinian activism. There are more than enough people one can approach who aren’t so inflammatory. Whatever they say, Action Palestine has failed
miserably and set back the Palestinian cause instead of promoting it. Robert Sutcliffe
he idea that Action Palestine is anti-semitic is a joke. On campus they campaign for Palestinian rights, something that is trampled upon by Israel. Inviting Masuku, a man who has fought racism in South Africa, is not anti-semitic it’s simply about allowing people to draw the links between apartheid, which existed in South Africa and that which
now exists in Palestine/ Israel. Do you really think that a jewish anti-racist like Kasrils would have gone anyway near Masuku- let alone agree with him- if he was anti-semitic? Saying that “no pro-Israel Jews should ever consider South Africa to be their home” isn’t anti-semitic, it’s simply saying supporters of racism aren’t welcome in a non-racial South Africa. If you’re saying that this is an attack on all jews, then you’re also saying that all jews think the same of Israel etc., which clearly isn’t true. Jazon Rodik
Department of Health, 2005.) Domestic violence is generally not just physical; it has to be seen within a framework of power and control, repeated habits formed within a relationship. Initial results from a survey into violence against women by NUS is already showing that women students are in no way exempt of these trends, so yes this is an issue we should engage in on campus, but we should engage in the facts and not whichever lies suit our agenda. The younger a person is, the more likely they are to be subject to inter-personal violence. In all cases those under 25 are the most likely to suffer inter-personal violence. (Walby and Allen, 2004) Just another statistic to show that on campus we really do need to be engaging in these issues. Hazel Kent , UMSU Women’s Officer
‘The current system for funding higher education is regressive and unfair’ Read the Union’s letter to the Browne committee
They say a little help goes a long way. And in Kate Little’s case, her help on devising a new feedback policy has seen it go all the way to University Senate. This time last year Little’s campaign slogan was ‘I’m hungry for exam feedback’ and with Senate agreeing in principle to the reform on when and how students will receive feedback on their exams and coursework, and a redraft scheduled to be finalised at the next meeting, it’s surely smiles all round in the Academic Affairs office. Undoubtedly, last Wednesday’s Senate resulted in a landmark decision for students but perhaps of equal importance is what this could signify for the Students’ Union too. In time, the feedback policy may be seen as a watershed moment for UMSU; a beacon-like indicator that it can and will perform for students. And in the run up to the elections, it should be a clarion call to potential candidates and voters alike, as last Wednesday offered up incontrovertible evidence that with the right priorities the Students’ Union can make a real, tangible difference to students’ lives. Or at least to their degrees. UMSU has quite the legacy when it comes to student politics, staunchly left-leaning (although the shades of red have varied) it boasts some of the best examples of ’70s ‘stoo-dent’ stunt pulling – the 1975 University Challenge on-air protest perhaps being the best anecdote— and nurtured a generation of New Labour politicians in the ’80s and ’90s. But what of the noughties? Well we had two occupations, for a start. One of the Arthur Lewis building in 2008 as a protest against the commoditisation of higher education (amongst other things) and another of the John Owens building in 2009 as a reaction to Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. Two very different issues, same tactics, with the most discernable outcome of both being a whole lot of disenfranchised students. Politics, including student politics, has moved on since the ’70s and with feedback reform squarely on the table, what’s been proven is that students’ unions need a new breed of politician. Principled, yes, but also savvy enough to play the game when needed, speaking in tones that the university cannot ignore. Megaphone-heads and party ideologues need not apply. The feedback proposal was the product of hours of surveys, focus groups and questionnaires and without facilitation from the Students’ Union— both Executive and Council— it could have taken the University even longer to get it off the ground. How fortunate that this year’s representatives weren’t too entrenched in ideological feuds (or too fond of fashioning the front steps of the Union building into their own personal soapbox) to sit down around the table and get something down on paper. Students are often sold down the river by their politicians, what last week’s decision has shown is that they needn’t be by those at UMSU.
Student Direct needs a new features editor… Interested? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Student Direct / February 8th 2010 www.student-direct.co.uk
Harry Long Fewer students is the right decision - but funding cuts will further damage the quality of degrees Harry Long
he debacle over university funding has entered new realms of stupidity. Since the new year, savage cuts in Higher Education funding amounting to £900m over a three-year period have been announced by the government. Universities are furious that their degree programmes will be irreparably damaged if the cuts go ahead. The Russell Group, which includes the University of Manchester, has said they will be forced to sack stuff and shut down courses in an effort to save money. The effect on universities will undoubtedly be disastrous. Funding is essential in order to support basic aspects of campus life. While it assists with staff salaries and research, it also props up in the most basic aspects of running an institution such as hygiene and cleanliness. The government has cleverly presented the cuts as being a necessity given the recession and will undoubtedly look to enforce them as rapidly as possible. But the recession is only part of the story. The surge in student numbers in recent years has been unsustainable - and yet no action has been taken to stem it. When elected in 1997, Labour’s early plans were for 50 per cent of young people to go to university, but this has been quietly dropped as even the most fanatical New Labour zealots realised that funding such number of places was financially insane. Even so, the past decade has seen new degree programmes being opened at record speed. In the sudden rush for university places, the traditional reasons going to university have been quietly sidelined. No one would disagree that a degree from a prestigious university is the ultimate goal of most young people going through the application process. The achievement of getting onto a good course and graduating with a reasonable chance of employment is something to be proud of. But not all degree courses carry the
same value - and it is wrong to pretend they do. Of course, there is nothing now to stop someone enrolling onto a Leisure and Tourism or Building course, but it’s likely that a vocational qualification outside the Higher Education system would provide more relevant training than a hastily put-together degree in
period of just a few months. This is partly because of a general disregard for the best interests of students that runs throughout Westminster. The tuition fee debate was railroaded through Parliament with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats putting up half-hearted opposition to the onslaught. It is difficult to imagine any party pledging a serious alternative to funding at the next election. The planned cuts also look set to have a much greater impact on higher education than they will on the NHS and the police. Of course,
The British education system has developed over 800 years and yet politicians seem content to wreak havoc on it in a period of just a few months
areas such as these. Instead of realising this, higher education has been subject to damaging changes based on a false pretext that all university courses are of the same value. With little consideration, the government decided that a ‘one education fits all’ policy was the way forward and heaped the pressure on school leavers to attend university. It is this massive influx of students into the system that now necessitates the savage cost cutting plans on which the government is about to embark. The consequences will be dire. In a letter to the Guardian, university leaders have argued that our “gold standard system could be replaced with one of silver, bronze or worse, under swingeing cuts.” As they rightly point out, the British education system has developed over 800 years and yet politicians seem content to wreak havoc on it in a
support for public health and safety is paramount, but the widespread neglect of higher education should serve as a reminder for future students that a likely Tory government will press ahead with even deeper cuts than are now being planned. Cutting funding is likely to cause further grievances for students suffering poor quality teaching. As if the introduction of tuition fees were not damaging enough, students on many courses are facing six or fewer hours per week of contact with lecturers and tutors. This is most notable on arts and social science courses. Continued promises of increased teaching quality ring hollow when students who benefited from 20 hours a week contact time 20 years ago are rarely being taught for more than a couple of hours a day. The answer to the crisis is
Disagree with Harry? Email email@example.com
simple: cutting student numbers by implementing more stringent entry requirements to courses will reduce the total number of students at university. This in turn reduces financial pressures on institutions battling to keep down costs. But it also produces higher quality graduates better qualified on graduation, having received better teaching with more contact hours - a far cry from the rip-off deal that many, particularly international students, currently endure. Reducing student numbers would go a long way towards eliminating the poor careers
advice currently offered children still at school. With the evergrowing government obsession with sending people to university, school leavers are getting the wrong message. If everyone in your class is applying to university, it is understandable to feel left out if you would rather apply for an apprenticeship or another form of work training. In the past, there was significant emphasis on alternatives to university that are currently being neglected. The expectation that the majority of young people should attend university actually threatens to damage the
economy, not strengthen it. For 2010-11, the government is planning higher education cuts of £135m which will be added to “efficiency savings” of £180m - yet at the same time talking up the benefits of even more students. This overlooks the drawbacks of a saturated graduate job market. David Lammy, the Higher Education Minister for England, proudly told the BBC that “next year there will be more students at university than ever before in our history.” A history of quality education that is rapidly going down the pan.
10 Opinion & Debate
February 8th 2010 / Student Direct www.student-direct.co.uk
Before we push ahead with assisted suicide legislation, surely the focus should be on ensuring that everyone can expect quality treatment and support in their last days?
To be or not to be, Martin? The novelist’s comments, however facetious, have touched on a compelling subject Polly Glass Opinion Editor
n light of recent events it would appear that satire has the capacity to expose our nation’s enthusiasm for a good, indignant sense of humour failure, and encourage us to consider wider issues. I am of course thinking of that bastion of forthright, slightly pompous declarations, Martin Amis. In particular his recently expressed views on the elderly and assisted suicide. Agree with him or not, he has struck a potent iron at its
absolute hottest. Scotland’s proposals for legalisation of the practice, more Brits heading to Dignitas in Switzerland, more ‘mercy killings’ being conducted by anxious, pressurised carers; it’s all pushing the assisted suicide debate further into the public eye and screaming out to the powers-that-be that the manner in which death and dying is dealt with in this country seriously needs to be addressed. Beloved author (and Alzheimer’s sufferer) Terry Pratchett has even gone so far as to say he would be a test case for assisted suicide ‘tribunals’ which would give people legal permission to end their lives. Amis’s now infamous “euthanasia booths on street corners” quote may have been taken ridiculously out of
proportion by many (apparently poised at the start line of righteous outraged objection, they sprung forward in determination to be riled up by a dystopian idea Amis wasn’t seriously proposing, d’oh...) but the accompanying sincere beliefs do raise sincere questions. When we hear of people who are terminally ill, utterly incapacitated, in intolerable pain and wanting to end their lives peacefully, I think most of us would empathise. Add to this the fact that without the legal option, thousands resort to violent, often botched, suicide attempts of their own – or persuade others to assist them in this – and many would agree that in severe cases legal assisted suicide should be available from medical practitioners. For the most
part I would join them, but in the same way I disagree with the notion of extending abortion rights I worry about the manner in which it could develop; both need to be options, but it is vital that we don’t lose sight of what a big deal they are. The assertion that we should be allowed to choose how we die sits comfortably with Amis and pretty much all pro-assisted suicide critics. When discussing mentally-sound patients, that is. A key part of Dying with Dignity’s conditions for permissible assisted suicide is the need for the person in question to be “mentally competent.” But this self-empowering element becomes decidedly more complicated when the person is mentally disabled and/or physically unable to express such a choice. It is an awkward, grey area that Amis and a lot of others commenting on the subject seem to have conveniently sailed past. Are we to assume that someone in such a position has less of a right to a peaceful death? They can still experience pain and shouldn’t this be taken into account? It all invokes the potential for suggested regulations surrounding assisted suicide to be tweaked indefinitely, and the ProLife Alliance fear this would gradually result in the slide from voluntary to
involuntary. The “unspoken standards” drawn over at what stage life can be deemed “unliveable” in the Netherlands – and Els Borst’s subsequent admission that these standards were wrong – have highlighted such potential. But coupled with this is the suggestion that most GPs would, understandably, have great difficulty with the responsibility of essentially killing someone, however bleak their prognosis. It has to be certified that any hope for living comfortably until natural death is realised wherever possible. The emphasis, therefore, surely has to be on providing quality palliative care first and foremost. There are currently problems with this system; big problems, that probably accentuate assisted suicide as a preferable option by contrast. The most crucial of these being that far too many people simply aren’t getting it – as Dr Mark Porter observed in The Times, palliative care teams only get to meet a minority of people who are ill and dying, and the majority of those are cancer patients. This leaves sufferers of heart and lung disease, Alzheimer’s and other degenerative diseases in a position of secondary importance. So, where do hospices stand in all
this? They are widely regarded as the ideal option for dying people, but they need to be matched by all places of palliative care. Currently there aren’t enough hospices to cope with demand, and because of this a huge number of patients rely on palliative care units in hospitals and other centres, and judging by testimonials the standard across the country is highly inconsistent. As Porter points out “you don’t see many palliative care doctors walking the corridors of local nursing homes full of people with advanced dementia.” Before we push ahead with any assisted suicide legislation, surely the focus should be on ensuring that everyone can reliably expect high quality care, treatment and support in their last months, weeks and days. For some patients, however, no amount of palliative care can address their anxieties regarding their loss of autonomy, dignity and control. If assisted suicide is legalised it needs to be very thoroughly regulated and not come to be regarded as a malleable system. But if people could feel that they were guaranteed a dignified, comfortable final period in their lives, the numbers looking elsewhere would lessen significantly.
happens to a gay man who can legally only receive ‘straight blood’, will he be forced go hetero or die? Regardless of the origins of the blood ban and the arguments for it, the fact remains that it perpetuates a negative view of non-heterosexual males. Its existence in the new decade shows that gay, bisexual and queer men remain marginalised within society and do not have the same rights as heterosexual males. As a student population we encouraged to give blood, but as a gay student, one is turned away. Evidence given in 2008 to a Tasmanian tribunal on their blood ban suggested that if gay and bisexual men who practised safe sex were allowed to donate, one HIV-positive blood donation would be likely to slip through the clinical screening process once every 5,769 years. That's once between now and the year 7778. This statistic like thousands of others shows just how ludicrous and flawed the ban itself is. It is remarkable how many
people have no idea about the ban, and who are outraged when they find out about it. The simple fact is that there is a shortage of blood in the United Kingdom and lifting the ban would mean more blood available to those who need it. At the next University of Manchester Students’ Union General Meeting, a motion regarding the ban will be put forward and within it there will be some key arguments relating to the ban; this is a great way of having your say and being proactive, as well as learning more about the issue itself. This week is LGBT Awareness week and as part of that we will be running a stall which informs people about the ban, campaigns against it and embraces the ‘give blood because we can’t’ ethos. We will be outside the John Rylands Library on Tuesday afternoon and there will be a general Awareness week stall and events all week in the Students’ Union.
If you need us to, will we not bleed? If not, could thousands more not die? The blood ban is a slap in the face to gay liberation Peter Stephens
f you prick us do we not bleed? If you poison us, do we not die? Shylock asks of his persecutors, in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. He is talking as a Jewish man, stigmatised and outcast; denied the same rights as contemporaries. As a non-heterosexual man, I ask of the blood service: If you need us to, will we not bleed? If not, could thousands more not die? It is currently illegal in the United Kingdom for men who have had oral or anal sex with other men to give blood to the national blood service; a protocol commonly referred to as ‘the blood ban’. The blood ban has lead to the current ‘give blood, because we can’t’ campaign which encourages people donate blood, but makes them aware of the fact that due to dated and widely unfounded stigma gay, bisexual and queer men can’t. This article is concerned not with a reaffirmation of what is widely undisputed; that people need to give blood in order to
save each other’s lives, but with the question of why can’t these men can’t give their blood, which is no less valuable than blood from anyone else. The often unspoken but widely known reason behind the ‘gay blood ban’ is the offensive and dated association between gay men and Aids; this is a tsunami of bile pushing against the waves of gay liberation and its trudge towards equality. It would be foolhardy to deny that Aids was prevalent amongst the gay male community in the 1980s, due to general ignorance followed by a lag in people taking control of their sexual health. Nowadays the gay community as a whole is very aware of the risk of unprotected sex and as such, we belong to a generation in which gay men are not having unprotected sex and are not contracting HIV, and who are in the same biological health as heterosexual men and women. The blood ban, which was initially a reaction to the 1980s Aids pandemic, now seems only to suggest that the wider community has failed to appreciate that men who have slept with other men at some point in their life are no more
The blood ban has failed to appreciate that men who have slept with other men are no more diseased than those who haven’t
diseased than those who haven’t. Another argument, thankfully not put forward by the blood service is the concept of ‘Gay Blood’. The theory is so idiotic that it’s barely worth mentioning except in order to dispel just in case anyone believes it. Basically, it goes something like; gay
men have gay blood which holds their gayness and if you give it to straight men then they’ll ‘go gay’ too. Surprisingly enough their have been no confirmed cases of anyone’s sexuality changing following a blood transfusion, and if there were, I pose the question what
Opinion & Debate 11
Student Direct / February 8th 2010 www.student-direct.co.uk
Why not have away with it all and start working down the pit? Get a greyhound and appear on The Jeremy Kyle Show?
You think those glasses are ‘ironic’? How shortsighted Wearing glasses when you don't need them is as bad as going around in blackface Dan Brookes
y eyes sellotaped 'slanty', I get some funny looks as I scoot around town in my electric wheelchair. Though I must admit, the shouting only really starts when I get up to push the
thing over cobbles. Sometimes it gets as bad as the time I saw City of God and spent the next six months dressed in authentic barrio rags. Random! Epic! Of course I'm being ironic. That is basically my shit, yeah. But why can Japanese people have all the fun with those cool looking eyes and not me? Aren't we all equal? Why should someone with no legs be
allowed to zip around the town on wheels and I can't? What are discrimination laws for? This hack is fully aware that we live in a postmodern paradigm where the value and worth of anything is up for grabs. But there are some symbols that need to remain sacrosanct. Walking down Oxford Road, attending lectures and out in the local nightlife, one cannot fail to notice an alarming penchant for unnecessary glasses: glasses with plain glass. Fashion glasses. And they're not usually any old glasses; they're deliberately those hyper-
stylised '80s NHS glasses that Morrissey wore when The Smiths were King Shit. The difference between El Moz wearing them and a girl from the Home Counties slumming it up north is obvious: the former was born poor with dodgy eyesight. Wearing glasses when you don't need them is as bad as going around in blackface. It takes the symbols of a historically rejected group and utilises them for purposes of 'cool'. The thing with black people or disabled people, Johnny Hipster – they can't choose not to be that when
fashion rolls on six months from now. The thing with the glasses is a double insult too. First the shortsighted get fetishised, as do the working class, who had no choice but to wear big, ugly spectacles that often resulted in some vicious, witnessed firsthand schoolyard-type bullying. Why not have away with it all and start working down the pit? Get a greyhound and appear on The Jeremy Kyle Show? Then again, middle-class British culture is explicitly based around the misappropriation of the cool points scored by 'others', so why be surprised or angry about it? Is
it like Clausewitz said, just a continuation of politics by other means? It's a depressing thought. The fashion industry has gone to great lengths to legitimise its industry as art, as important and influential as great music or film, so it's about time it copped some responsibility. Either that or the future rulers of this country that populate our dear university could not be so frightened of developing their own culture using David Mitchell, field hockey and argyle socks as a starting point. How frightfully random.
The rise and fall of snowmen The short life of the Manchester snow mirrored the rise and fall of great empires Gaz Morris
think that I can empathise with Alberti Biondi more than I ever could, not least because I've only just found out who he is. Biondi was one of the first ever archaeologists, taking a (then unheard-of ) fascination with the relics of the past and turning it into a recognised study within his own lifetime. It was Biondi that orchestrated the first mass excavations of the forum Romanum in Rome and it was he that found the rubble and ruins of a once great civilisation and imagined what it was like in its prime. (Incidentally, Biondi found Rome in such a state that he often despaired, like the time he found cows grazing on the Capitoline hill, the former seat of republican government in amongst the fallen columns and weathered statues.) Walking home from university today, I think I can understand in microcosm what it must have felt like to look into the onceglorious past from a perspective
of utter, unceasing ruin. As even the least observant amongst the general public will inform you, the last few weeks have been sodding cold. Accompanying this cold was more than a little bit of snow which made for a pleasant change for a lot of people until it started to interfere with their lives. I was struck by just how quickly snowmen could appear seemingly from out of the ground and come to dominate the landscape as the only things of any definable stature, as everything else was covered in snow. The great snow car of Manchester appeared outside our house and numerous halfused snowballs could be found littering the place. Alas, nothing lasts forever, and the snow was destined to melt. However, I didn't expect it to be so drawn out and distressing to watch. First, trees and buildings start to shed themselves of their shiny white coatings and soon reveal the gritty, grimy colours underneath. Then paths begin to form amongst the snow on the floor allowing people easier access - this one I can permit. Then the snowmen begin to melt, with each component slowly dropping off to lie,
Walking home from university today, I think I can understand in microcosm what it must have felt like to look into the once-glorious past from a perspective of utter, unceasing ruin
ruined, on the floor. Before long most of the snowmen are either in pieces on the floor like the columns on the forum or else are holding onto the wall on which they rest for dear life as their body slips away from under them. Even the onceillustrious snow car is now nothing more than a vaguely car-shaped blob of snow. Snow gave way to barbarous ice before a second snowfall promised to return us to the glorified days of enveloped neigery but, alas, it wasn't enough. It dusted the ground and gave the appearance of progress but, in actuality, it just concealed the barbarian glacial covering for a
short while. It was not long before that snow, too, gave way to the ice underneath and the slippery, shiny pavement hints at what once was, much like the present paving on the Acropolis in Athens. As I write this the rain has now come, washing even the ice away in a drizzly deluge and revealing the civilisation of man once more from underneath its frosty coating. The kingdom of the snowmen has come and gone and is replaced by the far less ephemeral land of mankind and we can but remember the once great hold the kingdom of the snowmen held over our lives.
