Redbrick Issue 1467, Vol. 80
5th February 2016
Safety fears cast shadow over Selly Oak Almost 4000 students sign petition for greater police presence as word of muggings spreads online Analysis: Have the muggings been sensationalised? Page 3
Redbrick Film share their tips for awards season
Daisy Holden asks whether fashion has become too fast
Ian Rogers shines the spotlight on Spotify
Hannah Coles has a chat with William of Mystery Jets
Features Page 13
Features Page 15
Features Page 14
Music Page 19
Friday 5th February
Online this week at redbrick.me... LIFE & STYLE
SCI & TECH
Investment Beauty Buys Imogen Lancaster tells us the luxury beauty products worth paying for
Cultural Mourning Redbrick Comment investigates student reactions to the recent celebrity deaths
Rihanna: ANTI Hannah Coles reviews Rihanna's eagerly awaited album
Space's Personal Meaning Rachel Taylor explains what space means to her after the media coverage of Tim Peake
As PhotoSoc take a week off, our Photo of the Week winner is Redbrick's very own James Moore, with this shot of Selly Oak at Dusk.
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Friday 5th February
Selly Suffers Spate of Muggings Worried students react as Selly Oak residents are attacked
Angry Students Create Petition Demanding Greater Police Presence Danyal Hussain News Editor
A petition has been set up by a University of Birmingham student following reports of a series of violent muggings against students in the Selly Oak area. The petition, addressed to the Birmingham City Council and police services, has been signed by 3,919 as of February 3rd and is a reflection of the fear and anger that the incidents have triggered. It contains the following:
Sophie Dober News Editor
A series of muggings have been reported in Selly Oak within the last week. The West Midlands Police stated, ‘Detectives have launched an investigation following reports of three robberies and an assault, which occurred last week.’ The muggers stole two mobile phones and a laptop from their victims. The statement continues, ‘The incidents happened on Hubert Road, Dawlish Road, Warwards Road and Westminster Road’. A student posted on Saturday 9th January in the Fab N Fresh – New Facebook group warning other students of an attack that occurred on Dawlish Road. They stated that 'three guys in ski masks jumped out from behind a skip near the top of the road’. According to this student, the incident occurred at 11:20pm. The WMP have said that the victims described the muggers as being two or three men, dressed in black. The offenders are thought to be in their late teens and early twenties. They allegedly wore black clothing and ski masks. There have been more reports of mugging incidents over the weekend from 30th Saturday to
31st Sunday. One student reported that she has been chased down Alton Road. Another announced that her and her friend were approached by muggers at 5pm. It is not only muggings that have occurred recently as there have been reports of burglaries. Redbrick have spoken to a number of students regarding these incidents. Many have expressed their concern about walking around Selly Oak, especially at night, since the muggings started. A second year student said, ‘I am now worried to walk back from campus after society events.’
'I am now worried to walk back from campus after society events' Another student told Redbrick, ‘It is difficult to know the true facts about these muggings because a lot of the information has been through word of mouth.’ According to the Housing and Community Officer, Roberto Sorrentino, the Guild are in ‘ a close partnership with the West Midlands Police’ to ensure the safety of staff and students on
and off campus’. Sorrentino told Redbrick that ‘police patrols will be extended’ and ‘Community Wardens will continue their regular patrols’. The Guild Officer advised students ‘to remain vigilant when out at night’. Sergeant Matthew Crowley, from Birmingham South police, reiterates the close partnership with the University wardens. In response to the Guild’s Housing and Community Officer’s Facebook post warning students to be safe, a student commented ‘It's all well and good advising people to stay together in groups but in reality this isn't a viable option for everyone’. When Sorrentino responded with the comment, ‘Alternatively, you can get a taxi’, the student posted, ‘Getting a taxi home everyday again is not a viable option if I had that kind of money I wouldn't be living in Selly Oak in the first place.’ The Guild’s message is repeated in their official statement. The statement includes a link to the Community Wardens’ Safer Self tip. Some of these tips include; get ting a taxi back after a night out, don’t make it obvious that you have a laptop and withdraw cash before going on a night out. The WMP also urge students to listen to their instincts,
download a tracker app to be able trace lost or stolen phones and not to lose their IMEI number, which is needed to report a stolen phone.
'Getting a taxi home everyday is not a viable option' Sergeant Crowley said the following; ‘we take this type of crime extremely seriously. If anyone has any information, get in contact with the West Midlands Police on 999 or 101. But, if you do not want to speak with a police officer, then you can contact the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111’. However, it seems that students aren’t comforted by the Guild and the West Midlands Police statements. They want to see evidence of something being done. On Change.org a petition has been set up, calling for the Birmingham City Council to be more proactive. Also, a Facebook group called ‘Selly Oak Walking Back Buddies’ has been set up, which has already gained well over 1000 members.
Analysis: Have the muggings been sensationalised? Danyal Hussain News Editor
There has been a lot of fear and uncertainty in Selly Oak following reports of numerous muggings in recebt weejs. A number of students have taken to social media to express their worries, with the petition calling for increased police presence being the best example, widely shared on Facebook and with around 4,000 signatures. A significant number of incidents have been reported, but recent news indicates that the situation might have been exaggerated to some extent, with the actual number and nature of the mugging incidents
not being as horrifying as first thought. University of Birmingham student Beth Davies asked the campus police officer for an update on the situation and shared the following account with Redbrick: 'There have only been 4 confirmed incidents - 3 muggings and 1 assault. He said there was not any screwdrivers, hammers or knives used, as we had previously thought. Only on one occasion was an iron bar being carried. The last incident was on January 17th and is still under investigation by West Midlands Police. He also told us that the 5pm mugging that occured recently is an unrelated incident to the above
with a different MO and different assailants. The officer has offered to share more information with interested students if they came to see him. Similarly, he also told us that there are more officers out in the evenings between 11-3, with some dressed in plain clothes and in unmarked cars. Finally he said that they are using their full overtime balance on funding more officers in the Selly Oak area'. This account indicates that the reports of violent, knife point muggings have been exaggerated, as there has only been one incident of armed robbery. Furthermore, this is supported by statistics that show that Selly Oak is the 14th safest area in Birmingham on average out of
41, as reported by UKcrimestats. com. The same stats show how Edgbaston actually has a higher crime rate. Official crime rate statistics for the current period are not released until April, so the true extent of the 'crime wave' will not become clear until then. However, it has to be emphasised that the police believe a different group is responsible for the latest mugging. This is worrying as it suggests that there is more than one group of people preying on students. The safety of students in Selly Oak should undoubtedly be top priority, but reports of a 'Selly Oak crime wave' may be doing more harm than good.
'There has been a huge increase in crime including robberies, burglaries and muggings aimed at local students surrounding the University of Birmingham in Selly Oak. Selly Oak has always been a particularly high crime area however, the frequency of these recent crimes has drastically increased over the last few weeks and has become more than a daily occurrence. Although the University is said to be 'stepping up', very little appears to have been done on the streets themselves, with few police or community officers patrolling the streets at all times. This issue has escalated to the point where students (predominantly) cannot walk home without the fear of being mugged even in the daylight. Within the last 24 hours a girl has been chased by a gang on her walk home, a house has been burgled and two girls were mugged on a walk home at 5pm- and this is just what has been reported. In response to this seemingly growing issue we strongly believe that a huge change is required by both the local police and Birmingham City Council to be more proactive than reactive in preventing these crimes from continuing. Action is needed to take this issue more seriously by putting constant patrols of police on the Selly Oak streets.' The petition was shared widely and rapidly. Students commented on the petition to express their dissatisfaction with the way that the police have handled the incidents with Ella Talbot writing 'When I called the police hotline last week and tweeted the West Midlands Twitter account to report four men with a knife at Selly Oak train station they ignored me and said it was a problem for the British Transport Police'. This is just an example of one of the unhappy comments.
Friday 5th February 2016
Gregory Robinson News reporter
On Monday 1 February, BEMA (the Black & Ethnic Minorities Association) hosted the ‘Why is my Curriculum White?’ discussion at the University of Birmingham. The event welcomed several guest speakers into a filled lecture hall of students from the University of Birmingham and beyond.
The campaign has its routes in London but has spread across the country The ‘Why is my Curriculum White?’ campaign was initiated originally in 2014 at UCL in London by both staff and students and has since grown into a national campaign. Projects led by students of BME backgrounds who are keen to challenge the ‘Eurocentricity’ of their university curriculum have started on campuses across the UK. Those in attendance used the hashtag #DecoloniseBham to keep the conversation going on social media. The campaign explores possible reasons as to why the works of white scholars, usually male, remain central to the subjects taught at university and the campaign questions why the world’s history is viewed through a European lens. According to the campaign, the voices and perspectives of ethnic scholars are shunned or excluded entirely. Guest speakers included Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Redbrick asked BEMA a few questions in repsonse to the launch of this campaign. Why do you think universities adopt a white perspective for curriculums? “Universities adopt a white perspective because the majority of professors/lecturers are white who’ve been taught by Eurocentric institutions, it’s a perpetual cycle of Eurocentric education. Throughout school and colleges too there’s next to little mention of non-Eurocentric histories
'Why is my Curriculum White?' BEMA launch campaign here at University of Birmingham
Birmingham City University Dr. tive prospect to students without Kehinde Andrews and Dr. them realising, according to Lamanda Palmer, NUS Black Kehinde who stated 'you are here Students Officer Malia Bouattia because you are attracted to whiteand Independent Islamic ness, so-called prestige. Researcher Afroze Zaidi-Jivraj. Universities exists to perpetuate Each speaker provided discourse whiteness’. regarding their own personal expe'Racism is in the DNA of every riences with the Eurocentric cur- university. That is the starting riculum employed by the premise to challenge the White University and possible ways to curriculum.' overcome the obstacle of ‘curricuAs a possible solution to the lum whitewashing’. whitewashing of the University’s In regards to why university curriculum, Andrews said 'we can curriculums are Eurocentric. First build Black studies into the arena. speaker Dr. Kehinde Andrews We need to build our own canon. stated ‘my first response is – what We can build different network of do you expect? Racism spews scholars, and with our community from this institution’, in reference to build ‘black studies’. to UoB. 'Stop looking for justification Andrews went on to state that from the white institutions which the University of Birmingham is oppress us. Change comes from one of the ‘most racist institutions’ building our own community'. in which the sociology department Dr. Lamanda Palmer in turn ‘fails to live up to’ the necessary discussed her own experience teaching standards to teach their from studying at the University of students. Birmingham several years ago. Andrews proceeded to ques- Palmer spoke of the instability of tion the floor and asked ‘why do the educational infrastructure universities exist?’, to which which is undermined by the white members of the audience replied curriculum and as a result, fails ‘for education' and to 'proand 'does not support Black vide students with an scholars'. Palmer said: idea of the work'We have to break place'. While down the barriers of these claims what’s going on appeared to be inside and outside widely acceptacademy.' ed by the rest 'The idea that of the audiwe need to build ence, Kehinde supportive netdeclared uniworks cannot be versities exist undermined. 'to perpetuate You, yourselves whiteness' rathcan start now.' er than to eduDr. Palmer also Jaffrina cate. According to addressed the tendenJahan Andrews, the univercy of institutions to sity sphere is a white ignore racism, which also institution which aims to stay includes ignoring the term ‘racwhite which is the main factor ism’ altogether. Palmer suggested behind the whitewashing of the that if the issue of racism can’t be university’s curriculum. On the named, the problem of racism other hand, the whiteness of an within institutions will not be institution may be the most attrac- solved. Palmer said 'let’s bring
racism back on the table.' Palmer’s speech was intended to target the students in the room directly, in order to motivate them to take it upon themselves to create their own networks to seek their own academic freedom within the education institution, which largely ignores the achievements of Black and Ethnic minority scholars. In her closing statements, Palmer said: 'How can work be achieved
or politics. The fact is, many of our most revered British institutions have been implicit in colonialism and empire and don’t want to shed light on their dirty past.” - Zara Qadeer, Ethnic Minorities Officer
the purpose around Why is my curriculum white is to promote a consciousness around this issue. Then the university needs to properly start listening to BME people and act upon the solutions and recommendations that we are, have been and continue to pushing.” - Jaffrina Jahan, BEMA
Do you think universities make a conscious decision to ignore the achievements of black and ethnic minority individuals? “Whether or not the decision is conscious is besides the point, because either way the result is the same – BME contributions
are systematically marginalised from our curriculum and it contributes to the false idea that we have had no achievements to draw from, and so we are left with a curriculum that doesn’t reflect us or our experiences.” - Amara Ranger, BEMA How can universities increase the presence of ethnic minority individuals/academics in their curriculums? “I think the first step needs to be made by questioning the unchallenged assumption that what is white is always right, and
'Academics at the university work on Islamaphobia but deny it's a form of racism' if we don’t have students asking wider critical questions?' Palmer continued: 'Make the space where you are Black, and occupy that space within your own work. Seek out the networks where you can find support'. The next speaker, Afroze, once worked at the University of Birmingham but has since left her job due to her own negative experiences with 'colour blindness'. Afroze introduced herself to the audience by declaring: 'I experienced a lot of the myths of colour blindness, no one stopped to think this theory isn’t working.' Afroze highlighted a few issues within this university, stating many of the academic and support staff at the University of Birmingham are white, the Islamic Department which aims to teach Jihadi fails to have an adequate knowledge of Arabic as well as the University’s department of African Studies and Anthropology being 'overly white'. In order to combat the issue of whitewashing the university’s curriculum, Afroze reiterated the
How could Arts subjects such as English, History, and Philosophy etc. increase the presence of black scholars? “Again, promoting a race-conscious approach to the content of our curriculum should go hand in
importance of 'reintroducing the importance of lived experience.' Regarding the issue of Islamophobia within the institution and whether it is addressed adequately, Afroze said: 'This is an institution that breeds whiteness, where academics at the university work on Islamophobia but deny it’s a form of racism'. Accessibility to University study for Black and Ethnic Minority students was also addressed within Afroze’s speech. Following the government’s announcement to scrap the maintenance loan as well as the rise in university fees, Afroze said: 'We need to work to make university accessible and campaign to eliminate fees. We need to tackle the attainment gap.' She continued: 'We need to create our own support systems. However, in institutions like these we need to dismantle white structures. We have a right to be here, because it is the money of our ancestors that built these institutions.' The final speaker Malia Bouattia also began her speech by discussing her own personal experience of studying at the University of Birmingham. Bouattia said: 'I grew up in Birmingham and when I started at the university, I wanted my studies to represent the diversity of the city. I didn’t receive the support I needed.' A key point in Bouattia’s speech was the University of Birmingham’s focus on the achievements of Joseph Chamberlain, which includes Old Joe and the new Chamberlain accommodation, in comparison to the achievements of Jamaican alumnus Stuart Hall, as well as cultural studies as a whole that have been ignored by the university. The Why is my Curriculum White Campaign launch was the start of a long term planned campaign which the BEMA liberation group on campus are running. hand with a race-conscious approach to considering who is doing the teaching. Whilst whitewashed studies and spaces can alienate many Black and BME individuals from pursuing academia further, those who do still find themselves facing barriers in career progression (from casualization to unfair workloads to discrimination) – and it’s the university’s duty to approach this at an institutional level to ensure keep uptake and retention of scholars.” -Jaffrina Jahan, BEMA
Friday 5th February 2016
Model UN society host Conference Model UN's society host their very first International Model UN conference, here at the University of Birmingham. Katarina Dubrova News reporter
The United Nations Society at the University of Birmingham hosted a new version of the International Model United Nations Conference (UBIMUN). The event took place here on campus from the 28th 31st January 2016, with over 150 delegates taking part. For the past 6 years - UoB Model Arab League was a simulation of the Arab League where students from the UK and the rest of the world gathered to debate relevant political, economic, cultural and social affairs concerning the Arab World. Delegates represented a country for the duration of the conference, looking to reach a consensus through diplomatic measures on the topics debate. This year, the Model UN society introduced University of Birmingham International Model United Nations Conference (UBIMUN), a new and unprecedented MUN, in order to replace the simple crisis simulation of UoB Model Arab League. Three different committees had to work alongside one another as decisions made by one committee affected the other two committees. The crisis simulation was added to the UN Security Council and North Atlantic Council. Alongside the crisis simulation the conference hosted committees
such as the UN and other international bodies such as the United Nations Human Rights Council, ECOSOC, International Court of Justice, and International Monetary Fund. The theme for this conference was ‘When the world is in Crisis, is diplomacy enough?’ According to the UN society, ‘the spirit of the conference was in defence of diplomacy as a viable and preferred solution to the security challenges of the world. The delegates from this conference have shown that through diplomacy, we can successfully resolve issues of international security effectively and lead to stability in regions either trapped in or leading towards conflict’. UBIMUN as the conference is abbreviated to. is designed to help participants develop soft and analytical skills as well as stimulate critical thinking and heighten creative problem solving. Through active participation, students are expected to sharpen skills in debate, parliamentary procedures, consensus-building and public speaking. So what was the Crisis Topic of choice? 'Europe in Crisis - diplomatic solutions for modern challenges to global development. Addressing the concerns of human security in 2016 and the threat of political and state violence throughout the 21st century world order'. For the conference, it was
explained that it had been a ‘heavy year for Europe in what was as a year of terror for many. As the war in Syria continues to wreck millions of lives, refugees have been fleeing the anarchy in hope of safety and a future – only to face disastrous roads through a blocked passage in Eastern Europe’. In addition to this, the Crisis Simulation delegates were told that, ‘as countries such as Germany and Sweden extend their arms graciously in order to ease refugees of their struggle, many other countries face the domestic pressure that prevents them stepping up to the liberal principles they claim to live to’. However the Crisis Simulation pointed out that ‘tensions still exist in the Donbass region and Crimean Peninsula of Eastern Ukraine as Russia continues to intervene in its national sovereignty’. In this Crisis, delegates were then faced with the challenge of dealing with the events that unfolded in 2015. The Model UN society said, ‘as time will pass, so will opportunities, movements
and lives in what will be an assessment into the current pressures Europe and the surrounding regions face, as the world has not only become more connected, but more susceptible to a global crisis more than ever. The threat of political violence against civilians and refugees will test countries resolve for humanity, as well the resolve for some countries against others’. In addition to the delegates taking part in simulations and
committees as representatives of nation states, where 28 resolutions were passed, there were also 3 socials which took place during the conference. The gala was the main social highlight. More than 250 people gathered for the Gala. The proceeds raised at the Gala will be donated towards the UK charity 'Stop the Traffic'. At the time of printing, the UN society has stated that more than £1500 has been raised so far for the charity. Robert Jones
UoB students hosting food drive initiative Isma Azad News Editor @ismaazad
UoB students, Hana Begum, Lee Davies, Orli Goldberg, Keerti Rajagopalan and Grace Louisy, who are on the ParliaMentors leadership programme are set to create social change within the local community of Selly Oak, through their 2 day food drive initiative. ParliaMentors as stated by the leadership programme is ‘an award-winning leadership programme where teams of university students of different faiths and non-religious beliefs collaborate to create real social change [whilst] being mentored by MPs’. Redbrick has had the pleasure of sitting down with these 5 UoB students to discover what the team is planning to do for their social action campaign, how they will be funding the social action campaign that these 5 young individuals are passionate about, and what their long term goals are for their social action campaign. Whilst talking to the campus based team, they revealed that their mission statement was as follows: ‘we strive to work on
the frontline against local poverThe group also aims to bridge ty. Around 104,300 people relied the gap between students and upon food banks in the West local community in the long term, Midlands in 2014, almost the as well as creating a partnership same as in London, and the with more of the local supermarnumber is growing. We aim to kets. Currently only Tesco donates ease the burden on food banks towards the food bank's, somethrough a week long food drive’. thing which the team hopes The team added that, ‘poverty extends to the various other local in general is a wider issue that is supermarkets. affecting the local West In addition, one food Midlands area. bank in particular that Research has also the team is focussing shown that a on is called B30, large proporwhich is situated tion of chilon Pershore Road dren are facS o u t h , people relied upon ing a“trickle Edgbaston. down” effect The B30 food banks in the West of this growfoodbank helps ing poverty, to feed local resiMidlands in 2014 with 37% of dents and people the poverty in crisis, where the occurring in food bank provides a Birmingham, of minimum of 3 days of which 41% is conemergency support and densed to the local area of food to people. Aston. Keerti stated that the group’s The ParliaMentors team hopes desires and goals to work on the that by identifying the local com- social action programme in munities needs, they as a team regards to the food bank stems can successfully respond by set- from the fact that at least 13 milting up local collections points in lion people within the UK actuthe local Selly Oak and campus ally live below the poverty line communities, in the church, Last year around 1.4 million supermarkets and student accom- people sought help and support modations. from food banks, in comparison
to 5 years ago, when only around 128,000 people needed help. The team hope to drive out hunger, their campaign mission, by hosting the food drive around the 12th February. Grace Louisy stated, that herself and the team wish to ‘raise awareness awareness of food banks and how the local residents and students here at university could help by donating food towards their local food banks’. Orli also stated that here on campus, ‘students aren’t necessarily aware of how much food they waste’, which is why the group hope that in the long term they may want to have a long
lasting campaign if they incorporate and collaborate in the Go Green initiative. The team stated that they have already familiarised themselves with the B30 foodbank, by helping out at the warehouse, nu weighing and sorting through the food accordingly. The food must be sorted by the best before date and is checked in regards to its suitability and if it is undamaged, before the donated food is packed into boxes to then be stored. For the food drive initiative the group are solely going to rely on volunteers, and that they are hoping around 30 people volunteer their time to help a worthwhile cause.
Friday 5th February 2016
Carnival RAG celebrates annual 'Adopt a Charity Week' on campus Grace Duncan News reporter
Carnival Rag hosted their annual ‘Adopt a Charity Week’ from Monday 1st February to Sunday 7th February, raising money in support of eight charities. A wide range of events were hosted in aid of Birmingham Children’s Hospital; Macmillan Cancer Support; Bloodwise; the Anthony Nolan Trust; Sohana Research Fund; Teenage Cancer Trust; Action on Postpartum Psychosis and MIND. ‘Adopt a Charity Week’ was supported by the Guild of Students, the University of
Birmingham Careers Network, Santander, Teach First and Guild TV; offering a range of support, resources and skills. Houmaa Choudhry, Chair of A Capella Society told Redbrick, that ‘Adopt a Charity Week’ gives ‘student societies [the opportunity] to use their skills as a force for good to raise awareness of local or national charities [and] make a difference in the community something we at A Cappella Society are very keen on doing.’ A Capella society will be donating their proceeds to Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Chaudhry stated that
‘our groups will be busking in Mermaid Square [and] to top off the week, we will be holding a society showcase featuring The Uptone Girls, Score and AbraCappella at 'The Indie Lounge' on Friday from 7pm’. Supporting the cause, Chaudhry added that ‘Santander Universities [have] very kindly promised to match the money we raise in donations to double the money raised for Birmingham Children’s Hospital’. Further information about the societies involved and the charities they supported is available on the charity's Facebook page.
Adopt a Charity Week schedule Bakesales (Bakesoc) - Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, 11-4pm A Capella Busking - Mon, Wed, 11-5pm, Mermaid Square Bowling Tournament (Bowling) - Mon, 7pm EPS University Challenge (Mathsoc) - Mon, 6.30pm Pub Quiz (Biosoc) - Mon, 7.30pm Film Showing of Shutter Island (Psychosoc) - Mon, 6.30pm Cocktail Night (Rocksoc) - Tues, 7.30pm Showcase (Gilbert and Sullivan) - Wed (pm) Cake sale (Biosoc) - Thurs, 12-2pm Open Mic Night (Marrow) - The S'Oak, Thurs, 8pm Donor Recruitment (Marrow) - Rosa Parks, Fri, 11am - 4pm Tea Party (Bakesoc) - Fri, 3.30-6.30pm Showcase (A Cappella) - Fri 7pm Danceathon (Freedom from Torture) - Sun (pm)
Controversial student accommodation plans for Selly Oak mansion approved Jennifer Hughes News reporter
Council members vote in favour of Victorian Mansion renovation despite opposing campaign from residents. Plans to convert Beechenhurst Victorian Mansion into student accommodation for University of Birmingham students have been approved by council planning committee members. The mansion built in 1862, situated in the Selly Park conservation area is said to be able to house up to 60 students once converted. The
Beechenhurst Mansion became eligible for conversion after being labelled by the city’s conservation advisory panel as “of poor architectural quality” despite being a historic building, and so was not on the list of locally significant buildings. Developers on the project have labelled the conversion a future “world class halls of residence” which will be aimed at wealthy overseas students. The 7 to 3 vote in favour of the renovation made by the committee is likely to be a controversial decision among Selly Park residents who have actively campaigned against the development. Hundreds of residents signed peti-
tions against the renovation resulting in the committee vote being put on hold in December, for further consultation. Residents have complained that students will dominate the quiet, residential road which is populated by the elderly and young families. However, Amare Students who are responsible for the development have reassured residents that they will work with them and will address any concerns that they may have in the future. The construction was originally scheduled to begin in September 2017 however it is not known if this deadline will still be met due to the delays in approving the project.
Selly Park Property Owners Association
Guild of Students appeal for more women candidates for officer elections Grace Duncan News reporter
The elections for Guild officers are fast approaching, and nominations have now closed. Yet days before the nominations closed, the Guild pushed for more women candidates to run for office, suggesting a poor level of representation this year. The Guild sent an email to all students with the subject, 'Girls to the front: where could you take your SU?' The email continues to tell female students that 'You shouldn’t miss out on the fantastic opportunity to be a sabbatical officer simply because the stats are against you'.
