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Justina Crabtree & Robin Marshall - email@example.com
3 VIS UA L A RT S Reviews of several exhibitions currently at the Tate Modern
4 & 5 F E AT U R E S A look at the highlights from Palatinate’s 65-year history
6 FOOD A review of a delicious gastro pub in Newcastle
7 S TAG E Why musicals appeal to the Hollywood market
8 & 9 FA S H I O N Us and them: fashion then
10 & 1 1 M U S I C The BRIT Awards
12 F I L M & T V A look at various fairy-tale-inspired movies
13 B O O K S New release from debut novelist Scott Hutchins
Welcome to the 750th issue of Palatinate, of which indigo has been a part for five years now. It seems fitting to mark the occasion with a redesign of the pull-out – we hope you enjoy. Palatinate has had a long and interesting past and continues to be an important voice for the student body, a selection of whom are represented on the back page. Turn over the page to Features for a look at some of the more ridiculous articles from the last sixty years: our antipathetic relationship with the Cathedral bells is by no means new. According to our Travel section there are places just outside of Durham where it is possible to escape their unrelenting call – quite pretty ones too. If you walk far enough you might even make it to a rather tasty gastro pub in Newcastle – turn to page six for more details. Looking further afield, holidays can get quite dirty as you know, so dive into the Tate Modern and bathe yourselves in culture – no splashing though. If you need some inspiration for the train ride there, pick up a copy of the engrossing read featured in Books, or listen to perennial heartthrob Tegan & Sara’s latest, a review of which can be found alongside Hurts’ new one Exile on page eleven. As ever, we hope you enjoy your holidays. We won’t mention the pesky ‘exams’ word, or that one that looks like ‘revision’. They sound a bit too serious, so we pretend they don’t exist and invent new ones to replace them, like ‘quizzes’, and ‘fun’. We’d also like to take the time now to thank all our section editors, writers and photographers for their tireless work in making Palatinate the successful publication it strives to be. If you fancy yourself a part of the process, don’t hesitate to get in touch: the process fancies you.
INDIGO EDITORS Justina Crabtree Robin Marshall BOOKS EDITOR Stephanie Stafford FASHION EDITORS Lois Bryson-Edmett Cordelia Yeung (dept. Jess McGahan) FEATURES EDITOR Sophia Chan (dept. Emily Woodhouse) FILM & TV EDITOR Alex Leadbeater FOOD & DRINK EDITOR Prudence Wade MUSIC EDITORS Patrick Bernard Alex Denby (dept. Sophia Smith Galer) STAGE EDITOR Victoria Ferguson TRAVEL EDITOR Daniel Hunt VISUAL ARTS EDITOR Lucy Edwardes Jones
WRITERS Harriet Allen Patrick Bernard Hannah Blackmore Sophia Chan Andy Earnshaw Alexandra Egge James Harris Eva Hodgkin Daniel Hunt Liza Kozowyk Suzanne Lithogo Roy Manuell Frances Marsh Olivia Rudgard George Sylvester Philip Whitehead
RM & JC 14 & 1 5 T R AV E L Durham’s prettiest spots alongside whacky travel stories
Cover design by James Crosland-Mills Back page photography by Nicoletta Ascuito, Samuel Spencer & Naomi Ellis For more arts and lifestyle articles please visit www.palatinate.org.uk For those interested in writing for indigo please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
PHOTOGRAPHERS Nicoletta Ascuito Naomi Ellis Grace fforde Daniel Hunt Liza Kozowyk Samuel Spencer Bernt Rostadt Phil Wiseman
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Lucy Edwardes Jones - email@example.com
V I S UA L A RT S
eyes on the tate modern
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Frances Marsh reviews ‘A Bigger Splash: Painting After Performance’
ince his hugely successful show, ‘A Bigger Picture’ at the Royal Academy last year, Hockney has been very much in the public eye. For decades he has brought fresh ideas to the art scene; from his photomontages in the 1980s to his recent use of an iPad. However his current exhibition, at the Tate Modern in London sees Hockney’s conventional use of brush on canvas as a starting point for an exploration of paint and performance. It opens with a pairing of Hockney’s iconic ‘A Bigger Splash’, a triumph of Californian sunshine, alongside Jackson Pollock’s signature action painting, ‘Summertime Number 9A’. In Room 1, the Pollock is displayed on the ground, as it would have been found in his studio. Above the long, rectangular canvas itself is Hans Namuth’s film, showing how the artist achieved the dynamic explosion of paint. He walks swiftly around the canvas, placed on the ground in an open field, using gestural flicks of a large paintbrush or else just dripping and pouring. The canvas becomes, as Harold Rosenberg put it, ‘an arena in which to act’. The layers of line and colour which build up become a narrative of Pollock’s prancing movements. Paint is a record of the performance. Namuth’s films and photographs of Pollock at work were pivotal in the artist’s rise to fame, and powerfully conveyed that art is as much about process as it is the finished product. However Pollock became increasingly frustrated with enacting what used to be a spontaneous process in front of cameras. His art became a performance in the inauthentic, non-realistic sense of the word. In contrast to Pollock’s swift practice, Hockney painstakingly constructed his big splash over a period of two weeks, using white acrylic in thread-like squiggles over thin washes. A splash of water is an
instantaneous episode, which in reality could never be seen in the way we do in the painting. Hockney amusingly decided to record the moment in “a very very slow way”, rather than a spontaneous gesture. Process remains an important theme throughout the exhibition. Television screens show Yves Klein’s questionable public events where women were covered in paint to become ‘live brushes’ and Shozo Shimamoto using violent gestures like hurling pigment filled bottles or canons of paint at a canvas. The resulting artwork is highly reliant on chance, again underlining the role of process. Action painting overhauled traditional limitations of paint and canvas. As we move on through the exhibition, the pieces range from the amusing (Geta Bratescu’s ‘Towards White’; a photographic series showing the artist blending into the background by covering herself in white paint) to the bemusing (a film entitled Flower Orgy by Yayoi Kusama, which looks like a naked game of human twister). Some of the most interesting works are the politically charged pieces. Korean artist Kang-so Lee’s uses paint and action to comment on his government’s limitations of free action. There are also some thought-provoking pieces exploring feminism and homosexuality through make-up and drag. I particularly liked Helena Almeida’s ‘Inhabited Painting’ which blurs the line between canvas and paint as a photograph of the artist with a brush becomes the canvas for swishes of blue acrylic. This blurring is seen again in the second part of the exhibition where each room becomes dedicated to a singular artist or group of artists. The most recent pieces are by Lucy McKenzie whose trompe l’oeil techniques create a space that the viewer might inhabit.