Hothead George Robinson Opinion Editor
aven’t you seen Fahrenheit 9/11? You’re so naïve man, everyone knows the Iraq War was for oil. Bush is more oil crazed than a eight-seater, gas guzzlin’ SUV.” This is one conspiracy theory I could do without. I thought it had gone. I was convinced it was banished forever now the ‘tyrannical’ reign of George Bush had come to an end. Alas not. It’s back. People are apparently more convinced than ever that the Bush/Blair axis of evil masterminded a war from Neo-Con HQ in conjunction with Shell, ExxonMobil, Halliburton and numerous other baby-eating multi-national corporations. To believe that any other motivation for the war existed would reflect a viewpoint which isn’t ‘sticking it to the man’. Well forgive me if I’m not convinced by a couple of opinion pieces in the Independent and a moronic fat
man’s latest pile of shit documentary. “You need to open your eyes man, confront the truth, it’s all about oil” Well, no actually. And the thing which angers me most about this debate is that it deflects attention from what is the more pressing issue. The shambolic post-war planning is what has made the Iraq war the issue it is today. It is this lack of preparation which has caused untold suffering to millions of innocent Iraqi people, and it is the lack of planning which has indelibly damaged the credibility of the concept of humanitarian intervention. That’s the issue. “God man, you’re so missing the point, Blair’s a megalomaniacal oil drinking American poodle.” I rest my case.
Got an Opinion? firstname.lastname@example.org
12 14 Politics & Analysis
February 8th 2010 / Student Direct www.student-direct.co.uk
Politics & Analysis David Cameron’s poster campaign airbrushes over the cracks Jo Gewirtz
he unveiling of David Cameron’s campaign poster evoked the mirth and derision of many, including some personal jibes from Gordon Brown, usually the most somber of characters. In the PMQs following the leader of the opposition’s campaign launch, Brown repeatedly mocked and ridiculed Cameron, pointing out that even the poster has “better lines on it than those you are giving today.” The Prime Minister here raised several issues, perhaps most alarmingly that the man likely to become the leader of this country is obsessed with his own image, to the point that it foregrounds his entire campaign. The almost wax-like close-up on the poster, featuring a man resembling Dave but apparently photographed back in his twenties in the good old Bullingdon Club days, continues a worrying precedent for the role and power of the media in British politics. One
of Brown’s personal gripes is the fact that the media feels the need to persistently ridicule him for his appearance, from the recent photographs of him looking haggard whilst jogging, to cartoons depicting him as obese. However, whilst Brown repeatedly voices his desire to keep the focus in politics related to policy, Cameron, a former PR man, has shown again and again his willingness to court the press. In a now infamous YouTube video, Cameron is shown switching his outfits four times before lunch as he meets various people. Evidently he believes the blue versus red tie debate is one close to the hearts of many voters throughout the nation. Yet the reaction of the public has been rather sour to the large, disembodied face looming over some of the most deprived areas of the country, with countless websites devoted to online captions and graffiti to further animate Cameron’s already fake head. This must give Brown some hope, after the “storm in a teacup” of Hoon and Hewitt’s attempted coup, as for once his ever popular,
“ ” More than just David Cameron’s face is being airbrushed in the run up to this year’s election
ever pretty Blairite adversary is getting some heat. Indeed, Brown’s last five or so appearances in the Commons have been recognized by even the Tory blogs as ‘draws’ against the Leader of the Opposition (which essentially
means wins). This is because Labour, as divided a party as they may be, have finally found the chink in the amour. David Cameron and the Conservatives appear to be the model choice for a new Prime Minister and government. But beyond the image projected, and beyond Cameron’s talk as he goes about the country, promising everything to everyone, they smack of a bunch who are rather exemplary at pointing, jeering and laughing in the weekly playground debacle (otherwise known as PMQs) and without solid solutions to Britain’s biggest problems, and any policies beyond “not what Labour are doing.” As Cameron recently admitted, the only ‘guaranteed’ tax cut would
be the inheritance tax – a policy that will affect only the very top and most wealthy strata of British society. This pledge is not one that will diminish the still lingering fear that the Tory party pander to the rich and do not much else. It seems more than just David Cameron’s face is being airbrushed to increase his appeal in the run up to this year’s election – the entire platform for governance of the Tories is being glazed over, and thus compromised. The most recent polls suggest their likely victory will by no means be a landslide. Cameron must focus less on the same, now rather exhausted criticisms of Brown’s handling of the economy, and instead make some efforts to expound on his own party’s ideas,
of which the general public knows very little (except that Cameron changes his mind hourly on the married couples allowance). His priorities should be less glamourising his image and more backing it up with substance by connecting with voters and laying out plans for what will be done. The Conservatives are playing a dangerous game here – it is not enough to presume they deserve the right to be in power purely because they can vociferously lambast Labour’s policies; for at least Labour has them. Mr. Cameron would do well to remember he is not a car salesman – and that telling voters just how bad the Ford Focus is - is not enough to convince them to buy a Renault Megane.
In defence of university Islamic Societies Mo Saqib
t is a most unfortunate fact that the beliefs and practices Muslims today eyed with a degree of suspicion that they are understandably not comfortable with, however true these fears might be. The attempted bombing on Boxing Day, of a plane heading from Amsterdam to Detroit, only served to make matters worse. The degree of suspicion has now been increased to an extent that has brought Islamic societies (aka. 'ISOCs') under the microscope- particularly after the revelation that the man who tried to blow up the plane heading for Detroit, Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab, was a former President of his ISOC at one of the world's most reputable academic institutions, University College London (UCL). The primary role of ISOCs has always been welfare-based, so we must therefore ask whether this
The primary role of ISOCs has always been welfarebased, so we must ask whether this sudden scrutiny is justified sudden scrutiny is justified. At Manchester we have a large and well-established active ISOC. If the scrutiny is going to be from a neutral perspective, then it cannot ignore the impressive and well-intentioned work of Manchester ISOC, and indeed ISOCs across the country. Generally an ISOC is a medium for Muslim students to engage with those who are like themselves, and like other religious societies, it also
generates the kind of environment that sustains one's faith- this latter purpose being particularly useful to those who are not comfortable in very liberal surroundings. Critics argue that this is where the danger lies; a keenness to strenuously hold on to your beliefs, in a liberal environment, can lead to the vulnerability of radicalisation. This is, however, overlooks the good values promoted by Islam. It is
certainly possible to be a good, lawabiding Muslim in a liberal environment, as seen in UMSU ISOC. In other words, Muslim students amongst us may disapprove of certain aspects of university life, such as the widespread drinking and clubbing culture, but this in no way equates to a desire to blow up 5th Avenue or The Rampant Lion. However, there have been Muslim students, from UK universities, who have gone astray and engaged in acts that have only served to cast the entire Muslim population in a very negative light. In addition to the aforementioned Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab from UCL, you have the former London School of Economics student Omar Sheikh, who beheaded Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002. And then there's the former King's College London students Asif Hanif and Omar Khan Sharif, who carried out a suicide bombing of an Israeli bar in 2003. This is a serious matter that the government is tackling together with key stakeholders, including the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS), the
umbrella group for ISOCs across the country. Whilst keen to dispel allegations of widespread extremism, the current President of FOSIS, Faisal Hanjra, acknowledged in 2006 that, “one or two may slip through the net.” Furthermore, even though the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills agreed that such a risk existed, it was keen to emphasise that "there is no evidence of systematic radicalisation in universities.” Therefore, whilst a minute risk of radicalisation exists, it will only be embodied by those who are misguided and do not follow the ethos that the vast majority of Muslims hold on to. The kind of ethos referred to was evident in late October 2009, when the 120 Islamic societies across the country held their annual Charity Week, and managed to raise £350,000 in the space of one week. If this is the kind of ethos that Islamic societies promote, then it is imperative that today, more than ever, we give ISOCs support. If for no other reason, then so that they can support themselves in eradicating avenues of
radicalisation before they even arise. Islam does not condone terrorism in any shape, size or form. I have yet to understand how suicide bombers can so badly misinterpret the Quran, the Islamic holy book, to the extent that they think it is justifiable to take innocent lives. My perceptions of Muslims were previously derived from what I saw on the news: reactionary, bearded chaps getting angry at everything. So why did I decide to become a practicing Muslim? Because I met a group of Muslim students, from the ISOC at the London School of Economics, who defied my perceptions and embodied the kind of goodness that society could certainly do with more of. Were they 'radicals'? No. They were keen for their ISOC to play a positive role in campus life as a whole, just like every other ISOC across the country. This is why we must not downgrade or diminish ISOCs and their contributions, but rather, defend them. The controversial light that Islam is portrayed in does not make this easy, but can it be done? £350,000 says yes.
Student Direct / 8th February 2010 www.studentdirect.co.uk
HI- >> Lights Music RIP Jay Reatard Obituary
p14 Lifestyle RIP Cupid Comment
p20 Arts RIP vanity Feature
p22 Media & Tech RIP Stringer Bell
p24 Science and Research RIP Spirit
New year New wardrobe
8th February 2010 / Student Direct www.student-direct.co.uk
Vivian Girls JAMES CARNEY
Want to write for Music? Come along to the Student Direct music meetings, Mondays, 5pm, MR1
came together, I never try to think too much about what I’m writing about. I try to let it come to me and then if I don’t like it I’ll tweak a few things.” Furthermore that particular live choices include “’Before I Start to Cry’, ‘Double Vision’, ‘Never See
ivian Girls, a garage punk trio from Brooklyn, released their self-titled debut on Mauled By Tigers, a ten-songs-in-22-minutes shot of life into the indie scene. Complete with junkyard clang and clatter, as well as ’60s girl group harmonies, bridging the gap between blasé and heartache. It sold out within a week. Following which the band were picked up by In The Red, who re-released their debut to a wider audience and acclaim across the board. I grab a moment or two with guitarist/vocalist Cassie Ramone in between their soundcheck and set at The Deaf Institute. Since it seems there’s a new indie tag circulating every year, it seems appropriate to bring up the big one in 2008, the infamous ‘shitgaze’ label, aiming at bands with some similarity to the shoegaze scene of the late ’80s and early ’90s, particularly the layer of trebly fuzz (raise your hands No Age and Wavves). I ask whether the band feels any affinity with the label, or whether it’s just the music press over-eager to classify. Cassie tells me that she would vaguely consider themselves a part of it, but unsurprisingly, like any selfrespecting indie act, “We’re not the kind of band to classify ourselves.” Which leads me on to what kind of bands have been an influence. “’60s girl groups like the ShangriLas and the Shirelles, and currently
VIVIAN GIRLS... spot the needlephobe
we’re influenced by Neil Young and Crazy Horse, and Patience & Prudence.” It’s not surprising to find the absence of bands like My Bloody Valentine or their shoegaze contemporaries mentioned here, particularly with how little the band actually resemble them despite frequent comparisons. The new record in particular with its hardcore inspired sound particularly illustrates this distance. As to whether the more aggressive shift was intentional, Cassie tells me, “It was a conscious choice, we wanted to make an album that was more punk than our first.” As well as being punkier, the record seems to delve into more direct emotion, ‘Can’t Get Over You’, and album closer ‘Before I Start To Cry’ in particular. “I guess that’s just how the songs
Jay Reatard 1980 – 2010 The other interview can wait. DANIEL BROOKES pours one out on the kerb for a fallen fellow
appy New Year. One of your heroes is dead. It’s tempting to read something into his song-titles toward the end: ‘It Ain’t Gonna Save Me’, ‘An Ugly Death’, ‘Faking It’, ‘There Is No Sun’. Even his final record was called Watch Me Fall. Tempting, but you’d be barking up the wrong tree. The kid born Jimmy Lee Lindsay had more charge in him than the crowd at a U2 show being zapped by lightning. Back before this ugly winter began, on a typically blustery and anonymous Manchester evening, a few goons from this rag and some assorted punk types sparsely populated Reatard’s last Manchester show. Imagine it. You’re 5,000 miles
f r o m home. Your band has quit. You’ve been subjected to the acquired pleasures of British food whilst suffering a virus. The promoter has completely stacked it; an all ages show when the kids don’t love guitars anymore. You have to be off by 8.30pm. It’d be totally okay to go through the motions. Not for Jay. He rips through 20-or-so songs with total abandon. No stops between songs, save for a second to yell out the name of the nugget he’s about to launch into. His fireplug body shakes and sweats and whips through every nuance of every note, his new band swimming upstream and hanging on for dear life. An obsessive and prolific
Me Again’, the song ‘Surfin’ Away’ from our 7”. I like ‘Wild Eyes’ a lot, I like ‘The End’. I guess those are my favourite probably.” Since they’ve formed, and within a very short space of time, Vivian Girls have shared a stage with some pretty spectacular acts, but I couldn’t help asking how playing with Sonic Youth was. “Oh it’s the best, I love Sonic Youth, I’ve been a big fan for a long time, since the ninth grade. It was an honour, they’re all so nice, they’re amazing live, we got to see them from the side of the stage, we were so close, and they watched us when we played. I was a total fan girl I couldn’t believe it was happening, one of the best days of our lives definitely.” Speaking of the other acts the band have shared a stage with inevitability brings me to the recent
recording artist, his body of work in the 14 years of his recording career is packed with both quality and quantity. Bands such as The Reatards, The Lost Sounds, Bad Times, Terror Visions and Angry Angles all feature Jay in a prominent role, linked by a slew of incredible singles and albums. Most don’t even do one. Jay was probably about to clock 50. But it was his solo career that represented Lindsay’s arrival from the Memphis punk scene ghetto and insertion into a wider public consciousness. As one-two punches go, 2006’s Blood Visions and Singles 06-07 are positively Tyson-esque; the former a concentrated burst of paranoid power and howling psychosis, the latter more relaxed and playful. Both contain mindworm hooks, energy you could power Doncaster with and less filler than a prison sandwich. As a rock star of a postmodern age, he wasn’t out of touch with fans. Sure, he used Twitter (memorable post: “Just had the worst burger ever. I think I will probably shit my pants on the plane tonight. Which I have
death of Memphis garage punk icon, Jay Reatard. It’s a question I, of course, wish hadn’t come up, though Cassie tells me he “was also one of the contemporary artists that we really liked and admired. I think, we all think, that he’s a great a songwriter, so much energy, he was so good live. I remember the first time that we opened for him, it was at a Brooklyn venue called Death by Audio, he had this backing band that was just four guys that looked exactly like him, and he played for 20 minutes.” She goes on to add that they had few interactions, but would’ve loved to have toured with him. Since it’s the end of a decade, and that doesn’t happen very often, maybe every ten years or so, I feel obliged to ask of any musical highlights, and the musician as music fan dimension comes into play again. “The Bananas are my favourite band, three of their albums came out in the last ten years, and they’re the best band in the world, they’re kind of like a cult punk band, never really got very much recognition, but they’re the best band in the world, besides the Wipers. I really like that Microphones record, The Glow Pt. 2. I really like this band The Good Good, they did this album in 2005 I think, they’re a band from Brooklyn that broke up, that was really good. All of Ariel Pink’s stuff.” Before I go, I ask about the future of the band, namely whether they’ll keep up the record per year benchmark they’ve set. I‘m advised that a new record is in the works (I heard something new during the sound check), that it’ll be different and that it’ll be out next winter. I ask for an autograph as well, like a real pro.
Singles Roundup>> 08.02.10
SIMON JAY CATLING
ere” said my editor, as my ears pricked up like a terrier’s, “do you fancy reviewing this selection of CD singles…? Or, would you rather eat these 12 cheese singles?” It was a tough call; I was pretty hungry and someone had stolen my last Wagon Wheel. A strong sense of duty to the 12 of you who read this section prevailed though; and so friends, welcome to the first singles round up of 2010! Who likes sound? I do, that guy in the Altrincham towncentre sized headphones certainly does, and so do the BBC. Of this triumvirate, only “Auntie” feels the need to define what our sound is yearly though. Sorry guys, delete those Florence MP3s: we all have to listen to Ellie Goulding now. That’s fine, except ‘Starry Eyed’ isn’t that great. Electro-pop revivalism? Another year of that? Sure! Sigh. It’s ok though; The Big Pink- a Sound of 2009, remember sound fans- are here to remind Ellie the perils of hype. Look! They’re re-releasing ‘Velvet’ already! Y’know, the other single they had which wasn’t a Skybranding song about date rape. Away from all of THAT though, there are a couple of solid efforts strutting around professing their greatness. White Rabbits’ ‘Percussion Gun’ is a concise blast of tomtom bashing resoluteness, exhibiting some truly tense post-punk energy. Meanwhile, those genial fellows Hot Chip are, as ever, casually grooving away at the back of the dance floor with ‘One Life Stand’; another lesson in understated discotheque. But then it gets bad again. Girls Can’t Catch possibly shouldn’t be allowed near music (or me) again, Animal Kingdom’s ‘Two By Two’ wishes to be Coldplay but ends up like Haven; and Blackgold…well, I’m shaking an angry fist RIGHT at you. I bet those cheese singles would have been amazing as well.
Happy New Year. One of your heroes is dead
done before and it’s no laughing matter.”) but kept touch with those that gave him a leg-up or dissed him in the early days on internet forums, regularly berating those who accused him of ‘selling out’ (to wit: his spectacular Terminal Boredom forum posts, such as “Russ, you are the biggest fuckturd I have ever met on tour ever! The dumbest ugliest shit dick fan boy ever. The fact that you don't like this record reconfirms I made the right record. Go listen to The
JAY REATARD... too real for some
Homostupids, Grandma.”). Imagine that from Bono. And now he’s dead. It doesn’t really matter how or why. And people like me who never met the guy feel like they’ve been punched in the gut, the same as when John Peel died. Or Jack Rose. Or Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Or anyone committed to
fighting the boring forces of Cowellgeddon, without necessarily acknowledging it as such, by refusing to be boring or mediocre. That’s what Reatard tapped into: it wasn’t so much his style as his substance. This would be a titanic loss in any era. One less good guy.
Student Direct / 8th February 2010
Julian Casablancas 11th December @ The Ritz
ALEXANDRA PEREIRA Music Editor
h o c k i n g l y , Casablancas is far from his usual brooding self on his solo tour, fresh off the back of his long-awaited debut record Phrazes For the Young, which incidentally is no longer awaited and came out two days after this show. This said, there was not a single fan in the house that wasn’t aware of the rock and roll treasure that was before them, and in all his newfound cheery solo freedom clearly remained the rough and growling leader of his band
that we came to love last decade. The success of Casablancas’ band with which he rose to musical celebrity gave footing to the excitement and anticipation of this show as well as it did to the expectation of disappointment for those waiting for number after number of Strokes classics. Those ignoramuses quickly and it seemed at times, almost gleefully, celebrated Julian’s failure to play all of Is This It, whilst truer and less hasty audience members enjoyed his divine, faultless set of new
Reel Big Fish 22nd January @ Academy 1
or many of us, the Christmas and New Year festivities are a fading memory. With winter exams in full swing, a sunny line-up of Ska was on hand at the Academy for some welcome and much-needed relief. Manchester’s own Sonic Boom Six got the ball rolling with a tight blend of catchy hooks and big choruses. Despite their brief set and early billing, the band succeeded in engaging and energising the growing crowd. After a warm opening, Big D and
the Kids Table couldn’t quite find their stride. The seven band members looked cramped on stage, and their uncommitted delivery lost the attention of many and didn’t do justice to some good, danceable songs. All was right again as Reel Big Fish took to the stage. They wasted no time and surged straight into the crowd-pleasing ‘Sell Out’. Aaron Barrett and his band rarely paused for breath as they flooded the large space with horns and kept the crowd moving. The gig soon became a huge sing-along with Laila from
songs. ‘Ludlow St’ was the perfect nostalgia-toned track easing the sell-out crowd into a set that ended festively with Christmas songs and efficient soulful rock and roll from New York’s finest front man. With standout performances of ‘Out of The Blue,’ River of Brakelights’ and standout single ‘11th Dimension, ’ the collection of songs is a confident but steady one which manages to seize desperation, jubilation and nostalgia from track to track and project these emotions upon his steadfast fans. Not one to disappoint a single attendee, Casablancas threw in a wonderful rendition of early demo ‘I’ll Try Anything Once,’ if only to settle those angry peeps stuck way back in 2001. He pulled it off with laid-back charm and dignity, ever the true professional.
