Academic speaks out
Out and proud
Perils of Twitter
Student cash cows?
A dire gay scene
The Fry debate
The official student newspaper of Durham Students’ Union since 1948
Friday 20th November 2009 | Edition 712 | palatinate.org.uk Newsbox Local frustration in reaction to plans for Gateway Project
Residents’ Association expresses anger and indignation at the University Page 3
Market Square’s contentious £5 million makeover
6,000 people signed up so far to keep Lord Londenderry’s statue in place Page 4
Students vote to maintain fundings status quo
Highest ever turnout in referendum mandates DSU to fight to keep the cap Page 5
What is life like for wheelchair users in Durham?
Our reporter spends a day in the life of a paraplegic student Page 7
Fame and fortune
Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Andrew Young, answers questions at the AGM about the closure of the shop at Dunelm House: “We had a gun to our heads”
Who shut the shop?
Leslie Hill interview page 15
Annual General Meeting highlights DSU’s financial dependency on the University Chris Wright
The Annual General Meeting of the DSU, which took place on Tuesday 3rd November, turned very quickly into a revealing discussion of the DSU’s financial dependency on the University. The twelve members of the Board of Trustees, who bear ultimate legal and financial responsibility for the operations of the DSU, were present to answer questions put to them by students. A substantial number of these questions related to the Board’s de-
cision to close the shop at Dunelm House, which used to sell food, drinks, discounted newspapers, stationery, stash, and other items. It became apparent that the Board’s options were constrained by the limits of the University’s generosity. The Chairman of the Board, Andrew Young, explained that since the DSU has been close to insolvency it depends heavily on funding from the University - which he described as “not the most generous” - in order to operate at all. The collegiate system, Young explained, means that the Uni-
versity considers itself to be dealing with multiple student unions rather than one. Young was clear that the shop at Dunelm House had to be closed to ensure DSU welfare services, such as the Nightbus, kept running. The shop was a commercial operation and running at a loss. Many further questions followed on whether the shop’s business model could not have been altered in order to keep it open. Young’s answers made clear that the Board’s freedom to act was severely limited. He dramatically stated: “We had a gun to our heads”.
Another Board member, Tim Hardman, helped to clarify the situation by explaining that last year the University wrote off the DSU’s deficit of £137,000, thus warding off the threat of insolvency. The current Board of Trustees, Hardman reminded those present, was created as a new management for the DSU following its financial crisis in 2005. The Union had been suffering year on year losses due to increased commercial competition; on 23rd June 2003, Continued on page 3
Friday 20th November 2009 PALATINATE
Editorial Favourites, letters, corrections and editorial
PALATINATE Sign up to ‘1010’ The University should take radical action on climate change
hen it comes to preventing global catastrophe, our thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth: there is very little point in taking small steps. Either we recognise global warming as a threat which demands serious engagement, or we decide to shrug our shoulders and hope for the best. The middle way is just a hypocritical waste of time. There is a campaign gathering momentum which aims to have Britain as a whole cut its carbon emission by 10% by the end of 2010. The target is ambitious, but not impossible. University policy is to aim for a 2% cut per year, in line with government targets. Wouldn’t it be nice if we signed up to the ‘1010’ campaign? This would put Durham on the map as a centre of radical environmental action, would pressure other universities to follow suit, and would provide us with a focal point for our collective environmental energies. It is important that progress takes place through combined efforts, rather than as individuals. We are a population of staff and students who live, work and study under the umbrella of an academic community. This makes the University an ideal centre for organisation and leadership. But if we are to declare and subsequently meet an ambitious target, we will need to work harder at the task of collaboration. One of the difficulties is that the University staff who work on climate change appear not to have mastered the dark arts of publicity and communication. Try to find an environmental poster that matches the production quality of the average student
his Sunday, Durham Univerisy Charities Kommittee will be unleashing hundreds of rubber ducks into the Wear (a river which is strikingly close to Dunlem House as we write). Profits for the annual DUCK race will go to WaterAid, a charity which works on the link between poverty and water scarcity. Arguably, the exhaustion of water supplies is a looming environmental catstrophe on a similar scale to global warming. Such, at any rate, is the conclusion of author and journalist Alexander Bell, who this month has published a book called Peak Water: Civilisation and the World’s Water Crisis. Palatinate, with the kind assistance of the Institute of Advanced Study, has arranged for Bell to deliver a lecture on the subject of his book. This will take place this
theatre advert. Students these days might be apathetic, but most of us like a good cause when it’s presented to us, and it is difficult to think of any moral issue more directly relevant to our futures than global warming. As such, we are to a certain extent waiting to be told how to contribute. The University, with its capacity to mobilise resources and infrastructure, has a huge opportunity to direct our efforts and win itself a PR coup in the process, but the opportunity has so far not been grasped. For instance, there is an email address - firstname.lastname@example.org - which allows students to send suggestions to the Energy Manager, John Lightowler: had you heard of it? A crucial step forward would be to publish comparative information - from year to year, month to month, between colleges, between departments - which would give us at least a rough sense of whether or not we are making progress. People are unlikely to make small sacrifices if they don’t see themselves as taking part in a larger effort (and we might as well make college pride useful for something). Motivation will come from within ourselves, but coherence can and should be provided by the University. I’m sure this isn’t easy, but we could certainly profit from better publicity, a better website and more eye-catching events. This simply will never happen while the University’s environmental reputation is based on policy aimed at saving cash. In the foreword to the University’s Energy Management Strategic Plan, Vice-Chancellor Prof Higgins, writes about the policy ra-
tionale: “Durham University is a large organisation and, as such, a major consumer of energy. It is in the University’s interest to reduce the amount of money it spends on energy, releasing funds for other purposes. At the same time, reducing energy consumption helps the University reduce its environmental impact. A win-win situation!” With this timid formulation, it is not surprising that the University has so far failed to provide bold and inspiring leadership on the environment. One student campaign group, SPEAK, was considered too political to be allowed to take part in the University’s Environment Fair. SPEAK are a Christian group who campaign for global justice, not an anarchist mob. What could possible be wrong with involving as many people as possible in such an event? And since when has environmentalism not been a political movement? The case is indicative of an unwillingness on the part of the University - so far - to take a bit of a risk and actually try to make a real difference. If you think ‘1010’ is too ambitious, consider the fact that between the last academic year and the one preceding it, the University acheived an estimated cut in carbon emissions of 5.5%. With improvements in leadership, cohesion and effort, matched by a corresponding engagement by students, we could surely pull off a 10% cut. If that is to be regarded as pie in the sky, we might as well go home now and wait to see what mother nature brings us.
coming Monday, 23rd November, at 7pm in the Rosemary Cramp Lecture Theatre (on the second floor of the Calman Learning Centre). Bell’s argument is that civilisation is intimately linked to the management of water, without which urban development and agriculture would be impossible. Hydration, cleanliness and food require infrastructure for the control of water. There is a memorial to those who died building the Hoover Dam, which was integral to the development of Western American cities such as Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The muscular statue is attended by the words, “They died to make the desert bloom”. Today, water resources remains a hotly contentious issue in the Middle East: there simply isn’t enough to go around. Isra-
el retains the Golan Heights from Syria for this reason; Palestinians are prevented from digging wells beyond a certain depth, and sometimes have to buy water from Israeli settlers; Jordan has plans to drain the Dead Sea to combat chronic water shortages. Population growth, the depletion of aquifers, and global warming all point towards the problem getting worse. Living in Durham, it might not be easy to think of water shortage as a major concern, but we should. The first ever resource war took place over water in Mesopotamia, where the Babylonians developed irrigation. Whether through war or through cooperation, the world as a whole will be forced to address the problem. If you start thinking about it now, you can have a head start.
Vacancy Palatinate editor The Palatinate Editor is selected each term by the Palatinate Board of Directors. We are looking for candidates who want to follow on from us as editors for Epiphany Term 2010.
Nomination packs will be available from late next week and will be sent to those who request them. You can request a pack (and should send completed packs) to email@example.com
Deadline for all completed packs: December 4th
To have your say on anything featured visit palatinate.org.uk
20.11.2009 No. 712 Favourites Comment page 10
The forgotten art of listening
The powerful value of our ears page 10 Film TV page Sport&page 34 25
Collingwood takes down Stevo
Turning limited chances into gold page 34 Books page 31
Poignancy on paper
Giving structure to quiet moments page 31
Contents News pages 3-7 Comment pages 8-11 Features pages 12-13 Food page 14 Profile page 15 Travel page 17 Listings pages 18-19 Fittest Fresher pages 20-23 Film & TV page 25 Photography page 26 Visual Arts page 27 Stage page 28-29 Music page 30 Books page 31 Sport pages 33-36
Palatinate is published by Durham Students’ Union on a fortnightly basis during term and is editorially independent. All contributors and editors are full-time students at Durham Send letters to: Editor, Palatinate, Durham Students’ Union, Dunelm House, New Elvet, Durham, DH1 3AN. Alternatively, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Editors-in-chief Daniel Bjelis Chris Wright email@example.com Deputy Editor Liza Miller firstname.lastname@example.org News Editor Vincent McAviney email@example.com Deputy News Editors George Stafford Adam Painter Jack Battersby Jodie Smith firstname.lastname@example.org Comment Editor Thom Addinall-Biddulph Deputy Comment Editor Alexandra Bottomer email@example.com Chief Lifestyle Editor Dipal Acharya firstname.lastname@example.org Features Editor Ally Bacon email@example.com Food and Drink Editor Fiona Hicks firstname.lastname@example.org Fashion Editor Dipal Acharya email@example.com Profile Editor Anna Brook firstname.lastname@example.org Travel Editor Katy Balls email@example.com Listings Editor Alison Moulds Tamara Gates firstname.lastname@example.org Books Editor Matthew Richardson email@example.com Film and Television Editor Alison Moulds firstname.lastname@example.org Music Editors David Tshulak Olivia Swash email@example.com Stage Editors Daniel Dyson Sophie Zeldin-O’Neill firstname.lastname@example.org Visual Arts Editor Rosanna Boscawen email@example.com Sports Editors Rajvir Rai Vacant firstname.lastname@example.org Chief Sub-Editors Kayleigh Brandon Lucy Dearden email@example.com Contributing Sub-Editors Nathan Manogaran, Louise Quarmby, Vicky Woodcock, Joanna Harrod, Clare Nadal, Joanna Turner, Lisa Paul, Katie Ashcroft, Bethany Corcoran, Natalie Kent, Emma Hyde, Lucy Menzies, Lloyd Forfar Website Editor Gwilym Newton firstname.lastname@example.org Illustration Editor Anthonie Chiu-Smit email@example.com Photography Editors James Dunn Jonathan Allen firstname.lastname@example.org Multimedia Editors Alistair Barber Ben Swales multimedia @palatinate.org.uk InDesign Assistant Chris Carr
PALATINATE Friday 20th November 2009
For even more news visit palatinate.org.uk
Durham News JONATHAN ALLEN
to the main library will also be included. Durham residents continue to voice their displeasure at the design of the building and the manner in which the process has been conducted. The Elvet Residents’ Association (ERA) have raised a number of concerns, including the size of the proposed development, the plans to have the building overhang over the pavement, the removal of sunlight for homes on the other side of Stockton Road and the felling of trees on the existing site months ago - seemingly pre-empting a decision on the planning application.
“The general.. complaint is that the voice of the local residents has not been listened to by those pushing the initiative.” Work at the Gateway Project site on Stockton Road has already commenced, despite protestation from local residents and Private Eye
Residents object to Gateway project Alex Dibble
Residents protested against the new project as planning permission for the four-storey high development on Stockton Road entered its final stages. Durham County Council are due to de-
cide in the coming weeks whether to give the £48m construction the green light. Plans to transform the currently deteriorating north-east side of the science site are part of ‘The Durham Project’ – a £60m initiative to “enhance the University’s provision of world-class facilities for research,
education, and community engagement.” The scheme aims to bring wider accessibility to the World Heritage Site at Palace Green for visitors and tourists. The Gateway building will house the Law faculty and library, which will relocate from Palace Green. A new extension
DSU independence called into question at AGM Continued from front page
Council gave the green light on a ‘general aye’ to a £200,000 loan intended to allow investment that would revive the success of commercial operations. The gamble didn’t pay off: by June 2005 Palatinate was reporting that the accounts were £305,000 overdrawn. Our editorial in 2005 addressed the issue now highlighted by Young’s comments at the AGM: “The fact that the University will almost certainly be required to bail out DSU this summer - and most likely next year - is cause for concern. In regards to independence: how constrained will future presidents feel in criticising the University’s increase in college rents if the next meeting they have with the finance department is begging for another handout? Equally, it is not clear exactly what the University will demand in return for saving DSU. The University understands the Union’s future independence should be at an ‘appropriate level’ - a term that is worryingly ambiguous.” Questions have also been asked on the student website, www.durham21.co.uk, whose editor Stevie Martin wrote on 3rd October this year: “The main route to take would probably involve biting the bullet
and making their problems known. This is our Students’ Union, and they shouldn’t feel afraid of criticism because, after all, the current DSU Exec didn’t get us into this mess, but they are blamed for not miraculously getting us out of it.” Following Young’s comments, ViceChancellor Prof Higgins said: “I am very pleased that DSU is now operating in a sustainable and effective manner and our thanks go to the DSU President, sabbatical officers and trustees, for all their efforts and for taking some tough management decisions to enhance the support which DSU provides to our students.” In 2006, the issue was deemed sufficiently concerning for the DSU Executive to draw up an ‘Independence Accord’ as a response to proposals by the University to take over management of the commercial services at Dunelm House. The Accord was signed by local MP Roberta BlackmanWoods, JCR presidents and senior University officials. However, DSU President Natalie Crisp restated at the AGM the sentiment of one of her recent columns for Palatinate, in which she argued: “It is important to bear in mind that although the Union is dependent on the University for income in the form of our block grant, our position is a lot more positive than many other stu-
dent unions. We still have an independent revenue stream in the form of our exceedingly profitable club nights such as Planet of Sound and Revolver, and Riverside café. In contrast, at least 15 unions across the UK have removed all commercial services from their remit.” Despite all this successful commercial activity, Hardman explained at the AGM that the Union’s surplus at the end of this year is likely to be in the ballpark of £10,000. “That is nothing”, he stated. Any expensive initiatives taken by the DSU, such as the new reception area in Dunelm House, require a capital injection from the University.
“The Union’s surplus at the end of this year is likely to be £10,000.”
The decision taken by the Board of Trustees, which includes elected sabbatical officers and student representatives, could not be open to consultation because of legal restrictions relating to the redundancy of the shop’s employees. Thus, the AGM became an opportunity for students to argue against the decision. For instance, Joe Taylor of Josephine Butler College asked
The general theme of the residents’ complaints is that the Gateway Project is not in keeping with the atmosphere of Durham, and the voice of the local residents has not been listened to by those looking to push the initiative through. A couple living on High Wood View claimed “We just haven’t got the word power! The building is too big and it’s not fair to the area. You get winter blues anyway without something like this. If it was built in Hollywood it would be ok, but not in Durham. We’re hoping there will be an alteration.” MP Roberta Blackman-Woods chaired a meeting with residents at St Oswald’s Institute last Friday, giving Space Architecture and PH Partnership the opportunity to respond to locals’ grievances. Among points whether the provision of lab books might not be considered a service to students, since they are not available elsewhere in Durham. Young did not seem to be aware that this was an issue of concern. A University spokesperson said: “Less than a year after its establishment as an independent charity DSU was facing a substantial unplanned operating deficit. A considerable amount of work was carried out by the DSU trustees working with the University to recover the situation. DSU is now in a stable financial position. The new business plan follows the restructuring of DSU’s Commercial Services department including the closure of the shop in Dunelm House to enable activity to focus on membership services and events.” Further drama was injected into the proceedings of the AGM by a heated dispute over the constitutional right for the meeting to take place at all. Article 21 of the DSU consitution states: “No business shall be dealt with at any AGM unless there is a quorum of at least two percent of the total Membership entitled to vote upon the business to be transacted.” Article 22 continues: “If such a quorum is not present within half an hour from the time appointed for the meeting, the meeting shall be adjourned to the same day in the next week at the same time and place or to such time and place as the Trustees may determine.” On the evening of 3rd November, the meeting was declared inquorate, but a procedural motion was passed for the trustees to determine that the alternative time and place should be immediately after the close of the first meeting, thus effectively at the same time. Robbie Glendinning of Hild Bede questioned whether this decision was in the spirit of the constitution, arguing that a greater effort should be made to ensure enough people are present.
made by the planners were that sunlight is already cut off to Stockton Rd by existing buildings on the Science site. In addition, PH Partnership claimed that “there have been substantial alterations to the scheme as a direct result of an extensive consultation period” in which the local voice contributed. Colin Jubb, a spokesman for the ERA, said “Residents have never opposed the development of this site by the University. However, we feel that the proposed scheme aims to crush a huge construction onto a site that is simply not big enough.” English Heritage have also added reservations: “The Gateway building would appear unduly conspicuous and intrusive... it would have a detrimental impact upon the character of this part of the Conservation Area.” Residents suggest the University has in the past considered the atmosphere and heritage of Durham City when expanding, but thesamecannotbesaidoftheGatewayplans. Vice-Chancellor Prof Chris Higgins has insisted that: “The Gateway will be a landmark building, creating a sense of arrival for students, staff and visitors.” Private Eye, however have asked ‘why?’ “At present, the inescapable, inspiring landmark that greets most visitors is a very large and famous old building called, er, Durham Cathedral. If Durham University has to go ahead with this fatuous monster, it might consider hiring a decent architect and being more tactful in scale.” As Durham County Council examine the project the ERA fear that there may be a prejudice to award planning permission, despite comments by Roberta Blackman-Woods that “there are further modifications that can be made to address some of the local concerns.” Whatever the decision, it is clear that Durham residents feel that there has been a lack of communication on the part of the authorities behind the Gateway scheme.
Glendinning has since told Palatinate: “I felt that if the DSU had this provision in its constitution it should be upheld. There’s little point codifying the rules if you’re then going to blithely ignore them. The spirit of the article is clear: that the meeting should be postponed to increase attendance. The committee clearly had no intention of quorum attending - the details of the meeting were sporadically released, some as little as 5 hours prior to the meeting, and the meeting was booked in a room with a fire capacity well below quorum. Whether the article [in the constitution] is a sensible one is a very different question.”
“The AGM became an opportunity for students to argue against the Board’s decision to close the DSU shop.”
Callum Yeo, DSU Chair, responded that the procedural motion was justified because it is very rare for the entire Board of Trustees to be available at the same time. Some were not convinced, however. Joe Taylor, the student who asked about lab books, stormed out of the lecture theatre, declaring the meeting “a farce”. Other issues raised by questions to the Board of Trustees included concerns about society bank accounts and the cost of Dunelm House room hire for societies. The minutes of the meeting were not yet available on the DSU website at the time of going to publication, due to the laptop on which they were typed having a broken power cable.
Friday 20th November 2009 PALATINATE
News Durham DELANEY CHAMBERS
DUCK Officer’s Column Mel Punton
The sad thing about being DUCK Manager is that instead of hitching your way to Tunisia on a weekend, you end up sitting in your office pressing f5 to refresh the tracking screen while longingly dreaming of the open road. Huge congratulations to all our jailbreakers, who have had some spectacular adventures this weekend, soldiering on through winds and storms to hitch their way as far as Asia. Proof that DUCK really does give you wings (if you’re lucky enough to blag a Thomas Cook flight at Manchester airport). If you missed out, never fear. Keep an eye out for a brand new DUCK challenge next term. LOST: how fast can you get back to Durham from an unknown location in the middle of nowhere, without spending any money? It’s going to be epic. Speaking of epic, DUCK weekend is coming! It all kicks off with our Naked Calendar Launch on Thursday 19th – come along to view every month in all its naked glory, from Collingwood Rugby to Pres Comm. It kicks off at 8.30pm in the DSU Riverside Café with the awesome band Sunday Morning People playing and calendars at the discounted price of £3! Then keep an eye out for DUCK events in a college near you, from Children in Need cakes to Blind Date bar crawls to Ann Summers parties, aiming to make thousands for charity while giving you a jolly good time. And to wrap it all up on Sunday: have you ever seen 20,000 rubber ducks in one place at one time? Being thrown from an enormous JCB into a river? That’s right, the Grand Durham DUCK race is here again. Not a sight to be missed, make sure you head down to the river this Sunday 22nd at 1pm to cheer on your DUCK. Which you can buy from a DUCK rep near you, or for £1.50 by texting DUCK to 82055. Money raised by the DUCK ace will go to WaterAid, an organisation whose mission is to overcome poverty by enabling the world’s poorest people to gain access to safe water and sanitation. Nudity and fowl aside, don’t forget to join our teams running the London or Paris Marathons, or the Great North Run; or if you’re feeling manly make sure you sign up for Tough Guy – one of the most ridiculously hardcore assault courses in the country. If you’re interested in foreign travel, why not apply for one of our expeditions. You could spend your summer in Togo, Kilimanjaro, the Himalayas, the Philippines, Peru, Jordan, Romania, Death Valley or Thailand. If that doesn’t sound exciting nough for you, keep an eye out for the opportunity to abseil off the library, coming up before the end of term. But, ultimately, nothing beats the thrill of shaking buckets on the streets of Leeds, London, Newcastle and Edinburgh. Find out more and sign up to all our many and varied and crazy events on duck.dsu.org.uk, and, as ever, get in touch by emailing duck.charities@dur. ac.uk with any questions, queries, funny videos or declarations of admiration.
“Local residents maintain that moving it will ruin the Market Place’s cohesion and that it should remain in the historic part of the square.”
The horse has bolted leaving a new Fourth Plynth for further North
Market Square’s £5 million makeover Jodie Smith
One of Durham’s historic statues is soon to be moved after councillors approved a controversial plan to relocate it. The statue of the Third Marquis of Londonderry is the focal point of the Market Place and a popular meeting place for many. Under contentious new plans, the statue is to be moved to a new loca-
tion, elsewhere in the Market Place. The proposals come as part of the Heart of the City regeneration scheme. The project’s £5.25 million price tag has caused uproar amongst residents, with many people criticising that so much money could be spent on such a project during the recession. So far, over 6,000 people have signed a petition and many have joined Facebook groups to show their anger. The petition has been running since July, when Dur-
hesion and that it should remain in the historic part of the square. The statue, which has stood in the Market Place since 1861, is currently in London for restoration. Under the proposed move, it would be moved 26 metres from its current locationfurthertowardsthenewTescostore, and rotated to face St Nicholas’ Church. One of the main opponents of the project is The City of Durham Trust. The group support some of the aspects of the Durham City Vision proposals but remain steadfastly against the moving of Lord Londonderry’s statue.
ham City Council first lodged the planning application. However, many residents have been questioning if their opinions have been taken into consideration at all. Durham City Vision, the group in charge of the Heart of the City project, claims that the statue “specifically restricts improving the potential for the Market Place in its current position”. Local residents maintain that moving it will ruin the Market Place’s co-
“Durham City Vision has claimed that a majority of citizens are happy to see the Equestrian Statue moved. The size of the response, and the feelings expressed by the people we met signing the petition, show that this is not the case,” says the Trust. After the plans were approved by councillors at the Planning Committee meeting, the issue will now be taken to the Government Office that deals with planning permission and listed buildings. The Heart of the City project is scheduled to begin in late January, with organisers aiming for work to be completed by late 2010.
Local murder exposes danger of social networking websites Adam Painter
A teenage girl has been found dead in a field in Country Durham after meeting up with a man she had been talking to on the internet. Ashleigh Hall from Darlington had been in contact with Peter Chapman on the social networking site Facebook. Mr Chapman, 32, of no fixed address was stopped for a minor motoring offence on Monday 26th October when police were alerted about Ashleigh’s body. It is believed Mr Chapman is from the Merseyside area. The body was found fully clothed near the Little Chef roundabout on the A177
close to Sedgefield. The first post mortem proved inconclusive however; after a second it is believed Ashleigh was smothered. A Durham police spokesman said: “Following a second post-mortem we can now reveal that Ashleigh’s death was consistent with smothering.” Ashleigh was a student Hurworth School in Darlington where she was training to be a nursery nurse; she was described as a “lovely, lovely kid” by its chief executive Eamonn Farrar. A message released through Durham Constabulary on behalf of Ashliegh’s mother, Andrea, said: “No-one can imagine the hurt and devastation that has hit our fam-
ily. Ashleigh was loving, honest, caring and well-liked.”
“She was told never to add a stranger as a friend.” The incident has reminded people of the dangers posed via the internet. Ms Hall said: “Everybody knows that the internet can be a dangerous place. We trusted Facebook and she was always told never to add a stranger as a friend”.
