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Thursday, 20 October 2016

FASHION 3, 4 & 5 Vetements: how streetwear from the ends became the haute couture of Paris MUSIC 6&7 On the de-politisation of today’s music FILM & TV 7 Looking at Ken Loach’s many movies, in lieu of the release of his latest: I, Daniel Blake 8 Reviewing ‘My Scientology Movie’ BOOKS 8&9 Interviewing Hunter Davies, and Jen Campbell, both here for the Durham Book Festival F EATUR E S 10 & 11 A student’s experience living with mental health, in lieu of World Mental Health Day STAGE 11 Is realism better than non-realism? 12 Tragedy or Comedy: which is better? VISUAL ARTS 13 Is conceptual art really art? A review of ‘Who’s Afraid of Conceptual Art’ programme F O O D & DR I N K 14 ‘Enough of experts?’ The rise of food bloggers and food writers who have not had formal culinary experience T R AV E L 15 A firsthand account of the Bastille Day attack in Nice from a student on a year abroad CREATIVE WRITING 16 Individuality


he only things I know about the fashion world are derived from the movie The Devil Wears Prada. It is in this light that I introduce this week’s cover story on fashion. I know many of you likely feel detached from the fashion world because of its avant-garde nature. It is easy to get lost in the myriad of gaudy and seemingly unwearable designs that feature on runways around the world. But in this issue, Fashion fully acknowledges this problem and looks at how one high-fashion brand – Vetements – is shaking up the fashion industry by doing the unthinkable: featuring clothes people can easily wear out on the street on the catwalk. Cynics among you might think that Vetements’ is merely mocking the fashion industry in the same way pranksters leave litter lying around a modern art museum to fool visitors. Indeed, one might think Vetements simply took a track suit from JD and put a £1000 price tag on it in the same mischievous spirit. But only look at their actual collections to see that their ‘streetwear’ is newfangled and unique in its own right, and whose creativity ought to be recognised. Whether or not it deserves its thousand-pound price tag, however, is another question altogether. It is not just in the fashion world where we see an ‘anti-establishment’ sentiment. In the wider cultural world, Ken Loach’s new film ‘I, Daniel Blake’ starkly criticises the socioeconomic realities of society, Visual Arts boldly explores how conceptual art can be considered an art, and Food & Drink looks at how prominent food writers today are often not formally trained in the culinary arts. The inspiration for such ‘revolutionary’ thought might simply boil down to the fact that the world is in such upheaval, forcing us to question everything we assumed on a deeper level. However, as Music laments, this does not translate to much of the music that is released today. This, to me, reinforces the fact that different manifestations of culture develop distinctly from one another. I suppose that’s what keeps culture interesting, life worth experiencing, and Indigo worth reading.

IND IGO E D ITO R S YC Chin Olivia Howcroft (deputy) FE A TUR E S E D ITO R Sophie Paterson C R E A TIVE W R ITING E D ITO R Anna Gibbs S TA GE E D ITO R S Sofya Grebenkina Alison Gamble (deputy) V IS UA L A R TS E D ITO R S Jane Simpkiss Lolita Gendler (deputy) BO O KS E D ITO R S Ellie Scorah Aaron Bell FA S H IO N E D ITO R S Victor Schagerlund Emma Dennison (deputy) FO O D & D R INK E D ITO R S Divya Shastri Ariadne Vu (deputy) TR A V E L E D ITO R S Naoise Murphy Charis Cheesman FIL M & TV E D ITO R S Simon Fearn Eugene Smith (deputy) M US IC E D ITO R S Rory McInnes-Gibbons Bethany Madden (deputy)


Cover photograph: Models: Flora Philips (left), and Karn Chatikavanij Styling: Victor Schagerlund Photographer: Zsofi Borsi Follow us on Twitter and Instagram:


Have a question, comment, or an idea for a story you’d like to write? Email to get in touch.

FASHION Thursday, 20 October 2016


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Enfants Terribles

The French brand Vetements is revolutionising fashion as we know today by bringing the aesthetic of the underground avant-garde into the finest Parisian salons. By Emma Denison Deputy Fashion Editor


he pomp and circumstance of catwalk shows, whose collections have little to do with what people seem to wear every day, have become synonymous with what we know of the fashion industry. It has become the norm to take in shows of intricate and mostly unwearable designs that, although beautiful on professional models on the catwalk, would seem a little ridiculous in an everyday setting. For example, take the sheer floor length gowns that stunned at the likes of both Alexander McQueen and Vionnet this year’s Paris Fashion Week. On a catwalk in Paris – striking. On a stroll for a pint of milk or even at a black tie event – more than a little out of place. It is not just the streets of Durham that these collections do not reach. Surprisingly, these collections often do not even make it to the designers’ own flagship stores. Clothes seen in the likes of New York and London Fashion Week seem to only be available to the select elite who are fortunate enough to have a creative director’s number or, in-

deed, their PA’s on speed dial. This long accepted separation of catwalk and consumer has created an air of untouchability to a global industry valued last year to be worth over US$1.2 trillion. Upon reflection, it may begin to seem a little absurd. Surely what the industry is doing is avoiding what should be their target market: the customer. Enter Vetements. Launching their debut collection in 2014, Vetements is decidedly the ‘cool, dangerous new kid’ in the fashion industry. Although to many the name

Vetements’ aim is to bring the focus back to what fashion in principle is about – the clothes may not be as recognisable as the long established fashion houses of Saint Laurent or Christian Dior, Vetements is the brand that is causing a huge industry-wide shake up. The brainchild of a group of Georgian designers headed by Demnes Gvasalia, Vetements is breaking the rules of the fashion industry from the in-

side out. Tired of the monotonous need to reinvent every time a new season comes around and to boost profits through pressing a new trend with each collection, Vetements’ aim is to bring the focus back to what fashion in principle is about – the clothes. The group cleverly chowse to name themselves after their focus – Vetements: meaning clothes in French. Instead of offering collections that are seen on the catwalk which are reinvented by shops using only the prints or certain cuts shown, the clothes that Vetements is bringing out would not be uncommon to see on the street anywhere. Think oversized jumpers, sloganed hoodies and T-shirts, and leather jackets. Instead of focusing on an overall theme, Vetements focuses on each and every piece they bring out, Gvasalia admitting that they will stop work on a piece if they are not getting anywhere with it within twenty minutes. This focus on distinct areas of the items of clothing seems entirely rational. When you watch a show, movie or even enter a shop, it is very rare that you will want the whole of an outfit being shown. Continued on page 5...


Thursday, 20 October 2016

Photographs (above): Paul Hameline @paulhameline;;

FASHION Thursday, 20 October 2016


Continued from page 3 You may like the jacket, or maybe you like the top someone is wearing, but wouldn’t want to wear it with the skirt it is currently with. And Vetements has used this everyday human trait to their advantage. Their shows are a mishmash of their pieces in different formulations; their customers free to customise their purchases how they wish. It seems strange to think that this focus on the customer and clothes is ‘ground-breaking’ within the fashion industry: acknowledging that people generally cannot afford to reinvent their wardrobe each and every time a ‘new trend’ emerges is novel. But the fashion industry was beginning to destroy itself by its own self-imposed adherence to the rules of reinvention. Customers are buying fewer clothes than in the past, stylists are seeing a drop in opulent spending and the residence of ‘Heads of Design’ are becoming as fleeting as the flow of trends they were bring out. Vetements is capitalising on this. While others are floundering, Vetements has exploded onto the scene. Their ‘accessible’ styles can be seen on every street style fashion page and Instagram post; the demand for their clothes finding them sold out on Net-a-Porter and Selfridges alike. Gvasalia’s aim to create ‘a tribe’ may appeal to the human psyche of belonging, but their success

