netherhallfebruary news 2012
gifts of faith what religious belief brings to the public square
contents Cover page: ‘Faith in God is not a problem to be solved, but a vital part of the national conversation.’ These words of Pope Benedict XVI formed the title to the First Annual Thomas More Institute Lecture delivered by the Most Rev. Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Roman Catholic Bishop’s Conference for England and Wales, at Netherhall House on 7 December 2011 p.10 CONTENT EDITOR Zubin Mistry MANAGING EDITOR, DESIGN & SETTING Luke Wilkinson IN-HOUSE CORRESPONDENT Dominic Bardill CONTRIBUTIONS AND ADVICE Father Joseph Evans, Dominic Bardill, Peter Brown, Andrew Duncan, David Wyatt, James Osborn, Alex Osborn, Prakarsh Singh, James Somerville-Meikle. PHOTOGRAPHY Miguel Rojo CIRCULATION Netherhall News is sent by e-mail to current and past residents of Netherhall House. It is also available at http://www. nh.netherhall.org.uk/magazine/magazine.htm CONTACT US Would you like to be included in our mailing list, contribute to or express your opinion on Netherhall News? Write to: LUKE WILKINSON C/O NETHERHALL NEWS, NETHERHALL HOUSE, NUTLEY TERRACE, LONDON, NW3 5SA, U.K. or E-MAIL: email@example.com DISCLAIMER All opinions expressed in this magazine are those of the authors concerned and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors of Netherhall News, of Netherhall House, Netherhall Educational Association, or of Opus Dei.
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regular features editorial
zubin mistry gives a big shout out to g-dog and his homies
peter brown savours the bustle of the new year after the christmas period
deadline for next edition! please send in articles for publication in the april edition by March 15th. we are also looking for articles to feature in a special publication celebrating netherhall house’s 60th anniversary (see page 9 for details)
learning from the past the northern ireland peace process
state of the nation a labour party perspective
staying focussed the challenge of the ladyâ€™s not for turning charity
illuminating the anti-enlightenment
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mind boggler - the next chapter athleteâ€™s foot passing through desert island discs netherhall news 3
editorial zubin mistry gives a big shout out to g-dog and his homies
t’s not terribly difficult to love the loveable. But what about the unloveable? We – and I include myself – prefer to ignore the unloveable as much as possible. From the Dalits of India to the street children of Brazil, and perhaps even the so-called ‘chav scum’ of contemporary Britain, societies tend to produce the unloveable in their own image. They are grotesque reminders of both the surface and the subterranean, of explicit ideologies we care to name and of more obscure social forces we’d rather not. That is why we prefer to forget them as far as we can. In Los Angeles, amid the multitudes of the maladjusted, miseducated and impoverished, gang members are the most conspicuously unloveable element of a society in which so many of the aspirational models of the have-nots are provided, perversely, by the haves. Nobody quite knows the precise number of ‘gangbangers’ in Los Angeles and its environs but guesses range from between 80,000 to even more disturbing six-figure estimates. Los Angeles is a kaleidoscope of rival gang colours, and depleted neighbourhoods are blighted by the theft, violence, substance abuse and murder they perpetrate. The worst years for gang violence stretched from the later 1980s right through the 1990s. 1992, the year of the LA riots, saw the grimmest figures, with more than 1,000 gang-related homicides recorded. If the situation in many of these neighbourhoods still has the power to shock, the violence of those horrific years, during which mothers placed their infants in bathtubs in frightened anticipation of shoot-outs, has receded. A significant factor has been a patchwork of community-based projects, large and small, secular and religious, which have sprung up from the multiple epicentres of the violence. Pre-eminent among these is Homeboy Industries, which has grown from a parish project to one of the largest and most successful gang-intervention programmes in the USA.
decision on my part. I knew that the poor had some privileged delivery system for giving me access to the Gospel. Naturally I wanted to be around this.’
Fr. Greg Boyle, a Jesuit priest affectionately known as ‘G-dog’ by his ‘homies’, is the founder of Homeboy Industries. In his book, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, Boyle credits time among the poor in Bolivia in 1984-1985 as a key turning point in his life:
Upon returning to Los Angeles, Boyle was sent to Dolores Mission church. Nestled between two sprawling housing projects, the church was located in (the coincidentally named) Boyle Heights, traditionally a hub for impoverished Hispanic immigrants. In 1986, this area, the Pico-Aliso district, was known to have the densest concentration of gangs in the city. ‘If Los Angeles was the gang capital of the world,’ Boyle reflects, ‘our little postage-size area on the map was the gang capital of LA.’
‘I can’t explain how the poor in Bolivia evangelized me during that year…but they turned me inside out, and from that moment I only wanted to walk with them. This was a wholly selfish
This was a community eviscerated by violence. By last year, Boyle had buried over 170 young victims of the violence, both innocent bystanders and those enmeshed in inter-gang violence.
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Once, in a three-week period, he buried eight youths. His very first gang burial was for a young man, Rafael, an identical twin. At his funeral, his twin glanced down at his brother, dressed in identical clothes. ‘It was like you had slapped a mirror there and he was looking at his mirror image,’ Boyle writes, ‘[and it] felt like kind of this image that stayed with me, like kids killing their mirror image and that whoever’s in the coffin is identical to whoever was out there.’ The parish began by reaching out to schoolchildren – or to the scores of kids in gangs who ought to have been schoolchildren. Long since expelled from one school after another, they spent the school day engaged in gang violence and drug-running. The Dolores Mission Alternative, a new school, opened up in 1988 in an attempt to reach these children.