It is believed Ashleigh had been groomed by Mr Chapman who posed as a 16 year old boy. He had over 100 friends on the website who were almost exclusively female. Peter Chapman entered no plea when he appeared at Teesside Crown court on Tuesday 3rd November. There was no application for bail and the 32 year old’s next hearing will be on 4th January. Mr Chapman has also been charged with failing to notify police of a new address, as he must under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
New society builds bridges with the continent Jodie Smith
Durham University has taken a step closer to the continent with the creation of a new society, the European Students’ Forum. The society, also known as AEGEE (Association des Etats Généraux des Etudiants de l’Europe) has been set up this year by a number of students, many of whom have just returned from their year abroad. The idea of creating a Durham ‘antenna’ of AEGEE was put forward by Thomas
Leszke, a member of the Cologne unit and a network coordinator. After visiting Durham a few years ago, he spotted its potential for building a successful AEGEE society. AEGEE was founded in 1985 in Paris with the aim of putting all the ideas of a unified Europe into practice. The group encourages its 15,000 members to work together, travel and break down prejudices to create a more open society. Durham’s AEGEE antenna joins over 240 others across Europe. The group will be running various trips, film nights, meals
and fancy-dress socials for all students and is organising international events both this term and in the New Year. “We want to give students the opportunity to learn more about Europe and to increase their intercultural awareness. It’s a chance to share culture, language and views outside of your academic life” says Eloise Wyke, Vice President of the new society. “As part of our events over the coming year, we’re putting on trips both locally and internationally. In a few weeks we’re doing an exchange with Nijmegen, one of the
Dutch AEGEE antennae,” she continues. “We’re also really excited about hosting our first international event which should be taking place at the end of January. Groups from all over Europe will be coming to Durham to participate in our intercultural exchange,” she adds. “It’s a great thing to be involved in as you get to meet so many new people from different cultures. Our events and socials give students the opportunity to learn much more about the world and everyone seems to really enjoy themselves!”
PALATINATE Friday 20th November 2009
Be sure to subscribe to our RSS feed over at palatinate.org.uk
Durham, national and columns News
Students vote to ‘keep the cap’ in referendum Ghassan Al-Sammari
In the first of this term’s two cross-campus referenda, Durham students have mandated the DSU to campaign to keep the current £3,225 annual cap on tuition fees. In all, 11.3% of DSU students voted, making it the highest ever turnout for an issue-based referendum in Durham. Campaigning to keep the cap on fees was one of six options available to voters, and with 775 of the 2158 first preference votes, it edged the Campaign for Access to Free Education for All into second place. The option of supporting the NUS ‘Blueprint’ model came third. Campaigning to have an open market for fees and raising the cap proved very unpopular, with only 61 and 99 first preference votes respectively.
The referendum, which ran from Monday 26th to Friday 30th October, followed a debate on Higher Education Funding held the preceding Sunday in the Palace Green Debating Chambers. NUS Vice-President Aaron Porter, Vice-Chancellor Chris Higgins, MP for the City of Durham, Roberta Blackman-Woods, and James Heywood of NUS faction ‘Education Not For Sale’ outlined their opinions on the matter and faced a number of questions from a student audience. Over 30% of students from Van Mildert, St John’s and John Snow voted. The success of John Snow particularly delighted DSU President Natalie Crisp. “John Snow traditionally has a low turnout in DSU elections and referendums” she said, “but this result illustrates that no college is inherently
apathetic, we just need to make more of an effort to demonstrate why what we do is relevant to students”. However, only 1.51% of all postgraduate students took part in the vote – a stark contrast to the 17% turnout amongst undergraduates. Ben Robertson, DSU Societies and Student Development Officer, noted that since the debate on fees was restricted to those that undergraduates pay, the motivation for postgraduates to have their say was understandably lacking. Robertson added that work needed to be done to encourage wider participation in elections. To that end, a document entitled ‘The Election Strategy Guide’ is to be sent out to colleges to provide specific advice for encouraging turnout. Sabbatical officers at the DSU have al-
ready begun to act upon the results of the referendum. Crisp has written to the parliamentary candidates of the three major parties for the Durham seat at the next election, letting them know the result and requesting their opinions on the matter. The DSU is also intending to send a party to visit Roberta Blackman-Woods’ next ‘open surgery’ to talk to her about the issue. Crisp is determined to make higher education funding a deciding factor in the result of the Durham and Stockton South seats at the next General Election, and the DSU is encouraging as many students as possible to register and vote in these two constituencies. Another referendum will be held in the coming week on the DSU’s affiliation with the NUS.
Durham’s Christian heritage, the MP urged the government to push the North East forward as a venue for the pontiff’s visit. She stated that “the possibility of a papal visit would be of tremendous benefit to the area. I’m sure that the people of Durham would feel great pride in welcoming Pope Benedict and the world’s media”. Whilst Durham cathedral is protestant,
its staff are eager to welcome the Pontiff. Speaking on behalf of the Dean and Chapter of the cathedral, Chapter Clerk Philip Davies said: “Everyone at the cathedral is very excited at the prospect of a visit. It would be a great honour for us and the region as a whole, and His Holiness would be assured of a very friendly welcome to this land of the Northern Saints”.
A consortium of University and faith leaders has invited Pope Benedict XVI to speak at Durham Cathedral when he visits the UK in March 2010. The invitation was extended by a partnership of Anglican, Catholic and University representatives following a visit by a Vatican representative to Durham University in March of this year. Although Pope John Paul II made a pastoral visit to the UK (which included a visit to York) in May 1982, Pope Benedict’s trip is set to be the first pontifical visit following an official invitation from the UK government, and the first ever visit to Durham and the surrounding region. Leading the consortium, Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright, said: “Durham has in recent years become a major global centre for ecumenical work, and the close interlinking of the cathedral and University means that Durham is well placed to host an event which is simultaneously academic and ecumenically spiritual”. The North East arguably boasts the richest Christian heritage in the UK. Durham Cathedral is home to the twin shrines of Saint Cuthbert, a seventh-century AngloSaxon bishop in the Kingdom of Northumbria, and Saint Bede, a monk and author widely regarded as the first great English historian. Indeed, religious and University leaders are keen to demonstrate the continued
City extends invitation to Pope Benedict Jack Battersby
importance of Durham and the surrounding region as a world-renowned centre of Christian learning. University vice-chancellor and cosignatory to the letter of invitation, Chris Higgins, added: “The strong academic and ecumenical background of this invitation means there is simply no more appropriate place in the country to host such an event.
“The possibility of a papal visit would be of tremendous benefit to the area.” Leaders of the major churches of the region are working together alongside scholars in the University’s department of Theology and Religion - which was recently confirmed as the leading UK research department in its field”. However, competition for an audience with the pontiff is fierce, with the universities of St Andrews and Oxford also extending invitations for Pope Benedict to deliver an academic address at their respective institutions. Roberta Blackman-Woods, MP for Durham City, added her support to the application in a letter to Foreign Secretary David Miliband. Outlining the uniqueness of
Body of missing pensioner found floating in River Wear Ally Bacon & James Dunn
The body of a missing pensioner was pulled out of the River Wear beneath Framwellgate Bridge last Sunday. William Jones, an ex-miner from Ferryhill, County Durham, was last seen leaving his home on 16th October for a daily walk. A major search involving police, mountain rescue teams and search dogs spent a week searching for the 88-year old. However, the search was eventually called off as no new
DSU President’s Column
information or sightings had emerged. His son, Glynn Jones, 60, stated last week that finding him alive was becoming increasingly unlikely; “We are not very hopeful of him being found alive, to be quite honest. It has been too long and he didn’t like the cold. He even had his thermals on during summer”. Leaflets were handed out and posters put up throughout Ferryhill and the surrounding villages in the hope that someone had seen him. Sadly, their fears were confirmed on
Sunday 8th at 11.15am when the police were called to the riverside in the Framwellgate and Millburngate area after someone spotted a body. A fire crew, water rescue units and multiple members of the police were present at the scene. Framwellgate Bridge was cordoned off for some time while the body was rescued from the fast moving river. A relative later identified William Jones’ body. Even though his disappearance remains something of a mystery, his death is not
being considered as suspicious. A police spokesman said the death was probably nothing more than a tragic accident, but a post-mortem will be carried out to attempt to identify the true cause of death. It is believed that his body may have been in the river for up to two weeks as it was found over 16 miles away from his home. He was the second fatality of the River Wear in the past year, with David Palmer, 22, passing away after falling 50ft from Millburngate Bridge last November.
This week, I am very proud to say that Presidential Hour. my weekly Purple Radio show, has been named as Purple Show of the Week. It’s on every Monday at four o’clock, and offers students the opportunity to directly interact with their students’ union, ask me questions live on air and hear what I’ve been up to. I believe that it’s really important to ensure that DSU is as transparent as possible, since ultimately all four of the sabbatical officers are directly accountable to students, and any way in which we can make it easier for them to engage with the union is something that I am keen to try. Each week I have a variety of officers, senior DSU reps and JCR presidents on the show offering a balance of opinions - but if anyone reading this does want to come on and have a chat live on air then email me at email@example.com and I’ll welcome you to get involved! Next week my show will be an NUS special. Guests will include the Vice President (Union Development) of NUS and the Chair of United Students’ Unions, a group of unions which aren’t affiliated to NUS. DSU is going to be holding a referendum on whether or not we should remain affiliated to NUS, and the radio show is really kicking things off. There will be a debate on Monday 23rd November at 7.30pm in ER 201, giving students the opportunity to hear first hand what the president of NUS, Wes Streeting, has to say about the issue - plus there’ll be some presidents from other student unions across the country telling us of their experiences. Throughout the week we’ll be getting out into colleges, working with your college senior reps asking you to vote. As a union we are remaining completely neutral on the issue, leaving the decision in your hands, the hands of students themselves. At the same time we are also holding a by-election for a new student trustee. The trustee board of the union is the highest governing body, so this is an exceedingly important election. Hopefully by holding both the referendum and the by-election together we can ensure that turnout is high, giving the new trustee a true mandate to act on behalf of students. There are so many ways to engage with DSU, and we’re really working hard this year to open up your union, ensuring you all know what is going on, and offering you an opportunity to get involved. Hopefully you’ll see us all in your colleges next week pushing the referendum, but in the mean time if you have any questions, queries or comments about your student union, then don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Got a breaking news story? Think you could write a great investigative feature? Want to gain experience in journalism? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any story leads or to join the news team mailing list
Friday 20th November 2009 PALATINATE
News Feature JONATHAN SIMPSON
Anthony Nolan trust returns Jack Battersby
Monday 11th November saw over 120 students join the British Bone Marrow Register at a drop-in clinic organised by the Anthony Nolan Trust. Advertising through academic departments and Facebook helped the event to attract well over the national average of 40 registrations per session. Speaking to Palatinate, organiser Naishal Patel from Josephine Butler College, appeared delighted with the turnout. “Even if one person had signed up, that one person now has the potential to help save a life”. Now over thirty years old, the Anthony Nolan Trust was set up by Shirley Nolan after her son was born with the rare genetic disease Wiskott Aldrich Syndrome, curable only by a bone marrow transplant from a compatible donor. Nolan set about creating a muchneeded registry for tissue types that could be used to connect her son and others suffering from genetic diseases to those willing to donate bone marrow tissue.
“Medical students organise frequent drop-in clinics” Today, the Trust has grown to an organisation capable of processing 500 new potential donors per week. In 2008 alone, over 400 donations were made, many of which were life-saving. The Trust maintains an active presence in universities across the country through its student arm, ‘Marrow’. The Durham School of Medicine and Health, based in Queen’s Campus, is no exception, with medical students organising frequent dropin clinics and fundraising events. However, the Trust is currently seeking to recruit additional volunteers to help promote and run clinics in Durham. With previous sessions managing to attract up to 230 registrations, Patel stressed the importance of establishing a presence for bone marrow registration in the city. “The clinic held in Durham was only the second place in the country to use a new advanced method of collecting DNA. Previously, the process involved taking a small sample of blood, but now they can just test saliva”. With Durham at the forefront of developments in bone marrow registry, students interested in volunteering for the Anthony Nolan Trust can email Naishal Patel at email@example.com. Joining the register takes around fifteen minutes. Participants are required to give a small saliva sample, which is sent off for analysis and stored on a national database. Future contact is only made in the event that a potential suitable match is found for bone marrow donation. The next drop-in clinic will take place on Monday 15th February 2010 in the Vane Tempest Hall of Dunelm House.
Jailbreakers Rachel Artiss and Josh Turner pose outside the prison in preparation for their epic adventure
DUCK Jailbreakers battle wild weather Last weekend saw the biggest ever charity jailbreak by Durham students, with 62 teams setting off from outside Durham Prison with the aim of getting as far away from the city as possible to raise money for charity. Now running for several years, the charity hitchhike organised by Durham University Charities Kommittee (DUCK) sees students raise sponsorship funds by attempting to travel as great a distance as possible in 36 hours without spending any money. Teams thumbed lifts, sneaked onto trains and even blagged free flights in an attempt to be the most successful jailbreakers. Teams travelled across the world, reaching Tunisia, Turkey and even Gran Canaria. After setting off from Durham Prison at 8am on the morning of Saturday 14th
News in brief Cathedral to host concert Vincent McAviney
A concert is to be held on 26th November at the Cathedral in aid of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign. North East ‘Spirit of Christmas’ will feature Faryl Smith, a finalist of ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent, and the award-winning female choir The Rodillian Singers, who recently performed at York Minster with Katharine Jenkins. The concert is being organised by Richard Atkinson, a father of a child suffering from the muscle-wasting disease that affects 8,000 children across the UK. “My eldest child, Austin, was born in 2005 and he has been diagnosed with a rare form of muscular dystrophy. For him this means he has an all-over body weakness for which
November, all teams headed south by rail or car. Most of the contestants tried to catch lifts from passing cars; those who attempted to catch free train rides were thrown off almost immediately. Roughly half were planning to get to airports in an attempt to catch a free flight, with the other half heading to Dover to try to board a free ferry ride to Europe. After reports of extremely rough weather in the Channel, the competition was extended from 36 hours to 48 hours, to compensate for cancelled ferry trips, making this jailbreak not only the most popular but also the longest in DUCK’s history. Many teams managed to make it across the Channel, with students reaching Amsterdam, Paris, Dusseldorf and Munich. Many students who tried their luck in airports found themselves stuck in airport foyers indefinitely.
However, the teams that managed to get the furthest were those that obtained free flights. ‘Team Xtreme’ narrowly missed out on getting some free transport to Tokyo, Japan. This would have made them outright winners and rivals of jailbreak champions from years gone by, some of whom have travelled free to New York and Hawaii. ‘Norfolk Enchance’ and ‘Dead and Gone’ did manage to secure free flights, getting to Istanbul and Tunisia respectively. However, three other teams managed to blag their way farther from HMP Durham. ‘Catch Me If You Can’ and ‘See You in Fiji’ both travelled to Manchester and flew to Gran Canaria off the coast of Africa, 1,996 miles away from Durham. But ‘Box Curtain Hat Stand’ had also secured flights all the way to Alanya in Turkey, 1,958 miles away from the University. With the other two teams marooned on an island, Jack HerizSmith and Robin Scanlon had the opportunity to hitch-hike their way into the lead across mainland Turkey. However, the Mediterranean beach they found themselves on seems to have been too enticing, and the team chose to lie in hammocks instead of hitting the road again. This made Callum Totten, Rachel Killick, Matt Childer and Jamie Wilder the overall joint winners as they lounged on a beach in
there is no cure”. However, due to daily physiotherapy from care services, Austin has made remarkable progress. Whilst the North East appeared top of life expectancy statistics for those suffering from the condition, other regions remain far behind. Tickets for the concert are on sale now from the Gala Theatre box office, which also operates a telephone booking service on (0191) 332 4041. There is a 20% discount for all DSU members.
Hill walkers rescued
During last February’s severe winter weather, people slipping on snowy pavements was a common sight in Durham. However, this year the NHS has granted
the request of Durham County Council to receive £1 million to pay for more gritting. This comes after the council was heavily criticised last winter for the untreated roads and pavements resulting in the NHS treating a high number of injuries. A council spokesman said that last year was difficult with severe cold spells and snow, but that the council will endeavour to ensure a safer snowy Durham this year.
The University Hill Walking Society (DUHWS) ran into problems last Saturday on a trip to Langdale when a group of ten students got lost and benighted on the top of Bowfell. After an aborted search attempt by other members of the society,
the Canary Islands. This year’s jailbreak was the biggest Durham has ever seen. DUCK Manager Mel Punton suggested why this year’s event was such a success: “There are a couple of things that I think made this year’s jailbreak more popular than ever. First, it was organised in the first term of the year, meaning people had less work on and probably felt less guilty about leaving their books. Second, this year we allowed competitors to raise money for the charity of their choice, rather than the ones chosen by DUCK. It’s a great opportunity to raise money for the charity of your choice while doing something fun and challenging”. The opening up of the competition to allow contestants to raise funds for their own causes meant a huge range of charities were supported this year. £3,000 has been raised so far, which organisers expect to rise to £12,000 when all the contestants return and collect their sponsorship. The most successful team in terms of fundraising was ‘Maeve and Paddy’s Road to Somewhere’ members Paddy Brown and Maeve Clarke have already raised £1,050 for Zoe’s Place Baby’s Hospice, and flew all the way to Tenerife. No competitors were harmed over the weekend. The DUCK organisers took a series of precautions, including supplying the participants with highly visible yellow t-shirts, and requesting that all jailbreakers text in the registration number of all vehicles that they travel in, in addition to their location every six hours.
“It’s a great opportunity to raise money for the charity of your choice whilst doing something fun and challenging” An interesting development this year was the use of an online tracking system that automatically uploaded the contestants’ positions onto a map that could be viewed on the internet when they texted in their location. The map of the contestants is viewable here: http://www.chooseachallenge.com/jailbreak/durham/tracker.php The event was such a success that DUCK Manager Mel Punton is currently considering holding another jailbreak challenge this year, possibly after exams in the summer term. the Langdale & Ambleside and Keswick Mountain Rescue Teams were mobilised. The stranded walkers waited for help in an emergency shelter, making use of survival bags which had been provided at the start of their walk. The rest of the society on the trip returned to Durham while four executive members waited in Langdale overnight for news as the search and rescue teams worked through the early hours to try to find the group. At midday on Sunday the lost group, described as “shaken and incredibly tired”, were found and safely escorted down the mountain before travelling back to Durham. In an email sent out by the society’s President Mark Tarrant, he reassured members that this was an extremely rare occurrence and reminded walkers to ensure they were equipped properly. The society now intends to make a donation to the mountain rescue teams involved.
PALATINATE Friday 20th November 2009
Be sure to subscribe to our RSS feed over at palatinate.org.uk
24 hours in the life of a paraplegic student In the first of a series of features exploring life ‘in another’s shoes’, Palatinate writer Lucinda Rouse spent a day around Durham in a wheelchair. In the run up to the DSU’s Disability Awareness Week, we wanted to see how different life is for Durham students without the use of their limbs. Along the way Lucinda encounters cobbles, high shelves, DSU stairlifts and awkwardness
I spent the morning exploring Durham’s shopping possibilities for wheelchair users. It didn’t start well. I was forced to wait outside Accessorize due to the step at the entrance while my helper dashed inside. Next my deficiencies in the steering department manifested themselves in M&S, where to my horror I managed to cause an avalanche of sweets by the till (many thanks to the sympathetic cashier who was extremely quick to save me). The remainder of the shopping expedition was less eventful, although I was made aware of the obliviousness of other shoppers. Older members of the public were much more considerate, frequently stepping out of the way, while younger people tended to require more prompting. On the whole however, people were significantly more helpful than usual. Particularly on the uneven paving approaching Castle, where a passer-by rushed to my assistance when I was propelled out of my seat as the wheels unexpectedly hit a rut. As twelve o’clock approached, we planned the entrance into my first lecture. Elvet Riverside is easily accessible with ramps and lifts, although a longer route is necessary for certain corridors. I sat in the aisle at the back of the lecture theatre, detached from my friends in front of me. There was no desk and latecomers had to climb over me due to the narrowness of the aisle. In contrast, ER140 had a convenient desk space where there were no seats, and I felt more included in the proceedings. After my lectures I sampled various disabled facilities around the university. The Buildings Officer was keen to stress the priority given to providing wheelchair access.
Church Steet is well known for being narrow and busy. Our reporter found that Durham is not the best place for a wheelchair user.
Most buildings are easily negotiable, and colleges are trying to overcome planning permission difficulties to widen doors and level floors. And although I couldn’t operate the DSU stair lift myself, the porter was extremely helpful.
“I spoke to a disabled student, who told me she avoids Dunelm House at all costs.”
pproximately 1,200 students are registered with the Durham University Service for Students with Disabilities (DUSSD), 800 of whom have dyslexia and other learning difficulties. Although the Data Protection Act prevents DUSSD from disclosing exact statistics, after a year here I think it right to assume that students with severe mobility problems form a minority. At the end of my day in a wheelchair, I could clearly see why. Just think about your average day, and the distance you walk to lectures and tutorials. How many hills and stairs do you have to climb? Although every university is legally obliged to promote disability equality and provide for disabled students, Durham’s steep inclines and problematic cobbles pose severe problems for wheelchair users. My ride for the day arrived at my house early last Thursday. I must admit that I was fortunate enough to be accompanied throughout the day. I grew to appreciate this, as I hadn’t fully anticipated the restrictions of functioning in a wheelchair – from propelling myself up Silver Street, reaching for items on supermarket shelves and negotiating my way through crowds.
“His cheery expression changed to shocked embarrassment as he registered my presence. ” As the lift was being prepared, a member of staff enquired whether this was “another test run.” His cheery expression was quickly replaced by shocked embarrassment as he registered my presence. The incessant beeping and flashing of the lift as I made a painfully slow descent seemed a little unnecessary and hardly assisted an inconspicuous arrival. Due to repeated damage to the lift system during Hound and Revolver, it is very often out of order. I spoke to a disabled student, who told me she avoids the DSU at all costs, as even when the lifts do work it can take 40 minutes to get from top to bottom. This problem is further evidenced by a church group, which used to meet in the DSU, and has moved because of the difficulties faced by disabled members of the congregation. Next stop was the main library, with a convenient lift to all floors and a study room containing numerous sources of assistance, including a height adjustable table, facilities for visually impaired students and compu-
Our writer was impressed by the support offered in the main library for wheelchair users
ter software for dyslexic students. Although several shelves on the book stacks were unreachable the library staff offered assistance. I was impressed by the service in the library but what about the professional support services responsible for this? Hilary Osborne, Director of DUSSD, is the first to admit the service is continuously improving and evolving. Indeed, five years ago, the DUSSD building was only accessible via steps! The building now has ramped access and there are plans to re-home all of the professional support services in the new Gateway building in 2012. The Students With Disabilities Association (SWDA) was founded in 2007 by our DSU president, Natalie Crisp, to improve disabled access and provide representation within the DSU for those with learning difficulties. SWDA’s president is currently writing its constitution. He has yet to receive any queries regarding mobility issues. The association leads Disabilities Awareness Week, set to begin on Monday 23rd November, which will include a talk on disability discrimination legislation and informative activities led by college reps. However, some colleges do not have dedicated disabilities reps, and
“People often feigned excessive joviality around me.”
the disabled student I spoke to did not personally value their importance. My wheelchair experience concluded with a tour of Durham’s clubs and bars. Klute, Jimmy Allen’s and the Boathouse were accessible, although it took all the might of my pusher to prevent me from careering uncontrollably down the rutted hill approaching Klute. I wondered for the umpteenth time how I could possibly cope without help and felt strangely jubilant when I performed small tasks unassisted, such as reaching for my drink from the bar. Studio’s bouncers announced that there was no wheelchair access, but they suggested carrying me up. I declined their offer and returned home with the conviction that Durham is not the ideal setting for a wheelchair-bound student. From performing dramatic-looking wheelies up slopes to bearing the curious stares, the practical difficulties of living with a disability manifested themselves to me in a steady stream. Most striking was the instant loss of my independence. People often feigned excessive joviality around me, probably in an attempt to avoid causing offence. After interacting with people in the guise of a paraplegic I feel we need to relax around those with a disability instead of becoming a rigid caricature of the PC person. The following day as I enjoyed the relative unobtrusiveness of my last-minute race to lectures I thought of the plucky students who overcome day in, day out the difficulties I experienced for 24 hours. When you next come into contact with a disabled person, I urge you to address the person in the chair before their carer. Chances are that although they can’t use their legs their mental state will be no different to yours.