My favourite artist in part two of the exhibition is Edward Krasiński who applied a line of blue scotch tape across the front of 12 mirrors hung at identical heights though positioned at different depths into the room. His installation, ‘Untitled’, draws the viewer into an exploration of the relationship between artist, object, spectator and gallery space. After all, like a pantomime, the best performances always entail audience participation.
‘Painting After Performance’ is showing at the Tate Modern until 1 April 2013
Suzanne Lithogo considers the innovation and continuing importance of Lichtenstein’s art
‘Masterpiece’. Photograph: FlickrID: thingsworthdescribing
With the recent opening of Lichtenstein: A Retrospective at London’s Tate Modern, now is the perfect time to appreciate the iconic Pop art of Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997).
This exhibition brings together the most comprehensive range of his work ever attempted; 125 pieces including paintings such as ‘Whaam!’ and ‘Drowning Girl’. Like other Pop artists of the time, Lichtenstein’s most famous art concentrates on themes of current culture; one of his main focuses was 1960s comic books. By blowing up cartoons and everyday items onto canvas, Lichtenstein made ordinary subject into something extraordinary. Lichtenstein’s first ‘cartoon’ painting, which paved the way towards the artist’s unique style, is taken from a children’s Disney book depiction of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck (Look Mickey, 1961). This comical scene portrays Donald Duck ‘hooking a big one’, which he presumes to be a large fish but is in fact his own rear, much to Mickey’s amusement. Look Mickey encouraged Lichtenstein to create more ‘comic’ art, including war, romance and domestic scenes. What differentiates Lichtenstein from his contemporaries is that he interpreted reality. Andy Warhol depicted reality as it is, by using brand items like Coca Cola and Campbell’s soup, and icons like Marilyn Monroe. However Lichtenstein used common items without branding, and gave his characters generic names such as Brad, such as in his ‘Masterpiece’ painted in 1962 (inset).
This painting, taken from a comic strip and altered by Lichtenstein, perhaps pre-empted Lichtenstein’s future success artist. In the same year, Lichtenstein had his first one-man show in the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York, where soon he would have the city clamouring for his work. Although Lichtenstein is best known for his comic strips, he was influenced by the work of Picasso, Matisse and Monet. In fact his widow Dorothy Lichtenstein rcently revealed he was frustrated at being continually called a Pop artist. Lichtenstein wished to prevent his work from looking like painting. His trademark Benday dots do this through duplicating genuine comic strips and newspaper images. He described this way of painting as un-elegant and artificial, yet something was made elegant without the viewer realising. Lichtenstein’s work originally divided the public, with Life magazineasking “Is he the worst artist in the US?” in 1964. Yet his work is now more popular than ever; last year ‘Sleeping Girl’ (1964) sold for £27.8 million at New York’s Sotheby’s, the highest price paid for a Lichtenstein painting to date. Get down to the Tate modern this Easter to see Lichtenstein’s revolutionary yet witty work up-close. ‘Lichtenstein: A Retrospective’ is showing at the Tate Modern until 27th May 2013.
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Sophia Chan (dept. Emily Woodhouse) - firstname.lastname@example.org
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In celebration of our 750th edition, indigo delves into the archives for a snippet of what our predecessors had to say
alatinate was first unveiled in 1948 with the grand total of four editorial members. Indigo was launched in November 2008, a mere sixty years later. This special feature is a celebration of past articles from Durham’s long-standing student newspaper, as we discover just how similar our student counterpart was in the 40s, 50s and 60s. 13th May, 1948 Many years before Mrs Elvet was born, Auntie Cyclone was dishing out advice to students in need. ‘Auntie Cyclone’s Corner: Advice to the Love Lorn’ Q: I have been courting for the last eighteen months and when I’d say to my boyfriend “Let’s get married,” he says “But who’d have us?” What should I do? - Girl engaged. A: Try Beckitts Blue Bath Cubes and a size larger in shoes. Q: I live two miles from the centre of University life. How do I get invited to University functions? - Fresher. A: Your letter is a little obscure, but if my interpretation of Univ. life is the same as yours, I would take a bus quickly- in the opposite direction.
The affectation of the courdroy trousers, the mammoth brogues and exotic cigarette holders 17th March, 1948 An excerpt from the front page of Palatinate’s very first issue describes a male specimen, that can probably still be found on Saddler street today.
‘These Men…!’ I like men, but I frankly detest the undergraduate specimens. Insincere, affected, self-assured and bombastic, they grate upon the very fibres of my feminine sensibilities. From the woman’s point of view, my first antipathy to male undergraduates finds its root, and a low root it is, in their calmly appraising glances. They look us up and down like cattle, they comment among themselves and then guffaw in unison. Would they dare to do the same to a man? Indeed not, for the male is a cowardly animal, and – caught on his own – rapidly changes his bombast for a sheepish and embarrassed grin. This grin is often camoflagued, hidden by a permanent, revolting and unhygienic fungus. We watch the latter’s expansionist policy with fascination, until finally we realise that the proud owner of the growth has been able to dispense with collar as well as chin. Ladies – let us compare notes for a while. How many different types of approach have been made to you? Very few, I warrant! “How are you finding the Economics?” “What’s on at the X tonight… have you been yet…?”; “Oh yes, we travelled through there just before the landing…” “No, I didn’t want a commission, all my pals were in the ranks.” I need pass no comment to add to theirs. And ladies – their clothes – the affectation of the courdroy trousers, the mammoth brogues, Joseph’s coats and exotic cigarette-holders is only balanced by the exhibistionist display of ex-officer trousers, macks and greatcoats. If you feel the dim stirrings of a maternal solicitude for even one such as these, then take a little advice, ladies. Have your offering shorn and shaved, disinfected and redressed, teach him manners and a due sense of his own unimportance, and you may yet find the makings of man. Then take a good look at what you have found, discard it, and satisfy yourselves with a study of the flowers and the bees. 25th February, 1949 It is highly depressing (or comforting) to realise that the
Cathedral Bells have always sounded the same and will forever continue to disrupt our peace and quiet at erratic times. ‘Silence that dreadful bell’ Dear Sir, When I read such lines as “The pealing anthem swells the note of praise,” I feel certain that the poet has never occupied a room in the front of Hatfield College between the hours of 8 and 9 p.m. on Tuesdays.
