From the Ed i to r - i n - C h ief Hello, and welcome to another issue of qmunicate magazine, the official magazine of the Queen Margaret Union! We’re feeling wintery this month, as the nights grow longer and the days colder, and final deadlines and exams loom with the promise – eventually – of celebrations, end of term and (whisper it) Christmas on the horizon. So wrap yourself up warm, switch your pumpkin spice for an eggnog latte and load up your perfect Christmas playlist to power through those late night library sessions. If you find yourself in need of a study break, what better way to chill out than with some of our award-winning journalism? If four hours of queueing in the cold didn’t yield you Daft Friday tickets, don’t despair – Courtney Hughes is here with a guide to the top five alternatives to the GUU’s end of term Do. If the cold weather is taking its toll on your skin and the pints are taking a toll on your wallet, Rachel Gillett has you covered with qmunicate’s guide to good skincare on a budget; and if you’re struggling to find inspiration for your Christmas shopping, Sarinah O’Donoghue has the solution, as she makes the case for why books are one of the most meaningful gifts you can give. The latest edition of our fantastic column ‘Neurodiversity at University’ takes a look at the unique ways in which women experience autism,
Editor-in-Chief Clare Patterson Editors Amy Shimmin Anni Payne Chloë Tobin-Kemmer Imogen Whiteley Jeehan Ashercook
Katie Athwal Katie Fannin Kirsty Campbell Liam Caldwell Nikola Anić Ronan Duff Stacey Anderson Žad Novak
NEWS 4 May’s Cabinet in a Shambles 5 QMU News 5 Kevin Spacey and Abuse FILM 6
PHOTO: AIKE JANSEN
Review: Ali, The Goat, and Ibrahim Review: The Square Accessibility in Cinema
LIFESTYLE 8 Skincare on a Budget 9 Top 5: No Daft Friday Tickets FEATURES 10 The Woes of Nerd Culture 11 Playing with my Memories 12 Passports in the Time of Brexit
and how their experiences are often overlooked in mainstream portrayals of the condition. Katie Fannin shines the spotlight on the need for accessible cinema for all following the recent increase in autism-friendly screenings around Glasgow, and we have the first instalment of our collaboration with Comic Creators Club! We hope you enjoy this issue, and that deadlines haven’t got you too down. If you like what you see and want to get involved – or if you just want a break from academic rigour for some good chat and free sweets – come along to our contributors’ meetings, every Wednesday at 5.30pm in the QMU boardroom – we’d love to see you there!
MUSIC 14 Releases incl: Wolf Alice 15 Live incl: Oh Wonder, The Fall ARTS & CULTURE 16 Reviews: Buckets, Lampedusa 17 Books as Gifts COLUMN 18 Neurodiversity at University QMUNICREATE 19
all opinions expressed in this magazine are the authors’ own and do not necessarily represent those of the Queen Margaret Union
Clare Patterson [Editor-in-Chief ] Images Aike Jansen Tasha Baldassare Zaynah Ahmed Sarinah O’Donoghue Ryan Devlin Natalia Phoebe Imogen Whiteley Sara Villa
Graphic Design Imogen Whiteley In Spite Of Deadline Hell Children having dreams Scousephobia The Daft Friday Queue Monki Buchanan Street Subby
Thanks To ESP Ltd for making the magazine possible Scran’s New Menu Courtney being lefty Francifying adjectives Copy Editing by Mata Durkin Cover by Aike Jansen
M a y ’s C a b i n e t i n a S h a m b l e s
It’s been another tough week for Theresa May’s Cabinet, as two of her ministers have been rocked by scandal. Priti Patel, the International Development Secretary, and – who’d have thunk it – Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson were both hit by serious criticism and resignation calls. At the time of writing, Patel has stepped down after a thrilling ‘will she, won’t she?’ moment. Boris, of course, inexplicably remains largely politically unharmed.
Analysts have suggested that if Patel hadn’t resigned, she would have been sacked by the Prime Minister, but to what extent government officials were aware of the meetings is still unclear. Labour MP Tom Watson claims that the former minister met British Foreign Office officials in Jerusalem, meaning that her presence must have been known. Either way, her actions breached diplomatic protocol and showed an unacceptable pro-Israel bias, so her resignation was well deserved.
“May’s position is shaky enough as it is without continued controversies”
With impeccable timing, Boris Johnson has also drawn a barrage of criticism after it was falsely claimed that an imprisoned British citizen in Iran was “training journalists” in the country. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been detained in Iran since April 2016 after visiting family, with officials claiming she had been working to overthrow the country’s regime. She is currently serving a five-year sentence, and campaigners have expressed concern that the term could be doubled on the back of Johnson’s comments. Iranian state TV has stated that efforts to free Zaghari-Ratcliffe have been “voided” by Johnson’s words, as the slip-up was an “unintended confession”.
So why has Priti Patel come under such fire? In essence she met with Israeli politicians while ostensibly on holiday in the territory in August, apparently without informing the British government. She also met Israeli personnel on two occasions in September. These officials included Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Public Security Minister, among others. After these meetings, Patel asked her officials to look into giving financial aid to the Israeli army in order to treat wounded Syrians in occupied Golan Heights. The request was turned down by the civil servants as it was deemed “inappropriate”, and broke rules around the donation of aid. The international community, including the UK, does not recognise Israel’s occupation of the Syrian territory as legitimate.
Despite Boris backtracking and clarifying that Zaghari-Ratcliffe was really just on holiday, the damage is done. At best, any progress towards the liberation of an innocent British woman was crippled by his negligence and incompetence. At worst, he has condemned her to a further half a decade in terrible conditions, without access to consular assistance and most of the outside world. His “gaffes” have
never been funny and no one is laughing now. How a man like this, with no skill, no talent and an astonishing lack of intelligence has remained Foreign Secretary is a mystery. His bigotry and ignorance should have immediately disqualified him from working an entry level internship, never mind leadership of a critical office, even before any of this latest idiocy. Where is the tipping point? When he is directly responsible for someone’s death? Boris remains for now, but Theresa will not be feeling too confident. Her position is shaky enough as it is without the continued controversies of her Cabinet ministers. With Boris on board I’m sure it won’t be long before the next one, but he helps her remain Prime Minister, and power comes before all else. Even, it seems, the lives of innocent and imprisoned British citizens. [Louise Wylie - @womanpendulum]
QMU news Elephant in the Room
Elephant in the Room are an awardwinning mental health campaign with an aim to tackle the stigma surrounding mental health, spreading awareness and providing links between students and different support services and charities. This year, we have started up brand new Creative Sessions: a safe space for people to de-stress, have a chat and make up something crafty. We have previously had knitting and origami sessions which have been a success and we will be organising many more this upcoming year. Creative Sessions are normally held once a month in the Queen Margaret Union on the third floor. To find out more visit our Facebook page or find us on twitter @QMUelephant. [Clare Patterson]
Q u e e r E ye o n t h e Pre d a t o r ’s G u i s e
On the night of October 30th, the timelines of Twitter users were flooded with allegations that Kevin Spacey had made sexual advances on then-underage actor Anthony Rapp. Rapp told Buzzfeed News that in 1986, when he was 14 and Spacey was 26, Spacey made sexual advances towards him following a party they had both attended. Rapp said that he was encouraged to come forward with this information following the dozens of allegations that have recently came to light of years and years of sexual misconduct perpetuated by Harvey Weinstein.