Friday 20th November 2009 PALATINATE
Comment Featured article
If you have a comment of your own, make it at palatinate.org.uk
Comment France should think before banning the burqa Our writers discuss topical matters This edition: the travails of Twitter
For a debating society in the north-east of England - and with St. Patrick’s Day so many months away - last week had an unusually Gaelic feel. The trend began to emerge over the weekend of the 7th to 8th November, when the Union Society hosted its renowned international debating competition, and the Durham IV was masterfully convened by Fletch Williams and Jon Worgan. Not only was the C.A. Irishman Stephen Nolan, but the Novice Cup was won by Cork, with the Grand Final champions hailing from Trinity College Dublin, after they convincingly opposed the motion, ‘This House Believes Human Shields Are Legitimate in Times of War’. The following night, it was the Union Society itself that was fortunate, hosting the former Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern. This was a tremendously exciting evening, not just because we had secured one of the great politicians in Irish history to address the Chamber, but because it was done for a worthy cause - Mr Ahern was speaking at the second-ever Mo Mowlam Memorial Lecture. All donations offered are sent to MoMo Helps, the charity set-up by Ms Mowlam, a great colleague of the Taoiseach, and a former officer of the Society. His speech was warm and insightful, fondly remembering the one-time Northern Ireland Secretary, and how they jointly pursued the promise of peace with the Good Friday Agreement. Afterwards, Mr Ahern fielded questions from the floor, ranging from the economic success of the Celtic Tiger, to his government’s response to child abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. Numerous members of the Society felt the evening was the most memorable occasion during their whole time at the Union. The final strand to the Union’s newfound Irish spirit is somewhat more tenuous: on Remembrance Day, the Society held another superb Masquerade Ball at the splendid Beamish Hall, for which our Social Secretary, Anna Holt, deserves boundless praise for organising. It was a night enjoyed by all amidst champagne, wine, and excellent food. Among the post-dinner entertainments was a céilidh, which I’m sure was just a coincidence, but if it helps me form a coherent link between this event, Bertie Ahern, and the IV, then I will make the most of it. The nation of Ireland was then, the common pattern in an extremely varied week for the Union which perfectly demonstrated the multifaceted nature of the Society. I am confident that the new President-Elect for Easter Term, Rory White-Andrews, will ensure that same standard of excellence across all fields as the year progresses.
s anyone else experiencing déjà-vu listening to the French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s discourse in recent weeks? Not content with having given the same speech about French farmers twice in a mere twelve months’ interval, he thought wise to bring up yet another national favourite during his public appearance in the Vercors district last week: wishing to make his own ‘contribution to the debate on national identity’ , the president (re) asserted that ‘there is no place for the burqa on French territory’. Although France would never ask anyone to renounce their own history and culture, he added, a person wishing to become French should also adopt the prevailing national values. Wearing this traditional veil that covers a woman from head to toe is not, according to Mr Sarkozy, in line with the ideas of the Republic about female dignity. These statements come in the middle of a controversial motion to ban women in France from wearing the burqa in public. Well, isn’t that nice. Back in 2003, wearing the veil was wrong because it violated public school policy. Now it is being decried as contrary to some elusive notion of ‘national identity’. But what is it exactly about wearing the veil that is so deeply offensive to French values? Is France adverse to women having modesty, and dressing to preserve it? Or is it just that the garment in question has become so stigmatized by the Taliban rule in Afghanistan that it is de
facto a provocation against the rights and liberties which the West holds dear? Surely the French, and their president, are not so limited. Nevertheless, the issue arises repeatedly and, on each occasion, a league of middleaged male politicians sets out to patronize women about what clothes will liberate them most. Of course, most of us are not affected by this kind of discourse, and I personally would probably never consider wearing the burqa. No, I prefer to have a little more diversity in my wardrobe. In fact, I exercise all of my wonderful Western liberties with the outfits that I wear: I own short skirts, sky-high heels, fitted jackets, and depending on which of these I choose to wear, I know that people will look at my legs, my waist, or even just my hair if I decide to let it down. I am aware that people will look at me and because of the education I received and the social norms I am used to, I don’t dwell for long on these looks.
Tom McCall & Jamie Scott
Nicolas Sarkozy may be talking of a ban, but is it something France really wants or needs?
Are women who wear the burqa always being oppressed, or do some wear it for modesty?
“Is France adverse to women having modesty, and dressing to preserve it?” But let it be said for the benefit of Mr Sarkozy, that this has nothing to do with my dignity as a woman. If another woman was to suffer to a greater degree from people looking at her, and did not want to be exposed to it, the proper thing for her to do would be to cover any part of her body she would not want subjected to scrutiny. And precisely because that woman may
happen to live in the Republic of France, she should be free to do so. Now, of course there are reasons to dislike the burqa, as one cannot completely ignore the stigma attached to it, and the fact that it is a particularly common item of clothing in societies that do repress women and constrain their liberties. Therefore, if the aim is to encourage unity in the French national identity, it will be necessary to resist intolerant and misogynist ideas being imported from abroad, and to fight them domestically. Certainly, France should resist the expansion of a culture that prevents its women from working, that denies women the right to socialize, and that dictates the way women
should dress. Because that’s just wrong. However, maybe we have been too quick to judge Mr Sarkozy. Let us not forget that in reaction to Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo earlier this year, in which he criticized Western states for trying to impose standard ways of dressing, his French counterpart lost no time in agreeing (as ostentatiously as possible) that women should have the right to wear the veil if they so please. As for his recent quips, well, they will be music to the ears of the right-wing electorate that his party is so desperate to win over in view of the 2010 regional elections. So maybe Mr Sarkozy is not really a bigot. Maybe he’s just dishonest.
The anti-gay crusade has gone too far in Rhode Island
A bill veto by the New England state’s conservative governor indicates a total lack of compassion ANDREW BAIN
From the Union
hose of you who are not quite as obsessed with American politics as myself may not be aware of an event that occurred in the States last month. Indeed, it doesn’t seem to have been the major news it should have been. It was yet another skirmish in the ongoing battle for gay rights in America, which has been tit-for-tat recently; in the elections on November 3rd, Chapel Hill in North Carolina (not historically a bastion of liberal thought - it was in the Confederacy) elected an openly gay mayor, Washington state passed a sweeping gay rights ordinance, but Maine voted against gay marriage. Meanwhile, in Rhode Island - a tiny state best known for being home to Family Guy - a bill allowing gay couples to arrange
each other’s funerals was passed with just a single opposing vote in both chambers of the state legislature. Rhode Island doesn’t allow gay marriage, so the bill only allowed unmarried gay couples to perform this basic human service for one another. What happened when it reached Republican Governor Don Carcieri’s desk? He vetoed it, on the grounds that it constituted further erosion of ‘traditional marriage’. A bill that just one person had voted against in the legislature, a bill that simply allowed gay couples a fundamental right that there is no - absolutely no - logical reason to deny them.
“This is simply asking for some humanity”
The Rhode Island state house backed the bill
In some cases- a member of the Rhode Island legislature recounted the story of a friend of his who had this very experience - one partner may have no next of kin. Rather than allow his or her loving partner to arrange a funeral, Gov Carcieri’s despi-
cable action means that the sort of faceless bureaucrat with which Republicans are usually scaring everyone will continue to arrange the funeral or, in less tragic cases, a family member who may be much less close to the deceased. This is not gay marriage (which, of course, Carcieri opposes, including civil unions); this is simply asking for some humanity. It is, in my view, revolting that some people continue to regard homosexuality as ‘wrong’, a ‘sin’ and a ‘lifestyle choice’, and I have no sympathy whatsoever with opponents of gay marriage, but when such people cannot even bring themselves to recognise that homosexuals are at least human enough to be allowed to arrange one another’s funerals there is something deeply, deeply awry with parts of American society (and, yes, many other countries). Fortunately, Gov Carcieri is termlimited next year and cannot stand for re-election. As all his potential successors support gay marriage. America is - slowly getting there.
PALATINATE Friday 20th November 2009
Disagree with our pundits? Let them know at palatinate.org.uk
Is Twitter bad for celebrities wishing to connect with fans? CHRISTIAN PAYNE
Stephen Fry’s recent spat with another user is a reminder that Twitter isn’t necessarily a good thing for our society Matt Richardson YES
here have been some odd crazes throughout the last couple of decades. The atonal yammering of the Spice Girls, those bizarre Pokemon cards, the brief-but-all-too-real skateboarding fad in the early noughties when all things baggy and backward seemed the ‘in thing’ for anyone under fourteen, perhaps the creative genius of ITV plunging gaggles of unknown C-listers into the jungle and make them writhe and thrash about for their supper, and now...Twitter. And with each batty blush on the cheek of our times there has always been a leader. With every pop-culture epoch a chosen one has arisen. And so, for the troops of tweeters, out came none other than the incomparable Stephen Fry. Now, I adore Stephen Fry. I’ve digested his collected printings, watched most of his films, filched as many of his best lines as I can remember and even met him once on a rainy day in my local branch of WH Smiths. But even I, his biggest fan, trembled somewhat when he announced on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross that he had decided to unburden his every thought and theory to the general public through the miracle of micro-blogging. I worried that the magic would go. I knew in reality that he must be human, that he couldn’t be spouting forth with such pith and verbal polish when brushing his teeth or preparing a light supper. Most of all, I feared our greatest wit and epigramexhaler would be reduced to puffing out platitudes like the rest of us. But I was wrong. The tweets contained the usual insight and elegance; it was the British public that would prove his undoing. As loony and slavering as the British public are known to be, reading the blockbuster of tweets sent Fry-wards invariably prompts you to clutch for support. A cornucopia of barefaced pleas, entreaties for signed photos, plugs and promotions, interviews, personal messages, pieces of advice, insults and assorted criticism and commentary. And it was one of these that almost derailed what history will know as the ‘Twitter Years’. A user had the swagger to describe Fry’s tweets as ‘boring’, a similar sentiment
“It’s a mutant version of fan mail, with all its oddities and bothersomeness intact” expressed by some cheap-shot articles in the Times by various unheard-ofs. Fry spat back in agreement and declared that he was signing off, only for the morning to bring a change of heart and the message: ‘Arrived in LA feeling very foolish. Wasn’t the fault of the fellow who called me “boring”, BTW. A mood thing. Sunshine will help’ and normal tweeting being resumed forthwith.
Stephen Fry is one of Twitter’s best-known celebrity users, but has suffered the consequences
Fry had expressed his chagrin that there was too much ‘aggression and unkindness around’ and therefore he would lay down the tweeting mantle for more gladsome pursuits. But that’s the exact problem: far from unveiling the twinkly, winsome mass of souls that one might think, allowing everyone ether-space to ventilate their views simply demonstrates the crusty layers of envy and one-upmanship at the core of us all. The angry and envious used to be housed by newspapers, spending their days bashing out green-eyed assaults on the great and the good. Not only did the journalistic umbrella mean that these diatribes had to be marshalled into semienlivened prose, it also meant that these so-called critics might actually have some measure of know-how or good sense on which to base their captious carolling. Now, with columns for the deluded and insane to paste their textual inadequacies, it is inevitable that more of the above will happen. While some might well want to pat Fry on the back or sing his praises, the majority simply delight in carping and grousing about how he’s twittering his support away or not being uber-witty for half-five in the morning. Far from entertaining the masses, entering into unvarnished contact with over a
million people is always going to end in tears. The same can be said for Jonathan Ross, Russell Brand and the litter of other faces currently dominating Twitterdom. Despite the fact that they are imparting free messages for fans, people always want more and never cease in huffing when the celebs can’t oblige. Instead of a jolly virtual chinwag, the viperous pressures of commercial advertising emerge alongside impossible whines for personal tributes to person A’s dying Granny etc. It’s a mutant version of fan mail, with all its oddities and bothersomeness intact. I’m sure there are some benefits. Fry calling attention to the general idiocy of a Daily Mail hack over Stephen Gately’s death, and his promotion of edifying books like Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives are all well and good. But by entering the untried arena of non-stop public communication, he and others are opening themselves up to barrages of catty sideswipes and brassed-off moans. No figure in history has ever had to deal with such unremitting attention from an audience, and I doubt that many could. Eventually it will wear you down. It might sound like a lark in principal, but in practice it is a very different story.
n the golden days of Hollywood, celebrities like Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart almost seemed to exist on a higher, more rarefied plane of reality than the crowds of people who breathlessly watched their every film. Back then, the famous were held in a kind of awe by their public, who would never even dream of poring over blown-up photographs of their spots and sweat-patches. Yet today this awe has degenerated into an avid and almost morbid fascination, fostered by the cruel rumours and deliberately unfortunate photographs of tabloid publications. The public has gone from gazing at celebrities through rosetinted binoculars to stalking them through a gun sight. Every flaw of the celebrities whose careers we collectively build up and destroy is gleefully attacked, often under a guise of pious ‘concern’. In fact, we appear to have become so concerned about the various personal lives of celebrities these days that it is just too impossible to refrain from savagely splashing the gory details across the national press. Until recently, however, the cultural phenomenon that is Stephen Fry seemed to be an exception to this rule. The British are nigh-on uniformly fond of his brand of gentlemanly wit, as exhibited in television shows like the cult hit QI, with dissenters strictly in the minority (the Facebook group, ‘I hate Stephen Fry- I’d like to punch his smug face’, has 46 members and counting). This is probably why one particular Twitter user incited such widespread anger when he dared to describe Fry’s output on the site as ‘boring’, with Fry promptly declaring in response that he would henceforth abandon the site. Suddenly, even the self and publicly acclaimed ‘Lord of the Dance, Prince of Swimwear and Blogger’ was no longer sacred. At any rate, this is a more logical explanation for the outcry which some have attributed to the almost cult-like sway in which Fry holds his fans: it is simply that his fans guard his reputation all the more jealously because he is of one of the few celebrities in the Britain who isn’t habitually mocked. I am a huge fan of Stephen Fry, and feel as unwilling as anyone else to see him being insulted, but I’m not sure that his being criticised in such a way is such a crime. There is an important difference between disparaging a distant famous figure whose behaviour towards the public does not invite any kind of dialogue, and one who, by using sites such as Twitter, are stating implicitly that they are open to a more intimate relationship with their fans which doesn’t necessarily have to consist of one-way blanket admiration. And nor should it: reputations built on an unrealistic basis of devotion are easily toppled over and brought to less than nothing. This may not have been an issue during the old-time admiration of the forties which stranded celebrities in a sea of admiration, but now we have long-lens cameras and that extreme of distance has found its antithesis in the invasive tabloid lambasting of Amy Winehouse et al. Such celebrities carry the enormous burden of
keeping up appearances at all times, and if they perform some mistake or indiscretion, which is made almost inevitable solely by dint of the pressures of being in the public eye, avid adoration leads to disproportionate feelings of disappointment. However, celebrities could nip the problems which arise from over-inflated perceptions of their worth in the bud, by taking it upon themselves to inform the public that they are in fact far from perfect. Hopefully, it will be websites such as Twitter which provide the solution, by enabling celebrities to bypass the distorting mirror of the media and connect with their fans on a personal level. In this very incident, for example, Fry laid himself bare to the public to an unprecedented degree. He could easily have risen above the comment, but instead he let himself appear to the public as he really felt: vulnerable and hurt, even broadcasting his new-found conviction that he clearly wasn’t ‘good enough’ for Twitter users on their very website. Although clearly a painful episode for Fry, this kind of honest behaviour has helped to break down the hostile barriers between celebrities and their fans.
“The benefits of really connecting with people, which can only come when you make yourself personally vulnerable, will outweigh any occasional knocks to self-esteem” It is only through recognition of shared humanity that both sides will learn to appreciate and value each other as people, not as towering entities who deserve (or will sooner or later) to be taken down a peg or two; or as an undifferentiated mass whose components are undeserving of individual attention. This will go some way to create an atmosphere of respect and friendship which is entirely absent from today’s media culture. Indeed, Fry himself seemed to quickly realise that he was in danger of undermining a valuable relationship by cutting himself off from the occasional criticism of his fans, acknowledging only a few hours after his hasty vow to leave Twitter that his assailant had ‘every right’ to call him ‘boring’. All this is not to say that stars should be continuously shoved off their pedestals by a braying mob (and obviously there will be those who believe too much in their own hype and glory to humbly acknowledge their faults) but that we should welcome those such as Fry who chose to step down from them. This is not without its risks, as the recent Twitter furore shows; however, the benefits of really connecting with people, which can only come when you make yourself personally vulnerable to both praise and attack, will outweigh any occasional knocks to self-esteem.
Friday 20th November 2009 PALATINATE
Share your views with the Palatinate readership at palatinate.org.uk
The focus on universities as businesses is of concern to all
Lord Mandelson’s super-department marks another step towards the creeping commercialisation of universities Concerned Academic
uch happens within university administrations that profoundly affect students, but of which they remain unaware. Often, this is simply because such invisible machinations are uninteresting or unproblematic—financial ruminations, bureaucratic procedures, and so on. At other times, however, the unseen activities of university administrators are more pertinent to student wellbeing and so should be made clear - especially when they have detrimental consequences for those students’ educations and ‘student experience’. There are many economic, political, and institutional factors affecting modern universities, our own included, but one of the most insidious ones is surely the attempted reorganisation of university activities in line with a new economic agenda — one which places profits ahead of learning, to the detriment of both the students as learners, and academics as teachers. Why should this particularly matter to undergraduates? Don’t these changes only affect academics? No. They will and do affect undergraduates because it impacts on the teaching you receive and the policies and ideals that academics must operate
within. By ‘commercialising’ universities, the ‘undergraduate experience’ is diminished. The interest isn’t in producing well-rounded individuals, whose interests and potentials have been explored and developed. University administrators and policy-makers are preoccupied with ‘key skills’ and ‘knowledge transfer’; intent not on educating students but on training future workers. Ideals like the ‘pursuit of knowledge’ and ‘finding oneself’ may sound clichéd, but they reflect values which are broader and deeper than the narrow utilitarian ones that are being promoted by Lord Mandelson, whose Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has assumed control over university policy-making.
“There are no clear incentives to invest energy in maximising teaching provision” “So what?”, you might reply. “Employment prospects are grim and being attractive to employers is essential.” Such pragmatism views the ‘pursuit of truth’ as naive and idealistic—fine on paper, but hardly suited to the realities of post-credit crunch Britain. However, one can turn this pragmatism on its head by appealing to
the economic and consumerist mindset that supports it. Think about it this way: undergraduates are being told (by Lord Mandelson, no less) to think of themselves as ‘consumers of the educational products’ of their universities, which increasingly model themselves on businesses. Considering this change of attitude, it makes sense for student-consumers to want value for money: after all, today’s undergraduates are paying more for their degrees and face a bleak job market upon graduation... so, are you getting a good deal for your money? Arguably not. There are no clear incentives to invest time and energy in maximising teaching provision. The government assigns university budgets according to their research activities —books, journal papers, and so on — rather than according to the quality and extent of teaching, such that we are actually disincentivised from investing our time and energy in teaching. Yet at the same time, universities are taking on more and more students, even as we are being pressured to focus more and more on research and economic ‘performativity’. Caught between these two competing demands, teaching inevitably loses out. Reassuringly, undergraduates have become increasingly alert to these changes. Some object to the lack of ‘contact time’ with the academic staff, or complain about the inadequacies of the university library, or by querying where their tuitions fees go and how they are spent. Such discontents are sometimes spurious or explicable,
but often the problems they indicate are wholly justified: especially when one considers that many of them stem from gross underinvestment in aspects of universities which don’t translate into increased economic output, of which teaching is the obvious example. After all, it’s cheaper to teach students if the courses are ‘thinned out’ and made easier; less need for labourintensive teaching and expensive books etc.
education, and graduate, whilst the universities gets on with the far more profitable business of producing new technologies, products, and companies. The emphasis within British universities on recruiting postgraduates from outside the ‘Home/ EU’ funding zone — particularly from Asia — is one example of this; such students are, individually, worth three times those of ‘home’ students. Josephine Butler College is another example: it added seven-hundred-and-fifty undergraduate students to the university: a five percent increase to the student population. Yet at the same time, staff numbers didn’t see a corresponding increase to cope with these new students. This suggests that the University is making a pure profit from those new students: assuming each one pays the usual tuition fees, that’s just under than two and a half million pounds a year (before deductions for running costs and so on). The ‘cash cow’ principle suddenly seems much more plausible. Departments are being asked to do more and more with less and less. We must take on more undergraduates (without increases in teaching budgets), produce more high-quality research (without corresponding funding or resources), and compete with other similarly-ranked institutions (according to abstract ‘league tables’ and economic ‘performativity’ rather than excellence in teaching and research). Apologies to all you undergraduates but, in the emerging scheme of things, you just don’t seem to matter all that much.
“An extreme cynic might suggest students are really just ‘cash cows’” This sort of thinking smacks of a crass ‘business ethos’ in which university administrators pursue ‘efficiency’ across the departments and faculties by attempting to increase their projects (student teaching, research activities) whilst striving to reduce the financial and other resources available to them. It’s “business efficiency” all over again, but whilst it might work well in the commercial and industrial sectors, it has grim implications for undergraduate teaching. An extreme cynic might suggest that in the current ‘University, Inc.’ system, students really are just ‘cash cows’. They arrive, pay their fees, receive a factory-farm
Listening is perhaps the most vital tool at human disposal Daniel Bird
he ‘tongue myth’, with an air of factual confidence, assures us that the food manipulating organ is the strongest muscle in the human body relative to size. In fact, the jaw muscle, bum and heart are each more deserving of that accolade and the tongue is made up of sixteen muscles, not one. Another myth is that the tongue is our most valuable asset in communication. Of course the world wide web or the printed word have superseded speech by far. Even face to face, the tongue is outdone by body language, which transcends language barriers and constitutes a greater proportion of communication. Crucially, distracted by our tongues, our ears are being neglected. We each deserve a voice; our words are equally valuable. Being heard is encouraging. When someone actually listens they are showing that they respect you. Talking freely is liberating. When you have the chance to say what you like you can see more clearly how you feel and what you want. When you can say what’s going on inside you’re able to see those thoughts in perspective and they can feel more manageable.
Advising friends may seem like a good idea, but the role that services like Nightline play is actually more helpful It is rare to find such opportunities. In an information guzzling, quick fix, chin up, ‘time is money’ society, what else is to be expected? There are simple errors that we make while listening, which often originate from our approach. The person before me wants to talk. If I can make them say what they want to say I will be doing the right thing. Wrong. Are you certain you know what the other person wants to talk about? Even if you are, wouldn’t it be better to let them tell you what they want to in their own time? Wouldn’t it be nicer for them to feel in control?
“If we do not listen we cannot understand and shouldn’t expect to be understood” My friend is in a difficult situation. Is giving them my advice the best thing I can do? Although we can learn from one another, and advice has its place, we are all too quick to impart our wisdom. Advice can take away their responsibility and it gets in the way of them talking about what they want. If you have given them the answer, what more is there to be said? Often there is no easy option, no obvious choice and it is arrogant to believe
not want to burden their friends with their thoughts or perhaps telling their friends wasn’t enough. Maybe their friends didn’t really listen. They may feel there is no one to talk to, no one to trust or to open up to without fear.