The initiative was not a straightforward success. Eruptions of violence were a daily threat and one headteacher lasted just a couple of days. But it began to open up attitudes in the parish, and a ‘new sense of ‘church’ had emerged…replacing the hermetically sealed model that had kept the ‘good folks’ in and the ‘bad folks’ out.’ Soon parishioners, mainly women, reached out to the gangs in their areas. They invited gang members to barbecues and even Thanksgiving meals for those who had no meals to attend. They organised marches in a Comité Pro Paz (Committee for Peace) that processed through the housing projects and attempted to calm simmering rivals when tensions escalated. Without these respected community members, Boyle might never have convinced the parish of the value of these new directions. As it happened, the germ which eventually grew into Homeboy Industries was sown by one of the marches. Armed with
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leaflets inscribed with the words, ‘Jobs for the Future’, scores of women marched to the factories surrounding the projects and distributed flyers to the foremen. What gang members needed and wanted were jobs. But, unsurprisingly and understandably, employers had reservations over offering jobs to young men and women tattooed from head to toe with gang insignia. When no foremen rang up, a new organisation came into being, Jobs for the Future, which sought out employment for gang members from the locale. Soon, neighbourhood clearouts, graffiti removal and other projects were underway with bands of gang-member employees, all paid by Jobs for the Future. All the while, Boyle worked to broker truces between rival gangs. To his surprise, when the riots hit Los Angeles in 1992, ‘[t]hings didn’t explode in [Pico-Aliso], the poorest of communities in Los Angeles, where everyone fully expected mayhem [and the reason was that] we had so many strategically employed gang members who finally had a stake in keeping the projects from igniting that the peace was kept.’ Following Boyle’s observations on the riots in an interview in the Los Angeles Times, Ray Stark, a wealthy Hollywood producer eager to address the city’s gang problem, summoned him to a meeting. Working through possibilities, Boyle suggested that they bought an old bakery for sale on the same street as the church to make rival gang members work together. The Homeboy Bakery was born. Quickly, new ideas were hatched and Homeboy Industries was created in the summer of 1992. A diverse portfolio of businesses sprang up covering everything from pastries to solar panel installations: Homeboy Maintenance, Homeboy Merchandising, and Homegirl Café, ‘where women with records, young ladies from rival gangs, waitresses with attitude, will gladly take your order.’ With self-deprecating wit Boyle notes that not all the ventures met with success. ‘We started Homeboy Plumbing,’ he quips, ‘[which] didn’t go so well. Who knew? People didn’t want gang members in their homes. I just didn’t see that coming.’ Gang members from further afield came along, ‘ready to hang up their gloves’. Some would return again and again after drug relapses and jail stints. Homeboy Industries diversified further. In addition to teaching ‘soft skills…like learning to show up on time, every day, and taking orders from disagreeable supervisors’, Homeboy Industries became ‘a worksite and a therapeutic community’, offering mental health counselling, legal services and even tattoo removal free of charge. This last service has proven immensely popular – and important. Tattoos are a condensed symbol of the world gang members inhabit and a significant obstacle to their escape from it. Tattoo removal, Boyle explains, came about because of a particular gang member with a long rap sheet called Ramiro. Newly out of jail, Ramiro had sought help from Homeboy Industries but complained that his job search was not proving particularly fruitful. Across his forehead were tattooed the words, ‘F**K THE WORLD’. Boyle hired him at the bakery and little by little they erased the self-inflicted curse etched upon his face. Ramiro later secured a job as a security guard at a film studio. In retrospect, Boyle has the frankness to question certain junc-
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top: g-dog and some homies above: ‘homegirl cafe’ where ‘women with records, young ladies from rival gangs, waitresses with attitude will gladly take your order’ tures. In particular he feels ambivalent about the numerous truces he brokered between rival gangs. ‘Though I don’t regret having orchestrated them,’ he contemplates, ‘I’d never do it again. The unintended consequence of it all was that it legitimised the gangs and fed them oxygen. I eventually came to see that this kind of work keeps gangs alive.’ At the same time, if Homeboy Industries aims to help gang members look to the future, getting rivals to work together is crucial. ‘When enemies work with one another,’ he explains, ‘a valuable ‘disconnect’ is created on the streets [forcing] a fellow active member to ask the employed homie, ‘How can you work with that guy?’ Answering that question will be awkward, clumsy, and always require courage, but the question itself jostles the status quo.’ In opposition to the ‘othering’ that lies at the root of gang rivalries, the dislocation of gang members from society – and even the way in which we see the unloveable – lurks kinship, and kinship lies at the heart of how Boyle understands his mission: ‘We seek a compassion that can stand in awe at what the poor have to carry rather than stand in judgment at how they carry it, for the measure of our compassion lies not in our service of those on the margins but in our willingness to see ourselves in kinship with them.’
above: Tattoos are a condensed symbol of the world gang members inhabit and a significant obstacle to their escape from it As a humbled outsider, it is very easy to romanticise Homeboy Industries. But Boyle’s message is at its most powerful when he speaks of the possibilities for kinship and transformation in his eulogies for the dead, for the former gang members who become innocent victims of ongoing gang violence. Speaking at a ceremony at Salve Regina university, one of Boyle’s stories spoke of the sad beauty of kinship. Rivals often agree to work together, but always insist that they won’t talk to one another, ‘which used to bother me in the old days,’ Boyle reveals, ‘until you discover of course that it’s impossible to demonise people you know, we just can’t sustain it.’ On his first day at Homeboy Silkscreen, a young homie named Youngster went round shaking hands with the workers, including enemies, looking each one in the eye. But he stopped at one particular rival, called Puppet. They refused to shake hands, and could scarcely look at each other. This was a seemingly insuperable hatred. Boyle issued an ultimatum, telling both that plenty of others would happily take their jobs. Both men gave their silent assent while staring at the floor. Six months later, on his way back from the shops, Puppet decided to take a short cut through an alleyway. Suddenly, he was surrounded by ten members of a rival gang. They beat him until he
fell. As he lay on the ground, they kicked his head until he lay lifeless. He was taken to hospital but with no prospects of recovery. The sight of this young man with his head grotesquely swollen was ‘horrifying’. Family members visited, Boyle administered the Last Rites and Puppet passed away a couple of days later. At the end of the week, Boyle buried him: ‘But in the first twenty-four hours,’ Boyle continues, ‘I’m alone in my office, it’s eight-thirty at night and the phone rings, and it’s Youngster, Puppet’s co-worked at the Silkscreen factory. And he says, ‘That’s messed up, about what happened to Puppet.’ I say, ‘Yeah, it is.’ And with a certain kind of eagerness even, he says, ‘Is there anything I can do? Can I give him my blood?’ And we both fall silent under the weight of it, until finally he breaks the silence, choking back his tears, and he says with great deliberation, ‘He was not my enemy. He was my friend. We worked together.’
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director’ s notes peter brown savours the bustle of the new year after the christmas period
ecember kicked off with the Christmas dinner and show on the first Saturday of the month. As ever, the staff at Lakefield did a fabulous job preparing and serving the meal. There were then the traditional speeches, with David Young on behalf of the new residents and Eigil Nordstom on behalf of the old residents, to which I responded before we all passed to the gym for the House photo. Eigil commented on the fact that the number of Norwegians has now doubled in the house: last year he was the only one. Now, with Ragnar, we have two. If we continue at this rate, he amusingly explained, it will only be a few years before Netherhall is completely Norwegian! There then followed a typical Netherhall Christmas show, the highlights of which were (in my opinion) a new set of hilarious impersonations by Pablo Hinojo and an Italian aria performed by our six exuberant Italian residents (led by the even more exuberant Charles Pigott, a Scot).