It seems strange that ... acknowledging that people generally cannot afford to reinvent their wardrobe each and every time a ‘new trend’ emerges is novel may be more accredited to the boredom within and towards the traditional fashion formula. Any change comes with unease. The emergence of a tribe of young Instagram focused, Twitter using bloggers has caused much change in the fashion world. While some are jumping at the chance to become a part of this trend (Balenciaga appointing Gvasalia himself as their new creative director) you only have to look at the creative digital director of Vogue accusing bloggers of ‘heralding the death of style’ and the backlash towards the use of Kendal Jenner by Calvin Klein to see the unease that a surge of savvy and self directed consumers are having. And yes, it may seem a little absurd that a jumper with a slogan that Vetements is selling for over £1000 could be bought at Primark for a fiver, but it might be that the true beauty of Vetements is not the clothes they are selling. Perhaps it is the message they are sending out that makes it truly unique: fashion should ultimately be about the moment, the customer, and the culture we live in. For more of Fashion, find us at: @palatinate_fashion on Instagram @PalatinateStyle on Twitter Clothes borrowed from Shaun Scott @westvillagevintage Photographs: Zsofi Borsi

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By Lauren Ipsen


orem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec eu odio at velit accumsan eleifend vitae quis nibh. Morbi libero ante, mattis in aliquam eget, vestibulum semper urna. Nulla in dolor quis odio tincidunt dignissim. Sed id eros at ex aliquet luctus. Nullam eu commodo nisl, at congue nulla. Maecenas hendrerit, est a porta tristique, mi sem volutpat neque, maximus consectetur erat metus sed tortor. Cras mi odio, imperdiet sit amet pharetra vel, vehicula eget sapien. Suspendisse ac elementum magna, dignissim venenatis purus. Integer egestas diam et nunc aliquet, quis lobortis mauris dapibus. Vivamus tristique ut velit sed aliquet. Suspendisse a nulla aliquam, mollis nisl eget, convallis ante. Nam faucibus eleifend turpis vitae gravida. Duis a justo lorem. Proin non auctor ex. Phasellus tempus mauris sed arcu eleifend, quis bibendum purus tempus. Donec sed ornare nisl. Etiam laoreet in mi nec placerat. Mauris ut semper mauris. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Duis rutrum at leo id finibus. Duis eu dictum tortor. Duis suscipit auctor libero eget bibendum. Aenean ullamcorper quam lacus, quis dapibus eros fermentum et. Integer at ligula et diam convallis congue ut auctor lorem. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos. Praesent quis sagittis dolor. Cras facilisis, justo quis eleifend hendrerit, lorem est maximus neque, nec cursus orci tellus non risus. Ut vestibulum nisi varius tortor vulputate, ut malesuada nulla iaculis. Donec ac est euismod, elementum mi et, scelerisque leo. Praesent sollicitudin rutrum lacus pellentesque sodales. Phasellus finibus eros non arcu tempor, id suscipit felis varius. Fusce leo augue, ornare sit amet gravida volutpat, hendrerit nec tellus. Nam nec mi sagittis nisi ullamcorper convallis. Sed

feugiat venenatis felis, tempor euismod odio. Vestibulum ac imperdiet nibh. hMauris malesuada feugiat nunc ac volutpat. Nunc et sapien placerat, auctor erat eu, lacinia urna. Quisque eu ipsum luctus, tempor tellus id, sollicitudin augue. Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas. Nulla tellus urna, finibus eget nunc a, laoreet mattis sem. Pellentesque aliquet velit orci, sed rutrum lacus fringilla ut. Etiam gravida dapibus tellus sit amet consequat. Sed tempor mi mi, sed aliquam nunc rutrum ut. Integer molestie id dolor ac gravida. Nullam quis tincidunt urna. Integer porttitor et purus ac volutpat. Ut pharetra vel purus vel sodales. Integer suscipit dignissim ante ut laoreet. Cras aliquam iaculis mauris. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec eu odio at velit accumsan eleifend vitae quis nibh. Morbi libero ante, mattis in aliquam eget, vestibulum semper urna. Nulla in dolor quis odio tincidunt dignissim. Sed id eros at ex aliquet luctus. Nullam eu commodo nisl, at congue nulla. Maecenas hendrerit, est a porta tristique, mi sem volutpat neque, maximus consectetur erat metus sed tortor. Cras mi odio, imperdiet sit amet pharetra vel, vehicula eget sapien. Suspendisse ac elementum magna, dignissim venenatis purus. Integer egestas diam et nunc aliquet, quis lobortis mauris dapibus. Vivamus tristique ut velit sed aliquet. Suspendisse a nulla aliquam, mollis nisl eget, convallis ante. Nam faucibus eleifend turpis vitae gravida. Duis a justo lorem. Proin non auctor ex. Phasellus tempus mauris sed arcu eleifend, quis bibendum purus tempus. Donec sed ornare nisl.

Photograph: Lauren Ipsen


Thursday, 20 October 2016

You say you want a revolution – well, write a song Form a Farage band called The Brexiteers...? With so much political upheaval at the moment, maybe we should just pick up a guitar and hit the streets. By Florianne Humphrey


uring the twentieth century, warfare and industrialisation meant a great change in the political and social landscape. Musicians used their talents to protest against the injustices brought about by this upheaval. There were the first blues singers whose musical narratives related the troubles experienced in African-American society, and around the same time the Irish rebel songs against British rule appeared. Rock and Roll and its drug-addled, sex-fuelled debauchery lashed against the conservatism of the previous generation. Punk rock was more anarchic as it was born out of a dislike of 70’s stadium rock. This musical rebellion resonated so powerfully with disenfranchised young people that it permeated into their everyday lives, from their clothes to their hair to their attitude, and became a cultural movement. There are many songs from the previous century that make a specific political point. Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowing in the Wind’ is an anthem for the 1960s civil rights movement; ‘Enola Gay’ addresses the atomic bombing of Hiroshima; ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’ by Tears for Fears is about the Cold War; The Beatles’ ‘Revolution’ and The Sex Pistols’ ‘Anarchy in the UK’ both talk about uprisings; The Manic Street Preachers wrote about the Spanish Civil War; Pixies and The Smiths sang about environmental issues; The Cranberries’ ‘Zombie’ and U2’s ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ lament the same horrific day in Irish history; and The Specials’ ‘Ghost Town’ reacts to unemployment in 1980s Britain. Even songs from ‘lighter’ bands contain political references - Queen’s ‘Killer Queen’ mentions Cold War opponents Khrushchev and Kennedy. The po

and the state in which it is received. Some people would argue that some songs like Meghan Trainor’s ‘All About That Bass’ and Taylor Swift’s ‘Bad Blood’ are feminist stands against the patriarchy, yet the lyrics are not impactful enough to define the songs beyond their catchy tunes. In mainstream culture, music mainly looks inwards at personal and emotional crises rather than outwardly at national events. Pop artists in particular belt out ballads of love lost and love gained, but that doesn’t mean modern rock and indie bands aren’t guilty of the same thing. Arctic Monkey’s earlier albums followed the path laid down by the Kinks with their quintessentially British, tongue-in-cheek portrayal of a monotonous, downtrodden society. Yet their recent album AM, al-

A band can write a 140 character tweet more easily than a song, and it certainly reaches ears quicker Now, music is controlled by huge corporations that would rather follow a trend and make money than take a risk with something controversial. The popularity of the likes of Justin Bieber and One Direction have set the trend – if their romantic pop songs are drawing audiences of millions into concert venues and making the Top 40, then love will prevail. Bands and artists who write protest songs will remain in small backstreet clubs until a record producer is brave enough to sign them on. I don’t like people who get starry eyed and nostalgic about the rose-tinted past. Music is no exception, and by no means do I think that older songs are better because they’re more political. Maybe it’s good that artists aren’t treading on the toes of their predecessors and are instead making their own mark on the music industry. But it is also important that singers pen lyrics about global problems. Relationships and friendships are common issues, but so is immigration and recession. These international crises are felt by people in their everyday lives and therefore become personal issues too, so protest songs could provide comfort and unite people sharing these problems. So – can the next Bob Dylan please stand up?