The Cathedral bells are responsible for more profanity than any other single cause in Durham While the music of the bells may sound very pleasant when wafted gently on the breeze across the meadows on a sleepy summer afternoon, when one is subject to their full vigour at approximately 150 yards for one hour after dinner one’s thoughts are anything but idyllic. So far from swelling “the note of praise,” I would venture to suggest that the Cathedral bells are responsible for more profanity than any other single cause in Durham. Since the only result of this laborious and concentrated practice on Tuesdays is the irregular, intermittent cacophony to which we are treated on Sunday mornings, it would seem to be better if the ringers practised at some other and less disturbing hour; or better still, not at all. Yours faithfully, R. E. Morley
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2nd March, 1951 How little changes in student life. Members of the ‘Spotted: Durham University library’ group would be interested to note that the library has never ceased to be the ideal place to observe one’s fellow students in their natural habitats. ‘Library: Human Interest’ There is no doubt much to be said for the market as a place in which to study student phenomena, but it can hardly equal the library in this respect. An observant eye can there see much, from the first glance with a hint of later romance, through the first contrived words, to the final intimate sharing of Harrap’s French Dictionary. The small things which others do often rivet ones attention out of all proportion in the library. The other day a young lady from St. Aidan’s (first year Social Studies, I expect), became fascinated by the spectacle of a Cuthbert’s man opposite her picking his teeth with a nail-file.
Sophia Chan (dept. Emily Woodhouse) - email@example.com
F EAT U R E S Plymouth, was simply thinking about the new rise in railway fares. 9th May, 1952 Well, it seems that there is proof that Durham’s drug scene has indeed always been as non-existent as it is today. ‘Come fill the cup’ It appears from some Sunday papers that the University of Oxford is filled with undergraduate drug addicts. Durham will soon lose face if it cannot persuade the outside world of more than a nodding acquaintance with opium. This reporter is still smarting from an encounter with a friend’s sixteen-year-old sister who sneered, ‘What, don’t you take benzedrine at Durham?’ 6th October, 1961 The following excerpts come from a survey done in the sixties on fresher opinion. It seems that Durham students of the past were not so very different to the students of the present. ‘The Fresher’
The first glance with a hint of romance can lead to the final intimate sharing of Harrap’s French Dictionary The same morning there was a gentleman (3H Politics and Economics) who gave a certain person from St. Mary’s so long and concentrated a stare of pure hate that the poor girl has ever since worked in the Women’s Union and obtains her books by proxy. As a matter of fact the gentleman concerned, who comes from
Last year Palatinate carried out a survey of fresher opinion. Originality of thought was hardly evident. The general apathy of the Englishman is probably the main aid to the working of the British Political system. This attitude pervades amongst Freshers; there were more Tories than any other party. Fortunately some people could not bring themselves to support any party. Not one Fresher, alas, considered anarchy to be a refreshing prospect. Generally political convictions seemed to be inherited from mummy’s and daddy’s genes. The intake seems to be mainly from middle class homes. Working class (24%) and upper class (2%) seemed to think that class mattered. They at least were honest. The middle class had not given it much
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thought. The best answer to the question “Does class matter?” was “Only on trains and that’s not my fault.”
The best answer to the question “does class matter?” was “only on trains and that’s not my fault” Those without an Oxbridge complex will be pleased to learn that Durham is not an Oxbridge dumping ground. Only 36% of the Freshers last year were rejected from the two older Universities. The female section had almost stopped trying. The Academics of Durham were severely jolted when it was revealed that 80% of the Freshers thought a degree would get them “a better job.” No one wanted to study for the “hell of it.” Money indeed was the all powerful motive for coming to University. The main attraction was the collegiate system, then the atmosphere, recommendation and the academic standard of the place. But a startling refreshing reply emerged from the conventional interview-type answers - “I only came to Durham because it appeared to represent to a greater degree than most, what a university ought to be!” I doubt if he has been disappointed. Story by Sophia Chan Photograph by Nicoletta Asciuto To discover more about Palatinate’s past, take a look at the Blogs section of palatinate.org.uk
Prudence Wade - firstname.lastname@example.org
FOOD & DRINK 6 i not your average pub grub
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Hannah Blackmore bursts the bubble in search of Newcastle’s very finest gastropub, and can only sing heartily of its praises
One of the ales on offer at the Broad Chare. Fuller’s have been brewing beer for over three hundred years and supply 400 pubs. Photograph by Bernt Rostadt
lthough Durham’s culinary scene can’t be criticised for lack of choice, for the committed food lover (guilty), it is sometimes necessary to venture to the bright lights of Newcastle on the never-ending quest for foodie nirvana. The gastropub The Broad Chare is part of the 21 Hospitality Group which also owns Bistro 21 in Durham, and came with a glowing recommendation on club World Headquarters’ website. A browse of their mouth-watering photo gallery on Twitter should not be undertaken on an empty stomach. This coupled with the fact that it is one of a handful of establishments in Newcastle to have been recently well-reviewed by a national broadsheet – the food sections of which are normally frustratingly London-centric – meant that expectations were high.
A blackboard entitled ‘Mixed beer’ read like a classy version of a college bar menu, offering the dubious combination of champagne and Guinness The pub can be found about ten minutes’ walk away from the station on Newcastle’s quayside, and upon first impressions was welcoming, unpreten-
tious, and promisingly busy for a Monday night. Admittedly, prices extend slightly beyond the average student budget, with starters from £5-£10 and mains ranging from £9-£20. Their ‘Dining Menu’ can best be described as traditional pub grub done well, and was complemented by a large list of specials including several strong veggie options. Happily, The Broad Chare prides itself on its drinks just as much as its food. A blackboard entitled ‘Mixed beer’ read like a classy version of a college bar menu, offering Snakebite and a concoction involving the dubious combination of champagne and Guinness (great with oysters, apparently) and the wine list has some cheaper options. We eschewed these in favour of their great range of ales. If, like me, you know nothing about ale, don’t panic: the friendly staff quickly jumped in with a recommendation. I enjoyed a pint of very drinkable pale ale Writer’s Block, and my companion had the much stronger Marston’s Pedigree which is perhaps one for the more hardcore ale aficionados. We chose a light starter from the perfectly-pitched ‘Bar Snack’ menu, stuff of the mildly drunk man’s dreams, which also included deep fried pig’s ears and pork crackling. The scotch egg which promptly arrived was seriously good: salty, and served warm with a golden, gooey yolk. Main courses followed swiftly. The more obscure dishes being friendlier on the purse, I went for grilled calve’s liver, veg and colcannon – the latter turned out to be cabbage and mash, although I had to ask. Not to everyone’s taste, but this was brilliantly done, tender, flavoursome and with a nice peppery punch. Braised rabbit and pig’s trotters, another unconventional choice, was fortunately
also expertly executed. As a self-confessed tiresome foodie, when dining out I am accustomed to seeing people’s eyes glaze over as soon I start banging on about lack of seasoning, bought-in gravy and the like. So it was a novelty to finish eating in a state of contented silence. The meal for two including two pints of ale, the scotch egg starter, mains with a side of chips and a 10 per cent service charge, came to a reasonable £42.