Christmas in Netherhall was the quietest on record. Although we were about 15 at table on Christmas day, in the week before Christmas there were only six of us having dinner. It was a very strange experience! Thankfully by 8th January the house was completely full again. Christmas saw the departure of Giorgos Grigoriou who arrived in the House from Greece back in 2007 in the first year of his PhD at UCL. Four years later he has now completed his doctorate and has returned home. We wish him every success back in Greece and look forward to seeing him when he comes for his viva. He was always a discreet but positive presence in the hall. It was great to have him with us and he will be missed. Giorgos’s departure leaves only two residents who arrived in 2007 (Philipp Wirtz and Ricard Rovirosa). Joao Bettencourt (who came as a
right: giorgos grigoriou is released on parole for good behaviour after serving only four years of his sentence in netherhall left: ricard rovirosa conducts the netherhall choir at the annual carols & punch A week later on 10th December more than 150 residents together with friends and families came together in the multi-purpose hall for Carols and Punch, which has once again become one of the highlights of the Netherhall calendar. The success of the event in recent years has been due in no small part to the contribution of Ricard Rovirosa, one of our music students. For ten days or so before the event he brought together, trained and cajoled a wonderful choir made up of residents, former residents and friends of the hall, including Eoin McCarthy (2006-8) and his sister Maria, Piers Tattersall (2009-11), Rick Leigh (2010-11) and others. The result was a beautiful evening enjoyed by all. As usual there were cameo performances from residents. Antonio Gonzalez sang a bit of seasonal rock ‘n’ roll and, to popular acclaim, Charles Pigott sang ‘White Christmas’ getting all present to join in the chorus.
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young child in 2006) remains the senior resident by some way, and shares with us frequent authoritative declarations in accordance with his status! On the building front we have finally managed to install new steps and a handrail at the front of the House. This improvement had become a necessity as more and more elderly people attend the Netherhall recital series. Our next challenge is to tackle the dining room, a project we hope to complete in September 2012. January’s highlight has been the return to Netherhall of Ilyas Khan (1980-81). Ilyas is now, amongst other things, the chairman of Leonard Cheshire Disability and it was in that capacity that he came as a guest speaker on 16th January. Unfortunately we couldn’t show him his old room as he lived in the Netherhall Gardens building knocked down in the 1990s development!
upcoming special edition: celebrating 60 years of netherhall memento publication to capture the house’s spirit as it turns 60 years old This summer marks the 60th anniversary of Netherhall House, and to celebrate, the editorial team of Netherhall News are starting work on a special publication that will be unveiled at the reunion in May. The ‘memento’ edition will feature articles on some of the most notable events in the house’s life, as well as interviews with prominent former residents and photos chronicling those who lived here and their memories of Netherhall days. We are keen to have many different voices contributing to this publication, so please get in touch if you are interested in writing an article, giving an interview, or contributing photos. firstname.lastname@example.org
right: the queen mother speaks to netherhall residents at the opening of the new block in 1966 netherhall news 9
the gifts of faith religious belief can bring a sense of community, meaning and love to our shared public space. david wyatt reports ‘Faith in God is not a problem to be solved, but a vital part of the national conversation.’ These words, taken from the now famous speech of Pope Benedict XVI to parliamentarians in Westminster Hall in September 2010, formed the title to the First Annual Thomas More Institute Lecture delivered by the Most Rev. Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Roman Catholic Bishop’s Conference for England and Wales, at Netherhall House on 7 December 2011. Archbishop Nichols began by quoting a section from the Vatican council document, Gaudium et Spes, which explains that the human is most fully himself when he recognises God’s love and commits himself to his creator. This commitment not only calls on the Christian to engage in public life, but also means that he cannot participate in public life as anything but a Christian.
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Building upon the statement made by the Holy Father, and that of Gaudium et Spes, Archbishop Nichols made three principle points. The first was the ‘deep-seated desire felt by many to live their lives not in isolation but in the context of a network of stable, lasting relationships in which encouragement, companionship and support are to be found.’ The Archbishop and I, as individuals with deep faith, would conclude that this is most perfectly embodied within the communities that exist in our parishes. For those of an Islamic or Hindu faith this would be equally fulfilled by the mosques and temples to which they belong. Within this context it is arguably the case that a contribution to the national conversation from those who have a faith in God is necessary. Believers can draw from the insights gained in parish experience to respond to many of the pressing issues of the
“Slowly a new place for religious belief in the public square is being marked out, not with a power or desire to impose religious beliefs or their consequences, but with the recognition that a mature and enlightened public square should reflect the beliefs of those who share its space - The secular public square should not be faith-blind but faith-sensitive, welcoming and testing reasoned argument. Religious voices should not expect special privilege because they are religious, but nor should they be excluded either” (from the archbishop’s address)
present day, such as the forging of community within fractured and crime-ridden urban areas. The Archbishop mentioned the example of the television choir-master who formed a choir in the town of South Oxhey. This was a secular response to the lack of community within South Oxhey. It did however build upon insights gained from the religious experience of community. The Archbishop argued: ‘One role of faith in God today, in our public conversation, is to offer service in the task of forming community, a community that is both cohesive and open, a community that reaches for universality and respects particularity. That is a vital contribution.’
this page: the archbishop speaks at the thomas more institute annual lecture. he then stayed to talk with people and sign copies of his new book about st john fisher
The second point that Archbishop Nichols expanded upon was the need for meaning and purpose that all individuals feel. The idea that life has no coherence or purpose is one that any rational individual would reject. This interlinks with the first point the Archbishop raised. Mankind is interlinked with generations
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past and present in such a way that no individual can be the sole source or inspiration of any belief or idea that he or she may hold. The Archbishop once more made reference to a speech of the Pope, this one to the German Parliament, in which he stated that the individual person did not create himself and therefore does not enjoy ‘self-creating freedom.’ The third point that the Archbishop wished to raise could be summarised by the word caritas. Most individuals, regardless of whether or not they are individuals of faith, do see the need to give help to those in need. This may be to individuals who are ill, perhaps suffering from terminal illnesses, and also to those in abject poverty. The conception of the human person that comes with having a religious belief provides a much stronger and richer context with which to approach the issue of human suffering. ‘Every human person,’ the Archbishop argued, ‘is an essential unity of spiritual soul and body, such that the human person is both ‘embodied spirit’ and ‘spiritualised body’. This is an essential part of our ecology.’ The fact that the human body is not simply just a biological construct, and the fact that human action has an effect upon the ‘spiritual soul’, leads those with faith to acknowledge that preserving human dignity is an essential part of our response to matters of illness and poverty. There can sometimes be a tendency, when discussing the living out of one’s faith, to mock those who talk about ‘love’ as lacking any real depth. This tendency, though sometimes justified, is unfortunate. The response that a Christian faith calls one to
give, when confronted by illness and abject poverty, is one that is based primarily upon love. That is, a love that not only emulates the love which Christ showed when confronted with similar situations, but also reflects the love that one has towards Christ. The often quoted rule of loving one’s neighbour as oneself perfectly summarises this. ‘This is the contribution,’ the Archbishop concluded, ‘that we can make to the work of ‘caritas’ - that it never loses its human face, for we know that this face is the face of Christ. In ‘caritas’ we see that the Gospel is not only informative but also performative - it makes things happen and is life changing.’ Current resident David Wyatt gained his BA in Theology from Heythrop College in 2011 and is an intern at the Thomas More Institute. He is undertaking research into the ‘Big Society’. The Thomas More Institute is planning to hold an annual Memorial lecture. For more information about the Thomas More Institute, visit www.thomasmoreinstitute.org.uk.
