Friday 3rd March 2017
Redbrick Issue 1480, Vol. 81
Body Found in Vale Lake Redbrick News reports on the discovery of a man's body on the Vale
The Official University of Birmingham Student Newspaper, est. 1936
Redbrick Features - A Week in 'Street Kitchen' UoB Honours Redbrick writers review the daily menu of the new food outlet on campus
Redbrick News investigates UoB student mental health
Holly Carter shares her view on the 'This Girl Can' campaign
William Baxter reviews 'The Founder', the McDonald's biopic
Life&Style discuss the trends that came out of Fashion Week
News Page 4 & 5
Features Page 15
Film Page 20
L&S Page 26
Friday 3rd March 2017
Letter from the committee... As I write this, the Redbrick AGM for 2017 is only a few days away. By the evening of print day, we will know who the new committee for 2017/18 will be. What a surreal thought! It feels like only yesterday that me, and my fellow committee members were stood in the Guild Council Chambers trying to persuade the audience to elect us for our positions in the short span of a two-minute speech. Although it's impossible to prophesise the outcome of Friday’s AGM, we have encountered several rumours as to who may or may not be running for a position. And being a part of the usual hustle and bustle and chatter amongst the Redbrick office, I can vouch that it’s an exciting time of year for the paper. So if you’re reading this on the day of print before the AGM commences (Friday 3rd March at 4pm), please do come along whether it be to run for a committee position or for some good old-fashioned democracy. I almost didn’t run for Deputy Editor last year but I am so glad I did and haven’t looked back. So just go for it! Either way, your vote really will have a big impact on the future committee and therefore the future of Redbrick! But if I haven’t already convinced you to attend, I can in fact guarantee that there will be free pizza (priorities!). I am overcome with sadness
to approach the end of our year as committee for 2016/17. But I am simultaneously excited to see what the future has in store for Redbrick. Looking up in our office to our year of papers stuck up on the wall certainly fills me with nostalgic thoughts and immense pride. This 81-year-old institution certainly has so much history, yet so much future. Of course my role as Deputy Editor will not come to its end until the last edition of the year, but I am excited to see who will take my position and will hopefully be able to pass on any advice from the experience that I have acquired in the last year or so. Even at the end of the year I know I’ll keep watch over Redbrick (albeit from afar as I’ll be in Canada for my year abroad!). All in all, I am confident that the new committee will be just as enthusiastic and committed as ever and will have the same priority: to publish and design the best possible content for our readers. So keep your eyes peeled, I’m sure you’ll hear the outcome of the AGM soon enough! Another exciting event that is in the back of our minds is Guild Awards. This annual event recognises the successes and accomplishments of student groups and promises performances, food and an opportunity to dress to impress. The opportunity to acquire an award for Outstanding Society,
Best Event, Most Improved Student Group or Outstanding Individual is something we would be honoured to receive. I’d like to think we’ve accomplished a lot in a short space of time – it just exemplifies the potential of Redbrick (for example, I am personally very excited at the fact that Redbrick is now officially verified on Twitter!!!). I hope you enjoy the 10th edition of the paper – we’ve reached double digits! Maybe I’m biased but as per usual, it’s a good one! From the dungeons, we salute you,
Imogen Lancaster, Deputy Editor
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Inside LFW Festival
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Friday 3rd March 2017
Dead Body Found At Vale Lake Conrad Duncan Digital Editor
Police sealed off an area around the Vale lake on Tuesday 21st February, after what was a major incident involving the death of a man who has been named as 47-year-old Dean Jones. He had been missing from his home in Lee Bank, Birmingham since January 14th. Emergency services were called to the Vale at around 3.30pm on Tuesday afternoon. Reports say that the body was removed from the lake by police specialists shortly before 6.00pm. West Midlands Police and the University of Birmingham were both quick to comment that they
did not believe that the incident was related to the university. A spokesperson also said that, ‘Staff and students affected by the incident can access support and counselling services via our website’.
"Staff and students [...] can access support" Although very little is known about the circumstances of the death, West Midlands Police are not treating it as a suspicious incident. They also stated that ‘a post mortem examination and formal identification are due to take place.’ The family members of the 47-year-old have been informed of
his death. Many students were around as emergency services arrived at the lake. John Wimperis, an eye-witness at the scene and a UoB student, said ‘I was just walking back from class when I saw emergency vehicles and crowds watching. Most students didn't want to be disrespectful and go up close, but everyone was naturally very curious to find out what was going on.’ He also noted that although most people seemed relieved that it was not a student who had died, ‘[it] doesn't change the fact that it's still a complete tragedy for the man's friends and family.’ He ended by saying, ‘it's a little scary to be reminded that this sort of thing can happen even on the Vale.’
UoB To Offer Tuition For Disadvantaged A-Level Students To 'Improve Diversity' Gregory Robinson News Editor
The University of Birmingham is set to launch a pilot scheme to offer A-level students from poorer backgrounds more opportunities to attend university. The scheme is said to be an effort by the University to increase diversity. The scheme is a partnership between the University and an online tutor company called MyTutor, and will offer 100 students 10 hours of free online tuition in preparation for their summer exams. The pilot is due to launch next month and, if the trial is successful, the University plans to expand it. Birmingham already operates the Access to Birmingham (A2B) programme which intends to help further the education of students from deprived backgrounds in Birmingham. Qualifying criteria includes having parents without
higher education qualifications, living in areas in which few people attend university and having spent time in care. The University also opened a secondary school in September 2015, with an admissions policy aimed at enrolling students from deprived areas of the city. By the time the school opened, it had already become the most oversubscribed comprehensive school in its local
"Birmingham already operates the Access to Birmingham programme" authority. The University of Birmingham has previously lowered its entry requirements for students apply-
ing through the A2B scheme, lowering the requirements by two grades. Despite the efforts made by the University, students continue to struggle to gain places. Around one in three pupils who apply through the programme achieve the necessary grades, which leads to the places reserved for students from poorer backgrounds being re-allocated to other students. Other Russell Group universities, including the University of Bristol have announced plans to lower entry grades for disadvantaged students. Bristol also said the initiative was designed to increase diversity among its students, partly by offering local students offers based on lower entry requirements. The announcement made in December 2016 came after data from UCAS revealed students who receive free school meals were less than half as likely to enter higher education than those who did not. Overall, the UK university acceptance rate for
more advantaged students is increasing at a faster rate than disadvantaged students who receive free school meals (up 1.4 % to 32.8% vs. up 0.3% to 16.1%). UCAS said the 16.7 percentage point difference is the ‘largest
"Every year there are a significant number who don't achieve their offer" recorded value’ between both groups. Last summer, Oxford University College announced it will increase the number of places by 10% in an effort to widen access to students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The college pledges to offer students an ‘inten-
sive’ four-week bridging programme in the summer before they start their degree which aims
"The pilot scheme is due to launch next month" to improve their key academic skills. Gail Rothnie, head of outreach at the University of Birmingham said, ‘Every year there are a significant number who don't achieve their offer. There are a large number of students who don't meet their predicted grades’. James Grant, founder of the MyTutor online teaching company, said that universities in Yorkshire, including Leeds and Huddersfield, are also interested in investing in extra tutoring for children.
Green Heart Library Banner Cost £27,000 Madeleine Bourne News Reporter
A banner measuring 69.3m x 13.7m was attached to the front of the old library. The banner, which is said to have cost £27,000, has been met with complaints from numerous students, but this is not the first time that the library has been criticised. The opening of the new library at the start of the academic year has not been without controversy and many students have numerous complaints regarding space and WiFi among other things. While some complaints such as one about food have been quelled, the start of the second semester saw the library debate reopen for discussion. The most recent of these com-
plaints being the attachment of a banner to the front of the old library building displaying an artist’s impression of the University’s plans for the future of UoB and the Green Heart project. For many students, including English and Creative Writing student Phoebe, ‘this seems like the biggest waste of money ever.’ It has been revealed that the cost of this venture was £27,000, at which one student remarked, ‘that’s the price of my degree!’ For a temporary banner that seems to serve little purpose in the eyes of students, it is not surprising that students have a lot to say about it. Beth, a first-year student, said, ‘I’m sure the University has millions of pounds to spend on various things, so £27,000 isn’t much to waste’ however she’s keen to stress ‘the money should have
been spent on something more worthwhile.’ Redbrick News spoke to a third year, who comically stated ‘I thought it would have been expensive but £27,000 for a banner? Nice to know our degree money has been put to good use.’
"The banner is supposed to 'improve the aesthetic on campus" When contacted by Redbrick, the press office stated that the banner is supposed to ‘improve the
aesthetic on campus’, and is said to be necessary in order to minimise disruption to the student community whilst demolition works take place. The press office confirmed that ‘the building wrap forms part of the site hoardings and demolition scaffolding that will be used as the building is demolished, a component of the site safety arrangements.' Despite the hefty price tag, the University assures Redbrick that it’s related to the safety of the demolition of the old library and is in line with keeping disruption to students at a minimum. Beginning now and ending in September, the process of demolishing the old library is now in place. The spokesperson stressed ‘no demolition will be done during exam season’ and stated that the University’s deci-
sion to put the banner up was made with the student body in mind: ‘the student experience is extremely important to us.’ The Green Heart, which is to stand in the place where the old library currently is, looks set to be an exciting development at the University of Birmingham. Measuring 12.1 acres, it aims to open up spaces for performances, socialising and studying. The press office states that ‘there are also plans for a study space in the Green Heart’, so hopefully those students that struggle to get a space in the current library will have more opportunities to study on campus. Although the £27,000 price tag first came as a shock to many students, it seems the banner will help the demolition process to go as smoothly as possible for all concerned.
Friday 3rd March 2017
Redbrick News Investigates: UoB Student Mental Health News Reporter, Megan Stanley, investigates the mental health of UoB students and how useful the University's services are Megan Stanley
75% of students who receive maintenance loans feel stress News Reporter regarding debt and 39% of students said they struggle to pay for With cuts to the NHS Mental their weekly food. The survey Health Trust, increasing pressure also demonstrated that the averon students, and greater media age student loan runs out by the attention devoted to personal sixth week of term. wellbeing, student mental health Estelle Clarke, advisory board is becoming a widely discussed member for the Intergenerational topic within higher education. Foundation said: ‘there is an In 2015, a study, by the undisputed negative relationship National Union of Students (NUS) between debt and mental health. on behalf of the All Party Unfortunately, the proposed sales Parliamentary Group (APPG), on of student loans could well make students into student mental health the situation worse. This grossly revealed staggering figures about unfair reality has serious implicastudent wellbeing. tions for mental health.’ 78% of students surveyed by However, it is not only stuthe NUS said they had experi- dents of higher education that are enced mental health issues while experiencing mental health diffi54% also said that they hadn’t culties. An article in The Guardian attempted to receive support for from 2014 revealed that academtheir mental health troubles. ics are also struggling with their In response to these results, mental health. According to unidisabled students’ officer for the versity counselling staff and NUS, Maddy Kirkman said: workplace health experts, nearly ‘These findings are deeply con- half of academics show symptoms cerning [...] Alongside the impact of anxiety, stress, and depression. of funding cuts to student Recently, moves have support, including mainbeen made in the West tenance grants and the Midlands to improve disabled students’ mental health treatallowance, this ment and awareshows a worrying ness. In January lack of concern 2017, commisfor students living sioned by the with mental health West Midlands Spent on mental issues’. Combined health per year P a u l Authority Blomfield, chair of Mental Health in the West the APPG on stuCommission, the Midlands dents added: ‘Our University of colleges and universiBirmingham’s ties should be places of Health Service educational and personal Management Centre, in development, where students feel partnership with the Centre for supported. But these findings Mental Health, undertook a baseshow us that significant numbers line assessment of the costs of of students are suffering with mental health and current service mental health problems, many of provision across the area. them silently. These survey results According to the report, are a wake-up call to all of us around £12 billion is currently concerned with student welfare.’ spent on mental health per year in Recently, The Independent the West Midlands. The report reported that mental health strug- stated that ‘poor mental health gles are often caused by money and wellbeing is a significant worries. A survey commissioned problem for the West Midlands. by financial technology company Too often, people with mental Intelligent Environments, found health needs feel let down. They
either don’t receive adequate care, or it is simply not designed to meet their individual needs.’ The report also said that 75% of people with mental health problems are receiving no support in the region.
"My mental health makes work very difficult, especially during my second year. It made it difficult to be organised" Furthermore, in early February, UoB issued its 8th Birmingham Policy Commission on mental health prevention for young children and young people. Lead by Professor Burstow, the commission will make recommendations on creating resilience and early interventions within schools. While, another focus will be on reducing stigma and identifying approaches to reduce the number of individuals experiencing mental health distress. Professor Burstow said: ‘I am delighted to be leading this work. Currently only 1 in 3 people with a diagnosable mental health condition get any help. The personal and societal costs are huge. I hope the work will contribute to policy making and thinking in government and across parties.’ Research at UoB is also focusing on mental illness. Project PERFECT (Pragmatic and Epistemic Role of Factually Erroneous Cognitions and Thoughts), lead by Professor Lisa Bortolotti, is a five-year project funded by the European Research Council investigating how the stigma surrounding mental illness can be broken by promoting a better understanding of how the mind works. This research project is
within the Birmingham Heroes completing their year abroad: ‘I campaign which boast the had to drop out of my year abroad. University’s research projects to The welfare officers of my departthe public through posters across ment still haven't replied over a Birmingham, and have even been year later and as a result I've been placed in the London "blocked" from completing the Underground. NSS (National Student Survey)’. The University and the Guild Mental health of friends is of Students appear very keen to also causing worry: ‘My houseraise awareness. Recently Old Joe mate and best friend has depresturned blue in support of Eating sion and it makes me so stressed Disorders Awareness Week and in and worried but there’s nothOctober 2016 the Guild ing I can do to help’. officers dressed in With mental superhero costumes to health having a promote World such a strong Mental Health Day. impact on stuBut how are dent life and UoB students feelwellbeing, what Students' ing about their exactly does mental health? In UoB offer to mental health a Redbrick survey, help students 65% of 100 stuthat are strughas worsened gling? dents questioned said that their mental Via the at Uni health had become University’s intranworse since starting uniet site, the Mental versity. Only 43% of stuHealth Advisory Service dents have sought treatment, boasts a range of self-help whilst 20% told Redbrick they guides to help with eating disorhave not attempted to do so. ders to anger management to With regards to getting help, depression. They offer advice to 65% of students said that they maintain a healthy body and mind. would use external services, such The service also offers counselas the NHS for any mental issue ling sessions for students. whereas only 28% would go to However, some students are the University for help, 6% of finding it difficult to locate these students would use other means services, with one student telling such as their friends or private Redbrick: ‘The intranet is complihealth care. cated and useless. I was going When asked by Redbrick how around in circles before I found their mental health has impacted what I was looking for and even their university experience, many then it wasn’t helpful. The differstudents feel it has had an effect ent service numbers just go on their ability to do well in their through to the same man who studies: ‘My mental health makes couldn’t help me at all.’ work very difficult, especially during my second year. It made it difficult to be organised and stay on top of things. I had to defer an exam and have several extensions.’ Another student said: ‘I find it hard to cope with the workload and my mental health makes it harder for me to get things done and motivate myself. The stress paired with mental illness is essentially just hell.’
"The intranet is complicated and useless. I was going around in circles before I found what I was looking for"
"I find it difficult to engage in seminars, my attendance is low as I often struggle to go in." One student told Redbrick they are considering dropping out of higher education: ‘I find it difficult to engage in seminars, my attendance is low as I often struggle to go in. I regularly think about dropping out.’ Mental health was also given as a reason for one student not
When investigating the University's intranet page, Redbrick discovered that the Disability Service, Learning Support, and Mental Advisory Service all use the same telephone number despite having different email contacts. Other students told Redbrick they have no idea what services the University provides to those seeking help: ‘What does the uni even offer? Facebook statuses and random awareness days? If I want proper help (i.e. medication or therapy) I'd end up having to go external anyway.’ Those who are aware of the services the University provides find trying to get an appointment to see a counsellor very difficult.
Friday 3rd March 2017
According to the University’s intranet, there are same day assessment appointments that last around 40 minutes. To book one of these appointments, students have to ring at 9.00am, however appointments fill up rapidly. One student told Redbrick: ‘It was difficult to book an appointment. Every time I rang up, all the sessions were fully booked. It took me 6 or 7 attempts to get an appointment - and this was at the start of term 2. I can only imagine how many people must be suffering without getting help- I spent the whole of first term without support myself.’ Other students have given up trying to get an appointment completely: ‘I’ve tried multiple times to get an appointment and even on days where I really need someone to talk to I’m not allowed to talk to anyone because they are all booked up. I’ve given up and gone to the NHS but I’m still on a waiting list’. Another student added: ‘I've tried but have not managed to get through on the phone for an appointment, and have been told repeatedly to try again another day. I do not see the point in continuing to contact them’.
"It was difficult to book an appointment. Every time I rang up, all the sessions were fully booked." Despite the difficulty with getting an appointment, students who have managed to see a counsellor for an initial assessment had a positive experience: ‘Once I was on the system I had a very good experience with the University's counselling service, I had regular appointments with a highly professional counsellor who had a tangibly positive impact on my well being.’ The Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) sessions offered by the University has also been praised: ‘I had a go at counselling which wasn't right for me. But the CBT based wellbeing sessions they provided enabled me to have a really good term at university but you only get 6 sessions’. One student pointed out that the service is good if you need to talk to someone, but if issues are more serious than that, the University is not suitable. However, some students did not find the University service as positive: ‘My experience at the University was not amazing. It was nice to go to the Student Hub and speak to someone but it got very repetitive and they didn't give me guidance on how to cope, but continuously made me recite what my problems were.’ Another student was turned away: ‘I thought the services provided by the University were useless. I was offered an initial assessment to then be told following the assessment that I did not need counselling from the University at a time when I was feeling helpless. I was told to come back in September if I was still feeling the same’. The same student then told Redbrick that they have since turned to the NHS for help.
The new Student Hub has also received criticism as not being a suitable location. One student told Redbrick that it ‘feels like some sort of Argos and students are there for all sorts of reasons which I didn't really like as at the time I felt like people might have known I was going in for counselling because I got taken into a room, so I really hated the idea of that.’
"University is a relatively unique situation, a very fraught and stress filled time [...] it has the potential to be incredibly isolating." Whilst only 20% of students surveyed had used the University mental health services, 50% had used external services to help with their mental health. Those who told Redbrick they used the NHS to get help had mixed experiences. Similarly to the University, the CBT programme offered by the NHS has been praised: ‘I used the Silvercloud CBT [Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) programme provided by the NHS which ultimately helped me get better but it took like two years to realise that’s what I needed’. Although, many students told Redbrick that their experience was dependent on which GP they saw: ‘NHS care is very in-homogeneously spread; some doctors surgeries just basically say 'oh cheer up'; others are really good and help massively’. Another option for people suffering with mental health problems is Birmingham Healthy Minds, an NHS primary care psychological therapies service, Students who used it found their experience positive: ‘I used the Birmingham Healthy Minds computer cognitive therapy service to deal with my anxiety and depression. It was incredibly helpful and, even though most of it was online, I had phone call appointments with my practitioner fortnightly to chat about how I was doing.’ In general, however, counselling sessions offered by the NHS were criticised: ‘I have used NHS counselling services which I have a very negative view of due to the fact that it took weeks to get an appointment, the appointments weren't aimed at people of my age (17), but rather children or older adults, and some of my appointments got cancelled.’
"I had a very good experience with the University's counselling service" One student even found university help preferable over the NHS: ‘Waiting times are quite short but organisation has been terrible. I have been thrown around between different doctors with different opinions on how to
treat me. Practical help from uni- should be to help those who need versity tutors and extended dead- it. Mental health issues can be just line has been the only help that I as damaging to students' studies have found useful.’ and their lives as a whole.’ Cuts to the NHS have One student said that been suggested as the the high tuition fees reason for a lack of should ensure qualisufficient mental ty help for mental health treatment. h e a l t h : According to the ‘University is a BBC, mental relatively unique Of people with a situation, a very health trusts in England have had fraught and diagnosable £600 million cut stress filled time mental health from their budgfor young people ets, despite the fact and it has the condition get potential people seeking to be treatment has incredibly isolating. help increased from 500,000 Particularly given that to 1.7 million since students are now paying 2010. a fortune to attend university, When asked by Redbrick, the institution has a responsibility 90% of students said the University to ensure that people are supporthas a responsibility to provide ed to make the most of it.’ sufficient help for students strugThe issues treating mental gling with their mental health: health evidently go beyond the ‘Mental health of young people is University. However, whilst the getting worse and worse and part University campaigns to raise of the university's pastoral role awareness for mental health must
be commended, UoB arguably struggles to help those who require more than an online self-help guide. Many students are unable to book appointments for assessments and counselling, therefore implying that the University does not have the facilities to cope with the demand. With 'mental health' on the lips of many running for Guild Election positions this year. There seem to be signs that with a change of power within the Guild there may be a wider change within the University as a whole. Moves are being made this year to change the mental health situation in the West Midlands, which can only create hope that the current struggles that students and other individuals are facing can be rectified and changed. If you have opinions about this investigation or about the mental health provisions at UoB let us know on Twitter at: @RedbrickNews
Friday 3rd March 2017
Conservatives Unveil Plans For 'Fast Track' Degrees Emily Youlton News Reporter
The Department for Education has just released plans to allow a new ‘Fast Track’ degree which would only take 2 years. This in turn would lead to the removal of the tuition fee cap as the plan is for the 2 year course to still attract fees in line with a 3 year degree, the only difference being the time it takes to complete the course. The new programme would mean the students enrolled have no long summer or winter breaks in order to complete the course in the shorter time period. Although tuition fees would rise, it is thought that this would reduce living and accommodation costs for students. This news has caused many Universities and educational groups to speak out. The
Universities and College Union (UCU) have questioned the purpose of the programs. If students aren't going to save money there seems to be no real benefit to running a program of this nature. In addition to this, UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said ‘Accelerated degrees risk undermining the well-rounded education upon which our universities reputation is based’. By compacting the courses into less time, there are concerns that the quality of education could be compromised. Concerns have also been raised over the increased pressure this would put on students by having 3 years’ worth of work crammed into 2 years. Hunt branded this ‘academic sweatshops’ illustrating the risk students could face to their lives but also the inevitable extra pressure that would be placed on academic staff.
The Russell Group which represents 24 of the UK’s top universities has spoken out against the plans. Acting Director Tim Bradshaw expressed major fears about the quality of education and while acknowledging the constant need to update curricula, stated that, the 3 year undergraduate programme is ‘the most appropriate at research-intensive institutions’. Labour ’s Universities Spokesperson, Gordon Marsden has expressed concerns over the lifting of the tuition fee cap. He said ‘Is it yet another example of [the Conservative government] using their new higher education legislation as a Trojan horse to let tuition fees rip?’ Jo Johnson, Universities Minister has defended the move by saying it allows students to be more flexible in the way they learn. He has suggested that the 3 year course will still be
preferential to the majority of students but the ‘fast track’ programme will allow students to choose how they learn and speed up their educational journey. He has also said that students can already effectively take a 2 year degree but it compromises their education so by lifting the fee cap, they can pay for a better standard of education but over the same time limit.
"risk undermining the well-rounded education" Potential students are left with an even greater increase in anxiety and facing high financial burdens.
NUS Controversy Contines Phil Jones Music Editor
The publishing of a report on the President of the National Union of Students, Malia Bouattia, has caused great tension within the NUS. Bouattia has been under fire in recent months since referring to the University of Birmingham as a ‘Zionist outpost’, as well as showing a refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist, but has been found to not be in need of further punishment. Despite the controversy of Bouattia’s statements, the report found that the comments were not ‘reasonably capable of being interpreted as anti-Semitic’.
The results of this report have been the catalyst of great argument within the NUS, with the campaigns director at the Union of Jewish Students, Joshua Nagli suggesting the decision ‘is deeply troubling.’ Indeed, Bouattia may be asked to step down from her position in the coming weeks, with the disruption that the incident has caused being seen as hugely negative for the NUS as a whole. The most controversial comments themselves were made by Bouattia at an Israeli Apartheid event prior to her becoming President. Although the report did condemn these particular comments, it dismiss four further allegations of Anti-Semitism, includ-
ing the aforementioned reference to the University of Birmingham. Bouattia has yet to offer an apology for her comments, however an NUS spokesperson has suggested ‘Malia has addressed the accusations of antisemitism numerous times since her election last year, including in the Sunday Times in April, the Huffington Post in October, and in writing to the 560 NUS-affiliated further and higher education students’ unions in December.’
When pressed for comment, a second year student remarked ‘although I’m unsure whether the results of the report are accurate or not, something which causes so much division within a union must be doing something wrong.’ The interpretation of Bouattia’s comments seems to be a hotly debated topic and there is definitely no easy response; however, the issue does seem to represent troubling times ahead for unity within the NUS.
NUS affiliated student unions
UoB Develops Key Financial Crisis Warning System Astrid Skjold News Reporter
University of Birmingham researchers have developed an 'early warning system' to avert or mitigate financial crises. Researchers from the University of Birmingham's Business School have developed a new system for detecting early signs of financial crises in order to avert or lessen their impact. The system addresses the weaknesses of existing early warning systems. The new system is compared to existing methods in the study 'Predicting Sovereign Debt Crises', published in the Journal of Financial Stability, and applies statistical methods to economic data - econometrics - to analyse various indicators. Dr. Nicholas
Horsewood (University of Birmingham), Dr. Frank Strobel (University of Birmingham) and Dr. Mary Dawood (University of Alexandria) authored the article.
"clear difference between regions in how early warning signs behave" The system aims to increase the accuracy of the indicators, as Dr. Frank Strobel, Senior Lecturer in Economics, comments: ‘We have developed a new type of ‘early warning system’ that will provide more accurate predictions of sovereign debt crises and how
long they are likely to last.’ Existing systems failed to predict the financial crisis of 2008 and its severity. The model developed by the Birmingham researchers takes into account the fact that causes and factors associated with sovereign debt crisis vary between countries and regions. The main emphasis seems to be differentiating between countries and regions, as the existing systems focus on factors that relate only to developing countries. The different indicators include a country's exposure to debt, foreign trade, domestic growth and government expenditure. Differentiating between regions is an essential part of the new system, as early warning signs behave differently in different regions. Dr. Strobel explains: ‘There is a clear difference between regions
in how early warning signs behave. External factors such as openness to trade behave differently around crises in Asia and Latin America, whilst domestic macroeconomic conditions seem to play the major role in Africa.’ Factors related to exposure to debt seem to be the only important indicators of potential debt crises in developed countries. The study published in the Journal of Financial Stability found that the system developed at the University of Birmingham significantly outperform the other two systems when looking at various global regions, such as China, India, Latin America, Africa and South-East Asia, and the model can be recommended to policymakers in those regions.
UoB in 'Meme War' with the University of Warwick Astrid Skjold News Reporter
University of Birmemeham (the official name of a meme based Facebook group) fired the first shot against Edgy Memes for University of Birmingham Teens in the early afternoon of February 12th, in what has become known as the Great Birmingham Meme War. The battle escalated quickly as Edgy Memes fired no less than twenty-one shots back during the Civil War's first day. The weapons employed by Edgy Memes were largely conventional meta-designs aimed at exploiting what it perceived as Birmemeham's weaknesses: infrequent posting of mediocre content. The events of February 12 took a surprising turn when Warwick Memes joined the battle making it an interregion war. Warwick Memes fired its first shot at Birmemeham with a classic, yet harmful, roasting of both Birmingham forces' proudest symbol - Old Joe - comparing it to Warwick's 'The Koan'. The slow reaction time of more than 24 hours from both Birmingham groups underlines the forcefulness of the element of surprise, clearly employed by Warwick memes. However, counterattacks were strong, targeting primarily Warwick's Koan and the peculiar location of University of Warwick in Coventry, preying on its supposed lack of geographic knowledge. The latter point seems to have elevated the battle to one of intellectual status: Warwick stating its superiority in University Challenge and Birmingham its dominance in Nobel Laureates. Some, including the Convention for peace in the Great Birmingham Meme War (CPGBM), called for the Birmingham sides to join forces against Warwick Memes. According to Bong, the pseudonym under which the heads of Edgy Memes operate, a treaty has been made with Birmemeham to collectively tackle Warwick. ‘The civil war fizzled out when the threat of Warwick loomed over the horizon’, Bong told Redbrick. However, the treaty is only valid as long as there is the common enemy of Warwick. Warwick Memes tells Redbrick that with no clear definition of victory, and neither side seeing any merit in surrendering, the war is likely to deteriorate. Warwick Memes is already experiencing war-weariness, but although the Warwick audience seems to be calling for a return to everyday content, it is uncertain if or when Birmingham will let this one go.
Friday 3rd March 2017
Essay Cheating Plagues Universities New reports show that the levels of cheating through the use of essay production websites is at startling highs causing concern over the education system's integrity Erin Mannion News Reporter
Zixuan Wang News Reporter
Research by The Telegraph has revealed that over 20,000 university students per year are purchasing essays online and submitting it as their own piece of work to their university. Figures show that over a third of these students are enrolled at Russell Group and Oxbridge universities. Universities abide by strict plagiarism rules and use a software system, Turnitin, that detects any form of plagiarism as a means of preventing cheating. However, existing ‘essay mills’ are an issue that universities and markers have little control over. Plagiarism and the use of essay mill websites have been longstanding concerns. Prices range from £15 (Law, master’s, 3,000 word dissertation proposal, no deadline) to £6,750 (English Literature, PhD, 100,000 word dissertation, seven day deadline); the industry thrives in demand. Media reports found that, in 2016, UK universities are in a ‘plagiarism epidemic’ as almost 50,000 students have been caught cheating over the last 3 years, pushing the issue onto the national
agenda. The Nottingham Post revealed that a local online essay mill in Nottingham has around 2 million visitors every month. Clients are able to specify their topic, word count and grade boundary – all in exchange for a fee. After purchasing the essay online, a researcher, chosen from a pool of around 3,000 freelancers, will write the essay and afterwards the Nottingham team will check it over before sending it over to the student. Figures reveal that the company turned over a staggering £5 million in 2016. The Nottingham Post spoke to the Chief Operations Officer of the company who said essay cheating is ‘an alternative way of learning where you learn by example’.
"an alternative way of learning where you learn by example" The BBC also revealed that Marek Jezek, a freelance writer, provides first class essays at a price of £150 for a piece of coursework and up to thousands of pounds for a dissertation. Other figures reveal that students can pay around £337 for a 2,500 word essay at a grade of a 2:1. Universities Minister Jo
Johnson has called for ‘tough penalties’ for those who make use of custom essay writing services, alerting students about ‘the potentially significant negative impacts on their future career if they are caught cheating’.