We finished eating in a state of contented silence The popularity of the now ubiquitous gastropub is no doubt down to the fact that there are few things more satisfying than a decent pub meal, of which this was a sterling example. Their tagline of sorts: ‘Proper pub, proper beer, proper food’ is the kind of cliché which could be irritating were it not for the fact that The Broad Chare more than lives up to the claim. It definitely beats Spoon’s. The Broad Chare, 25 Broad Chare, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 3DQ. Open from 11am-11pm, although food service times vary. Visit www.thebroadchare.co.uk for more information.
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Victoria Ferguson - email@example.com
STA G E
master of the house
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Andy Earnshaw follows some of our best-loved musicals in their journey from stage to screen
’m not sure if you’ve heard, but they’ve made Les Misérables into a movie. The longest continuously running musical’s reincarnation recently secured three Oscars out of its eight nominations. Not bad for a show that was criticised for being ‘overly sentimental’ after a lukewarm opening night all those years ago. There is no doubt that movies of great musicals are a shoo-in success. Any movie would be ecstatic with eight shots at an Oscar and consider Mamma Mia, which outsold Titanic. But as pieces of entertainment, do they actually work? Let’s get the real elephant out of the room. A great musical is brilliant songs backed up by a good story. In that order. Do the movies do justice to the music when they almost exclusively choose actors who can act over singers who can sing? No.
A great musical is brilliant songs backed up by a good story. In that order Gerard Butler had never sung until he got the part as Erik in The Phantom of the Opera and he was one of the better singers. Attempts by Pierce Brosnan to croon his way through ‘When All Is Said and Done’ are nothing short of embarrassing to listen to. Even Les Misérables falls victim to actors attempting songs that are beyond their reach. Russell Crowe’s attempt at ‘Stars’ lacks all of the grandeur of Phillip Quast’s version, leaving it a little limp at times. And don’t even get me started on the movie’s
Illustration by James Crosland-Mills
version of ‘Bring Him Home.’ I’ll leave the examples there; we could fill a page with them. Apart from some notable exceptions (Anne Hathaway, take a bow) the songs are relegated to a tool for storytelling rather than being the pinnacle of dramatic moments or moving insights into the characters’ souls. If I don’t enjoy the soundtrack post-film, I feel that something has been missed. Speaking of Russell Crowe however, he was the only one to make this heart of stone tremble. His portrayal of Javert’s total belief in the rightness of the law being questioned and then ultimately destroyed was one of the most profound and moving parts in a film that makes its money on moving profundity. To sing/speak so much of his part makes for poor listening, but great watching. That is the magic of movie-musicals. When you sit down to watch a movie-musical you have to expect it in that order. A movie first, liberally dashed with songs. When one accepts this, one starts to see genius in the place of demagoguery and shameless cashing-in. ‘Bring Him Home’ is still awful, but because of the movie’s failure to build rapport between Valjean and Marius, it is out of place in the story. ‘Stars’ on the other hand is unsatisfying on the soundtrack, but becomes a quiet vow of determination when Russell Crowe acts it. The movie takes its cinematography to Oscar levels with the echo of this certainty in Javert’s final moments. Mamma Mia does something similar. Meryl Streep’s ‘Money, Money, Money’, while half-decent, is not something you would give a Tony to, but we already know her character and in three minutes we learn an awful lot about her situation and sleeptime solutions. Add to this its comedy and the depth it gives to her two partners in crime and you have a perfect movie song; not a wondrous vocal performance, but a new way of acting that is refreshing and
addictive. I also think that this is the issue with The Phantom of the Opera, a movie with some very good musical performances (for actors at least, see ‘All I Ask of You’ and its reprise). While the songs and orchestration are consistently good – indeed the soundtrack is excellent – the acting is almost entirely poor. There is no connection to the characters; Christine is annoyingly depressed in the film, whereas on stage she goes from being a bright and talented girl to one haunted by an increasingly terrifying maniac. The rest of the film’s cast are just wooden foils upon which Gerard Butler may cast his dark presence.
The rewards are too huge for those willing to give it a go There is no point decrying musicals being made into movies. The rewards are too huge for those willing to give it a go. We’ll have Wicked on our screens soon enough. They’ll never quite manage what the stage show does though. It might be the same story but it comes across so very differently. This is best summed up in Les Mis by the character of Marius. The musical leaves him as just a bit of a wimp (by Michael Ball’s own admission). However, the movie gave space to allow Eddie Redmayne to develop another side to the character. If we are going to be stuck with subpar music, let us at least insist on this: that the adaptations should use this other medium to expose different facets of the story so that film and show may feed into each other and create a richer story as a whole.
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Lois Bryson-Edmett & Cordelia Yeung (dept. Jess McGahan) - firstname.lastname@example.org
naughties to forties
o celebrate Palatinateâ€™s 750th anniversary, indigo takes an unexpected cue from retro fashion - and a gentle key on the piano. Transporting you back to the 1940s, when the very first issue of our fine student newspaper was published, our models are proper sultry and just a little bit glamorous. The decadently upholstered Middle Common Room of Durham Castle proved a perfect setting for the shoot. Dresses provided by ASOS, River Island, A Wear and The Peopleâ€™s Theatre, Newcastle. Modelled by Aurelien Hayman, Lauren Hitchman and Liza Kozowyk. Photographs by Nicoletta Asciuto.