“It is important that we all have someone to turn to, confide in, who won’t compete to be heard” Is there only one path that we are bound to follow in life, or are there infinite possibilities?
that we have the omniscience to always know what is right. Foolish to disregard the uniqueness of each situation and belittling to imply that their situation is similar to ours. Besides the temptations of advising and problem solving, there are numerous other hindrances to listening. We might make assumptions or judgements, talk about ourselves, be impatient or let our concerns for the friend interfere. We might lack empathy. Sometimes it doesn’t matter. At times, however, we are being told something that has never been told to anyone else, possi-
bly a secret, a fear or a hope. Our response can change how someone feels, how someone thinks. On certain occasions our words can affect someone far beyond our comprehension. We may rightly be eager for our voices to be heard, but it is difficult to be mindful of the saying “nature has endowed us with two ears, two eyes and but one tongue to the end that we should hear more and see more than we speak”. It is important that we all have someone to turn to, confide in, who won’t compete to be heard. Nightline will always be there to listen. Why would someone call? They might
Someone might not want to be told what to do or they would rather rant or just call for a chat. Perhaps there are things on their mind or they just want someone’s attention, someone to try to understand how they feel. If we do not listen we cannot understand and shouldn’t expect to be understood. “To whoever was working on Nightline on Wednesday I was desperate to the verge of suicide and I was too embarrassed to talk to you, and your voice of enquiring and care made me realise I can cope. Thank you for my life.” Anonymous caller Daniel Bird Nightline Director www.dur.ac.uk/nightline
PALATINATE Friday 20th November 2009
Browse our archived opinion pieces at palatinate.org.uk
President Obama needs to take a firmer stance with Israel The US leader, a year after his election, has changed his country’s approach but has then made a disturbing retreat
he knowledge of President Barack Obama’s recently awarded Nobel Peace Prize lingers uncomfortably in the air as his plans to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks disintegrate after a series of US blunders. On 4th June 2009 Obama made a speech to the Muslim world from Cairo and, with regards to the Middle East situation, stated that “Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s”. He also demanded a halt to construction of Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territory of the West Bank. Given the influence of AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) in American politics over the last decade Obama’s ambitious promise took many people by surprise. The pro-Israel group’s political stance on the Middle East is controversial; its critics have denounced it as a ‘de facto agent’ for the Israeli government with anti-peace intentions. Still, the Obama administration made their claim loud and clear: that the building of Israeli settlements in the West Bank had to stop. Hillary Clinton even went so far as to say that settlements already in existence should not be allowed to expand and those in the planning stages be
scrapped. Not even the heavily disputed region of East Jerusalem, which the Israelis view as one half of the capital of the State of Israel, was given any kind of exemption. The Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ reaction to this stance was positive. He praised a new and different American policy towards the Middle East and it seemed that there was hope for renewed peace talks between him and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
“Obama’s position lessens the likelihood of negotiations”
Unfortunately, Israel openly refused to comply with President Obama’s demands, but instead of condemning the actions he seemed to change the US position. In Israel on 31st October Hillary Clinton made a speech praising Mr Netanyahu’s announcement that he was going to ‘restrain’ the building of Israeli settlements rather than ‘freeze’ them altogether. The concessions that Netanyahu made included halting the building of any new settlements and continuing on the commissioned settlements at a slower rate. This was, indeed, unprecedented, but not the total halt that Obama had implied was required. The Middle East peace process is a complex and delicate matter and evidently Obama’s stance has been far
The Israel-Palestine issue is as far from being fixed as ever, in spite of Barack Obama’s work
more balanced and Arab-friendly than his predecessor’s. The problem is that his apparent inability to get Israel to adhere to US wishes implies that he is surrendering to Israel and backing down on promises to the Palestinian government. The ostensible change in Obama’s position lessens the likelihood of negotiations. His actions have also caused problems within the Palestinian state: the Islamist group Hamas, who won Palestinian elections in 2006, are gaining popular support as the Palestinian people become yet more
sceptical towards America and its foreign policy. Despite Hillary Clinton maintaining that the settlements are “illegitimate”, the Arab press has reacted badly, portraying Obama as pandering to the Israelis and denouncing Abbas and his more USfriendly Fatah party for placing their trust in the new American administration. With his authority weakening daily, Abbas announced on 5th November that he would not stand for re-election in January and the increasing support for the Hamas party is disconcerting for Obama,
as they would be far less willing to involve the US. Hope for reconciliation before the election is also dwindling as Abbas has made it abundantly clear that until the building of settlements in the West Bank has completely stopped there can be no hope whatsoever for peace talks. The loss of Abbas will be a huge blow to US attempts to bring peace to the Middle East. Abbas’ political views (to abide by the 1967 borders, naming the West Bank and Gaza Strip Palestinian territory with a capital in East Jerusalem) do at least entail a two-state solution. In Israel, contrastingly, the public opinion of Netanyahu couldn’t be better. It seems to his party and his people he has won a resounding victory over both the Palestinians and Barack Obama. With much of the building on West Bank settlements still continuing as before, the Israeli Prime Minister has openly defied US wishes and suffered no repercussions. The question remains, however, whether it was ever likely that Obama would be able to fulfil his promise to stop the building of settlements. Apparently his administration thought so, as ruining his credibility and prestige by doling out false hope in the Middle East would not be first on the agenda. In order for Obama to resolve this situation and help a moderate leader remain in power in Palestine whilst progressing towards peace he needs to take a stand against Israel and clearly lay out his political decision concerning the West Bank.
Greggs may be a guilty treat but it’s not guilty of much else DELANEY CHAMBERS
The beloved pastry chain often comes in for criticism from various quarters, but in reality deserves little of it Georgina Waite
o we all know Greggs; living in Durham it is impossible not to. Within just one week of being here the sight of the hungry cramming into one of Greggs Bakery’s branches becomes as iconic to Durham as the cathedral. It is a norm I have come to accept: that the population of Durham enjoys Greggs. Loves it in fact. Whether we opt for the sausage roll best seller, or a sandwich and a coffee, Durhamites just can’t get enough of it! However, after reading my BBC News homepage on the 9th November, I have come to realise that it is not just within Durham that Greggs is embraced with such gusto. It is in fact a nationwide phenomenon. As the BBC article informed me, Greggs serves more than five million customers per week, selling over two million sausage rolls. And apparently this is a cause for concern. BBC News documented how, thanks to Greggs’ domination of the High Street, the nation is consuming unhealthy produce containing worryingly high levels of fat and salt. Furthermore, children are being brought up on a diet of fizzy drinks and pasties, possibly affecting their present and future health if such choices of diet prevail.
always have to be made between healthy and unhealthy alternatives. In Tesco’s, do you opt for the apple or the chocolate bar? The wholemeal or the white? The frozen peas or the frozen chips? The point is, if we choose to eat something from Greggs, we are willfully making the decision to be unhealthy.
“Let us not blame Greggs for the apparent damage it does to our society” Greggs, the bakery behemoth, is a symptom, not a cause, of our modern fast food society
An equally valid point is that Greggs, whilst very cheap in comparison to many bakery stores, does not challenge the recession busting prices offered by supermarkets. Finally, Greggs is presented as a demon that defeats local, “real” bakeries who are unable to compete with the low prices offered by Greggs’ vertically integrated structure. Such viewpoints do lead to questions regarding why Greggs is so popular. It makes us fat, encourages poor lifestyle choices for future generations, kills off local business, and doesn’t even help us
out in a recession. The haven that once provided us with a warming snack, or a filling lunch, now appears to be the Devil incarnate in a snack shop. It is easy to see how one could deem the retail chain as detrimental to society. However, I do not feel this is the case. It is undeniable that Greggs’ food is an unhealthy choice. And yes, it would be much better for us to buy a salad or sushi. Yet we cannot hold Greggs responsible for making us unhealthy; we are responsible for what we choose to eat. Wherever one shops, choices will
Who can blame a business for taking advantage of a burgeoning market when people are inclined to make such choices? Greggs makes no attempt to deceive customers about the nutritional value of the produce, and as a result of the constant media focus on diet, people are fully aware of what is healthy and what is not. Therefore if people are eating from Greggs, it is because they really want to; they know the health implications just as well as they know the alternatives. In relation to the argument that Greggs’ domination puts other local bakery chains out of business, it important to note the presence of such businesses within Durham. Saddler Street alone sees Greggs, Peters Bakery and Nichols all looking onto one another, with all three
chains having bases in the North East. Some may feel that such chains do not represent the “local”, yet seemingly this is how the bakery industry has developed. And whilst the other chains may not match the sales and success of Greggs, they are still maintaining their position within a competitive market. It is also undeniably true that Greggs is not cheap in comparison to supermarket chains. However, can bakeries and supermarkets really be validly compared in a price war? Just as people choose to buy an unhealthy snack, people choose to buy from a bakery over a supermarket. Customers desire the reassurance of freshness, and the luxurious feeling that buying products from a bakery can induce. The service offered by Greggs is much preferred to a rushed homemade sandwich, or the stale and soggy combinations that are typical of so many cheap supermarket products. It is the incorporation of relative cheapness, quality and convenience that make Greggs so successful. Therefore one can easily see why people choose to eat Greggs. Let us not blame Greggs for the apparent damage it does to our society; instead let us blame the choices that we make in supporting Greggs, as it is our choices that are the true creator of such a thriving industry. But until we feel strongly enough to stop making such decisions, do not feel guilty about grabbing the odd sandwich; they are rather nice you know...
Friday 20th November 2009 PALATINATE
Pitch your own feature ideas to us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Relax with six pages covering student life Includes Food and Drink, Features and more
All work and no Gay?
Cosy in a coffee shop...
Palatinate asks the ambitious question: ‘What is it like to be a gay student at Durham University?’
With Jane from ‘Jane’s’
Emily Hodge MADELEINE PITT
To leave Durham without a ‘Jane’s’ under your belt would be like leaving without seeing the Cathedral. Her cheesy chips are iconic, her garlic bread is a culinary delight and no pill nor potion could sober you up more than one of her pepperoni pizzas... Your best customers are…the Cuth’s boys. And they’re the naughtiest as well. Before ‘Jane’s’…I was at Northumbria University and then worked for the AA and Newcastle Airport before realising that I didn’t like working for other people! To work at Jane’s you have to be… happy, patient and have a good sense of humour because we like to dance and joke around. Bestseller?...the famous cheesy chips. Off your own menu you would have…chips with thick gravy. I have to make the gravy myself to make sure that it’s really, really thick. That’s very important. Free chips go to…the first customer of the night. Or if it’s your birthday. Subway or Burger King?…Definitely Burger King. And I’d have the biggest burger! Your worst drunken encounter with a student was when…a boy was fast asleep on the benches outside and so I had to get an ambulance to take him away. I can’t tell you the worst thing because his brother’s still here and he did apologise with chocolates! A top Saturday night out in Durham would be…dinner at Bistro Italian, drinks at Jimmy A’s, half an hour in Loveshack and then rest up in Klute. Your dream holiday would be…to travel around the world with my boyfriend for six months or just to spend time with my family. £1000 to spend in Durham would be split between…Cancer research, Children in Need and sponsoring college sports teams. Klute is… great because you know everyone and so I visit about twice a month. Since I started running ‘Jane’s’ Andy has always looked out for me and I know I can call on him if there’s a problem and so he and his bouncers get free cheesy chips whenever they come in.
urham’s nightlife is a constant subject of criticism for the student body and, indeed, compared to most other universities in the country, it is incredibly limited. However, as much as we complain, there is always somewhere to stage an exceedingly good night. For gay students, on the other hand, there is not a single gay bar or club in Durham. Of course, there is no reason why members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community here cannot have just as much fun as their straight counterparts in the pubs and clubs of Durham. But surely they yearn for an environment in which a certain sexual orientation is not assumed and they can express their sexuality without being conscious of potentially provoking prejudice or a homophobic backlash? “When I first arrived in Durham, I was surprised that in a student body with some of the country’s brightest and most free-thinking young people, no one had done anything about the huge lack of a gay scene”, says Adam Leake, President of the LGBTa (Durham University Students’ Union’s LGBT association). “That’s the main reason I took on the responsibility of being President this year.” It is an issue which affects a significant proportion of LGBT students here. “The fact that the nearest scene is in Newcastle is really annoying. It is such an effort to get to”, says one second year who feels that the non-existence of a gay scene in Durham has severely worsened his overall experience of university life, “I would say that if you want a gay scene or you want to be expressive about your sexuality, as a gay person, then Durham isn’t the university for you.”
“There is not a single gay bar or club in Durham” This is one of the strongest opinions I met, although there is universal agreement that the situation could be considerably improved. Katie Butler, a second year at Van Mildert, says, “It does annoy me sometimes that there isn’t just one gay pub, even if it is a naff one. It was something I looked into when choosing a university, but, obviously, it didn’t affect my final choice. Oldham, where I live, is a pretty rubbish town but there is one crumbling old gay pub which is a run-down mess, full of old, disgusting people drinking shandy and playing pool, but you know it’s there and it feels like home!” The absent gay scene is an issue which the LGBTa work hard to combat with their weekly socials at the DSU. Every Monday, from 8:00pm, members of the LGBTa gather at the Riverside Café, before many head to Studio for their unofficial gay night. These socials are ‘safe-space’, a highly regarded idea, which indicates an assumed level of, sadly still very necessary, confidentiality. A further point, which was emphasised
to me, is that there is no supposition of individuals’ sexuality at the socials. “The LGBTa is so important,” adds Becca Carbery, Campaigns Officer of the association, “because we are the gay scene in Durham.” As someone who identifies herself as ‘trans’, I ask Becca how she would describe outwardly heterosexual Durham students’ attitudes towards those who are openly LGBT. “It’s not that people here are overly hostile to a trans person,” she replies, “But often when I’m in female toilets, because I look quite masculine, people will ask me what I’m doing in there. Or they will whisper among each other and say, “What is that?” or ask me, “What are you?” I get that in the DSU quite often.” Becca relays these incidences with an apparent apathy that suggests to me she is rather accustomed to this sort of treatment. On a positive note, however, the NUS (National Union of Students) has been promoting the provision of gender-neutral toilets and many unions have brought them in. Becca wants to raise awareness of this idea, and it is something she hopes will be implemented, at some point in the future, in the DSU. Kieran Aldred, Welfare Officer of the LGBTa, agrees that, “There is still a lack of awareness about gender fluidity and transsexualism. There is still an idea of what
“There were more girls at the first social of the year than I’ve ever seen at an LGBTa Social before!” people should look like in terms of gender. However, I would say that generally, in terms of homosexuality and bisexuality, there is no active hostility in Durham University from the students. There is no active prejudice.” My second-year friend, on the other hand, disagrees. “I was quite surprised by how many more close-minded people there are in Durham compared to where I’m from. I
find it much easier to be gay at home than here. I wouldn’t hold my boyfriend’s hand anywhere in Durham, especially in a club, out of fear mainly.” It appears that when it comes to acceptance of homosexuality, Durham is neither the pinnacle nor the pits, and, as with any community, the opinions of LGBT students differ widely. This year, the association is striving to co-ordinate a wider variety of socials. As well as forthcoming trips to Newcastle and Manchester, the annual Shipwrecked party on the Prince Bishop boat and the extravagant Q Ball in the Summer term, amongst a range of other events, the LGBTa has introduced girls’ socials this term. These have arisen predominantly because many female students have sports and other commitments on Monday nights so cannot make the weekly socials. The newly elected LGBTa Women’s Place President, Kate Taylor, is regularly at the Monday socials and is very much aware of the disproportionate numbers between males and females there. She asserts that females are under-represented within the LGBTa, causing them to have a significantly different experience of the association to the males. Katie Butler adds to this saying, “Out of the people I’ve met in Durham, there are far more men who are openly gay than women.” However, an improvement in female attendance at LGBTa socials has already been noticed, and hopefully the new girls’ socials, combined with a higher number of females on the executive this year, will have a positive effect. Katie is optimistic, “I’m chuffed with what the executive is doing and the changes they are trying to make. I’ve got high hopes for this year.” According to Kieran, the LGBTa has been coming through quite a remarkable transformation, “We are really trying to change the face of things in many ways. It was only last year that the Welfare Officer of the LGBTa began sitting on the University Welfare Committee and that has had a huge, huge impact.” “What we should be aiming towards is that your sexuality becomes just an incidental part of you rather than the defining feature of who you are. However, a balancing act is required between not
wanting to be in people’s faces but, at the same time, wanting people to know about us and wanting to shake off the taboo that can surround being LGBT.” “Sexuality is a very broad issue. Being gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans to one person means a world away from what it means to another. Some people don’t feel the need to go somewhere that is based on sexuality. At the same time, there are a lot of LGBT people who want to socialise with other LGBT people. Especially when you are
“Being gay, lesbian, bi or trans in Durham to one person means a world away to what it means to another person” coming to terms with your sexuality, as many students are, or are going through any transition in life, it’s very useful to talk to people who have gone, or are going through, the same things.” “In an ideal world Durham would have gay bars, but I think you come here in good faith that there will be a competent LGBTa and that is what we try to provide. I think we get low numbers either because people are scared, they have heard things that are rumour-based, or they have stereotypes which they feel are going to play into it. If we could challenge that fear and challenge those stereotypes, people would be more willing to come and it would make the LGBTa of Durham better for all.” For more information visit: www.durhamlgbta.org.uk www.nus.org.uk/Campaigns/LGBT/ Donation-not-discrimination The Transgender Day of Remembrance, 20th November, memorialises those killed due to anti-transgender prejudice and hatred. Look out for a workshop increasing awareness of transgender issues. Q Week: 8-13 February 2010
PALATINATE Friday 20th November 2009
See our archived features online at palatinate.org.uk
Goodbye my lover
Does distance make the heart grow fonder? Frankie Everson & Harriet Bellamy
t is often assumed that the majority of people who go to university are unashamedly single and on the lookout for copious amounts of random pulls and no-strings-attached sex. In reality, while there are undoubtedly people that live up to these expectations, there are just as many who come to university already in a relationship with someone from home, wherever that may be.
“Each time you meet again you endeavour to make it as special as possible”
The surprising side of volunteering What it really means to be a part of Student Community Action
If you’d like the piano,” said an old lady to me some months ago, “you can have it.” Towards the end of a long day, phrases like this can seem simultaneously puzzling and yet strangely appealing. The poor lady suffered from dementia and had apparently made the offer to six of the last volunteers before me. Volunteering isn’t something that I’d ever done before. Having attended the training day and had some explanation of the rights and wrongs, I was put out into the centre meeting and talking to elderly people. Challenging? Sure. Surprising? Definitely. Improbable offers of substantial instruments? Unlikely, I’d thought. This taught me a crucial lesson about the nature of volunteering. There is an inherent unpredictability in the kind of people that you work with. A unifying quality of all volunteering work is doing something for others because, in some capacity, society has not fulfilled their requirements.
volunteering. Valuable work experience can be picked up or genuine friendships made. Crucially though, is it possible to put a price on the recognition at the end of a hard day that you’ve made a tangible difference to someone’s life? Last year a friend came to talk to me about a volunteering experience she’d had. Having spent a matter of months looking after a boy with leukaemia, making genuine and exciting progress, he fell ill and died within a matter of weeks. The effect on the volunteer was profound and challenging. However, when talking about her experiences it seemed that despite the ugly absence of reason, she had gained a belief in the power of human strength and resilience. Watching that child develop and grow in spite of his world of pain was, it turns out, uplifting and real. Her belief in the ability to do something for others was not lost but strengthened. The reason she found was that the time she’d given for this boy had put a smile on a child’s face, normally contorted by pain and suffering. “How valuable is that?” she asked.
“For me, volunteering is “The effect on the about the little victories” volunteer was profound Maybe this is the point at which we and challenging” naturally label volunteers as ‘do-gooders’. People prepared to offer their own time to work with someone less fortunate than themselves seem to belong to a different, righteous category from us. I don’t understand this assertion. Time and again I meet volunteers who are just normal people, interested in getting some experience. Working, talking and laughing with others and finding a different part of society with which to interact. This demonstrates a characteristic of volunteering that isn’t discussed enough – that volunteering in some cases can provide more benefits for the volunteer than for the person for whom they are
But volunteering isn’t always about the life and death experiences of those at the beginning and end. More commonly it’s the student giving an hour to tutor an Alevel student in history or two hours in the prison caring for toddlers whilst parents spend time visiting confined relations. The work can span from uplifting and blithe to moving and raw. Many charities and organisations around the city depend upon the work of students to maintain their services. Whilst our generation seems capable of achieving verbal attack in the media with alarming
regularity, I’ve met people from organisations who comment on the commitment and generosity of Durham students. Calls to volunteering have a knack of sounding promising in theory and then providing work that is dry by nature. Student Community Action (SCA) is different. With over 50 projects being offered, there is genuine depth and opportunity. They’ve got time and will talk to you about where you might enjoy working best. Its student-led mentality means that they only offer opportunities that are both interesting and work around you.
“There is an inherent unpredicability in the kind of people you work with” Twelve months ago I began volunteering for SCA. I was asked to tutor an ASlevel history student, who I had described to me as ‘lacking in self-assurance’. Never has the phrase been so understated. One year on he’s a different person with buckets of confidence and an entirely different perspective on his studying. They are strange emotions, but the pride and satisfaction I’ve got from affecting that change is huge. For me, volunteering is about the little victories. ‘Making a difference’ is an overused phrase in our culture – employed to give people the sense of meaning that they are adding tangible value in whatever they’re doing. However in volunteering the word holds real meaning, suggestive of the very genuine implications of what working for people in marginalised parts of society is all about.
Friends of mine who have decided to keep their boyfriends or girlfriends from home extol the virtues of keeping their man or woman at arm’s length, and say they feel it allows them to make their own friends and enjoy their own social life without the stifling feeling of someone breathing down their neck the entire time. It is certainly a good point – couples who are always incredibly intense with each other have a tendency to slightly neglect their friends and when the relationship breaks down, which they often do, both sides of the party are left with few people to talk to. Furthermore, seeing your partner only once every few weeks means that you do not take each other for granted, and each time you do meet you endeavour to make it as special as possible, perhaps making for a longer lasting relationship. However, there are inevitably cons to long-distance relationships. Arriving at university with a boyfriend is difficult no matter how close home is – fresher’s week is manic, and you end up getting so caught up in trying to make a good impression on your new friends (in the case of non-freshers, catching up with your old friends) that it’s easy to forget about the boyfriend back home - in the case of one person I know, that was three thousand miles away. At the same time, you are experiencing a whole new world and there is a tendency for your boy-/girlfriend to get side-lined as you become increasingly involved in your new life. Even if you do manage to hold onto your relationship during these difficult transition weeks, only seeing your boyfriend once every few weeks must surely lead to endless heartache. Perhaps I’m a hopeless cynic; of course there are people who have managed to hold onto their pre-university romances, happily making their own friends in their
new environment, and I don’t see them sitting in their room all day longing to be elsewhere. On the other hand, there are those who come to university single and looking for romance. Surrounded by charming, single young men and women who you just seem to ‘click’ with, the search for a boyfriend or girlfriend within university is often not a particularly challenging one. The walk to each other’s houses or rooms is never more than a fifteen minute walk, meaning you can see each other whenever and however often you wish to. It is easy to fit around each other’s timetables and no endless planning or money has to go into meeting up, as it is likely to in a long-distance relationship. With no obvious constraints, the relationship can develop quickly, and knowing and getting along with each other’s friends is always a bonus and inevitably makes socializing together easier. When the going gets tough and you are in desperate need of an affectionate cuddle, or even a quick rant, you can simply pop down the road to see your partner who will always be willing to lend an ear. Perhaps the rumour is true, and a vast proportion of people end up marrying the person they go out with at Durham, but somehow this is doubtful: relationships end. There are always negatives to the end of a relationship, especially in Durham which seems to shrink in size after embarrassing episodes. If you still find yourself rushing head down past that “what was I thinking?’ pull from the other night, then trying to avoid an awkward spilt after months of intense dating that’s still relatively raw is going to be nigh on impossible. Two of our close friends who have started dating are now sharing a house, which could obviously be a recipe for disaster. At the moment all is hearts and flowers, but to the dismay of the boy, the other housemates have decided that he is to have the smallest room in the house as he spends most of his time in his girlfriend’s room anyway. However, if things do go hideously wrong he could end up single and alone, with the ‘box’ room which is conveniently next to hers, where he can listen through the thin walls to his ex with her new boyfriend. If that isn’t awkward, I’m not sure what is! Ultimately, the issue of relationships is a ‘Catch 22’ – it comes down to your own personality and your ability to handle different situations. After all, these are meant to be some of the best years of your life, so try not to waste too much time thinking about it – just get out there and take life as it comes.