"potentially significant negative impacts on their future career" In the letter to Douglas Blackstock, Chief Executive of Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) on the 21st February, the minister demanded new guidance for universities and student bodies to combat the use of essay writing services, as well as other forms of plagiarism. It was also emphasised that the Government remains ‘open to legislation in the future’, but will take a non-legislative initiative in the first instance. The QAA also spotted aggressive marketing tactics of essay mill websites, advertising on noticeboards, university campuses all the way down to London Underground. They stated, ‘plagiarism in any form, including the use of essay mills, is not acceptable and on an industrial scale,
presents a clear threat to standard in our universities as well as opening students to potential exploitation’. Three major solutions lie in the QAA’s plan to tackle these companies. Firstly, exploring regulation of essay mills including controlling their ability to advertise - using tactics employed by some institutions in New Zealand. Secondly, working with the higher education sector in order to focus on students’ access to information, assessment design, and detection system. And thirdly, raising the awareness among students of the severe consequences for cheating and plagiarism. Dame Julia Goodfellow, president of Universities UK, warned that ‘such academic misconduct is a breach of an institution’s disciplinary regulations and can result in students, in serious cases, being expelled from the university’. Now, action has been taken even further by Lord Storey, the co – chair of the Committee on Education, Families and Young people, who is seeking to put a ban on the growing essay mill industry. Lord Storey and the Baroness Garden of Frognal proposed an amendment to the Higher Education and Research Bill this month in a bid to enforce some form of legislation against con-
tract cheating. Lord Storey told the The Telegraph that the legality of essay mills is simply allowing ‘rich students’ to pay their way to the top of a first class degree. He also said the true figure of students using essay mills annually is closer to 50,000, as opposed to 20,000, with the practice only getting worse.
"not acceptable and on an industrial scale, presents a clear threat" Third year psychology student, Levi Gale, commented on the issue saying ‘It is unfair how students are being awarded first class degrees when they have put no work into it, especially when the majority of students put a lot of time and effort into their work’. The campaign is also supported by the Quality Agency for Higher Education who researched whether or not the UK Fraud Act (2006) would be a means of tackling the problem. However, this approach was deemed ineffective. We are yet to see whether or not the campaign to make this practice illegal will be successful.
Birmingham Battling Lethal Air Pollution Levels Rebekah Quixano Henriques News Reporter
Birmingham is among the 16 UK cities, including London and Glasgow, that have been issued with a final warning to combat lethal air pollution levels. The European Commission has told the British Government to act fast on clean air measures, or the EU Court of Justice will act. According to Public Health England, respiratory and cardiovascular disease are responsible for 520 deaths a year in Birmingham alone, while around 40,000 early deaths in the UK can be linked to air pollution. Four out of five hazardous nitrogen oxides from traffic are emitted by diesel cars, and Dr. Penny Woods, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation agrees that transport emissions are ‘the main culprit’ of high pollution levels especially those from diesel engines. She says that ‘Scrappage incentive schemes will help drivers to move to cleaner vehicles, without being financially penalised.’ Birmingham City Council is currently developing its plans for a Clean Air Zone, to be introduced in 2019, with high emission vehicles such as lorries and buses pay-
ing to enter the city centre. The council faces a £60m fine if it doesn’t successfully control pollution, and council bosses have not dismissed further measures if the Clean Air Zone fails.
"The government definitely has to start paying more attention to these long-term issues" Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has promised double funding towards air quality in London over the next five years, he is also expected to institute a daily ‘toxicity charge’ on diesel cars manufactured before 2005 that enter central London. The mayor has also called for the government to offer an incentive for people to get rid of their old diesel fuelled cars by offering a discount on a new replacement. This is an issue that is also being considered in wider Europe. In Paris, the city has instituted free public transport days and has the aim that diesel cars will be banned by 2025. The Commission’s warning has sparked calls from organisations for an UK ‘Clean Air Act’ to reduce pollution levels. Friends of the Earth say the act would be
necessary to protect the public from air pollution before the UK exits the EU to help safeguard existing legal protections put in place by the Union. The British government claims to be committed to reducing pollution despite the Brexit vote. A spokesman has said: ‘we have committed more than £2 billion since 2011 to increase the uptake of ultra-low emissions vehicles and support greener transport schemes and set out how we will improve air quality through a new
programme of Clean Air Zones.’ A new air quality plan is expected to be introduced by the government in April this year. However, Theresa May has spoken about the UK becoming a low tax country after the UK leaves the European Union which has caused concern on the future of Britain’s environmental protections and standards. When we spoke to University of Birmingham students about the issue, one second year student told Redbrick that, ‘I am
really concerned about it. The government definitely has to start paying more attention to these long-term issues’. The EU report also identified that the UK is failing in the application of laws on air quality, species conservation, and clean water standards. It remains to be seen what the long-term effects of the problem and hopefully the solutions will be.
Friday 3rd March 2017
NHS West Midlands' Financial Crisis Recent figures published by NHS Improvement show that half of all West Midlands hospitals have over-spent during three quarters of the financial year Tobias Sales
Collectively, the NHS is currently £886 million over-budget nationwide - £300 million more than the estimated deficit for the year. During a winter which has placed a particular strain on England’s socialised healthcare, the West Midlands is not exempt; with a combined deficit of over £124 million it is responsible for almost 10% of the total overspending. The Heart of England NHS Trust, responsible for three hospitals in the West Midlands - Good Hope, Heartlands, and Solihull has accumulated a deficit of £13.4
million, whilst Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, responsible for City Hospital and Sandwell General Hospital, has over-spent by £7.9 million. The highest deficit attained was that of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust, which spent approximately £28.4 million over their budget. Although these trusts are some of the largest in the West Midlands, they are not alone in their overspending. In total, figures reveal that exactly half of the 26 hospitals in the vicinity have gained a deficit. In a week in which Jeremy Corbyn has stressed the NHS ‘state of emergency’, such statistics highlight the difficulty hospi-
tals face in predicting the strain on their services, especially during more treacherous times of year. NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson stated that such issues have occurred ‘largely because of winter pressures’ due to a ‘record emergency winter demand’. Dame Julie Moore, chief executive of hospitals across the West Midlands, discussed this issue late last year, admitting that ‘it must be fixed’ in October.
Sally Gainsbury, senior policy analyst at the health thinktank The Nuffield Trust, lifts blame away from the trusts, pointing to the £2.95 billion saved through cuts from services during the first nine months of the financial year. She stated, ‘there is a widening gap between what we are asking the NHS to do and what we are funding it to do’. Hospitals in the West Midlands
£124m NHS West Midlands Deficit
that have so far been able to operate without overspending include those within the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and the Birmingham Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Despite the impressive budgeting from these trusts, Anita Charlesworth, director of research and economics at the Health Foundation, views a complete financial turn-around - especially so late in the year - as highly unlikely, but still envisages hope in the future: ‘there is very little prospect of turning around hospital finances this year, but lessons must be learnt’ she said.
110 Fridges Fly-Tipped In Kings Norton John Wimperis
In one of the biggest fly-tipping incidents in the city’s history, 110 broken fridges were dumped on and around a boarded-up residential street in Kings Norton, just a few miles south of Selly Oak. Six fridges on Ithon Grove in Kings Norton were reported to council waste enforcement on Monday 20th but, when they reached the scene, they discovered that the number dumped was closer to 110. The main pile of fridges was cleared from the street by Wednesday evening but two could still be seen lying in an adjacent playing field. One refrigerator was also seen lying in the front garden of a house that backed onto the street. Environment officers at Birmingham City Council are attempting to identify the culprits. In a perhaps surprising development, it appears that nobody
noticed the individuals that left the 110 broken kitchen appliances in the street.
"outrageous that people think dumping rubbish on a road, blighting our city, is acceptable"
this as I am, so I hope anybody with information will be brave enough to come forward. This is totally unacceptable and we will prosecute fly-tippers where evidence is available.’ This comes a year after a similar, though smaller, incident
where ten fridges were dumped on another cul-de-sac in a different part of Birmingham. If you have information about this, or any other instance of flytipping in Birmingham, you can email flytipping@birmingham. gov.uk
There is no limit on fines for fly-tipping and jail sentences for the offence may be as long as five years. Students that find themselves needing to dispose of a large number of broken fridges are advised to do so through legal means.
Jacqui Kennedy, Acting Strategic Director for Place at Birmingham City Council, said it was ‘outrageous that people think dumping rubbish on a road, blighting our city, is acceptable’ and appealed for anyone with information to come forward. The Birmingham Mail reported her saying, ‘I know the local community will be as horrified by
University Has Negative Effect On Secondary School Friendship Groups Megan Stanley
Oxford University has found that leaving home to study at university has a dramatic impact on secondary school friendship groups. The research illustrates that students are losing 40% of friends every six months. Speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Boston, evolutionary psychologist Professor Robin Dunbar said previous secondary school friendships ‘deteriorate rapidly over a matter of months. The churn was phenomenal’. For the
research, he followed students throughout their first year of university. Professor Dunbar observed that between women and men there was a ‘very striking sex difference’ when maintaining social groups. For women, it ‘was whether they made effort to talk more to each other on the phone.’ Meanwhile, for male friendship groups keeping in contact via messaging and phone calls had no impact. To maintain their friendship, it was activities such as going to the pub or watching a football match that kept the friendship going.
When the groups moved to university, Professor Dunbar said: ‘Girls will be on the phone or Facebook with each other to keep the relationship going. With guys it is out of sight out of mind. They just find four more guys to go drinking with’. Professor Dunbar then continued to link female friendships with fertility, stating that too many friends could create more stress and impact fertility: ‘Women’s infertility is heavily driven by social stresses. There is a suggestion that your core friends can bolster fertility. A core of five best friends are crucial in buffering you against the stress of other
people’. He added that if women do not have this core friendship group then they are ‘more likely to have
"A core of five best friends are crucial in buffering you against the stress of other people" [their] menstrual cycle and endocrinology disrupted’.
It was observed by Professor Dunbar that ‘women clearly have much more intense close friendships. They’re intense, very like romantic relationships – in the sense if they break they break catastrophically’. He continued: ‘Guys tend not to have that relationship. They tend to have a group of four guys they do stuff with. That is much more casual’. A UoB English Literature student said: ‘I think the research is extremely interesting because I feel as though my friendships with the people I met before I came to university have grown stronger’.
Friday 3rd March 2017
Should Celebs Engage with Politics? Commentator Kat Smith considers the role of celebrities dabbling in politics Kat Smith
Should celebrities voice their political opinions? JK Rowling may be world famous for conjuring up the Wizarding World of Harry Potter we all know and love, but her latest body of art is her series of tweets attacking journalist and presenter Piers Morgan in relation to Trump and his policies. Like much of our communal disgust of Trump and his v i e w s , Rowling’s hatred of the current US president isn’t a recent development, with her 2015 tweet illustrating that even her iconic antagonist was more favourable. Not being shy of expressing her political opinions, Rowling has clashed with Morgan over
their differing views on the likes of the migrant ban and Trump in general. The war was sparked by Rowling’s joy at Morgan being sworn at on live TV for his support of Trump’s travel ban that restricts access to the US by those in seven Muslim-majority countries. I think it’s pretty clear I’m firmly Team Rowling in this Twitter battle, but what I really want to focus on is the discourse between these prominent figures over social media and what this means for modern politics. Though the media and public reception of Rowling’s comments have been largely positive, with the likes of The Guardian commending her for dealing a “cunning blow” in the battle between the two figures, some have questioned whether the pair should be discussing politics so publicly; is it out of their sphere? I don’t think so. Morgan himself
criticised Ewan McGregor’s decision to not go on Good Morning Britain after Morgan’s comments about the Women’s March based on the fact that McGregor’s profession is acting and not politics. Morgan’s piece in his Daily Mail column quotes Elvis Presley’s vow to remain apolitical. Ironic, much? Morgan has been vocal about his support for his friend Trump and has discussed politics on various shows and in his articles. Apparently being a journalist and a breakfast show presenter gives you the worldly knowledge to have political views but everyone else’s brains are restricted to work within their fields.
"We are all affected by politics and laws that shape the world around us; it concerns all of us" Shouldn’t we be encouraging everyone to get involved in/have a voice in politics? We are all affected by the policies and laws that shape the world around us; it
Surreal News Headlines Alex Taljaard is intruiged by absurdities becoming a recent trend in news headlines around the world Alex Taljaard Comment Writer
Is it just me, or does the world seem ridiculous at the moment? We seem to have entered into some kind of global surrealist Twilight Zone-esque hellscape, with every new day bringing a slew of bizarre news stories. Nothing seems more indicative of this than an image being shared on social media platforms showing the three top Guardian articles, with many connecting the three stories to near-futuristic horror show Black Mirror. The first of these stories, that a suspect in the killing of Kim Jong-nam believed she was part of a TV prank, certainly fits in with Black Mirror’s perversions of contemporary culture. The second, that Robert Mugabe could continue to contest elections post-death, seems almost laughable, until you realise how indicative it is of the despotic and nepotistic governing strategies used by many heads of state.
"The business of news is now open to anyone with a Twiter account" Finally, the story of the doll banned in Germany for its aptitude for espionage will do little
for those who already fear the world is tumbling head first into an Orwellian nightmare. It is almost as if the news is now one big self-parody, with media corporations scrambling to achieve peak surrealness. Not too long ago, the height of our weird news was the leader of the opposition mutilating a sausage roll, so why have things gone so Salvador Dali so quickly?
"Such is the nature of the mad world that we now inhabit" A factor that has led to this ramp up in surreality is probably the current state of news. No longer just the past time of actual professional journalists, the business of news is now open to anyone with a Twitter account and an itch to be noticed. This is what has led to the rise of Donald Trump’s favourite accusatory phrase – “fake news”. This stuff is seldom fact-checked, and almost always blatantly click-
bait, yet people share it as the truth, with big mainstream media outlets even falling foul of lessthan-accurate news stories. Maybe the reason the news seems so weird is because that’s the only way that the media can grab our attention anymore, with surreal, and often morbidly sensationalist, stories. All of this stuff nearly makes me nostalgic for the good old days of 2010, where politicians were just a series of wooden spoons with faces drawn on, and Donald Trump was just an annoying loudmouth, rather than an annoying loudmouth in charge of the world’s largest military. Sure, things were pretty boring, but at least we generally knew where we stood. I mean, on Wednesday, Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour Party, dabbed, live on television, in the middle of Prime Ministers Questions. Such is the nature of the mad world that we now inhabit. In a sense, it was Trump who kick-started this whole descent into weirdness, by successfully securing the Republican presidential nomination. If that’s possible, for the human embodiment of impotence to legitimately win an election, maybe Mugabe really can become the world’s first zombie head of state. I just hope for the sake of the globe we reach some sort of normality soon. Sadly, something tells me that things are gonna get a lot weirder from here.
concerns all of us. By keeping politics to the politicians, we are leaving the representation of beliefs and ideals to those whose careers rest on keeping their supporters happy. Those outside of the profession may be considered more honest; we should encourage people of all walks of life to express their political views. Back in December, Mark Wahlberg said that celebrities live in a bubble and don’t understand the effect of political decisions on others and so shouldn’t voice their views. Then, after making these comments, he went on to discuss Trump’s travel ban. From this it seems clear to me that we all have political opinions; it’s human to care about who is governing the most prominent country in the world. Through discussion and debate we can refine these and possibly alter them. Failing to educate
yourself politically and keeping any opinions quiet isn’t engaging in the world around you. So, I believe we should appreciate the honesty of celebrities and other non-political figures and I can’t help but agree with the Guardian when they stated that such a conflict is not only a clash of two wealthy and wellknown celebrities but also two drastically different worldviews. We can appreciate the views of others without agreeing with them; in fact talking to someone with opposing views is probably the best way to solidify or modify your own. Utilising social media to discuss things that actually matter is surely a good thing, as much as I like doing the occasional Buzzfeed Quiz. We should all have an interest in the world around us, so stifling the opinions of others just because they’re a celebrity seems like an ignorant step in the wrong direction.
Friday 3rd March 2017
The Reality of Farming Comment's Alex Goodwin argues that animal lovers overlook the industry's flaws Alex Goodwin Comment Writer
On Friday, one horrified citizen stumbled upon 1,800 newborn chicks abandoned and left to die in a field in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. The RSPCA is heading the investigation into why the chicks were abandoned, but it is speculated that the owner most likely misjudged the profit returns of the chicks, suggesting this sad incident is simply another inevitable part of the egg industry.
"What the incident truly highlights is the hypocrisy within society when it comes to our agricultural industries" The incident has seen a spark of outrage amongst the public, as many of the chicks had already died in the harsh winter conditions, thus many owning the view that their abandonment was inhumane. However, what the incident
truly highlights is the hypocrisy within society when it comes to our agricultural industries. Six billion male chicks are ‘inhumanely’ disposed of in the global egg industry every year, in much worse conditions than that of the abandoned chicks. Most of the time, the deemed useless male chicks are thrown away in large quantities, dead or alive, or thrown in blender like machine to simply crush the chicks efficiently. This happens whether the eggs are labeled as organic, free-range or caged, which is often unbeknown to the public. Young chicks have their beaks removed without anesthetic, are kept in cages whereby they cannot turn around, let alone spread their wings, and where millions upon millions of male chicks are brutally murdered each year out of sheer uselessness to the industry. New alarming research shows newborn chicks are as aware, intelligent and conscious of their environments as a human toddler, so selective outrage truly is futile. The Cambridgeshire chick incident has merely highlighted the already ever-present hypocritical questions within society. Loving animals and empathizing with another earthlings pain is
intrinsic to us, so why, unless it is brutally presented in front of our eyes, do we choose to turn our heads to such horror? We buy free-range in the hope of suppressing our guilt: ‘It’s fine! Free Range means the chickens are treated well,’ when it merely refers to the cubic centimeters of space the chicken has whilst in confinement. The cages are swapped for small sheds. Their treatment, for the most part, is exactly the same. The horrendous irony of groups such as the RSPCA in a world where millions of animals die for profit at the hands of our global agricultural industries highlights just part of the issue.
An individual can spend up to five years in prison in the UK for the mistreatment of a dog, yet other individuals are paid to brutally murder chickens, pigs and cows alike.
"A society so laden with self-proclaimed animal lovers needs to take a long, hard look in the mirror"
So whilst no one can argue the sheer sadness of the dying and abandoned one-day-old chicks in Cambridgeshire, the societal and media outrage is ironic to the next degree. A society so laden with selfproclaimed animal lovers needs to take a long, hard look in the mirror and accept that our everyday choices lead to inhumane and unnecessary suffering. 1,800 abandoned chicks does not even slightly touch upon such a multifaceted issue.
A Blairite Brexit
Commentator Amelia Hiller is intrigued by Tony Blair's stance on Brexit Amelia Hiller Comment Writer
‘Brexit means Brexit’ or does it? On the 23rd June 2016, the British public voted in a referendum to determine whether Britain would remain a member of the European Union, and their decision was to leave. That much is clear, but what faces us now is carrying this process out. Theresa May and our current Conservative government have taken on the task of completing a ‘hard Brexit’ in order to align with the democratic wishes of the British population. However, this month ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair continues an incessant rhetoric against this process, declaring that the current government is a ‘mono-purpose political entity’, hell-bent on achieving only one thing: Brexit.
"He continues to embarrass himself in his calls for a second referendum" To those who are pro-Brexit, Blair is the most bitter of the remain camp, and continues to embarrass himself in his calls for a second referendum to allow
the British population to re-think their decision. Opening his speech at an Open Britain event in London on the 17th February, Blair stated ‘I want to be explicit, I accept right now there is no widespread appetite to re-think. But the people voted without knowledge of the terms of Brexit.’ Boris Johnson, current Foreign Secretary and notorious leader of the lead camp attacked Blair’s view, accusing him of insulting the intelligence of the British population. This is simply not the case. Blair makes some extremely valid points regarding the lies
which formed the basis of the leave campaign, and while he may come across as condescending, there must be some integrity in his argument. This integrity can be seen in his statements regarding immigration. Whilst net immigration to the United Kingdom was 335,000 between June 2015 and June 2016, just over 50% of these cases were outside of the European Union, including those from Syria. Out of the European immigrants, Blair states that the dominant occupation among them is within London’s catering industry, and hence emphasises the fact
that it is ‘highly unlikely that they are taking the jobs of British-born people in other parts of the country’. Therefore, while the primacy of Brexit lies in this one consideration, it is accentuated that ‘Brexit does not affect the immigration people most care about’. This does indicate that there is a clear gap in public knowledge regarding Brexit, and therefore we cannot confuse a valid point with a condescending nature. In addition, it is arguable that Blair’s calls for a second referendum are not completely ridiculous. Whilst Johnson stated that the British public remain ‘very firmly in favour’ of leaving the European Union, this was never the case. Only 52% of voters chose to leave in the first place, which is by no means a decisive victory, and with the fragility of the argument to leave increasing day-by-day, this 52% is likely to continue to dwindle as the government progress with a ‘hard Brexit’ process. Fundamentally, however, despite the convincing nature of Blair’s argument, the fact remains that a second referendum can never be held. One-off plebiscite is how the referendum was originally sold to the British people even before each side began their campaigns. To overthrow this decision now would be to promote a deep-rooted hypocrisy within government,
even greater than the hypocrisy of May’s position given that just nine months ago she was opposed to leaving the European Union, though is now the prime advocate of the rubric emphasising a need to ‘take back control’.
"Blair makes some extremely valid points regarding the lies which formed the basis of the leave campaign; there must be some integrity in his argument" Whether Blair’s speech resonates or not, he is simply not right to speak in this way about Brexit. The British people have exercised their democratic right, and the chance that we will remain a member of the European Union is slim. His involvement can only really do one thing, and that is to highlight the damage to our country which ‘Brexit at any cost’ will cause, and to attempt to slow the rapid ‘rush over the cliff’s edge’ for the government to take stock of Britain’s position regarding the European Union.
Friday 3rd March 2017
Humanising Islam Comment Editor Aamina Siddiqi discusses the negative portrayal of Muslims in the media and explores what is being done on campus to tackle this issue Bones, muscle and skin. That’s all there is to a human being (as well as internal organs and a complex network of nerves and veins). But it is the belief system that an individual ascribes to that alienates one person from another. For several years now, Muslims have been at the forefront of an ‘othering’ agenda, making up a small number of the population yet facing a grossly exaggerated scaremongering scheme simply for praying five times a day. Islam is a tainted word. It’s associated with terrorism, ISIS, radicalisation and recently has borne the brunt of a worldwide ban. David Cameron made remarks in January 2016 about non-English speakers being 'more susceptible' to radicalisation and that Muslim women in particular should attend language classes. In December 2016, Louis Casey reported that Muslims have a problem integrating. It is interesting to note that Muslims are referred to as a unanimous entity when Islam is a religion comprising of individuals from all continents. Dr Hakeem Yusuf, Reader in Global Legal Studies at the Law School said that commenting about the lack of integration is downright counter-factual and wrong. He explains 'if you pass by an area for smokers and you’re a non-smoker, the offer that you receive of a cigarette is integration. The question is if being different is being bad and the question should be posed
back. When they say that Muslims aren’t integrating we need to ask ourselves what it is that they are not integrating into.' The puzzling problem with integration is that there is an ideal of a utopian multicultural society where a newcomer will take on a chameleon like appearance, blending to what already exists instead of adding something new. Recently, Debenhams announced that they will be partnering with international brand Aab to sell hijabs and other ‘contemporary modest wear.’ Naturally, comments surrounding this were the likes of 'Surely the Muslims have their own shops to go to?' and 'Debenhams, why do you not sell the full burka as well?' It seems that increasing a customer base is a move away from British values but what people are failing to realise is that Muslim women
"The puzzling problem with integration is that there is an ideal of a utopian multicultural society" have been doing what they can with limited resources for years. A hijab is literally a scarf of any material, any colour, any print
and I’ve been buying mine from H&M. We must ask ourselves why it is that society feels the need to dictate what a minority group can or can't do. Muslims are hated for being part of ISIS but most of their victims, up to 97%, are Muslims themselves but we don’t hear about those killings because it isn’t the West. Why not break down barriers and come together instead of painting a culturally diverse group of people with the same dirty brush. What have Muslims, that you personally know, actually done to warrant such hatred? The Islamic Society on campus (UBISOC) have been busy all year with various projects that help the wider community and have also raised over £23,000 for a water sanitation
project in Bangladesh. Last week they housed ‘Discover Islam Week’ with daily talks and food. Aaquib Naved, co-president, said that, 'Discover Islam Week is a week which the Islamic Society organise every year to show the true message of Islam to the Muslims and NonMuslims at the University of Birmingham.' He added that the society tries to 'create a comfortable atmosphere where everyone feels welcome entering the marquee, asking questions and engaging in discussions with the Islamic Society and its members. This helps create a really enjoyable vibe which encourages discussion and builds bridges between people which may not have been possible before. We try and deal with misconceptions that many people have
about Islam as that is one of the main issues nowadays due to the negative representation of Islam in the media.' One of the students who came was Adam Penwright, a second year in Maths and Music, believes that 'it was great that there’s the opportunity to come in. I loved that it was in the middle of campus and not hidden in a room. The best part was walking to talking to other students.' Third year Physics student Jonathan Burton said it was 'engaging. It’s good to hear and talk about belief. As a Christian I was intrigued by the similarities and differences between Islam and Christianity and it was good to discuss our experiences together.' Dr Yusuf believed that the value of programs like this are important in breaking down fear and ignorance. 'Fear of ‘other’ derives from the lack of knowledge which is a product of the environment. Islam is an eternally misrepresented way of life and expressing is from how Muslims understand it to be and generating knowledge is so crucial.' UBISOC also regularly do care home visits, community clean ups, create and distribute care packages and food drives for the homeless. The food that was left over in the evening during ‘Discover Islam Week’ was given to the homeless in Birmingham. Muslims are human beings and the media fails to recognise that.
Friday 3rd March 2017
Redbrick Presents... A Week in Street Kitchen Wednesday
Tuesday Butternut Squash and Mango Dhal with Sweet Potato -Anna Griffiths
Monday Yam Curry with Cumin Rice -Tasha Smart Heading over to The Street Kitchen I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was excited at the prospect of the Guild providing students with a variety of new meal choices. There were quite a few options when we got there, though only one was veggie so I opted for that: a yam curry with a side of cumin rice. I wasn’t sure what to expect (still not 100% sure what a yam is), but I requested a peak before I committed and it looked and smelt great. Offered in two sizes, medium (£3.50) or large (£5), I went for it in a big way with a large portion and was very happy I did. The curry was lovely and the cumin rice was something new – the more the better. It was clear that it was freshly made and it was bursting with flavour, flavours that aren’t typically what I’d choose but I was pleasantly surprised. I also appreciated how filling it was as a meal and it actually didn’t feel
detrimental to my health like most offerings within the Guild. The portion size was generous and I finished it at a push. My friend chose the medium portion, and this was also generous in size and would probably have sufficed! The restaurant itself was emptier than I expected at its grand opening, however it is not the largest venue so this was a positive in terms of getting a table. Service was quick as well with the food served canteen-esque by the chefs behind the counter. They were great fun to chat to and they were more than happy to let us question them on the food. The décor was good fun, with a little tuk-tuk in the middle of the room, and it was clear they put effort into presenting it as something fun, for students to get together and eat. Overall, I would recommend, though the menu changes – making it a bit of a risk!
Korean Salt Beef with Hong Kong Fried Noodles -Sahar Jamfar I went to Guild Street Kitchen on its launch day, Monday, and was really excited to have something new for lunch. Upon arrival, the atmosphere was welcoming and thankfully I had avoided the lunchtime rush. The staff were also lovely and cheerful. I went for the regular-sized Korean salt beef with the Hong Kong fried noodles as well as the salted caramel monster chicken wings. Unfortunately, the salt beef was quite bland and chewy. At the counter they have an array of condiments so I added some hoisin sauce to bring out some flavour. The fried noodles were also underwhelming and lacked flavour. However, the portion was ideal and reasonably priced. I then tucked into my monster chicken wings and absolutely
loved the fact they were teamed with salted caramel sauce – a genius concept in my eyes. In my head I pictured sticky wings coated in salted caramel, but in reality what I got was unseasoned wings with a light drizzle of sauce. My boyfriend had the hot chilli wings and also wished there was more sauce. You may have seen his post on the Fab N Fresh Facebook page about how disappointed he was! Overall, I love the atmosphere and the fact there are new dishes to try everyday, but I also think it’s trying too hard to tick the cultural boxes resulting in lacklustre food. Having said that, I wouldn’t be surprised if I return again on another day – so I definitely haven’t given up hope just yet.
Mango Twist -Anna Griffiths I liked the smoothie, and thought the flavours were interesting – very different from the mango smoothie you can get upstairs in Costa. Unfortunately, I have no idea what the ingredients are that make the ‘twist’ – I’m no food
taster and generally am quite bad at recognising flavours. All in all, if you like smoothies and you like mangos, you’re probably going to like Street Kitchen’s Mango Twist smoothie.
Day two of Street Kitchen offered another strong veggie option. For some context, prior to this piece I have contributed only one article to the Food section of this paper, and that article was about a dhal I had from Digbeth Dining Club (another street kitchen in Birmingham!). Dhal is delicious. A dhal (or Dal) is a dish made up from dried split pulses (that is, peas, lentils and beans) combined with spices. This dhal was combined with butternut squash and mango, two things I also love. Initially, I thought the
combination was a bit odd, but it grew on me by the time I had finished the dish. It was quite a gentle taste – the dish wasn’t spicy at all. Had it not been for the smash sweet potato which I chose as a side, I think the dish may have been a little close to being bland. The sweet potato completed it, as it added a sweetness that complimented the sugariness of the mango. All morning I had been feeling pretty ‘hangry’, but coupled with a much needed cup of tea, the dhal acted as a marvellous medicine and cheered me right up.
Mexican Beef Chilli with Aromatic Rice -Harry Turner After hearing some negativity of the Street Kitchen’s first day offerings, I was pleasantly surprised by the Mexican Beef Chilli. The chilli was just hot enough and not dry at all, and the aromatic rice, which I chose to have with the chilli, was also nice. Even if I still don’t understand where the ‘aromatic’ part comes from – even after eating it – it went with the chilli well
enough, though I think in future I’d probably have the sweet potatoes with it instead. Overall, I enjoyed the meal – especially considering the price. The £5 minimum card spend was annoying, but I had the change to spare, and in the end the chilli left me as full as any Subway could, and feeling like I’d eaten something quite a bit better.
Chicken and Mushroom Balti with Aromatic Rice -Gabriella Marcucci I couldn’t make it to the first day of opening and I was disappointed that I might miss the buzz and rush of the new food outlet and I quite literally did. When I did turn up on Tuesday to grab my lunch, there were no queues and about 5 other people sat in there eating their food. This didn’t put me off however and I still preceded to choose from the options available that day. I settled on the chicken and mushroom Balti with aromatic rice and grabbed a Lilt for my drink, as it went with the exotic feel of the place. After grabbing
my cutlery from the tuk-tuk cart and sitting down with some friends to enjoy lunch, I tucked into my food. It didn’t look the most appetising, but it was full of flavour and slightly on the spicy side. I had a regular meal with a drink for £4.50, cheaper than most food outlets across university and full of flavour. If you’re looking for a quick hot meal for lunch, or dinner then this is the place to head for. The menu choices change daily so there will always be something to your taste.