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Lois Bryson-Edmett & Cordelia Yeung (dept. Jess McGahan) - email@example.com
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Alex Denby & Patrick Bernard (dept. Sophia Smith Galer) - firstname.lastname@example.org
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Roy Manuell and the absurd spectacle that was the BRIT Awards 2013
s Ben Howard shuffled up the carefullyplaced 02 Arena stairwell in a baggy blue canvas T-shirt you could almost hear Britain’s keyboards snapping in frustration. “I hate Ben Howard because I wanted Olly Murs to win” one spectator of the BRIT Awards 2013 reflected as she took to Twitter, most probably following such a statement with the trend ‘Who the hell is Ben Howard?’ that exploded across cyberspace as he rose once again to receive his second award of the night. Collecting the awards for both Best Breakthrough Act and Best British Male Solo Artist, the singersongwriter delivered a reluctant acceptance speech, vaguely related to his new trophies, dripping with modesty for he too knew that the vast majority of 6.3 million viewers had probably never even heard of Ben Howard. But then again, how could a quiet lyricist possibly supersede the surreal violence of Robbie Williams’ aquamarine blue suit as the 39-year-old offered the audience a stretched (if not shocking) vocal performance of his chart-topping single ‘Candy’. We may lament that Paul McCartney is past it, but we must surely first address the fact that Robbie Williams, the man who brought us the poetry of ‘Rudebox’, is far too old to be juxtaposing girls that have “lots of different horses” with items of confectionery. He has a young child. Read from that what you will. One aspect of BRITs night, however, that paradoxically unites Howard and Williams is that they both found the ceremony “boring”, the latter even going as far as writing a poignant and profound response to the awards with ‘Angels’ collaborator Guy Chambers, describing accounts of previous BRITs at which rock’n’roll Robbie claims to have taken cocaine in the toilets and enjoyed the midnight company of “a few female stars” after the show. It just seems a shame that we think ourselves so devoid of talent that the gift inherent in the acoustic doubleaward winner Howard has previously been ostracised to make room for the egocentric kings of our past. You may think me biased; but I’ve cried during ‘She’s the One’ and I’m not even that big a fan of Ben Howard. Elsewhere, Lana Del Rey confessed that her life was a “work of art” with a cathartic fling of her new sleek black fringe and Mumford and Sons were appraised for re-releasing their first album under a different title, undoubtedly assisted by their outrageous success in the US as they received Best British Group. It was nice however, to see Alt-J nominated for the award as well as Best Album (if a little ambitious to expect a victory) as well as the presence of the even less recognisable Cat Power and perennial Jack White amongst the other nominees across the board. Even the Scottish singer Emili Sandé’s dominance cannot really be complained about. Despite not having spent an evening or two in a dark room with the Our Version of Events on a 12” vinyl, I can safely say that the album is most probably a respectable collection of ballads and love songs even if her nasal moan may not be to everyone’s taste. You can’t really argue with a seven-digit UK sales figure, especially seeing as she wrote both the album’s lyrics and music herself. Indeed, as the clear bookies favourite her victories in the Best Album and Best Female Artist categories were unsurprising, a word that arguably characterised the night and almost
every BRITs ceremony over the last five years. If there was one thing that previous BRIT Awards were lacking, however, it was undoubtedly the advent of a special award to commemorate the ‘Global Success’ of a particular group. But which multitalented collective warranted the invention of such a category in 2013? I hear you cry. The Rolling Stones perhaps? Maybe further quasi-posthumous recognition for The Beatles? How about some additional applause for Mumford and Sons seeing as they equalled the latter’s record in October for having six songs in the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time? Well, the suit and ties and the Simon
awkwardly stumble offstage with their statue. You can almost imagine them sniggering at the absurdity from a bluesy garage in Ohio as One Direction flashed their polished teeth at the cameras, melting the hearts of the impressionable fourteen-year-old sweethearts, swooning from the edge of a leather sofa somewhere in Buckinghamshire. If Predictable defined the event, then Absurd oxymoronically strode behind as Justin Timberlake took to the stage to perform ‘Suit & Tie’, suave and confident despite his distinct lack of a nomination and the fact that he was probably the coolest man within a five mile vicinity. But his presence still begs the question: why was he even there? Having said this, the night could’ve been worse: Gotye could’ve beaten the unflappable, popular Frank Ocean to Best International Male or one-song FUN. might have overcome the absent Black Keys. Meanwhile, James Corden offered the best line of the evening when posing a question to an embarrassed Harry Styles as he hid his curls behind a programme: “Sharon Osbourne is here, Annie Lennox is here. Who have you got your eye on?” Who needs the Olympics to show the world what our small and insular island can do when you can simply give James Corden a stage for a couple of hours and instruct him to comment on the beauty of the British high culture?
Mumford and Sons were appraised for re-releasing their first album under a different title
Cowells that distributed the award for the ‘BRITs Global Success’ decided that it would be a good idea to give the masterminds that call themselves One Direction another excuse to release new material, even allowing them to perform beforehand as they sauntered up onstage to murder a Blondie classic for Comic Relief. The five-piece, nominated for Best Group, embodied the lack of rock’n’roll at the ceremony resembling an ensemble of Grease extras. Only The Black Keys provided the genre with any real success on the night, deservedly winning the award for Best International Group for which they failed to acknowledge forcing Dave Grohl to
Nonetheless, they say that music brings people together thus; a fitting conclusion to the BRIT Awards 2013 – how they should be remembered – will forever remain the beautiful scene of Damon Albarn cradling Noel Gallagher in his arms on the red carpet outside London’s 02 Arena. “We’ll perform next year” Noel joked as Damon gazed lovingly into his leather jacket and indeed, 2013 appears to be an overwhelmingly promising year for music in terms of comebacks including new records from the Arctic Monkeys, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Queens of the Stone Age – oh, and The Strokes anyone? Elsewhere the exciting young Haim, coupled with the likes of Tame Impala and Palma Violets will continue to serve as a breath of fresh air to an era ruled by the processed Rihanna’s and Taylor Swift’s in the pop hierarchy. The aforementioned will categorically fail to win a BRIT award 2014 – it’s unlikely that they’ll even receive a nomination – still, I don’t know about you but an Albarn/Gallagher performance at next year’s ceremony would most certainly provide the necessary compensation. Who knows - maybe the BRITs will even invent an award for them.