The stats indeed show a national trend of poor female representation, with only 33% of SU presidents and 14% of University Vice-Chancellors being female. This trend is exemplified within the University of Birmingham Guild of Student’s full time officer team, as only two out of the seven are female: Daisy Lindlar, Representation & Resources Officer, and Izzy Lenga, Education Officer. Six out of eleven of the part-time officer team are women, however the majority of officer places are taken up by male students. The email goes on to say that 'We know women students do amazing things across campus every day – and we want you to know that you’re exactly
the candidates we’re looking for!' When asked, Daisy Lindlar, Representation & Resources Officer, stated that for her 'Having successfully campaigned to become a full time Guild Officer last year, I have seen first-hand that the process is somewhat of a male dominated affair, as for many of the roles there were significantly more men running than women. Last year, of the seven full-time positions, only one had more women running than men. Three of them didn’t have any women running at all.’ She continued, 'It’s incredibly important that we have more representation in student politics for women, so fewer women feel distanced from it, and are more likely to want to
run for a position next time round. It really doesn’t need to be this way, hence why the Guild is making an effort to break this cycle!' The encouragement has received mixed reviews with students questioning the need to push so forcefully the political activism of young women. Student Izzy Hendley said: 'It is not that politics is a male dominated affair that puts me off running for an officer role, it is that it doesn’t interest me in anyway. The fact that I am girl wouldn’t stop me from running if that is what I wanted to do, but it is good that those who need encouragement can get it from the Guild so readily'. Polls open for Guild Officer Elections on Monday 29th February.
Friday 5th February 2016
Conflict in Syria debate
University of Birmingham Debating Society hosts 'Conflict in Syria: Asking the Right Questions' debate with expert panellists Nicole Jeary Jennifer Hughes News reporters
Difficult questions about the ongoing crisis in Syria were addressed and de-constructed at the public debate organised by the University of Birmingham’s Debating Society on Tuesday. The event began with a video outlining the context behind the situation in Syria that continues to perplex the international community, and the various different factions embroiled in the Civil War within the region. This was followed by a brief introduction to the subject and the speakers from the debate Chair: Professor Mark Webber. Professor Webber referred to the conflict in Syria as potentially 'biggest crisis of our time'. This was followed by a series of questions put forward by Professor Webber to the speakers. The viability of the President, Bashar al-Assad remaining in power, and whether this was a suitable resolution was posed. Professor Scott Lucas argued that ultimately maintaining the Assad Government 'rewards a regime which has forcibly supressed its people' which would ultimately 'prolong rather than ease its agony'. Tom Wilson concurred, arguing that it would be morally reprehensible to ignore the atrocities the Assad regime had been responsible for. He maintained
that Assad is a key reason for destabilisation within the region. Naeem Malik countered, asserting that Western interventions were to blame for the disarray that Syria finds itself in, and despite Assad’s crimes, he has some legitimacy. Dr Adam Quinn was similarly sceptical of the feasibility of Assad remaining in power, suggesting that whilst greater stability would be ideal, it is imperative the state of Syria be preserved, rather than Assad himself.
Western governments have responded 'pitifully' to the humanitarian crisis This was followed by a debate over the extent to which the American led intervention and Russian involvement can be viewed as a proxy war conflict in the Middle East between the two powers. Tom Wilson suggested that ultimately 'Russia has seized upon a vacuum in the Middle East that was left by lack of western leadership' following the Arab Springs related interventions in Libya and the surrounding areas in 2011. Naeem Malik on the whole fervently rejected the legitimacy of Western inter-
est led intervention under the guise of ‘humanitarian concerns’. He further argued that the reasons behind Russian and American intervention were not largely different. The debate spanned two hours, and covered heavily contested topics such as the degree to which western intervention in Iraq 2003 was culpable for the rise of ISIS, and how best to deal with the on-going refugee crisis in Europe. Dr Adam Quinn agreed that solving the refugee crisis and limiting the mass displacement from Syria, would be solved 'with great difficulty', and ultimately western governments have responded 'pitifully' to the humanitarian crisis. Professor Scott Lucas further asserted the need for international co-operation through the legal framework of the United Nations and the assumption of greater responsibility from the U.S and Britain. Ultimately he argued, 'Germany and the Scandinavian countries shouldn’t have to deal with the issue alone'. Finally, the debate was opened up to the audience, where a variety of challenging questions were posed. For instance, how best to bring an end to the War on Terror, and what solutions would prove most effective in ensuring peace in Syria. In respect to the War On Terror, Dr Adam Quinn stated, 'as it is currently formulated, the War on Terror is a recipe for eternal war'. He argued ultimately Western powers need to recog-
nise how to reconcile our democratic values with the extraordinary measures that have been taken to defeat Terrorism. In terms of searching for a conclusion to the conflict and ensuring peace, Professor Scott Lucas advocated the establishment of safety zones in Syria. The speakers also agreed that potentially a form of devolution or Federalism would be an appropriate way of appeasing the numerous complex interests and factions that currently occupy Syria. The event proved a success for the UOB debating society, who regularly hold similar events discussing topical issues around Campus.
Dr Adam Quinn A Senior Lecturer in International Politics at the University Professor Scott Lucas A professional journalist and Professor of International Politics and American Studies at the University Tom Wilson A fellow at the Centre for the New Middle East at the Henry Jackson Society Naeem Malik Chair of the West Midlands Palestine Solidarity Campaign/ Britain Stop The War coalition
Chair of the Panel Professor Mark Webber A Lecturer at the University and International Relations Specialist
Birmingham ranked the 3rd happiest city to work in Farah Sheraz News reporter
In January, business psychologists OPP conducted a study of over 2500 employees in the UK. The survey found that the national average level of employee satisfaction has increased to 71%. It also found that the top three cities with the happiest workers are, Norwich, Liverpool and Birmingham. The study found that the top ten happiest cities were: 1. Norwich
2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Liverpool Birmingham Brighton Plymouth Sheffield Nottingham Manchester Southampton Bristol
OPP also found that there were key regional differences with employee satisfaction levels; the lowest were found in Newcastle and Cardiff, with just 64% of those surveyed reporting good levels of job satisfaction. John Hackston, Head of Research at OPP, stated that
the research ‘shows that job tion rate of 79%. Lowest job satisfaction doesn’t fully trans- satisfaction was found late into feeling successful at amongst workers in the work’. Almost a third of financial sector as 18% workers felt that they of workers in this were successful at industry stated work and 35% of that they were workers stated very or quite that they did not dissatisfied. receive the supThe three port needed from main factors National level of their employer to that have influemployee be successful at enced job satissatisfaction work. The faction accordresearch also found ing to this study that workers in was workload, salindustries considered ary increase and to be more demanding, change in management. such as architecture and engi- It also found that employee neering, had a greater satisfac- happiness has increased in the
UK with 36% of employees stating a greater level of job satisfaction in comparison to last year. Commenting on this ranking, Second Year Law student, Eleanor stated that as ‘Birmingham [is] the second biggest city in the UK, [it] attracts offices belonging to leading firms, thereby offering great opportunities similar to those offered in London, without the stress of the 'corporate culture' working in London brings.' A second year student commented that this presents ‘good publicity for the city’.
Friday 5th February 2016
Birmingham a Hotspot for Dangerous Driving
Gregory Robinson News reporter
According to new figures published by the government Birmingham is a hotspot for dangerous driving. The figures reveal a 20% increase in offences in just a year. Analysis from the Home Office reveals in 12 months up to June 2015, there were 99 dangerous driving incidents in Birmingham. Five of these incidents resulted in death. This means there were 9 driving offences for every 100,000 people, which is higher than the national average rate of 6.3 per 100,000. Across the West Midlands as a whole, there were 191 dangerous driving offences in the year to June 2015, including 18 counts of death by dangerous driving. This is an increase of 15.8% compared to the previous year.
One explanation for the steep rise in driving offences are 'boy racers' in so-called 'performance' cars. Gerard McManus, the father of road accident victim Rebecca McManus, told MPs that performance cars have ‘no place on our roads’ and should be confined to the race track. McManus’ daughter, Rebecca McManus, 21, was an English student who was killed by an out of control car on May 31 2014 as she waited at a bus stop on Hagley Road in Quinton, Smethwick. A 32-year-old man from Birmingham was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. Sgt Paul Hughes, from West Midlands Police said, ‘This is a tragic incident which has left a young member of the local community dead.’ In December 2015, the new West Midlands Police Chief Constable David Thompson said, the region had the biggest prob-
lem with illegal street racers and dangerous driving. Thompson also warned that specialist traffic officers will be taking on street racers and would be using ‘overt and covert tactics’ to combat the rise in dangerous driving in Birmingham. In order to combat the rise in 'boy racers', police have begun to use undercover tactics. Thompson said ‘It’s an incredibly important area for us. We have obtained civil injunctions in the past, but we have sometimes had a fragmented approach to this issue.’ Thompson continues, ‘The CMPG (Central Motorway Police Group) are now going to be taking a leadership role in this area and are doing an intelligence assessment to make sure we have a robust approach. This is still a priority for us and there has been some really good work recently in Solihull and North Birmingham.’ Research has also found
almost half of the country’s dangerous drivers originate from Birmingham. Within the UK, there are currently 98 drivers with boy-racer type endorsements called MS50s on their licences according to the DVLA. New figures show 47 drivers with Birmingham postcodes who have these racing endorsements. Five are situated within the B8 postcode, covering Saltley and Washwood Heath, the highest of any UK postcode. Four more drivers live in the B28 postcode, which covers Hall Green, with another four residing in B20, covering Handsworth Wood. Dangerous driving continues to be a problem leading into the New Year. A four year old girl was knocked down in Solihull, on 22 January 2016. West Midlands Police officers were sent to investigate the scene in Widney Lane. The girl was later taken to hospital, and her
injuries were found not to be life threatening. The incident occurred days after it was revealed seven school crossing sites in Solihull may no longer be attended by lollipop wardens in a £18,000 costcutting exercise. Furthermore, on 29 January 2016, a Solihull pedestrian was killed when he was hit by a van. The 55 year old van driver was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. One University of Birmingham student told Redbrick, ‘dangerous driving and road safety is definitely a problem here in Birmingham. Some of the roads we have to cross to get to campus are so dangerous, and drivers literally don’t care about students being in the area. They’ll just whiz straight pass you without a care in the world. I’m actually quite surprised there aren’t more accidents involving UoB students to be honest.’
Dead Body Found in Car Boot in Edgbaston
Public shock as popular music shop owner found dead in his car boot Danyal Hussain News Editor
Following the recent crimesurge within the Selly Oak area, another major crime has occurred in Edgbaston, which is 8-10 minutes away from the University of Birmingham Campus. An investigation is under way after the body of Tanveer Iqbal, the owner of the Hi-Tech music shop
in Smethwick, a music shop that has represented Pakistani and Asian music genres for the past 27 years, was found in the boot of his car on Portland Road in Edgbaston. Portland Road is an 8 minute car journey from the University of Birmingham. Mr Iqbal, 33, was reported as missing on Monday 1st February at around noon, with his body being found a few hours later. The
police are treating the death as suspicious. Mr Iqbal’s body was found in his Renault Clio, with the car being taking away as evidence. West Midlands Police cordoned off the area to allow forensic teams to comb through it. The police gave the following statement, ‘we’re working around the clock to try and piece together events leading up to this man’s death. Portland Road
is likely to remain closed while my team continues to carry out an important forensic examination at the scene. If anyone has any information which they think may assist me with this investigation, I would urge them to get in touch as soon as they can. I am particularly keen to speak to any witnesses who may have seen Mr Iqbal between closing his shop in Smethwick on Sunday night
and the time he was discovered at lunchtime on Monday.’ As Portland Road is a short journey away from the University, students may be affected. A second year student told Redbrick that they were ‘shocked’ that something like this had ‘happened so close to the University’, especially as there has been a rise in crime within the areas local to the University.
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Friday 5th February
Campus Survey: Safety in Selly Oak
Hannah Coles investigates how the recent attacks and spike in Selly Oak crime rates have affected UoB students and their daily routines. Hannah Coles Commentator @HannahMColes
Living in Selly is bittersweet. We have good pubs, take-aways, cafés and two train stations close by. Our mates are only a few minutes down the road. We're close to campus, there’s space to park your car, there’s an ALDI for heaven's sake. Yet, although 99p drinks at Urban allows us to live a low cost lifestyle, there is a high price to be paid in terms of our safety. The area of Selly Oak - despite it's proximity to the leafy Calthorpe Estate - is a bit of a shithole. There’s rubbish everywhere, buildings in states of disrepair, broken glass and the grimy mattress in the middle of the road just incase you fancy a kip. We pay a lot more than our mates at other universities to rent houses that are below par, knowing that even Kim and Aggie wouldn't be seeing their deposit again. Sometimes the sight of the odd discarded condom in the middle of the pavement brings a little grin to your face but, Sports Night aside, there is something going on that is far more disturbing: we are scared. It’s common knowledge that Selly can be somewhat dicey, but instead of documenting reports and rumours, I decided to investigate just how UoB students feel about crime levels. To this end, I conducted a survey which had a massive response, with people getting in touch directly to let me know about their experiences of either being attacked themselves, witnessing an attack or reporting the criminals only to be met with indifference. Some of the stories will make you question just how safe we really are, and the overwhelming response to the survey reinforces that a) Selly Oak is as dodgy as it looks b) we don't feel that the police are doing enough to keep us safe and c) it is nightfall that marks the point at which walking alone isn’t an option. For a start, the threat of crime in Selly Oak is making some of us change our study habits - mostly dictated by the sundown cut off. Second year student Ellie notes the significance of looking after one another, remarking that it was a friend who made her aware that she would be on campus after dark with a laptop and a long walk up Tiverton to come. This rings true in the survey results, showing that 82% of respondents are ‘considering the safety of their friends more than usual’. If you’re walking anywhere in the dark with a laptop, an iPad, even a phone, it is sensible to be vigilant, but in Selly it seems that vigilance isn't enough with 57% of survey respondents noting
that they are sure to be home before dark if they are alone. Ellie commented: ‘I’m not getting the work done that I should because obviously as soon as I arrive home I’m watching Netflix’. We’ve all been there. Not only does this compromise our uni work, but it limits our freedom. However, from some reports it seems that even being alone or even in your own house isn't enough of a deterrent. In a recent post on the West Midlands police Facebook page, four attacks that happened in September were reported - one where a girl was followed to her house and another where someone knocked on her door. There was feeling helpless is one thing, being even a report of a assaulted is another. Just last week sexual assault when there were various accounts of two people were walking along being chased and mugged in Selly. Hubert Road and one was sexually One source has bravely decided to assaulted; so this clearly isn't a share their story with us, recountmatter of not walking home ing how events have been severely alone. exaggerated by other student Perhaps even more shocking is newspapers: the fact that when one student “[They] have been exaggeratattempted to report some men who ing and spreading panic about fitted a description of attackersto dramatised assaults. Yes people the police, she was met with ‘not have been mugged, but the police my job’ or ‘not my condescribed what had been cern’. She writes: happening and the “Last night I saw reports they had 4 young men fithad. No one had ting police any weapons or descriptions of ski masks in the attackers at group that Selly station. chased me. I They were acthonestly think Of you are ing very oddly the worst they considering the and were waitcould have safety of your ing at the done would be entrance to the to take my friends more than station intimidatphone, I doubt I usual. ing people. One would have been then pulled out a in any physical danknife for everyone to ger had I not reached see and pretended to stab the house in time.” his friend. They didn't get on any Our source also stressed that of the trains that passed as I was the police were very quick to there (over about 20 minutes) but respond in this instance: were switching platforms and “The police were great. The seemed to be looking to try to pro- person who answered my call was voke a response from someone. calm and useful, she got the police When on the train, I called the around as soon as they could and non emergency police number and kept in contact with me over an explained what had happened and how the men fitted the description, but they didn't want to know and referred me to the British transport police, giving me that number to call instead, despite me insisting that it was at the entrance of the station not actually on a train/platform. I then tweeted the West Midlands police to see if they'd pay attention but heard nothing back”. The fact that this student had resorted to Twitter says it all, but the real shame is that they now feel undermined: “I’d started to feel safer in Selly recently as I hadn't heard of any attacks for at least a week, but this whole incident has definitely ruined any trust I had in the police.” If witnessing the attackers and
Crime in Selly is the hot topic, yet it is important not to sensationalise events
"This whole incident has definitely ruined any trust I had in the police"
hour or so to let me know what was happening”. It is these almost viral warnings of an increase in crime that has us considering how we would defend ourselves if attacked. The survey results suggests that people are not looking to arm themselves - which is a good thing - but does show that 94% of respondents have considered how they would
Nightfall marks the point at which walking alone isn’t an option defend themselves with reference to the risks of living in Selly. Second year student Amy Evans has always been keen on martial arts, but took a free self defence course particularly due to the location of her student house. Amy remarked that she ‘went to the class to make (herself) feel more confident, especially when walking home alone in the dark’ and praised the availability of the free self-defence class: ‘I do feel a little bit more confident and it would be helpful if more self defence classes could be provided for students’.
So it seems as though crime in Selly is the hot topic, yet it is important not to sensationalise events. Many respondents to the survey replied with their tips to stay safe in Selly and The Guild have issued the following advice:
Staying Safe Around Selly: Advice from the Guild Be discreet on the street – keep your phone and other valuables out of sight. Stay alert – don’t let headphones block out traffic, strangers or potential trouble. Listen to your instincts – know your route, avoid dark places and if you don’t feel safe, move to a busier area. Never let a stranger use your phone. If it is an emergency, dial 999 on their behalf.
I feel safe walking around Selly Oak alone after dark...
Friday 5th February
How have the recent attacks in Selly Oak affected your daily life? 1. I have taken a taxi to/from Fab because I didn't feel safe.
Find out for myself if the reports are true.
4. I have considered how I would defend myself if mugged (with Selly Oak in mind).
Carry on as usual.
5. I have started carrying a deterrent in case I feel threatened. 6. I will exercise (jog/run) during the day to avoid the risk of going out alone after dark.
Top 3 Crime Types in Selly
Selly Oak is the 14th safest place in the University Area
1. Anti Social Behaviour: 441
Edgbaston is the 34th safest
2. Violent Crime: 291
Digbeth is 38th
3. Burglary: 181
The City Centre is 41st, the least safe
Joe Goodsall Comment Editor @MightyLlama42
If I told you that the FBI had been running one of the biggest child pornography websites on the internet, you’d probably laugh, or at least raise a sceptical eyebrow. I certainly wouldn’t blame you for not believing me, and yet, this story is not pulled from the weed addled pages of a conspiracy website or a hysterical right wing pseudo newscast. In a statement made just this year, the FBI revealed that they had taken control of the website and, instead of following standard protocol of shutting down the website as soon as they could, continued to run the website for another 13 days. In that time, they managed to track down and prosecute 137 of the visitors to that website and obtained the true computer addresses of 1300. And so a number of paedophiles were convicted, one of the biggest child porn websites online was shut down and one of the biggest can of worms in the history of the internet was opened. Was it right of the FBI to continue to operate this website? Was it ethical? Do the ends justify the means? These are difficult questions with no easy answers but this is a student newspaper and
half answering these questions is part of our job. The actions have drawn criticism from all sides including sources as diverse and opposed as Edward Snowden (“FBI knowingly distributed child porn. “We ran the site, but didn't post, so it's ok.” Novel.”), to Elizabeth Joh, a University of California Davis law professor who has studied undercover
Each time child pornography is viewed, the child involved is harmed investigations (“At some point, the government investigation becomes indistinguishable from the crime, and we should ask whether that’s OK,”). The U.S. justice department itself has said that each time child pornography is viewed, the child involved is harmed, which leads to the immediate and obvious question: if these images are viewed whilst under FBI control, doesn’t that make the FBI complicit in the harming of children? The justice dept. countered this by pointing out that no new content was uploaded to the website whilst the FBI
35% Actively avoid the areas in which the crimes took place.
Is the FBI Perverted? were in control, which is, after all, only to be expected. What this leaves us with is the question as to whether control of the website’s content implicates the website’s controllers. If the content is malicious then surely distributing it is a malicious act, whatever your intentions. But we can counter that by pointing out that the content is malicious due to the effect that it has already had. A child has already been harmed in the creation of said content and the paedophile viewing that content is evidently causing harm; The FBI’s actions are aimed at preventing those who cause such harm from doing so. Therefore, if the harm had already been inflicted on the children and the operation led to the successful capture of 137 paedophiles then wouldn’t that ensure that the ends justified the means? In fact, what I think is most controversial about this operation is how successful it was. 137 paedophiles captured and many more identified, makes this operation, in the FBI’s eyes at least, a resounding success, and that leaves open the possibility that this might happen again. If the FBI do intend to continue with operations like this then they are going to have to be prepared to be drawn into some pretty difficult moral debates. At the end of the day, the FBI ran a child pornography website for almost two weeks. They did not do so with the intent to inflict greater harm on children by doing so but with the intent to stop others from harming children. It’s a thorny debate for its subject matter and there’s still too long a way to go. It’s inevitable that there will be faltering steps along the way.
86% Consider my safety more than usual.
2. I try to be home before dark. 3. I will always walk with a friend if I need to go somewhere after dark.
Warn others about the reports
Call 101 if you feel under threat, or 999 in an emergency
Third Year Historian Refusing to Acknowledge the Existence of his Dissertation Chris Austin Commentator @chrisaustin93
tioned about what has been judged more important than a Dissertation, Mr. Topping gave a list of activities. Working in a bar, a serious appetite for playing Fifa on the Playstation 4, and the occasional two bottles of wine, all feature. He also said that an old work colleague was coming down from Leicester to play tennis and would probably need the support. Dr. Garde, his tutor, has responded by claiming she is still waiting for a reply after sending five emails to Mr. Topping regarding personal deadlines. She wishes him the best of luck in finally panicking and writing the whole paper in six days. Asked if his approach to his final exams will be more responsible, Mr. Topping gave a vague mumble about the lack of importance of exams on a young person’s life.
James Topping, 21, is stubbornly denying that his dissertation is actually real. All Final Year History students must submit a Dissertation of 12,000 words on a chosen topic. The result of the Dissertation makes up a third of the year’s total mark but Mr. Topping is confident that his lack of work isn’t a problem. He argued that if he was really expected to write that many words on a topic, the University would have sent him some threatening emails about arbitrary deadlines. The student said: ‘At the age of 21, I am clearly not old enough to be responsible for my own work’, assuring himself that if he really had to do his Dissertation, a tutor would definitely be in touch more. The Dissertation, which is yet to be titled, was originally going to be something to do with the ‘wars or whatever’. He reportedly told his housemate that ‘lots of things happened in the wars so I would probably find it really interesting’. However, since then, the idea has been at the bottom of his priority list. When ques- firstname.lastname@example.org
Redbrick Satire is looing for submissions! Email us to register your interest.