Theuncommited delivery lost the attention of many and didn’t do justice to some,good, dancable songs
Sonic Boom Six joining Barrett onstage for ‘She Has a Girlfriend Now’. Towards the end, the more established Reel Big Fish tunes were given a back seat for some newer material before the band closed with an old favourite, ‘Beer’.
ayve Hawk has a new name, Memory Tapes, and the debut SEEK MAGIC released last year was, looking back, a lovely but underpublicised dreamy electronic pop record, with more than a hint of unabashed nostalgia. A trip to Metacritic.com will tell you it averaged at 88/100, ergo ‘universal acclaim,’ from the grand total of six publications that reviewed it, and as loathsome as the glo-fi/chillwave tag blatantly is, there are only a handful of records I enjoyed more in 2009.
weaty. Smelly. Sticky. Steamy. How else would you describe Fallowfield’s famed favourite, The Queen of Hearts? Often the chock-a-block clamminess of Tarts can be hard to bear – there is only so much Lady Gaga you can take in one night. Yet this was a crammed Tarts like no other. With a 30piece big band occupying the stage; gorgeous singers galore; funk, soul and swing classics; and an audience dressed up to the nines and loving every
Every Friday night ( £4 before 11pm, £6 after (£5 with NUS or flyer)
LIQUE is a weekly d r e s s e d - u p Manchester club night which plays a dizzying mixture of alternative dance,
romantic electro, emotional house, digital disco and explosive pop to the most excitable club kids in the city. It began 4 years ago in a pub
complemented by a pumping wall of sound from the band. Instrumental soloists vied for attention; each grabbing the spotlight in dazzling displays of virtuosity before slipping back into the velvety cocoon of the big band sound. A true highlight of the night came when MCs from The Mouse Outfit appeared as guests in an original take on ‘What is Love’ with saxophonist Kenji Fenton and vocalist Matt Fox. Faintly reminiscent of Manchester favourites, Riot Jazz, the collaborative ‘What is Hip’ certainly struck a chord with the audience. Seeing in the Christmas break with a bang, the charisma, professionalism and charming candour of MUJO left punters with a tune under their breath and a smile on their lips.
16th January @ The Corner
14th January @ The Queen of Hearts
standard has continually risen over the past 10 years. Providing a monster 3-hour set of jazz, funk, soul and swing, the band were set to impress from the very outset. And impress they did. From the first ringing chords of ‘Gonna Fly Now’ to the sultry silkiness of ‘Son of a Preacher Man’, there was a number for everyone. Not only were MUJO’s loyal audience treated to old favourites ‘Gonna Fly Now’, ‘Birdland’, ‘Oye Como Va’ and ‘Superstition’, there was also plenty of new meat (in a strictly performance sense) to get their teeth into, with renditions of lesser known ‘Big Girl Now’ and ‘Fame’. With a couple of fresh new singers to add to the seasoned crooners, the MUJO songsters appeared in a seeming slideshow of talent,
Manchester University Jazz Orchestra
So, the first Memory Tapes gig ever, anywhere, in Manchester of all places, was handled with a consummate professionalism in a self-consciously dingy Fallowfield venue - the newest arm of the Trof conglomerate, taking over the city bar by bar with practiced offbeat chic. The Corner hosting a sold out gig inevitably possesses a certain intimacy, not just with the music, but general movement within the building. It’s effectively a corridor with toilets helpfully located to the side of the stage. And when I say
stage, I mean the corner of the room. Regardless, opener ‘Green Knight’ would have carried the same colourful sense of yearning in an empty room. ‘Graphics’ and ‘Bicycle’ filled the venue with a glistening dream pop aura, recreating the many shades and layers of the album whilst remaining utterly danceable, even if the bass sound on the latter track didn’t carry quite the power I’d hoped for. The whimsical ‘Plain Material’ was suitably weightless, and disco centrepiece ‘Stop Talking’ felt tastefully neon in the darkened room. They could have clearly filled a much larger venue, and it would be difficult to watch from any further than a few rows back, but Memory Tapes are definitely one to catch next time round, and whilst not flawless, the gig was more than you’d ever hope for from a first performance.
basement as a once a month party, and last year moved to Mint Lounge, a fabulous and stylish 500 capacity venue in the heart of the Northern Quarter with a fantastic dancing space and an amazing sound system. CLIQUE's technicolourful playlist and hysterical atmosphere has attracted the attention of both national style magazines and the biggest dance press in the world. We have been named 'One Of The
minute – this was a far cry from the usual sweaty mish-mash that frequent the establishment that we all know and love. Once again, the Manchester University Jazz Orchestra had come to the Queen of Hearts, and it was certainly a night not to be missed. With Big Band Monday selling out for two years running, there is no doubt that MUJO are one of the Northwest’s finest jazz orchestras. Under the direction of pianist and jazz maestro Roger Hughes, the MUJO Best 10 Clubs in the Country' by MIXMAG in 2008, this year we were tagged 'The Hottest Club in the City' by the Manchester Evening News, and 'Manchester's Best Club of 2008' by 'Attitude' magazine. Recent DJ guests have included... • Florence and the Machine • Mystery Jets • Annie • The Horrors • Frankmusik • Lovefoxx (CSS)
• Foals • Siobhan Donaghy (The Sugarbabes) • Italians do it Better • Franz Ferdinand • The Whip • Glass Candy You can download our brand new 2-sided Going Out/ Staying In CLIQUE 2010 mix tape here! : http://www.clubclique.co.uk /mixtapes.html
8th February 2010 / Student Direct www.student-direct.co.uk
Plasticines – About Love Virgin France
his is the start of a revolution. A revolution which will see music changed forever; which will see the charts flooded with teenage girl bands, reminiscent of The Ting Tings; and which will cause even mosh-pit dwelling metal fans to dance around to songs
with titles like ‘I’m No Good’, and ‘I Am Down Tonight’. Fortunately, this revolution seems to be contained to Paris, so no need to stick forks in your eardrums just yet. The album won’t win any awards for its deep and meaningful outlook on the world, but overall it’s not bad.
PLASTISCINES…at least they’re not trading on their looks
They’re from the school of songwriting which tries to use as few words as possible by repeating the same lines throughout, so that after the first 30 seconds of any given song you can happily sing along to the rest of it, but this in many ways adds to their charm. The single, ‘Barcelona’, has a good beat to it, and nice harmonies; ‘Bitch’, also, is quite entertaining, assuming it’s not supposed to be taken too seriously. All in all, About Love is worth a listen, especially if you didn’t hate The Ting Tings and care what Parisian schoolgirls get up to on a Friday night
Frightened Rabbit The Winter of Mixed Drinks FatCat Records
rightened Rabbit’s much anticipated third album The Winter of Mixed Drinks looks set make its own dramatic contribution to current indiefolk storm. Perhaps helped on its way by the heavy radio play of similar artists such as Florence & The Machine and London folk group Mumford & Sons, nonetheless Frightened Rabbit have been able to offer a refreshingly more alternative sound, first evident in the heart-warming, accent heavy, vocals of Scottish front man Scott Hutchison. The album does not merely piggyback upon the chart success of the current folk revival but instead providing the listener with a literate and intelligent sound. Even the album title manages to simultaneously reference a passage from Shakespeare’s Richard III and the Steinbeck novel The Winter of Our Discontent. This literary theme runs throughout, with Hutchison saying about the album: “I have to say, it's semi-fictional”, which is apparent in the way the lyrics thoughtfully portray feelings of desperation and escape, whilst comfortingly reinforced by atmospheric
guitar, strings, piano and modest percussion, soothing for the casual listener yet disturbing for the more astute audience.
Provides the listener with a literate and intelligent sound
FRIGHTENED RABBIT…named after the first thing that looked at them
Student Direct / 8th February 2010 www.student-direct.co.uk
American Wife Curtis Sittenfeld 640pp Black Swan £7.99 (Paperback)
f you've ever wondered what it might be like to be married to George Bush, Curtis Sittenfeld's novel of an American president's wife in 2007, more than loosely based on the life story of Laura Bush, gives you something by way of an answer. Yet despite this rather grand premise, the charm of Sittenfeld's third novel is not in the description of life in the White House but her long and subtly bewitching narrative of her protagonist's early life. If, like me, your impression of the American Midwest was a hazy disgust of Conservative bible-bashers and all the worst aspects of small-town America, then prepare to fall in love with Alice Lindgren and her life. Following that pulpy, peculiarly American style, where the narrator self-consciously retells his or her life story to explain 'the present', Sittenfeld nevertheless creates an interesting, flawed, yet likeable
character through her straightforward prose. Although Sittenfeld wisely avoids too much political or historical analysis, I began to understand how you could be married to someone widely regarded in Britain as intensely dislikable, incompetent and with political views akin to the devil incarnate. Although we recognise her husband Charlie is the complete antithesis to Alice and all she holds dear - humility, liberal compassion, dedication – we see the world too much through Alice's eyes to respond in any way but positively to their relationship. In terms of politics, Alice states - “All I did is marry him. You are the ones who gave him power.” The final section of the novel is the weakest as the rose-tinted spectacles start to slip. American Wife does indeed tell the story of an American wife; a woman who subordinates her political views, her career and even her personality to a husband who is lacking in intellect, understanding and maturity. It is
the story of a woman who had potential in a very ordinary, small-scale fashion, who meekly put it all to one side when the patriarchal order asked her to. There is no dignity to exist, as she suspects she does, “without a fixed identity”, and a protagonist with a little more pluck would have been less wearisome. Most surprisingly, Sittenfeld has clearly used a circular narration to frame Alice's life in the context of her place as America's first lady, and yet by the time we reached the White House I had almost forgotten the premise of the book, caught up as I was in the relatively ordinary but compelling story of a married woman. In short I was both unexpectedly captivated and surprisingly disappointed by this flawed book.
FICTION The Convalescent Jessica Anthony 240pp, Mcsweeny’s Books - £13.74 (Hardcover)
DANIEL STARKEY mesmerising debut novel from Jessica Anthony which stretches from small town Pennsylvania to murky premedieval Hungary. The Story follows Rovar Pfleigman a peculiar, dwarf-like man with a rare skin condition who lives and sells meat from a clapped out bus in a field next to a stream. His best friend is a beetle he keeps in a jar as well as a host of imaginary acquaintances. It takes a rare breed of author to make such subject matter into an enthralling read. Rovar comes from a long line of misfits and non-achievers, we hear how his ancestors crawled and scratched like animals whilst the mass of pre – medieval man was busy creating civilisation. There is something very strange about the Pfleigman tribe- the other ancient Hungarians treat them with mistrust. They eke out a less than meagre existence living off strips of meat and
inside overcrowded filthy tents. Rovar has more specific problems on his plate, though. The land that his bus-home stands on is being claimed by a developer, who seems determined to eject their eccentric squatter, by force if necessary. Meanwhile his host of physical illnesses and deformities, which include a disturbing tendency for his skin to peel off in long strips, mean that he’s become a figure of ridicule and disgust in the nearby town. Local paediatrician Dr. Monica takes an unlikely interest in his condition, providing Rovar with a friend and supporter, as well as an unpleasantly graphic crush, but there’s clearly something going on that extends beyond the purely physical. Given the peculiar nature of his existence there will be no easy solutions to Rovar’s problems. Some holes can be picked in the narrative, although Anthony manages to keep the
readers interest intact – by weaving the ancient Pfliegman stories of giants, hordes of armed Hungarians and one of the strangest child birth scenes committed to paper with Rovar’s daily struggles—as he attempts to fend off developers and deal with his own inadequacies. This novel could have been better however and the Kafkaesque ending left a lot to be desired. Although this novel was never slow, it is very original and engaging, I was left wanting more. Anthony has achieved the almost impossible by making the reader jealous of a dumb midget with flaking skin because of the colourful, enchanting world he inhabits.
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8th February 2010 / Student Direct www.student-direct.co.uk
Student Direct / 8th February 2010 www.student-direct.co.uk
Calling all fashion peeps and creatives
Fashion & Beauty
We need photographers, stylists, models, writers, bloggers and general creatives to get involved in our section. To join the mailing list and hear about meeting times email email@example.com Or come to our meetings, Monday, 5.30pm in MR4, Students’ Union
the beginning, the middle and S/S 2010 YETY AKINOLA Fashion Editor
LEAH ARMSTRONG Fashion Editor
‘But settling upon new clothes is so trying’, said Lucetta. ‘You are that person’ (pointing to one of the arrangements), ‘or you are that totally different person’ (pointing to another), and one of the two, you don’t know which, may turn out to be very objectionable.’ Thomas Hardy, Mayor of Casterbridge
t this time of the year, in sartorial terms at least, a woman stands poised on the possibility of reinvention. The new year is the perfect opportunity to take the time to rationalise and de-clutter your wardrobe. Re-building a wardrobe can be a character building exercise
and can let you explore and strengthen aspects of your personality you would like to emphasise for the year ahead. For example, if this is the year you want to get things done, then investing in some smart and well-structured clothes will be a great start. However, the very idea of finding a new look can be
Style Secrets Nicola Copping, Deputy Fashion Editor, The Financial Times ow do you approach getting dressed in the morning? Is it a lastminute affair or a carefully planned regime? It depends. Last night, for instance, I planned what I was going to wear today, since I had to get up for a meeting with, of all people, Dannii Minogue. I wanted to make sure I struck the right note for that. This scenario, however, is rare. Normally I am fumbling around in the dark in the morning and latch on to old reliables. Sometimes I worry that this makes me less experimental.
Do you believe in the importance of a tidy, organised wardrobe for successful dressing? Yes – but I am an anally tidy person anyway, so everything in my life is very organised. I gather pieces together by subject – i.e. long dresses then short, trousers, tops, skirts, then jackets. It allows for easy perusal through your
options. Then again, maybe it is so regimented that things get lost, and if I mixed it up a little who knows what I might find. As you can tell, I like to sit on the fence. Do you regularly cleanse your wardrobe? If so, are you ruthless in your approach or do you find it difficult to throw things away? Yes and yes. For a fashionista, I am pretty ruthless. This weekend I threw out eight items I no longer wear, nor am likely to wear in the future. That said, I very rarely throw away a designer item – since I think a) it might be of value later in life b) the quality will be better so it might last until the next time that trend comes round. Also, rather depressingly I weed out items that now I am a bit too old to wear. There were a lot of short skirts in my recent cull. What are the essential pieces every woman should have in
daunting for some, as poor Lucetta describes. Here are some tips on how to gently, but dramatically improve your wardrobe in preparation for 2010: 1. Structure your wardrobe with some ‘trend-neutral’ pieces, which will act as a foundation upon which you can then tease out trends as they develop
her wardrobe? A decent pair of black trousers – I love the high-waisted variety since they look super pulled together; a decent long cardigan – it can go over anything, from a dress to a skirt to trousers; a great pair of heels – these are the things people notice first, plus they really lift an outfit; and I think a great colourful dress. I have a leopard print DVF wrap dress, and it is my eternal fallback option. It’s jazzy, sexy and standout – but still smart enough for the office. She knows what she’s doing does Diane. What should we be investing in for 2010? Pale colours – if you can face it. Get a bit of a tan first. And shorts – I have been searching for weeks for these, and what’s great is that
We asked Financial Times Deputy Fashion Editor, Nicola Copping, what’s in her wardrobe for 2010 :
#1- River Island, £75 #2 –People Tree, £25 #3 – Asos, £35
throughout the year. For me, this is a black pencil skirt, a grey t-shirt, a Breton top and a nice blazer. Many of the shops still have remnants of their sales and now is a good time to swoop in and grab the biggest reductions: Reiss, Cos and Whistles, for example, all still have sales in store with big reductions on good quality silks and wools which can truly be regarded as investment pieces. 2. The bad news, for our wallets at least, is that 2010 looks set to be the complete opposite to
2009 in terms of colour palette and trend shapes. Fierce fashion, along with its dark colours, studs and spikes will be replaced with what Vogue has called ‘sorbet’. Pastel shades and romantic, floaty shapes are the way to go. 3. Don’t buy anything with 2009 written all over it: peg leg trousers, harem trousers, sequins and velvet are all gone. Get over it.
t’s January in Paris and couture is in the air. Couture has been defined as “the business of designing, making, and selling highly fashionable, usually custommade clothing” by some and simply “high-fashion clothing created by designers” by others (Vergani). And myself ?
I view this twice-yearly rite of passage, as an outlet for the multimillion-pound creative, who leaves no line uncrossed and views no detail too extravagant, creating one-off pieces, which are said to be affordable to less than 1000 ladies in the world. As the
Fashion Dictionary implies, couture remains the prestigious showpiece of French fashion and the place for creativity and originality in design. On January 26, we start with the Chanel show; after all it’s difficult to get more prestigious than Master Lagerfeld. This season’s made to order artistic creations reflected the powdery lavenders, angelic pinks, peaches and blues and PowerPuff Girls’ greens, yellows and creams of the S/S ready-towear catwalks. The snow-white shifts and blazers were accessorised with a hint of sci-fi elegance. Shimmery metallic
tights, ankle boots and fingerless gloves? Check, check and check. Embellishment ran from the tips of high hemlines to the necklines of narrow saristyle floor-length silk gowns, studded with crystals, steel and perspex or detailed with tulle and silk corsages. Like a page in a storybook, Chanel was completed by soft red lips, Minnie mouse hair and topped with a bountiful bow.
Like a page in a storybook, Chanel’s couture collection was completed by soft red lips, Minnie mouse hair and topped with a bountiful bow
Giorgio Armani Prive, frequently seen on the American red carpet, decided to fly to the moon on the evening of the 25th. Armani showcased a silver crescent moon
backdrop, oversized crescent shaped pins, crescent shaped lines in both the neckline and the hem of suit jackets as well as clear crescent influences in the accessories; jewellery included. Models resembled galactic beings as high quiffs, pale lips and (what appeared to be) no make up beamed down the runway. Shapes were boldly curved yet sharp, with the exaggerated shoulder making a none too subtle appearance. A collection without much colour, showing ladies that black, white, glistening silver, ivory and navy blue are all the colours you need, irrespective of what planet you’re on. From heaven to hell, Riccardo Tisici transformed models into European goths as lips went from an English rose red at Chanel to a vampish crimson at Givenchy. Eyes were shadowed with black and metallic blue and cheeks kept fluorescent and bare. Feathered fitted tux jackets and over the knee suede black boots stormed the runway. Alluding to 18th century Spanish elegance, highwaisted encrusted jumpsuits turned models into modern day matadors. While others, draped
in white or black lace, hidden in layer upon layers of almost sinister feminine ruffles and veils walked the runway as if to embark on an unwanted union of marriage. Details were intricate with beads and jewels were heavy. Hems were long, jumpsuits and trousers were flared, just hitting the toes of the five-inch futuristic strappy shoe boots below. Amongst a sea of black silk and grey and white feathers, were emerald green, navy blue and block colours of purple adding further dramatics to an already high power performance. Take what you will from this seasons couturiers; I plan to indulge in mysterious lace at night with Givenchy and powdered lavender ensembles with Chanel during the day, while I search for my own bespoke oversized crescent pin.