“Spacey’s actions have regressed us to a stereotype that activists have aimed to absolve ” What makes this story most compelling – not to mention the fact that several other men have come forward to make similar or even more serious claims against Spacey – is how Spacey responded to Rapp’s claims. Immediately following the allegation’s proliferation accross social media,
Spacey took to twitter to do what most perpetrators of physical, emotional, or psychological violence do: give an off-basis, self-centered apology. But Spacey’s “apology” was a little bit different. “I choose now to live as a gay man”, it concludes. Kevin Spacey has come out. For queer and straight folks alike, it was easy to see the tactic that Spacey was using: he used his “coming out moment” to turn the conversation away from the victim and action, and changed it to be about himself. In this new post-Weinstein era, it is irrefutably clear that the actor used his “newly found” queer identity to help mitigate fallout from the allegations themselves, thereby protecting his career, and legacy, in the minds of Hollywood. Yet, while it is so easy to see through the holes in his strategy, Spacey’s actions have perpetuated archaic stereotypes about gay men, and rehashed them into the modern day. For years, through various forms of media, queer people have been depicted as dangerous. In particular, gay men were once molded to be seen as predators and pedophiles. In the days of 1950’s McCarthyism
and the Lavender Scare, propaganda proliferated throughout much of the United States that aimed to denounce the humanity of homosexuals and use their “deviant” sexuality to position American homosexuals as weapons against American capitalism. This is where many classical stereotypes of gay people arise from, and where one of the most powerful stereotypes was created – that homosexual men are sexual predators. Spacey’s actions have regressed us to a stereotype that queer and straight activists have aimed to absolve for the last 30 years. Spacey’s ease and use of his coming-out to bury allegations of sexual violence reflect the privilege that he sees within himself. As an upper-class white male, he was able to use this situation to alter facts presented to the general population. For him, his sexuality could be used as a scapegoat. Yet, the internet reminds us, and hopefully Spacey himself, that it hard for a wolf to fool us with a sacrificial lamb. [Bryce Armijo - @snarrly_]
Al i , The Goat and I bra him In association with Africa in Motion Film Festival As its title suggests, Ali, The Goat and Ibrahim is indeed about two men, called Ali and Ibrahim, and a goat. Yet, of course, it is about so much more, such as embracing that which others may call your curse, or fighting feelings of despair and suicide. Directed by Sherif El Benari, the film tackles heavy subjects interspersed with sudden moments of almost surreal, laugh-out-loud humour. Such as the inevitable discovery that the ‘Nada’ Ali speaks of at the film’s beginning, and for whom he has bought an enormous pink teddy bear, is not his girlfriend, nor his little sister, but in fact a goat which Ali is in love with.
will supposedly cure them. While they are initially sceptical, the adventure leads them on a path of self-discovery and acceptance, as well as the formation of an unlikely friendship along the way. While the story stands on its own, it’s the film’s sounds and scenery which make Ali, The Goat and Ibrahim such an excellent experience. Its colours are warm and dream-like throughout, and the cityscapes of Cairo and Alexandria are beautiful – think small, sandy alleys and roof-terraces looking out over a sprawling city of white stone. Yet these views cannot
beat the astonishing landscapes which Ali and Ibrahim encounter on their roadtrip. The sun-washed Mediterranean and jagged mountains of an almost burgundy colour prove to be the perfect backgrounds for very aesthetic shots with a Wes Anderson-esque quality to them, albeit less forced and more casual. Yet while the film’s settings of Cairo and the rest of Egypt are fundamental to the cinematic experience of Ali, The Goat and Ibrahim, its story is ultimately a universal one. [Aike Jansen]
Ibrahim’s reason for social isolation is far less comical, as he frequently hears excruciating sounds, so loud that they hurt even my ears. In an attempt to stop these sounds from haunting him he tries to record them, often only recording silence – “the most beautiful sound”, in his opinion. After seeing a local healer, the two men meet and decide to travel across Egypt to throw a stone in all three of the surrounding bodies of water, which
The Sq ua re
Ruben Östlund’s Palme d’Or winner The Square has rightly placed at the forefront of its publicity campaign the film’s central scene, in which Terry Notary – famous for his motion-capture work on the Planet of the Apes reboots and Avatar – plays a performance artist who, in his impersonation of an ape, causes chaos at a black tie dinner for patrons of a Stockholm art gallery. The act begins innocuously enough, but builds to a horrifying finale which leaves the viewer squirming in their seat and willing the scene to end. The Square is, at its core, a film that displays the neuroses of the wealthy and powerful and their inability to take responsibility for their actions, hidden behind an acerbic satire on the world of contemporary art. The gallery itself can be seen as an allegory for the insulated world of the upper classes, where nothing anyone does makes any difference to real life and the consequences are out of sight and mind. Christian, a well-known curator portrayed by Claes Bang, spends the
film making idiotic decisions which result in the implosion of his career, such as sending a threatening letter to every resident of a block of flats in a working-class neighbourhood, just to get his pickpocketed phone and wallet back – the consequences of which haunt him for the remainder of the film. Elisabeth Moss’ performance as journalist Anne serves as a possible balancing force for him, yet he pushes her away as his actions begin to catch up with him. Bang’s performance makes all this simultaneously uncomfortable, infuriating and perversely amusing to watch. Notary’s scene works so well because of the way periods of silence and disorienting noise are balanced and distributed throughout. This could act as a microcosm for the entire film, as the characters struggle to relate to one another and trot out one meaningless exchange after another, replete with awkward silences and misunderstandings. Overall, The Square is a tremendously sly look at class divisions and the neuroses of the better-off when dealing with those less
fortunate, without falling into the trap of leading an audience to sympathise with them. [Ciaran McQueen]
Accessible Cinema for All
Katie Fannin discusses the importance of inclusive cinema experiences in Glasgow and beyond, and the ways in which the industry could do better. In October, it was announced that the Glasgow Film Theatre had launched a special series of monthly Dementiafriendly film screenings dubbed Movie Memories. The screenings are “designed especially for people experiencing early to mid stages of dementia, their carers and/or families” with the aim of creating an accessible and friendly environment for a group of people who may often feel they will be no longer welcome in social situations, such as taking a trip to the cinema. After a successful popup screening of Singin’ in the Rain at Dundasvale Residents Hall last year, the Movie Memories series officially launched at the GFT on the 19th of October with a screening of Whisky Galore. The launch of this programme at the GFT is part of a wider trend of efforts by the independent cinema to make the film theatre experience more and more accessible for everyone. The GFT already runs the Access Film Club, an autism-friendly programme in collaboration with the National Autistic Society Scotland, which organises regular screenings and post-film discussions in what they describe as a “friendly and welcoming environment”. The GFT even became the first cinema in the UK to receive the Autism Friendly Award 2017. On top of this, they also run Visible Cinema: a D/deaf and Hard of Hearing film programme involving captioned or subtitled screenings and post-film discussions with integrated BSL and Speech To Text Service. On a broader scale, cinemas both big and small appear to be making significant changes to improve their accessibility. Both Odeon and Cineworld, two of the biggest national cinema corporations in the UK, provide audio description headsets for blind and partially sighted people, and captioned/subtitled
screenings for deaf or hard of hearing people, as well as specific seating for wheelchair users and people with restricted mobility. Alongside this, the CEA card initiative allows for disabled people to purchase tickets for carers at a reduced rate. In addition, the Odeon also offer autism-friendly screenings, where the cinema environment has been altered slightly in order to reduce discomfort amongst those who may be especially sensitive to loud noises, as well as providing allowance for increased levels of movement and sound. Whilst still slightly behind independent cinemas, these small improvements are vital in ensuring that the cinematic experience includes everyone.