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“One role of faith in God today, in our public conversation, is to offer service in the task of forming community, a community that is both cohesive and open, a community that reaches for universality and respects particularity. That is a vital contribution”
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learning from the past: the northern irish peace process peace talks in today’s most complex conflicts may seem incredibly intractable, but a veteran peace negotiator gives cause for cautious hope. andrew duncan reports
ince 2001, the war in Afghanistan has claimed somewhere between 70,000 to 85,000 lives - of Taliban fighters, Coalition forces and Afghan civilians. The Philippines is currently suffering from sectarian conflict between Muslim separatists, Maoist guerrilla forces and state actors. Though concluded in 2009, the Sri Lankan Civil War still lacks a political settlement, with a bitter Tamil Diaspora highlighting major war crimes and human rights abuses. Wind back 30 years, and Northern Ireland offered a similarly bleak picture. Divides in religion and identity provoked communal violence and international terrorism. Yet the 1998 Good Friday Agreement stands among the most successful peace settlements since the Second World War.
“it is important to view peace as the road rather than the destination” It has also been the highlight of former Cabinet Minister Paul Murphy’s political career, who as a ‘political development minister’ chaired talks between Republicans, Unionists and other key players. The Labour politician, an MP of some 25 years, visited Netherhall House in November to discuss his experiences, weaving a turbulent history of over 800 years with an analytical perspective on contemporary conflicts. A crucial component of building the peace agreement depended upon the people of Ireland, who ‘needed to own the peace process’. By the late 1990s, many had grown tired of conflict and were increasingly eager for a resolution. The peace process was voted upon through referenda, in which a high turnout overwhelmingly supported the Agreement.
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Individual players and characters were important ingredients too. In his autobiography, Tony Blair describes his Ministers in the Northern Ireland Office as ‘unusual’. As a straight-talking, down to earth, humorous, and above all, female Secretary of State, Mo Mowlam was a ‘breath of fresh air’ to the peace process. Humour played a part in Mr Murphy’s role as a chairperson of the ‘Stand One’ talks. In one meeting, after hearing repeated historical arguments from both Republicans and Unionists again and again, Murphy remembers crying out in mock anger that he knew his Irish history having been a lecturer for 17 years, leading to laughter and releasing tension in the room. International figures too brought momentum and the media glare to the talks. Tony Blair took a highly personal role in the talks, while US President Bill Clinton visited Northern Ireland and remained in contact with negotiators over the telephone. Senator George Mitchell, a neutral negotiator, even set a deadline for his personal involvement in the peace process, further pushing talks to a conclusion. A final lesson is to not give up hope, ‘for as soon as that happens, we’re finished’. A key element of conflict resolution is developing the political will and stamina to keep lines of communication open, to believe that a decision can be reached.
above left: Paul murphy speaking in netherhall above right: murals on the sides of buildings in belfast right: soldiers on patrol in a belfast street, 1973
Mr Murphy explained that today dissident Republicans still pose a threat to a complete peace, and the peace process requires renewed commitment and maintenance. Therefore, it is important to view peace as the ‘road’ rather than the ‘destination’. However, strengthened by the referenda and the rise of a new generation who have grown up unscarred by the Troubles, Mr Murphy strongly believes that the extremely turbulent violence of the 1970s and 1980s will not return. What does the Northern Ireland Peace Process offer to the world? With fresh peace talks announced in late January 2012 between President Karzai and the Taliban in Saudi Arabia, there is no definite template, but guiding principles of patience, democratic and multilateral involvement, and above all, hope are crucial in facing any seemingly intractable situation. Andrew Duncan is a parliamentary intern working for Paul Murphy MP and currently resident at Netherhall.
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state of the nation James somerville-meikle gains a labour party perspective on the uk in 2012
t was perhaps appropriate that January’s release of the highly acclaimed film The Iron Lady coincided with a talk given at Netherhall in the same month by the staunch Labour MP David Crausby. Mr Crausby, who was previously involved with the Trade Unions before his election to Parliament in 1997, had experienced the policies of the Iron Lady at first hand in his home town of Bolton, an experience which had clearly helped to shape his politics. The Bolton MP spoke about the challenges facing the United Kingdom during the coming year and how the Labour Party was responding to these from the opposition benches. As one of an increasingly small number of Labour MPs to have cut his teeth in union politics it was unsurprising that unemployment and the coalition government’s handling of the economy were paramount amongst the challenges he cited. He expressed grave concerns about seeing the country governed by a coalition in which the dominant partner ‘looked after their friends in the City and the Aristocracy’ at a time when economic hardship is affecting working families the most. His severest criticism was undoubtedly reserved for the Liberal Democrats, whom he hopes will ‘die a slow, painful death’ for their ‘betrayal’ by entering into the coalition agreement.
“It was a hard decision. I didn’t go into politics so that I could vote against my party” These partisan criticisms, which were perhaps inevitable, were matched by a robust presentation of Labour’s alternative economic strategy in which slower public sector cuts and smaller tax rises are central. It was an argument certainly delivered with emotion. But it also had a rational basis. The government’s policies are economically flawed, Mr. Crausby believes, because it is creating more unemployment and failing to generate the growth needed to pay off the deficit. Besides addressing the immediate needs of the economy it was clear that Mr Crausby favoured more fundamental changes to create a stronger and more durable model for economic growth, an approach which found wide appeal amongst the audience.