Open any newspaper and there’s a wealth of crises just waiting to be turned into lyrics litical crisis need not be a national one – ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ is the Boom Town Rat’s nod to the localised 1979 school shooting in California. So why, when the 20th century is brimming with protest songs, is our 21st century music so politically apathetic? We hardly lack things to protest against. Although we are technically in peacetime, we are far from a utopian world. There’s the economic crisis, the immigration crisis, Brexit, crumbling politics, Donald Trump, terrorism, and the sadly still present sexism, racism, xenophobia, and homophobia. Open any newspaper and there’s a wealth of crises just waiting to be turned into lyrics. There are, admittedly, some songs this side of the millennium that still protest against injustice, such as Muse’s ‘Uprising’, Green Day’s ‘Holiday’, and Macklemore’s ‘Same Love.’ House music is an antiestablishment genre because of where it is played

art is quite useless.” Music, just like literature, film, and visual art, is widely accessible because it can be both hard-hitting and pure entertainment. We are also living in an age where there are other ways to voice our concerns. A band can write a 140 character tweet more easily than a song, and it certainly reaches ears quicker. A protestor is more likely to write a blog than buy an acoustic guitar and sing on a street corner. People are still angry – people are always angry – but, with technology, that anger is just broadcasted via other channels. Sadly, commercialism probably plays a part.

So why, when the 20th century is brimming with protest songs, is our 21st century music so politically apathetic though brilliant, focuses more on personal relationships in line with the current trend. Perhaps we want music to represent escapism rather than reminder us of our global problems. Perhaps the best way to fight against the demons is to block them out with cheesy tunes. Perhaps it is no bad thing that music provides a way to have fun, to dance about madly with friends, and to belt out memorable lyrics. No art form has a duty to have political or social relevancy – as Oscar Wilde said, “all

Illustrations: Faye Chua

But There is Still Hope... Kenrick Lamar – Social and economic inequality, #blacklivesmatter, and anti-trump. Listen to: Alright M.I.A – The horrors of genocide, the refugee crisis, and feminist issues. Listen to: Borders Gorillaz – Strong anti-war as well as environmental themes. Listen to: Dirty Harry




Thursday, 20 October 2016

Best of Bob The time has come to celebrate Bob Dylan 5. Blowin’ In The Wind It is always best to draw our punters into a list with a song they already know. How can anything beat the ubiquitous Blowin’ In The Wind? Well, the truth is, it probably can’t, unless you’re called Big Bad Bob.

4. Chimes Of Freedom Perhaps the best version of this classic off of 1964’s Another Side of Bob Dylan sees Bob duetting with the Mistress of Protest herself, Joan Baez. Covered by everyone from The Byrds to Bruce Springsteen.

3. Masters Of War Bob at his most destructively nasal, he yelps with the agony of burning rage in this lyrical, strippedback and simple feast. Proof again that you don’t need to able to sing or play guitar to be Bob.

2. Hurricane Unashamedly selfish choice from the Music team here, you just cant beat the musicianship and elegance of this Bob epic. The message remains sadly pertinent today, like most of the man’s songs.

1. The Times They Are a-Changin’ The times have changed many a time since, but there has been one constant, and it isn’t Corbyn...

Ken Loach: 50 Years of Socialist Cinema To mark the release of the veteran director and ardent socialist’s Palme D’Or winning ‘I, Daniel, Blake’, Film & TV look back at Loach’s long career and picks a cinematic gem from each decade. By Eugene Smith Deputy Film & TV Editor The Sixties: Kes (1969) Widely regarded as Loach’s breakthrough feature, this gritty social drama follows fifteen-year old bully-victim Billy as he finds an escape from his harsh, monotonous existence by adopting a kestrel. Set amongst the rapidly stagnating coal-mining communities of Yorkshire, Loach’s brave choice to use actors with authentic Barnsley accents and dialects meant Kes made a loss during its brief foray across the pond, but the strength of the central performances and narrative has led to a deserved seventh-placed ranking in the BFI’s Top Ten British Films. The Seventies: Black Jack (1979) Winning the Critics’ Award at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival, this children’s period piece is perhaps one of Loach’s least political, and least well-known, works. Set in 18th Century Yorkshire, it revolves around a French sailor escaping execution and teaming up with a young English boy and girl for a series of comic adventures. Although, like much of Loach’s work, Black Jack failed to find a mainstream audience, the film was positively reviewed by most critics, particularly for the cinematography by Chris Menges (The Killing Fields, Notes on a Scandal). The Eighties: Which Side Are You On? (1985) In a discussion marking his acceptance of an Auteur Award at the 24th Raindance Film Festival last month, Loach admitted the 1980s were a particularly difficult decade for his career; indeed, he largely confined himself to documentary-based political dissidence during the Thatcher years. Which Side Are You On? is a doc that compiles songs, poems and experiences to tell the story of the 1984-85 Miner’s Strike, and though hardly Loach’s most ground-breaking work, the film does bring an intriguing human element to the wider industrial crisis. The Nineties: Land and Freedom (1995) Loach returned to cinematic prominence in the 1990s, most notably with this story of an unemployed Liverpudlian communist joining the fight against General Franco’s fascist forces during the Spanish Civil War. Told as a long flashback, the film not only grapples with the clash of anarchist, Trotskyist and Stalinist ideals and the internecine conflict from which the anti-Franco coalition suffered during the war, but also provides the audience with their fair share of action set-pieces and battle scenes. Land and Freedom (or Tierra y Libertad) won a slew of awards, grossed close to seven figures in the

UK and amassed an impressive US$1.5 million in Spain. The Noughties: The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006) Starring a young Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins, Peaky Blinders), this tale of two Irish republicans fighting a guerrilla war against British forces secured Loach both his first Palme d’Or and a scathing Daily Mail column entitled “Why does Ken Loach loathe his country so much?”, which took issue with the film’s ostensible depiction of British forces as sadistic and Irish fighters as warm-hearted idealists. Despite the controversy, audiences and critics were sufficiently wowed: The Wind that Shakes the Barley holds an 88% approval rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, has grossed $20.9 million worldwide and was the most successful Irishmade independent film ever until being surpassed by The Guard in 2011. The Present: I, Daniel Blake (2016) Were it not for a sudden and welcome change of heart, 2014’s modest success Jimmy’s Hall would have been Loach’s last contribution to the film industry, since he announced his retirement the same year. Thankfully, he soon abandoned the idea and surged back on to the scene with this story of an unemployed Geordie, recovering from a heart attack and attempting to negotiate the labyrinthine benefits system, befriending a similarly unemployed single mother. You can find Palatinate’s full review on our website, but in short, the film deservedly won Loach his second Palme d’Or and has the capacity to move even the most ardent right-winger to tears. Photograph: ‘I, Daniel Blake’,Courtesy of Entertainment One


BOOKS Thursday, 20 October 2016

Review: My Scientology Movie

Lots of Bookish Love A conversation with Jen Campbell: poet, author, and Durham Book Festival vlogger.

By Florianne Humphrey


rom Thai brides to Nazis, documentarist Louis Theroux has delved into weirder topics than Channel 4. Who knew that an awkward man with a dad bod and Kristen Stewart’s range of facial expressions would brush shoulders with the likes of the Westboro Baptist Church, sex offenders, and maximum security prisoners? Now, Theroux has released his first featurelength film investigating one of the most talked about but least understood organisations of the modern world: Scientology. It is a promising topic, yet the whole documentary is cluttered by an odd subplot. My Scientology Movie is actually a double-entendre: it turns out Theroux is also filming a Scientology movie within his documentary. With the help of ex-Scientologist Mark Rathbon, Theroux casts actors in the roles of Tom Cruise and religion’s leader David Miscavige. Rathbon then directs these actors to demonstrate the inner workings of Scientology, which simply leaves you wondering why Theroux doesn’t just interview Rathbon and have done. Rathbon was Miscavige’s right hand man, yet My Scientology Movie side-lines him as Theroux’s assistant. Theroux’s meta-film is meant to solve the problem of the impossibility of interviewing the key Scientology members whilst parodying Scientology’s dramatic propaganda videos. However, Theroux interviews countless people who escaped the organisation, many of whom were in the inner circle. He also goes to Scientology’s HQ where he attempts to deliver a letter, is stalked by a Scientology camera crew, and is confronted by a member who threatens him with arrest for trespassing. Throw in Theroux’s bewildered expressions and awkward comments and you’ve got the recipe for a perfect documentary. Yet, the making of Theroux’s fictional film constantly cuts through the interesting real-life revelations. My Scientology Movie would be better if it wasn’t a movie. Theroux and his team evidently wanted to make a longer documentary, but rather than get more material they conjured up this film-within-afilm idea to fill in the gaps and lengthen the running time. It seems the producers were so focused on this new, complex spin to Theroux’s documentaries that they forgot that simplicity is what makes them appealing in the first place. So, definitely watch ‘My Scientology Movie’, but make sure you fast forward through the ‘movie’ to get to the fantastic documentary hidden behind it. Photograph: Courtesy of Altitude Films.