Friday 5th February
Offering a different take on the biopic, Aaron Sorkin and Danny Boyle create a film that offers visual and verbal fireworks within a theatrical setting. Steve Jobs dramatises the moments leading up to three key events within the life of the Apple founder. Fassbender as Jobs is on terrific form portraying such a complex figure. Other characters fly in and out with grievances and arguments gifting the film with a fast pace despite its verbosity. There is an emotional punch too with the scenes between Jobs and the daughter he denied for years. An incredibly effective and gripping watch. Matt Robinson
Based on one girl’s journey from Ireland to America, Brooklyn is a sweeping, romantic tale of love and loss. In a film market saturated with rom-coms and sob-stories, Brooklyn was advertised as being more of the same... it really wasn’t. It is about hope, about love for your nation and family-pride. Although there are certain elements of the film that could have probably been omitted (i.e. the use of excessively mournful, elongated shots), Saoirse Ronan’s performance as focal protagonist Eilis is honest, beautiful and much deserved of her several award nominations. Gemma Allport
Creed is a knockout on every level. While most Rocky sequels have lacked the emotional impact of the original, Ryan Coogler’s new instalment captures that gravity in spades. His inspiring story and tight direction bring out the best in his two leads, Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone. Jordan is perfect casting as the estranged son of Apollo Creed. Yet it is Stallone who steals the show by delivering a performance few believed he had the chops to pull off and is deserving of his Oscar nomination, although Coogler could have easily been nominated for best director. Alex McDonald
OSCARS 2016 The Danish GIrl
Despite having a transcendent performance from previous winner Eddie Redmayne, and a show stopping Alicia Vikander showcasing her talent as a conflicted wife, The Danish Girl is so bait-y it is ultimately its undoing. Whilst enjoyable and contemporarily relevant, Tom Hooper has dished up the most “Awards worthy” film for some time and unfortunately fails to really break any moulds. Visually engaging and thematically poignant, it’s just a shame that it lacks the courage or the insight to go further and take the story somewhere new. In filmmaking, safe choices aren’t very often the best. James Cox
A masterpiece of filmmaking, Inarittu's The Revenant is a stark, bleak and lonely return to the unsettled lands of the American Frontier. DiCaprio and Hardy's visceral, powerhouse performances are second only to the raw, beautiful cinematography of Lubezki which gives the film its twisted soul. Whether or not it wins big at the Academy Awards, The Revenant will remain a lasting elegy to both the western lands of the 19th century as well as to the Western cinematic genre itself. A remarkable film. Will Carroll
Redbrick film writers present their round up of this years's most prominent awards hopefuls
The Big Short
Telling the story behind the small group of bankers who profited from the 2008 US housing market crash, The Big Short does exactly what Hollywood is best at: telling serious stories in a way which is both entertaining and informing. The director and screenwriter, Adam McKay, does a wonderful job, offering moments of genius and pure comedy while maintaining the tone of moral outrage, only hitting a couple of bum notes. The cast revel in playing these odd characters who benefit from the inherent absurdity of the banking system. It is fun, it is zippy, and you learn something. Matt Robinson
Who’d have thought that a reboot/sequel to a 80s action franchise would be so good that the Academy had to nominate it? George Miller has crafted art with Mad Max, a film so visually beautiful and aesthetically striking that you can feel the craftsmanship in every shot and every sequence. Starring Tom Hardy in a minimalist role and Charlize Theron as the tough Furiosa, the film breaks Hollywood conventions and has the audience hooked. A technical and cinematic marvel, Mad Max Fury Road deserves several awards, and wouldn’t it be brilliant if it took home the big prize? James Cox
For Jack, Room is all he knows. He and Ma are imprisoned in a room which measures only 10ft x 10ft. For Jack this space is his only reality, sitting beside the only imagined worlds of Heaven, outer space, and the ‘TV planets’. It is a difficult subject and yet the two central performances make it watchable. Brie Larson portrays the anguish of her situation, the effort of misleading her son, keeping his innocence without ever slipping into melodrama. There is perhaps not quite enough substance but Room is a pensive and emotive study of both motherhood and childhood. Matt Robinson
Friday 5th February
BAFTAS 2016 OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM The Danish Girl Ex Machina Brooklyn The Lobster 45 Years Amy
Yorgos Lanthimos’ excellent absurdist satire was one of 2015’s most intriguing films. This haunting film offers a unremittingly bleak yet often hilarious dystopia. The premise, interesting in its own right, is sold by phenomenal performances from the star-studded cast including Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, who turn in performances full of pain and pathos. This is all delivered in a brilliant dead-pan monotone as the characters take part in stilted social events, desperately attempting to pair up before society deems that they must be turned into animals. The Lobster’s wonderfully realised vision makes for a deserving awards contender. Joe Ryan
Good news here for fans of beautiful faces, sculpted torsos and supremely satisfying debut roles. Egerton’s breakthrough performance came in Matthew Vaughn’s excellent Bond send-up Kingsman: The Secret Service. Gifted with natural charisma and showing his versatility with both comedic flare and dramatic chops, Egerton seems poised to break through on a much larger scale in the next few years with the starring role in a gritty Robin Hood reboot and can be seen shortly in a bemused biopic of British skier Eddie The Eagle. George Griffiths
John Boyega is well and truly a star on the rise. Not an entirely new face, as many will remember his film debut in 2011’s cult hit Attack the Block, but Boyega’s time in the spotlight has arrived. As one of the new generation leading Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he brought charm and subtle ferocity to his converted storm trooper, Finn. He is soon to be seen alongside Emma Watson in sci-fi thriller The Circle, as well as festival favourite Imperial Dreams, and let us not forget that he will be back to take us to ‘a galaxy far far away…' Gurnesha Bola
If, like me, you watched Ex Machina - and then watched it again, and again - you'll know that as a film, as a speculative sci-fi piece, as a work of art, it's incredible. Composed of clean, striking shots, beautiful plays with colour, and some of the finest CGI in recent years, Ex Machina is something to behold. Nothing more so than Ava (Alicia Vikander), the AI that alcohol-loving mastermind Nathan (Oscar Isaac) attempts to prove holds human consciousness, with the help of young coder, Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson). With an impossibly talented cast, masterful writing and direction, and a slow-burning suspense that peaks with gumption and grace, Ex Machina is a nobrainer for the Outstanding British Film award. Jess Ennis
Shaun the Sheep may be a relative underdog against the worldwide smash hit Inside Out, but it is no less worthy of merit. From start to finish it is a marvel of Claymation that is a testament to the artistry of the animators. It does the seemingly impossible by holding the attention of children and adults alike with little to no dialogue and yet still conveys a compelling story through exciting action sequences, well timed wit and clever references to film classics. The Aardman’s have lived up to their name and produced another underrated animated gem. Alex McDonald
Although some may feel the inclusion of a documentary for a BAFTA nomination to be slightly obscure, Amy was without a doubt the most heartbreaking film released last year. Asif Kapadia juxtaposes endearing scenes of a pre-fame Winehouse singing and laughing with her closeknit entourage alongside her battles with drugs, bulimia, and the unwanted press attention that followed her rise to fame. It’s this unseen footage - live performances and interviews with friends and family members – that make this film. It is shocking, honest, and holds a resonance with its audience - in every way, the best tribute to the life and music of Amy Winehouse. Katy Hough
Minions is more than just a film - it's a phenomenon. From the 35,000strong 'minion hate' reddit group to the merchandise that seems to pop up literally everywhere... love them or hate them, you can't avoid them. Considering the power of its marketing operation, it's not a huge surprise that Universal made the little yellow creatures the stars of their own show, but why is it BAFTA nominated? For what it's lacking in plot, the film makes up for with some genuinely impressive animation and voice acting from Sandra Bullock and Steve Coogan, among others. It's no Citizen Kane, but for what it's trying to do, Minions is a resounding success. Matt Moody
EE RISING STAR AWARD
Taron Egerton Dakota Johnson
The Revenant Spotlight
Bridge of Spies
The Big Short
On Sunday 14th February, a constellation of stars will descend upon the Royal Opera House for the 2016 BAFTAs. Redbrick film writers highlight their favourite nominees for some of the top awards of the night...
BEST ANIMATED FILM Shaun the Sheep Inside Out Minions
When I first heard about Inside Out I thought the concept of the film was amazing. This was going to be a cinematic experience like no othera really thoughtful, engaging way of talking about emotions in an exciting animated production- what could be better! However, for me the film tried to be a bit too clever and psychoanalytical. I could appreciate the idea behind the production, but in reality, it was overly complex and the emotional embodiments such as Sadness and Joy were more annoying than endearing. So the real question the Awards Board should be asking themselves this season is what matters most, concept or content? Gemma Allport
Alejandro Iñárritu set himself quite a task with his commitment to shooting in all natural light in gruelling conditions to capture his take on frontiersman-turned-fur trapper Hugh Glass’ remarkable survival story – but he’s managed to deliver. This is a stunningly shot film, where every frame is captured cleanly and vividly, to create a brutal but immersive piece of art (an attack sequence within the first 10 minutes will stay with you long after you leave the cinema). Coupled with incredible performances from DiCaprio and Hardy (alongside its supporting cast including Domnhall Gleeson, and last years ‘Rising Star’ Will Poulter) – this film is certainly deserving of its awards-buzz. Gurnesha Bola One walks out of the cinema, having seen Carol, still holding on to the charm and melancholy of the fifties romance. Todd Haynes’ film delivers a love story filled with melancholy and thought. The extraordinary and subtle performances of Blanchett and Mara are lifted by the muted tones and dreamlike quality offered by the camera. Carol has largely been ignored this awards season and so BAFTA should show itself to appreciate quiet and beautiful story telling. Carol is a film which shatters you, if that isn’t a reason to award it Best Film then I don’t know what is. Matt Robinson
Friday 5th February
A Guide to Finding New Music on Spotify Discover Weekly Playlist For the lazy ones out there, Spotify does all the work for you with this one. Using information from music you’ve been frequently jamming to in the recent weeks, and picking up on what artist pages you are playing from, as well as which songs you’ve saved and played from previous ‘Discover Weekly’ playlists this feature provides you with thirty song recommendations every week.
Discover Page Hidden away in the ‘Browse’ tab of Spotify, this little gem is often overlooked or widely avoided. It requires a bit more patience and commitment than the ‘Discover Weekly’ playlist as you have to click through and sample albums and singles, but it’s well worth the time if you’re willing to spend it. The ‘Discover’ page is based on artists you have listened to, so it’s got that ‘if you liked this artist, you’ll love this one’, TasteKid kind of vibe to it. It’s also great for re-discovering old favourites.
Related Artists I tend to approach the ‘Related Artists’ section on artist pages as you would usually approach the Wikipedia game: see if you can get from one artist to another listening to at least 3 songs from each before moving on. This is a great way of exploring artists you might not have thought to look at before.
Radio The ‘Radio’ feature of Spotify is, I feel, the most unfairly underrated tool on the service. It is an incredible tool that allows you to start a ‘Radio’, or a specific playlist of recommended songs, based on one specific song that you’ve selected. So, all you have to do is find a tune you’re loving, hit ‘Start Song Radio’, and let Spotify’s DJ sift through the massive back catalogue of music and curated data to present you with a selection of recommended songs. What’s great about this feature is that you literally don’t have to do anything. There is also a ‘Like/Dislike’ tool which you can use to refine the playlist further. If you hit like, Spotify will automatically add that song to a ‘Liked from Radio’ playlist and find more songs like it to put on the radio. If you hit dislike, the song will be skipped and your preference to hear less of that type of song will be noted and executed within the radio. It’s genius.
Other People’s Playlists, Recently Played Artists & Live Ticker This is often where the ‘stalker’ element of Spotify comes in, and where people get a bit wary, but don’t be afraid to show your friends’ playlists a little loving, and take a look at what they’ve been listening to. If you’re that worried about what they’ll think of you, go onto ‘Private Session’, but don’t shy away from saving other people’s playlists to your Spotify, or from checking out things that pop up in the ‘Live Streaming’ bar, because this is honestly where I find some of the best music recommendations. Daniella Bassett
Spotlight on Spotify Since its inception in 2006, Spotify has divided opinion like nothing else. For a monthly fee not far off the price of an album, subscribers have access to over 30 million songs, on their desktops and in their pockets - but at what cost? Spotify has been criticised for paying a pittance to artists, as well as lauded for ringing in a new era of music discovery. A revolution in music, or the last gasp of an outdated industry? Ian Rogers investigates.
Does streaming work for artists? The concept of music streaming company. Reported in the allows smaller and lesser-known Independent, Swift said: “[Spotify artists to gain a significant follow- is] an experiment that does not ing. Many students have fairly compensate the discovered artists they writers, producers, artlove who they would ist and creators.” never have discovA report on VICE ered if not for this week sughours spent on gests music S p o t i f y . streaming is vulAverage Consistent, longnerable to ‘spam’ term income for or ‘click fraud’. number of artists provided The art of spamstreams to by streaming ming involves a earn $1 sounds like a posistatic/white noise tive for the industry, track, knock-off covhowever artists are ers, or uploading the reportedly paid $0.006same song thousands of $0.0084 per stream or track play; times with names similar to popthis equates to $6,000-$8,400 (or ular tracks with the aim of attractapproximately £4,000-£5,800) ing plays from unknowing users. per million plays. Click fraud, on the other hand, Spotify argues if all radio and involves illegally raising the play online video plays were through count of a real song/album with Spotify the total royalty pay out to the intention of increasing reveartists would more than double in nue for the artist or label who the US. owns the track; one case in the But last year Taylor Swift made a US saw $20,000 in ‘artificially stand against the growing raised’ revenue for the band S c a n d i n a v i a n - s t r e a m i n g - Vulfpeck.
2016 20 million 2015 15 million 2014 10 million 2012 4 million 2011 1 million
Paid subscribers per year
Who's the competition? Apple Music launched in June £9.99 per month, a price used by this year with the aim of taking most competitors. The tempting a big chunk of Spotify’s music- introductory offer is still lacklusstreaming market share. tre compared to Spotify’s monthSpotify will hope features such ly subscription fee of £4.99 for as ‘Discover Weekly’, ‘Your students, not to mention the free Year in Music’ and ‘Shows’ will version. keep the service ahead of Apple Music also includes its rivals. Spotify’s tirethe exclusive Beats 1 less desire to innoradio station and vate and evolve hired former BBC appears crucial to radio DJ Zane the survival of Lowe to lead the the brand as the line. market is floodAccording to a Apple Music ed with comreport in the subscribers 6 petitors with New York Post significant finanlast week, months after cial backing. Amazon are also launch TIDAL, DEEZER planning to introand Napster are just duce a so-called a few of Spotify’s other ‘Spotify-killer’ with its rivals. own music streaming subApple Music, one of the most scription service. dangerous competitors to All this without mentioning Spotify’s survival, is available YouTube, which has over 1 bilwith a 3-month free trial before lion users and significant music a monthly subscription fee of access/video-streaming.
Major Lazer - Lean On Ed Sheeran - Thinking Out Loud OMI - Cheerleader Mark Ronson - Uptown Funk Hozier - Take Me To Church
Most streamed songs of all time
What's next for Spotify? The streaming app, widely used Science Friday, Freakonomics, by students, is kicking off by Stuff to Blow Your Mind, and the supplying popular video shows Financial Times. such as VICE News, Comedy Chris Welch, reporting for The Central and Top Gear. Meanwhile Verge, said: “I honestly don’t for those searching for some- know why you’d ever use Spotify thing more educationally-stimu- for this stuff instead of lating Spotify shows also pro- YouTube.” vides TED: Bite-sized and Brain According to TechCrunch 52% Stuff. of Spotify’s listening now hapSpotify shows are already avail- pens on mobile and tablet devicable on iOS and Android and are es. Some believe this increased easily accessed under the usage away from desktop devices ‘Browse’ section. legitimises the streaming With no increase in company’s ambition to subscription fees, bring new material students using and new users to Spotify Premium their subscription will be delighted base. with the Perhaps Spotify Proportion of improved service is taking the first and increasing step towards an streams on breadth of media all-inclusive submobile and available, an scription app; tablet excellent addition could this be the to the procrastination start of a Spotifyarmoury. Netflix-iPlayer hybrid? In addition to video content, Maybe soon we will see the ‘shows’ concept will allow online gaming arrive on the you to access podcasts such as format too?
"Spotify is the last desperate fart of a dying corpse. It's the last gasp of an old industry" - Thom Yorke "I can't think of a single thing less punk than Spotify" Johnny Marr
"That's a very, very, very touchy, touchy, touchy subject that no one's talking about" - Will.i.am
"It's an experiment that does not fairly compensate writers, producers, artists or creators" - Taylor Swift
Friday 5th February
IS FASHION TOO FAST?
Daisy Holden Travel Editor @_DaisyHolden
In the wake of two fashion extraordinaries leaving their houses and with a rumoured third, the outlook on the fashion industry remains uncertain. Is fashion too fast for its own good? Last year saw two major departures in the fashion world, Raf Simons from Dior and Alber Elbaz from Lanvin; and now only a few weeks ago, rumours were flying the mill that Hedi Slimane, creative director of Saint Laurent would too be leaving. Whilst Saint Laurent have since asserted that the rumours were false, the damage has already been done, and said rumours cannot be erased. So what has pushed these designers who are at the top of there game to leave? Raf Simons had worked for Dior since 2012, and Alber Elbaz held the helm of Lanvin since 2001; both men were credited with turning the labels around. When Raf Simons left Dior, a statement read that he did not renew his contract for “personal reasons”. However, he later told NY Mag that “when you do six shows a year, there’s not enough time for the whole process”. For example, the fashion calendar looks like this: January is haute couture, March is readyto-wear, May is cruise, July is couture again, September is ready-to-wear, November is
resort; and so the cycle starts again. And that is just for womenswear, menswear has at least two ready-to-wear collections per year. Then there are the interviews, and the store openings, advertising, trunk shows, press appearances - it is exhausting
Designers don't have long to make their mark on a collection before they're replaced with someone younger and trendier just typing it out. Whilst some may argue that this is not a new challenge that designers are facing, the advancements of technologies can be said to be creating a cause for concern. In a century where we have everything at our fingertips, from contactless card payments to twenty-four hour supermarkets, how is the fashion industry any different? With the increase and advancements of technologies, fashion is available twenty-four seven, straight to our phones, laptops, tablets. The rise of blogging, and online shopping creates new demands that the fashion industry has never been up
against before. When people talk about fast fashion, they often believe this only applies to the high-street, with shops such as Topshop and Zara feeling the strain to keep up with consumers. However, we are not talking about the high-street fashion demands, we are talking about right up at the top of the food chain demands, about what highend fashion designers, like Raf Simons and Alber Elbaz, are now up against. These are the ones who create and decide what fashions and trends will be filtered down into high-street collections; and these are the ones who are feeling the pressure. NY Mag reported that Jeremy Scott, creative director of Moschino, described this process as being “bought and brought”, referring to designers who are chosen to work for luxury fashion houses. On the other hand, some designers have embraced this digital revolution. Creative director of Balmain, Olivier Rousteing, has increased his online presence with the use of Instagram projecting his message globally about fashion equality. He openly accepts the new influx of social media, including creating a collection about censorship, partially inspired by Rihanna who was banned from the site for six months after posing topless. Nevertheless, he is openly criticised for only reflecting pop culture, rather than influencing it. In an interview with Suzy Menkes, Elbaz said "We are living in an industry that is always about the
next thing: who is the next person? It should be more about collaborating, working together, taking the best of each world." The cycle is vicious and never-ending, designers have only a short time span to make their mark on a collection, otherwise they are out, replaced by someone younger and trendier. Trends and new fashions are spun out at a turbo pace, and this need for speed bleeds dry the creativity of what fashion is all about. The pressure that designers are under to create collection after collection, to create pre-seasons and couture lines, drives the energy and passion out from within them. John Galliano famously made headlines in 2011 when his drug-fuelled anti-Semitic rant went viral, and so he was suspended from his position at Dior.
Fashion's need for speed is bleeding it dry of the creativity it's supposed to be all about Two years later and post-scandal, he returned to the fashion world. In an interview with Vanity Fair, he talked about how his drug and alcohol addictions were fed by the industry, “but with more collections, the crash happened more often, and then I
was a slave to it.”. All we have to think about is the tragic ending of Lee McQueen. Arguably, by nature designers are sensitive and emotional artistic people, and in any other walk of life would they be asked of so much? The situation is not so different for those working at the other end of the industry. Whilst from the outside it might seem to be a glamorous lifestyle, jet-setting off to different countries each week. The reality is a lot more harsh: editors and buyers have to travel to New York, Paris, Milan and London, every few months for the shows. A week in each city, turns into a month of travelling, with demanding back-toback schedules. Moreover, with the influx and growth of the industry in Asia, buyers and editors can often see themselves travelling to and from China, Hong Kong, Dubai and Russia. From the perspective of someone who wants to enter this industry, the outlook is bleak. For me, fashion is all about the creative aspect, with business as a second; but for a lot of people, this seems to have been forgotten. Instead of admiration for those at the top of their game, all of the creativity and inspiration is driven out of them, with new targets to meet. As Suzy Menkes so brilliantly put “without them, there is no fashion - just an echo chamber of ideas; nothing truly new, just repetition dressed up as invention”.
Top 5 most Instagram-followed labels and designers...
6.5 million followers
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Friday 5th February
UoB Work Experience Week Molly Garfoot speaks to employers to bring you top tips on how to make the most out of your work experience or internship. Sam Hill Aldi Area Manager
Sam Everett The Birmingham Project
A lot of the students are drawn to the benefits we offer (competitive salary, company car) but what we are looking for is someone who is willing to work really hard for it, who wants to have a lot of responsibility and a really challenging career. If you’ve been successful in getting onto the industrial placement that is a really good thing in itself because it is very competitive, and if you do well on that then you’re very likely to get offered a job on the graduate scheme, it’s like a fast-track onto it. It’s all about people skills at Aldi, whether thats managing staff, or motivating teams of up to 100 people. We’re not just looking for that educational box tick, yes we need that 2:1 degree, but we also want to see what extra curricular things they've done that sets them apart in terms of managing people and communication.
The Birmingham Project is a two week project giving students the chance to work alongside academics and business partners to answer a real world challenge. They learn really good skills, such as project management, that will set them apart in the job market. It isn’t paid but the opportunity to work with global business partners, such as KPMG and Jaguar Landrover, is fantastic and exclusive to Birmingham first year students.
'You need to get over what can be an intimidating process and do yourself justice'
Oliver Smith Unilver HR Business Partner Personally, I’m keen to get people applying from a range of degree disciplines. If you do come from an Arts & Humanities background, leverage the difference that you have got in your degree. The interview process is quite competency based, so try and find something that makes you stand out – something that answers the question but is not going to be something that they have heard before. You need to get over what can be an intimidating recruitment process and do yourself justice.
Hannah Silverleaf CCRC Asia UK Marketing and PR Coordinator The internship in China is going to give that extra edge on a CV, especially nowadays when links between China and the UK are growing on a diplomatic level. Working abroad is really important for today’s graduates because they’ll be going into a global workplace where it’s really important to have a crosscultural understanding. Having an international outlook is something that employers are always looking for. The single most important thing for going to a country as different as China is to go into it open minded. Being adaptable and flexible will help you make the most of your time there.
'Working abroad is really important for today's graduates because they'll be going into a global workplace'
Ben Alexander Balloon Ventures Ambassador I didn’t have any business experience previous to going out with Balloon to Kenya as I do History & Politics, but I got to do an intensive training programme to get me up to speed. I’m interested in working in government, so when I’ve applied for jobs they love to hear about me working in a developing country – it’s a talking point.
Kivan Kainth British Council 3rd year UoB student Going to India with the British Council has provided me with international experience. It is one of the upcoming economies and it’s got lots to offer in terms of business but also culture as well. Going on a scheme like this shows that you can put yourself in any position and adapt. The British Council have lots of connections with people in government and in high-up positions in India, so they can give you an experience you wouldn’t get any other way.
Paul Birch Revolver Director We are looking for people who want to change the world. What they’ve actually studied isn’t that important. If you’ve studied geography or international business, that’s useful, but you could come from a completely different discipline. Our internships are unpaid but what I would hope is that people have access to me – you’re not going to get access to the president of the company in many businesses. We’d like to help people with their next step; our interns have gone on to work at BBC, Universal amd Sony. What we want to do is give them confidence about themselves. Most people have all this knowledge locked up inside them, it just needs to be exposed to the market so they can see how things play out in the real world. My advice would be to look as smart as you can on paper, but in the interview concentrate on just getting the person on the other side to like you. People do business with people they like.
@Jyrgen_I Very impressed with the Business Leadership graduate representative of @stwgraduates at today's career fair @careersbham.
Funding For You
Careers Network provide bursaries for undergraduate students in their first, second, or penultimate year, including international students, to undertake work experience that they might not otherwise be able to afford. Bursary Scheme
International Work Experience
Students who source their own work experience opportunity abroad and require funding to assist with the costs involved.
Open to all UGs except final years
Up to £800
3rd April 2016
UK Professional Work Experience
Students who source their own work experience opportunity in the UK and require funding to assist with the costs involved.
Up to £800
Students who source their own work experience opportunity or a research placement and require funding to assist with the costs involved.
Up to £500
Gateway (Sponsored by Pertemps)
Students who source their own work experience. Helps students to improve their personal and professional development by allowing them to take up critical experiences they may otherwise not be able to afford.
Open to all UGs, except final years, from certain priority groups to undertake work experience, for example lone parent, ethnic minorities, A2B students.
Up to £2000
17th April 2016
Friday 5th February
Kirstie Sutherland reports from the Student Publication Association event to give readers an insight into what it takes to be a journalist today.
Kirstie Sutherland Music Editor @whatkirstiedid
Last month saw the Student Press Association’s regional conference held at the University of Warwick take place, bringing together student writers and experts within the journalistic world in order to talk, learn and gain some well-needed inspiration and experience. Arranged by chair of the SPA, Jem Collins, alongside marketing and Midlands officer, Sian Elvin, we were treated to talks to many from different corners of the press: Fiona Webster, a successful national newspaper and magazine journalist for many publications including The Guardian and The Sunday Times; Brenda Wong, marketing executive for Voxburner; Sarah Graham, a freelance journalist; Natasha Clark, reporter for The Times’ Red Box newsletter, Michael Allen, reporter for Airfinance Journal and David Levesley, social media producer at Sky News.
Getting your foot in the door Natasha Clark maintains that work experience is “the single most important thing on your CV” and gave several pointers on the best way to get your name out into journalism circles. There are vital ways in which you can secure a decent work placement: calling up news desks and emailing everyone you can find with a connection to the publication you want to write for help to secure something decent to include on job applications further down the line. Every speaker at the event also made a point of contacting editors, simply just to ask to meet up over coffee and discuss ideas, as this can be a great way to get people to learn your name and get to know you as a writer. Levesley insisted you should “never apologise
for sending a follow-up email” as editors will, reluctantly, always eventually reply. Another way of getting your foot in the door is training, especially by way of Press Association courses. Fiona Webster, an established national newspaper and magazine journalist, runs the PA’s NCTJ post-graduate multi-media journalism course, and explained that not only can it give you the skills necessary for a media job, it can also give opportunities in editing, production, proofing copy and designing pages (www. becomeajournalist.co.uk)
Pitching articles and adapting style Fresh and quirky ideas for pieces are harder and harder to think up these days, especially with the prevalence of Buzzfeed and the like posting things on a regular basis such as “26 Things You’ll Only Understand If You’re The Oldest Sibling” and “37 Things Donald Trump Is Probably Doing Right Now”. Brenda Wong, a marketing executive at Voxburner who started out her writing career at Hexjam (formerly known as Student Beans), gave her best tips on thinking up and pitching stories. She broke her tips down into three stages – brainstorm, pitching and social media. Making sure you have both your audience and a headline in mind, adding a personal spin to your idea and linking to previous (and relevant) examples of your work can really help to win over an editor. A key message from her talk: DO THEIR WORK FOR THEM. A theme prevalent throughout the day was simply knowing your stuff – if you want to write a piece about something, make sure you go to the effort of learning everything about it, and know that when you think a first draft is decent, it probably isn’t. Levesley put it best, in that “journalism is like a
Freelancing: the advantages Freelancing is a very popular way of getting work as a journalist in the modern era, so you can build up an extensive and professional portfolio across a wide range of publications. Webster explained that it is highly important to not only build up contacts, but keep them as well as to market yourself and be as adaptable as possible in order to grab as many opportunities as you’re able. Sarah Graham, a journalist specialising in women’s issues and mental health, is a successful freelance writer but wouldn’t necessarily recommend freelancing straight after university – however, if this is something you’d prefer, it requires a lot of commitment, hard work and she suggests you save up a lot of money as freelancing tends to earn writers a fairly low commission. Alike to many speakers, the power of emailing is something she also touched on, maintaining the importance of emailing the people you want to work with and write for directly. Suggest meeting, show willing and that is the first and largest step in the right direction to a freelance pitch. In freelance pitching, in keeping with interviews in general, it is always best to be honest and show an interest, namely by asking how you can progress and asking directly what they may be looking for in a writer such as yourself. It seems the name of the game is to simply ask a lot of questions, as it shows your genuine interest and willing within the field!