Invest in pale colours if you can face it
they work in the winter with tights and in the summer without – great for this atrocious weather in the UK. And I still see loads and loads of stripe long sleeve tees around; I think they really are a good summer staple. The thing I can’t decide on is ankle boots – will they still be around this summer? Who knows… you tell me.
This week Manchester’s resident devil in prada has a snipe at:
Men in boots Before Christmas, I gave you the benefit of the doubt, deciding that you were on your way to audition for Puss in Boots. Now pantomime season is over, I’m confused. Why do you tuck your jeans into your boots? I can only assume you want your legs to look short and stumpy.
Power of Blog event with Leon BaileyGreen and Drapers WHEN: 7 pm - Tuesday February 9 2010 WHERE: Epernay, Great Northern Towers, Watson Street RSVP: £10 bookable online
eon Bailey-Green is the founder of The Online Fashion Agency. A consultant to online fashion retailers and start-ups, Leon advises companies on the development, growth and management of their online fashion businesses. He has been a judge of both Drapers Etail Awards 2009 and 2010, as well as the Handbag.com Online Fashion Awards. Leon founded Online Fashion 100, the list of influential, inspirational and interesting people in online fashion and has previously spoken at Drapers and London Fashion Network events. As an expert in this sector Leon’s commentary has been featured in Retail Week, Drapers, Catalogue e-business, Vogue.com, The Independent, JC Report, and Scarlet magazine to name a few. Joining Leon will be Keely Stocker of Drapers. They’ll be talking about how blogging can help businesses and other online strategies for fashion companies. Keely Stocker is online editor of Drapersonline.com. As well as managing the website and Drapers newsletters, Keely also writes a weekly page in Drapers magazine entitled ‘Webwatch’ which covers topics ranging from web design to managing supply chain to social networking. This dedicated page aims to investigate the best and worst of online retailers and give top tips on how to manage your prospect online and grow a strong multi-channel business. Chanel
Fashion Geek looks at Vivienne Westwood
Fashion Bites TS
8th February 2010 / Student Direct www.student-direct.co.uk
Lifestyle FOOD & DRINK
My hungry Valentine… HELEN STUART Food & Drink Editor
’m sorry to disagree with you Orsino, but it’s not music that is the food of love, but food itself – some tip top nosh and a bottle of wine, and I’m anyone’s. And it seems I’m not alone; how often have you heard that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach? If you’re lucky enough to be spending the whole day with your loved one this year, why not treat them to breakfast in bed? Whether you choose smoked salmon, scrambled eggs or Shreddies, it’s a sure fire way to ensure a day of romance. If raunch is more your thing, try out some of these aphrodisiacs and reap the rewards... 1. Alcohol – It lowers your inhibitions, is addictive and makes you feel warm and fuzzy. A bit like love itself, alcohol is a key component to many successful Valentine’s Day dates. Splurge on some pink bubbly (a bit of the old Widow would go down a treat, but for those less plump of purse, check out the sparkling wine selection in the supermarket), but be careful as to the amount. Too much and you’ll be making sweet love all night long. To the toilet bowl. 2. Chocolate – This is most certainly not just for the girls. As chocolate releases endorphins, there’s no excuse not to indulge, but be sure to go for a high-percentage of cocoa solids (65 per cent or higher) to really feel the benefit. Whether you conjure up a melting chocolate pud or simply buy a box (and leave the toffees ‘til last - getting your teeth stuck together is NOT SEXY), choose chocolate. 3. Asparagus – Gently boil some spears, add a poached egg and hollandaise sauce and you have a recipe for successful seduction. It tastes good and looks suitably erotic (it’s all very phallic you know). The only problem is the effect it has when you spend a penny the morning after. 4. Garlic – You might not fancy getting up close and personal with someone who has just scoffed a slice of garlic pizza bread, but with its reputation as an aid to blood circulation, you’d be a fool to dismiss this French fancy come the 14th. Not recommended for Team Edward. 5. Avocado – With its name originating in the Aztec for ‘Testicle Tree’, this fruit’s reputation as an aphrodisiac is not surprising. The smooth sensation of the avocado on your tongue and its voluptuous shape both add to its allure, so why not prepare some guacamole to go with fiery fajitas and really feel the temperature rise? If you’re eating out this Valentine’s Day, there are some dishes you must avoid. Any kind of seafood that involves using your hands to eat may seem sexy, but in reality you have prawn juice dribbling down your perfectlychosen-and-changed-three-times outfit. Likewise, the Lady and her Tramp have a lot to answer for when it comes to shared spaghetti – has anyone achieved the pasta pash without food falling out of their mouths? Not a good look. Finally, give the salad a miss; nobody likes a stick insect in the sack and a lack of appetite gives off the impression that your appetite is lacking elsewhere too. For the resolutely single, take advantage of being home alone whilst your mates are wined and dined. After all, when else can you get away with polishing off a whole tub of ice cream to yourself?
Take heart, dear singleton…. CATHERINE SARGENT What to do and what to not do this Valentine’s Day
or some reason, Valentine’s Day induces a horror in singles, not unlike that which would occur if 5th Ave were to run out of vodka. Here are some helpful dos and don’ts for those students who are single this year. Take heed, and helpfully avoid some mistakes you might make…
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1 2 3
GET ANGRY ABOUT VALENTINE’S DAY Valentine’s Day is a necessary evil if vomitinducing romance is to be kept at bay for the rest of the year (see StudentEye below for further evidence), and for that reason, smile with a smug satisfaction as you know that it is only 24 hours of hell. GET SO DRUNK YOU DECIDE TO LEAVE A VOICEMAIL YOUR EX-PARTNER Never a particularly fine moment for man or woman-kind, and drunken voicemails are not something you can shrug off. There is nothing you can do to shed the embarrassment, as the fact remains that a voicemail can be kept for all to listen to. So not only will your ex be party to your cider-induced slurring, but all their friends will too. DON’T LET ANYONE SEE YOUR SHAME Valentine’s Day produces a different reaction in single people, women especially, that isn’t really apparent for the rest of the year. This reaction tends to involve a bottle of vodka and powerballads. We’ve all seen Bridget Jones. Just try to avoid doing this in public. The floor of Queen of Hearts is not the appropriate forum for you to bitch about why you’re single, if you know you’re going to get angry, just stay at home.
Valentine’s Day massacre
n Valentines Day, I wake and whisper sweet nothings into my lover’s ear, update my Facebook status to profess my unrelenting emotions, make passionate love, and cook her heart-shaped pancakes topped with strawberries for breakfast. Then give to my dearest a hand-crafted card containing tickets to go to the theatre after a candlelit dinner in the evening. We then spend the rest of the day in an aura of romance, gazing longingly into each other’s
eyes. Wait a minute, I'm not sure if I got that right. Oh of course, now I remember. If I may correct myself… On Valentine's Day, I wake alone, look at photos on Facebook of people with lives more interesting than mine, enjoy a cold shower, eat last night’s chilli for breakfast, then filter through the post at the door which consists of flyers, pizza menus and bills. The rest of the day pretty much exactly like any other, except for one thing, cringe-inducing lovers.
DRINK A LOT No better excuse to be as drunk as you like, and single people are always more fun to go out with anyway, so stick on your gladrags and dance like it’s Freshers’ Week all over again, with the kind of abandon reserved for only the people you know really well. Think of Phoebe running in Friends, and apply the same logic, throw those shapes. RISE ABOVE IT Nothing is more upsetting to see than someone who isn’t taking singledom gracefully. It can be a gift. Don’t act like it’s the end of the world. As I said in the ‘don’ts’, it’s a necessary evil, and a great opportunity to have fun, so get behind the establishment on this one, and just act as dignified as possible. STAY IN IF YOU CAN’T AVOID THE ‘DON’TS’ Valentine’s Day wasn’t really meant for singles, despite what Tiger Tiger are trying to convince you, so if you don’t think you can go out and keep your dignity, it might be best to stay in and order Chinese with your nearest and dearest rather than descending on the streets of Manchester with a borderline indecent outfit, ex-partner on speed-dial, and tear-ducts primed to cry. If you know you don’t like being single, it might just be better to avoid this 24 hours completely.
On Valentine's Day, I wake alone and look at photos on Facebook of people with lives more interesting than mine
Valentine's Day is an endurance of painfully schmushy couple after painfully schmushy couple. Pairs of
people living in worlds of their own, ignorant of all that surrounds them; offering up a veritable public display of affliction. The constant audio barrage of ‘Honey’, ‘Schnookums’ and ‘Bay-bay’ sends vomit racing up my oesophagus. And let us not forget the most horrendous affront to all things decent: Eskimo kissing. Now some people argue that if you really love each other, then every day should be like Valentine's Day. No. I cannot imagine a world worse than that. I think I would probably go postal. Despite my disdain for what people do on Valentine's Day, it is at least an acceptable compromise, a small inconvenience that lets all those couples get their ‘romance’ over and done with, so that we can get back to our normal, nonsoppy lives for the rest of the year.
Student Direct / 8th February 2010
Hunting for the perfect house
Berlin NYE ‘09 KATIE HAMILTON
his time of year, when the first three carefree, hazy and drunken months of the first semester are over, and everyone returns from home suitably well-fed and relaxed, comes the first real challenge of university life: not your exams, but choosing a house for the next year. Hopefully you won’t end up festering in some freezing cold, mouseridden hovel with grumpy, student-hostile neighbours either side of you just because you didn’t get your act together. Having said that, don’t make decisions too soon. And with that comes my first solid piece of advice: be sneaky. When working out who to live with, try to begin by emphasising and exaggerating your potentially desirable and housemate-worthy characteristics, so as to advertise how positively essential an addition to the future house your presence will make. Consider the following tactics: doing the washing up with a pleasant smile, or being particularly hilarious and kind, or perhaps displaying a particular aptitude in various DIY ventures. All in aid of finding the perfect selection of your friends to put into your new house. So that’s people covered. Next is my advice on things to look out for whilst enjoying plenty of merry house hunting
You need to agree on whether you would prefer to be co-habiting peacefully with living animal or plant organisms
jaunts. Let’s begin with the most obvious of things to do: use your eyes. They’re on the front of your face, so there’s really not much of an excuse for not using them. Use them to look out for the standard: damp, mould, mice etc., because there will be one of those things somewhere, and you’ll all need to agree on whether you would prefer to be co-habiting peacefully with living animal or plant organisms. But also don’t forget the details: whether the windows open or shut properly, or spotting a dripping tap. And don’t be shy about asking your landlord questions; for instance, whether the boiler works –
Finding the right obscure society for you PATRICK TOWNSLEY
hen I was a freshfaced first year many a moon ago, I was dazzled by the amount on offer at the Freshers’ Fair and so ended up joining pretty much every society, ordinary, wild or XXXXXtreme. Juggling uni work, endless society meetings, bacon butties and the occasional nap for the next couple of weeks was hectic but an experience I wouldn’t change at all. It took me about a month to figure out which societies weren’t really for me and also how many surprised me by being ridiculously good fun. Nowadays I manage to
keep up with about ten societies or so, and it depresses me a bit whenever I see so many other friends who haven’t ventured outside their comfort zone or worse, who haven’t even joined a single society; I mean what are they going to put on their CVs when they graduate? In hindsight I’d definitely recommend doing something similar to my first-year adventure, only perhaps without the sleep deprivation. It was a mind-bogglingly fun way to get into a lot of obscure things I wouldn’t ordinarily have considered, from circus skills and kung fu to producing
Proximity to takeaways…An important factor in house hunting?
believe me, it will barely cross your mind in the balmy heat of a Mancunian September, but after the excitement of reliving Freshers’ Week has worn off, you’ll be grateful for more than a Strongbow-induced alcohol blanket once November’s frost sets in. Which brings me to my final gem of advice for all of you happy house hunters: location. Now, Fallowfield is the obvious choice with anyone who desires a life of more than bored, quiet tedium, but the
drawbacks include being far from University – and if you’re too cheap to pay for a bus pass then it’s a long walk through Curry Mile, which can be unpleasant on a stomach empty from poverty, or shaken by a heavy night out. But aside from that, the chilly terraced houses and the volume of pubs and bars lend Fallowfield its nocturnal charm – just make sure you succeed in getting in with the owners of Kebab King, it will be worth it.
my own films, and even things like skydiving and bicycle polo. A month of relentless activity isn’t a bad price to pay when you consider you’ll probably find something you’ll enjoy doing for the rest of your life. The other best thing is that inevitably you’ll find a niche for your own dream society, so get started in getting it up and running! I have a bit of a family legacy to live up to since my Dad set up the Mashed Potatoes
Appreciation Society back in university in Ireland, which was just an excuse to get the lads together, get some beer kegs, get a bowl of spuds and get mashed (sorry, sorry). So far, no luck with the University of Manchester Waffles Appeciation Society (UMWAS), but get in touch if interested! More information on societies can be found at www.umsu.co.uk, it’s never too late to get involved.
ed up with New Year’s Eves wasted in England, my friends and I whimsically decided sometime around late November that this year we would spend it in Berlin. While our Ryanair flights were only £80, a sum we could both afford in November by the time it came around to actually going (December 29) the end of term and Christmas festivities had seriously eaten into our overdrafts. This being the case we were slightly concerned about how we were going to manage to see or do anything. We were pleasantly surprised. We found that Berlin can be done on a budget. When we asked at tourist information what we could do that was free the man looked sceptical but told us we could do a walking tour… it was quickly our turn to be sceptical. However, we discovered that you got an awful lot for not spending any money. It was the best thing we did all trip. The tours leave everyday at 1pm from outside Starbucks at the Brandenburg Gate, ours was conducted by an irritatingly smug Englishman who had just graduated from Durham (we thankfully avoided being led by an American girl who kept referring to her group as ‘dudes’) but irksomeness of the guides aside, the tour was a very, very good way to see the city. Be warned though, it is quite long and takes all afternoon, so wear comfortable shoes. We were shown all of the big ‘things to see’; the Reichstag, the Holocaust
memorial, checkpoint Charlie and the site of Hitler’s bunker were just a few of the stops. Not only do you get to see the sights but you are told the history behind them as well. It may sound like a school trip but I would highly recommend it, most of the people on the tour were students and it is certainly geared to us. Do it at the start of your trip, as it helped us get our bearings. The same company also organises bar crawls, (which they tell you about on the tour) and if you want to get very drunk with other travellers you can do so very cheaply. The deal is along the lines of: pay somewhere between 12 and 20euros get limitless beer for an hour and a half, discount drinks at the other bars then entry into a club. If that doesn’t appeal to you, it is possible to drink pretty cheaply in the centre of town. Quite a few of the bars in and around the train stations had good deals on where you could get beer and something to eat for around 5euros. At Friedrich Strasse train station go to Damisch, you can get stuff like stew, schnitzel, Bratkartoffeln (fried potatoes), Currywurst, for between 5 and 7euros. It is definitely much easier to find cheap places to eat and drink than it is in a lot of other big European cities. Berlin is an absolutely amazing city, and a student budget goes surprisingly far. Accommodation, food and drink are very affordable and you can nearly always get a deal on flights. So what’s stopping you?
Slebs… “Now look. I w on’t introduce myself becaus e I’m Simon Cowell and I’m officially mor e famous than God. When I’m not busy savi ng the world with over-orchestra ted cover-sin gles, I’m a bit of a ba stard to poor people who th ink they can sing.”
Slebs … Slebs Slebs…S leb …Sleb lebs… s…Sle lebs… Slebs…Sle b S b l e b s ebs…S …Sleb lebs… s Sleb
8th February 2010 / Student Direct www.student-direct.co.uk
‘Can I take your photo Please…’ ANTONIA ASH on Morgan O’Donovan’s Face Book Project
O’Donovan has used this notion as a platform to express his simplistic and almost untainted vision of creating an art behind the Facebook profile picture. After discovering his role as the designated ‘moment capturer’ amongst his friends at college back in the nineties, he decided to take this new
y utilising the modern notion of sharing images online through the social networking site Facebook, Morgan O’Donovan has developed a unique wave of artwork, with the concept of the profile picture itself being instrumental in the forefront of the creation of his photography. Combining the idea with the development of the party photo he has been able to achieve and produce a range of images that escape the somewhat mundane, dishonest, re-touched photography that so often appears in this modern day, shrouding our view of beauty, and ultimately reality. O’Donovan’s Face Book Project engages with the nuance phenomenon of the private becoming public, seen in the way we share our lives online. Images of ourselves can be altered, as we have the power to orchestrate what depiction of ourselves we wish others to view. The profile picture is concordantly an important part of this personal expression. We can all get involved with each others photos through the system of ‘tagging’ and browsing, and it almost becomes a medium through which to communicate with other viewers as we make the decision whether to participate in such a concept.
found posture one step further by seriously focusing on what it was that he actually saw and captured whilst embracing his youth at chaotic, inebriated parties. Despite assuming, “I was as fucked as everyone else was,” it is clear that such intoxication suffused through O’Donovan’s system had no profound effect on his in-built talent, as he continued to exhibit a certain panache, unique to one operating with artistic insight and genius. His pictures convey a sort of stillness inside the chaotic world of the party scene, an insight into those particular individuals’ thoughts and a recognition of their presence amongst the restless, pseudo state of incognito which often confines us. This is further emphasised through the way he chooses to leave them exactly as they are captured, avoiding the homogenised view of images so often modified to the point where any sense of real individuality is lost in the quest for perfection. O’Donovan, himself admits to having developed a certain coaxing technique required to build a momentary relationship with his muse, in order to capture something truly special. He always intends to assume a gentlemanly politeness, asking his subject, “Can I take your photo please?” His fascination with the potential that a person may have to offer the eye of the lens means that, even if they were unwilling to participate, he would never be stopped. “I would have probably taken the photo anyway, sometimes it’s just nice to be polite.” Although the images are supposedly put together in a random order, the tribal, idiosyncratic eccentricity
apparent in them all would point towards a classification of sorts. Yet, it is questionable how much variety can actually be distinguished when the images are all limited to headshots. Considering the finite dynamics that O’Donovan works with, and the photos that are produced as a result, his ability and incredible foresight is overtly apparent, however. O’Donovan has come a long way from that leisurely interest in shooting parties and people in his youth, back in the days when quality control was a required element of the developing process as you handed your film roll over the counter into the hands of a photo technician, scrupulously examining each photo to check quality standards. The party photo has not only developed since then through the invention of the digital camera, but in O’Donovan’s art work itself,through the way he has looked at how people portray themselves on their profile picture. And so, by engaging with the phenomenon of Facebook and the profile photo itself, we can see how his ingenious idea is a new approach to every photo we capture and share ourselves online. His work encourages us to embrace our differences, just as he demonstrates in his Face Book Project. Morgan O’Donovan’s Face Book Project can be viewed on his website http://www.morganodono van.com/ More of Morgan’s work is on show at Machine, London as part of the London Fashion Shorts exhibition, 19th – 24th February.
Spring 2010 Do Not Miss >>
The Lowry www.thelowry.com
The Lowry www.thelowry.com
The Library Theatre www.thelibrarytheatre.com
Student Direct / 8th February 2010
Urbis has left the Building Urbis
CHRISTINA GREGORY, Arts Editor
he retrospective exhibition at Urbis, tucked away behind Manchester Cathedral since 2002, offers fans the chance to catch a final glimpse of exhibitions from the past six years before Urbis as we know it closes to become the National Football Museum. Why we need one in the first place I don’t know, but 2011 will see it re-open here from its current location in Preston, disappointing many in the process. Penned as a celebration of the best exhibitions in pop culture, the exhibition incorporates posters, photos and comments from members of the public on each of its past exhibitions, loosely grouped together into themes like ‘family shows’, ‘music culture’, ‘design, fashion and architecture’ and ‘international artists’. Little to nothing can be seen of original exhibition material, hence my decision of a zero star rating: it’s not actually an exhibition. How can one possibly rate six years worth of work?