Friday 20th November 2009 PALATINATE
Delicious recipe idea? email@example.com MAX WALDRON
Lifestyle Food and Drink
The Cout Inn: ‘only really offers mushrooms in breadcrumbs with a cheese filling’
El Coto: ‘deserves a special mention’
The Vegetarian Vantage
t came as somewhat of a shock to my friends when I told them I’d decided to become a vegetarian as part of my New Year’s Resolutions. I’d flirted with the idea for a while but I figured I was up for a challenge and decided to go the whole hog, so to speak. The general reaction to this dietary declaration was confusion, although, in a housemate’s case, anger probably came closer to the mark. ‘I just don’t understand why’ he said, tucking into a steak so raw it
still mooed. For me, vegetarianism came about as a result of curiosity. Was it possible to survive on a diet that didn’t consist of fish finger sandwiches and yet not die of hunger? Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the answer was yes. Luckily for us students, Durham has some excellent places where you can eat out and still have something delicious. One clear example is that staple of every scientist student’s social life, the New Inn, and their Veggie Scream Burger. Relatively cheap and extremely satisfying,
it is perfect for those who are either missing meat or fancy dipping a toe into the culinary delights that vegetarianism has to offer. To me though, this burger tasted exactly like the real deal, which is more than can be said for the pitiful excuse for a food that is vegetarian bacon. If you want somewhere classier however, then Zen do an excellent selection of tasty vegetarian treats. I highly recommend the Som-Tum, a papaya-based salad with peanuts in a hot lime dressing. The ‘hot’ aspect of the dish cannot be understated. Due to my physical
Recipe: Chilli with Corn Bread CLAY DUNN/ZACH PATTON
nineteenth century, Chilli soon became the staple of southwestern households. Paired with the deliciously quick and easy corn bread, originally made by American cowboys around the campfire, you have a perfect winter combination. Chilli con Carne
“Next to Jazz music, there is nothing that lifts the spirits and strengthens the soul more than a good bowl of chilli” (Harry James, trumpeter). After you’ve sampled the vegetarian delights of Dur-
ham, you can re-indulge your carnivorous side with this meaty treat! There is nothing more warming or comforting than a big pot of Chilli con Carne with some corn bread to mop up the sauce, especially at this time of year. Invented by Mexicans living in the American southwest in the early
2-3 Tbsps of Olive Oil ½ Cup of Chopped Onion 1 Small Clove of Chopped Garlic 2 Pounds of Ground Beef or Lamb 1 ¼ Cups of Tinned Tomatoes ¾ Tsp Salt 1 Tbsp Sugar (depending on the sweetness of the tomatoes) ½ Bay Leaf 2 Tsps - 2 Tbsps Chilli Powder (depending on how strong you like your Chilli) 1-3 Large Cubes of Dark Chocolate (This is the vital secret ingredient!)
incapability to handle spices with dignity, this was possibly the hottest (yet tastiest) dish I have ever tried. It managed to fill me up for most of the day - which for an average sized portion is impressive in itself - but it is also full of colour and texture which makes it a delight to look at, and more importantly, eat. For lunch though, by far the best place in Durham for us vegetarians is Café Continental. Whilst the main menu is pretty standard for a café (cheese sandwich, anyone?), their specials board is extensive and delicious; there’s bound to be something for everyone. In particular, I recommend both the red pepper lasagne and the mushroom risotto, although you seriously cannot go wrong with anything you order there. Finished off with one of their legendary cheesecakes, you have a meal fit for a king, or at least a minor baronet. For an evening meal, one place that deserves a special mention is the tapas restaurant on Hallgarth Street, El Coto. Perfect for a date, it is small and intimate with an impressive vegetarian menu. There is even a sizeable range of vegan dishes, such as the rather delectable Garbanzos, a chickpea casserole with tomato and spinach, which is a lot tastier than it sounds. My personal favourite from the many offerings El Coto has for the vegetarian diner, is the Berejenas Gratinadas. These aubergines covered with cheese and tomato really hit the spot, whilst one dish I would avoid is the Arroz de Ver-
dures; rice with mixed vegetables which has a weird aftertaste that I didn’t find pleasant. Tapas is perfect for those who may want to try something new but are unsure about whether they’ll like it; just order a few meat dishes as well for a safe option if necessary. To be honest, you cannot really go wrong in Durham when it comes to eating out as a vegetarian; most places have a pretty good menu as it is becoming an increasingly common dietary decision to take. One place that does let us down is the Court Inn, which, with the exception of their massively overpriced tapas selection, only really offers mushrooms in breadcrumbs with a cheese filling, and whilst good, is less appealing when it seems forced upon you. In short, being a vegetarian in Durham is great. There are plenty of places to go to eat out and loads of things to try, which means that you don’t have to live your life in an Italian restaurant – not that Durham is lacking on that front. Indeed, there is so much diverse choice that it is somewhat surprising that vegetarianism still has a negative bias towards it. Don’t get me wrong, even as a vegetarian it would be foolish to deny that some meat dishes aren’t downright delicious, and I do miss some foods (salmon, mainly - bacon’s power to ‘convert’ vegetarians is overrated), but there are so many extra dishes I’ve discovered I enjoy which, if I hadn’t become veggie, I may have never found out I liked.
1) Sauté the chopped onion and garlic in the oil. Remove from the pan once they are cooked. 2) Add the ground meat and cook until it is well browned. Add the garlic and onion back into the pan with the tomatoes, kidney beans, bay leaf, salt and chilli. Add sugar if the tomatoes’ acidity is overwhelming. 3) Cover and cook slowly for one hour, adjusting the seasoning to taste. 4) Add the chocolate in slowly at the end. The chocolate gives the Chilli a rich taste, but you must be careful not to add so much that the chocolate can be detected. 5) Serve with a generous blob of Creme Fraiche (mixed with a little Paprika if you have it) and the Corn Bread below.
2 Tbsps Sugar 2 Eggs ½ Cup of any Grated Smoked Cheese or Cheddar 1 Green Jalepeno or Serano Chilli - Seeded and Finely Diced
Corn Bread 3 ½ Pounds of Unsalted Butter ¾ Cup of Tinned Corn (optional) Salt and Cayenne Pepper 1 ¼ Cups of Milk 1 ½ Cups of Unbleached White Flour 1 Cup of Fine Cornmeal 1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1) Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Grease a 9 inch round cake tin. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a small pan and add the corn, a pinch of salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Sauté until tender (for about 5 minutes). 2) In a saucepan gently warm the milk and remaining butter until butter is fully melted. Remove from heat. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and stir until they are well mixed. Whisk the eggs together, then slowly whisk the slightly cooled milk mixture. 3) Pour this into the dry ingredients and add the corn, cheese and chillis. Stir until it is just blended. Don’t over-mix! 4) Spread the mixture into the tin, bake for 20-25 minutes until the top springs back easily or when a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. 5) Eat warm with the Chilli con Carne.
PALATINATE Friday 20th November 2009
Browse through previous interviews at palatinate.org.uk
From licking stamps to signing the Stones Leslie Hill, former MD of EMI and Chairman of ITV, spills on rock-and-roll, royalty, and being a “maverick” Anna Brook
ITV had operated as a monopoly. “In some ways monopolies are easier to run because you have no competition, but on the other hand that makes companies flat and lazy”. Thatcher’s reform overhauled a system in which “the working practices were appalling: the money rolled in and the money rolled out”. He continues, “Our studios were losing something like £25-30 million pounds per year. The new system forced people to do something about it”. Leslie began adapting the corporation to the new broadcasting climate by examining the individual accounts of its different parts, and discerning which were the most lucrative. “I turned the whole thing into profit sectors and made people accountable for profit. They began to be more concerned about the costs of running their activities”, he says. His rigorous process led to a great increase in ITV’s strength: “We made ourselves so strong in that Midlands region that
lthough not quite a ‘rags-to-riches’ story, Leslie Hill’s ascent to the top of ITV and EMI, two of Britain’s most famous institutions, had humble beginnings. Leaving school at fifteen, he worked at an accountancy firm “making tea, licking stamps and running errands”, before moving to London and taking a job with the Hamlyn Group publishing company. When the Group was sold to EMI, Leslie found himself being shipped out to “do a company doctor job” on EMI’s New Zealand subsidiary division. He then went on to become Managing Director of EMI UK and Europe, a post he held throughout the 1970s. From the 1950s to 1970s, EMI was indisputably the most successful record label in the world, responsible for acts including Frank Sinatra, Cliff Richard, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd. Leslie speaks highly of the “courteous and polite” Mick Jagger, and is equally fond of Paul McCartney, whom he signed to EMI as a single artist. The behaviour of one ‘artist’, however, failed to impress him.
“The rudest artist I ever dealt with was Ted Heath, leader of the Conservative Party” “When people say to me, ‘How did you get on with all these famous rock stars?’ I say very well. The rudest ‘artist’ I ever dealt with was the then Prime Minister Ted Heath, leader of the Conservative Party”. Heath’s interest in classical music is well documented; he conducted orchestras in famous concert halls the world over. Leslie explains, “Because he was a big politician, we [EMI] put out a record of his conducting choirs”. Following one of the Prime Minister’s performances, he and Leslie were introduced. “Just to make conversation I said, ‘Mr Heath, I do hope that you’re quite happy with the way we’re looking after the record for you’, at which point he looked me straight in the face and said, ‘Well, apart from the fact you can’t buy the record in the shops and there’s no promotion for it, it’s perfectly alright’. Then he turned around and walked away”. Perhaps more rock-and-roll than his dealings with a petulant Prime Minister is his recollection of Freddie Mercury’s 26th birthday party. “It was my first experience of real decadence”, he tells me. He recounts the scene of revelling members of the contemporary music scene’s glitterati, as “an attractive girl came in and stripped, and then a few famous rock stars squirted bottles of champagne all over her”. He pauses, before adding, “I’d never seen anything like it before”. In 1975, the Sex Pistols burst onto the music scene, establishing the punk rock movement in the UK. The following year, EMI signed the band to a two-year contract. In December of 1976, the Today programme issued a fateful invitation to the Sex Pistols to appear as guests, after their fellow EMI band Queen had dropped out. The show’s host, Bill Grundy, was evidently not the band’s greatest fan. At the end of the
As Managing Director of EMI, the most successful record label in the world, Hill became acquainted with stars such as Paul McCartney
programme, Grundy publicly goaded guitarist Steve Jones about their reputation: Grundy: Go on, chief. Say something outrageous. Jones: You dirty bastard. Grundy: Go on, again. Jones: You dirty f***er. To say that these antics did not go down well with the British public would be an understatement. The programme was a live broadcast during the early evening at a time when swear words had been uttered on television only three times before in history – with serious consequences. Jones’ language created a storm of publicity furious enough to end Grundy’s television career. “All hell let loose”, Leslie recalls. The tabloid newspapers were occupied for days: the Daily Mirror famously ran the front-page headline “The Filth and the Fury!”, while the Daily Telegraph chose “4-Letter Words Rock TV”. As Managing Director of EMI, the buck stopped at Leslie. True to form, the Daily Mail pursued him, denouncing him as “a punk” and – rather hilariously – tracking down his neighbours to ask them about their experiences of living next door to “a punk”. He chuckles at the memory of
“An attractive girl stripped and famous rock stars squirted champagne all over her.” taking part in a very serious meeting that Christmas Eve with various elderly, senior figures of EMI, in which they discussed the ins and outs of the word ‘f***’: “When I suggested that these days it was very likely that their grandchildren were already aware of and perhaps using the word, they really were very upset”. Leslie left EMI in 1980 and spent the next six years working in industrial services. He describes this move as “very strange and quite backward, career-wise”, but one that ultimately enabled him to prioritise his family. “Quite a bit of the time I was home in time for bedtime stories”. In 1987, he ap-
Sex Pistol Steve Jones causes a tabloid furore by swearing on the Today programme
proached Central Television – one of the fifteen companies then owned by ITV – about the role of Managing Director. It was not the most auspicious of starts; he faced a frosty reception from the Chairman, who “took one look at my CV, saw all this stuff about office services and flatly refused to see me”. After failing to find anyone from within ITV and “banging the table and insisting he wouldn’t”, the Chairman was finally persuaded to interview Leslie. “The oddest thing was that after about forty-five minutes he couldn’t wait to employ me. We just got on very well”. Three years later, Leslie became Chief Executive of Central Television. Following the merging of ITV’s two
largest companies, Central and Carlton, he was ultimately appointed ITV Chairman in 1994. He held this position for eight years, making him ITV’s longest-serving Chairman. When Leslie talks about his time at ITV, there is a clear sense of how deeply embroiled contemporary politics was in the workings of the corporation. Margaret Thatcher’s introduction of the 1990 Broadcasting Act, for example, precipitated a seismic shift in the world of television, and one that Leslie had been advocating for years. “The Act forced all ITV companies to bid for their licences in what was effectively an auction process”, he explains. Before that,
“At the last moment, the Queen agreed to come. And I was asked to look after her.”
when these licences were put out for tender nobody bid against us. We knew no one would. So we were expected to bid something like £25-30 million per year, but actually bid just £2000. This was over a ten year period, which meant that ITV saved something like £250-300 million”. Alongside signing the Rolling Stones, he describes this achievement as the high point of his career. Leslie’s career taught him the vital necessity of quick thinking. When informed that the Sex Pistols had shouted onstage “F*** the Queen!”, Leslie avoided having EMI lambasted in the press by instantly retorting, “No, they said ‘F*** Queen’ – as in, the rock band”. Another incident that required fancy footwork occurred whilst at Central. “We had made a programme about the Queen Mother’s horses; it was an unusual thing for her to get involved in”. She was due to attend a preview of the broadcast at the BAFTA cinema in Piccadilly. “At the last minute, the Queen agreed to come. And I was asked to look after them”. His task was clear: greet the Queen and Queen Mother outside the cinema, accompany them into the lift, and then show them out of the lift to their seats. Unfortunately for Leslie, the lift was both small and made of metalwork. The former meant that he was unable to fit into the lift with the royal pair. The latter meant that as he frantically charged up the stairs next to the lift in order to be ready and waiting for them at the other end, both the Queen and Queen Mother could observe him with perfect clarity from their slowly ascending vantage point. “When I greeted them I was very out of breath. It was a very curious occasion”. Leslie’s resolution to “work harder than everyone else” meant that success was inevitable. He advises graduates to “Take any job. Some graduates seem to expect a good job right away. Don’t. If you work hard and go the extra mile, you’ll get on”. Finally, was there anything he would have done differently? “I managed to avoid getting caught up in the world of sex, drugs and rock-and-roll”, he says. “Actually, looking back maybe that’s my biggest regret!”
If you thought PEAK OIL was a threat...
Civilisation and the world’s water crisis Public Lecture: Peak Water - free and open to all Rosemary Cramp Lecture Theatre, second floor of the Calman Learning Centre (CLC 202) Monday 23rd November
Palatinate and the Institute of Advanced Study jointly present a lecture by author and journalist Alex Bell, on the subject of his new book ‘Peak Water: Civilisation and the world’s water crisis’. Bell argues that the management of water is intimately connected to the development of civilisation and warns us of the impending catastrophe of exhausted water supplies.
PALATINATE Friday 20th November 2009
Travel Lifestyle PAOLO MARGORI
Want to share your travel stories? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The panic was only momentary however, since slower trains not requiring reservations and numerous change-overs were found to be the solution to my rocketing financial fear. Moreover, such charges fortunately decreased dramatically as I moved east and learned to economise through the tripsaving inventions that are night trains. With their reservation fees costing approximately the same price as a hostel, night trains became my favourite track-based form o transport; as well as cutting out the often arduous experience of long journeys (or at least your awareness of it), they are relatively comfortable.
“Both Europe and I were, as the pass dictated, free to explore”
A picturesque view of Milan train station, a trainspotter’s dream.
Interailing through Europe Palatinate explores the non-stop moving holidays which offer you a wide range of dynamic travel experiences Chantelle Howard
pon first thought, grubby trains and relentless travel might seem a world away from the effortless elegance and relaxed allure of Europe’s enchanting capital cities. And granted, frantic timetable-scrutinising, train-hopping and carriage-sharing
may not be at the top of everyone’s holiday agenda. But it is precisely such an experience that constitutes the gateway into the world of European discovery, facilitating the cultural immersion the average student traveller craves. Whether you’re looking for a whirlwind Continental taster or wish to surrender yourself to the appeal of a single European country, InterRailing could
offer the right experience for you. This summer, I opted for the former. Armed with my ‘Global Youth Pass’, I had the opportunity for limitless rail travel within 30 European countries in a one month time frame. The price tag, then a hefty £369, began to make sense financially as I considered the costs of other means of transport. Furthermore, it made sense
for a first-time European traveller, given the attractive combination of freedom and security that a pre-paid pass provides. All I had left to do then was roughly plan my route, attempting to strike that delicate balance between quality sight-seeing and quantity. In the end, I decided on a tour of 15 countries, starting in Amsterdam and zigzagging my way along to Istanbul, the most easterly point in which the pass is valid. So, both Europe and I were, as the pass dictated, ‘free to explore’. Well, almost. What I hadn’t been fully aware of was the supplementary reservation charges demanded by many European train companies. My arrival in Amsterdam was thus somewhat tainted by the shock of discovering the 38 Euro reservation fee for the high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris.
Except, perhaps on the journey between Prague and Krakow, in which we were gravely warned by the train conductor to lock our doors and windows, due to the likely presence of Bavarian pick-pockets. Luckily, I didn’t encounter any of those unsavoury characters on my travels, but some of my most intriguing encounters with Europeans did actually occur on the trains. By the end of the month, the cast list extended to Italian punks (who treated us to an impromptu gig in our six-person compartment), an English-speaking, visuallyimpaired Austrian woman and her guide dog, and a Kosovan nanoscientist studying in Ljubljana. You can’t beat InterRailing’s communal aspect for variety. No one’s claiming that InterRailing is a luxurious experience, but although it lacks elegance, it is the best means I can think of for bringing you swiftly and cheaply towards the elegance and charm of the continent. Constantly being on the tracks is not for everyone; in providing freedom, flexibility and excitement, it’s a lifestyle choice And a pretty good one at that.
The Greyhound Experience: Across America by Bus Will Greenwood
here’s no better way than a Greyhound adventure to discover America’s West Coast. The Greyhound bus is cheap (300 bucks for two weeks) and gives you the opportunity to meet the most incredible of travellers. I sat next to a forty year-old ‘engineer’ who owned a ‘huge collection of classic cars’, and despite earning a ‘six-figure salary’, preferred six hours on the Greyhound to one hour on a plane. So he claimed. Or you can sit for twelve hours next to a post-modern prophet who will lecture you on aliens, 911 conspiracies and Jesus’ imminent return. We started off in San Francisco, an amazing city indeed, and the most welcoming place we’ve ever visited with its cosmopolitan, modern and refreshingly non-conformist take on life. To make things really exciting we stayed in a cheap hostel situated in an area frequented by crack addicts. We also failed to book a room for Independence Day. In a party of five, three of us had to spend the night in a park after a glorious shower of fireworks. We were woken up in the middle of the night by terrifying noises and an awful rotting smell though. It was a skunk.
Simply claiming that Vegas is a crazy city is a massive understatement. I disliked the facade and pretence of glamour, but my mates were hooked. Book your room on the internet and you’ll get some great deals in the best casino-hotels. It’s virtually impossible to get into a nightclub when you’re under 21. Thankfully, playing on the slot machines is a lot easier. Just look confident
“You can sit for twelve hours next to a postmodern prophet” and they shouldn’t bother you. If you’re really convincing, they’ll offer you free drinks to ensure you keep spending. Playing roulette is a little trickier but if you wait for the floor to empty approximately at half three in the morning they will be too eager or tired to check your ID. If you’re going to Los Angeles you can’t avoid Hollywood but don’t waste your time there. Venice Beach is far more pleasant and the experience can be best described as Malibu meeting Woodstock. With an endless beach, the waves are strong and
there are sideshows of all sorts going on at any given time. The experience was rather surreal but we enjoyed it so much that we stayed an two extra nights at the Hostel California, which is rather cheap and full of European backpackers. It would be best to plan beforehand when it comes to national parks. Just after leaving Yosemite, we learnt that we had missed one of the most picturesque walks in California. So when in Zion National Park, the decision to walk up to Angels Landing was made, even if that meant waking up at half six. It’s a precarious hike and there are fatalities nearly every year, but the panoramic view at the top is breathtaking. Or at least that’s what my friends told me as I emerged from the tent at ten. Both Zion and Yosemite are more impressive than the Grand Canyon. So, unless you spend serious money to rent a plane, the Canyon will most probably disappoint you. On the crucial subject
“Claiming that Vegas is a crazy city is a massive understatement” of food and drink, our staple diet consisted of burgers and fries. Hooters is worth a try, but perhaps not with your girlfriend. There is no point
stressing the illogical nature of US law on alcohol. It would be safe to say that not everyone will ID you and you will always find a way to get some. Be careful when you cross a state border though. They checked our bus once and we were really glad to have given our vodka to some pleasantly surprised campers a few hours earlier. Despite its silly laws, the West Coast is well worth a visit, and I thoroughly recommend it. After all, California is about to legalise cannabis.
Friday 20th November 2009 PALATINATE
LISTINGS By Alison Moulds
YOUR POSTER-SIZED EVENT GU Highlights this fortnight Sat. 21 Nov
Until Sat. 21 Nov
Big Clothes Swap
f you’re the type who avoids vintage fashion simply because of the terrifying price tag, then don’t miss this opportunity to add some gems to your wardrobe. Vintage and Ethical Fashion Society are holding a swap in the DSU, which will let you ditch unwanted clothes and kit you out with a new look for Christmas. For each clean and good quality garment you bring, you’ll get a voucher entitling you to take away with you the same number of clothes you came with. With music and drinks. Riverside Cafe, DSU, 7PM. £1 members, £3 non-members
Durham City Christmas Festival
f the tacky decorations that have been adorning the shops for the past month or so don’t quite float your seasonal boat, then hit this city on the first weekend of December for some more traditional festive treats. The large craft and gift fair on Palace Green is the perfect place to pick up some presents, whilst the live music and nativity scene inject some spirit into the proceedings. Across the city
Sat. 21 – Sun. 22 Nov
The Hurt Locker Bede Film Soc screen the recent war thriller directed by Kathryn Bigelow. Caedmon Hall, Hild Bede College, 8PM. £1 members, £2 non-members
Tim Fowler: No Words Showcasing Fowler’s emotionally charged photographic collages which use images of landscapes, technology and even found objects. Van Mildert College, call for details. Sat. £4.50 DST, £5 NUS.
Until Wed. 16 December
Dusk, Interrupted and Please Switch Off Lights When Not Required Photographic exhibition from local freelance artist Anthony Hope. Dusk, Interrupted examines the relationship between natural and manmade light sources whilst the latter exhibit offers an insight into the lasting human footprint on disused industrial buildings. Van Mildert College, call for details.
Until Wed. 23 Dec
North East Inheritance Exhibition of wills and other probate records from the 16th to 19th centuries from County Durham and Northumberland. Marks the completion of the North East Inheritance Project. Palace Green Library, 9AM-5PM.
Fri. 20 Nov
Palatinate Voices Perform Purcell – The English Monteverdi? Concert by Palatinate Voices, featuring Durham Baroque on genuine period instruments. The performance includes the pieces Beatus vir, Dixit Dominus (Primo) and Purcell’s O God, thou art my God. Lanchester Methodist Church, 8PM. £8 Musicon Lunchtime Concert – Ron Woodley and James Geer Musicon’s latest free concert includes Ron Woodley on piano, with James Geer providing tenor. The performance includes songs by Britten and Barber. Music School, Palace Green, 1.10PM. Free
‘...and we know nothing’ Exhibition from artist Gillian Robertson, exploring the sculptural qualities of books. Al-Qasimi Building,9AM- 5PM.
Until Wed. 16 Dec
Wed. 26 Nov
Until Thu. 26 Nov
Works of Illumination Exhibit of Judy Hurst’s paintings, which represent a fusion of ancient and modern influences, methods and materials. Her inspirations range from British and French wildlife to Celtic history. Trevelyan College, 10AM-4PM.
Freshers’ Play ‘09: Our Town
Fri. 4- Sun. 6 Dec
Contrast: A Retrospective by Brian Sutherland Showcase of more than thirty years of art work from painter Sutherland, whose pieces unite both traditional and contemporary styles. The strong compositions examine the contrast between light and dark whilst illustrating a sympathetic response to the environment. Bishop Auckland Town Hall, 10AM-5PM weekdays.
Until Fri. 4 Dec
Thu. 26 - Sat. 28 Nov
ach year the Assembly Rooms showcases the talents of our latest crop of freshlings with a play completely chosen, directed and produced by them. This year the newbies present American Thornton Wilder’s metatheatrical masterpiece. Don’t miss the chance to check out the dramatic talent amongst the Freshers - sure to be one of the most discussed plays of the season. The Assembly Rooms, 7.30PM + 2.30PM
Mon. 23 Nov
Mid-August Lunch Charming Italian comedy screening as part of the Gala’s World Cinema series. Directed by and starring Gianni Di Gregorio. Gala Cinema, 8.30 PM. £4.50
Sun. 29 Nov
The Time Traveller’s Wife Bede Film Soc present the romantic movie based on the novel of the same name. With Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana as her sweetheart who suffers from a genetic disorder which causes him to time travel randomly. Caedmon Hall, Hild Bede College, 8PM. £1 members, £2 non-members
Mon. 30 Nov
The Beautiful Person The Gala’s World Cinema programme offers this French, modern-day adaptation of Madame de Lafayette’s novel, La Princesse de Clèves. Clayport Library, 7.45PM. £5 subscription
Until Thu. 3 Dec
New Moon Second instalment of the hugely popular Twilight series, with Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson reprising their roles as the star-crossed lovers and Stewart’s Bella discovering the world of werewolves. Gala Cinema, time s vary. £4.75
Mon. 30 Nov
Rockstar Energy Drink Taste of Chaos The worldwide music festival arrives in Newcastle. The lineup features Killswitch Engage, In Flames, Everytime I Die and Maylene and the Sons of Disaster. Fans of hardcore punk and metal should book their tickets now before they sell out! Newcastle O2 Academy, time TBC. £20
Wed. 2 Dec
Musicon Presents: East Sea Shaman Ritual Group Concert led by master drummer Kim Junghee. A rare gem in the Durham music calendar; an opportunity to experience a full art form that has never before been performed in the UK. It is notable for its rhythmic complexity and highly charged song and dance. Durham Town Hall, 7.30PM.