Other Media Outlets We tend to forget that jour-
@BethanMcGrath Great day, thanks @SPAJournalism. Fab insights especially from @brendaisarebel and @SarahGraham7 nalism does not just mean local and national newspaper articles, but also branches out into other media: magazines, radio, television and even simply having a virtual presence through blogging and online media. With many of these other media outlet professions, it was touched upon by Fiona Webster in particular that you should be aware if your skills are transferrable, if you can work and adapt to deadlines and that you’re able to work efficiently in your own time. Many other media platforms are just as fast-paced as newspaper journalism, only with their own internal deadlines, and in a day and age where blogs and online articles are accessed much more easily and more sought after and read, social media is vitally important. Brenda Wong was very clear that your “Facebook and
Twitter sell” is now more important than ever, and by making it visual and driving, this can draw readers in and make you much more well known within writers’ circles. It is clear from SPA Journalism’s regional event that inspiration and dedication is the key to a career in journalism, and that having a driven mind when dealing with pitches and writing articles themselves is vital to this career being a flourishing one. As stated perfectly by David Levesley, “everybody is going to hate you” if you’re a journalist, however you need to learn to distance yourself, find a balance and remember one thing: “journalism isn’t dying… it’s just changing” and you can be part of that change if you work hard enough to get there.
How To Find Work Experience
How Can the University Help?
There are two main ways to gain work experience: responding to adverts for work experience vacancies or creating your own opportunities by speculatively approaching organisations.
There are a number of services at the University of Birmingham which can help you find work experience, whether you're an undergraduate or postgraduate.
The route you adopt will depend on the type of work experience you are looking for. Some industries such as engineering, IT, finance and business management are more likely to advertise paid vacancies. Positions in other fields including
media, marketing, journalism, culture, sports and psychology are less likely to actively advertise. If you are looking for work experience in these areas you will need to spend more time finding out about organisations in the field and making speculative approaches to them. More formal types of work experience like year placements and summer internships are also more likely to be advertised than short term and part time positions in professional settings.
Careers Network Careers Connect is our online system that allows you to book an appointment to have your CV and application checked and view vacancies for jobs and work experience opportunities. You can also meet with an Internship Officer and seek general advice from a Careers
Adviser. For more info visit www. intranet.birmingham.ac.uk/careers Job Zone at the Guild Look out for part time, casual and temporary work by visiting www. guildofstudents.com. Student Development at the Guild Supports students to volunteer with the Guild's student-led volunteer groups and external organisations and charities. Go to www.guildofstudents.com/volunteering for more information.
Friday 5th February 2016
Album Review: Sia - This Is Acting Gregory Robinson Music Critic @GregoryBTW
The writers behind some of the world’s biggest pop songs have always been shunned in favour of the artists they write for. In many cases, the song becomes a bigger entity than the songwriter can ever dream of becoming. For instance, Rihanna’s colossal single ‘Diamonds’, originally released in 2012, surged to the top of the charts in over twenty countries around the world. This included the United States, where it became Rihanna's twelfth number one single on the Billboard Hot 100, which tied her with Madonna and The Supremes for the fifth-most number one singles in the chart's history. David Guetta’s EDM epic ‘Titanium’ is certified 2x platinum in both the US and UK. Both of the hit songs previously mentioned have one person in common: Sia. The Australian singersongwriter shields her identity with an oversized black and white wig, maybe preferring to reside behind her music raas opposed to becoming a brand alongside it. This could be the case on Sia’s seventh studio album This Is Acting which certainly has an interesting, novel concept. Rather than bury the disregarded songs Sia has written for some of world’s biggest pop stars, Sia has embodied them, and has managed to
churn out a dozen hits and misses for the album. Interestingly, all the songs on the album were crafted to be the next big “hit single” from the pop stars previously mentioned, though at times Sia’s song crafting formula of “play-acting” falters. The opening track ‘Bird Set Free’ sets the dark tone which overshadows This Is Acting. It is undoubtedly Sia, despite being pitched to Adele. Produced by Greg Kurstin, the song features a progressive piano line which underscores Sia, declaring emotional and creative liberty. It has the predictability one would expect from Adele following her hiatus but manages to be a rousing
'Sia's vocals are incomparable' empowerment anthem with larger than life production, which contrasts Sia’s demure persona. The album’s first single ‘Alive’ is built around Sia’s electrifying, vocal performance. Also intended for Adele’s blockbuster album ‘25’, and then pitched to Rihanna, it is surprising such a good song failed to make the final track-list of either diva’s latest albums. The lyrics speak of overcoming adversity and are definitely not too progressive or controversial for Adele, and could certainly be pulled off by Rihanna. Co-written by Tobias Jesso Jr. and Adele, the unceasing dramatic buildup explodes into an immense, organ-
ic instrumental courtesy of Jesse Shatkin. The build-up leads into the song’s bridge in which Sia’s almost unsettling throat-cracking, guttural vocals are incomparable. ‘Sia’s most unconvincing acting performance appears in the Shakira reject ‘Move Your Body’, which utilises metallic marching electrobeats, a tribal rhythm and repetitive synths to create what many would refer to as a ‘club-banger’. The track is missing only a guest verse from Pitbull to make it complete (Dale!). Sia even employs a Latin twang to her vocals. The album takes a lighter note in the Kanye West collaboration ‘Reaper’, and the tropical bop ‘Cheap Thrills’, a song originally intended for Rihanna’s newly released album ANTI. In a previous interview, Sia described her method for crafting songs for particular artists; if a concept or an instrumental 'sounds like a Rihanna song', Sia proceeds to write with that artist in mind. Therefore, ‘Cheap Thrills’ naturally is about going to the club. This Is Acting is filled with contrived declarations which evoke the same cheesiness one would expect to hear in a 80s movie soundtrack power ballad. However, along with the Phil Collins of our generation, aka Adele, Sia’s broad lyrics which evoke tales of heartbreak and survival, suggest one of the reasons why her songs (or the songs she has written for other artists) have proven to be so successful.
Redbrick Meets: Savages When I talk to Ayse Hassan from Savages early in the week, on the eve of their first show since the release of Adore Life, the band are preparing to present their new record under typically unconventional circumstances. The official release show for the album is a fairly usual affair except for one important detail – it’s taking place at 8 in the morning. It sounds at first like a gimmick but, like everything Savages do, the decision has a simple justification. Hassan notes that the gig is ultimately an experiment to see how the change in atmosphere might affect the show; she jokes that most people usually ‘turn up and want to drink’ at their shows. It’s also a typically untypical move from the London band who burst into life, seemingly from nowhere, 4 years ago with a collection of spectacular
live performances and the stillelectrifying single ‘Husbands’. Nevertheless, that unexplainably sudden rise led to a fair amount of hostility and suspicion from some but when Hassan explains the early days of the band, performing their first ever show supporting British Sea Power, the whole situation sounds much more organic than it first appears. Lead-singer Jehnny Beth knew the band through her previous project, John & Jehn, and, after mentioning a new band she was working on, was offered the slot. It sounds more like the way local bands arrange gigs than the launch of one of the mosthyped UK bands of the decade and the show itself had a similarly D I Y approach; Hassan mentions that some of the songs were fin-
ished as late as on the tour bus to the show. While most aspiring bands would have crumbled under that sort of pressure, Savages flourished. Their songs on their debut, Silence Yourself, had a spontaneous energy deriving from the way they were written. They were songs that were designed to be played as a band, thriving off the interplay between the 4 members, and that energy contributes to them sounding as fresh today as they did 3 years ago. In hope of striking gold again, the band headed to New York last year to road-test new material in front of live audiences and what they found was surprising. Not only did the band see overwhelming support from their crowds but they also found that some songs morphed in ways they hadn’t expected; in an unintentional call-back to their early shows, some of the song were almost finished onstage. Two songs that Hassan picks out for this are ‘Surrender’ and the near-title track and album highlight
‘Adore’. On the former, one of her favourites from the album, she suggests that the finished product was an attempt to emulate ‘a kind of warped, industrial dance’ music and make something that was ‘uncomfortable but still listenable’. That last description especially does a pretty good job of describing how Savages seem to approach all their work. The primary aim of the band may be to entertain but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to challenge you in the process. The record that has eventually come from this long process of tweaking and rewriting, Adore Life, is a bold and satisfying piece of work. It’s not as immediately accessible as their debut but it broadens the band’s horizons and expands their capabilities, alternatingly pushing their sound into harder and softer territory. Savages must have known they couldn’t have matched the excitement that surrounded the hype for Silence
Conrad Duncan Music Critic @ConradDuncan1
Yourself and, wisely, they don’t attempt to repeat the successes of that album. Sure, the classic postpunk of ‘Evil’ and ‘Sad Person’ will be immediately recognisable to fans but the album’s best tracks break new ground for them, whether on the near heavy-metal ferocity of ‘The Answer’, the patient, brooding intensity of ‘Adore’ or the distorted groove of ‘Surrender’. It’s also an album that is less overt in its politics; one that doesn’t contain a manifesto on the cover because the ‘ideas speak for themselves’. When I ask Hassan about the importance of style and the message in their music, she’s clear that the decisions the band make are done as they go. There’s no grand plan for Savages but each step on the way is done with an eye on consistency; it has to feel right for the band and their beliefs. It’s that artistic integrity that has made them one of the most exciting groups in recent years and while it may be easy to be cynical about their sincerity, Savages are a rare thing. They are a band that really care. They care about their music, their image and their fans, and we could do with more bands like them.
Friday 5th February 2016
Album Review: Honne - Gone Are the Days Natalie Hatton Music Critic @nataliehatton
Gone Are the Days (Shimokita Import) is the latest cut from HONNE, joining an exceptional roster of songs which includes ‘Warm On A Cold Night’ and ‘The Night’. These two song titles make it obvious: this is a band that specialises in the nocturnal songs that you’d send to someone you’d like to have sex with. The 7-song almost-album sits comfortably amongst their previous tracks, more clearly defining the band as slick, sexy and just so smooth.
'HONNE are a band who are proving that they make more than just sex music' It begins with ‘Gone Are the Days’, an upbeat, almost dancey track. Its intro recalls 80s power pop and segues into a synth-heavy chorus with a delicious harmony and a chugging violin. Lyrical clichés aside (‘And if you’ve ever felt this way before / I’ll show you, girl, what you’ve been waiting for’), it’s a confident, celebratory and joyful opener. Second on the tracklist, ‘3AM’, is the EP’s strongest and most overtly sexy point, with the
hook being ‘we could be getting frisky, girl, ‘til 3 o’clock in the morning’. With the Nile Rodgers guitar riff intro, the band is at their funkiest, the drum machine clear and concise, punctuating those fluid, husky vocals. I always think that it’s a mark of a good song if you can’t quite put your finger on what you like about it, and it’s what I find (or can’t find) with this song. After a two-track up, the vibe dips with ‘No Place Like Home’; a track featuring JONES, who delivers a delicate feminine vocal that plays nicely in opposition to frontman Andy’s. It's lyrically simple, but not simplistic: ‘It's not hard for me to feel alone / And I have heard there really is no place like home’. Although this is the most downbeat track on the EP, it is no less compelling, managing to capture homesickness with the simple refrain alone, which echoes from ear to ear as the song slowly fades out. JONES’ voice on the outro is accompanied only by a distant piano and a simple drum machine. One of my favourite moments is the last 30 seconds of this track, when the song slowly fades out to an ever-so distant sound of traffic, almost as if you were lying in a hotel room at night, missing home. It’s a beautiful composition, perfectly balanced and never too overwhelming. You can imagine finding comfort in this song if homesick. ‘Baby Please’, arguably the weakest point of the EP, is a smouldering love song: sonically impressive, but lyrically disappointing, mainly consisting of,
Redbrick Meets: Mystery Jets Mystery Jets have been making music for what feels like forever, playing together as a band long before their breakthrough in 2006. Now they’re back with Curve of the Earth - a stunning nine track album produced under the label Caroline International and recorded on Eel Pie Island, London. From the downbeat drama of ‘Telomere’ to the otherworldly splendor of ‘Saturnine’, it shimmers with huge pop choruses and mellow, dreamy instrumentals. Redbrick had the opportunity to speak to Will - their lead guitarist/singer - who gave us an insight into their progression as a band and the forging of their latest release.
How does your latest album, Curve of the Earth, differ from the previous album Radlands? I don't know how much more mature it is, I can't measure that one out for you sadly, but um, I think there's a few fundamental differences. Radlands is an album that was made largely, and also inspired mainly by our experiences in America, in Texas. So it's got this kind of American theme to it that I think you can hear in the songwriting. Also Radlands is a concept album about a character called Emmerson Lonestar and all of the songs are kind of filtered through this alter ego and everything is sung from his perspective. Whereas Curve of the Earth is a very personal record and it's very kind of I think quite clearly about personal experiences that different band members have been through. It's also an album made in
‘My baby please / Won’t you come back to me’. It redeems itself with its production, which builds slowly to a gentle, expansive climax, with a distant, angelic choir gradually getting louder as synth-man James layers sounds over one another, until it all falls away, leaving just the choir and some finger clicks. As uninspired as the lyrics might be, they certainly know how to build a song. ‘The Night’, a track released in 2015, is given the ‘Late Night’ treatment, where it is stripped to its bones – just a piano, no fancy synths. The 2015 original version is subtle and sexy, full of pulsating synths and atmospheric reverb. Once this is all peeled away and only the skeleton of the song remains, it is transformed: before, a
song about sex, it is now slow burner of a song about love, with the more understated romantic lyrics becoming more prominent, ‘Invest time in me’, ‘Oh, show me how to love you’, and ‘Let's build a life that we can both live out in style’. Even without complex production, it stands alone as a painfully romantic song as the EP winds to a close. Although there are imperfections, the first three songs are strong enough that they could all be released as singles, and are distinguished enough from each other that in three songs alone you get a real sense of a developing sound; especially with ‘The Night’. HONNE are a band who are proving to their fans that they make more than just sex music.
Local Artist Spotlight: Ideal Club Alex Ekong
Music Editor @AndThenAlexSaid
UOB’s own Ideal Club is the latest bright-eyed indie rock band to come out of Selly Oak’s teeming music scene. Despite only having dropped two singles so far, there’s a lot to get excited about – whether it’s their suave, jittery debut which demands to know ‘Are You Listening?’ or their punchy follow-up ‘Someone Else’. Upcoming single releases also promise a thriving future for the young band. The driving bass, fuzzy guitars and fun, panicked vocals all remind you of the time the world fell in love with the likes of The Hives and Franz Ferdinand, without being the least bit derivative. These songs give you the sense that Ideal Club are cruising at 100mph with no intentions of letting you save yourself – this is truly bouncing-off-your-bedroom walls music. In Birmingham, they’ve been playing the same venues as highly-rated newcomers Sundara Karma. If you see them on the bill at their frequents of band nights at the Bristol Pear or The Sunflower Lounge, you best catch them while you can. You can check out Ideal Club's releases on Soundcloud
sense of being a gang again. England, in London which is where we are from, so I think there’s big differences between the two records. What particularly inspired Curve of the Earth? Um, well, I think, I think at the end of Radlands we felt that we needed to make some kind of a change. And we were also a member down because one of our founding members, Kai,our original bass player had left so we were out of a bassist and one of huge core members had disappeared so I think we felt that we were at a crossroads and something needed to shift. So we set up our own studio and began writing songs. It wasn't an overnight thing, it was a very long and slow journey to get to Curve of the Earth. It took a long time. I think also a big part of the record which shouldn't be missed is the inclusion of our new bassist Jack Flanagan; he is now a core member of the band and very much helped us restore our early
You've created your own studio in a button factory - what's it like? It's got all of our equipment in there that we've collected over the last ten years, it's got pictures on the walls, guitars on the walls, lots of old amplifiers, keyboards, synthesisers, microphones. We had these big red rugs that we’ve always decorated our studios with and you can see them on the artwork for our first album Making Dens and they're with us still now on the walls. So yeah it's really cool. What is your favourite Mystery Jets song and why? Um, ah that's such a horrible question - it's just a really difficult decision - it's like choosing a favourite child or something! *laughter* um, I will choose though. I will choose ‘Bombay Blue’ which is the second track of the album Curve of the Earth and I
just really like that song. It's got a very ethereal quality to it and there's a real sadness and melancholy in the lyrics and that's kind of... that can be quite easily missed if you're only listening to the music and not focussing on the lyrics. So there's a kind of contradiction between what the track is doing and what the lyrics are doing. I've also got really fond memories of making the outro for that song which we all did together and it's this kind of Nile Rodgers-esque jam kind of like slow disco thing that we were all really into at the time. We've never done that before as a band so that's a personal favourite of mine. If the band had to do karaoke, what would be your go-to cover? Very good question... I would cover Paul McCartney ‘Pipes of Peace’ I only just heard that the other day and I really like it it's one of his lesser known Christmas songs and it's really cool. Mystery Jets are playing the O2 Institute, Birmingham
Friday 5th February 2016
Review: The Mad World of Donald Trump Tamsin Hackett TV Critic @TamsinAilishh
With the election for Presidential candidates coming up, Channel 4’s Matt Frei followed one of America’s best known businessmen Donald Trump on his campaign trail, getting to know him, his policies and his followers. Before now, Trump was known for his billionaire status, his businesses across America and his role on America’s The Apprentice. He also used to be someone who made fun of himself, taking part in Comedy Central’s Roast. But Frie says that Trump has finally asked America to take him seriously, and so Frei wants to try and understand what is making people fall for the ‘Trump phenomenon’. Trump’s slogan was shown to be ‘make America great again’, and the documentary suggested that he wanted to do this by making cuts to education and planparenthood (sexual health clinics), by stopping immigration and by banning gay marriage. The documentary also showed clips of Trump mocking Obama, claiming he was not really American, and forcing him to produce his birth certificate. Obama was also shown hitting back at Trump, mocking him very publically. It also showed shocking images of Trump calling Mexicans druggies and rapists, proclaiming that he wanted to build a wall on the southern border of America to keep Mexican immigrants out. Yet, it was said in the show that Trump was in fact born in Germany, that his parents were German immi-
grants, and that he had employed Polish immigrants to build the 5th Avenue golden skyscraper Trump Tower. This was just one of Trump’s hypocrisies.
Trump was shown mocking a disabled journalist, as well as talking poorly about an American 'war hero' The documentary followed the campaign trail to North Carolina, which seemed to be one of Trump’s strongholds. Frei suggested that this was because it is one of America’s poorest states and that its people found Trump attractive as they believed his wealth would stop him from taking money from the poor. It went on to say that in lower wealth areas the people voters aspire to be are the ones they choose as leaders, thus choosing Trump for his enormous wealth. Perhaps most shockingly in the documentary, there were scenes of Trump being very racist. Frei met with a Muslim man who had recently been kicked out of Trump’s rally, after starting a protest because Trump stated that he wanted to ban all Muslims from America. The man was also thrown out of the rally that Frei attended. The man described his experience, saying he ‘felt like a black man at a [Ku Klux] Klan rally’. This makes it even harder to imagine why anyone would support Trump, especially the thousands of followers he has
acquired across America. Trump was also shown mocking a disabled journalist, as well as talking poorly about an American ‘war hero’. What’s more is Trump came across as sexist in the documentary too. A few months ago Trump participated in an interview with Meghan Kelly, who openly attacked his policies and attitudes. Trump responded later by suggesting she had been on her period, and that was the reason behind all she had said.
During his documentary, Frei conducted an interview with Selina Scott, famous for her 1995 documentary about Trump. They fell out over the interviews she conducted for the 1995 documentary, and for the way they came across on TV. Scott claimed that Trump had sent her at least 13 abusive letters after the interview was aired. She also told Frei that she was surprised that any woman in America could vote for Trump. Yet it also showed Sarah Palin who seemed to fully
endorse the candidate and agreed with his policy to ‘Kick the sh*t out of ISIS’. The documentary showed an overview of both Trump’s policies and his personal life, both of which suggested that Donald Trump is not a good choice for President, if only for his racism and sexism. Although the documentary was fairly biased against Trump, it would be difficult to see this candidate in a better light after having seen so much of him in the darkest.
Why Lip Sync Battle UK Just Isn't Working Izzie Nicholds TV Critic @mynameis_iz
When I heard that Mel B and Professor Green were going to be manning the British version of the now popular Lip Sync Battle, my heart slightly sank. I’m sure you’re aware, unless you’ve been living under a rock, of the phenomenon of celebrities lip-syncing to famous pop songs. The concept sounds ridiculous but ingeniously, it works. From Olivia Munn to Justin Bieber, the US version has been a smash-hit, pulling in millions of viewers to the previously unknown network, Spike. However, when I heard that a UK version was airing soon, I was not as impressed. As much as I love David Walliams or Michelle Keegan, these celebrities do not hold the same gravitas as their American counterparts. I just don’t get excited knowing a soap-star and comedian are going to battle it out. Although, kudos to them for giving good performances, I’m not sure I even laughed once. Whereas, seeing Channing Tatum channel his inner Beyoncé was something on
another level – it went viral. Yet there is so much potential with this version – imagine seeing Ant versus Dec or Jude Law versus Eddie Redmayne; the reception would be completely different. Bigger celebrities would completely lift this show, which is why their continued absence is so frustrating. For now, at least, this is one instance where
American TV has utterly triumphed over its Atlantic cousin. Likewise, though the concept may be exactly the same, with the exact same set, it still did not work – the pieces just did not come together as you’d hope they would. As a host, something I thought I would never associate with Mel B, she doesn’t really add much. But sometimes, it
seems, you’ve got to throw in a Spice Girl to boost ratings. You could see how hard she was trying to maintain a professional demeanour, which I did admire, but again it fell flat. The show is only thirty minutes long too, meaning each act gets to perform two songs of their choice, one in costume and one not. You can tell that the second performanc-
es, much more outlandish, are practiced to perfection. Accompanied by a dance troupe, the celebrities truly did embrace their chosen popstar, whether this be Taylor Swift or George Michael. The outfits were certainly entertaining, as each celeb donned the famous outfits we see in their music videos. As a visual aesthetic, it works. But, not being in the primetime slot and on Channel 5, I felt that this was yet another reason to give Lip Sync Battle a miss. Not known for anything but Big Brother anymore, Channel 5 doesn’t seem like the appropriate station to boost this show. In fact, I didn’t realise what I was watching until I looked into the information section. But Channel 5 are not going to continue this version of the show past the first series, apparently – probably due to its multitude of problems. Nowadays, most people watch content online anyway, which is certainly where I first found out about Lip Sync Battle. So, without an eye-catching celeb to boost the show, the UK version is left far behind.
Do you have opinions on this article? Tell them to us: @redbricktv
Friday 5th February 2016
Sports Relief Meets Bake Off Charlotte Pengelly TV Critic
The return of Sport Relief means two things: an opportunity to get actively involved in raising money for a great cause, and also a reunion with our favourite Bake Off tent. Once again the tent welcomes a wide ranging group of familiarfaced bakers from sporting stars to politicians and comedians, in four special episodes. Last week David James, Jason Manford, Samantha Cameron, and Maddy Hill put on aprons and baked canapés, braved the technical challenge of a suitably sporty Paris Brest, and created brightly coloured and edible sporting trophies for the showstopper challenge. The Prime Minister’s wife, Samantha Cameron, pulled out all the stops and won the judges over with canapés and her colourful surfing-themed layer cake. However, the most entertaining
factor of the Sport Relief Bake Off is that things are messy - especially when green food colouring is involved - giving a glimpse into how most of us approach baking. This year, the Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Games are taking place in March nationwide, encouraging a combination of active challenges and charity, through a number of fundraising events which include running, swimming and cycling. But Sport Relief Bake Off encourages the public to pick up a wooden spoon and give baking a go, by promoting their fundraiser Bake Off kit which ensures everyone has an opportunity to get involved. The money raised for Sport Relief is split fifty-fifty between supporting lives here in the UK, and funding projects abroad, in some of the poorest communities in the world. Visit www.sportrelief.com to find out about the events near you, and how you can get involved to ‘do good and feel great.’
Roshni Patel reviews Netflix's attempt to bring Cassandra Clare's bestselling book series to the small-screen Roshni Patel TV Critic @Roshofalltrades
Following the failure of City of Bones, comes a new TV series to reboot Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instrument series. But can the new small-screen series do what the big motion picture could not? After watching the first episode on Netflix, many critics struggled to see how the series would recover from its initial premiere disaster. The catastrophe came as the showrunners sped into the content of the book, eager to introduce all the characters at once and much of their backstory and the world around them. The result was a rushed, rather cluttered premiere that failed to impress. Whilst fans hoped that a television adaptation would result in a closer to the novel adaptation, many
were disappointed to see the writers change the beginning half of the show to speed up character introductions. For instance, Clary (Katherine McNamara, Maze Runner: Scorch Trials) knows much more than she should, and that’s not even to mention how she finds herself looking cringe-worthy later on, when she talks to an invisible Jace (Dominic Sherwood, Vampire Academy) with a killer on the loose. Seriously, who stops to talk to someone when they’re busy hunting a killer! Yet despite these story discrepancies the show does try really hard, is at times humorous, and does return to the original story after the halfway point. Although many of us would happily dismiss this series as another motion picture mess, it may be worth sticking around for an episode or two more, if only to see if they give the characters more breathing room, or continue the story at full tilt.
The High School Musical Reunion TV Critic @jamestyson06
If you’re like me, you will feel very old at hearing this news. High School Musical, the Disney Channel original movie, recently celebrated its tenth anniversary. The event was marked by the screening of the musical on Disney channel and during the breaks the cast would talk about their favourite memories they have of shooting. Six out of the seven core cast members had reunited for this occasion, with Zac Efron being noticeably absent. That said, the length of the reunion was slightly disappointing, with each of the four segments lasting only between two and three minutes. However, despite this
lack of quantity, the quality was there, with the cast members genuinely appearing happy to be together and reminiscing over previous memories just as old friends would. The highlight of the reunion had to be the emotional point where Corbin Bleu’s co-star Monique Coleman surprised him with a copy of his East High class ring. East High was the name of the school the musical was set in, and apparently Corbin had lost his original accessory during filming. This clearly was an emotional moment for all present cast members with Lucas Grabeel later sharing a photo on Instagram with Corbin and their matching rings. Yet, no matter how happy the cast seemed, fans all across the world (myself included) could feel the presence of the main character,
Say goodbye to all your overseas Netflix content Tamsin Hackett TV Critic @TamsinAilishh
Troy Bolton, portrayed by Zac Efron, missing. He was busy promoting his upcoming film Dirty Grampa, and therefore could not make the reunion, angering fans. Many believe that he should have made time considering this was the musical that can be seen to have launched his career. Perhaps more importantly, Zac can be seen to have made fun of the movie that made him in his most recent interview on the Ellen Show. When talking about working with his co-star Robert De Niro on Dirty Grampa, he said, ‘Every single time we show up to work there's sort of that awkward moment where we have to acknowledge that you're the greatest of all time and I'm, you know, what could you possibly have seen that I've been a part of? High School Musical?’ It is hardly unex-
pected that Robert De Niro hasn't watched High School Musical, however the way Zac said this made it appear that he was belittling the film, upsetting even more people. To this day, High School Musical remains one of Disney Channel’s most successful original movies. USA Today states the franchise has sold nearly 4.1 million soundtrack albums and has reeled in 7.7 million viewers since its premiere 10 years ago. So perhaps, rather than belittling the show that launched his career and ignoring the fans that made the show so successful in the first place, Zac Efron may want to pay these millions of fans more attention – especially considering he has yet to enjoy such success as he found at East High in the years since.