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There needs to be a rebalancing of the economy between different sectors, he argued, especially between industrial and service employment, and also from a geographic perspective by investing more in regional development and reducing the disparities between London, the Home Counties and the rest of the country. On this point Mr Crausby reserved a rare note of praise for the government as he fully supported their decision to create a high speed rail link between Birmingham and London. Such policies, he believed, will help spread economic growth northwards and perhaps even generate jobs in his own constituency of Bolton.
david crausby with james somerville-meikle, peter brown & cyrus mwangi Although a lifelong supporter of the Labour Party and an advocate of their current position on the economy, he questioned some of the decisions that leader Ed Miliband has made, including his ‘lukewarm’ support of strike action and some of his rapid promotions to the front bench. He mentioned, on more than one occasion, that Ed Miliband had only been his third choice on the leadership ballot with first preference being taken by Ed Balls, whom he described as the ‘most qualified person in the House to speak on economic issues.’ Despite this, he believed that Ed Miliband was performing well in what is the ‘most difficult job in British politics at the moment’ and that he would lead the Party into the next election. Mr Crausby is no stranger to voicing concern over the direction of the party. As a Catholic parliamentarian he has increasingly found his allegiance to the whips challenged by his religious beliefs and parliamentarians such as Jim Dobbin, known affectionately by colleagues as ‘The Catholic Whip,’ who are encouraging a tougher stance by Catholic MPs against legislation which contradicts their faith. While Catholics will always find it hard to gain a majority of support for their arguments, Mr. Crausby was in no doubt that there is a place for Catholic Social Teaching in decision making and that the Church can make a contribution to public discourse.
above: the government’s welfare proposals are the latest source of considerable debate His most prominent criticism of his own party concerns the decision taken by the Labour Government to invade Iraq in 2003, on which he voted against the government. He described this decision as the ‘defining moment of my political career’ and yet he did not pretend that it had been an easy one. The enormous pressure that was exerted on rebels around the time of the debate on the war was so great that he was virtually in hiding during the day of the vote to avoid the inevitable attempts that would be made to sway his mind. He remained steadfast even after a personal charm offensive by the Prime Minister just moments before the vote was taken in which Tony Blair urged Mr Crausby to reconsider. ‘It was a hard decision’ for a person brought up supporting the Labour Party. ‘I didn’t go into politics,’ he reflected, ‘so that I could vote against my Party.’ Though a tough choice, he was never in any serious doubt that it was the right one and his loyalty to the Party was not enough to convince him otherwise. The determination and sense of justice that had been instilled in him whilst in the Trade Unions had surfaced during that vote. It is surprising that it did not have the same effect on more of his colleagues. James Somerville-Meikle is studying for an MA in Middle East Politics at SOAS and is in his first year at Netherhall.
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staying focussed: the challenge of charity dominic bardill meets a former resident who has used his skills, success and prosperity for the good of others
p in Lancashire, where former resident Ilyas Khan is from, the decorated Second World War bomber pilot and philanthropist Leonard Cheshire is something of a folk hero. Unlike most people, however, Ilyas Khan has managed to tread in his hero’s footsteps. From a humble background in Accrington, where his father was a bus driver, Khan came to London to study at SOAS. He was a resident at Netherhall in 1980-81, a time which he looks back on with fondness. Hailing from a family with a strong military tradition (his grandparents had migrated to Lancashire from Kashmir in the 1930s), Khan originally expected to go on to train for the army at Sandhurst. He ended up in the City of London, working as a merchant banker for Schroders. His career took off. He moved to Hong Kong in 1989 and later started his own successful business. It was in the Far East that Khan became involved in a number of charitable undertakings. He saw his success as an opportunity to give something back to the world. Together with his wife, he opened the first ever school in Hong Kong to cater for autistic children. Soon after this, the then governor, Chris Patten, enlisted his help in fundraising for the Hong Kong Cancer Fund. Though based in Hong Kong, Khan had frequently flown back and forth to watch Chelsea play football, and also to help his hometown club Accrington Stanley stay afloat. Both ambitious and deeply committed to charitable causes, Khan was a natural candidate for Chairman of the Leonard Cheshire Disability, a post which has finally brought him back to England for good after two decades in the Far East. Khan is deeply inspired by the man originally behind Leonard Cheshire Disability, he explained speaking at Netherhall on 16th January. It is little wonder why. Cheshire was a decorated pilot who managed to outlive the average life expectancy of a pilot in his position, namely seven weeks or three missions. Cheshire flew 105 missions. It is evident, however, that the horrors of war, especially nuclear bombing, exerted a huge influence on him. Cheshire was the official British observer of the bombing of Nagasaki in 1945. He founded a charity for the disabled three years later in 1948 under the name, The Cheshire Foundation Homes
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for the Sick, which later became simply Leonard Cheshire Disability. His work with the charity and later undertakings such as the Memorial Fund for Disaster Relief earned him the Order of Merit in 1981 and in 1992, the year of his death from motor neurone disease, Cheshire was mentioned in the Queen’s speech. This great man left a legacy and message for future generations to ensure that the good works of his charity could survive long after he had gone. It is through Khan and his network of 30,000 volunteers in 54 countries that this legacy grows. Operating over 105 day centres, Leonard Cheshire Disability is the largest charity for disability globally. In more economically developed nations like the USA and UK, it supports governments to ensure that care for the disabled is sufficient and that schemes covering work placements, skills development, hobbies and social care can complement the basic needs that are met by government. The charity’s work in less developed nations such as Nigeria and Zimbabwe concentrates more on the provision of basic care. Leonard Cheshire has over 200 schools for the disabled in poverty stricken nations such as India, in which the gap between rich and poor dwarfs our own. The influence of charity work, he emphasised, can be immense. While Spain, in which Leonard Cheshire Disability is incidentally the first choice for disabled care, may not be as charity-minded as the UK or USA it is heading towards a more globally responsible attitude. Charities, or third sector organisations as they are generically referred to, need to think like businesses, Khan stressed, in order to generate an income. Consequently, one challenge that charities face is philanthropy: how does a charity remain relevant? A charity must show that it is delivering on its promises, that the money is being put to good use. As large organisations must be accountable for their actions and spending, it is important to ensure efficiency. Leonard Cheshire Disability ensures that 91p from each £1 is spent on the frontline. It is this efficiency and accountability that has attracted massive donations from huge enterprises such as Microsoft, Barclays and Citibank. Another challenge that charities face is actually finding effective ways to meet the different needs of various people in myriad situations. There is, of course, a huge contrast between the UK care system, where priorities are providing support for stretched
right: group captain leonard cheshire below: ilyas khan in netherhall with neil pickering, charles pigott and peter brown
government resources and complementing care, and that in poor countries where disability is exacerbated by extreme poverty and lack of government help. In Zimbabwe, Leonard Cheshire Disability is the second-largest charity providing eleven services, often to impoverished families with disabled children. Whatever the problem, large charities must choose what to do with the £1 they are given and spend it wisely in order to tailor their services.