-Phil Jones with Redbrick Music Wednesday was the chosen day for Redbrick’s Music editors to sample the menu of Street Kitchen. The first disappointment of the day came with the realisation that the soup Giulia and I had ordered would not be coming with the freshly made bread that had been advertised on the sample menu. They did see someone sitting nearby who was given bread and so it may have available as an optional extra; this was not something that was made clear upon purchasing however. The soup itself was passable but tasted more like a microwave Chinese soup from a supermarket than anything home-made. A certain kick could be felt thanks to the presence of pepper in the mixture but it didn’t do much more than irritate my throat. The chicken jalfrezi that Greg ordered was described as tasty, aided by the risotto rice it was served with, but not particularly hot and so one to avoid for connoisseurs of spicy curry. The vegan option of the day, ratatouille, was not particularly flavoursome, according to Holly, but was again aided by the risotto rice. The biggest mistake of the day was ordering a latte from the instore coffee machine. I will give the staff the benefit of the doubt as the establishment had only been open for 2 days, but the latte seemed incredibly poorly made. There was a considerable lack of milk, with the concoction appearing to be a mixture of coffee-flavoured water and the taste of cardboard. This was extremely disappointing, especially as the competitive price of the drink raised my hopes. Overall, a mixed bag. A food establishment like this will always be hit and miss by design and so we may have chosen a bad day to give it a try, but the food on offer that day was not anything to shout about.
Friday 3rd March 2017
Thursday Beef Stew and Dumplings with New Potatoes -Nicola Kenton For my drink I chose the Beety Blend as I was intrigued how it would taste and I was pleasantly surprised. The beetroot taste was not too strong, there was a hint but it was nice to taste beetroot without it being pickled; it was clear that there were also raspberries and apple juice included in the drink, which I found very refreshing. I also thoroughly enjoyed my main meal. The potatoes were cooked just enough that they broke down easily and were seasoned very well, the dumplings
melted in the mouth, and there was plenty of steak included in the portion size. The best thing was the gravy, I love when gravy is made with meat juices and this was a perfect example of meat and gravy being cooked together - with the herbs from the potatoes and bits of dumplings it was lovely to round off the end of the meal. In my opinion, the cost is very fair for the size of the portions received - it could be argued that the juice was overpriced but it was the same as would be found in any high street chain.
Lamb Keema with Honey Lemon Rice -Nancy Frostick I had the lamb keema with honey lemon rice and it was great! Although the sign warned that it might be hot, the keema wasn’t too spicy (for my taste anyway) with just enough kick to compliment the rice. The chickpeas in the keema worked really well with the lamb, which was nice and tender, so overall it was a great balance of flavours. I went
for a regular box to be on the safe side and thought it was great value for money considering it’s not the sort of thing I’d cook at home and was really tasty! It’s clear plenty of thought has gone in to the menu because the keema would have worked just as well with the other option of new potatoes.
Spiced Mediterranean Soup -Anna Griffiths Street Kitchen’s Spiced Mediterranean Soup was warming, filling and, as it says on the packet, spicey. I loved it. Despite the soup being the cheapest option on the menu, you still receive quite a large pot of soup, which is always nice. I would say that the pots are hot to handle, so maybe have a napkin ready if you are planning on carrying it else wear to drink (or eat). It wasn’t the soup that impressed me most though, it was the bread. One of the chefs at Street Kitchen comes from a baking background, and you can really tell by the quality and diversity of bread on offer. When I went to the preview of Street Kitchen, I
got to try a delicious roll, which was lightly textured and lightly flavoured. On Thursday, I tasted something completely different. I’m not even sure what it was – it was described to me as bread, but in reality was like a combination of a thick poppadom and the crunchy pastry that you get around a decent samosa. It was spiced, oily and - I can’t stress enough delicious. I could eat an unhealthy amount of whatever that was. I suppose this is the mark of a poor food writer, that I’m not even sure I know what I was eating, but I’m going to make the excuse that I like the mystery of it. I really hope this pops up again in the street kitchen menu.
How It Works... When Nat Cox, our Activities and Development Officer, told Redbrick about Street Kitchen opening, we were quite excited. However, we had some concerns – would there be enough veggie options? Would it be pricey (as many find Joe’s to be)? Would it be consistent in quality, considering its revolving menu? Thankfully our concerns were put to rest when we were invited to a small preview before the opening. We were offered samples of the menu, a chance to meet the chef, a price break down of each product, and the chance to just enjoy the new food outlet quietly. Unlike Joes, there will be no printed menu, as it will be altered daily. It will vary between cuisines including North African, Caribbean , Mexican and many more, and the chefs plan on using the luggage tags to see what kind of dishes will be preferred. Due to the adaptability of the menu the chefs will largely be responding to what works with students and what
Friday Tomato and Courgette Soup -Conrad Duncan I’ve always been slightly suspicious of anywhere that claims to make street food indoors but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the Caribbean Yam Curry I had on Monday. Unfortunately, my second trip to Street Kitchen wasn’t quite as successful. Coming in just before 5, I was tempted by the Chickpea and Mango Dahl but was disappointingly told that they’d run out of rice. So after politely declining the offer of Dahl with pasta, I decided to opt for the Tomato and Courgette soup. Ultimately, I can’t say I had any major complaints with my
choice though. The soup was filling and flavourful, although it lacked anything that would make it standout. But, for £2.50 and coming with a roll of bread, I was satisfied with it as an alternative to the usual Subway or Joe’s Bar pizza. Street Kitchen definitely isn’t perfect yet but for a vegetarian who spends a lot of time in the Guild, it’s very welcome to see some more variety on campus. The food is reasonably priced, comes in well-sized portions, and with a changing menu every day, it means that you might not have to ever get lunch at Spar again.
The staff are good fun
£3.5 0 -Me dium £5 Lar ge
doesn’t. I think we’ll all also be glad to hear that there will be vegan and vegetarian options as well as gluten free meals that aren’t just salads! The chefs have gone so far as to stop ordering butter so they can’t be tempted to add it to the
"it's literally a blank canvas" veggie options - meaning that vegans can rest assured that they will find a meal on campus which is not extortionate. Going back to talk to them after opening week we found the chefs reflecting on what has been most popular and they now are thinking of having more than one veggie option a day, as this seems to be their niche amongst the other outlets.
Open 11-8 Mon-Fri 11-2 Saturday
This project began with feedback from students: Cheaper price points, fresh food, and food from around the world!
Saturday Meatballs Marinara with Potato Wedges -Anna Pitts The bright and colourful décor along with the friendly staff helped create a relaxed and fun atmosphere. So, eating here really felt like more of a treat in comparison to other venues on campus. I ordered the meatballs marinara with potato wedges in a large box for £5. The card box was convenient and great at keeping the food warm so perfect for if you are on the go between lectures. As you opened the parcel the herby aroma was wonderful and inviting. In terms of appearance, I think it did look quite dry, especially the meatballs, and considering it was a large portion it doesn’t seem very substantial. The marinara sauce had a good texture and was fairly tasty, if a little basic. There was an unexpected background heat coming through, this really intensified as you continued eating but was still enjoyable. The potato wedges were nice but the meatballs themselves were dry and the ground meat was a little stringy. My friend ordered the same dish but with coriander rice instead of wedges, and I think the coriander added the missing element to give the dish a greater depth of flavour; and the marinara sauce fused better with the rice so it was more satisfying. I think in terms of value for money my dish was a little over priced at £5 due to the portion size and the slightly canteen feel so I think £4 would have been a more accurate price. Moreover, if you ordered a regular box the portion size wouldn’t be adequate to sustain you throughout the day. I also had a Caribbean breeze smoothie which was cooling and the coconut flavour really came through but again the size wasn’t worth the money and I would only really have paid £2 maximum rather than £3. Overall I would recommend Street Kitchen if you want a quick easy lunch or a light dinner that is something different with a festive atmosphere. I’m excited to see what the changing weekly menu will have to offer!
Friday 3rd March 2017
World Book Day 2017 20 years after UNESCO declared the first World Book Day, Redbrick writers offer up their favourite reads from the past year
The 2nd March 2017 was the 20th anniversary of World Book Day. A day which celebrates reading and the authors, illustrators, publishers and books which make reading possible.
The Graduate by Charles Webb
Sword of Destiny by Andrzej Sapkowski
Although not as popular as the 1967 film adaptation, Webb’s short novel was for me the most engaging book I read over the past year. Those familiar with the film will know the fairly simple plot, whilst new readers will quickly appreciate the wit of the protagonist, Benjamin. A college graduate, he comes home to Pasadena at a loose end, dissatisfied with academic life and disgusted by his parents’ circle of false friends. He begins an affair with Mrs Robinson, the wife of his father’s business partner, before ultimately ending up dating her daughter, Elaine. These complicated relationships eventually unravel around Benjamin as he struggles with how to proceed. The novel is a fantastic examination of the human psyche as well as a great social picture of early sixties America. It is the rare example of a story that is neither better, nor worse, than its film counterpart – the two sit nicely together as artworks that represent the time of their creation. For students in particular it’s well worth a read – if you enjoyed The Catcher in the Rye as a moody teenager, The Graduate will certainly appeal as a transition between student life and adulthood.
The second canonical entry into Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski’s fantasy series, Sword of Destiny is a collection of short stories revolving around monster-hunter-for-hire Geralt of Rivia and his various friends. Though the franchise has recently been catapulted into the relative mainstream thanks to the successful videogame adaptions, the books themselves are relatively unknown. Sword of Destiny is their undeniable highpoint – featuring six fantastical adventures loosely connected, that are often as dark as they are funny and subversive. The book, like the series at large, plays with the theme of appearances. Few are as they appear in The Witcher universe, and Geralt of Rivia typifies that. Though looking like an old man with his bleached white hair, and intimidatingly bulky and purportedly devoid of emotions thanks to his magical Witcher mutations, Geralt in Sword of Destiny is often more at odds with himself and his friends than he is with the various Polish-folklore inspired monsters that roam the land. Love, doubts, regret, jealously – all things which Sword of Destiny deals with, making an otherwise pulp-fantasy narrative deeply moving and relevant. Though the translation from Polish can be sometimes quite wonky, Sword of Destiny is a tremendous fantasy novel worth reading for any fan of the genre – and with a film adaption in the works, it would be wise to get ahead of this series before it is thrust fully into the limelight. - Harry Turner
- William Baxter
Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed This thought-provoking book discusses the idea that success is born from failure. Syed convincingly argues that the basis of many organisations such as Dyson and industries such as the aviation sector are their failures. They are resoundingly successful businesses but without failures driving them to further improvement, would they be so successful? This book is filled with anecdotes both past and present, making for interesting reading alongside the critical business discussion which at times can seem quite heavy for someone with little knowledge of how a business works. I’m not sure what prompted me to pick this book up in the first place, perhaps it was the shiny red cover, but I’m unbelievably glad I did. It has made me rethink my own mistakes as a path to success rather than failures which mark the end. - Gabriella Marcucci
American Psycho by Bret EastonEllis The most disgusting, violent, pornographic book I have ever read. It’s also the funniest. Following the day-today exploits of Wall Street businessman and sadistic serial killer Patrick Bateman as he dines at expensive restaurants, snorts Bolivian marching powder and waves dollar notes at tramps, it’s perhaps a little worrying just how amusing the world’s most despicable human can be. Chapters are dedicated to reviews of Huey Lewis and The News’ back-catalogue penned by Bateman himself, earnest discussions about pocket squares and hilarious Freudian slips (Bateman at one point orders ‘decapitated coffee’). The violence escalates, and many of the scenes here are so extreme that we start to wonder if any of this is really happening, whether it might all just be some depraved fantasy inside Bateman’s head. Whatever the answer, it is clear that our anti-hero - if we can call him that - is not well, representing the inevitable endpoint of consumerism in a world where even people are commodified. Incredibly, American Psycho seems more relevant now than when it was first published in 1991: Bateman’s idol is none other than Donald Trump. - Greg Woodin
The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla The Good Immigrant is a collection of essays by ethnic minorities living in the UK. Even though I try to stay aware of the challenges people of colour face, and to recognise my own privilege, The Good Immigrant was still an eyeopening look at the state of race relations in the UK. A lot of the writers are famous already – actors, comedians, writers – so the fact that they still face discrimination is a sobering fact of our supposedly ‘post-racial’ society. If you want a crash course on the dayto-day struggles of people of colour, and what you can do to help, this is the book for you. But, as well as the subject matter, the book is interesting because it was published by Unbound – a crowd-sourced publishing house. People gave their money to this project because they believed these stories needed to be told, and I wholeheartedly agree. Philanthropist extraordinaire J.K. Rowling made the largest donation, and if that doesn’t tell you how important this book is, I don’t know what will. - Laura Burgess
The Sellout by Paul Beatty As the first American author ever to win the acclaimed Booker Prize, you’d hope that Paul Beatty’s The Sellout would be a special novel. On that front it succeeds, but what’s so surprising is just how irreverent it is. Beatty doesn’t want his novel to be viewed as a political statement; he claims he wrote it just because he was broke. Yet, when its plot revolves around a black man who attempts to reintroduce slavery and segregation in his neighbourhood, it’s hard to avoid the political angle. Beatty’s novel follows through on its eye-catching premise with an unflinching satire of race relations that leaves no side free from critique. Most importantly, it’s also laugh-out loud funny, coming across like the sort of novel Dave Chappelle would write. So much of The Sellout is so absurd that it’s hard to work out whether Beatty’s novel is a comment on our time but based on its quality alone, it’s essential reading for this year. - Conrad Duncan
Friday 3rd March 2017
Following the second wave of the 'This Girl Can' campaign, Holly Carter discusses the positive impact it has had on women and shares her own experience Holly Carter Music Editor @holscarts
I am not a sporty person. People tend to say that as a modesty thing, but really, I am not. I’m so non-competitive that team sports just bore me and PE was just an opportunity to catch up with pals whilst vaguely pretending to throw a ball around. The only exercise I ever did was swimming, which I did weekly for years, but compared to others of my age I was way behind and always felt pretty self-conscious about that, and about being a teenage girl in a swimming costume. I was way too insecure to run (what if people from school saw me looking gross!?) and being in a room full of super fit people for exercise classes sounded like hell. I always wanted to be fit, but mainly because I thought it would be useful if I ever needed to run away from a murderer, but never really got into it. This was my life, sports wise, until my first year of uni. When I got to Birmingham, I decided to get a swimming membership at the Munrow because I thought maybe it would motivate me to do exercise if I’d paid extortionate amounts to do it, but it didn’t really help (and made me poor). Then one day, my friend sent me a link to a video, adding that it was amazing and I had to watch it. This was the first ever campaign video from This Girl Can, and I genuinely think it changed everything. If you haven’t seen the video, watch it. The Missy Elliot ‘Get Ur Freak On’ soundtrack had me hooked from the word go, but it just got better. This video showed girls exercising, but not like the adverts. These women were of all shapes and sizes, some of them had curves, and they jiggled when
they moved just like real life! They exercised with make up running and they sweated and they got exhausted! The video cuts between so many different women doing so many different sports – running, boxing, cycling, swimming, rowing and netball to name but a few – and they weren’t kitted out in all the professional gear that the media tells us is absolutely necessary if we want to have an ounce of respect whilst exercising. There were younger women, older women and women of all races. This was revolutionary.
"This Girl Can is one of the most important campaigns for women and girls of our generation, and I can’t wait to see it have just as much success for older women as it has for me" I watched this video about twice a day for at least a week, and it got me starting to really think about exercise in such a different way. I began to realise that doing exercise should be something that I do for me, not because I felt inferior to other girls who were so much fitter than me. With slogans like ‘I swim because I love my body, not because I hate it’, This Girl Can encourages us to celebrate ourselves and our bodies, as well as cheering on all the girls around us who are also tak-
ing a stand against the ‘perfect’ red-faced because I’m a real standards that stop us from doing human, not a photoshopped what we love. I didn’t have to model. Even if I was going slowlook professional, I didn’t have to ly, I was still lapping everyone on be a pro. My body deserved to be the couch. used and kept healthy without In January 2016, one year after judgment. the campaign was launched, 2.8 One of my favourite million 14-40 year-old This Girl Can posters women said that they is of a woman had done more activcycling up a hill, ity because of it, obviously strugwith 1.6 million gling, with the women saying caption ‘I’m they had taken still lapping up exercise for everyone on the first time the couch’. ( S p o r t Youtube views of This became England). Over my running the first year the campaign mantra. I used alone, the camvideo to be so embarpaign’s YouTube rassed to be seen films had over 37 running because I million views, and felt so slow, and has been popular in would be red-faced more than 110 countries and sweaty after just a worldwide. Another year few minutes. But I began to feel on, all of these stats can only have more comfortable, and even increased. After two amazing proud, of being out on the streets years of the initial campaign, in my cheap leggings and baggy Sport England recently launched t-shirt. I was sweating because I the second phase, which targets was working my body hard, I was older women, at a time in their
lives when taking up exercise is more difficult. You may have seen the adorable ‘cuter than a dumbbell, just as heavy’ posters (among others) at stations around the country, and a video for this second wave is due later this month. The success of This Girl Can is such a testament to what a little encouragement for women and girls can do. Just knowing that we shouldn’t be judging ourselves or others for the exercise we do, or how we look doing it, is so powerful for how women and girls feel about themselves and their attitudes to those around them. This Girl Can made me believe that I can be fit, that I can do all sorts of different exercise. This Girl Can made me sign up for a 10k race and join a gym! It is one of the most important campaigns for women and girls of our generation, and I can’t wait to see it have just as much success for older women as it has for me. Our bodies are amazing and deserve to be celebrated, and This Girl Can made me believe that.
Friday 3rd March 2017
Soundtrack Of My Life
Georgie Deaville takes on the task of summarising her life in five tracks
First Song I Remember Hearing: Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Murder on the Dancefloor
Best Song I Heard Live: Foals – Cassius
A Song For Predrinks: Oi – Scooter
A Song For The Car: Tame Impala – Let It Happen
A Song That Reminds Me Of School: Two Door Cinema Club – Something Good Can Work
I can’t really remember anything before the age of 7. What I can remember is that from that age, I’d been making playlists. My 7th birthday party was going to be the biggest party I’d ever had: all my cousins and best friends from school would be there, so it was crucial for me (with the help from my dad) to make a popping playlist. Around that time, I worshipped Five, adored Sugababes and wanted to be Kylie Minogue (I’ve never really stopped wanting to be Kylie). However, the one song that takes me back to the best party of Year 2 has got to be ‘Murder on the Dancefloor’ by Sophie EllisBextor. Every time I hear it I picture the huge bouncy castle that filled my back garden, the gazebo which sheltered the buffet on the patio, and the silver CD player that blasted out my playlist, which, back in those days, had to be burned to a disc. As a track that is the perfect epitome of the era of pop music I grew up with, it’s earned its well-deserved place on my list.
This was a tough one; it was between this and ‘Two Steps Twice’. It was Leeds Festival 2016. I’d seen Foals when they’d toured earlier that year, and after hearing rumours that they’d introduced ‘Cassius’ into their live sets, I was buzzed to see them for a second time. It was the Saturday night of the festival, and having raised the hopes of the strangers around me in the mud bath that surrounded the main stage, I was going to be a bit embarrassed if the rumours I’d heard were false. Alas, Yannis and co. didn’t let me down. The crowd, including myself, went crazy. We were possessed by the infectiously catchy hit from their debut album, not a care in the world that our clothes and boots may never be clean again. I still get goose-bumps every time this track comes on shuffle, and each time I’m taken straight back to that squelchy field, watching one of my all-time favourite bands, that I would do anything to go back to.
(Heads up: I think I’m being ironic with this one... but I can’t be sure). A couple of drinks down (or more likely a sip) and I’ll be preaching how this is the best song in the world. Which it is. Kind of. Everyone’s got that silly song which truly makes a solid pre-drinking session, and for me and my housemates, it’s this. People may remember Scooter’s most famous ‘The Logical Song’, but for some reason, everyone stopped there. They didn’t bother exploring the rest of the groups eurodance repertoire, a collection that’s perfect for when you’re reaching peak drunkenness and about to hit the town. ‘Oi’ takes the edge as my favourite, not only for its funky bassline, but also its simple lyrics: ‘Did it for the fame but always did it for the joy, Cus everywhere I go they scream oi fuckin’ oi’. If Scooter’s taught me anything, it’s this: ‘Don’t take life too seriously, nobody gets out alive anyway’.
When I’m away from uni, I treat myself to car insurance on my Nan’s little red Peugeot 107 in order to escape the bore filled bubble that is Burton on Trent. There’s not much to do in my town apart from go to the pub (it is one of the brewing capitals of the country, check your Carling can). When it’s my time to be designated driver, it involves me trekking across town to pick up my friends who annoyingly live as far away from our local as possible. To make it a less tedious task, I have to make all the fun I can. When ‘Let It Happen’ came on shuffle on the ‘Driving in my Nan’s Car ’ playlist, I wondered if I could get all the way across town in the 7:48 song duration. Probably not the most sensible thing to do, so don’t try this at home, and always stick to the speed limit,� but it turns out it can be done.
This takes me back to school. It reminds me of all my friends who I am still close to now, the synthetic bottle-green uniform we all hated wearing and listening to music on the big trampoline in the sunny afternoons. This song makes me particularly nostalgic; it’s such a feel-good bop that sends me back to a much simpler time when the only worries I had were my GCSEs. I remember us all attempting to sing along to it on our walks home and failing because we had no idea what the lyrics of the chorus actually were (I’m not sure I’m 100% even now). Seeing TDCC at V Fest 2013 was a huge moment for teenage me, and an even bigger moment for 20-year-old me when I saw them at Leeds last year. They seem relevant every summer, always making it onto my ‘Summer Playlist of Two Thousand and...’ whatever. Although I know I’ll never be a kid again, this song detains me from fully making the unwanted conversion into adulthood and all its seriousness, and I’m very grateful.
having been a staple of their live show for a while now. The highlight of the night though was the euphoric show closer ‘Chasing Shadows’ – the kind of song that seems destined to grace the dancefloors of indie clubs for years to come. That’s the thing that is perhaps so exciting about this band, the fact that they can tour so extensively around the UK having only released six singles. It's unsurprising, then, that they’ve drawn comparisons to the likes of indie giants Arctic Monkeys and the Courteeners, being the first unsigned band to sell out their legendary hometown venue, The Leadmill, since the former way back in 2005. Although lead singer Kiaran Clark does not yet have the swagger of Alex Turner or sheer presence of Liam Fray, it's plain to see that he and the rest of the band have the same youthful energy that they too once exhibited. With a number of festival dates already booked for the summer and another tour sure to happen in the near future, I would definitely recommend trying to see The Sherlocks whilst they are still selling out smaller venues. They are by no means the finished product yet, but with a debut album on the horizon and a dedicated following of fans, I wouldn’t put it past them becoming a serious name on the UK indie scene in the next few years.
Single Review: Take That Giants
Live Review: The Sherlocks Josh Parker Music Critic @JoshParker38
On a rainy Thursday night in Birmingham it was the turn of up-and-coming indie band The Sherlocks to shine some light for those in attendance at the O2 Institute. They returned to a venue they had played merely five months ago for the thirteenth show of their current thirty-eight date tour of the UK and Ireland. This was my fifth time seeing The Sherlocks, but the first outside of Yorkshire, so I was interested to see if they could inspire the same energy in a midlands crowd. Unfortunately, it appears locality was a major factor in producing the previous electric atmospheres, as aside from a dedicated group of revellers in the middle, most were content to stand with folded arms. That’s not to say the band were at fault though. They wasted no time launching into their brand of anthemic indie rock, rattling off singles ‘Last Night’ and ‘Escapade’ early into their set much to the delight of the crowd. New single ‘Was it Really Worth it?’ was similarly met with a great reception,
Andrew Pollard Music Critic @pJellod_maJpue
There were about five seconds near the start of ‘Giants’ where Take That had me genuinely intrigued. True, the very first moments offer nothing especially tantalising - a feel-good string opening that immediately leans into self-parody given how quickly the group resort to singing ‘oh oh oh’s (the lyrical equivalent of deciding that beans on toast counts as dinner) - but when Barlow’s vocals are introduced, proclaiming that ‘I can’t believe it/ We were giants’, potential begins to show. It’s no secret that Take That aren’t the cultural phenomenon - the giants - that they once were. Pretty much every track on 2008’s The Circus became a household classic, and the return of Robbie Williams for Progress in 2010 cemented the band as perhaps the biggest in the UK. After the departures of Orange and Williams, however, they’ve had difficulties finding their feet in the modern pop market, with III becoming their least successful release ever. Ticket sales confirm that they’re still undeniably huge, but their popularity is certainly waning and buzz around their upcoming project,
Wonderland, has been notably tame. Would ‘Giants’, then, be a rumination on this turbulent period in Take That’s career, on their struggle to stay relevant and ultimate acceptance that they must eventually exit the limelight? Don’t be absurd. No, that would require lyrical fidelity and this is a song where literally 10% of the words sung are the w o r d
‘giants’ (I’m not kidding, that is mathematically correct). In reality, ‘Giants’ is a woefully generic bit of stadium pop that centres on themes like everyone being special in their own way and everybody loving each other. Although it is clichéd and uninteresting, the platitudes this track presents wouldn’t necessar-
ily cripple it if it was at all exciting musically, but it isn’t. By this point the band have refined playing it safe down to an art form, matching a droning EDM beat with indistinct synths, as well as some crashing cymbals and backing strings that make the chorus just huge enough to fill the arenas that it’s destined to be played in. Donald and Owen are once again relegated to supporting vocals so sparse and ineffectual that their inclusion on the cover of the single feels like a formality, while Barlow’s voice is overproduced to point of sounding vaguely inhuman. In spite of this harsh description, ‘Giants’ is a song that’s fairly impossible to hate if only by the merit of its own forgetability. It’s definitely harmless to listen to and the hook is catchy enough to be radiofriendly, but it just feels soulless and cynical. There’s nothing abhorrent here; it isn’t even interesting enough to piss anyone off. There are going to be people who love this song - after all it’s built for mass appeal and, in that regard, Take That do achieve their goal, as they usually do but anyone who cares deeply about the craft of music will likely just find ‘Giants’ to be mundane in every way. Take That have never been about creating particularly challenging or intelligent music, but at least in their earlier works it sounded like they cared.
Friday 3rd March 2017
Prince and the Ethics of Music Streaming Jack Lawrence Music Critic @r3dclyffe
The artist formerly known as Prince was notoriously against any forms of streaming services, frequently expressing his distaste for the business practices of companies like Spotify or Apple Music. Therefore, it came as a surprise that not even a year after his death, Prince’s music has been recently released on all streaming platforms, a decision that goes completely against what the songwriter wanted for his own music. As Prince unfortunately passed away without having written a will to dictate ownership of his music, his estate
has passed the rights onto Universal Music Publishing, a company that, in addition to allowing the artist’s music for streaming, will also start to release music from Prince’s ‘vault’ that has remained unheard for decades. Amongst rumours of the $100 Million in taxes inherited by Prince’s estate, this is likely one of financial desperation, making the practice seem somewhat unethical when considering the fact that if Prince were alive, we would certainly not be listening to this music with such ease. Though some could see this as a shameless cash-grab, I personally think that the very fact that a new generation (who likely do not own Prince’s records or CDs) now has access
to his music should outweigh any moral reservations. After all, the unavailability of
"I personally think that the very fact that a new generation now has access to his music should outweigh any moral reservations" Prince’s work on popular music platforms such as Spotify has
led to somewhat of an alienation between the artist and a younger audience, making many people aware of little else in his discography other than the obvious singles (‘When Doves Cry’, ‘Purple Rain’). By making Prince’s music available to everybody with greater ease than ever before, the artist has, in a way, finally caught up with the rest of the online world - though whether or not this is a morally ‘just’ thing is entirely up to the listener. In my opinion, the fact that such a large audience now has access to Prince’s music should be ultimately seen as a cause for celebration rather than outrage.
Essential Prince Albums: Prince possesses one of the most celebrated solo discographies in music, something that can be somewhat daunting considering how much of it was previously unavailable almost anywhere online. Here are the essential highlights in his catalogue:
Dirty Mind 1980 Shockingly vulgar for its time, this album and his follow-up Controversy are the reason that ‘Parental Advisory Warnings’ can still be found on album covers. Though some of the lyrics still come across as awkward and weird (‘Incest is everything it’s said to be’-?), the funky pop tracks of this album are among the best of Prince’s discography. Best Tracks - ‘When You Were Mine’, ‘Head’, ‘Dirty Mind’
Purple Rain 1984
Sign O' The Times 1984
Prince’s party album. Though the title track is best known for its immortal place on middle-aged party playlists, the rest of the album is just as solid, packed with catchy dance tunes and typically ‘Prince’ ballads on sex and love.
“We are gathered here today to get through this thing called life”. What more can possibly be written about this album? Essential listening to anyone with even a passing interest in pop music, Purple Rain blends rock, gospel, dance and R&B into one great album with perhaps the greatest album closer of all time. (Also, the film is hilariously cheesy and fun).
Prince’s White Album, and my personal favourite. A double album filled with eccentric and weird references to hip-hop, funk, soul and rock, Sign O’ The Times is reflective of Prince being at his most ambitious. Maybe his best record, and that’s saying a lot. Best Tracks - ‘I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man’, ‘Starfish And Coffee’, ‘Play In The Sunshine’.
Best Tracks ‘1999’, ‘Delirious’, ‘D.M.S.R’, ‘Free’.
Best Tracks ‘Let’s Go Crazy’, ‘I Would Die 4 U’, ‘Purple Rain’.
In addition to these classic albums, previously unreleased material should begin to surface now that the rights to Prince’s ‘vault’ has been passed on to Universal Music. The first collection of these new albums and films is reported to be released sometime in June, hopefully only adding to a wildly varied and fantastic discography.