By Aaron Bell and Ellie Scorah Books Editors Palatinate: What is your role at Durham Book Festival? Jen Campbell: My official role is ‘Vlogger in Residence’, I think this is the first time they’ve had a vlogger. I’m here with a camera to shove in people’s faces and talk to people about books! Palatinate: How did you get involved with the festival? Jen: I’ve worked with New Writing North before, and I’ve done some lectures at Northumbria University. Also, I’m from the North East. Palatinate: Are there any particular events that you are looking forward to? Jen: I have a list! Laura Bates, Andy Miller (‘What Makes a Classic?’), ‘A Country of Refuge’ (Sebastian Barry, Lucy Popescu, and Tim Finch). I don’t want to miss any out! There’s lots of different things, and music as well. Palatinate: How are you finding judging the Costa Book Prize for poetry? Jen: I’m in the process; it’s something I need to reflect on. You know what you like, so when it gets down to the final few it’s difficult. But I think engaging with something this critically does make you a better writer. Maybe it’s by learning what you like, and maybe what you don’t! Poetry is very subjective, there are inevitably going to be styles and presses you focus on. Palatinate: What do you think about the interaction between social media and books? Jen: I think it opens the discussion out to more people. In mainstream media, [and] we’re talking about national newspapers, they have a limited space for what they can talk about. They might only review one poetry collection a month. Vloggers can talk about whatever they want, they control their space, their platform, and it opens up to more diverse voices. It’s not to say national press is bad – far from it! [But

online] it’s more exciting, you can pick and choose who you want to listen to. You can have an academic discussion, or choose to watch or read something informal and it’s like getting a recommendation from a friend. Palatinate: Do you think that gives you a responsibility to get voices out there that aren’t covered in mainstream media? Jen: Yes, but also what works well with vlogging is being genuine about what you’re reading. With that comes freedom and responsibility to talk about things in a respectful manner. You’re really engaging with the material in an open minded way. There are lots of campaigns to raise awareness about a variety of literature, such as LGBTQ, disability, Black Lives Matter. There’s a whole host of things happening out there. It’s great! Palatinate: How did you make the change between writing about books, to talking about books online? Jen: I had a blog in 2008 or 2009 when I was a bookseller. That was to talk about books while doing my degree – just talking about books I was reading and enjoying. That turned into my first book Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops, completely by accident! When writing became my day job the blog was a bit much, and I wanted a different format [in which] to talk about books. The best way to talk to people was to have my own YouTube channel. Palatinate: Bookshops feature a lot in your work. What would you say to get people into independent bookshops? Jen: Give them a copy of The Bookshop Book! (Laughs) I think from growing up in the North East, there aren’t that many here, so I grew to love them. When I went to Edinburgh [to study English] I thought there were so much more! This is so exciting! Jen Campbell’s The Bookshop Book is available from Little Brown. The full interview can be found online! Photograph: Jen Campbell

BOOKS Thursday, 20 October 2016


Durham’s Got Hunter Davies! A memoir of Davies’ time as an undergraduate at Durham University. By Florianne Humphrey

‘One day, I woke up in a Norman castle…’


lthough this sounds like the beginning of a Gothic novel, it is in fact the opening line of journalist and author Hunter Davies’ new autobiography, The Co-Op’s Got Ba-

nanas! Davies is among the many authors who have come to Durham to speak about their works at this year’s Book Festival. However, unlike the other authors, Durham means more to Davies than just a platform for promotion. The Norman castle that he writes about at the start of his book is University College, where he lived whilst studying at Durham University in the 1950s. Davies waking up in Castle symbolises his sudden and unexpected arrival at Durham University. Not only did he not apply to Durham, but he came from an academic and social background where university attendance was uncommon. Davies grew up on a council estate in Carlisle, where he was so cold all the time that he had to put his clothes on under blankets and if he stepped on his lino floor his feet would ‘freeze and be there until Easter.’ He also shared a bed with his brother and, when he came back home after a term at Durham, found that his mum had rented out his side of the bed to a boy from the local children’s home. According to Davies, this was characteristic of his generous mother. Although they had no family income because Davies’ father was bedbound from MS, his mother used to claim they had ‘bags of money,

bags of room’ and would let anyone stay over if they needed to. Davies even sent his clothes home to be washed whilst at Durham, and his mum would send them back with a slice of ginger cake. Davies was also disadvantaged in terms of education. He did not sit the 11+ because he attended a secondary modern but, thanks to the Butler Education Act, he was able to move from his school to a grammar school. However, he never felt welcome in a place where the teachers didn’t know him and where he had to learn Latin in nine months for university applications because he was not taught it at his former school. It is little wonder that coming to Durham and living in a castle felt like waking up in a dream. By his fourth year he was Editor of Palatinate and Senior Man of his college, which gave him a suite in the Norman Gallery and a sherry allowance. Davies’ good fortune continued after university. He became a journalist for the Times where he started a column called ‘Life in the Day of’ about the humdrum lives of celebrities. It was based on a column he wrote for Palatinate and he is still writing it today, which makes it the longest running column in British history. The most touching part of his talk was when he discussed his wife, author Margaret Forster, who died earlier this year. He spoke of her with incredible love and fondness, describing their chance meetings before they started dating and his joy when he finally walked her home one night where he ‘kept talking to her and didn’t stop talking for the next 60 years.’ He and his wife, although married for over fifty years, were very different personalities. Davies described her as ‘very obedient’, a product of the war generation of rationing and military rules. Hunter, for example, drove through no exit signs, whereas she would ‘go potty’. At sports matches, Margaret would leave when she saw the tickets were sold out, whereas Davies would determinedly search all the turnstiles until they found a ticket. Although they were both authors, their writing techniques also differed. Hunter joked that her children didn’t realise she’d written 27 novels because she’d always hide when writing and never turned up to promotional events. Whilst Hunter extensively researches for his books, and even hangs a pen around his neck to make notes on the move, Margaret never planned them. She handwrote an entire novel without crossing out a single mistake, and then entrusted her only copy to the typist. Davies insisted she make copies of her manuscript before she sent them off, yet stubborn Margaret would insist ‘if it doesn’t turn up, it doesn’t matter. I’ve had my fun.’ Margaret seemed a fascinating woman and, when she died, Melvin Braggs called her a ‘legend’ on the radio. After the talk, I took Davies on a tour of Durham. We went to Edinburgh Woollen Mill that used to be the spot of his favourite pub, ‘The Buffalo’s Head’, where he passed many drunken lunchtimes with his friends. We peered into the University bookshop that was exactly the same in the 1950s, where I had to explain to Davies that ‘stash’ isn’t drugs but those college jumpers hanging up in the window.