These three challenges – attracting income, providing effective services and attracting the right people –are somewhat intertwined. Rather like a game of Jenga, remove one and the rest will fail. It is precisely for this reason that a good business mind like Ilyas Khan is needed for the £1billion Leonard Cheshire Disability receives each year, and a good and kind heart like those of Khan and his supporters is needed to ensure it is spent correctly.
Wise spending impacts on the delivery of services, which in turn will influence accountability and donations. It is, as Khan made clear, like a cycle. A lack of deliverance due to inefficiency will in turn push away potential donations, 50% of which come from government or inter-governmental organisations or other charities, and 50% of which come in the form of private donations from companies or individuals. It is vital that organisations like Leonard Cheshire Disability attract the right people with the right skills so that services are of the highest quality.
Some people spend decades in the care of Leonard Cheshire Disability. Khan cited, as an example, a girl who entered their house in Banbury, Oxfordshire, aged 19 and is now 50 years old. In Southwark, partially mobile people are helped to find jobs, supported by companies. Skills development is beneficial to both individuals and societies. While the charity specialises in physical disability, the upshots positively affect mental wellbeing and contribute to society as a whole: even more importantly, it helps patients to feel that they can contribute to society.
The challenge is that the right people are usually volunteers or otherwise cannot be paid enormous salaries. Instead, charities reward their workers by nurturing them, developing them and creating a community atmosphere. In many ways, the payment of these workers is far more valuable than a banker’s bonus.
For more information about Leonard Cheshire Disability visit www. lcdisability.org Dominic Bardill is in his third year studying Drama and Theatre at Goldsmith’s College and his first year at Netherhall.
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mindboggler: the next chapter early last year, alumnus and ertswhile netherhall news writer, prakarsh singh, was interviewed by the amherst student state or…parents to reduce malnutrition in children. I think this research has important policy implications, as close to 1.5 million kids die every year of malnutrition in India, despite India’s spectacular economic growth. My other research interest is conflict and how policymakers can be better prepared for conflict. I got interested in conflict because my teacher at LSE taught me a course about it. For malnutrition, it was more about a personal journey through the poorer regions in my city when I came to realize that a lot of work needed to be done to improve the livelihoods there, which many economists didn’t focus on. How is Amherst different, as a community and workplace, from the other places you’ve been or worked in?
ell us about yourself. What did you do, and where, before Amherst?
I completed my Ph.D. in Economics from the LSE and before that I did my bachelor’s degree also from the same college. Before that I was in India. I grew up in different places around India, primarily Punjab and Mumbai. How did you come to choose Amherst, and what factored into that decision? I knew Amherst was a top liberal arts college while applying and found that it gave me the best blend of teaching and research. I love teaching, and they wanted a development economist, so it worked out really well for both the College and me. When I came here for the interview, things went really well, and I really liked the atmosphere. The people were warm and welcoming. I had lunch with some students, and I saw they were both interested in the material, as well as interested in doing social work. For me, this combined perfectly both intellectual spirit, as well as the spirit of wanting to do something good for society. Could you tell us more about your research, and how you came to be involved in it? My research falls into two broad areas: [the first being] child malnutrition and the different ways in which we can incentivize the
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Amherst is different firstly because it’s a campus university, as opposed to LSE, which is a cluster of buildings in the heart of London. It was a concrete jungle, as opposed to here, where it’s a real jungle! Here you meet more students at a higher frequency, and the quality of interaction is better. You get to know the students and your own colleagues more personally, and the atmosphere is not as cutthroat and competitive. Here, you try and inspire and motivate. You don’t lecture at [students], but try and involve them, which is important for improving the quality of learning in any educational community. What is your impression of Amherst community in general and has it changed since your first impression of it? Well, after the interview I formed a great impression of faculty and students. It has evolved since then, because you get to know specific people much more and their research, as well as what students like to learn. I’m trying to evolve myself as well. It is a give and take process, and I have been learning so much from the people around me. It’s a great opportunity to meet so many types of people as well. While [the College] is not as diverse in terms of nationalities as LSE, where half the student body was from outside the U.K., the range of opinions here show that there is curiosity and openness to other cultures and other points of view. I haven’t felt like an outsider. Related to that, how was the transition from a British academic and social environment to Amherst? It’s been easier than what I expected, to be honest. Obviously the extent of that comfort that I’ve felt is directly proportional to the ease with which students have been open in interacting with me, and I have tried to make my classes more interactive so by and large, I think it’s been a smooth transition. I’m staying in faculty
Research has important policy implications, as close to 1.5 million kids die every year of malnutrition in India, despite India’s spectacular economic growth
“London was a concrete jungle, as opposed to here, where it’s a real jungle!”
housing at Merrill, so that’s a big help and convenience to me. My colleagues are very supportive as well, and if I need something for teaching or research, I find they always come through for me. One final question, on a lighter note— what do you like to do in your spare time? Spare time? Theoretical spare time, then. Theoretically, I would really like to go out on excursions and trips around the city and the town, but I haven’t done that as much of that as I would like to, yet. I like to play chess and table tennis as well, but as an assistant professor, it is very difficult for me to find spare time. Prakarsh Singh is Assistant Professor in Economics at Amherst College. This interview by Meghna Sridhar was originally published in The Amherst Student and is reproduced by kind permission.
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illuminating the anti-enlightenment dominic bardill gets to grips with modernity’s other tradition
he Enlightenment is a cultural and scientific moment that began in the seventeenth century, amidst the huge social, political, religious and intellectual changes that were taking place in Europe. The Anti-Enlightenment is, of course, a strange topic for many people, explained Dr. Brian Sudlow, Lecturer in French and Translation Studies at Aston University on 29th November, because while most people are familiar with the term ‘Enlightenment’, ‘Anti-Enlightenment’ is somewhat alien to the majority. The Enlightenment was a time when Christianity had begun to break up. Owing to the Protestant Reformation various factions and groups were separating within Christianity and others were simply giving up on it altogether. It was also during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that a scientific revolution took place, in which many new discoveries were made and theories were proposed as humanity began to reflect on its priorities, purpose and standing point in the world.