The BRITs: Gone Are The Golden Days Ben Johns Music Critic @ben_johns
When I was younger, the BRITs was one of the TV shows that I could stay up to watch. With a not-to-be-sniffed-at list of performers, the BRITs 2017 had the potential to regain some of the magic from yesteryear. However, last Wednesday’s ceremony had me full blown moaning and groaning at how bad the show has become. The 2016 BRITs were marred by criticisms surrounding the lack of diversity, and thus changes were put into place to improve this. With more BAME (black, asian and minority ethnic) artists nominated this year, it
"His victory reeked of label politics" showed a positive improvement. Unfortunately, it was black and mainly white to see that the execution wasn’t as perfect as planned. An actual recognition
to the influence of grime on modern music could have been shown through a Skepta win for Best British Male, but instead, this award and Best British Album was posthumously given to David Bowie. Whilst Bowie’s greatness cannot be denied, it was time to break with tradition and credit something fresh. The most confusing aspect of the show was the award for British Breakthrough Act. Whilst previous winners such as Ben Howard, Sam Smith and Catfish and the Bottlemen all had an album under their belt at the time of nomination, can Rag'n'Bone Man be described as breaking through with only one top ten hit? With his album conveniently released this week, his victory reeked of label politics. Little Mix were an excellent opener to the show with their performance of ‘Shoutout To My Ex’ showing why they are pop’s reigning princesses. The 1975 also offered an interesting performance of ‘The Sound’. However, Katy Perry's performance had me wishing it was Cheryl up on stage miming her heart out to 'Fight For This
Love'. The one area where the BRITs excelled last year was with Lorde’s inspired take on ‘Life on Mars’ in tribute to David Bowie. However, Chris Martin’s tribute to George
"Chris Martin's tribute was as effervescent as a bottle of flat CocaCola" Michael was as effervescent as a bottle of flat Coca-Cola and was a disservice to one of the most iconic performers of his generation. Martin also failed to redeem himself with the debut performance of Coldplay’s new song with The Chainsmokers showing how desperate the band are to stay relevant. It was clear that we can wave goodbye to the vintage BRITs. Gone are the days of iconic moments like Liam Gallagher dropping his microphone in the
audience and Peter Kay’s ‘what a nobhead’ quip from 2010. No more will we see popstars perform on a set of massive spread legs a la Geri Halliwell in 2000. We won’t be enthralled by spellbinding performances equivalent to Adele in 2011. The only glimpse of the golden era was through the surprise Ed Sheeran and Stormzy team up on ‘Shape of You’ which invoked fond memories of Dizzee Rascal’s and Florence + the Machine’s ‘You’ve Got The Dirtee Love’ collaboration. It was without a doubt the best moment of the night. Whereas the VMAs are all about engaging with the pop culture of the day and the GRAMMYs are supposed to be about awarding talent, the point of the BRITs is unclear. Is it a popularity contest? Is it recognising critical success? Or a massive self-congratulatory corporate piss up? With Robbie Williams acting as the cringe boss who gets too hammered and makes his way up on to the stage with no one brave enough to stop him, it’s most likely the latter.
Track of the Week: Lana Del Rey Love Letty Gardner Music Critic
After teasing her new single ‘Love’, with posters of the album artwork popping up around Los Angeles, Lana Del Rey has released her first track since 2015’s ‘Honeymoon’ LP. The lead single from her upcoming fifth studio album of the same name has since racked up over 3 million views on YouTube. Del Rey’s Honeymoon was a beautiful record, but underwhelming after the monumental success of Born to Die, Paradise, and Ultraviolence. Lana’s 2015 release led, for me, to a worry about her future music, but ‘Love’ has done away with any fears on Rey’s ability. Lana’s dreamy, dusty, vintage voice is paired with a simple chord progression that slowly builds to a blooming chorus. The track captures her signature sound of blues, sadness, and ennui, but matches it with the hopeful and reassuring context of the song, the talk of romanticised youth and love. She sings of the mundane ‘you get ready you get all dressed up/ to go nowhere in particular’, but tells us that the mundane is okay when you’re ‘young and in love’, leading the track to slowly become something bright and beautiful. ‘Love’ has been released with a music video directed by Rich Lee, which gained 2 million views in only 9 hours, after Rey announced its release live on her Instagram. The video opens in black and white, showing Lana singing to a small crowd in a jazz club, but as the song progresses and the chorus develops the video moves to showing a smiling, floweradorned Lana singing in space, to scenes of young couples in flying cars and cool blue lakes. The surreal video perfectly fits the beautiful song, altogether creating a release that would make any Lana fan beyond excited for the new album. Check out Redbrick Music's top tracks of the week on our Spotify playlist. Search redbrickmusic to have a listen!
Friday 3rd March 2017
Review: Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Cinderella
Review: ‘Cirque Beserk’ at the Birmingham REP Will Gillingham
Martin ‘Zippo’ Burton’s circusfor-stage flipped, whirled, revved and exploded into the REP’s House auditorium last night. Don’t allow the theatre/circus hybrid to imply a misleadingly subdued experience, however: the question on your mind may be ‘surely a stage can’t contain the full thrill of the big-top?’ Allow this wondrous team to exhibit their unique, exotic and downright thrilling skillsets, and thoroughly change your mind.
Culture Critic @MarieMoore27
David Bintley’s adaptation of Cinderella asks for reality to be left behind. A large lopsided clock dominates the stage as the audience take their seats - it is ten to twelve and time to dream. At first Cinderella (Momoko Hirata) is barely noticeable, blending into the tall bland walls of her basement prison. She is tormented by her wide-eyed, black-cloaked Stepmother (Marion Tait) and boisterous Step-sisters, who are stripped of their traditional pantomime-dame qualities here, alternatively acting around the stereotypes of ‘Skinny’ (Samara Downs) and ‘Dumpy’ (Laura Purkiss) instead. They offer pockets of caricature comedy throughout the performance, whilst also self-referentially commenting on the demands of women to aesthetically please. The grimy, underground setting, with windows too high to see out of and too small to let in any light, provides the perfect backdrop to Hirata’s melancholy, and successfully transports the audience into her soon-to-be enchanted, and meticulously hand-painted, world. A cloud of smoke billows out of the fireplace and this marks a transition into the magical. John Macfarlene’s set design embodies the mystical nature of night, with a pallet of indigo blues, wizardcloak purples and sparkling stars that are reminiscent of early dawn. The majesty of this set, in combination with David Finn’s spectacular use of lighting to pinpoint and illuminate, convinces the audience to look forward to the possibilities of the night and the brightness of tomorrow. This eagerly awaited transformation of Cinderella is depicted through the changing of the four seasons; the audience are blown away by the blustering winds of
Autumn (Yaoqian Shang) and warmed by the gentle swaying of Summer (Céline Gittens) in a sequence that is boldly colourful and deeply enchanting. It is a shame that the glimmering glass carriage does not stay for longer in this section, but all is forgiven when Sergei Prokofiev’s composition takes us into the breathtaking ballroom dancing scene. It is an hour-long showcase of the astonishing talent of the company; the chorus are perfectly synchronised throughout and all aspects of the performance bind seamlessly together so that it is hard not to believe that magic is at work here. Cinderella’s appearances in these later sections are almost spiritual, she is the shining star that Joseph Caley as the Prince is urgent to follow. The choreography is profoundly moving; the lovers float freely around the space as if compelled by romantic intuition, and guide and lift each other as if carried away by desire itself. It is refreshing to watch an adaptation of a fairy-tale that fully embodies the romanticism of the genre, especially at a time when it is becoming increasingly popular to mock true love and happy endings. The Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Cinderella is a spellbinding masterpiece that has every member of its audience captivated from beginning to end. The choreography is magical, the orchestra are enchanting, and the cast are a constellation of stars that get brighter the longer you stare. Cinderella is performed at the Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday 25th February, and it will then begin a four-day engagement at The Lowry in Salford from Wednesday 1st March, before continuing to various venues.
“The perfect execution looks almost simulated, and once they bound off stage to rapturous applause, will have you questioning whether what you are certain you just witnessed really happened at all" The performance begins at a high tempo which only accelerates throughout. Jumping into action as the lights wash the stage are the Timbuktu Tumblers, a recurring act whose presence is sought-for after their first energetic display. Two skipping ropes are produced, and the acrobatic troupe flip into and out of the rapid turn of the cords with infallible precision, before leaping into remarkable human pyramids, as if these incredible feats of strength and athleticism are merely second nature. Close on their heels are circusphotographer.com
Gabriel and Germaine, the Bolas Argentinas, who march on to the beat of their drums, before their talent becomes clear: as one member of the duo keeps the beat, the other provides a complement with the traditional throwing weapons known as ‘bolas’, spinning one in each hand at a swift pace, and yet keeping the beat as they strike against the wooden flooring. With the militant drumming and the interspersed ululating, the duo keep the adrenaline flowing. Another recurring act is Tweedy the clown, an act which has an unfortunate amount of stage-time when compared to his high-octane counterparts. Demonstrating the usual farce routine, Tweedy is a slapstick joy in his first instalment, from his pet-iron skit to his ladder-walking (and the inevitable falling, failing and fooling), but grows stale as he waltzes out for his third helping to display much of the same. The children in the audience, however, were never more gleeful than when Tweedy was hurling himself into predicaments of his own devising, and for a self-proclaimed family-friendly show, Tweedy excels in this respect. The first of several truly heartin-mouth acts is the Tropicana Troupe, who, through the use of a see-saw, catapult themselves across the breadth of the stage, performing in one instance a triple-backflip as they do so, to land on a mattress. The act is delightfully dangerous, and defies expectation of what can be achieved on-stage. Further to this, the perfect execution looks almost simulated, and once they bound off stage to rapturous applause, will have you questioning whether what you are certain you just witnessed really happened at all. Only when they return in the second act for a more audacious display will you be convinced that, yes, this group is real, and yes, they are that supernaturally talented and fearless. A solo act which cannot go without mentioning, however, is the return of Germaine Delbosq
from the bolas retinue, this time exemplifying extraordinary footfeats which will beggar belief even as they occur before your eyes. The selection of foot skills are exponential in their nature, as cube-throwing becomes cylinderspinning, which becomes balljuggling. The balance and co-ordination required to perform as she does would be difficult if done with hands: with feet, and it is no wonder she is pronounced by the circus as one of the most adept foot-jugglers of our time. She gives the claim full corroboration.
“Indubitably, the act which steals the show is the much-anticipated globe of death" Indubitably, the act which steals the show is the much-anticipated globe of death, performed by The Lucius Team. One motorcyclist battling gravity and riding upside-down within a sphere is enough of a display to catch the collective breath of the audience. When three more are introduced to the globe, the contraption looks far too small to possibly have four bikes spinning through its interior, but as the lights go down and the LEDs attached to the bikes twirl inside the cage, pirouetting about each other with inch-perfect accuracy, it is possible to see, within this culminating act, why this circus-for-stage has been so widely acclaimed. The circus is about to embark on its UK tour. For an evening of heart-pumping feats and realitydefying acts (many of which criminally haven’t been highlighted here: each unnamed act is exceptional, and have here been defeated by word-count), this circus-for-stage is well worth the time. Roll up, roll up!
Friday 3rd March 2017
Review: The Kite Runner at Wyndam’s Theatre, London Aamina Siddiqi Comment Editor @aamina_siddiqi
Raucous applause and wolf whistles fill Wyndam’s Theatre as the audience jump to their feet when the lights dim to signal the end of the play. Many people around me had shed tears and sniffles were mixed with loud clapping. The play had clearly hit a nerve. Based on the bildungsroman by Khaled Hosseini and set over three countries, Afghanistan, Pakistan and America, The Kite Runner tells the story of Amir who grows up seeking redemption for things that he did as a child. The book is an instant modern classic, written with an emotional rawness that stays with you long after you turn the final page. I was curious to see how this would be translated in theatre.
"Isn’t there a child within all of us? One that we try to appease with our adult selves" Some critics have latched on to Ben Turner's transition from adult Amir to child Amir
and I can understand their frustration. The first person narration in the book provides a seamless transition from childhood but the play shows Amir as a child, an adult and providing a commentary. It may have been easy to cast a younger character to play moments from Amir’s childhood and have Turner, as adult Amir, narrating on the side. Yet, from the way that the story unfolds and the fact that the decisions that Amir makes from a young age has haunted every part his life, it makes sense to have the same person showing his life. Isn’t there a child within all of us? One that we try to appease with our adult selves. Theatre has the luxury of time. You can stretch out scenes and explore them to their full potential but I felt that the time Amir was in America was rushed. My favourite part of the story (because I am a hopeless romantic) is the friendship and eventually love that he develops with Soraya but it seems like there wasn't any room for growth because of the time restraints. Her appearances were short and we did not get to see the intimacy she shared with Amir, particularly how she helped him through his father’s terminal illness and the infertility issues that they faced later on in life. Those moments to me showed us what it means to be human and the fact that these were not explored in much detail left me wanting more. Soraya’s mother, who Amir develops a friendship with, was killed
off in the play which was odd and unexpected. The casting was flawless. I was utterly engrossed in an adaptation of the words that I had only read in a book. Compared to other productions that use complex props and costume changes, everything about The Kite Runner screams simplicity. Instead of an engineered stage, it opts to use wooden boxes and cleverly placed actors to create boundaries on an empty stage. It’s captivating and a testimony to the incredible acting. Even from the 'cheap seats' at the top (where I was sitting), the view was not compromised and was a wholly immersive experience. I have seen the same adaption before in 2014 in Birmingham and wanted to see it again. It was every bit as hauntingly beautiful as I remembered, with the same actors, same props, same costumes - even the same tabla player! But this time, The Kite Runner relates to a different world outside. A world that has a political landscape marred by the refugee crisis and turmoil. At curtain call, the cast stood
"Under the colour of our skin we all bleed the same blood" in silence waiting for the applause to die down. Ben Turner came forward, holding a piece of paper and read out a statement saying that the theatre company is against the recent actions of the president of the USA. Khaled Hosseini came to America as a refugee from Afghanistan. His story, and indeed Amir’s could easily be anybody’s. Under the colour of our skin we all bleed the same blood. Walking home through the bright lights of Leicester Square, I saw many other West End productions and wondered if Harry Potter and the Cursed Child or Mamma Mia has the same poignancy, and if the people who left those shows came out into the real world with their hearts bleeding for humanity.
Review: Frankenstein at the Crescent Theatre Rhianna Hartshorne Culture Critic
The Crescent theatre’s production of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, directed by Jenny Thurston, is a masterclass in minimalism. Thurston herself said that, ‘staging a production of Frankenstein will always be overshadowed by the hugely successful Hammer Horror interpretation, and Boris Karloff’s 7ft monster with bolts holding his head on. However, this script goes back to Mary Shelley’s original idea and provides us with a more sympathetic creature, as opposed to a monster’.
"What is to be particularly commended is Thurston’s keen focus on Shelley’s core themes rather than a simple retelling of the story" Andrew Cowie’s haunting, emotive and ultimately visceral portrayal of the creature brings this insightful production to life – no pun intended. Cowie’s flexible vocal range made the effortless transition from the shrieking sounds of creature infancy, to the deep and booming projection of adulthood and experience, a core-shaker - keeping the audience in awe throughout at his transformation. What is to be commended, in this adaptation of a novel into a play, is Thurston’s keen focus on Shelley’s core themes rather than a simple retelling of the story. She does this by intrinsically embedding the ‘big’ questions into the script such as ‘Can man be a god?’ and ‘Does God make a person good or bad?’ Equally the apparently unsophisticated papier mâché props are nonetheless surreally effective at giving the impression of a fractured
reality. The fact that the props are brought to life by the cast, who carry them around the stage, makes their presence simultaneously intriguing and unnerving, adding multi-layers to the natural/ unnatural tension that lies at the heart of the tale. They are literally the life and soul of the production in that they are essential for every aspect of the play to work. An example of this is the symbolic changing of the seasons which are denoted by child actors running across the stage throwing materials which represent times of year: leaves, snow, flowers etc. The innocent atmosphere of these scenes draws parallels with and stresses once more the childishness of the motherless creature. The small theatre lends an intimate and uneasy ambience to the Gothic scene, complete with dark Georgian costumes, moody lighting and eerie music by the composer Messiaen, whose ‘passion for bird song and the natural world, interpreted by an orchestra, gives us unusual sounds in place of more traditional effects’, asserts Thurston. Make-up also plays a huge part in aiding the essential angst of the play. Victor Frankenstein’s (James David Knapp) internal turmoil of guilt and self-loathing is well represented by the intensified dark circles around his eyes that become more and more emphasized scene by scene. Additionally, the actor must be applauded for his tortured body language and proficient hand and eye twitches which symbolise his deteriorating grip on reality. I must say that overall I thoroughly enjoyed this production. It makes a change from the usual razzmatazz of grand theatre spectacles, but retains a thought-provoking angle that is, without a doubt, a fulfilling theatre experience. The play creates a realm that is close enough to our own as to seem strangely familiar. The setting emphasises questions of mortality, nature versus nurture, and maternal love, which challenges both the characters and the audience in the amoral world of Frankenstein. Anyone who fancies venturing out to see a provocative take on a classic would appreciate this ‘less is more’ production.
Review: Roger Hiorns at the IKON Gallery Matt Magill Culture Critic
For its opening night, I joined director Jonathan Watkins to view Roger Hiorns’ exhibition in the IKON gallery. Spanning two floors, the work contained a variety of elements including nudity, machinery, and paintings made with brain matter. However, Hiorns’ work is far from the common of idea of modern art as eccentricity for its own sake. Two of his pieces featured atomised objects: part of an aircraft and a marble altar. The respective grey and white powders spanned the floor of the gallery like small dunes.
Viewing these objects in such a drastically uncommon form, Hiorns makes us question our perspectives. Again, he returns to this concept by cutting a hole in a working freezer which visitors were invited to place their arm in and doing so creates an apparent chemical reaction in the skin. Indeed, similar to the concept behind 'Fountain' by Marcel Duchamp (the famous signed urinal), Hiorns wants us to realise that this art piece is something that we all know and yet has been changed with this elevated, artistic context. On the upper floor, Hiorns had a room filled with a suspended series of individual plastic machines. Appearing like internal
"Appearing like internal organs, the devices were connected to an air supply and continually pumped out soap suds that fell to the floor in long strands of foam"
organs, the devices were connected to an air supply and continually pumped out soap suds that fell to the floor in long strands of foam. After browsing the machines, a nude male model entered and sat on a white rectangle surround by thick, tubular strands of the same foam. This allowed for a transition to the next room with further models. One sat amongst large pieces of complex machinery, which had been filled with antidepressants, whilst the other sat in a pile of the aforementioned atomised altar. This imagery may seem unusual but Hiorns' interview at Hepworth Wakefield in 2013 elaborates on his creative process as, 'there is an interesting period in male youth where you
are not quite sure what your body is [...] the work itself is trying to suggest a certain unknownability'. Indeed, one of the main contrasts that seems to be at play here is the dichotomy of form, seen through the complex machinery, vs the formlessness of the continual foam and disintegrated objects. The male figure could be said to be midway in this spectrum through its complexity but also in its process of pubescent change and 'unknownability' as Hiorns phrases it. Roger Hiorns’ work is in the IKON until March and, as a charity-based organisation, the gallery is free to the public.
Friday 3rd March 2017
Review: John Wick: Chapter 2
Everyone's favourite moral relativist hitman returns in the highly anticipated sequel, but can it live up to 2015's unexpected sleeper hit? Alex McDonald Film Editor
The first John Wick has no right to be as good as it is: the plot is by the numbers, it’s directed by stuntmen, and Keanu Reeves hasn’t made a good action hero since the 90s. Yet against all odds, it became an instant cult classic and is one of the hidden gems of 2015. But when your sequel loses its shock factor, can it ever live up to its original? Thankfully for fans of slick action thrillers, John Wick: Chapter 2 does just that.
bat, the Gun Fu and the car chase scenes are all shot beautifully and at a respectful distance; action aficionados will rejoice at the lack of quick edits, close ups and shaky cam on display. The film’s opening nod to Buster Keaton lets you know that you’re in for a stunt-thrill ride, and that’s exactly what you get. However, none of it would
work without the immortal 50-year-old that is Keanu Reeves. He sells every punch and looks at home handling an array of guns. In a world of superheroes with moral codes, John Wick is a refreshing no nonsense badass who shoots for the head and doesn’t miss. It’s not only his action prowess that makes Reeves perfect for the role, he plays the character with a wink
"There's no rest for the Wick-ed" Picking up immediately after the first film ends, John is once again trying to settle into the cosy life of a retired hitman with his new, nameless dog. However, there’s no rest for the Wick-ed as a figure from John’s past comes to drag him back into the firing line - the Baba-Yaga is back, baby. John Wick: Chapter 2 proves once again that Chad Stahelski and David Leitch are two of the best action directors working today. The hand-to-hand com-
and a nod and delivers every one-liner with absolute conviction. Keanu Reeves was born to play John Wick. One of the things that made the first film so brilliant was how expansive the world felt. In John Wick: Chapter 2, we delve into the world of mobsters and assassins. While the extent to which the organised crime permeates society on a global scale pushes any believability firmly into absurdity, the film is so confident in its universe that it’s hard not to just accept this heightened reality. It also manages to achieve this fully fleshed out world with notably little exposition which is extremely commendable.
"None of it would work without the immortal 50-yearold that is Keanu Reeves"
Keanu and Common became increasingly agitated with the extra, refusing to act until the director told him to put his legs together
Where the film does falter in comparison to its predecessor is in its emotional investment. That being said, there isn’t an easier way to get an audience on the side of the hero than killing his
puppy (don’t worry, the dog doesn’t die in this one). However, when the plot is initially propelled by circumstance as opposed to character, it does lose some weight. But when you come to watch a one-man-army gun down a countless number of goons, you can’t really expect Citizen Kane levels of storytelling. Also, the ending of John Wick: Chapter 2 isn’t exactly subtle in its set up for a Chapter 3. It is sequel baiting at its worst, but I would kill to see the Boogeyman back in action so no one is really being shortchanged here. VERDICT: John Wick: Chapter 2 is exactly what you need from a sequel. Stahelski and Leitch’s elegantly violent style is bigger and better to create a symphony of vengeance, bloodshed and mayhem. Wick is a man of few words that lets his bullets do the talking in arguably Reeves’ greatest film role (sorry Johnny Utah). If you like great action and gloriously cheesy one-liners, John Wick: Chapter 2 is an offer you can’t refuse.
Review: The Founder Redbrick Film reviews Michael Keaton's latest biopic, charting the storied rise of McDonald's William Baxter Marketing Secretary
The Founder is to film what the ‘Filet-o-Fish’ is to the McDonald's menu. That is, it is destined to be no-one’s favourite, be quickly forgotten and most will wonder why the demand was ever there in the first place. There is too much grease, the filling lacks consistency and at times it can all seem a bit too cheesy - the burger’s pretty disappointing too. Despite all these criticisms, neither is without redeeming features, The Founder is still a perfectly fine way of spending two hours. If films about high-level corporate management decisions in the food-service industry are your genre of choice, The Founder will certainly appeal. If, however, you are normal, the film will probably fail to make much of an impression. The plot revolves around Ray Kroc (played satisfactorily by Michael Keaton) and his attempts to grow the McDonald’s empire from a single roadside drive-in to a multinational chain serving food to families all over the world. *PLOT SPOILER*, Kroc succeeds in this, and today that little drive-in is contributing to obesity all over the world heart-warming.
Kroc is presented as a failing businessman, engaged in a number of quick-buck making schemes that cause him to drive all around America. One of these schemes, selling milkshake mixers, leads him to meet the McDonald brothers (John Carroll Lynch and Nick Offerman) at their San Bernardino walk-up Burger stand. Immediately impressed, Kroc offers to franchise the restaurant “for the good of America”. The brothers, in a classic good-cop-bad-cop routine (this over-simplification is the first of many quick-fixes in the film) are naturally a little apprehensive about this, but eventually sign a contract with Kroc giving him the control over the new locations. Initially signed over to his wealthy friends, Kroc quickly realises that to maintain the quality and consistency across the brand he has to get committed workers to operate the franchises. Issues such as problems with
"Keaton is engaging if not ground-breaking" labour dominate the film, with one of the most exciting sequences being a lengthy consideration of the merits of powdered milk-
shake versus the costs of storing ice-cream. I won’t spoil the film by revealing how these moral dilemmas are solved. Beyond the business, The Founder briefly explores Kroc’s loveless marriage, with Laura Dern giving a great but underutilised supporting performance as Ethel Kroc. Frustratingly, this personal life is so ham-fistedly planted into the business narrative, when really this would be a great place for Keaton to shine (because, despite a great supporting cast, the film really does hang on Keaton’s every word for the majority of the drama). The actual development of the McDonald’s empire isn’t that interesting, especially as the film skips over seemingly important points in favour of dull plot progression. Essentially, Kroc schemes his way to control over the business, cruelly buying out the two brothers upon whose formula he had based the entirety of the company. Still, despite the issues, this is still a solid film. It is incredibly aesthetically pleasing, think early Mad Men set design and styling, with fairly smart direction, although occasionally hampered by poor writing. The extended, show tell and then show again, poor diner service sequence is grating and undervalues the intellect of the audience. Keaton is engaging if not
Warren Beatty was yet to inform Michael that The Founder hadn't actually won Best Picture
ground-breaking. The acting talent is to be found in the supporting roles, in particular the stunning work from John Carroll Lynch and Nick Offerman (a character piece exploring the two brothers could have been more interesting). It has a satisfactory, if not dull, sense of progress throughout, and the extended text cards preceding the end credits are a predictable but efficient way of tying the events of the film to the present day.
VERDICT: The Founder works as an easy to watch piece exploring the relatively interesting events surrounding the birth of one of the world’s biggest brands. It’s as enjoyable as a slightly soggy quarter pounder – it just about does the job, but with a little more thought it really could’ve been something special.
Friday 3rd March 2017
Review: The Great Wall
Critic Tom Edgerton finds fun in the most expensive Chinese-American co-production in film history Tom Edgerton Film Critic
The white westerners are back to the east and you already know that they are going to be China’s only hope. The Great Wall is another film attempting to panda to the Chinese market and pull in as much money as possible. However, despite the blatant attempts to appeal to two markets simultaneously, the film was still fun. I am thankful for these overly sensationalised war films, they manage to simultaneously combine the absurd and the entertaining. Films such as 300 and Immortals feel like they are trying to recreate The Lord of the Rings trilogy in its grandeur and epic story telling within one film; encouraging insanity in action whilst losing all storytelling and character building sensibilities. The Great Wall is part of this collection; its endeavour to be bigger than its actual scale is obvious, with big set pieces filled with lots of brightly col-
oured soldiers all neatly coded for their position. It becomes a game of Splatoon when the lizards attack, with colours flying everywhere, dizzying the senses. Despite laudable effort, every attempt at impressive camera trickery ended up hurting my eyes. Having said that, there were some brilliantly stupid moments where an arrow was shot with such defiance against the laws of nature that any ficti-
Matt Damon as the Irish/American/ Swedish William in The Great Wall
tious bowman would have been proud. Whilst Matt Damon’s character might have been equal in caliber to other famous archers, his connection with his character was minimal at best. Matt was so cashed out during this film that the motivation for his character was ‘don’t worry you’ll be done soon and you can go home’. His vacant expression exposed him, Matt Damon was clearly thinking about paying off a new extension for his mansion. His accent was the clearest give away that he did not care, it was so inconsistent that I couldn’t tell if he came from Ireland or America, at one point I wasn’t sure if he was meant to be Swedish. It is bizarre they even told him to have one, as if he needed to distinguish his voice from the other characters who all had accents distinct to his own. Meanwhile, Pedro Pascal’s character was basically a less noble and less interesting Oberyn, whilst Willem Defoe played Willem Defoe but less evil.
Despite this, The Great Wall is fun and easy to recommend to groups of friends who just want to enjoy something absurd. It’s a film where brightly coloured men fight lizard people. It’s basically the prequel to Power Rangers, but less culturally diverse and whiter people saving the day. Despite its obvious flaws, it doesn’t necessarily hinder the aim of the film; it tried to be nothing more than silly action and it achieves this, whilst also creating ludicrously comedic moments. VERDICT: Vapid and superficial, but joyously so. Whilst the expensive on-screen hijinks can not posibly hide the hollow coporate machinations at the heart of the film, it is more than capable of providing an enjoyable couple of hours. Just don't be tempted to take it at all seriously.
Review: Patriots Day
Critic Josh Woods reviews director Peter Berg's third collaboration with Mark Wahlberg, recounting 2013's Boston Marathon bombings Josh Woods Film Critic
How soon is too soon? Patriots Day marks the third collaboration between director Peter Berg and lead actor Mark Wahlberg (after 2013’s Lone Survivor and 2016’s Deepwater Horizon), and the third to be based on recent history. What is startling about Patriots Day is that the subject matter, the catastrophic Boston Marathon bombings, took place fewer than four years ago. Yes, there is the predictable tone of jingoism, but this is also an impressively constructed film. If American films present American mythmaking, then Patriots Day is a portrait of Boston glorified. On-screen, proud institutions of the city interact in harmony: from the academic excellence of MIT to the working class heroism of Fenway Park, both contribute to the patchwork of the city that spawned the American Revolution. Essential to this intoxicating sense of town pride is Wahlberg, who – as police sergeant Tommy Saunders – embodies the spirit of Boston with machismo and populist charm. A true local, Saunders’ intimate knowledge of the location and his presence during the attack land him at the centre of the investigation. Of course, home-grown Wahlberg has no trouble with the infamous Boston accent, often endeavoured but rarely perfected by Hollywood stars (Tom Hanks
has a particularly bad go of it in Catch Me If You Can!). A running joke between married couple Patrick and Jessica, used in a sentimental callback, relates to him patiently teaching her the nuances of non-rhoticity.
"The violence of the film is depicted with appropriate gravity" Elsewhere, in a star-studded cast, John Goodman and Kevin Bacon deliver solid turns respectively as the police commissioner and a special agent for the FBI – two competing factions in the investigation, whose immediate interests conflict each other. Patriots Day approaches the “call it what it is” discourse surrounding Islamic terrorism. In the confusing aftermath of the attack, Agent DesLauriers (Bacon) is initially reluctant to declare the bombings as “Islamic terrorism”, fearing media backlash, whereas his count e r p a r t Commissioner D a v i s (Goodman) feels accountable to the emotions of the local peo-
ple and wants quick answers. In one of several gimmicky actionmovie lines that threaten to undermine the realism of Berg’s work, DesLaurier – pressed for an official judgement – shakes off his cowardice and dramatically proclaims, with a touch of vengeance, “It’s terrorism”. Likewise, J.K. Simmons, whilst excellent overall as an ageing suburban police sergeant, brings to mind Lethal Weapon’s Roger Murtaugh (“I’m getting too old for this shit”) when he caps off an exhilarating combat sequence with the announcement that he seriously has to quit smoking. Berg’s solid direction contributes to a tense opening half an hour in the buildup to the bombings. Long aerial shots suspend over central Boston with an ominous beauty and Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails is on hand to provide a suitably threatening soundtrack that complements the sense of impending disaster. During a minute’s silence for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Berg cuts to a shot of a statue featuring a Bostonian patriot, rifle slung over shoulder, in front
Mark Wahlberg in Patriots Day
of the national flag. The foreshadowed implication is clear: America responds to aggressors with aggression. In the direct aftermath, Berg alternates between handheld close-ups and CCTV footage to present the bloody chaos with a sense of terrifying reality. If Patriots Day’s timing arguably represents bad taste, the violence in the film itself is depicted with appropriate gravity. In fact, the film avoids the trap of glamorising the bombers. The relationship between the two is presented fairly one-dimensionally – the ideological Tamerlan bullies his younger brother into being his accomplice. Their motives are vague (something about 9/11 being an American government conspiracy to stoke an anti-Muslim response), reflecting the real life confusion over their precise cause. Though ultimately, this film is not about the bombers. The bravery of the likes of Dun Meng, the Chinese student carjacked by the Tsarnaevs, is what really matters here. VERDICT: Patriots Day is the story of a people who respond to disaster with renewed strength and unity. Whilst potentially exploitative of a recent traumatic event, Berg's film is largely well-executed and concludes with an epilogue of interviews with real life survivors - a touch of class.