We walked down past the Bailey colleges, where Davies booed at Hatfield, his old rivals, and pointed out that St Cuthbert’s used to be the college for ‘bohemians.’ On Prebends Bridge, we searched for a quote by Sir Walter Scott where he mulled over the beauty of the weir. Finally, we wound up in the Library bar to watch the football for Davies’ New Statesman column, where Davies commented that this is a very ‘laddish’ place as we were jostled by locals pre-drinking before a night out. Whilst his wife never went back to her university, Oxford, and even turned down a Fellowship, Davies is brimming with anecdotes from his time at Durham. He is incredibly proud of being Senior Man and his bedroom view over Castle’s courtyard; he still remembers, over 60 years later, the exact geography of the Bailey and the various adventures related to each place; he even owes his current column to his time with Palatinate; and his first autobiography opens with a Durham college, and that is where our tour ends up, back in the corridor where it all started. Hunter Davies’ memoir The Co-Op’s Got Bananas! is available now.

Images: Simon and Schuster, Durham Book Festival

Three Word Book Reviews “Middle class issues” – Howards End Jess Derwent “Dorian never greys” – The Portrait of Dorian Gray Matthew Hilborn “Where is he?” – Where’s Wally? Matthew Hyde Send your own three word book reviews to


Thursday, 20 October 2016

Refusing to suffer in silence

One student describes her struggle with anxiety and how she manages to overcome it. By Laura Glenister


ccepting that I needed help for anxiety was one of the hardest and most nerveracking things I have ever done: I’ve struggled with various mental health problems since the age of 14, and until recently I have always dealt with my problems alone for fear that they would be deemed not serious enough to warrant help – I literally imagined myself being laughed out of a doctor’s surgery. So it came as a huge shock when my doctor prescribed me a course of SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressants, to be taken alongside CBT therapy. At first I shunned the idea of taking medication: I thought that it was just a way to cover up the problem, to pretend it wasn’t there, and a part of me still stubbornly thought that I could handle it by myself. I was also absolutely terrified that if I started taking them, I would never be able to come off, that I would never be happy, or even normal, without them again. For weeks I hid them away in my room, and at one point even nearly flushed them down the toilet. Eventually, it was only after the encouragement of a friend who had also recently begun a course of the same anti-depressant, also for anxiety, that persuaded me to try them out – and I am very happy that I did. I had been seeing a counsellor for a few weeks before I started my course, and I followed a CBT programme for the first six weeks of taking them: I want to make it clear from the offset that it is only in combination with other help such as this that I think medication is an effective treatment for mental illness. The medication itself does not help recovery in terms of the underlying causes and trig-

gers which are the root of all mental health problems. However, what it can do is put you in a much better position to begin thinking about addressing these underlying issues. When you’re stuck in a cycle of negative thinking, it can be hard to find the motivation to leave the house, let alone to be proactive in tackling your problems. Medication helped me open my mind to the other help I was receiving, and it gave me the shift in attitude that I needed to fully embrace and accept the amazing support I was being offered by my counsellor and through the CBT programme. Medication can give you the shift in attitude necessary to force yourself to open up to your friends, to start seeing a counsellor, or even just to understand that there is a way out – that you are capable of feeling and thinking much more positively, and your illness by no means defines who you are.

Medication helped me open my mind to the other help I was receiving

Medication is not a quick, one-stop fix: I still have bad days, and even weeks, but the difference is that now I can rationalise and see them for what they are – just bad days. Yes, I am still worried about coming off my medication, but after speaking to my GP I feel assured that they will help me deal with this as and when I feel ready, and with the other support I am receiving I hope to be in a good place when that time does come. Since admitting that I need help and being open with my friends about my anxiety, one of the main things I have come to realise is that it is much, much more common than any of us really realise. When we come to University for the first time, we are com-

pletely thrown out of our comfort zones: for many students it may even be their first time away from home for any extended period of time. On top of that you have the student lifestyle – excessive drinking and lack of sleep from personal experience have a major impact on mental health – and the fact we are expected to work hard and get decent degrees at the same time. All this means that University is a breeding ground for illnesses like depression and anxiety. Admittedly, I still struggle to talk openly about my problems to all but a few people: I find it incredibly uncomfortable, and sadly a part of me still feels like it makes me weak, or a failure. Although we have come a long way in removing the stigma around mental health, when I was at school it was very much the case that mental health issues were something to be hushed up and swept under the carpet. This should not be the case. No one should feel ashamed or embarrassed to come forward and admit to their friends, family, or even to themselves, that they are struggling – my biggest regret is not realising this sooner. Mental illness is a very personal and unique experience for everyone who suffers from it, so whilst my experience with medication has been a positive one, my word should on no accounts be taken for gospel. Different things work for different people, but if you are struggling with your mental health the main thing to remember is that you are more than your illness – and with that in mind, to know that there is always a way out, even if it does seem a very long way away. Photograph: Yvonne Wells

How to Get Help If you or a friend are experiencing a mental health problem, there are many options available to you. Talking to your GP, the University Counselling Service, Samaritans and Talking Changes are just a few. The University Counselling services’ essential advice to Palatinate was: “it is good to talk – no-one should be struggling alone with these issues, but this applies equally to the friend/listener as it does to the person holding difficult feelings.” Durham University Counselling service: 0191 33 42200; Samaritans: 116 123 Nightline: 0191 334 6444 Talking Changes at For more information and coping techniques, see: – Mind: – Mental health foundation: uk/ – B-eat:

With 1 in 4 people experiencing a mental health problem each year, why is there still a stigma attached to treatment? Laura Glenister (above) gives her experience.

To help end mental health discrimination, you can make a pledge on


FEATURES Thursday, 20 October 2016

Students behind the statistics Mental illness explained by students that live with them.


orld Mental Health Day is on October 10th every year, and this year’s theme was ‘psychological first aid’. The purpose of the day is to educate on mental illness, and to try to combat the stigma that sufferers face. To raise awareness, Indigo Features asked students to anonymously share their experiences of mental illness. Here are two of them:

OCD gives you the pretence of control, whilst simultaneously robbing you of it entirely. There were times when I couldn’t sleep because I would be repeatedly turning my alarm clock off and on until it felt right, or when my hands were bloody from washing them raw every time I touched a door handle or light switch. The most frustrating thing was that I could see how irrational the behaviour was yet still couldn’t stop myself. I went through two kinds of therapy and three different doctors until I was recommended medication in combination with CBT. It’s all about trying all the different options available and seeing what suits you best. I still have bad days, but recovery is worth it.”

A year ago I would never have considered that I would be writing this and that others would know that I wasn’t fine. I thought at the time that everyone felt like I did, yet simultaneously couldn’t understand how they just got up in the mornings. Now, as the fog is clearing little by little and I’m learning to smile with my eyes again, I look back and wish I could hold the hawnd of past me so tightly. I wish she could realise sooner that she didn’t have to pretend her illness and daily struggle were merely personality flaws to be made light of, and that it was okay to ask for help, and to be selfish. Make that phone call home to tell family how you feel, and have felt for so long. Let yourself fail, let yourself lean on friends, and accept having a shower as a huge achievement. Because now, months later, I’m happier than I’ve been for years.” Illustration: Faye Chua


Let’s Be Realistic Alice Felicity Chambers tells you whether you should be watching realism or non-realism on stage. By Alice Felicity Chambers


think I am not unusual in saying that I live for familiar connections, whether that is sharing stories of first heartbreak or simply a mutual love of the Cornish sea. It is what brings people together. With that in mind, I was surprised to find myself at the National Theatre’s ‘The Threepenny Opera’ with that same feeling. With songs which begin “What a twat!”, a cast that included scantily-clad prostitutes, obvious theatrical make-up, dancing troops and deadly gangs, this darkly comic twentieth-century musical could not be further from reality. Comparatively, NT’s production of ‘Sunset at the Villa Thalia’ is a bittersweet tale of two couples’ retreat to Greece in the 1960s. Full of marital dispute, artistic discussion and political questioning, this show is perhaps a little closer to home.

However, my aim is not to critique these shows. I simply wish to question the audience’s preference, whether they wish to relate to the action or if they simply hope to observe something far in subject from their daily lives. On the surface, the melodrama of ‘The Threepenny Opera’ is alluring in its display of another world. In fact, the power of literature, both the written and the spoken word, achieves a similar effect in its ability to transport us away from our present surroundings.