After Netflix’s expansion into 130 more countries, making it available almost everywhere in the world, the Vice President of Content Delivery Architecture, David Fullagar has written a blog post about stopping users accessing content outside of their own country. Currently, proxies, VPNs, and ‘unblockers’ all allow users to pretend they that they are in a different country, leaving Netflix unable to identify who is genuinely in one country, and who is not. Users do this because different TV shows and movies are available in different locations. However, it seems this trend will soon be coming to an end. Netflix has technically banned users accessing content from elsewhere before, but has been relatively relaxed on enforcing those rules. Now Fullagar says that ‘those using proxies and ‘unblockers’ will only be able to access service in the country that they are currently in’ and this will be strongly enforced, suggesting that they may start tracking and identifying those users who are regularly signing in to different locations. The varying content in each area is a huge problem for users, as all countries are charged the same amount despite significant differences in the quality and quantity of the content available. Whilst Netflix has previously expressed their intention to make all content the same everywhere, saying it is ‘the goal we keep pushing towards’, the movement has been made difficult by local licensing laws which mean that copyright permission must be given separately from country to country. Moreover, while viewers may think this change is bad for them, it could be even worse for Netflix. The company’s international audience is key to its growth over the coming years, so this change could seriously affect the company’s potential as users threaten to leave; or would-be users decide the content of their country is not worth the subscription after their free trial ends. Already many users online have suggested that they will end their subscription with Netflix due to their country’s content not being up to par. These changes don’t look like they will improve Netflix for either viewers or for the company itself, so who knows how strongly enforced the rules will be this time; or whether this will see a fall in the users or the popularity of the streaming service. All the same, at least according to the company’s rhetoric, it seems we’re all going to need to be prepared to say goodbye to our favourite overseas shows.
Friday 5th February
Film feature: The Comedy Sequel Redbrick film critic Rosie Kelby, takes on the comedy sequel (the good and the very, very bad) as 2016 contiues to churn out 'Part 2s' Rosie Kelby Film Critic
The scheduled release of Bad Neighbours 2 in 2016 may inspire a lot of reactions, but surprise is certainly not among them. Testimony to the film industry’s historic obsession with the comedy sequel, the movie rides atop a steady wave of follow-on features, such as Horrible Bosses 2, Pitch Perfect 2, Ted 2 and the absolute classic, Hot Tub Time Machine 2. The fundamental question which looms in response to this craze: can you have too much of a good thing? The Hollywood archives offer a resounding yes. Take, for example, the beloved Airplane (1980), one of the most influential comedy films of all time. Naturally, with such a reputation to live up to, the relative crash-landing of Airplane 2 in 1982 was somewhat inevitable. However, what is perhaps less forgivable is the industry’s relentless need to churn out sequels which aside from failing to hit the mark, fail to make any kind of mark at all. Films such as the frustratingly forgettable Ghostbusters 2 (1989), Johnny English Reborn (2011), The Hangover Part II (2011) and Kickass 2 (2013) simply cannot scale the ambitious heights of
'when a film is successful the natural response is to continue in the same vein... However, it would be nice to believe that some traces of authorial integrity are able to survive the ravages of commercialism...' their predecessors, and although they undoubtedly have their moments, the films largely prove to be an underwhelming waste of comic talent. Watching The Hangover Part II, for example, could be likened to visiting a three star Michelin restaurant and being served a piece of wilted lettuce. Of course, when a film is successful the natural response is to continue along the same vein, and being showbusiness, the attraction of revenue is undoubtedly a key motivating factor. However, it would be nice to believe that some traces of authorial integrity are able to survive the ravages of commercialism, and that filmmakers have the capacity to practice restraint on some level. I don’t mean to suggest that ‘quitting while you are ahead’ should be the mantra of the industry—far from it. I only wish to offer a gentle reminder that tagging a '2' on
the end of a successful film title does not automatically turn a shockingly awful script into comic gold. And yes, that also applies to the numbers '3' and '4'.
'And out popped that other Shrek movie which apparently exists but no-one ever seems to have witnessed firsthand...' I can only imagine the conversations that went on behind closed doors at DreamWorks in 2007 after the release of Shrek the Third: ‘The critics hated the film.’ ‘I know. That’s because it’s not funny.’ ‘What should we do?’ ‘Let’s make another one. ’
155 The Number of sequels currently in the works
And out popped that other Shrek movie which apparently exists but no-one ever seems to have witnessed first-hand. An anti-climax topped only by watching The Hangover Part III, which is akin to visiting a three Michelin star restaurant, being served a piece of wilted lettuce, and then being slapped in the face with it. Despite this, various comedy sequels throughout history have defied the odds. Take for example the classic Naked Gun trilogy, maintained by the dynamic performances of the legendary Leslie Neilson, and more recently Toy Story 2 and 3, which have essentially claimed childhood with their lasting and beloved comic legacy. Clearly then, it is possible to produce more than one funny movie in a row. Indeed, to name a few, Shrek 2 (2004)— produced before the fairytale lost its magic—, Anchorman 2 (2013)— released a decade after the original—and the recent box-office hit 22 Jump Street (2015) have all succeeded in bringing the dormant back to life, creating fresh laughs with the aid of fantastically flawed and familiar characters. Evidently then, the sequel must be approached with care and caution. As much as it holds the power to build a franchise, it also holds the potential to push it, kicking and screaming, into the abyss of obscurity. In effect, if you can’t leave your audience laughing, then for God’s sake leave them alone.
What do you think about the production of so many bad sequels? Share your opinions with us via Twitter... @RedbrickFilm
The Sequels of 2016
24th June- Independence Day: Resurgence
February 12th- Zoolander 2
8th July- Now You See Me 2
February 12th- Alvin and the Chipmunks 4
15th July- Ice Age: Collision Course
March 11th- Kung Fu Panda 3
22nd July- Star Trek Beyond
May 6th- Bad Neighbours 2
29th July- Finding Dory
May 27th- Alice Through the Looking Glass
26th August- Project XX
June 3rd- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2
16th September- Bridget Jones' Baby
Friday 5th February
Rosie Kelby Film Critic
Film critic James Moore reviews the tense drama, on course for awards season triumph...
Release date 29th January Director Tom McCarthy Cast Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton Running time: 128 minutes
««««« James Moore Film Critic
Investigative journalism makes for a great story. It’s a narrative that can be both less grim than a private detective style, while being more directly anti-establishment. Spotlight takes after the genre set out by All The President’s Men in 1976, and definitely deserves the comparison to that Hoffman and Redford classic. Mark Ruffalo takes first billing as reporter Mike Rezendes, strangely isolated from the rest of the main cast he spends most of his screen time with Stanley Tucci as Mitchell Garabedian, a role which was an unexpected delight. While there is an endemic issue with the film where throughout we rarely see our main cast interact, when they do those scenes play out brilliantly. Ruffalo’s performance itself was oddly inconsistent. There were moments which, particularly toward the start of the film, felt poorly delivered and insincere. This issue existed for Rachel McAdams as well, in scenes where McAdams and Ruffalo were conducting interviews and
repeatedly nodding the continued response became wooden. Their reactions were stilted and broke the suspension of disbelief; these moments just needed another take. Despite this, the majority of the acting is stellar, especially a monologue of Ruffalo’s toward the climax. Continuing his renaissance after Birdman, Michael Keaton fits into a strange role as Director Walter ‘Robbie’ Robinson. It can be difficult in this film to see exactly who you are meant to associate with: Keaton could take that spot, but so could Ruffalo and McAdams and Liev Schreiber. All The President’s Men had both Woodward and Bernstein, but kept them together most of the time with Robert Redford as a clear lead. Here the protagonist is up in the air There’s also the matter of Matt Carroll played by Brian d’Arcy James, the fourth member of the Spotlight team. He gets some screen time and has his own issues he has to deal with like the others, but is always the one in the background. It would have been nice to see him get more attention; if they were going for no clear protagonist then why is he muted? It seems odd to say that the true stars of the film were the supporting actors. The casting team did a spectacular job and the underrated knockout here is Michael Cyril Creighton as abuse victim Joe Crowley, from whom I expect to see great things. You cannot help but be moved by all the performances from the supporting cast, and that is not common. The script is where Spotlight shines. The overall writing, narrative, how the story unfolds and how it makes you feel: that is all stellar. I have to imagine Josh Singer undertook the majority of the
The Boston Globe's Spotlight team
'The script is where Spotlight shines. The overall writing, narrative, how the story unfolds... that is all stellar'
writing, since Tom McCarthy’s writing has been poor: remember The Cobbler. The scene to scene dialogue, interviews and conversations bear so much emotion into such a small space so well. The pacing is consistent and brings you along without letting you get bored or left behind. While there were moments which felt deliberately attempting to be quotable, they tend to be placed at moments where they felt appropriate. This is the area where Spotlight surpasses President’s Men, which ended unsatisfyingly soon. Spotlight ends when the investigation reaches its finale and properly ties up every end. That said, perhaps they did drop the name a few times too many. Maybe 18 times too many. Perhaps the biggest let down to be found is the cinematography. It’s such an oddly mixed bag. Some of the best moments in Spotlight are its little transition sequences, shots of the city and the people in it to Howard Shore’s soundtrack. That soundtrack, while it won’t be as iconic as The Lord of the Rings', does exactly what it should: be there to heighten the emotions yet remain invisible. Yet for every beautifully framed shot there is a shot which is sloppily under-lit. Spotlight, for all it does right fails miserably to light its scenes. Most indoor scenes crush their blacks or clip their whites. You expect better from a film with this budget. Spotlight knows how powerful it could be, how emotionally charged it would be. It tackles everything in a levelled way but still pulls the heartstrings masterfully. Despite some minor flaws and a couple of shoddy moments it is a spectacular rendition of this format and absolutely worth watching.
Denis Villeneuve, director of the criticallyacclaimed Sicario, will begin filming on Blade Runner 2 this July. This long-awaited sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi classic will rejuvenate Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard alongside the fresh-faced Ryan Gosling, whose role is as yet unknown. The film returns to Philip K. Dick’s familiar dystopia several decades from where we left off, but whether it will manage to keep up with up the thrilling chase of its beloved predecessor remains to be seen.
The name of the spin-off sequel to Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement’s ingenious vampire mockumentary What we do in the Shadows has been confirmed as We’re Wolves, bringing welcome assurance of the film’s go-ahead. The Kiwi production will star the same pack of wonderfully unassuming werewolves introduced in the first film, led once again by the decorous Anton (played by comedian Rhys Derby). Production will start as soon as Waititi finishes work on Marvel’s Thor: Ragnorak.
Matt Smith will be playing the lead in a biopic on Robert Mapplethorpe, the famous New York photographer known for his celebrity portraits and controversial homoerotic subject matter. The role, once reserved for James Franco, seems an interesting match, however the physical resemblance between the two is certainly undeniable.
Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation, was the most talked-about film at the 32nd Sundance Film Festival, winning both the US dramatic audience award and the grand jury prize. This epic drama received a standing ovation following it’s screening, a rare phenomenon, especially for a firsttime filmmaker. The directing award at the festival went to Swiss Army Man, a controversial film starring the flatulent corpse of Daniel Radcliffe, forced some dissatisfied audience members to leave their seats.
LIFE & STYLE
Friday 5th February
Brand Feature: Sleek Makeup
Our brand new section gives an exciting insight into the latest upcoming fashion and beauty brands to look out for. Lara Billington Life&Style writer @RedbrickLife
Balancing your weekly budget is hard enough, with food shopping, Fab tickets and forking out on friends. I know I’m not alone when I say that life as a student involves keeping an eye on your online-banking figure! Nevertheless, if you still want to look your best without splashing out £20 for a bit of lippy, then
'I will never go on a night out without the face form palette' here’s the brand for you. Sleek is available at both Superdrug and Boots, and is an affordable brand that has some absolute daily essentials to add to your makeup routine. A favourite of mine are the I-Divine eyeshadow palettes, which hold 12 shades per palette in almost any colour you could wish for. The shadows are intensely pigmented, so a little goes a long way – however this can cause a bit of fall out if you go overboard, so consider doing eyeshadow first if you’re using them. If you’re looking for a Naked palette dupe give the Storm or Au-Naturel palettes a go, at £7.99 you’re saving around £29 for eye-
shadows of very similar quality. You can’t go wrong! Another must-have are their blushes, which come in palettes or individuals, giving the likes of Nars and Benefit a run for their money with their bold, pigmented colours – similar to that of their eyeshadows. Try the ‘Pixie Pink’ individual blush, which sells at an affordable £4.49, for fairer skin tones, giving a natural rosy tint or deeper plum and brown shades like ‘Pomegranate’ and ‘Flushed’ if you have a darker complexion. If you’re feeling brave and fancy something bolder, my favourite blush palette is ‘Lace’, at £10 for 3 blushers– but be light with the hand when applying or you’ll end up having to do some serious blending! I will never go on a night out without the face form palette (£10), which comes in 4 shades depending on your skin tone and consists of a natural, non-orange looking bronzer, a shimmery blusher and a highlighter- the perfect throw-in-the-bag compact for any touch ups you might need! Eyebrows are the facial feature of the moment, so if you want those Cara Delevingne ‘bold brows’ without them looking like slugs, give the Sleek Brow Kit a go! (£8.50). With four shades to choose from I recommend going in and trying them all out on your hand to see what fits you best, but with both
a wax and a powder included, you can sculpt those brows to create a fierce finish! Overall, with their sophisticated, black packaging the products are highquality and what’s inside lives up to expectations! Most products have a decent sized mirror inside, perfect for on the go and with bold, pigmented colours they last on the face all day. So, by all means spend that fiver on fab, but look stunning whilst you’re dancing in underground with Sleek makeup. Give the brand a go, you won’t be disappointed!
Do you have a favourite new brand. Share them with us at: @redbrickpaper
12 shades per palette in almost any colour you could wish for!
Signs You're Addicted to Your Phone! What's the first thing you do when you wake up? Life&Style writer Sophie Kesterton reveals the signs of spending too much time on your phone. Is this you?
There's no 'we' in Iphone
A Life of Symbols
Selfie, Sleep, Repeat.
Picture this. A group of friends reunited after a semester apart at university all sitting round in silence. No talking, just tapping. Not being able to part from your constant stream of WhatsApp messages and Facebook notifications is a sure sign that you are probably spending too much quality time with your phone and not enough with real people in the real world. As soon as you hear those familiar ringtones you immediately check your own phone to see if someone is trying to get in contact with you. Finally, is the first thing you do when you wake up is check your phone? Forget about the beautiful morning sunlight, you wake up to the artificial light stinging your eyes from your mobile...
We all know the feeling when our phone is about to run out of battery. That dreaded symbol sends us into immediate panic and we have to immediately find somewhere to charge our phone, even if that means carrying a portable charger round with us! Spending too much time on your phone leads to a life where you recognise normal daily activities in 'symbol' form. For example, rather than speaking to your friends you Whatsapp, Snapchat, Facetime or Facebook message them. Emojis replace real emotions and Apps such as Tinder and Twitter replace real relationships and communication.
Probably you. Facebook, scroll. Twitter, scroll. Instagram, scroll. Repeat. An hour has passed and you’ve still only copied down the assignment title. Sound familiar? I’m sure we’re all guilty of doing this to some extent, but if you really can find that much to keep you interested on your phone for such a long time, maybe you are a bit too attached. Our phone has found an answer for every part of our lives from waking up in the morning, to listening to music during the day, to browsing the internet at night. Ask yourself this, could you go a week without using any form of social media on your phone? You might surprise yourself at how much more you get done each day.
Constantly taking selfies on your phone? It's great to capture memories of nights out with friends or special occassions but if your entire evening revolves around taking the best selfie, then you are addicted. Why not try and enjoy your night rather than struggling to take the best picture for social media so you can later make it your profile picture or cover photo on Facebook. Take a few photos and then put down your phone and socialise and enjoy yourself. Create experiences that will last as memories in your head, not as a selfie on your phone. It's so easy to get hung up on looking good on social media, but really, who wants to be a Kim Kardashian wax figure?
LIFE & STYLE
Friday 5th February
Faux Fur vs. Real Fur: Which is better?
Delfina Rainoldi tackles one of fashions's biggest debates revealing the lengths one will go to keep warm this winter in the name of couture. Over the past five years there have been many heated debates about the use of real fur in fashion. Many celebrities (Christy Turlington and Pamela Anderson to name a few) have expressed their concern about the subject; yet there has been a recent change of heart as many high end fashion brands have incorporated more real fur than ever into their Autumn/Winter collections. Fendi, DSQUARED2, Jean Paul Gaultier, Valentino have all fallen victim to using real fur in their collections. The most recent and hotly contested movement against the use of real fur has involved Canadian brand Canada Goose who began using fur trims on their £600 jackets. Many have chosen to expose how the coyotes are killed in order to obtain the fur, but there remains a large number of people who have chosen to simply ignore the accusations toward the brand by buying more jackets, boosting their annual revenue.
Some justify their purchases by only buying fur products which include an ‘Origin Assurance’ label. However, this does not necessarily guarantee that the animals killed for the fur are killed ethically. According to Peta there is no justification for buying real fur as some of the methods used to obtain the fur involve electrocuting foxes, slitting rabbit’s throats and trapping coyotes, none of which seem to justify buying real fur. Personally, I do not wish to promote such cruelty in order to have the latest fur trim on my jacket or follow the latest trend. Yet when it comes to buying clothes, jackets or shoes; do you care enough to check whether they are made with fur or not? Real fur is softer, looks nicer, lasts longer and protects you more than faux fur right? Unfortunately, though that may be true, using fur for clothing means many animals are tortured to death and all for the sake of your nice fur scarf or cosy fur trim.
There have been many strong opinions on the use of fur by both pro and anti-fur activists. The British Fur Trade Association (BFTA) has argued that the environmental impact of faux fur is much greater than that of real fur as the chemicals used to make faux fur are non-biodegradable and thus have a severe impact on the planet. Because of some of their persuasive statements and the fact that many celebrities are seen in fur, there has been a fifty-eight percent increase in global sales of fur products since the end of the 1990s.
Perhaps the answer is to rule out both real and faux fur completely (if faux fur is as bad as BFTA say it is for the environment). At the end of the day it is better to protect animals from undergoing torture and to protect our planet from dying than to destroy so much simply for our disposable fashion habits.
Top Five: Beauty Bloggers Jade Woodhouse guides us through where she gets her beauty and fashion inspiration in just the click of a button.
Whilst focusing on mostly high-end products, Lily Pebbles’ clean cut and monochrome blog is both appealing to the eye, and easy to navigate. Her passion for good beauty products is evident, as her honest reviews and regular tutorials simplify make-up for people of all abilities. Through the seamless combination of beauty, fashion and lifestyle, Lily captures what it means to splash the cash on a good quality product, whilst appreciating the cheap and cheerful classics.
The queen of skincare and the ‘mother’ of most YouTube beauty gurus. Caroline Hirons offers skincare tips, tricks and recommendations from the most expensive night oils, to drug-store moisturisers. However, her expertise within the skincare field, alongside her years of ‘tried and tested’ experience allow blog readers to trust her opinion whilst dangerously being tempted to splurge on her recommended products.
Vivianna Does Makeup
As a close friend of Lily Pebbles, Vivianna Does Makeup’s blog style differs only slightly, however her ‘less is more’ approach to makeup keeps her beauty tips centred on enhancing natural beauty through minimal makeup, with the odd bold lip. Just like her make-up style, her blog remains simple as she offers health and beauty tips for the regular twenty-something girl.
The Sunday Girl
With a more straightforward theme, The Sunday Girl operates a hands on approach to makeup testing and reviews, offering photos of packaging and swatches. This dedicated blog covers all types of beauty for all ages, from high end skincare for mature skin to the best drugstore mascaras for teens.
Formerly known as ‘Essie Button’, Estee Lalonde’s blog extends much further than simply beauty, as she documents regular travels, alternative London hotspots and quirky homewares. However, as a beauty blogger, Estee’s love of lipsticks and dewy skin foundations allows readers to be inspired by her fresh look, whilst her highend tutorials evoke a dreamy makeup lust.
FIERCE Gwen Stefani X Urban Decay Not exactly what you would expect of Gwen when thinking back to her No Doubt days, but a must have for makeup junkies. Designed to fill the gaps in Gwen’s collection, you can now get your hands on lipsticks, lip pencils, a blush palette and a brow kit (as well has her lust-worthy eyeshadow palette!) all in striking black, white, and gold packaging.
Sport Relief Bake Off God forbid us Brits go more than six months without Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood on our screens, and right now we’re all gathered round to see celebs take on the tent in aid of Sport Relief. While the classic GBBO can’t be beaten, at least the celeb’s bakes look as if they are vaguely achievable (except Sam-Cam’s Surf Cake – surely having a fine art degree is cheating?!).
'Seasonal' Chocolate Yes, it’s delicious, and yes, we will eat all of it whether or not we’re celebrating the holiday (V-Day, we’re looking at you), but it’s hardly seasonal – before 2015 was even over we were bombarded with stacks of Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies. Surely the whole point is that it’s only available for a limited time?
Skinny Jeans They’ve become a uniform by now, and we’ve had them in bright colours, black, white, and ripped, but those in the know are ditching the spray on skinny. We’ve already seen the rise of mom jeans, and next up are rigid, straight-cut denims. Don’t dig out the flares just yet, but step away from the skinnies and let some fresh denim into your wardrobe.
Gold Metallic Tattoos Another one of last year’s festival “essentials”, here’s to hoping these don’t make a comeback this year. Temporary tattoos, especially this incarnation, remind us of being a little kid in the 90s – something we don’t particularly want to revisit! If you love tattoos but don’t want one for life, unleash your creativity and grab some henna instead!
Tara Kergon Life&Style writer
Friday 5th February 2016
Travel: Valentine's Getaways
A collaboration of our Travel writers share the most romantic city breaks for Valentine's day. Paris
Katarina Bickley Travel Writer @katarinabickley
Where better for a romantic Valentine’s getaway than the City of Love itself? There’s nothing quite like getting lost in Paris’ beautifully-crafted architecture, chic ambiance and delightful patisseries. First-timers will find themselves mesmerised by the Notre Dame, Sacré Coeur and Louvre. Even as a local, the sparkling Eiffel Tower still makes your heart skip a beat. There really is something magical about Paris. If you’re keen to escape the throngs of tourists and are looking for more of a romantic weekend à la Parisienne, then head to one of the endless bakeries (there’s at least one on every street) for handcrafted baguettes and pastries, find the smelliest and tastiest cheeses in a fromagerie, and, of course, no Parisian feast would be complete without a bottle of vin. Then head to the Seine or to one of Paris’ beautiful parks for a romantic picnic. Parc des ButtesChaumont, Parc Monceau and Bois de Vincennes aren’t quite as busy as some of the more central ones. Speaking of wine - there are plenty of cosy little wine bars, some of which offer wine-tasting if you get there before the crowds. Gossip Girl fans will recognise ‘Le Baron Rouge’, which has glasses of wine for as little as €1.50 (!).
It's the perfect spot if you’re after an authentic Parisian evening. If you’re looking to wine and dine, the candlelit ‘Le CoupeChou’ is without a doubt the most romantic little restaurant ever. Arguably, one of the most romantic ways to experience Paris is to simply wander. Gaze upon stylish flats and stunning monuments whilst stumbling upon hidden gems, hand in hand, surrounded, of course, by the beautiful language of love.
'Arguably, one of the most romantic ways to experience Paris is to simply wander.' Pay a visit to some of the more offbeat spots, like the magical stained glass windows at the Saint-Chapelle, the cobblestone backstreets of Montmartre, and see if you can find ‘Le mur des je t’aime’ (I love you: the wall), which has ‘I love you’ written in 250 different languages. When your feet need a break, hop on one of the river cruises into the very heart of Paris. If you’re feeling extra romantic (and have a fair few pennies), you can even have dinner on the Seine - you can’t get much more romantic than that. It’s impossible not to fall in love with Paris on your first visit. And no doubt, it won’t be your last, with the blissful boulangeries and unforgettable cultural icons pulling you back in no time for another weekend break.