Review: Rings John James Film Critic
F. Javier Gutiérrez’s Rings, the spiritual sequel to Gore Verbinski’s Ring remake series (albeit one absolutely nobody asked for), is a film that doesn’t do subtlety. Stretching around the concept of a ghostly video tape that kills you in 7 days, the film opens with the almost Shakespearian lines ‘Have you heard about this video tape that kills you in 7 days?’ and the exposition only gets clunkier from there, with my personal favourite being: ‘Well I didn’t find the video that scary to be honest’ uttered by the compulsory ‘brah’ shepherding two beautiful cheerleaders. Oooh you’re hard. The 'point of difference' this time around is the trendy millenial ploy that the tape has now gone 'viral' which opens up all sorts of avenues for thrills, chills and, due to the movie's awful execution, frightful tedium. Our 'heroes' are Julie and Holt, two characters literally crafted from cliché, Julie serving as the shy, decent, home-spun country girl who’s unaccountably good at everything, while Holt is her spirited but dim boyfriend who doesn’t like wearing a shirt. Together they set out to uncover the mystery of this killer video tape before Julie's 7 days are up, carefully avoiding the myriad of plot holes in their path, aided in part by Johnny Galecki of The Big Bang Theory fame, whose cool professor impression really is the only excuse to see this film. Seriously, it’s awful.
"Rings is a film that doesn't do subtlety" But this is all true of most horror films surely? The question is, is it scary? And in a way, the answer is yes and no. The film's mythology and visuals are certainly creepy, and when it deploys them, its jump scares are effective. However, the film's almost chronic dependency on gimmicks rob many scenes of genuine terror and instead has the audience wondering how on earth the studio approved an email reply of ‘OMG!! Crazy video man!!!’. Yes Rings, its 2017 and we all have iPhones (this movie is not at all above product placement) and we forward each other videos all the time, we get it. VERDICT: Rings is forgettable at best and offensive at worst owing to its lackadaisical attitude to quality and ham-fisted relationship with technology. When the least believable thing in your ghost film is characters leaving voice messages, you know you’ve gone wrong.
Friday 3rd March 2017
Born Too White: Albinism in East Africa Abbie Pease reviews the latest hard-hitting BBC documentary in the This World series Abbie Pease TV Critic @pease_abbie
Being born with albinism in Eastern Africa has been likened to receiving a death sentence: those with the condition have been brutally murdered, cut up for use in potions and forced into isolation for their own protection. This World offers viewers an insight into the disturbing treatment of those with albinism in Tanzania and Malawi, allowing Doctor Oscar Duke to travel to Eastern Africa and investigate the lives of those affected. As a British citizen who suffers from the condition himself, Duke reveals the deep contrast between how he has been treated and how those in Eastern Africa experience the medical condition. Insightful and eyeopening, Born Too White is a
thoughtful account of one of the most inhumane practices in Eastern Africa. Despite the tragedies that the documentary reveals, it also shines light on those who are making a real change to the people born ‘white in a black world’. Albinism is a genetic condition that occurs when an individual cannot produce a pigment known as melanin, which affects the colouring of the skin and hair, and damages the eyesight. There is a deep stigma surrounding those with the condition in countries such as Tanzania and Malawi, where there are large albino populations. The whiteness of their skin is something that distinguishes them from others in Eastern Africa, more so than it would in the western world. On top of this, the link between African culture and witchcraft accentuates the problem, as many believe that the
use of albino body parts in potions can bring one money and prosperity. As 60% of the Tanzanian population believe in witchcraft, it is clear that this plays a key role in fuelling the discrimination that albino members of African communities experience. Both of these factors have lead to a wave of albino murders in Eastern Africa, which Duke sets out to investigate. When Duke first arrives in Tanzania he visits a school in which there are a number of albino students. Speaking to the children at the school, it is evident that albinism is an accepted and normalised part of communities in some areas of Eastern Africa. However, there is evidence of discrimination in even the most accepting of communities. Duke meets with Festo, a boy whose limbs and teeth were taken from him when he was just seven years
old. With his teacher as his guardian, Festo has been supported by his school and community. It is heartbreaking to see the challenges the Festo faces, but uplifting to see the notoriety that he has received at his school for being such a brilliant artist and student. Despite the trauma surrounding Festo’s past, which relates directly to his albinism, Duke remains composed and understanding,
"Being born with albinism in Eastern Africa has been likened to receiving a death sentence" offering Festo hope. On his quest to find out the extent to which the African community is still entrenched in superstitious beliefs, Duke visits a traditional doctor who claims that his dreams teach him how to use medicine.The wealth and prosperity of the doctor that Duke meets reveals the power of those practicing a type of medicine that would be deemed unconventional in the western world. Although the doctor Duke meets does not practice witchcraft, those doing so are a common feature of East African communities. Those who wish to use the body parts of albinos have forced children into protective communities that cut them off from the rest of society for their own protection. Many of the children living in these circumstances are unable to see their families due to the danger of going home. Despite the security that these locations offer, living in such a confined space can cause them to become psychologically damaged. Duke correctly points out that the fact children are being forced into isolation speaks vol-
umes about the backwardness of the East-African culture. Moving on from Tanzania, Duke travels to Malawi, a country that has experienced a recent wave in albino killings. In Malawi alone, 13 albino people have been murdered in the last two years. The audience witnesses a heartbreaking meeting between Duke and the family of Fletcher Masina, an albino boy who was murdered six months ago. Fletcher was murdered by people familiar to him whilst working on a farm in his community. The seven men took off his limbs, private parts and organs before leaving him mutilated to be found by his family. After this shocking account, Duke visits the Malawian prison that is holding one of the men charged with Fletcher’s murder. The man claims that he was sent by others to carry out the deed in return for 40 million Malawi Kwacha. The killer hangs his head in embarrassment, failing to look into the eyes of Duke as he talks about the murder. Despite this, no remorse can be seen, as he blames satan for his actions. This reiterates the reliance of the African community on sorcery to explain the situations that they face. As well as chart the difficulties albinos face, Born Too White meets with those helping to spark a change in attitudes. Duke looks at the work of Standing Voice, a UK charity that provides skin clinics and free dermatology consultations to albino Africans. Despite the devastation that overshadows the treatment of those with albinism, there is hope and an increasingly active government willing to help improve the lives of those with the condition. By ending the documentary on a positive note, viewers can find comfort in the changes that are beginning to emerge in Eastern Africa. What do you think? Got an opinion about this? Tweet us @redbrickTV
Legion: A Fresh Start For Mutant-kind Roshni Patel TV Critic @roshofalltrades
We all loved the X-Men franchise, the silver screen Marvel adventure centering around humans who’ve evolved to develop superpowers. We’ve loved and hated the various adaptations, and all the while been dazzled by the various mutants and their powers. Now, after their many big screen outings, the X-Men are finally moving to the small screen, for a fresh adaptation at the hands of Fargo producer, Noah Hawley. Gone are the days of Xavier’s School for Gifted Children. Legion returns us to the era of mutant disarray and unchecked powers, and the result is brilliant.
Airing at 10pm on Fox UK, Legion is everything we wanted, but nothing we expected. And its these expectations of an X-Men centric show that have critics worried for its future, because while the first episode was amazing, it was also, if anything, bizarre, confusing any audience expecting a mutant infestation. This show is a far cry from all of the usual comic book caped crusaders currently controlling our screens (Arrow, Flash and Supergirl), and it’s nothing like Marvel’s other currently broadcasting show, Agents of Shield, which usually follows a problemof-the-week model. If anything, it resembles the serial style of Netflix’s Marvel shows, where each episode is a mere part of a 13-hour film. Launched into the story through a childhood montage of protagonist David Haller (Dan
Stevens, Downton Abbey), set to The Who’s 'Happy Jack', we see how Haller’s powers violently manifest only to be misdiagnosed as a mental illness, which leads to him being institutionalised as a
"Legion is everything we wanted but nothing we expected" schizophrenic. While we eagerly see signs of telepathy and telekinesis, Haller spends the rest of the episode medicated and confused, leading him to be quite an unreliable narrator. Hawley expertly crafts the world around Haller to add to our confusion, as characters and settings seem to indicate the 60s, but Haller’s high-tech interrogator (Hamish Linklater, Fargo) suggests otherwise.
While Hawley keeps trying to throw us for a loop, we’re drawn in closer, trying to piece together what’s real and what’s not. Through the structure of an interrogation, we jump back into Haller’s recent past, in an attempt to catch up with the story so far. Aided by a quirky cast of characters, some of whom often feel like figments of Haller’s imagination, we begin to see the landscape of what the people around him believe. From his innocent sister Amy (Katie Aselton, Our Idiot Brother), who thinks her poor brother is sick and that the various patronising psychiatrists are helping, to recovering junkie and spunky Lenny (Aubrey Plaza, Parks and Recreation), who thinks he’s just as crazy as her. And then there’s Sydney Barrett (Rachel Keller, Fargo). A perfectly adorable girlfriend, whose existence outside of Haller’s head
is something we’re never too sure about. Chapter one was, all in all, a good start for Hawley and the team, with Legion clearly standing apart from the rest and breaking from the common monotony that comic book shows can fall into, as they attempt to appease all. While the end felt almost too happy, it did feel like a natural beginning into the next chapter of what we hope will be a great series. With only 8 episodes to impress us with, it’ll be interesting to see whether the jumbled pieces will begin to fall into place in anticipation of a potential cancellation, or whether Legion will conclude as confusingly as it began, leaving us screaming for more to fill the void.
Friday 3rd March 2017
The Big Debate: Netflix vs Amazon Kamila Geremek looks at whether Amazon or Netflix has the best original shows. Who really comes out on top?
Netflix is a well-established streaming source of greatness. It has brought us the likes of House of Cards, Orange is the New Black (OITNB), Narcos and most recently A Series of Unfortunate Events. Whilst I love all these shows and a lot of others, I can’t help but feel frustrated at the lack of recognition of the brilliance of some of Amazon’s originals which tend to surpass the quality witnessed in most Netflix shows. Both companies have a lot of money, there’s no denying it, but Amazon has a strong advantage which is reflected in the production quality of Amazon’s shows. This was clearly visible in The Grand Tour which was the turning point for amazon and truly gave it the spotlight for its other original shows to flourish after being hidden for too long. A lot of Amazon’s shows have only been released as a first season, maybe even two, but have managed to tell an in-depth story and develop characters on a deep intellectual level, something which Netflix requires several seasons to do. Goliath is one of these shows
that manages to completely intrigue you in the story of a washed-up lawyer taking on a huge case against his ex-firm who are representing a military giant. But the main appeal of the show isn’t the storyline, it’s the characters whose pain you feel from the very first episode played so well by the actors that it doesn’t feel like you are watching something entirely fictional. Even Red Oaks, which consisted of 20 minute episodes, managed to tell a great story filled with nostalgia, doubts about growing up and engaging characters that you were able to sympathise with. What I enjoy the most about Amazon is that they are not afraid to take risks with their concepts and explore various ways of telling a story as well as exploring themes such as corruption, technology and growing up. On the other hand, Netflix has not shied away from its political statements and there’s no denying that OITNB and House of Cards have a lot to say about outstanding political issues. However, Amazon manages to do this as well, and doesn’t receive enough recognition for its efforts to stimulate our minds with questions about life, politics, history and science. Transparent,
Please Like Me and Man in the High Castle are just a few which have proven to be engaging to watch and matching the standard of the previous shows mentioned. The main problem with Netflix shows is that there is so much hype surrounding them that sometimes it’s too difficult for them to reach those very high expectations. As much as I loved A Series of Unfortunate Events, there were
"Amazon challenges Netflix, who has become too comfortable with being considered the 'streaming giant'" times when I questioned whether I wished to carry on watching the show, something that I rarely experience when watching an Amazon show. Furthermore, it can be very easy to get caught up with the hype and fall in love with a show, when in fact it is not as bril-
liant as the internet has made it out to be. Stranger Things, in retrospect, received so much hype that you are forced to believe in its absolute brilliance, when in fact the show was average. It did set up a very good story which I am sure will provide a turbulent start to season 2, however, as far as sci-fi goes, it was not ground breaking and nothing that has not been witnessed before. A lot of Netflix shows lose their value, and this particularly happened with OITNB. After an amazing start in the first season and a good second season, the show got very lost in the third season and it lost the spark that drove the first two seasons to such huge success. Furthermore, Netflix has jumped on the revival bandwagon, which is not the perfect destination for the streaming giant. It should be taking risks and exploring new forms of entertainment, before Amazon catches up and overtakes. The Netflix shows that I have mentioned have indeed only scraped the surface of the hundreds of shows available to binge watch, but that is a problem. Netflix has released a lot of shows, and a lot of them are just not as good as the others. Whilst this is
common amongst production companies and producers, Netflix’s quantity over quality diminishes its reputation of being an excellent TV show producer. Every time I begin to watch a new Amazon show, I am always pleasantly surprised at how good it is, mainly because Mr. Robot just left a very unpleasant legacy which made me doubt Amazon’s ability to produce something which was not thought of as good just because of the hype. Give them a try. They may not have the same popularity, and they may not have big name actors. You may get aggravated at the fact that there isn’t enough for you to binge watch, but they are thoroughly enjoyable and create a promising future for Amazon’s streaming platform to grow and develop and provide healthy competition to Netflix, who has become too comfortable with being considered the streaming giant. What do you think? Got an opinion about this? Tweet us @redbrickTV
Review: Death in Paradise Rebecca Garbutt
As the sixth series of BBC One's sun-stroked drama Death in Paradise draws to a close, it's a sign that winter's long days will soon be behind us. The Caribbean island of Saint Marie has seen us through 8 weeks of this dismal winter, and now, after over 40 murders and a new detective, the cheerful Ardal O'Hanlon, the show is over for yet another year. Following the exit of floppy haired Kris Marshall earlier on in the series, we've been given two episodes to explore the guy taking
up new leading-man duties. And as first impressions go, DI Jack Mooney has scored big time. I was distraught to see Marshall go, as he was a winning factor in continuing the success of the show after Ben Miller's departure, increasing on the 8 million views that Miller maintained throughout the first two series. However, O'Hanlon provides a quirkiness that was perhaps missing, and in this week's series finale, he sets about investigating uncovered infidelity and heartbreak, after the favourite to win the Saint Marie Mayor election is found dead in the polling station.
Now, I'll be the first to admit that Death in Paradise is a tad unrealistic. So many murders occurring on such a small island - it's arguably on track to overtake Midsomer Murders in the death stakes! Not to mention the fact that the same formula for an episode is carefully repeated with only a few
tweaks, meaning that most episodes are basically the same. A murder occurs, then a swift cut to the groovy title sequence (one of best theme tunes ever, in my opinion). A group of suspects are gathered, questioned and then called together at the end, with the revealing of the killer always needing a big audience. The killer never goes unpunished and the
whole drama is wrapped up in a neat little bow in an hour. The show will never be a contender for Best Drama at the BAFTAs and it pales in comparison to the top-notch crime dramas of the recent decade (some of my favourites being Luther and The Missing). But what this show lacks in depth, darkness and suspense, it makes up for in enthusiasm, warmth and sunshine. Every year I look forward to spending my cold winter evenings snuggled up in bed, dreaming of paradise. This show has done its job. See you next year.
Friday 3rd March 2017
Top 3: Pie Places Phoebe Radford Food Writer
If you don't fancy making yourself a pie, then here are a few places in Birmingham where you can get your hands on one.
The Botanist Famed for their amazing cocktail menu, The Botanist also has some of the best pies in Birmingham. The vegetarian Sweet Potato and Spiced Lentil pie (£11.50) is just the right size for one and comes with extra curry sauce and mash or chips. There are two other pie main courses: the unusual but yummy sounding Chicken and Chorizo (£11.50) or a classic Steak and Stout (£11.50). Both come with mushy peas and gravy and chips or mash. If you choose the Deli Board (£10.50 for any 4 items), you can try a pork pie with fig chutney as one of your four choices.
The Great British Pie Week
Food Editor Phoebe Radford explores the background of the classic British dish We Brits love our pies, so much you may remember a scene where so that a staggering £1 billion is Henry VIII gives the King of spent on pies alone each year. France a pie. When the To celebrate our love King of France cuts affair with all things through the crust, pastry, British Pie several birds fly out Week returns this of the pie, much year from the 6th to everyone’s March to highlight amusement. the humble pie. If you’re not Pies are a classic a fan of The Amount spent on British dish, with Tudors you the earliest known might be more pork pies in GB in mention of a food familiar with the a year pie dating as far back nursery rhyme Sing as 1301. In the past, the a Song of Sixpence pastry was used only as a which describes ‘Four means of holding the filling as and twenty blackbirds, it was cooked. The pastry was Baked in a pie.’ Fortunately, (for then given to servants whilst the us and the poor birds), this strange nobles ate the more expensive pie tradition is confined to the meaty fillings. All this has changed past. however, and nowadays the qualSavoury pies are undoubtedly ity of the pastry is just as impor- the Britain’s favourite with £145 tant as the innards of the pie. million a year being spent on pork Another quirky pie fact is that pies alone. Meat dominates the the rich used to enjoy ‘surprise pie scene, with steak and ale being pies’ with live animals inside. If another British staple. However, you’ve ever watched The Tudors there are increasingly a wide
Recipe: Will Haynes Food Writer
Square Pie Square Pie is a pie shop in Grand Central where you can buy ready-baked pies or unbaked to cook yourself later. Their main pie menu is quite extensive with three different steak pies, several chicken pies (including a few halal options), a lamb and rosemary pie, and a cheese and onion or spinach, sweet potato and goats cheese pie for vegetarians. If you didn’t fancy a big pie or were just popping in for lunch you can opt for a mini pie. The steak and ale, chicken and mushroom, or the cheese and onion are available in the mini size.
Celebrate British Pie Week in a suitably opulent fashion by lovingly preparing an enormous pie for your friends and family. In this pie, each element is cooked separately to retain their unique character and flavour. Serves 8-10 people You will need: 6 chicken thighs 500ml chicken stock 1 gammon joint (approx. 1 kg) 1 onion 1 carrot Skin from the chicken thighs 3 large leeks 2 tbsp flour 250ml white wine 200 ml crème fraiche 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard 250g shortcrust or puff pastry 1 medium egg
Pietanic Pietanic is a well-known member of the Birmingham street food scene, with regular appearances at Digbeth Dining Club. Hand-made classics include a pork pie and a steak and ale. More unusually they do a bacon and cheeseburger pie and a pork and chilli scotch egg finished by rolling it in frazzles (granted, not a pie, but too good not to get a mention!)
Smoothie Bowl If you want to feel full of energy, satisfied, and ready to go in the morning (and, if like me, you've got a definite sweet tooth for breakfast) then this smoothie bowl is a great option! (and, it's pretty insta-worthy too, not gonna lie...) You will need: 1 banana 1/2 mango
The British Pie Week runs from 6th-12th March 2017 making your own (see a selection of recipes below) or by getting out and trying some of the fantastic pies on offer within Birmingham’s food scene.
Chicken, Ham and Leek Pie Method: Start by preheating the oven to 120°C. Peel and slice the onion and carrot and place with the gammon joint in an ovenproof saucepan. Cover with water and bring to the boil on the hob. Put a lid on and place in the oven to slow cook for 4 hours. Alternatively, cook the gammon in a slow cooker. For more tender, flavoursome thigh meat, brine in 1L water with 80g salt for 5 hours or overnight. When the gammon has been cooking for 2 ½ hours, place the chicken breasts in a different ovenproof saucepan and cover with the chicken stock. Put a lid on and add to the oven for the remaining 1 ½ hours. Allow both meats to cool in the cooking liquid before dicing. Save 250ml of chicken stock for making the mustard sauce. Put a tsp of oil in a saucepan on medium heat, then add the chicken skin. Fry for 15 minutes to render the fat out. In the meantime, wash the leeks and slice finely. Remove the chicken skin and discard, then add the leeks to the saucepan. Fry for a further 15 minutes until soft and sweet. Remove from the saucepan with a
Instagrama-bowl Tamar Smith
range of vegetarian savoury pies on offer, with cheese and onion, vegetable curry, and goats cheese pies just to name a few. We Brits will eat a sweet pie, but it’s the Americans who go nuts for sweet; the quintessential American dessert is a fruit pie. And who could imagine a Thanksgiving dinner without a sweet pumpkin pie? Pies are part of our culture, and what better way to celebrate British Pie Week than by either
handful of shredded coconut handful of raspberries handful of blackberries coconut water ice
slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pan. Return the saucepan to the heat, and sprinkle in the flour. Cook out the flour, to form a roux, before pouring in the wine gradually, while stirring. Then add the stock and the crème fraiche, continue to heat and whisk until lump free. Stir in the Dijon and wholegrain mustards and season with black pepper. Heat the oven to 200°C. Combine the diced chicken and ham with the leeks and mustard sauce. Place the mixed filling in a large 24cm pie dish, or in to small individual pie dishes. Top with pastry and trim roughly around the edge with a little extra to fold over. Crimp the edges with a fork or your thumb, and make a whole in the middle to release the steam. Brush the surface with egg wash, before placing in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden and the filling is oozing out. Serve with mash and peas, drowning in gravy. If you want an easy meal for the coming weeks, you can even freeze individual pies in foil containers with lids, and cook them straight from frozen.
The juice from half a lemon Some granola to top it with
Blend it all together, pour it out into a bowl, top with granola, and you've got a super yummy, healthy breakfast. Nice-Cream This is a perfect way to use up any bananas and treat yourself with this deceptive 'nice cream' recipe. You will need minimal ingredients and some form of blender. You will need: 4 frozen bananas A splash of soy milk (or coconut/ cashew milk)
Method: Allow the bananas to thaw for around 5 minutes. Then pop in the blender with a splash of soy/coconut milk and the lemon juice. Top with granola and enjoy!
Friday 3rd March 2017
Review: Chitty's Cakes
Review: Island Bar
Food Writer Rosie Osborne reviews the cakes on offer at the Custard Factory If you’re looking for a good slice of cake and a proper cup of tea, Chitty’s is the place to go! Located at the Custard Factory, Birmingham’s ‘creative quarter’ in Digbeth (a 10-minute walk from the Bullring), this quirky and cosy café is worth a visit. Originally a space for selling customised celebration cakes and offering cake making and decorating classes in their upstairs studio, Chitty’s has now expanded and opens its new doors to passers-by looking for a refreshment. I visited recently with a friend and we indulged in a red velvet cupcake (£1.75) and a slice of lemon drizzle cake (£2.25). There were loads of cakes on offer, including some more unusual flavours such as a rose water and vanilla cupcake, as well some classics with a Victoria sponge and black forest gateau cake. From what I understand the flavours on offer are changed up regularly. There are other sweets available
such as iced biscuits and pies. The cakes were really fresh and moist, with the lemon drizzle and the buttercream being particularly flavoursome. The cake felt more homemade and indulgent with the clear attention paid to the decoration and piping! Chitty’s have a huge range of Twining’s tea on offer, and we enjoyed a large pot of English breakfast tea for two for £4. The full range of hot and cold drinks you’d expect are available, and
they source their coffee from the local roaster ‘Quarter Horse coffee’. If you’re really delighted with the cake and left wanting more, Chitty’s offer takeaway boxes of cupcakes, starting at a box of 6 for £11. Additionally, if you are a cake making enthusiast they sell lots of decorating and baking supplies. With a cosy ambiance and lighting, and kitsch décor, eating here was comforting and relaxing.
Located just near New Street Station, this hidden cocktail bar named ‘Island Bar’ in Birmingham was possibly the best worst kept secrets I ever had. As a South-Pacific inspired cocktail bar, that serves not only cocktails but speciality draught beer and unique wines, there was a strong atmosphere of a chilledbeach given off by the edgy wooden shack interior and reggae music played. There is something hugely satisfying about finding an independent coffee shop for a change of scenery, rather than the standard Costa or Starbucks. I’ve personally found them hard to come by since living in Birmingham, which is why stopping by this little place felt very refreshing. I will definitely be revisiting! Chitty's Cakes is located on the ground floor of the Custard Factory
Recipes: All Things Fruit Food Writer Cailin Dickinson provides some great seasonable fruit recipes Aside from the obvious fruits that are commonly known to be in season in summer like strawberries, or those in winter such as apples, it can be tough knowing when fruit is or is not in season. Before researching for this article, I did not know myself when fruit is in season or not. Currently, we are reaching the end of the winter season. It is this season which apples and pears are at their peak in taste and monetary value this year. If grown in the UK, the fruit will be at it sweetest at this time of year, and best to use in recipes like apple and pear crumble. As the end of the winter season for fruit is approaching, the next season of spring is to follow which includes mainly the fruit of rhubarb. But apples, especially bramley apples used for cooking, are also in season at this time of year. Rhubarb may seem like a fruit in which you have no idea what to use it for, however instead of making a typical rhubarb crumble y o u
Apple and Pear Crumble
You will need:
350g of pears
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. Peel and core the apples and pears and cut them into cubes. In a pan, melt 25g butter and add the apples, pears and caster sugar and cook until softened. Once cooked, transfer into an ovenproof dish. In a separate bowl, add the flour, cinnamon and the remaining butter. Mix together with your hands. Add the demerara sugar and repeat. Spoon the crumble mixture over the fruit and bake for 30 minutes.
350g of apples 125g of butter 50g of caster sugar 75g of demerara sugar 175g value plain flour A generous pinch of cinnamon
Rhubarb and Feta Salad You will need: 60g butter 4 tsp sugar 100g rhubarb, cut into batons 4 tsp port or balsamic vinegar 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 tsp lemon juice
you ill. Mix together the oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and mustard and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper Place salad leaves in the centre of each
plate and dress with the. olive oil mixture. Make criss-cross patterns around the leaves with the rhubarb batons, and sprinkle the feta cheese over.
This trendy tiki bar serves up its own unique fruity cocktails. I ordered the Solero cocktail, which was based upon the tropical Solero
'a strong atmosphere of a chilled-beach' ice-cream. This was made with Absolut Citron, passionfruit liqueur, orange, milk and cream. The addition of these dairy products of milk and cream may seem unusual to add to a cocktail, however in this instance of replicating an ice-lolly, it was a great twist. As a popular bar in Birmingham centre, you feel obliged to have a second drink due to the relaxed atmosphere and music- so I did! I then chose the Bahama Mama, purely because of the name and not the alcohol mix this time. But I was still pleasantly surprised with what it tasted like. There was a blend of Havana three year old rum, Koko Kanu, grenadine, lime, orange and pineapple juices on crushed ice, served in a tall glass. Although I am not a rum fan, the fruity undertones of this drink changed my prejudices! It was certainly more aesthetically appealing than my first drink, but unfortunately not as appealing as my Solero. It is needless to say that I shall be visiting this small bar in Birmingham again as the extensive menu ranges from £5-£7 for a cocktail, making it both value for money and a great experience! •
1 tsp mustard could use it in a rhubarb and feta salad which is suitable for vegetarians. Enjoy using these seasonal fruits in recipes or just as snacks!
baby salad leaves or crispy leaves 50g hard feta cheese, crumbled Method: Melt the butter in a frying pan then add the sugar. Place the rhubarb in the pan and cook until tender. Make sure the rhubarb is cooked well as under cooking it may
Island Bar can be found at 4-16 Suffolk Street Queensway, Birmingham.
LIFE & STYLE
Friday 3rd March 2017
Fashion Week: London v. New York Life&Style writer Charlotte Gill reveals which key trends came out of New York Fashion Week... Charlotte Gill Life&Style writer
As always, NYFW kicked off the Autumn/Winter shows, giving us a peek at what will filter its way into our high-street stores. So, what do we need to keep our eye out for? Clashing Texture and Pattern For the most part it was about texture and pattern. And I don’t mean either/or: mix sequins with tassels, leopard print with beading (à la Marc Jacobs), frills with studs, fur with lace, shearling with corduroy. Florals, plaid, velvet and fur are the ones to look out for in particular. So this is your chance! Is the plain black jumper you usually wear with your stripy jeans in the wash? Who cares, throw on a flowery top and you’re good to go! Gone are the days of matchy-matchy. Red and Pink If you are an all-black kind of gal then you may want to look away now: for A/W, the brighter the better (see Delpozo and Oscar de la Renta). However you wear it, whatever the shade, pink and red are the main colours to channel. More is More Yellow also made a refreshing appearance so don’t hold back when it comes to brightness. This 'More Is More' mind-set doesn’t just apply to clothing but acces-
sories, too. Think boxy bags, bold hats and big statement earrings. Often boots and accessories had a spacey, metallic feel to them so really the sky isn’t even the limit here. Classic and Sleek If this all sounds terribly over the top then do not fear, Michael Kors’ show (a personal favourite) kept it sharp, smart and sleek, as ever. Though pattern and texture were still very much main themes, the colour scheme was primarily camel, grey, black and navy. Stylish looks such as a black fur coat layered over a belted figurehugging dress, a navy turtle neck under a sleeveless, camel-coloured, trenchstyle coat, and an off-the-shoulder (another upcoming trend) sparkly dress in a relaxed fit, showed us that you can make just as much of an impact with a more neutral, or darker, palette. Power Suits
Victoria Beckham also kept it wonderfully simple, and additionally, this season her show saw the return of the power suit: doublebreasted blazers, shoulder pads and clean cut lines.