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Alex Denby & Patrick Bernard (dept. Sophia Smith Galer) - email@example.com
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we be burning TheBubbleBurning pull out all the stops in their latest and biggest event with Market Vaults crammed upstairs and downstairs with Durham’s finest. Too much to mention but plenty to applaud. Poppadom & the Bhajis’ skinny-jeans-indie-rock revival got the people going like it was 2006 with original material from a self-titled EP. The crowd were animated throughout and The Quays continue to pound the Durham gig circuit with the same infectious joie de vivre, although my best efforts to instigate a moshpit were thwarted. Harry Violet and the Sunny Prestatyns had the crowd bussin gun fingers and sounds with ‘Paper Planes’ in between a smatter of charismatic numbers. Special mention must be made of The Invitations and their lively cover of ‘She Wants to Move’, and most of all of Pharrell Williams for his singular way with words and women (‘Her ass is a spaceship I want to ride.’) The remix to ‘Ignition’ was also as hot and fresh out the kitchen as ever. That downstairs was empty for most of the night is a testament to the atmosphere above and not to the accountability of the DJs below. The ambition of TheBubbleBurning and their affirmative project continues to reward in spades. Story by Patrick Bernard Photograph by Grace fforde
tegan and sara heartthrob
With their seventh studio album Heartthrob, Tegan and Sara continue to evolve and show why they are one of the most dynamic duets in synth-pop. This album is a progression from the electronic synth style they dabbled in with their previous album Sainthood, while maintaining their signature harmonies and lyrical style. Heartthrob is a step in a much more upbeat and energetic direction for the band, who are known for their heartfelt ballads, this time presented with more focus than ever. This emotion is evident on tracks like ‘I Was a Fool’, ‘How Come You Don’t Want Me’ and ‘Now I’m All Messed Up’. The opening track ‘Closer’ sets the tone for the rest of the album with a display of emotional strength and independence set to an echoing chorus with the delightful harmonies Tegan and Sara fans
have come to expect. The defiant tone of this album is a stark contrast to their 2004 album So Jealous which lamented an extended heartbreak. This time the girls are sticking up for themselves with the tracks ‘Goodbye Goodbye’ and ‘I Couldn’t Be Your Friend’. ‘Goodbye Goodbye’ comes in with the newwave style the band embraces for this album, and the whining vocals soar up to the undeniably catchy chorus. On this track Tegan and Sara once again show their mastery of bringing together heartfelt lyrics with poppy melodies. ‘Now I’m All Messed Up’ is a nice diversion into the pleading style they perfected with their earlier albums. It’s a beautiful tribute to lost love and its chorus ‘Go if you want (please stay)’ echoes the dichotomy of this album; a strong front for what is essentially a heartbroken core. ‘I Was a Fool’ is also a nice mix of classic Tegan and Sara and the Synth-fueled energy of Heartthrob. The slow piano intro and pensive lyrics harken back to their album The Con, but as the song picks up it also grows into the powerfully independent stance of their newest release. Heartthrob is an excellent stage in the evolution of Tegan and Sara and is their most relevant album yet. It manages to hit all the emotional chords that the band is known for while bringing in a fresh and exciting sound that is more focused and consistent than ever before. It is a joyful climax of punchy choruses and buzzing harmonies. This album demonstrates how throughout their 18 year career Tegan and Sara have constantly reinvented themselves, bringing their unique style to the forefront of current music. It is thanks to this never ending evolution that there can be no doubt that Tegan and Sara will remain at the cutting edge of new music for many years to come. Story by Alexandra Egge
Manchester-born Hurts met outside an indie nightclub eight years ago, when their friends got into a fight, and instead of joining in, they decided to talk about music instead. Their preference for synth-pop over fisticuffs has paid off, with debut Happiness bringing them Europe-wide success, a stint on the John Peel stage at Glastonbury and several successful singles. New offering Exile is, however, pacier and makes wider use of guitar riffs than Happiness. The first track, which shares its name with the album, kicks in with a heavy bass riff that is overlaid with electro beats; it’s markedly different to Hurts’ early work. First single ‘Miracle’ is underpinned by a heavy drumbeat, and wins the inaugural prize, recently invented by me, for the Hurts track most similar to the Pet Shop Boys circa 1980. This was a tricky one to call given that almost every track sounds like Neil Tennant or Michael Hutchence would have happily plonked it in the middle of one of their albums. More upbeat, modern tracks do appear. These include ‘The Rope’, whose spacey vocals, piano sections and faux-inspirational lyrics easily set it up as a successful club track. ‘Mercy’, with its distorted vocals, swooping guitars and electronic base, is more in keeping with the modern direction of electro-rock. However, the album soon creeps into heavier territory, with haunting first single ‘The Road’; the direction of this album was clearly always intended to be heavier and darker. However, they haven’t entirely abandoned the poppy, emotive style which made their name. Fourth track ‘Blind’ has singer Theo Hutchcraft singing wistfully and could happily sit alongside first album single ‘Stay’. This album, perhaps inevitably for the ‘difficult second album’, shows less cohesion and an embracing of more styles than their trailblazing debut offering. This can make it seem a little unfocused, with the format of successful singles ‘Wonderful Life’ and ‘Better Than Love’ abandoned in favour of a darker, rockier direction. In places, it doesn’t quite work, but their ambition certainly pays off on standout tracks such as ‘The Road’ and ‘Exile’. It is clear that Hurts have left slow disco behind in favour of a more ambitious, dubstep-influenced sound. I’m sure they’ll come up with a name for it soon enough. Story by Olivia Rudgard
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Alex Leadbeater - firstname.lastname@example.org
F I L M & TV
disney’s darker side
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Harriet Allen investigates the growing sub-genre of fairy tale inspired movies
ver since Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland reimagining, Hollywood has been prolific in producing reworkings of old tales. Burton’s film was a phenomenal, though unexpected, success that has become the eleventh highest grossing film of all time. It is also very likely the catalyst for many adaptations that the cinema has seen since. You need to look no further than the two Snow White reinventions from 2012. Mirror Mirror, with its light tone, comic elements and even a hint of Bollywood, is a very family-friendly adaptation. Snow White and the Huntsman, marketed as a ‘darker’, Twilightesque version, possed a sulky glamour likely to appeal to an older teenage audience. Different still, Jack the Giant Slayer looks from its trailer to be an epic, CGI-heavy adventure story. Bearing a name that hints at a similar thought-process, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters hit cinemas recently as a spectacle of darkly comic gore, sex appeal and anachronistic weaponry. Whichever genre the producers decide to explore, the concept is a wide-reaching one. Disney have proved most prolific, with their Oz The Great and Powerful, a revisit to the classic Wizard of Oz arriving in cinemas soon. The fact that books such as these are nowadays often perceived and treated similarly to far older folklore is most likely down to Disney; their classic animations of the literary works Alice in Wonderland, 101 Dalmations and The Jungle Book occupied the same cultural space as those such as The Sword in the Stone and Snow White.
Disney has been instrumental in solidifying characters from folklore in the popular imagination Disney, however, has not given up on fairy tales. Once Upon a Time, a drama series involving characters from Disney’s most classic works with the Snow White story at its centre, is now in its second season. Furthermore, live action versions of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty (named Maleficent as it will focus on the original story’s villain) are planned for release in 2014. Of course, fairy tales and Disney go way back. The company has been instrumental in solidifying many characters from folklore in the popular imagination – something they are keen that audiences should not forget; a few years ago, they filed an application to trademark the name Snow White for virtually all entertainment uses with the exception of literary works. And yet few companies have made as much use of public domain material as Disney; The Jungle Book, for example, was released in 1967 – just one year after the copyright expired on Rudyard Kipling’s
story collection from which it drew its inspiration and title. Grimm’s Fairy Tales, on which so much of Disney’s material is based, was first published in 1812 with many of the stories founded on oral traditions dating back to the Middle Ages. Snow White and the rest had long since fallen into the public domain and ought, I would argue, to remain there. The Brothers Grimm’s tales were much darker than Disney’s bright twentieth century animations; more similar in tone, perhaps, if not in content, to the majority of adaptations being released presently. While the Disney takes are undoubtedly charming and certainly popular with children, their values are now largely outdated and not particularly likely to impress. It is refreshing to see a more democratic ‘Happily Ever After’ emerging. Once Upon a Time, for instance, gives its Prince Charming a background as an ordinary farmer and Snow White and the Hunstman creates a more prominent role for its eponymous hero. Each reimagining may bring out forgotten features of its original tale or progressive ones but either way the seemingly ceaseless adaptations are clearly tapping into a profitable market. It may be that audiences desire to hear familiar stories told in fresh ways, serving as reminders of the complexities of the world that occur in post-Disney adulthood or as reinforcements of the imaginative possibilities in life. Or perhaps everyone will be well and truly sick of them before Christmas. Who can say?