“There is still a very long way to go in terms of accessibility within the industry.” However, the number of stories online about people being turned away from cinemas due to a lack of wheelchair access, or even being forced to use service lifts or crawl up stairs to access screenings, suggest that there is still a very long way to go in terms of accessibility within the cinema industry. Even when attempts have been made to improve accessibility, the finished changes often fail to meet the needs of those they are trying to include; such as wheelchair seating being awkwardly positioned at the front or even the extreme edges of cinema screens. The focus still seems to be on efficiency as opposed to comfort. Furthermore, these physical changes don’t necessarily translate into awareness amongst staff.
In response to this, the Trailblazers campaign, run by Muscular Dystrophy UK, are calling on cinemas to commit to improving accessibility and inclusion, particularly for wheelchair users. An investigation conducted by the group found that more than half of all major chain cinemas have uncomfortable wheelchair accessible seating areas, and that one in three of the major chain cinemas has bad or very bad disability awareness among staff. In order to address this, the campaigners are now working with cinemas nationwide to develop solutions to the problems faced by disabled cinema-goers. At a time when there’s still significant room for improvement regarding cinema accessibility, programmes like Movie Memories and autismfriendly screenings are an important step towards improving cultural engagement and social inclusion amongst groups who are often excluded from experiencing the arts, due to a variety of societal barriers. It is hugely important for all organisations to take responsibility for removing those barriers by implementing constructive changes, in order to increase access and inclusivity for everyone. As said by Jodie Wilkinson, the GFT’s Programme Engagement Coordinator, “A diagnosis of dementia should not ostracise people and so there is a social duty to make sure people still have the choice to engage”. Experiencing the excitement and splendour of the cinema should not be something limited to neurotypical or non-disabled individuals. If all it takes to improve inclusion are a few small changes, such as introducing multiple customer lifts or putting on captioned screenings, cinemas have little excuse not to work towards becoming as accessible as possible. [Katie Fannin @katfnan]
qmunicate’s guide to:
skincare on a budget
ILLUSTRATION: NATALIA PHOEBE
So looking after yourself is the most basic form of self-care, and looking after your skin is a lot more important than you would imagine. However, products can be very expensive, and as a result it is often something which is neglected by students. But don’t fret! There are a lot of relatively inexpensive solutions to this problem. Good skincare is never going to be free, but we’ve compiled a guide to some of the best products which don’t break the bank. Superdrug’s Vitamin E products are perfect for student budgets. They are only a couple of pounds, and they leave your skin feeling clean and fresh. The cleansing oil from this range is great at taking off stubborn makeup, which is an important part of skincare, as makeup can block pores and cause spots. Using a toner after is essential; I’ve been using the Simply Pure Superdrug toner, which is gentle but effective.
Micellar Water is another great way to gently remove makeup and is often on offer - Garnier have a good selection, but Superdrug even does their own version in the Simply Gentle range. Superdrug’s own brand is also cruelty free, so if that is important when it comes to your makeup routine then it pretty much ticks all the boxes! If you want something a bit special and a little more expensive, while still being (relatively) student budget friendly, Lush and The Body Shop do some good products. I’ve been using Lush’s Herbalism Fresh Cleanser, which costs around £8 for 100g, but as you only need to use a little each time it is definitely worth spending a little extra on! Herbalism is also vegan and, like all of Lush’s products, cruelty free. The Body Shop scrubs are a lovely treat for your skin; I’m using the mango scrub right now! The Body Shop can be a little pricey, but when they have deals they are usually pretty
“Good skincare is never going to be free, but we’ve compiled a guide to some of the best products.” good value - I got 3 good-size pots for £20 in one of their summer deals (usually £15 for 250ml!). The important and hardest part of skincare is having an everyday routine which you remember to do each day. There’s tonnes of products out there which are not ridiculously priced, and so finding ones you like and work for you will help you to enjoy skincare, and so you’ll do it each day! [Rachel Gillett]
Things to do if you didn’t get Daft Friday tickets It’s that time of year again where hundreds of students are prepping their outfits for one of the GUU’s biggest events, Daft Friday. It may be that you queued for four hours and still didn’t manage to get tickets, or you’re just not interested. Either way, we have created a list of alternatives for you to do which won’t ruin your bank account (or liver). 1. ‘Sensible Friday’ The folk here at qmunicate will be celebrating the end of term with a sensible night in. Why spend 12 hours at the GUU when you could be wrapped in a blanket at your pals’ flat, drinking hot chocolate and watching Love Actually? 2. ‘Fun Friday’ Glasgow is known for its selection of fun activities to do with your friends that won’t break the bank. Whether it be a Roller Disco at Roller Stop, ice skating at Braehead or bowling at Springfield Quay, there’s always something fun to do. 3. ‘Cultural Friday’ With so many cinemas, theatres and museums in Glasgow, it is impossible not to find something that you’ll enjoy. Some recommendations which are showing on the 15th would be Mamma Mia at the Theatre Royal, Rogue One: A Star Wars story at Cineworld, or Alice in Weegieland at Tron Theatre. 4. ‘Musical Friday’ Glasgow is full of music venues which host a plethora of acts, and they’re never a disappointment. Places such as Barrowlands, Oran Mor and SWG3 always have live acts on which might take your fancy. 5. ‘Friday Night Dinner’ Christmas dinner at Scran for a fraction of the cost of Daft Friday? Yes please. For £40 you could have a three-course meal and approximately 4 pints of Heaven – or if you’re a nondrinker, 10 bottles of J20 (with QMU membership of course). Buy that expensive outfit you were going to buy anyway for Daft Friday and treat yourself to some fancy food. Vegan and gluten free options are available for each course. [Courtney Hughes @iliveonwifi]
ILLUSTRATION: IMOGEN WHITELEY