For your own wardrobe why not go for a classic garment, like a trusty turtle neck in a brighter colour, or a baggy jumper with a flowing red skirt underneath (à la Victoria Beckham). Adding a pop
of colour – whether that be a coat, dress, or just a pair of earrings – will make you feel more adventurous and keep you on trend. If you’re really not ready to kiss your plain black wardrobe goodbye, then mix it up by going for an interesting angle or cut; many brands introduced asymmetrical patterns and cuts to make for a more downplayed yet eyecatching look. Aside from the clothes themselves, this NYFW saw a rise in political fashion (or what is being dubbed ‘fashtivism’), both on the catwalks (Tome, for example) and in street style, which will no doubt continue to match the current political climate. Body diversity, ever a tricky topic in fashion, was a yes with the appearance of an older model and the most ‘plus-sized’ models on the runway ever (see Ashley Graham for Michael Kors, a model for IMG and body activist and Iskra Lawrence for Chromat, a model for Models1 and JAG and champion of body diversity). There is, of course, room for progress but it is a step in the right
direction. In terms of social media, we get more and more insight each time Fashion Week comes around. Snapchat and Instagram stories allow us to feel a part of the action with posts, and often live videos, from those on the Front Row, models backstage, and designers themselves. Through platforms like Instagram, we were able to get up close to the garments and make-up looks paraded, allowing us to be more in touch than ever with the once-exclusive fashion world. What was your favourite trend from New York Fashion Week? Let us know: @redbricklife
...whilst Life&Style writer Antonia Miles explains which trends came out top in London The creative energy was far from dull this week at London Fashion Week. Fashionable favourites included the work of Burberry, Prada and Topshop Unique with a mix of up and coming designers you need to watch out for this Autumn/Winter, including the work of Phoebe English, Mimi Wade and Halpern. Here’s our pick of the hottest trends for AW17, straight from the runway! But which trends came out top at London Fashion Week this month?
The Polo Neck You may be bored to death with the classic jumper you’ve been surgically attached to all winter, but the polo neck will be returning in just a few months. Sported by collections such as Emilia Wickstead and Topshop, the polo neck will be hot once again this Autumn.
this look is perfect for Autumn weather, where Winter is very much on its’ way, but you’re not quite ready to bid farewell to Summer yet either. For extra style points, invest in a pair of strappy
Socks and Sandals The sock and sandal combo has been given a serious style upgrade on the catwalk this week, by the likes of Mulberry and Prada. It shouldn’t work, but it really does! The Deconstructed Shirt Designers such as Alexander Wang put their take on the deconstructed shirt trend by adding extra sleeves, collars and cuffs. The flared sleeve is set to be big this season, as VW Anderson knows all too well. Chunky Jumpers layered over Flowy Skirts A look which was sported by the likes of Topshop and Peter Pilotto,
Oh so 90s! Layering Jumpers over Shirt Tails Burberry mastered this look, by featuring longer shirts worn underneath cropped knitwear. An effortless but seriously cool look which is set to be one of the defining looks for AW17. Bralettes Layering bralettes was hot on the runway this fashion week, with the likes of Victoria Beckham, Prada and Alexander McQueen quick to latch onto the trend.
heels to match! Chainmail Chainmail will take over this season’s hottest party wear trend metallic. My personal favourite look was JW Anderson’s floral dress, fit with a feather skirt and a seriously eclectic chainmail cloak.
Aside from the fabulous trends served up at this fashion feast, London led the way in making the fashion industry more inclusive. The first show of the week, for example, featured two disabled models, something which viewers hope to see more of in the future. The FROW fashion style was also on point. Kendal Jenner gave a maserclass in how to pair chunky knitwear with elegant dresses, whilst Winnie Harlow wowed in a
Life&Style writer @amilesx
very on-trend pink mini-dress. Lottie Moss similarly stunned in a series of mini-dresses which went from all over sequins to more demure blush numbers, and Ella Eyre's snakeskin midi dress featured some well placed cut outs which definitely gave her dress an edge. Fearne Cotton also wowed at London Fashion Week, taking part in Pam Hogg's show which featured a lot of PVC and some very heavy makeup, which clashed statement lips with smokey eyes. Walking hand-in-hand with the designer and Alice Dellal, it was lovely to see Fearne looking so radiant and genuinely happy. Perhaps one of the most poignant shows was the Ashish show, which featured sequined t-shirts bearing slogans that emphasised the importance of loving without boundaries - a message that is perhaps more important than ever in the current political climate. One t-shirt read 'fall in love and be more tender' and another declared 'love sees no colour'. It seems as if, just as celebrities are using their voices to make politcal statements, fashion designers are using their clothes to make a statement. What was your favourite trend from LFW? Let us know: @redbricklife
LIFE & STYLE
Friday 3rd March 2017
Fashion and Politics: Should They Ever Mix?
Life&Style writer Tara Kergon questions whether fashion and politics should ever be combined I’ve been thinking about it since Maria Grazia Chiuri (the first female artistic director at Dior, no less) featured basic tees in her first collection, emblazoned with the words “We Should All Be Feminists”, politics is seeping into every part of our lives now with its endless controversies. The altright is rising, all sorts of discrimination seems to be ignored by those in power, Donald Trump beat out Hillary Clinton, Brexit, and nobody can stop talking about it, debating it, protesting it. There are worldwide demonstrations and my social media is overrun with political thought, but what place does fashion have in all of this? Should it even have one? Should ‘fashion’ as a concept, a sphere of individuals, an entity, be weighing in upon politics? My answer is yes. It seems that fashion itself also agrees with me. As far back as the SS15 shows Karl Lagerfeld created a runway protest rally (the Chanel-chic version at least) which was oddly prophetic, given that merely a few years later women in their millions would march worldwide. I confess, at the time, I didn’t pay much attention to it, writing it off as part of Lagerfeld’s penchant for overblown showspaces, but perhaps I should have done. Statements and slogans have since been a near-constant trend: think Alexander Wang’s “strict” girls for
AW16 (remind anyone else of the current ‘nasty woman’ attitude?); look at the NYFW we just saw, dominated by political comment. Tome boldly declared that “the future is female”, and Prabal Gurung’s “this is what a feminist looks like” tee turned heads at his own finale. And it’s not just feminism that requires a statement, as Gurung also featured “Revolution has no borders” and “I am an immigrant” in a clear response to the recent Muslim bans, and continuing plans for the Mexican wall. Since the 1970s, feminists have been declaring that ‘the personal is political’, a statement that rings true not just for women but for every marginalized group – ie. anyone who isn’t white, male, rich, straight, and neurotypical, to name a few. This is the idea that political action comes with personal realization, and I would say personal action in day to day life. Here is where I believe fashion fits. Fashion is undeniably personal, from the visions of a designer, to the styling of a fashion editor, to the way any one of us feels when getting dressed in the morning. Politics is
surrounding us so closely and so unrelentingly that it cannot help but seep in to the consciousness; Anna Wintour said it best in her Wall Street Journal interview: “designers don’t live in a vacuum”. They are as human as the rest of us, inspired and affected by the world around them – and how can you expect an artist to stay silent? Fashion, especially haute couture, is an art form, and art is always a reflection of its time, its social and political climate. With all that is happening, how can fashion r e m a i n oblivious? The editors of Vogue Runway reached a similar con@susiebubble clusion to those I am drawing, in a recent piece entitled “What Place Does Couture Have in a World in Crisis?” – fashion’s role, when mixing with politics, is twofold. Within the realms of it’s well established (and in my opinion heinously inaccurate) reputation for superficiality, it provides a welcome escape during dark times. It is art, beauty, aspiration, a glittering show in which one can lose themselves and forget the troubled world. This superficiality,
however, provides more than that. The sphere of fashion has by now become such a media circus of models, celebrities, global coverage by staggering amounts of press, that people actually care what designers and editors have to say on more than just this season’s hottest colour combination. To not use such a powerful platform would be wrong, since to be silent is to condone, and I am so glad to see fashion voicing its opinions and discomfort with current politics. Finally, to anyone who still believes fashion should stay in its lane and keep churning out collections without involving itself in more ‘serious’ issues: fashion is involved, whether it likes it or not. Those in power, aka politicians, create laws that limit it enhance their potential, and have a large amount of control over the economy and therefore the livelihoods and longevity of any designer or editor. Fashion is susceptible to economic and political instability, which more than gives it the right to comment. More than that, however, is the simple fact that the fashion crowd are all human beings living in this world and cannot just stick their heads in the sand (or sequins for that matter) and ignore it. They are outraged, interested, opinionated and involved, with as much right as anyone to express it.
Why Goals Are Overrated
Natalie Welch explains why she thinks goals are overrated
In our society we always want more from ourselves. We want to be fitter and healthier. We want better grades. We want a good social life. We want to be more cultured, more beautiful. We want to be sexier. We want to be richer. We want to be the best. Let’s be honest: being the best at all these things is just not going to happen. We cannot get 72% on that essay if we don’t sweat it in the library for a few days, but we’re not going to get that flat stomach unless we’re sweating it in the gym for a few hours. All these things are not going to happen at the same time without seriously damaging our mental and physical health. We’re constantly pushing ourselves too far. What serves as a catalyst for these unrealistic “positive” expectations is social media, and the current trend of #goals. Unlike generations before us we have a constant means of comparing our own shortcomings to the success of others.
We can see that our friend from college is going on a study year abroad (#travelgoals). We see our seminar pal has just been surprised with a weekend away to Paris by their partner (#relationshipgoals). We can even see a thirty-second video of a complete stranger lifting their entire bodyweight with just their fingertips. (#fitnessgoals). Whilst these things could provide some ‘inspiration’ for our own goals, frankly I think we are just reminded that we are too dependent on mum to leave for a year, probably too single (and poor) to go Paris and can barely run up a flight of stairs without the threat of a lung failing you. #Goals is just a constant reminder of the things that we cannot do, rather than the things that we can do. Something to remember is that social media is deceptive. Yes, Charlie and Alex do look adorable in that selfie, but that selfie doesn’t take into account the argument that they had
twenty minutes before it was taken. People aren’t necessarily lying on social media; they are just putting out there the very best version of themselves. They’re putting out the version of themselves that people want to think they are, and that they want to believe they are. It seems very stupid to try and aspire to be like someone when you’re are only seeing the very best of them because it is unattainable to be that very all the time. Also, every life is different. This seems SO obvious, and something that you have been told a thousand times before. However, I think this is easy to forget when we browse social media and look at #goals. Take #fitnessgoals for an example, we want to get that hot summer body so we look to find a health and fitness blogger that will serve as our guidance and inspiration. That blogger makes working out for two hours every day and clean eating seem like something totally
attainable. But it isn’t – not for you anyway. You’re not a fitness blogger, your life does not revolve on being fit. You don’t have time to work out for two hours in between your lectures, seminars, prep and assessments. You don’t have the money to buy completely clean and organic food – let alone find the time to cook it. It be extremely demoralising to keep referring back to this health guru, it’ll make you feel like you’re failing your goal just because you are not on their level. What is important to do is look at yourself. Yes, that fitness blogger does go on two runs a day and eats a strict diet of lean meats and veggies, but you had an apple AND some carrots and hummus (which is one closer to your 5-a-day than yesterday). Looking at your own journey, and seeing how far you personally have come, will always be more empowering than looking at someone else’s journey.
FIERCE Corduroy After being in the men’s style wilderness for a generation, cord is back. Shirts can be worn open over a tee, while the fabric would make a great choice for a Harrington style jacket. It’s been seen at Milan, which means that within six months it will be seen at Topman. Womenswear has already embraced this retro trend and it’s about time for men to catch up.
Black Tie Proper, traditional black tie - think James Bond, not year eleven prom. That means a self-tie bow tie, Marcella or pleated shirt and a dinner suit specifically for evening wear. A decent black-tie ensemble is timeless and will weather any sartorial storm.
Layering Spring may be around the corner, but it’s still cold enough in the mornings and evenings to warrant multiple layers. Think cotton sweaters, cashmere jumpers or lightweight jackets. Layering items are still easy to find all of these items will be available as the last of AW16 stock or will be coming through with the SS17 collections.
Light Denim There are three simple rules for men’s denim: slim, dark and plain. Jeans are the number one classic wardrobe staple, but that also means it’s very easy to get them wrong. Remember – light denim jeans were worn by your dad in the early nineties, so unless you’re aiming to look like Jeremy Clarkson, stick to the classics.
Tailored Joggers The ultimate in “I can’t be arsed” fashion, wearing tailored joggers outside of the house simply demonstrate to the rest of the world that you’re not good enough at your chosen sport to be wearing UoB branded trackies, which are the only acceptable alternative. Invest instead in casual jeans that can be dressed up or down, meaning that they are a far more versatile wardrobe piece.
Lad's Holiday Fashion Anything still hanging in your wardrobe that’s featured in a “Magaluf 2K15” album on Facebook needs to go. This means overly vibrant short-sleeve print shirts, bad shorts or any ‘ironic’ nickname tees. Remembering the past is a good thing, but that doesn’t mean it has to be worn to lectures.
William Baxter Marketing Secretary
Friday 3rd March 2017
Hidden Gems: Yakushima, Japan Holly Carter Music Editor @holscarts
Before August of this year, when I thought of Japan, I thought of the city. Of towering skyscrapers and the famous Shibuya crossing, of bustling crowds and fume heat. And that is part of it. I spent two weeks in cities, Tokyo, Kyoto and Nagasaki, and these expectations did not disappoint. But Japan has a secret side, or maybe just a side that has been forgotten in the bright lights of its modernisation; the magical silence of its ancientness that I discovered on the island of Yakushima. Japan, like the UK, is an island nation, but the presence of the three biggest - Honshu, Kyushu and Hokkaido - often makes westerners forget about the many tiny islands that surround. Yakushima is one of these, just a short (for Japan) four-hour ferry ride from the port city of Kagoshima, where we spent a couple of days before our foray into the wilderness. It was late August and intensely hot, so when our camping plans fell through due to a typhoon warning, we were more relieved than anything. The less time spent in a
"Exploring Yakushima felt like exploring a new World..." tent in 32° heat the better. We ended up staying in a traditional minshuku, and it turned out to be our best accommodation of the whole three-week trip. Shiny wooden floors topped by traditional Japanese futons, cream walls with a bamboo-doored sliding wardrobe, a small eating table and our own aircon (!). It was cosy, simple and perfect for a couple of twenty-somethings on a budget (and a lovely refuge from the deluge that would eventually come due to the pre-warned typhoon. We were so grateful to
not be under canvas). Exploring Yakushima felt like exploring a new world. I’d never been to a place so unpolluted that you can drink the water straight from the streams, where the weather on the island’s perimeter can be the polar opposite of that at its centre. Because of its mountains, the roads only run around the edge of the island, so it’s n e a r impossible to see the whole island on foot. Luckily, we’d arranged for a guide called Brian to take us around the island. He was Canadian, but had lived in Yakushima for near on 15 years so knew the island like a native and took us to a local baker, fruit seller and potter, who all greeted him as an old friend. We swam and dived in one of the rivers, which was a blessed relief from the heat of the day, and saw the island’s waterfalls which, despite the recent lack of rainfall, were still majestic. One of my favourite things about being in Japan was its onsen – public hot spring baths where nudity is not only encouraged but essential. This sounds strange, I know, and is so very alien to our British sensitivity to anything remotely exposing. Before going to Japan I was really not looking forward to this part of the trip but it was actually very liberating. The baths are separated by gender, and frequenting the onsen is such a normal thing for Japanese people that after the initial fear of embarrassment, I felt completely at ease. On Yakushima, we managed to get to an incredible onsen right by the ocean. The hot pool was carved out of the rock bordering the sea, so we could jump from the warmth of the spring to
the refreshing ocean water, where we could see tropical fish and corals (and finally made us of the snorkels that we bought just for this!). There was such a feeling of the natural about this, jumping from the sea to the spring and back again, and because of the lack of tourists, my sister and I had the place to ourselves. Japan’s high season for tourism is the spring because of the famous cherry blossom that graces the islands around this time. August is generally considered too hot for most foreign tourists, so compared to European destinations Yakushima was beautifully peaceful. However, it is an island that is definitely used to a tourist trade, but unlike on the continent this seemed to make locals more friendly towards us, particularly because many westerners don’t venture that far south on a Japanese holiday, preferring to stick to the urban culture of the northern cities. On our first day during an attempt to walk to a beach, an elderly man called Mr Ota offered us a lift to a better beach the other side of the island, where we could see the sunset. I was apprehensive, but we would
never have got to the better beach on foot, and my sister who’s lived in Japan for three years reassured me that stranger danger was not so much of a worry here. We watched the sunset from the ocean and then got a lift straight home. Key to the tourist trade in Yakushima are its mountainous forests and the many and varied opportunities for hiking they provide. The most famous of these is a 22km pilgrimage to the ancient cedar tree Jomon Sugi. It’s not only Japan’s oldest tree and one of the oldest cedars in the world, but believed to be a god of the forests of Yakushima. My sister and I are not seasoned hikers. Though we love walking, we’ve never really embarked on serious hiking, more just meandering around fields near home in the UK. We decided to do a hike that was labelled as more ‘family friendly’. We also got advice from our guide Brian, who said that the Jomon Sugi hike, though impressive at the end, was mainly a long slog along an abandoned rail track – flat and uninspiring. So, we chose to do a trail in the Shiratani Unsuikyo part of the forest. If you’re versed in Japanese culture, you might have seen the stunning Studio Ghibli film Princess Mononoke. Though fantastical, its magical setting is based on the forests of Yakushima, so we watched it before our trip (and loved it!). The hike we chose was in the part of the forest formally labelled ‘Princess Mononoke Forest’, being the place where the film’s artist did many of his sketches, before Studio Ghibli’s copywriters
demanded it not take on the label. But the magic still remained, and drew us there on a very rainy morning. We had to take a half hour bus to the start of the hike in the mountains and decided to do all three separate loops of the trail, which ended up as about seven hours walk. It rained for all seven of these hours. Before going to Yakushima, we were constantly warned about the horrors of the island weather,
"...Japan's high season for tourism is Spring..." but for me, the rain in Shiratani Unsuikyo just added to its magic. The forest floor was a sea of mist, and the rain on the leaves heightened their colours. The atmosphere seemed hushed and reverent despite the many other people following the same trails as us. In Yakushima, the forests are thought home to spirits, and being a so much a part of those ancient trees for a day, it really seemed to be true. If you ever get a chance to go to Japan, making the trek down to the southern islands is so worth it. You won’t get the hustle and bustle, you won’t get the neon and the glamour, but you will get trees and clear water, kind islanders and calmness. And for me that’s just what travelling should be about.
Photographs by Holly Carter
A Post Card from... Singapore Harriet Ferguson Travel Writer @harriet_ferguson
Often referred to as a ‘Fine City’, Singapore is famous for its wellenforced laws and chewing gum ban. In spite of my love for chewing gum, I travelled to the island, spending 3 weeks of the Christmas break exploring the city. Staying with the locals in a small town on the East Coast was a great way to experience every-day culture within Singapore, away from the tourist-attracting city centre. Despite being told by locals that Singapore does not represent the rest of Asian culture, it’s fair to say I experienced the biggest culture shock from all my travels to date. Standing in the middle of a
Hawker centre on the outskirts of Singapore, Asian culture hit me like a train. Around me were 15-20 rustic looking food stalls selling everything from roti prata (a fried flaky flatbread served with curry sauce) to fishball noodle soup and wanton noodles. The food was much fresher and authentic than the Chinese takeaway style I was expecting, and what’s more was how inexpensive it was, with one dish typically costing $2-$6. I made use of the efficient public transport every day of my stay, sometimes making hourlong journeys to the other side of the island, and spending only $30 for my entire visit. This meant I was able to make the most of my visit. Shopping malls are hard to avoid, ranging from the basic to the high-end designer malls on
Orchard Road – the bigger and better Oxford Street of Singapore. At Christmas, the street is filled with magnificent Christmas trees and light displays, replaced by equally gorgeous Chinese lanterns and décor in early January ready for Chinese New Year. Light displays are Singapore’s forte, as the “Supertrees” of Gardens by the Bay are also illuminated in the evening, with great views from the nearby Marina Bay Sands hotel. Most of Singapore’s main attractions are situated in the city centre, inevitably making it difficult to avoid the tourists. Even so, Singapore Zoo should not be denied a visit. With nearly all the animals in open enclosures, a walk around the zoo is enjoyable and interactive. Not only can you photograph the animals without
flashback from a glass screen, but river. If a quiet drink with friends there are opportunities to feed the is something you prefer, the Quay giraffes, walk through a junis equally beautiful during the gle-like enclosure with day, with Happy Hours in free-roaming lemurs the early evening offerand monkeys, and ing great deals on walk beneath the drinks and much treetops where more peaceful surdozens of oranroundings. gutans are Singapore swinging and has character playing. and is definitely Singapore’s worth a visit. nightlife does The city offers a not disappoint, taste for the conwith Clarke tinent and is tourQuay providing ist-friendly, with Photograph by Harriet clubs and bars to plenty to explore durFerguson suit any taste. Alcohol ing your visit. It is the is pricy compared to the perfect destination, whethstudent prices of Broadstreet er you are travelling alone or in a but is most definitely worth the group, Singapore is a great destimoney for the electric atmosphere nation for a city-break and defiof the Quay and views of the nitely won’t break the bank.
Friday 3rd March 2017
Cheap Trips: Rome Travel writer Jessica details how to explore the beautiful, historic Rome on a student budget Jessica Rowley Travel Writer @jessicageorginax
With its mix of rich history, striking architecture and world-famous art work, the Italian capital - Rome - is one of the most unique and beautiful cities in the world. Home to one of the most important empires in history, a walk around Rome is like stepping back in time. Yet despite being one of the most popular European cities, there is a way to experience the wonder of the eternal city on a student budget. Flights from Birmingham to Rome are surprisingly inexpensive. Rome has two main airports, Leonardo da Vinci (better known as Fiumicino) and Ciampino, the hub for low-cost carrier Ryanair, making it pretty easy to find cheap return flights. Using sites like sky scanner helps to bring down the cost of flying dramatically by showing you the cheapest weekends of the month to fly, allowing you to find steals like a £113 return with Monarch in mid-August. If you don’t fancy flying peak season, you can halve your travel expenses and grab a flight for around £60 direct return in March from Birmingham with Ryanair, or a direct return to London Stansted for just over £75 in March. Accommodation: As expected, accommodation in Rome can get quite expensive if you don’t do your homework. The city operates with a tourist accommodation tax on guests at hotels, rented room establishments and bed and breakfasts. It’s due each night spent in Rome’s accommodation facilities, and increases upon your hotel star rating. For example, in a 3-star hotel you can expect to pay €5 per person per night, so it’s worth taking into account when pricing up the overall cost of your hotel.
Obviously on a student budget, a 5-star hotel is out of the question yet, Rome has a wide range of hostels and cheaper hotels which is accommodating to the student price tag. Even in peak season, through the use of sites like hostelworld.com, you can find and reserve affordable, hostels like The Yellow Hostel in the city centre from €25.17 per night (excluding €3 per person per night city tax). In October, you can find hostel deals from as little as €15.36 at M&J hostel (excluding €3.50 per person per night city tax). Transport: Rome is a pretty easy city to manoeuvre around, with a large central bus/ train station named Termini allowing easy airport transfers and frequent, cheap buses to Vatican City. You can also acquire a Roma Pass allowing unlimited travel on the metro, buses, and trams, free entry to two museums and discounts on other exhibitions and tourist services. A 72-hour pass will cost €38.50, however, I don’t think it’s entirely necessary for a visit. Rome is also home to a large number of rental bike/motor-bike companies, like Bici Baci, yet this is an unnecessary expense as many require a large deposit and you run the risk of missing some of the beautiful hidden sites you can see on foot. Rome is an extremely footfriendly city, with every turn leading you somewhere new to admire; whether it be a hidden landmark, beautiful cobbled streets or quirky-looking restaurants. Most of the tourist attractions you go to
see are within close proximity to each other, so my advice is to pack some comfortable shoes, grab a bottle of water from your nearest local supermarket and get exploring. Spending Money: Rome is renowned for its fantastic cuisine, therefore it’s no surprise that it can come with an expensive price tag. La Biga is a personal favourite. Visit for a unique lunch directly overlooking the Colosseum, with a large pizza, big enough to share, costing only €10. Drinks are slightly m o r e expensive costing €8 a beer, but if you fancy indulging yourself in a little treat with a fantastic view then I would definitely recommend it. You will find places with better value for money if you wander outside of the main piazzas and look for restaurants where the locals are eating, and most restaurants post a menu outside so you can take a look at the prices before heading inside. Rome is not short of pizzerias that sell pizza by the slice for extremely cheap, and there are lots of local markets where you can grab some fruit or cheese to tire you over. The saying ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ definitely rings true as you won’t find yourself short of anything to do during a city break, and one of the greatest things about Rome is that you don’t have to physically enter the famous sights to appreciate them. Paying a visit to the Pantheon, one of the greatest architectural feats of all times, is completely free; and the
Spanish steps, located at the eastern end of the Via dei Condotti, is a fantastic place to take the weight off your feet, people watch and enjoy a traditional Italian gelato. There are many beautiful piazza’s in Rome including Piazza Venezia and Piazza di Spagna, that don’t cost a penny to experience. A city built around its past, you can get lost in history wondering through the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. Palatine Hill, the centremost of the Seven Hills of Rome, stands 40m over the Roman Forum offering beautiful views of the city. Likewise, the panoramic views from the top of Castel Sant’Angelo are more than Instagram worthy. The Colosseum is arguably the most famous landmark associated with Rome, an iconic symbol of power for over 2000 years. Drawing in nearly 5 million visitors a year, it’s no surprise that the queues for the Colosseum can result in hour long waits therefore, I’d recommend pre-booking tickets prior to your trip. Make sure to take a valid student or ISIC card when visiting Rome as it ensures a discounted entry rate to most of the landmarks. You can reserve a reduced student ticket to the Colosseum online for €9.50 EUR, however, most online book-
ings have reservation fees so while recommended during the peak season these may not be necessary in quieter visiting months. No trip to Rome would be complete without paying a visit to Vatican City, the world’s smallest nation and the political and religious centre of the Roman catholic church. You can bask in the sun in St Peter’s Square, wonder through St Peter’s Basilica and immerse yourself in the art of the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums. On the last Sunday of every month, entry to the Vatican museums, including the Sistine Chapel, is free. This obviously means that the last Sunday of every month will be extremely busy, so if you fancy not having to wait in queues for hours on end and packed tight into St Peters Square, you can reserve a discounted student ticket at €12 EUR. With its Mediterranean climate, Rome is the perfect destination to visit all year round whether it be a reading week break or an Captions in thecelebration. corner of pictures end of go exam So if be hyphenated you’reand anshouldn't avid traveller looking for a long weekend filled with history, stunning architecture and fantastic food without breaking the bank – Rome definitely will not disappoint. Photographs by Jessica Rowley
Top 3... Bakeries of Rotterdam Gino Spocchia Travel Writer @ginospoc
Jordy's Bakery @ Fenix Food Factory
Urban Bakery BV
Jordy is a purist, and his bread is perfectionist. Among Rotterdamers, Jordy’s loaves have become household names in as little as five years. Following the philosophy of craftsmanship, the bakery preaches it’s organic ingredients, artisanal know-how and local pride. In fact, family heritage is at the heart of the business; Jordy himself is a third generation baker, and his affection is proven. All breads begin with a less-sour sourdough base, which rises as pumpkin, wholegrain and walnut-raisin loaves. For lunch, weekly menus offer local vegetables and cured meats on fresh bread. It’s all wrapped up in hip paper bags, and a vintage-industrial atmosphere.
Around from the culture-frothing Witte de Withstraat, warm air bellows from the ovens of Bas Bakt. Tacking bread back to basics with local hands, and the stomachs of local shoppers, strollers and sausage-dog walkers. Beyond the counter, the workshop – or bakery – remains as eye-catching as the breads and pastries below. Sourdough reigns supreme here, with a weeklong fermentation leading to the finished product. Some bread is baked on a stone floor for a hearty and crusty masterpiece. Hence one dosage of Bas Bakt will see you throwing metaphorical baps at carb doomsayers.
On the doorstep, the Urban Bakery proclaims ‘FUDGE’ and ‘CHEESECAKE’; in your mind you scream ‘FUDGE’ and ‘CHEESECAKE’. This is where urbanites go to get a bite of the sweet stuff. Whether that’s banana bread, Dutch apple tarts, or hazelnut butter cookies. Ovens provide fresh bakes each day, and you’re encouraged to make the most of the options. Fresh coffee is brewed on site, so it’s the ideal spot to wind-down and people watch – once you’ve dealt with the extra-large chocolate chip cookie, that is.
SCI & TECH
Friday 3rd March 2017
Resurrection: Can we bring back the Woolly Mammoth? Kara Watson Sci & Tech Editor @Karaml_Watson
10,000 years ago, woolly mammoths roamed the Earth during the last ice age. Their habitat stretched from Eurasia, across China, all the way to North America. They co-existed with early humans, before disappearing from their mainland habitat due to climate change and overhunting, with only a few isolated populations surviving up until about 4,000 years ago. These are long-lost creatures, and while it used to be a fantasy that they would once again be reanimated (Jurassic Park style), one group of scientists claim they are only two years away from doing so.
De-extinction The group at Harvard University, led by Prof. George Church, are aiming to create a mammoth-elephant hybrid embryo within the next few years. Using DNA extracted from mammoth specimens preserved in Arctic permafrost, they are aiming to splice the genomes of the mammoth and its closest living relative – the Asian elephant. This is known as 'deextinction', or resurrection biology, and it is the process of reanimating an individual or population of an extinct species, such as the woolly mammoth. However, don’t expect to have a replicate Manny from the Ice Age films walking around. The resulting animal won’t be pure mammoth due to the elephant genome being used as a base. Therefore, its appearance will be mostly like the Asian elephant, but with smaller ears, more fat under the skin, the classic long hair, and antifreeze blood; all traits which allowed the woolly mammoth to survive the ice age. The scientists are using the gene editing tool CRISPR, a defence system taken from bacteria which use it to defend against attacking viruses. CRISPR allows
you to 'cut and paste' sections of DNA from one genome to another. So far, the research group has successfully spliced 45 genes from the mammoth into the elephant DNA, and they have done tests to show that cells function normally when they contain both sets of DNA.
"The mammoth was not simply a set of genes, it was a social animal..." One problem they’ve encountered is how to carry the embryo to term. They are unable to use an Asian elephant surrogate as the elephants are an endangered species. Therefore, they are aiming to do it in a lab using an artificial womb. This technology, though, has not yet been properly developed, and some say it won’t be ready in the next decade. So, we may be seeing a hybrid embryo, but not a full-grown mammothelephant for a long time. The researchers are currently testing out the theory of creating an artificial womb in the lab, and have been able to achieve some success with mice, reaching half of their gestation period, which is 10 days. But as an elephant’s gestation period is around 660 days, it is obvious there is still a long way to go.