A slight departure from the source - Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (main) and the film that kicked off the trend (insert). Photographs: Paramount/Disney
And now it’s your chance to have a say. What films would you like to see shown over the next term? Fancy the violent action of Django Unchained or the giddy thrills of Wreck-It-Ralph? Simply go to our Facebook page (The Bede Film Soc) and tell us what you want to see. Bede Film Soc is Durham’s premier student cinema. Boasting Dolby Surround Sound, and Durham’s biggest screen, it’s the best way to watch movies in the Bubble. This academic year we’ve already had some amazing films. From a spectacular super (hero) opener with The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises through all variety that cinema has to offer, to the best of the Oscars, including Lincoln, Les Mis and Argo, every film taste has been catered for.
Bede Film Soc shows films every Saturday and Sunday in Caedmon Hall, Hild Bede College. Entry is £1 for members & £3 for non-members. Box office opens at 7:30pm for an 8pm start.
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Stephanie Stafford - email@example.com
13 a working theory of love
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The computer: foe, or man’s new best friend? Eva Hodgkin reviews Scott Hutchins’ recently released novel, which introduces a very futuristic way of soothing the broken hearted
The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco - the location of the novel’s plot. Photograph: mindwalker2076
cott Hutchins’ debut novel is an original and thoroughly modern take on the male rom com; think High Fidelity but with a talking computer. Although Hutchins teaches on the Stanford fiction course, and writes for Esquire and The New York Times amongst others, A Working Theory of Love is, impressively, his first novel, and he has not hesitated to plunge in at the deep end. The plot focuses on the life of Neill Bassett Jr., raised in small-town Arkansas by devout Catholics, but now living the reckless, disillusioned life of the divorced bachelor in San Francisco; an introspective, run-of-the-mill metrosexual looking for, as Hutchins puts it, ‘a lee in which to pitch the Bedouin tent of his soul’. So far, so normal. However, soon Neil becomes entangled with a 20-year-old student with some pretty serious baggage of her own, not least the fact that she’s a member of an orgasm-oriented cult called Pure Encounters, ‘like Transcendentalism but with a focus on the genitals’. Insisting that he doesn’t have commitment issues, he finds himself caught between the 20-year-old, an attractive, older colleague, and his ex-wife, unsure whether they are ‘friends with benefits or friends with slight disadvantages’. The most compelling aspect of A Working Theory of Love, which lifts it out of the realm of the normal ‘journey of discovery’-style rom com, is its simultaneous focus on the theme of artificial intelligence. Hutchins includes a quote at the beginning of the book from Alan Turing, the ground-breaking mathematician and code-breaker who first posed the question: Can a machine think for itself? Turing posited that if, during an ‘imitation game’, a typed conversation, a machine could be clever enough to fool a human being 30% of the time, then this could reasonably be classified as ‘thought’. This debate as to whether ‘there is no empirical differ-
ence between seeming and being’ is extended to other areas of the book, namely Neill’s relationships, particularly with women. Is love, he wonders, simply a case of fooling another person a sufficient percentage of the time? Neill’s main contact with artificial intelligence comes via his workplace, a software company attempting to create Turing’s ‘human computer’, able to trick us into believing it’s one of our own. The complicating factor is that the computer programme has been based on his dead Father’s journals, only discovered after his suicide.
Alan Turing, the ground-breaking mathematician and code-breaker first posed the question: can a machine think for itself? The banal, often trivial contents of these journals, with their uptight truisms and affirmations of the Southern chivalric code, have been fed into the computer to give it a personality, a sense of self. Neill’s job is to instant message this electronic echo of his dead father, to correct its English and make it seem more ‘present’; a deliberate irony, given that Neill’s main problem with his distant Father was his remoteness. However, as he begins to successfully resurrect ‘drbas’ (Dr Bassett), he begins to wonder if the pro-
gramme could resolve the issues which Neill has been grappling with since his father’s suicide: why he did it, whether he really loved his son and his wife and, with painful honesty, whether Neill really loved him. These sections of the book combine humour with bathos and are arguably the most engaging, as Neill finds his difficult, stunted relationship with his father re-played with a computer who repeats the same phrases parrot-like – ‘married people shouldn’t have friends across the sexes’ - and is liable to refuse to speak at all if Neill asks a question he doesn’t like. However, the pared-down question-and-answer format of these sessions soon becomes a means of exploration and insight for both man and computer. Dr Bassett, or ‘drbas’, begins to question, from beyond the grave, his son’s life choices, asking Neill, the inveterate, unhappy singleton: ‘what good is a life spent alone?’ We share Neill’s frustration with his conservative, enigmatic father, but also feel the full wrench of a relationship cut brutally short, exemplified by drbas’ inability to understand why Neill keeps referring to him in the past tense. Arguably the crux of the book can be seen in the question which Neill has been repeatedly asking himself, and finally gets to pose to his father: ‘Is there something wrong with us?’ In a way the whole novel is a long series of questions, some philosophical, some funny. It encourages the reader to wonder: can ‘seeming’ equal being? Will humans soon be immortalised in the form of chips and wires? Is love, as their tech rival puts it, just ‘a mixture of need fulfilment and projection’? Perhaps most importantly, as Neill becomes increasingly disillusioned with the consumerist, liberal but often meaningless life that he leads, it also raises the familiar question that good books often do: is this the way we ought to live? Hutchins does not become bogged down in profundities. Alongside these musings he demonstrates his ability to observe acutely the incidental details of human relationships, such as Neill tucking his hands into his pockets on meeting his ex-wife so that he can’t try to grab her hand. It is arguably these moments of very human uncertainty and doubt which prove more effective and touching than any of Neill’s earnest attempts to formulate a real working theory of love. Scott Hutchins’ success at holding together a book of this breadth should not be underestimated. He manages to combine that most traditional of themes, the search for love and for an understanding of the self, and the most modern, the search for artificial intelligence; love, ‘a territory all its own’, ends up winning the day, perhaps unsurprisingly, by the end of the novel. However the real achievement here is that, along the way, this fast-paced and funny book forces the reader to engage with the question of what it means to be a real human being, in all senses of the term. A Working Theory of Love by Scott Hutchins Viking Adult, Penguin Books
Daniel Hunt - firstname.lastname@example.org
T RAV E L 14 i 750 walks in the woods
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Daniel Hunt shows us the stunning scenery on offer right on our doorsteps in Durham
s students at Durham, we become accustomed to seeing travel as a large escape from academc life; pitching up and leaving to explore the far flung corners of the world. There are many other ways to break up what can become a monotonous lifestyle of lectures, labs and the library. The city is littered with spaces of UNESCO importance, of which perhaps the most important one is the image we most associate with Durham; its Cathedral. As students, we may sadly miss the most impressive viewpoint of Durham as a city until we graduate, spelling from the superstition of exam failure upon climbing the cathedral tower too soon, which despite perhaps being unfounded, is rigorously observed. A trip to Durham’s Botanic Gardens is a clear example of how to create trips away from work without the rigmarole of a large travel. Whilst the international range of flora and fauna available cannot compensate for Durham’s typically mediocre climate, the stunning scenery and tranquillity that can be gained from visiting makes for a real incentive to visit. Add to that the nature that it’s free to visit and serves some of the best ice cream in the city, the Gardens are a perfect way to get away from the stresses of it all. Going for a walk in the woods opposite the Racecourse not only gives you the best view of all of the summer sport, on the Racecourse but also an excellent means of visiting Durham not as the second home to which we have coming used, but through the eyes of a captive tourist.