How can Urbis possibly sum up six years work? Walking around the second floor of the £30m glass building I couldn’t escape the feeling that if an exhibition centre could have a funeral for itself, this is what it would look like. So much for a celebrative exhibition. Framed exhibition posters from the past can’t make for truly satisfying viewing; they decorate the walls as a reminder of what once was, rather like an open casket. The comments on display read like epitaphs, and one such comment, “we came all the way from Australia to see this,” said about the LBD and Matthew Williamson exhibitions back in 2007, testifies the profound effect Urbis has had championing niche areas of popular culture. (Urbis was exhibiting street art way before Banksy was a household name.) The exhibition also reminds us of the social and artistic merits to be found in popular culture, as believed in by Urbis, through concepts such as ‘urban gardening’ and ‘supercities’. Vaughn Allen, Chief Executive, said, “No other gallery space has
If an exhibition centre could have a funeral for itself this is what it would look like
provided popular culture with a serious platform in the way that we have, with a genuine passion that made us unique, consistently giving credibility and backing to subjects that most galleries and museums would overlook,” an ethos that earned the centre an international reputation. The exhibition finishes with a wall covered with small handwritten notes, paper and pens nearby, from which it is clear to see that Urbis will be sorely missed. In the words of one of them, I expect the replacement National Football Museum ‘will be a load of balls’ anyway. RIP Urbis. Until February 27
A Raisin In The Sun The Royal Exchange Theatre 1st February
GRACE CAHILL, Deputy Arts Editor
Diddy might not be who the average theatregoer looks for in an advocate of a production (he starred in a 2008 TV version) but the rapper got it right, this is an inspirational piece. It’s a family drama: money, racism, sexism, abortion and education are its struggles. In 1950s Chicago, this black workingclass family seek a better life in a country full of racial and social prejudice. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this is a story that’s
Les Miserables Palace Theatre 21st January
fter 25 years of performances around the world, Les Miserables has returned to Manchester in this newly revived and updated anniversary tour. The show has had an increased media profile of late, thanks in no small part to the presence of several key cast members and pop chart numbers, courtesy of Susan Boyle and the cast of Glee. However, those expecting the familiar and rather dated looking revolving stage of the West End will be pleasantly surprised as directors Laurence Conner and James Powell breathe fresh life into
this new production. The moving landscapes presented on the projected backdrop are inspired by the paintings of writer Victor Hugo, adding a cinematic quality alongside the use of high wires and impressive new set pieces. John Owen Jones, a Les Mis veteran on both the West End and Broadway, is on impeccable form as Jean Valjean. His years of experience in the role shine through every note and his heartfelt and vocally masterful rendition of Bring Him Home is a particular highlight of an outstanding performance. Honourable mentions also go to Earl Carpenter, who has an
intimidating presence as the villainous Javert, and former pop idol Gareth Gates who (despite my initial reservations) is perfectly cast as the young lover, Marius. The comedy duo of Ashley Artus and Lynne Wilmot as crooked innkeepers the Thenardiers provide light relief in an often grief stricken plot. The hilarious ‘Master of the House’ earns perhaps the loudest applause of the evening. The larger ensemble numbers highlight the strength of the cast as a whole; ‘One Day More’ brings Act One to a rousing close with the finale itself fully earning the extended standing ovation it received. Overall, this production is a rarity as it is not only far superior to the recent touring musicals that I’ve seen, but also surpasses the original West End staging, making it, at least in this reviewer’s mind, the definitive version of this much beloved work.
career. The original cast and even Lorraine Hansberry herself ate at DuPois’ mother’s house before its Broadway debut. But it is more than fate that connects DuPois to the role. She was a civil rights campaigner in the 1950s and ’60s, which, at the age of 69, has undoubtedly given her the drive and fervour needed to accomplish her role as the mother whose hope and promise is never delivered. A Raisin In The Sun tackles much more than racism. Its fascinatingly witty portrayal of family life and the spirit of the American dream add even more appeal to the evocative storyline. Not only that but Corrie star Ray Fearon plays the male lead of Walter Lee Younger too. Until February 20
PHOTO: Michael LePoer Trench
been told before, a story of black versus white and rich versus poor – and it has been – but that doesn’t mean we should neglect listening to it again. Obama may be president of the United States but the injustice African-Americans face, such as the handling of the New Orleans disaster, is still a contemporary preoccupation. A Raisin In The Sun was the first play written by a black woman to be performed on Broadway, in 1959, and since then it has had unerring success with awards
(notably the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award) and subsequent musical and TV adaptations. Its much lauded writer was Lorraine Hansberry. She too was a Chicagoan who, despite being the daughter of a respected real-estate broker, faced the same humiliation as her characters when her family were prohibited from buying a home in an all-white neighbourhood. It’s this autobiographical twist – with its personal feeling, passion and realism – that brings life to the dialogue. A personal relationship with the production continues to this day. Starletta DuPois, who gives a remarkable performance as the matriarchal Lena Younger, has incredibly grown up with the play, she has starred in all the female roles during her extensive
Until February 13 Rosalind James as Eponine in ‘Les Miserables’
8th February 2010 / Student Direct www.student-direct.co.uk
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With Bell(s) on… JAMES CAMPBELL TV Editor
Extreme Parental Guidance
C4 , Tuesday 8.00pm Supernanny is back with vengeance and ready to smarten up unruly children everywhere. Rather than just targeting tantrums, each week the show will analyse important issues affecting children. This week looks at the potential detrimental effect that violent video games can have on kids, and a poor 11-year-old, so insecure that she won’t leave the house without a slathering of make-up. Educational, informative and entertaining.
Cool Runnings BBC3, Tuesday 7.25pm The epic tale of four Jamaican runners determined to make the Olympics one way or another. Enter Irving Blitzer and a bobsleigh. After a shaky start, and a lot of jeering from the other athletes, Derice and co prove that they can achieve anything with a little practice and Sanka’s lucky egg. An absolute diamond of a film. “Nuff people say they know they can’t believe, Jamaica we have a bobsled team.”
Desperate Housewives C4, Wednesday 10.00pm Wisteria Lane’s finest are back on our screens and their lives are as eventful as ever. There are affairs between Bree and Karl, a jilted Katherine plotting revenge and a new mysterious family that have moved into the street. Maybe this family won’t have any dark secrets that they are hiding? Somehow I don’t think so. This week Lynette must tell the rest of her children that she is pregnant again.
Take Me Out ITV1, Saturday 7.45pm Paddy McGuinness steps into Cilla Black’s shoes as the cupid of Saturday night television. A spectrum of 30 single girls are introduced to a lucky guy in the hope that a match can be made. If they like what they see then their light remains on. The eager man gets three chances to impress before sorting through whoever is left in the search for love. Brilliantly cringe inducing.
ave you watched The Wire yet? No, why not? It’s only the best ruddy television program of all time. You don’t know who Stringer Bell is? I give up on you. For all the cool people here’s an interview with Idris Elba, who played Stringer Bell in The Wire. James Campbell: You are very well known for playing Stringer Bell in The Wire, less people may know about your music career, tell me about your up coming EP? Idris Elba: Music has always been second place to acting for me. Sometimes I felt frustrated that I was being held back by the cliché of actor/singer, but no one has the right to hold you back. Though I found I was actually holding myself back. So I produced an EP which I feel expresses me as an artist. JC: Why do you think black Britons in the creative industries, such as yourself and Estelle, can find success in the USA that they may not necessarily be able to achieve in Britain? IE: America has an open door policy to the arts, and I think the African-Americans find it enlightening and intriguing that other black people have art that they can relate to. Black Britons have just as much talent as anywhere else, so why shouldn't they play in the big arena that
You can't really compare Baltimore to Hackney, Forest Gate or Brixton
America has. JC: Wikipedia says you grew up in East Ham, I thought you were from Hackney, which is it? IE: I was born and raised in Hackney and then moved to East Ham to go to secondary school. JC: How did you find growing up in London and did the urban environment have any similarities in to Baltimore (where The Wire is set)? IE: Growing up in London built a great foundation for my ambitions as a traveling artist. I found London to be harsh at times but that became part of my personality. You can't really compare Baltimore to Hackney, Forest Gate or Brixton but you can recognise the dynamics
between poor working class, middle class and upper class. The streets of Baltimore have unique issues within that structure. JC: What advice would you give to any young black actors? Is it advisable to steer clear of clichéd roles or is it part and parcel to rising up the ranks? IE: It’s important that you are prepared to play outside of your ‘type’. Don't play the stereotypes, play against them.
Foul play afoot on Four Weddings REBECCA FLETCHER
Reggie Yates with the Request Show Radio1, Saturday 4pm After a hard week at university, sit back, relax and listen to all your favourite tunes. Always guaranteed to present an eclectic mix of top 40 hits and songs you haven’t heard for years.
as it inevitable that the merging of a game show and reality television would make for such hostile viewing pleasure? Now don’t get me wrong Come Dine with Me is up there with my television favourites, but I cannot help thinking that these types of show bring out the worst in already quite questionable characters. Flicking through the copious amounts of channels on Sky (all in the name of research of course...), I came upon Living TV’s Four Weddings. No, not a TV
spin-off of the film, nor a show about a bigamist or someone who is partial to a remarriage, but rather it documents four brides on their wedding day – the only catch being the other three brides attend each other’s ‘happiest days of the lives’ only to mark them out of ten. The bride with the best score jets off on a luxury honeymoon with her groom only to leave the other three standing at the airport, begrudgingly saying how sad they were because ‘my wedding was the best’. First off, the format begs the question who would willingly
document their ‘big day’ on Living TV and have their venue, dress, food and overall presentation scrutinised, as they are only setting themselves up for disaster as the contestants are out for themselves, willing to pick at the most measly detail in order to snag themselves the prize. Four Weddings proved painful viewing as I saw four honeymoon hungry brides (and the occasional bridegroom) morph into bridezillas, insult the “meringue like dresses”, “tacky venue”, “horribly low £5000 budget” and “disgusting food” and mark each other as low as
Watch and read as much as you can about the industry because young actors seem to be disillusioned by how easy it is to be an actor. It is a lot of hard work, even when you achieve success. So know what you’re getting into and love what you’re getting into. To be an actor you have to be creative. A young Afro-Caribbean may be asked to play a criminal, and if they want to play that criminal be imaginative. There are so many ways to depict one character. Idris’ EP High Class Problems Vol. 1 is available for download from February 8, 2010
possible in order for that week in the Caribbean. Surely any sane person would save themselves the hassle, book their own honeymoon and cut the cost of having three strangers at their wedding who are there solely to tell them how ugly their choice of table settings are? While Come Dine With Me makes for significantly better viewing, there are still moments in Four Weddings where you would quite willingly let the contestants to choke on their vanilla panacotta. Why is it that all of a sudden each contestant is a food connoisseur? Remarking that “if they over do the lamb it will ruin the whole night” when what they really mean is “I hope their night goes wrong so I have a better chance of winning” and even more frustratingly when they clearly like the food yet they only manage to award a four or five... ingrates. It’s the same as a foul in football or a false start in a race – it’s bad sportsmanship and it seems to be all over television at the moment.
Student Direct / 8th February 2010
Are you ready for Windows 7? CHRIS OWEN
he latest version of Microsoft Windows in here and it's simply called Windows 7. It replaces Vista, which took a lot of criticism for it's bloated feel and security annoyances. If you're after a new laptop you're most likely to have Windows 7 preinstalled since pretty much every new laptop in the shops comes with it. This is certainly nothing to worry about but there are some bargains to be had with now obsolete Windows Vista laptops. There are different versions of Windows 7 but the most common is Windows 7 Home Premium edition. There are other versions but these are mainly targeted at more basic computing tasks (Starter Edition) or business users (Professional Edition). Windows 7 seems be faster than its predecessor. Many are reporting slightly faster boot-up times over Vista which is great news although the sleep and hibernate functions on modern laptops are so effective these days and much more practical that many users rarely turn off there computers and prefer to just send it to sleep. The first thing you'll notice is the beautiful look of Windows 7. Graphical effects are often accused as gimmicky and unnecessary however on a busy desktop, transparency and animation effects really do make life easier. Transparency give you some perception of what's behind the current window which helps move windows around to find what you want. Animation effects clearly communicate the effect of your actions such as quickly finding where to click to maximise a program you may have minimised seconds earlier. There's also a new "snap" function which allows you automatically arrange any two windows to take up two halves of your wide screen. Again, genuinely useful as opposed to a gimmick. Things are tidier too; those tray icons which used to clutter up the bottom right of the screen on XP and Vista are now much tidier. Knowing a few little tricks takes you a long way in this new version of Windows. Hold down the Windows key with your thumb and press the tab key to stack all open programs like fanning the pages of a book. Each successive press of the tab button flicks through each window until you land on the one you want. There's always the traditional task bar but this is a fun and genuinely practical alternative. Let me tell you where Windows 7 really shines. Google has shown us the immense usefulness of searching mind-boggling amounts of data on the internet in fractions of a second using a couple of keywords. But it's only in recent years that this idea has been integrated into your own computer desktop where you have your own jumble of university work, letters, and photos. Naming
your files sensibly and organising them into folders is common sense but sometimes things will inevitably go missing or require a lot of mouse clicking to find. Simply press the Windows key
You should view the Windows 7 sticker on that laptop you fancy as reassuring and take full advantage of its new features
a n d immediately type what you're looking for, even if it's just some words contained deep within a report like a chemical name in a particular Chemistry module you may have taken. It really is that simple. Windows is constantly indexing your computer contents so that you can find whatever you want in a fraction of a second. This same process can be used for programs too. Press the Windows key and type ‘word’ for Microsoft Word or by typing "ca" you'll most likely find the Windows Calculator at the top of the list to load up instantly with the return key. Windows 7 has taken this idea even further and integrated computer tasks into these search results so that typing "remove" leaves you one click from removing a program off your computer. One more example: type "close" and you'll instantly get the link to change what happens to your laptop when you close the lid. This search box is also available in the top right of any explorer window, so when you are in your music or pictures folder you can
search for things in the current context of what you're doing. You can tag people (like Facebook) in photos and this search will find all photos with that tag in. The new task bar no longer distinguishes between shortcuts and a running program which is a big improvement but you can easily ‘pin’ any icons to the bar for quick access by dragging them onto it. Windows 7 also makes backing up your data more easily which is absolutely essential. Let me use this opportunity to remind you how important backing up your digital photo memories for the future is, since computers do occasionally go wrong. Windows 7 makes it pretty simple. So if you're in the market for a new laptop, the Windows 7 sticker is reassuring. Some people out there will already have Windows Vista or even Windows XP and are wondering whether to buy the offthe-shelf upgrade package. This is more difficult to answer. The differences between XP and 7 are huge but perhaps not so much between Vista and 7. If you're a geek and have the cash then go ahead but most should wait until they're in the market for a new machine. There are some alternatives. If you buy an Apple laptop (Macbook or Macbook Pro) then you'll get Apple's excellent operating system OS X. Apple beat Microsoft to a lot of things like fast desktop searching but Windows 7 shows Microsoft have caught up. There are some discounts to be had being a student b u t you
will b e paying a notable price premium which isn't necessarily right for you. Apple make great machines but make sure it's right for you. Without getting into the specifics it is realistic to pay almost double for an Apple machine over a very respectable Windows 7 machine. The other alternative that I must mention is the Linux-based operating system Ubuntu, which is completely free. It also comes with office software completely compatible with Microsoft Office and graphics software that is almost as powerful as Adobe Photoshop. Linux was always the choice for geeks but Ubuntu is making major inroads into changing this preconception. There can be issues but on the whole it's solid. In fact, I personally use a combination of Windows 7 and Ubuntu machines at home for the best of both worlds. In conclusion, you should view the Windows 7 sticker on that laptop you fancy as reassuring and take full advantage of its new features.
Assassin’s Creed 2 PS3, Xbox 360 MARK HATTERSLEY
ack in 2007, a little game came out called Assassin’s Creed. Unfortunately, this humble offering was preceded by a lot of hype, which gave the impression that AC was going to be the greatest, most revolutionary media shake-up since a podgy red plumber decided to act upon his life-long disdain for walking mushrooms and harmless turtles. It flopped. Despite having an adequate freerunning mechanism for traversing your agile assassin around the 12th century, middle-eastern locales, the game play was linear, uninspired and, frankly, duller than watching paint dry with Gordon Brown. After a couple of years in the making, Assassin’s Creed 2 has graced our screens, and the improvements are dramatic. This time around, we take control of Italian descendant, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, during Renaissance Italy- a much more fitting environment for some flying-by-the-seat-or-yourpants frenetic free-running. Ezio, in truth, is a bit of a 15th Century chav, only better dressed and eloquent. A bit of a renegade, Ezio is constantly avoiding the corrupt law enforcers whilst remaining close family ties, which requires you to carry crates for your mother or beat up some less than virtuous acquaintances of your sister - well, it is Italy. Assassin’s Creed 2, like all great modern games, puts a little time aside to submerge you into the new world, until you are completely empathetic with the protagonist, right before shaking things up. After a dramatic change in circumstance, Ezio gets trained by his uncle Mario in the ways of being an assassin, which, as it turns out, is your birth right. By combining your agile skills with such iconic minds as Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolò Machiavelli, Ezio begins to uncover a deep plot of deception, involving those pesky Templars from the last game. The first Assassin’s Creed game, although majorly flawed, had a fairly well realised combat and movement system; this created the option of ‘fight or flight’. AC2 has expanded on this idea, improving the fighting by adding a variety of weapons, each with their own array of killing techniques and a whole host of new options for the player to determine- from using smoke bombs to disguise your movements, to blinding the enemy by throwing sand in his face- hey, all’s fair in love and war! The fighting sections are just seamless, as you pull off splitsecond counters and desperate disarm moves, before launching any remaining enemies onto the cobbled streets below. With such brilliantly choreographed battles, fighting is far from a last resort, you’ll be looking for it. Meanwhile, flight is still an option. The generally decent free-running from the first Assassin’s Creed has been ironed out to make it even more responsive. The main change here is how perfect the
Italian architecture is for leaping around. Ezio’s home town of Florence is beautifully crafted with an unbelievable amount of detail, all of which is interactive: when scaling a building, Ezio won’t grab onto imaginary handholds, he’ll use window ledges, slightly protruding brickwork, or a nice piece of coving. It all feels so natural when you have to plan a route to your destination, and so satisfying when you get there. The streets are also perfectly equipped for making Hollywood style getaways: market stalls can be leapt through, crowds barged out of the way, and hanging baskets elegantly used to swing at rightangles around buildings; it all flows like a Venetian canal. The visuals live up to the high expectations of the current generation; when perched on top of one of Venice’s numerous vantage points, which Ezio does often as a means to map the area, the draw distance is magnificent and the dizzying height make it seem rude not to throw yourself off in a perfect swan-dive. Assassin’s Creed 2 has focused a hint more on stealth game playthat’s not to say that we have entered Solid Snake territory, if all goes boobs-north you can always give your attackers a steel enemaand with each hostile act Ezio will become more notorious to the guards. Fortunately, the people in the Italian cities congregate like the Apple iPad is on sale, making it easy to slip between them and blend into the crowd. It all works quite well in a large city when you know that, if all else fails, you can disappear quicker than a taxdodging Wesley Snipes; however, it become frustrating and stale on those odd occasions where you have to stay out of sight in cramped indoor areas, as the guards patrol the same predetermined route- I thought that shit died out years ago! To make it worse, you can’t
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even crouch, so the numerous waist-high walls, which litter these areas, become useless for anything but the ‘look, I’m walking down stairs’ bit- which failed to amuse the armour-laden, war-hammer carrying guards. To reduce your notoriety, Ezio needs to do one of three things: remove wanted posters, bribe the town heralds, or kill a certain guard, the last of which seems slightly paradoxical. The certain guard is hardly ever around and the heralds want an extortionate amount to stop badnaming you, so nullifying your notoriety will almost always consist of finding the wanted posters and ripping them down, which is surprisingly effective. Also surprisingly, the posters seem to be in the most unreachable of places; I know it can’t be made too easy, but how many pedestrians can read the small print while dangling a hundred feet from a thin ledge? Ultimately, I’m picking more nits than a clinic nurse. Assassin’s Creed 2 provides a thrilling example of a near-perfect adventure. The plot is unique, there’s plenty to collect, there’s longevity, the discourse is frequently graced with some fantastic set-pieces, new weapons are drip-fed to the gamer, the combat and climbing features are smoother than Action Man’s genitalia, and doubleassassinations never EVER get old. There are too many good points to mention, and they’re better when discovered for oneself. I suppose the greatest praise that can be given to Assassin’s Creed 2 is how, through some expertly applied environmental puzzles, it has practically made the Prince of Persia franchise redundant. The imminent PoP: The Forgotten Sands, due out May, will have to be pretty spectacular to stop me from taking yet another trip to renaissance Italy.