Should we be resurrecting the mammoth? Not everyone is thrilled at the idea of having mammoths walking the Earth again. Some researchers are questioning whether the extensive funds could be better spent elsewhere, for example, on the conservation of the Asian elephant itself. These animals are under threat from poaching and habitat loss, and the money spent on the
resurrection could go a long way Not as simple as it sounds to helping the elephants. Some have said that it is an However, there are some probirresponsible act when other ani- lems with these arguments. To mals could be saved. achieve the effects of a slower Conservationists already must climate change that Prof. Church make difficult decisions on which speaks of, a large population species to aid due to such a large would be required. Also, woolly number being threatened: the mammoth behaviour may not IUCN placed the number at more always be genetically inherited. than 24,000 species in 2016. Some Instead it could be passed by scientists also think that being behavioural transmission from the able to so easily resurrect species parents to offspring, and these could cause people to not think of lab-grown mammoths will have conservation as urgent if you can no parents to teach them. There is just bring back the species, despite not even any guarantee that this it not being that simple. whole venture will work as Prof. Church has defended his expected. The woolly mammoth work, arguing that the woolly traits may not appear in the elemammoth was a keystone species, phant hybrid as gene editing and resurrecting it would aid both doesn’t always have such predictconservation and climate change. able effects. The Arctic permafrost contains a As mentioned before, there vast reserve of greenhouse gases, are issues with creating a large and when it melts these are population of these animals; we released into the atmosphere, simply don’t yet have the techincreasing the temperanology to create that ture. He claims that many. Each individual the mammoths would have to be would slow down genetically disglobal warming tinct, otherwise as they would the lack of stop the tundra genetic diverice from thawsity would ing from cause them to Number of species that punching die out, as the were listed as threatened through the more variation or endangered in 2016 by snow, which there is in a allows cold air population, the the IUCN to pass through more adaptable and cool it down. they are. At the It is also argued moment, we only to be a form of conserhave a handful of specvation, as you are preservimens to extract DNA ing the Asian elephants and not from. letting them go extinct, albeit in a Prof. Matthew Cobb from the different form. The novelty and University of Manchester asks technology of resurrection biolo- what would happen to the first gy may also bring in new donors mammoth calves born, who will and investors into conservation, have no other members of their giving more money overall to the species alive – ‘the mammoth was protection of other species. Some not simply a set of genes, it was a also say we have a moral obliga- social animal ... what will happen tion to bring back the woolly when the elephant-mammoth mammoth as it is a species we hybrid is born? How will it be probably had a hand in destroy- greeted by elephants?’. ing. Journalist and environmentalist George Monbiot thinks that the resurrection of the mammoth would just promote a novelty attraction, not conservation. 'The one or two specimens which even the most ambitious de-extinction programs will struggle to produce will live and die in zoos. Or, perhaps, in the private collections of the exceedingly rich people who could fund their revival', he says. The hybrids may even have negative effects on the environment that we can’t predict. They may completely unbalance the ecosystem which has adapted to live without them for thousands of years. They may transmit dangerous diseases, or be affected by such illnesses themselves. Personally, I think it is amazing that we have developed such technology, but it is too much of a risk to carry it out, especially when the funds could be put towards the conservation of wonderful animals that are still alive. I shall end with this quote from an editorial piece by Scientific American – ‘Should we resurrect the mammoth only to let elephants go under? Of course not’.
Creature Feature Tardigrades Holly Carter Music Editor @holscarts
Tardigrades, also adorably known as water bears or moss piglets, are a tiny eightlegged micro animal. They also happen to be the toughest creature on earth. At only 0.5mm long when fully grown, they have been found living pretty much everywhere from tropical rainforests to the Antarctic. They spend most of their lives living on and eating moss, as well as sucking up water from their surroundings. They are also found on dunes, beaches, soil, water sediments and even under ice. They can potentially survive for 30 years without any sustenance if conditions get too hard. For no apparent reason, tardigrades can withstand 6 times the pressure of the deepest ocean on earth, survive 100 times the radiation that would kill a human, and endure temperatures down to absolute zero (-273oC) and up to 150oC. To survive these temperatures, they have to temporarily suspend their metabolism, only to revive when conditions improve. It’s a mystery why tardigrades evolved to be this tough when no conditions on planet earth would ever have been extreme enough to necessitate it. Because of their resilience, these tiny, plump creatures have been sent into space, and were the first species from earth to survive exposure to UV radiation to space in 2007.The tardigrades were completely healthy when they got back to earth. Some of them had even reproduced! The European Space Agency have a dedicated tardigrade mission called ‘Tardigrades in Space’, which is pleasingly shortened to TARDIS, and it aims to investigate further the conditions that tardigrades can survive. They’ve been on earth since long before humans evolved, and will probably outlive us all.
SCI & TECH
Friday 3rd March 2017
Technology and the Modern Theatre Olivia Boyce Culture Editor @liv_boyce
With the cost of staging a large production ever-increasing, the modern theatre industry is in an almost constant interplay with the creative usages of new technological advances, striving to bring something new and exciting to the stage to captivate their audiences. Whether it be something seemingly as simple as more ways to light the performance space, or as complex as inventions hailed as potentially revolutionary, technology, now more than ever, is making its mark on the theatrical scene. Modern stage productions are often dependent on the complex technologies and techniques they employ to provide a visual and auditory spectacle for their audiences. One such show that has captivated the theatrical world is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, based upon Mark Haddon's book of the same name. Christopher, the fifteen year old narrator, sets out to solve the murder of his neighbour's dog. His extraordinary brain, one which means he is exceptional at maths whilst ill-equipped to interpret everyday life, means his interactions with his environment and his understanding of the world are strikingly unique. Translating Christopher's extraordinary narrative style onto the stage seemed an almost impossible challenge - and this is where technology proves to be a saving grace. Through projection and various other visual technologies, Christopher's world, and his extremely mechanical mind, unfold on stage in front of an audience. Every surface is a blank slate for Christopher's inner mind, and the 7 Olivier Awards the show won, including many for technical design, speak to the successful integration of newer technologies into the show's design.
More recently, and closer to Birmingham, an RSC production of Shakespeare's otherworldly play, The Tempest, has garnered widespread acclaim after a groundbreaking collaboration with Intel, the computing tech giant, and Imaginarium, the special effects and design company co-founded by Andy Serkis (best known for his role as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings films). With 2016 marking 400 years since Shakespeare's death, the trio of industry giants
specially designed screens around the auditorium). This avatar is based upon Quartley, whose costume is in fact a sensor-laden suit, similar to a motion capture suit, that allows the avatar to be based upon the actor's own movements in that performance, rather than one prerecorded version. Real-time information taken from the suit is mapped onto the digital avatar, which is then projected via 27 projectors in the auditorium. The
ing power needed to maintain the avatar. This is also combined within the production with various other visual spectacles, with an extended 'masque' or celebration scene that pulls out all visual and auditory stops, as well as a stage that lights from below, and a backdrop that becomes a storm, or rather, a tempest, almost magically. The production has been described as having 'State-of-theart stagecraft' and 'today’s most
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time Production
set out to provide a worthy spectacle, in the process creating new technologies that have the potential to revolutionise the theatre industry forever, building upon those seen in shows such as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. The character of Ariel, a sprite with various magical powers, is usually performed by an actor on stage in costume. However, Intel have, in a process taking upwards of two years, worked with the actor playing Ariel, Mark Quartley, to create an 'avatar', (a version of the character that is projected onto
production also features, for the first time on a stage, real-time and live facial-performance capture, with Quartley wearing a large rig upon his head and shoulders in certain scenes that allow the avatar to express a startling range of emotion. The sheer variety of actions the avatar is capable of performing is striking, possible only because of the remarkable accuracy of the sensors developed by Intel - the almost non-existent delay between his actions and that of the mirroring avatar is impressive, especially given the complexity and process-
advanced technology', and these claims are spot on. The critical acclaim received, as well as the potential for application beyond the realms of Shakespeare's work, mean we are more than likely to see this technology, or even expanded versions of this, in future theatrical productions. However, its usage here is, as the creative team intended, to 'encapsulate Shakespeare's vision, inclusive of all of that magic, that wonder' proving that modern technology and 400 year old plays can be a brilliant combination indeed. Perhaps a more controversial,
yet still widely acclaimed move, was the decision of the National Theatre to broadcast various productions to cinemas and other venues around the world, as part of a scheme called National Theatre Live. Beginning with a production of Phèdre starring Helen Mirren in 2009, it has now broadcast theatrical productions to over 5.5 million people in over 2,000 venues around the world. Its past screenings include critically acclaimed shows with sold out runs, such as the recent Barbican production of Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch, as well as Of Mice and Men, streamed live from Broadway, starring Chris O'Dowd and James Franco. The broadcasts not only ensure that each production is preserved for posterity, with many enjoying further encore screenings, but also allow more broad audiences across the globe to access landmark theatrical productions for a fraction of the price of a ticket or travel fare. This increased accessibility is a move that has been praised, and indeed the success of the NT Live scheme has led to other schemes, including several broadcasts of opera and ballet, also reaching wider audiences. However, critics of the scheme suggest it detracts from the live theatrical experience, and may even harm a productions' ticket sales, though most productions chosen enjoy successful runs regardless. The theatre industry is ever more reliant on new and existing technologies to succeed. Whether it be the technical requirements of an established show like Wicked, which uses enough electricity to power 12 homes for 24 hours in each individual performance, or the newly emerging and industryrevolutionising technologies involved in The Tempest, theatre is and will remain a creatively technical industry.
Deleting Memories From our Brains Tatiana Zhelezniakova looks at a potential yet controversial PTSD treatment Nostalgia is such a warm word. It brings to mind a sweet homesickness, a longing for childhood. It is certainly a far cry from its medical meaning of 1678, signifying Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. PTSD was identified aeons ago, with references scattered from Ancient Greece to Henry IV’s madness in Shakespeare’s works. Terminology, however, remained evasive for years, wandering through 80+ terms such as ‘railway spine’, ‘shell shock’, ‘soldier’s heart’ and many more. The current term started being more widely used in the 1970s, finally being entered into the DSM-III (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) in 1980. Over 24 million people in the US (8% of the population) currently suffer from PTSD, with the disorder occuring in up to 30% of
people exposed to a stressful event or a situation of extreme threat, most commonly in military personnel. It causes re-experience of the trauma with extreme distress and physiological reactions.
"Scientists have managed to remove fear memories from mice" Even though we have become over-casual with the term, PTSD is anything but trivial, causing a range of emotional symptoms such as numbing, depression, and aggression, and it can often lead to misuse of alcohol and drugs. While treatable, symptoms can persist, especially with delayed
treatment. Currently, pharmacological interventions are not recommended, and cognitive behavioural therapy takes centre stage. Many problems arise from drugs such as antidepressants and hypnotics, largely due to inefficacy and/or addiction. It is clear then, that a new treatment is overdue. Considering the root of all the symptoms is the traumatic experience itself, it makes sense that researchers turned to the idea of amending or eliminating the original memories. This avenue has been explored over the last few years from many angles including modification of malleable memory reconsolidation – a process which occurs to reinforce negative connotations of memories. However, previous research focused mainly on altering blocking neuronal communication, rather than the culprit neu-
rones themselves. A team of scientists at the University of Toronto have managed to target and excise memories founded on fear in mice, through identification of the neuronal networks used in their initial formation. It seems the fearcoded memories are associated with particular neurones, which were induced to overproduce a protein for identification purposes using optogenetics. The ultimate aim would be to develop a drug to target and inactivate the ‘highlighted’ neurones, to remove the traumatic component of the formed memory. This process
also has the potential to treat addiction by erasing the positive emotional components of memories associated with taking narcotics. The worry is the ethics of opening the floodgates to memory modification. Knowledge of technique and control will have to be rigorous to prevent misuse of the treatment. No matter how much someone will want to forget a bad break up, or the loss of a loved one, this is an incredibly dangerous road to go down. However, if responsibly used, this could truly help PTSD patients recover for good.
Friday 3rd March 2017
The Curse of the Videogame Movie With the (fairly) recent release of the Assassin's Creed film Gaming Editor James Marvin looks into why these adaptations seem to consistently flop James Marvin Gaming Editor @js_marvin
Recently Gamespot reported that the planned Uncharted movie, written by Joe Carnahan who also penned The A-Team reboot and The Grey, has an R-Rated script. On top of this, rather hilariously, is the fact that even though Carnahan said in a Collider interview that the “Naughty Dog guys are really happy with it” Neil Druckmann (AKA the creative director and writer of Uncharted 4) on Twitter stated that he wished that Carnahan would “stop implying he has our support”. Now this is a relatively dry bit of news to be quite honest. Uncharted as a game series has had a satisfying and fitting conclusion with its main arc consisting of the four core titles and a film adaptation would most likely be complete rubbish anyway considering the track record of video game adapted movies. But this, along with the recent Assassin’s Creed movie got me thinking as to why these films suck so much and why they most likely will end up sucking so bad. Before getting started I have to say that I have not seen the Assassin’s Creed movie, and with a 18% on Rotten Tomatoes and
"...a film adaptation would most likely be complete rubbish anyway..." through word of mouth I have literally no desire to. I must also state that in terms of a reviewer or critic or whatever term is most fitting I am a games guy first having never reviewed a film in my life. But I’m not looking at specifically why movies like Assassin’s Creed are bad in terms of their directing, their acting, editing or story because these issues I believe are ones that all come from the same source: a
misunderstanding of the source material. Now adapting something to the big screen from another medium is not unheard from. We get it all the time from books such as Harry Potter, Trainspotting and Fight Club to name a few, all of which are seen as hugely successful in terms of critical reaction. Comic books are another one and whilst this medium suffers inconsistent success in terms of both fan and critic reaction there have been absolute standouts such as The Dark Knight and many additions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, namely The Avengers and Captain America: Civil War. Hell, even Suicide Squad managed to pick up an Oscar win recently. The point is that these films, particularly in regards to comic book adaptations are all widely successful to some degree due to an understanding behind the source material. Let’s look at the MCU briefly to illustrate this point. Whilst the films in this saga have made changes to the source comics (such as making Tony Stark the inventor of Ultron instead of Hank Pym) there is, in layman’s terms, a huge team behind these films overseeing every detail that has a vast knowledge of these comics and are crafting an overarching story piece by piece to huge success. Then take a look at something like the first Resident Evil movie. Whilst the MCU has made certain large changes for various reasons, the overarching story is mainly intact from the source as if the pages of the comic book have leapt off the page and onto the big screen and the story behind them has been led by talented writers that just understand these characters. But, in Resident Evil there is so little semblance to anything from the game’s source material. Now, Resident Evil is hardly an example of the perfect video game narrative, especially the later games but the original does hold some potential for a proper thriller/horror story set around the story of the first game. In an adaptation of a game such as Resident Evil the characters of the series are somewhat pivotal to
making anyone give a damn about said adaptation. Yet instead of a slow burn that may revolve around the mystery of a place such as the infamous Spencer Mansion with the game’s original cast we get a balls -to-the-wall dumb action film that has since become most well-known for the idiotic set piece in a laser
"in Resident Evil there is so little semblance to anything from the game's source material" corridor. There is no mention of anything from the games apart from the big buzzwords such as “Racoon City”, “T-Virus” and “Umbrella” which without similar context to the games really means nothing. Not a single character from the game is even mentioned! This film could’ve been any other generic zombie movie but the Resident Evil name seems to have been just slapped on it for no good reason. So how do we explain the critical failing of Assassin’s Creed? I mean this film was co-developed by Ubisoft Motion Pictures, a section of Ubisoft specifically made to aid the development of their game franchises into films. It was set within the wider universe of the game as an original story that acted as part of the overall arc and had some amazing actual talent behind it such as Michael Fassbender in the leading role and Justin Kurzel who has previously directed Macbeth back in 2015. Are the writers to blame? No? I guess? Because they have a similar sort of sound experience. There was literally nothing that really could have stopped this film from at least being decent critically. From a quick bit of research, it seems a lot of criticism was aimed at the modern day sections and how they were interweaved into the film, ironically one of the most vocal complaints on
the internet about the games themselves which is definitely why these sections were slowly pushed out following Assassin’s Creed III even if Ubisoft would never admit it. This is the second reason why these films suck. Quite simply, some games and their premises just don’t work or fit well as films. Let’s look at it this way, games like Mario don’t work well in film form, as evident from Super Mario Bros. starring Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo. Transforming a cartoon-y 2D platformer that has a relatively thin story to film is difficult and not everything from it can be accurately transferred. It’s all about the source material you pick first. A straight up adaptation of something like The Last of Us, with the right talent and understanding of the game’s story and characters, could go down a treat. Failing that think about a stand-alone film set in an open world universe such as Fallout just to further add to the game universe’s lore. Both types of adaptation, done right with the talent, can be done well. But that seems to be the third major issue - the talent to make these projects at least half decent never seems to come to fruition and in a rare situation that it does, such as Assassin’s Creed, it goes wasted on a poor choice of adaptation. Statistical probability does mean that one day, no matter how far away, we will get at least one half decent video game movie. That day will hopefully be a strong turning point in this age of atrocities but until then we will have to suffer the half-baked projects that studios spew out for a quick buck. It’s a massive shame considering the potential for games to expand their universes in the form of another medium to further build upon their huge franchises - but until that day I will patiently wait.
Friday 3rd March 2017
Preview: City of the Shroud Roshni Patel writes her thoughts on a unique episodic title from Abyssal Arts Roshni Patel Gaming Editor @roshofalltrades
These days episodic games are all the rage, from Telltale’s Batman to the new Hitman. But have you ever wanted to be part of your favourite show, to make the decisions that changed the ending? Well in Abyssal Arts’ City of Shroud, you can do just that. City of Shroud is a unique
tactical RPG, where the choices of the players write the story and the challenges of the next episode. From the alliances you choose and the enemies you make, the story evolves according to your choices. Stride into the story and the streets of Iskendrun, a city where the danger is palatable, as the city teeters on the brink of civil war. About to be torn asunder by 5 rival factions, you’ll meet a range of characters in your quest to save the city or set it on the path to destruction, as you attempt to solve the mystery of the Shroud; shadowy band of villains, who prey on the weak and are hiding among the strong. Someone is harbouring the Shroud and it’s your job to find out. In this turn based tactical RPG, the attacks are all performed in real time, adding to the pace of the game, where you’ll control a number of characters, as you battle the Shroud’s minions through the city. Each character has a range of attacks and special moves, which can very easily daisy chained together for some killer combos attacks. Through the use of a graphical attack wheel and
rather simple controls, it’s easy to pick up City of Shroud and dive straight into the gameplay. Guided through by quirky characters, such as the Hat Merchant, you’ll soon feel at ease with the game, no matter your past experience.
News: Middle-earth: Shadow of War Announced
"a unique tactical RPG" Developed by a small team and aided by fantasy novelist, Moira Katson, City of Shroud has quite a unique plot, and it will certainly be interesting to see how many people are drawn in by its unique style. How many people will rise to the challenge and carve their mark on each episode? Where the player’s decisions produce the metrics that shape the episode for future players and inspire the story going forward. Every player during each episode will ultimately help to write the final game, that everyone will play once all the episodes are over. Currently in development, you can download a demo version from Itch.io, with the full version set to be released on Steam in the Summer.
Following a leak by Target in the US a sequel to the surprisGaming Editor ingly good Shadow of Mordor @js_marvin has been announced with the official title of Middle-earh: Shadow of War. After the accidental leak, Warner Bros., officially announced the sequel with a release date of August 22nd in North America and August 25th in Europe (a release date for Australia has yet to be confirmed). In addition to this reports regarding the game's story have also been confirmed. Players will wield a new ring of power and confront deadly enemies including the infamous Sauron in a battle for Middle-earth. Monolith Productions, who developed the first game and will be working on the sequel, also confirmed that the acclaimed Nemesis System from the first game will make a return. A fantastic announcement to say the least so prepare yourselves to return and battle for Middle-earth once more this August.
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Friday 3rd March 2017
OUT WITH THE OLD: FREELANCING YOUR
WAY THROUGH A BRAVE NEW WORLD WHAT'S IN FREELANCING? Lael Hardtman Careers Editor @ehardtman
Freelancing. To some, it's the logical alternative to the humdrum of a 9 to 5 job. Others see it as essentially exploitative. But, the fact of the matter is that technologies have made the job search quicker and more efficient, and the majority of freelancers say they can find jobs online in under a week. But what is a freelancer, exactly? At their core, freelancers are self-employed people who offer services to businesses and other clients. The industry has seen a boom in the past few years, with the number of businesses hiring freelancers online increasing to 46%, and the average base rate of pay increasing by 37% year on
year. Overall, there are 1.4 million freelancers working across all sectors, accounting for roughly £21 billion to the UK economy. More than a third of gradates who say freelancing is a part of their future career path cite the fact that its flexibility and opportunity to work across different sectors is its biggest draw. It’s certainly one of the most accessible fields out there, given that you handle working on your own with no set pay cheque at the end of the month. But really, by being able to participate in a range of fields, you improve your employability and dependability. The hardest thing about being a freelancer is finding jobs, and if you become a freelancer you must build an exemplary portfolio with quality work to ensure your clients leave good reviews. So invest in yourself, educate yourself and market yourself and your ability!
NEXT STEPS: Where to get hired. So, now we've convinced you to give freelancing a try, so where do you start? For any of these sites, you'll want to build a good profile and tailor any job proposal specifically to the job; no copy and paste CVs will suffice here. Then, have a look at any of these 3 sites to help build your reputation.
FREELANCER Freelancer charges a 3% fee based on the value of each job you acquire and complete, but otherwise starts as a free service that lets you submit 8 proposals per month. The general consensus is you love it or hate it, and users say it's not for everyone but don’t discount it!
GURU Guru has a reputation for being solid, reliable, and well managed according to reviews on sitejabber.com. It has a reputation for hosting serious minded professionals, thus keeping the fees reasonable and it's been said the quality of employer and contracts is high. If you’ve got a bit of experience under your belt, this may be the one for you!
UPWORK Upwork is a popular site for beginner freelancers and can help you build a good base for expanding your skill set. Make the most of what Upwork offers: good clients! Don’t sell yourself short, and learn to spot the good clients form the bad.
Friday 3rd March 2017
Alumni Interview: Ryan Astaphan
Owner of DIGITAL TRAVEL TRAVEL BLOG Graduate&Live Lael Hardtman Careers Editor @ehardtman
Speaking with Ryan, I feel a part of myself resonating with his story, one that's not so differnet from any graduate, or soon-to-be graduate. After going to univeristy (born from a need to meet expectation rather than desire) and graduating cum laude, he did what so many of us desire to do instead of our dead end jobs: travel. Here's bits of our insightful discussion on the nature of freelancing and how to get started. Do you feel your university degree provided you with practical skills that you were able to translate into your careers as a freelancer? More often than not, our degrees prepare us to be good employees, but is that enough when so many graduates are having trouble finding work? A university degree will not teach us how to personally translate the skills we've learned into money. That's a fact. Students of all majors have received valuable skills from their education. So yes, a university degree definitely imparts us with valuable, valuable skills. For instance, writing is one of the most common skills held between university students. But do students know what kind of writing is valuable to companies? Do they know where to find clients, how much to charge or how to handle customer relations? No they don't. So you can definitely say I think university educations all too often are lacking.
"I must stress to students one of the greatest assets students have: Time. This is the time in life where it is okay to take risks" What do you feel has been the hardest obstacle for you to overcome in your career? How many of us go to college because it is expected of us? I did. And after graduation I struggled with the idea of committing myself to a career. The idea frightened me. So one of my most difficult obstacles was learning that what I did for work didn't have to define me. I learned that I'd be happy as long as my job provided me with the kind of life I wanted.
As a freelancer, the hardest obstacle was surely dealing with being alone. Everyone has bad days, weeks or months, but at least with a traditional job there is peer pressure that pushes you to continue on working. When you're by yourself it can be difficult in rough times to find motivation. Many graduate students opt for jobs or graduate schemes with steady income and benefits, do the benefits of freelancing really cover these risks? Great question. I'm a big believer in security and I'll get back to that, but first we need to get a little philosophical. One of the most important aspects of going to university is figuring out who we are as individuals. When we graduate and enter the real world, we must ask ourselves what our priorities are. We should know what will make us happy and what we need to provide for ourselves.
For everyone it is different, so I cannot speak for anyone but myself. Some very intelligent people give up big money in favor of becoming a teacher or a park ranger, because they know that will make them happy. Some very motivated people are willing to take on lot's of stress and willing to give up their free-time in exchange for lots of money. Now back to your question regarding freelancing. Freelancing has to be one of the quickest ways to make money online, but let's be honest; a project here and there is much different from having steady work month after month. Reaching the point as a freelancer where you're comfortably able to provide for yourself, buy health insurance and put money into retirement funds and takes time. That's the sacrifice that needs to be made. The payoff is the control you get over your life. If you want a job that never goes past 3 p.m., you can create that job as a freelancer. If you want to be yourself and talk naturally with customers, that's up to you. If you want three day weekends, that's up to you. All of that and much more is possible, it just takes work.
I still must address security, right? Yes, I must! I'd tell you or anyone else who cannot afford the risk of not having money in their bank account next week to.... use another job to prop you up as a freelancer.
"I can honestly say that any good [university] student who is determined should be able to succeed as a freelancer" Now I must apologize, because I think I did a terrible job of communicating that idea, so let me give a simple example. If you wanted to get into freelancing, but needed security now, I'd suggest something like getting a job as a waiter or what have you. This would provide you with steady funds and a decent amount of free time. During that free time I'd invest my time in freelancing. If you do this, you don't have to fear. You are in a safe place. And you'll be in an easy position to leave your job as freelancing picks up. Also, I must stress to students one of the greatest assets they currently have: time. This is the time in life where it is okay to take risks. What would you say are the main skills a freelancer should have? Ok, let's throw out 'technical' skills such as writing, graphic design or computer programming. Freelance skills are the ability to work independently, persistence, respect and dependability. These freelance skills are just as important as the tech skills. Freelancing has a reputation for being ultra competitive, do you have any advice on how to get around this? I've never been a fisherman, but through freelancing I've learned to respect fishing. I think some people get scared away by the idea of investing time and energy without any guaranteed return. Life is competitive. Getting into college is competitive. Getting hired in any industry is competitive. Let me give you an analogy. I hate baseball, ok? I hate it. But I understand that it takes a lot of skill to be any good at the sport. And even then, the best hitters of all time fail two out of every
three times they go up to bat. Freelancing is just a numbers game. If you put in good proposals you're going to get hired, you just need to make it a routine to put in proposals every day. In the end you'll remember all the jobs you won rather than the proposals that didn't bear fruit. As to getting started with freelancing? (See the box on this page). It's really that simple. I honestly can say that any good college student who is determined should be able to succeed as a freelancer. Their time will be much easier, though, if they receive a 'freelance education'. I offer a free resource on learning how to freelance. And for anyone who seriously wants to succeed...for anyone who would like to skip ahead and avoid obstacles should really pick up a copy of The Modern Guide to Freelancing. This is a 36 page eBook that provides simple, actionable steps for succeeding as a freelancer. Visit his site http://graduateandlive.com/ for more!
Ryan's Top Tips: Getting started with Freelancing Here, Ryan kindly summarizes for us an article from his website talking about how to get into freelancing: 1. Register at Upwork.com. This is a free online marketplace for freelancing. 2. Fill out your profile. 3. Create a portfolio. This is absolutely critical. If you don't have a portfolio, make one portfolio sample for fun or offer discounted jobs in order to build one. 4. Search for jobs that interest you. 5. Apply to a lot of jobs. 6. Treat your clients with respect. 7. Be smart with your money. 8. Think of ways to get more clients, such as contacting local businesses.
Friday 3rd March 2017
Who Could Replace Arsene Wenger? Alex Alton Sport Writer
Arsenal fans are once again at the catastrophe stage of the season. Usually, the pattern that follows is a loss to a rival (subsequently out of the title race), going out in the round of 16 in the Champions to Bayern Munich (again) and it all ending up back where it started – top four security and financial stability. Not that this is to be scoffed at, many teams would love to play in the Champions League every season. Arsenal fans seem to now be an exception to this rule. Many believe that the Club has entered a period of stagnation in which the club cannot really compete for major honours – this is laid at the door of Arsene Wenger. Although Wenger has completely revolutionised Arsenal Football Club, many think its his time to go. With Ian Wright announcing this week that the Frenchman’s time at Arsenal is coming to an end it would be of use to look at who may step in and replace Wenger when the time comes.
Simeone would be something of a shock to the current Arsenal side. He demands success from his team, very much in the mould of Jose Mourinho. After some fantastic seasons at Atletico managing to usurp the bipolar order of La Liga, he may fancy a challenge at a new club and Arsenal may give him that. There are both positives and negatives to this appointment, though. Firstly, he would be a real statement of intent from the Arsenal board in getting a world class manager who could easily attract some of the world’s finest footballing talent to the club. Additionally, there is no question that he would bring success in some form to the football club. On the negative side, the ultra-defensive counter attacking style is antithetical to the system currently employed by Arsenal. Simeone also has the capability to be a 'win at all costs' manager, shown last season when he threw a ball at a player on the opposing team to halt a counter attack. This is not something that some Arsenal fans would appreciate.
You could say there is a lesson to be learnt from what happened at Manchester United with this one. The appointment of David Moyes has many parallels with the motivations behind wanting Eddie Howe to manage Arsenal – British manager, proved he can deal with limited resources, gets success from his team. This one should be strongly warned against. Howe has only managed in the Premier League for a season and a half, and would be well out of his depth if he were given control of one of the world’s biggest clubs. You have to respect the job he has done with Bournemouth, bringing them up to the Premier League from League One with a brief interlude at Burnley. Perhaps if Howe proves his success on a long term basis – 3 or 4 more years then Arsenal may be right to go for him, but it is too soon to appoint someone inexperienced at the top level.
This would certainly be an interesting choice for Arsenal to make given the progress that the young German has so made in his career. Following a similar career path to Jurgen Klopp after managing at Mainz and now Dortmund, Tuchel places a priority on attacking football and bringing through young players, testing them out in the first team whenever possible. Tuchel seems like the perfect fit for Arsenal, and at only 43 he has time on his side and his style fits quite closely to the current philosophy at Arsenal. Saying this, Tuchel’s Dortmund side are underperforming this season, lying fourth in the table (maybe he would be perfect for Arsenal) after an unexpected loss to bottom side Darmstadt at the weekend. Perhaps Arsenal need more stability in a future appointment.
The Italian manager would be an adequate replacement for Wenger and would be probably the manager held highest in regard in this list. After working wonders at AC Milan guiding them to the 2010 title for the first time in six years, he then moved on to Juventus, at first looking like a rushed replacement for Antonio Conte. However, he has since led Juve to two league titles and an unexpected Champions League final. Allegri is also noted for the incredibly pragmatic style he employs as a manager, regularly switching formations to suit the available players and the situation in a given game. The only reservations one may have regarding Allegri is the lack of challenge he has experienced in Serie A, managing the undisputed top club in Italy. The challenge would be altogether different in the Premier League, although previously also managing Juventus to titles and then coming to England has not held Antonio Conte back.