Short walks out of the city centre lead to excellent markets At the risk of making myself sound like a naturalist, it’s not all about the natural scenery of Durham which gives opportunities to travel in. As well as a ramble round the Oriental Museum, the multitude of locally owned shops and eateries in the city offer a means of exploring a range of cultures, albeit that a large bank statement can easily occur! Similarly, short walks out of the city centre lead to excellent farmers markets and garden centres, making some of the freshest and tastiest food remarkably cheaply. Indeed, the short walk home is one of the biggest problems in making sure you don’t eat it all before you get back, which has very nearly been the downfall of numerous blackberry and apple pies! Similarly, just a stones throw from the hustle and bustle of the Viaduct lies Wolf Hall, a collection of beautiful gardens and stately homes. The venue is incidentally currently offering opportunities for cream teas after graduation. Whilst many of us have aspirations to travel the globe, with our associations to Durham tied firmly to a centre of work and academic stresses, the city can also offer a real place to escape.. So after 750 editions of this paper, the one thing which hasn’t changed is the number of ways we can escape the bubble without actually escaping it, and appreciate Durham for its true beauty.
A view of Durham in the early evening, and St Mary’s College in the snow. Photographs by Dan Hunt and Phil Wiseman
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Daniel Hunt - email@example.com
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T RAV E L
beyond the bubble
From the experiences of current Durham students and alumni, indigo compiles a range of bizarre and entertaining stories that give interesting weight to the term ‘culture-clash’ Philip Whitehead / Japan Visiting Japan over the summer, I was lucky enough to stay in a traditional inn, or ryokan, which possessed a set of baths heated by a natural hot spring. Etiquette dictates that one bathes naked, so I tentatively stripped, went inside the bath complex and crouched my oversized Western frame over a petite shower seat, carefully and somewhat awkwardly sponging myself down. Easing into the pool, I surreptitiously glanced around to check I hadn’t disturbed my fellow bathers, all elderly Japanese gentlemen, all of whom had their eyes shut and smiles on their faces, inhaling the sulphurous atmosphere with an expression of deep tranquillity. The heat was searing, the condensation prickled my face; alarmingly, I can now sympathise with the plight of a steamed lobster. I jumped out, bowing apologetically to the startled septuagenarians and dashed to the changing room – and my clothes – as quickly as possible… George Sylvester / USA In the weeks post 9/11, US airport security was understandably tight. My family and I had flown to San Francisco after much angst on the part of my mother. On arrival at San Francisco airport, our bags were subject to a routine spot check. Being the fastidious traveller that he is, my father had bound
our tightly packed bags in duck tape to prevent them opening during transit. With considerable effort the security personnel duly ripped it all off. My dad then attempted to make light of all of his careful packing being unpacked, by cracking the line ‘I hope you don’t find my leopard skin thong’. The embarrassment of watching American security meet British eccentricity? Never pretty. Liza Kozowyk / Madagascar Lemurs are not the only gem on the island of Madagascar and the people are what really make the place special. “Mora mora” means “slowly slowly” and this way of life is taken very literally. Edging along by train we stopped occasionally to just sit (or more accurately – squat, as people did next to the train to relieve themselves). We had some interesting companions, ranging from a kid whose big pleading eyes won him most of our food-supply, to an elderly woman who kept a small and squirming kitten closed tightly into an old carpet bag. The meows were all that indicated what was inside. Her reaction to these pleas for freedom was to shift the bag at her feet and smile mischievously at us. Crazy cat ladies are apparently a world-wide phenomenon. There was however one set of people in Madagascar who don’t take life slowly. Taxi-brousse drivers take tight mountain paths at breakneck speeds in lethal mini buses packed full of people and piled high
with motorbikes and chickens. Always full of smiles the drivers absolutely loved classic, and terrible, pop music. A Malagasy trait we found - every shack was capable of blaring out pop from our childhood loud enough for the Gods to hear...Not that we were complaining, it was the perfect accompaniment to a trip around this mad and entertaining country. James Harris / New Zealand Reluctant at the prospect of being confined to an office, I went to New Zealand for a year after graduating with a Biology BSc in 2011. My travels consisted of mainly voluntary farm work in return for food and accommodation commonly known as WWOOFing. With no prior farming experience, there were many interesting experiences: from living in a straw-bale house; pig/possum hunting; being placed in sole charge of a 380 cow dairy farm; creating exciting shooting, archery and rock climbing activities; and fearing I’d killed an alpaca I was supposed to be babysitting. As a means of exploring, I also hired a bike for two months to explore NZ; cycling a total of 7000km, I incurred one puncture, two cracked wheels, a sprained wrist and a twelve page bank statement of the cafes I’d stopped at along the way. It’s difficult to summarize my experiences but it certainly has made me even more resistant to being bound by four walls just yet! Photograph by Liza Kozowyk