“Far from being against reason, the Anti-Enlightenment was focussed upon how reason should be approached and used”
live together with no common religion or relations? In the AntiEnlightenment, a key thought process was the balance between reason and sensibilities. The politician and writer Francois-René de Chateaubriand, the thinker Novalis (the pseudonym of German Romantic George Philipp Friedrich von Hardenberg) and the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge were three early Romantic writers who all blamed the French Enlightenment philosophers for the degradation of beauty, spirit and history. Some saw the Enlightenment as a perversion of reason. Far from being against reason, the Anti-Enlightenment was focussed upon how reason should be approached and used. The Anti-Enlightenment was more against the methods of the Enlightenment and, as Dr Sudlow emphasised, the modern world draws on both currents. Indeed, while we may be inclined to think that the modern is better and thus we are enlightened because we do not drink polluted water in developed countries, there are also negative aspects to modernity that do not fit in with the trends of progress and betterment in the traditional sense. Scientific racism in the form of eugenics, for example, is something which is often forgotten. In the nineteenth century, certain uses of evolutionary theory contributed to modern racism by strengthening the idea that black people were less developed than white people. So, is the modern world really enlightened, or have we gained enlightenment in some areas and lost enlightenment in others?
One example of the form that the Enlightenment took, Dr Sudlow pointed out, was that of French café society in which educated men came up with new ideas and theories about the governance and structure of society. Prominent figures associated with this bourgeois organisation include Jean-Jacques Rousseau who came from Geneva, which at the time was a Huguenot Republic. Jean-Jacques is so well known to the French, Dr Sudlow explained, that they often refer to him only by his first name. Another example is Voltaire, whom Dr. Sudlow described as the ‘great master of doubt’. These figures and many others contributed to the Enlightenment. But it is to the lesser known Anti-Enlightenment that Dr. Sudlow wished to draw attention. The Anti-Enlightenment was not necessarily a movement ‘against’ the Enlightenment, but rather what Dr Sudlow described as a ‘twin to the enlightenment itself ’. The important questions after the Reformation were how can we
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above: brian sudlow (r) conversing with netherhall resident charles pigott right: politician and writer novalis
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the lady’s not for turning dominic bardill is impressed by the prime minister and the woman who portrays her in the iron lady
eryl Streep is an actress whom many in the film industry hold in high regard. She has taken on various roles from a sassy fashion designer in The Devil Wears Prada to an old-fashioned and fiery nun in Doubt. Nevertheless, nobody could ever have imagined that Streep, an American Hollywood actress, would play one of the most controversial and yet admirable leaders of Her Majesty’s government since Winston Churchill. The Iron Lady, which was released in cinemas in early January chronicles the rise and fall of Britain’s first female Prime Minister, but from a far more personal perspective than one would have anticipated. One of the most striking elements of the film is the style in which it is edited. Instead of a chronological structure simply showing the career progression of Baroness Thatcher, The Iron Lady employs flashbacks to convey Thatcher’s own reflections on her life and key political moments. It begins with this once strong and courageous leader as a frail old woman. It is evident that the film was not intended to be a political one, but rather a personal one. The contrast we are constantly reminded of, between the old and
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young Thatcher, is accentuated by the flashbacks in the film, and this helps us to fully absorb the sheer bravery of this woman who was clearly out of her depth. Furthermore, we notice that despite the clear psychological instability of the elderly Baroness, various small signs shine through that she is very much still in touch with the real world, not least that she responds to incidents on the news as if she was still Prime Minister. In essence we see that she is stuck in a certain time within her own mind. But this works in her favour because, instead of seeing nothing more than a mentally ill old lady, we see an aged woman with bursts of Thatcher still coming through with as much passion and youth as ever before, a fantastic cathartic trick by the director. Essentially, her body may be ailing, her mind may be going, but she is still Lady T. Before the film’s release, it was reported that various members of Baroness Thatcher’s family and close colleagues were against it because of the allegedly insensitive manner in which it portrays Thatcher as suffering from some form of dementia. Furthermore,
other reports stated that the film had a liberal bias and wanted to damage her character by making her appear insane and unsympathetic. While one can certainly see why family members or colleagues may be unsettled by the blunt and candid depiction of her psychological health, it did in fact add to the film. The sheer realism of the way in which The Iron Lady portrays her evokes emotion, sympathy and admiration which one might not have expected of a film about a leader whom many did not live under and countless others loathe. Yet in The Iron Lady we see a somewhat emotionally detached portrayal. The director clearly did not pander to people’s sensitivities, and this worked in the film’s favour because it gives us a speculative glimpse into Thatcher’s feelings about her own life.
The film also shows her from her roots: the admiration and love she had for her father, the self-support and achievements she carved out for herself, the fact that she came from relatively humble beginnings. As the film shows, Thatcher was a fighter and would not settle for second best, somebody who was incredibly useful to have on your side, but someone who made mistakes, was human.
“The Iron Lady evokes emotion, sympathy and admiration that one might not have expected of a film about a leader whom many did not live under and countless others loathe”
Beyond the structure and style, the casting was absolutely fantastic. Often the comic relief in the film, Jim Broadbent made for a great Denis Thatcher, giving a reflection of the role he played in his wife’s life: she the serious figure and he the village idiot only wanting to amuse her or bring her back down to earth, an ever loyal husband supporting her for years. The fact that after her husband’s death Mrs Thatcher still speaks to him does not give the impression of mental fragility, but rather of a loyal wife, a marriage of true love, and shows the huge impression he made on her life and decisions. Though beautiful, this is also somewhat dark and tragic in that truly British way.
The star of the show is of course Meryl Streep, who plays Thatcher even in her old age. The makeup, costume, and fine details in the film – her clothes, the character portraits of various political figures, the mood in the Commons, the key lines from the famous speeches – all add to her character and make one believe that one is watching the real Thatcher. If Streep’s extraordinary performance has done anything, it has certainly shown Thatcher in a human light, as the strong and brilliant leader of a great nation, and if it has done two things, it has certainly also earned her a deserved number of awards.