The Woes of Nerd Culture The dark side of fandom
“ No matter what you identify as, it’s not an excuse for being horrible to others, even for the sake of comedy” 10
Being a nerd is awesome. You get lost in fascinating facts or fiction that would be considered merely trivial to others. But it’s fun to get invested in something you like, whether it be media like Star Wars, Game of Thrones or something more academic like history or science. However, being a member of this culture can be quite strenuous for a number of reasons, the main one being how this culture is perceived and represented through media. When someone thinks of a nerd, usually the first connotations that spring to mind are socially awkward people who are unsuccessful in all fields other than the focus of their nerdiness. The word nerd strangely enough came from a Dr. Seuss book (If I Ran the Zoo) but it became popularised in western culture from the 60s onwards, eventually taking on the above connotations. Since then we’ve seen literally hundreds of examples of nerds in fictional media. However the problem is the way nerd culture is often portrayed. Nine times out of ten the culture shown is one of social ineptitude. It’s redundant to call that a stereotype but it’s when the nerd’s only characteristic is the fact that they’re socially lacking is when it gets annoying. Identities aren’t limited solely to an individual trait and the same rule applies to nerd culture. You can adore Star Trek but also be good at sport. You can love partying but still occasionally play Pokémon. Nerds come in all forms and aren’t inherently shy or awkward. Hermione Granger is bookish but is also courageous and caring. Peter Parker is academic but can also be a cocky show-off. These are examples of nerds done right. However, too often we see nerdy characters reduced to one dimensional personas and it’s incredibly irritating. What’s even worse is when media tries to use one’s nerdiness as an excuse. There’s this disturbing mentality in media that someone can bully or victimise friends and strangers or, in more extreme cases, act racist, homophobic or misogynistic, and because they are nerdy and were likely victimised themselves then they get a free pass. The Big Bang Theory in particular is astonishingly guilty of this. There’s a fantastic video on YouTube titled ‘The Adorkable Misogyny’ that dissects exactly why this ideology is broken, with The Big Bang Theory as the case study. Essentially, being a
nerd becomes a scapegoat for immoral, nasty attitudes and behaviour which is fundamentally wrong. No matter what you identify as, it’s not an excuse for being horrible to others, even for the sake of comedy, and seeing so many examples of this shows just how poorly nerd culture is being represented. But, to be brutally honest, we nerds don’t exactly make it easy on ourselves. Nerds continue to be shown in these ways partially because of our own behaviour as well as assumed stereotypes. Many of you will have seen those recent videos of Rick and Morty fans swarming McDonalds and throwing overblown tantrums because they ran out of or didn’t have Szechuan Sauce. They are disgusting displays of entitlement but they are not the only case of this. Virtually everywhere you look on the internet, comment sections for anything even marginally nerdy like trailers or shows are flooded with vindictive arguments between people trying to make their opinion look like the supreme one, whether it involves Christopher Nolan fans, RWBY shippers or quarrelling over whether Force Awakens sucked or not. If your opinion differs even remotely you get treated like scum due to some misplaced sense of superiority. It’s a toxic side to nerd culture and sadly, because their voices are usually the loudest, it tends to be the only side of nerd culture an outsider sees, when it honestly isn’t like that. Most of us are decent, ordinary people. So, what’s to be done? For nerd culture to be better represented there needs to be improvement from both parties. Writers need to do more to craft nerdy characters as real people rather than make the assigned stereotype their entire identity. It makes for more interesting characters. Simultaneously, those who embrace the nerd culture have to be more open minded and less malicious to those who disagree with whatever nerdy belief they have, whether it’s media or academia. It’ll make seeing more of these archetypes less likely. Being a nerd is fun and you shouldn’t have to be sorry for enjoying the things you enjoy. Be proud of your inner nerd – just please don’t be a dick about it. [Calum Cooper]
Playing With My Memories I got my first video game device when I was 8 years old. It was a GameBoy Advance XP and I had begged my parents for one for months. Not that knowledgeable about video games themselves, and with a love for a bargain, they got me a variety of cheap games cartridges (probably second-hand off eBay). These were games like Sims: Bustin’ Out, the licensed game for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and “Dogz”. Classic staples of 2000s video gaming they were not. The controls were terrible, the game-play repetitive, and each game seemed to be chock-full of bugs. But still, on long journeys, I’ll find myself reaching for my Gameboy (which still works – these things were built to last), and trying to finally complete the forbidden forest level of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. As you can see, I did not grow up with the classic games most gamers look back on fondly. My dad would bring home random game consoles from his work for weekends at a time, so I’d only get to play for a brief amount of time before they vanished again from my life. My gaming experience has always been fragmented; a snapshot of random levels or random games based on kids’ films. I was never talented enough to go beyond the first couple of levels, but I still delighted in playing the same tutorial levels again and again. The soundtrack to the opening level of the A Bug’s Life game still takes me back to afternoons spent sitting in the computer room trying to navigate the giant plants and bugs that made up the game.
Eventually, while my parents did not “get” video games beyond Wii sports, they would still indulge my sisters and me by getting us the latest games a year or so after they were released. Second hand. These used games often didn’t have the old save files deleted, so we could see the fingerprints of the person who had abandoned this game. Our Nintendogs game had the abandoned dogs of the former user who couldn’t even be bothered to delete their save file before selling it on. Too attached to fictional dogs made of code, I could not even consider deleting them, and so alongside my own puppies, I, fed, walked, and looked after them. It was my duty.