Alys Haswell Travel Writer
Venice is known as one of the most romantic cities in Europe, and it is not hard to see why. With luxurious gondolas drifting through endless canals, beautiful renaissance palaces and the sound of opera serenading the air, Venice embodies romance and beauty. This city, located in North-East Italy, is ‘the city built on the sea’. Composed of 118 islands separated by winding canals and connected by bridges, it is one of the only places in the world where visitors welcome getting lost. Wandering along canals and through narrow passageways gives you a sense of the charm, history and culture that Venice has to offer. The Grand Canal is just what its name implies: grand and magnificent. Stretching 3.8km from the lagoon to Saint Mark's Basin, the banks of the canal are lined with buildings which date back to the 13th century, and present the intricate architecture and artwork of Venice. Hopping on a waterbus is one of the best ways to see many of the city’s sites, including Rialto Bridge, also providing a chance to mingle with the locals. St Mark’s Square is a mustsee. Surrounded by elaborate buildings, to really marvel at the grandeur of the square, grab a coffee and take a walk around early in the morning before other tourists arrive. Come evening, the
atmosphere is transformed with the buildings illuminated. St Mark’s Basilica, the city’s main cathedral, lies at the eastern end of the square, and is remarkable with its impressive domes and 8500 square metres of glittering mosaics. If you’d prefer something more modest, jump on a waterbus and spend time exploring the islands of Murano and Torcello. Murano is renowned for glassmaking, so be sure to watch the experts in their craft and pick up a unique gift to remember your trip. Torcello is a tranquil oasis, with
'Luxurious gondolas drift through endless canals, surrounded by beautiful renaissance palaces with opera serenading the air.' stunning views of the Venetian lagoon from the bell tower. Last but definitely not least, who could go to Venice and not take a gondola ride? Picture the Walls 1980s Cornetto advert, but with your gondolier singing about something a little more romantic than ice-cream. A ride can reveal new perspectives of the city, and is the perfect way to enjoy the enchanting surroundings.
A Postcard From... Prague Beckey Bulman Travel Writer @Beckey_Bulman
Prague is the perfect city break. It's small enough that you can walk everywhere, but there's still so much to see. Going in the winter gives it a different feel, and if you're lucky it snows and covers the whole city in a bright white dusting. Prague Castle is a must. It's a lovely walk up to the top and you get an amazing view of the rest of the city. The castle isn't just one building, as you might expect. There's a whole palace complex of beautiful buildings, all of which have their own various roles. Housed in the middle of this sprawling mass of amazing architecture is one particular triumph: the St Vitus Cathedral.
Built in 1344, it is an extraordinary example of Gothic architecture, particularly famous for its stunning stained glass windows. As well as the castle, there is the Strahov Monastery, home to two incredible libraries, the Theological and Philosophical Halls, and St Nicholas Church, one of the most valuable buildings north of the Alps. Even better, you can use your student card for discounted entry for all of these places. Close to the church is the famous John Lennon Wall, which features a range of colourful and stubborn graffiti that has been repainted countless times over the years. The Vltava river runs right through the middle of Prague and crossing over the iconic Charles Bridge is definitely something that should feature on your itiner-
ary. Aside from the wealth of culture, there is a vast range of bars, cafes and restaurants that make up the winding streets, perfect for when you need to refuel after a long day of exploring. Old Town is particularly quaint, with various toy shops and souvenir shops, and during December and January the Christmas markets are housed here. Probably the most iconic feature of all is the astronomical clock tower, first installed in 1410, and the third oldest astronomical clock tower in the world. Be sure to see it chime on the hour! The great thing about Prague is that it's cheap, easy to get around and full of things to see. I’d definitely recommend it as a winter getaway.
Ellen Smith Travel Writer
Recognised by UNESCO for its vibrant medieval history, preserved in the quaint cobbled streets and Gothic architecture, Bruges will enchant any budding couple with its Flemish heritage of art, religion and craft this Valentine’s Day. Enlivening the city is the sound of Carillon bells from Belfry Tower and the clatter of horse drawn carriages across the bustling market squares. The balance between urban culture and rustic charm in Bruges makes it the ideal location for a romantic city getaway. With the promise of eternal love to couples who cross its stone bridge, Minnewaterpark, translated from Dutch as ‘Lake of Love’, is apt for dreamy visitors this Valentine’s Sunday. The legend of Minne and her partner Stromberg that has long been associated with the lake encapsulates old tales of forbidden love and tragic destiny. Such a folk story as this comes alive on an early morning meander, just ten minutes away from the city centre, around the picturesque landscape of drooping willow trees, white swans and still water. Visiting the variety of popular landmarks that feature in the cult film ‘In Bruges’ is irresistible for tourists, but for Valentine’s the appeal to celebrate the arts by exploring the Groeningemuseum adjacent to the Dijver canal is
Friday 5th February 2016
especially strong. The sublime Gothic twelfth century church, Heilig-Bloedbasiliek, so named for containing the Blood of Christ, is a mystical reminder of Bruges’ ecclesiastical past. Take the opportunity for a scenic walk around the Begijnhof. This inner city courtyard is encircled by rows of white houses surrounded by hundreds of blooing daffodils. Or perhaps a ‘windmill walk’ in Kruisvest, on the outskirts of Bruges, will best capture the romantic mood this month. After enjoying the open space of the park they are situated in, take a peep inside the working windmill, Sint-Janshuismolen built in 1770. Whether it is strolling through gardens, canalside tandem cycling or taking a canal tour of the city by boat, Bruges is the perfect Valentine’s escape. Bruges has an array of luxury crafted treats to tantalise shoppers including chocolatiers and lace makers. Although the typical Belgian cuisine such as waterzooi, mussels and waffles is available in Bruges, sampling their prized chocolate is an essential, but of course, delicious experience. After tasting the handmade selection on offer at the popular chocolate shop, ‘Chocolaterie Sukerbuyc’ head over to their tea-room directly opposite the workshop to enjoy a hot chocolate with a twist, as the custom here is to drop a piece of chocolate in a cup of hot milk, letting it dissolve as you soak up the divine sweets culture of Bruges. With a magical atmosphere and steeped in history, Bruges is a guaranteed hotspot this Valentine’s Day.
but I promise you once you reach the top you will not regret it. The views over Siena are stunning and will instantly make you fall in love with the city.
Carys Bedford Travel Writer @carysbedford
Italy is known for being one of the most romantic countries in the world. Venice and Rome are obviously beautiful cities to visit for Valentines Day, but if you are on the search for somewhere a bit different and perhaps quieter, Siena is the perfect alternative. The medieval city of Siena is set in the hills of Tuscany. It is a relatively small-scale city so it is perfect for a short Valentines weekend break away. The best sight of Siena is from the top of the Il Campo, right in the center of the walled city. Here is where the Pallio (the horse race) is held, which takes place for one day every summer. A special little tip is to use your phone data for the day and watch a YouTube clip of the race whilst standing in the Pallio. This makes you fully understand the uniqueness of the event. Surrounding the Piazza are numerous restaurants and bars but for a romantic meal. If you want something a little more special and less touristy, head away from the Il Campo to find something more genuine and local. Obviously you are in the heart of Italian cuisine so you will be overwhelmed with the sheer mass of gorgeous little pizza and pasta places. For a little more culture, take a walk to the Torre Del Mangia. You may start to regret eating all that pizza and pasta for lunch as there are over 400 steps to climb,
'The medieval city of Siena is set in the hills of Tuscany. It is a relitively smallscale city so it is perfect for a short Valentine's weekend break away.' Finally, an essential visit is the Cathedral. Even if you are not the most culture-savvy couple and generally do not hold much of an appreciation for architecture, it is impossible not to be in awe of this stunning Cathedral. It is truly breathtaking. Siena is a city perfect for a Valentine's weekend away. There is lots to see, so much to do and some incredible Italian foods to feast on. Venture out to try something a little different, visit somewhere completely new and you will be pleasantly surprised. Siena's rich cultural history, towering redbrick chapels and cathedrals and overwhelmingly delicious food are not to be missed. A true Italian delight.
Sophie Braybrook Travel Writer @SophieBraybrook
There is nothing more romantic than experiencing the Northern lights this Valentine’s day. With the lights visible for more than 200 days of the year, Lapland offers the best chance to witness this beautiful, natural sight. Don't be fooled into thinking the northern lights are the only thing Lapland has to offer. Forget ticking off your bucket list one by one, and instead scribble out multiple of your ‘to-dos’ from a single trip to this stunning country this February. With snow conditions in alpine resorts so variable this season, Lapland’s guaranteed snow offers more reliable skiing opportunities, but your experience of Lapland will be entirely different from any other skiing holiday; even the modes of transport are exciting with huskies and reindeer-drawn sleighs to guide you around this snowy paradise. The accommodation in Lapland also offers something entirely unique. Rated 4 stars on TripAdvisor, accommodation cannot get more romantic than Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort. Located 6km from Urho Kekkonen National Park and 35 km from Ivalo Airport in Finnish Lapland, you can stay in enchanting glass igloos and sleep under the Northern Lights from the comfort of your private room. Alternatively choose the more traditional but
cosy log cabin with a kitchen and sauna. This resort will ensure you a hassle-free holiday as not only is breakfast included, but they offer a selection of snow safaris, skiing, snowboarding, and ice fishing to keep you busy. For ultimate relaxation and a magical experience of Santa Claus’ home, I highly recommend Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort. For the action couple, why not truly experience Lapland, grab a rucksack, take a tent and hike around Urho Kekkonen National Park instead? Climb the mountains and fells for incredible views, drink from the crystal clear rivers, spot the wildlife, and wander through some of the most beautiful woodlands in the world. Use the sauna facilities dotted throughout the park and pitch your tent at night after making a fire for warmth. Then relax under the stars and the Northern lights before heading into your tent for a much needed rest. There is no better way to spend quality time with your loved one this Valentine’s than by keeping off the grid and experiencing something as magnificent as the natural beauties of Lapland together. Those slightly less daring can enjoy hiking the area in the daylight hours, and retreat the one of the park’s many idyllic log cabins in the evening. Scrap the hustle and bustle of the cities and try something completely new this Valentine’s. A destination where you and your other half can escape reality and relax together in the most picturesque of settings, while partaking in once in a life-time activities.
Top 3: Valentine's Dates in Birmingham Travel Editor Daisy Holden suggests her ideas for spending Valentine's Day in the city. Daisy Holden Travel Editor @_DaisyHolden
1. The Mac
2. Bistro at Hotel du Vin
The Mac is hosting a screening of cult classic Dirty Dancing alongside dinner with Valentine's themed cocktails. This is perfect idea for those wanting a romantic night out, and romantic classic Dirty Dancing will definitely set the mood. Tickets are £50, which is slightly pricy on a student budget, but it does include entrance to the film, dinner and a glass of prosecco on arrival. Popcorn and sweets have been swapped for sophisticated tapas style sharer, assiette of desserts, and tea and coffee served with macaroons. This night will definitely show that you have pulled out all of the stops to create a memorable romantic Valentine's night.
Bistro at Hotel du Vin oozes Parisian charm, making it the ideal place to spend Valentine's Day with your loved one. It has great food and drink, in an elegant setting - making your time extra special. It has a warm down-to-earth relaxed atmosphere, with French inspired cuisine. With restored fireplaces, antique floorboards and soft mood lighting, this Bistro is undeniably romantic. More importantly, there is something to suit everyone. The Bistro offers breakfast, afternoon tea, bar food, a la carte and Sunday brunch - so you can really tailor your time at the Bistro to suit your other half.
3. Lickey Hills Get back to nature with your other half, and spend Valentine's Day at Lickey Hills. This beautiful country park is one of Birmingham’s most treasured nature reserves; boasting a complex mosaic of heathland, woodland and grassland full of wildlife. It is open daily from 10am-4.30 in the winter, and most importantly it is free to enter. Lickey Hills is really easy to access from University, as it is a direct train line through Selly Oak, to Barnt Green. This is perfect for those couples not wanting to spend a lot of money, but wanting to spend time with each other. With no distractions from modern life, you can relax and enjoy nature and each other's company.
SCI & TECH
Friday 5th February 2016
Science Behind: Fairy Tales We all love fairy tales; the magic, the monsters, the happy ever after but are they too unrealistic to hold any truth, science may have the answers. Ellen Daugherty Sci & Tech Writer @redbricktech
In this week’s ‘hot topics’ by Nature, there has been a paper published by social scientists in The Royal Society Open Science that has used biological methods to determine the ‘true’ age of certain fairy tales. The aim of this experiment was to find the origin of fairy tales passed down by word of mouth. Until now it was thought that fairy tales originated only a few hundred years before they were first written down, which would make them around 500 years old. However the research carried out in this study has estimated fairytales to be thousands of years old, and even date back to the Bronze Age. Sara Graça da Silva from the New University in Lisbon, and Jamshid Tehrani from Durham University set out to find the origins of fairytales by using statistical analysis of 257 folklore tales, together with the links between ancient Asian and European languages. They used the method of phylogeny, usually used to deter-
mine evolutionary relationships between species, to create trees that present the relationships between different stories. Population data, the physical distance between Indo-European speaking societies and the oral traditions of the time, were all put together to create a phylogenetic tree of fairy tales. They focused on where Indo-European societies split, around 5000 years ago, and then went from there. The strongest, most convincing section of the tree, was the one containing the tale, ‘The Smith and the Devil’, which dated back to the Bronze Age. This particular tale hugely outdated the Fairytale book published by the Grimm brothers in 1812, and even outdated the bible. This gave the research team vital insights into the state of society all those years ago, and hopefully this can be used to create a clearer picture of how our culture evolved.
the ancient tales.
Is there any real science behind fairytale stories?
Can Snow White fall into a coma by simply eating an apple?
There’s nothing like taking all of the romanticism out of the world’s best known folklore stories, so here’s some science behind
Can Rupunzel really support a fully-grown man with her hair alone? Well according to some basic physics, human hair can withstand more tension than iron and copper. With a hair strength being around 380 MPa, as worked out by scientists at the University of Leicester, it would be possible for Rapunzel to hold a fully grown man, of an average size, with just her golden locks. However, the main issue is that the weight would probably pull the hair straight out of her scalp ouch indeed. To combat this, she could simply wrap her hair around a bedpost or other stable object, therefore redirecting the friction caused by the pressure put on the hair, to the knot around the bedpost, rather than on Rapunzel’s head.
The Gram-positive bacteria Listeria monocytogenes, is commonly found in apples and has
caused many batches of apples to be recalled from our supermarket shelves. It causes meningitis, and can in rare cases, lead to the victim being induced into a coma. So theoretically, the Evil Queen, would have potentially given Snow White an apple laced with Listeria monocytogenes. However, the possibility of being woken up from a coma by a prince, does unfortunately seem highly unlikely. Could Jack really climb the beanstalk? No, he couldn’t. There isn't a beanstalk strong enough to support a human man, let alone grow to atmospheric levels where clouds are starting to form. Perhaps GM beanstalks could one-day be engineered to have incredible strength and grow to unrealistic heights. This may seem far off, but scientists are already modifying plants DNA to protect them against strains of disease and to increase their yield. So in the distant future, could they create a superbeanstalk that could hold the weight of a human man?
Another messaging app? Peach! Amy Thompson Sci & Tech Editor @Amy_F_Thompson
Peach is the latest social media app to hit the app market. It was created by the founder of vine Dom Hofmann and was released at the beginning of January. But what is Peach? And what separates it from the likes of Facebook messenger, WhatsApp, snapchat and the many other lesser known social media apps available? The key selling point to Peach is the user’s ability to input magic words into the message box, an example of a magic word would be “GIF”. By typing a magic word into the app's messaging
box, a separate search bar appears where you can type in any word and it will find “GIFS” related to those words, and then you can share any GIF it suggests with your friends. Other magic words include: goodmorning, goodnight, here, battery, weather, move, meetings, safari, dice, time, date, TV and game. With there to be even more magic words added to the app as it grows in popularity. One of the coolest magic words is “song” which allows you to share whatever music is playing on your phone right then and there. You can also use the magic word “rate” which allows you to rate anything, whether that be a
message, a GIF, or whatever else you want to rate, allowing you to award a rating out of 5. The app itself is well laid out, making it easy to get to the various features and allowing you to quickly see all your friends’ posts. One of the main screens on the app allows you to watch all your friends at once update their statuses, so need to open each friend’s page in turn to see what everybody is doing. Like twitter, Peach shows all of the things you send to everybody on your homepage/ timeline, so there is no privacy on the app unlike on Facebook where you can use a direct messaging service to message people privately.
Peach unfortunately does not have a group chat feature unlike other popular platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook messenger. Still, Peach has one feature similar to Facebook’s poke button; within the app you can choose to wave at a friend, blow them a kiss or cake them! Peach also has another novel feature, it suggests questions for the user to answer as a way of stimulating conversation, and some of the questions include: What’s the best sport to watch? What would your warning label say? What word in the dictionary can you find your photo next to? Being such a new app means Peach does not always run smoothly. There are a few glitches within the app, for example one of the magic words “shout” allows you to write words on a bright coloured background or over a photo, but unfortunately this feature does not seem to be working for most users. Also at the moment the app is only available for iOS users for now and won’t be available for android for a quite a while yet. Following its release in January Peach sat at the top spot on the Apple app chart, but within its first month it has fallen dramatically with Peach now not even being in the top 100. Some users are already stating that the app is dead and will long be forgotten! But does this mean that the app is doomed? Peach might have some staying power, after all it is created by the founder of Vine and the team of people working on the app have created some pretty cool new features not seen on any of the other major social media platforms before.
Creature Feature Proboscis Monkey Ellen Daugherty
Science and Tech Writer
This unusual creature was voted one of the world's ugliest animals in 2013. The Proboscis Monkey is undoubtedly funny looking, best known for its largely protruding nose that makes it look unlike any other monkey on earth. Not used for increased sense of smell, their noses are used to attract females. Proboscis monkeys have very organized groups, called hareems, usually consisting of a single dominant male with 2-7 females and their offspring. Endemic to Borneo, these Old World Monkeys share their habitat with the Bornean orangutan, and are able to coexist peacefully in the same area. They settle near water, and are often found nearby rivers, swamps and mangroves. This is unusual for a primate, and as a consequence they have evolved to be specifically adapted to swimming making them the world's most aquatic primate, with evolved webbed and hands and feet! They can even out swim crocodiles, their biggest predator. There are only around 1000 Proboscis Monkeys left, as their unique habitat choices expose them to frequent deforestation. Poaching for furs and meat is still common and is the main cause of their endangered level.
SCI & TECH
Friday 5th February 2016
4D: Not Just a Film Experience 2016: the year printing moves into the fourth dimension. What does that mean for the world and what exactly is 4D printing? Roshni Patel Sci & Tech Writer @Roshofalltrades
You’ve just got your head around 3D printing and the ability to print almost anything from schematics and a microwave sized box, and now the world of technology throws out their newest manufacturing movement, 4D printing. When we hear 4D we generally think of the 4D cinema experience, where not only do the images leap from the screen but so do the smells and motions. 4D printing however is a slightly different concept. First formulated in 2012 by a Research Scientist Skylar Tibbits at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology (MIT), who founded some of the first research at the university’s Self Assembly Lab, where they designed materials and structures which would assemble themselves or undergo metamorphosis when given energy. A TED talk fellow, Tibbits has taken to the red mat to speak about the research at Self-Assembly Lab, their progress and the implications of self-assembly materials which could self-assemble with only the addition of kinetic energy or change their shape with some heat or water. It was in these research labs that 4D printing began, where researchers sought to create materials which would be responsive and adaptive straight off the 3D print bed, adding the element time to allow their products to trans-
form. Tibbits’ research and that of the Self-Assembly Lab’s has become less futuristic, more realistic and plausible with more and more research teams looking into 4D printing techniques and their future applications. Applications which range from adaptive products, garments or mechanisms that respond to user-demands and fluctuating environments to adaptive materials which have robotic-like properties without the multiple manufacturing methods or electronics. Recent developments in 4D printing include Harvard University’s 4D printed flowers which showcased the university's bio-inspired engineering, through its “hydrogel composite structure” which reassembled itself when
submerged in water to resemble an Orchid flower. Through 4D printing they were able to mimic the way natural structures change form due to their environment, furthering research which as scientists suggest in the Harvard Gazette, “opens up new potential applications for 4D printing technology, including smart textiles, soft electronics, biomedical devices, and tissue engineering.” There is clearly a lot of research going into 4D printing and the development and application of the materials that can be made through this process. Despite the speed at which technology moves. It may still be a while before we begin to 4D print our world to the same scale as we 3D print today.
Redbrick Meets: Wizzluck A University of Birmingham student has founded a dating app to connect students around campus. Wizzluck was developed by fourth year business management student, Zacharie Konstabler, with the intention of relieving some of the “awkwardness” and anxiety involved in meeting new people.
Zacharie Konstabler, co-founder of the app said: “I’m an international student, and when I started university, I realised there was a big divide between the home students and the international students. It was very hard to get to know people."A lot of people won’t walk over to each other physically to start a conversation in the library, cafeteria, lecture, or wherever they are. I came up with the idea of a social dating app which allows users to see others nearby, and start a conversation if they’re interested in chatting to each other.”
Zacharie has been promoting the app with the help of his housemate, and the app’s UK marketing director, Jacob Freedman. “We’ve had about 150 users in Birmingham University sign up already. “The more users we have and the more support we get, the better the app becomes. The whole idea of the app is to have as many people on there as possible, so you have all sorts of different people to talk to. The more support, the better,” said Jacob. The app follows in the steps of Tinder, allowing users to easily connect with people nearby. It also provides pick-up lines to break the ice. Users can point the app in any direction to find Wizzluck users nearby. They can then start a conversation, or add the user to their “Wizzlist” from which they can contact them up to 12 hours later.
Sci & Tech Editor @elliempatten
If a user is lost for words, the app encourages them to use the “shake” function to generate a funny, and often awkward pick-up line, designed to break the ice. Although the app was originally launched as a beta test in France during Zacharie’s year abroad, his main focus is for the app to become successful in Birmingham, where it has only recently been launched. He said: “If it takes off and becomes a big thing, it would be amazing. But the first thing is to make it popular in Birmingham, and bring it to the students. That’s the main goal.”
The app can be downloaded for free on the App Store or Google Play.
Dogs Can Read Facial Expressions Kara Watson Sci & Tech Writer @Karaml_Watson
Every dog owner will tell you that their dog knows exactly what they are feeling even though we are completely different species. Fortunately, more and more research is supporting the idea that dogs can indeed read our facial expressions. Researchers in Finland conducted a recent study which looked at 31 domestic dogs from many different breeds. They were shown six pictures; three of
humans and three of dogs. In the pictures the dog or human presented either a threatening, pleasant or neutral expression. By tracking the gaze of the subject dog’s eyes while they were viewing the facial expressions, the researchers could see how the dogs evaluated the emotions the faces were showing. They found that the dogs would look at the eyes first and for the longest then would systematically scan the rest of the face. But although they looked at the eyes foremost, they would still use the whole face to interpret the expres-
sion, mainly the mid face and mouth. The threatening pictures elicited different responses from the subject. When looking at the picture of the threatened dog, the subject had heightened attention toward the picture. This may be an evolutionary adaptation for them to analyse the cause of the threat and how to respond. With the human picture however, the subject dog performed an avoidance response. This study shows that dogs can distinguish between different facial expressions on human faces.
This is due to the fact that their gaze fixation distribution varied between the three expressions. Also the dogs studied the facial expressions in a similar way to the way in which humans, chimpanzees and macaques do. This lends support to Darwin’s theory that human and animals emotional expressions both have the same evolutionary root. The domestication of dogs seems to have made them more sensitive to human’s emotions and so it is quite likely that your dog does, in fact, know what you are feeling.
Delete Blood Cancer Natasha Davies Sci and Tech Writer
Only a small percentage of Birmingham residents are registered as potential lifesavers. More blood stem cell donors are needed in Birmingham according to the charity Delete Blood Cancer UK. Appeals are being made to have more potential donors registered in the city, giving the donors the chance to become a potential lifesaver. Every year 30,000 people will be diagnosed with blood cancer. Leukaemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma are all types of blood cancer causing uncontrollable growth of abnormal blood cells. For many of these patients a blood stem cell donation is their only chance of survival. A blood stem cell donation replaces the cancerous cells, meaning that donors have the ability to save a life. Delete Blood Cancer UK aims to recruit as many potential blood stem cell donors as possible, particularly in the Birmingham area where currently only 4,771 donors are registered. Increasing the number of potential donors, also increases the patient's chances of finding a match to their tissue type. Sadly, for some patients a match may never be found if their is not someone with the same tissue type is not on the register. Caroline Portlock, head of donor recruitment at Delete Blood Cancer UK emphasised how easy it is for people to register. “Registering online as a potential blood stem cell donor only takes a few minutes but it could lead to you giving decades to someone else. It could lead to you saving the life of someone with blood cancer who is in need of a blood stem cell donation for their survival. Please take the time to do it as it could be one of the most important things you ever do.” Those wishing to donate must register online. Five minutes is all that is required to register. A cheek swab test will then be sent, the tissue type is identified and added to the database. If a match is made with a patient, the registered donor will then be contacted.
Friday 5th February
A Perfect Valentine's Date Night in Felicity George Food Writer
With Valentine’s Day coming up, the race is on to find the perfect date, make your restaurant reservation and buy your prospective partner a generic box of chocolates. To make your job a little easier, why not escape the rammed restaurants and spend the night snuggled up on the sofa with a meal in? If the idea of cooking up a culinary storm in the kitchen covers you with a cold sweat, fear not: Marks and Spencer's are here to help with their
Dine in For Two deal, oles. offering a main and side Or maybe try their dish, dessert and a bottle Salmon medallions with of wine for £10. mascarpone, paired with minted new potatoes, andcompleted by two rasppanna cottas. '...a main and side berry If your'e a vegetarian, not give their Gastro dish, dessert and a why chestnut mushroom and rarebit tart with bottle of wine for cheddar rosemary potatoes a go? £10...' Easily finished off with a toffee and honeycomb tray The offer covers a great bake for dessert. range of meals to suit all Whether you’re a tastes, carnivorous or stressed out couple in need veggie. of a relaxing weekend or a Try pairing their hungry singleton looking Gastropub Steak and Ale for an eating challenge, Pie with the broccoli, car- Marks and Spencer's are rot, courgette and fine here for you this Valentine’s beans side dish, followed Day, and they know how by their delicious profiter- to do our kind of food.
Celebrate Chinese New Year Phoebe Radford Food Writer
When better to treat yourself to a good Chinese than on Chinese New Year? Monday 8th February marks the year of the Monkey, so if you're a fan of this tasty cuisine set the date and get ready to explore some of Birmingham's best.
Suizen’s Noodle Bar Conveniently located on Selly’s Bristol Road, Suizen’s is your go-to Chinese take out, with decent prices and portions across their extensive menu.