The unrealistic and realistic can both be appreciated for different reasons The dingy brothel scenes and cackling beggars are a snapshot of a poverty-stricken London society, far away from daily life in Durham. It is not just the threadbare corsets and women begging for casual intimacy, but a deeper layer that is revealed, of the fear of individuals involved in such a world. This imaginative quality is evocative in its poignancy as the physical masks of the characters, such as Peachum’s heavy make-up, hint at something bleaker under the surface. That is not to say that ‘Villa Thalia’ does not have this quality, but rather that it is at face value. In other words, the audience is not forced to exist outside of their comfort zone. That is why Pinter’s work in the mid-twentieth century was so popular in that it combined elements from the genres of both plays, by showing a realistic setting

covering a far darker obscurity. Perhaps ‘The Threepenny Opera’ is more thematically familiar than we think. The love-hate relationship between Macheath and Polly is multilayered and the corruption of the police force is something still prevalent today. Although the constant hilarity and crude nature of the characters mask this, it is clear that the themes are similar in content to that of ‘Villa Thalia’. Both address discord between man and wife, extra-marital relationships and forceful personalities.

The question is: do we prefer a theatrical mask or simply the raw reality? The question: do we prefer a theatrical mask or simply the raw reality? Which challenges us more? Our minds are perhaps lulled into watching the simple story of ‘Villa Thalia’ in which Charlotte and Theo who, like the majority of married couples, are looking for a source of peace. In this generation of hyper-reality and innovation, are we not bored? In truth, surprisingly, I found myself enjoying the simplicity of this story and its lack of pretence. The scenes of children swimming in the sea, Greek dancing and moonlit dinners were calming. Although it did not use dramatic set changes and complex lighting, its normality was relatable. I was not forced into questioning deeper subjects. I was allowed to enjoy a kitchen drama. I was entertained, if relatively unchallenged. Therefore, it is evident that the unrealistic and the realistic can both be appreciated for different reasons. With the speed and pressure of daily life, a reflection and an exaggeration are equally important in self-understanding. My advice is that, with the flurry of student plays emerging this term, do not be put off by something wildly unfamiliar. You may find that it is more relatable than you think. Photographs: National Theatre


Thursday, 20 October 2016

Laughing Through the Pain Martin Docherty is decisive about whether comedy or tragedy is better. Or is there more to consider than he first thought? By Martin Docherty Juliet: “What’s wrong, Romeo?” Romeo: “Mercutio is dead!” [exit stage left, in obvious distress] --Romeo: “My mum thinks that ‘lol’ means lots of love” Juliet: “Why is that a problem?” Romeo: “She just texted me: ‘Mercutio’s dead, lol”

Generic differences can be found when you compare works like the Shakespearean tragedy Macbeth, and Ben Jonson’s satiric comedy Volpone, (Italian for ‘Sly Fox’). Macbeth is a tragic narrative documenting how lust for power can cause the downfall of anyone infected by it. The only time a sadder story has been told about Scotland is when Alex Salmond was elected First Minister.


rguing that either tragedy or comedy have objective artistic merit over the other is quite frankly ridiculous, reductive and easy to rebut. Rather than making such an un-nuanced claim, it would be more correct to state that the genres can both be used to impact the reader in different, but not superior or inferior ways. But that isn’t quite as catchy as a subheading for this article. Attempting to pit the two genres against each other, like a mourner and a stand-up comedian in a gladiator fight, is inherently flawed. Nevertheless, although I strongly disagree with the comparative

The genres are different, but nevertheless equally rich. evaluation, it is clear to see why it arises. In arguably the first ever piece of literary criticism, Aristotle’s Poetics, the philosopher outlines the different conventions which he believes good drama should adhere to, and the two genres have several distinct similarities. Both involve the repeated “error” of some form of hero and the reliance on catharsis, a process of releasing previously repressed emotions. Without sounding too much like a pretentious English student, it is clear that tragedy and comedy have always addressed similar themes and topics, as they attempt to expose and explore what makes us human.

In contrast, Volpone makes a mockery of stereotypical old Italian men, condemning their moneyhoarding and fetishisation of wealth. Jonson’s wicked sense of humour in Volpone is at times even sneakier and subtler than the ‘Fox’ for which the work was named. The texts are linked by a common theme – the exploration of human greed, and a recognition of the hubris that comes from the inherent lust for something more. But the question remains, does one have more artistic merit than the other? They’re both very skilful considerations of similar ideas, but the approach taken is so different that it’s inherently fallacious to claim one is superior to

the other. It’s a false equivalence. The types of catharsis provided by the works are too distinct to draw comparative evaluation between the genres; tragic catharsis reflects and mimics the emotions and sentiments of the characters, whereas comedic catharsis pokes fun at those emotions, sentiments and actions. Yes, we can compare individual works across

Arguing that either tragedy or comedy have ... merit over the other is quite frankly ridiculous. the genres, and how well they achieve what they intended to, but the extrapolation of that to an entire genre is inescapably reductionist, and therefore should not be done. As we reach our cathartic climax of this article (a comedy if you like my jokes, a tragedy if not), it is also worth considering what strengths both genres contain when it comes to dramatization. Generally speaking, it could be said that tragic catharsis lends itself better to more sensitive themes, as it is hard to conceive of a comedy being able to easily address psychological issues, such as PTSD, abuse, rape or torture. For instance, whilst Volpone contains a scene of attempted rape, it specifically plays it off as a negative error of the comedic (but very flawed) protagonist, and the joke around it isn’t nearly as emotive an exploration of the consequences as a tragedy might offer. On the other hand, comedy is often better suited to meta-drama, and can use its jokes and conventions to comment on the nature of the medium. Comedy can therefore form a way through which playwrights and actors address their own art form, and inadvertently reach a closer level of intimacy with their audience, which is an act of artistic merit in itself. But this, like the catharsis brought about by tragedy, is simply one aspect of why the genres are different, but nevertheless equally rich with artistic merit. To paraphrase Hamlet: HAMLET: To be, or not to be–that is the question: Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of ridiculous comparisons. Photograph: Theodore Holt-Bailey in Castle Theatre Company’s ‘Hamlet’ (Samuel Kirkman); George Troop in Fountain Theatre Company’s ‘Macbeth’ If you want to find out more about writing opportunities for Palatinate Stage then email the Editors to get in touch: or join the Facebook group: Palatinate Stage.

VISUAL ARTS Thursday, 20 October 2016


Who’s Afraid of Conceptual Art? Olivia Howcroft explains why we have nothing to fear from conceptual art.

By Olivia Howcroft


BC4’s recent documentary, ‘Who’s afraid of conceptual art?’ presented by Dr. James Fox, addresses the clichés and the rhetoric that surrounds much of conceptual art; ‘I could do that myself’ or ‘I can’t see the skill in that’. Fox demonstrates that conceptual art has a different agenda than we might imagine, an agenda that many intellectuals, authors and philosophers strive to achieve. Conceptual art has humour, it can be without immediate materiality, it can be baffling yet inexplicably original and beautifully quirky. Conceptual art most certainly divides opinion; some can adore and be thrilled whereas others can be appalled, baffled and alienated. Many people hate what it stands for because they see it as pretentious, and as a nation, Britain is very pragmatic, naturally suspicious and intolerant to pretension. However, a large amount of conceptual art has a great deal of intellectual capacity and humour. In the program we are presented with Marcel Duchamp’s famously signed urinal which was placed in a gallery in 1917 with the name ‘Fountain.’ The programme contains old footage of an interview with Duchamp: “Taste is the great enemy of art. That was the difficulty, to find an object that had no attraction whatsoever from the aesthetic angle. Obviously humour came in as an element, it was very important for me to introduce humour. That was my intention, to do something that would not