Although this man is leading the 'Rafalution' at Newcastle, you could argue that he would certainly make a fine replacement for Arsene Wenger in the short term, as a transition. After previously managing in the Premier League with Liverpool and Chelsea, Benitez knows what it takes to manage at the top level and has already managed on an interim basis at Chelsea. He would probably provide a similar level of stability to what Arsenal fans are used to now, but if the board want to appoint someone that will make sure that the regular flow of income from the Champions League and a top four finish is secure then Rafa may be the most sensible solution. In conclusion, Arsenal may be wise to go for an option that offers stability and still lets the club compete, however a real success will be someone that comes in and wins major honours immediately. Whoever is given the job will have a incredible base to build on. He would be a real statement of intent from the Arsenal board in getting a world class manager who could easily attract some world class players.
Ranieri Sacking: Disgrace or Not? Harry Wilkinson Sport Print Editor
What a mess: Claudio Ranieri sacked the season after helping Leicester to achieve one of the greatest feats in football history. In eyes of many, an absolutely ridiculous decision. To many this is final proof that football has well and truly lost its soul to corporate, money-hungry pigs. Whether it be club owners or dinosaur board members, these people are a dark mark on the beautiful game which we love so dearly. To bring focus back to Ranieri though, it seems that Premier League winners are developing a strange habit of sacking their managers the season after they were crowned Champions. Last season it was Jose Mourinho, sacked from Chelsea after sustained poor form to their campaign. The season before it was Manuel Pelligrini at City. The difference is though you could argue both of these sackings can be justified- with Conté doing so well at Chelsea and Pelligrini being replaced by Guardiola, whereas with Ranieri there is as not much weight in its justification. Leicester have, to say the very
least, had a far less successful season when compared to last year. Despite keeping the vast majority of their squad (with one quite important exception), they are heavily involved in a relegation fight. The fight is pretty brutal this year, with only 5 points dividing the bottom 6. Prior to their win against Liverpool, Leicester sat in the relegation zone on 18th with 21 points: enough trouble to understand why the Leicester owners might have had their hand hovering over the panic button. If Leicester comfortably stay up, or press on in the Champions League, sacking Ranieri could actually turn out to be an understandable decision in hindsight at the end of the season. But regardless, there seems to be something so intuitively wrong with this decision that a sense of disgust is likely to remain regardless of how Leicester's season turns out. Last season the Foxes were one of the teams destined to be in a relegation scrap: to stay up was the primary goal and winning the league was simply inconceivable. Why and how it happened is something clear only to the Gods. But the point is that away from the ethereality and beauty of Leciester's campaign, this season was always going to be a struggle.
Here's why: Players are potentially thinking about how they can cash in on their unexpected success; a huge distraction off the field. They lost their best and most influential player to Chelsea, N'Golo Kante. They were (and still are) involved in their first ever European Cup campaign. Their standards are raised to a ridiculously optimistic level which were never going to be fulfilled. That last point is the killer. The expectation was raised too high. We always want more, it's human nature. No matter how much we have, we always want more. And the Leicester owners are just the same; blinded by ambition that was created by a miracle. They wanted another miracle, and when it did not appear, they pulled the plug. It's the ugly side of ambition, the vice in the very virtue that helped drive Leicester's remarkable season. It's a funny thing, really: perhaps if Leicester finished 14th last season, Ranieri may still have his job. The sudden obsession with money in football is a problem that extends beyond Leicester. Owners don't care about trophies, honours and glory: they care about money. All they want is a stable, continuous flow of income. For
this very reason, Arsene Wenger is a football club owner's dream, because he guarantees that fourth spot and the financial rewards of the Champions League year in year out. It's been well documented that the FA Cup and League Cup have become much less important to football clubs nowadays, particularly Premier League and Championship clubs chasing promotion. It's because all they care about is doing well in the league, because that's where the money is: whether it be maintaining a spot in the Premier League or getting promoted into it. Once again, it's not glory owners seek, it's financial gain. This view is completely at odds with fans. Providing there's no danger of administration or liquidation, most fans could not care less about the revenues and financial progress their club is making. They want to see their club win. Whether it be individual League games, domestic tournaments, or major trophies, fans go to matches to feel the sensation of winning, to be excited, happy. They do not follow a football club to see an economic chart showing a postive correlation. Ranieri's sacking is a reflection of the poisonous attitude growing in contemporary foot-
ball. But on an individual level, it is unsettling to the point of making one grimace in disgust. Ranieri is loved by not just Leciester fans, but football fans in general. This is because of his unfathomably warm presence in press conferences, humbleness in victory and indisputable class. To demonstrate this, one only need to acknowledge the rumour that of the £3 million severance pay he was given to pay off his contract, the Italian boss donated half of it to Leicester City's charity, Foxes Foundation. Now that's class.
Friday 3rd March 2017
American Football: Birmingham Lions vs Hertfordshire Hurricanes Sport writer Tom Peploe reports on the crucial clash between Birmingham Lions and Hertfordshire Hurricanes, with both teams battling for the BUCS Premier South title Tom Peploe Sport Writer
The battle for the BUCS Premier South divisional title would come down to the final game between the two longstanding rivals. The Lions needed to win by 6 points to claim the division for the third consecutive year, but a strong Hertfordshire outfit would stand in their way.
Quarter One After two successive games where the first play had been run in for a touchdown, the Hertfordshire Hurricanes’ defence would not allow this record to progress any further. Several three-and-outs later, the Hurricanes’ quarterback, Kit Varney, would throw into the end zone and be intercepted by Lions safety Joe Melland, the play was called for pass interference and allowed for a two yard passing touchdown on the next play, where the PAT was good (0-7). Storm Doris limited the passing game for both teams, which forced the run game to be used more than they were used to. Needless to say, the first quarter ended very quickly.
The play of the quarter was picked yet again by Joe Melland, but could not be capitalised on in the ensuing drive, when Lions’ quarterback Matt Gray could not move the chains, forcing the special teams unit to come on and punt. The Hurricanes’ offence responded with a rather fortunate sequence of play, where a pass that was tipped twice by the Lions defence was caught by a Hurricanes’ wide receiver and ran in for a 40 yard touchdown, the PAT was good (0-14). The offence needed a change and offensive coordinator Andrew Morgan put in the heavy formation, with Elliot Walters in the wildcat formation. A solid 4 play 80 yard drive by Biyi Adetunji led to a touchdown in response to the two score deficit. The PAT by Reno Jaconelli was good (7-14). After some questionable spotting by referees, the Hurricanes’ drive was advanced into field goal range at the end of the half, which was converted (7-17).
Will Stone, Brandon Hattiloney and Remy Claustres combined on the Hurricanes’ quarterback on the first play of the half, followed up by an impressive interception by middle linebacker Jack Chang on third down. A slow offensive unit left some scratching their heads when the heavy outfit was not seen until the end of the quarter after many failed drives. Hattiloney managed to get another sack in this quarter adding to his tally for the season.
Sammy Haniff intercepting Varney for the third time in the game, Matt Gray returned the favour to the Hurricanes’ defence by getting picked on the very next play. Full Time. The Birmingham offence showed sparks of what it can do in the offence, but was not able to maintain it throughout the game. A few unfortunate plays for Head Coach Wayne Hill’s defence led to the Hurricanes’ points through the game. Both teams progress to the playoffs where Birmingham will play Derby Braves at home on Sunday.
"The Birmingham offence showed sparks of what it can do in the offence, but was not able to maintain it throughout the game"
Getting to the late stages of the game the Lions offence needed two touchdowns and two extra points to get to the 6 point cushion they needed to win the division. Both teams defences were playing the best that I have seen all season, stifling Varney and Gray. After hope was given by safety
Hertfordshire Hurricanes Birmingham Lions
The UK Sport Funding Dilemma Nicola Kenton
Sport Online Editor
In December, UK Sport announced that funding had been cut from five sports for the next Olympic/ Paralympic cycle. The funding that is awarded is based upon targets set at the beginning of the cycle; if these targets are met at the Games then the funding is usually awarded.
"The key point in all of this is medal potential. What criteria is needed to prove that you have the medal potential?" However, one sport which lost all funding rather unexpectedly was badminton. The target for Rio 2016 was one medal and Team GB achieved that when Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge won bronze in the men's doubles. Other sports that have lost all funding include: archery, fencing, weightlifting and wheelchair rugby.
Online editor Nicola Kenton looks into how UK Sport allocate funding, and why: it seems after Team GB's success in Rio that some sports are missing out After this was announced, seven sports decided to appeal the decision with badminton at the forefront of the campaign. Last week UK Sport declared that archery, badminton, fencing, goalball, table tennis, weightlifting and wheelchair rugby had lost their appeals and would receive no funding for the 2020 cycle. This calls into question: why are the targets in place, if when they are met, the funding is still taken away? According to UK Sport, none of the seven sports had given 'critically compelling new evidence' that meant they had proved their medal potential in the next cycle. Badminton England responded stating that they were 'staggered' by the decision and they'd take time to consider their next steps. The key point in all of this is medal potential. What criteria is needed to prove that you have the medal potential? For badminton, they have many players supported by Badminton England that tour on the European circuit and have begun to win medals, these players include: Toby Penty and Fontaine Chapman from the Birmingham Lions National Badminton team. They now face
an uncertain future in their sport, even though Penty won his first title at the Swedish International in January. UK Sport have indicated that there is not enough money to go round all sports with Chief Executive Liz Nicholl commenting, 'this is the first time we've been unable to support every sport that has athletes with the potential to deliver medals at the next Games. We don't take these decisions lightly as we're acutely aware of the impact they have on sports, athletes and support personnel'. This suggests that badminton does have the medal potential but that the potential is not great enough in terms of numbers of medals to take funding away from another sport. The cycle for the Rio 2016 Games saw £347m invested, whereas for the 2020 cycle there was only £345m available. Team GB's target is to win between 51 and 85 Olympic medals, and 115 to 162 Paralympic medals. From what I can see, UK Sport has taken an approach to keep funding the bigger sports such as cycling and rowing, which have become medal machines in the past few years, instead of spread-
ing funding more evenly and decreasing how much these big sports receive. Cycling has actually taken a funding cut of nearly £4m, but where this has been taken from has not been widely reported. The track regime is still fully funded, but the cut has meant that the women's BMX programme has been axed completely and without warning. There are many areas of elite sport which are underfunded or disappear quietly due to the funding not being available. What if the funding were evenly spread and more people could have
access to it? Why can't the big sports learn to create the same level of success on a smaller budget, allowing the smaller sports more of a chance? These questions are unlikely to be answered. Team GB's unprecedented success at the Rio Games has come at a cost to the smaller sports, those who are in direct need of the funding but have missed out due to not being a 'big' enough sport. UK Sport's ruthless approach to funding has come under fire this time but we will have to wait until 2020 to see whether it worked.
Friday 3rd March 2017
A Feast of Medals for UoB at BUCS Nationals 2017 Redbrick Sport attended BUCS Nationals 2017 in Sheffield to watch UoB's finest athletes compete to be crowned National Champions for 2017 Sheffield played host to BUCS Nationals for the fifth time over the weekend of the 17th-19th February 2017. The three day competition saw the best university athletes in the UK compete in nine different sports across seven venues to see who would be crowned National Champions in their event. The University of Birmingham sent a strong side with competitors entered in the swimming, athletics, badminton, judo, trampolining, fencing, climbing and karate. Throughout the weekend, the UB Sport performance team were on hand to provide the athletes with the best hydration, nutrition and physiotherapy to help keep Birmingham's athletes in top condition.
Athletics - Day 1 Friday was a day of short distance running with the 60m and 60m hurdles on the agenda for the UoB athletes. Josh Terry represented UoB in the men’s 60m and made it through his heat with a 3rd place finish and a time of 7.14. Josh proceeded to run a good race in a competitive semi-final, coming away with a respectable 6th place. In the women’s races, Ellie Edwards followed a similar pattern to Josh in reaching the semi-final with a 7.91 run in her heat, before managing a 7th place finish in her semifinal. Charlotte Orton went one better, leading from the start in her heat to breeze through with a time of 7.64. A 3rd place finish in her semifinal was enough to see the first year student through to the final in her debut BUCS Nationals, and she came away with 7th place overall. A momentary break from short distance gave Michael Wilson a chance to stretch his legs over 800m. Michael duly won his 800m heat in a time of 1:58.28, setting him up for a semi-final appearance on Saturday. When the 60m returned there were hurdles on the track, and unfortunately Aled Price missed out on qualification, finishing 3rd in heats and just missing out on a fastest loser spot. The standout performance from the first day however was undoubtedly Jake Porter’s 60m Hurdles run. Having strolled through his heat in a time of 8.11, Jake went on to cruise to victory and a gold medal with a winning time of 7.96, despite having to compete in the Birmingham Grand Prix the next day. A true show of commitment to UoB from a very talented runner.
Athletics - Day 2 After some great performances on Friday, UoB’s other athletes set out to make their mark on Saturday, with plenty of qualifying action taking place. First up were the men’s 1500m heats, with impressive performances from Ian CroweWright and James McCrae, Crowe-Wright breezing through his heat with a time of 4:04.07. McCrae qualified as a fastest loser with a fourth place finish in his heat, a great achievement in a competitive field. Following a decent start from UoB's men, the women’s 1500m brought yet more action. In heat 3, Naomi Collier booked her place in the semi-finals, with a time of 4.58.11, qualifying in second place. After a good start to the day’s athletics, the men’s 400m heats followed. This event was one of incredible promise for UoB, with Chris McAlister and Mark Cottam competing. McAlister, originally a 400m hurdles specialist heat at a canter with a time of 50.37. He was looking to build upon a silver medal at the BUCS Championships in Bedford last year. Cottam meanwhile, (an England U23 finalist at Bedford last year), overcame a difficult inside lane draw to qualify in 2nd with a time of 50.50. Simultaneously, UoB were experiencing mixed success in the field events. In the men’s high jump, Akin Coward didn’t shy away from 1.98m and cleared it to qualify for the final, but unfortunately Russell Waterson missed out in joining Akin in the final. Women’s long jumper Cara Trivett failed to make the final, but in the men’s event, 110m hurdles specialist Aled Price qualified for the final event with a jump of 6.89m. Back to the track the 800m offered another opportunity for UoB to have some representation in the finals, with the heats taking place the day prior. A big shock came when Northern Indoor Champion Jethro McGraw missed out on qualification for the 800m final with a disappointing run. However, some more uplifting news arrived in the shape of UoB's own reigning Northern Outdoor Champion Michael Wilson, clinching a fastest loser spot, with a time of 1:53.60, putting him through to the final.
After half a day of highly competitive athletics action, it was then time for something a little more light-hearted. This came in the form of the Mascot race. Representing Birmingham, Rory the Lion (one of four lions in the competition) qualified for the final with an exhilarating performance against some much taller beasts. The final of the Mascot Race was filled with controversy, as Rory was cruelly tripped at the start with no retrospective action taken against the animal that tripped the majestic lion. Unfortunately, Rory subsequently finished in last place with a time of 43.49 which would have been a mightily impressive time in a 400m race (sadly this was 200m). This capped a very frustrating race for the courageous cat. In the first of the men’s 3000m heats, Brad Wattleworth ran a great race and finished 5th, but unfortunately this was not enough to qualify for the semifinals. The second of the UoB hopefuls, Paddy Clark, mustered a respectable 6th place finish in this gruelling event. After a disappointing start in the 3000m for the men, Pippa Woolven easily qualified with an impressive 2nd place finish in the women’s race. The men’s 1500m semi-finals brought UoB's James McCrae and Ian CroweWright back to the track where they were vying for a top 3 finish to qualify for the final. James managed a 5th place finish in his competitive semi-final – not enough for a final place. CroweWright, however completed a great comeback win to go through to the final on the Sunday. In the women's 1500m semifinals it was Naomi Collier competing for a finals place. After a tough race, a 2nd place finish for Naomi meant she qualified for Sunday’s final in style. The final event of the day saw UoB women’s 4x200m relay team register an overall time of 1.41.84, which meant a second place finish and a chance to compete in Sunday’s final. This concluded a hugely successful day for the University of Birmingham, with 10 qualifications for finals across track and field to set up an exciting last day of athletics in Sheffield.
Athletics - Day 3 With 10 chances at a medal across various finals already confirmed from Saturday’s events, and more chances possible in the 200m and 400m heats that kicked off Sunday’s action, the final day of BUCS Nationals promised to be an action-packed affair. There was success straight off the bat for UoB in the women’s 200m heats which opened the proceedings on the track. Olivia Woodward finished third, while English Schools Finalist, Rose Hairs, managed second - both doing enough to make it into the semi-finals later in the day. In the men’s race, Jay Raradza eased through his heat and into the semi-final. Jay was the only man in the field who has run sub-22 seconds and boy did it show in a dominant performance. Matt Curtis registered a third place finish in his heat and, after a tense wait, it was confirmed that he made it through to the semi-finals as a fastest loser. In the field Akin Coward unfortunately couldn’t clear 2.10m in the men’s high jump, though that height would have been a new PB so it was still a brilliant performance. UoB's 3-time BUCS indoor champion Nick Cruchley cleared 5.30 in the men's Pole Vault final, which bagged him a bronze medal, and the first UoB medal of the day. Back on the track it was the men’s 400m semi-finals, featuring Saturday’s duo of Mark Cottam and Chris McAlister once again. They faced a tough qualification process where only the winner and the one fastest loser overall would make the final. Mark ran in a hugely competitive race and came away with a 3rd place finish unfortunately not enough to qualify. Chris completed a spectacular victory in his semi-final and looked set to challenge for the medals in the afternoon's final. Unfortunately it was later revealed that he was disqualified and would not get to race for gold. The semi-finals swiftly continued with the 200m and UoB had hopefuls in both the men’s and women’s events. First up in the men's races was Matt Curtis, who managed a very respectable 5th place finish and unfortunately missed out on qualification. Jay Raradza’s race went down to the wire and was so close on the line that it took a while to confirm that Jay sadly just missed out on the final in the rigorous qualification process. In the women’s semi-finals, Rose Hairs had a heartbreaking race as she appeared to pull up with an injury right at the end, a great effort nonetheless. It was a tight finish on the line for Olivia Woodward in the other semi-final, with just millimetres separat-
ing fifth and sixth place. Though both women missed out on the final, they raced admirably against tough competition. Returning to the field, Amelia Hempleman-Adams easily cleared 1.66m on her first attempt in the women's high jump final, but unfortunately she couldn’t make it over 1.69m to get amongst the medals. Livvy Connor looked hungry for a medal in the women’s pole vault but unfortunately the first year student couldn’t quite make it onto the podium, though she did register an impressive personal best performance. Sadly Pippa Woolven was a DNS in the women's 3000m final, so UoB fans’ eyes turned to the middle distance runners. In the men’s 800m final it was Michael Wilson who gave the travelling UoB fans something to cheer about. Michael had qualified as a fastest loser for this final but proceeded to run a spectacular race which ended in heartbreak as he just missed out on the bronze right at the death. Ian Crowe-Wright returned to the track for his 1500m final after a dominant previous day’s racing. It was a gruelling final and Ian clinched brilliant bronze with a great run. In the women’s 1500m, Naomi Collier went one better and bagged a silver medal with another brilliant performance. These three results represented the highest ever BUCS finishing positions for the respective athletes, so a huge congratulations to them. Last up for UoB on the track was the women’s 4x200m relay team, whose second fastest qualification time from Saturday put them in a good position to challenge for a medal. Unfortunately the team agonisingly missed out on a medal, though their superb time of 1:40.84 set a new University record. The biggest success of the weekend however came in the men’s triple jump. Lawrence Davis, coming back from an injury-filled year, registered a monster lifetime best jump of 16.01m. This jump smashed his previous PB, set a University club record, put him 3rd in the UK, but also, and most importantly for the adoring fans, brought home the gold medal for UoB. This was a magical moment and was, in the humble opinion of this correspondent, the highlight of an exceptional weekend of athletics for the University of Birmingham. All UoB athletes involved are deserving of Redbrick Sport’s created hashtag #UoBeasts, and we look forward to the BUCS Outdoor Championships where there should be even more medals heading Birmingham’s way.
Friday 3rd March 2017
Swimming The University of Birmingham had a team of 24 competing in the Long Course Championships at BUCS Nationals. The championships were held over three days at Ponds Forge, there were six sessions across Friday 17th - Sunday 19th February. The team, who competed at the Short Course championships in December, was hoping to improve on their medal and points tally from 2016. Swimming is one of the only sports at BUCS where Olympians will compete alongside other university competitors and last weekend's competition was a true example of this. As well as Sheffield Hallam's Max Litchfield and Stirling's Ross Murdoch both Olympians - British Swimming had a team of guests entered into the competition that included Olympic Champion Adam Peaty, as well as silver medallists Jazz Carlin and Siobhan-Marie O'Connor. Friday night saw scholar Abby Smith take to the pool in the 800m Freestyle, she finished in fifth place in a time of 8.56.43 which is a qualifying time for the British Championships. Birmingham's other events on Friday saw the women's team qualify the 4x100m Freestyle relay final by setting a club record time of 4.00.10; Lizzy Gray also set a club record time of 58.96 on the first leg. Saturday saw two sessions of heats before the finals session in the evening. To start off the day, Abby Smith was back in the pool and set another personal best but this time in the 200m Freestyle; Smith finished in 11th and fellow Birmingham swimmer Ella Windle finished 22nd in a time of 2.12.83. In the men's 200m Freestyle, Steve Wilson ended up in 14th with a time of 1.56.89 while Jamie Cunningham finished in 27th. In the 50m Backstroke, Emily Lane set a PB time of 30.90 to qualify in 9th for the evening's final while Matt Masters put in a solid swim to finish 14th.
Next was the 50m Breaststroke where Charlotte Reid and Abbie Johnson put in great performances with Reid qualifying for the final in 7th and Johnson just missing out on the final in 11th; on the men's side Kieran Rookes set a new PB of 31.38. In the 100m Butterfly, Lizzy Gray set another personal best and qualified for the final in 6th place alongside Charlotte Taylor who qualified in 7th - a great performance for the girls! Birmingham had James Chambers and Dylan Jones on the men's side with the duo putting in
Ffion Butler (left) and Abby Smith with their medals
solid swims. In the 400m Individual Medley, Ella Windle and Kate Alexander came 7th and 8th respectively, while a strong swim from Jack Pickering saw him finish in 12th. The afternoon session saw Emily Lane back in the pool, this time in the 200m Backstroke and after swimming 2.23.02 she qualified for another final. Kirsty Wagstaff also put in a good swim to finish in 13th place overall. On the men's side, Calum McGregor also performed brilliantly to qual-
ify for the final in 10th position. Birmingham had many competitors in the 50m Freestyle, paraswimmer and scholar Ffion Butler swam 33.51 and earned herself a bronze medal while Zoe BozzardHill qualified for the final in 7th place, while Sarah Warwood also swam well and finished in 24th. Charlie Messenger swam a personal best in his heat of the 50m Freestyle, while Jamie Cunningham was just outside his best. The final individual event of the afternoon saw Ellen Stone and Darcy Allison finish 12th and 21st in the 200m Breaststroke, while Jack Pickering set a new personal best time of 2.31.67 in his heat. Finally, both the men's and women's 4x100m Medley relay squads qualified for their respective finals on Sunday. Saturday's final session saw Emily Lane put in another great performance to finish 9th in the 50m Backstroke, and in the 50m Breaststroke Charlotte Reid swam a time almost identical to her heat to end up in 9th place. There were two solids swims in the 100m Butterfly for Lizzy Gray and Charlotte Taylor, who finished 8th and 10th respectively, while Emily Lane was back in the pool for the 200m Backstroke and swam to 8th. Calum Macgregor finished 10th in his 200m Backstroke final, Zoe Bozzard-Hill came a fantastic 7th in the 50m Freestyle and Birmingham's girls ended the evening with a club record in the 4x100m Freestyle relay and a sixth place finish. Birmingham's Sunday morning session started with the 100m Freestyle, this saw Ffion Butler win her second medal of the championship - a silver. Zoe Bozzard-Hill just missed out on the final after finishing in joint tenth and losing in a swim-off, Kirsty Wagstaff also swam well to come in 20th. Steve Wilson and Jamie Cunningham also gave strong performances to finish in 16th and 23rd, respectively. In the
100m Breaststroke, Charlotte Reid just missed out on a place in the final and Abbie Johnson finished in 22nd place; Kieran Rookes and George Youlden also put on strong performances in this event. In the 100m Individual Medley, Ella Windle qualified in 10th place for the final and Jack Pickering set a one second personal best. In the 50m Butterfly, Lizzy Gray and Charlotte Taylor finished in 7th and 12th respectively, with Gray qualifying for the final after swimming a club record. Charlie Messenger and James Chambers also put in strong swims for their heats. Emily Lane
"Birmingham finished 7th overall from the weekend, which is the same as in 2016; however, the points tally has improved vastly" qualified for another final, this time in the 100m Backstroke with Kirsty Wagstaff finishing in 15th place; while Matt Masters and Calum Macgregor ended up in 12th and 13th overall. In the final event of the morning session, Steve Wilson finished 17th in 400m Freestyle and Abby Smith swam phenomenally to set a two second personal best of 4.18.52 and win a bronze medal. Sunday afternoon saw the final session of the championships. Up first was Abby Gee in the 200m Butterfly, who swam very well to finish in 7th place. In the 200m Individual Medley final, Ella Windle also came 7th after improving on her time from the heats. Lizzy Gray nearly matched her personal best in the 50m Butterfly final and finished 10th in a very tight race; while Emily
Lane placed 9th in the 100m Backstroke. In the 4x100m Medley relay, the girls performed brilliantly to finish in 5th place and the men also did a strong win to finish in 10th place. First year geology student and three-time medal winner Ffion Butler said, 'It's been very good, I didn't expect to come in and win a gold, everyone has swum really well. This was the main event of the season for the team, and I've improved since short course because I've tried to be stronger and we've focussed on little bits of my race to give me that extra oomph. My main aim of the year is the Para Swimming World series taking place here in Sheffield in April and after that the British Championships and the Nationals.' Head coach Gary Humpage said of the success, 'It's been really good. The gold medal is only the second gold we've had in recent history since we started coaching in 1996 and obviously with the silver and two bronzes it's very exciting and I'm so pleased for the swimmers. There's a few standout performances, obviously the medallists but also Emily Lane and Lizzy Gray who put in really solid performances and have worked hard all weekend, being on their best in nearly every swim they've produced. Next is the BUCS Team Championships in four weeks time, so we're going to go back and get some more training under our belt and do a little bit more speed and specific stroke work.' Birmingham finished 7th overall from the weekend, which is the same as in 2016; however, the points tally has improved vastly with Birmingham securing 120 points in comparison with the 85 scored last year. Moreover, the gap on 6th place has closed with Birmingham only being 10 points behind Sheffield Hallam, whereas last year they were 34 points behind them.
Across a weekend that saw the use of 2,460 shuttles, 720 players and 691 matches, UoB badminton bagged a bronze medal in the women's doubles with Nicola Gretsy and Anette Martin. They defeated Ahillya Harjani and Kerri Scott of Loughborough (21-15, 21-19) before losing out to Nottingham's Ka Kei Chein and Charlotte Ho (21-19, 12-21, 21-19) to earn their spot on the podium. In the men's singles, Henry Prothero was knocked out in his second match against the University of Nottingham's Rohan Midha (15-21, 11-21). The women's doubles saw Til'Shiloh Shaw advance after beating Sacha Lai of Queen Mary University (21-8, 21-9), before succumbing to Bath's Amy Reddaway (21-15,21-16). Mixed doubles pair Peter Clegg and Nicola Gretsy made good progress in the competition defeating Michael Brook and Lynnlette Aung of St George's University and later Michael Roe and Joshway Bong (Durham), before falling to eventual gold-medallists Gregory Mairs and Jennifer Moore from Loughborough.
A bronze medal for Agata Swiatkiewicz in the high grades women's u63kg category was the highlight of the weekend for Birmingham's judo team. She beat Jenny Roberts (Durham), Abigail McBeath (Robert Gordon) and Charlotte Bond (Bath) before losing to eventual gold-medallist Prisca Awiti-Alcaraz (Bath). Victory in the bronze medal match came against Claire Rimicans of Strathclyde. It was a mixed day for the rest of the team however, as Benjamin Skelton lost his bouts in the men's u81kg category as did Paul Teare in the men's u90kg, and Phoebe Fryer in the women's u57kg.
UoB Trampolining had a great weekend with multiple finalists and a bronze medal. On Saturday, Josh Morris-Hill was unlucky and just missed out on a medal, placing in 4th in the men's 5 final. On Sunday, it was the turn of the individual and synchronised events in the elite, 1, 2 and 3 categories. David Beany secured a bronze medal in the elite men's category, and Evie Anghileri reached the top eight in the elite final.
Although they were unlucky not to win any medals in two days of tough competition, Birmingham sent a strong team to compete in the karate events at Sheffield. The mixed team Kata saw three competitors - Melina Mukherjee, Chloe Sutherland, and Alice Whittaker represent Birmingham before Darin Mitev and Lukas Povilonis were in action in the Men's Novice Kata. Vas Yannoulias exited the Men's Senior Kata in the first round before the Kumite competition got underway with Poppy Balme, Megan Gates and Chloe Sutherland in women's team action. The men's team for the Kumite was Tom Durn, Rob Norman, Kyle Semple, David Thomas and Vas Yannoulias. On the second day of competition, Ben Jeffries competed in the Men's Novice HW Kumite O80kg, Poppy Balmer in the Women's Senior Kumite U50kg and Henrietta MartinHierro in the Women's Senior Kumite U55kg.
Fencing The highest finish for UoB in the fencing came from Sophie Keehan, who placed 7th in the individual women's sabre event. In the men's foil, Daniel Elliker finished in tenth place with teammates Ollie Powis and Mark Hall picking up 70th and 76th places respectively. Sophie Duxon earned a 37th place finish in the women's epee, as Sam Filleul was the highest-finishing from Birmingham in the men's event in 32nd. Harriet ShirleyPriest secured 41st in the women's foil, and Richard Rawlinson finished 85th in the men's sabre.
Climbing Birmingham sent 13 athletes to Sheffield to compete in the men's and women's individual climb offs. Notable finishes came for Owen Diba in 11th place overall with a score of 198, Eduardas Jeriomenko in 22nd place with 190 points, and Charlie Hallam in 25th place with 189 points, all in the men's category. In the women's category, Maggie Knight was UoB's highest finisher in 25th (115 points), followed by Alice Boughton (35th place, 102 points), and Koharu Urawa (88th place, 70 points). In the men's team championship, Birmingham just missed out on a medal, finishing fourth overall behind Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam and Glasgow respectively.
BUCS Nationals "The biggest success of the weekend, however, came in the men's triple jump. Lawrence Davis (right), coming back from an injury-filled year, registered a monster lifetime best jump of 16.01m. This jump smashed his previous PB, set a University club record, put him 3rd in the UK, but also, and most importantly for the adoring fans, brought home the gold medal for UoB. This was a magical moment and was, in the humble opinion of this correspondent, the highlight of an exceptional weekend of athletics for the University of Birmingham."
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Read the full report from BUCS Nationals on pages 38-39