“ Video games are tactile. You spend years practising exactly how to beat that rhythm” Video games are a very good vehicle for nostalgia as there’s more to them than simply watching them or reading about them, like a book or film. Video games are tactile. You spend years practising exactly how to beat that rhythm mini-game or memorizing the pattern to overcome that section of bullet-hell. I have the answers to the “riddle challenge” in Sims: Bustin’ Out burned into my brain, just in case I ever have to talk to that ghost NPC again, or if anyone needs to know how many sides a circle has (the answer is 2: an outside and an inside). Video games not only imprint on your memory, but the ghost of the repeated movements still linger on your thumbs, promising that if you picked up that game again, you’d automatically know what to do. I suppose that is why I still reminisce about those long car journeys playing the licensed game for A Series of Unfortunate Events. It was time spent practising over and over, dedicated to learning every inch of a level, finding all the cheats and secrets that the game promised. The combination of catchy chip tunes, repetitive game-play, and dodgy visuals meant that each game I spent hours playing has stuck with me. Even though I was absolutely terrible at these games, I still look fondly back on my continued attempts. Despite attempting the same level more times than I can count and getting nowhere, I always tried again. I would always return to these games, and still occasionally do, because despite not being that good, they all stuck with me physically and mentally. I know not everyone shared my experiences with video games as a kid. I’m sure not everyone is super nostalgic for these very niche and (probably rightfully) forgotten games. But everyone’s experiences are different. While some may have grown up with Pokémon, Mario, and Rock Band, I didn’t. And while I cannot join in on nostalgic conversations about those games that did stand the test of time, I can still look back on my weird childhood gaming experience, dodgy second-hand cartridges and all.
ILLUSTRATION: TASHA BALDASSARE
Passports in the time of Brexit
ILLUSTRATION: SARA VILLA
Ellen Magee reflects upon the role of passports for young people in the United Kingdom following the vote to leave the European Union. In the dark days following the Brexit result, Britain exercised its basic right to Google and decided to finally discover: “what is the EU?” This was the second most Googled question immediately after the results were revealed, succeeding only “what does it mean to leave the EU?” Following these practical inquiries into what the European Union - the organisation that the
majority of Britain actively voted to leave - actually is and does, another area that many Brits took to Google was the possibility and their eligibility for an EU member passport - most notably Irish. At the time of the results, I felt very lucky to be an Irish citizen which brings an irrefutable right to an Irish passport, guaranteeing me ongoing status as an EU citizen. However, many young people from mainland Britain soon found themselves investigating if they
features were entitled to another passport, whether due to their dad’s Irish roots, or their granny’s Italian heritage. The question that arises from this flurry of foraging for citizenship and nationality is how accurately does a passport convey our national identity? And furthermore, how important is this accuracy? For many people in the world, the nationality stated on their passport is far from a factual representation of their personal nationalist identity – not least in Scotland, where many feel entirely detached from the placement of ‘British National’ on their passport. Despite 44.7% of Scots voting in favour of independence from the United Kingdom in 2014, and pro-independence parties holding over half of seats in the Scottish Parliament, there isn’t a possibility to hold a Scottish passport. For those from Scotland who require a passport, they are immediately designated the role of British citizen.
“I felt very lucky to be an Irish citizen, which brings an irrefutable right to an Irish passport” However, that is not to say that when a Scottish person possesses a British passport, they are immediately denying themselves of their Scottish identity. There are many other examples of nationalities as which citizens don’t have the privilege of identifying themselves. Here, I am referring to citizens of countries that do not permit its citizens dual nationality, such as Norway, Poland, or Austria. Young people living in Britain who identify, for example, Norwegian as this is their parents’ nationality, face two choices: do they want their passport to reflect their national identity as a Norwegian citizen, and therefore live in Britain as an ‘expatriate’ - even if they have lived here for their entire life - or possess a British passport that will grant them British citizenship, but as a nonEU citizen. Unlike those from Greece, Croatia, or France, for example, they do not have the privilege of being entitled to dual nationality. Should it really be a privilege for your passport to accurately represent your national identity?
Following the idea of privilege, in addition to the practically of eligibility for certain passports, another issue to consider is price. If a young person living in Britain post-Brexit is lucky enough to be entitled to two or more passports, this does not automatically mean that they are lucky enough to be able to afford them. Passport prices rose after the Brexit results for those in Britain seeking out a second nationality. With Italian passports costing €116, Irish costing €80, and Belgian costing €93.50, the possibility of obtaining another passport for many young people in Britain is not as accessible as they would hope. An area in which Brexit will, arguably, have the most profound effects is Northern Ireland. National identity has been a controversial and daily issue for its people throughout its existence, with people in the North being entitled to Irish and British dual nationality as stated in the Good Friday Agreement (1998). However, despite the ability to identify as both Irish and British, it’s far more common for these identities to be polarised and to encapsulate a whole range of “us” and “them” within them. There are areas that identify as solely and loyally British, but not too far away one can find an area that is overtly Irish, whether it be through the language, or the flags painted onto pavements. In Northern Ireland, holding a British or Irish passport is often a ferocious declaration of national identity. However, in the post-Brexit uncertainty, many who had previously dismissed the idea of ever identifying as the ‘other side’, took to the post offices to get their passport application. The desperation to remain an EU citizen - whether to facilitate easy travel to the Republic, for work and trade, or simply to ensure the future of holidaying - can be epitomised by the central Post Office in Belfast running out of Irish passport forms a few days after June 23rd. This sudden surge for a new passport suggests that for many young people in Britain, their passport can sometimes be a means of representing their national identity, if they are fortunate enough to have this possibility, but in other instances, a passport is a mere tool for travel, accessibility, and facility. [Ellen Magee]
Zola Jesus’ new album can only be listened to at night, preferably from the highest turret of a storm-soaked castle atop a mountain. The reigning queen of epic, industrial, electronica belters returns to her original label for latest work Okovi; splicing cellos and synths into rough, orchestral goth pop. Thematically, much of the album deals with death: there are multiple references to loss, illness and suicide throughout, laced between soaring, almost operatic pop sequences. This is high drama, literary music for staring at your ceiling as well as dancing drunkenly in a circle. Zola Jesus has grown in to her wind-tunnel voice, but is fairly restrained on tracks like ‘Veka’ and ‘Soak’. The album is strongest, though, on tracks like ‘Exhumed’ and ‘Remains’, where she inhabits the powerful, charismatic character she has perfected over her discography, letting her voice strain with emotion. Despite the complicated instrumentation and dark subject matter, Okovi is a curiously consistent album; drum machines and echoing vocals bounce around every track, transforming this record into something to be listened to in one sitting rather than plucked at for Spotify playlists. [Rhys Harper]
Wolf Alice Visions of a Life
qqqqq King Krule
This is the album I needed when I was fifteen. It’s angsty, big, thoughtful and bold, but crucially with vulnerability. Adolescent in tone, it openly exposes a vast spectrum of sentiments: from ‘Yuk Foo’ - the spoonerised anthem of rebellion, emotional and sexual expression - to the softer naivety of tracks like ‘Space and Time’ (“I hope my body gets better/Do I mean my body or my mind?”) or the romantic, childish expression of how it feels to be in love: ‘Don’t Delete the Kisses’. The freedom at which this album moves from track to track, each an individual thought, reflects well the complexity of feeling, whether you want the music you’re listening to express your anxieties from minute-to- minute or to feel everything at once. It’s charismatically self-aware; beautifully unconventional. Unjaded and unaware of boundaries, it conveys a Vision of a Life of multi-colour. I just want it to expand even further, so it’s exciting to see where they’ll go next.