Thu. 3 Dec
Musicon Lunchtime Concert – Korean Shaman Ritual Ensemble A unique lunchtime showcase of song, dance and improvised percussion music from the Korean folk religion. An unmissable opportunity to discover a whole new genre of music - for absolutely free! Music School, Palace Green, 1.10PM. Free
PALATINATE Friday 20th November 2009
UIDE FOR THE NEXT TWO WEEKS Nightlife Thu. 26 Nov
Fidget The Fidget event organisers take over the Student Union for another night of dance, electro and dubstep. DSU, 10PM. £4
Sat. 28 Nov
Bulletproof Head to Newcastle on a Saturday for a night that promises ‘high octane, white knuckle, off the hook rock ‘n’ roll’. Something for those who are finding Revolver just a little bit too tame... 02 Academy Newcastle, 11PM. £6
Cocktail Happy Hour If you fnd Ebony’s is stretching the student budget a little too far, then look no further than the Durham Institute of Art for your favourite new pre-lash joint. All cocktails are a bargain at £3.95!!! DIA, 8-10PM. Free
Fri. 20 Nov
Sat. 21 Nov
Sun. 22 Nov
Sun. 22 Nov
Basketball Eagles vs Everton Tigers If university matches aren’t satisfying your sports cravings, then watch Newcastle’s very own Eagles take on the Tigers at the Metro Arena. Newcastle Metro Arena, 7.30PM. £8 League: Newcastle Vipers vs Sheffield Steelers The arena is asking you to become part of ice hockey history as they aim for at least 5,000 spectators at a series of games, including this one which sees the Vipers square up to the Steelers. Newcastle Metro Arena, 5.30PM. From £7
Wed. 25 Nov
Lacrosse: Men’s 1s vs Hull 1s Forthcoming fixture in the BUCS Northern Premiere League A. Before their away match against Northumbria, the rugby boys play the lads from Nottingham. Details TBC
Wed. 2 Dec
Lacrosse: Men’s 1s vs Hull 1s The latest home game in the BUCS Northern Conference Division 1. Put your free afternoon to good use and go cheer on your fellow Durhamites as they take to the field with the players from Hull Uni. Details TBC
Opera North: Werther Head to Newcastle for a stunning opera from Jules Massenet, following the turmoil of Werther, who is in love with a woman already promised in marriage to somebody else. Newcastle Theatre Royal, 7.30PM. From £14.50 The Comedy Store This week, MC Tim Clark introduces comics Tom Wrigglesworth, Reginald D. Hunter and Kitty Flanagan. Gala Theatre, 7.30PM. £7
Thu. 26 – Sat. 28 Nov
Freshers’ Play ‘09: Our Town Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer prize-winning play is brought to the stage by a brave band of freshers’ for the DST’s annual first-years-only peformance. See ‘Highlights This Fortnight’ The Assembly Rooms, 7.30PM + 2.30PM Sat. £4.50 DST, £5 NUS.
Tue. 1 – Wed. 2 Dec
Timmy Thompson is Dead Inkblot Productions present James Morton’s awardwinning play in which three schoolgirls confront their terrible involvement in the death of a fellow student. The Assembly Rooms, 8PM. £3 DST, £3.50 NUS.
Wed. 2 Dec Fridays
Bounce For most, Loft remains that little-used club next door to Studio. But fans of scouse house and dance anthems should definitely check out their Friday night offering - just remember to dress in strictly non-student attire in order to stay safe. Loft, 10PM. Free
Sunday Soul Wrap up your weekend at Jimmy A’s regular Sunday evening slot and ease your way into that Manic Monday with a couple of drinks. Jimmy A’s, 5-10.30PM. Free
Football: Women’s 1s vs Teeside 1s Our girls take on Teeside in the BUCS Northern Conference Division 2 match, hot on the heels of their away game against Sheffield uni. Details TBC
Mon. 23 Nov
Alan Milne Memorial Address: Democracy and the American Radical Tradition Public lecture delivers by Oxford Uni’s Dr Mark Stears, whose research interest is primarily the history of radical political thought. This talk comes ahead of the release of his second book, ‘Demanding Democracy: American Radicals in Search of a New Politics’. Room 102, al-Qasimi Building, 5.15PM. Free
Mon. 23 Nov
Peak Water Author of new book ‘Peak Water: Civilisation and the World’s Water Crisis’, Alex Bell, discusses water as a resource to the past and future of humanity and explores the notion that the next big war will be over water. Rosemary Cramp Lecture Theatre, The Calman Learning Centre, 7PM. Free
Wed. 25 Nov
Educational Accountability and School Inspections: Help or Hindrance? Dr Melanie Ehren, from the University of Twenty in The Netherlands, delivers a seminar which focuses on her research into the effects of Educational Accountability and School Inspections. She will discuss the different approaches across Europe and the United States. Room ED134, School of Education, 1PM. Free
Wed. 25 Nov
Iron Age and Roman Coin Use in Britain Lecture from Sam Moorhead, the National Finds Advisor for Iron Age and Roman Coins in the Department of Portable Antiquities and Treasure at the British Museum. Elvet Hill House, 1.30PM. Free
Wed. 2 Dec
Tennis: Women’s 1s vs Leeds Met 1s After losing 3-7 to Leeds Met earlier in the season, can the women’s tennis team take back the crown in their home match this Wednesday? After some spectcular triumphs over Loughborough, here’s hoping they can gain another victory... Details TBC
From Wed. 2 Dec
Dick Whittington Panto season has finally arrived and the Gala is bringing Dick Whittington to the stage. With Neil Armstrong and Donald McBride. Gala Theatre, times vary. From £10.50
Wed. 25 Nov
Reflections on water: Water and H2O The fourth offering in the public lecture series comes courtesy of Dr Robin Hendry of Durham University.
Room 202, The Calman Learning Centre, 5.30PM. Free
Other Sat. 21 Nov
Asylum Matters – One Day Workshop A Christian Perspective on the issue of asylum seekers in the UK today. The workshop includes various sessions, examining the current asylum process, stories of asylum seekers and the theological implications. St John’s College, 9.30AM-4PM.
Sat. 21 Nov
The Big Clothes Swap The Uni’s Vintage and Ethical Fashion Society host an unmissable opportunity to swap all your unloved items for something new and gorgeous. See ‘Highlights This Fortnight’. Riverside Cafe, DSU, 7PM. £1 members, £3 non-members
Tue. 24 Nov
The Aerofilms Collection (1919 to 2006) A chance to discover the Aerofilms Collection, a nationwide public archive of aerial photographs. This event includes refreshments and a talk about pioneer aviators, early aerial photography and old air photographs of the region. Main Library Seminar Room, 2.30PM. Free
Wed. 2 Dec
Music and Poetry for Palestine Evening organised by Durham Palestine Educational Trust to support studentships in Durham for Palestinian students. Performances from poets Dr. Keith Armstrong, Katrina Porteous, Paul Summers, Cynthia Fuller, plus musicians Gary Miller and Marie Little. Fisher House, Ustinov College, 7.30PM. £3
Fri. 4 – Sun. 6 Dec
Durham City Christmas Festival A host of seasonal and traditional Christmas activities will be taking place around the city. With music from brass bands and carol singers, a children’s lantern procession, live nativity scene, plus hot chestnuts and mulled wine available. On Palace Green there will be a marquee with more than 150 stalls, selling crafts and gifts. Around the city
Friday 20th November PALATINATE
bright young things...
art direction by DEE ACHARYA, VINCENT MCAVINEY, LIZA miller & James Dunn
Photography by JAMES DUNN Assisted by JONNY ALLEN, LORNA URWIN & THOMAS WELCH
PALATINATE Friday 20th November
g by Dee Acharya, Liza r, & Audrey Rogers
...fittest fresher 2009 Make-up by FIONA HICKS Assisted by Liza Miller, Alice Callander & Kate Simmons
Hair Styling by Sherlocks & Ally Bacon
Friday 20th November 2009 PALATINATE
Fittest Finalists 2009... Lauren Ballard Hild & Bede History
Will Hanson St Cuthbert’s Society English & Philosophy
Briony Chapell Collingwood English Literature
Jonathan Bowers Castle Earth Sciences
Selecting our Top Ten
In search of Hill hunks and Bailey babes, we began with scouting nights, the main event being in Klute on Friday 31st October. At first we thought this rather pervy and embarrassing job would lead to a very cringing night of “Are you a Fresher? I think you’re well fit, love” swiftly followed by a violent slap in response. It was, however, entirely different, with a horde of editors and photographers banding together and having a jolly good laugh - for the most part at each other for our often shocking taste in men and women.
Most of the freshers were genuinely shocked by our conclusion on their physical contribution to society. We were faced with some total desperados however, including one of last year’s finalists who repeatedly interrupted us mid-conversation to recommend her “glamorous” friends even though they were hopeless second years; we think the crown might be too tight on you, dear. She shall remain anonymous. With the photography over with we were left with an X Factor style operation of sorting through our selection, some of which looked a
Millie Roberts St Cuthbert’s Society Psychology
Marc Hempstead St Aidan’s Economics
tad shocking after our Klute quaddie goggles had worn off. About three hours passed with us umming and arghing, with the occasional sigh at the beauty of some of the young freshers. After the allconsuming mass argument about whether bushy eyebrows were sexy or not, and whether we could justify dying someone’s hair red (for ‘diversity’), we settled on our Top 10 Fit List. We then phoned them up with the good news - touchingly, many of them were convinced we were pulling their pretty little legs. James Dunn & Ally Bacon
Many thanks to the MASTER OF UNIVERSITY COLLEGE for the use of the Middle Common Room as the location
Emma Wink Grey Criminology
David Harding Hild & Bede Education & Photography
Isobel Peta-Boltt St Aidan’s Combined Arts
Freddie Kilby Hatfield Law
PALATINATE Friday 20th November 2009
Behind the scenes At 8am on FF-Day, the editors made their way to Castle bleary-eyed and armed with coffees, at first struggling to find the well-hidden MCR. Crammed with dusty books, piano and plush red leather armchairs, we were faced with the task of creating a set that would be perfect to show off our ‘Bright Young Things’. Equipped with peacock feathers and champagne bottles we dressed
the set and set the lights before the Fit 10 arrived. First the girls came waltzing in, all dolled up by Sherlocks hairdressers. We flung vintage dresses and pearls into grateful hands, and waited for the gentlemen to grace us with their presence. From the styling stage to the make-up stage, the girls were granted complete transformations, with peacock feathers and elegant head-dresses
placed daintily on their heads. The men then trundled in, most with unkempt hair and shirts disheveled, even one still rather drunk from the previous night’s antics (Ahem, Freddie). Yet once they put on their black bowties, bowler hats and waistcoats many of the girls in the room secretly swooned, particularly when a lucky few were serenaded
on the upright piano. We began shooting with our photographers readily snapping away, whilst the models tried to look all glam and 1920s: cigarette holders and Gin & Tonics in hand. After many long yet entertaining hours of shooting in the MCR we could sense that our models were starting to
tire, so we switched locations to the outside for some variety and rejuvenation, even though it was blisteringly cold. We finished our shoot in spectacular disarray, after dodging past security and running up and down the secret passageways of Castle like something out of Harry Potter to nab our final photos. James Dunn & Ally Bacon
Get the Look...
Resident make-up maestro Fiona Hicks talks us through the looks behind this year’s shoot The use of make-up, once a luxury afforded by few, became positively de rigueur during the heady 1920s. Every Bright Young Thing wanted to emulate the sultry, strong style of the movie stars of the day. Clara Bow was one of the original It-girls; her elfin beauty, with her wide eyes and perfect cupid’s bow mouth, came to define the look of a generation. As Bright Young Things, our freshers needed to look beautifully made up, but not painstakingly perfect – a few hours at that night’s opulent party would cause a little make up smudging, after all. Starting with the flapper basics – kohl-rimmed eyes and a strong mouth – we managed to create a look which captured the spirit of the age, but that would also not look out of place in Klute today! So if you’d like to channel some of the exoticism and allure of a 1920s party girl, read on: 1) Face Flawless skin was a must. A girl may be partying seven nights a week, but her complexion was not allowed to show it! Opt for a matte foundation with good coverage (we used Max Factor Lasting Performance Make-Up) and blend from the centre of the face outwards, then dab some concealer under the eyes to hide any tell-tale shadows. Finish with a light dusting of translucent powder, and a few strokes of matte bronzer on the cheeks and forehead to warm the face.
2) Eyes The flappers loved a welldefined eye. Using a black kohl pencil (Revlon Luxurious Color Kohl Eyeliner works particularly well), line both the upper and lower inner rim of the eye. Also line the upper lid of the eye, and smudge into the lashline. Next, using a medium-sized eye brush, cover the whole eyelid with a warm grey eyeshadow. Taking a smaller brush, deepen the crease with a small amount of black eyeshadow and blend well. Bring the same black shadow round underneath the lower lashes for a smokey, sensuous look. Finish with a couple of coats of jet black mascara to really frame the eye. 3) Lips The ‘cupid’s bow’ mouth was a signature look of the 1920s girl. First apply a little lip balm to make sure your lips are well-moisturised. Using a soft lip pencil which closely matches the natural colour of your lips, draw round the shape of your mouth, really focusing on defining the arches of your upper lip. Next, taking a matte lipstick in a deep cherry colour (we used Barry M’s Lip Paint, Number 141), fill in the shape of your lips. You may find it easier to use a lip brush for real precision! This look is a strong one, but is surprisingly flattering! The lips may need a couple of touch-ups, but the brilliance of the smokey eye is that it is very long-wearing – the more smudged, the better – so even after a few hours on the Klute dance floor you’ll still look flapper-fantastic!
ortant p m i l l The a rong lip st
Sneaking a t ime-out
Photographe sets up his r Jonny shot
is place h s w o n Vinny k
Fittest Fresher comes to you as a result of the many fantastic boutiques which provided services and products to support local student journalism.
Directing th e shoot
awless face fl a g in t a e r C
Sherlocks Hairdressing of North Road - (0191) 383 2322 Oxfam Boutique of Elvet Bridge - (0191) 384 7440 Superdrug of High Street – (0191) 375 0526 The Mugwump of Saddler Street – (0191) 386 1282 New Look of High Street - (0191) 375 0564 LeBeado of Elvet Bridge - (0191) 370 9873 Cloth of Silver Street - (07748) 025 579 www.befrassy.com or email@example.com
PALATINATE Friday 20th November 2009
Know your film and television? Enjoy your writing? Write for us. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Film and Television Arts
The best in Durham-orientated arts and culture Including Visual, Books, Film and TV, Music and Stage
Death of the period drama?
Our writer looks for any lifeblood left in literary adaptations BBC/ DAVID VENNI/ BBC
Romola Garai as the eponymous heroine in Austen’s Emma
The aliens among us
“film and TV seem determined to suffocate us with Austen adaptations” Emma’s particular ‘new’ approach was to emphasise a kind of connection between Emma, Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax, as well as to pick up on the notion of travel and Emma’s limited world existence. Although this all felt somewhat contrived, it was less of a concern than the shockingly wooden state of the acting itself overall. Scenes of social intercourse, particularly among the Woodhouse family, lacked the humour and wit essential to Austen, instead displaying a sense of awkwardness and even friction. The characters themselves seemed either bland and lifeless, like Mrs Weston, or just plain ridiculous, as in the case of Mr Elton. And like many other period dramas, the series fell foul to the ‘wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing syndrome’ as distinctly modern-day
modes of speech and behaviour - Emma’s assertion of “we’re just friends”, and worse still, Frank actually lying in Emma’s lap grated against the period setting. However, this is not to say that Emma did not have its moments too; the series definitely improved as it progressed, and I was pleasantly surprised by some truly sensitive and feeling performances from Romola Garai as Emma, demonstrating the dilemmas of discovering oneself caught in love. That said, for me, Emma will unfortunately be another one of those period adaptations which is indeed left to gather dust; I for one won’t be queuing up to buy the DVD. Although there are aspects of Lost in Austen, that, as Amanda Price herself says, would have “Jane Austen spinning in her grave like a cat in a tumble dryer”, in its originality it captured the sense of vitality, tempered with passion and intensity, that Emma never really managed to obtain. For me, the one case out of ten when period drama doesn’t disappoint, is when it achieves such innovation, or as with the superb adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit, when television condescends to occasionally adapt a relatively lesser known work. Unfortunately, this seems destined to become an even more infrequent occurrence, with the BBC increasingly adopting what adaptation legend Andrew Davies describes as a “we’ll only do the big popular warhorses” approach. I guess it means we’ll just have to appreciate those few truly ‘fresh’ adaptations all the more when they do come along.
hen idly flicking through a copy of the Radio Times a few weeks ago, I was immediately horrorstruck to spot an article entitled ‘Farewell to the Bonnet’, which predicted the demise of costume drama due to the enormous financial costs involved, a general decrease in the number of viewers, and an increasing demand for contemporary drama. However, after persevering through BBC1’s latest adaptation of Emma, adapted by Sandy Welch, I began to think that maybe I wouldn’t find life so utterly meaningless if period drama is indeed on its last legs. Although I am immediately filled with excitement every time I hear talk of a new adaptation, nine times out of ten I find myself disappointed. And the ‘cult of Jane Austen’ particularly bothers me: both film and television seem determined to suffocate us with Austen adaptations. Over the past few years, every Austen novel has received at least one airing, whilst to have had a go at ‘donning the bonnet’ has become something of a fashion among many of the big-name female actresses – Keira Knightley and Billie Piper in particular have been at the forefront of the trend.
Nonetheless, each new adaptation still insists it is somehow ‘fresh’ and groundbreaking, yet on the whole this seems unconvincing; rather, screen writers desperately flounder about to ensure their particular adaptation won’t, six months after being shown, find itself forgotten, gathering dust in the ever-growing pile of adaptations.
Ahead of its screening by the Bede Film Soc, we look at the sci-fi hit of the summer District 9 Neil Blomkamp TriStar Pictures ««««« Izzy Barker
n occasion, the sleeping dragons of Hollywood like to raise their heads above unoriginal action thrillers and drab rom-coms to peer over the proverbial parapet at the world’s political problems. Over the years, this occasional nudge towards social awareness has brought us hits such as Hotel Rwanda, as well as extreme misses including the very forgettable Children of Men. District 9, the apartheid allegory sciencefiction hybrid that is the birthchild of director Neill Blomkamp and producer Peter Jackson (of Lord of the Rings fame), promised to be a revolutionary thriller that had it all; action, political comment, guns, aliens and creative use of faux documentary. Whether it actually delivered is debatable. Based on Blomkamp’s short film Alive in Joburg (which can be watched on YouTube for those who are interested), District 9 depicts segregation in Johannesburg, not between black and white, but between
humans and a group of aliens whose spaceship has broken down and come to a halt above the city. Initially international aid goes out to the aliens, helping them to earth as extraterrestrial refugees, but soon their refugee camp becomes a slum and integration seemingly impossible. District 9 begins with a series of interview clips and news footage which are uncannily realistic and the attention to detail of the initial sequences, such as a Johannesburg street sign reading ‘Humans Only’, makes the mockumentary beginning both impressive and incredibly poignant.
“you realise that an hour of brilliant alien mockumentary does not make a science fiction thriller” Sharlto Copley (a little-known South African actor, producer and director) plays Wikus van der Merwe, an awkward, ignorant, but somehow likeable bureaucrat assigned with forcing the aliens (or ‘prawns’ as they are derogatively known
Promotional campaign for Blomkamp’s political sci-fi thriller
due to their physical appearance), into signing forms so they can be relocated from the District 9 slum into a pseudoconcentration camp. The problem with District 9 comes to light when you realise that an hour of brilliant alien mockumentary does not make a science fiction thriller, and that a series of explosive events are needed to tick the film along to a dramatic finale. Soon it descends into a special effectsladen, inter-species buddy movie, as Wikus and his alien friend Christopher run, shoot and bomb their way into a secret service base to steal back alien technology to help
the aliens return home. Formulaic plot devices such as the evil army captain, barbaric alien torture scene, and one man against the tyranny of the world he was once a part of, are wheeled out shamelessly - disappointing after the intense first hour. Grungier than your average sci-fi movie, District 9 blends action thriller with familiar political struggle, and a personal story of betrayal, torment and enlightenment, which makes for engrossing viewing. Copley’s performance as Wikus van der Merwe gives the film an accessible soul. Der Merwe is an identifiable man with merits and flaws; loving and generous
towards his wife and friends, but bigoted through ignorance towards the aliens. If only District 9 had maintained its momentum through the full hour and a half, rather than losing direction and falling back on big budget Hollywood shoot-’emup sequences, it would have an unqualified success. The Bede Film Society will be showing District 9 on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 December. Screenings take place in Caedmon Hall, Hild Bede at 8PM. £1 members, £2 nonmembers.
Friday 20th November 2009 PALATINATE
If you would like to see your photos showcased, email email@example.com Photography Winner Robert Burgess
Theme: Autumn I started taking photography seriously when I got my SLR camera two years ago and have been shooting ever since. I enjoy sports photography mainly, but have been branching out into other forms when I get the opportunity. I took this photo in the Botanic Garden in Durham during autumn last year. I spotted a pile of leaves on the ground and the vibrant autumnal colours really stood out; the russet brown tones and olive greens really complimented one another and seemed to represent the perfect autumn colour palette. Due to the lack of light on the day I had to light the image with a flash, which I think added a nice shine to some of the leaves and really helped the colours “pop”. Overall I was quite pleased with how the photo turned out, but if I was to take it again I would like to remove some of m.ess from the photo and add
Camera: Canon EOS 400D Lens: Canon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 (at 37mm) Exposure: 1/200sec at f/5.0 (ISO 400) with off camera flash
Fred Law “Golden leaves are always the symbol of autumn” Camera: Kodak p850 Lens:Schneider 36mm-432mm Exposure:1/100sec at f/2.8 (ISO 50)
Jonathan Allen “I was looking for an image that captured the spirit of autumn whilst also being different from the usual shots and then I saw the texture of the toadstools..”
Camera: Canon 350D Lens: Canon 18-55mm Exposure: 1/25sec at f/5.6 (ISO 100)
Next Theme: People Deadline: Friday 27th November. Send your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org
PALATINATE Friday 20th November 2009
Want to get involved? E-mail email@example.com
Visual Arts Arts
The power of art on a pedestal
From Renaissance Florence to modern day London, art remains a key channel of political and self-expression
igh art versus ‘low’ art, perfection versus the average Joe, permanence versus the transitory. These were just some of the ideas that flew about during Annabel Howard’s lecture on public sculpture, looking at Michelangelo’s ‘David’ and comparing it to the epitome of 20th century art, Antony Gormley’s ‘Fourth Plinth’ in Trafalgar square.
“Michelangelo created deep psychological tension and put emphasis on the character of the boy rather than the success of the battle.” Stop someone on the street and ask them to name a piece of art and chances are, if they have been exposed to the smallest amount of culture, they will choose Michelangelo’s iconic sculpture ‘David’. At the pinnacle of the High Renaissance (1501-04), the young Michelangelo boasted that he could see the “forms of a figure asleep in the marble” which was just waiting for his hands to wake it up.
The subject, taken from the Bible, is the young king David when he faced the giant Goliath. David represents the small city of Florence surrounded by aggressors at a time when Italy’s power resided with individual cities and states. Unlike previous work on this subject, Michelangelo created deep psychological tension and put emphasis on the character of the boy rather than the success of the battle, picturing David thoughtful and pensive before he faces the giant. He deployed classical, mathematical, humanist perfection to inspire the people of Florence to strength and greatness as they passed the sculpture in the Grand Piazza every day.
“Whether it shows the cynical loss of faith in humanity has become a question of authorial intent”
‘David’ in his place as a political piece
What does a women standing holding an NSPCC sign have in common with the David? “Nothing”, you might say. However, Anthony Gormley disagrees and has been demonstrating this in Trafalgar square. For the first 100 days of this year, the empty fourth plinth has been occupied
UNITED VISUAL ARTISTS/LAURA LAM
Light up, light up
Lumiere lights the way for illuminating installation and interactive art
ith the darkness and depths of winter well and truly upon us, Lumiere, Durham’s festival of light, this weekend utterly transformed our city with a series of installation artworks and visual spectacles. Serving as a public platform for several international artists and performers, the event included some extremely promising works; the most interesting being centred around Durham Cathedral. ‘Chorus’ by the United Visual Artists, and ‘Dune’ by Daan Roosegaarde both embraced a similar approach, utilising the stunning setting of the cathedral to engage with and expose their respective artworks. Although different in their specific content, this type of art is united by its large scale installation features and interactive qualities. The question that I found myself wondering was, how do these qualities actually further their artistic meaning, and is it simply a case of trying to find modern methods for a modern age, or does it go deeper than that? The creative team behind the festival, Artichoke, stated that “the arts should take place not only behind closed doors of theatres and art galleries, but also in public places.” Creating accessible art for the broadest possible audience is by no means an entirely new concept in any way, yet this kind of contemporary installation art, with its strong emphasis on personal
interaction, has created something new and exciting for the modern age.