Go Central From the 1st-12th February, Go Central in the University Centre is offering a Chinese New Year special for only £4.25. You have the choice of Szechuan char siu pork, sweet and sour Cantonese chicken, or mushroom tofu. This comes with rice or noodles, and either gyozas or spring rolls.
Chung Ying Central With a claim to the best Dim Sums in the city and a reputable oriental cocktail menu, Chung Ying Central is definitely worth a try. The Dim
Sum (small bite-sized portions) options are all around £4, with main dishes starting at around £9. You can also get 10% off with an Independent Birmingham Card, and there is a 2-for-1 happy hour on cocktails everyday from 4pm-7pm.
Han Dynasty Han Dynasty's restaurant in based in central Birmingham, but their food is also available on Deliveroo. They specialize in traditional Chinese hot pots, which allow you add your own ingredients to a stew pot on your table, whilst also offering a great range of options from a set menu.
Four Quinoa Alternative's for 2016 Ally Head Travel Editor @allyhead
2015 was the year that saw superfoods rocket to new levels of popularity. All things kale, cauliflower and matcha began infiltrating supermarkets and appearing on restaurant menus. Most notably, last year was the year of supergrain quinoa. The hearty health food is originally a traditional delicacy of Southern America, and became popular served as an ideal wheat-free alternative to starchy grains. It rose to fame topping the ‘staples’ list of most well-being bloggers and health conscious chefs alike. The Peruvian superfood is
loved by health bloggers such as the Hemsley sisters and Madeline Shaw. Famous whole food guru Deliciously Ella calls quinoa her ‘go-to grain’ because of its high nutritional content Because of its sudden success, the grain became very easy to locate, readily available to buy in supermarkets and equally as easy to incorporate into your everyday diet. Food trend forecasts predict that the grain love will continue into 2016 – but with a slight change of fortune. Surprisingly, pulses, whole grains and other forms of pseudo-grains look set to overtake quinoa this year in the superfood grain race. Fancy trying one of the up-
and-coming food trends of 2016? Read on to take a peek at our selection of quinoa alternatives, ranging from pulses to pseudo-grains. Freekeh is an ancient form of wheat harvested early when the grains are still green to preserve its high fibre, protein and mineral levels. With it’s trademark rich, smoky flavour, the pseudo-grain is easy to digest, gluten free and ideal for celiacs, or those opting for a gluten free diet. What’s more, it takes only minutes to cook, and offers an exciting alternative to ordinary grains. Delicious with chickpeas, tahini and roasted cauliflower, this exotic alternative is sure to spice up your midweek meals. Buckwheat is loved by
Deliciously Ella and Madeline Shaw alike. It is a seed that is wheat free and incredibly versatile. This up and coming superfood is inexpensive, nutritious and easy to prepare. Lentils offer a filling alternative to most carbohydrates and endless health benefits, and are set to become a replacement of the much loved qunioa. Bulgur is a middle Eastern whole wheat, high in fibre and protein, used frequently in the popular Arabian dish Tabouleh. It is steamed before selling (it's essentially halfcooked) and, similar to cous cous, can be used to acccompany most meals. Once again, this is set to overtake the quinoa trend this year!
Every Friday Digbeth Dining Club, Spotlight 7th February Chinese New Year Celebrations, The Arcadian 20th February Spring Vegan Fair, Stirchley Swimming Baths
Friday 5th February
Blueberry Pancakes Jennifer Cook
Once hot, add the batter to the pan- it's up to you whether you add it all to make one large pancake or bit by bit to make several small ones. Cook for a few minutes on either side until golden brown.
Food Writer @jennifer3cook
Just canâ€™t get enough of the smoothie maker that you received for Christmas? Now you can extend its use to the realms of pancake making with this delicious recipe by Jamie Oliver.
'...expose the juicy berry interior and decorate with yoghurt...'
You will need: 320g of any berry of your choice 1 ripe banana 170 ml semi-skimmed milk 1 large egg 250g self-raising flour 2 tablespoons natural yoghurt Ground cinnamon 30g mixed nuts Honey
Method: Blend half of the berries, the banana, milk, egg and flour to make the batter. Transfer into a bowl and
add the remaining whole berries. Place a large non-stick frying pan onto a medium/ high heat and coat the surface of the pan with oil.
To serve, Jamie suggests slicing the pancakes in half to expose the juicy berry interior and decorating with yoghurt, crushed nuts, cinnamon and a drizzle of honey.
American Style Pancakes Francesa Pepe Food Writer @_francescapepe
This year, instead of the predictable layer of nutella, or the lemon and sugar combo on your pancakes, why not try this super easy American style pancake with maple syrup and bacon?
You will need: 135g plain flour 1 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp salt 2 tbsp caster sugar 130ml milk 1 large egg, lightly beaten 2 tbsp melted butter
Method: Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and caster sugar into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk and egg, then whisk in the melted butter. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture, and, using a fork, beat until you have a smooth batter (don't worry too much if there are a few small lumps left). Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and add a knob of butter. When it's melted, add a ladle of batter; it will seem very thick but this is how it should be! Wait until the top of the pancake begins to bubble, then turn it over and cook until both sides are golden brown and the pancake has risen to about 1cm. Keep your pancakes on a
plate in a warm oven whilst you cook your bacon. For a true American breakfast, use streaky bacon to top, frying until it's nice anc crispy. Top your pancakes with the bacon and drizzle maple syrup on top. Enjoy!
Top tip: Use honey instead of syrup for a healthier alternative!
Savoury Pancakes Sophie Milligan Food Editor @s_ophiemilligan
These savoury pancakes make the perfect indulgent brunch. Why not add your own twist and experiment with toppings? Toasted nuts and hummus work beautifully, as does a tasty fried egg.
You will need: 100g buckwheat/brown rice flour 1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt 250ml milk 3 large eggs 10g chives Coconut oil, for cooking 1tbsp tasted sesames seeds (optional)
Method: In a large mixing bowl comine the flour, salt and sesame seeds In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs and
chives. Pour this mixture over the flour mixture and stir until combined and lump free. Let it sit for five minutes, stir again. Thin with
water. Heat a large nonstick pan over a medium heat with the coconut oil and pour around 60ml of mixture in. Cook until golden and the edges of the pancake are beginning to curl. Flip and brown the second side. To serve you will need: two avocados, 250g smoked salmon, a handful of rocket, one lemon cut into wedges and olive oil. Slice the avocados into thin strips. Arrange the salmon and avocado in the centre of each wrap, top with a little rocket, a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil normal or extra virgin. Roll up and eat.
Bite-size review: Buffalo & Rye Sophie Neal Food Writer @sophie_etc_
Buffalo & Rye is the most recent addition to Birmingham's independent food scene. It is a welcome addition for sure, serving smoked meats, burgers, buffalo wings and perhaps the nicest fries Brum has ever seen. Did I mention they serve cocktails too? All the meats are marinated and smoked in the restaurant, guaranteeing that your dish is fresh. It only seats fifty people, so if you want to be guranteed a seat it would be advisable to book. The menu should have something to suit everyone: from ribs, burgers and hot dogs to mac n' cheese. They also serve an all day brunch. I decided to go for the slow smoked pork hot bun which had been smoked and slow cooked for twelve hours. It was served in a brioche bun with slaw. The pork was incredibly tender and fell apart in the mouth. The smokey flavours really complimented the meat and the BBQ sauce had a pleasant kick to it. I also opted for the house fries, which, in my opinion, are capable of changing anyone's opinion of the humble chip: crispy and covered in a rosemary salt, they have a new dimension of flavour. Annoyingly they are not always served with the dish itself and you may have to buy them separately. For ÂŁ2 they are undoubtedly worth it though! My partner went for the half-rack of St. Louis ribs. Slow cooked for six hours and dry rubbed for a deep, smokey flavour, they simply fell off the bone and melted in the mouth. It would've been rude not to try the buffalo chicken, so we tried it as a side dish served with a blue cheese dip. These are not for the faint hearted as they have a real kick! The cheese dip goes some way to cool the burn though, creating an insane flavour combination.
Friday 5th February
Nintendo begins Pokemon20 Nintendo release the first gift of Pokemon's 20th Anniversary Writer @PhoenixJacobS
Nintendo have revealed that the first Pokemon distribution to celebrate the franchise’s 20th anniversary celebrations will be available throughout February, and give trainers a chance to pick up the elusive Mythical Pokemon Mew. Like many distributions over the last few years for the popular franchise, codes will be available in the UK through retailer GAME from February 1st through to February 28th. Players can ask over the counter at any store in the next month to obtain a download code they can use to be gifted a Mew in-game.
The codes will work only with the 6th in to the original Japanese Red & Green Generation Pokemon games Pokemon X versions mere weeks before release, Mew & Y and Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha went unnoticed for some time until playSapphire. After obtaining a code, ers discovered it through glitches in the players need only boot up their game. Since then, one or more hidgame, access the ‘Mystery den Pokemon have been added Gift’ option from the main with every new generation, menu, and then select ‘Get receiving formal acknowlwith Code’. They will edgement from Nintendo then be prompted to enter months or years later and their code to have Mew used to promote upcoming downloaded to their feature films. Such was the Number of game. Players will need case with Mew, who was Pokemon games a Wi-Fi connection for officially revealed to help sold worldwide this to work. Once sucbuild hype for the very first cessful, Mew can be picked Pokemon movie. This is also up from any Poke Mart inthe first time Mew has been game. distributed globally in six years, This represents the first in last being available in 2010 to playwhat Nintendo and the Pokemon ers of Pokemon HeartGold & SoulSilver. Company have promised to be a series of Prior to that, it was only available at local monthly distributions, all featuring elu- events and was even harder to obtain. sive Mythical Pokemon. Mythical Such nostalgia is especially relevant Pokemon are characterised by being this month as we officially celebrate 20 unobtainable through regular gameplay, years of Pokemon with the 3DS re-reand thus highly coveted. Distributions leases of the original games in which such as these are the only way to obtain Mew debuted on February 27th. them without trading or code breaking. Nintendo could continue to distribute The trade-off is that they are not counted Mythical Pokemon in chronological order towards the completion of the Pokedex, if they have elected to begin with Mew, since this would restrict many players likely pencilling in Celebi for March. from obtaining associated rewards and Mew will also be available in prestige. GameStop stores in Germany, Austria Mew is the very first Mythical and Switzerland from February 4th to Pokemon and started the tradition. Coded 24th and GameStop in Italy from February
Redbrick Gaming Quiz 1. How many Pokemon are there to catch now after 20 years? 2. Which Pokemon wears the skull of it's dead mother on it's head? 3. It the Metal Gear Series, there are Liquid Snake and Solid Snake, what is the codename of the 3rd Snake triplet? 4. Which Character is the Smash Bros Series was originally a toy given out by Nintendo with the NES? 5.The Character Atlas in Bioshock takes his name from which novel that inspired the game? 6. What was the 1st home video game console? 7. Which popular video game series is credited with pioneering bullet time? 8. Who were the original developers behind the Fallout series before Bethesda? 9. Who replaced Mark Hamill as the voice of Joker in Batman Arkham Origins? 10. The character Yoshimitsu from the Soul Calibur series is also found in which other gaming franchise? Answers: 1. 721, 2. Cubon, 3. Solidus Snake, 4. R.O.B, 5. Atlas Shrugged, 6. Atari 2600, 7. Max Payne, 8. Black Isle Studios, 9. Troy Baker, 10. Tekken
Friday 5th February
Top 10 RPGs of All Time! 10. The Witcher You can expect some big name series to appear on this list when the series that gave us last year’s ‘Game of the Year’ is appearing at number 10. The Witcher series sprang to large scale attention last year with the release of Witcher III: Wild Hunt, which boasted a variety of innovative new features for the RPG genre. These included a constantly adapting game world and dynamic beard growth! Based on the novels by Andrzej Sapkowski, the story and lore of the Witcher series are equal to any series on this list, and go a long way towards immersing the player in the world of the game. What sets the Witcher series apart is the gameplay being quite unforgiving, there being no guarantee you will walk away from the simplest of encounters alive, regardless of your level or skillset, Although one of the newest series on this list, The Witcher series has definitely earned it place as one of the best around.
6. Legend of Zelda One of Nintendo’s flagship series and one of the best RPG series around with a loyal fan base, how else could Nintendo justify a 3rd release of Twilight Princess this year? Speaking of this year, it’s the year the series turns 30 years old, an impressive feat for any series! The general plot of these games remains largely the same with the hero of the series Link being tasked with the saving of the mythical kingdom of Hyrule from evil. Saving the kingdom always involves going to lots of difference themed dungeons such as the mandatory water and desert dungeons among others, all of which will conveniently contain the item needed to make it through and defeat the boss to obtain whatever plot item is was that brought Link there in the first place. These games in overall premises and gameplay have hardly shifted an inch in their entire 30 year lifespan. However once again this isn’t really a bad thing, as the games remain as fun today as they ever were and the overall enjoyment and success that these games have brought gamers across the world earn the series a place among the greatest of all time.
James Lentschner Gaming Editor @JLentschner
8. Fire Emblem
War never changes. The Fallout series gives you everything you could possibly want in an RPG. Although the series doesn’t have many instalments considering its almost 20 year lifespan, this is no way a bad thing, preferring to spend longer releasing quality titles which have earned the series a spot on this list. Set in the years following a great war that has reduced most the known world to an atomic wasteland, Fallout takes the player and immediately dumps them into the middle of a world that is constantly trying to kill them. Focusing on first person action and combat, Fallout is a series that doesn’t take itself too seriously, including weird and wacky features such as a vault populated entirely by the murderous clones of a man called Gary. The Fallout series offers hours of enjoyment with some of the best RPG’s ever made and games that you will find yourself coming back to even after your 4th time playing through them.
Ok, this series can be considered to be more turn based strategy rather than RPG, but seeing as the creators of the series describe it as an “RPG Simulation” I’m including it. In many ways showcasing how great the JRPG genre can be, these games contain a large focus on the characters and lore of the series in general and therefore offer more to you every time you play one, feeling like you’re piecing together the parts of a larger epic story. Combining RPG elements with turn based strategy, these games force the player to make important choices that have a larger impact on the entire game. You’re constantly tasked with deciding whether or not the simplest path to victory is the best, as the last chapters of these games become near impossible when you lack the levelled units you might have sacrificed previously. Fire Emblem is a series that rewards tactical thinking and foresight whilst at the same time remaining fun and engaging for more casual players.
The great thing about this series is despite me myself not being the biggest Star Wars fan in the world, I was still able to enjoy these games for what they were, and that’s an incredibly good set of RPG’s. Set of course within the Star Wars universe, these games offer the player with the traditional choice of whether to become the universes saviour with the Jedi order, or it’s conqueror by joining the malicious Sith. Where these games really stand out to me is the characters, with every player companions having a clear and distinct set of morals . This means that should you choose to go down the path that your favourite characters despise, you will find yourself without their support and they will be unwilling to help you in some regards later in story. With all things considered what still makes KOTOR so great to me is that you don’t need to be the world’s biggest Star Wars fan to feel a part of and enjoy the experience these game provide, as they provide something for casual and diehard fans alike.
5. World of Warcraft Previously the most played game in the world and still in the top 10 to this day World of Warcraft is one of the few series that can be granted the accolade of being a phenomenon. The lore of WoW is second to none and is personally one of my favourites, with the tales of the heroes stretching over many generations and the world of Azeroth having been driven into crisis and saved many times over. This is the only MMO to have earned its own spot on the list and for good reason, the online community still existing strong more than 10 years after it initial release, with millions of players still using the game to this day. The series has also surpassed its MMO routes, with the likes of the increasingly popular card game Hearthstone and MOBA Heroes of the Storm bringing more people into the world of Azeroth than ever before. There’s not much to be said about this series that hasn’t been said before, but if discussing the best RPG’s of all time you can’t not mention the iconic Blizzard series.
Did you realise these games were RPG’s? Probably the series that deserves the accolade of phenomenon more than any other, these games played a major part of the childhood of millions as well as being many people's gateway into gaming. The series is even worse than Zelda for not budging at all in its basic gameplay in its entire 20 year run however it has absolutely not needed to. The premise of any game is the same as it ever was, collect a team of your favourite Pokémon to defeat all 8 gym leaders and become Pokémon League champion, defeating your rival and some form of criminal organisation along the way, and remains as fun and additive as ever. Although the original challenge to catch them all has got considerably harder and the series have arguably lost some of its appeal with some of the new Pokémon added in the recent generations (seriously what the hell even is Klefki?!) this has done little to halt the success of the series which doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon thanks to its large dedicated fan base. The series holds the distinction of being the second bestselling video game series of all time behind only Nintendo’s Mario franchise and in 2008 Guinness World Records marked Pokémon as the "Most Successful RPG Series of All Time", a title it holds to this day and almost taking the top spot on this list.
4. Final Fantasy/ Kingdom Hearts Probably the most famous series of JRPG in the world, and the series responsible for more than 14 releases in its lifetime with some of the best games of all time amongst them. Final Fantasy VI & VII are two games that are consistently rated amongst the best of all time, and for good reason, as at the time of release they were game changing for the whole concept of an RPG, displaying just how good they can be. The series hasn’t slowed down since delivering 13 instalments in the main series and a 14th in the form of the MMO Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Developer Square Enix also collaborated with Disney to create the popular Kingdom Hearts series, moulding the world of Final Fantasy together with the Disney universe and creating another iconic series for the developer. Both series have earned their high ranking on this list, and would have finished higher if not for some lacklustre games in the series such as Final Fantasy X and XIII bringing the overall quality of the series down slightly.
3. Mass Effect The story of Commander Shepard’s quest to save the universe from the sentient machine race known as the Reapers is one of the most epic and engaging in existence. The gameplay of Mass Effect is quite basic in effect mainly being a cover based third person shooter, but where these games really come alive is in the secondary cast of characters. Each come with their own rich background and motivations for helping Shepard and the loyalty of whom must be earned rather than just given to the player. The world is also one of best around with many different explorable worlds and the threat of the reapers actually being a noticeable and present risk in the entire story. The use of the moral choice system in the form of being either a hero or a renegade, added real variety to the games as well as adding incentive to do multiple playthroughs. What Mass Effect also does better than any series on this list is give you actions consequences. The series would rank even higher if not for the disappointing ending of the final game in the current trilogy casting a shadow across the series as a whole.
1. The Elder Scrolls
You may have seen this one coming. By now there are very few gamers who have never played an instalment of Bethesda’s popular Elder Scrolls series, and for good reason, as they remain some of the best and most enjoyable games ever made. What Elder Scrolls games do better than any other is allow the player to make their own adventure for themselves, whether you want to become master of all the games guilds and become a hero, or just explore the region you’re free to make your own way. Elder Scrolls games are always at the forefront of the RPG genre and are the standard that many western made RPG are compared to, the 3 most recent games of the series, Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim all receiving multiple game of years upon their release. These games also boast some of the largest replay values in the gaming industry, I still find myself able to sink hours into Oblivion now 10 years after its original release, and in my opinion, it has to be considered a contender for one of the best games of all time! The world and lore of the series are amazing and a large part of the reason the games are so fun to sink countless hours into, whether it’s the emerald green fields of Cyrodiil, the snow-capped mountains of Skyrim or the ash slopes of Morrowind there is never a shortage of interesting quests with which to occupy your time.
Friday 5th February
Chinese New Year at the Bramall Charlotte Spence Culture Editor
A trio of world class musicians graced the Bramall Music Building to help see in the Chinese New Year: Pianist Di Xiao, cellist Jiaxin Lloyd Webber and violinist Jiafeng Chen. The idea behind the concert was to transport the audience in the Elgar Concert Hall to the land of dragons and emperors. The concert also included well known classical pieces by Bach, Schubert and Debussy. The University’s relationship with China dates back to its foundation. The first Chinese student joined the university in 1907 and there are now some 14,000 Chinese alumni. A fact I found particularly interesting is that Di Xiao actually held a teaching position at the university. The concert was meant to be symbolic of the University’s engagement with China, as well as Chinese New Year and I think that really came through with the choice of pieces. The first part of the concert was given over to piano solo pieces. The first piece was a Chinese piece called Spring Dance by the composer YiQiang Sun, this was an interesting piece as it did not really fit in with the traditional light spring vibes that I was expecting, some parts were a little bit jarring with weirdly sinister undertones. The second and third pieces were played one straight after the other so that the contrasts and similarities really came through. Firstly Autumn moon on a calm lake by PeiXun Chen, which was then followed by Debussy’s Clair de lune. The first few notes of Autumn moon on a calm lake immediately transports you to a beautiful lake scene, with the first notes sounding like moonlight shimmering down, there is an oriental feel to the music the whole
6 way through. It is nice to have Clair de lune played next to something so new. The two pieces work really really well together. The final piece played as a piano solo was another by DebussyI’isle joyeuse, but this is sat in contrast to the previous piece. This piece was written almost as a metaphor for Debussy’s life- he had just run off from his old life with his new lady. You can feel the sense of urgency as soon as the piece starts, you too feel like you were running from a mundane old life into a new exotic adventure. The musicians agreed with my sentiment that the Bramall was made for a concert like this, the acoustics of the instruments fill the space and the music envelops you.
'The concert was meant to be symbolic of the University’s engagement with China, as well as Chinese New Year and I think that really came through with the choice of pieces'
The pieces performed by violinist Jiafeng Chen were again two pieces which showed the differences but also similarities between the different styles of music. Home Sick by SiCong Ma was performed first followed by Kreisler’s Tambourin Chinois. This piece was particularly interesting because it was inspired by China Town in San Francisco, so you still get some of the eastern resonances coming through, the piece feels almost like a theme tune from a movie! The cello solos were my favourite pieces of the whole concert. The performance of Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 Prelude and the Gigue was absolutely mesmerizing. The Shepherd Song which
was played after was a piece of Chinese folk music. This piece was idyllic; you could clearly imagine the rolling countryside which inspired these sounds. Both pieces had really strong similarities, and it is really interesting to think that these two pieces were written in completely different cultures but still have so much in common. Something that Jiafen Chen said during our interview was that he would prefer it if people did not think of pieces of music as being Chinese or Western and divide them in that way. He would prefer it if the music was just divided by genre such as folk or classical. Jiaxin Lloyd Webber, also said that this concert was not about deciding whether you preferred Eastern or Western music it was about introducing people to the different pieces. I feel that both of these desires really came through in the two cello pieces being played. All the pieces were masterfully played- it was like the piano was an extension of Di Xiao’s body and it was like she was channelling the emotions through her and into the piano. What is really nice about this concert is that it doesn’t really have a traditional classical music vibe. In between the pieces there is a discussion of what the pieces are about and when they were written. There is also a much more diverse audience, including a number of families, and when I spoke to the musicians it was clear that they loved the fact that parents were bringing their children along. They thought it was really good that a new generation was being encouraged. Although this event did have a theme and a bit of an agenda this was not being forced, everything fitted together really nicely. It was really wonderful that this kind of music was made available for a large audience.
January Cabaret XXL - Scottee Matt Bates Culture Critic @maattbates
The Birmingham REP's new monthly 'Cabaret XXL' shows were always destined to be something of hyperbolic fun and audience-embarrassment, and their January show did not intend to
disappoint. Self-titled 'artist', 'weirdo' and 'BBC Radio 4 Waffler', Scottee confidently delivered a show which was entirely reliant upon the audience taking centre stage. Tentative conversations were triggered by cynically-stereotypical glamourous assistant Lucy McCormick passing slips of
paper to theatre-goers: 'What would your ideal Mastermind category be?' / 'What is your go-to party piece?' Walking into a theatre knowing that at any point in the next 60 minutes you may be called upon to demonstrate your non-existent party piece to a room full of strangers is disconcerting at best – but then again, it’s disconcerting in the best way possible. As a celebration of 'the things we do when drunk', the show began with an apology to any paying audience members for what they were about to witness. Scottee and McCormick expertly crafted an impromptu programme of hilarious, embarrassing and frequently-terrible acts. Whether it be, a two-minute repetition of 'F***' under a thin guise of poetry, a poor attempt at juggling pots of Vaseline and/or shoes, or an impressive Mastermind round on Peruvian Cuisine, there wasn’t a moment when you felt that what you were watching was as mediocre as it sounds when recounting it. Any show which has the ability to
close with a physical reconstruction of the ascent of Jesus Christ, a crowd-surfing McCormick, and a full-audience Macarena just simply cannot be described as much other than a success. ‘Scottee’ asked you to shed inhibition and take part in creating an experience for yourself and every other audience member. It was daunting and definitely, at times, underwhelming in terms of audience talent. It is difficult to comment upon because the evening was not about its performers but rather to serve as a reminder that we are
all terrible at most things. But you finish your night realising that you have somehow spent an hour with a group of complete strangers, laughing with each other and doing things which it would normally take regrettable amounts of alcohol to facilitate with your closest friends – and that is quite impressive. ‘Cabaret XXL’ continues on February 18th when ‘Figs in Wigs' 'nosedive into our shallow digital existence, goggling at how social media has bred a new form of narcissism.'
Friday 5th February
Interview: Redbrick Meets Guild TV Redbrick Culture writer Freya George meets Henry Wilson, James Hill and Annabel Lawton Smith of Guild TV As a member of Guild TV and of Redbrick, I thought somehow integrating the two and introducing one to the other would be a great opportunity - that way, Redbrick's readers can find out a bit more about what we all get up to. So I interviewed three of the members to give you an insight. Firstly, Henry Wilson, who joined this year but has already made a huge impact; secondly, James Hill, the more experienced Guild TV member of two years, and finally Annabel Lawton Smith, the committee member. Here is my interview with James Hill. To read the rest of the interviews, head over to our website at redbrick.me/culture
Tell us about yourself. I am a second year undergraduate studying History and Spanish. I am involved in all three forms of student media: Redbrick, Burn FM and Guild TV. But Guild TV is the best of the three!
Why did you decide to get involved with Guild TV? The way I got involved is actually down to one person: Matt Lavender [the Head of Production at Guild TV]. He was my History ‘Parent’ when I first joined and he introduced me to Guild TV basically. So I came down with him to a meeting and I stayed because I enjoyed it so much.