This is music for mushrooms. Warm, damp and dark textures echo throughout the tracks - it is disgustingly organic. Archie Marshall’s voice has been the ultimate driving force of his records, the backing often finding its way to being a meandering trip hop take on the ambient guitar music of Vini Reilly. The Ooz changes that. With heavily post-punk and blues-inspired dark, beachy riffs, a funk rhythm section, and an improv sax player found on social media, you’re forced to listen to those sticky melodies whilst the zombie fungus sax grows from your skull and pushes you up until the end. Archie croons out stories of insecurity, depression, worthlessness, but also lust, confidence and suave; all above the mushroom punk that slithers between trip hop, surf rock and nu jazz throughout the record. The production muddies everything into a beautiful swamp, an abstract thought, feeling or illness, caught by the mellow but disturbing sounds, wrapped up in the hook-filled croons and saxophone moans and grown into The Ooz.
[Imogen Hay - @ImogenIslay]
Aiming For Enrike Las Napalmas
qqqqq Boy Harsher
Aiming For Enrike are two guys in a rehearsal room in Oslo - one with a drum, one with a guitar - whose songs include everything from funk to post-punk. Aided by a number of interconnected guitar amps and a series of loop and effect pedals, they have created sounds that could not possibly have been created by only two people. While some of it is certainly danceable and exciting, as a whole it feels more like exploding factory mechanism or an extreme internal clash. Debut album Las Napalmas opens with a minute of a car crash in noise - screeching guitars, distorted electronic noise and heavy drums. It sounds very much like the album cover: a mash of bright purple, red and pinks, with flying limbs, mountains smiling at a sail boat, thunderbolts and a wee dog. But this is only the beginning of a musical whirlwind - even songs that start out as comfortable electronic songs, such as ‘Lagoon’ and ‘Frontrunner’ eventually intensify into madness. Described as a “to be or not to be” project, I definitely pick the latter option. [Aike Jansen]
Country Girl Country Girl is the second EP to come from electronic duo, Boy Harsher. The EP creates a dark ambience using countless nostalgic-tinged synth patterns for a truly hypnotizing result. What makes this work so much more than just a collection of rhythmic, repetitive drum beats, however, are the sultry and seductive vocals. They sound emotive- breathy like every word has to be pushed out- yet distant, so it’s clear the vocalist is too cool for you. This adds to the almost tangible intensity of the duo’s music itself - when you listen to this EP it’s almost impossible not to close your eyes and imagine it echoing throughout an edgy, underground club venue with lasers pyrotechnics hitting off the rustic walls. The unnerving high-pitched samples that are scattered throughout ‘Underwater’ envelope you to add to the atmospheric tension, making it sound like a track that would fit right in on the notoriously moody Drive soundtrack. Though there may be some ominous vibes, this EP is effortlessly cool and not to be missed. [Stacey Anderson - @staceyanders0n]
Music: Live Mountain Goats
Art School, 09/10
Dressed in the unusual attire of a dinner jacket and red chinos with bare feet, Mountain Goats’ frontman John Darnielle strides onto stage, having a little groove to Deep Purple’s ‘Highway Star’ on his way to the microphone. Manic and bespectacled, he sparks a warm rapport with the crowd, telling fast-paced and witty stories ranging from hefty topics such as his past drug abuse problems to musings about unicorns. The songs don’t mark much change from these tales, supplemented only by the heavenly sound of whatever instrument Matt Douglas happens to be holding and Darnielle’s furious pounding of his acoustic guitar; their confessional song-writing gives the gig an invaluably personal feel. The Mountain Goats have racked up sixteen albums, and tonight the set roams freely across them, including their latest Goths, which Darnielle describes as “closer to my heart than any of the Mountain Goats albums previous”.
“Have you ever heard of this band?” “No, but apparently the frontman’s a notorious arsehole”. If I was writing a fictional account of seeing The Fall, you’d be right in finding that a little clichéd, but that was the snippet of conversation between two bouncers I overheard outside the QMU the night they actually played. Not as well-known as you would perhaps think, and frontman Mark E. Smith certainly has a reputation that precedes him. I must confess to being somewhat new to The Fall. They were first put on my radar roughly a year a go by a good friend, but I hadn’t committed myself to listening to a whole album of theirs until a month before I saw them live; I can now add the decision of deferring that pleasure to an ever growing list of regrets.
Kicking off with ‘Andrew Eldritch is moving back to Leeds’, a homage to the Sisters of Mercy frontman, formidable support act Skylar Gudasz then joins the duo on vocals for ‘Wear Black’, an ode to the goth scene which is a definitive highlight. By the final encore, ever popular track ‘No Children’ is played, the blackly funny story of a toxic marriage breakdown from the band’s seventh album Tallahassee. Darnielle leans downbeaming into the crowd and thrusts the microphone forwards the disturbing lyrics “I hope we both die” are screamed back to him by a cavalcade of joyous fans. I luxuriate in the simple cathartic pleasure of forgetting everything and singing; scanning the room, you’d be hard pushed to find a face that is not grinning. [Lucy Scott]
Notorious arsehole Mark E. Smith was lifted onto the stage in a wheelchair- a recent fall having left him temporarily disabled. Then began what for me are the two defining features of The Fall’s musical style: Smith’s singing and the electrifying bass line. It was perhaps his voice that put me off for so long: it isn’t really singing, more of a shout cum wail. But coupled with the bass, and with the lyrics in front of you, it is perhaps one of the greatest experiences pop music has to offer. Of course, Smith’s persona is an experience in itself too: wheeling about in his chair, looking faintly bored as he “sang” into two microphones, I did feel somewhat privileged to see him in the flesh - something he’d perhaps rightly mock me for saying. [George Marsden]
Oh Wonder QMU, 02/11 It’s rewarding to see genuine musicians develop as artists, and with such examples as ‘Ultralife’ and ‘High on Humans’, Oh Wonder show a lot of promise and are increasingly becoming a recognised name. Through many of their songs, the duo are keen to promote the importance of human connections, the capability we have to do good in the world and the desire to support those that are struggling. Tonight their set begins with a few songs from their first album including ‘Dazzle’, which almost resembles their approach with the second album of not ignoring what came before. It’s evident that Anthony and Josephine are no strangers to playing live - they put so much energy into their performance that they wouldn’t struggle in a venue twice the size of Qudos. This certainly provides a compelling experience for the audience, and, featuring a more stripped back version of ‘Midnight Moon’ and with Josephine’s brother accompanying the duo with his saxophone, a unique one that you couldn’t get from listening to their records at home. Before performing ‘All We Do’, Josephine makes a speech about the inspiration behind the song and encourages fans to try become better people and to strive towards your goals: it really pulls at the old heartstrings (pun intended). Oh Wonder are naturals at what they do, and this unmistakeably comes across in their music as it fills the room; the audience responds with a resounding applause after each and every delivery. Watching the pair clearly living their ultralife is so infectious that fans can’t help but feel bliss running through their veins. Glasgow will welcome them back any time as we eagerly anticipate what more they have to offer! [Stephen English]
ARTS &CUL TURE
Dir. Neil Packham, Citizens Theatre, 1-4th November Time will run out. This is the concern at the heart of Buckets, and it is a theme that especially benefits from its performance by the Citizens Theatre Young Co., a company of 18-22 year old theatre creators. The inevitability of death is mused upon in a collection of vignettes by actors my own age, and I am reminded that these are fears that are deeply relevant to what has been labelled an apathetic and narcissistic generation. The strength of Buckets comes from the production’s ability to confront death head on, toying with tired old sayings about seizing the day but not quite buying into these hackneyed morals. It is perhaps ironic that the power of such a notably musical performance comes from the synthesis of music with the quietest moments. Music permeates the piece throughout, whether incorporated into scenes or played in transitions. It is
undeniably beautiful, and it is undeniable that the company is full of talented musicians. It is also impressive how well the music works in tandem with the script. It enhances moments of delicate emotion to great effect, as the most touching scenes are left silent and the audience somewhat bereft.