please everyone.” These words are straightforward and unpretentious and explain why a lot of conceptual art exists: because an artist has an idea, enjoys having this idea and goes on to share it with others who also enjoy it. The fact that some do not enjoy it should not matter, that is taste, one of the interesting things about all art. One of the ideas put forward by Fox in his documentary is that words are often more powerful than images. When we forget to read the titles of artwork we often miss their defining feature. This is true for the work of the French humourist and the absinth lover Alphonse Allais. With-

out reading the titles of his triptych consisting of plain pieces of white, red and black paper, the point would be completely missed. ‘First communion of anaemic young girls in a snow storm’, ‘Apoplectic cardinals harvesting tomatoes on the shore of the red sea’ and (the not very politically correct) ‘Negros fighting in a cellar at night’ were important pieces in the prehistory of conceptual art where the words were a source of powerful imagery. The contemporary Scottish artist Robert Mont-

gomery may well have been inspired by Alphonse Allais’ work. He uses text instead of images to explore ideas about consumerism and capitalism, placing these words on billboards and woodcuts or turning them into light poems and fire poems. His piece ‘The people you love’ created in 2010 has had a grand reception. If you type ‘the people you love, Robert Montgomery’ into Google, there are 2,420,000 results. People have tattooed his words onto their bodies and the words have even featured in the background of a video of a South Korean rapper. Montgomery’s work is an example of how conceptual art can be reproducible, accessible to all and can go a long way. In order to absorb these words people must slow down, put their life on hold. His work ‘Searock Songlines’, 2015 is a pastoral to his love of landscape and his Celtic background as well as his love of urban civilization: ‘The mountains must have imagined the city in their echo and drew it in the sky for us/and the sea birds carried messages from the water to the mountain birds as the sea rock walked here slowly.’ Fox challenges our understanding of conceptual art, proving that it can be as moving as it is humorous. Conceptual art is not a pretentious or meaningless subject and it is certainly not something we should be afraid of.

Illustrations: Faye Chua Photo: John Lord via Flickr Creative Commons


Thursday, 20 October 2016

Rise of the Food Blogger How passion projects have overtaken the professional sphere.

Books of authors such as Niomi Smart and Ella Woodward which have become bestsellers.

By Divya Shastri Food Editor


ver the last five years food bloggers have taken the gastronomic world by storm. They now occupy a space previously inhabited only by chefs and the formally trained. Not only do we look to bloggers to review and recommend restaurants, we also turn to them for recipes and buy their cookbooks. Popular vloggers like Zoe Sugg (Zoella), with no formal culinary training, can make or break a new eatery. Food bloggers tweet incessantly about their meals and have even started writing food columns. Bloggers such as Ella Woodward (DeliciouslyElla), Gina Homolka (Skinnytaste) and Beth Moncel (Budget Bytes) have each put out at least one cookbook. Yet these folk are not professional chefs. Indeed, there are also beauty vloggers such as Niomi Smart and Tanya Burr who have released cookbooks, despite cooking being their passion rather than profession. It doesn’t seem to matter if you are a Cordon Bleu trained chef with a Michelin starred restaurant or a food Instagrammer with over 400,000 followers. Both may write about food, and it is more likely that the latter bags the book deal. So what is it that allows people who started blogs as passion projects to overtake those who train professionally in influence? The answer: social media. Nowadays social media enables people to grow their presence. By sharing a little information about yourself and your passions you can quickly become part of an existing online community. Food is something that people are always interested in. This predilection for food

is explained by our psychological bias. The unconscious mind equates food with love because food is the earliest and most profound connection with our caregivers. So, we are all inherently interested in food. A popular blogger can feed into this interest through social media which makes it easy for them to showcase their food interests, whether it be restaurants to visit or recipes to recreate. In addition, social media has led to the wide dissemination of innumerable types of ‘diets’ and lifestyles that have evoked much attention.

Social media celebrities who bring the guarantee of success are able to make their passion for food profitable And, let’s face it, food is trendy; cronuts, acai bowls, and rainbow food are all the rage. Having an ‘Instagrammable’ brunch immediately boosts your cool factor, and having a baking or cookery passion makes you seem more wholesome and put together. Combine that with a social media presence and you have instant success. People also seem to prefer food advice from bloggers rather than professionals as many blogs have a relaxed and inviting feel; it seems as though your friend is sharing a restaurant recommendation or recipe with you. On the other hand, seeing a chef on TV may be deemed more impersonal. They are professionals who are teaching you how to do something. Food bloggers are more accessible through social media and the way in which they showcase themselves makes you want to emu-

late them. As a result, bloggers are the new influence brokers of the food industry. The traditional media coverage is not as approachable or personality driven as social media audiences would like. Restaurants and brands understand this and are using bloggers to promote their products. They now invite bloggers to review their eateries and to the launch of their products. So bloggers have become an important component of any food related public relations exercise. The food industry also values blogs as a way to garner customer feedback which, in turn, helps them enhance their offerings. Additionally, sites like Yelp and Eater are helping establish the credibility of the food blogger. All these factors have resulted in bloggers becoming a valued part of the food industry hierarchy. Despite the fact that most bloggers never started out with the intention to gain fame, they have now been thrust into stardom and are reaping its rewards. Independent bloggers are an important source of information for the curious consumer. They also provide a way to keep the pulse of new food trends. The food industry values them as a means to communicate with a vast audience. And when it comes to commissioning a book, having an existing audience largely willing to purchase your product is a great incentive to publishers. Social media celebrities who bring the guarantee of success are able to make their passion for food profitable. Thus the star of the food blogger continues to rise.

Photograph: Divya Shastri


Thursday, 20 October 2016

Bastille Day, Nice: A Firsthand Experience

With the rise in radical Islamic terrorism, how is this climate of fear affecting the way we experience the world? Harriet O’Connor reflects. By Harriet O’Connor


astille Day was a celebration that I had been looking forward to experiencing on my year abroad in France. After spending the first six months of my year abroad studying in Lyon, in May I found myself relocating to Nice for the summer, lured by the sunshine, endless beaches and azure Mediterranean Sea. Come July, I was so excited to have the day off from work to celebrate such an important national holiday with new friends in a city as vibrant and glamorous as Nice. Although I was in Lyon last November, I had keenly felt the effects of the Paris terror attacks. Not only is Paris a city very close to my heart, with many of my friends living there, undoubtedly the whole of France was impacted by the atrocities. Of course the French showed an incredible determination and resilience to continue as normally as possible with everyday life, but the immense shadow of sadness, combined with everpresent security checks and armed soldiers patrolling the lovely streets of Lyon, made the threat of terrorism and danger impossible to ignore. I never would have imagined that there would be

I’ll never forget how odd the weather was on the 14th July. It had been swelteringly hot during the day, but by the evening it had become unnaturally chilly and windy a terrorist attack in Nice on July 14th, Bastille Day. Even as I write the words down, months later, it still does not seem real. It still feels as if I am describing something that didn’t actually happen. I was there. I stood on the Promenade des Anglais, opposite the infamous Negresco Hotel, and joined thousands and thousands of people to watch the breathtaking firework display over the Mediterranean Sea. I’ll never forget how odd the weather was on the 14th July. It had been swelteringly hot during the day, but by the evening it had become unnaturally chilly and windy. Although the starless sky was heavy with grey clouds, it was strangely bright. Nice’s palm trees formed a striking silhouette against the sky, but their constant swaying in the wind created an almost eerie and haunting atmosphere, despite the celebratory spirit, beach side bars and restaurants teeming with people, musicians performing along the promenade, vendors selling crepes, waffles and sweets, families, tourists, friends. But when the fireworks ended, to a tremendous round of applause, hard droplets of rain finally began to fall. Thousands of people started walking back to their cars, apartments, and the town centre. I remember feeling overwhelmed by how many people there were trying to cross the road and squeeze onto the pavement. Pushchairs kept ramming into my ankles, and my housemate and I tried