8th February 2010 / Student Direct www.student-direct.co.uk
Science & Research The Universe on your laptop LUKE THOMPSON
stronomers from the University of Manchester and Cardiff University have unveiled a web tool designed to allow the public to explore incredible views of the galaxy. The site, gives visitors a user-friendly, zoomable 360 degree view of the stars in the Milky Way. www.chromoscope.net What's more, Chromoscope not only shows what the galaxy looks like in human eyes, but also includes an x-ray vision feature. The high detail seen on the site comes from hundreds of separate images integrated from seven different sources including Manchester's Jodrell
The Chromoscope online tool showing microwave wavelengths
Bank observatory. One of the creators, Chris North from Cardiff University, said: "We wanted to create something that was accessible to not only the general public,
BBC to celebrate ‘Year of Science’ in 2010 ROOSA TIKKANEN
Science & Research Editor
cience enthusiasts will be delighted to know that the BBC has announced that 2010 will be it’s Year of Science. The choice was made in support of the Royal Society, the oldest natural sciences society in the world, in celebrating their 350th
birthday. The idea is not just to educate, but also to stir up debates on the philosophy and policy of science. BBC’s Director of Vision Jana Bennett explains that the objectives of the Year of Science are “to illuminate, celebrate and evaluate science
but also schools. Chromoscope can be downloaded and then used without an internet connection or placed on a USB memory stick and passed around."
in the 21st Century and how it’s shaped our history and culture.” Indeed, science is a topic that is very much in vogue in the media. Stories of Nuttgate, the Hadron Collider and the MMR vaccine were amongst the biggest stories of 2009. So what to look out for? Expect to see and hear popular science figures, such as Richard Dawkins for some heated God versus science debating. Also, keep your eyes peeled for actors such as Brian Cox presenting upcoming TV shows including Seven Wonders of the Solar System. However, there’s no need to stay at home, as there’s plenty
Clinical trials test psoriasis drugs CHRISTINE JAMESON
Science & Research Editor
linical trials led by the University of M a n c h e s t e r ’ s Professor Chris Griffiths is the first of its kind to show significant difference in the effectiveness of prescription drugs, Enbrel and Stelara, for the treatment of the skin disorder, psoriasis. This comparative study, now hopes to contribute to improving future symptomatic management of this condition.
Psoriasis is a chronic recurring inflammatory disorder of rapidly dividing skin cells, producing scaly and flaky red patches of skin that can cover up to 20% of the body surface. Although not contagious, the skin condition can cause discomfort to the patient and there is at present no cure. Currently, drugs that aim to relieve the symptoms of psoriasis selectively block parts of the body’s underlying
inflammatory response. For instance, Stelara stops the action of interleukin 12 (IL-12) and interleukin 23 (IL-23), whilst Enbrel blocks the action of tumour necrosis factor-· (TNF ·); all signalling molecules released by immune cells to amplify inflammation. The Manchester-led international study, including 903 patients suffering from sever to moderate psoriasis, was aimed to assess the benefit-risk profiles of these
Chromoscope follows the trend of a number of other websites that are making the universe more accessible to the public. A similar site at www.gigagalaxyzoom.org shows a high-detail view of the galaxy, although it doesn't include the more exotic views that Chromoscope offers. Released in September 2009, the GigaGalaxyZoom project is a collaboration between many European countries including the UK. Such web tools show off the beauty of our universe in possibly the most accessible ways “big science” has ever been displayed. Chromoscope's infrared view in particular is a stunning vision of the galaxy - almost as if it was on fire, and GigaGalaxy's level of detail is breathtaking. Zooming in to see individual stars in the very centre of our galaxy is a somewhat humbling reminder of the mind-boggling scale of space. These sites, with the help of novel technology, are increasingly bringing science out of the ivory tower and into the public eye. to get involved with. For example, BBC Radio 4’s Material World programme has launched a competition called ‘So you want to be a scientist?’ So if you’re wondering why chicken soup boils faster than fish soup, or you have a dazzling theory on why some people need umbrellas in the drizzle, while others don’t – throw any self-doubt out of the window and enter. After all, “it's not just working scientists who have light bulb moments. Anyone, anywhere can have a brainwave that's worth investigating.” Who knows, you might even learn something new in 2010.
medicines. After a 12-week period, Stelara improved symptoms by 75 per cent in two in three patients, and a doubling in dosage increased the benefit to nearly three in four patients. The results for Enbrel were less impressive as improvements were seen in only 57 per cent of cases. This study, published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, supports the use of Stelara for those whose condition is not improved by Enbrel. According to Professor Griffiths, "results of this study could have implications for determining the optimal approach to the treatment of psoriasis and, in particular, the need for therapeutic strategies targeting the body's immune system to provide the greatest benefit and safety."
Hot topics ERICA BURNELL
Science & Research Editor
Mars So long to the Mars rover Spirit - as it’s roaming days are over. In May 2009, Spirit, which had been collecting scientific data from Mars for the last six years, has got its wheels stuck in Martian sand. Now, after nine months of hard efforts, NASA has finally accepted that they are probably not going to be able to get it out. Director of the Mars exploration programme stated, “This is not a day to mourn Spirit. Spirit will continue to make contributions to science.” RIP Spirit.
Florida Is it a plant, is it an animal? No, it’s half-plant, half-animal. Sidney Pierce, University of South Florida, discovered that the sea slug Elysia Chlorotica, previously known to feed only on algae, can extract genes from its diet to make the energy synthesising molecule chlorophyll, typically found in plants. This is the first time genes have been observed to be exchanged between multicellular organisms.
In a galaxy far, far away A black hole 20 times the mass of the sun has been discovered using the aptly-named Very Large Telescope in Chile. The hole is six million light-years away in the galaxy NGC 300, making it the farthest of such objects found to date.
Manchester discoveries of the Noughties
s we embark on a new decade, it’s time to review the contributions that Manchester researchers have made to our understanding of science 5. ANCIENT CLAY HAS INTERNAL CLAY In May 2009 Manchester engineers developed a new way of dating archaeological objects. Published in the Proceeding of the Royal Society, this technique can identify the age of objects up to 2,000 years old. 4. GROW YOUR OWN LIMBS In 2006, Life Sciences professor Enrique Amaya’s work on the ability of frogs and salamanders to self-heal led to the opening of The Healing Foundation Centre. Focusing on tissue repair, the centre hopes to benefit those with amputations, and in particular breast cancer survivors. 3. DEMENTIA GENE DISCOVERY In 2006 life scientists teamed up with clinical doctors and identified a gene mutation responsible for a
common type of dementia, progranulin. The discovery, published in Nature, supports the development of new treatments aimed at the 750,000 people suffering from dementia across the UK. 2. THE ORIGIN OF LIFE In 2009 Manchester chemists developed an experiment that sheds new light on how life on earth began. Professor John Sutherland and his team synthesised two out of four building blocks of RNA. 1. THE TOUGHEST MATERIAL IN THE WORLD In 2004, physicist Professor Andre Geim made headlines across the globe when his lab discovered graphene, the thinnest, toughest and densest material in the world. Graphene has many potential applications including making computers faster. Geim is now being awarded the prestigious Award for the Advancement of Science, by the National Academy of Sciences.
Student Direct / 8th February 2010
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avid Gast was an expert in fabric design. One festive period, working alone in his basement laboratory late on Christmas Eve, he finally managed to synthesise a new sort of fabric that he had been working on for ages. A fabric that could be used in raincoats, a fabric with a level of waterprovity so effective that it would undoubtedly revolutionise the entire raincoat industry and make David Gast a millionaire. You see, most waterproof fabrics have as their general principle of being waterproof the fact that they keep the water out – this is all very fine and good and perfectly effective, in a way, but it has the singular problem of the fact that the actual coat itself still gets wet. So when you come inside in your wet coat you bring the rain into your house, in a sense. David Gast's new fabric didn't work like that at all – instead it had the property of absorbing the water and making it dry, and then the newly-dry water would flake off the jacket in the form of salt. He called the fabric Gastorx. Then he headed upstairs to settle down, to go to sleep and then wake up to a pleasant Christmas at home with his wife. But the raincoat industry is a big business and word travels fast, even at Christmas. David Gast was sitting by the fire, wearing the new cashmere jumper that his wife had bought him as his present, and sipping sherry. He was eating a mince pie in the shadow of the tree when there came a knock on the door, and standing there in front of him were seven grim, menacing envoys from the seven big raincoat companies: Armitage House, Tracker, Splish-Splosh, MaxiCraft Sports, RaÏn, Llewellyn Clarke, and Michael Shaw. The representative standing in the centre, the tallest, from the biggest raincoat manufacturer of them all, - Llewellyn Clarke greeted him. “Merry Christmas, Mr Gast.” “Merry Christmas to you, too,” David replied. “But who are you, and why are you calling here at Christmas?” The representative from Llewellyn Clarke explained who they all were. The representatives all looked identical except for their differing heights, exactly corresponding to the respective sizes of their companies, from six foot five Llewellyn Clarke down to five foot nothing MaxiCraft Sports, and the different brands of raincoats they were wearing. “It has come to our attention that late last night you were able to synthesise a new sort of fabric, Gastorx, that can be used in raincoats. Naturally, we found this news most interesting. We therefore decided to do away with the decorum of the festive season and pay you a visit with the utmost urgency. We felt it was appropriate, given the circumstances.” “Well, I don't understand, I don't see why this can't wait. I'll be wanting to pitch this fabric to you but I'm sure it can wait until after the Christmas holidays. I don't make raincoats myself as you probably know, so I'd be happy to sell any of you the rights to my fabric.” “So you say, Mr Gast,” replied Llewellyn Clarke. “But our existing fabric suppliers are concerned. They'll think we're trying to undercut them. So you see that we must act in good faith to our existing friends, or else what is friendship to anyone? Hence the formality of this visit.” “I'm still not sure I understand. Can this really not wait until after Christmas? I'm having a quiet festive season at home with my wife.” The normally very mild-mannered David Gast was
Where is the Boudicca of today? She took me up to Lugg View one night. Seventeen, fiery red, and shades Just like Kim Gordon's. It was the Summer solstice. Gaia's 21st, we called it. Nude, we made sure no one was around. She stood, pre-raphaelite, tendrils of grass Reaching almost up to her waist in the 4am sun, and I was Adonis. She took my hand.
almost on the verge of becoming annoyed. “Perhaps we should talk elsewhere,” said Llewellyn Clarke. “You should excuse yourself for the afternoon and come with us to the Armitage House warehouse, it’s just a short walk from here. That would be ideal for our purposes.” “But I can't do that,” replied David. “It's Christmas Day. We'll talk after the holidays. Good day, gentlemen.” And so, David Gast made to shut the door. “Wait,” said Llewellyn Clarke, grabbing the door as David tried to close it. Llewellyn Clarke's eyes darted to the side and down, and following them David looked across to see that the representative from MaxiCraft Sports, standing next to Llewellyn Clarke, had pulled out a small pistol that was poking out from the side of his raincoat, pointing it at David. “OK,” said David. “OK. OK.” David leaned inside and called to his wife, “I have to go out for a bit, darling.” “What?” came the woman's voice from inside. “But it's Christmas! Where are you going?” “It's hard to explain,” said David. “It's to do with my fabric, I'll tell you when I get back.” David Gast stepped outside with the seven representatives and followed them through the cold streets to an industrial district on the outskirts of town, quiet now on the holidays, away from the Christmas lights. David shivered the whole way there; he had been too afraid after seeing the gun to dare step back inside to get a coat and put on some outside shoes. And then there was always the added element of danger when you're with seven maliciously-intentioned men, at least one of whom is armed. The Armitage House warehouse rose up dark and empty. It was a strange, dead building; all the buildings in this area of town looked this way, either boarded up or being used as warehouses, like this one. A representative opened the door with a huge, heavy key attached to a chain round his neck. The lights took a while to all turn on, but when they did they revealed mountains of raincoats, rising up above the eyes of David Gast and the representatives, mounds and mounds of coats stacked in columns, fine black Armitage House raincoats, probably hundreds of thousands of them, folded neatly and compressed,
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS Exams are over, your minds are once again your own to abuse and to put to good muse. Paper and pens aren’t only for revision. So please, don’t let this page become a barren wasteland of adverts for crap nights out and unnaturally coloured alcopops. We know you all are creative geniuses. We know you all have fires of passion burning deep in your poetic souls. Don’t just lie in your own filth streaming episodes of Family Guy until your next deadline. We are not pretentious arseholes waiting to laugh at your submissions, looming over your work with bright red pens. So do not fear! Just submit. As always, send us as much or as little of your writing as you can, will, should or want.
Six months later, the phonecall after the battlecry, and an NHS bed in the hospital where she volunteered. Bold. Glowing. She smiled as I brought flowers, gown hanging off her body. Why? I asked. I was angry. I took her hand. Where is the Boudicca of today? Fighting for space in coffee queues, Defiant; lighting cigarettes In battle, the swansong of youth
and now, thanks to David's recent invention, all soon to be obsolete. “You see all these raincoats?” Llewellyn Clarke said to him. “You see what you've done to them, by inventing that fabric? We can't let you do this, Mr Gast. We really can't.” And so then all the representatives were upon him. Splish-Splosh punched him in the gut as Tracker pushed him into one of the big mounds of raincoats, which toppled over, and in the pile the rest of them all cluttered onto him, kicking him in the legs, chest, and face, except for Llewellyn Clarke who just stood apart, watching, his arms folded, nodding. David tried to struggle free but Armitage House held down his arms, pinning him and then holding him up for all of the rest of them to keep on hitting him, and he was bruised and broken and he started to bleed, the front of his new cashmere jumper ripped open and grazed flesh shining out. And then when he was stunned and looking on at the beating with a swaying, detached gaze, from inside his eyeballs, a call that David couldn't quite comprehend went out, and the blows suddenly stopped, and the representatives stepped off, and David thought he might be free, but he couldn't get up, all he could do was just turn from side to side in the big pile of toppled-over raincoats, and then the last thing that David Gast saw was the representative from Llewellyn Clarke striding up to him, taking a sawn-off shotgun out from beneath the folds of his beautiful-but-inferior-to-anythingthat-his-company-might-have-designed-with-David's-help Llewellyn Clarke raincoat, and pulling the trigger.
8th February 2010 / Student Direct www.student-direct.co.uk
A Touch of
Youth in Revolt Director: Miguel Areta Cast: Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Jean Smart
Encounters at the End of the World
DANIJELA TOPALOVIC & JO GEWIRTZ
outh in Revolt opens with nerdy teenager Nick Twisp wanking off in his bedroom- in spectacularly clichéd terms he proclaims his fixation with sex and the desperate need for a girlfriend who could lend a helping hand. In fact, Twisp is a sex-obsessed virgin whose social awkwardness dictates that in the real world he would lead a very long, lonely, sex-deprived existence. But this is American cinema, and in true coming-ofage fashion, Twisp goes on a metaphorical and literal journey to come to terms with his manhood and to, of course, find a girlfriend. This film is very watchable, but several aspects are just frankly annoying as the film sticks closely to the now worn cliché conventions of the ‘indie’ genre. The teens speak in a strange, wisecrack language that quite literally does not exist on this earth, earlier heard in films like Juno, and the now standard animation sequence that consciously looks like it was put together by a child during playtime is also included. Perhaps most gratingly, every time the two protagonists lean in to kiss, the acoustic guitar chords start and you know exactly what type of song is coming. If it isn’t The Moldy Peaches, it may as well be. Twisp, during the course of the film, becomes obsessed with
Sheeni who in turn has a poetrywriting, all round loveable and perfect boyfriend, Trent. Sheeni Saunders is a 15-year-old nonvirgin who is obsessed with French culture and language, and is rebelling against a caricatured, stereotypical portrayal of strict Christian parents. Twisp falls head over heels in love, the sort of love a nerdy 16-year-old boy favours in American cinema, and delves into a series of destructive and illegal acts to win over Sheeni. His ultimate goal? To lose his virginity. But somewhere amidst the ridiculous invention of an alterego, Francois Dillinger, who commits grand theft auto and other misdemeanours for Twisp, his virgin status gets lost along the way. Youth in Revolt is well paced, but overall its technical elements are not noteworthy. The cinematography is unsurprisingly colourful, as every indie film is, seemingly because the filmmakers assume their youthful demographic will get bored if not assaulted by hyper-saturated colours and blue, blue skies. Director Miguel Areta here misses the opportunity to make us really feel for Nick, by emphasizing the grim, boring, dirty-ness of trailer life – rather making it look Californian, and not so bad really. Besides a rather gorgeous shot of Nick, hormonal and longing as he dreams of Sheeni in the shower in
Director: Werner Herzog Cinematographer: Peter Zeitlinger
ALEC HAWLEY Film Editor
slow motion, the visuals of the film are pretty standard. Perhaps at a time when cinema-goers have the unbelievable spectacle of Avatar as an option, Youth in Revolt feels particularly underwhelming, and whilst solid enough, is not a memorable experience, unlike The Journals of Nick Twisp, C. D. Payne’s original novel. Ultimately the film fails in showcasing Michael Cera’s ability to play the bad guy, by introducing the laughable and highly unbelievable caricature of Twisp’s alter-ego, Francois Dillinger, who flouts the law whilst wearing a moustache and smoking a cigarette. However, as per usual his performance as the nerdy teenager is exceptionally believable and at most times loveable. Newcomer Portia Doubleday, in her role as Sheeni also delivers a cute and provocative performance, and is one to watch out for. However, Justin Long in his portrayal of Sheeni’s elusive older brother, Paul, is forgettable. The inclusion of Long characterises the attempt by the film-makers to pack as many
events and characters into the film as financially and cinematically possible, and it fails by depriving the film of any real honesty.
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Verdict A script with potential but which fails to light up the big screen, with an over-dependence on stereotypes and an unoriginal depiction of contemporary teenage love.
Verdict A portrait of Antarctica that is beautiful, amusing, confusing and fascinating (often all at the same time), what documentary filmmaking is meant to be.
films of 2009 STEPHEN JONES
CATHERINE MANSFIELD Precious learns to read and write and dares to like herself at last. This film is brought to life by outstanding performances, particularly from first-time actor Sidibe. Comedian Mo’Nique provides a breathtaking performance as Precious’ mother, with good support from Paton and an unusual role for Mariah Carey as her social worker. While there are moments of hope as we see Precious’ confidence building enough for her to finally stand up to her mother, the film does not skimp on violence and there are some very painful moments. A scene where Precious falls down the stairs holding her baby while her mother drops a TV on them is extremely difficult to watch. Another scene where Precious’ mother confesses that she knew about her boyfriend’s abuse of Precious as a child to Carey’s horrified social worker, who is clearly well out of her depth, is also painfully raw. And when we find
Antarctica, Herzog’s travels take him out onto the ice, visiting penguin colonies (where he discusses the possibility of gay penguins with an expert), volcanoes (where he meets a volcanologist dressed in tweed) and underwater diving bases (where he witnesses a rock concert on the roof). These are all entertaining diversions, and it’s fascinating to see Herzog’s clipped documentarian come into contact with this collection of eccentrics, but they pale in comparison to the footage of scuba dives under the ice, Herzog’s inspiration for coming and some of the most awe-inspiring images on Earth.
t suddenly dawned on me during the holidays, somewhere between watching every Star Wars film in a day and stuffing my face with After Eights (before eight!!!! Don’t tell!!!), that 2009 has been an absolutely fantastic year for film. Turkey sandwiches and fireworks stuck in the rolls of flab newly created by Mars fun-sizes were the only thing stopping me from jumping up and enjoying a celebratory ham. Choosing the five best was a torturous task, but I’m going to admit now that I didn’t even consider Up!. Sue me.