“the Arts should take place not only behind the closed doors of art galleries, but also in public places” The main focus of these two installations is based on a mutual engagement between the work and the viewer. ‘Chorus’ featured a series of swinging pendulums of harmonious sounds and flashing lights, creating a constant state of flux and motion. The visitor’s auditory experience shifted as he moved underneath it, changing from angelic choirs to the staccato rhythms of a beatbox. ‘Dune’, based in the Cathedral Cloisters, featured rows upon rows of illuminated rods, or ‘flowers’ of light, that triggered various noises and lights based upon the movement of the visitor as they passed by, creating a sense of unease and mystery. These works unite sound, light and movement, to create an almost spiritual effect. Being ‘part’ of the artwork gave a unique accessibility in a way that traditional gallery art simply cannot achieve. It becomes a more sensory experience with
by 2,400 real people who were picked at random from nearly 32,000 applicants. No longer is public sculpture exclusive, but inclusive. It presents the everyday man and woman as heroes alongside statues of kings, queens and Nelson. Gormley challenges our presumptions about who can represent art, what art consists of, and how we experience it. Whether the people on the plinth are being offered up as inspiration and celebration of what the British public is, or whether it shows the cynical loss of faith in humanity, has become a question of authorial intent. Gormley’s piece also questions the nature of art in the 21st century. Unlike Michelangelo, Gormley asks us to interpret and participate in the art. Whether you see the plinth as a protest or pole dance, studio or stocks, playpen or pulpit, as a frame for interrogation or for meditation, it has provided an open space of possibility for many to test their sense of self and how they might communicate this to a wider world. All this made me begin to think about the role of public sculpture, and I wondered what an hour on the plinth would inspire me to do. For those of you who have not noticed, the equestrian sculpture of Lord Londonderry in Durham’s Market Square has recently been removed, leaving a conspicuously empty plinth behind, so maybe it’s time Durham followed Gormley’s lead and embraced the idea of living Art in the night: a one hour stint on the plinth sculpture too! ANTHONY GORMLEY/TPHOLLAND
strong immediacy and involvement, rather than a framed focus on a gallery wall, or isolated objects on pedestals. Time and space become the only constants around such works, thus dissolving the line between art and life, moving art and ‘reality’ closer together. Bill Viola, the master of modern installation art, and one of the most prominent contemporary artists of today, says of the subject; “When I make my work, I am making a space for individual contemplation and reflection. I want my art to be useful.” This is undoubtedly the direction that modern art is now moving in: creating a function that is designed to engage with the individual on an intimate level and that is universally accessible.
“Time and space become the only constants.. dissolving the line between art and life”
‘Chorus’ resplendent in Durham Cathedral
We live in a time when contemporary visual arts are in a constant state of flux, as new ideas and methods are discarded as quickly as they are introduced. But the contemporary installations such as those showcased in Lumiere, are trying to remind us what art has always been about: creating an immediate, sensory experience that will affect the individual and stay with them. These new means of interaction and installation aim to unite and to reach out through innovative methods in these modern times of fragmentation and isolation. But perhaps it all comes down to this: the emotional impact of art living on in memory, and not in museums. This idea is what lies truly at the heart of these novel interactive installations.
Friday 20th November 2009 PALATINATE
If you want to get involved with us covering Stage, subscribe to the mailing list: firstname.lastname@example.org
Man’s inhumanity to man Incident at Vichy DUP
Does the DST production of Arthur Miller’s classic live up to expectations?
“The powerful realism was a credit to the strength of the actors”
The idea of staging a play in a room as small and un-theatrical as Castle’s Norman Chapel at first seemed absurd to me, yet following the notably unorganised handling of audience members prior to their admission into the Chapel itself (attributable to a slight lack of preparation on the first night, perhaps) I instantly began to appreciate the dynamic effect the location had in terms of underpinning the atmosphere and tone that such a dark play as Incident at Vichy tries to convey. We were instantly assimilated into the setting (a room of men, mostly Jews waiting for inspection in Nazi-accommodated France) with the initial cast in place and in character prior to our arrival as we sat down, and to the play’s definite credit, this realism was never lost throughout the entire production. Perhaps this strength can be put down to the ensemble cast, many of which played very strong, memorable characters. Gareth Davies as the painter conveyed his character’s change in tone over the course of his involvement in the play superbly, and was very easy to sympathise with as he
gradually shifted from ignorant optimism to denial of the dark Nazi regime, despite his slightly angular movements. Kieran E Sims as the electrician commanded attention from the outset (providing you could see him, it was very hard to not stare at his forlorn face prior to the initial dialogue) and portrayed his character excellently, aiding the realism with his well-balanced ambivalence of selfishness and understanding of the situation. Furthermore, the late additions of Alex Bhat as Leduc and Ben Salter as Von Berg led to a chillingly emotional climax to the play as the two discuss and ultimately take action with relation to the perception of the Nazi regime, and how such horrors can exist; both actors were outstanding and illustrated the tone of the play superbly. The remainder of the cast, especially Harry Bresslaw as the Captain, Callum Cheatle as the Major and Adam Usden as Monceau must also be commended for ensuring that the dark atmosphere of the play wasn’t broken by poor characterisation – the powerful realism was a credit to the strength of the actors.
Norman Chapel, Castle «««««
In terms of the play’s direction, Rebecca Mackinnon’s positioning of the characters greatly aided the atmosphere, with notable examples such as Bayard’s outrage, when nearly all characters were positioned as far away from the Nazi office as possible. Nevertheless, it must be stated that perhaps the location at times was not perfectly ideal; while the Chapel was extremely atmospheric and as such definitely contributed to the engrossing play, the fact that the conversing actors were always blocked off by pillars to a section of the audience must be noted. This should not have been a main issue in terms of the acting strength, yet at times lines were rushed or slightly gabbled, and due to the setting and acoustics, were lost to the pillars. These occurrences were rare however, and for the most part of the play, the way in which the characters and staging was presented was original and served to get the audience continually engrossed. For theatre, the Norman Chapel could never have been a perfect venue, yet this play used it to work wonders. This production of Incident at Vichy really brought out the themes of Jewish naivety, the varying polarised mindsets during the war and the concept of how the Nazis were able to execute such horrible actions, through a strong ensemble and enough variation to stop any hints of the play become stale. As such, regardless of coughing, mobiles phones and (unforgivably, in the context of the play and how it was presented) audience members being allowed in late, the realism and atmosphere was maintained throughout, and as a result of this the production was engrossing and impressive from start to finish. Perhaps this is my subjectivity as a WWII-loving historian, but I’d love to go again.
PALATINATE Friday 20th November 2009
Want the inside track on the Durham theatre scene? Visit palatinate.org.uk
Politics in Fairyland
DULOG’s production of Iolanthe enchants our Palatinate reviewer Iolanthe DULOG The Assembly Rooms ««««« Mark Harmstone
Magic or mortality? It’s a tough call for this member of the mystical elite.
t’s a shame that so little of the Gilbert and Sullivan canon seems to be performed nowadays and in that light DULOG deserves praise for deciding to put on Iolanthe this year. Watching it, one realizes why it is so often neglected. So many of the jokes depend on knowledge all but lost in the modern audience. How many non-lawyers would understand why what Phyllis told Strephon was “not evidence?” How many non-historians would know what a Liberal Conservative was, or a representative peer? Regardless, the production did let a lot of the inherent charm of the work shine through. The title character (Caroline Gaunt), once queen of the fairies, has been exiled for 25 years for having the temerity to marry a mortal, an offence so heinous that it usually warrants the death penalty. Her son, Strephon (Ben Gittins), is the product of this union, and this half-fairy (only down to the waist) must battle against the might of the House of Lords to win the hand of his beloved Phyllis (Cara Parkinson), a Ward-in-Chancery. It’s very silly of course, and the ending is a typical Gilbertian deus ex machina, with the new
fairy queen (Debroah Lowe) magicking the entire human cast into fairies and escorting them away from Westminster and into the rural idyll of Act One. Special praise is due both to Ollie Stevenson, whose “highly susceptible Chancellor” stole the show, and to Guy Hughes, who played the bemused Private Willis, the guardsman swept up in these
the exception of their queen, would not have looked out of place staggering down the Hill on a bar-crawl. The Chancellor was better, but would have been even more so had he sported the traditional gold bars of the first production (which, it is said, inspired the Chief Justice of the United States William Rehnquist to change his own attire). I was reminded of the failure of last year’s Captain Corcoran to bear his rank insignia on his sleeve. It’s a little thing, I know, but it would add considerably to the verisimilitude. As Celia herself says, we know it’s weakness, but the weakness is so strong. Yet it is undeniably that the production let a lot of the inherent charm of the work shine through. Despite these minor failings, DULOG once again managed to offer a marvellous evening out, never failing to entertain. Like the law (in the opinion of the Chancellor at least), they are indeed “the true embodiment of everything that’s excellent”, setting DULOG up for a spectacular year of theatre.
“A marvellous evening out, never failing to entertain” improbable events against his will. David Wigy and Douglas Gibbs likewise acted admirably the parts of Lords Mountararat and Tolloler, the two earls so alike in plainness and mediocrity that Phyllis cannot possibly choose between them (was Gilbert prophetically anticipating here the choice of the Liberal Democrats in 2007 between Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne?). An otherwise excellent production was marred only in two respects. The first was the staging: although Act Two’s Palace of Westminster was done well (if a little anachronistically, if, as seems likely, the opera is set pre-Reform), Act One’s Fairyland was a little uninspiring. Likewise, the Lord Chancellor’s Woolsack looked to me decidedly like a wooden crate. Perhaps I’m just being too much of a political geek. As for the costumes, the fairies, with
Check out palatinate.org.uk,
and select the Stage section for a plethora of other articles and reviews including last term’s summer show bonanaza featuring such runaway successes as W;t, and an exclusive interview with the director of this year’s Collingwood play, not to mention this term’s Murder in the Cathedral and Albert Herring.
It’s back to school time for the lads The History Boys DST The Assembly Rooms ««««« Jack Skelton
ince its premiere in 2004 The History Boys is now performed throughout the world. When done well, the play is supremely funny, touchingly poignant yet ultimately life-enhancing. Sadly, Durham Student Theatre’s recent production falls slightly short in all of these aspects. The director Tom Lyons chose to stick to the script of the original stage production without any notably lengthy omissions. To perform the entirety of the play was exceedingly ambitious, especially due to the technical limitations of student theatre. Unfortunately, this meant that the production was far too long, and at certain points felt immensely laboured. However, Lyons deserves credit for the staging of the play, as he kept the set-up simple to ensure largely smooth transitions between scenes. One well-executed idea was the projection of amusing videos and 80s music during the frequent scene changes. They provided welcome interludes to the action, although the architecture of the Assembly Rooms proved a hindrance, as part of each video was projected awkwardly onto the ceiling.
Adult actors from regional theatre groups played the parts of Hector, Mrs Lintott and the headmaster. This was a neat touch that helped to convey the closeness in age between Irwin and the boys, in contrast to the three elderly members of staff.
“Lyons deserves credit for the staging of the play” However, it would have been interesting to see students tackling these parts, as generally the student actors were more impressive than their adult counterparts. Ollie Lynes outshone the adult actors with his portrayal of Irwin. He captured the mixture of repression and unfulfilled desire that abounds within the character. The scene in which Irwin finally decides to act on his impulses and agrees to a ‘drink’ with Dakin was performed with remarkable sensitivity by Lynes and was perhaps the finest moment of this production. Gareth Davies excelled as the genial Scripps and delivered both his humorous lines and his more solemn soliloquies with consummate professionalism. Callum Cheatle stole many a scene as the hopeless- Posner (Callum Cheatle) is every inch the model pupil ly infatuated Posner, and his performance
DST’s latest portrayal of a Bennett classic manages to make the grade but is not quite history in the making of “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” towards Dakin was hysterical. Jonny Bowers also effectively exuded the arrogance and charm of Dakin’s character.
“Gareth Davies excelled as the genial Scripps” The remaining boys all gave sound performances although the depiction of Rudge was questionable. The decision to overstate the gap in intelligence between Rudge and the other boys and exaggerate the gauche aspects of his character was ill advised. He therefore came across as plain stupid rather than just non-intellectual and it was utterly unbelievable that he was a gifted sportsman. In total, this was a production that contained some promising and competent performances, but these were ultimately undermined by an overly lengthy running time, and a lack of considered editing that would have prevented the production from feeling like a stock reproduction of the original script. Whilst it was genuinely amusing throughout, it fell short in trying to evoke either the poignant or affirmative qualities of the play.
Friday 20th November 2009 PALATINATE
Read these and other music pieces online at palatinate.org.uk
Alphabeat: bringing the ‘90s into the present
Katy Balls chats to the Danish pop group about their new album before their show at Newcastle’s O2 Academy
ailing from Silkeborg in Denmark, pop band Alphabeat reached the UK in 2008 with their hit single ‘Fascination’. After a time out and a change of record company, they’re back with a new ‘90s inspired album: The Spell. I caught up with the boys of the band to get the lowdown on their new musical venture.
Ok time for some quick fire, what/ who do you prefer: Katy Perry or Bob Dylan? A: Katy Perry Europe or Asia? A: Europe as we’re in it.
We haven’t heard from you really since the first album: what’s been happening…briefly? Anders: We ended our campaign December last year and then we basically just got a lot of offers to tour. We got an offer from Katy Perry to tour with her but we really wanted to make a new album and since January to July/August we’ve been in our home studio making this album morning to evening every day and working really hard.
Gordon Brown or Nick Griffin? A: Hmm tricky one, Simon Cowell. Who do you think are the greatest Scandinavian musicians? A: Hmm, there’s actually a lot of good stuff coming from Scandinavia but I suppose Abba have had the biggest impact.
“We played 150 gigs last years and it’s really good to be back now”
Alphabeat in action at Newcastle’s O2 Academy
Enjoyable? A: Yeah definitely, we’d been on the road for so long, almost three years of campaign with our last album so we really wanted to get some good stuff recorded. We played
Did the second album come quite easily? A: In a way, the first album was only written by our guitarist and for this album we all got involved and had a lot more songs
150 gigs last year and it’s really good to be back now, but it was a needed time-out.
How would you rate your new album The Spell out of ten if you had to review it? A: Ha, review our own album? I’m really happy with the album; there is not one thing I’d change with it. to choose from so that was really good.
A: Ha, it’s not a big master plan, we tried a lot of different stuff when we were making the record and we wouldn’t have done this if we didn’t think it suited us. We discovered that Christina’s voice really suited those kinds of songs. This felt like a natural progression.
The first album was inspired by the ‘80s and the new album The Spell is inspired by the ‘90s: is the third album going to be inspired by the ‘00s? And if so does that mean you’re going to be inspired by yourself?
Feel the rhythm, feel the grime
Untold Gonna Work Out Fine EP Hemlock «««««
Henry John argues for the up-and-coming genre of dubstep
“Dubstep is no longer an underground movement” There is an intensity and darkness about dubstep that makes it the perfect music to dance to. You can feel the bass moving through your body, twisting limbs and grinding up your spine with such su-
ew music has always attracted distinct criticisms. Contemporaries of both the psychedelic underground sound of the ‘60s and of punk music in the ‘70s often showed disregard, which sometimes escalated into full-blown attack, for innovative styles that went against previous musical rules. Indeed, a Californian newspaper’s review of the Ramones, one of the most influential bands in musical history, compared them to “the sound of a thousand toilets flushing”. It is in this light that last issue’s criticism of dubstep music must be viewed. The uniqueness of dubstep, with its innovative two-step bass driven rhythm and under-reliance on percussion sounds, means that it does not necessarily satisfy many people’s musical palette. The claim that dubstep remixes of songs would be nothing without their samples perhaps displays a lack of depth in musical interpretation. For proof of a remix which outdoes its samples, see Suspicious Stench’s remix of ‘Ghost Town’ by the Specials, which, when dropped in a club, invokes awe and reverence from lovers of bass and grime.
What’s your favourite letter? A: E, I actually like E. And there’s a great Norwegian letter too pronounced ‘Ooi’.
Deep Medi Dubstep Party at U-Club in Wuppertal, Germany
premacy that, at a rave, the crowd can simply become a churning mass of sporadic enjoyment. Anyone present at Skream’s performance at Rub a Dub Dub on 19th October can testify to the sheer potency of a crowd faced with live dubstep. Dubstep is certainly best enjoyed in a club, and this is why Rub a Dub Dub, the new night every Monday at Loveshack, has been viewed as a god-send by dub fans in Durham. Having begun in Cosmic Ballroom in Newcastle, running possibly the hottest student night in the city for the last two years, it has spread its base of operations to Durham.
Rub a Dub Dub has brought with it a new scale and influence. It accepts that dubstep is no longer an underground movement of the previous decade, also billing break-beats acts Krafty Kuts and remix wizards Drop the Lime. Dubstep is no longer an elitist music. It can be enjoyed by everyone, no matter what your musical taste is. The fact that there are remixes of La Roux and Little Boots, and that even pop singers such as Britney Spears are beginning to use dubstep rhythms in their songs, shows a desire by artists to expand the scene and usher in a new age of bass-driven madness.
he philosopher Gilles Deleuze described the process by which he conducted his interpretation of other thinkers’ work as a kind of buggery: subjecting classical theories to scrutiny, resulting in a radically different approach, yet one which still pays homage to its origin. Deleuze’s metaphor came to mind as I listened to Untold’s highly anticipated EP Gonna Work Out Fine, released on his label Hemlock earlier this month. Otherwise known as Jack Dunning, Untold’s musical production, which rewires various elements of electronic music’s historical lineage, represents an output which resists neat classification. Although predominantly received by the (increasingly disenchanted) dubstep community, the EP is certainly not dubstep. In fact, it is far from clear what it is at all.
“A delirious blend of sinister emotion with the power to uplift” Much has been made of the ambiguity of Untold’s seven major releases; recurring comparisons between the early years of the noughties, in which Wiley’s instrumentals similarly defied categorisation. Wiley parodied the question and suggested an answer in his 2004 ‘Wot Do U Call It?’, the track in which the now descriptively pertinent notion of ‘eski-beat’ was born. Dunning offers his listeners no such help, but with the scene arguably facing
So you’re thinking 10/10? A: We’ll go with nine and a half as there is always that bit extra you can do. Finally, any advice on why Durham students should buy the new album? A: Just do it, it’s great.
another ‘wot do u call it?’ moment, it is clear that his recent release owes more to the eski boy rather than displaying courage to embrace the new. Upon listening, one is struck by the music of a producer who has studiously internalised Anglo-American electronic music, from Chicago house, through to dark jungle and grime. ‘Gonna Work Out Fine’, the first track on the EP is built around a simple 4/4 tap that provides foundations for a number that leaps between an irregular landscape of halcyon synth and chimes, and a distinctive bouncing bass line, reminiscent of 8-bar garage such as Musical Mob’s classic ‘Pulse X’ or Dj Zinc’s ‘138 Trek’. This sound is similarly utilised in ‘Don’t Know. Don’t Care’, in which house-style Casio riffs are kept afloat by a warping, disfigured sub-bass, this time accompanied by a more intricate yet modest drum pattern. Drums however are absent in the phenomenal ‘Stop What Your Doing’, arguably the best track on the EP, which clearly indicates the influence of seminal Wiley productions. Since the bars of this track are not driven by drums but alternative aspects of the arrangement, it has a left-field sparseness in a culture of electronic music where increased levels of complexity hold currency. Combine this with a punchy reverberating bass kneaded into haunting synths, the result is a delirious blend of sinister emotion that has the power to uplift. It should be clear that my enthusiasm is motivated not only by an accomplished piece of work, but by the whole project Untold is pursuing. The EP’s tracks are not nostalgic, yearning for a time in which UK electronic music had a system of quality control which today it sorely lacks. Rather, Untold demonstrates that he can take up the themes of his forerunners, and by working through them and revisiting them, arrive in strange and exciting new territory. Gonna Work Out Fine is that territory.
PALATINATE Friday 20th November 2009
Are you a bit of a bookworm? Write about your passion. E-mail email@example.com
Delving into the private lives of the great and the good
Publishing the diaries of famous writers is both fascinating but nevertheless appealing to our gossipy nature Journals have been in the literary news recently, or more accurately the long awaited journals of John Cheever. A short story writer and novelist of transcendence among American suburban domesticity, one may have presumed him to be an Updike-esque housecat, happy to resolve his doubtless intriguing inner battles across the pages of his manuscripts. Far from it though, as his lifetime of extensive journals, soon to be posthumously released, contain years of intermittently repressed sexual confusion, brutally destructive alcoholism, and tortured family life - though the latter was largely in the public domain thanks to extensive biographies and family memoirs. The real surprise is the rumour that these journals represent Cheever’s very finest literary crop. Cheever is not the first writer to write readable journals. Virginia Woolf, Franz Kafka and Anais Nin, among scores of others, have had theirs published to reasonable acclaim. What intrigues is that, if certain reviewers are to be believed, Cheever stands with only Samuel Pepys and the Danish literary philosopher Soren Kierkegaard as a writer who kept his very best work for the underside of the bed. Bizarre. The immediate reaction is that the writer had every intention of his journals being published, as a posthumous monument to their literary art. What self-
discipline this must take! What patience, knowing one could never see the proceeds of the harvest! I don’t entirely buy this; Pepys wrote in a brutally tangentential code, Kafka famously asked Max Brod to construct a bonfire for all his work. Any number of authors kept their own secrets hidden, and the masterpieces we discover are only the foiling of these best laid plans. The quality of the small cross-section we know of is remarkable. However, reading such work certainly puts me, and I would tentatively suggest you, to shame. Drawing on a mixture of personal experience and voyeurism, uniquely personal journals are largely immature nonsense, a mixture of the hideously embarrassing, banal, and indecipherable. The contents of the day, whether as a second-year undergraduate in a one-horse town, or as John Cheever, will inevitably be hideously dull. Meals and walking between buildings are the facts. What goes on between the ears is, on paper, utter nonsense. I don’t think anyone cares that my fourteen year-old self read too much into some poor girl on the bus accidentally leaning her schoolbag against my knee. And neither do I particularly feel the need to share this with anyone (note I give a rather old example). Best to keep silent. I am not saying there is anything wrong with putting to paper what you wish; on the contrary it’s as good a release as
A taste of life beyond the lecture theatre Jo Parnell
Last lesson, the first Friday back of term, a disinterested thirteen year-old asked me a question: “You don’t actually like reading do you?” After what I hope was a pregnant and dramatic pause I answered, “Do you know the herbal essence advert? Well that’s how I feel about books”. And it’s true. It is perhaps ironic that I came to be sitting in this classroom, sharing my undoubtedly dubious metaphor with a group of adolescents. I was there not through a burning desire to teach English, but to appease my growing overdraft. Growing up the daughter of an English teacher has been a double-edged sword. On the one hand, people often see it as a kind of educational advantage, and indeed I memorised entire books before I could read. On the other hand, any mention of aspirations to the profession have been met with warnings of, “Think twice and think again; don’t do it Jo!” And to be honest I truly didn’t expect to enjoy it. I thought of my affair with literature as illicit, not something to be displayed under a learning objective on an interactive whiteboard. So it was an out-ofbody experience to see myself indulgently reading Roald Dahl’s revolting rhymes to a Year Seven class, adding a different voice for each little pig, and pausing dramatically before revealing Red Riding Hood whipping a pistol out of her knickers. I looked up to see 30 attentive faces; the National Youth Theatre may have rejected me (… twice), but I’d finally found my audience! And once I’d started I couldn’t stop. These
kids were getting more stories whether they liked it or not. The Speckled Band, The Land Lady, Macbeth; the classroom was my dramatic domain, battling waning enthusiasm with verbal aplomb every day, 8.45am until ten past three, here all week. The final day of my placement did not end, however, with a joyful heel click and a sprint to the bank. Earlier that day I had worked with a young man on a piece of original writing. His opening gambit was that it was “crap”, that he “couldn’t do English” but that if I told him what to write, he would try his very best. He was in the bottom set, and other teachers found him intolerable in the class. His opening paragraph, which he dismissed so quickly, described the “fresh clearness of the peaceful water,” and I told him that anyone who could infuse their language with that level of feeling was most certainly not “crap”. As he left he thanked me four times and walked from the classroom. I vaguely remember wondering if one small triumph in an English classroom might have some larger resonance for him, when his head reappeared around the door and he asked with a look of curiosity, “Miss, do you know every word in the dictionary?” I must admit that I have no designs upon initial teacher training after graduation this summer. I am far too comfortable sitting on my side of the desk. But who knows. One day I may find myself, like my mother, reading To Kill a Mockingbird aloud for the 25th year running and still feeling a rush of emotion at the familiar words. There are certainly worse fates. Except I would be wearing much nicer shoes.
Lacklustre fiction Kate Mosse’s works fail to impress
How good are her books?