That being said, the work of the company is without fault - every actor was comfortable switching between characters with each still bringing their own unique energy to the stage. It is refreshing to see young people thriving in an industry that can be so hard to break into, and I very much look forward to seeing their future work.
Though the company’s addition of musical interludes work to harmonise the whole production, this alone cannot completely salvage what ultimately feels like a muddled emotional journey. The pacing of the show is frankly bizarre. Comic scenes are grouped together rather than spread between more tragic scenes, and the emotional end of the show comes a few scenes earlier than the actual end. The play also does not utilise its small cast of recurring characters in any meaningful way, nor does it derive comedy from much other than characters spouting quirky monologues. It is as if the playwright has stuck together scenes from a collection of other plays with a vaguely similar theme into one confused collage.
L a m p e d u s a speaks in poetic language about the sea, the water, the weather and, more matterof-factly, the drowned bodies that he fishes out of the ‘blue desert’ every day. ChineseBritish Denise (Louise Mai Newberry) works for a pay-day loan company while doing a degree in Leeds, and tells us about the economic hardship, the racism, the systems that ‘fuck you over’ in the “beloved land” so many people risk everything for.
Dir. Jack Nurse, Citizens Theatre, 8-18 November Some of the pitfalls of political theatre are that it can easily become preaching to the converted or remain a part of an establishment, a system which is at the same time opposing the content of the performance. Especially the former is a danger in Lampedusa, taking the form of twin monologues by people who seem to be in very different situations. Stefano, a fisherman from Lampedusa (Andy Clark)
According to director Jack Nurse one of the reasons to perform the play was the racial prejudice and continuing prevalence of misperception about refugees. Yet even when Stefano is pacing the space angrily, resenting the migrants for their hope, asking “why us?” and “why do they keep coming and keep dying?”, even when he is burying a tiny, blue shoe in the sand that covers the whole stage, I can’t help but think - why are you telling this to me? I already agree with you. I wonder how much of that racial prejudice will be changed with a play like this targeting a specific audience. Yet when Anders Lustgarten wrote the play, in late 2014, no one was really talking about
the then largely unnoticed migrant crisis. Lampedusa has thus gone from a powerful play that was informing people about the world, to a play about an issue everybody is already all too aware of. That doesn’t mean that Lampedusa, performed in the intimate circle Studio of the Citizens Theatre, is not powerful. It simply functions on another level. Rather than being purely political, it works emotionally. These emotions are powerfully enhanced from the corner of the room in which Stuart Rampage performs beautiful, atmospheric, and powerful live music. As the plot unfolds, the connection between the two stories becomes clearer. But what stands out are the acts of human kindness and hope. When something is in the headlines a lot, it can lose its human value, even for those of us who care a lot. Yet in Lampedusa, the universality of emotions like fear, hope, and compassion are shared, so that the stories connected to something deep inside me. [Aike Jansen]
Books: The Gifts that Live On
PHOTO: AIKE JANSEN
Summer 2013, Cork, Ireland. I’m in my favourite room in my favourite house – my grandmother’s library. It’s teeming with books of all sorts, from Dante to Woolf, from art criticism to self-help manuals. To any literature lover, this sounds like an ideal haven. The vintage appeal of the place, with its floral carpeting and its intricately carved coffee tables, make it not only the best place to look for books, but also to dwell in them for hours on end. Any room that is full of books is enough to keep me happy; however, this one has a special appeal. I’m from a long line of literature lovers, as my grandfather and uncle were published writers. Yet my grandfather passed away when I was twelve, and my uncle when I was nine. With my understanding of literature being much less cultivated back then, I never had the opportunity to share it with them. After browsing some prose, I move onto some poetry. I spot a collection from one of my favourite Scottish poets, Norman MacCaig. I stroke its cover adoringly, smell it (lovers of old books will understand this), and open it. Upon doing so, my heart jumps with excitement. There is a message: it was a gifted book! It reads ‘for Dad – forever young, Inchydoney July 14 1994, with love/Greg’. Above the message there is a drawing of a little cat, looking out to sea, with a lighthouse and the moon in the background. Tears of overwhelming gratitude consume me. I’m used to finding gifted books containing messages in this library, but this is extra special. I feel like an archaeologist excavating a rare fossil. My Uncle Greg didn’t just gift this to his father, the person who gave him his love for literature, but also for his future niece, and for anyone else who might stumble upon this collection in years to come. Because my relatives left such messages, their love of literature has now been passed onto me. Of all the stories about my grandfather and uncle, the fragments I read contained in their books are the most authentic. By leaving and receiving such traces, they have essentially sketched out their autobiographies. They have achieved their immortality by literally living in my fingertips. And it is my mission to do the same, both for
myself and for the future readers of my beloved books. Among the dozens of books, there is an abundance of messages from them and for them. One comes with a letter to my grandfather from a young student, asking for advice on how to get his writing published. Another has a message from one of my favourite Irish poets, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, who gifted a collection of her poems to my uncle upon its release. I can’t help but wonder how many of their unmarked books were also gifted to them. Because of this, I never once considered it impersonal or unoriginal to give someone a book for their birthday or for Christmas. To me, it is the most thoughtful and reciprocal gift someone could give. And it is by far the best present I could receive, meaning that this Christmas I’ll be giving out lots of books with personal messages, and I hope to receive many back. You can give someone a candle, but it’ll burn out. You can give someone chocolate, but it’ll be consumed all-too quickly. You can give someone some toiletries, but you’ll only smell of shea butter and oriental magnolia for about a week or two. I still read the books that were given to me when I was young, and if I have children, they’ll read them too. The birthday messages on my gifted books often remind me of the age I was when I first read it, allowing me to activate dormant childhood memories. Don’t get me wrong, candles, chocolate, and nicely-smelling toiletries are great gifts, and happen to be among my favourite modes of self-care. But by giving somebody a book with a message, you’re giving them a relic of yourself. Something that will probably survive a lot longer than you will. We all know where we’ll be in a hundred years – in the ground, scattered in a field, or sitting on the mantelpiece. But who knows where that book – that relic of you – will end up. Maybe one day you’ll inspire someone’s love of literature like my relatives did for me. And, speaking from personal experience, that’s the greatest gift anyone could ever give. [Sarinah O’Donoghue - @historysactor]