Director: Lee Daniels Cast: Gabourey Sidibe, Mo’Nique, Paula Paton, Mariah Carey
If you’re feeling down at the start of term, this could be the perfect film to put things into perspective. Claireece “Precious” Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) is an obese, illiterate 16-year-old girl living in 1980s Harlem. Her life is spent between school, where she sits in silence at the back of the class, and home, where she is a slave to her abusive mother (Mo’Nique). What’s more, she’s pregnant with her second child by her father, who has been abusing and raping her since she was three years old. Precious only survives her parents’ abuse and the taunts of other teenagers by escaping into a fantasy world where she is a confident, singing diva. It’s a small consolation. Things begin to change when she is referred to an alternative school with a teacher (Paula Paton) who shows interest in Precious, perhaps for the first time in the young girl’s life. In a class full of misfit girls with similarly difficult backgrounds,
lthough Antarctica has been conquered and colonised by humans many times and is as integrated into today’s society as much as any place on Earth, because of its remote location, tightly controlled visitors and extreme weather conditions it still retains an aura of mystery, one of those few places where one can go to escape, one of the few blind spots in our all-encompassing global knowledge. It is this unique possibility that Werner Herzog’s voyage of polar discovery explores, determined not to make another film about “fluffy penguins” he instead explores the people of Antarctica, a strange collection of scientists, dreamers and misanthropes who call this barren land home. After arriving in McMurdo, a dump of a town that immediately challenges viewers’ perceptions of a winter wonderland, but that is also the largest settlement on
1. Avatar. out that Precious’ father was HIV positive, it’s almost too much to bear. However it’s not all pain; the moments when we see Precious and her classmates messing around, writing fairy tales and teasing a male nurse (Lenny Kravitz) provide some comic relief. The girls all clearly have problems of their own – we wonder what their own stories might be like – but for Precious they offer undemanding friendship and a glimpse of normal teenaged life. As Precious begins to work out what she wants – to be a good mother to her two children, to learn to read and write and get a job beyond the inevitable minimum wage – we
allow ourselves to hope that things are going to get better. Based on the novel Push by Sapphire and executively produced by Oprah Winfrey, it sometimes feels that the film is pushing its message just a little bit too hard. However, overall it’s a powerful film which will have you leaving the cinema a little shellshocked but generally better for the experience.
Verdict Brave, heartbreaking and beautifully acted – a film that puts the pain of essay writing into perspective.
Action films and James Cameron go together like emos and Twilight, but his latest offering is also a testament to America’s unfaltering ability to criticise itself. Hoorah for liberal society.
2. Moon. Atmospheric Sci-fi which isn’t about the befriending, discovering or blowing up of aliens. And the computer isn’t even evil. Watch it anyway; it’s the best ‘true’ space flick since 2001.
3. Slumdog Millionaire. Danny Boyle scored a perfect 15 in a film that’s about as feel-good as 5th Ave is Indie. Starring that guy from Skins.
4. An Education. Girl meets boy, boy is man, man steals things, something about a cello.... film about coming of age where the main character comes of age in a much more thrilling way than we did (or will).
5. Coraline. A darker, funnier and tighter package than The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride, Coraline is the pinnacle of the stopmotion love affair.
Student Direct / February 8th 2010 www.student-direct.co.uk
What Do These People Have In Common?
Anna Ford Broadcaster
Phil Woolas Government Minister
David Aaronovitch Award Winning Journalist
THEY WERE ALL UNION OFFICE HOLDERS ?
WHY NOT JOIN THEM! Union Election Candidate?
30 Lecture Break
February 8th 2010 / Student Direct www.student-direct.co.uk
Lecture Break Watching the clock Penelope Thomas Lecture break editor
hen it comes to Europe, it’s not the Spanish that are famed for their lovin’, they’re better at fencing with bulls, hammering their well-heeled feet in silky red skirts and taking naps in the height of the afternoon. Not outrageously voracious car sex. Anyway, I visited Barcelona with a bunch of preconceptions about Spanish men. Admittedly, I was on the prowl for the entirety of the holiday, much to the goodhumoured dismay of my flatmate and my girl mate. I tried it on with: the chef across the road, attempting to translate “I like your hot hot cous cous” in the best non-Catalan accent I could muster. He smiled though didn’t really say anything. Ever. Just smiled. And stared. So that was the end of that non-affair. Then there was the man who sold baguettes at two in the morning (in Barcelona you don’t get kebabs after a night out, you get pastries and espresso), but he wasn’t exactly macho material. Sunburnt, hair as a dry as straw and ever-so-slightly homesick (though really, sandy beach versus mucky pavement?) I went out to Catwalk, Barca’s premiere club. It’s a fair trek out
of the city centre and is underground. The bouncers enforce a serious dress code policy and the slightest hint of a hoodie or a trainer that’s actually used for sport, is snuffed out. So there I was, let in, wearing some flowery cream and maroon garb and completely drunk on just one gin and tonic, which over there may as well be called gin and gin, and I pulled. I pulled a Spanish PE Teacher. He wasn’t tall. But the physique more than made up for his shortcomings (Oh, and his coming made up for his shortcomings.) After the stereotypical ‘let’s get out of here’, we went outside and jumped in his car. Bear in mind I didn’t know the guy, could’ve got murdered in this strange man’s car, he drove, fast, through the tunneled speedway and up to the northernmost point of Barcelona. We stopped on top of a mountain, after a bit of fumbled over the gearstick hand action, and lept into the backseat. It’s true what they say about PE teachers.
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xams are over, lectures are only just beginning and you may even some loan left, so whats the rush? All Perfect excuses for the procrastination that makes all work last about three times as long as it probably should. Putting off the inevitable is pointless; those hours spent on Facebook instead of writing essays or having a quick nap on a library desk are definitely a waste of time but even so, they're difficult to give up. If you want to get rid of that guilt as the clock ticks ever closer to that looming deadline, here are some tips recommended by getmoredone.com. So first, do the worst jobs straight away. Ignore all impulses to, say, plan your summer holiday or choose something for dinner. But it's not all bad news because when completing these worst and most horrible tasks (seminar work due in tomorrow for the guy who always asks you the answers) give yourself a treat. It doesn't have to be anything that exciting but maybe a biscuit or for a less fattening option an episode of Glee. Next, break down big projects into smaller sections. If you don't look at
it all at once it will look far less bad, sort of like a Picasso. Be realistic with what you can manage; a little more than just finding your pen but perhaps less than writing your dissertation in an afternoon. Beware of indescision, fear of failure and lack of interest! Being an arts student I assume this means choosing which calculator to use for science or maths, and at a stretch which chemical. To avoid lack of interest, they suggests making the work into a game, for example, set your revision notes to music. Focusing on how good you'll feel after you've finished is good advice, but also focusing on how bad it will be to go into an exam after 15 minutes revision (as some procrastinators might have recently experienced). To avoid distraction, they have suggested making a rule not to get distracted. This sounds like flawed logic if you don't have the willpower not to get distracted in the first place. Worth a try though. If your new years resolution is to do a bit of work for that degree business that seems to always be getting in the way of your social life, these tips will hopefully help stop you wiling away the hours. Still, if Come Dine with Me is calling or there's an interesting stain to look at on the floor, sometimes that essay can wait, it's obviously not going anywhere soon.
Quick Crossword #13
New year, new you? Kate Wilson
think it’s safe to assume that most people’s Christmas, New Year and probably the other 363 days of 2009, started and ended exactly the same as mine – with a glut of self-indulgence. As a student, I have undeniably spent the last two and a half years eating, drinking and sleeping the days away and could literally count the amount of times I’ve raised my heart rate on one hand. I am ashamed to admit that at 21 years of age, walking to the local shop to buy more cakes and more wine leaves me a little out of breath. According to the website about.com, the top four new years resolutions, after spending more time with family and friends, are to get fitter, beat the bulge, drink less and smoke less – way in front of helping others at number nine and getting a job at number ten. In 2009, out of the 52 per cent of people who actually made new years resolutions, only 12 per cent didn’t succumb to which ever indulgence they were attempting to eliminate. The very reason I don’t make new years resolutions. I just know I can’t keep them. However, I am convinced that 2010 is going to be different. New decade,
new start. I have avoided eating healthily and exercising, bleating that “it’s too expensive” for too long so I’ve found cheap and healthy options perfect for students. Number one is the organic inner city fruit and vegetable box, delivering for free within a 50-mile radius of Manchester city centre, offering fresh, seasonal, organic fruit and vegetables. A little shopping around and there was only one box for me. At £10.95 (the perfect size for a student house of four), Abel & Cole, the supposed giant of the vegetable box world, was the only contender, offering a wide range of goodness that I could pick myself online as well as free healthy recipes. Number two, of course, was the inevitable. Exercise. Although some gyms are cheap (try Sugden Sports Centre at £2.05 for a session) the feeling of dread overrides my desire to save money. So why not try an aerobics class at the Armitage centre in Fallowfield at only £2.50 a session or try walking with your mates for 30 minutes and burn up to 400 calories? According to health experts, the reason why so many of us fail in our quest for fitness, is because of unrealistic targets we set ourselves i.e. if we haven’t lost three stone in one week we give up. So why not start slowly, building up into a healthier new you for 2010. Starting with a brisk walk to the pub…
ACROSS 3. 8. 10. 11. 12. 13. 15. 18. 19. 21. 22. 23. 24. 26. 29. 31. 32. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38.
Foam or froth (5) Be suitable to (5) Premature (5) Loud annoying noise (3) Abstains from eating (5) Winter month (7) Courage or spirit (5) Restriction or restraint (3) Decorating tool (6) Minor deity (7) Sediment (4) Cultivated variety of cabbage (4) French wine (7) Gains access to (4,2) Slippery fish (3) To tarnish (5) Supermarket cart (7) Milk producer (5) Vessel for liquids (3) Universe or cosmos (5) Ancient Roman gowns (5) Full of desire, enthusiastic (5)
1. 2. 4. 5. 6. 7. 9. 12. 14. 16. 17. 19. 20. 21. 23. 24. 25. 27. 28. 30. 32. 33.
Chair carried on poles (5) Record of a meeting's proceedings (7) Amuse oneself (4) System (6) Artist's stand (5) Glower (5) Steering organ of a fish (3) Cargo (7) Intention (3) Assumed name (5) Attempts (5) Hold-up (7) Becomes weak or tired (5) Fourth Greek letter (5) Spoilsport (4-3) Country in North America (6) Star sign (3) Distinctive character (5) Edge along (5) Royal (5) Opposite of false (4) Drag with effort (3)
Answers for #12 ACROSS: 5. Sobs; 7. Consultant; 8. Yolk; 10. Byre; 12. Eke; 13. League; 16. Nacre; 18. Bus; 20. Spiv; 21. Rhea; 22. Gin; 24. Undue; 25. Endear; 26. Rug; 27. Bass; 29. Hobo; 33. Friendship; 34. Beef.
DOWN: 1. Cob; 2. Espy; 3. Clue; 4. Val; 5. Sty; 6. Belle; 9. Feast; 10. Benign; 11. Jab; 13. Lemur; 14. Guru; 15. Ushers; 17. Avid; 19. Cargo; 23. Net; 25. Elope; 27. Bank; 28. So-so; 30. Off; 31. Win; 32. Pip.
Student Direct / February 8th 2010 www.student-direct.co.uk
Union nio i & Listings g An Open Letter to Lord Browne of Madingley and the Review Panel for Fees and Student Support, from the University of Manchester Students’ Union
ear Lord Browne, We are pleased that you have chosen to visit Manchester as part of your research, and hope that you will take the views of its students into consideration when making recommendations later this year.
The current system for funding higher education is regressive and unfair. Up-front fees take no account of the benefit each graduate receives from higher education: future lawyers and bankers pay the same as future nurses and teachers. Tuition fees were originally introduced in recognition of the financial benefits being a graduate brings, but blanket up-front fees fail to recognise the huge variance of graduate earnings. The system of loans and grants is woefully inadequate: only the students with very rich or very poor parents can afford to study without working or taking out overdrafts to support themselves. Part-time and postgraduate students are hit even harder, as they cannot have their fees paid by a state-subsidised loan. Student demographics have changed dramatically in recent years: 43% of students are now part-time. A new funding model should recognise that the 18-year-old full time student is now in the minority.
A market-driven system would drive out “unprofitable” subjects. Raising tuition fees would make several subjects into financially unviable options: who would take an arts degree if the costs of studying it outweighed any future gains from possessing it? This brings us to a key point about the purpose of higher education: it benefits society as a whole. A market system will undoubtedly result in the breadth of disciplines shrinking to a small pool of economically sensible options to choose: those which result in highly-paid careers. This will leave a “knowledge gap” and a shortage of expertise in Britain, making us less able to compete in the global knowledge economy and less able to deliver effective public services. If you’ll forgive us for quoting Tony Blair, in 1998 he said “the main source of value and competitive advantage in the modern economy is human and intellectual capital”. Everyone should have an equal right to attend university, regardless of their family and cultural background. Raising fees would put off students from poorer backgrounds from applying to university, and the introduction of a market in institution prices would widen class divides as the most prestigious universities would only be available to those who could afford their fees. Bursaries and grants means-tested on parental income do not mitigate issues with higher fees: an assumption of parental contribution is unfair on the student and fails to recognise the increasingly diverse student demographics. We would urge the committee to ensure that all options for funding the higher education sector are given serious consideration. The question is not as simple as “should fees go up, and by how much?”: the implications of raising fees must be fully explored, and alternative solutions to the funding problem must be looked at in detail. Yours sincerely, The University of Manchester Students’ Union
This week is LGBT Awareness week As part of LGBT awareness week, the University of Manchester LGBT Welfare Campaigns Collective has organised a series of events to raise awareness about issues affecting LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people. All are welcome to attend!
Monday 8th February: 12-4pm The Queer Arts Community Kafe Bookshop Project are joining the LGBT society for badge making, pansy planting and a bit of campus queering on Monday afternoon. With chalk, seed-bombs and plant pots, we’re going to make the campus colourful and plant pansies to remember those who have been affected by homophobic violence. Get your creative hats on and join us in the Students’ Union foyer. 1pm Sex toy workshop MR1 in the South Campus Students’ Union, Oxford Road. 7.30pm The LGBT Welfare Campaigns collective have teamed up with Open Media to show highly acclaimed film, ‘A Jihad for Love’. The film will be shown in the Council Chambers (South Campus Students’ Union).
Tuesday 9th February 11am Donation not discrimination campaign day. Stall outside the main library to campaign for the lifting of the blanket ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men. Come along and join the campaign!
Wednesday 10th February A day of talks on the following themes: Noon LGBT and religion (MR1, South Campus Students’ Union)
1pm LGBT and work (MR1) 2pm Queer Theory (MR2) 3pm Trans 101 (MR4) 5.30pm Trans and feminism talk by Ruth Pearce (MR1) 6.30pm Reclaim the Parks. The Riveters are teaming up with LGBT Society to say no to homophobic attacks in Sackville Gardens, and reclaim the space! There’ll be banners, tea, biscuits and lots of lovely people. Come along to say no to gender based violence. Meet on the steps of the South Campus Students’ Union.
Thursday 11th February 1pm Kiss-in on the steps of the South Campus Students’ Union 1.30pm Tea party in University Place 7.30pm Quiz night in the Union Bar (South Campus Students’ Union, Oxford Road).
Friday 12th February: 1pm - International LGBT rights game outside the library. Come along and find out about LGBT rights around the globe. 9pm - Club night starting at Baa Bar on Sackville Street. We’ll be collecting donations for a LGBT safe house in Iran. The night is Stonewall themed so come in fancy dress (’60s, drag, police etc). We will also be running an information stall all week in the foyer of the South Campus Students’ Union on Oxford Road
Join the Manchester Mafia Want better facilities for societies? Cheaper beer? More books? Less debt? Whatever you want, running in the UMSU elections could be your answer UMSU Executiveer
hink your Union could be doing more for you? Well why leave it up to someone else? Union elections are just around the corner and if you really want to change the way things are run around here then put pen to paper and get your manifesto in by 3pm on February 12. As well as boasting high-ranking alumni (affectionately referred to by the New Statesman as the ‘Manchester Mafia’) the Union’s Executive and Council have the potential power to change just about anything to do with your university experience: whether that’s better facilities for societies or changing the rules on exam feedback. With the right people in the right jobs your Union can be a force to be reckoned with (as well as a decent place to a have a pint and a chinwag). This isn’t just about empty political eulogising, this is about getting people who are going to make life that little bit better for students; whether that’s providing you with a decent student newspaper to read between lectures or making sure you’re listened to in university meetings. Of course with great power
comes great responsibility and it’s vital to get the best people for the job, particularly as eight out of 14 positions on the Union Executive are full-time and paid (that’s rightthey get paid). This is where you come in. UMSU need you, your ideas and your enthusiasm. Any student at the University of Manchester can run for an Executive role, whether that’s a part-time officer position or full-time. If you take on a sabbatical (full-time) role, it will involve taking one year out of your studies, or continuing for one year after graduation if you are graduating this year. Sound good? Well this week you can get your nomination forms from the Union’s General Office in the Steve Biko Building (South Campus). The office is open from 10am until 3pm and forms will be available until Friday February 12. You need two people to nominate you - a proposer and a seconder - and four passport sized photographs. Then you’ll need a manifesto – less scary than it sounds – just jot down all the things you want to do if elected and why you’ll be brilliant. Fill in the rest of the forms and hand them back in to General Office before 3pm on Friday. Once nominations are closed there’ll be a candidates meeting where members of this year’s executive will go through the ins and outs (or the agony and the ecstasy) of running an election campaign.