to walk as quickly as we could back to the apartment to escape the throngs of people and the rain. It was just as we turned right off the Promenade and onto my road that the first couple of people ran past. I thought, ‘that’s a bit strange.’ As more and more people started running past us, strangely calm, fear and uncertainty suddenly struck and we started running too. A couple of American guys caught up behind us, and I asked them what was going on. Someone shouted: “bomb” and “run.” Still, we thought it was probably a hoax, a sick joke. Back at the apartment, hearts pounding, we frantically trawled through our phones, searching the news, Twitter, Google, Facebook. Nothing. No headlines, no information, I couldn’t even hear any sirens or screams from outside. Just a flood of people running past my front door. The American guys felt it was safe enough to leave. But updates slowly began filtering through. Very slowly. I rarely use Twitter but at that moment it was my sole means of finding out what on earth had happened, or was even still happening, just two minutes from my apartment. There was so much confusion and speculation. A bomb? Shootings? Hostages? A truck crash? I couldn’t bring myself to contemplate the real possibility. But as the death toll rapidly grew, and the phrase ‘terror attack’ became ever more frequent, dread sunk in. My family and friends back in England and elsewhere finally started getting hold of the news. More information, horrific photos and videos emerging online, panicked phone calls, worried messages, cups of tea, hugs. No tears, but sickness and unbearable shaking. Is this really happening? Just half an hour after the fireworks, the street below my bedroom was completely deserted except for the odd couple running past holding hands, or a car zooming up the one-way road in the wrong direction. The palm trees outside the window continuing to sway, the blinds rattling. The bright, grey sky. As the sun finally rose and Nice awoke to the

I felt guilty for surviving dreadful reality of what had happened the previous night, a terrible, haunting mood permeated the city. Like many of my neighbours, I stood outside on my balcony and gazed across at my poor, damaged home. It was still so hard to comprehend. I just couldn’t, and still can’t, reconcile Nice, with its rich history, beautiful, pastel-painted Belle Époque buildings, glittering sea, swish hotels and cheerful holiday makers with such hatred, destruction and death. I was amazed to see people walking their miniature dogs, baguette under their arm. The Niçoise were determined to carry on as normal, or perhaps were just in a state of overwhelming shock and disbelief. Leaving the apartment on Friday the 15th and going to work was one of the most challenging days of my life. But I didn’t even have the time to dwell on it - there was so much to do at work. My job was at a French language school, and we had to make sure each and every one of the students was accounted for and safe. Thank goodness, everyone was. At the same time, we had to answer desperate and concerned phone calls and emails from families, \

friends, agencies, and deal with many cancellations. No one tells you what you should do after a terrorist attack. I didn’t know what to do. I felt so scared and sad. I felt so grateful to be alive. I felt guilty for surviving. I wanted to leave Nice. I wanted to stay. I needed to cry, but didn’t have any tears. I wanted to talk to my housemates. I wanted to be alone. I was not able to understand how or why I managed to escape the attack. Every minute, every moment and every decision potentially saved my life. Once the shock had settled, I couldn’t help but painstakingly analyse all the whys and what ifs. If the unseasonably cold weather hadn’t forced my housemate and I to change our minds about going for a crepe, if we’d crossed the road at the pedestrian crossing where I usually do, if we had watched the fireworks further up the promenade. Even if I had been too shy to ask my new housemate if she wanted to hang out in the evening, and had stayed in instead. On the Saturday, I found myself on the promenade again. I hadn’t intended to return so soon, I had just planned on going for a walk. But although completely heartbreaking, facing up to the reality of what had happened and being around other people who were going through similar emotions helped. Nice was visibly much quieter this summer compared to before. But although tourists did not come in their usual droves, all the bars, restaurants, shops and hotels remained open. In fact, Nice beach was still dotted with multicoloured parasols, people spilled out of lively cafes and bars in the Old Town, super-yachts lined the port, the world-famous flower market on Cours Saleya remained bustling, noisy traffic and sports cars continued to speed along the Promenade, Fenocchio’s ice cream parlour boasted a persistent queue of people trying to choose between beer flavoured sorbet or spicy chocolate. Although there are no adequate words to describe the horror that happened in Nice on July 14th, what is for certain is that Nice is recovering, and will not allow such evil to destroy its culture, spirit and incomparable way of life. Photograph: Harriet O’Connor


Thursday, 20 October 2016

Individuality The Unique Artist A Short Story by Matthew Chalmers


hey said his mind was like his paintings: scratchy, abrasive, loud. In a world where art was demure ladies and floral petticoats one can see why his work would be so described. To enter his studio, which shook like the sky was falling every time a train screamed past, was like entering a battlefield. The reds on every canvas reeked of gore, the yellows pungent mustard gas, the whites were hallucinatory. It made one uncomfortable: it ripped up floral petticoats and bundled them in the furnace. No wonder he couldn’t sell anything. So why did he paint? Did he love it? No, of course not. He never wanted to be an artist, never pursued painting after some cloudy epiphany over a mug of beer, nor did an apple ever strike his head. Painting is who he was, not what he did. Although he was an atheist, he understood what a divine calling was. He figured he didn’t have much choice in the matter. A few scruffy fans paid visits, sometimes even bought something. They always muttered their praises, scratched their ashen beards and hair and talked about form, about style, about how he was the future. He never listened. In a dark haze of cigarette-smoke he rapped on the window, and listened to the rain. When they left, he painted. His brain was like smog. However, the toxic fumes and tunnels of his mind, which often left him panting and cowering before the night sky, shattered by the infinite scope and pointlessness of it all, brought visions of colour. Abstract feelings, fleeting images, those amorphous sensations which cling to parables and poetry: he breathed, and slashed with his brush. He died very young, and very accomplished. His last words were ‘Let me see the stars,’ but nobody heard them. They took his paintings away. His studio is a clothes store now. Yet still, if you listen, you hear them talk of the mad maverick, the painter under the bridge, the fairy-tale artist now almost an urban myth. His last painting glowers over my living room. His work wasn’t battlefields. It was sound, clarity, light. It was energy, burning like a black rainbow doused with kerosene. Through his painting I can feel the glare of beady blue eyes, raging with eldritch electricity after every euphoric brush stroke. I shall never sell it.

A Word From The Editor By Anna Gibbs Creative Writing Editor


ndividuality is something that I feel is shoved into a spotlight when at University. Aspects of your personality, habits and views you previously thought were the norm, are suddenly perceived as wildly unique. In relation to creative writing, I feel torn between trying to write a piece simultaneously relatable to the reader and unique. Being original is no mean feat, especially considering that even Shakespeare borrowed a lot of his plots from ancient myths and such. I console myself from this dilemma by reminding myself that everyone is individual in that we all have entirely different images flicker through our minds when a certain word is read or spoken, the same scents evoke entirely opposite reflections or memories for two people who, on paper, would otherwise be described in very similar ways. This means that our creative work is a collage of this multitude of different influences, and the glue which sticks them to the paper, or the taste which arranges them in a certain order, is our characteristic spark. Individuality is becoming more and more of a desired commodity in the fashion world, on television, in music. Nobody wants to be tainted with the description of ‘basic’, whilst we’re less keen to accept a set stereotype of what constitutes beauty or art anymore. I think this will result in a far more interesting future for creative writing, which reflects the changing world we inhabit, and eagerly await the coming of that time. In the meantime however, take a read of this week’s short story, ‘The Unique Artist’. Personally, I interpret this piece as a reflection on the loneliness that being peculiar to the extreme can bring. It also raises the question of whether individuality is always desirable if it can cause such sorry existences. I would like to leave you with a thought to ponder on- can innate idiosyncrasies be controlled, restrained, stunted, or in the opposite vein, can such qualities be acquired by practise and then allowed to mature? Do we choose to be odd or does oddness choose us? Illustration: Anna Gibbs

‘‘A3407 looks at the daffodil – it is soft and almost warm in her sweaty palm – and remembers: fields and flowers, her studio smelling like fresh-chopped wood, bonfires, dances and music – forgotten shadow of her life arises before her eyes as clearly as it was yesterday...’’ – Excerpt from Anastasia Gordeeva

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