What are your favourite aspects of Guild TV? I love the relaxed atmosphere. It is not overly intense which is comforting. Also I love the socials that the society organises. That’s a great part.
Why did you choose to study at Birmingham? Well... an unconditional offer may have helped! But no, it was the city I loved and the fact that this university has such a great campus with a great city nearby.
Why would you recommend joining the society and what advice would you give to someone who is thinking of joining? I think you should join the society because it has got something for everyone. If you want to get involved in any aspect of the media or TV or anything like that then Guild TV is the way to do it. There is no other place where you can learn these skills while at university.
Are you thinking of pursuing a career in the media? Yes, possibly. I enjoy many of the aspects of the media. I’ve tried camera operating, sound editing and presenting and have really developed my skillset as a result of the society. This means I do feel I am equipped if I do decide to. But I’m still unsure.
Tell us a bit your experiences in Guild TV. Well there have been so many! The great thing about the society is all the opportunities they have to offer. I’ve had a go at filming many really fun and interesting events. For example, I went to the clothes show that is quite a famous (and expensive) event that I was able to go to for free because of being in Guild TV. Also I was involved in ‘ValeFest’ last year that was enjoyable but so tiring. I worked for 16 hours straight but it was a great learning experience because I was able to gain lots of presenting experience in the process. I am also filming a play that I wrote entitled ‘When Romeo met Juliet’, which has really become my baby and a project I’m really proud of. I owe Guild TV for allowing me to film it. They are supportive of anything you want to pursue which is another great thing about the society.
Review: The Wonderful World of Dissocia Alice Wersocki Morris Culture Critic
When I went to see the greatly anticipated and highly praised The Wonderful World of Dissocia, I had high expectations, though not really knowing what to expect at all. It is safe to say that it did not disappoint, leaving me stunned at the theatre I had witnessed and almost forgetting that it was an amateur student production. Written by Anthony Neilson, the play was originally performed at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2004 and is an Alice in Wonderland inspired piece of Kafkaesque theatre. It was an excellent choice for 3Bugs Fringe Theatre to put on. This society produces ‘off the wall’ theatre, that always brings something new and innovative to Birmingham’s Guild Drama. The play explores themes around mental illness in a wacky, fantastical way, containing an odd abundance of comedy mixed with deeply disturbing issues. This was clearly a challenge to succeed in tactfully. However, Director Will Jackson, along with his cast and
crew, dealt with this admirably, in a sophisticated and clever fashion. The first act presented an intense roller-coaster of roughly an hour and forty-five minutes, keeping the audience gripped in the world of Dissocia from beginning to end and leaving us slightly altered when walking out for the interval. The non-naturalistic style in acting and set worked perfectly in immersing the audience in Dissocia, as protagonist, Lisa (Jess Watts), goes on a journey to find her missing hour. Richly filled with slick lip-syncing performances, too many props and costume-changes to count, and a range of absurd characters, from a literal scapegoat goat (Matt Johnson) to an aggressive Australian hot dog attendant (Becky Hansell); this act consistently surprised and entertained. The audience’s emotions were constantly played with, as ridiculous comic scenes were interspersed with taxing issues, in such a way that we found ourselves laughing at horrific themes that we would normally find abhorrent, showing the skill in the acting and directing.
The consistency, high-energy and integrity of every single actor pushed the audience to be genuinely invested in the characters and their story, when one would expect to be alienated by the numerous multi-rolling, absurd plot-lines and illogical dialogue. This was extremely effective in unsettling the audience who found themselves buying into the world of Dissocia almost as much as Lisa, helping to generate empathy
"Overall, Dissocia was a joy to watch from start to finish: funny, witty, shocking and intriguing." for her condition. Empathy was an integral part of the play, and was carried out in a thought-provoking way; the absurd, psychedelic world in Act One juxtaposing but also paralleling the realistic, dull one in Act Two, inspiring me to think about mental illness
in a whole new light. The second Act continued to play with the audience’s emotions and expectations, containing subtle, low-energy realism. A particularly touching scene between Lisa and her boyfriend, Vince (Satya Baskaran), was an outstanding piece of performance from both actors, as they drew the audience into their tortured but pure love. The overall interpretation of Neilson’s script was outstanding, especially in Act One, and was definitely done justice by the cast and crew. Jackson’s use of popular modern songs for the lip-syncing scenes as well as the typical ‘gap-year student’ style to Lisa’s costume was perfect for a young modern audience, again enhancing the empathy created. The general sparkle and partyatmosphere in the upbeat range of songs from Disco to Rock, joined with the fearless extravagance in the costumes and props, definitely put Jackson’s individual stamp on Neilson’s masterpiece, making the performance feel like a one-of-a-kind. The achievement made in such a small space and with such
little budget and technology compared to professional productions was phenomenal, as the team managed to convincingly create a whole other world. Stage Manager, Lauren Young did an impressive job in sourcing and putting together props creatively and resourcefully, using, for example, a shopping trolley covered in fairy lights with a number plate and a horn attached, to represent Jane’s (Katie Walsh) “car”, again putting a stamp of individuality on Dissocia. The lighting and sound was also integral to the play, and especially worked well in marking differences between scenes, such as the disco-type lighting when Lisa lip-syncs by herself in a friendly magical field, compared with strobe lighting later in Act One when the world starts to turn against her. Overall, Dissocia was a joy to watch from start to finish: funny, witty, shocking and intriguing. The cast and crew all deserve recognition for contributing to this piece of controversial theatre, as their collaborative energy revealed how important everyone’s role was in order to create their Dissocia.
Friday 5th February
Redbrick Sport's FA Cup Memories With the FA Cup fourth round fixtures done and dusted, Redbrick Sport brings you a collection of our FA Cup Memories, ahead of the fifth round ties. Will Robey Chief Sports Editor
Nicola Kenton Online Editor
Harry Wilkinson Sports Writer
FA Cup Final 2005: Arsenal vs Man United
Emirates FA Cup 2016 Coventry vs Northampton
FA Cup Final 2015: Arsenal vs Aston Villa
A not so positive memory lays at the foremost of my mind. Having watched Manchester United beat Millwall 4-0, on my birthday in the 2004 FA Cup Final, I had high expectations the following year. Keane, Scholes, Giggs, Van Nistelrooy and two young stars Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo formed part of what is now considered one of Fergie's greatest teams. However, they were up against an equally superb Arsenal side boasting the likes of Henry and Bergkamp. I distinctly remember this final as I watched it with two friends, both Arsenal fans. The tension was palpable and I watched United produce a stunning performance, with Wayne Rooney man of the match, yet somehow failed to see the team I love find the goals which the sheer dominance should have yielded. Arsenal of course went on to win 5-4 on penalties after the game finished 0-0 AET, Patrick Viera with the winning penalty. The ball had barely had time to ripple the net before the celebrations erupted. The contrasting picture of emotion; the Arsenal fans jumping and cheering. Myself, the United fan, desolate, inconsolable laying on the grass verge.
Jenny Perez Sports Writer 1987 FA Cup Final Tottenham vs Coventry
For me, the best part of the FA has always been, and will continue to be the early stages. These stages allow everyone, even amateur footballers to become part of a globally recognised celebration. My dad had the opportunity to experience this for himself as part of Sunallon RFC, from West Sussex, as a striker for his local team. Opening the tournament up to everyone, creates individual memories. However it also creates some truly memorable finals, including Tottenham v Coventry City in 1987, where the underdog earned its right to shine. Although my dad never made it past the qualifying rounds, reliving these memories always brings a smile to his face. Seeing him reminisce about the matches he was part of forms my best memories of the FA cup.
My memory is from this season, my first FA Cup match. Northampton Town had been in major difficulties with dates in court for a winding-up petition and subsequently an application for administration. The promised take-over had not happened and the debt was revealed to be considerable. In the first round, we were drawn away at Coventry – who had played their home games in our stadium when they had disagreements with the owners of the Ricoh. As part of 3000 strong away crowd, we went into the lead within a few minutes but Coventry soon equalised. Another 10 minutes and we were ahead again, that agonising 75 minute wait until the final whistle was awful but the jubilation when he had done it, the noise, the feeling, tremendous. A truly brilliant victory and it showed the magic and meaning of the cup.
Rosie Twells Online Editor FA Cup Final 1946: Derby County vs Charlton Athletic
As a Derby County supporter, positive memories of the F.A Cup in recent years have been few and far between. Our one and only win to date was in 1946 and the match, the first since the start of the Second World War, has always grabbed my attention. Not only was it the emphatic scoreline, Derby beat Charlton Athletic 4-1 after extra time, but the game epitomised part of the rich heritage and tradition that is associated with the F.A Cup. It's one of the few competitions in English football where vivid memories and family stories can be passed down from generation to generation. The starting credits of television games relive the golden years, spectacular shots, stupendous saves and the matches where everyone remembers exactly where they were when the goal went in. It's moments like these, that for me, bring out the true magic of the F.A Cup.
As a Villa fan, the bitter-sweet nature of the FA Cup is still fresh in the memory. In last year's competition, Villa beat Blackpool, Bournemouth, Leicester, the Baggies and Liverpool in a joyous journey to their first FA Cup final in fifteen years. It was to be against Arsenal, and I believed we could win. With an end of season sparkle we were in-form and a lot of people fancied us to produce some magic and beat Arsenal. The atmosphere in stadium was immense: I can still remember the feeling, the realisation- "Oh my god. I'm at an FA Cup final. Watching Villa." The actual match was literally a nightmare though. Every goal conceded felt like a piercing stab that caused more claret and blue blood to ooze out, until I was deflated into a seemingly eternal state of melancholy by the final whistle. The day meant so much to Villa fans but it seemed like a mundane match-day for the Gunners. Although certainly outclassed on the pitch, Villa's support showed that we were definitely superior.
Nathan Jacobs Sports Writer FA Cup 2001: Man United vs West Ham
My first and quite possibly worst memory of the F.A cup coincides with my first ever United game. 28th January 2001. That fateful day. Whilst this opening chapter of my career as a United fan is slightly sketchy, the unfortunate horrors of YouTube mean that I can never escape the image of Paolo Di Canio slotting the ball past a stagnant Fabian Barthez. It is etched into my brain. My dad has frequently told me how I sat next to him and asked ‘are we going to score soon?’ time and time again… but we never did. 0-1. A most horrific scoreline. Thankfully though, since that game, I have witnessed some great United moments, although not as many as I would have liked in the FA Cup!
Friday 5th February
English Sides Closing in on the French Elite Sports writer Sam Harrison examines how English rugby sides are catching up with the French after years in their shadows. Sam Harrison Sports Writer
European club rugby has been characterised in recent years by the dominance of French Top 14 teams over their English Premiership counterparts. The last three finals, under both the previous name of the Heineken Cup and the current format of the Champions Cup, have seen French powerhouse Toulon emerge victorious, beating fellow French side Clermont Auvergne twice and Premiership champions Saracens once. However, this season has seen a more competitive group stage, from which the eight qualifiers comprised five English teams and three French sides. Furthermore, four of the English sides qualified top of their pool, with Northampton the only exception. This season saw some impressive performances from the English sides, not least from the English standard bearers in Europe of late, Saracens. They opened their campaign by only conceding
seven points against Toulouse, in the form of a second half consolation try, but that was not even the most impressive performance. The best performance belongs to either
I am still uneasy about picking winners of any of these matches, as some teams should never be counted out, and English teams have a horrible trait of falling at the final hurdle in recent years. Exeter, who beat last year’s runner’s up Clermont 31-14 in what was a fairly one sided affair, or Wasps, who had an impressive performance against reigning champions Toulon, wining 32-6. One could point to more
experience playing against these star-studded sides, or to the failure at the World Cup giving the players added motivation. For me, though, it is more a combination of the mentality of English clubs and the composition of the Top 14 teams. Firstly, the mentality of the English clubs. By this, I mean that they play as a team, for each other, rather than just for themselves. No one typifies this more than Saracens, where many of the players have been playing together through the age groups. Additionally, the camaraderie between the players enhances their play on the field, especially in their defensive style, and has earned them the nickname ‘the Wolfpack’. I consider this the main reason for the competitiveness of the English clubs mostly because they have earned impressive victories in the past, none more so than Saracen’s dismantling of Clermont in the semi-finals at Twickenham en route to a final loss to Toulon. The second reason for the bridging of the gap is the way that the French teams are built. Much has been said
about the Top 14 salary cap and how it allows them to sign more star players. However, it is both a blessing and a curse. While it means that some of the world’s best players ply their trade in
European club rugby has been characterised in recent years by the dominance of French Top 14 teams over their English Premiership counterparts. France, it also has the side effect that there is little team spirit, as new players are joining all the time. There is also the issue of language, as players from many locations play for the same team, causing problems in communication. While this season has marked a definite step up in
Europe for English based sides, it would be premature to suggest that this is the year that one can win it all, though the possibility is there. One finalist will be either Exeter, Wa s p s , Saracens or Northampton, and the other Leicester, Stade Francais, Racing 92 or Toulon, and so it will not be an easy ride for any English team. If you asked me to predict the course of the tournament from here on out, I could get as far as finalists – I believe that Saracens will play Racing 92, but I would struggle to say which of those two will lift the trophy, as one has lost just one match thus far this season, and the other has Dan Carter at fly half, among others, so it is hard to predict. But I am still uneasy about picking winners of any of these matches, as some teams should never be counted out, and English teams have a horrible trait of falling at the final hurdle in recent years. This should be taken as a positive, however, as it shows that the competition is close, and will go down to the wire. What do you think? Tweet us @redbricksport
Friday 5th February
Why are injuries plaguing the Premier League? Nancy Frostick Sports reporter @nancyfrostick
It’s the time of the year when most football teams up and down the Football League struggle with injuries – but with the immense wealth and medical facilities available to Premier League clubs it is hard to understand why so many are in the middle of a crisis. Top players such as Ashley Young, Daniel Sturridge and Jack Wilshere have struggled to even make it to training of late, let alone return to match fitness, so why are injuries currently plaguing the Premier League?
Playing Style Liverpool are just one Premier League team that have fallen to a host of injuries in the last weeks and months, with Daniel Sturridge facing another setback in November and Benteke, Rossiter, Toure, Milner, Coutinho, Sturridge, Mignolet, Skrtel, Origi
and Lovren all being forced out due to injuries since the start of the season. Since Jurgen Klopp’s takeover at Anfield, an almost unbelievable number of hamstring injuries have led to questions on whether the German’s intense playing style is too much for the Premier League. The phrase ‘can he do it on a cold, wet, Wednesday night in Stoke’ is thrown around all too often when exotic players are brought to England, but it can be applied to managerial styles too. The Premier League is physically intense in different ways to the other top European leagues, and the rapid turnover of managers can mean that managerial appointments and their preferred playing styles don’t always fit with the league or the players at the club. Sam Allardyce’s suggestion that Jurgen Klopp’s high-tempo pressing game was costing him players has caused somewhat of a media frenzy – but he has a point. Demanding more work for each and every one of the ninety minutes in a match raises the risk of players sustaining an injury, especially when they might have
been rushed back to match fitness and are told to “play through the pain”, as Sturridge was instructed.
Fixture Congestion The notorious Christmas fixture congestion causes no end of problems when it comes to injuries. The quick turnaround between both Premier League and FA cup games leaves very little time for recovery between matches and training sessions. The most intense schedule of games comes just over halfway through the season – when many players are falling prey to fatigue and could probably do with a winter break. For the teams in the top half of the league the various league, cup and European matches are further stretching their already limited squads. In recent years, the waning of English teams in the Champions League knockout stages has not seemed surprising as injury stricken squads are put out against stronger European sides that have the luxury of a winter break. The squad limitations seem to have made either European or
The monopolisation of domestic football Daniel Steeden Sports reporter @DannySteeden
This weekend saw a feisty encounter in front of 94,990 people at the Camp Nou, as a fatigued Barcelona edged past title rivals Atletico Madrid in a match that Sid Lowe described in the Guardian as “half the league title”. Despite Atletico having Filipe Luis sent off for a horror tackle on Messi (which on further inspection, in the opinion of this correspondent, did not look malicious at all) and eventually Godin as well for an inevitable second yellow, Barcelona seemed slightly off the pace. They got the three points, however, and, in the eyes of many, wrapped up the league title. Whether or not they will go on to win the league remains to be seen but it is certainly true that they don’t drop points very often. If they don’t win the league, it will undoubtedly be Atletico or Real Madrid who clinch it again, no surprises there either given that nobody outside the big three has won since Valencia in the 2003/04 season. This monopolisation of the league is not only evident in Spain. Paris St-Germain lead Ligue 1 by 24 points, Bayern Munich lead the Bundesliga by
8 points, Celtic have won the last four Scottish Premier League titles and lead the SPL this season by 6 points. There is one unifying factor that allows these teams to dominate their respective leagues and that, ladies and gentlemen, is money.
With English clubs receiving more and more money from TV deals and sponsorship, there is an increasingly level financial playing field and some savvy buying from mid-table clubs can make big waves in the league. Monumental transfer budgets and astronomical wage bills define the modern game. Never again will Borussia Dortmund be so bold as to win the Bundesliga because their best players have already gone to Bayern. Celtic won’t lose the SPL (perhaps until Rangers return in Jedi-like fashion) and PSG won’t lose Ligue 1 because nobody can compete with their budgets.
This is not to knock what these clubs are achieving. For Barcelona to win the treble is still a remarkable achievement and worthy of all the acclaim they have earned. My Redbrick Sport colleague Nathan Jacobs wrote about the price of football and noted that fans of English clubs can end up spending over £1000 on a season ticket to watch their team play. If Bayern Munich can manage domestic and European success with season tickets that, according to the Mirror, cost from £104.48, then why can English clubs not do the same? It is interesting that this Premier League season has been one of the best ever thus far and clubs like Leicester are competing with cash giants like Manchester City. With English clubs receiving more and more money from TV deals and sponsorship, there is an increasingly level financial playing field and some savvy buying from mid-table clubs can make big waves in the league. This season is proof that when money doesn’t dominate it’s anyone’s title to win, and that’s just the way it should be. What do you think? Tweet us @redbricksport.
domestic success a possibility, rather than both being achievable. It is not surprising to see teams like Watford and Swansea with the fewest injuries in the league, as they don’t have the added pressures of European football.
Too much training? Linking to the quick turnaround of fixtures and the manager’s playing style is the debate over whether professionals train too frequently. Often, time that should be spent recovering has to be turned to preparing for the next game, and the preferred training methods of some managers can seriously stretch the physical demands on players. Some managers might prefer small-sided games, whilst others fully replicate games with an eleven-a-side tactical drill that puts players through their paces when they should be recovering. The numbers of players who only make it back to open training before suffering another injury are all too high – proving that those who are already weak from injury or with post-game
fatigue are being pushed too hard. Since Wilshere’s absence from the entirety of the 2011/12 season, his career has been marred with various injuries and as a result he has only featured in 36% of Arsenal’s matches. Similarly, Sturridge has only played in 26% of Liverpool’s matches since joining from Chelsea in 2013/14, although he admittedly has an impressive impact and scoring record when he does play. For players of only their early to mid-twenties entering into what should be the peak of their careers, these extended spells out can prevent them from progressing with their teammates and being able to win their place back in the big sides. Whilst the fixture issue won’t be changing any time soon, it is surely up to Premier League clubs to take the best course of action for their players and hold back on training and intense tactics if it means compromising the fitness of their best players.
Friday 5th February
From the Editor's Desk: Scandals in Sport - when does it stop? Rosie Twells Online Editor
A new year and a new me might be the phrase that has been used the most at the beginning of 2016, as we all aim to make big or small changes which will affect our daily lifestyles in some way. It is conceivable to think that sport would be part of this movement too. As teams look to improve upon performances from last year, competitors wish for success at upcoming tournaments and managers seek further analysis on how to get the best out of their squads, and changes are constantly being considered in all games. However, the course of sport never did run smooth (according to a Redbrick Sport Online Editor), and entering 2016 has not been quite the fresh start from certain scandals that supporters were hoping for. Athletics and doping were, unfortunately, two words that formed the main topic of scandalous discussions towards the end of last year. The independent report conducted by WADA broke the silence after months of speculation, confirming that cover ups had taken place and Russian athletics were named as accomplices in this scandal. Jessica Ennis-Hill and Jo Pavey have spoken out against their concerns regarding the validity of certain medals at
London 2012, and much focus will made, engineering similar feelings be upon the upcoming Olympic of doubt and scepticism over the and Paralympic Games held in Rio organisation of top-level matches. de Janeiro. In 2011, Daniel Koellerer was There is no denying that the banned for life from professional controversy surrounding the sport tennis, despite denying the claims has created a mood of uncertainty of alleged match-fixing. This and distrust between competitors, problem is extremely difficult to past and present, and officials in monitor, yet it is uplifting to see athletics. Current president of the organisations such as TIU and the International European Sports Association of S e c u r i t y The solution will not A t h l e t i c s Association Federation, Lord working together arrive overnight Coe, has work to in order to minido in order to only small steps and mise the opporrebuild confitunities available dence amongst to perpetrators. honesty from all participants and Providing the involved will get it is essential that necessary safety systems are measures and athletics back on implemented tightening any which ensure that loopholes in the track those who system will deceive the rules are caught and ensure it is game, set and match for reprimanded. The solution to this those sporting stars looking to scandal, which has had a damaging serve scandals, like potential effect on the sport so far, will not match-fixing, out of the court. arrive overnight; rather small steps Finally, football has not been involving further investigations able to escape from humiliation and honesty from all those involved either and has been wrapped up in with the sport will ensure that ath- one of the longest corruption scanletics is able to get back on the dals known to the sport. Allegations right track soon. of money laundering, bribery and More recently, tennis has had fraud are at the centre of attention, the spotlight thrust upon it this whilst many high-profile figures in year with serious allegations con- the sport, such as Sepp Blatter and cerning suspected match-fixing. Michel Platini, have been suspendUnlike athletics, no formal report ed following an investigation into has been published, although the their actions. Doubts were initially Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) has raised over the decision for Qatar been made aware of the allega- to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, tions. It is worrying for fans of the and details over the bidding procsport that these claims have been ess were proven to have been hid-
den. Football, the world’s most popular sport, has been subject to a global crisis as a number of FIFA officials representing several nations and football federations, including North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, were arrested or placed on trial. Due to the colossal figures that are associated with the corruption, there is no doubt that internal processes at FIFA for future presidential elections, World Cup venue allocations and management of finances are to be treated with great care. At a time when off the pitch actions are detracting attention away from matters on the field, supporters of the beautiful game need to join together and stand united against the forces of corruption that threaten to scandalise the sport. It is clear that scandals can have extremely damaging impacts
The Redbrick Crossword
on sports, and their effects stretch far beyond the athletics track, tennis court or football pitch. For fans of various sports it is enormously disheartening to hear stories of allegations and corruption, as they can seriously undermine the trust that supporters place in senior officials and management teams. As for suggesting a potential end-point for these sorts of scandals, I’m not sure that it is a possibility given the tight networks in which many organisations operate now. This does not mean, however, that the future of sport is bleak – providing communication is clear and teams work together across all levels, there is no reason why 2016 cannot be the year when scandals start to be eliminated from sport.
Lucie Turner Crossword Editor
In an ode to Saint Valentine himself, this week's crossword is dedicated to the wondrous world of rom-coms. Successful completion of this week's crossword could win you a date with a Redbrick editor of your choice (or a £5 Joe's voucher if food is more your thing)
Please complete this form before you hand in your completed crossword to the Redbrick office or send a scan or photograph to email@example.com Name: Email Address: Phone Number:
1. In this film, Katherine Heigl sports 27 versions of this item of clothing. (7) 3. ____ Ugly: LeAnn Rimes did the soundtrack for this 'bar-rilliant' film. (6) 7. Which Jason attempted to get over his famous ex-girlfriend by escaping to Hawaii. (5) 8. A film involving Pierce Brosnan's chest hair and a LOT of terrible singing. (5+3) 9. Hamburger phones and tictacs. (4) 10. Stars Scarlett Johannsson attempting to prove she would make a far better Siri. (3) 12. The ____ is THE definitive film of this genre. (8) 13. Quote: "It’s like that book I read in the 9th grade that said, ‘Tis a far, far better thing doing stuff for other people.'” (8)
2. In this film, James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal embark on an affair that would give any HR department a hernia. (9) 4. In this 2015 flick, Amy Schumer teaches us what NEVER to do with a company intern. (10) 5. Anne ____: giving us unrealistic expectations of high school by being whisked away by Mary Poppins to be a pear-princess. (8) 6. Will Smith and Kevin James teach each other a thing or two about 'getting the girl'. (5) 11. WALLE and his pal fly around space being adorable and robot-y. (3)
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Women's Hockey Make Wembley Debut 5.2.2016 Redbrick Sport reveal their biggest FA Cup Memories
Page 36 Nancy Frostick on why injuries are plaguing the Premier League
Page 38 Rosie Twells asks when the scandals in sport will come to an end
Page 39 Will Robey
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Chief Sports Editor
The University of Birmingham's womens hockey first team reached the semi-final of the Super 6s National Indoor Hockey tournament at Wembley arena, last week. Having secured their place at the finals on the 31st January after two extremely successful qualifying tournaments, the team took on Canterbury in what turned out to be a onesided semi-final. Canterbury triumphed 4-2, but the teams first
appearence at the Wembley finals is the major success story to take away from the experience. Team Manager Phil Gooderham said, in the build up to their appearence at Wembley: " As you can imagine the girls are very excited and looking forward to the opportunity to represent the University at such a major national event. Canterbury went on to play East Grinstead in the final, who had defeated Bowdon Hightown 1-0 in what proved to be a close semifinal encounter. East Grinstead were crowned champions after an
extremely dominant 3-1 victory in the final. The success in reaching the semi-finals for the University of Birmingham team, coincides with the continued success of the Womens XI, who are top of the Investec Women's Premier League with 7 games to go. With our women's hockey team leading the way at the top division of English hockey, ahead of clubs such as Canterbury, who boast a wealth of Olympic talent, it is by no means an overstatement to say that this side is UOB's Hockey 'Golden Generation.'