Positions up for grabs on the Union Executive: Sabbatical Officers (full-time paid positions on Executive) • Academic Affairs Officer • Campaigns Officer • Communications Officer • General Secretary • Student Activities Officer • Student Direct Officer • Welfare Officer • Women's Officer (Women Only) Non-Sabbatical Officers (part-time non-paid positions on Executive) • International Students Officer • Postgraduate and Mature Students Officer • Engineering and Physical Sciences Faculty Officer • Humanities Faculty Officer • Life Sciences Faculty Officer • Medical and Human Sciences Faculty Officer Plus loads more positions on Union Council. For more information on any of the positions see www.umsu.manchester.ac.uk/your_union/elections
32 Sport Feature
8th February 2010 / Student Direct www.student-direct.co.uk
to Vancouver… JOEL PLAJA talks to Great British halfpipe hope Ben Kilner about Olympic fever, expensive hobbies and student life
espite the start of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games being fewer than two weeks away as I write, it would be no understatement to say that the collective head of the British public is decidedly not turned towards Vancouver. This is understandable. With our climate, the feats of athletes on snow aren’t easy to relate to and there is no history of great success. At the last Winter Olympics in 2006, the Brits managed just one solitary medal during the whole games as opposed to our impressive tally of 47 in Beijing. The figures alone could account for the lack of enthusiasm. That’s not to say that there have not been some British Winter Olympic heroes. Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards, Alain Baxter and his brother, Noel, have all found their way into the mainstream of public awareness. This is perhaps due to the British love of an underdog. It takes a lot of hard work, skill and determination to get to the level of an Olympian even with the best facilities. When the facilities are taken away, the challenge that faces British athletes is even harder, and this kind of ascendance from obscurity is the sort of story that captures the public’s imagination. However, even when interest is high, there is never a real expectation of success, the fact that they have already qualified reason enough to celebrate. Ben Kilner, only the second British male snowboarder to have ever qualified for the Olympic games in the halfpipe discipline, is looking to change this. At 21, and relatively new to the FIS Snowboard World Cup scene, Ben brings a refreshingly youthful fearlessness to the snowboard squad and is the most exciting addition to Team Great Britain. Unlike others before him, there has been a level of consistency and improvement that suggests he could develop into a real medal prospect. His quality is such that at the last World Cup event before the Olympics (where he could have been excused for taking it easy as he had already qualified) Ben shocked all except those who know him by storming into third place. Taking time out from his hectic build up to the Olympics, Ben was able to talk to me about Vancouver, the life of a professional snowboarder with its highs and lows and the regret of missing out on student life. Hailing from Banchory, Scotland, Ben started snowboarding at aged nine when, on a snowy day, the weather prevented his parents from getting to work. “The road to Glenshee was clear so my mum booked a boarding lesson for my dad, my sister and me. We had a great day and I was hooked.” The next 12 years saw Ben earn his stripes on the UK and European competition circuit, picking up sponsors and a speedy adoption by the Great Britain World Cup squad through their youth squads. He made an immediate impression, although missed out on qualification for Turin. In 2006, Ben took the step from being the next great British halfpipe hope to rising to the top of the crop when, aged just 17, took third place at the British Championships in Laax, Switzerland. Now, just four years since that result, he finds himself representing Britain at the highest level, against the best snowboarders on the planet. The prospect of lining up at the top of an Olympic halfpipe against names such as Shaun White, the defending gold medallist, Anti Autti and Markus Keller would send most into a cold sweat, but when asked, Kilner showed none of these nerves. “I am actually really excited. It’s a good feeling to know you’re part of the top snowboarders in the world.” At first, this seems like an odd response coming from a British Winter Olympian who, more often than not, find themselves out of place at international competitions. However, this is not the case with Ben, and the
I do think that there are some snowboarders out there who want to keep the sport un-established. I think the more public interest the better
knowledge of this, with the confidence that follows, sets him apart and will undoubtedly stand him in good stead come February 17. Confidence aside, there is also an understanding of the limitations he faces due to being from Britain. When I asked how he managed to keep up with the massive amount of progression the sport has seen since the last Olympics, he answered honestly: “Well Shaun (White) has had the facilities to work on these new tricks, such as the foam pits, where you can try pretty much anything and not have to worry about the consequences of injury. I have been trying a few double corks on the airbag so it shouldn’t be long before I try them in a run. “They will have to wait for 2014 though.” He added. This response is typical of Ben’s attitude - keeping his feet firmly on the ground and not getting swept up in Olympic fever. Already, he understands that Vancouver is not the be all and end all of his career and also of the importance of putting in the hard graft. There is a lot more to being a professional snowboarder than talent, a lot of emphasis must be placed on fitness and health. “In the build up before the bigger competitions I tend to do a lot of physical training and build up the power in my legs and work on my core. I do mental preparation beforehand to put me in a good frame of mind.” Indeed, although the life of a professional snowboarder may seem glamorous, being paid to travel the world, meet amazing people and get invited to the best parties, there are also many aspects that are not usually seen by the public. Endless flights, little time spent in one place and having to hike runs again and again in order to get the best shot undoubtedly takes its toll. It seems that in order to succeed and survive in the world of
professional snowboarding you would need a close knit group of friends who would be able to support you through the difficult times. Do the other members of Team GB provide this? “Yeah we are very close as a team and always support each other. We are always doing things in and outside of the team so we are all good friends.” However, the lows of being a professional snowboarder are not limited to the strains on your body but also your wallet. Having skiing or snowboarding as a hobby is expensive for anyone- even the University of Manchester Ski and Snowboard Club (SKUMww.skum.info) trips cost around £400 but when you’re competing, before the sponsors come along, the cost of travelling to competitions can be huge. Luckily, Ben has parents who supported his career aspirations both financially and emotionally. “Unfortunately I found out snowboarding was an expensive sport as soon as I first travelled abroad to compete. I started off sponsored by the bank of mum and dad but luckily my sponsors managed to ease that. I also get funded by Sport Scotland.” Undoubtedly, the demands of an aspiring Olympic athlete mean certain sacrifices. The amount of time needed for practice and travels means that education can take a back seat, and university is very unlikely if
you want to be successful. At 21, Ben would most probably be in his second or third year of university by now, and he admits the decision was not an easy one. “I did regret leaving education behind but now my friends have reassured me and every single one has said they would choose the Olympics over education any day. If I didn’t go down the snowboarding route then I would probably be at university studying graphic design or something. I would have liked to have been a professional golfer or involved in racing cars.” This diversity in his hobbies is a refreshing change from the answers of other professional snowboarders, who often can’t see themselves doing anything else. Perhaps these other interests are key in helping Ben let his mind turn off snowboarding and then be totally focused when it really matters. Ben is clearly very set on his dream of becoming a successful Olympic athlete. However, there are those who do not share his view. Snowboarding was established as an underground lifestyle long before the Olympics first introduced halfpipe as a discipline in Nagano 1988, the year of Kilner’s birth. Now there is a split within the sport, with many believing that the Olympics stifles the creativity and soul of the sport, turning it into a corporate product and making it more like (god forbid) skiing. This is not a view Ben shares. “I do think that there are some snowboarders out there who want to keep the sport un-established but I think the Olympics helps snowboarding develop and allows progression. I think the more public interest the better. Like all sports, it’s important that the sport is popular or else it just doesn’t develop. It should be left to the individual to decide what he or she wants to do.” Ben certainly fits into the ‘pro-Olympics’ faction of the snowboarding world, and why not? He is right. For it is those who are lucky enough to be born a short way from snow capped peaks and world-class training facilities that are likely to be doing the complaining. The FIS Snowboard World Cup circuit, while somewhat unfashionable, provides the perfect structure for those who, like Ben, want to work their way up from imperfect circumstances to challenging on the top level. From the antiquated slopes of Glenshee to the Olympic halfpipe in Vancouver, now that’s a true underdog story. Add to that the talent, hard work ethic and attitude needed to compete at the Olympics and we have a serious prospect on our hands. Exams are now out of the way and students could do a lot worse than flick over to the BBC on February 17 and then keep a very close eye on Ben Kilner. But what next? “I think I will head somewhere nice and hot for a week or two to relax and then get back on snow and get ready for the next Olympics.”
Student Direct / February 8th 2010 www.student-direct.co.uk
34 38 Sport
February 8th 2010 / Student Direct www.student-direct.co.uk
Why back the Brits? Callum O’Toole Few events are significant enough to cause millions of people to wake up at 8am on a cold Sunday morning in January. So for the 2010 Australian Open Final between Roger Federer and Britain’s Andy Murray to attract peak ratings figures of over six million at a time when most would normally be taking the opportunity for a lie-in shows how committed us Brits are to sport, and our sportsmen. The patriotic fervour surrounding Murray whenever he competes in a Grand Slam tournament borders on hysteria. Thus it ever was, for the reaction to Murray’s predecessor as the golden boy of British tennis, the insipid Tim Henman, was little short of worship whenever he stepped onto the hallowed lawns of SW19, but is it right to support these athletes purely in light of their nationality? Most people justify this blind nationalism by arguing that the athletes in question represent their country, but an individual athlete does not perform this
IDOLS…Britons are choosing the wrong role models in sport
The flag next to an athlete’s name is no more relevant than their height or their weight
function like a national team does. The England football side is a tool for national unity; international matches a
metaphor for warfare in the 21st century. Sports fixtures allow the entire population to bask in the reflected glory like previous generations did after military victories. In individual sports, however, all the glory is personal. Essentially, they represent only themselves. The flag next to the athlete’s name is no more relevant than their height or their weight and we wouldn’t seriously claim that Murray represents all those individuals who are 6ft 3. It is not just in tennis either that this curious obsession prevails. The success of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button in Formula One has been greeted with
accolades from an adoring public who see them as ambassadors for Great Britain. Few mention that neither currently resides in the country, having traded their native shores for the tax havens of Switzerland and Monaco respectively. The attraction of basing allegiance on a passport is more problematic than it may appear on the surface. Whilst no one would claim that Murray is not an excellent tennis player, he has yet to be talked of as the greatest of all time. Federer, however, is widely acknowledged as such and any aspiring young tennis players would be well served to hero-
worship the artistry and invention of the Swiss magician. Yet in Britain it is the boy from Dunblane who will be held up as the example for the next generation, despite spending his formative years training in Barcelona. Individual sport is about the pursuit of excellence. The goal is to be the quickest, the strongest, the most technically adept. Those who have scaled the greatest heights possible are those who deserve our adulation and respect, not those with the most favourable passport. It is understandable that a degree of national bias would surface in
individual events but the examples of Murray, Hamilton and Button show that national boundaries are becoming blurred anyway. Regardless of nationality, observing the excellence of the likes of Federer, Woods or Pacquiao in action is a more rewarding experience than waving a flag and singing ‘God Save The Queen’. These athletes push the boundaries of their sport to the limit and ought to be revered as such. After all, would we prefer the next generation to idolise these greats or the likes of Henman, Montgomerie and Hatton, who fell short?
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Sport 35 39
Student Direct / February 8th 2010 www.student-direct.co.uk
“Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, gear on up it’s bobsled time”
BOBSLEIGH TEAM… Cooke and Minichiello are a serious medal prospect for Britain
Around the grounds Armitage Centre from 2pm Badminton:
Charles Davies Sports Editor No mention of the Winter Olmypics would be complete without a reference to the film Cool Runnings, yet this only serves to demonstrate the British public’s relationship with the competition that starts this Saturday. The celebrity of Eddie the Eagle in this country also highlights how seriously the Winter Games are taken. There are, understandably, various reasons as to why this is the case. The lack of snow for one, the lack of recent success in the Games and the time zones rarely help, with recent Olympics in the United States and Japan unhelpful for all but the most dedicated followers. This years event in Vancouver will not help in that respect either but if you have a spare evening, curl up on the sofa and enjoy the best the athletes can serve up. British Olympians have shown
that they can capture the British public’s imagination. Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean’s performance in 1984 will never be forgotten and is still acknowledged as the finest performance from a pair of figure skaters. Rhona Martin and her Curling team enthralled over 5.5 million people late into the night as they won a Gold Medal for Britain at the Games for the first time since Torvill and Dean’s success. British Winter Olympic bosses have set an unofficial target of four medals for Britain so who looks likely to secure a medal and capture the imagination of British viewers and have them tuning in during the early hours to see Britain go for gold? Unsurprisingly most medal prospects are in events held indoors. The Men’s curling team skippered by David Murdoch and his team are in a great position to capture gold. Murdoch was in the team that finished fourth four years ago and he reigned supreme in the World Championships last year.
Out of all the events hopes are highest for this quintet of curlers and once more they will be out to convince people that Curling is more than people with brooms on ice. Siblings Sinead and John Kerr will be carrying British hopes in the Ice Skating and the pair grabbed a bronze medal in last year’s World Championships and have benefitted hugely from a large injection of funds into the sport over the past four years. Ice skating is an expensive sport but the popular television series Dancing on Ice with the help of Torvill and Dean has changed the face and image of the sport. Success for the Kerr’s could help to continue to boost the sports perception and help realise dreams of creating a Centre of Excellence in Britain and bringing through a whole host of new talent. Outdoors, Nicola Minichiello and Gillian Cooke have a great chance to secure a gold medal having won gold at the World Bobsleigh Championships in style. They have competed as a
Lancaster caught cold The University of Manchester 1st XIII 500 Lancaster University James Gorman It really was a case of men against boys as The University of Manchester 1st team blew away their Lancaster counterparts in torrid conditions. It could have been far worse for the visitors had they not been saved by an abandonment due to heavy snow. The game was in danger of not even going ahead with the pitch heavily frozen 24 hours prior to kick off, but the Manchester ground staff did a sterling job to get it match ready. When it came to the scheduled 2pm kick off, however, Lancaster were nowhere to be seen. 40 minutes later, with sleet falling heavily Lancaster finally arrived to get the game belatedly underway. The delay clearly had not affected Manchester, though, as the hosts stamped their authority on the match from the start; as soon as they gained possession for the first time it was clear that Lancaster were going to be in for a long day. On only the third tackle of their first set, Manchester opened the scoring. After two good drives from the Manchester props, Chris Quick powered over from five metres before adding the extras himself. Within minutes Manchester added to that score. This time it was thanks to a great run from loose
forward Chris Bates. Having beaten three opposition players the ball was shipped out through the backs to Mike Beer, the scrum half skilfully drew his opposite number before releasing left wing Seb Cosgrove to go into the corner unopposed, with Quick adding the extras from a difficult angle conversion to make the score 12-0. Two minutes later the same
combination came up trumps again. After a sweeping backs move, Beer again offloaded for Cosgrove to race in for another four points. Quick’s 100 per cent success rate with the boot was maintained as he slotted over an exceptional kick from the corner. It wasn’t long before Manchester went further ahead. This time it was prop Andre Thomas who turned
Men’s 2nds v Bangor 1sts Men’s 3rds v Central Lancashire Women’s 1sts v Nottingham
Hockey: Women’s 1sts v Glasgow
Netball: 1sts v Loughborough 3rds
Rugby: Men’s 1sts v Loughborough 2nds Women’s 1sts Edinburgh 1sts
pair for fewer than 18 months but are a serious medal contender. The Skeleton event is as scary as its name suggests. Competitors hurl themselves down an ice track on a small board with their head inches above the ice reaching speeds of 100km an hour. With no conventional steering method, competitors must shift their body weight and use their feet to engineer their way down the track. Shelly Rudman secured a surprise silver medal in the Olympics in 2006 and is now under pressure to at least match her performance this
time around. Zoe Gillings could become Britain’s first snowboarding medalist this year and after finishing 15th in the Winter Olympics four years ago she has moved up to number 5 in the world rankings. Elsewhere, the Men’s Ice Hockey, as ever promises to be special. Canada and Russia are as strong as ever, Sweden are looking to defend their crown from four years ago and Finland are a good outside bet so sit yourself down with a mug of cocoa in your warm house and enjoy the ability of the winter Olympians.
provider. After a barnstorming run in which he brushed aside four of his opponents he offloaded to Quick just short of the try line to give the stand-off his second of the game. Although Quick failed to convert, Lancaster seemed devoid of any confidence and lacked any belief that they could respond or restrict a rampant Manchester. Whenever they did have the ball they couldn’t keep hold of possession. The clock had not ticket passed the 15 minute mark but the game was already out of sight at 28-0 as Andy Lum waltz passed numerous missed tackles. Further tries from Peter Neal, capping a flowing Manchester move, Glen Howson and Matt Bedda extended the first-half lead which could have been more had the referee not brought the first half to an early end. The sleet which had been falling began to settle in the half-time period putting the game in jeopardy. Yet if there was any doubt concerning the weather the same couldn’t be said of the score line, as Manchester picked up from where they left off. In what turned out to be the last play of the game, Chris Bates, who carried the ball well all game, scored the try of the afternoon with a 70 metre break, outrunning Lancaster’s wing in the process. Quick’s conversion took his personal tally to 22 points. Much to the relief of the Lancaster team, the referee brought the drubbing to a premature end, citing the abysmal weather conditions as cause for concern. Coach Gaz Hargreaves is now looking ahead to a promising few weeks, “It was a promising performance as we slowly ramp up our playing levels in preparation for the varsity game on March 8.”
Six-a-side tournament set for kick-off Charles Davies Sports Editor Soccersixes, a company specialising in the organisation of small-sided football, is bringing a 6-a-side league to students in Manchester and the surrounding community in February. The league will be based at Manchester Academy School’s Astroturf pitches. The community/student league is scheduled to kick off in February and will run every Friday from 68pm. There will be 16 teams in the league, consisting of eight teams in each division with a promotion and relegation system. Teams will play an intense 40 minute match each week with a qualified referee. The league will cost around £3.25 per player and teams entering will
Sugden Centre from 1.30pm Fencing: Women’s 1sts v Bristol Women’s 1st Team v Liverpool I (4.30pm)
Squash: Men’s 1sts v Durham
Sports City from 1pm Tennis: Men’s 1sts v Glasgow
have the chance to win trophies and cash prizes. All matches are officiated by fully qualified referees and all equipment will be provided. Soccersixes’ Christopher Sockett said, “This league has been organised for the benefit of the local community. Our website offers teams chance to log on daily and find all there league tables, fixtures, top players and all general information regarding the league. We aim to ensure that all teams get maximum enjoyment from playing, this makes all our hard work running and maintaining the leagues worthwhile.” Teams are advised to contact Soccersixes as soon as possible to register in advance and avoid disappointment as places are limited. Soccersixes can be contacted by phone on 07896 568501 or 0870 33 00 888 and teams can also register online at www.soccersixes.net.
February 8th 2010 / Student Direct dent-direct.co.uk
Contact the editors at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Inside Sport Abandonment can’t stop Manchester Manchester’s Rugby League opponents Lancaster turned up 40 minutes late and suffered a crushing defeat in the sleet and snow. The referee called an early end to the game with the pitch becoming steadily unplayable. Manchester stamped their authority on the match; as soon as they got they first got their hands on the ball it was clear that Lancaster were going to be in for a long day. Recording an impressive victory by fifty points, the team look in fantastic shape as they step up preparations for the Varsity match.
Match Report Page 35
The transfer merry-go-round While most University students opt to split their January between Chilcotstyle inquests into what really happened on New Year’s Eve and Facebookafflicted attempts to revise, the minds of the hardworking folks in Premier League football remain fixed squarely on January’s big event: the obligatory UEFA-wide transfer window. Indeed, the African Cup of Nations, despite the best efforts of Angolan paramilitaries and the startlingly insensitive CAF, barely ranked as a sideshow for most players and managers. Fans too find themselves subjected to a pulse-racing barrage of transfer speculation, most of it involving Marouane Chamakh, as agents drop none-too-subtle hints about ‘World Cup years’ and ‘boyhood dreams’.
Six a side tournament set for kickoff
Why support Murray?
Britain looking good for medals
Sport Page 35
Comment Page 34
Comment Page 35
Manchester held to frustrating draw University of Manchester men’s 3rd VI 4-4 Liverpool John Moores University men’s 1st VI Liam Blackburn
t was a mixed afternoon for the University of Manchester men’s third badminton team as the doubles dominated but the singles struggled. Their only victory this year came against lowly Keele in the opening round of fixtures but the first game of 2010 brought renewed hope to the team. Imran Ashraf and Sam Johnson were in singles action; Josh Gorman and Gary Poynton were one pairing in the doubles and Pakyon Moh and Joris Markunas where the other. Early on, it was Gorman and Poynton taking the initiative, securing Manchester’s first game in straight sets. The camaraderie between the little and large duo was clearly evident and the LJMU pair had no response to Gorman’s speed and Poynton’s power. Hot on the heels of that win, Moh and Markunas racked up Manchester’s second victory with ease as the hosts threatened to run away with it. Over in the two middle courts though, it wasn’t quite as easy for Ashraf and Johnson. Johnson was facing an agile, athletic competitor while Ashraf was embroiled in a tight affair which would end up lasting three sets. Johnson went down in straight sets but not without a fight. He lost the first set 22-20 and was competing well with his opponent who was clearly the most talented player in
BACKFOOT… Ashraf and Johnson fought hard against the strong LJMU singles
the LJMU ranks. Ashraf’s contest now had added spice to it and it proved to be the most crucial match of the afternoon. It was a battle of styles with the ice-cool Ashraf taking on the more temperamental captain of LJMU. At a crucial period in the third set, Ashraf sustained a small injury and it was enough to turn the tide against him. After the first round of games, the game was nicely poised at 2-2. Fortunately for Manchester, the doubles teams weren’t in the mood for hanging around as they swiftly obliterated their opponents, comfortably ensuring
that Manchester would come away with at least a draw. As Ashraf left the court after his first game, he was greeted by the news the doubles teams had ensured a clean sweep. Ashraf and Johnson knew that they only needed one victory to secure a win for the whole team. They literally had nothing to lose. After Ashraf’s gruelling three-set tussle, he was facing an uphill task from the start. His opponent, refreshed from beating Johnson, continued to buzz around the court and his sheer stamina made the court look small despite his diminutive stature.
Ashraf lost the first set but he showed in the second that he shouldn’t be taken lightly. A cleverly disguised drop shot and an overhead smash were testament to this. Most of the Manchester captain’s success came when he forced his opponent north to south rather than east to west. Despite this, Ashraf looked exhausted and the injury had clearly not helped his fitness levels and was ultimately undone, losing the second set 2117 to pin all of Manchester’s hopes on Johnson. After taking the first set, Johnson’s focus went astray in the second
set and he managed to total a meagre four points in response. This meant momentum was clearly on the other side of the net and Johnson lost the final set 21-17 to leave the overall game at 4-4. Manchester perhaps deserved more from their efforts, particularly given the convincing doubles victories, but in the singles matches Ashraf and Johnson toiled away with no reward. On the balance of things they deserved to win but all cogs in the machine needed to be working and sadly this wasn’t the case for Manchester.
Published on Mar 7, 2010