There are two sides to Kate Mosse: the aesthetic and the artistic. Aesthetically exquisite, the alluring Ms Mosse was a popular attraction at the recent Durham Book Festival. Elegantly dressed, Mosse’s sculpted features were framed by golden locks modestly pulled up into a ponytail which bounced pendulously as she emphasised her points. These points, made in a confident, polished and ever so
slightly seductive, if not suggestive voice, held the audience in a state of evident anticipation and frequent amusement. Ms Mosse’s performance was rendered more formidable for the calm and patient way she handled the fawning introduction and gushing questions from the interviewer, which were enough to drench the entire audience. This engaging and charming personality no doubt significantly lengthened the queue to her book signing, which almost snaked its way out of the Gala Theatre. On reading her books, however, the superlatives cease. Starting at the end of the book is perhaps the best way to enjoy Ms Mosse’s works, although it still provokes considerable pain. To describe her endings as facile could misleadingly indicate that the rest of her books are of a superior quality. Her magnum opus Labyrinth ends thus: “in the distance, a white moon is rising in the speckled sky, promising another fine day tomorrow”. This ending requires no further comment except that after 525 pages it cannot come soon enough. A second comment refers to Mosse’s physical descriptions of her heroines. Her best known heroine Alice, “stands up and stretches her slim legs, lightly tanned by the sun”. Her attire of “cut-off denim shorts, tight white sleeveless T-shirt and cap” for an archaeological dig is also ludicrously implausible, and makes a mockery of the “years” of research Mosse repeatedly professes to have done. Thematic content is clearly another area where Ms Mosse struggles to attain the standard necessary to classify her as a
punching inanimate objects and better than stewing all night with the lights out. Perhaps though, hope beyond hope, greater ambition could change not just memories, but the present itself. Woolf, Kierkegaard, John Cheever: all managed to stay truthful to their lives, and it is essential not to self-consciously build grand narratives across the prosaic curvature of another grey day. But life can be well expressed in a number of ways, and we should not be scared to attach beauty and importance to our own trials and experiences. Life can be something more important than the cold logic of hour by hour digressions, and putting it on paper with an artistic approach may well express this better than any mental analysis could. Perhaps I could communicate, not necessarily by showing my work, but by the self-realisation that my life, slow as it may seem, is a life like any other of a hero or a villain or a nobody I read about. Perhaps, by putting my life down on paper, I could change it. It could attain a structure, a poignancy in its quiet moments, an appreciation of the forces that otherwise lead me around buffeted with no direction. I could catalogue my life as something wider than the confines of my own imagination. As John Cheever and a select few others have shown, what may leave the pen of the author as a mess, may reach the eye of the reader as a transcendence. novelist of any merit. Her statement that “History is words carved on stone so that we should remember”, is certainly an independent and unconventional approach to the discipline. However, her judgement at the Durham Book Festival that “WWI is a clean issue because the rights and wrongs are so clear” is unpardonable. Her failure to explain what exactly the rights and wrongs of WWI are, excuses her from further embarrassment and also excludes her books from any claim to the historical novel genre. This one statement, taken in isolation, raises questions about her understanding of historical controversy, one of the basic foundations of the discipline. Ms Mosse’s interesting relationship with controversy and the supernatural manifests itself in two separate cringeworthy extracts for which her editor must surely take some share of the blame. “Alice understands, as Alais did, that the real Grail lies in the love handed down from generation to generation, the words spoken by father to son, mother to daughter”. This is followed by, “a flash of understanding went through Alice. The Grail belonged to all faiths and none. Christian, Jew, Moslem. Five guardians, chosen for their character, their deeds, not their bloodline. All were equal”. Seemingly aimed at the masochistic reader, writing of this quality is better classified as typing. An author whose reputation rests on such a work should perhaps be reclassified as a clerk. Cyril Connolly’s decree that it is “better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self” was intended as a maxim for talented writers selling their pens to the highest bidder. Sadly, Ms Mosse has yet to prove herself as a writer, let alone demonstrate her talent. With the recent publication The Winter Ghosts, it remains to be seen whether Ms Mosse can elevate her artistic attraction to that of her aesthetic appeal.
PALATINATE Friday 20th November 2009
Whatever your game, get into it at palatinate.org.uk
Inside. College football,college points table, wins for Durham Saints and Men’s Lacrosse. Plus latest Rugby Union news.
Maiden Castle will be completely revamped in the build up to the 2012 Games. The University is committed to providing world class facilities for the Sri Lankan squad
University to host Sri Lanka Olympic squad in 2012 Rajvir Rai
Durham University recently became the first North East Institute to reach an agreement to host athletes in the run up to the London 2012 Games, after announcing that a Memorandum of Understanding had been signed with the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka. The University and the South Asian nation have developed close ties since the latter was devastated by a tsunami nearly five years ago, and the MoU, which states that Sri Lanka’s top athletes will use the facilities at Maiden Castle in preparation for their assault on the medal table, is a further exam-
ple of this. Hemasiri Fernando, President of the Sri Lankan National Olympic squad, said: “We are delighted to be working with Durham University in the pre-Olympic training of our athletes in anticipation of the London 2012 games.” The Sri Lankan Olympic squad will join a prestigious list of sporting teams to have harnessed their skills in our humble sports ground; a list which includes Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle, the West Indies touring cricket team, three national football squads during the European Championships in 1996, and the Malaysian women’s national hockey outfit.
Dan Lewis, our Deputy Director of Sport, said: “We’re delighted to be able to continue our long history of supporting elite athletes”. Sri Lanka have a modest history having only ever won two medals at the Games, and are expected to only bring a small party of 10 competitors, but the developing nation are fast-improving and will be looking to build on their performance from Beijing in 2008. The significance of such a deal should not be underestimated, as it gives future students and the North East as a whole a chance to really feel part of the 2012 Olympics.
Lewis stressed that: “We’re keen to promote that the 2012 Games doesn’t just belong to London and the deal means that the local schools will have a lot more affinity to the Games than perhaps they would have otherwise. “The benefit of hosting a smaller nation is that they might be willing to train with our students, which would be a tremendous experience.” Paul Deighton, chief executive of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games, had similar thoughts, saying: “The deal is great news for Durham University and the surrounding areas.” Deighton also highlighted the wider opportunities
of the Sri Lankan team’s visit for the local community, commenting that: “It also gives the people of Durham a chance to get involved in the build up to the Games and potentially develop some exciting social and cultural programmes around the team’s visit.” The North East is expected to confirm at least two more Olympic squads in the near future, with the Zambian team likely to sign a deal with Northumbria University and Teesside University in talks with the Singapore table tennis team. Clearly then, the North East is showing that the 2012 Games are definitely not just about London.
Six medicine lecturers, DUCK, and the Great North Run The recent Great North Run saw six of Durham University’s own academic staff take part. Six medicine lecturers committed themselves to training for the world’s biggest, and most famous half marathon, to raise invaluable funds for the charity Butterwick Hospice through DUCK. Drs Marina Sawdon, Fiona Curtis, Simon Forrest, Leo Donnelly, Debra Patten and Andrew Chaytor decided to run for the charity, which “offers adults and children compassionate holistic care and relief from the pain and symptoms caused by life limiting illness”, in memory of Dr Sawdon’s mother, who died of cancer last year. Butterwick Hospice had provided immeasurable support for her mother, Judy Massey, as well as family and friends. Dr Sawdon said: “The Hospice offers such an important service to those with cancer and also to their families. The care they gave my mum for the short time she was there meant so much to us.” The charity has two hospices, one in Stockton-on-Tees and one in Bishop Auckland. Today Butterwick Hospice helps around 200 patients and their families, and their funds are contributed to greatly by runners. Countless individuals take part in running events in memory of loved ones, and the Great North Run in particular is renowned for this. Initially in 1981 the event attracted 10,000 runners. This year well over 50,000 people
took part in what is now the world’s biggest and most iconic half marathon. This year marked the 29th Great North Run between Newcastle and South Shields, and was thus extremely high profile. As they went past the start line, runners shook hands with Sting, and at the finish were treated to a display by the red arrows squadron, as well as live music and free massages. Runners turned up in a vast, colourful array of costumes, from a giant globe to a cavewoman. As well as the medicine lecturers, around 40 Durham students ran with DUCK for Butterwick Hospice and the British Red Cross. Amongst the runners were several celebrities, including Michelin star chef Gordon Ramsay, Apprentice winners Lee McQueen and Yasmina Siadatan, and Premier League presenter Ray Stubbs. Sting, who alongside Ashes-winning Steve Harmison sounded the starting gun, said: “It is so exciting to be here and the atmosphere is incredible. It is a perfect day with blue skies and everybody is smiling.” The lecturers and students managed to complete the arduous challenge in a variety of times. Dr Sawdon finished the event in an astounding 2 hours 43 minutes, who before this said she had only ever run 3 miles. For all those inspired by this, throughout this academic year there will be several running events, ranging from a banana chasing fun run to the full-on London marathon, that Durham students will able to take part in with DUCK.
DR MARINA SAWDON
Friday 20th November 2009 PALATINATE
Have your say at palatinate.org.uk
Butler women steal three points from wasteful Van Mildert Josephine Butler College came back against the odds to beat Van Mildert 2-1 in a highly anticipated Women’s Premiership Division clash. Butler went into the match missing two key DUWAFC players, Helen Thomas and Anna Derrick, leading many to believe that Van Mildert would take the game comfortably. Lead superbly by the University captain Amy Perch, Butler put up a strong resistance to wave after wave of yellow attack which reaped dividends at the final whistle. With barely ten minutes gone in the first half, Sarah Cannon turned in a Livvy Amos corner as Mildert turned their early pressure into a lead. From then on it looked like Mildert would turn their superior possession and attacking play into a clear goal margin. However, the first half came and went with Mildert launching endless attacks on the Butler goal, only to find Perch standing firm in the heart of defence. With every loose ball in the penalty area, the Butler captain was first to the action and proved to be an insurmountable obstacle in almost every Mildert attack. When Perch was unable to make a last ditch tackle or deflection, Mildert contributed to their own downfall by failing to capitalise on clear scoring opportunities. During the half-time interval, Mildert captain Emily Reed brought on Alex Bridger to add some steel to the centre of the field. The move paid off as Mildert immediately asserted their midfield dominance in
the second half. With Rachel Sowerby acting as playmaker, Mildert created chance after chance only to see their final efforts thwarted by Perch, who had continued her impressive form from the first half. There was a distinct feeling of frustration as Mildert contemplated the score line. For all their chances and superior possession, they only had a 1-0 lead to protect. That frustration quickly turned to disbelief as Butler stole a surprise equaliser against the run of play. University goalkeeper Holly Williams, playing as striker, jumped on a loose ball and made no mistake in her finish. Shocked to find themselves on even terms, Mildert continued their attacks on the Butler goal, only to repeat their wayward shooting from the first half of the match. Esther Hitchin enjoyed an effective outing on the right wing, but her teammates had clearly left their shooting boots at home. An entertaining first half ended with the scores level at 1-1, and with both teams clearly feeling they could go on to claim three points. The second half was more notable for a series of controversial refereeing decisions which left the Mildert players fuming, many of whom were still incensed that Butler’s first goal was allowed to stand despite the fact it came directly from a clear foul throw. Even for the ‘flexible’ standards which are sometimes afforded in ladies’ college football, this was a very poor refereeing decision to say the least. To make matters worse, the referee’s whistle was also notably absent from at least 3
Van Mildert will be kicking themselves for wasting opportunities to put the game to bed.
controversial handball penalty incidents. The first fell when a tangle ensued between the Mildert goalkeeper and full back in trying to contain striker Williams on one of Butler’s rare attacks. The latter two incidents involved clear handballs in the Butler penalty area, which left the Mildert players and supporters at a total loss for words yet again. Amos, having moved to the left wing to provide more of a goal threat, was visibly furious after having a penalty claim waved away. To make matters worse for the Mildert side, Butler delivered a sucker punch when Williams latched onto a through ball and again made Mildert pay for their wasteful finishing. Two shots on target and two goals later, Butler had taken a surprising lead much to the joy of their somewhat shocked fans. Unfortunately the last fifteen minutes brought no more luck for Mildert. After throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the Butler goal, they were frequently denied by a last ditch tackle or a poor finish. Williams was brought back to shore up the Butler defence, making some heroic tackles and clearances, and at one point cleared away an impressive five consecutive Mildert corners. As the final whistle went, Mildert were left to contemplate a missed opportunity, whilst Butler joyfully celebrated an unexpected victory. Their stubborn defence had survived the onslaught, and triumphed over a persistent but wasteful Mildert attack.
Efficient Collingwood put six past struggling Stephenson On paper, Collingwood’s six-goal defeat of Stephenson reads like a thrashing of the highest order. However, instead of despair, Stevo will more likely be consumed by frustration; and instead of delight, Collingwood can give themselves a modest pat on the back for a job well done. Stephenson had the lion’s share of possession throughout the game, and, at times, passed the ball in the midfield with a verve that Collingwood barely hinted at. However, not once did Stephenson have a true, worked, clear-cut scoring opportunity, whilst every time their opponents had possession, it felt like only a matter of seconds would go by before the excellent Phil Critchley netted his next goal. The seeds of this defeat were evident within the first five minutes. Stephenson’s midfield and defence appeared so committed to pressing the ball that they lost all their positional sense, so while Collingwood had trouble finding space to run with the ball, a decent pass could bypass the stretched defence. Even before the first goal went in, the game had settled into the pattern it would assume for most of the ninety minutes: decent spells of midfield possession for Stephenson with no end product, followed by the Hill college winning the ball and promptly playing low, long balls up to their front pair, who shouldered off their markers with aplomb before placing the ball past the ‘Stevo’ keeper. Midfielder Adam Winchester grabbed the first in the twelfth minute this way, seconds after it looked as if Stephenson might
have a handle on the match. Six minutes later, Critchley similarly turned his man in sublime style before bagging the first of his three goals. The rest of the half followed a similar pattern, with Collingwood’s midfield having virtually no time on the ball, but doing damage with it, while Stevo’s followed the dynamic example of their excellent Ken Acar, running aggressively at Collingwood with the ball at their feet. However, with a pair of strikers nowhere near as effective as their opponents’, all this possession ultimately came to absolutely nothing. Collingwood were happy to sit back for the rest of the half, safe in the knowledge that Stevo simply didn’t have the tools to break down their well-drilled defence. To make matters worse for Stepehenson, Phil Critchley capitalised on a defensive error after forty-one minutes to give them the worst possible end to the first half. A minute after the restart, Critchley gently stroked home a cross from the left - his third goal - effectively ending any hopes their opposition might have held for a comeback. Stephenson looked far sharper in the following minutes and produced their best chances of the game, but once again, a Collingwood goal, this time from Williams, took the wind from their sails after fiftythree minutes. A sixth goal was slotted in by Will Bates in the closing minutes, making it thirteen goals in the past two games for Collingwood, and seven points in the league so far. Stephenson, however, remain without a single point and will hope that their future opponents are more forgiving than the eminently accomplished side they faced today. Collingwood striker Phil Critchley netted a hat-trick as Collingwood strolled to victory despite not having the ball for much of the game. ROBERT BURGESS
PALATINATE Friday 20th November 2009
Whatever your game, get into it at palatinate.org.uk
Sport IAN WILLIAMSON
Grey storm to the top of college points table Ian Haran
Action from Durham University Men’s Lacrosse team’s 13-2 thumping of Leeds Met. The Palatinates have not lost all season and this is in no small part down to their two new American coaches and numerous American players. They will be looking for a similar score next Wednesday when they face a tough away trip to Leeds University, and the week after that when they host the University of Hull.
Durham battle back from the brink to defeat Northumbria Many managers and coaches are harangued for filling their press conferences with clichés, mindless sayings, and even the odd Ron Atkinson-ism. However, for once the well known, “game of two halves” does apply. Trailing 12–0 to Northumbria at halftime, Durham found a way to respond in the second half and score fourteen unanswered points to kick-start their season, and hopefully begin a strong push towards the play-offs. The offence that had seemed stuck in neutral for almost two games, exploded in the final quarter to create the impressive comefrom-behind win. Following last week’s tough loss to Hull, the Durham Saints saw Sunday’s match as a must-win encounter. However, a lack of intensity in the first half allowed an inferior Northumbria team to control the game on both offence and defence. The Mustangs’ tough running game was able to make considerable yardage on the Saints’ defence, and they also capitalised on Durham’s profligacy with the ball to convert two turnovers into two touchdowns. This was not the start that the Saints had hoped for, and left them looking at a huge task in the second half. With a stuttering offence and tired defence that had been left with a short field to defend on several occasions, the outlook for the Saints looked bleak. In the last two years of Saints American Football, they had never been able to stage
a fightback from such a deficit, therefore making the nature of Sunday’s victory even more astounding. With the stalemate of the second half remaining intact until midway through the final quarter, Durham’s offence finally mnaged to put together two sustained drives that ended in points. First, Simon Race was able to dart into the endzone to cut the deficit in half, and this was backed up by a good hook-up between Jack Barton and David Humphrey to complete the two point conversion. With the defence now stopping the Mustangs’ offence with relative ease as they adjusted to counter-act it, the Saints took the ball back, and took the lead, when quarterback Andrew Swain carried the ball into the endzone. A game that had seemed lost to Durham Saints for so long was now brought back into the balance. However, there was still time remaining on the clock, in which the Saints were forced to mount a goal line stand in order to halt a possible Northumbria score, including dramatically stopping the Mustangs from the 1 yard line on two successive plays to preserve the win. A huge defensive effort in the second half of the game to secure the win was lead by Karol Wehr and James Drake, who ended the game with an interception which killed any chance of an eleventh hour Northumbria comeback. A Saints offence that had seemed stuck in neutral for almost two games, exploded in the final quarter to come from from behind and snatch a well- Durham Saints’ offence fianlly click into gear last Sunday against local rivials Northumbria deserved win.
The Durham sporting season is now well and truly underway, with all participating teams looking to amass as many points as possible for their respective college in order to gain the illustrious crown of College champion. The publication of the latest Team Durham college points table reveals that Grey have moved up four places to head the latest table with 381 points. The Hill college are nearly a massive 40 points ahead of their nearest rivals Hatfield, who have 346 points, and, to the surprise of many, have maintained their early season form and look like real contenders to challenge for the title. Following them are sporting powerhouses Hild-Bede, last year’s champions Van Mildert, and early table-toppers Collingwood, who are all separated by a mere five points. The fact that these colleges, who are so accustomed to leading the way, find themselves in a real battle with ‘new’ challengers, shows just how competive college sport now is. Yet, it does appear as if the top five colleges are in a class of their own so far, as a large 128 point gap separates Collingwood (334), from the next placed team, St Aidan’s (208), who lay in sixth place. Trevelyan (198) and Josephine Butler (188), will be pleased to find themselves relatively high up the table, despite the small size of Trevs, and Butler’s short existance. University College (156) and St Mary’s (149), make up the top ten, and it is already clear that the middle of the table is going to be hotly contested. This highlights a change in fortunes for the Bailey College, who found themselves in close contention after the release of the first standings, but now appeared to have stumbled in their performance. Looking towards the bottom of the rankings shows no change in performance for Ustinov (98), who still hold the unenviable position as the bottom placed team. Just above the unfortunate Ustinov are Stephenson (113), who too have not been able to haul themsevles away from the bottom of the scoring charts. Even worse for ‘Stevo’ is that their main rivals John Snow seem to be on the up, as they now find themselves on 128 points and will no doubt be looking to move further up the table week by week. Hope still remains for all colleges in their aspirations, as knockout competitions get underway and the prospect of a College Festival of Sport towards the end of the year means no team can be assured of positions until the last match has finished. The full table can be found on the Team Durham website, as can a breakdown of how points are allocated. (Table was correct as of Novemember 18, standings may have changed since this article was written).
Friday 20th November PALATINATE
Sport Back page
Catch the latest Durham sports news and results at palatinate.org.uk
London 2012 news, college football and latest points table, DUCK marathon, win for Men’s Lacrosse inside. JONATHAN ALLEN
DURFC confident ahead of charity match Simon Lamb
Action from DURFC’S defeat against arch rivals Newcastle. The team have had a stirring start to the season so far, and are confident of picking up a win next week against Nottingham.
DURFC suffer agonising defeat against local rivals Tom Ryder
The Racecourse played host to a thrilling game of rugby on Wednesday afternoon which went right to the wire, as Team Durham lost 13-10 to visitors Newcastle in the BUCS Northern Premier A Division. Persistent rain had forced the fixture to be moved from its original location at Durham City, yet despite conditions the well-drilled sides put on a high class display in front of a considerable crowd. Durham started brightly, and had the chance to nudge ahead in the opening minutes – fly half Sam Watkinson narrowly missing a penalty from not far outside the Newcastle twenty-two. And up to the half hour mark the Palatinates piled on sustained pressure, particularly in their forward play led by flanker Alex Waddingham. But the defensive line of the visitors stood firm, didn’t panic and despite numerous attempts the hosts were unable to break through. When Newcastle eventually cleared their lines and their left winger
was dragged into touch, out of frustration a brief scuffle followed and there was definitely potential for players from both teams to end up in the sin bin. The referee’s cards however remained in his pocket, and the scores stayed level. The deadlock was finally ended just a few minutes before the half was up, with Newcastle’s full back taking advantage of a regulation penalty. Durham number 10 Watkinson struck the upright with a penalty of his own a minute later, yet at the half time whistle the game remained poised at 3-0. After the break though, Newcastle came out firing, with Australian fly half Ed Yarneton looking particularly dangerous. Ten minutes into the second period Newcastle saw their pressure pay off as inside centre Rainey found a gap and charged through several tackles to score. This try being converted, the home side found themselves trailing 10-0 and it seemed they would have their work cut out for them to get three points from their North East rivals. On his third attempt Watkinson put over
a penalty from close range, and the boys in purple almost had a try themselves shortly afterwards, but handling became a problem and they fell just short with a knock-on. Newcastle soon made it 13-3 with another penalty and the hosts were once again up against it and trailing by ten points. The match began to get sloppy towards the end as fatigue set in, and several injuries on both sides meant it also became fairly ‘stopstart’ but these interruptions allowed Durham to regroup and with time running out they scored a stunning try; Collingwood left winger Rory Price eventually touching down out wide. The move came after a clinical phase of running rugby from the Durham backs led by Hild Bede number 15 James Crozier, and after several offloads in the tackle and Crozier himself catching a ball after seemingly knocking it on, Price slid through for a well deserved five points. Sam Watkinson then produced a magic conversion from the touchline and suddenly with just seconds left on the clock, at 13-10 the Palatinates were within three
points of Newcastle. The visitors however kicked deep from the restart and to run through a try from so far inside their own half was ultimately too big a task for Durham. Despite managing to turn the ball over, another knock on signalled full time. The hosts were understandably deflated after the final whistle – it was a low-scoring game where for the most part, two formidable defences effectively cancelled each other out and the points could have gone either way. Arguably too, had penalty and scrum decisions gone Durham’s way, the outcome may well have been altered. On the back of this performance they undoubtedly deserved more from the game and on another day they could well have done. Mention must also be given to Sam Crozier and Alex Waddingham, who both put in outstanding performances for the entire eighty minutes. Hopefully they can continue in the same vein when Team Durham travel to Nottingham next week, and look for their first away victory of the current campaign.
On November the 25th the annual Durham University charity rugby match will be taking place at the Durham city stadium, with all proceeds going to ‘Sport Zambia’. Last year 5000 people came down to watch Durham play against league rivals Nottingham, and this year is going to be a very interesting spectacle too; a large and boisterous crowd must put added pressure on the game? A wry smile comes across the 1st XV captain Paul Louden’s face. “It most certainly does. It puts an extra pressure on every pass and every kick, knowing that thousands are watching you, even worse when you know all your friends are in the crowd. How then does Loudon keep the occasion from suffocating his relatively young teams performance? “I tell them to use it our advantage, make it spur them on. For the majority it is the largest crowd they will ever play in front of, so I just tell them to enjoy it.” It cannot be forgotten that this is a league match and after a below par start to the campaign, a win is crucial. What threat do Nottingham pose? “Well we’ve already lost to them this season, but we know that we have the measure of this team. We are all completely confident that this time round we can and will beat them.” What then can supporters expect for their money? With an even wider smile on his face Loudon replied: “We’ll be running the ball from our twenty two. That’s what we’ve done all season, we don’t care about the result as long as we look good!” Under that jovial persona you could see that Loudon was determined for the 1st XV’s fortunes to change. This match is seen as a chance to right their wrongs in building a platform for their season. Tables can be turned in rugby, fortunes can be reversed. In the rugby world cup 2007, England came from a 36-0 humiliation against South Africa in the group stages to reach the final four weeks later. Loudon and his men will need a similar backs to the wall mentality if they want to find themselves playing in front of thousands again at Twickenham come April. Nottingham’s defeat on Wednesday is a must if this team are to realise their dream.