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athlete’s foot james osborn’s retrospective of the greatest comebacks in sport since the resurgence of this column
ne of the biggest developments in English football recently was the return of two of the greatest players in Premiership history. Paul Scholes came out of retirement to play for Manchester United and Thierry Henry made a goal-scoring return to Arsenal. Sporting comebacks always have the potential to be memorable and, whilst we await the outcome of these two recent comebacks, let us remind ourselves of some of the other momentous sporting comebacks that have been witnessed over the years. Zinedine Zidane A surprise inclusion in this category perhaps, but it should be remembered that Zidane initially announced his retirement from international football after Euro 2004. However, as a result of France’s struggles to replace him and their difficulty in qualifying for the 2006 World Cup, ‘Zizou’ returned to the fray. With his inclusion in the team, France went all the way to the World Cup final with Zidane scoring against Spain in the second round. But, Zinedine’s comeback lacked the ultimate glorious ending, as he was famously sent off for head-butting Italy’s Marco Materazzi and France eventually lost the final on penalties. Niki Lauda Although Michael Schumacher’s comeback has so far been unsuccessful, some comebacks in Formula One do sometimes work out! Niki Lauda quit Formula One in 1979. In his ‘first’ career, he’d won two World Championships, and survived a dreadful accident in Germany in 1976, where he suffered from severe burns. However, he returned to Formula One in 1982 for McLaren, and won the 1984 World Championship by half a point from teammate Alain Prost (the closest winning margin in F1 history), before retiring for good in 1985. Lance Armstrong Perhaps the most well-known name in cycling, Lance Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996 and had less than a 40% chance of survival. By 1998, he had completely recovered and began his cycling comeback, culminating in a dominant victory in the 1999 Tour de France. He then won the Tour de France every year after that before retiring in 2005 following his seventh Tour de France win. He then returned to cycling again in 2009 and came third in the Tour de France before finally bowing out in 2011. Alberto Contador still has some way to go to match Lance’s astonishing run of success!
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Muhammad Ali Considered perhaps the greatest boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali became world heavyweight champion by defeating Sonny Liston in 1964. But, after refusing to be drafted into the US Army for the Vietnam War, he was stripped of his titles and his boxing licence was suspended. Whilst his case was still on appeal, he lost ‘The Fight of the Century’ to the late Joe Frazier in 1971. But in 1974, he regained his title in the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ by knocking out George Foreman in one of the greatest fights of all time. Ali then went on to beat Joe Frazier in the ‘Thrilla in Manila’ before eventually hanging up his gloves in 1981.
I am sure all the Arsenal fans out there will be hoping that Thierry Henry can make as momentous a comeback as those discussed above. For no doubt, they are in need of some of Thierry Henry’s brilliance once again! As for Paul Scholes, you can be sure that Sir Alex Ferguson will be willing to use him as part of Manchester United’s title bid. Will it be a return to glory, or the end of a story? That is the question.
top left: zinedine zidane bottom left: lance armstrong below: muhammad ali takes a knock out blow from joe frazier in 1971 near right: niki lauda speeding to victory in the 1984 formula 1 world championship far right: is paul scholes the new (old) hope for man united?
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news from former netherhall residents left: Riccardo Ghetti (2008-9) married Giulia on July 30th in Italy. Aaron Taylor led the Netherhall delegation
left: JosĂŠ Ignacio Jimenez (1999-2001) and his wife Maria JosĂŠ, at the baptism of their third child, Alvaro.
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above: A week before Christmas five residents, two former residents and one friend of Netherhall House set off on what has become a new tradition: the annual skiing trip. Tom, Ricard, Marc, Carlo, and I set off to Andorra from London with Vincent joining us from France and Miguel and Alfonso joining us from Barcelona. The trip was a very enjoyable five days with plenty of good skiing, some good weather, a nearly-missed return flight (we had to maximise our time on the slopes after all), and great company. The days were filled with skiing, the evenings with trips to the capital, Andorra la Vella, for Mass, some great Spanish cooking (courtesy of Miguel), and some time to pray and relax together in the apartment. It’s safe to say that the ‘Pyrenees Tigers’ will keep up the tradition of an annual Netherhall ski-trip next year. From left: Miguel Antón, Tom Dowle, Ricard Rovirosa, Marc Vives, Simon Jared, Vincent de Roquefeuil, Carlo Rossi, and Alfonso Martinez left: The best picture I received in a Christmas card this year, writes peter brown, was this one from Edward Wijaya (1998-99) and his family in Japan
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desert island discs
alex osborn relates curious facts about netherhall residents gleaned from sunday evening interviews Desert Island Discs continues to entertain the House every Sunday evening. Based on the well-known BBC Radio 4 show, residents are interviewed about their lives and also asked to select three pieces of music to play. Finally, the interviewee has the choice of a book along with the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare.
ragnar hovd, played here by edvard greig
Two Norwegians joined forces in November, and the House was treated to Eigil Nordstrom’s interview of his compatriot Ragnar Hovd. It detailed a life clearly dominated by music and favourite composers naturally included Grieg. It also contained a humorous acknowledgement of the difficulties of performing in live orchestras before extremely renowned audiences, most notably the King of Norway himself. His Majesty, we hope, did not notice Ragnar’s failure to keep his music on its stand during a live television broadcast – we assume he didn’t, because (as far as we know) he wasn’t exiled as a result. Next up, Ignatius de Bidegain, of the waistcoats, was paired with Miguel Lim, who was doing the questioning tonight rather than the answering. Ignatius told us about his love of England, his mother’s passion for antiques (and remarkably large parcels) and his fondness for social-climbing sitcoms. The highlight for the author was when he told us one of his favourite pieces of music, I Vow to Thee, My Country, was also the favourite of a very English figure, Lady Diana Spencer (Princess Diana). Unlike the impoverished investment bankers forced to live on meagre starting salaries, to whose plight Ignatius has magnanimously drawn attention, Princess Diana didn’t earn a housemaid’s pittance, though she certainly had a few. He further delighted us all with his energetic rendition of Khachaturian’s Toccata on the piano.
contrary to popular opinion, bankers deserve our deep sympathy
The author was not present for the next Desert Island Discs interview, but it was reported to him that Abhishek Dixit was questioned. The author did some probing and discovered, quite extraordinarily, that all of Abhishek’s favourite songs were from Bollywood movies. Having not as yet been treated to watching Bride and Prejudice, the author will restrain from comment on this sensitive issue.
the author maker no comment
Visiting former resident Enrique Huesca took the interviewee’s slot. Señor Huesca, who first came to Netherhall on a language course in 2001 and has kept in contact ever since, talked about his illustrious career as the private secretary of the Lady Attorney General of Mexico, particularly noting the unnerving experience of being escorted around the country in bullet-proof saloon cars with blacked-out windows.
not a bulletproof car, but in fact the house car
Finally, James Somerville-Meikle, a long-awaited interviewee, took to the chair espionage in the most recent installation. Espionage and intrigue are behind the history and of his lengthy but distinguished surname, as he took great delight in telling us. intrugue are Most enlighteningly, he told us about his complete ‘conversion experience’ from behind the Conservative to Labour several years ago, which is certainly a rare occurrence. history of One can imagine a very Raphaelesque scene, with the single ray of light coming his lengthy down from heaven, illuminating the lone figure of Mr Somerville-Meikle in the but dismanner of St Paul on the road to Damascus. Or perhaps I am over-using my very active imagination a little too much here. tinguished Alex Osborn is in his first year studying English Literature at UCL and his first year at Netherhall.
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