column Sarinah O'Donoghue
neurodiversity at university Before my diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome, I had never met a woman with the condition, and had seen or heard from few of them in the media. When the (unsurprising) report came through the mail confirming that I had Asperger’s, I remember feeling a sudden sense of alienation. I’d known for a number of years that I was living with undiagnosed autism spectrum disorder, but from that point on I realised that I would now be living with a label. I badly needed people who could help me come to terms with it. But this would prove difficult. My close friends, my classmates, and my siblings all seemed to know someone with Asperger’s syndrome, which is not surprising, considering more than one in one hundred people in the UK is on the spectrum. But every person that knew someone with the condition knew a male with it. I felt like I was the only woman in the world facing this, which made me feel like a total anomaly. While it might be true that Asperger’s affects males more than females, there is still an awful lot of research to conduct before dubbing that claim irrefutable. What is your first mental image when you hear the phrase ‘autism spectrum disorder’? You probably envisioned an adult male genius-type who loves science, or a severely handicapped child. This is because, like many other disorders, autism is stigmatised. It isn’t because these are the only types of autistic people that exist. Women with Asperger’s syndrome exist. Women with Asperger’s syndrome have always existed. So why are we so often left out of the media and popular debate? Why is it that, when we are the topic of discussion, it isn’t our own voices that are doing the discussing? It is due, in large part, to the sad reality that doing research on women with Asperger’s is a nascent phenomenon. Even Hans Asperger, the man who had the condition named after him, claimed that females can’t have Asperger’s syndrome. He changed his stance later on, but the legacy of that misconception continues. As a result of this lack of research, women are constantly being misdiagnosed or are refused assessment entirely, which leads to a demographic of forgotten disabled women who end up believing that it’s their fault that they struggle with responsibilities such as relationships, studying, and child-rearing. These people need as much help as their male counterparts, but an overwhelming number are ignored. Asperger’s syndrome affects men and women differently,
however, it is the research conducted on the behaviours of autistic males that constitutes the criteria for diagnosis. A significant difference can be seen in the concept of ‘masking’. Female teenagers with Asperger’s syndrome have more of a tendency to observe and imitate the behavioural patterns of their neurotypical peers to avoid humiliation or bullying; while teenage males with Asperger’s are more apt to overtly display autistic traits, such as ‘stimming’, or showing obvious signs of distress when they are going through sensory overload. A sensory overload is also called a meltdown, and its typical symptoms include putting hands over the ears, screaming, and being violent towards themselves or others. I, as an undiagnosed young teenager, was susceptible to being taken advantage of because I was so easily influenced, and used to wearing my ‘mask’. I would have done anything people told me in order to blend in with everyone else. Running away, truanting, talking back to parents and teachers, and putting on a literal mask of thick makeup from eleven years old, was how I expressed my difficulties. But everyone thought that I was merely ‘troubled’, but the reality was that I didn’t meet the criteria engineered for diagnosing males with Asperger’s syndrome. I knew about the issues faced by women on the spectrum prior to receiving my report in the mail, so I thought I’d be prepared when it came to living life post-diagnosis. I couldn’t have been more wrong, and with no one to turn to, I became constantly anxious, depressed, and unmotivated. It wasn’t until, in a fit of despair, I went onto Facebook and searched the keywords ‘women with autism’, that I found a forum of more than 1,500 women who felt the same as me. Since discovering the secret group only around three months ago, my life has completely changed. It is my sanctuary, a garden filled with positivity, with each member being a different kind of flower, one that still managed to bloom through the concrete floor of misconception. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I rush home just to see what people are saying on that day, so I can ask for advice about anything and everything, and so I can contribute what I know, too. It is a wonderful arrangement, and it has taught me that I’m not alone in this. There are all kinds of women on the forum – students, mothers, workers, the unemployed – and they give me the motivation I need to work to get our experiences heard. And here I am, doing exactly that.
qmunicreate Guerrilla I dreamt that you’d melt me. Hot flame Tamil Tiger ice cream Waxed weak at the knees The smell of me crept round thighs, back and neck You slept wet spread on amnesty covers. I dreamt us smothered. Costa Del Sol ETA lovers Hot beneath palm tree streets. A calm before a car bomb. I dreamt you were home. Bader Meinhoff sleeper, I’d had you alone. A four minute warning on dial up phones, Ich liebe dich. Ich liebe dich. I dreamt I was palms down. Stone fight Fattah sun down. A Molotov fire and hostage taken. Your friend’s couch was big enough for four of us. Nepalm red Bourgeois West End All bookshelves and cornices. The gulf between us our desolate Dresden Scattered with all that’s gone between. We fill the din with ‘How’ve you been?’ Collateral damage since we last met. A hum of Gomez A swig of Becks A Poker flush slicking my back and neck Nails picking out contrary frustrations Shrapnel of tin foil and glass. I ask if you’ve put a coupon on. You smirk as always. In the bay window you are aloof but on fire, Eyes azure, Hair ebony silver. You look hunted but glowing in the distance. Hard calloused fingers. Naked milk wrist stretch a familiar abyss All ceasefires and freckles. Cold Armalite. You can have anything. Why did I come here? Why did you ask my round? Like some sleeper cell Guerrilla I don’t care if I’m razed to the ground. [Victoria McNulty]
qmunicreate, our creative writing section, is currently taking submissions under the theme of ‘Identity’. Please send submissions with the subject FAO: Creative Writing to firstname.lastname@example.org before January 3rd. Featured art is an extract from Zaynah Ahmed’s upcoming photo essay ‘Dreaming of Nina’.
Published on Nov 30, 2017